Smithville Lake is a 7,190-acre reservoir located just north of Kansas City. The continued efforts to increase shallow water habitat in the form of brush piles and rip-rap throughout the lake is paying off. As a result, Smithville Lake largemouth bass numbers and size structure have shown dramatic increases over the last few years. Electrofishing surveys show that 54 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 excellent 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 continue to be the focal point of Smithville Lake. 2018 sampling efforts show that black crappie make up 70% of the crappie population but only 2 percent of the back crappie sampled were over 9 inches. The white crappie size structure is a different story. According to the 2018 fall trap netting data, 76 percent of the white crappie are over 9 inches and 43 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 very nice stringers this spring. Walleye fishing will continue to be productive in 2019. Walleye sampling in 2018 indicated that 65 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.