Annual Prospects Report
Smithville Lake is a 7,190-acre reservoir located just north of Kansas City. Smithville Lake largemouth bass cate rates are at an all-time high. Catch rates in 2023 were 131 bass per hour. That is double the historic average for the lake. Electrofishing surveys show that 40 percent of the bass are over the 15-inch mark. Casting spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and plastics around the numerous newly installed brush piles and hinge cut trees should produce some nice fish. White Bass fishing was excellent in 2023, and recent sampling efforts show another large year class of fish entering the population. 2024 should find plenty of white bass to catch but the size structure may be down a little. 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. The new crappie regulation has had a significant impact on the size structure!! We still encourage anglers to harvest the undersized black crappie and throw back the undersized white crappie. In doing so, the size structure of both species are benefiting. The black crappie size structure continues to improve with 22 percent of the black crappie over 9 inches. The white crappie size structure also looks fantastic this year with 61 percent over 9' and 39 percent over 10". Anglers should expect another year of full stringers in 2024. Small plastic jigs and minnows fished around the standing timber and around the numerous brush piles in the lake should produce some very fish this spring. Walleye fishing will also continue to be good in 2024. The management goal is to turn Smithville Lake into a harvest-oriented walleye fishery rather than a trophy walleye fishery. Sampling indicates the at 90 percent are over 15 inches while 17 percent are over 20 inches. Smithville Lake continues to receive annual stockings of walleye. The increase in stocking have resulted in the size structure going down slightly but anglers should expect catch rates to dramatically increase in the coming 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.