Crews Says Smith Mountain Lake Anglers Have Variety on Tap

Published on 10-18-2020

Crews Says Smith Mountain Lake Anglers Have Variety on Tap

By Pete Robbins

In recent years, the Big Bass Tour has consistently held April events on Virginia’s Smith Mountain Lake, and while it may not often be mentioned in the same breath as monster factories like Guntersville, the scenic mountain reservoir has consistently pumped out loads of quality fish. Veteran Elite Series pro John Crews said that upward trend should continue in the tournament’s 2020 iteration, but with the move to October it will significantly expand the patterns in play.

“There are at least three different approaches you could take,” he said. “You could fish deep, because there are almost certainly a few still offshore. With these recent colder nights, there are also definitely some moving up shallow, so you could chase them in water with a little stain with a topwater or a shallow-diving crankbait. And docks are always a factor at Smith Mountain, year-round.”

He said it would be hard for him to resist the big fish potential of a topwater bait. “It’s not a way to catch a bunch,” but by alternating between a popper, a large walking bait and perhaps a Whopper Plopper he feels confident that he’d have a good chance at getting a larger bite or two – either largemouth or smallmouth. He’d focus on areas where he’s seen heavy shad activity or the schooling action that tends to fire up around this time.

For those anglers who prefer the dock bite, he’d be “throwing Ike’s Mini Flip on every dock I could fish.” While black and blue is a perennial favorite, at this time of year he often favors Bammer Craw, a green pumpkin and orange mix, because it mimics the orange coloration of the autumn crawfish. Either way, he’d pair it with a matching trimmed D-Bomb for a trailer.

If you’re looking for an oddball bite, he doesn’t recommend oversized swimbaits, but rather heading in the opposite direction: finesse. “They can be stingy this time of year, so I might use a Neko Rig or a dropshot.” For the former, he’d use a Missile Baits Quiver 4.5 in “standard issue green pumpkin” with a 1/16 ounce Neko weight. With the latter, he’d be “hard pressed not to put a little Bomb Shot on there and get to fishing it around points and docks. It’s a way to go behind someone and catch the fish that they’ve missed.”

Crews believes that Smith Mountain’s big fish potential continues to rise because of sound management practices. There have been multiple stockings of F1 hybrids, and that has resulted in “more big fish than any other year in my lifetime.” He also said that the presence of massive amounts of bait, including increasing numbers of blueback herring, keep the bass well-fed.

That’s played out in recent years’ BBT results. It has never taken less than a 5-pounder to stake a claim to the overall top ten. In 2018, the event was won with a massive 8.32 pound largemouth, and five more over 6 pounds were brought to the scales. The year prior, two fish over 7 pounds and eight more over 6 made for a stout top 10. Anglers who manage to capture a 5- or 6-pounder will need to be wise about which hour they get it weighed.

Fortunately, there will be plenty of water to fish, whether you’re offshore, plying docks, or putting the trolling motor on high and covering ground with a topwater.

“There’s no particular section of the lake that’s better than the rest at this time of year,” Crews opined. “There are lots of tournaments on different parts of the lake, so it’s not like one particular area gets restocked with bigger fish. That’s what I love about it – you can catch big fish in any creek or any section of the lake.”