SMITH MOUNTAIN STRIPERS
The water temperatures at Smith Mountain Lake have been running 10-degrees higher than their normal winter level, and this has stimulated the activity of baitfish and striped bass. With much of the lake in the mid-40s the past month, even a late-winter cold spell isn't likely to result in frigid temperatures, said Mike Snead of the Virginia Outdoorsman tackle shop. So look for early spring action.
The bait continues to be thick, especially in the mid-to upper-sections of both the Blackwater and Roanoke River , Snead told members of the Smith Mountain Striper Club. Concentrations of forage fish can be found near Lynnville / Beaverdam Creek, the Ponderosa /4-H Camp, Gills Creek, the mouth of Camper's Paradise and in the lower lake near Sportsman's, Bull Run and Craddock Creek, said Snead.
Over the past month, there have been numerous occasions where stripers were feeding and the sea gulls were working the surface, said Snead. In addition, stripers have been observed running bait up on the bank and across points. At times largemouth bass are mixed in with the stripers. Some anglers report that the black bass population is on a boom, and wonder aloud if that is the result of the recent decline in the striper population.
A few of the lake's striper have been of impressive size, considering the recent scarcity of big fish. An example is an 18-pound, 36.5-inch fish landed by Barry Griffith on an artificial lure.
Anglers have had success when they locate feeding stripers and toss large, diving crankbaits, suspended swimbaits or Flukes rigged on leadhead jigs, Snead said.
Deep holding stripers located with fish finders are being caught on three-quarter ounce jigging spoons, such as Hopkins, Magic Metals and Crippled Herring. Also working are leadhead jigs with Fluke bodies such as ZOOM, Salty Superflukes, Zulu and Bass Assassin, he said.
Some anglers are doing well after dark, and the occasional warm day makes this technique more attractive.
There are lots of stripers being caught this winter and the best way I know to catch them is to leave the house and get a line in the water. Said Snead.