The Missouri Department of Conservation implemented a regulation change for crappie fishing at Smithville Lake in Clay County on March 1.
The new regulation will allow anglers to keep a daily limit of 30 crappie, but no more than 15 crappie harvested can be greater than 9 inches in total length. This change will allow anglers to utilize an overpopulation of stunted black crappie, but it will also protect overharvest of the larger white crappie.
The Missouri Conservation Commission approved the change at a February meeting. Under the old regulation, anglers could keep a daily limit of 15 white and black crappie combined with a minimum length limit for both of 9 inches. The new regulation will have no minimum length limit for either species.
“White crappie tend to grow larger than black crappie,” explained MDC Fisheries Management Biologist Eric Dennis. “While both black and white crappie count toward the daily limit, 80 percent of the crappie in the lake are black crappie -- and they are severely stunted from overpopulation.”
Most black crappie never reached 9 inches and were not harvested by anglers, Dennis said. The new regulation will allow anglers to keep more fish but also boost the average size of black crappie to more desirable lengths. While there is no length limit for white crappie, biologists encourage anglers to make most of their catch kept under 9 inches to be black crappie. That will help the fishery for both species.
Crappie are one of Missouri’s most popular sport fish. They require minimal gear, are fun to catch and good to eat. Smithville Lake is a 7,200-acre reservoir just north of Kansas City and southeast of St. Joseph.
For more information about fishing in Missouri, visit https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/fishing/.