Lake Taneycomo fishing report, March 5
All three lakes in the White River chain of four lakes are now at their seasonal power pools: Beaver Lake - 1,120.64 feet (pp 1,120.43). Table Rock Lake - 915.00 feet (pp 915.00). Bull Shoals - 658.88 feet (pp 659.00). But the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers continues to run two units of water, at a lake level of 705.72 feet, day and night. Some have asked when it will stop . . . I'd say very soon, but there is rain in the forecast next week.
I think most people love this warm winter weather we're having. The 10-day forecast shows daytime temperatures ranging from 67 to 72 degrees. Trees are budding, flowers are blooming, but what is on the horizon? We still have 4-5 weeks of potential freezing weather -- not good for trees, especially fruit trees and vines (I'm referring to our beloved blueberries south and west of town). But with warm, spring weather comes the good chance of rain, and that would mean more generation.
I don't mean to sound like generation is a bad thing. I do, though, realize that there's a big angler population that loves to wade and fly fish the upper lake. And there's those who like to fish the rest of the lake when the water isn't running. I feel your pain. But know this -- running water is very good for our food base in the lake, and that bonus grows bigger trout more quickly than if the water wasn't running.
Our water color hasn't change since the big flood water release stopped in mid January. It's still a chalky, green color with about four feet of visibility. We're used to clear water here on Taneycomo, and the tendency is to blame any bad luck on something . . . cloudy water is as good as anything. But for those using lures, they may have a point, especially when throwing something as small as a jig. Fish can't see as far as they can when the water is clear. Scent helps, which is why anglers using bait have an advantage right now.
The trophy area, above Fall Creek, is producing well, but those who are using brighter colors are doing better. With jigs, white is still doing fairly well along with pink and even chartreuse. Some guys told me they used a white/chartreuse combo for the first time and caught fish. An orange-headed jig is attracting strikes, too, using the darker, earth colors like sculpin, olive and brown. If you're throwing a jig with no float, use two-pound line for best results, regardless of water color. "But you can't land big fish on two-pound!"
I landed not one but two big carp Saturday morning on Bull Shoals Lake using two-pound Trilene XL, estimate weight, 15 pounds.
Two-pound line gives you the option to throw small jigs if the conditions are right. If there's no wind, slow current and not deep water, you should throw a 1/16th-ounce jig. If you're using four-pound line, you can't throw a jig that small.
Dam operators have been running 100 megawatts of power, which is about two units up until Saturday when it dropped to about 50 mws, or one unit. The lake level is hovering at 705 feet. At this flow, you could throw smaller jigs in the upper lake, 3/32nd-ounce for sure, if not 1/16th-ounce, providing you're using two-pound line.
Guide Steve Dickey reported his clients have done well fly fishing, drifting from the cable below the dam to Trophy Run. He's running a two-fly rig with either an egg fly/scud or San Juan worm/scud, 6x tippet, small split shot 24 inches above the first fly and a float 12- to 15-feet above the last fly. He's using a cerise worm, bright orange or pink egg fly and an olive, tan or gray #12 scud. He's also using the same flies on a drift rig, 1/8th-ounce bell weight and four-pound line. This same rig is working from the Narrows to Fall Creek, too.
I worked the bluff bank from Lookout down to the Narrows once this week and didn't do that well. I caught only two rainbows on a white 3/32nd-ounce jig under what I consider excellent conditions (cloudy, two units, no wind). That's no indication someone else couldn't do better since there are good trout in that stretch, I'm sure. It's just that fishing in that stretch lately has been slow for me.
I also drifted a night crawler from Fall Creek to Short Creek the other day and had lots of takes! That's code for "I fed a bunch of trout worms and didn't catch many." Steve said they've done better using PowerBait Gulp Eggs, as far as hooking more fish, but the night crawlers will catch bigger trout, plus give you a better chance at hooking a brown trout.
Drifting from just above our place down to Monkey Island with the combination of a drift rig, four-pound line, and Gulp Eggs is catching rainbows. A couple of weeks ago, a bunch of small rainbows were stocked, I'd say averaging nine inches long. While fun to catch, most people are tossing them back. Handle with care if you want a chance to catch them again! Good Gulp Egg colors have been white and pink.
Our fishing outlook can be summed up in one word -- rain. With spring still ahead of us, and delightfully warm temperatures already here, lots of rain will bring our lakes back up, so we may see continuing generation for quite some time. The forecast next week predicts rain for several days. While we do need the rain, we're all still leary of a deluge.
Last weekend we hosted our second public tournament of the year, the Elfrink Memorial. Forty four teams competed, and most said it was a tough day of fishing. But one thing happened that's never happened in my memory of any day on this lake, tournament or not -- five legal browns were caught and weighed in.
While most anglers saw small rainbow after small rainbow, a few good rainbows were caught including a 2.20 pound rainbow caught by Cooper Cox. But the dinky federal rainbows ruled the day, grabbing the lures ahead of the big ones (that's the way I like to look at it.) Conditions were ideal with the exception of a high sun. But surprisingly, the browns were active, especially the big ones!
There were many stories of the "big one that got away," and those trout all happened to be brown trout. But five were landed, two hitting or surpassing the 24-inch mark while the others were just over 20-inches.
You could have heard a pin drop as I weighed the second large brown. The first weighed, caught by Gerry Dwiggins of St Charles, MO, had already tipped the scales at 5.74 pounds. They were both male trout and very similar in girth. The scale rested at a solid 6-pounds flat. Jim Rayfield of Salem, MO, had taken the first brown trout pot in six years of this contest. It paid $1,200.
Jim's brown came on an 1/8th-ounce sculpin jig in the Short Creek area. It was his first fish of the day! He hooked a nice brown on the cast before, but the hook pulled out. On the next cast, he hooked the trophy.
Gerry's brown also came on an 1/8th-ounce brown jig. He caught it down below the Branson Landing. It was caught after lunch -- yes, in the middle of a sunny day.