Lake Taneycomo fishing report, January 14, 2016
We are a couple of weeks beyond the winter flood, and all of us are breathing a little easier. The U.S. Corps of Army Engineers has been releasing 20,000 cubic feet per second since early January, moving all this flood water through our lake system. The word is that operators will continue this flow until Table Rock Lake is down to 920 feet, which may happen as early as next week.
The Corps has managed our lakes in a way that kept a lot of us from being totally submerged by flood waters. Did you know the water entering Table Rock Lake reached an estimated 300,000 c.f.s.? That was a record. At the same time, only 72,000 c.f.s. of water was being released, which did flood many roads and houses for a few days, including our lower three units, 19-21. But can you imagine three times that amount running over Branson? Our dam system kept all that water back until it was safe to release it.
(Thanks to an amazing army of volunteers, we were able to move out all the furnishings. New drywall is going up this week and carpet next week, so the affected units will be hosting guests again for the Masters Tournament. We so appreciate all the prayers and calls of concern from so many.)
Just a couple of days into our highest release (72,000 c.f.s.), our lake water turned off-color. This was from the "flash flood" water entering Table Rock, bringing muddy water into the main lake and through the dam. The same thing happened with the 2011 high water, but this time the water was much more dirty. When we started fishing, it was tough, not because of the fast current but because of the muddy water.
This week our water cleared up considerably. It's not the clear water we associate with Lake Taneycomo, but visibility is such that the fish can now see four to five feet ahead. I'd call this water clarity "ideal for fishing."
One bonus from our flood waters from Table Rock Lake is the steady flow of threadfin shad -- which our trout absolutely love. Most of the shad we're seeing are about an inch long, the perfect size for even smaller trout.
We live for shad runs on Lake Taneycomo and for good reason. Our trout get a big growth boost -- you can see how fat they are! Plus they really go nuts on anything that looks like a shad for weeks after the shad stop running. It's some fun fishing.
Fishing with so much water running sounds pretty intimidating, but a lot of people have been fishing slower water from below Cooper Creek all the way down to past Branson Landing. And the best part has been the number of really nice, big trout caught down there, both browns and rainbows.
Drifting is the technique. Use enough weight to tick the bottom. This is very important. Stay in the middle of the lake and away from the sides. There are more trees washed into the lake and they line the sides.
Use a drift rig and at least a 1/4-ounce bell weight with four-pound line. Drag a shad fly, egg fly or San Juan worm if you're fishing above Fall Creek in the trophy area. Also, we've been seeing trout, mainly between Fall and Short Creek, full of freshwater shrimp -- so drift a scud. I'd use a #12 gray scud.
If you're fishing from Cooper Creek down, drift with minnows, night crawlers or Gulp Powerbait, white or orange. I'd also use a shad fly here. Some guys this weekend have been using raw shrimp and catching fish. I think they look like shad . . . maybe.
All boat ramps are clear. The public fishing dock at Cooper Creek is still not accessible because of high water.