Spring fishing expected to draw anglers to local lakes

Smithville Lake is one of the best locations in Northwest Missouri to catch Walleye and White Bass this spring.

Local ponds and lakes are starting to see more visitors with warmer temperatures bringing fishermen out around the area.

Walleye and white bass are the best catch right now with crappie season fast approaching.

“Right now two big lakes that everybody’s kind of getting excited about are walleye fishing at Mozingo Lake Dams and Smithville Lakes,” said Tory Mason, a fisheries management biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. “This time of year, they kind of do their spawning ritual and come up into the shallows on rocky shorelines and in our reservoirs.”

Walleye often tend to move deeper off of points and flats during summer months when temperatures are hotter.

Anglers should head out at night for the greatest chance of landing a good catch because this is when the fish are not feeding near the dams.

“A lot of people will use kind of shallow running crankbaits or twitch baits that have some rattle to them to trigger a reaction strike,” Mason said. “A very high percentage of them will be located in one spot.”

There is a limit of four walleye per day and a possession limit of eight. There’s a 15-inch minimum size limit on walleye at Smithville Lake.

“White bass move up the rivers from Smithville and into small tributaries,” Mason said. “They will be caught off the dam as well or at windy points.”

Many fishermen will be looking out for white crappie with a high number of black crappie available, but they will be smaller in size.

“Crappie will start as soon as the walleyes are done about the first to second week of April,” Mason said. “Then the crappie will start staging out from their spawning areas, and then when they start to get to 50-degree water temperatures the crappies are really hot and heavy on the bank,” Mason said.

Statewide regulations put no size restrictions on crappie and 30 can be kept a day.

“Smithville is still 30, but only 15 can be over nine inches,” Mason said.

A full list of regulations can be checked in the Wildlife Code for Missouri on the Missouri Department of Conservation website at https://mdc.mo.gov/.

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