Lake Taneycomo

Live Bait Choices for Trout

Posted by Phil Lilley on July 12th, 2008
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Years ago, the old standby was salmon eggs, marsh mellows and Velvetta cheese. Now it’s a natural, prepared bait made by the Berkley Company called Power Bait. The bait comes in several different forms and colors. They’re fished in different ways. Eggs are used when drifting. Nuggets and dough-type bait is generally used when the water is off still fishing. Power bait floats off the bottom and makes it easier for the trout to see and take. Power Bait can be used with other baits, either as an attractant or to float the baits off the bottom.

Berkley has come out with a new selection of bait called Gulp. It comes in egg form… and is supposedly more potent than Power Eggs. It’s softer but same colors. It also floats. Of course it costs a little more than regular eggs. As a rule of thumb, our guides (and the trout) prefer one white egg plus another color–orange, pink or yellow.

Salmon eggs are still a good bait. There are basically two kinds of eggs dry pack and oil pack. Dry pack eggs aren’t pack with anything but the egg itself. Dry eggs are used when still fishing. Oil pack eggs are packed in oil. They are generally larger and softer, and used in drifting. Oil pack eggs come in several colors and in different scents. Anise flavor is very popular.

Night crawlers are an excellent bait. Use a #6 hook and a split shot, pinching the shot about 18 inches above the hook. Use half a worm, hooking it once or twice in the “collar”, letting the worm hang off both sides to make it look natural. Don’t worry about hiding the hook- it doesn’t seem to make any difference to the trout- usually. Inject the worm with air, using a blow bottle or syringe, making the worm float off the bottom. When drifting or sitting still, let the trout take the worm just a little, letting the trout get all the worm in it’s mouth. Set the hook sharply and reel.

Minnows is another live bait that used more and more in the winter, spring and summer months. Small forage fish are a big part of a trout diet in Lake Taneycomo. In the winter, thread finned shad flow from Table Rock Lake into Taneycomo and are gulped up by waiting trout. Minnows are a good substitute for shad and usually catch a little nicer trout. Use a small hook, about a #8 or #10 and either a drift rig or just a hook and split shot. Let the minnow bump the bottom. Beside drifting, fishing minnows in eddies– areas where water forms a pocket behind trees or a point in the bank– can be fruitful. You need to tie off above the eddie and let the minnow dangle down stream in the eddie. Got to let the trout take it before setting the hook or you’ll lose the bait.

Remember, no live bait above the mouth of Fall Creek. The upper section of lake between Fall Creek and Table Rock Dam has been deemed a “Trophy Area” by the Department of Conservation. Live bait including soft plastics are illegal. There is also a slot limit on rainbows in this area: rainbows between 12 and 20 inches must be released unharmed. Brown trout- limit on browns is 20-inches lake wide.

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