Smithville Lake Fishing Guide

Are you ready to embark on an unforgettable fishing adventure at Smithville Lake, Missouri?

With its diverse fish species, abundant aquatic habitats, and stunning natural beauty, this popular fishing destination offers an exciting and rewarding experience for anglers of all skill levels. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of Smithville Lake fishing, sharing tips, techniques, and hot spots that will help you reel in the catch of a lifetime.

Key Takeaways

  • Smithville Lake in Missouri is a popular fishing destination, offering diverse species and habitats.
  • Anglers should focus on the best techniques for targeting specific fish species, such as walleye, largemouth bass and crappie.
  • Custom GPS maps & SD cards are available online to aid anglers of all levels in maximizing success at Smithville Lake’s hot spots.

Smithville Lake Fishing Overview

Nestled in Missouri, Smithville Lake is a renowned fishing haven, boasting a wide variety of fish species, such as:

  • largemouth bass
  • crappie
  • walleye
  • channel catfish

This 7,700-acre recreational lake is surrounded by over 175 miles of shoreline, offering ample opportunities for anglers to explore numerous fishing spots and take advantage of its diverse habitats.

The lake’s aquatic environment has been continuously enhanced, with newly installed rock piles and thriving gizzard shad populations, including fresh cut shad, contributing to the growth and development of more fish of legal size. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a novice fisherman, Smithville Lake’s unique combination of fish species, including fresh shad, and lake features create a fishing experience unlike no other.

Fish Species at Smithville Lake

Smithville Lake is teeming with a variety of fish species, including:

  • Largemouth bass
  • White bass
  • Crappie
  • Walleye
  • Catfish
  • Bluegill
  • Tiger muskie
  • Sunfish

The catch rates vary for different species. For instance, the catch rate for largemouth bass is 4.35%, while the catch rate for bluegill stands at 17.39%.

The lake’s regulations ensure a sustainable and enjoyable fishing experience. For example, when fishing for crappie, the daily limit is 15, with a possession limit of 30 and a length limit of 9 inches. In the case of white bass, the daily bag limit is 15 per day, with a possession limit of 30 and a length limit of no more than 4 inches longer than 18 inches.

Lake Features and Habitat

Smithville Lake offers a diverse array of habitats that cater to different fish species and fishing techniques. Some of these habitats include:

  • Submerged structures
  • Vegetation
  • Rocky shorelines
  • Main lake areas
  • Lake arms
  • Upper ends

These habitats provide excellent fishing opportunities for anglers.

The lake’s 7,700 acres and 175+ miles of shoreline offer a wealth of recreational activities for visitors, such as:

  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Sail boating
  • Marinas
  • Trails
  • Campsites
  • Shelter houses
  • Swim beaches
  • Golf complex

With so much to explore and experience, Smithville Lake promises not only a memorable fishing adventure but also a fantastic outdoor getaway.

Best Techniques for Smithville Lake Fishing

Fisherman catching a largemouth bass in Smithville Lake

Learning the most effective techniques for targeting specific fish species can really maximize your chances of success at Smithville Lake. When targeting walleye, it is best to focus on points, drop-offs, or submerged structures. Live bait such as minnows or nightcrawlers can be used as well as artificial lures like jigs and crankbaits. Brush piles, rock piles, and boulder fields are also excellent spots to fish, with shallow diving crankbaits proving effective in certain situations.

When targeting largemouth bass, a variety of techniques can be employed, such as:

  • Topwater lures
  • Crankbaits
  • Spinnerbaits
  • Soft plastics

Trolling deep diving cranks can also be an effective method for catching largemouth bass, just like using shallow diving crank baits in shallower waters.

Similarly, for crappie fishing, small jigs, minnows, and live bait are commonly used. Getting familiar with the best techniques for each species will ultimately boost your chances of a successful catch.

Largemouth Bass Tactics

Understanding the preferred habitat of largemouth bass is key to catching them at Smithville Lake. Submerged brush piles, weed beds, and rocky points are ideal locations to target largemouth bass. Numerous brush piles throughout the lake provide excellent fishing opportunities, making it an attractive destination for bass anglers.

Selection and presentation are key when targeting largemouth bass. Soft plastics, topwater lures, and crankbaits are all effective options for enticing these fish. By understanding the behavior and preferences of largemouth bass, as well as utilizing the proper tackle and techniques, you can significantly improve your chances of reeling in this popular gamefish.

Walleye Strategies

Renowned for its delectable flesh and challenging catch, walleye is a sought-after species at Smithville Lake. The management objective for walleye fishing at the lake is to focus on harvesting rather than trophy fishing. Spring and fall are the most productive times for walleye fishing in Smithville Lake, with live bait such as minnows, nightcrawlers, and leeches being commonly used.

Artificial lures like jigs and crankbaits can also be effective in targeting walleye. By understanding the seasonal patterns, preferred habitats, and bait preferences of walleye, you can enhance your chances of landing this elusive and prized fish.

Crappie Tips

Knowing where to find crappie is fundamental when fishing for them at Smithville Lake. Submerged brush piles, docks, and other structures are prime locations for targeting crappie. Shallow diving crankbaits and deep diving cranks can also be effective during certain periods.

At Smithville Lake, anglers are allowed to keep 30 crappies, with a maximum of 15 exceeding nine inches in length. Using the appropriate tackle is crucial for a successful crappie fishing expedition, as it enables you to catch more fish.

To locate schools of crappie, focus on areas with structure and consider using a depth finder to pinpoint their exact location.

Seasonal Fishing Patterns

Fisherman fishing in Smithville Lake during summer months

Grasping the seasonal fishing patterns at Smithville Lake is a significant factor in maximizing your chances of success. The spawning run to the dam is prime season for walleye. Hot summer months are also a great time to fish on points and flats. Other fish species, such as largemouth bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, black crappie, white crappie, and bluegill, also have their own unique seasonal patterns.

Winter fishing at Smithville Lake can be productive, especially when combined with hunting. The walleye fishing pressure in the lake is relatively low, providing an excellent opportunity for anglers to catch this prized fish. By recognizing seasonal patterns and adjusting your fishing techniques accordingly, you can experience fruitful fishing trips throughout the year.

Summer Months

During the hot summer months, optimal fishing techniques and locations near Kansas City include fishing in shallow water, utilizing light tackle, and focusing on areas with structure such as points, drop-offs, and weed beds at Smithville Lake. Flathead catfish, black bass, white bass, crappie, walleye, and catfish are the most active species during this time. Boat traffic can impact fishing conditions, hence it’s important to take this into account when planning your trip.

The prime locations for fishing during the summer months include the main lake area, lake arms, and upper ends. By understanding the unique challenges and opportunities presented by the summer season, you can increase your chances of a successful catch.

Spawning Run

During the spawning run, which typically occurs in late spring and early summer, walleye and white bass are the most active species at Smithville Lake. The most optimal locations to locate fish during this time are the main lake area, lake arms, and upper ends.

When fishing during the spawning run, it’s recommended to use light tackle and small lures, focusing on shallow areas. Increasing your knowledge about the unique behaviors and preferences of fish during their spawning run can enhance your chances of a successful fishing expedition.

Top Smithville Lake Fishing Hot Spots

Fishing Smithville. Lake offers a variety of hot spots for anglers to explore. Some of the best spots include:

  • The upper ends of the lake arms for catfish
  • Creek channels and rocky bluffs for flathead catfish
  • Shallow flats around the lake for various other species

These locations provide excellent opportunities for a successful catch.

Detailed fishing reports and maps are available online to help you pinpoint the most productive hot spots at Smithville Lake. By familiarizing yourself with the top fishing locations and taking advantage of the wealth of resources available, you can significantly enhance your chances of a memorable and rewarding fishing experience.

Main Lake Area

The main lake area of Smithville Lake is a sizable body of water situated in the middle of the lake, offering a variety of fishing opportunities for anglers. This area is home to a range of fish species, including:

  • Largemouth bass
  • Channel catfish
  • Black crappie
  • White crappie
  • Bluegill
  • White bass
  • Walleye

Focusing your efforts on the main lake points can help you target these abundant fish species and enhance your chances of a successful catch. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting out, the main lake area promises an exciting and fruitful fishing experience.

Lake Arms and Upper Ends

The lake arms and upper ends of Smithville Lake refer to the sections located furthest away from the main lake, generally characterized by shallower water and more vegetation. These areas are home to a variety of fish species, including:

  • Bluegill
  • Channel catfish
  • Largemouth bass
  • Black bass
  • White bass
  • Crappie
  • Walleye
  • Flatheads

To find the most advantageous fishing spots in the lake arms and upper ends, search for areas with ample vegetation, deeper water, and structure such as logs, rocks, or stumps. By focusing your efforts on these areas, you can target the diverse fish species that thrive in these unique habitats and enjoy a successful fishing trip at Smithville Lake.

Smithville Lake Fishing Reports and Resources

For the latest fishing reports, fishing spots, and forecasts for Smithville Lake, we recommend visiting Additionally, the Facebook group “Smithville Lake Fishing Report” allows members to share information about the fishing conditions. Websites like and also provide maps and detailed fishing reports from nearby anglers, as well as information on the fishing conditions and recommended baits for Smithville Lake.

Utilizing these resources keeps you updated on the latest fishing conditions at Smithville Lake, enabling you to make informed decisions about when and where to fish. With the right information at your fingertips, you can increase your chances of a successful and enjoyable fishing experience.

Custom GPS Maps and SD Cards

Custom GPS maps and SD cards are available for Smithville Lake, offering a valuable resource for planning your fishing trip. To create a custom GPS map, you can utilize the resources available on You can also purchase a custom SD card from Humminbird or Lowrance.

Custom Lake Map selections can be found on Etsy. Investing in custom GPS maps and SD cards can enrich your fishing experience and boost your chances of a successful trip at Smithville Lake.

Local Fishing Guides and Charters

Several local fishing guides and charters are available near Smithville Lake, such as:

  • Live Scope Charters
  • Burton’s Bait and Tackle Guide Service
  • Skye’s the Limit Guide Service
  • Badock’s Guide Service

Utilizing local fishing guides and charters can optimize your chances of a successful fishing expedition, as they can furnish you with the most current information on the lake, the most effective methods for catching fish, and the most advantageous spots to fish.

You can obtain contact information for local fishing guides and charters by visiting their websites or conducting an online search. By connecting with local experts and taking advantage of their knowledge and experience, you can elevate your fishing experience at Smithville Lake.


Smithville Lake, Missouri, offers a diverse and rewarding fishing experience for anglers of all levels. With its abundant fish species, unique habitats, and seasonal fishing patterns, this popular destination presents an exciting opportunity to reel in the catch of a lifetime. By understanding the best techniques for targeting specific fish species, taking advantage of the top fishing hot spots, and utilizing available resources such as custom GPS maps, fishing reports, and local guides and charters, you can make the most of your fishing adventure at Smithville Lake.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your tackle, pack your bags, and set sail for the unforgettable fishing experience that awaits you at Smithville Lake. With the right knowledge, preparation, and determination, you’ll be well on your way to reeling in a trophy catch you can be proud of!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Smithville Lake good for fishing?

Smithville Lake is an excellent fishing destination for anglers of all levels, offering outstanding fishing for bass, crappie, walleye, catfish and white bass.

Recently installed rock piles in the main lake area can produce good numbers of fish, while trolling deep diving cranks or crawler harnesses usually works best.

Catfishing at Smithville can be particularly rewarding.

Where is the best place to fish at Smithville Lake?

For an outstanding experience, fishing for catfish at night in the upper ends of Smithville Lake’s arms or along its shallow flats around the islands and main lake is the best place to fish.

Fresh cut shad or livers work best.

What is the length limit on fish in Smithville Lake?

At Smithville Lake, anglers are allowed to possess five bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass in aggregate) per day with none between 11-15 inches in total length, and one largemouth or smallmouth 15 inches and over.

Additionally, 30 crappie per day can be harvested, with a maximum of 15 longer than nine inches.

What’s the limit on crappie at Smithville Lake?

At Smithville Lake, anglers are allowed to keep up to 30 crappies, with no more than 15 of them exceeding nine inches in length.

This limit was implemented in 2019 to protect the numbers of white crappie while allowing more undersized black crappie to be harvested.

What fish species can be found in Smithville Lake?

Smithville Lake is a great spot for anglers, providing a variety of species including largemouth bass, white bass, crappie, walleye, catfish, bluegill, tiger muskie and sunfish.

The lake is stocked with fish every year, ensuring a plentiful supply of fish for anglers. It also has a boat ramp and several fishing docks, making it easy to access the lake.

The lake is also a great spot for bird watching, with a variety of waterfowl and other birds making their home.