These days I don't think about writing a fishing report for Lake Taneycomo very often because I feel like I'm giving one every day when I do One Cast, a daily video we do off our dock in which we try to catch a fish by making only one cast. It's broadcast on both our resort's Youtube channel and Facebook page.
There's not many people fishing right now, and that's a little surprising since the weather is so nice for late December. Those who are here are catching trout. We haven't heard too many bad reports lately.
Generation (the lack of) has been nice for those who like to wade below the dam, as well as for still fishing off docks and out in boats. On cold mornings, up to three units have run for two to three hours and that's it for the rest of the day.
Our water quality is superb now that Table Rock has fully turned over. The U.S. Corps of Army Engineers has lifted all generation restrictions and closed the vents on their turbines.
We have noticed that a lot of the rainbows that have been stocked this month are bigger than normal. I'm not sure if these trout are from Neosho's hatchery or Shepherd of the Hills. We normally get a big load from the federal hatchery at Neosho in December and typically these fish are small. We're still seeing some small rainbows, but I think they've been in the lake for several months.
Duane and I fished Thursday evening from Fall Creek up to the Narrows throwing mainly black 1/16th or 3/32nd-ounce jigs and catching a lot of rainbows. A good number of them appeared to be freshly stocked but measured 13-14 inches long and were thick and stocky. I can't say they were newly stocked trout for sure, but they did have that dull coloring we see on stockers. We didn't catch many small trout, less than 10 inches.
Black has been the color of choice for several months now. I even threw a brown jig yesterday and didn't garner the bites as much as I did throwing a black. Duane threw a sculpin/ginger for a bit and caught a few, but his bite slowed down when he did switch, so he changed back. We've also been throwing black combos, too, such as black/olive, black/brown and black/yellow and doing well. I'm using two-pound Vanish line, not because the fish can't see it, but because I'm throwing small jigs.
One thing that's absolutely great to see is our midge hatches returning in big numbers. The last week, especially in the morning and evening, we've had midges coming off the water, and our trout responding to them. I have to point out both because we've had good hatches lately, but our trout have turned a blind eye to them. Not the last few weeks!
I've been out several evenings, fishing below Fall Creek on the shallow side mainly and seeing dozens and dozens of rises to midges skating across the surface, drying their wings before flight. Rainbows are chasing and jumping, cruising and sipping -- something I haven't seen before (or I don't remember seeing)-- rainbows coming straight up out of the water like a whale and inhaling a midge. The rainbows on the San Juan River are famous for this technique, but they are rising to clumps of midges.
I am targeting these trout using my fly rod and fishing a small Zebra Midge under a tiny float and only fishing it 6- to 10- inches deep. Some of the water I'm fishing is only a foot deep since that's where some of the fish are cruising and feeding. I'm using a rusty, a red or black, and, if it's sunny, I'm using a P&P midge, mostly a #14 or #16. And I'm using 6x tippet, or two-pound line.
Someone using a spin cast can fish a Zebra under a float, but I would suggest fishing out in deeper water and fish it 24- to 48-inches deep. When casting with spinning gear, you have to use a bigger float, and a bigger float would spook fish holding in shallow water.
I've tried fishing a scud up above Fall Creek lately and haven't done as well as I had been. But we had some guests last weekend fish an egg fly under a float and it worked really well for them. We carry an egg fly called a Miracle fly that's an egg tied on a small jig head and fished just like a small jig under a float. Some of our rainbows are starting to drop eggs, so they're responding to an egg fly pretty good.
Anglers fishing up below the dam are doing well using a white Mega Worm which is a big, fluffy piece of yarn tied on a hook. It can also be tied on a small jig head, too. They usually sight fish using it simply because the white worm shows up so clear in the water; you can actually see it disappear in the fish's mouth. Mike Curry, a long-time angler who lives here in Branson, is one of the best at this technique and has caught some big trout over the years. But I believe fly shop owner Tim Homesley, discovered the yarn at his local Wal Mart and started using it on his home waters at Roaring River State Park.
The Berkley Pink Powerbait Worm is still a hot ticket to catch trout below Fall Creek. Take only a small 1.5 inch piece of the soft plastic worm and thread it onto a small jig head. Fish it anywhere from three- to six-feet deep under an indicator. It's still one of our guide's go-to techniques for catching trout for clients. They're using either two- or four-pound line.
If you're bait fishing, yellow Powerbait paste is catching a lot of trout off our dock and out in boats. There doesn't seem to be a hot area on the lake. People fishing up close to the mouth of Fall Creek have done well while others boating down towards Monkey Island and the Landing are catching trout, too.
Remember . . . and this is very important! If you're fishing with bait, the trout are going to swallow the hook most of the time. Don't try to dig your hook out, and by all means, don't just jerk it out! Cut the line without touching the fish and drop it back in the lake. The trout will have a better chance of surviving this way. The hook should dissolve in time. One person can literally kill dozens of trout a day by catch and releasing in an improper way.
Please also remember that the legal limit is four trout per person per day. That's not four in the morning and four in the afternoon. We see that quite often here . . . and it doesn't go unnoticed. Conservation officials chose to protect the fishery so that anglers arriving tomorrow have fish to catch rather than letting someone take more than their limit and ruin it for the next guy.
Note: The two images of rainbows posted in this article were taken after I finished writing this report. I took out one of our jon boats in front of the resort and threw a 1/16th-ounce black/olive jig in hopes of catching a few pretty trout for pictures to go with this report, between rain showers. I caught three rainbows; one was a nice size but not really pretty. These two were actually bigger than what I was expecting. But what I wanted to point out is that both of these rainbows spit up both scuds and sow bugs when placed in the tank.