A new generation pattern may be emerging this weekend. We've seen no generation for several weeks now but as the dissolved oxygen in Table Rock Lake diminishes, the need for constant generation appears. The question is whether or not it will continue for the next few weeks.
The dam operators have been running 35 to 50 megawatts of power this weekend all day and all night. This is 2 units moving water at 2,400 to 3,600 cubic feet per second. Water temperature remains at 57-58 degrees coming out of Table Rock. Dissolved oxygen readings last week ranged from 4 to 6 parts per million which is not bad. You may see trout become inactive at times as well as not fight as hard because of low oxygen. But this is normal for this season below a tailwater... we deal with this every year.
Fly fishing up below the dam has been outstanding. I haven't personally talked to anyone who's been fishing up there lately so I can't say what's been working but from the pics on Facebook I've seen, they're catching a lot of nice rainbows and browns.
The selection would include the usual flies -- scuds, sow bugs, S.J. worms, midges, streamers and sculpins. Streamer fishing seems to be very good, mainly because of the rainbow trout hatch that we're seeing evidence of on the lake. Historically, trout do not have a successful spawn on the lake but we're seeing a lot of small, 2.5 to 3-inch rainbows everywhere on the upper lake so that tells us we did have a hatch.
For more information on fly fishing in the wading area below the dam, I've written an article and updated to reflect some changes in the upper lake. Here's the link -
Here's some information on water levels and wading possibilities below the dam -
With 2,500 to 3,500 c.f.s. water running, you can boat all the way to the cable BUT you have to know the channel AND be a bit lucky to get there without hitting anything. Plus, if they're running as little as 2,500 c.f.s., you'll be blowing through a lot of anglers wading up close to the dam. Of course if you have a jet engine, you can get up there with little issues as long as you don't get into areas where you'd suck up gravel. But in my opinion, there's plenty of great fly fishing water below the outlet area.
If you venture up as high as Trophy Run, you'll find some great jig fishing in that area. Use the straight line method and 2-pound line to throw 1/32nd and 1/16th-ounce jigs. Best colors are white, white/black, sculpin and sculpin/peach (orange head) and black/sculpin.
From Lookout Island down to Fall Creek, use the same setup but might go a little heavier - 3/32nd-ounce jig. I'd also try tri-olive dark and an olive/ginger colors. Work from the middle to the channel side of the lake. If you see trout working the surface on the shallow side of the lake, throw a light 1/32nd-ounce jig and work it close to the surface.
Fly fishing, fishing a nymph or midge under a float is working, drifting from Lookout to Fall Creek. They are taking smaller scuds - size 16 to 18 in shades of gray, olive and tan colors. They're also taking small zebra midges in red, black and white. Best size are 14's to 18's, depending on how picky they are. Fishing them an average of 5 fee deep if fishing mid to channel side and 2 to 3 feet if fishing the shallow side.
If there's a chop on the surface and you see fish midging, striping something... a soft hackle, crackleback, wooly, a leech. Throw and skate a dry like a Renegade or an Elk Hair Caddis. Stay with size 14's to #18's for the emergers and #10's an 12's for the streamers.
I haven't been doing well on dries lately but I'd keep an eye out for rising fish along the bluff banks. If you see action, shoot an ant or beetle at them. If they're taking bugs under the trees, they'll surely take a nice dry fly offering.
Try a mega worm under a float, either fly or spinning outfit. Use 2-pound line or 6x tippet and fish it 4 to 6 feet deep. Best colors are white or peach.
Night fishing has been popular lately, for good reason. Both browns and rainbows seem to be feeding heavily after dark, especially up in the trophy area.
I've taken a boat up above the Narrows and thrown a streamer with good results. I usually cast a Mo Hair Leech in red or purple, #12 using 4x tippet and a 6 weight, 9 foot fly rod. The takes are fast and strong so hold on to you rod.
Below Fall Creek, the same marabou jigs apply along with drifting scuds, midges and stripping streamers. Use heavier, 1/16th- to 1/8th-ounce jigs in deeper water and you can get away with using 4-pound like when using these heavier jigs.
Night crawlers are still catching mostly rainbows. Again, 4-pound line is fine when using bait. Use just enough weight to get the bait to the bottom, especially if drifting. Sometimes this means using a very small split shot. You don't want it hanging on the bottom when bouncing. Inject air in the worm, floating it off the bottom where a fish are see it quicker. Use only a half worm and hook it once in the middle using a #8 short shanked bronze hook.
Salmon eggs and Powerbait is working too. Best colors have been pink and white. Gulp Eggs are good along with Pautzke's salmon eggs with gold glitter.
If you're keeping fish, make sure you're running your live well all the time or your trout will die because of the low dissolved oxygen. If you're catch and releasing, don't touch the fish or keep it out of the water for very long at all. Cut the line if the fish swallows the hook... it has a much better chance surviving.
If you're fishing for and catch trophies up in the fly water, don't fight the fish to death. Use a net and land it as quick as possible. Don't take it out of the water at all unless you're going to take a quick picture.
Don't Catch, Kill and Release.