I am fascinated by Smith Mountain Lake. I have never fished it but know people who have with mixed success. So when I saw Isaac Jones consistently catches big bass there, I thought I would throw some questions at him about the Lake as well as other aspects of his fishing. This young angler has a lot of great fishing knowledge already and high goals for his future tournament fishing. Read on to learn more about this Virginia angler.
Your Instagram profile states you were the 2016 Virginia Bass Region Four Tournament Winner. What were your keys to success in winning this tournament?
I won the June 25th tournament on Smith Mountain Lake with a simple, yet effective summertime strategy. This tournament was a nighttime event so I knew we needed at least 3 before dark. My partner and I caught several keepers within the first few hours on shaky head/drop shot and by dark we had a limit of small fish. Knowing that the moon would be bright we gambled and began flipping kreature baits to imitate crawfish feeding shallow. This technique helped us upgrade with 2 fish over 4 pounds. By 11 pm the bigger bass had moved up feeding on shad and we were lucky to catch a 3 and a 5.5 on top using the famous Storm Thundersticks which are very popular on Smith Mountain. We ended the night with 18.60 pounds beating out the next closest competitor by nearly a pound.
Recently you caught a beautiful New River muskie. You said in your caption that you estimated the fish at 13 years old. How do you age a muskie?
Aging muskies can vary based on where the fish is caught but the general consensus is that it takes around 13-15 years to produce a trophy sized Muskie 42″ and partly the reason for the creel limit of 1 and minimum keeper length of 42″.
You fish a lake that captures my interest, Smith Mountain Lake. What do you feel are the top keys to being successful on this Virginia fishery?
Smith Mountain Lake is consistently one of BASS’s top 50 lakes in the US. Largemouth are the main target because of the incredibly small population of smallmouth bass. I usually try and get a limit fishing a shaky head which Ish Monroe called the “magic wand” on Smith Mountain. Then upsize my catch by skipping a jig or religiously tossing a large Swimbait.
What are your other favorite Virginia waters?
The South Holston is one of the least publicized but most productive smallmouth fisheries in the state. If you enjoy “video game” fishing this is the place for you!
Claytor lake, my home lake, is often referred to as the “Dead Sea” but with recent efforts by fisherman and the Friends of Claytor Lake fishing has improved and limits have regularly reached 15+ pounds at any given time during the year.
Southwest Virginia is a trout fisherman’s paradise with several trout streams within an hour from any small town in this part of the state.
What was your best day of fishing this year?
Early in the year at Smith Mountain Lake the water stays muddy in the creeks. This is an excellent time of year to power fish and catch monster pre-spawn females. Danny Reed and I were able to catch around 15 lbs within an hour in 3 fish! Moving baits are your friend in muddy water.
You are on one of your favorite lakes for a day of fishing. By noon, you have caught a bunch of fish but nothing of size. You want to catch some bigger fish. What do you change up in your techniques to target bigger fish?
If I have a limit by noon you will always see me tying on a jig and a swimbait and I will throw them till 3 pm. If you can commit to these two baits you WILL catch big fish.
What are your fishing goals as you start to thinking about fishing in 2017?
I am joining a federated bass fishing club this year in order to fish the Virginia Bass Region Four Trail and hope to make the state and national team in order to hopefully make it to an FLW event.
I would also like to continue to grow my Instagram following and hopefully join a Pro Staff team or gain sponsorship from a fishing related sponsor! I want to build on my TBF win last year and place in the Oakley Big Bass tournament at Smith Mountain Lake. My goal was to win 5 tournaments this year and I haven’t quite reached that goal but there’s still time, I’ve fished consistently and repeatedly finished in the top 5 I feel like the wins will come as long as I continue to catch fish like I have been.
Update: Isaac is now a Pro Staff member for Ardent Outdoors. Congrats Isaac!