Posted by Phil Lilley on November 1st, 2014
Very little generation has occurred this past week here on Lake Taneycomo. Not even a little “fish water” in the evenings, which we usually see this time of year. I’m sure at some time dam operators will release a little water from Table Rock, but until winter and cold temps set in, it will only be a small amount, I’d say.
Empire Electric, owner and operator of Powersite Dam, which is the dam at the lower end of Taneycomo, regulates the level of our lake by releasing, or not releasing, water from its units. When water is released there but not at Table Rock Dam does, that drops our lake level to lower-than-normal levels. In the upper lake, as in the trophy area, it’s very noticeable and creates challenges to boaters wanting to travel above Fall Creek.
The lake level of Taneycomo right now is about 12 inches lower than normal, and it will stay at that level until water is released from Table Rock. This has made some interesting fly fishing possibilities above Fall Creek.
Living in our gravel are freshwater shrimp and sow bugs. They crawl and swim in and around the rocks on the bottom, but when the lake level drops, they are forced to move out with the water, creating a crowd of bugs along the edge of the water. On the flats above Fall Creek, as much as 40 feet of gravel is exposed because of the drop of water levels, so that’s a lot of displaced bugs. Our trout key in on this crowd of bugs, and you’ll see them feeding in as little as a few inches of water right now.
I fished the last couple of days with some friends from Kansas. We boated to the Narrows and fished the flat by getting out of the boat and wading this whole area. Of course, the best luck was with gray scuds, sizes #12 and #14, weighted. We fished them on the bottom, working them so that they looked as if they were swimming across the bottom.
We also waded up above the Narrows, fishing from way above the tennis courts to below the wash from the golf course. I had fun targeting rainbows that that were up on the flats in less than 6 inches of water, cruising around looking for bugs. I caught them on both a scud and by stripping or skimming a #16 yellow soft hackle on the surface.
The last couple of days it’s been windy and where we were fishing, there was a good chop on the water. I notice the trout were moving around constantly — in and out of deep water and up and down the bank in front of us. You don’t see fish moving like this when there’s not wind and the surface is like glass. They just sit there or move slowly around when the lake is still. The benefits of wind were very apparent to us — they were biting very aggressively!!
We caught mainly rainbows on scuds, either single flies or running tandems 18 inches apart, setting the float so that the flies were on the bottom. I instructed them not to just wade out to the waste and start casting as far as they could — but to work out slowly and aim for those fish in 12 inches of water first. They will eat just as good as those in deep water, maybe even better! Also, don’t think you need to cast so far out. Keep the indicator close enough to see a soft bite. Sometimes all the float does is vibrate.
We also caught fish on the soft hackles and zebras. One gentleman stood in one place and caught over a dozen rainbows fishing an orange micro jig that he had tied and a red #18 zebra under a float, fishing it four-feet deep. No need to move when the trout are coming to you!
I also fished with Flip Putthoff, an outdoor writer from the Fayetteville,, AR, area. We started early on Thursday morning, boating up to the trophy area all the way to Lookout. We tried a variety of flies and while everything worked, each fly or technique only caught one or two fish. It was slow.
The trout were rising a little bit, so I tied on a small #18 Elk Hair Caddis. With it Flip caught his first trout on a dry fly! But it was the only take. It was amazing, though, to witness the rainbow come up and push the fly with his nose first. I instructed Flip not to move it– to wait–wait. Then the rainbow slowly came up and ate it. It was fun to watch.
We finally worked our way down below the Narrows and started fishing scuds along the east bank where we saw trout feeding close to the bank. Again, they were feeding on bugs in shallow water.
We’d cast the fly or flies within a foot of the bank and drag them out slowly. We could see the wakes of the trout rushing over to inspect the movement, and then the indicator would move. When setting the hook out of the shallow water, the rainbow would bust forth as if it had been shot out of a canon. Some of those rainbows pushed 18 inches!
We ended the morning with 40+ rainbows, and Flip had a good story to go home to write., complimented by some good fish pics, too.
Here’s a short video Ryan and I did this afternoon to show the difference between scuds (freshwater shrimp) and sow bugs. The scuds shoot back down to the bottom after being kicked up, while the sow bugs just float, legs out, screaming for help!
Quite a few brown trout are being caught up at the outlets below the dam, mostly on scuds and sow bugs. The only problem is most of the best fishing is right in the outlets, #1 and #2, plus there’s some good fish in and below the Rebar chute. If there’s a chop on the water, stripping a soft hackle or crackleback should produce good strikes fishing the flat areas at and below the Big Hole down to the boat ramp.
Fishing at night below the dam is still producing some good browns and rainbows. Stripping streamers as well as casting floating stick baits will produce some great trophy trout fishing.
Bait fishing has been pretty good, too, below Fall Creek. Even fishing off our dock has been good. Yellow PowerBait eggs in the garlic scent has been the best — really anything with a garlic scent has been great. We’ve even thought about adding garlic scent to our night crawler containers!!
The jig and float method is doing well, fishing a micro jig, olive or black, under an indicator three- to six-feet deep. Also marabou jig, brown/orange head or sculpin, same depth. I’d suggest using two-pound line/tippet for best results.
I wrote an article a little over a year ago that would be good to review. Look Under the Leaves is about finding trout feeding under the leaves, along with bugs, that have fallen to the surface.
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