The Fish in Smith Mountain Lake Part 1

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Perhaps you have wondered what kind of fish can be caught in Smith Mountain Lake; and which ones have to be regularly stocked and which reproduce on their own. This is a very informative article from the Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries.

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 other recreational opportunities.

According to a creel survey conducted in 2003, the most sought after speices are Black bass, crappie, catfish, and sunfish. Annual stockings of striped bass are required to maintain the fishery since they do not reproduce successfullat at this reservoir. The other sportfish such as largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, white perch, yellow perch, channel catfish white catfish, and flathead catfish are all maintained through natural reproduction. The only species that are not managed with statewide regulations are black bass and striped bass.

Largemouth bass fishing on this 20,600-acre lake is very good but this fishery receives a lot of pressure. Extensive electrofishing surveys (conducted by VDGIF fisheries biologists) each spring typically produce many largemouth bass in the 2-4 pound range. Surveys indicate the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishery has remained stable for several years, which is an improvement over the early 90s and 80s. The highest densities of largemouth bass in this reservoir is found upstream (heading away from the dam) of Hales Ford Bridge area in the Roanoke River arm and buoy B26 in the Blackwater River arm. Smallmouth bass are more evenly distributed throughout the reservoir. Piers and boathouses provide extensive shoreline cover that anglers should take advantage of. Additionally, natural structure such as fallen trees, rock shoals, and points, are seasonally productive. Coves typically produce the best largemouth bass angling opportunities due to shallower water and less boating traffic. Most anglers, fishing during the summer, fish at night or very early in the morning to avoid heavy boat traffic.

The striper 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.

Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries

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