Lilleys' Lake Taneycomo fishing report, June 21
Our trout have gotten a little fussy this past week. The main reason is the clarity of the water here on Lake Taneycomo. It's really, really clear! This isn't new although it is new for this time of summer. Normally the water clears in August and stays clear till Table Rock Lake turns over around Thanksgiving.
Generation has been held back due to Table Rock reaching it's summer power pool level, 917 feet. Last week we were complaining about lots and lots of generation and cold water. This week it's clear water and very little wind.
The water has been starting anywhere from 2 to 4 p.m. and only staying on about 1 to 3 hours, running 2 to 3 units. Water temperature is still around 45 degrees coming from Table Rock Lake.
Rick Lisek, one of our fishing guides, reported fairly good fishing but he's had to go to 7x tippet to get the fish to bite, especially after the sun gets up over the water. Seven-x tippet is the equivalent to a little more than 1-pound test. We go to this size line later in the fall but at least Rick thinks he has to use it to get his clients into trout.
Now I've been out fish mid day and do pretty good using 6x fluorocarbon. What's the difference between regular monofilament and fluorocarbon?
- Fluorocarbon - is extremely clear and virtually invisible to fish that may be spooked by other lines. It's a bit stiffer and brittle in cold water.
- Monofilament - is available in a wide variety of colors for (in)visibility in all conditions.
Personally, I feel like I can get away with using 6x fl line vs the smaller diameter 7x and get just as many bites in most cases. Using 7x tippet means I have to be very careful when setting the hook and fighting a fish because . . . it's just very light line and it breaks easy.
When we say we are using tippet, we mean we are tying a short piece of line to the end of the line we have on our reels. It doesn't have to be very long--as little as 12 inches will do. But I generally use about 24 inches in case I have to change lures a couple of times and need more line to tie to.
We use a Triple Surgeon's Knot. I've added a link to a site that shows how to tie this knot. The diagram only shows a double knot, Add one more loop to make it a triple. When using these small diameter lines, you really need that extra loop!
You can add this line to drift rigs as well as to your line on your rod and reel. This knot is good for tying different diameter lines together such as 6-pound to 2-pound. You can also use a small barrel swivel to connect the lines.
Tippet is sold in small 25-yard spools and isn't very expensive. It's well worth having a couple of spools in your tackle box.
Now I am referring to using 6x or 7x tippet when the WATER IS OFF. If the water is running and you're drifting bait or throwing jigs or lures, 4-pound line is perfectly fine! This is only when the water is off and you're fishing stationary. The fish was a lot of time to inspect your offering and refuse it if he's sees a string attached to your hook!
If you're down for the week and want to get serious about catching a lot of trout, re spool your reel with 2-pound Vanish line and I don't think you can go wrong.
Some have asked if Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery is still stocking trout. Oh yes! They'll stock about 90,000 this month. They may be stocking a little lower in the lake than normal because the water temperature, say, in the Rockaway Beach area is about 50 degrees, very suitable for stocking trout. But they do make their way up lake. We have been sending a lot of anglers down lake to the Branson Landing area to fish.
This past week, I took some friends down lake to try to find some brown trout. We didn't find any but did catch some good rainbows, throwing 1/8th ounce white and sculpin jigs against the banks between Branson and Rockaway Beach. So there are trout down in that area.
We trolled small crank baits up in Bull Creek and caught some white bass. Flicker Shad F3 and go slow up and down the main channel which is on the far left going up. Try to stay in 8 feet of water or deeper.
Wind makes or breaks a good fishing trip and we haven't had much wind. When the lake's surface is slick and the sun gets up over it, fishing slows down. That's when those who are using small line and small baits (flies, lures) are catching fish and others are enviously watching. What you need to know is that we start out using small line and baits and keep catching trout through the tough times.
We're still doing well using a jig and float rig with a small micro or marabou jig and a Zebra Midge dropper.
You don't want to move this a lot. The Zebra Midge is the target. You'll catch 90% of your fish on this fly. It doesn't need much action. Too much is bad. Move it slightly every 10 seconds. Move it after 2 minutes of no action.
Distance between the float and fish lure depends on the depth of water. I'd set it where the midge is a foot or two off the bottom UNLESS you see trout midging, taking flies off the surface of the water. Then set it shallower, as little as 6 inches below the surface.
Best areas have been between Short Creek and Fall Creek and Fall Creek and Lookout. Seek out wind--if you see a broken surface on the water from where you're fishing, pick up and go there.
I've spent a lot of time on this subject for only one reason--this is how we are catching trout in these condition. It's not that you're not going to catch trout using Powerbait or night crawlers--it's just been slow using live bait. You do better your chances by using 2-pound line or adding light tippet.
When the water kicks on, drift bait! Depending on how much water they're running, use the smallest size weight to get to the bottom and no more. Air injected night crawlers has been by far the best live bait with Gulp Eggs the best Powerbait used. Minnows is still pretty good, especially drifting from Cooper Creek to the Branson Landing.
White jigs from the cable below the dam down to Lookout is still catching some very nice rainbows and a brown here and there. But it's not very evening they're hitting. We had a one evening when we threw jigs and drifted scuds and San Juan over them and they didn't want anything to do with eating. It's fishing, not catching!
Still seeing some beautiful browns being caught throwing jigs and stick baits against the bluff banks above and below Fall Creek in the evenings when the water is running. Some impressive rainbows are being caught below Fall Creek too on jigs. White, sculpin, sculpin/orange, ginger, brown and black are the best colors. Eighth-ounce if the water is running hard, drop to 3/32nd ounce or even 1/16th ounce if it's real slow. Two-pound test if you're throwing the small size jigs.
I have a theory about why we're seeing so many big, chunky rainbows up close to the dam this summer. Table Rock Lake, along with most lakes in the Midwest, suffered a pretty substantial shad kill this winter because of lower than normal cold temperatures. When shad die they usually get sucked through the turbines and into Taneycomo but we didn't see many while fishing like we normally would.
I think there was a "trickle" of threadfin shad all winter and spring long enter the lake and our trout were there ready and eager to take advantage of the easy meal.
There's really no other reason why there are so many trophy quality rainbows in our lake, appearing in just the last 6 months.
Yes, our shrimp population is very good right now. Our rainbows are coughing up shrimp after being caught and some that are cleaned even below Fall Creek, their stomachs are sometimes full of them.
In addition, these rainbows that live at the cable below the dam are still really hot on a white jig which makes me think a white, small fish is still a fresh memory for them and they react to it.
Whatever the case, I'm excited about this summer and fall fishing season on Lake Taneycomo, although fishing right now is tough.