July 31, 2008

The Roanoke Times, Va., Mark Taylor Column: Fishing Report

By Mark Taylor, The Roanoke Times, Va.

Jul. 31--A common "what if?" in fishing concerns the size of fish caught in the summer.

The reason is that females are often significantly lighter after the spawning season than before the spawning season in early spring.

You can't look at the picture of Harry Townsend (right) with the huge smallmouth bass he caught on July 22 at Smith Mountain Lake and not think about the possibilities.

Townsend's fish weighed 6.2 pounds and was just over 25 inches long. By comparison, Donnie Eaton's 8-pound, 1-ounce state record smallmouth, caught prior to the spawn in the New River in 2003, was barely 22 inches long.

Eaton's fish was freakishly fat. Still, it seems likely Townsend's fish would have pushed the record had it been in pre-spawn condition.

Eaton released his fish, and it was caught later (and a little lighter). Townsend's fish was mortally hooked, but that didn't matter.

"It was going on the wall one way or the other," Townsend said.

But if Smith Mountain Lake can grow a smallmouth this size, there very well could be another one out there.


Action has gotten a little slower at Smith Mountain Lake. Striper action was pretty tough the past week, reported Mike Snead at the Virginia Outdoorsman. Fish were holding around mouths of creeks in the middle and lower lake. The schools are often among standing timber, which makes them tough to reach. Deep docks and brush piles continue to produce the better bass catches.

Catfishing has slowed at Claytor Lake, reports Mike Burchett at Rock House Marina. Frogs lures are producing some topwater bass action.


Smallmouth action on area streams is in its normal summertime pattern. Good numbers of smaller bass are holding in riffles, where letting a 3-inch grub swing with the current will produce pretty consistent action. Tube lures and jigs bounced through deeper runs will turn up an occasional nice fish, but the best action for bigger bass is coming after dark on big surface lures and black spinnerbaits.

Dover England, president of Roanoke's Trout Unlimited chapter, said the South Holston tailwater near Bristol is producing good trout action with steady hatches of sulfur mayflies throughout the day.


The Outer Banks surf has produced some pretty good action for juvenile "puppy" drum the past week or so, according to Red Drum Tackle in Buxton.

Spadefish action remains good in the lower Chesapeake Bay, where croaker are also abundant.


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