Posted by Phil Lilley on May 24th, 2016
Rain is in the forecast! It has been a very interesting winter and spring, starting with a flooding rain event the first few days of 2016, then changing to a relatively dry and warm season from January through April. Now it looks like the rains have returned, but how much is yet to be seen. So far storms have split and gone both north and south of us with little effect to lake levels. Table Rock is hovering at 916 feet, which is normal for May. Generation on Lake Taneycomo has been consistent most days, running 30 to 50 megawatts, 22,00 to 36,00 cubic feet per second. One full unit is 55 megawatts with a lake level of 705.4 feet, about four feet high. Water temperature is 47.5 degrees when the water is running.
Trout fishing has also been pretty consistent. We’re seeing people cleaning rainbows every day, most catching their limits. There have been two “hot spots” for boat fishermen. One is starting at Fall Creek and drifting down to Short Creek, and the other is starting at the high lines above Monkey Island and drifting down through the bridges. Granted, the drift is very slow down there with what water is running, but that’s where most of the rainbows are holding after being stocked.
The size of rainbows stocked are very nice, averaging 12 to 13 inches in length from what I’ve seen. I believe most anglers are very happy with their catches lately.
Night crawlers are by far the best live bait, with various colors and styles of Power Bait right behind. Minnows are doing pretty well. You have a much better chance of catching a brown trout using minnows or night crawlers.
The main key to fish this slow current is the weight. You don’t want to use so much weight that it hangs up on the bottom. Start with a 1/8th-ounce bell weight; if that’s too big, pinch on a split shot instead. You want it just tick the bottom, not drag. And, oh yes, inject your night crawler with air using a needle — or run a Gulp Egg up the line, hook your half crawler on the hook and slide the egg back on top of the worm. If you’re doing this, use a larger hook like a #6. Actually, I use #6 all the time when fishing a night crawler but a #8 or #10 is fine as long as you’re not adding the egg.
Trout magnets have been pretty successful from Fall Creek to Short Creek. White is the best color with pink, pink/white and chartreuse/white close behind. Four-pound line is fine. Set your float about four to six feet above your magnet and change the depth if you’re not getting bit. Stay closer to the inside of the bend to the middle of the lake and stay off the bluff side.
Above Fall Creek in the Trophy Area, catching has been good but, for me, only in certain areas. Up below the dam is almost always good, but I’ve been hitting the stretch from Lookout down through the Narrows pretty hard with success only up close to the island and down at the Narrows. This is mainly with that 30 megawatts of generation mainly. I think it’s because the current is pretty fast flowing through both these areas and trout are staying closer to the faster water. The stretch below the island and above the Narrows is slow and I’m not doing as well there. The area below the dam to Trophy Run and even down to Lookout is fishing excellent regardless of the flow.
I’ve been throwing jigs mainly, but I have tried a hopper every other time I’ve been out with no success. I’ll keep trying the hopper until they hit it, and believe me, they will. I think this summer will be excellent dry fly fishing because of the clouded water; it just a matter of time.
White is still the best color by far, but we’ve had good success throwing other colors too. Been trying some new color combinations like yellow, yellow/white, chartreuse/white, light olive/peach/golden brown and ginger/golden brown. We’ve also been trying some new jig head colors like pumpkin and watermelon. Our trout seem to like all of them.
Depending on the current and wind conditions, I been using four-pound line with an 1/8-ounce jig, and two-pound line throwing small jigs like 3/32nd-ounce and 1/16th-ounce. I shot an hour long video that shows some of the thought put in on when to use both rigs.
Monday night the generation was bumped at 5 p.m. to two units with the lake level getting up as high as 708 feet. Duane and I boated up to the cable, despite a little rain, and fished the north bank down to Lookout. We had that best two-hour outing so far this year on big, quality trout. The numbers weren’t bad either.
We held the boat in the current most of the way down so we could work each area, each pocket really well. I used an 1/8th-ounce white jig and Duane an 1/8th-ounce mottled brown/orange head jig.
Just below the cable, we both caught quality fish. Duane’s first three trout were browns, and within the first 100 feet, I caught two spotted bass. We were hoping for a walleye since people are still catching one every once in a while up there. We kept them and showed them off on One Cast before releasing them.
The quality of the fish we caught were impressive. Almost every rainbow or brown topped 15 inches — some up to 19 inches — plus fat and colorful. We took pictures of a few, but after awhile it was hard to stop fishing long enough to pose! I don’t know why the bigger fish were biting so well, except that more water was running than had been in weeks. Running that much water was great for the upper lake because it cleared out a lot of the algae that had been growing on the bottom of the lake.
The Kerr family are avid fly fishers. Dr. Albert Kerr, his wife Dawn and son James, make the trip up from Monroe, Louisiana, to fish Taneycomo many times. When the water is running, they take our J-12 up to the dam and fly fish. When they arrived Saturday morning about 10 a.m. to fish, I gave them a hard time about “sleeping in,” teasing them that they had missed the best time of the day to fish, especially with the conditions of the day — high, bright sun and very little wind. No matter, they just love to get out and fish regardless of the outcome.
When they returned, they told me they had one of the best “catching” trips ever on our lake. They’d caught “multiple 20-plus-inch rainbows,” mainly on a white grub, drifting it under a float and fishing from the cable down to Trophy Run. I know they also fish with San Juan worms, midges (Ruby Red is a favorite) and scuds. And James loves to throw big streamers and has done well when they’re running more water.
Returning Sunday, Dr. Kerr hooked and landed this 24-inch, 8.5-pound rainbow using a cerise-colored San Juan worm.
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