Smithville Lake is a 7,190-acre reservoir located just north of Kansas City. Smithville Lake largemouth bass numbers are slightly down from last year but still well above historic values. Electrofishing surveys show that 32 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 good in 2020, and recent sampling efforts show another large year class of fish entering the population. 2021 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. 2020 was the Perfect Storm for Smithville Lake Crappie fishing. Anglers were greeted with perfect spawning conditions for an extended period of time, many people were off work due to COVID-19, and Smithville just so happened to be dealing with historic numbers of big crappies to catch. Anglers hit the lake hard and the 2020 fall trap netting data shows the effect that anglers can have on a lake. Anglers were successful in reducing the stunted black crappie population. 14 percent of the black crappie sampled were over 9". That number is down from 2019 but still well over historic values. The white crappie size structure continues to look good but numbers will be slightly down from 2019. According to the 2020 fall trap netting data, 50 percent of the white crappie are over 9 inches and 28 percent are over 10 inches. We still 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 continue to 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 2020 indicated that 31 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.