March 2, 2023 Fishing Report

Overall conditions on Lake Taneycomo couldn’t get any more stable than we’ve experienced the last couple of weeks.   Two units have generated flow nonstop, day and night.  A little variation in the flow but not much.  Lakes above and below us are all within six inches of their seasonal power pool, but there is one glaring thing — we have rain in the forecast.  Rain was forecast to start Thursday and continue for about 20 hours.  We’re looking at two to three inches total and probably about a two- to three-foot of rise in the lakes.  I think that means we’ll see four full units of generation soon afterwards.


Toby Vaughn

This is not unusual for this time of year.  Spring rains bring heavy flows from Table Rock Dam.  I’ve seen “flood warnings” pop up on my phone.  Honestly, I ignore them because what formerly was designated a “watch” is now a “warning” in the weatherman world.  Two or three inches of rain over a 18 hour period will not cause flooding.  A hard, fast rain might cause a flash flood, but that’s not what they’re referring to.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend sent a picture of two thread fin shad in his hand that he had found along the bank below the dam.  This was evidence that shad had come through Table Rock Dam from Table Rock Lake, which isn’t unusual for this time of year.  But whatever came through was short lived.  And we didn’t see much of a “white bite.”  That doesn’t mean we might see more shad come through.  They’re pouring through the dam at Bull Shoals, but that lake tends to see a lot more shad than we do.

Our lake water temperature is about 44 degrees.  I’ve seen reports of Table Rock’s temperature as low as 41.  Trout don’t necessarily like water that cold, but it doesn’t seem to slow them down much.  What we do see a lot of times is fish move up into the feeder creeks, especially after a rain, seeking warmer water.  I have checked this week and found there are a few trout in Turkey and Roark creeks but not many.  That will change after this rain.

Mike Clayton
Joe Wronkowski
Tim Stidham

With the influx of warm rain water in the creeks and the critters that wash into our lake, night crawlers are going to be the go-to bait in and below these creeks.  As the creeks clear up after a rain, spoons and spinners work great as well as jigs under a float.  And don’t forget about the pink worm under a float.  You might even see some white bass running in and out of Roark Creek.

As the flow ramps up, dragging stick baits on the bottom should do pretty well, especially on trophy trout.  Our dock manager Blake Wilson reports:

Dragging smaller two- to three-inch floating jerk baits on a drift rig can be an effective method to catching trout on Taneycomo.  Not only can it produce numbers of fish, it can often lead to landing some of the larger trophy class trout that call our headwaters home.  This method is most commonly effective in generation patterns from two units or more all the way through floodgate stage waters.  Most of the time, the more generation the better.

To set this method up you will need a size 12 snap swivel, size 12 barrel swivel, four- to six-pound monofilament or fluorocarbon line, an 8th ounce bell sinker (in most water 8-ounce suffices; only at floodgate levels will I switch to 3/16) and of course your small floating jerk bait.  The jerk bait can be many different color patterns, so try what you have.  We have found that patterns imitating shad, minnows, sculpins or baby rainbows tend to work best, but we have had success on other wild color baits as well.  Start by removing the belly hook from the jerk bait, leaving only the tail hook.  This will help reduce snagging on the bottom.  Then take the line coming from the rod (line on your reel should also be four- to six-pound,) and slide the size 12 snap swivel onto the line.  Do not tie the snap swivel on but leave it free sliding.  Then at the end of your line tie on the size 12 barrel.  Take an additional 2.5 feet or so of four- to six-pound line as a leader and attach to the other side of your barrel swivel.  At the end of your leader attach your small floating jerk bait with belly hook removed.  This completes your jerk bait rig.

We have a wide selection of these types of jerk baits available in the fly shop and online store, ranging from the custom-painted signature series(little higher priced) down to a wide selection for only $5 per lure.  We have tested them all, and they all produce.  Note that just like any other method, there are days where it is more effective and days where it is less.  Nevertheless, it is a method worth trying on any day when the water flow is right.  Application is simple.  Let your bait drift with the current, cast the rig upstream and drag along the bottom just as you would any other drift style rig on the lake.  Always make sure you are keeping your drift consistent with the current and  your lines straight upstream.  We have tested this during strong enough flows of three or more units — from Table Rock Dam all the way to Monkey Island — and have caught fish all along the way, so this method leaves good room for long drifts.” 

Rob Busch

Drifting scuds on the bottom is and will be for a while the best way to catch trout, big ones and small ones.  Our trout’s main diet is scuds, freshwater shrimp that live in the gravel on the bottom of the lake.  They eat other bugs too–sow bugs which look like scuds (or the other way around,) and aquatic worms that also live in the same rocks.  So using a fly that looks like a scud and sow bug is logically a good way to catch our trout.

Presentation is important.  We’ve found that a drop shot rig is one of the best ways to keep the fly off the bottom and from accumulating algae.  A little bit of algae on the fly will kill the bite.

Steve Dickey, one of our fishing guides, told me the other day he used a #12 scuds early in the day when the light was still low and did well, but had to go to a smaller fly as it got lighter outside.  He eventually used a small #16 scud when it got really bright outside.  He didn’t say it, but I would think you’d have to go to small line like 6x tippet or two-pound if you’re going to use a #16 fly.

You can drift these bugs anywhere from the cable at the dam down past Trout Hollow Resort and catch trout.

If you’re fishing other flies, or even bait like worms, Powerbait or minnows, I would consider using this drop shot rig.

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