Smithville Lake is a 7,190 acre reservoir located just north of Kansas City. Stable to high water levels for the last several years, plus the relentless pursuit to increase aquatic habitat has benefitted all of fish species in the lake. 2017 was another excellent year for gizzard shad production and food should be abundant. Smithville Lake largemouth bass numbers and size structure continue to climb. Electrofishing surveys show that 32 percent of the bass are over the 15 inch mark. The increased shallow water habitat in the form of brush piles and rip-rap has led to high reproductive success of largemouth bass. Casting spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and plastics around the newly installed brush piles and hinge cut trees should produce some nice fish. White Bass fishing was excellent in 2017 and sampling efforts show another great year class of fish coming through the system in 2018. Find the shad and you will find the white bass. Fish crankbaits and pepper spoons off the main lake points or watch for them busting schools of shad at the surface.
Crappie continues to be the focal point of Smithville Lake. Black crappie numbers remain high but the size structure tends to run a little smaller with only 4 percent of the back crappie sampled being over the minimum 9 inches. White crappie size structure was up slightly from previous years. According to the 2017 fall trap netting data, 53 percent of the white crappie are over 9 inches and 30 percent are over 10 inches. Small plastic jigs and minnows fished around the standing timber and around the numerous brush piles in the lake should produce some nice fish. Walleye fishing should continue to be good in Smithville Lake. Walleye sampling in 2017 indicated that 32 percent of the walleye sampled were over 20 inches. Smithville Lake now receives annual stockings of walleye, so the size structure may go down slightly but anglers should expect catch rates to dramatically increase in the next couple of years. There are two primary fishing seasons for walleye at the lake: the spawning run to the dam, and the hot summer months on the points and flats. The spawning run on the dam can be frustrating for many anglers, but the stockings have greatly increased the number of fish coming to the dam. Using shallow diving crank baits work best during this period. During the summer months, walleye move deeper off main lake points and flats. The newly installed rock piles in the main lake area should produce good numbers of fish. Trolling deep diving cranks or crawler harnesses over these areas usually work best.
Catfishing at Smithville can be outstanding. For best bets on channel catfish, fish at night in the upper ends of the lake arms or along the shallow flats around the islands and main lake. Fresh cut shad or livers work best. Flathead catfish are very popular at Smithville. Flathead catfish can be caught fishing jugs and on trotlines along creek channels and rocky bluffs using fresh shad or other live baits. Remember to always label your lines and watch for boat traffic.