Crews Says Everything In Play at Smith Mountain Lake

Published on 04-27-2023

By Pete Robbins

Smith Mountain Lake is such a popular stop on the Big Bass Tour that we often make it a twice-a-year occurrence, and while the fall colors and fishing can be exceptional, the springtime event just gets better and better.

Whereas it used to often take a fish in the 6-pound class to take the overall top prize, now it frequently takes one over 8 pounds, and rarely does a fish under 7 contend for the title. Indeed, last April there were two bass over 7 pounds weighed in and 5th place was 6.71 pounds. The year before, there were likewise two bass over 7 pounds, but a gargantuan 8.08 took the title. In 2018, that fish would not have won, as the boat went to Randy Fairbanks with an 8.32 pound behemoth.

While he’s often on the road for much of the spring, and spends spare moments attending to family and business interests, two-time Bassmaster Elite Series champion John Crews of nearby Salem, Virginia keeps close tabs on how and where the BBT’s are won, and how the mountain lake is fishing.

“They ‘ve been won way up the Roanoke River and also at the far lower end near the dam,” he said. “That’s the great thing about that lake, it can be really good all over.”

While later in May, and certainly as the summer progresses, the bass may move offshore, Crews still suspects that most of them are shallow.

“The biggest wave of spawners was in the past few weeks, and there’s a shad spawn starting to get going early in the morning, so a lot of the bigger fish are still very shallow. They aren’t going offshore. They’re still lingering, and I would expect that an array of baits can be used. The lake is still relatively clear, so let the weather dictate your choices. If there’s wind or overcast or rain, a big swimbait or other power fishing baits will be a factor. But at the same time, there always seem to be some big fish caught on finesse techniques like shakey heads.”

For the shad spawn, he’d look to hard cover like riprap and rock, but failing that he’d expect many of the biggest fish to set up on points and docks, the latter especially if it’s sunny.

“If you get some wind, it opens up the strike zone,” he said. “They don’t tend to hang around cover so much, so you can cover more water.”

It may be a touch too early for them, but if everything lines up Crews believes that a big topwater could be in play. “If you catch one with it, it could be a big one,” he said. “It’s always good post-spawn, just about any kind – a popper, a walking bait, or even a plopper-style bait. It’s a good way to catch a big one, but you shouldn’t expect to catch a lot of fish with it. Your best bet for numbers and if you’re hoping to get a big fish too is a dropshot or a shakey head.” 

Berkley Baits for Smith Mountain Lake Early April

With the fish in various stages of the spawn and post-spawn, it pays to have a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C this week on Smith Mountain Lake. Here are some of our top Berkley choices to get the job done:

For finesse presentations – Berkley Powerbait Bottom Hopper Worm (Green Pumpkin Red Flake or Ike’s Morning Dawn) on a shakey hed

For big bass under docks Berkley Powerbait Skippin’ Jig (GK Spring Craw) with Maxscent Meaty Chunk Trailer (Watermelon Red)

For the shad spawn – Berkley Powerbait Swim Jig (Shad) with a Power Swimmer Swimbait (Silver Flash)

For covering water – Berkley Choppo 90 or 105 (Bone or HD Threadfin Shad)