Driving Map to Smith Mtn - Click to Enlarge
|A nice Smith Mountain Lake smallmouth
caught by Terry's Guide Service
Smith Mountain Lake Overview
At 20,600 acres, Smith Mountain Lake is the largest reservoir entirely contained
within Virginia. It is home to good populations of largemouth bass, smallmouth
bass, crappie, catfish, and white and yellow perch, but it is really known for its
exceptional striped bass fishery. These fish are plentiful and grow large in this
sprawling reservoir. The fishing pressure is high and the pleasure boat traffic is
heavy during the warm weather months. However, due to the size of the lake
anglers can often find a quiet place to fish even on busy weekends. Crappie grow
large, but the numbers of crappie are not as high and the fishing not as easy as in
some other Virginia reservoirs.
August 16, 2012: Mike Snead of the Virginia Outdoorsman provided the following fishing report. Contact
Mike at (540) 721-4867 or visit him online at www.virginiaoutdoorsman.com.
The hot weather we had been experiencing for most of the summer gave way to temperatures that are
more pleasant over the past several weeks. The current long-range weather forecast suggests this trend
will continue and that the high temperature will be in the 80’s each day. The low temperature at night is
expected to drop down into the 60’s over the same period, so we are expecting a continuation of
seasonally comfortable temperatures. Skies are expected to range from sunny to partly cloudy over the
next two weeks and while skies will be clear most days we are expecting scattered showers as we
approach this weekend. There may also be intermittent periods of precipitation the middle of next week
and there is always the chance of an isolated evening thunderstorm, especially in the late afternoon and
evening. The lake water clarity continues to be fair in the upper and middle sections of the lake and good
in the lower lake. There will be limited amounts of moonlight at night over the next two weeks with the next
new moon on August 17th and a first quarter moon on the 24th. The water level is running about two feet
below full pond and all public launch ramps are open.
The lake surface water temperature continues to run around 85 degrees keeping the alewives and most
other baitfish as well as those fish that key on them in the deep, cooler water with good oxygen content.
Stripers key heavily on shad and will invariably be found where they are concentrated and this time of year
that is usually deep. The middle and lower sections of the lake are among the more productive striper
areas right now. While stripers may be found in the major deep-water creeks and larger guts early and
late in the day, once the sun moves overhead, they tend to move down in the water column and to migrate
to the mouths of the creeks and into deep river channels.
Most stripers are currently being found from 20 to 65 feet below the surface. Most anglers and virtually all
guides use live bait rigged on downlines this time of year. As those who regularly fish with live bait
already know, catching live shad and keeping them alive and healthy can be challenging this time of year.
Shad continue to be drawn to lights that shine into deeper water at night and can be caught using a larger
cast net, but the bait is deeper and less concentrated during the summer months. Additionally, the shad
are more sensitive to stress and handling when the water is warmer, so adding salt and chemicals
(shad keeper, better bait) to bait tank water is essential this time of year. Live (large or jumbo) shiners,
available at local bait and tackle shops, are a viable alternative for those who want to head out for a
couple of hours of live bait fishing and do not have the ability to catch and properly maintain shad from the
lake. Shiners are hardy baitfish that don’t require specialized bait tanks and equipment.
Those who prefer to fish with artificial lures or who are not equipped to maintain live bait also have
success vertically jigging flukes rigged on jigheads and jigging spoons. When jigging, I suggest you
attach a regular swivel to your jighead with a split ring or that you use a small coastlock snap swivel to
attach the jighead to your line. This will help eliminate line twist when vertical jigging. Once a
concentration of striped bass is identified in open water flukes rigged on jigheads, bucktails and
Alabama rigs can also be cast, counted down to the appropriate depth and retrieved. When casting or
jigging in stained water I use a “Spike-It” chartreuse marking pen to add a little color to my fluke. I find
adding a chartreuse line or two along the top of the back makes the plastic lure more visible.
Another popular and effective technique for striped bass this time of year is trolling. Most use their gas
motor to troll this time of year. This technique allows anglers to cover a lot of water while presenting lures
to stripers. In the summer months, lure depth control is critical, as you want to present them directly
above the fish. A number of anglers use traditional downriggers as this is one of the most effective ways
to control the depth and presentation of trolled lures. Unfortunately, there is a lot of submerged timber in
this lake. When trolling in unfamiliar waters with downriggers it is necessary to closely monitor conditions
below the surface to avoid snagging a cannon ball in one of the many trees.
The most popular trolling technique is probably using a lead-core line outfit. Lead-core line is color-
coded so lure depth can easily be controlled by changing the length of line (number of 10 yard colors)
one lets out behind the boat. Lead core line outfits are relatively inexpensive, are effective and can be
used by anyone with a boat who wishes to catch stripers on this lake. Anglers, who prefer to troll with
heavier lures, like Umbrella Rigs or deep diving lures find that using heavy braided line spooled on a line
counter reel works well. Trolling a diving crankbait or jerkbait behind the boat with a traditional baitcasting
or spinning outfit rigged with monofilament line also works fine, but it can be a little more difficult to
control the depth of the lure.
Good areas for striped bass this time of year include Gills Creek, Bull Run, Craddock Creek, Becky’s
Creek, the State Park, S curve, Mariners Landing, major creeks below the Hales Ford Bridge and the
areas in front of and around the dam. Stripers will be found in smaller pods as well as in larger schools
and during the summer months are often found in submerged timber. The key this time of year is to find
the fish and most anglers ride around in targeted areas, some while trolling and use their electronic
finders to locate schooled fish.
Bass fishing has been challenging, especially in the day. Bass continue to be caught both shallow and
deep, but the better fish continue to be found deeper in the water column. Largemouth bass continue to
be caught under deepwater docks around shaded pilings on 4 and 5 inch Wacky Rigged Senko worms.
Small worms, craws and plastics rigged on Texas rigs and shaky head jigs are also producing bass
holding on docks. Bass are also being caught off humps and deep-water points on Carolina rigged
plastics and crankbaits. Many of the most recent reports suggest the most productive lure for bass
holding in or around submerged structure is the crankbait. Several report being unable to catch bass
marked on electronics with anything other than crankbaits.
Catfishing continues to be good. Flatheads and channels are both being caught in good numbers during
the day and at night. Live shad presented on bottom rigs (Carolina rig) appear to be most productive
when targeting flatheads. I suggest hooking the shad in the top of the back as it will allow them to swim
upward and they will not hang up in the bottom structure as frequently. Channel cats are also hitting
shad, but nightcrawler worms and stinkbaits on bottom rigs are a better choice. Carp continue to be
caught on quality canned corn and sweet flavored dough baits. Small panfish, warmouth and bluegills
are holding in the shade under walkways and shoreline rip-rap. Small hair jigs, worm pieces, Berkley
imitation maggots and trout nibblets are all good baits for these fish. They will also hit small poppers,
flies and spinners.
Tight lines and have a great day on the water.
Virginia Outdoors - A Resource for Virginia Anglers and Hunters
Virginia Outdoors - Smith Mountain Lake
Fishing Smith Mountain Lake
Smith Mountain Lake Fishing Guides
Largemouth Bass: In Smith Mountain Lake, largemouth outnumber smallmouth
bass 10:1. The highest density of largemouth is found uplake of Hales Ford
Bridge in the Roanoke River arm and Buoy 26 in the Black water River arm. The
numerous piers and boathouses on the lake provide productive visible cover, and
are an excellent place to start - especially for newcomers. The water is typically
clear, so natural colors and light line are recommended. One tactic is flip and skip
small plastics around boat docks and then between boat docks cast Rat-L-Traps
and spinnerbaits. Stained water can be found at times in the back of tributaries
like No Name (Magnum), Poplar Camp, Stanford, Beaverdam, Grimes, and Buff.
Flip jigs and cast spinnerbaits and buzzbaits around natural cover in these creeks
- especially during low light conditions.
Striped Bass: Several hundred thousand fingerling striped bass are stocked each
year. Adult fish are scattered throughout the lake most of the year, but tend to
concentrate in the lower lake during the summer and early fall. Live bait is the
most popular tactic with some trolling during the summer and casting during the
spring or in low light conditions. Think large for live baits - large shad up to 10" can
be productive - and use Waterbugz planers to cover a larger area. Popular lures
for trolling include deep-diving plugs and bucktails. Good lures to cast include
swim baits (Sassy Shad and Shad Assassins), bucktails, and even topwater lures
(Cordell Redfin) at dawn and dusk. It is well worth the price of a good guide to get
a lesson in how to pursue these hard-pulling, good-eating fish. Fish over 20 lbs
are always a possibility.
Smith Mountain Lake Fishing Report
|A good wintertime striper caught by
Terry's Guide Service
|Copyright © 2009 Virginia Outdoors, LLC
Other Useful Info and Links
Campgrounds and Lodging:
Smith Mountain Lake State Park (camping, swimming, cabins): (540) 297-6066
Eagle's Roost Campground: (540) 297-7381
Goose Dam Campground: (540) 483-2100
Blue Ridge Campground and Marina: (540) 721-3866
Mitchell's Point Marina and Campground: (540) 297-7174
Crazy Horse Marina and Campground: (540) 721-1587
Paradise Inn (Campground, marina, hotel): (540) 297-6109
The marinas on Smith Mtn Lake are almost too numerous to list. In addition to
Blue Ridge, Mitchell's point, and Crazy Horse, some popular marinas include:
Bay Roc Marina: (540) 890-2194
Foxport Marina & Lodge: (540) 721-2451
Parkway Marina: (540) 297-4412
Bridgewater Marina and Boat Rentals: (540) 721-1639