Lake Taneycomo fishing report

Mon, 02/02/2015 - 12:00am

2 rainbows with flies

Generation patterns on Lake Taneycomo have held true for the last several months with few exceptions. The pattern has been for water to run in the mornings from about 7 a.m. until about 9 a.m. with anywhere from one to four units online. It seems that dam officials are running water harder when the temperature dips below 20 degrees during the night. Then some water is flowing in the evening after dark for a couple of hours. Then there's the day when they run water all day -- varying about one to two units with no apparent rhyme or reason.

Sometimes it's hard to write all I'm thinking about trout fishing on Taneycomo to reflect the right perspective. Catching fish is one thing, how many trout are ready to be caught in the lake is another. The most important aspect to me is the number of quality trout in the lake and, then, how to measure and convey that part of the report. I have to compare what I see today with years of experience on this lake, and all the lake-altering events that have happened (floods, poor water quality). So here goes:

In January we saw some of the best quality rainbows caught on Taneycomo in many years, not big lunkers but good sized, 15- to 17-inch rainbows. These trout weren't just caught in the Trophy Area either. Some were found as far down as Rockaway Beach. As a matter of fact, the best rainbows caught in the Masters Trout Tournament a week ago were caught just up from the mouth of Bull Creek on Cleos and jigs.

After 32 years of living and fishing on Lake Taneycomo, I'm still thrilled when I catch a spectacularly-colored rainbow trout. The people at our state hatchery, Shepherd of the Hills, have developed some incredible strains of rainbow trout. They deserve most of the credit for our beautiful trout, although our Creator God gets the ultimate credit. Please take the time and admire the colors of these rainbows next time you're down here fishing.

Feb 2 rainbow

How and where are we catching these trout?!? I guess that's the reason for this report, right? I'll try to answer that question.

I mentioned fishing down lake close to Bull Creek. The water is pretty deep down there, as deep as 25 feet. Conditions dictate where those trout might be (bright sun to dark and cloudy.) Most of the time they will be deep, close to the bottom. There are other areas down lake that are holding fish, such as at the mouths of Bee Creek and Coon Creek as well as the Branson Landing area. Another good place would be the mouth of Turkey Creek. Trout seem to hang close to creeks, just out of the mouth and partway in the creek. I'm not sure, but it could be the water temperature difference or more oxygen in the creek water. But they do attract fish.

You can try either lures, as I mentioned earlier, or live bait like Power Bait, night crawlers or minnows. The further down lake you fish, the more likely you'll do well on minnows. If fish are midging or dimpling the surface taking small insects (midges), then don't let your lures go down as deep or fish something under a float closer to the surface.

Our lake water is starting to clear and will continue to clear from now through the summer. Four-pound line is a must, but if you want to catch more fish, use two-pound, especially when using bait.

Trout Magnets continue to surprise me. Those little grub-like, soft plastics baits flat catch trout on our lake. Most use them with a float, but some throw them straight with no float and work them like a jig. As small as the jig head weights are, you have to throw them using two-pound line. Pink and white is still the color to beat. Fish them four- to six-feet deep if using a float. Remember they are illegal above Fall Creek in the Trophy Area.

Jig-and-float is still working. If the water is running one to two units, use a 1/32nd- to a 1/50th-ounce, but if the water is not running ,use a 1/50th to a 1/125th ounce jig. Best colors have been brown/orange head, sculpin/ginger/orange or brown head, black/yellow, ginger or olive.

Throwing a jig with no float is working well if the water is running but not as well if the water is off, at least for me. But there have been reports of good fishing from other anglers without generation, so don't go by my luck! Some saw my video last week catching the nice brown on a white 1/8th ounce jig close to Short Creek. I'd floated from Fall Creek's Dock all the way to that point, catching three other smaller browns and two small rainbows. Drifting a few days ago from the cable down to Trophy Run, I did well throwing an 1/8th ounce sculpin/ginger jig, catching some very nice rainbows. But when the water is off, I haven't done as well. But if I were to try again, I'd throw a sculpin 1/16th ounce jig using two-pound line.

During an Outdoor Writer's event last week, several of the guides had their writers throwing Rebel minnows for browns and did pretty well. I think the biggest brown was 19 inches with several 16-inch rainbows caught, too. Conditions weren't the best for throwing small crank baits (sunny and not much wind with no generation), but some got out early before the water was shut down and did well; others fished later in the evening, during lower light, and caught trout, too. Rebel was one of the sponsors for the event.


Photo by Jeff Samsel.

Saturday I fished with a friend from our fishing forum, Pete. We didn't get out real early, but the water was still running enough to boat up to the Big Hole area below the dam. We made two drifts down to Trophy Run before the water dropped out completely. I drifted a #12 dirty gray scud (200R hook) under a float seven- feet deep, and Pete fished an egg fly/San Juan worm (purple) under a float at the same depth. We caught quite a few rainbows in the 14-to 16-inch range, all colored up and pretty.

2 rainbows in a net

We continued on down past Lookout Island, catching more rainbows as we went. Then we worked the shallow side of the lake all the way down to the Narrows, throwing Zebra Midges under a palsa float 12- to 18-inches deep. The midges were #16 black with a nickel head/wire. We caught too many trout to count, literally, and again displaying beautiful colors and good sizes.

rainbow with a midge

In contrast, today I got out with my friends from Kingfisher, OK, and did some fly fishing. Boating to Lookout, we started throwing Zebra Midges under a float in the same way we fished on Saturday. Same conditions except it was sunny today and cloudy Saturday. Not a lot of surface action, nor were the trout very active on the flies we threw. We threw midges as well as scuds, egg flies and even a couple San Juan patterns. We caught fish but not the numbers and sizes we did on Saturday. That's fishing!