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Lake Information for Smith Mountain Lake


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. The reservoir was constructed in the early 1960's and is owned by American Electric Power Company and is managed primarily for hydroelectric power generation. Most of the shoreline is developed with residential homes but other facilities catering to outdoor enthusiasts are found at various locations.

According to a creel survey conducted in 2003, the most sought after species 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.

Facilities and Parks: 

Smith Mountain Lake has a numerous boat ramps (public and private) and marinas scattered throughout the reservoir. Smith Mountain Lake State Park is a major attraction with all it has to offer. Some of the parks options are picnic areas, a beach, campground, cabins, handicapped fishing pier, boat ramp, hiking trails and scenic views.

Fishing Description: 

Black bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass) are the most sought after species by anglers at Smith Mountain Lake. Largemouth bass comprise the bulk of this fishery and outnumber smallmouth ten to one. Largemouth bass fishing on this 20,600-acre lake is good but this fishery receives a lot of pressure. Surveys indicate the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishery has declined the last few years.

Smith Mountain Lake has gained national attention for its striped bass fishery. The chance to catch fish in the 40-pound class and routine catches of striped bass in the 10 to 15 pound class has made this fishery very unique. Consequently, striped bass are nearly as popular at Smith Mountain Lake as black bass.

Although the lake produces many quality size crappie, 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.

The catfish fishery is comprised primarily of channel catfish, flathead catfish, and white catfish.

Sunfish 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. Smith Mountain Lake is also stocked annually with musky fingerlings but anglers fishing for other species catch most muskies incidentally. Although walleye stocking was been discontinued in the 1996, there is still a small population due to limited reproduction.

Fishing Tips, Tactics, How-To info: 

The highest densities of largemouth bass in this reservoir are 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. Fishing around and under boat docks/piers from the water is legal but remember to be courteous to dock owners. 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. To avoid the heavy boat traffic in the summer, anglers should concentrate their efforts at night or very early in the morning.

Striped bass are distributed throughout the lake during most of the year but are concentrated in lower lake areas during the summer and early fall months. Coves are typically not very productive for striped bass during the summer months so anglers should concentrate their efforts on the main lake when water temperatures begin to rise. Striped bass anglers utilize a variety of fishing methods such as drifting live shad, trolling plugs, spoons, plastic shad bodies, and bucktail jigs, or casting top water lures and bucktail jigs. Anglers use live shad throughout the year, trolling is most popular during the warmer months, and casting top water or shallow running plugs is most productive during the spring at night. Most striped bass are caught between the dam and buoy 64 of the Roanoke Arm and up to buoy 40 of the Blackwater Arm. Although these are the general areas most striped bass are caught, these fish are very mobile and may change locations continuously depending on forage availability, water temperatures, and spawning.

Flathead and channel catfish are most abundant in the upper reaches of the Roanoke Arm and white catfish are found primarily in the lower end of the reservoir.

Channel Catfish
Largemouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass
Striped Bass
Optional Information
Surface area: 
Smith Mountain Lake
Lake type: 

Businesses Located Nearby

Boat Rental

    Bridgewater Marina Boat Rental
  • 16410 Booker T Washington Hwy - Moneta, VA
  • (540) 721-1639
    Wet Connection Rentals
  • 410 Crazy Horse Dr - Moneta, VA
  • (540) 721-4800

Vacation Rental

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