Smith Mountain Lake

by Chris McCotter

      Smith Mountain Lake was around 64-68 degrees on the surface from mid to down lake by the mid-April W2 deadline.  The lake level was  794.49’ and steady.  This was slightly lower than it was at the end of March. Keep in mind normal pond is 795’. Expect the lake level to rise slightly in April and watch the water temperature rise a bit to around 72-74 by the end of the month. 

  Woods & Waters would like to welcome Capt. Clint Gray tro the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Focus. Gray is a long-time local at the lake and operates Clint’s Striper Guide Service. He guides from a 26’ Avenger center console and uses live bait.

  Gray notes for May the lake’s striper should be well into their annual false spawn in the lower end of the lake and that means big schools, planer boards and fishing shallow in the backs of major feeder creeks and over main lake points. Gray thinks there may also be some fish post spawn and that means it’s time to break out the Thundersticks and fish after dark.

  The lake’s blueback herring will be spawning at night and tossing herring imitating baits after dark can be awesome not just for striper but also for largemouth bass and smallmouth.

  “I think May is the best time of the year to use live bait to catch a bigger fish. It’s pretty exciting to me,” Black told W2.

     The lake’s smallmouth bass population will still be active this month and many will be spost spawn. Usually the best smallmouth fishing is within sight of the dam here.

  Anglers can target post-spawn SML brown bass on hard bottom shoals and points in 5-10’ using soft plastic jerkbaits, small swimbaits, drop-shotted minnow baits, Ned rigs, the Neko rig and finesse jigs.

   Most early May largemouth bass will still be on beds and can be caught around stumps and other wood cover. Best depths will be from three to eight feet deep. 

    You can pursue SML largemouth using a number of tactics depending on what you find. If the bass are spawning, use drop shot, Neko rig and a small jig. If the largemouth are post spawn try fishing docks with a wacky worm, Ned and Neko rigs.   

    This lake has hundreds of docks and laydowns. These two types of structure will be where many largemouth bass are caught in May. 

     Crappie fishing on Smith Mountain Lake is near a peak in early May. The best habitat exists in the upper end of both the Roanoke River arm and the Blackwater arm. Anglers should fish small jigs on shoreline laydowns.

  Spike and Kathy Francescini operate Spike’s Prime Time Fishin’, one of the longest continuously operated guide services in Virginia.   

 Their 2023 season will kick off this month, so be sure and check out their daily reports at fishing. 

  The Franceschinis mostly fish with live baits and note the lake’s striper population continues to grow and that May is one of the best months to land a citation (20+ pound) SML striper.

    Not only do the Franceschinis offer guided fishing trips but they also rent lodging they own at the lake. Kathy’s Place, 3 br/2b, sleeps eight with game room.  The other rental is is a 2 br/1 bath, sleeps four with kitchen in the great room. 

   Cripple Creek Trout Farm and The Hidden Gem Trout Fishing are two of the three venues of the W2 Trophy Trout Trail you can visit in this region of the state. Both are private operations that offer visiting anglers a chance to catch large stocked trout.

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