Smith Mountain Lake Article in USA TODAY Travel Tips
As seen in USA TODAY TRAVEL (http://traveltips.usatoday.com/fishing-smith-mountain-lake-virginia-37587.html)
Situated in Virginia's scenic Blue Ridge Mountains, 20,600-acre Smith Mountain Lake is nationally recognized for its bass and striper fishing. The lake sees considerable fishing pressure, but with 500 miles of largely undeveloped shoreline, you should be able to find a quiet spot to drop a line, even on a busy weekend.
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Smith Mountain is a nationally recognized bass lake.
Bass dominate the sport fishing at Smith Mountain Lake, with largemouth being the most sought-after species. Largemouth bass outnumber smallmouth bass by a considerable margin, but a few big smallies are pulled out every year. Fishing for striped bass -- also called striper or rockfish -- can also be excellent. Crappie are also present, including some big fish, but they are not as abundant as in some other Virginia reservoirs. Bluegill, in contrast, are common but typically below average in size. The lake also hosts a healthy population of flathead and channel catfish.
Spring and early summer offer peak bass fishing, with largemouths inhabiting the lake's many shallow coves and arms. Spinnerbaits and Rat-L-Trap style lures catch their share of bass, and the fish also might fall for small, soft plastics flipped under and around piers and boat docks. By the heat of summer, most bass head for deep water, but striper fishing picks up in deep water in the lower lake starting in June and continuing into fall. Live shad are the bait of choice among local striper fishers. Crappie fishing is at its best from March to May and October to November; try casting small jigs and live minnows around trees and brush in the upper lake.
Licenses and Regulations
Smith Mountain Lake is subject to state limits and seasons, a complete guide to which is available for free at bait shops across Virginia. You also can find the regulations in PDF form on the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website. You need a Virginia fishing license to fish at Smith Mountain Lake; licenses are available online or at bait shops and sporting goods stores in the state. As of 2011, an annual license costs $18 for Virginia residents, $36 for nonresidents.
You can access the lake through Smith Mountain Lake State Park, located at the north shore of the lake. The park offers boat launch facilities and a fishing pier, as well as considerable shore access for fishing. Tent and RV campsites are available as well as cabins. The park also includes a swimming beach, picnic areas and miles of hiking trails.