Flowing through the heart of Branson, Lake Taneycomo is the most diverse fishing lake in the country, sporting world-class rainbow and brown trout as well as bass, crappie and blue gill angling. But it’s most famous for its trout fishing.
Why is trout fishing so consistently good year round? The Missouri Department of Conservation stocks Lake Taneycomo about 595,000 trout annually. Stockings occur on several days of each week with trout dispersed by pontoon boat throughout the lake. In the summer months, when fishing pressure is the highest, as many as 96,000 rainbows averaging 11.5 inches or longer are placed in the lake, ensuring every angler a chance to catch their limit of four trout daily. Both rainbows and browns are reared locally at the Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery, located just below Table Rock Dam.
Brown trout comprise a small percentage of stocked trout in Lake Taneycomo. The MDC stocks about 17,000 once a year in the spring. Browns are considered a “trophy trout” in Taneycomo and, thus, a special lake-wide regulation mandates that a brown must be 20 inches or longer to keep, and only one may be kept per day. Four total keeper trout are allowed per day with a two-day possession limit of eight trout total.
Lake Taneycomo is a part of the White River chain of lakes. Our lower dam, Powersite, was built in 1908 and actually is the oldest hydro-electric dam built west of the Mississippi River. When Table Rock Dam was constructed in 1958, water from the bottom of the 200-foot dam was cold, thus supporting coldwater species of fish. As a federal project, the government appropriated Neosho Federal Hatchery to provide rainbow trout to the once warm water fishery. In 1957, construction of the state hatchery, Shepherd of the Hills, was started at the base of Table Rock Dam. Shepherd provides the balance of trout stocked in Taneycomo, as well as providing trout for the rest of the state’s trout program.
Table Rock Dam is managed by the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers. The Southwest Power Administration tells the Corps when and how much water to flow through the facility. Flow is dictated by flood control and power demand. As much as 20,000 cubic feet per second can be released through its turbines, but even more can be moved over the top of the dam through its 10 flood gates. As much as 73,000 cubic feet per second was released in the flood of 2015 — a record that we hope will never be broken again — when Table Rock, with the raising of the floodgates, topped at 935.47 feet.
Water flow dictates fishing conditions and techniques. When the water is off, there is little to no current, and Taneycomo acts like a lake. But when water is released, depending on how much water is released, the current increases and water level rises — and Taneycomo shows her river heritage.
Fishing License and Trout Permits
License and Permits: Missouri residents ages 16 and up until the age of 65 are required to have a Missouri fishing license. All non-residents of Missouri 16 years old and older are required to purchase a license.
A trout permit is also required for ALL who fish above the U.S. 65 Highway bridge, (even children) regardless of what fish is targeted. To possess trout below the U.S. 65 highway bridge, you must have a trout permit.
Note: To KILL a trout, whether intentional or unintentional, is considered possession, so be careful. It might be safer just to buy the trout permit.
Missouri Resident Annual License is $12.
Non-resident annual license is $42.
Trout permits are only sold annually, and they are $7 for adults and $3.50 for kids under 16 years of age.
All Missouri licenses and permits expire on March 1.
Daily permits are $7 per day. If you’re going to fish more than five days total in Missouri, it’s cost-effective to buy an annual license.
Limits On Trout
Daily Limit per person – Four trout One (1) can be a brown trout 20-inches and longer. Possession Limit per person – Eight trout Two (2) can be a brown trout 20-inches and longer.
Rainbows: There is no length limit on rainbow trout below Fall Creek and throughout the rest of the lake downstream, an area that exceeds 20 miles in length.
German Browns: Browns have to be twenty inches or more to keep lake-wide. Any shorter browns caught must be release immediately back into the water unharmed.
Legal And Proper Way To Measure A Trout: Close the mouth and measure from the tip of the lip. Pinch the tail and measure to the tips.
Live Bait In The Restricted Area: Live bait can be carried in the boat above Fall Creek as long as it is not rigged on a hook.
From Table Rock Dam down to the mouth of Fall Creek, approximately 3 ½ miles.
Artificial Only: You MAY use feather or hair jigs, spinners, spoons, hard-plastic crank baits and flies. You MAY NOT use live bait- minnows, night crawlers, wax worms, sculpin, crickets, shad – plastic baits- tube jigs, Sluggos, Bass Assassins, Power Bait, plastic worms, plastic eggs– or prepared baits- Power Bait, dough baits, corn, marshmallows, cheese or any other bait that can and will absorb scents. Anything that smells or is soft is illegal to use above the mouth of Fall Creek.
Slot Limit On Rainbows: Rainbows caught above the mouth of Fall Creek measuring 12 inches or greater, and smaller than 20 inches must be released back into the water immediately and unharmed. This is commonly called a slot limit because those rainbows measuring from 12 to 20 inches are protected. The 20-inch limit on brown trout remains the same lake wide.
Possession And Proper Way To Measure A Trout:
You must NOT be in possession of a rainbow within the release slot limit (12- to 20-inches) while you’re in the restricted area. Don’t take rainbows between 12 and 20 inches, caught below the area, above Fall Creek or you’ll be in violation. You must NOT drag any rainbows from above Fall Creek past Fall Creek and out of the area just so you can keep them. If you hook a rainbow between 12 and 20 inches above Fall Creek, drift below Fall Creek and then boat the rainbow, you can legally keep it, if the distance you drifted is reasonable. Possession doesn’t come until the rainbow is inside the boat. This situation can and will be judged by the agent. If the agent believes the intent of the fisherman is to prolong the fight so he can keep the trout, the agent could write a ticket. Intent is the key word.
Legal And Proper Way To Measure A Trout:
Close the mouth and measure from the tip of the lip. Pinch the tail and measure to the tips.
Live Bait In The Restricted Area:
Live bait can be carried in the boat above Fall Creek as long as it is not rigged on a hook.
Fly: An artificial lure constructed on a single point hook, using any material except soft plastic bait and natural and scented baits as defined below, that is tied, glued or otherwise permanently attached.
Artificial Lure: A lure constructed of any material excluding soft plastic bait and natural and scented bait as defined below.
Soft Plastic Bait: Synthetic eggs, synthetic worms, synthetic grubs and soft plastic lures.
Natural and Scented Baits A natural fish food such as bait fish, crayfish, frogs permitted as bait, grubs, insects, larvae, worms, salmon eggs, cheese, corn and other food substances not containing any ingredient to stupefy, injure or kill fish. This does not include flies or artificial lures. It does include dough bait, putty or paste-type bait, any substance designed to attract fish by taste or smell and any fly, lure or bait containing or used with such substances.
Limits On Other Fish
Report Violations – PoachersIn cooperation with the Missouri Department of Conservation, Operation Game Theft works to stop the illegal taking of fish and wildlife that includes trophy animals and rare and endangered species.
Helpful Fishing Articles
Trout Fishing on Taneycomo for the Novice
There are basic things to consider when tackling trout fishing for the first time on Lake Taneycomo. If you're already a trout fisher, there's not much you have to change in your tackle, but this article might give you an excuse to make a trip to the local tackle store. . .
Seasons on Lake Taneycomo
The MDC generally reports stocking 46,800 rainbows in the month of January and 39,100 in February. All stockings are spread throughout the month. January usually is a cold month here in the Ozarks, but the last few years have been marked by only short cold spells. . .
Fly Fishing Lake Taneycomo
Lake Taneycomo is a tailwater fishery. When Table Rock Dam is not generating, the water below the dam is stable and easy to read. In this article, I describe each area and how to fish for trout with a fly rod while wading. The water below the dam isn't very deep . . .
Generation, boating and wading
Lake Taneycomo is a tailwater lake below Table Rock Lake. Table Rock's dam releases water for two reasons -- flood control and generation of electricity and not recreation. The U.S. Corps of Army Engineers does work with the power companies . . .