FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. — At 20,600 acres, Smith Mountain Lake is the largest reservoir entirely contained in Virginia. So anglers participating in the Carhartt College Series East Super Regional on April 13-14 will have their hands full breaking down this fishery.
With record breaking catches at the last College event on Lake Guntersville, a new crop of collegiate teams look to make a statement of their own.
Water temperatures have been steadily rising over the past couple of weeks, and that should entice more fish to the shallows and allow anglers to sight fish. Prespawn fish will still be available if they can be located along those staging areas leading to the spawning flats. Keying on balls of bait will be a crucial factor that takes place throughout the next few weeks as well.
Virginia Tech's Carson Rejzer knows the fishery and said it’s shaping up to be a tournament where multiple patterns may be taking place.
"It’s really one of those lakes where you can do anything you want," Rejzer said. "There's clear, deep water, deep brush, deep rock and muddy moving water. It's just a lake that can play to your advantage on doing anything you want to do."
On Guntersville, prespawn areas prevailed while several teams targeted shallower water, and Smith Mountain tends to be aligning similarly. As always this time of year, water temperature and moon phases are important variables.
"They're prespawn still with the water at 53 degrees," Rejzer said. "So nothing moved up on the last moon. Some buck bass are moving up and cruising, but the majority of everything is staging and waiting to move up."
Warming trends across the country could move fish into a spawning mode in a hurry. Anglers need to be ready to adapt to the conditions and pay close attention to how the bass are moving.
On any clear water reservoir, the Alabama Rig could possibly be a contributing factor for a winning bag.
"The A-rig is going to play a factor in any tournament that allows you to throw it,” Rejzer said, “but as far as I'm concerned you don't have to throw that to win. You can catch them on a lot of other things."
Rejzer believes that the Alabama Rig will be overshadowed by other techniques on Smith Mountain. That’s what happened on Guntersville, where a number of anglers threw the multiple-lure rigs, but those anglers didn’t bring in the record sacks. Lipless crankbaits decided the event for the majority of teams, including the winners.
That same scenario could unfold April 13-14 as the Carhartt College Series East Super Regional kicks off. All schools entered will be fighting for a chance to earn more than $7,000 in cash and prizes as well as a top 50 finish to qualify their school to the National Championship in Little Rock.
The top four teams in the June 25-27 championship move on to fish the Bassmaster Classic bracket, a head-to-head elimination to determine which college anglers qualifies for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake in Tulsa, Okla., Feb 22-24.
Registration deadline for the 2012 East Super Regional on Smith Mountain Lake, Va., is Thursday, April 12, at 4 p.m.
Be sure to follow us online at Bassmaster.com/college for live streaming weigh-ins, photo galleries, standings and articles covering the tournament. Mail in registration deadline is Friday April 6. We will accept onsite registrations.