Fishing at Smith Mountain Lake

Smith Mountain Lake offers many opportunities and challenges if you like to fish! Many species of fish are available ranging from black bass, largemouth bass, striped bass, striper, catfish, and sunfish. Typically largemouth bass are most abundant in the spring, and the striped bass are more easily caught in the summer. Stripers are found in the lake all year-round. The best time for fishing on Smith Mountain Lake would be the early morning or the late evening when there are fewer people on the lake. When fishing near someone's dock, please be respectful and a good neighbor.

Fishing License

A fishing license is required to fish at Smith Mountain Lake. You can easily obtain one online at the following link: 

    1. Click "Licenses and Permits"
    2. Register on the site
    3. Pay for your license with a credit card or debit card
    4. Print your license

If you'd prefer to buy a license in person, that's very easy too. The lake's various marinas sell them (see our Boating section for a list), and many convenience stores around the lake can sell you one as well. If you are near a Walmart, they are available for purchase there as well.

Fishing Guides and Charters

There are many options at the lake if you want a knowledgeable guide for fishing. Below are a few of our recommendations for some of the best captains and guides at Smith Mountain Lake.

Smith Mountain Lake fishing

Fishing Tournaments at Smith Mountain Lake

Smith Mountain Lake hosts 2 popular fishing tournaments each year:

  • Big Bass Classic Occurring in late April, this largest tournament of the year provides $133,525 in guaranteed prizes & payouts, with a grand prize of $45,000. Anglers from around the region flock to this great event at the lake.
  • Smith Mountain Lake Fishing Tournament A smaller annual tournament with up to $15,000 in prizes. There is a dedicated youth tournament as well, where any youth 12 or under fish for free with a paying adult.

If you are thinking about purchasing property at Smith Mountain Lake, or just have some questions, please visit our home page at to see available homes and lots for sale. You can also click Contact to reach Ted for a quick reply to any questions you may have.