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Smith Mtn Lake, 11 APR 2020

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  • Smith Mtn Lake, 11 APR 2020

    Got out for another ~half day. Was thrilled to see the wind lay down. It was rockin' in Blacksburg. Must've been big water time on the lake. It was a lil brisk - 34* at launch. Glad I kept the bibs and thermal layers in the truck.

    Put in at the state park around 7. So strange seeing the place nearly empty on a SAT. My plan was to continue the study of main lake coves/cuts I started a couple weeks back. I had three places selected for this trip, all within a short hop of the ramp. Saw 55.2* at launch w/ slightly stained water (maybe 4-5' of viz). With the cold overnite I figured I'd hit western shorelines first since they'd get the early sun. As I pulled up to my first stop I noticed swirls and small wakes right up on the shoreline. I put my medium diving crankbait down and picked up a fluke (weightless TX-rigged). First cast landed on the riprap but slid off easily w/ a little shaking. The line jumped almost immediately and started tracking right to left. Small keeper LM. I stayed w/ the shallow water bite for the next 2 hours, alternating between the fluke, a small swimbait, and a SK 2.5. All of these produced. The swimbait - a 3.25" SK rage swimmer rigged on a do-nothing ball head jig - produced a really nice SM. 20" and solid. Was a good fight.

    When the shallow water bite played out I resumed my study of points and ledges, sending equal time charting and fishing. The moving bait bite died as the sun came up and my sonar showed everything on the deck so I switched to bottom presentations. I alternated between a jig and the c-rig. The subtle points and ledge protrusions that had been so productive the past 2 outings didn't pan out. The fish were holding on more pronounced structure. Where on last 2 outings the fish were off to one side or another today they were right on the spine - dead in the middle and towards the end. Got to where I could almost call the bite. Best fish of the day came off of a long, tapered point on the c-rig. Easily 4lbs, maybe a lil more. Managed to cover all of my targeted stops by noon.

    Observations: 1) WTs ranged from 55.2 at launch to 58.7 in mid morning. Water clarity improves the further down lake you go, picks up a little more stain the further uplake you go. I fished within 3 miles of the state park the entire day. 2) Bait fish were balled up and up in the water column ~all day. Lots of feeding going on around the shad balls but it was all deeper (+30'). Did see some surface activity in a couple places but didn't investigate it. 3) Water level was down a bit from last week. Maybe a foot or so. Didn't affect the shallow water bite. 4) Aside from the shallow water bites early in the AM, 6-8' was the magic range. Had to retrieve a couple of snags during the day and was able to get a good look at what was going on up on some of the points. Fish were tight to the bottom, holding just beyond the break. In every case I had to make multiple casts to any given point before I got bit. You needed to put it right in their faces to draw a strike. 5) Wind blowing across structure was better than wind blowing in on it. I did enjoy a good bite in calm winds today, esp early in the AM. 6) No secret sauce on the baits I used - shad patterned hard baits; green soft plastix on the c-rig, natural colored jig, natural colored swim bait and fluke.

    Electronix, especially the chart view, was the key for finding the places I could call high-probability. I zoomed in to see as much detail as my map chip would give me. This was especially helpful in finding the sweet spots on those larger, longer points. Even the best maps out there do not have the resolution you need to see detail like this. I used a split-screen view w/ chart and 2D downscan so I could track what the fish were doing. This is how I was able to pattern today's bite so quickly, efficiently.

    Final thought: We all dream of finding that special place on the water that always holds fish. We all have our short list of go-to places for our favorite lakes and rivers. These past few outings have reinforced something for me - fish are everywhere. The task is to find the sweet spots within the area we're fishing that particular day. Yeah, I know every lake and river has its special places where terrain, current, man-made enhancements, and weather all come together to consistently draw fish (esp good fish). The keys to finding these places are map study (incl your electronix) and time on the water (TOW). By far, TOW is the most valuable. This is the only way to learn how fish relate to and use these special places.

    Wish all of you a blessed Easter Sunday. Hope you're surrounded by family and good friends as you celebrate this day. Christ is risen!


  • #2
    sounds like a really; good day on sml
    Make VAO Great again


    • #3
      Nice report. Good information on the electronics. I admit I use my Navionics information as much as I do for fish finding capabilities.