How to Catch a Muskie in the New River

Anglers have agreed that fishing for Muskies is not just an interesting hobby you can pursue every once in a while when you decide to go fishing, it’s an addiction of challenge, and victory afterward. That made people who are passionate about fishing try fishing for these fascinating game fish wherever and whenever it’s near them, and Virginia residents might be some of the luckiest ones out there.

The state of Virginia is not a native habitat for muskies; however, Muskies inhabit many water bodies. The highest population is found in the New River and James River. 

So, how to catch a Muskie in the New River? You can catch Muskies in the New River by fishing the deepest, coldest parts of the river using an 8-foot medium-heavy rod with fast action, Baitcasting reel with a 4.6 gear ratio, an 80-lbs braided line tipped with an 80-lb fluorocarbon leader, good baits, a Muskie net, and safety release tools.

This is the very short brief of how to catch a Muskie in the New River, but Muskies are a tricky fish to catch, which is why there is so much lore around it. Keep reading to know everything you need to know on how to successfully catch Muskies in the New River and come out victorious in your next trip.

A Guide on Catching a Muskie in the New River 

An image of the new river to illustrate how to catch a Muskie in the new River

Your chances of catching Muskies in the New River can be high, but you need to know all about the tips and techniques that guarantee you a successful catch. Luckily, I have spent quite a bit of time learning about the topic myself and testing many of the recommendations and advice out there, and I’m gonna tell you exactly what has worked and what hasn’t so that your next fishing trip is your most successful one so far.

Best Bait for Muskie in the new River 

What is the best bait for muskies in the New River? The best bait for Muskies in the New River is an inline spinner or topwater bait from May – July. While Crankbaits and soft plastics are better choices in the fall and winter. Jerk baits can be used any time of the year, but it’s not recommended for beginners due to how difficult it is to use.

Muskies are known to be the fish of 10,000 casts. You have to pay close attention to your circumstances when you choose your bait by understanding the behavior of these fish.

The reason behind our aforementioned recommendations is basically the feeding behavior of Muskies according to the weather circumstances. 

Crankbaits and soft plastics are your go-to in the colder weather when they’re actively feeding. Fall and winter are the seasons when muskies are targeting larger prey like suckers. While using an inline spinner is a good choice in warmer weather when you cast them in deep water where Muskies tend to stay on warm sunny days.

Jerk bait can work any time of the year, but on the other hand, it’s not easy to work with. If this is your first time or you still consider yourself a junior angler, don’t go for it and expect satisfying results.

If you are a fan of live bait, you can use them as well. Combining live bait with artificial lures can be very effective in catching Muskies in rivers. Anglers prefer to use live bait such as suckers, shad, or carp. You can find my recommended lures for Muskies here. These are the lures I have sued over the years with great results, and I think they could bring you some great catches as well, so make sure to check them out.

How to choose the best spot for catching muskies in the new river 

So how to choose the best spot for catching muskies in the New River? The best spot for catching Muskies in the New River is the slow-moving pool sections of the river. Make sure to also target mid-river, areas near fallen trees, and other submerged structures and you’ll double your chances of catching a Muskie.

Anywhere from Claytor dam downstream to the West Virginia border is a good stretch of the New River for Muskies fishing. Setting up your boat in any of these areas makes your mission of successfully catching Muskies half done.

Note that “high population” mentioned on the DWR Virginia website means that it’s high relative to other musky populations in the state. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that you’ll find them jumping off the water around your boat, so you still have to find the ideal spots to chase them.

Muskies tend to stay in deeper colder water when the weather gets warm. If you’re fishing on sunny days, make sure to target the deepest spots of the New River. Other than that, you’ll probably find them in shallow waters. You might not think that you can find them in shallow waters, but you will be surprised at the variety of places you can find muskies in. Did you know you can even catch them in creeks? You can learn how to catch a Musky in a creek here.

Pro-tip: you can save time and prepare yourself by searching online using Google Maps. It helps you locate the right spot where you’ll start your catching.

Best Times of the year to catch muskies in the new River 

What is the best time of the year to catch muskies in the new River? The best time of the year to catch Muskies in the New River is the time between May to early July in the first half of the year, and the time from October to early March in the second half of the year. These are prime times as the weather encourages Muskies to actively roam around to feed.

It’s best to stick to these times of the year; other times can be harder for you to successfully catch Muskies. For example, it’s advised to avoid the end of March till April; Muskies are spawning and hard to catch in these months.

Some anglers target Muskies in warm weather months as well, but they note that sometimes the water temperature is too high, which can be unbearable for fish like Muskies. When the temperature exceeds 89°F (31.5°C), Muskies become stressed and they start looking for an escape to cooler waters. When this behavior is detected, it’s preferred to stop trying to catch them.

Best Times of the day to catch muskies in the new river 

As a golden rule, what are the best times of the day to catch Muskies in the New River? The best times of the day to catch Muskies in the New River would be generally in the early mornings or at dusk where they stay around the surface. It’s also always a good idea to fish for Muskies on cloudy and colder days.

Muskies are generally cold-loving creatures. They tend to go deeper in the water when it gets warmer or when the sun goes up in the middle of the sky. When it’s cold around the water surface, you’ll find them roaming free almost everywhere –especially mid-river which makes it easier to catch them with different lures and techniques.

If you’re going fishing in midday and don’t want to return home empty-handed, you better target the deep water, or around the fallen trees and other submerged structures where they seek shade.

You’re now good to go! Don’t forget to pin this article to Pinterest and share it with people who might be interested in accompanying you on your next trip.

Make Muskie Fishing Better for Everyone: keep in mind when you’re going on your next trip that you can help biologists in managing and refining Muskie fisheries for a better fishing experience in the future. Check out this new feature by DWR Virginia where you can keep a diary of your fishing for Muskies entries that can be a helpful tool, start now by clicking here!

Related Questions 

How to Catch a Muskie in a River? 

To catch a Muskie in a river you need to pick the slow-moving pool sections of the river, use an 8-inch medium-to-heavy rod, with a good quality reel, crankbait or live bait, and a large net. Work your way slow and steady by pulling back with long, slow pulls and frequent pauses.

Where do river muskies spawn?

Aquatic weed beds and backwater eddies covered in leaves are prime spawning areas for muskies, as well as leaf mats, gravel bottoms in shallow bays and coves of lakes, or slack pools. Muskies in the New River spawn naturally in the river, while in other rivers they migrate from larger reservoirs.

Are Muskies dangerous?

No, overall we can’t consider Muskies dangerous if we dealt with it in the right cautious way. You’ll be safe if you use a net to get a good grip of it before unhooking the lures and make sure to wear hook-resistant gloves to avoid getting hurt by its sharp teeth.

Helpful Resources 

DWR Virginia website

Where to catch a Musky in Virginia? Realest Nature website

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