Regional Reports-South

Claytor Lake

Although muskellunge are present above and below Claytor Lake, the biggest and the most fish are found below the dam in the New River and on to the West Virginia state line. Blane Chocklett, a guide from Roanoke, targets wood cover in deeper holes below springs and creeks in the summer. "That cooler water draws muskies as the water warms up. I also find them in deep pockets close to riffles and below ledges," he says. Top offerings include big-as-your-hand in-line spinners, large jerkbaits and live chubs and suckers. Drift live bait under floats or free-line it through deeper holes, particularly those with some sort of additional cover. The best colors for artificials vary from day to day, but Chocklett says that when a New River muskellunge decides to eat, the fish will take a swipe at whatever you put in front of it. Access is plentiful and excellent daylong floats can be planned for the entire river below the Claytor Dam. Most of the river is gentle enough to be floated by novice canoeists. The state-record muskie, a 45-pounder, was caught from the scenic New River. Contact: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (540-951-7923); Blane Chocklett (540-563-1617).