The tourism mecca of Branson, Mo., is also the home of Lake Taneycomo, a premier fishery offering some of the best trout fishing in the nation whether you fish with a fly rod or spinning tackle. The cold-water lake also provides some surprisingly good bass fishing local anglers have tried to keep secret for years.
Lake Taneycomo Fishing 101
The lake’s constant water temperature keeps trout in a stable environment, unlike bass in other reservoirs where the seasons cool or warm the waters and cause the fish to move shallow or deep. The water in Taneycomo stays cold year-round since it comes from Table Rock Dam about 160 feet below the surface of Table Rock Lake.
Lake Taneycomo fishing began in 1913 with the construction of Ozark Beach Dam at Powersite on the White River. The lake sustained a popular warm-water fishery for more than 40 years, but that changed when Table Rock Dam was constructed in 1958. Since the water flowing from the dam was too cold for most of the White River’s fish, those populations declined and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) compensated for the loss of the native fishery by stocking rainbow trout into the 22-mile lake.
During the early 1990s, the MDC enhanced the lake’s fishery by stocking brown trout that have grown to trophy size. Although the state “pole and line” record rainbow trout was caught elsewhere, Taneycomo holds the state record for a rainbow trout taken on alternative methods with a 15-pound, 6-ounce fish and produced the state record brown trout weighing 28 pounds, 12 ounces.
Lake Taneycomo Trophy Trout Fishing
The trophy area below Table Rock dam offers fly fishermen of all skill levels a chance to catch plenty of rainbows and brown trout. The most popular technique among the locals is to drift an olive scud below a strike indicator with the current. Water flow from the dam is usually low during the summer so anglers have plenty of opportunities to wade in the trophy area. When flow is light, small streamers, soft hackles and dry flies work best.
Rainbows and browns can also be taken on spinning tackle with 2- to 3-inch jerk baits, micro jigs or marabou jigs (ranging in size from 1/100 to 1/8 ounce) in brown or olive hues. Tie the micro jigs on 4- to 6-pound line and set a float about 2 to 3 feet above the lure or fish the larger jigs without a float.
A wide array of live or scented baits produce best for anglers of all ages down lake. I have used pieces of nightcrawlers, Berkley Power Bait Eggs and Berkley Gulp worms in pink or chartreuse to catch plenty of trout from Cooper Creek to downtown Branson. A drift rig with a 1/4-ounce weight and a small bait hook works best for drifting or tight lining the bait.
Although we usually rent a boat to fish the lower lake, a family staying at one of the many resorts on the lake can catch plenty of rainbows fishing off of the resort’s dock. My favorite place to stay at Taneycomo is Lilley’s Landing Resort, a family owned resort and marina with lakefront and off-lake lodging and a fly and tackle shop loaded with all the lures and tackle you need for catching Taneycomo trout.
Lake Taneycomo Fishing Seasons
Wintry weather can make an angler miserable while fishing Lake Taneycomo, but it has little effect on the lake’s main inhabitants. The seasons don’t really affect the fishing much so Taneycomo trout fishing can be really good in the winter but it can also be just as good in the dead of summer.
Winter is traditionally a prime time to catch big trout, but you can experience some fantastic fishing in the spring when four generators are running constantly at the dam. The 2,080-acre lake receives a lot less fishing pressure during the colder months than it does in the summer and spring. Mostly local anglers fish the lake in the wintertime.
Patterns throughout the summer and into early fall remain about the same but more brown trout start running up to the dam area where you can catch them on large streamers and topwater flies in eddies.
Heavyweight largemouth bass can be caught during the winter on the lower end of the lake throwing Alabama rigs and suspending stickbaits along the stump-laden flats near drop-offs. Flipping jigs with a plastic craw or chunk to the boat docks down lake from Branson Landing is an effective tactic for largemouth from spring through fall.
Some topwater frog action also occurs during the warmer months in the weeds up the creeks on the lake’s lower end. Other productive lures for catching Lake Taneycomo bass throughout the warmer months include buzz baits, spinnerbaits and crankbaits.
For more information on lodging, dining and tourist attractions in Branson besides Lake Taneycomo fishing, visit www.branson.com. Also, make sure you have a Missouri Fishing License!
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