Smithland Pool on the Ohio River is a relatively easy place to fish as far as where the fish will be located and what is going to be good water.

It is not that the river itself is tough to navigate. Any problems lie in the creeks that feed into the Ohio. In the Smithland pool most of the timber has fallen and there are subsurface stumps waiting to grab your lower unit. You have to be cautious and idle in and out of the creeks.

Smithland has changed over the years. Some of the places from the early 80’s when it was first impounded are still good areas to fish.

There are two ways of looking at fishing Smithland. One is to creek fish and if the availability is there the other is fish the main river channel. The river fishing is almost as if you are fishing a reservoir not really river system.

Some of the good areas to river fish are creek mouths. Run from creek mouth to creek mouth. Begin 50 yards below the creek mouth and work to 50 yards above the creek mouth. Then go to the next creek mouth. Those are the concentration areas.

Unfortunately some of the creek mouths are beginning to silt in and becoming very flat in the mouths of the creeks. There are still some of them that are defined enough. They have enough flow in and out of them, without so much sediment depositing there, that they create a little bar or a little drop off. Most are 3′ to 5′ deep on top to about a depth of 10 foot. Then they fall off into the original river channel.

As a result one has a shallow flat with a primary drop of 3 to 5 feet and then a secondary drop at 10 feet to the original river depth. It is a shallow flat, an adjacent drop at 3 to 5 feet, and another drop at 10 feet. There are three places in one location to look for fish.

If the fish are located at the secondary drop at 5 to 6 feet of water it is possible to go from creek mouth to creek mouth and concentrate in there to do really well.

The pattern generally works well from the end of May through the fall. It is a very consistent way to catch fish and a way to catch the biggest fish.

The second way to fish Smithland pool is by getting on the creek channel proper and following it all the way back to the last part of the creek where there are flats on both sides. It is where the creek will get back into the woods and actually becomes a creek again. Concentrate on getting back into the woods about thirty yards and work out about 100 yards.

Bass have a deep water sanctuary, a feeding flat, and spawning areas. The back third of the creek is the most consistent place to fish on the pool year around and the best way to catch numbers of fish.

You may not catch a lot of big fish back there unless except in the early spring. But, you are going to get a consistent bite.

There is a hidden surprise on Smithland pool. That is spotted bass. It is tough to pattern them. If you can pattern the spotted bass it is possible to get 6 to 9 pounds in the livewell.

There has always been a population of spotted bass in the river. They are 12 to 14 inch fish on average.

It is recommended that you use small tubes, Series 3 Strike King crankbaits and other small crankbaits that will get down 3 to 5 feet in the current. Always fish the current to get the spots. Look for relatively stable water and reasonable clarity. They can be easy to catch once you find them. If they are biting you can catch them quickly. But, they are not reliable.

Smithland Pool is a fishery that takes a lot of strategy. It is not a place where you can go and hole sit. You have to legitimately find or develop a pattern and then work that pattern.



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  1. Fishing is a wonderful method of maximising the use of of free time, why not try it?

  2. The first order of business is to prepare the equipment you will need for scouting, or “glassing”. I would advise a good pair of binoculars in the 8 or 10 power ranges, as well as a spotting scope. The right technique for glassing is to first use the binoculars carefully, checking open spaces from a good vantage point early in the day. Then do another scan with your binoculars just to make sure you didn’t miss any obvious does and bucks.

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