The Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries has provided numerous studies on the fish present in Smith Mountain Lake and their various habits. Following are some of the details that may interest residents who enjoy knowing about their lake’s population, and of course, those who love to fish.
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.
This reservoir has a limited crappie habitat. An average of 33 citations (trophy certificates) have been issued for crappie at Smith Mountain over the past six years. Although the lake produces many quality size crappies, anglers should not expect to consistently catch large numbers of crappie. The crappie population is smaller than some other Virginia reservoirs but the quality of these fish is very good. Coves in the upper ends of the reservoir should be the most productive, especially near fallen trees or brush piles
Sunfish and catfish are also popular sport species at Smith Mountain Lake. Sunfish are abundant but competition with shad prevents good growth so most of these fish are small. Channel catfish are the most popular catfish species but flathead catfish have recently been introduced and are gaining in popularity because of their large size. Flathead catfish are doing very well in size and abundance. Anglers seeking flathead catfish should concentrate their efforts in the upper reaches of the Roanoke Arm, especially in coves. Smith Mountain Lake is also stocked annually with musky fingerlings. This lake does not produce large numbers of muskies; however, a few fish are caught each year, primarily by bass and striper anglers. Although walleye stocking has been discontinued, adult walleye can be caught along the shoreline of the lower lake (below R-8) during the night hours of spring and fall. There is a small amount of natural reproduction of walleye occurring in the reservoir.
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.