Smith Mountain Lake: Contributed by local guide Captain Travis Patsell of Cats N' Stripers Fishing Charters. (540) 580-3487. Hopefully spring is here to stay this time. I hope everyone enjoyed Easter with loved ones. With most fish established in their spring patterns, spring fishing is underway and here's what to look for:
Stripers: The fish really seem to be spread out throughout the river arms. Focusing your efforts with planer boards, floats and flat lines behind the boat. Gizzard shad and alewives are baits of choice. Trolling your bait across points and cuts as well as the creek channels will put you in line for success! Please practice catch and release on fish above the slot limit as they can still be released healthy with the cooler waters temps.
Stripers on artificial: There has been some busting action this spring but not real heavy at all and mostly single fish. Even still casting artificial is getting hooked up. Fool proof lures for spring are bucktails, flukes free weighted and light jig heads, Swamp monkey lures and swim baits. Shallow running plugs also such as thundersticks, bomber and crystal minnows. Look for the night bite too.
Catfish: The bite is really getting good. Look for flatheads and channel cats to be roaming areas with bait fish in good supply. Points, and flats is good areas to start. Live and cut bait will produce both species. Always release catfish over 12lbs and especially now with the spawn coming up!
Crappie: I haven't received many crappie reports. But the fishermen I see fishing over brush and docks in 12ft or less are doing well. Just about every time I look at them, a crappie is swinging into the boat.
As spring brings back good fishing, please remember that we strive, practice and try to teach about catch and release of large fish! On March 20, 2011 a striped bass was caught, tagged for the VDGIF and released by Mike Ward. The striper measured at 34.5 inches and weighed 15 lbs. Than on April 19, 2012, a young angler named Ethan Blankenship, who was fishing with his father, Nathan Blankenship, aboard the Early Riser with Tyler Early. Ethan's first catch of the morning was Mike's tagged striper! It was Ethan's first citation striper, coming in at 38 inches and 21lbs. After a photo the striper was released again with tag still in place for another chance to make a young angler and father proud of a fine catch!
Smith Mountain Lake: Contributed by Lt. Burnette, local angler and member of SML Bassmasters and creator of Swamp Monkey Lures. Spring is here finally and the fish are biting. The first wave of spawning fish have hit the bank and the beds are visible especially if you have on polarized sunglasses. Soft plastic creature baits cast into the bed will catch the aggressive bass. Some may need more time than others in order to coax into biting. Fish are still being caught around natural rock and docks with crankbaits, jigs and shakey heads. Focus on areas in the mid to back of the major creeks. Shade will be critical on the sunny days. The shad and alewife spawn is slowly starting and with it the annual thunderstick bite is picking up. It'll start right at dark and continue to midnight or so. Rip rap banks will be the dominant location for this bite. Listen for fish breaking and the splash of the bait spawning and parallel the bank with the thunderstick and reel slowly as possible. Be safe, good luck and good fishing!