A new app providing information on Smith Mountain Lake received a significant update thanks to the help of a local fishing club.
Tim Barr, one of many new lake residents that moved to the area full time during the pandemic, created the app SML+. He developed it as a place for all the relevant information for lake residents and visitors.
Barr said lake information became critical shortly after his move to the lake in 2020. That year two major floods hit the area, rising the lake level several feet above normal and over some docks.
“That was kind of the impetus for it,” Barr said.
With more than 20 years of experience in the tech sector, Barr began work on an app that provided regular updates on the lake level as well as a past data going back days and weeks up to a year. The information comes directly from the Appalachian Power website, updated every 15 minutes.
People are also reading…
The app also includes alerts from Appalachian Power on inflow into Smith Mountain Lake as well as discharge from Leesville Lake.
Barr also worked with the owners of the popular Ice Cream Boat to provide a up to the minute GPS location of the vessel for anyone interested in a cold treat during the summer. The app provides a pinpoint on a SML map of the boat’s location during the day.
It took about three weeks to create the app, released in June 2020, according to Barr. He said it forced him to flex some programming muscles he hadn’t used in a while to complete the project.
The addition of a water temperature sensor on the app caught the eye of the Smith Mountain Striper Club. A sensor on Barr’s dock gave a readout of the lake’s temperature at 3 feet below the surface.
The SML Striper Club already owned five water temperature sensors at several marinas around the lake and wanted to find a way to get the information to a bigger audience. Club president Chad Gilmore said a member ran into Barr and they began discussing the app and adding the club’s additional sensors.
“It really was one of those things where everything comes together,” Gilmore said of the chance meeting.
After some work to get the sensors linked up with the app, the app was updated with the new readouts just last month. Gilmore said it gives anglers on the lake the chance to see where on the lake has the temperature best suited to catch a fish.
For striper, Gilmore said they like to spend their time in water between 55 and 65 degrees.
So far, the app is a success for Barr. He said more than 7,000 people have downloaded the app so far. With the new additions last month, that number could continue to grow.
Barr is looking into other additions to the app that can help residents as well as visitors.
The SML Striper Club agreed to add the additional water temperature sensors to the app at no cost. Gilmore said it is one of many services they try to provide.
“We just see it as a community outreach to the residents and visitors of Smith Mountain Lake,” Gilmore said.