We haven't seen any shad coming over the top so far, and the trout are hardly biting on white at all. Very, very strange indeed. There is no doubt some small forage fish are coming over the top, including threadfin, but not many or we'd see something. We are catching a few bass but not like in past years.
More gates open should help our trout fishing, if not now, at least when the flow slows down and the fish are more accessible.
Table Rock is dropping .3 feet per day right now. That will increase as the flow into TR decreases, which should increase to six inches a day. TR is at 918.3 feet right now and should be below 918 feet Thursday, 917 feet by Saturday -- and maybe, just maybe 915 feet by the middle of next week. But there are a lot of factors that could change that -- flow from Beaver Lake, more unexpected rain or decrease of TR flow before then.
Fishing has been tough, no way around it. It is frustrating, too, because the techniques that usually work when we have this kind of high water event have not been fruitful, at least not yet. We generally do look forward to high water with flood gates because that does warm the water and puts more food in the lake for our trout, but so far the trout just haven't turned on to these prime conditions.
We are catching trout, but just not the numbers we think we usually expect. Starting at the dam in the trophy area, 1/8th-ounce jigs are catching some fish, both cold- and warm-water species along the banks in the slower water and close to the bottom. Good colors are white, white/gray, sculpin and sculpin/ginger. Also drifting shad flies, #12 gray scuds, red San Juan worms and egg flies on the bottom are picking up some nice rainbows.
Duane Doty came up with a technique last year during our high water event that's catching big trout right now. It's drifting a crank bait along the bottom -- but not just any ordinary crank bait. He's pinpointed a certain crank bait that works better than others. The only problem is that they're hard to come by, at least so far. It's the Bomber, Fat Free Fingerling in shad or pearl color. Yes, that's its name.
While drifting, throw the Bomber out behind the boat like a drift rig and reel down a bit, but not far. The natural action of the bait will take it to the bottom, and it will stay there, digging its bill into the gravel bottom. Brown trout love it, or hate it enough to clobber it as it goes by. And, yes, you do lose baits, a lot of baits.
Some anglers won't think it's an even trade, to have the chance for a trophy brown versus the cost of losing baits at $6-7 a pop. Yes, jigs are much cheaper -- drift jigs even more so -- but this technique has been proven to catch good-sized brown trout!
Your rig must be heavier than the average trout rod and reel. You need to use at least six-pound line or even heavier. And your rod needs to be fairly stiff to handle the pull of the lure as is plows a row under the water.
Writer Ryan Miloshewski has written an article about his experience fishing with Duane last week and catching some really nice rainbows and brown. You can read it here on OzarkAnglers.Com.
The Missouri Department on Conservation have been stocking rainbows routinely in the Branson Landing area, and some of those trout are showing up in the creeks down in that area, but not like they did a month ago when our water was high. That doesn't mean they won't find the slower and warmer water of Turkey, Coon and Roark creeks, so it's always good to check those places out. The best way to catch them in these creeks is something under a float, such as a jig, a Berkley Powerworm (pink) on a small jig hook or even a Gulp Egg on a jig hook -- that works, too. They'll also chase a spinner or a spoon since there are a lot of minnows in these creeks.
There are anglers doing fairly well just drifting either Gulp or Powerbait on the bottom from Cooper through Monkey Island. Boaters need stay in the middle or inside of the bend and away from the outside of bluff bank where the water is faster. Working the inside bank should be pretty good, too, with Cleos, jigs and small to medium stick baits. The water is really slow enough to anchor (very carefully) and tight line a minnow or night crawler behind the boat. Anchor off the front of the boat, not the side or back.
In yesterday's One Cast, I show and explain how I'm anchoring and fishing with minnows.
Also! Don't forget about out benefit fishing tournament this Saturday, April 7, here at the marina. Don't let the cold weather keep you off the water!