While I currently live in South Carolina, I spent my first twenty years in the Hwy. 29 corridor between Danville and Lynchburg,, with a lot of history in Altavista. Used to spend my summers there and fished the Staunton and farm ponds all through my youth. Caught a bunch of striper, catfish and my only walleye/sauger(?) on the Staunton. Moved away in the summer of 1990, and have only spent an occasional weekend there since. My brother owns some property on the river, just below the SML dam,,, within the first mile. I've been thinking about maybe packing the bike with a couple of rods, tent, stove, lantern and camping out on the river for a few days the first weekend in April. Reckon what a feller could catch that time of year, from the bank, on the river? One fish that I've never caught is a smallmouth,,, it just has never worked out. Also I've only caught one walleye in my life,,, so that would be cool too. I know I can catch catfish,, and probably a striper too depending on the river features.
Anybody got suggestions on how to approach it in April up there? Suggested tackle/lures?
Is the property on leesville lake or on the Staunton below leesville? I read it as below leesville and responded accordingly...
Hmm,,,, I just looked at it on the map,,, and I guess it could possibly be considered Leesville Lake. The property is just below the SML dam,,, maybe as close as a half mile down "river" from the SML dam?
All the species I mentioned are found in leesville. I’m not sure what fishing in that area can be like though. The water temp is consistently cold, as it’s released from the depths of SML. It can be strong current heading downstream when they are generating power through SML, and strong current heading upstream when they are pumping back into SML.
Do a search for leesville lake on the VA DWR website. You can find a biologist report and some other relevant information.
I’d surely be fishing crawlers and cut bait of some sort...
Boy I remember being below the Leesville dam a lot. I've heard they built up a fishing wall/pier of sorts , but when they are releasing water it comes up on to the wall too. We used to go swimming there as kids,, would catch huge crawdads there,,, good times. Lots of big catfish down there,, little ones too. I remember seeing a little old lady down there one time who caught a fingerling catfish and went to put it on the stringer. When she pulled the stringer up she had 4 or 5 feet of stringer filled up with finger sized catfish. She told me that she fried them and ate them whole.
I didn't think about the water temp being so cold below the SML dam,,, you are right,, that would make for some pretty specific conditions.
Lots of good SM water easily accessible on state park property.
This trip is evolving by the day. I was just looking at the Smith Mountain Lake State Park website and think I might try heading up there for at least a day. That's a pretty big park, do you have any recommendations on a specific point or two that I should zero in on for SM?
Post by 31Airborne on Mar 16, 2021 12:41:53 GMT -5
I would start in the cabin area. There are several piers along the shoreline that would give you direct access and clear casting to deeper water. The hiking trails on the southern end of the park all take you to main lake points. These would be good, too.
I think you are going to find the tailwater area of the SML dam very challenging to say the least. As other have mentioned the water temp and depth fluctuations and the amount of debris or silt entering would be very difficult. If purely looking to bank fish I would probably suggest looking at spots on the Staunton River. The town of Altavista has a boat ramp/fishing area as well as Brookneal. Shortly the stripers will be running through Brookneal so your chances do improve. Ive caught several citation smallies on the Staunton using grubs, jigs, and the occasional crank bait. Also there is a private boat ramp on Leesville lake the has access to decent fishing waters. Ive caught plenty of fish around this landing.
A quick view of the historical weather for the last few years prompted me to opt for a hotel room. I'm pretty glad I did because Friday night it dropped waaaay down.
As for fishing,, I was skunked. I fished below SML dam and never saw so much as a bream. I fished SML State Park and didn't see so much as a bream. I fished the Staunton in Altavista via English Park, but the water was very swift and the steep banks and blow downs didn't offer very many openings. ( Nice new bridge they've built coming into town though!! ) And finally, I fished below the Leesville dam in between the periods they were releasing water. There I did see a few fish breaking the surface. Had a smallmouth about 2 pounds break surface just a few feet in front of me a couple of times, but he was not interested in what I was throwing. For bait I tossed a Rapala DT-4 in Firetiger and a Rapala X-Rap in perch colors. I also tossed a LunkerHunt Pop-R clone some as well. My brother threw curlytail jigs for two days without a bite either
I was noticing by the tree buds that you guys are about 3 to 4 weeks behind us seasonally. Based on that and and not seeing any bream or minnows in the shallows, I decided it was simply to cold yet for bank fishing up there.