Smith Mountain Lake


A year or so ago, my wife Sharon and I decided to go fishing in a different lake that was about 30 minutes away.  We had never fished this lake before and were kinda excited about fishing a new place.  The lake was not very wide, but long, and was on the Roanoke River and was used for holding the water back when Smith Mtn Lake was making electricity and at night they would pump the water back into Smith Mtn Lake.  This lake has a constant flow, but it goes both ways.  While making electricity there is downstream current and the water rises as much as 10 feet.  At night or when not making the electricity, there is a back current and the water will drop as much as 10 feet.   

Well, we put the boat in the water and decided to go down the lake.  After traveling for a couple of miles I decided I wanted to start fishing.  While fishing in this area, I caught a couple of bass of regular size, 2 to 3 pounds.  I heard a noise and started to looking around and sure enough, there it was, up in a big tree, sitting there watching us was this Bald Eagle.  We watched it for a few minutes and took a couple of pictures of it, which did not come out very good, but we know what it was.   

After a little bit, we decided to go on further down the lake and see what was down the lake.  We found two marina's on the lake and two state public ramps to launch boats.  One marina was owned by a man who had been on the lake all his life and then the second marina was the largest by far, with a restaurant and motel and rv camping area, which we found out was owned by Stacie Compton, a driver on the NASCAR circuit, now driving in the truck series. We checked everything out, in case we ever wanted to come back there and stay a while or anything like that. 

  We left this area and went back to the area where the first marina was and started to fish up the bank across from the marina.  There was a big log in the water and I let my lure go down beside the log.  My fish locator said we were sitting in about 15 feet of water and I just let the plastic worm sink slowly on its own.  The worm stopped sinking and I started to pull it back up, not feeling anything take it, it would not move.  I told my wife that I had hanged up on the log and pulled even harder to no avail. I repositioned the boat to pull another direction, and gave the line a tug and it tugged back at me.  I did a hook set and felt a pull when I did that.  I pulled again and felt the pull back and then the line started coming to me and I could tell there was a fish on the line.  I told my wife to get the net and just put it gently in the water and I would put the fish in the net.  Upon getting the fish in the boat, my fish scales showed the largemouth bass weighing just over 9 pounds with a measurement of 27 inches long, both making the largemouth bass a citation fish in VA. 

We began looking for a place to get the weight certified and the length certified.  We could not find any place on the lake open.   I called the VDGIF and they told me I would have to go about 30 minutes from the lake to find a game checking station.  I had the fish in the live well and well taken care of, so up the lake we went, back to the ramp we had launched at to take the boat out and try to find this game checking station. 

  While riding up the lake, I saw something in the water and told my wife to look at the black lab swimming in the lake.  As we got closer to it, I noticed that it had a brown under chin, and was actually a black bear swimming across the lake.  We slowed the boat to an idle and just watched the bear and took pictures of it. 

We circled the bear several times, and the bear would turn and go back and then turn and go in the direction it was headed, and I guess you could say, I was just tantalizing the bear and being a nuisance to him, but it was the first one I had ever seen swimming like that, and the first one my wife had ever actually seen out in the wild. 

Well, after about 20 or 30 minutes, the bear was really breathing hard, so I let him go on across the lake to where he was going, and I was following him.  He made it to the other side and got out of the water and upon this big rock and shook himself real good, turned back and looked at us and made a growl and wandered off into the woods. The bear looked to be somewhere in the 300 pound range,  a good sized black bear for this area.

  Well we went on up the lake and got the boat out of the water and found the game checking station.  The fish was certified as 8 and 1/2 pounds and the length was 27 and 1/4.  All I can say about this fish is, had it been April rather than September, the fish would probably have weighed another 3 pounds or so, being as big as it was.  It was still certified as citation in VA and is now on the wall with the certificate from the VDGIF.  

What a day that was, starting off by seeing the Bald Eagle, then catching that big fish, and ending up with the black bear swimming across the lake.  I guess I have had some good days on the water, but that ranks right up there with the best of them.

Written by Jerry Watson
April 2008
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No this isn't Jerry and I really don't think Jerry had this in mind when fishing and seeing the bear - did you Jerry? Hehe!!!

Another story by Jerry - The Big Brown One

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