Smithville Lake and St. Joseph, MO... The Pony Express Town

This story originally appeared in CRAPPIE NOW! magazine.

By Tim Huffman

Northwest Missouri is full of fun, adventure, fishing and history. It’s a great place to take the family and do some fishing, too. Smithville is 40 minutes from St. Joseph and 45 minutes from Kansas City

Smithville Lake is relatively new compared to other Corp lakes. It was completed in 1982 filling to a summer pool of 7200 acres. There are 4000 acres left uncleared to create aquatic habitat. Irregular shaped coves furnish more than 175 miles of shoreline. The Jerry L. Litton Visitor Center at the lake includes historical exhibits of the area, dam, recreational opportunities and more.

Derek Dorsy, Corps of Engineers Park Manager at Smithville Lake says, “The lake is a flood control lake with secondary uses as a water supply, recreation, wildlife and fishing. The main lake is cleared for recreation with coves on the main lake having some standing timber. East of the Collin’s Bridge and north of the W Highway bridge are still standing timber areas with a lot of habitat remaining.”

“This is our seventh year for FISH, Friends Improving Smithville Habitat,” says Dorsy. “We have volunteers come out to help the coordinated effort of the Corps, Missouri Department of Conservation, and Smithville Parks and Recreation to place 75 to 100 hardwood brushpiles. These are not small; most 30 to 40 feet. We’re seeing positive results of the program with our bass and crappie catches improving in size.”

A mid-September fishing report from Burton’s Bait & Tackle in Smithville says crappie are starting into their active fall patterns at Smithville. Fishing has been excellent with limits being common. Most crappie are being taken from brush piles in 10 to 15 feet of water.  

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