Written by Phil on April 7th, 2014Print This Post
Trout fishing has toughened up the last few days. Fairly heavy generation has made both getting to the fish and getting them to bite a challenge, most of the time. But there are a few places and times each day where the trout bite like crazy. That’s what keeps all of us coming back — even if the last week, those places and times were far and few between.
Generation: Two to three units have been running first thing in the morning, then gearing back to one to even a half unit the rest of the day. There was one day this past week when the water was off all afternoon. I don’t see anything in the works that would change that pattern for a while. Water temperature is 44 degrees coming from Table Rock which is warmer than a few weeks ago. That’s a good thing.
When the water runs for so long, our trout tend to seek out places where they can sit out of the fast water. That might be along the bank, in creeks or on the bottom behind big or small objects. The way trout are built, sleek and slender, they don’t need a very large object to sit behind. That’s where we are looking to get our bait and lures.
The creeks, Roark, Turkey and Coon, have been hammered pretty hard the last few weeks. Simply there’s seems not to be many trout left in them. But there are some and they’re being caught on either Gulp Eggs on a jig head, a marabou jig or minnow under a float. There’s also come crappie and white bass being caught in Roark and Turkey Creeks.
I have to interject something here at this point. I’ve owned Lilleys’ Landing for almost 31 years and I have witnessed a mindset that frustrates me.
First, fishing is fishing. If you take a trip to the same water, say once a year, you’re going to have good years and bad years of “catching.” When some anglers have good trips, where they’re catching a lot of fish, they are tempted to “double dip” or catch and keep more than their daily limit of four, and at times, more than even their possession limit of eight.
In the last couple of weekends, I’ve seen groups of fishermen keep way more than their limits — as if to compensate for the times when they didn’t catch many. What this does, quite simply, is rob the next guy who comes to fish. I see it happen on our dock quite often. Because most of this lake is “put and take,” you’ll only catch trout when they’re there. If they’ve all been caught out, then fishing is poor.
Poaching hurts other anglers’ chances of catching their limit of trout here on Lake Taneycomo. It’s selfish, it’s illegal and it should not be tolerated by anyone.
Morning fishing, when the water is running the hardest, has been slow, but when the flow slows, the trout seems to come alive. Drifting Gulp Eggs, one white egg and one either pink or chartreuse on a hook, has been the best, along with night crawlers. Best areas have been drifting from Monkey Island past the bridges and Fall Creek to Trout Hollow.
I still think the best live bait to use is one white Gulp Egg and a half night crawler. Slid the egg onto the hook and up the line. Pinch a worm in half and hook it once in the middle of the half, the worm hanging off of both ends. Then slide the egg back down on top of the worm. This works well off our dock, too.
There’s been quite a few rainbows, nice rainbows, holding on the flat from Short Creek to Trout Hollow. They’re catching them drifting and using either a pink or chartreuse Trout Magnet under a float four to six-feet deep. I’ve tried this a couple of times the last few days and was surprised by the size and quality of rainbows I caught. I used my spinning rod one evening and my fly rod the next. Both worked well. I would think a marabou or micro jig would work, too, although I haven’t tried it.
Anglers who fished out of the resort this weekend struggled to catch trout but most caught their limits. One positive thing is that the size of our trout are still bigger than normal. Some of the rainbows I caught on the Trout Magnet in the Short Creek area were 12 to 14 inches long. We are still catching some dark males, which usually average 13 inches or more.
The wind has really hampered “catching” this week, yesterday being the exception. There’s few remedies for wind when fishing out of a boat except finding a stretch where it’s not as windy, getting along the bank and tying up or anchoring or going up in one of the creeks that’s sheltered from the wind. Wind causes problems since it’s hard to control a boat, especially a pontoon. Combine current with wind, and it’s hard to keep your bait or lure where it’s supposed to be. It’s best, I think, to get out very early in the morning before the wind starts and plan on staying out until dark when the winds start to die down.
Some things I do in my boat when it’s windy are:
In the trophy area, I believe we have some of the nicest trout we’ve had up there in a long time. They’re just hard to catch right now. I think the cold water has caused them not to eat a lot. They’re held up out of the current and biding their time, just eating occasionally. With the water running almost all the time, they don’t have to move far to eat something that drifts by them.
I’ve been throwing jigs all week, both in the trophy area and below with mixed results. I’m still catching quite a few brown trout, especially when I’m using white jigs. When I boat up into the trophy area (water running), I usually go all the way up to the cable below the dam and start there. Lately I have not ventured that far since I have not managed a bite until right before the Missouri Department of Conservation boat ramp, almost a mile below the dam.
We know shad came through the turbines this winter. When that happens, the trout below the dam normally gorge themselves on the virtually free food and look for more. They usually hit anything white for the next month, hoping it’s another shad drifting by. But this year has not followed that routine. It’s not that I’m not catching fish on white jigs; it’s the location I’m catching them in – and NOT catching them in.
I’m throwing white 1/8th ounce jigs when the water is running along the bluff banks, close to the bank, and catching trout from the boat ramp down to the top of Trophy Run, then from Lookout Island down to the Narrows. It’s been fair fishing the bluff bank from Fall Creek Marina down to Trout Hollow but not as profitable fishing the bluff bank from the old Sun Valley Resort down to Cooper Creek.
BUT yesterday afternoon was the exception, and confirmed something I have believed all along. I took Darrell Bentley, a friend of mine, out fishing yesterday from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.. The sun was out and very bright. They were running 80 mw with the lake level at 705.7 feet. The wind was calm.
We started at the cable. I threw an 1/8th ounce white jig and Darrell tried his gold tinsel 1/16th ounce jig. Darrell works at Reed’s Fly Shop just outside Montauk State Park. I’ve never tried any tinsel jig before and gold is for sure something I’ve never thought about using. Darrell said he uses gold when it’s sunny and silver when it’s cloudy. I had my doubts that our trout would find his gold tinsel jig appealing. I was wrong.
Darrell put 2 rainbows in the boat before I got a bite on my white jig. I was impressed. Then I caught one, and then another. We hadn’t drifted past the island yet and already put 5 very nice rainbows to the net. We continued to drift down and did well. Made a couple of drifts before our time had ended, catching some quality rainbows up to 17 inches.
So they’re still up there! Again, it’s being in the right place at the right time throwing the right lures, flies or bait at them! And that includes gold tinsel jigs!
Written by Phil on March 31st, 2014Print This Post
Generation patterns right now are all but impossible to predict, except for the fact that Table Rock is on the rise again after a good rain Friday night. My guess is the the Corp will try to keep lake levels down close to power pool. That means we’ll probably see more generation from Table Rock Dam for at least a week, I’d say.
Frequency and how much flow is a whole other set of guesses. Warmer spring temperatures should keep power demand at bay, so flood control kicks in as the primary reason to run water. Seems like the water is running early in the morning and less during the day and on into the evening. That could be the pattern for a while.
Water temperature is holding at 43 degrees from Table Rock Lake. While trout aren’t crazy about this cold water, they’re pretty active except when 3-4 units are running full. Then the fish hunker down and don’t do much eating. That’s when most anglers have been heading to the creeks, where they’re finding good numbers of rainbows and just a few browns.
Heading down lake is another move fishermen are making when the water is running hard. Monkey Island through the bridges has been consistently very good all this week, drifting either Powerbait or minnows on the bottom.
Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery has been stocking some very nice rainbows lately. This picture was taken Thursday afternoon as people were bringing their catch in to be cleaned. The biggest of these rainbows were 16 inches, and they were freshly stocked — note the color of the trout. Average size of rainbows stocked in Lake Taneycomo is 11.5 inches, so this is pretty special to see this size rainbows being caught. These rainbows were caught mainly drifting minnows on the bottom between Monkey Island and the bridges.
The creeks are still hot. We took some boys from a boys’ ranch in Kansas fishing last Tuesday. Taking three pontoons, we squeezed in between a couple of boats close to the first bridge in Roark Creek. Steve Dickey, fishing guide, and his son were helping in one of the pontoons with four boys. I had just put a brand new anchor and rope on his boat and he promptly dropped it in the water to hold the boat in place.
The wind was blowing out of the north pretty hard. Our anchors were no match, and we all drifted toward the rock bluff bank. Steve noticed his boat was moving way too fast in the wind, then saw that his anchor rope was untied. Then he remembered a couple of boys getting tangled in the rope just a few minutes earlier and before he got back to them, they were free. Trouble was they had untied the rope to get loose but didn’t tie it back!
At one point, all three of us were pushed against the south bank together by the wind, playing bumper boats while trying to keep the boys from making an absolute mess of their lines. We got freed one by one and ended up tying off to the trees on the north side of the creek … forgetting the anchors.
Did we catch trout?! Oh yes. Each of the boys almost caught their limit of rainbows and some were nice ones! We used minnows under a float four feet deep and only cast 10 feet off the boat onto the mud flat, not in the channel. That’s where Steve had been catching them.
With one unit running yesterday, Bill Babler’s clients caught good trout drifting from Short Creek to Trout Hollow and fishing a pink Trout Magnet under a float five feet deep. They were using fly rods. Guides have also been going up in the creeks and fishing a jig and float using fly rods.
Almost all of the trout I caught were quality rainbows and browns, with only a couple of small rainbows. I worked the jig extremely slow, daring it to get hung up on the bottom — which it did a few times.
Written by Phil on March 4th, 2014Print This Post
It’s March! And it’s still cold and snowy!! The bass are still dormant, but the trout are liking it, and the ones up close to the dam have even been enjoying a little shad action, starting yesterday morning. I’ve been saying that if the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers would only run water fairly hard, that would suck a bunch of shad through the turbines into our lake. The Corps did run three units (yesterday and today), and it did pull a good number through as evidenced by the trout’s interest in white things — and their fat bellies. Generation has been inconsistent at best. No two days have been alike for the past week. The only pattern has been on the weekend — Saturdays a half unit has been running all day, and Sundays it’s been off all day. Most days some water is running in the mornings and off in the afternoons, but today it built all day to almost three full units. That’s good for getting shad in the upper end of the lake! Catching has been good whether you’re a fly, bait or lure angler. I would say from watching and listening to some of our guests, that numbers of fish caught have been good, but the quality has waned from past years. But that’s not what everyone is saying. There have been reports of brown trout caught this winter, more than in the past three or four years. They’re ranging from 13 to 18 inches and being caught on a variety of lures, mostly jigs, and mainly below the trophy area all the way down past the Branson Landing. There are still good numbers of rainbows being caught from Cooper Creek to Monkey Island on down to the Landing. But there are a lot of trout on up to Fall Creek, too. Nothing has really changed as far as good baits and lures. We still suggest using night crawlers, minnows and PowerBait Gulp Eggs when drifting or anchored and tight lining. Trout Magnets are still very good under a float five to six feet deep with pink and pink/white the best colors. Freshly stocked rainbows like Kastmasters and Cleos either cast or trolled. If the water is running, work a Rapala or other small to medium stick bait against the banks for browns and rainbows. One hot spot I heard of was up in Roark Creek. During our last tournament I was told there were a bunch of rainbows and crappie to be caught with a jig-and-float. I was a little surprised that they’d be in the creek this early, especially with how cold it’s been. But it was a reliable report. I’d look in the other creeks, too — Turkey, Coon, Bee and further down to even Bull Creek. The trophy area has been fishing very well. My jig-and-float rigged with a brown 1/80th-ounce jig with an orange head is catching lots of lots of numbers and a few decent-sized rainbows. That’s with the water off and fishing from Lookout down to Fall Creek. I have also tried purple, black, sculpin and white and did pretty well, too. I’m also using two-pound Vanish line and believe I’m getting more bites because of it. Fly fishing below the dam with the water off has been good. There have been lots of trout in the wading area, but the nice weather has also brought out the crowds. Because there’s so many people walking about from the Big Hole to the Cable, I’d go down and try some less fished water. I think the fish will be more cooperative, too. Zebra Midges are always good, and if there’s a good chop on the water, throw a soft hackle, crackleback, woolly bugger or a pine squirrel. Olive has been working the best on the streamers. Drift a small #18 gray or olive scud around the outlets, Rebar or anywhere there’s some current. A San Juan worm in the Rebar chute always is a good fly to try. You might have to drop to 7x if the crowds spook the fish too much. Just be ready for a possible big fish because they’re up there! Now for the report that goes with the video. I boated up this morning with three units running (not full) hoping to get in on what I had heard was a good shad bite. Some guys who fished yesterday said they’d seen shad in the water and caught some really nice quality rainbows with big bellies spitting up shad. I knew this would happen when dam operators kicked open the turbines and ran some good water. There’s a lot of shad dying on Table Rock because of the very cold temperatures (a natural occurrence). I arrived at the cable and tied on white 1/8th-ounce jig and started. No bites for quite a while. Strange! Seemed as if I were getting very soft bites but no hook ups until I got well below the Big Hole. Then I started catching some rainbows. Two drifts. Both times I didn’t do well until I got well down below the dam. Actually the area close to the boat ramp was the best and sported better- sized rainbows, too. They were fat with shad but were just not being very aggressive. You can tell by how I set the hook that I wasn’t feeling the bite; I was feeling the fish when I jigged. Sometimes they’re just like that! Mark my words . . . if we get some rain and some serious water is generated this spring, we’re going to see a lot of shad in Taneycomo. That will be great for fishing and even better for the trout!