Smith Mountain Lake: Captain Travis Patsell, Cats N' Stripers Fishing Charters, (540) 580-3487. Water temps low 40's. The bite is decent to fair for most species. Its been cold, that's not news to anyone the fish included. A lot of the upper arms of the lake, creeks and coves have ice over top of them. Some boat ramps in the mid to lower sections of the lake are free of ice to those who trailer. Being inside this time of the year sure does sound like a better option. The fish are biting, dress warm and here's what to look for
Stripers; Look for stripers around the mid sections of the lake. Also some reports of decent fish from the lower reaches around the dam as well. Bait fishing is fairly decent. Gizzard shad presented behind planer board are effective right now. But catching them can somewhat be a pain right now. Alewives and peanut gizzard shad fished below downlines really seem to get the number in the boat. Fishing your downlines from 20-45deep. Look for fish from cove/creek mouths out into the main channel. Ranging from 15-50feet. Depth really depends on the days whether. Slow trolling or still fishing is productive when fish are found.
Artificial; This winter hasnt really been a great winter as the past for jigging and casting. There as been some decent days. Look for the fish in the same areas as mentioned above. A rule of thumb I use is when fish are graphed suspended in 30ft or less of water, casting will prevail. The fish are 30ft or deeper I switch to jigging. Only time I change is when I graph fish shallow but on the bottom, i'll prefer to jig. Flukes are jigheads on 3/8, ½ and ¾ ounce is really a fool proof bait. Spoons in 3/4-1ounce in gold or chrome is also a go to lure. Casting i'll go with the flukes on jigheads, weighted swimbaits and Alabama rigs. When casting I count down 5-10seconds once the lure hits the water, before I begin my retrieve.
Crappie; I havent heard much out of the crappie bait. But I have caught several in my cast net on accident while searching for gizzard shad in 25-35ft of water.
Catfish; No much to report either. Channel cats are pretty slow this time of the year. While Flatheads can still be jigged up on spoons. Honestly this time of the year to march, I prefer to make trips to the tidal James river for those big blue cats.