Posted by Phil Lilley on December 19th, 2014
“When is the very best time to fish for trout on Lake Taneycomo?” That’s a question I am asked quite a bit, and my answer is always the same — December! And the fishing right now proves that out!! It’s been very good.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has still been varying the flows from running a half to two units all day to running a little water in the morning and leaving it off the rest of the day. We never know what to expect. Of course, the people who want to wade below the dam get understandably frustrated when the water is running, but the boaters, for the most part, like the constant flows during the day. Regardless, the trout don’t seem to care — they’re hungry and biting whatever the water condition.
As I mentioned in my last report, our water quality is very good. Table Rock Lake has turned and we’re getting good, oxygenated water through the dam now. Our fish like it!
We’ve been a little busier this December compared to last year at this time when we were digging out of the snow amid frigid temperatures. This past weekend, anglers reported some of the best trout fishing they’d ever experienced here. John Johnson of Kingfisher, Oklahoma, who has been coming here for more than 30 years, fishing five or six times a year on Taneycomo, said the size of rainbows his group caught were much bigger than in years past.
One group who fished in the Short Creek area said their rainbows all topped 15 inches, some measuring up to 18 inches. These looked like freshly stocked rainbows, too, so our hatchery must have put in a batch of bigger fish lately.
This might sound like a broken record, but I have to write it — jig fishing has really been good, especially in running water. The trout have been very aggressive ,too, tapping the jig pretty hard on the bite. We’re using mainly 1/8th-ounce jigs in the usual colors: Sculpin, black, ginger and combos of sculpin with ginger or orange and peach with brown or orange or olive. White has also been good and will continue to yield results as winter rolls on.
We are seeing a few smallmouth bass show up below the dam already. This isn’t unusual in winter months although it’s a little early.
From the cable to the bottom of the first island, the fishing has been crazy good. Whether you fish in the middle or along the sides of the lake, the rainbows are looking for our jig. Then the action picks up again from Rocking Chair down to Lookout. I even caught a nice rainbow drifting through the shallow area at Lookout Island where I usually don’t fish since the water is so fast and shallow. From Lookout down, work the channel and bluff bank.
With a half unit running, I drifted from Lookout down past the Narrows one day. Keeping the boat on the shallow side of the lake, I fished a Zebra Midge under a float 24-inches deep and caught some nice rainbows. The idea was to fish the shallow 18-to 30-inch water on that side and pick up trout that aren’t targeted by most anglers. It worked. I found some nice 15- to 18-inch rainbows. You can fish this using either a fly rod or spinning tackle. Just tie a scud on 18 inches below the midge and double your chances of catching.
If the water is off, fish with either a jig and float or fly and float, either with a spin or fly rod. The trout are really liking Zebras right now in a variety of colors. Use a 6x tippet, #16 red, black, P&P, rusty or red flash Zebras under a float 18 to 48 inches down. Tie a jig on above the midge for a tandem rig. Jigs that are working well are 1/100th to 1/50th ounce in brown/orange head, scuplin/brown head, pink, olive or black. For micro jigs I’d use an olive or black.
Work the bottom using #12 to #16 gray, brown or olive scuds. Crawl it on the bottom to make it look like a scud swimming. Work the shallows and deep water as well as along the bank.
Below Fall Creek, Trout Magnets have been “killing them” from the mouth of Fall Creek down past Cooper Creek with the “hot spot” bring from Short Creek to Trout Hollow. You don’t need to move them a lot either — just fish them about four- to six-feet deep. Pink, pink/white or chartreuse/white have been the best colors.
The jig-and-float technique has also worked well in the same areas, in the same colors and sizes.
Night crawlers and Gulp Powerbait has worked just as well as jigs or Trout Magnets. Garlic-scented bait as well as Gulp eggs using a white/pink or white/orange combo. Four-pound line is fine right now since our water has quite a bit of color to it.
I fished with Brandon Butler, director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri, Thursday morning. Boating to the dam with three units running and threw white 1/8th ounce jigs at them for a couple of hours. We landed several nice rainbows including the ones pictured. After generation shut down, we broke out the fly rods and tried Zebra Midges under an indicator. We fished for rainbows midging in the current seams against the bluff bank below Lookout and caught a couple.
We then moved down below the Narrows and fished the gravel bar on the east side of the lake using scuds, catching a few more before heading back to the resort.
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