I’m writing a fishing report for the Kansas City Star this morning. The deadline is today at noon. But because of the timing of this report, most of it is speculation on my part. Why? Because conditions have changed in the last 24 hours, and they will change again in the next 24 hours. Let me try to explain.
On May 1, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened five spill gates at Table Rock Dam, releasing 5,000 cubic feet per second of water to make up for a turbine that was down. The combined flow was 15,000 c.f.s.. This has been the release rate every day up until yesterday at 1 p.m. when officials shut those gates as well as one turbine. Last night, they shut down all turbines — so zero generation. Big change.
Today, we will have several rounds of storms move through the area dumping an estimated one to four inches of rain on our watershed. That will send lake levels up, and will force the Corps to start the flow again. The big questions are how much rain and how much flow?
Beaver Lake is at 1,126 feet, five feet over power pool. Table Rock is pretty much at power pool since it is recorded now as 916-917 feet. But officials have shown they’re not messing around with any water over power pool on Table Rock, releasing at least 15,000 c.f.s. of water if the lake goes over that power pool mark. Beaver, on the other, hand historically has held water right up until near flood stage which is 1,130 feet.
What does slower generation mean on Taneycomo? For most fishermen it means easier fishing. Easier because there’s less water to deal with — less flow, less depth. But there’s something else to mess with your mind . . . colder water. With no spill gates, the water coming through the turbines is about 46 degrees. This is about 10 degrees colder than the combined flow of gates and turbines we’ve been seeing. Will that slow down the bite? It may for a short time, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much. The change in flow will make trout move and adapt, which may slow the bite down a bit, too.
I fished last evening after the gates closed and found fishing pretty good, not great, but good. I fished basically from the dam to just past the Narrows (all in the trophy area) and caught rainbows consistently on mainly a white jig. They didn’t want a darker jig. Of course, our trout have had a ton of food to eat all winter and spring so they’re all beefed up.
We started reporting that drifting scuds was the ticket earlier in the spring, and for the last couple of weeks we’ve had a run on the flies. I think there’s a ton of people that thought a scud was a missile — ones who had never used a fly before, much less drifted one like a night crawler. But we’ve sold over a thousand of the bugs this month, and I don’t think the fly is going to lose its effectiveness any time soon. Side note: If you’re a fly tyer and want to tie scuds for our shop, please let us know!!!
I could go on and report on what has been working, but it’s hard because I don’t know what our water condition will be in the coming days. I will say if the flow stays down — less than 15,000 c.f.s. — use the same thing that’s been working but with less weight. Same jigs but smaller. Rig some rods with two-pound line because the smaller 1/16th- and 1/32nd-ounce jigs will start working.
One thing that’s great about less water — dock fishing should be decent! Easier for sure. And anglers who like to wade below the dam will have more options.