Lake Taneycomo

Lilley’s Lake Taneycomo fishing report, February 25

Posted by Phil Lilley on February 26th, 2016
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Darcy 530

Guessing what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to do with lake levels has been tough the last couple of weeks. I emailed to ask someone at the Corps a couple of weeks ago but have not received an answer. I asked about Beaver Lake’s level and whether they were going to start dropping it, since it was so high. I got my answer a week ago — they started running water at Beaver Dam, and now Beaver’s level has dropped considerably. At the same time, they bumped up the flow from Table Rock so we’re seeing 100 megawatts of water running this week, not the 40 mw of water we’ve been seeing. Beaver is now just under 1,124 feet, so it has a few feet to go before it’s down to winter power pool. We should see generation for another couple of weeks; then we might see more periods of no generation here on Taneycomo.

Depending on the flows, we’re still throwing jigs at the trout and doing pretty well.  Most of the time they’re 1/8th-ounce jigs, especially with this heavier flow, but we’re also throwing the 3/32nd-ounce jigs since we’re usually using two-pound line.  Lighter line allows the jig to drop more quickly in the water than on four-pound line; thus, we can use the small jigs even with 100 mw of water running.  Of course, as you get farther from the dam, the water is much slower, and you can get away with smaller jigs.

White is still the first color you should throw, but the trout have already forgotten about the shad and are also targeting darker colors such as sculpin, black, olive and brown.  Of course, the combo colors such as sculpin/ginger and brown/orange are working, too.  I was doing extremely well using a 3/32nd-ounce mottled brown jig with an orange head last week — even wore the orange paint off one jig.

John 530 1

The trophy area has been fishing very well, but some areas are better than others.  Big Hole down to the Missouri Department of Conservation boat ramp has been hot, as well as the stretch from the Narrows to Fall Creek.  We’ve had several reports of anglers catching with spoons.

Feb 530 3

The other day last week when dam operators were running 30 mw of water, I boated to Lookout about 1:30 pm.  I fished out of the boat on the back side with just my Muck boots on — no waders — and caught half a dozen rainbows with a #14 hot pink Copper John under a float.  Tied on a #14 ice gray scud and brought a half dozen more fish to hand.

I walked up to the top of the island where the water splits and started throwing the scud there.  Fishing in less than 12 inches of water, I caught a dozen small “silver bullets.”  Bored with that success, I really wanted to throw a black wooly bugger, so I switched.  Still working the fast, shallow water at the top, those trout were slamming at the fly, mostly out of the water.  I had to hold it still just so they could try for it two or three times before getting a hold of it.

Feb 530 2

It was a bite every cast and 20+ more rainbows to hand.  I could have stayed there the rest of the day and caught them.  Crazy.  The deeper I’d throw out and worked it down, the bigger the rainbows.

Back to the boat, I motored to the top of the backside of the island and threw a small anchor out.  As I stayed close to the mud bank, I worked the pockets as I drifted down slowly.  This is where I caught the good rainbows — several in the 17-inch range.  I threw a 3/32nd-ounce mottled brown jig with an orange head on two-pound line.

Feb 530 1

I wanted to get out and fish a couple more banks but only got to one.  At the Narrows, there’s about 130 feet of gravel bank on the channel side.  I got out and fished the gray scud under a float with quite a bit of weight.  Caught another 10 rainbows there, mostly 14-plus inchers.

There are a ton of small rainbows in the lake right now — we call them “silver bullets,” probably stock from the federal hatchery at Neosho, Missouri.  We get a load of them in the winter months and they are generally smaller than state rainbows, averaging 10 inches long.  These trout will grow up to be pretty rainbows if given the chance.  Most anglers will release these small fish to go for bigger fryers but in doing so, if not handled and released properly, they will only sink to the bottom of the lake to become food for big browns.

Here’s the best way to handle and release a trout:  If you have to touch the fish, handle with a wet hand or cloth.  If the hook is down in the mouth or throat, cut the line close to the fish’s mouth and release.  The hook will either work out or dissolve, providing it’s bronze and not gold.

Below Fall Creek, drifted night crawlers are catching bigger trout, bigger fish than using Powerbait.  They’re eating minnows pretty well, too, especially brown trout.  We’re still seeing small browns that look a lot like rainbows but be very observant of the spots on the tail.  If there are spots all over it — it’s a rainbow.  With no spots — it’s probably a brown.

Lisek 530

Picture courtesy of guide Rick Lisek.

When drifting, stay in the middle of the lake.  If you see a big disturbance in the water while drifting and you’re going to drift directly over it, pull in your line and wait until you’re by it until throwing back out.  This will save you some drift rigs!

Trolling with Shad Raps from the first bridge down way past the Branson Landing has produced good trout, especially browns.  But be careful of all those sharp treble hooks!!!  We’ve had several anglers making trips to urgent care the last couple of weeks!!

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