Lake Taneycomo, June 10, 2015
After more than days of flood gates, our tailwater here on Lake Taneycomo is somewhat back to normal. This has been a rare event, having to substitute flood gates for turbines but one that makes you think, "What if?" Having 57-degree water run through the system, we see the effects it has on a fishery.
The bug count went through the roof--midges and scuds--the primary food base for our trout. Rainbows clearly grew at rates that make you scratch your head and say, "Where did the stockers go?" Seemed like it only took a few days to transform a gray-colored stocker into a vibrant, fat rainbow trout.
And it didn't matter where you fished, it seemed like rainbows were keyed in on this little gray bug. As I reeled in a trout, it shook its head -- scuds were spewing out of its mouth as if there was no room in its belly to hold more.
Here's a video of scuds swarming on the edge of the water at our boat ramp. Note the dry pocket next to the slab where thousands of bugs were stranded after the water dropped out. I dug out and rescued as many as I could, but considering all the pockets up and down the lake, lots of scuds probably died -- but that's the life on a tailwater! This is a very good sign for our fishery.
On Monday morning, Table Rock Lake's level hit the magic number and the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers shut down the flood gates at Table Rock Dam. The turbines were even shut down Monday night but were turned back on during the day Tuesday. Two units at 707 feet -- that's what we'll be looking at for a while. But if the rains hold off, we should start seeing some down water during the day.
With the lower flows comes colder water temperatures. We're back to the mid-40s and the water is much clearer. I think you can still get away with four-pound line, but it won't be long before we're all retrieving our two-pound and 6x out of the box.
It's always interesting to see how changes in water temperature affect how trout feed and, therefore, our fishing. The bites definitely slowed down a bit, our guides reported from Monday and Tuesday's trips. "It's not that bad, just not as good as it was with the flood gates on," said one fishing guide. But with water slower and more shallow, dock fishing is much better, easier. I'm confident the trout will get used to the new temperature and will be feeding aggressively once again.
Night crawlers seem to be the choice bait now, drifted from Fall Creek down past Cooper Creek. From Monkey Island down through the Branson Landing, Gulp Eggs in white/orange seem to be the ticket. With the slower flows, you need to drop to a smaller weight -- 1/8th ounce should be fine. But if you're still getting hung on the bottom a lot, just put a small split shot on instead of a bell weight.
With the slower water, the Trout Magnet has made a comeback! A pink/white magnet under a float five- to seven-feet deep fished from Cooper Creek down to the Landing has been effective the last couple of days.
In the trophy area, drifting from the dam to the first island is really hot! Lots of nice rainbows up there are taking white or dark jigs (sculpin, black, brown) mainly thrown straight in either 18th or 3/32nd ounce. The fishing has been slower down below the island on jigs but is still good drifting red or pink San Juan worms, #14 gray scuds or peach egg flies on the bottom. You can use a fly rod and drift the same flies under a float 12-feet deep with a small weight to keep the flies on the bottom.
From Lookout Island down, drifting #14 to #16 gray scuds is still the ticket. Stay in the middle of the lake and use enough weight to keep in contact with the bottom. Also work the bluff bank with a sculpin 1/8th ounce jig or small to medium stick baits like a gold/black floating or sinking Rapala.
I haven't noticed any top-water action along the bluff banks yet, but it shouldn't be long before a hopper or stimulator should attract a take or two.