New River Valley

by Chris McCotter

Smith Mountain Lake level was 794.40’ and rising slightly by the middle of September. This is similar to the level at the end of August. Keep in mind normal pond is 795’ so the lake was in very good shape at the start of fall.

Water temperature was 82-85 degrees on the surface from mid to down lake by the mid-September W2 deadline. Expect the lake level to drop slightly in October and watch the water temperature begin to drop into the 70s by the end of the month.
October on Smith Mountain is normally a month where this deep, clear lake is frequented mostly by anglers.

Fishing on Smith Mountain for bass should be decent this month as the water temperatures begin to fall and trigger baitfish migrations into the creeks and shallow water the later part of this month.

As early fall is arriving the bass tend to school at SML and can be found in large groups feeding on baitfish and traveling to their fall areas prior to winter. Target largemouth bass on rocky points, brush piles, docks, shoals, humps and long points. Mornings can still be a great time to find schooling fish on topwater baits.

Look for bait to start gathering in the mouths of the tributaries this month with an abundance of different types and sizes of bait and they all can be in different water depths. Later in the morning the fish will move offshore into deeper water and under deep docks.
October offers a variety of lures and tactics to target topwater lures, jigs, shakey head, drop shots, Texas rig worms, crankbaits, and Carolina rigs. Depths of water would be most productive throughout 5-20 feet.

Guides Spike and Kathy Franceschini are guiding for striper just about every day now. They use two deck boats for their striper trips, employing mostly live bait but they have been known to troll, jig and cast. For much of September they had limit catches.

Kathy notes striper will still be schooling from the Hales Ford Bridge to the dam and up to Gill’s Creek, but you can expect some movement further up the lake by the end of the month.

You will find SML striper mostly in the coves and creeks on a 30-50 foot contour and holding 20-50 feet. Some fish will begin to break on the surface early and late.

Not only do the Franceschinis offer guided fishing trips but they also rent lodging they own at the lake. The listing #s are 218590 and 282712 on VRBO.

Make your fall reservations with Spike and Kathy or stay at Gills Creek and enjoy waterfront rooms with queen-sized beds on the lower of the lake in the Blackwater arm.

River guide Sam Scott encourages anyone interested in fishing with him for smallmouth bass or musky on the upper James and New Rivers to contact him now as his fall season is beginning to fill up.

The Overland East Expo is coming up October 7-9 in Arrington, Virginia. This special event will feature 200+ exhibitors offering everything for enjoying van life and camping – known as overlanding. There will be music, food, to certification and education classes. You can find tickets at

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