Smithville Lake is a 7,190-acre reservoir located just north of Kansas City. Extreme high water at Smithville in the summer of 2019 made fishing tough but the high water should have a positive impact on the fishery in the next few years. Smithville Lake largemouth bass numbers are slightly down from last year but still well above historic values. Electrofishing surveys show that 40 percent of the bass are over the 15-inch mark. Casting spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and plastics around the newly installed brush piles and hinge cut trees should produce some nice fish. White Bass fishing was hit or miss in 2019, but recent sampling efforts show a large year class of fish entering the population. 2020 should find plenty of white bass to catch but the size structure may be down a little. 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 continue to be the focal point of Smithville Lake. In 2019 there was a major regulation change to try to help control the overpopulated black crappie in Smithville Lake. Increasing the creel limits and allowing the harvest of the stunted black crappie have brought many anglers back to Smithville Lake. The crappie population has already started to respond to the new regulation. 2019 fall trap netting data shows significant growth in both the black and white crappie from previous years. Nearly 40 percent of the black crappie sampled were over 9". That is up a whopping 37 percent from 2018! The white crappie size structure looks to be improving as well. According to the 2019 fall trap netting data, 85 percent of the white crappie are over 9 inches and 56 percent are over 10 inches. We encourage anglers to harvest the undersized black crappie and throw back the undersized white crappie. In doing so, the size structure of both species will benefit. Small plastic jigs and minnows fished around the standing timber and around the numerous brush piles in the lake should produce some very nice stringers this spring. Walleye fishing will continue to be productive in 2020. Walleye sampling in 2019 indicated that 50 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.