- By Jonathan Pearson
- Published: April 17th, 2012
Smith Mountain Lake and Lake Kerr are one of many places to fish during the spring
There are almost two million Virginia-registered fishing permit holders and on average, each angler will spend $175 on bait and tackle a year. This year, the fishing in central Virginia has been unusual due to the mixed weather conditions, and the rest of the fishing season looks to follow suit.
The fishing season started three weeks earlier this year for semi-pro bass fisherman David Plunkett who primarily fishes at Smith Mountain Lake and is on the water nearly every day.
“This winter, the fish were feeding more actively than in the past,” Plunkett said. “The smallmouth bass right now on Smith Mountain Lake are in full spawn. The largemouth bass are still feeding, but all the fish are more active now than in past years.”
In the surrounding lakes and rivers, it’s the same story. An indication of how far off this year’s fishing season has been is the early run of the channel catfish. Most of the time, channel cat will not bite on anything before the beginning of May. This year, however, they have been caught as early as March.
Trout are now being released by hatcheries as well. Most of the hatcheries released their fish this past weekend and the hatcheries are also open now for all visitors.
Most agree that summer fishing will come down to the weather and air temperatures.
“If we have an extremely dry and hot summer fishing is going to get really tough,” Plunkett said. “The water level will drop and the fish will pull down and off the banks. However, if we have a cool wet summer the fishing will be good year round.”
The types of bait to throw has not changed and the fish are still pretty predictable on what they will bite on. Medium diving crank bait and jig hitting has been pulling in the lake bass the best.
Smith Mountain Lake is the most common choice for fishing, but the Lynchburg area and small clubs affiliated with the lake host a multitude of small tournaments for the public to enter. Other places to go are Lake Kerr, James River, Otter Lake and Lake Fredrick. For those who like to watch the big tournaments and get free stuff, there are a few tournaments coming to Smith Mountain Lake, one of which is the Oakley Big Bass Tournament this weekend.
Anyone with a pole over the age of sixteen must have fishing licenses and students can save some money by buying a student fishing license. For more information about places to fish, fishing regulations and in depth fishing reports, visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.
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