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Thread: SML 6-8 July 2017

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Blacksburg, VA (for now)

    Default SML 6-8 July 2017

    I took advantage of the short work week and got some time in on SML. Have not fished here much during the summer so wanted to log some time in preparation for our FoM regional in late SEP. While the lake has only ~25,000 acres it fishes a lot bigger the way it's laid out. My plan for this summer, leading up to SEP, is to cut it up into manageable chunks. That way I can focus my time on charting, studying, and trending. Got a lil fishing in while I was at it. For this trip I stayed in the Roanoke arm between the state park and the 122 bridge, focusing mainly on the larger main lake cuts and smaller feeder creeks. Have quite a bit of data already on the larger feeder creeks so I didn't spend as much time in these. I capped the weekend off by fishing in the VA West FoM event on SAT.

    Practice. I marked fish holding on first breaks in 7-12' FOW so I picked up where I left off from my trip in mid-JUN, throwing medium running crankbaits, jigs, a fluke, and a c-rig. I concentrated on secondary points w/ rock or riprap, taking the time to work the transition areas on either side of the point. I worked this process on THUR and FRI, marking many (and I mean many) brush and rock piles, sunken laydowns, and quirky structure. I prob logged 200 waypoints this weekend alone. Many of these were holding fish. Some were not but there's no doubt they will/could at some time. The common factor to all of these was proximity to deeper water (>15'). I spent a lil extra time in the smaller main lake cuts, thinking these would not be as big a draw to the rec boats as the larger bays and creeks. That plan worked to near perfection. In every case but one (story later) I had the cut to myself.

    TX day. I picked up where I left off on FRI, working secondary points in a large feeder creek I know well. No takers on top. Switched to a square bill and caught my first keeper on the 2nd cast - a feisty SM. Had 5 more fish in the next 30 mins on that same bait but none of them would stretch to 14". I was able to upgrade my short keepers a couple times. Was pleasantly surprised to see the SM factor into the creel today. Previous trips (incl this week's practice) were all LM. I worked the area I caught the first one in hard, changing angles and approaches. The school didn't move very much during this process so I was able to bang out a few. Just never connected on the better fish. I ran this pattern in three places during the course of the morning, finding willing fish at each stop. Sadly, none of them would measure (but still fun to catch). From there I hopped points and adjacent transition lanes, working a jig, t-rig, shakyhead, and a c-rig. When I came upon a brush pile I worked it over hard with the same baits, casting from different directions and angles. I had one break me off and one shake off as I did this. I did manage to hook up on a few mud cats, one of which was close to 10 lbs. Gave me quite a thrill until it started rolling. I just shook my head. I finished the TX day w/ my 2 short keepers and a treasure trove of new data to use as I continue to learn SML.

    Observations: 1) Water temps were pretty steady all weekend. 82-83* at launch, 84-86* by noon. Clarity is good (viz ~ 5-7') but there's still some sort of tint to the water. It's gotta be an algae bloom. 2) I marked baitfish in every creek and cut I went in. Small pods mostly but did mark a few larger pods of gizz. Some of the bait was over main channels and deep, some of it was back in coves fairly shallow. I did not see any feeding activity associated w/ any of this. 3) The full moon and clear skies FRI nite had an affect on the fish. They must've had a feast. Once the sun came up most of the fish I marked were suspended over open water or over brush/rock piles. Obviously not in an active mood. 4) Shade was key for me as the sun came up. I had no (none, zero) bites on the sunny side of any place I fished. 5) Natural colors (greens, browns) were the only things I could get bit on. Other typical summer colors didn't draw so much as a sniff. 6) If my crankbait was banging off of something (wood, rock, bottom) I was getting bit. If it was running thru open water I knew I had pulled off of the shoreline too far. 7) Natural chunk rock was better than riprap. Large laydowns were better than brush. 8) Points with a shallow taper were best during practice. Points w/ steeper tapers were best on TX day.

    Not a complete loss but was disappointed with my creel for the TX. I have a ton of new stuff to review, study as I prepare for my next trip out (later this month). Will definitely come out during the week. Weekends are simply unbearable with all the non-fishing boats out there. The hi-lite of the weekend involved one of the rec boaters. I was working a main lake cut that I'd marked a bunch of rock formations in. I had just started fishing when this wake boat came rolling in. I was a good bit off of the shoreline - maybe 25-30' out - when this dillrod decides he wants to do donuts around me. I could hear them laughing as I was holding on for dear life. Fortunately a water policeman saw this (I'm guessing he'd been tailing this goober on the main lake). He rushed in and stopped the guy. He then motioned for me to come over and asked if I wanted to press charges. I asked the officer if I could have 5 min alone w/ the driver to discuss boating safety and respect on the water . He smiled, shook his head, and replied no, he couldn't. I told him I was happy to file charges in that case. He was still searching the boat, looking at papers when I pulled out ~30 mins later. Justice, sweet justice.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Ashburn, VA


    great report B. I can't help but wonder if the bigger fish just arn't quite a bit deeper, maybe in the 18-25ft range??? I want to try a deeper swimbait technique when we hit the regionals in late september. A deeper a-rig as well. I just looked at the water level website and it seems they are constantly, even on weekends, generating power by letting water out to Leesville and pumping it back up at night. SML is 20,600 surface acre's btw LOL

    2011/2013 St Jude's Charity Tournament Champion
    Bass East Big Bass Challenge winner of 11-12 and 12-1 hours.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2011


    September. C rig smoke purple worms or lizards on flat points with rock where you can find it. Shad pattern early, smoke purple once the sun comes up. Carry a 4oz egg sinker with no hooks for the rec boaters.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Mechanicsville, VA


    Good report 31! Glad to hear the rec boat got pulled for being an idiot. Not sure that happens enough!

    2004 Fishers of Men VA-East Division Champions

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012


    SMl and Rec boats..woof
    I'm about to play my Ace

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Message me


    Nice read while I eat breakfast. You ever try vertical jogging a 3-4" grub on deep bluffs? Was told by a local there it's how he catches big smallies and large mouth
    2017 Ironman winner
    2019 Polar Bear winner

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