First of all, you'll notice I used some images from Mike Brown's (Mbrown2858) fishing report post. Mike gave me permission to use them.
Generation is almost predictable at the moment. Dam operators have been running water starting about 1 p.m. until dark on weekends, the amount varying from day to day. Some days they're running almost three full units (140 megawatts) while others they're running from one to two units. On weekends, no water except one hour or less of "fish water" or up to one unit of water
Wade fishing below the dam is ideal every morning of the week, as well as at night if you are up for that adventure. The reports cover a wide spectrum, from "terrible" to "pretty darn good." I guess you could say the same thing about fishing on the rest of the lake. Some days have been very tough and others very good, and it's very hard to tell before hand what each day will bring. Winds and clouds help for sure, but even on sunny, calm days the fish are biting. Then the day when you expect trout to jump in the boat--they don't.
Of course there's always going to be a crowd around the hatchery outlets when wading below the dam. Water flowing in from the outlets is high in oxygen and our trout tend to like oxygen. They also like the trout food that's flushed from the raceways in the hatchery when they're fed several times a day. Most are catching trout on scuds drifted under an indicator in various sizes and colors. They garner a reaction bite, at best, because the fly is drifted pretty fast through the chute.
One problem fishing the outlets is snagging. These trout are so thick in the flow of water that flies run across the backs or under the bellies of the fish. The trout become tangled, then hooked in other places other than the mouth. It's been a few years back, but I stood and counted the ratio between fair and foul hooked trout in outlet #2 one day. The numbers averaged 75-25%, foul versus fair. Three of four fish were foul hooked by anglers.
If you have to fish the outlets, this is the only proper way :).
Use only one fly. Shorten up the distance between your float and fly so that it doesn't drag across the fish. Use barbless hooks so a fish can be released quickly, especially if foul hooked. And if you do foul hook a big trout, please don't fight it to death (literally). Break it off and let it swim. And, most importantly, don't hold up a foul-caught trout out of the water to take a photo. Nothing more disgraceful than showing off an illegally caught fish.
There are some nice brown trout being caught up below the dam. Mike Brown, of the St Louis area, posted a report on OzarkAngler's Forum showing off colored-up browns he caught stripping cracklebacks and woolybuggers. They also caught fish at night stripping gray sculpins. His photos are mixed in throughout my report.
I've been getting out a little and fishing from Lookout Island down to Fall Creek, mainly fly fishing with the water running and with it off. Of course, the Narrows is holding the best concentrations of trout, and I've done well using scuds on the bottom. There's almost always a current through that area and rainbows mainly are nosing up the gravel looking for bugs. Working a weighted #14 or #16 gray or brown scud across the bottom seems to get their attention to draw strikes. I'm using 6x tippet.
In the deeper water, I'm using a #16 or #18 Zebra midge under an indicator three- to five-feet deep, again using 6x tippet. I'm actually doing better in the deeper water in the channel, even early and late in the day when you'd think they'd be up shallow. I did have fun one day last week working the shallow side on the flats above the Narrows, targeting surfacing rainbows using a Zebra and fishing it 12 inches under the indicator.
We're still seeing a lot of small rainbows, as small as four inches long. But most are very pretty fish with long, bright fins -- fat as ticks. Handle these fish carefully when releasing, and they'll grow up to be pretty rainbows.
I have been trying a dry fly up there with little success. Throwing a jig has yielded the same results.
Fishing below Fall Creek, the upper line at the mouth of the creek has been a busy place lately. From the line down to the bottom end of Fall Creek Marina must be a hot spot because there's always several boats anchored there. Maybe anglers are finding trout that are coming out of the trophy area, but it's also a good, graveled area with lots of bugs, yummy food for the trout.
All the natural baits are catching fish, ie. Powerbait, salmon eggs and night crawlers. I would think light line is the key to catching more fish since our water is pretty clear. We've been telling people to use two-pound line or at least a tippet section if they're having trouble catching fish. Otherwise, four-pound line is okay.
I've been fishing a Zebra Midge below Fall Creek quite a bit and doing very well. I've tried the shallow side a few times but have found the deeper water to be more productive. So I'm fishing the midge four- to seven-feet deep, depending on the depth of water I'm fishing.
Jig and float has been fair, and the best color has been a black/yellow combination. Brown micro with a Zebra dropper was pretty good last week. We've had a good chop on the water the last three days, and I think that's going to continue through this week, hopefully.
The Berkley pink Power Worm is still one of our guide's favorites, but it's not a given you'll get bit on it. I guess there's not a "given" in fishing, but this little worm has been pretty productive all summer. Pinch off a half to three-fourths on the pink worm at the tail and tread it on a 1/100th-ounce jig head. Use Super Glue to keep it from sliding off on the cast. Fish it three- to eight- feet deep, depending on the depth of water you're fishing.
Back to wade fishing below the dam. Guide Brett Rader has been putting his clients on trophy rainbows. Here's a couple of pictures from yesterday's trip. He said his cient caught them on a little coral #18 W2 egg above a #18 gray M-scud, bugs that he sells in Brett's shop and online.
Lastly, meet Tippet. She's a product of one of our wild dock cats, rescued from its mom before its feral instincts kept it from being a "nice" cat. She's getting use to going out in the boat with me and Jackson, which is pretty cool. It stays in my dock office and plays with Jackson most of the day while I'm trying to work. Here, she's found some fish slim at the bottom of my display tank, anything to keep her out of my tackle box!