Crews Says BBT Competitors Will Have Options at Smith Mountain Lake

Published on 09-19-2023

By Pete Robbins
The incredible success of the Big Bass Tour’s springtime events on Smith Mountain Lake led to creation of a second annual tournament there in the fall. While September is typically a time of transition for bass, and some doubted that the results could match those achieved earlier in the year, no one told the Blue Ridge region fish to shut things down. The results over the past three falls have been nothing short of amazing. The big fish in year one weighed 7.39 pounds, and that was eclipsed by an 8.37 pound brute in 2021.
Then last year the field blew the roof off of expectations. There were not one but two 8-plus-pounders brought to the scale, including a monstrous 8.62 pound largemouth. Fifth place was 6.51 pounds, a weight that many thought might take the title. Clearly, this is a lake that’s on an up cycle, and the bit can be excellent as the year progresses.
Veteran Bassmaster Elite Series pro John Crews has spent lots of time on this beautiful impoundment, and keeps careful track of what’s going on. “Fishing has been very good,” he said in mid-September. “That could change of course. Last year the bite was really good up until the end of September, and then it got tougher in October. That’s the opposite of what usually happens. Typically it’s tougher in September. I expect that if we get just a little bit of a cool down between now and then it should remain excellent.”
The good news for anglers is that the lake should “fish big.”
“There’s good fish being caught all over,” Crews said. “The schooling bite has not quite started up yet, but it should be very soon, and there are still plenty of fish on the deeper summertime stuff. For me, a lot would depend on the weather, but I’d be likely to go deeper fishing the offshore stuff in 15 to 25 feet of water. If you’re not comfortable with that, either find some stained water, or play the dock game – hitting as many of them as you can over the course of the day.”
For the deep fish, he’d utilize a dropshot and a Carolina Rig. On docks, he prefers a Mini Flip Jig, noting that in various natural colors he caught (and received reports of) large number of 5- to 6-pounders last year. 
“If you decide to go the stained water route, you need to be looking for shad,” he explained. “They don’t necessarily need to be schooled up, just present, but it’s better if you have a lot of them. Once you get in those areas, you can throw a topwater, a spinnerbait, a Chatterbait or a crankbait to catch big bass.”
He has increasingly experimented with big baits like single-jointed glides over the past couple of years, and while he’s experienced some success on giants with them elsewhere, so far they have not panned out for him at Smith Mountain.
“I tried it a good bit last fall, and never got any big bites,” he reported. However, in those same areas he found a big walking topwater lure to produce lots of bigger-than-average bass. “It doesn’t matter if it’s sunny, cloudy or rainy. Throw it over the tops of points or in the middle of pockets, and if there’s baitfish presence it’s likely to get wrecked.”
While it may take a true giant to claim top honors, be sure to pay attention to the live leaderboard throughout the day to claim hourly checks. Sure, there will be lots of 4-pound class fish weighed in, but 3- and even 2-pounders regularly grab a chunk of cash, so be strategic and you too can come out ahead.

Berkley Baits for Smith Mountain Lake in the Fall
Berkley’s lineup of tournament-tested and proven lures offer solutions for Smith Mountain Lake big bass fishing in the fall, whether anglers want to go deep or shallow, in the clearest water or into the furthest reaches of the rivers.
Here are some options local anglers rely upon heavily:
For Deep Water
·       Berkley Powerbait Maxscent Flat Worm on a dropshot (Green Pumpkin Watermelon or Cinnamon Purple)
·       10” Berkley Power Worm Texas-Rigged in brush piles (Green Pumpkin or Blue Fleck)
·       Berkley Powerbait Bottom Hopper Worm on a Shakey Head (Green Pumpkin Red Flake or Plum)
For Docks
·       Berkley Powerbait Maxscent Lil' General Worm on a Ned Rig (Baby Bass, Rusty Craw)
·       Berkley Powerbait Maxscent The General Worm Wacky Rigged (Green Pumpkin Party or Green Pumpkin Candy Red)
·       Berkley Powerbait Skippin' Jigs (Bama Craw or Black Brown Amber)
For Covering Water
·       Berkley Powerbait Slobberknocker Bladed Jigs (White or Herring)
·       Berkley J-Walker (Bone or Blue Bullet)
·       Berkley Money Badger (FX Shad or Northern Lights)