Crews Says All of Smith Mountain Lake in Play for Giant Bass

Published on 04-18-2022

By Pete Robbins

As the Big Bass Tour crosses the country in search of the best fisheries available, we’ve been pleasantly surprised with Virginia’s Smith Mountain Lake in recent years. Not only is the Blue Ridge gem remarkably scenic, but an already-fantastic venue just keeps on getting better. Expect that to continue this week, said veteran tour pro John Crews.

Historically, this has been a lake that was chock-full of chunky 3- to 5-pound largemouths and smallmouths, but of late there’s been a big bass explosion. In fact, during two of the last four Big Bass Tour tournaments on Smith Mountain we’ve seen 8-pound-plus largemouths brought to the scales. In April of 2018 we saw a massive 8.32 pounder, and then last fall a contestant barely topped that with a massive 8.37. There’s almost aways one over 7, and usually a handful of sixes to go with it. The days of being competitive for the top prize with a fish under 6 pounds are likely over.

That’s particularly true now, said Crews, not only because the lake keeps getting healthier, but because multiple patterns should be in play.

“The fish really just started spawning, so they’ll still be spawning when the contestants get there,” he explained. “But by the time they arrive there should also be a shad spawn kicking off at night. It’ll start any day now.”

Recent tournament results have been exceptional, with it consistently taking over 20 pounds for a five-fish limit to claim victory, and invariably there’s a bass in the 7-pound class brought to the scales.

“The thing I really like about Smith Mountain is that all of the creek arms can be productive,” Crews explained. “Because there’s no vegetation, there’s no one area with a higher concentration of fish. I believe one year the BBT was won way up the river and the next year it was one down on the lower end. You can find any area you want with the water clarity you like and start fishing.”

For bedding fish he’d look for protected pockets and secondary points with hard bottoms. “You have to find those fish as they pull up,” he said. “If we have some weather, you can power fish for them with a spinnerbait or even a swimbait, but if you’re sight fishing for them a big creature bait is tough to beat.”

Unlike some lakes where the shad spawn primarily on rocks or dock floats, Crews said that at Smith Mountain it’s “more of a bank oriented deal.” The great thing, again, is that it exists all over the lake, although it tends to last longer in stained water. Wind may kill it off, but calm conditions with overcast or drizzle can prolong it up to an hour or two. Again, power fishing is the way to capitalize on “big ones up there to get heavy.” A swimbait, topwater and swim jig are all prime choices, but Crews said that “it’s hard not to throw a spinnerbait.”

For anglers who don’t care to pursue either of those patterns, Crews added that “there are always fish on docks,” He’d fish as many as he could, focusing shallower than usual, and close to bedding areas. “If they’re not on the beds, they’ll be close by,” he concluded.


Big Bass Tour Berkley Top Lure Choices:

Bedding Fish

  • Berkley Maxscent The General
  • Berkley Powerbait Maxscent Creature Hawg
  • Berkley Powerbait Hollow Belly

Shad Spawn

  • Berkley Powerbait Finesse Swim Jigs
  • Berkley Powerbait Gilly Swimbait

Dock Fishing

  • Berkley Maxscent The General
  • Berkley Powerbait Skippin’ Jigs

Shop all Berkley items at