Crews Says Smith Mountain Lake is Better Than Ever

Published on 04-19-2021

Crews Says Smith Mountain Lake is Better Than Ever

By Pete Robbins

The Big Bass Tour’s spring trip to Virginia’s scenic and prolific Smith Mountain Lake returns this weekend, and veteran Bassmaster Elite Series pro John Crews said that competitors are in for a slugfest.

“It’s been taking really big weights to win there at this time of year over the past two years,” he said. “It just seems to be getting better and better. I’d expect that there will be at least one 8-pounder, probably a 9, and possibly a 10. In fact, I would not be totally surprised by a 10-pounder.”

Crews attributes the rise in the overall fish population as well as the number of trophies to two factors. The first is the increase in the population of blueback herring, upon which the bass can gorge themselves. The second is the addition of F1 hybrid largemouths. “I’m not sure that the eights and nines are the result of those stockings, but they definitely help,” he opined.

The beautiful thing about this event is that competitors won’t be crammed into one particular section of the lake. Crews believes that the overall top prize winner could come from down near the dam, for instance in Craddock Creek, or all the way up to the furthest reaches of the Blackwater or Roanoke Rivers.

You won’t need to confine yourself to a particular technique, either. With the proliferation of massive numbers of protein-packed forage – shad, herring and others – it’s easy to lock a swimbait rod in your hand and just search for a jumbo. Crews said that’s a reasonable plan, but only if you have the right conditions: “You need rain or wind or low-light conditions for that to work well. If the weather is not conducive to that presentation, it won’t be productive.”

Of course, sight fishing in the clearer portions of Smith Mountain can also play a role, but again anglers will need to avoid getting locked into this pattern when it’s not a player for the true giants. Crews said that this is often a means to catch a lot of smaller males, but “sometimes it’s not the best way to catch at least a 4-pounder, unless you’re willing to cover a lot of water.” The big girls may just come up shallow for a brief time and then descend out of sight.

Finally, the veteran angler and business owner said that Smith Mountain’s “tried-and-true” pattern 12 months out of the year is to ply its many docks and piers. There’s not a particular type of dock that produces better than the others, rather it’s a matter of location.

“Where they are is usually more important than what they are,” Crews said. “The ones that you can always expect to produce this time of year are the ones closest to the spawning pockets.”

While some 3- and 4-pounders can expect to earn hourly checks, over the past six years no bass under 5 pounds has snuck into the top 10 in Big Bass Tour competition at Smith Mountain. In fact, in five of those six years it took at least a 560 brute to earn 10th place. There are almost always 6-pounders in the mix. Last year in October the field topped out at 7.39, and in April of 2018 the winner was a freakish 8.32 pound largemouth. If the predictions made by Crews come to fruition, we could see both of those marks become afterthoughts by the time the weekend comes to an end.