Posted by Phil Lilley on April 10th, 2015
We have had a wild pre-spring season so far. Several big rain events have sent lots of water into the White River system, which goes right through to Lake Taneycomo. It’s not unusual to see this. I keep reminding myself, “my lake is a tailwater.” We have to deal with whatever is sent our way.
Table Rock and Beaver Lake are back down to a manageable levels while Bull Shoals remains rather high. Beaver Lake is at 1120 feet which is power pool, and Table Rock 915.6 feet, only 6 inches over power pool.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages all these lakes, has not been taking chances with either Beaver or Table Rock, releasing big volumes of water when either lake gets much more than two feet over power pool. That’s why we’ve seen many days of four-full units of water running after big storms dump three-plus inches of rain over the area.
The Southwest Power Administration has posted its schedule for Table Rock Dam, projecting to run 100 megawatts all day and night for the next three days. I don’t believe it. If dam operators do run that, I would be very happy, but I think they will vary the flow similar to what they’ve been doing the last few days. If anything, I think they’ll run less than they have posted, but we will see.
Anglers have had to chase trout into the creeks off Taneycomo, which is pretty normal for our springtime pattern. The only problem is there’s not a whole lot of room in some of the creeks for all the boats vying to catch some rainbows. But it does seems like everyone is managing well.
Some of the guides, as well as other anglers, are finding that by heading all the way in to the back of these creeks where they’ll find running water, they’ll fish for schools of rainbows crowding into pools between riffles. Wade fishing is possible but a little tricky because these areas are privately owned and lined with brush and trees. Standing in the creek, in the water, is fine but getting out on the bank is not allowed without permission.
These rainbows in the creeks, namely Short, Turkey, Coon, Roark and Bee (as well as Bull Creek), are chasers. They’re schooling around looking for something to chase and eat, and because of the big numbers of these trout, it becomes a competition. So stripping flies like pine squirrels, wooly buggers and minnow imitations is working. If spin fishing, a spinner or small spoon, as well as a jig, is working, too.
I thought that after generation slowed and the lake level had dropped, these trout would move out of the creeks, but they have not.
Guide Bill Babler told me his clients caught more than 100 rainbows in Roark Creek today on a six-hour trip. He said the trout kept coming in to the creek from the lake. “There were more rainbows in Roark Creek at 11 a.m. than there were at 8 a.m.” reported Babler. At one point, they were catching them on a bare Trout Magnet jig hook under a float. “It didn’t matter what we threw at them, they ate it,” he said.
I want to mention one other thing about the creeks. The further up you go in these creeks, the more narrow they are. Navigating through other boats can be tricky. Will the boats bother the trout? No. They will move them around, but that’s what they’re doing anyways. The key is being neighborly. When entering the creek, go idle speed and try not to go right in front of someone fishing. If you have to, pause, ask and excuse yourself. And say thanks! Anchor on the side of the creek and leave the creek as open to fishing and travel as possible.
If you’re fishing off a dock or the back, get out early, before the water comes on and gets going. Fishing off our dock has been excellent early in the morning. We’ve been throwing 1/8th-ounce or 3/32nd-ounce jigs, but most are using Powerbait and/or Gulp eggs, white and orange.
Minnows were the hot bait in March but not so much in April. I don’t think it’s because they won’t catch trout. I think it’s because people aren’t using them but are catching fish on other baits. Minnows were catching a lot of brown trout, especially in the mouths of creeks like Fall Creek.
The two hot stretches in the trophy area are from the cable to outlet #3, then from Lookout Island down to Fall Creek. And the hottest fly is a scud. The faster the water is running, the bigger the scud. I’ve heard some are using a size 8 when four units are running. I used a #12 light grey scud today while drifting these area while two units were running. If you’re using a scud and it’s not working, drop one size.
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