If you live in Virginia, chances are that you have taken a day off to go Smith Mountain Lake Fishing. This lake was made in 1963 with the completion of the Smith Mountain Dam on the Roanoke River. It took until March 1966 for the lake to reach its normal water level. With a shoreline of over 500 miles and an area of 20,600 acres, Smith Mountain Lake is the largest lake found entirely within the Commonwealth of Virginia. The area around the lake remained mostly rural until the mid-1980’s when development took off with the building of upscale lakefront homes and condos.
When you go Smith Mountain Lake Fishing, there are a number of different species you may catch. The lake is regularly stocked with largemouth bass, small mouth bass, striped bass, and muskie. Other fish include crappie, catfish, muskellunge, and walleyes. Smith Mountain Lake along with nearby Leesville Lake have several Virginia freshwater fishing records. A huge 53 lb. striped bass was pulled out of Leesville Lake in March 2000. A 2 lbs. 9 oz. Roanoke Bass was caught in May 2005. And in May 2015 at the Smith Mountain Lake Fishing Tournament, a 40.06 pound 44-inch catfish was caught. This beat the previous tournament record of 39.56 pounds.
Smith Mountain Lake (SML) has not gone unnoticed by professional anglers. ESPN televised the Bass-master Elite Series event when it came to SML. This is the top level of pro bass fishing competitions. Another tournament at SML is the Oakley’s Big Bass Tournament for amateurs only. These fishing tournaments have brought national attention to the area. Plus it tells you that the fishing must be great or they wouldn’t hold the tournaments here.
Black bass, which is a general term that includes smallmouth and largemouth bass, are one of the most sought after fish in the lake. Although they can be found throughout the lake, the highest densities of bass are usually found upstream in the upper reaches of the reservoir. Using a spinner-bait is a great way to catch a Large-mouth Bass. They are popular because of their cantankerous temperament and tendency to strike bait or a lure with explosive force.
Striped Bass or stripers are also a prized catch. The SML striped bass record is 49.4 pounds. These fish tend to be more numerous in the downstream part of the reservoir. Many different fishing methods have been used to catch stripers. These methods include spinning, bait fishing, fly fishing, jigging, and trolling.