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Thread: VA West FoM, Smith Mtn Lake, 16 MAR 2019

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Blacksburg, VA (for now)
    Posts
    3,202

    Default VA West FoM, Smith Mtn Lake, 16 MAR 2019

    The start to this season has been, in a word, underwhelming. Didn't weigh a fish in the first two events. Didn't catch a fish - during practice or TX day - in the last event. Have to admit I was a little shaken. I'm no hot stick but I can usually catch a peanut or two. With this in mind I went in to the SML event w/ an open mind. Let's just go fishing. Work on reading the water, the sonar, and the weather and focus on basics. It was a day dedicated to making subtle adjustments. It started off slow (slow enuff to cause me to think about the "J" word*) but it eventually came together.

    Practice: I had no trouble catching fish during practice. The challenge was they were the wrong species. The stripers were up shallow both practice days and they flat wore out my crankbaits and jerkbaits. Didn't matter what color, size, or running/jerking depth. They killed it. I was around bait both days. I marked arches everywhere I went. Nothing I threw drew attention from any fish save for the stripers. The other challenge in practice was the weather - had 2 ~perfect days THUR and FRI followed by a hard cold front and a 20-degree temp drop overnite. I have a pretty good idea what a front like this does to pre-spawn fish but in the absence of catching any my confidence in that knowledge was waning a bit. At the end of the day FRI I decided to quit thinking about it and just go fishing. And that was my game plan. I would start in the warmest water I'd found (up in the Roanoke arm) and make my way back, stopping at select points and ledges along the way. If I cover enuff water, I thought, eventually I'll find a willing (green or brown) fish.

    TX day: I drew boat 2 and with our earlier-than-expected blast-off, I made it up to vic R56 well ahead of the pack. In fact I had the place to myself for 30 mins or more before the first boat rolled in. Marked bait and fish immediately so I went to work with the jerkbait, then the crankbait, then the swimbait. Nothing. I hit a dozen or so stops before pulling into a main lake cove that was crowded w/ striper boats. All of them were pulling right up against the bank, targeting the first break. A clue: I'm not fishing shallow enuff. I make the adjustment to a shallower running crank and get bit almost immediately but it shakes off half way back to the boat. I pull into my next stop and see the same thing. A few mins into working a stretch of riprap on a secondary point I hook up on my first fish of the day - a feisty 11 1/2" punk that absolutely made my day by throating my crankbait. [Doods - I would've been fine w/ the day ending there. I finally caught a green fish and got the J out of the boat. I'm golden at this point.] A few stops later and I'm about half way back into a feeder creek in the mid-lake area I hadn't visited during practice. This creek has a lot of secondary points that set up a lot like the one where I caught the knothead. About 20 mins into it I land my first keeper of the day, a solid 3 lb fish. 12 mins later I land my second keeper - a chunky 5.19. Both of these fish choked the bait. I mean ate it. The big girl had it all the way down in her crushers. Had to do a lil first aid to stop the bleeding. Pleased to report she swam away quickly after being released. Both of these bites came after 2 pm. After chucking-n-winding all day I'd finally dialed it in to where I had something I could get to repeat. Most importantly, I not only caught a fish. I caught something I could weigh. No more J*. My 2 fish weighed 8.19. The 5.19 was good enuff for big fish.

    Observations: 1) Water temps were fairly predictable - warmer water was uplake (50.7 was the highest I saw), cooler below the S-turns (46). Only exceptions were the backs of the eastern feeder creek midlake where I found 50.1-50.7 in a couple places (like where I caught my two keepers). Saw 47 at launch (SML SP) all three days. 2) The stain line is just south of the S-turns. Below that the water is clear. Above it you have varying degrees of stain but all of the water is easily fishable. I had ~2' of viz vic R56, ~3' vic R48, ~3-4' in backs of creeks. There is some flotsam in the main channel, esp around hard channel swings. Stay alert, stay alive. 3) Not all creeks had bait in them. In fact, main lake coves and cuts were more likely to hold bait than the bigger feeders. During practice I watched a pack of stripers herd a baitfish school into the back of a small cove, into maybe a foot of water. They were destroying the bait. I visited this spot on TX day - it was void of any kind of life. 4) The hard front didn't affect the fish too much. The winning sack in our event came off of main lake points in less than 3' of water. Both of my fish came out of water less than 4' deep. I marked plenty of fish deeper (out to 20+') but I never found a way to get them to eat. 5) Points w/ rock on channel swings were best. 6) Squarebill, squarebill, squarebill.

    So, with confidence renewed I have 2 weeks to get ready for event #4 on Kerr. Looking forward to getting a lil redemption after a poor showing there in our first event. Not changing my strategy. I'm just going to go fishing.

    peace,
    B

    *You can't say or write the J-word because it would be a J. Airborne is the 12 most superstitious doods you ever met.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Penn Laird VA
    Posts
    1,584

    Default

    Congrats on a good day on the water, and thanks for the great report! Are you fishing the full FOM East and West schedule?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Blacksburg, VA (for now)
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    Just the first three w/ VA West, two w/ VA East. Shoulder surgery sked for 25 APR. Had to get'em all in for regional quals beforehand.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Mechanicsville, VA
    Posts
    2,290

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    Tough day but congrats on the big fish! Good luck at Kerr! I'll see you there!
    Eric

    2004 Fishers of Men VA-East Division Champions


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    warrenton, virginia
    Posts
    3,830

    Default

    Nice report and congrats on the BF Brian.
    2013 Frog Only Tournament Winner
    2010 Tie for VA-Outdoors Angler of the Year
    2009 Caroline County Rotary Club Tournament Winner
    2007 Tuesday Night Classic Champions
    "Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    920

    Default

    Hope you don't mind if I piggyback your report, since it was the same place and day. I fished Angler's Choice on Sat. Had a work conflict so I didn't get to pre fish so I went in cold. I found the same shallow crankbait bite 31 did. We ended up catching 7 for the day, but only weighed in 11.31lbs. Had one good 4lb er and a bunch of cookie cutters. Had 7 or 8 boats that weighed over 20lb and I think it took 24.8 to win it. One team had 19.9 on 4 fish. 11.31 put us in 69th place out of a plus/minus 200 boat field.

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