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Phil Lilley

May 11 Lake Taneycomo Report

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This has been one wet and cold spring here in the Ozarks! But we are not complaining because there are many regions suffering adverse conditions . . . and we know what flooding is like!

With all the rain we expect  to see generation for a long time. Both Table Rock and Beaver Lakes are high — not flooding — but high enough to warrant 15,000 cubic feet per second releases from Table Rock. That equates to four full turbines, but one turbine is still off line, so officials are releasing 5,000 c.f.s. over the spill gates. That’s making trout fishing very rewarding here.

Why? The water coming over the top is about 60 degrees, and the water running through the turbines is about 44 degrees.  Our trout like the warmer water as well as the bugs in Lake Taneycomo. There are big midge hatches every day, and the fish are absolutely full of scuds (freshwater shrimp.)  Plus we’re witnessing a few threadfin shad come over the spill gates.

Fishing is good out of boats but not so good from the bank or docks. The water is high and fast and it’s tough to get a good presentation to the fish from a stationery position. One needs to be out drifting to have a chance to catch anything right now.

Catching has honestly picked up the last few days. Before that, it seemed like the trout went into hiding. Even drifting in front of our dock is good. Saturday  morning we watched a group in our pontoons land a double — that’s two anglers with fish on at the same time!


Duane Doty works for us and guides here, too. On many of his trips, he’s splitting his time between throwing jigs, drifting scuds and shad flies, and throwing jerk baits. But with a friend Saturday morning, he started early and fished through the rain.  They boated 40 trout on his signature custom jerk bait. It’s the body of a Megabass 110 plus but painted to look like either a sculpin or a brown trout.

kyle (1).jpg

Most of Duane Doty’s fishing is in the trophy area.

We’ve been doing exceptionally well drifting scuds close to the bottom. We’re drifting between the dam all the way down to Short Creek,  but the trout are not liking them below Short Creek. But even from Fall Creek down, we’re seeing some really nice-sized rainbows, up to 18 inches long. Stay in the middle of the lake, not on the bluff side when drifting and use a #4 split shot, either on line line up from the scud or replace the bell weight on a drift rig, assuming you’re using four-pound line. You may not feel the bottom, but this arrangement will keep your flies from gathering algae from the bottom and gumming up your chances of catching a fish.


Use a good-sized scud — #12, #10 or even a #8. Gray is working well, but also try an olive or tan scud. Use a scud that has some ultraviolet flash tied in for when the day turns sunny.

From the dam down, use a #5 split shot. It’s a little heavier than a #4, and you’ll need it to keep close to the bottom. Be patient. Let your offering get to the bottom gradually. The takes are subtle but sure.

If you want to keep a limit of fish, fish the trophy area and keep rainbows a little less than 12 inches. They eat just fine.

I’ve been having fairly good results throwing jigs lately. Again, catching is getting better and better.

doty guide.jpg

White is fairly good but only up close to the cable below the dam. I’d switch to brown, black or sculpin when drifting past the first island below the dam. I’m also using 3/32nd-ounce Lilleys’  jigs — not 1/8th ounce — and having better luck. It seems like the slower I work it, letting it sink slowly, the better. An 1/8th-ounce just sinks too fast, and I’m not getting bit as well. Now this does depend on the wind.  If it’s too windy, you have to use an 1/8th-ounce. I’m using four-pound line when throwing either jig.

I’m working the bluff bank from Lookout to Fall Creek, throwing into the slow areas, eddies along the deep channel bank. That’s where the fish are holding, and it’s been incredibly fun to see the fish chase and take the jig because the water is so clear.



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What lb line should be used when using jerk baits? That is something I have never tried on Taneycomo. Plus, with 15k CFS, I assume from reading historical posts on boating to the dam running up the middle will still get you to the cable without issue? I haven't been above Fall Creek much by boat in 20 years and certainly not since the recent floods. My trip down in April went past Fall Creek a little ways following Phil's instructions, but chickened out when I saw less than 3ft on the graph and decided that was far enough (that was at 7k cfs)

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I use 4-6# on a medium light action rod with 2-3” jerkbaits and 8-10# on a medium fast for 4-5” models. At 15k cfs, you just stay in the middle all the way to the cable.

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