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Smithville Lake is the closest large reservoir to Kansas City. As a result, it receives a lot of fishing pressure. Smithville is 7,190 acres and has many timbered coves, wind swept points, and aquatic vegetation to target. Crappie and largemouth bass are the most sought after species at Smithville, but Smithville offers a great variety of fishing opportunities. Spring crappie fishing can be a hit or miss proposition depending upon the weather and water levels. Our netting information from the fall of 2010 indicates that if you can locate the white crappie, you more than likely fill your creel of legal fish. The percent of legal white crappie in our 2010 nets was 55%. The black crappie also continue to show signs of slow improvement, and all crappie were in excellent condition. Largemouth bass reproduction was good in 2010 as high waters elsewhere resulted in the lake remaining at a stable level. This bodes well for future bass fishing at the lake. One tournament creel over the summer reported a winning weight of over 20 lbs. Bass anglers should expect to continue catch more legal fish in 2011. Catfishing at Smithville can be outstanding. Fishing for channel catfish at night in the upper ends of the lake arms, in the backs of coves and on flats in the main lake can provide fast action. Blue catfish are caught fishing with jugs in the main lake, and on trotlines uplake. Bait with live shad in the evening and watch out for boat traffic. Flathead catfish are being targeted more as the population has matured. Fish live bait in the timbered, rocky areas near creek channels. Walleye have been stocked since 1998 and are providing a quality fishery. We continue to see fish approaching 30 inches in our lake sampling. There are two primary fishing seasons for walleye at the lake: the spawning run to the dam (which can be an exercise in frustration for many anglers, but the stockings have greatly increased the number of fish coming to the dam) and in the summer months on the flats and humps. Mother's Day is the traditional start of better fishing on the main lake. An exciting quarry at Smithville is the white bass. Early season fishing way up the arms can target spawning fish. During the rest of the year, they are most plentiful on the main lake. White bass were abundant during our fall sampling and should be excellent throughout 2011. White bass are fun to chase in the summer and fall with crankbaits, jigging spoons or topwater lures as the white bass come to the surface chasing shad. Wait for a school to begin feeding off the main lake points and rush to the spot and cast rapidly. Target the points that are being hit the hardest by the prevailing winds. Move often to new schools for fast, exciting action. When fish aren't surfacing you can troll crankbaits to locate schools and then cast to them. White bass can also be caught on dropoffs using deep running lures or jigging spoons. Look for large schools of shad on your depth finder in 15 to 20 feet of water.
Efforts continue to maintain aquatic vegetation in Smithville Lake with 162 sites having been planted with a variety of aquatic plants. Eurasian milfoil continues to provide main lake habitat. The Army Corps of Engineers completed their construction of rock wave breaks to protect eroding main lake points. Some eroding points are also scheduled to be rocked to protect the banks.
With the zebra mussel introduction and eradication in 2010, please be aware of your role in the tranportation of invasives. The introduction of non-native mussels or fish can have a detrimental impact on future fishing in the lake.