Rain and cold have dominated many days this past month. We’ve had snow, ice, sleet and rain, all amounting to some sloppy weekends of travel and fishing here on Lake Taneycomo. But the diehards stayed tough and enjoyed some great days fishing for trout (and crappie!)
Generation has been nonstop since the first of February. But the lakes have only risen a little bit and are holding even with the runoff from the last sleet storm. Beaver and Table Rock lakes are less than a foot above their power pools and Bull Shoals is up 18 inches. There is no rain in the forecast this week but there is some on the horizon. And with spring three weeks away, unless we have a dry spring season (which we haven’t had in eons), we’ll probably looking at nonstop generation for quite a while.
Flows have been bouncing at between two to four units. That has made for plenty of water to run just about anywhere on the lake including a run to the cable below the dam. Water temperatures have fluctuated, too. I’ve measured 45 to 46 degrees, but someone Saturday read 43 degrees while fishing the Vince Elfrink Memorial Tournament. The colder water tends to slow down the trout bite at times — at least that’s what some have blamed for their slow fishing.
Most mornings, dam operators are running four units, then dropping to three or even two units by noon. They continue that flow until late in the evening, bumping it up to four again into the night.
I recommend some of the same tips as those in my last report with a few exceptions. Drifting scuds and eggs are by far the best way to catch both rainbows and browns in the trophy area and below Fall Creek. That’s been the case for months. And there are two ways to fish them — with a float or no float. The best seems to be with a float but that technique is a little more complicated.
Capt. Steve Dickey is one of our guides who has perfected this. He uses a nine-foot fly rod with floating line and runs a long, 12-foot leader from his fly line to the first fly with a slip bobber. The leader slips through the bobber and stops when it hits his fly line. And he fishes it all very close to the boat. Here is a Youtube video I shot where he explains this technique.
Trout caught between Fall Creek and Trout Hollow, when cleaned, yield lots of scuds in their stomachs. So our trout are feeding on scuds on the bottom in the upper end of the lake. Heavy generation causes scuds and sow bugs to be dislodged from their hidden places on the bottom, and trout are keen to watch for these bugs when washed downstream.
Use a rig like in Steve’s video or just drag a scud on the bottom using a drift rig or just a split shot, but be sure to get it on the bottom. Scuds found in these trout are various sizes, but some are as big as a #12 fly. Most are gray, but some are a brown/gray or olive/gray. And I would stay away from the bluff or deep side of the lake and fish from the middle to the inside bend.
With the flow of water pretty heavy, jerk baits cast and worked along mainly the bluff banks early and late in the day are yielding a few browns and rainbows. You do have a good chance at a big fish using this method. Throw a 110+1 Megabass in shad colors, or if you’re using a Doty Signature Series, use either a juvenile rainbow or a french pearl.
Dragging jerk baits on the bottom with a drift rig can catch good trout, too, but lately it’s been slow going. Use a 639 suspending bait in shad colors. It’s a short, shallow diving bait that floats. Of course, you can use these baits anywhere on the lake including the trophy area because they are hard baits.
There has been no reports of shad coming through the turbines at the dam, but we have been catching a few trout on white jigs in the trophy area. They could come through at any time, or may not . . . we never know.
Guides on Monday were drifting night crawlers on the bottom from Fall Creek down, and they brought in limits of decent rainbows. There have been reports of anglers drifting white or pink Gulp Eggs on the bottom down at the Branson Landing and finding some nice rainbows, too.
When dam operators have dropped the water flow to two units some afternoons, the bite has been better. The depth of water and flow is easier to manage.
The marabou jig bite has been slow, but there have been some good reports coming in randomly. Early Monday morning, good rainbows were caught up close to Lookout Island in the slower water there and just down and across the lake on 1/8th-ounce, brown-head sculpin jigs with the red thread. I was told the red thread made the difference. Black is also been working on the bluff side from Fall Creek to Short Creek.