Posted by Phil Lilley on May 29th, 2014
Generation patterns lately fairly consistent. Water has been off most mornings, giving fly fishermen a chance to wade below the dam. Generation has been starting mid-afternoon with two units running full until after dark. The one deviation has been when a half unit has been running 24 hours or all day and into the night. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know when that will happen.
Our days have been pretty still this past week. Very little wind makes slick surface water conditions on the lake, which doesn’t always bode well for fish activity. That’s means they don’t like to bite when there’s no wind. It doesn’t mean they won’t — it just means we have to work harder and smarter to catch trout.
Scented bait like Powerbait hasn’t yielded as many bites lately. Adding a night crawler to the hook does improve your chances. Use a Gulp egg to both attract a fish and to float the worm off the bottom by putting the egg on first and sliding it up the line, hooking a half worm once in the middle of the crawler and letting it hang off both sides, then sliding the egg back down on to the worm.
Use two-pound line for more bites. I’d suggest Vanish two-pound.
Fishing off our dock has been slow. It was good the first few days of the holiday weekend, but it seemed like the pool of trout just ran out, or got caught out. The Missouri Department of Conservation has been stocking rainbows on a regular basis, but of course, they rarely stock this far up in the lake. There seems to be more trout down below us, down around Monkey Island and the Branson Landing area.
The section between Short and Fall Creeks has received a lot of pressure, too, so fishing has also slowed down up there. One thing we’ve seen is that there are some rainbows migrating down from the Trophy Area in to the bait area that are being caught on crawlers. These rainbows are much bigger than the stockers you usually find below Fall Creek. That’s a nice bonus of having the Trophy Area.
We’re still suggesting using either a Trout Magnet/Zebra Midge or a marabou jig/Zebra Midge combo under a float. I just went out to prove to myself trout are still taking them. I boated to the old Riverlake dock and threw on the shallow side, setting the float at 5 feet deep. Within 20 minutes I had caught 6 rainbows, 4 on the 1/50th ounce brown/orange jig with an orange head and 2 on the #14 black Zebra Midge.
We’re still seeing some brown trout being caught in the Short Creek area. They seem to gather in this spot for some reason. I heard of a nice brown caught yesterday by someone fishing off a private dock on corn. It was released. Most browns have been caught on crawlers and then on white 1/8th-ounce jigs after the water comes on in the evening.
Duane, our new dock manager, has been helping people rig up using a Trout Magnet with a Zebra Midge dropper under a float. That’s been working as well as anything in these slick-water surface conditions. The Trout Magnet might lure them for a closer look, but the Zebra Midge is just too inviting not to taste. That’s the idea. Fish this anywhere from four- to seven-feet deep, again with two-pound line.
Report from the dam area….
I’ve been fly fishing in the Trophy Management Area just about every day before or after working the dock. Fishing has been pretty good.
Midge fishing has been great early in the morning or late in the evening if no water is running. I’ve been using 7x tippet and very small midges (size 18-22’s) to consistently get fish. Many of them are in the 15- to 17-inch range with a few just over 19 inches.
The white mega worm will also usually trick a fish or two when the water is off. Just dead drift it in the shallow, slow moving water and wait until it disappears. When it disappears, set the hook and you will have a fish.
Before work, I’ve been fishing the flats between outlet #1 and #2. After work, I’m spending a lot of time down by Trophy Run and the boat ramp. This area is a lot less crowded than the upper end by the outlets. The chute just above Trophy Run is holding lots of quality fish right now.
When the water is off, the night fishing is starting to pick up also. Stripping or dead drifting pine squirrels and white mink sculpins from the boat ramp down to Trophy Run has been very productive. I’m casting the fly out across the current and just letting it swing. The bite has usually been coming at the tail out of the swing. After the fly has completed its swing, I’ll give it a few strips and then let it set for a few seconds. A lot of fish have been picked up doing this. When setting the hook, try a strip set instead of raising the rod to set the hook. This will help keep the fly in the strike zone if the fish short strikes you on the first try. I’m getting four to five takes on some swings by doing this.
If one unit is being generated during the day, 1/125th-ounce jigs under and indicator have been catching fish, too. Set the indicator three to four feet above an all white, or sculpin-colored jig with the orange head. I’ve also been running a midge dropper under the jig when the fishing really gets tough. Just tie to the eye of the jig a 20-inch piece of 7x tippet and then tie a zebra midge to the other tag end of tippet. Several fish have been caught with the midge dropper on bright sunny days with no wind.
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