Welcome to Smithville Lake

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Published on: Jul. 2, 2006

Last revision: Nov. 29, 2010

He’s optimistic that once the first two are operating successfully, funding will become available for more wave breakers.

Walleye Initiative

Smithville Lake is a primary beneficiary of the Conservation Department’s Walleye Initiative. The program, which began in 1998, has been adding millions of walleye to Missouri waters that best suit this popular species. The Department stocks walleye fry into Smithville at the rate of 30 per acre every even-numbered year.

The staggered stocking schedule not only mimics natural year-class bulges in the walleye population, it also makes it easy for biologists to track whether walleyes are reproducing naturally. If they find young walleye during their fall collections in years when no walleye were stocked, the biologists know those fish came from Smithville Lake walleyes.

Jake Allman, who manages the Smithville Lake fishery, said he’s not seen any evidence yet that the walleye are able to reproduce, despite the fact that the fish seem to spawn successfully.

“I think the young walleye just starve to death,” Allman said. “I don’t think there’s enough zooplankton in the water at the time they hatch to allow them to survive. By the time we stock them in late May and early June, we do have zooplankton and even larval fish that they can feed on.”

Walleyes with a slightly different life cycle may make a difference, Allman said. The walleye strain that’s been stocked at Smithville originated from Merritt Reservoir in Nebraska. When the current research project ends in 2007, Allman hopes to experiment with a different strain.

Sticker Shock!

It costs $17 to launch your boat at the Clay County Parks ramps at Smithville Lake. That includes the $6 daily vehicle fee and the $11 daily ramp fee.

Why so much? The federal bill that authorized Smithville Lake specified that local entities, such as city, county or state government, manage recreation on the reservoir. The Corps built the park system, and Clay County agreed to manage it and pay back 50 percent of construction costs.

Clay County does not have a sales tax on its citizens to support the parks. Instead, the park system and its many amenities operate and are maintained almost exclusively on user fees.

You can save bucks by fishing more. Annual permits cost $25 for a vehicle and $65 for boats. Daily and annual permits cost less for seniors.

If you want to fish the upper end of the lake, you can launch for free at the Corps of Engineers’ ramp. However, unless you are completely familiar with the lake, don’t try to motor down to the main lake from there. “It’s a tough boat ride through the wood,” said Corps of Engineers Operations Manager Bruce Clark. “Unless you know your way down, you’re not going to make it.”

Fishing For More Information

  1. Visit the Conservation Department online for weekly fishing reports for Smithville Lake and other state waters.
  2. Visit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers online for daily information about lake levels and water temperatures, as well as maps and general information about fishing, hunting, camping, hiking and other outdoor recreation at Smithville Lake. The Smithville office for the Corps of Engineers can be reached at (816) 532-0174.
  3. Visit the Clay County Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites online for information about Smithville Lake Park, as well as a complete list of user fees. The Clay County Parks Department can be reached at (816) 407-3400.

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