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Smith Mountain Lake Striper Fishing
Stripers 247.coms East central regional
Striper fishing forum for Smith Mountain
and other freshwater impoundments
2007 Biologists report for Smith Mountain Lake
Here's an external link for a local forum for Smith Mountain Lake SMLstripers and other Virginia impoundments
to Virgina striped bass fishing
Smith Mountain Lake is a 20,600-acre
impoundment located near Roanoke in Bedford and Franklin counties.
This reservoir is one of Virginia's premier fisheries, offering
outstanding fishing and a vast array of other recreational
opportunities. The reservoir is owned by American Electric
Power Company and is managed by this company primarily for
hydroelectric power generation.
Smith Mountain Lake was created to generate electricity, and to help manage
water flows downstream and nearby. The damming of the Blackwater and Roanoke
Rivers formed Smith Mountain Lake in a filling process that began on September
24, 1963 -- and ended almost 2.5 years later on March 7, 1966.
Smith Mountain Lake's highest water level ("full pond")
is 795 feet above sea level. Normally there is very little seasonal
variation in the water level. The typical daily variation for
electricity production is 12-24 inches. During severe drought
conditions, lake levels can fall by four feet or more.
US Army Corps of Engineers publishes a daily water
by mountains, SML's deepest point is about 250 feet, near the
dam itself. Outside the lake's many coves, 100-150 feet is
Most of the shoreline is
developed with residential homes but other facilities catering
to outdoor enthusiasts are found at various locations.
fishery has to be the most notable fishery on Smith Mountain
Lake. Striped bass are the second most popular sport fish
at Smith Mountain Lake. Striped bass have been stocked into
this reservoir since impoundment in 1963.
Limited spawning habitat for striped bass prevents natural
reproduction. Stocking is required to maintain the fishery
unlike other species such as bass, crappie, catfish, and
shad. Stocking rates for striped bass were increased from
300,000 to 450,000 fingerlings annually in 1998. Different
stocking methods in conjunction with increased stocking rates
recently increased the striped bass population.
good year-classes of stripers (from 1998 and 2001) are producing
many fish up to 28 inches. Stripers are distributed throughout
the lake during most of the year but are concentrated in
lower lake areas during the summer and early fall months.
Coves are typically not very productive for striped bass
during the summer months so anglers should concentrate their
efforts on the main lake when water temperatures begin to
rise. However, the backs of coves, which contain flowing
streams, can be productive during the winter and early months.
Look for springschools of shad in these areas especially
during warming trends when the streams are warmer than the
reservoir. Striped bass anglers utilize a variety of fishing
methods such as drifting live bait, trolling plugs and bucktail
jigs, or casting top water lures. Anglers use live bait throughout
the year, trolling is most popular during the warmer months,
and casting top water or shallow running plugs is most productive
during the spring at night. Most striped bass are caught
between the dams and buoy 64 of the Roanoke Arm and up to
buoy 40 of the Blackwater Arm. Although these are the general
areas most striped bass are caught, these fish are very mobile
and may change locations continuously depending on forage
availability, water temperatures, and spawning.
should not release legal size striped bass during the summer
months. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
encourages striped bass anglers to quit fishing after catching
their limit in the months of June-September. Most of these
fish released during the summer months will not survive!
A voluntary catch-and-release
(no harvest) season is recommended for striped bass from October
through May to help build population abundance and fish size.
A striped bass
tagging study was initiated in the fall of 2001 to provide
biologists with information on striped bass catch rates,
harvest rates, movement, survival, and population dynamics.
The fish tags are yellow and approximately three inches in
length. The tags are attached to the abdominal area of the
fish and should be easily recognized without dissection. Tagged
fish do not have to be harvested to collect the reward. Cut
or clip tags (do not pull tags loose) from fish you wish to
release. Anglers are encouraged to submit all tags collected
from striped bass to the address printed on the tag. There
is a reward of $5-$50 for all returned tags.
Numerous public and private boat ramps and marinas are found
around the lake. In addition, there is a very nice handicapped-accessible
fishing pier at the Smith Mountain Lake State Park boat launching
area. Additional information on lodging, marinas, and other
attractions can be obtained by calling the Smith Mountain Lake
Visitors Center at 1-800-676-8203.
The number of striped bass in the population had been improving since 1999 as a result of increased stockings and better survival of young fish. However, the Smith Mountain Lake striped bass fishery experienced a major setback in 2003. A parasitic copepod (Achtheres) infestation of striped bass began in the fall of 2002 and the shad population was reduced by more than 60% for several months due to a shad winterkill in 2003. As a result, a major striped bass kill occurred in the spring of 2003 for a minimum of two months. Based on observations during the fish kill, gill net data, VDGIF citation program data, and angler diary data; the fish kill eliminated most of the striped bass over 10 pounds. Gill net data has indicated that the number of young (up to 3 years of age) striped bass remained good despite the fish kills. The number of bigger striped bass has been improving but most of the larger fish are still limited to 10-15 pounds. However, there are a few striped bass available up to 20 pounds with the biggest fish in 2006 weighed in at 38 pounds! VDGIF is continuing to monitor and research the parasite infestation. It is unknown at this time what the long-term impacts of this parasite will have on the health of the striped bass population at Smith Mountain Lake. In an attempt to expedite the rebuilding of this trophy fishery, new striped bass regulations were instituted in 2006. The new striped bass size limits are designed to restrict the harvest of larger striped bass when survival of catch and release is high and allow harvest of these fish during the summer when survival is typically low. Studies have consistently shown that catch and release of striped bass in the summer months results in very high mortality. Most of these striped bass die 1-3 days after release and most sink to the bottom and never surface. Consequently, anglers should not release striped bass during the summer months. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries encourage striped bass anglers to quit fishing after catching their 2-fish limit in the months of June-September. Catch-and-release is recommended for striped bass from October through May. The new striped bass regulations maintain the two fish creel limit throughout the year but require all striped bass between 26 to 36 inches be released from October 1 through May 31. There are no size limits from June-September.
Public Boating Access at Smith Mountain Lake
Bedford - Water Status: 4' Low Concrete ramp at OakHollowRd
Bedford - Water Status: 4' 2 Concrete ramps at Rt 634
Smith Mountain Lake weather
Courtesy of Virginia Game and inland fisheries
All Stripers All The Time!!