UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Santee Cooper

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

2018 Smith Lake Preview

2018 Smith Lake Preview

Smith Lake

Jasper, Ala.

April 26-29, 2018

Presented by T-H Marine

Hosted by Walker County Chamber of Commerce

 

About the fishery

Lewis Smith Lake, or Smith Lake as it is generally called, is a 21,000-acre impoundment nestled in northern Alabama and fed by the Black Warrior River. As far as FLW Tour fisheries go, it is a relatively small lake, but because it’s lined with hundreds of pockets and a few creek arms, the lake fishes much larger. Smith is a highland-type reservoir, meaning it’s deep and clear with rock and wood being the primary cover. There are docks on the lake, though limited in number. Both spotted bass and largemouths reach impressive sizes in Smith, though spots are the predominant species. A chunky largemouth or two on a stringer often makes a big difference in the final standings.

 

Last time

The last Tour event on Smith (2015) took place during the last week of March. Though there was some spawning activity going on, mostly prespawn patterns played as both spots and largemouths moved shallow. Dave Lefebre won the event in dramatic fashion as he overcame an 8 ½-pound deficit on the last day. He sacked over 19 pounds in that final round and won with 65-5. Lefebre was one of the few anglers to capitalize on the blueback herring bite that has developed over the last few years at Smith. The key for him was to get a decent limit in the morning on some schooling fish before transitioning to pockets where the herring were spawning in the afternoon.

 

What to expect this time

The difference between the 2015 test and this year’s likely will depend on where bass are in their spawning cycle. No doubt there will be some spawning going on, as well as some fish in the postspawn phase. The blueback herring bite will be a focus for some who opt to target nomadic fish that have spawned and are chasing their postspawn meals around the lake.

Depending on the lake level, some will flip and pitch shallow wood cover, while others will work finesse plastics around spawning banks or docks. Given that some spawners will cross the weigh-in stage, weights should be a little higher than seen in previous outings.

 

Baits and techniques

Because spawning activity should be a factor, drop-shots and finesse Texas rigs will be laid across many boat decks. Buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and jigs should also be prime producers for hefty largemouths. Of course, a shaky head will be a favorite for those looking to load up on spotted bass. Also, topwaters and swimbaits should be the picks for those looking to target schooling fish. Really, shallow to deep, a little bit of everything should produce and that will make the competition more interesting.

 

3 critical factors

1. Water clarity – Smith is normally a clear body of water, which tends to make its largemouths finicky at times. However, spring rains can dirty up the rivers and backs of pockets where largemouths like to roam and that can help anglers. If dirty water is to be found, expect to see more than the average number of big largemouths hefted up at weigh-ins. Dirty water won’t have much effect on the spotted bass guys, but it will help spread the largemouth anglers out and that will be good for everyone.

2. Spawn cycle – Weather has a lot to do with this, and it could really shape how the tournament is approached and proceeds. If things move along early in the spring and we’re at the tail end of the spawn, we could see a tougher event due to the postspawn funk. On the other hand, if the tournament lines up a week or so after they’ve spawned, they should have the feedbag on. The better bet is that tournament begins right near the spawn and a full-blown sight-fishing derby will break out.

3. Blueback herring – Who knows how big of a role they will have in this tournament? Bluebacks represent the X factor at Smith. As we have seen at such lakes as Murray, the little guys are the main players in a hero-or-zero type of fishing. Lefebre proved that with proper planning and execution, fishing the blueback bite can pay off in a big way.

 

Fantasy Fishing picks

Conditions leading up to the event will be the deciding factor on who you should put on your squad. Looking at the crystal ball, you can’t go wrong with guys who typically do well on spring fisheries. John Cox, Matt Arey, Clark Wendlandt and Scott Martin are all very strong picks. Plus they are all really good sight-fishermen, so if that plays you have your bases covered. Obviously, Andy Morgan and Bryan Thrift are smart choices anywhere, anytime, as they are great at covering water and adapting on the fly. That can be a big deal on Smith Lake in the spring.

 

Tags: flw  pre-tournament  2018-04-26-smith-lake 

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