Lake Taneycomo fishing report, August 21
This is all leading up to my fishing report for late August and a forecast for the coming weeks of fishing on our lake. August has been nothing less than excellent fishing and continues to improve! There are several unique factors I can point to that have helped.
Our water temperature coming from Table Rock is still below 50 degrees. That's pretty unusual for this time of year. Oxygen levels are also high for August which we can also partly attribute to low water temperatures. Cooler water holds O2 better than warm temperatures. This is, in part, due to the lack of heavy generation during this spring and summer at Table Rock Dam. Table Rock simply has been able to hold cold water, deep within its main body, through the summer.
In years past, even in 2015, heavy generation in the spring and summer pulled cold water out of Table Rock at 130 feet deep, which was replaced by warmer, surface water. Oxygen was quickly depleted by decaying debris on the bottom of the lake (things rot faster in warm conditions versus cold conditions.) We haven't seen this happen in 2016, so we are in much better shape going into the fall season.
Now that we have our science class out of the way, we can talk about fishing. First, there seems to be an abundance of rainbows in the lake right now. In earlier reports, we directed anglers down lake from our resort to find schools of rainbows from Monkey Island clear down to Rockaway Beach. There are fish still being caught in those areas, but we have seen a good number of trout up in our area of the lake now and even further up lake to Fall Creek.
Second, as I've mentioned before, our midge hatches are absolutely huge in the mornings and evenings, (making a mess on our dock) but giving our trout lots to eat.
We have seen a change in the way rainbows act, where they hold in the water, since these huge hatches started back in late July. We have to look at the life cycle of a midge to understand why.
Most people are familiar with the life cycle of mosquitoes. You leave a can of rainwater outside more than a week and you'll find tiny worm-like larvae swimming around in your can. The midge is exactly the same. Eggs lie at the bottom of the lake in silt, mud or gravel and hatch into a larva "worm" which makes (swims) its way to the surface. Once there, it attaches itself to the surface film and begins another change. In this stage, its called a pupa. The midge then crawls out of its shell and emerges onto the surface of the water. It starts to move its wings, drying them to enable flight.
Trout target all three stages of larva, pupa and adult dry but in different ways. The larvae are easy to pick up off the bottom, but trout seem to have an easier time taking the pupa once it starts making its way to the surface. Common sense says it's brighter up top, and they can see them better. I also assume the pupa tend to slow down their ascent as they approach the surface, bunching up to make it even easier for the trout to gulp in greater quantities.
That's what we're seeing on our lake right now. We are finding rainbows, and some browns, closer to the surface rather down deep on the bottom. Duane Doty threw a 1/16th-ounce jig off our dock a few weeks ago and immediately caught a trout -- then another, and another. It was a revelation, at least for us, that these trout wanted a small profile lure, moved quickly and close to the surface of the water. We've been fishing this way ever since and doing better than we've done all summer.
This theory was highlighted by yesterday's trout tournament results. The winners caught their trout on 1/16th-ounce jigs working the inside bank from the mouth of Fall Creek to Short Creek, the shallow side of the lake.
This doesn't mean you can't fish deeper or on the bottom to catch trout. Right now, as I type this report, I'm watching one of our guides slowly drift down in front of our dock; his clients are using a jig-and-float rig using a pink trout worm and fishing it seven-feet deep -- and consistently catching fish.
Speaking of Berkley pink trout worms, if you're coming to Taneycomo and want to use these worms, buy them before you get here, either at your local tackle store or online because they are all sold out within 60 miles of Branson, and even our wholesalers are out. They're a HOT item.
Our water is very, very clear right now which isn't unusual for this time of year. So think about either spooling your reels with two-pound line or adding a tippet section to the end of your line to help hide your line. Simply put, you'll catch more fish on two-pound line versus four-pound. If you want to throw small 1/16th-ounce jig, you'll need small diameter line.
Generation patterns have not changed much all summer. Dam operators continue to run at least 30 megawatts of water (about 1/2 unit) at 704-5 feet with very few periods of down water. They're running this slow water at night, in the mornings and a little into the afternoon, then kicking on up to four units until about 7 p.m. It seems like the amount of high release depends on power demand, or how hot it gets in the afternoon. Weekends, the flow stays at about 30 megawatts day and night.
Wading below the dam is not impossible during this low flow, but you need some knowledge of how the land lays before getting out and navigating the tailwater. The water isn't too deep or too fast to fish the edges as long as you can get to and fish without brush and trees getting in the way.
Midges are hot up below the dam, too, but scuds are just as good, along with woolies, pine squirrels, sculpins, soft hackles and even beetles and ants. We're starting to see trout look up and feed on dries especially in slack water and the edge of eddies.
I was speaking to Kris Nelson, one of our fishing guides, this morning, and he reports seeing a good number of big brown trout already up in the stretch between Big Hole and the boat ramp. He's also catching (and releasing) more 20-inch and bigger rainbows than he has in past years.
The Missouri Department of Conservation performed its annual survey last week on Taneycomo. Agents man two electro-shocking boats and cover as much water as they can between Rebar and Short Creek. They take trout that are stunned by the electric current, measure and weigh them and return them to the water. Shane Bush, MDC fisheries biologist, told me they were very pleased with the number of quality trout in the lake. He said the trout looked very healthy. He will issue his report shortly and we'll be sure to post it on our websites.
We're seeing a little bit of dry fly action. Trout are starting to take beetles, ants and hoppers along some bluff banks but only in a few spots. This should get even better as fall approaches.
Some of our guides are fishing Zebra Midges deep under an indicator, even below Fall Creek, and catching a lot of quality rainbows and a few browns. Especially during the day when the sun is high, Guide Chuck Gries is fishing a double fly rig using a black, olive or brown #16 Zebra as much as eight-feet deep using 6x fluorocarbon tippet.
I've already mentioned Berkley's pink trout worm. We're fishing them using two-pound line under an indicator four- to eight-feet deep, depending on sunlight. Pinch off about an inch to an inch and a half and run the head up on a 1/100th ounce jig head. Some of the guys are using super glue to hold the worm on the hook. Of course, you can't use these above Fall Creek.
If you're drifting bait or flies on the bottom, only use as much weight as needed to get to the bottom. It's a common mistake to use too much weight, and easy because most of the drift rigs (at least what we sell) have too heavy of a weight tied on them. Best to make your own rig by taking line (two- or four-pound, 30-36 inches long) and tie a hook on one end and a double overhand knot on the other. Then tie a loop one-third the distance of the total line from the knot and then pinch on a split shot and slide it to the knot. Using a removable shot will allow you to change your weight until you find just the right size.
Now for what most of you have been waiting for . . . the best colors of Powerbait to use have been (drum roll, please) white/pink Gulp eggs, yellow or rainbow paste or sunrise power eggs. Of course, air inflated night crawlers are working well, too.
I got out on the lake this afternoon and boated up to Lookout Island, watching the bluff side of the lake for any rising trout. I spotted 2 schools of rainbows in 2 different eddies close to the island so I tied on a #6 tan hopper and proceeded to drift toward the first eddie.
I saw about a half dozen rainbows actively taking something off the surface and picking out the biggest, I laid the hopper 3 feet in front of him. He took it like he meant it. After a lengthly fight, I netted him, took a couple of pictures and let him go.
The main reason I wanted to get out was to fish double Zebra Midges under an indicator, like I had written in my report. So I boated on up above the MDC boat ramp and started drifting, setting my midges 8 feet deep. They were still running 30 megawatts, lake level at 705 feet.
Nothing, not a bite, till I got all the way down past the chute, the top of Trophy Run. I found quite a bit of action off the south bank just under the bill board with the rainbow on it. Dropping an anchor there, I fished the drop, catching 6 rainbows. Then I noticed the water wasn't rippling through as fast, then the drop in level. Yep! They shut the water off.
Pulling anchor, I drifted on down, still catching rainbows. Down past the riprap, the lake shallowed up a bit on the south side and I could see a lot of nice rainbows swimming about. So I dropped the anchor again and played with that school until they were tired of me.
Working on down, catching never let up until I felt like it was time to go. There was just a slight current but enough to keep the float moving and the fish interested.
I barely made it through the shallow flat at the Island, scraping the gravel several times and having to hold my trolling motor out of the water the whole time. Once down to Lookout Hole, I met up with a couple of guys from the resort that were having a hard time catching so I had them follow me down to the Narrows.
Once there, I told them what and how to tie the double midge rig and they started catching a few while I made me way down the Narrows and finally heading home.
Conditions were pretty tough -- high sun, very little wind and very clear water. But our trout are in love with the midge, and presented right, they'll eat it almost all the time. I did say "almost".
Fish-in-hand pictures are from my afternoon trip.