The Smith Mountain Lake Super Trail Weekend
by Hank Veggian & Joe Haubenreich
The stakes were high: cash prizes, 2020 Trail Championship qualifying spots and the 2020 Mid-Atlantic Region Angler of the Year title. There was a lot on the line, as they say.
On September 26-27, 2020, 41 KBF anglers descended on Roanoke, Virginia to fish beautiful Smith Mountain Lake for the fifth and final event of the 2020 KBF Trail season: the Realtree Fishing KBF Trail Series Mid-Atlantic Regional Final presented by Dee Zee and sponsored by Ketch Products. Heading into the 2 day tournament, West Virginia’s Jody Queen was the favorite to win, and not only because of his mighty reputation: he led the points field by a healthy margin.
Big fish came in early and fast at the start of competition. Anglers began casting before dawn, and Virginia angler Nathan Green’s 17” Largemouth Bass took the top spot for the Golden Hour. In hour two, North Carolina’s Dontrell Sullivan posted a 19.50” bass to seize the top Big Bass spot.
But the early bite was producing fish, and Casey Reed began his run. By 9 am, he had posted three fish to take1st place. He would be challenged. First, North Carolina’s Jacob Miles took the lead with the weekend’s first 5 fish limit, and then Bruce Deel, Brandon Congreve and finally Casey Reed posted 5-fish limit. And then Jody Queen showed up, closing in with a 5th place limit at mid day. And then another big bass went on the board: Casey Reed posted a 21” fish to surpass Jameson Hensley’s 20.75” monster. It would be the fish that changed his outlook.
Reflecting on the catch later, Reed said: “[I had been fishing] natural rock in 8-15’ of water. My main set up was a jig. But that big fish came from a point with stumps.” It was the fish that separated him from the pack at the end of the day.
At the end of Day 1, the top 10 were:
- Casey Reed (VA) 5 bass totaling 87 inches
- Brandon Congreve (GA) 5 bass totaling 83.25 inches
- Nathan Green (VA) 5 bass totaling 76.5 inches
- Eric Nelson (NC) 5 bass totaling 75.5 inches
- Bruce Deel (VA) 5 bass totaling 75.25 inches
- Jason Hensley (VA) 5 bass totaling 74.75 inches
- Jacob Miles (NC) 5 bass totaling 73.25 inches
- Jody Queen (WV) 5 bass totaling 73 inches
- James Stanley (VA) 5 bass totaling 72 inches
- Josh Carter (VA) 5 bass totaling 72 inches
Unlike other Super Trails, Smith Mountain was a cumulative event as opposed to two separate single day tournaments: your Day 1 limit counted toward your final total. And with so much on the line, and several anglers in the running for the regional AOY, every fish and every upgrade mattered.
Eric Nelson wasn’t a happy camper. One of the anglers with a shot at the Regional AOY title, he had committed an error late in Day 1. He had been sight fishing in clear water for cruising bass, using a finesse approach, when he landed a 17” fish. While measuring it, the fish slipped out of the boat. It would have been a significant 5” upgrade. Nelson nonetheless stuck to the pattern.
But Casey Reed was also sticking with his pattern, and it was paying off against a field that included multiple Trail champions (in addition to Nelson and Jody Queen, Barry Davis was also fishing the event, as was 2019 KBF Rookie of the Year Derek Brundle). Additionally, Bruce Deel posted a 20” that would go on to win the Big Bass prize for Day 2.
At 9 am only three-quarters of an inch separated the top 3 anglers, with Nathan Green holding the top spot, followed by Reed and Eric Nelson, the latter whom in the meantime was sticking with the productive sight fishing pattern he found. He later said: “the fish were coming into this one pocket and traveling along the rip rap to feed on bream and crayfish. I tried replicating the pattern and couldn’t find anywhere else they were acting that way.” Nelson was determined to make it work – and to keep his fish in the boat. At mid day, he was holding steady at 4th place, looking up at Casey reed, Bruce Deel and Nathan Green in the standings. But with a late upgrade, he would take 4th place for the day – ironically, exactly 5” from the leader, Casey Reed.
Reed won the weekend Supertrail, his second KBF Trail victory – one of only a handful of anglers (Jody Queen, Kristine Fischer, Cody Milton, Rick Rowland and Ken Wood are the others) to achieve multiple Trail wins. And the win at Smith Mountain is his second event win in a regional Trail championship, having done so on Lake Erie in 2019.
But when the AOY points were added up, it was Nelson who emerged as the first KBF Mid- Atlantic Regional AOY, and 2nd place in the final event standings. It is an achievement for which he will be honored with the other regional AOY Champions at Lake Guntersville at the KBF National Championship on October 7-9, 2020.
Sometimes it’s more than fish that are on the line.
The top 5 at the end of the 2 day tournament are below. Complete event standings are at this link.
- Casey Reed (VA) 168.25 inches
- Eric Nelson (NC) 151.75 inches
- Bruce Deel (VA) 150.5 inches
- Nathan Green (VA) 149.75 inches
- Brandon Overstreet (VA) 137.5 inches
The 2020 RealTree Fishing KBF Trail Series is presented by Dee Zee Truck Accessories. The Mid-Atlantic KBF Trail is sponsored by Ketch Products Inc. The event host is Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge (VBR). Casey Reed was Tournament Coordinator and Henry Veggian was Regional Coordinator.
• Ketch Products
• Realtree Fishing
• Dee Zee, The Truck Accessories People
• YakAttack US-made Kayak Gear & Accessories
• Diatract Sense Surge Technology
• FishUSA, America’s Tackle Shop