KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As crappie anglers hit the water at Smithville Lake this spring they are reminded that the length and creel limit regulation has changed for crappie at the lake. Anglers can now harvest 30 crappie, but no more than 15 crappie can be longer than nine inches. The former regulation only allowed possession of 15 crappie over nine inches.
Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) biologists changed the rules to allow the harvest of more undersized fish to be harvested. Black crappie and white crappie are the two species of the popular pan fish that occupy Smithville Lake. White crappie tend to grow faster, said Tony Mason, MDC fisheries management biologist. Black crappie were not reaching the nine-inch limits.
“Black crappie make a pretty good fillet,” Mason said of preparing fish for cooking. “They just never reach that nine-inch length.” About 70 to 80 percent of the crappie in the lake are black crappie.
So far the rule change has been popular with anglers, Mason said. Crappie have been near the banks spawning on sunny days, and anglers have had good success using jigs or minnows.
MDC biologists have monitored fish populations for years. The new rules are based on data and are in place to boost the entire fishery resource.
“It will take a few years to see what the effects of the regulation change will be,” Mason said, “but we all expect it to be a positive change.”