Smithville Lake, Missouri, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Missouri - Northwest -

Smithville Lake, located in the City of Smithville in northwest Missouri, is a recreational wonderland. With nearly 7,200 surface acres of water, Smithville Lake entices nature lovers to come out and play. The purpose of Smithville Lake is to provide flood reduction, water supply, fish and wildlife management, and recreation. Outdoor sports include fishing, hunting, swimming, bird watching, boating and camping.

In 1965, the town of Smithville was covered with 12 feet of water due to the flooding of the Little Platte River. To prevent future flooding, the US Army Corps of Engineers constructed a dam on the Little Platte River forming Smithville Lake. Today the Corps manages the dam and wildlife management land, now known as the Smithville Lake Project. The Smithville Dam is an earthen dam that stretches 4,000 feet long and reaches 90 feet above the streambed.

Although the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages the dam and wildlife areas, the Clay County Parks Department and the City of Smithville operate the campsites located around Smithville Lake. Crows Creek and Camp Branch Campground are run by Clay County Parks Department, while Smith’s Fork Campground is run by the City of Smithville. Campers of all types will enjoy the amenities offered at the campgrounds. Electric and non-electric campsites are available and also include restrooms, dump stations, and hot showers. The campgrounds offer hundreds of picnic sites and numerous shelter houses where visitors can take pleasure in a picnic lunch or enjoy a group get-together. After campers pitch their tents or park their RVs, they may take a dip in the refreshing waters at one of two swimming areas, the Little Platte Park and Camp Branch Park.

Visitors to Smithville Lake may want to bring along their bike, horse, or a pair of hiking boots to partake in many miles of multi-use trails that meander around the lake. Lake views from the trails are spectacular. The multi-use trails are completely paved, while the horseback riding trails are unpaved. Mountain biking and hiking are permitted on the horseback riding trails, although the terrain can be a bit rough.

Smithville Lake is an angler’s paradise with many fish waiting to be caught. Since Smithville Lake was created, the waters have been stocked with channel catfish, blue catfish, flathead catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill, walleye, and tiger muskie. Crappies can also be found in Smithville Lake but have not been stocked. Fish enthusiasts from all over exhibit their fishing skills in one of the many bass tournaments held yearly on Smithville Lake. Anglers are not the only ones who flock to Smithville Lake; hunters have over 7,000 acres available to hunt in the Smithville Wildlife Management Area and Honker Cove Waterfowl Refuge. Honker Cove is closed during designated times of the year. Wildlife viewers, nature lovers, and photographers will also take pleasure in visiting Honker Cove Waterfowl Refuge when it is open to the public. Ducks, shorebirds, geese, and eagles are commonly spotted by those who walk along the refuge.

The Smithville area was once inhabited by a Missouri Tribe of Native Americans, but its most famous citizens were the James Gang led by Frank and Jessie James. The home of Jessie James is located near Kearney, Missouri and is still open to the public for viewing. Although the notorious outlaws have been gone for some time, visitors who fall in love with Smithville Lake area can purchase a home of their own. Real estate owners have the benefit of Smithville Lake within an easy drive. Smithville Lake is a great vacation destination or weekend getaway. Families and friends can camp together while having a relaxing time along the shores of beautiful Smithville Lake.

Things to do at Smithville Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish species found at Smithville Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Blue Catfish
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Flathead Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sunfish
  • Tiger Muskellunge
  • Walleye

Smithville Lake Photo Gallery

    Smithville Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: US Army Corps of Engineers

    Surface Area: 7,190 acres

    Shoreline Length: 175 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 864 feet

    Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

    Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 876 feet

    Water Volume: 102,200 acre-feet

    Completion Year: 1979

    Drainage Area: 213 sq. miles

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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