Fishing Report by Lilley's Landing.
I can honestly say this has been one of the best summer fishing seasons in many years here on Lake Taneycomo. I say that for a couple of reasons. (Above: Joe Merendas with a 28-inch brown. Released.)
First, catching trout hasn’t really varied all summer. It’s been pretty good. Normally we see slow times, either in early June or in August or both. We haven’t seen that slow down. One reason why is our lake water temperature. It’s held at 57 all summer, which is warmer than normal. Typically we see some of the coldest water of the year in May when it averages anywhere from 45 to 49. I’ve seen it as cold as 40. Then it starts warming up in June and July but we usually see 50 degrees until August.
Our trout are more active at 57 verses 45 degrees, and that means they feed more, plain and simple. That’s why fishing has been so good all summer.
Second, we’ve consistently seen bigger trout caught, in the trophy area and below. We’re even seeing big rainbows caught in areas down lake like by Monkey Island and the Branson Landing. And when I say big, I mean 15- to 18-inches long. I credit the flood we had in May that brought the influx of food over the gates from Table Rock Lake. Also, the water temperature is another reason. More activity and more feeding means good growth.
We’re also seeing a lot of trophy brown trout caught, and thankfully, most are being released to be caught again. This is attributed to the increased numbers stocked by the Missouri Department of Conservation in the past six years.
So in short, I’m looking for a very good fall season.
In a couple of weeks, we host a benefit trout tournament for the Branson Area Professional Firefighters. It’s on Saturday, August 26th. I use these tournaments as a way to see what’s in our lake — where the trout are and how big. The tournaments bring some of the best trout fishermen to the lake, and they pull out and show us a segment of what’s there. Most of the trout will be caught on marabou jigs, either thrown straight or fished under a float. I’m looking forward to see what’s caught on that day.
We’ve been getting a wide range of good reports from different areas of the lake. I’ll start with the lower portions of the lake that we send anglers to and work my way up lake.
Zach Behlmann with a nice rainbow caught down by Monkey Island on a jig.
Branson Landing — On any given morning, you’ll see a flotilla of guide boats around the twi big docks in the Landing area. They’re fishing the Berkley’s pink power worm under a float about five-feet deep and catching almost all rainbows. Duane Doty talked to a party the other day that was fishing the pink worm — without any luck. He noticed that they were using a curved hook and running the worm up the hook. He showed them the jig hook we use and explained how the worm had to be completely straight to get bit. I’m sure that’s not 100% of the time, but it did change this party’s luck after they adjusted their rigging.
Monkey Island — The pink worm is working here too but so are jigs, Power bait and worms. Dam operators have been running water in the afternoons, any where from a half unit up to three units. When enough water is running to create a good current through this area, drift pink Gulp eggs on the bottom.
Lilleys’ to Cooper Creek — Yes, the pink worm is working here. I’ve seen some boaters trolling small inline spinners and doing well. If the water is running, work the bluff bank using 1/8th – 3/32nd-ounce sculpin or white jigs, as well as #5 or #7 Rapalas in silver/black or rainbow colors.
Trout Hollow to Lilleys’ — This would be the hot spot on the lake if you ask most anglers, including guides. Either the pink worm under a float, or fishing a white 1/80th-ounce white, brown, black/olive or pink jig under a float four- to six-feet deep has been the ticket for most anglers. Also throwing a 1/16th-ounce sculpin/ginger or brown/orange jig using two-pound line. Towards evening, the black or black/olive is killing them.
Mike Stevens with a 23-inch brown caught on a jig. Released.
Fall Creek to Trout Hollow — Air-injected night crawlers if the water is off or drifting them on the bottom if it’s running have been catching some great quality rainbows and some browns. If the water is running, drift a Megaworm or a #12 gray scud on the bottom, too. The 1/16th-ounce jigs are working really well if the water is off or just barely running, and 1/8th-ounce jigs produce if the water picks up in the afternoons. White, sculpin, black, sculpin/ginger or sculpin/peach colors are working.
Low Water Warning:
On two days this past week, Friday and Saturday, the lake was drawn down lower than “normal.” I don’t know if there was a reason why or whether it just was an oversight by Empire Electric (owner and operator of Powersite Dam). If the turbines at Powersite are run too long — too much after Table Rock shuts down — it pulls water out of Taneycomo past the normal level. This impacts the upper lake the most, although it does not affect the area just below the dam. This water is held at its level by the shoals at Rebar and the shoal below the boat ramp. So you won’t see any change in the official lake level, both online and on the phone recording.
Where we saw the biggest change in level was from Short Creek up lake. There is a tree in the lake, right of center towards the channel, that will grab you even at normal levels. It’s been there since the December 2015 flood. But there are two more trees or stumps close to that area that are lower-unit busters, too. We’re going to get buoys on them as soon as possible. I hit one Saturday when the lake was low — bent my prop pretty well.
If the lake is low, you’re going to have to watch from in front of Fall Creek Marina all the way to the Narrows. Then at the Narrows, well, you’ll see. It’s just shallow, but a great fishing spot!!!
The Narrows to Fall Creek — This area is full of trout, good ones. Use two-pound line with the jig-and-float method. Micro jigs are hot again in black or olive. Marabou jigs in 1/125th- and 1/80th-ounce, sculpin/ginger, brown (both with orange heads), black/olive and brown orange are working. Throw a 1/16th-ounce jig with two-pound line and work both sides as well as the middle of the lake. If there are fish rising to midges, work it shallow and fast. If not, let it go to the bottom and work it back.
Fly fishing — Zebra midges haven’t been working as well as normal but scuds are! The best flies have been #12 to #16 gray or brown scuds under an indicator and fished deep enough to be on the bottom. I usually fish it 50% deeper than the depth of water I’m fishing. If you’re fishing four feet, I set it six-feet deep. Our scuds are weighted and generally do not need extra weight to get down, but use your own judgement.
At the Narrows there’s usually at least a slight current, so fishing flies under an indicator is most productive. If there’s a chop on the surface, I’d throw a soft hackle or crackleback. Or if you want to, strip a streamer like a pine squirrel, wooly bugger or sculpin. There have been some big browns cruising in this area.
These are images taken Saturday afternoon just as the water started running. The lake was super low, as described.
Looking up lake from the middle of the Narrows.
Looking across at the bar. Notice there’s a new channel that splits off the main channel and creates an island. This middle channel isn’t very deep, but it has the makings of possibly deepening and becoming the new channel through this area. It’s hard to say.
Looking down lake.
Looking from above the Narrows. You can see where someone could get out and fish from the middle gravel bar, fishing towards the channel. There’s some great holes just off the bar holding a lot of nice trout.
Lookout to the Narrows — I’ve been trying dries in this area, especially when the water is running and doing less than fair. On one drift down, I may get a half dozen looks, four takes and two hookups on a hopper. I look for this bite to get better as fall approaches.
The jig-and-float method is working really well. A good friend who fishes up there almost every day uses that 1/125th ounce- sculpin/ginger jig with an orange head, and he said he’s caught a lot of rainbows lately.
We are seeing a good number of BIG browns from the Narrows to Lookout — some longer than 30 inches cruising around.
Dam to Lookout — I have not been up to the dam yet to see what it looks like since the May flood, but I’ve heard Rebar has changed a lot — and holding a ton of trout! A gentleman who lives at Pointe Royal told me Monday morning that he drove up there early and threw a jig and caught a bunch of fish. He was amazed how many trout were stacked up there.
When they’re running water, throwing jigs is very, very good. Work the bottom with anywhere from an 1/8th- to a 1/16th-ounce, depending on how much water is running. They’re still hitting white pretty well but also biting dark colors, too.
Ryan Miloshewski spent the week here on Taneycomo fishing. He’s an independent outdoor writer who attended our writer’s conference in January. Fishing almost exclusively jigs, he landed a lot of good quality rainbows, both in the trophy area and below.