Anglers fishing the 2022 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Southeast Regional will likely enjoy one of the best times of year to fish Lewis Smith Lake, according to Bassmaster Elite Series rookie Joseph Webster.
Competition days will be April 27-29 with takeoffs each day at 6 a.m. CT from Smith Lake Dam and weigh-ins back at the facility at 2 p.m.
“The lake should be at full pool, and everything around the lake will be blooming. Spring is going to be well and alive,” said Webster, who lives in Hamilton, Ala. “I tell everyone if you are going to fish Smith Lake, fish it between October and May. The months of February, March and April are prime fishing. These guys are going to blast them.”
Located just northwest of Birmingham, Lewis Smith Lake has played host to multiple Bassmaster events over the last couple of years, including a 2021 Bassmaster Open won by Jacob Powroznik in early October of 2021. Featuring qualified anglers from Nation chapters across the country, this is the second of five Nation Regionals of the season.
By tournament time, Webster says the spotted bass and largemouth will likely be in postspawn with some bass closing out their spawning periods. As soon as the spotted bass finish spawning, the only thing on their minds will be feeding on blueback herring.
“What you run into now with the (blueback) herring in the lake, they are going to run to the bank as fast as they can and then they will leave the bank as fast as they can,” Webster said. “These fish will be open-water swimmers.”
While the bass will be either finished with or finishing their spawn, the herring will traditionally be starting their spawn. Bridges, standing timber, main-lake docks and longer points will be the predominant structure that bass will follow the herring to.
Topwater walking baits have traditionally caught a lot of bass when the baitfish are spawning, as well as jerkbaits and swimbaits.
“These postspawn fish will be eating. I like to chase the shad spawn early and then as soon as that plays off I go to chasing them,” Webster said. “This (Lowrance) ActiveTarget and front-facing sonar stuff is where it is going to be at.
“They are going to chase them around and throw swimbaits on them and drop on them. That is how they are going to be caught. You are going to have to chase around little wolf packs. The bigger ones aren’t going to be in a group of fish.”
He added that there are plenty of striped bass in the lake that chase the herring as well, and occasionally, anglers will find lunker-sized spotted bass mixed in. Largemouth will also come into play during this time of year, and Webster says they can be found in a lot of the same areas where spotted bass will be caught.
“There will be some shallow largemouth. But when I’ve been up there, you’ll catch some where the shad spawn is going on — and now that the bluebacks are in there, you will be shocked at how many largemouth you find chasing them around,” Webster said.
The top boater and nonboater from each state will earn a berth to the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship to be held Nov. 9-11 on Pickwick Lake.
The tournament is being hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County.
2022 B.A.S.S. Nation Title Sponsor: TNT Fireworks
2022 B.A.S.S. Nation Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2022 B.A.S.S. Nation Premier Sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Progressive Insurance, Ranger Boats, Rapala, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha
2022 B.A.S.S. Nation Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Daiwa, Garmin, Huk Performance Fishing, Marathon, Strike King, Triton Boats, VMC