We talk with Scott Schumann about fishing Quantico Marine Corps Base. The Base has a number of fishing opportunities. We focus on the largemouth bass fishing in Quantico’s Smith Lake. I love Scott’s excitement and willingness to share about this Virginia fishery.
How long have you been fishing Quantico’s Smith Lake for bass?
Smith Lake has quickly become my new favorite small body to fish. I’ve lived in Virginia now for about 5 1/2 years, and a coworker told me about it some 3 years ago.
I love fishing here because the lake has so many diverse types of cover for its size. The north side of the lake features everything from submerged standing timber, deep vertical walls, rip rap banks, and large shallow spawning flats. The south end is a loaded with grass flats and a ton of lay downs to pick and flip too.
Is my understanding correct that a permit is needed for Quantico fishing?
Smith Lake is just one of many lakes and reservoirs located in the Quantico Marine Corp Base. Quantico is considered an “open base”, which means that a military ID is not required. Civilians can access the base with just a drivers license.
To fish the waters on Quantico, a base fishing permit is required. This permit costs $20.00, is good for a year, and can be obtained from the Sports Desk inside the Marine Corps MCX or from the wildlife station just inside the rear gate on Russell Road. For more information please visit this link from Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Another good place to visit is the Quantico base site.
Is this an electric motor only lake?
Smith Lake is an electric only lake, however boats with outboards are allowed as the long as the motor can be raised out of the water. I also see numerous people fishing from Kayaks. Something I want to get into as well.
How much pressure does Smith Lake get?
Smith Lake is the second largest reservoir on the base at 275 acres. The lake is formed at the confluence of Aquia Creek and Beaverdam Run. After the dam, Aquia Creek continues on into the Potomac River. The two fingers are quite spacious, and contain many coves and bays that provide excellent fishing areas.
The lake is definitely low pressure. With it being on an active military base, most people probably don’t even know it is there…
I have read reports that Smith Lake can be a good numbers but smaller fish lake. What do you consider an average size 5 fish limit for Smith Lake?
I would agree that Smith Lake is a great numbers lake, but I must certainly have to disagree on it being a small fish lake. I have caught numerous fish over 4 and 5 pounds in all seasons of the year. Last year alone I have caught 2 over 7 pounds.
I think the reason for this is that it really has no fishing pressure. I’m sure this might change after this interview is released!
I would say an average 5 bass limit would be 10-20 lbs.
I have had so many great days on Smith, in all seasons of the year. Since it’s so close to my office, I usually just fish in the evenings after work and have had awesome flurries of catching 3 pound bass one after another.
I would have to say my favorite trip was this past summer out fun fishing with my Nephew and catching a nice bass over 7 pounds after missing one just a few minutes earlier. The reaction to the fish from my Nephew is priceless. You can watch the video of the catch, and his reaction on my YouTube channel. This particular trip was just a typical summer afternoon catching fish on square bill crankbaits and spinnerbaits.
How would you rate the difficulty level, 1 to 10 with 10 being extremely difficult, of fishing Smith Lake for largemouth bass?
I would have to say a 6 for two reasons. First is because it is electric only, and it requires an angler to learn to fish what is in front of them. If you were on a typical lake with outboard engines, you can run and gun. Here you have to figure them out and grind it out or make the long “slow” run to another spot.
Secondly is because it is so diverse, you can fish shallow, or deep. Grass or wood. Open water or backs of creeks. The one thing that Smith is lacking though is docks. Overall, Smith Lake is an excellent place to learn and perfect many fishing presentations without fishing in a crowd.
If you go out fishing on Smith Lake looking for largemouth bass, what general types of structure do you start with?
Wow, such a tough question. Like I said earlier, the lake is really diverse. All your typical seasonal patterns apply here.
In the Spring which we are in now, I am fishing moving baits in the backs of the coves for fish getting ready to spawn. During the spawn you can go up shallow and fish for bedding fish on the numerous stumps and spawning flats.
In the Summer, I usually target wood in the mornings and evenings, and grass or standing timber during the day.
Fall is by far the best time to catch fish all over the lake using jigs, spinnerbaits, crankbaits…pretty much anything.
Winter is time to slow down everywhere. Smith Lake is no different. I usually throw a grub or shaky head worm on the deep points and drop offs. Also slow rolling a spinnerbait on the deeper banks have produced great results for me.
What are your 3 favorite baits for chasing down Smith Lake largemouth bass?
This is easy…anyone who knows me knows I love to throw a spinnerbait. Second would be a square bill crankbait. Third would be a shaky head.
I love throwing a white spinnerbait along the many floating logs that accumulate down lake along the dam. I position the boat as close to the shore as possible and run the bait parallel to the structure. Another good choice is to fish the spinnerbait shallow up in the grass or along some of the shallower banks. Finally as just mentioned, slow roll along the drop offs in the winter.
Smith Lake is square bill heaven! Along the north shoreline, there is so much wood and standing timber. I usually throw a bluegill pattern if the water is clear, or some sort of red if the water is dirty after rain. My PB on Smith Lake was caught on a square bill.
When fishing gets slow…and this does happen, even on Smith, I will switch to the shakey head and fish finesse.
Overall, what are 5 pieces of advice that you have for anyone bass fishing Smith Lake for the first time?
#1 is to just get out there! I always tell people to give Smith a try, and the first thing out of there mouth is that it’s too much of a hassle to get on base. WRONG! It’s simple to do, and you will be rewarded!
#2 is to be versatile and fish what’s in front of you. There is no running and gunning here. Take your time, be persistent, perfect your presentations and enjoy the nature around you.
#3 is to bring a square bill or spinnerbait and hang on! By far the best baits on this lake. With every cast you take, you might have a chance at a giant! As a bonus…a little secret…jigs catch fish here too.
#4 is to bring an extra battery. Take this from experience. I have been stranded on the other side of the lake with a dead battery and had to “idle” my way back to the ramp! Remember Electric Only.
#5 is to spread the word. Like I said, I’m all about sharing information, hence agreeing to this article. Come on out, catch a giant, and tell your friends! I’m up for a mini tournament anytime!
There are some other lakes and ponds on Quantico. How do they compare for bass fishing to Smith Lake?
The only other lake that I have fished on Quantico is Lake Lunga. Unfortunately this lake has been closed to fishing since early 2012 due to an ongoing unexploded ordinance removal project. All I know as that when this place open up…it’s going to be fire for sure!
There is a portion of the Potomac River that is only accessible from the base…Chopawamsic Creek. This is a shallow creek full of grass as well as Snakeheads! I have not fished it, but I imagine it is typical of many other creeks along the Potomac.
Follow this link for a map of all fishing opportunities on Quantico:
Who are your sponsors and pro staff companies?
I really haven’t pursued many sponsors, I just enjoy fishing and spreading the word. One way I am trying to do this is through my budding YouTube channel, so please check me out at Scotthollywood Outdoors.
In closing, I would again like to say thank you for this opportunity to spread the word about the great sport of Bass Fishing. Take a kid out for a day to enjoy nature up front and in person.
Thanks Scott! I may just make my way down there someday. I look forward to watching your catches on YouTube until then!