Lake Taneycomo Fishing Report, November 24
There's a big contrast between a Lake Taneycomo fishing report from last week and this week. We've gone from the edge of disaster to "a bite on every cast." Three things have changed to cause this: We're getting water from the top of Table Rock Lake through the spill gates, and we're getting better water through the turbines because Table Rock is starting to "turn over."
This sends good, oxygenated water from the top of Table Rock to the bottom regions. It's a natural occurrence that happens every year at this time. The other major thing that's happened is that the Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery has had to stock thousands of rainbows into the lake early because of the situation at the hatchery last week. These fish were stocked below Branson and have made their way up lake this week.
Fishing reports from the last couple of days are very very good and will probably continue to be good for quite some time. But there are potential problems that I need to address here in my report and to our guests here in the coming weeks. Those are over-harvesting and the mishandling of trout released.
Most of us have had bad fishing trips. Fishing is slow and we don't catch and keep our limits. Thus, we don't go home with the meat we expected to take home. We might have several trips when we were short of our possession limit. But then comes that trip where we catch a lot of fish, many more than our limit and we're tempted to "make up for" those bad trips and take more fish home than we should.
Over-harvesting any kind of game is stealing from the fishermen and hunters who come after you. Every fishery is limited to the number of fish, no matter whether that number is mind-bogglingly high or not. If one angler catches twice his limit each day he's here, he's taken those fish away from the next person who comes along and fishes the same area.
Even worse is when an angler catches and kills dozens of trout when the catching is really, really good. It is true, no matter how careful you are when handling and releasing fish, you are going to mortally wound a few fish. But you can greatly increase your release success rate by knowing how to best handle and release a trout.
Don't touch a trout, at any time. Don't touch them with a dry hand or dry cloth -- that's the worse thing you can do to about any fish. It removes the protective slime from the trout's body, and it will eventually die from bacteria in the water. If the hook is close to the outside of the mouth, take a pair of forceps and remove the hook before releasing. If the hook is down inside the fish's mouth, cut the line and release the fish. It has a better chance of survival this way versus trying to remove the hook.
Now for my fishing report:
The spill gates have been closed. The dissolved O2 coming through the dam has improved to the point that no gates are needed. Once Table Rock's level drops below 917 feet, we should see less generation and probably no flood gates.
Stocker rainbows have made their way up lake from being stocked, but there's still a lot of trout in the Branson Landing area. Drifting about anything on the bottom -- PowerBait Gulp Eggs, egg flies, scuds, San Juan Worms -- is catching lots of rainbows right now. The hot spots have been the Branson Landing area, Monkey Island, out in front of our place and from Fall Creek to Short Creek.
Guide Bill Babler advises switching from natural baits to artificial baits when the fishing is very good. He did that Monday while guiding clients. He started fishing the trophy area, which was slow for them, so they went down to the Monkey Island area and started drifting Gulp Eggs. They caught their limits fairly quickly but still had an hour left in the trip, so Bill switched to egg flies instead of using the natural, soft scented baits. That cuts costs since you can catch multiple fish on one egg fly, and it's also much easier to extricate a fly out of a trout's mouth versus messing with an egg and a bare hook. Plus, you can just throw the egg fly back out faster without having to put another Gulp Egg on the hook.
Fishing in the trophy area is still slow but will improve as the water quality improves in the coming weeks.