Our lake conditions have changed dramatically this past week. A big rain last weekend brought both Beaver and Table Rock lakes up more than eight feet. Beaver continues to inch upwards, although some water is being released through the turbines at Beaver Dam. But Table Rock is starting to drop ever so slowly.
Table Rock crested yesterday at about 916.49 feet, 1.49 feet above seasonal power pool. Officials have been running anywhere from 12,000 - 14,000 cubic feet per second of water, or four units, since Monday morning (2/26). Even with that much water flowing from Table Rock, it has only dropped to 916.13 feet. That means there's still a lot of water running into Table Rock.
I'm looking for a slow-down of generation, may be by this weekend (3/3).
It is good that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been releasing this much water simply because we're in the beginning of our rainy season, and we sure don't want a repeat of last year's flooding. Keeping the lakes down to around seasonal power pool is a good thing.
I reported on Wednesday, Feb. 28th, that we had seen threadfin shad in our lake just below Table Rock Dam. These shad are in distress and dying on Table Rock Lake because its water temperature has dropped into the lower 40's. Threadfin shad cannot live in cold water and start to die off when the lake water gets to around 42 degrees. They subsequently get sucked through the turbines at Table Rock Dam when this happens.
Our trout will generally gobble up these shad as they float down Taneycomo. They get a good dose of protein, producing a big growth boost. That makes for a great fishing event because the trout become very aggressive, hitting about anything white -- spoons, jigs, flies and hard baits.
My fishing report, though, isn't the normal - "Get out and join the fun!" kind of report. We've boated up there several times, drifting from the cable down to Fall Creek and haven't found the trout hitting our white jigs, or shad flies. We are catching a few but not the numbers of the size of rainbows and browns we'd typically see in a "shad hatch."
Why? I think it's because they're not seeing many shad come through.
These shad run in big schools on Table Rock, and I don't think we've had a big school of shad get close enough to the turbine intakes (130 feet deep at the dam face) to get sucked through. We've seen a bunch of shad floating on Taney but not big numbers. We need to see more -- well, the trout need to see more shad to improve their bite.
What's been working? Drifting scuds, eggs and shad flies below the dam is good, but no great. Sinking the flies to the bottom is a little tough with four units running. Using a drift rig with a 1/4-ounce bell weight is the best. We are catching a few on white 1/8-ounce jigs, but I've done the best using a 1/16-ounce white jig under a float and setting the depth at eight- to nine-feet deep.
I believe when the water slows down to -- say to three units or 9,000 c.f.s. -- we should see a vast improvement of catching, mainly because we'll be able to get the flies and lures to the bottom better and keep them there.
The same will be true for drifting bait below Fall Creek. Boaters have been struggling with the volume of water that's been flowing -- that and the wind. The coming days should be much better.
The creeks have been the hot spots the last few days. Fishing in the mouths of these creeks, as well as up in the creeks, has produced some good catches. Short, Cooper, Turkey, Coon, Roark and Bee creeks to name the upper creeks. I bet Bull Creek would even be good, too.
Trout are looking to move out of the current, plus, they like the warmer water in those creeks. Our lake water is now 43 degrees, and both rainbows and browns would prefer upper 40's to lower 50's.
You'll even fund some blue gill, crappie and bass in these creeks!
They're catching trout on spoons, small stick baits, jig-and-float (white and pink) and baits like night crawlers, minnows and Powerbait. Anglers report that these rainbows in the creeks are good sized trout, too!
As of today, Saturday, March 3, dam operators they have backed off generation this morning to three units at 10,000 c.f.s, with the lake level at 708.5 feet. This should make fishing much easier for drifting and even better for fishing off a dock. We'll see what the reports are after today.