Located in the southwestern handle of Virginia is a 4,500 acre lake by the name of Claytor Lake. Bass fishing Claytor Lake provides opportunity for some excellent largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass fishing. But this isn’t the type of lake that you can go and fish and expect them to jump in the boat. It has a reputation of being challenging especially in the summer when recreational water sports are in full force. So when I had the opportunity to interview Ryan Spicer, a young man who has had success on the lake, I knew his insight would be helpful to anyone considering fishing Claytor.
What do you think are the biggest myths when it comes to bass fishing Claytor Lake?
I would say the biggest myth on Claytor is that it is an extremely tough lake. It has days that are tougher than others, just like any lake, but if you put your time in to figure out what’s going on you should have no trouble catching them.
How would you describe Clatyor as a fishery for each of its black bass species, smallmouth, largemouth and spotted?
Claytor is well known as a smallmouth fishery, but holds big numbers both largemouth and spotted bass. Smallmouth are a big player in the spring time. They can still be caught in deep water on the lower end of the lake in the summer.
What do you consider a bad day on Claytor?
A bad day would be not catching any fish at all. But this can happen anywhere, and would be a bad day anywhere.
What do you consider a great day?
A good day in the spring would be anywhere from 16-20 pounds. In the summer you’re looking more of 14-17 pounds.
Spring isn’t far away, what are your favorite pre-spawn techniques on the Lake?
My favorite pre spawn technique on Claytor would be a jerkbait on main lake points. Mainly throwing a Smithwick.
How does your fishing on Claytor change over the course of the season?
Early in the year while it is cold, I’ll stay deep most of the time. As the year progresses I’ll start moving shallower, and covering much more water. Sometime I will fish 30-40 spots a day once we get to post spawn.
How bad is the recreational boat traffic and jet skis on the Lake in the summer? What strategies do you use to adjust?
Normally the boat traffic in the summer months is terrible. The only thing you can to adjust is stay fishing deep during the day. Fishing at night can always pay big dividends as well.
What are your personal bests on Claytor?
My best largemouth was 6.03. I actually caught it at night like I was talking about earlier. I was fishing a Friday night tournament. I had 4 fish in the livewell at the time and was looking for my fifth. The tournament ended at 2am, and it was 1:30. I had been throwing a spinnerbait all night and just could not seem to catch the big smallmouth like I intended. So I went to my go-to night time bait. I started throwing a black and blue zoom brush hog around docks. The second dock I pulled up on I caught the 6 pounder. Then I backed that up on the next dock with a 4 pounder. I ended up winning the tournament with 14 pounds.
What are the top 5 things a newbie to the lake should know before bass fishing Claytor Lake for a day?
1) Don’t get discouraged if you can’t figure the fish out. Just keep your line in the water and cover some ground. You’ll find them eventually.
2) Bring plenty of different baits, you may have to go through everything you’ve ever bought to find the one thing they want.
3) Don’t fish shallow the whole time, they may be deeper than you think on days they should be on the bank.
4) If you want catch largemouth, go on the upper end. If you want to catch smallmouth, go to the dam.
5) Docks are always a big player.
Thanks so much Ryan. Bass fishing Claytor Lake has a reputation of being tough but you have given all of us some insight on how to be successful on the lake. Ryan is on Instagram @ryan.spicer.