First for this fall, our generation pattern has stayed pretty consistent. We’re seeing water running every afternoon starting 2-3 p.m. and running until dark or after. It seems the volume depends on the day’s high temperature. The warmer it is, the more water runs. The range is one to three units or 3,500 to 9,000 cubic feet per second flow.
Our water temperature is holding at 55 degrees, which is pretty good for this time of year. And the dissolved oxygen levels run from 4.5 to 6.5 parts per million, which again is not bad. I don’t think anyone can blame slow fishing to either water temperature or DO right now.
Fishing the past couple of weeks has been disappointing for many. I personally don’t mind slow fishing as long as I am catching a few. It’s a challenge trying to entice the bite, but when I do catch a nice rainbow, it’s actually more fulfilling. But I know for the angler here for a short time — possibly their only trip to Taneycomo this year — it’s frustrating not see success. I’m not sure exactly what has caused the lethargy, except that we have hit a time when our trout just became fussy and didn’t eat. It seems we have a couple of these periods, usually one in April or May and then one again in August or September. Sometimes it’s in July, but that varies.
Bill Babler wrote a report Wednesday on OzarkAnglers venting his fishing frustration. He’s one of our fishing guides and is known for shooting straight when it comes to fishing, on both Taneycomo and Table Rock lakes. He says it’s been tough, even night crawler fishing. But his clients are catching trout, just not the big numbers we’re all accustomed to.
On Facebook anglers have reported catching some nice rainbows and browns at the hatchery outlets by the dam, and that’s pretty normal for this time of year. Trout will crowd up in the chutes, side to side and nose to nose, and occasionally eat a scud drifting by. Unfortunately, a lot of these fish are snagged and fought to exhaustion, then drug up on the bank for a photo before being released. We hope they swim off and live . . . you can tell that I don’t do outlet fishing.
There are other ways to catch nice trout below the dam other than outlet fishing. Leonard Keeney and others have perfected stripping sculpins (fly) on the flats. Others strip soft hackles, cracklebacks and small woolly buggers. And some anglers still fishing a midge under an indicator and do well.
I personally need to learn the new changes to the area. I recently drove over Table Rock Dam and saw that the old Rebar chute has been reduced to a trickle, while the channel is now a wide and shallow riffle to the north of the root wad. These high water events have really changed things over the years.
October and November are typically when our brown trout move up close to the dam to go through the spawning ritual. Someone asked me the other day if I’d ever seen a brown trout redd, or spawning bed. I don’t think I have. I’ve seen a lot of rainbow beds later in December and January but never a bed in October or November that I could identify as a brown bed. I am sure someone has, but I don’t think they stand out as being numerous, not as numerous as they should be if they were spawning successfully. Our browns do not spawn successfully in Taneycomo as they do on the While River below Bull Shoals.
This migration, though, draws lots and lots of anglers seeking to beat their best. In years past, they’ve been beat back by moderate to heavy generation and a lack of places to fish because of the high water. No so this year. We’ve seen and will continue to see lots of low, friendly water conditions through the fall season.
I’ve written about fly fishing to shallow-feeding rainbows before. When the water is down, and there’s no generation, you’ll find a good number of trout up in the trophy area — almost all rainbows — along the shallow side of the lake from Fall Creek to Lookout Island (and really past) feeding on mainly scuds but also midge larva. From a boat, set off the bank 50-60 feet and cast to these fish, which you’ll see working the bottom, sometimes with their backs out of the water because. . . it’s that shallow.
Use a very small indicator, something that lands on the water softly. Tie an unweighted scud under it about 12 inches, using 7x fluorocarbon tippet.
Friday morning I used a #12 either gray or tan, unweighted scud and caught a lot of rainbows ranging from 13- to 18-inches. I started early. The west or shallow bank was in the shad till about 9 a.m. when the sun came up over the bluff. But as the sun hit the bank where I was catching fish, they didn’t stop biting. I could actually see fish better and get good casts to them.
I worked my way down the bank and eventually ended my morning at the Narrows where I continued to catch rainbows in shallow water there, though, I found these fish to be more educated then the others. The bite was less often and very short.
I did catch a few nice rainbows on the peach megaworm under a float, fishing it five-feet deep under an indicator in the channel. I did try white and didn’t get bit. I was using 6x fluorocarbon tippet.
One thing that’s really going to help our fishing here is fall weather. Today is a perfect example. It’s cloudy with a chance of rain this afternoon, and with that brings a little breeze. One reason fishing has been so tough is the blue bird sky of summer with no clouds and no wind. Wind and clouds will make a huge difference to the bite, no matter how you’re fishing. Fish bite better when there’s a chop on the surface.
With the wind comes better fishing conditions for other things used under a float. Marabou jigs, the megaworm, micro jigs, a Zebra Midge, the Pink Worm! Chase the chop!!
Good jig colors have been black, olive, sculpin and ginger. I think the peach or pink megaworm has been better than the white lately and I’ve been using a #14 Zebra Midge with a brown body and a white bead head. . . yes, white! Jeremy Hunt turned me onto them and they’ve been really out-catching the other midges.