Posted by Phil Lilley on February 13th, 2015
It’s getting a little difficult to predict what water generation patterns on Lake Taneycomo will be. As this chart below indicates, the Southwest Power Administration ran water continuously through the weekend, then went back to running a little in the morning and then in the evening. Personally, I like this pattern, but I also like when dam operators switch it up and run at least a half unit all day. That’s my favorite current for fishing.
Trout fishing has been absolutely fabulous. We hosted the 27th annual R.A.W. trout tournament Saturday in which 60 teams competed for prizes. This is a group of anglers mainly from the St. Louis area that started getting together for a weekend of fishing or hunting back in the 80’s. Now they only have this one event. It’s a closed tournament — you have to be invited by a R.A.W. “member” to participate.
I saw a lot of trout Saturday, many rainbows in the one-pound range that were colored up as if they had been in the lake for a while. There was one legal brown caught and weighed in, 23-inches long, 5.78 pounds. It took big trout. It was caught in the Short Creek area on salmon-colored paste Power Bait. The team said they caught five other browns on the bait, all under 20 inches.
Operators at the dam were running at least a half unit all day Saturday, so many anglers were either throwing jigs or drifting bait on the bottom. Some were anchored or tied up along the banks where it was safe to do so.
One account I’ll mention, because it’s typical of what to expect on Taneycomo, is from Bob Wehnert. He said he and his son, Nick, did really well fishing a pink and white Trout Magnet under a float on Friday but couldn’t get a bite at all with it Saturday morning. So Nick switched to a jig and started catching trout just as they had on Friday.
The best advice is that f you’re not getting bit with what you’re throwing, change it up. Change colors, bait, depth, action, go to a smaller line diameter . . . and move! I talked to several anglers Saturday who said they had to keep moving around to keep catching trout consistently.
If you get out early while the water is running and can boat to the dam, throw 1/8th-ounce sculpin jigs from the cable to Trophy Run. This is some of the best rainbow fishing you’ll find anywhere. But the window is small. Watch for dropping water and boat out quickly, or you’ll be using the trolling motor.
Again while the water is running, try throwing some small stick baits for browns and rainbows. Besides Rapalas, Bill Babler, one of our fishing guides, uses RC Stick, Lucky Craft Pointers, Rebels and Super Suspending Trout Magnet baits.
Turner Jones micro jigs have been hot lately. We’ve had a hard time stocking the good colors lately. These jigs are made in Springfield, Missouri, by the Jones family. Turner Jones has been in poor health, and family members have stepped in to take over filling orders, but the lull between created a shortage in jigs, and our inventory ran out on the best colors. Now that they have been restocked, I’ll be mentioning them again in my reports. Sculpin and ginger-colored jigs are working best in the small micros under a float four- to six-feet deep in all areas of the lake.
We’re starting to play with new marabou jig colors. In our shop, we stock about 30 different color combinations in six sizes. The jig company that ties all our jigs only ties in one or two-color combinations, but using three colors can be good. Although we’re still experimenting, we think tying in a thin piece of bright color like orange, red or chartreuse or lighter green may trigger more bites. Stay tuned for our results.
Zig Jig makes a triple color which seems to be popular down on the White River in Arkansas, using sculpin, olive and a light olive. I don’t know a lot about Zig Jigs, but it does seem to us that the amount of marabou used on our jigs does make a difference, especially the lighter, accent color. We’re tying in a thin piece of accent color to highlight the jig color, against the darker, earth-tone colors. It does makes sense, especially if you’re imitating a sculpin fish which has a bright color highlight running on the tip of its dorsal fin, usually orange, white or both.
These jigs may cost a little more because of the extra time it takes to tie them, but they might be well worth it. As I said, we’re still experimenting.
We’re still seeing a lot of small rainbows from the federal stocking we received this winter. These trout come from the Neosho, MO, hatchery and normally are smaller than the rainbows from Shepherd. They also lack the rainbow fluorescence and tend to be more silver, which is where they get their name, “silver bullets.” If you’re catching these trout and want to release them to keep bigger rainbows be careful when handling and unhooking them, especially when using bait. If they swallow the hook, instead of trying to retrieve it, cut the line and let the fish drop back into the water. It will have a better chance of survival with the hook left in versus the hook being pulled out.
Steve Dickey has been using scuds to catch fish for his clients lately. He’s drifting them on the bottom using just a little weight to get it down to the bottom when the water is running. He’s doing the best on #16 gray. When the water is shut down, he’s fishing micro jigs and other custom flies he ties under a float 4 to 6 feet deep.
Good news for people fishing/wading below the dam. High water events have eroded dirt from underneath steps at outlets #2 and #3. This set of stairs in just above outlet #3. A MDC crew added concrete steps this week! Picture courtesy of Brett Rader.
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