Trout Fishing on Taneycomo
Very little affects the fishing on LakeTaneycomo like the generation of power at the Table Rock Dam. Call 417-336-5083 for a computer generated message that provides up to the moment information on the number of units generating and the current Lake levels.
Fishing in the Special Trout Management Area
(Trophy Area/Artificial Area)
The Special Trout Management Area on Lake Taneycomo goes from Table Rock Dam to the Mouth of Fall Creek, a distance of about about 3 miles. No “bait” fishing is permitted in this area. The term “bait includes, “natural baits” such as worms, grubs, corn etc,; “soft plastic baits,” such as rubber worms, and all “scented baits,” Power Bait etc. All Rainbow Trouts between 12 and 20 inches and all Brown Trout less than 20 inches must be released unharmed immediately after being caught. The only trout that may be kept are Rainbow Trout under 12 inches or over 20 inches and Brown Trout 20 inches or over. All normal possession limits apply.
If all else fails try the following as a starting point:
The Black Bead Head Wooly Bugger, in size 6-10 (weighted).
- Tungsten Bead Head Midge, Size 16 in either Red or Black
- >Chamois Leech size 12. Dead drift it either under an indicator just off the bottom, or straight line with a size 6 or 8 split shot about 10 inches above the Leech.
- Olive Wooly Buggers size 10 or 12.
- Gray/Olive Scuds size 14/16, and San Juan Worms, both the small red and the natural brown.
- Peach colored Egg Pattern (Glo-Ball) fished below an indicator.
- White or Black Thread Jig, size 1/128th oz, fish dead drifted under an indicator.
- Copper L’il Easy, size 18
Using Jig Patterns
After fishing Lake Taneycomo for over 25 years, living on her banks for over 16 years, just above Short Creek, and fishing her for thousands of hours here’s the “KIS of It”. 95% plus of all my fish are caught using the “Spin Float System” with Thill Floats described below. We use either the 128th ounce White Thread Jig or the 100th ounce Olive Bassnapper Jig with which I start my fishing almost everyday. When they first turn the water on I use the 100th ounce Pink Bassnaper Jig. Outside of the Trophy Area, in water off conditions, I use these same jigs and, although I do not use bait 90 % of the time, Wax Worms when I do.
When the water is off and I am fishing “bait” from a fixed position, I use a size 8 hook with Power Bait Eggs, one orange and one chartreuse, 4 lb. test leader for the last five feet, with the lightest split shot I can get away with about 12-18 inches up from the hook. This lets the bait float up from the bottom.
When they are running water, Water on Conditions, I use the standard Lake Taneycomo Drift rig with the same Power Bait Eggs described above.
This covers the area from the mouth of Fall Creek, about three (3) miles from Tablrock Dam, 18 miles down the Lake to the Power Site Dam in Forsyth. Either artificial or natural baits may be used and the only length restriction is that Brown Trout less than 20 inches must be released unharmed immediately after being caught. All Rainbow Trout may be kept and Brown Trout 20 inches or over. All normal possession limits apply.
Water Off Conditions (not generating power from Table Rock Dam) – Air injected night crawlers or Orange and Chartreuse Power Eggs, with the Chartreuse on shank of hook and the Orange on tip. The new “White” Power Eggs seem to be doing real well. Fish them off the bottom with no heavier than 4 pound leader, size 8 or smaller hooks, and just enough split shot to cast. Place the shot so that the bait floats 12-18 inches off the bottom. Spin-A-Lures and Little Cleos have been working well.
Water On Conditions – Orange and Chartreuse Power eggs with the Chartreuse on shank of hook and the Orange on tip, white Power Eggs, or inflated night crawlers bounced off the bottom using the standard “Lake Taneycomo Drift Rig.” which is readily available at all Marinas and most resorts on the Lake.
Spin Float System:
A 5 ½ to 8 ½ foot ultra light rod, open faced spinning reel and, depending on light and water clarity conditions, 3 lb (6X) or 4 lb (5X) Orvis Mirage Fluorocarbon Tippet is used to fish one of the above mentioned jigs beneath either a Thill “Mini Bite” or “Stealth” Float. These floats are ultra sensitive and the depth is easily adjustable without nicking the line.
When I originally started fishing this system I used the longer length rods but have switched to a 6 footer because it is easier to handle in the boat. The trade off is loosing a little bit of leverage for the hook set and the longer rods seem to eliminate a lot of breakoffs. Although I use Flourocarbon Tippet because I believe I get less visibility for a given diameter that is strictly a matter of preference. Regardless of the method of fishing, I would not recommend the use any line greater than 4 pound, approximately .006 diameter, that is within 2 feet of the jig or hook. for any trout fishing let alone this method.
The jig is fished anywhere from 12″ to 8 feet below the float depending on conditions such as water depth and whether or not the fish are rising. In most situations 1 to three feet off the bottom works fine. Thill floats are sold by Walmart, Kmart and Bass Pro. Bassnapper jigs are available from just about any marina or resort on Lake Taneycomo and the 128th ounce White thread Jig is available through River Run Outfitters in historic downtown Branson.
Although the depth of the float, “indicator,” may vary slightly depending on whether or not the fish are rising or topography, this is a consistent pattern that works year round in water off and “lite generation” conditions. The system is flexible enough to accommodate just about any jig or weighted fly and the sensitivity of the Floats used results in lip hooking the vast majority (95%) of fish including those caught using Wax Worms. Obviously, this substantially reduces the mortality rate normally associated with using “bait” under
Winter Trout Fishing on Taneycomo
Most anglers in Missouri don’t think of winter as prime fishing season, but avid trout fishing enthusiasts (especially those of us who prefer fly fishing) hearty or devoted enough to brave the elements know that winter is prime fishing season in the Ozarks. Nowhere is this more the case than on the trout waters of Lake Taneycomo. When the crowds have dwindled, the tourists are in Mexico, Florida, or the Caribbean, and water temperatures drop and dissolved oxygen levels peak, some of us slip into our waders and take up the fly rod with a hint of a knowing smile on our lips as we turn our attention to the water and the fish that call it home.
Lake Taneycomo was originally created by the construction of the first dam across the White River, Powersite Dam, in 1913. The lake’s reputation quickly grew as a great warm-water fishery and vacation destination. But the completion of Table Rock Dam in 1958 and the Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery at the foot of the dam turned Taneycomo into an almost overnight trout fishing sensation. Today, the 22 miles of Lake Taneycomo is widely regarded as one of the top trout fisheries in the nation. From May until the end of November, anglers flock to Taneycomo from all over the United States. Fly fishermen gravitate toward the wadable tailwater section of the lake from just below Table Rock Dam to the mouth of Fall Creek.
The Missouri Department of Conservation maintains a Trophy Trout Management Zone in this stretch of the fishery. Below Fall Creek, anglers fish from the banks and boats with everything from the occasional fly rod to live bait, and catch copious amounts of trout daily. A typical trout caught on Taneycomo will measure between ten and fourteen inches, but trophies in excess of twenty inches are not terribly uncommon. Two species of trout live in the lake: Rainbows and Browns. Rainbow trout are more common by far. Though conventional wisdom holds that the lake produces more and better fish the further upstream one fishes, excellent limits of good size trout…especially Rainbows…can be caught with regularity from one end to the other.
In fact, when I want to keep fish for the dinner table I rarely venture into the upper end of the lake. I will either launch the boat downstream several miles or simply fish with jigs or bait from one of the many public-use fishing docks along the shores of downtown Branson. And I have caught several fifteen to twenty inch Rainbows in these lower stretches of Taneycomo.
In the Trophy Management Zone, MDC maintains a slot limit on trout. Rainbows from twelve to twenty inches must be immediately returned to the water unharmed, while Brown trout less than twenty inches must be released. It is not uncommon to see fly fishermen wading out of these waters with a stringer full of keeper trout, but one has to catch and release several fish for each one which can be legally possessed.
As Old Man Winter settles into the Ozarks in December, the crowds diminish drastically, which results in far less pressure on the fishery. By mid-December, anglers familiar with Taneycomo can discern a change in the biting habits of the fish. They become more aggressive and “relaxed.” And they will remain so until about the end of March when the boats and crowds begin to return with the warmer weather. Trout in Taneycomo are also typically in better health during the winter months. Higher levels of dissolved oxygen and colder water temperatures make the fish more active and vibrant. A fourteen-inch Rainbow Trout in January typically fights like a seventeen inch Brown in July. In February, the Rainbow trout spawn. During this period, large trophy-size Rainbows, brightly colored in their best courting attire, move up into the tailwater section of the fishery and the fly fishing becomes nothing short of spectacular. But nothing impacts the fishery or the quality of fishing on Taneycomo like the power generation schedule at the dams. As temperatures drop and consumption of electricity for heating buildings and homes rises, more cold, highly oxygenated water flows through the dams. And this always turns the fishing on.
For the fly fisherman who has never fished Taneycomo in winter, there are a few things that should be done differently than when fishing it in the warmer seasons of the year. Throughout most of the year, size twelve through size sixteen Scuds, Olive Wooly Buggers in size ten, and egg patterns in white, orange, and rainbow are most productive. In winter, nothing becomes more important than the midge nymphs and emergers. Zebra midges, WD40s, and a variety of other midge patterns reign supreme during low-flow fishing. When the dams generate power, switch to a Bead Head Pheasant Tail nymph floated on a dead drift under an indicator so that it skips along the bottom, or tie on a darker weighted Scud. When the water is not running, anglers are well served when they use very light leaders and smaller sized flies. Three and Four-weight tackle is ideal. When the water is running, switch to five or six-weight tackle and use heavier leader and larger, heavier flies. Fish from the TMZ below Table Rock dam all the way downstream to the old swimming hole in downtown Branson. The stretch of water from Fall Creek downstream to Branson’s City Campground and the old swimming hole does not provide much wadable water, so anglers must have a boat. Wade fishing can be done safely at the old swimming hole.
Bait and spin-casting anglers should fish from boats and can fish the entire length of the twenty-two mile long fishery. Power Eggs or Wax Worms dead-drifted under a cork are the baits of choice. Mepps spinners, Roadrunners, marabou jigs, and Countdown Rapalas in Rainbow pattern are the spin-casters arsenal. Concentrate on structure such as feeder creek mouths, points, and islands. Fish along vertical rock structures at a depth of three to seven feet. And don’t be surprised if you catch some Crappie now and then.
Supplies, licenses, and guides are available locally at Anglers and Archery Outfitters, River Run Outfitters, or Lilley’s Landing. The dam generation schedule for Table Rock Dam is available by calling 417-336-5083 for a real-time report. Anglers needing overnight accommodations will find a variety of options advertising excellent “off-season” rates for everything from fully furnished condos to basic motel rooms. Owners of recreational vehicles have a wide array of RV campgrounds at their disposal too. And there are still plenty of evening entertainment options to enjoy on a winter trip to Branson.
Anglers who want to take advantage of the excellent winter fishing on Lake Taneycomo should come prepared. Dress in layers. Daytime temperatures from mid-December until mid-March can range from the single digits to about sixty degrees. Averages run from a low in the mid-twenties to a high in the mid-forties. Quality waders that provide good insulation are a must for wade fishing, as average water temperatures hover in the mid thirties. Good rain gear is also a great thing to have at hand.