The Game Fish Of Smith Mountain Lake

The Game Fish of Smith Mountain Lake

PaulEntertainment: Attractions, Sports: Fishing 2 Comments

Anglers interested in fishing Smith Mountain Lake, read on to find out what game fish you’ll encounter during your time on the water.

Smith Mountain Lake (SML) is one of the foremost fishing destinations in Southwest Virginia. The fact that several ESPN Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments have been held on the lake is a testament to the quantity and quality of the fish that inhabit it. Bassmaster has even rated SML as one of the top 25 bass lakes in the United States. Anglers visit the lake every year to pursue its wide variety of large and challenging game fish. Aside from crappie, sunfish, and perch, there are four main game fish native to the waters of Smith Mountain Lake.

Black Bass

Game Fish of Smith Mountain LakePhoto via Florida Fish and Wildlife

By far the most in-demand species among anglers, small and large-mouth black bass thrive in both number and size in Smith Mountain Lake.  The average size of bass in SML is between two and four pounds, and they can be found in practically every part of the reservoir.

Striped Bass

Game Fish of Smith Mountain LakePhoto by Nils Rinaldis

In terms of desirability among anglers, the striped bass comes in as a close second to the black bass. Stocked all year, this species is a major fixture in Smith Mountain Lake’s waters. The record for striped bass caught on the lake is 49.4 pounds.

Due to ecological concerns, several rules must be followed when fishing for striped bass at Smith Mountain Lake. Detailed information about how to fish for striped bass at SML can be found on the website of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.  Anglers should focus their efforts on the lower half of the main reservoir for the best results when fishing for striped bass.

Channel, Flathead, and White Catfish

Game Fish of Smith Mountain LakePhoto via Wikimedia Commons

Smith Mountain Lake is home to a variety of different species of catfish. Anglers who wish to hook a white catfish should head toward the lower side of the reservoir, while those in search of channel and flathead catfish will have the best luck casting their lines around the uppermost portions of the Blackwater and Roanoke arms of the lake.


Game Fish of Smith Mountain LakePhoto via Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

This species’ life cycle and breeding habits make it very rare across Virginia. Luckily for anglers, musky fingerlings are stocked from time to time at the Roanoke arm of the lake. Still, these fish are mysterious and elusive. Rarely do anglers purposefully catch musky at SML, but a few are caught superfluously each year. However, the excitement of possibly catching one of these large, needle-toothed creatures is a treat in its own right.

With so many opportunities to bring in a big catch, Smith Mountain Lake is the perfect getaway spot for any angler, be they an amateur or avid enthusiast. Whether you head out on the water on your own or employ the help of a guide like Captain Spike, there’s no doubt you’ll have plenty of stories to tell when you get back on shore.

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