"My wife Gloria and I have been fishing with Capt. Forest for five years averaging three trips
a year (plus I fish a couple with a friend of mine). You will not find a more knowledgeable,
professional, and friendly guide anywhere. I fish a lot, my wife not so much. What has
impressed me about Capt. Forest over the years is how much I have learned and his
patience in teaching my wife…he has done that part so well she always catches the biggest
fish. If you want quality fishing, scenery, and just a plain good time, I would highly
recommend Capt. Forest, he will ensure you have an awesome float."  

Paul and Gloria Denison
Stem, NC
" I always try to get out on the New at
least twice a year with Forest. He knows
the river like the back of his hand and
always tries his best to put you on big
fish. I caught a 31" striper my first time out
with him and have landed many
memorable smallies over the last several
years. I look forward to fishing with him
again this year and would recommend his
guide service to anyone who wants to
have a great day fishing on the New

David Buck
Kernersville, NC
"I wanted to drop you a line and thank you
for a wonderful experience on my float trip.
Our guide was fantastic in every sense of
the word. His knowledge of the river, its
history, the fauna, and the fish was great.
We had great time fishing, talking and
joking around. I appreciated how after I
landed my big fish he concentrated on
getting my son into a big fish also. He is one
of the best guides I have ever had the
pleasure to be on the water with. And of
course the beautiful 24" smallie was a
definite plus and great experience I will
never forget."

Wayne F. White,
Granby, CT
"The past six years of fishing the New River
with Capt. Forest has been a pleasure.
Forest is always upbeat and encouraging as
we fish and he just "thinks like" a BIG
smallmouth,which has allowed me to catch
more than my share of citation
smallies,including a 23 inch 5 lb. plus beauty
this past year.
I can't wait to fish again with my friend and
guide, Capt. Forest."

Phil Pleasants
Winston-Salem, NC
"I've known and fished with Captain
Forest Pressnell for several years on the
New River and in the Bahamas for
bonefish.  I helped him catch his first
bonefish on a fly rod, and he helped me
catch some nice smallmouth bass on the
New.  A fair trade, indeed.  Forest is
knowledgeable, personable, and very
entertaining; he knows what he's doing
and helps his clients catch fish; and they
have a good, fun time doing it."

King Montgomery,
Outdoor Writer/Photographer.
It was one of the stand out trips of my
life!  My first muskie!  My first muskie
citation!  Level IV Master Angler!  I’m
really glad I was with you for these firsts
of my life. You are certainly a marquis
muskie man!  I can see why you are called
the “Muskie Magnet”!  I’ll be coming back
to Muskie fish with you every year for

Thanks for all of it Skipper!

Stephen Miklandric
Chesterfield, VA
2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 VDGIF Angler of
the Year
This is a very unexpected and humbling testimonial that appeared in Virginia
Department of Game & Inland Fisheries' online Outdoor Report for Jan., 2011.
Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers
The New Year also brings the issuing of the new 2011 Fishing Regulations booklet. Having just finished the main
deer hunting season and with all the great youth hunting stories in this edition, we thought a good fishin' story
was needed to bring in the New Year. For a young teenager, his first fishing trip on the New River with his Dad
and Outdoor Report Fishin' Report contributor Captain Forest Pressnell provided a most memorable outdoor
experience. Matt Harman, a Senior at Cave Spring High School in Roanoke , when he entered his article in the
2009-10 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Competition. His moving story about the
stewardship and conservation side of fishing he learned first hand from Capt. Forest during the catch and release
adventure placed in the Top Ten.

The Fishing Story

By Matt Harman

It's five a.m. and I am traveling with my dad through the mountains of southwest Virginia. The sun has not yet
peaked over the Blue Ridge but it is a warm southern morning. Our destination is Poplar Camp for a day of
fishing the New River.

The New River is a special place. It originates in the western mountains of North Carolina and is one of the few
rivers in the world that flows northward. It winds northwest from the continental divide into West Virginia where it
flows into the Kanawha River. It is the oldest river in North America and is known for its great fishing, white water
rapids and natural beauty.

When we arrived in Popular Camp we met Captain Forest Pressnell. He would guide us along the river and show
us the best fishing spots. Captain Forest has a special love for the Blue Ridge Mountains, the outdoors and
especially the rivers and streams. He arrived in his pickup truck towing a three man pontoon raft. The first thing I
noticed was two oars and no gas or electric motors on board. I knew that someone had some hard work ahead.
Captain Forest greeted us with a hand shake and smile. He asked if we were ready to ride the "New" and catch
some fish. I could tell by the size of this man's arms and his tanned face that he had spent a lot of time on the
river. Dad and I were more than ready to try our luck.

We climbed aboard his truck and followed a country road to the river. The morning fog rising from the river made
it hard to see. I could hear the water tumbling over rocks and I knew we were close. We came to the landing and
prepared to unload the raft. As I waded into the river, I could see a lot of fresh water clam shells on the river
bottom. Standing in the cool water and looking at the shells made me wonder if those clams were food for the fish
we were going to catch.

Captain Forest waded into the water and told me that since it was my first trip down the river I would have the
front seat on the raft. My dad was on the back and Captain Forest was in the center with the oars. The New River
can be dangerous with its large rocks, twisting currents and fast moving water. I did not know what was ahead but
I felt that the next ten miles on the river would be a trip that I would never forget.

Leaving the shore, I could feel the speed of the water and the power of the river. Captain Forest guided the raft
through the rapids and into slower water and told us what to expect and how we would be fishing. By this time the
fog was lifting and I could see that the water was very clear. Forest told us that as the sun moved overhead, the
fish would search for structures that would allow them to feed and hide. I knew fishing would be a challenge but I
felt confident that we would catch some nice fish. We were fishing for small mouth bass, walleye and the meanest
fish in the river, the Muskie. Captain Forest told us if we caught all three we would call it the New River Trifecta. Of
course, we would release every fish to help protect the quality of fishing in the future.

We started floating with Captain Forest pointing out rocks, logs and eddies for us to cast our lure. After about
twenty casts, I felt a sudden jerk and Captain Forest said "set it, set it". I started reeling as fast as I could, thinking
I had caught the first fish of the day.

Wrong, I got my first lesson of the day, how to set a hook quickly. Casting again near a huge rock with water
swirling around it, I could see a small mouth bass. It took the bait and I quickly raised the top of my rod to set the
hook. I gripped the rod as if I had a great white on the line and started pulling him in. I was so exited that I actually
jerked the fish out of the water. Captain Forest grabbed the net and helped me land the fish without harming him.
Captain Forest first dipped his hands into the river, took the fish off and weighed it. He lifted the fish by the lower
lip and passed it to me to get a picture. As soon as the picture was taken, he lowered the fish back into the River,
moving it back and forth several times. I later learned that this helped flow water by the gills, giving it oxygen and
reviving it after the battle. All of a sudden, the fish swam away and disappeared. I can say there is nothing like
catching your first small mouth on the New River.

Things were starting to "heat up" for my dad as he snagged a couple of fish from the back of the raft. Even
though we were busy, I could sense that Captain Forest was looking for something we had not seen. We rounded
a bend in the river to see a large crane on a sand bar snaring minnows. I guess we startled him and he flew
directly over our raft to the other side of the river. I cast my lure toward a tree that had fallen into the river. It
landed perfectly by the limbs and started to sink into the river. As quick as a flash something grabbed it jerking
my rod tip into the water. My first response was to pull the rod back and that set the hook. With the line tight and
the rod bending, I knew this was something special. "Don't let you line go slack, we have a big fish", Forest yelled.
I was able to pull the fish away from the branches and into open water. My line was moving back and forth in the
river when all of a sudden the fish jumped and landed with a big splash. It was no ordinary smallie and it seemed
it was mad at me for disturbing its day. I cannot describe how excited we were to finally land this trophy. Again,
Forest was quick to the net and we had my first Virginia citation small mouth in the raft. Forest weighed the twenty
three inch monster at four pounds, fourteen ounces.

All along the way small streams fed the river, great places to hold fish. It wasn't long before casting to one of
these streams that another huge strike took place. I could tell that this fish was different by the way it fought. It
never jumped but headed for deeper water before I landed the walleye. By now the sun was hot and we stopped
for a snack and a dip in the river to cool off. While resting and talking with Captain Forest, I came to realize how
much he loved the river and wanted to protect it. His actions spoke louder than words. He never missed a chance
to grab a piece of trash or broken fishing line from the river. He was careful to handle the fish with care and to
release them the proper way. He helped me become a better fisherman and made certain that my experience on
the New River was something I will never forget. If we all live by Captain Forest's standards for example reducing
run-off, picking up litter and using less phosphate-based detergents that generate algal bloom than we can make
sure that the river will be there for many generations to enjoy and many more father-son memories.