Welcome to Smithville Lake
In one of the largest lake revegetation projects in the country, the Conservation Department has constructed 76 plant enclosures in Smithville Lake and is adding more at the rate of about 16 per year.
The aquatic plants in the enclosures include a mix of shoreline, floating leaf, emergent and submersed species, all of them native to Missouri. About 200 feet of fencing around each of the enclosures protect the plants from wallowing carp. By the time the fencing is removed, the plants will have contributed native seed stock to the lake and should be able to out-produce what the carp ruin.
Allman said he and his crew collect young bass in the fall from some of the enclosures to check on them. “The bass are better because of the vegetation,” he said. “If you take a picture of a young bass and blow it up, it would look like a 10-pound bass. They’re just little pigs.”
Gary Burton fishes in bass tournaments, runs bass tournaments, guides on the lake and owns Burton’s Bait & Tackle in Smithville. He’s in a good position to keep his finger on the pulse of fishing in Smithville Lake.
“Right now, Smithville is on a cycle with its crappie where it’s as good as anywhere in the Midwest,” Burton said, “and the largemouth are on the mend. Last week was the best weigh-in we’ve had in a long time.” He said 39 boats brought in 80 bass, each fish weighing an average of 3.26 pounds.
Burton said most anglers use some kind of plastic, such as a brush hog, worm, lizard or grub, for bass. “Those are usually your primary baits,” he said, “but some guys throw spinnerbaits in the spring and fall, and buzzbaits when the topwater bite gets going later on.”
Burton says his best spots change with the season, the weather and even the time of day. “I can tell you that if you’re catching bass 10 feet down, you’re fishing deep,” he said. “They stay a little shallower here.”
His prescription for crappie is to head into an arm of the lake and find the creek channel. Burton said he casts jigs up onto the channel edges. “I’m looking for some brush or trash that you can’t see from above,” he said. “Usually, there’ll be some fish holding down there.”
Black and chartreuse and purple and chartreuse are his favorite colors for crappie. Although on a bright day