January is almost half gone, and we’ve yet to see any down water on Lake Taneycomo. Table Rock Lake had lowered to 913 feet, two feet below powerpool, but after a couple of rains, it has jumped up to over 916 feet. Beaver Lake is in better shape at only one foot over pool, but water is running at Beaver Dam 24/7 which is adding to Table Rock’s volume.
Today, Table Rock’s flow bumped up from two to three units, 6,000 to 9,600 cubic feet of water per second. Table Rock has crested and is starting to fall just a bit. I would guess we’ll see this flow for about a week, then a dropping in volume until Table Rock is back down to 913 feet. Whether or not we’ll see any periods when the water is all shut off remains to be seen.
We hosted a private trout tournament Saturday in which 47 two-man teams competed for cash prizes and plaques. The generation was about 6,000 c.f.s. of flow all day. The trophy area and feeder creeks were all off limits, but live bait was allowed. The weigh in was eye-opening. Big trout after big trout were brought up for weighing. At least 10 trout topped 20 inches, including two brown trout, and many rainbows weighed over two pounds. We’ve never hosted a tournament in 30+ years with these kind of weights.
There are a couple of things to take away from this display: Catch and Release works! And the Missouri Department of Conservation management plan is growing big trophy trout on Lake Taneycomo. In 2020, we had 531 trophy trout (20-inches and longer) registered as caught and released. That’s an incredible number. And in 2018, M.D.C. reduced the number of rainbows stocked from about 720,000 to 560,000. Reducing the number of mouths to feed in the upper lake gives trout more to eat, and they are growing bigger.
Most of these nice rainbows and the two keeper browns were released, although anglers were not required to do so. A few of them were either kept or the fish not survive.
As far as I can tell, these trout were caught in various parts of the lake in a numbers of ways. I think most were caught on artificial lures and some on bait. I heard jerk baits were very productive, either throwing and jerking them back or dragging them on the bottom. Jigs were good. Black and brown colors were mentioned by several people. And even spoons down by the Branson Landing netted some good fish. I just think it was a good fishing day — the fish were biting! And there were a lot of hooks out there for the offering.
With this present flow, I’d be more apt to drag something on the bottom rather than working a jig or spoon, at least on the upper lake including the Trophy Area. Getting your offering on the bottom will take a bit more weight, but that’s where it needs to be. For flies and lures, scuds, eggs and San Juan worms versus a medium-size, suspending stick bait should work best. And I’d consider dragging these not just from the dam to Short Creek but on down past Cooper Creek.
If you’re going to throw marabou jigs, go with an 1/8th-ounce and work the banks. White is still a good color, but I’d also try black/brown and other earth colors.