Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Trout Fishing Taneycomo - Part III of the Missouri Trout Fishing Series

Trout Fishing Lake Taneycomo
In Part I of this series we first made the case that Missouri has some pretty great fishing trout fishing options and outlined the categories and briefly introduced a few of them.  In Part II, we went to the Current River for some trout fishing in the heart of Missouri’s Ozarks.  Now we will take a peak at the pre-eminent option for lake trout fishing in Missouri – Taneycomo.

The fishing at Lake Taneycomo has become world famous for one primary reason, enormous brown trout.  But that should not be the only reason the trout angler should be interested in Taneycomo.  This lake is absolutely loaded with rainbow trout too.  So, this is one of those places where you can catch fish in big numbers and a few big fish as well.  It really is the best of both worlds.

At Taneycomo, there are also a couple of different basic approaches which we will delve into as we go. But first, a basic understanding of the structure and history of Taneycomo is in order. A basic understanding of some of its features will help you better understand how to catch fish using the method of you’re choosing.
First of all, Taneycomo has been around a relatively long time – but for much of that time was not amenable to hosting a trout population.  You see, trout need cold water and Missouri only naturally produces that when streams are spring-fed in a few locations.  The original Taneycomo did not have these features.  The lake was completed in 1913, and until 1958 was just a “regular” Missouri reservoir in most respects.  Taneycomo is a confinement of the White River which has several bottom-fed dams.

The effect of a bottom-fed dam is that the water released is from the depths of the impounded reservoir, and the water that comes out is cold.  Some of the cold water fisheries below these bottom fed dams along the White are riverine fisheries – case-in-point, the great stretch right below Bull Shoals in Arkansas.  Before 1958, there was no bottom-fed dam emptying water into Taneycomo, but that all changed with the completion of Table Rock Reservoir.  Suddenly, millions of gallons of pure fresh water were pouring into Taneycomo, changing radically the fishery.  The Missouri Department of Conservation saw an opportunity, and constructed the Shepherd of the Hills hatchery, and trout fishing changed in Missouri.

Wade-Fishing Taneycomo

Fishing Taneycomo in the tailwater of Table Rock does in fact share some similarities with basic trout park fishing in the fly areas.  In the portion of Taneycomo just below Table Rock, artificials are the only methods permitted.  There is one other extremely important aspect of fishing this portion that should be known.  When the sirens indicate a release from the dam extreme caution should be taken.  Namely, when you hear the siren, it is time to quit fishing and get out of the water. 

For fly fishermen interested in hatches that occur on Taneycomo, there is one word to know – midges.  That’s about it, but they are present just about every day of the year.  Long leaders are a must, and you are presenting right to rising fish.  Sizes 14-18 are about right and a variety of colors are effective.  Try red, yellow, gray, orange, olive, or black.  You might have to try a variety of presentations to find what is working in a particular stretch at a particular time.  Other favorites are woolies in black and olive as well as egg patterns.  One tactic that should not be overlooked is night fishing.  This is when many of the larger browns are caught. 

Boat Fishing for Trout

For boat fishermen on the lower stretches of the lake, a variety of baits and lures are effective.  These include Power Bait, corn, air-injected night crawlers, Rapala Floating F07 in gold/black and silver/black, Little Cleos, and micro-jigs in pink and/or white fished under an indicator.

A couple of other good resources for more in-depth information on trout fishing Taneycomo are at the Family-Outdoor Taneycomo page and landingbigfish.com.  Finally, don’t shoot down the idea of taking a trip or two with a guide from the area.  There are a lot of subtleties that a trip or two with a guide can help you figure out a lot quicker…things that reading about them on a webpage just cannot convey.  There are a bunch of good guides in the area. Check with one of the area tackle shops or fly shops.

Yes, Missouri does have some great places for trout fishermen, and Taneycomo is one of them.  It is certainly a different experience – near Branson and certainly a place filled with much more activity than other Missouri trout fisheries.  It is also a place where it is not out of the realm of possibility that the next world record brown could be caught.