Aaron Ball SML Trophy Quest

by Aaron Ball

It is getting to be the time of year for me personally, when it gets hard to chase after a new citation species. It’s cold outside, the water is cold, and given the fish I have left to catch, my options are limited. I have found myself doing more trout fishing this fall/winter than I have since moving from Pennsylvania 15 years ago!     

A few weeks ago, I gathered up a few of my friend and headed back down to Smith Mountain Lake in chase of a trophy striper.  We also decided to add a new twist to the adventure and chase some trout the day prior to striper fishing.

I had stumbled upon The Hidden Gem Trout Fishing on Facebook awhile back, and filed it away as a place to check out over the winter.  Given it’s proximity to Smith Mountain Lake we decided to see what it had to offer and I am glad we did. 

We met the owner, Chris early in the morning and he showed us around the property, give us a tips on lures to throw, and even gave us a few flies he had tied up that he said would work. 

It didn’t take long for me to put a few quality rainbows in the cooler, along with a really nice Palomino trout.  My cousin-in-law, Vince was along for the trip and is new to fishing, so I tried to do some coaching on casting in such a tight area and the nuances of fishing a small spinner. Vince caught on quickly and he managed to land a few nice rainbows on a Joe’s Fly, which for me was the highlight of the trip. 

Although I didn’t find the trophy brook or brown trout I was hoping for, I can’t say enough about how much fun we had. If you are looking for a place to take your kids to catch some trout or you just want to get out with some buddies, and catch some nice trout, shoot Chris a DM on The Hidden Gem Trout Fishing page on Facebook. 

Now the real reason for the trip was to get out on Smith Mountain Lake and try to put a 20+ pound striper in the boat. We started the morning off with Captain Todd searching for active seagulls, which this time of year is like a flashing neon sign for actively feeding striper. 

After the first hour or so of no seagulls we headed back down to the Indian Creek area and began jigging for striper. For the jigging we used a standard jig head with a ZOOM Super Fluke attached, which is a staple on Smith Mountain Lake. It didn’t take long for us to put a couple of stripers in the boat, and with some keepers in the box we headed back up lake to look for some bigger fish.

We started pulling some live shad on planer boards and down-riggers on a bank that the side imagining showed fish piled up on, and shortly into the pull, Vince landed the biggest striper I had ever seen. 

A few minutes later, I tied into my personal best striper. This time of year the striper on Smith Mountain Lake are protected under a no keep 30-40 inch size limit. Both of our stripers came close to the 37 inch for citation size, but were just short. The painful part is that both of the fish might have eclipsed the 20- pound mark, but Capt. Todd has as policy of not weighing the fish if they aren’t being kept due to the stress it puts on the fishes spinal cord. So I’ll just be left to wonder until I finally am able to put my hands on the elusive trophy striper.

We ended the day getting into some busting stripers and put a few more in the boat on an Alabama rig, which is about my favorite way to catch striper. For the trout fishing, we mainly used Joe’s Fly, and my favorite spinning rod, which is the JB Custom Trick Spin. For throwing the A-Rig, I used a JB Custom Swimbait Rod, Hawgfarmer Arig, and 3.3 Keitechs swimbait. 

What citation species are you looking forward to chasing this year? Also, if anybody has any suggestions on where to chase a citation carp or bowfin I’d love to hear them on my IG @psuaaron. 

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