Crews Says Smith Mountain Has Stayed Strong All Year Long

Published on 09-23-2022

Crews Says Smith Mountain Has Stayed Strong All Year Long

By Pete Robbins


While John Crews was sorry to see his 2022 Bassmaster Elite Series season end, he took consolation in the fact that he’d be heading home to Virginia to spend time with family – and to spend some days on Smith Mountain Lake. The gorgeous Blue Ridge impoundment has long had a reputation as a fishery with potential and moments of glory, but in recent years it’s proven to be strong year round. That means not only a more consistent tournament venue, but more big fish, too.

The proof is in the Big Bass Tour numbers. While it’s never taken under a 6 pounder to claim top honors, the past four events – two in spring and two in the fall – have both taken at least a 7.39 pound bass to claim the grand prize. In the two tournaments the circuit held there in 2021, it took an 8-pounder. Crews is pretty certain that trend will keep up.

“I’ve been paying attention to how it’s fishing, and everything is pretty good right now,” he said. “A lot of times it can be tough in the fall, but right now there is all different sorts of stuff going on.”

He said he’d be shocked if the big fish of the tournament is under 7 pounds. “I’m pretty certain you’ll see one or two over 7, a few sixes, and lots in the 4- to 5-pound class. You’ll have to be strategic, because there are going to be a lot of 4 pound money fish caught.”

The good news for competitors is that there are “a handful of things going on,” which means that whether you like to fish shallow or deep, near the dam or up one of the rivers, for largemouths or smallmouths, you can probably find a check-cashing bite to your liking.

“There will definitely be some schooling action at the lower end of the lake,” Crews said. “You’ll need to find the active schools, but they’re intermittent. It may be hit or miss.” He doesn’t think that pattern is likely to produce the biggest fish of the tournament, but he’d expect it to result in numerous money finishes.

Instead, for true Smith Mountain Lake giants, he’d likely go very shallow or fairly deep. In fact, he wouldn’t hesitate to have two sets of rods rigged up so that he could ply both segments of the water column in a given area of the lake, making efficient use of his time on the water. For the deep fish – on points and brush offshore – he’d try both a dropshot and a football jig, both in natural colors.

Up shallow, he’d focus on isolated targets with a finesse bait like a shakey head for numbers, but the best bet for jumbos might be a topwater. Even in conditions other than low-light, he’d continue to throw a buzzbait or a walk-the-dog topwater. “You might only get three bites all day,” he said. “It’ll almost definitely be sporadic. But it could put you in the money. Then again, if you’re just going out to have fun the jig will be more consistent shallow.”

He noted that the whole lake will be fishing well right now – recent tournaments have been won in both the far upper reaches of the rivers and on fish in the clearest down lake sections – so pick an area you’re comfortable with and work it over. Just be sure to pay attention to the live leaderboard. It would be a shame to weigh in a 4- or 5-pound Smith Mountain Lake beauty during the “wrong” hour.