Big Bass Tour Berkley Lake Breakdown – Smith Mountain Lake

Crews Says Smith Mountain Lake Anglers Should Prepare for Giants

By Pete Robbins

Veteran Bassmaster Elite Series pro John Crews has plenty of things going on in his life, including his career on tour, a busy family, and a thriving business, but lately the Virginia angler hasn’t ben able to take his eyes off of the tournament results from nearby Smith Mountain Lake.

“Smith Mountain has been fishing really well all year,” he said. “The tournament weights haven’t dropped at all since the spring. I don’t ever remember them being this consistently good, in terms of overall weights, big fish, everything.”

That bodes well for the field fishing the Big Bass Tour event on the Blue Ridge lake from October 22nd through 24th. Results at Smith Mountain have been exceptional for the BBT over the past several events, and Crews thinks that past marks could be shattered. This past spring, Chris Markin won the overall title there with an 8.08 brute, followed by a pair of 7-plus magnums and a handful of bass over 6 pounds. Last fall, the winner was a nearly-as-impressive 7.39 pound largemouth and there were five more over 6 pounds brought to the scales.

“There are a ton of 4- to 6-pound bass in the lake now,” Crews explained. “That’s a combination of a few different things. There’s a good forage base, with more blueback herring than ever before, and some of the bass they stocked a few years ago might be getting up into that range now.”

The fall is a time of transition, and Crews expects that there will be a number of different patterns at play. He’d try to feed the biggest fish a topwater – it’s been a prime producer of both largemouths and smallmouths lately.

“You can get train wrecked,” he said. “And you can do it a couple of different ways. It’s not just a buzzbait thing or a walking bait thing and it’s definitely not going to get worse. It’s the most fun and obvious way to catch a big fish and it’s going on all over the lake right now. I talked to a guy the other day who caught them on a topwater way up the river, and then I talked to another guy who did the same thing down by the dam.”

He’d cover water until he found active fish and would then hunker down in key areas, staying until the action subsided.

While the surface bite would be his first choice, Crews added that “there’s been a deep water pattern that’s been good all summer” and it shows now sign of abating. It has been the constant and unflappable choice of anglers winning weeknight wildcat tournaments, where it almost never takes less than a 4-pound average to win a four or five hour tournament with a three fish limit, and “some took a five pound average.” He’d focus on a variety of soft plastics presentations in the 15 to 25 foot depth range.

For anglers who dislike fishing in the clearer sections of the lake, it’s possible to search out a little bit of stained water and put a crankbait to use, too. He’d spend time looking for populations of shad up shallow, and then he’d match the hatch with a crankbait.

Of course, Smith Mountain’s countless docks and brush piles will also play a role for both hourly and overall top prize contenders, as will both smallmouths and largemouths. That means this already-expansive lake will fish even bigger than normal. Crews said that will benefit the entire field and the results should be tremendous.