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Phil Lilley

Lilley's Lake Taneycomo Fishing Report, September 23

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Night crawlers are still king on Lake Taneycomo.  Brown worms and pink worms.  Real worms and rubber worms -- our trout like 'em both.

We're still seeing non-stop generation 24/7 at 35-45 megawatts of power, which translates to about 2,500 - 3,000 cubic feet a second of flow with a bump late in the afternoon on warm days.  There's no way to know how long this pattern will continue.  I know there's a lot of anglers who'd love to wade and fly fish below the dam this fall.

With a flow of 2,500 c.f.s., you can boat to the cable at the dam, but it is tricky.  You need to know the channel and where some obstacles are, such as boulders and a stump or two.  If you don't know, I wouldn't try it.  

The Narrows, about a half mile above Fall Creek, is the first place you need to be in the channel which is on the far let heading up.  Stay close to the trees in the water.  There's a big branch hanging over the lake there, so boat under the limbs.  At Lookout Island, go middle right.  At the clubhouse at Trophy Run, start staying middle right again, then move a little more right and stay parallel with the right bank, then turn up lake towards the top of the Chute.  From there, stay in the middle all the way to the cable, but you have to stay on plane.  You'll go through some real shallow water, but you should make it fine.  If you don't want to take that chance, stop even with outlet #4 , where water is coming out of a pipe on the right bank.

Below Fall Creek, drift night crawlers on the bottom, but you'll need to get creative on which weight to use.  It all depends on where you are and how fast the water is running.  In most places, you'll be using a split shot.  I would not suggest using one of our drift rigs because the smallest weight is an 1/8th ounce and that's too big for most places, unless you're only drifting just below Fall Creek where the water is fairly swift.

You only want to use enough weight to get your bait to the bottom, even if it takes a few more seconds to get there.  You want to use enough to feel it tick on the bottom, but you don't want something too big where it bumps and hangs all the time.  If you're using a drift rig,  simply tie a knot on the end of your weight tag end and pinch a split shot on the line.  The knot will keep the split from sliding off.  Generally, if you're weight gets hung up, it will just pull off past the knot and save the rest of your rig.

Pinch your worm in half and hook it once in the middle, letting it hang off the hook.  You don't have to hide your hook.  If the current is very slow, you may want to inject some air in the worm using a blow bottle or a syringe.  This will float your worm off the bottom.


On Duane Doty's guide trip the other morning, his clients - - two ladies "about my age,"  caught some real nice rainbows on black marabou jigs and his signature painted jerk baits in the trophy area.  He said they even caught some below Fall Creek towards the end of their time, about 9 - 10 a.m..  So black may be the new color.


I've been throwing the old reliable sculpin/ginger jig and doing pretty well.  The best size of line and size of jig depend on the application -- and that changes moment to moment.  Here's why:

Any jig sinks faster the lighter your line is.  Wind and current will not bother, say, two-pound line as much as four-pound line.  And the faster the current is on Lake Taneycomo, the more swirls and under currents there are.  So heavier jigs work better because they tend to slice through these currents better than light jigs.  Same for thinner line.

So I throw a small, 1/32nd-ounce jig when I want to work close to the surface in no current or slow current, two-pound line.  I can work that same jig deeper if there's little or no wind but would have to go to a 1/16th-ounce jig if it was windy.  If I want to work a larger profile jig like a 1/16th, I'd throw it on four-pound line.  It won't sink as fast as using two-pound line.  If the wind picks up and/or you've got medium to heavy current, I'll go to a heavier jig and use four-pound line.  I'll pick either a 3/32nd- or an 1/8th-ounce jig depending on those factors, wind and/or current. 

Current depends on how much water dam officials are running, but it also depends on where you're fishing.  During that 3,500 c.f.s. of flow, the current will be much faster close to the dam versus down below Cooper Creek where it will be barely moving.


The Berkley Pink Worm is still catching fish early.  I've seen several guides fishing in our area from daylight until 10 a.m. catching fish all during those hours -- still using two-pound line!

I've seen more and more top water action above Fall Creek but haven't ventured out to try a hopper or stimulator.  Shouldn't be long!

There are some brown trout showing up at the outlets below the dam, but finding a spot to wade is frustrating.  There's not much room up there, but if you do get a spot, a brown, tan or gray #18 scud or egg fly is working.  Just ask Wendell Beard, a local, long time fly fisherman who caught and released this beautiful brown the other day.  He told me he's seeing a lot of browns moving around in the past week below the dam.


If you're lucky enough (and patient enough) to get a spot below outlets #1 or #2, another thing to keep in mind is that you have a pretty good chance hooking a big trout.  I know I've been preaching 6 and 7x tippet lately, and you can use light tippet up there, but you're going to probably do one of two things -- break off or fight a big trout to its death.  Wendell told me Monday morning that he's switching from four-pound tippet to six-pound because he's breaking off too many big browns.  Food for thought.

If you boat up to the cable below the dam and drift, try a beaded fly under a float with a smaller dropper.  For the beaded fly, use a miracle fly (beaded egg fly), a Y2K or a beaded scud, #14 or #16.  Drop a San Juan worm or another weighted scud under the beaded fly about 18 inches and fish this rig from four- seven-feet deep.  Drift from the cable down to the top of Trophy Run and then drift the section from Lookout Island to Fall Creek.



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I got this email on Friday, August 30th, forward by Shane Bush.  It's from a person who works for SPA (I won't post his name).

Civil Engineer (Hydrologic)  

   Division of Resources and Rates

Southwestern Power Administration

Just wanted to give you a heads up that Bull Shoals regulation stopped working yesterday, and the plant was placed in manual mode.  As a result, you may have noticed that we switched regulation to Table Rock and will continue regulating with Table Rock until Bull Shoals is fixed next week.  Because of Norfork’s RMGR and Greers Ferry’s flood requirements, Table Rock is our only available option for regulation.

This is unlucky timing as I’m sure there were many folks looking to fly fish in Taneycomo over the holiday weekend, but unfortunately this is our only option.

I asked Shane about "regulation" and this is his reply:

It’s my understanding that regulating means they run round the clock to adjust for the small fluctuations in power demand.  I’ll try to get a full explanation of it at our meeting with them in October.

So I guess nothing has changed since then although we've seen no generation a couple of times but only for about 12 hour periods.

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Thanks, Phil.   It's always been this way when fishing the tailwaters but it's a lot better now with the gen schedules and predicted generation info than it used to be.

Back in the day sometimes they wouldn't update the phone recording and if you wanted to know what was going on you had to drive there and look.  Part of the game.

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1 hour ago, snagged in outlet 3 said:

Back in the day sometimes they wouldn't update the phone recording and if you wanted to know what was going on you had to drive there and look.  Part of the game.

Just keep hitting the redial button until it said zero generation, then jump in the car and make the 45 minute drive down to find 4 units going. Used to drive me crazy. 

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