Welcome to Smithville Lake
or when the water is clear, he’ll tie on something white. He said every crappie angler has a color he or she swears by, which is why he has to keep about 50 different colors of crappie jigs hanging on the wall in his bait shop.
Burton said bait anglers often do well by tying up to a tree and watching a bobber with a minnow underneath it.
“Anywhere you go in the country you’re going to use a minnow or a jig for crappie,” Burton said. “What you choose is more about how you like to fish than what the fish want most at the time. On average, one works just about as well as the other. You just need to be where there are hungry fish.”
Even during the hot summer, the crappie are seldom deeper than 20 feet, according to Burton. He said the main lake forms a thermocline between 16 and 22 feet, and the fish tend to hang somewhere near that level, unless they are chasing shad.
“If you follow the shad schools,” Burton said, “you’re going to find fish—crappie, bass, everything.”
Depthfinders work well for locating schools of shad, he said, unless the baitfish are really shallow. Then, you often can spot the shad near the surface of the water. That’s a good time to throw a shallow-running crankbait or a Rattletrap in their vicinity.
You never know what’s going to hit.
Dean Willadsen, who lives near the lake and fishes it often, hopes for walleye to strike. He primarily relies on crankbaits. He said he’ll go out in the evening and pull the lures near and over main lake points.
Willadsen grew up in northern Iowa where he fished natural lakes for walleyes. He said reservoir walleyes are a different breed. “It’s not the classic, steep dropoff-type lake,” he said. “I’m finding that with these stocked fish if you find the weeds, you find the walleyes.”
By walleye standards, Willadsen fishes shallow, trolling the 8- to 10-foot contours of points and humps. He said he often catches fish at the corners, when the lure passes over the edges of structure, sometimes as shallow as 3 feet. After he locates fish, he stops and casts crankbaits. “You find the right spot, and there’s usually more than one,” he said.
His favorite trolling lure is a No. 5 Fire Tiger Rapala Shad Rap, but sometimes shad colors work better. He said the lures plow