Despite the constant flow of water -- 15,000 cubic feet per second through three turbines and over six spill gates into Lake Taneycomo -- trout fishing continues to be very good for most anglers. That success still hinges on keeping your bait, fly or lure on the bottom while drifting.
First, I wanted to clear up something I said on Monday, January 27, when recording One Cast. The dam operators shut down one turbine about the time we filmed One Cast that day and it appeared we were headed for a change in the generation patterns. Table Rock Lake was approaching 916.5 feet, just 18 inches from its power pool level, so it made sense that the flow would be reduced. I was wrong. The turbine was only off line for a couple of hours and the flow at this moment is at 15,000 c.f.s. but at some point in the near future that may change, it's just hard to say when.
NEWS FLASH: The spill gates at Table Rock Dam were shut off at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning. Three turbines continue to run at about 10,000 c.f.s. presently.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not started drawing Beaver Lake down. It sits at 1,127.37, more than seven feet above its seasonal power pool. Back in December the Corps opened spill gates at Beaver Dam and dropped the lake about six inches a day until the lake's level almost reached 1,120 feet but the big four- to six-inch rain on January 10th brought the levels back up to where they are now.
We are still catching a few trout below the dam on either white jigs or shad flies, just not the big numbers we'd like to see when the spill gates are open.
Speaking of fishing below Table Rock Dam, Blake and I encountered a boat with four anglers fishing within casting distance of the dam face Monday evening, hundreds of feet above the boundary cable marking the 760 feet line from the dam.
Here's a screenshot of the code explaining the rule about boating and fishing within the 760 feet line at Taneycomo. Note it says "fishing," not just boating. In other words, you shouldn't even cast above this cable.
The boaters, when confronted, said they didn't know about the rule. That's no excuse. If you're going to fish public waters, it's your responsibility to know the rules of fishing and boating on those waters. Ignorance won't work as a defense. And there are safety reasons for prohibiting boating too close to the dam, especially when there are tons of water falling 200 feet off a dam.
Back to fishing -- we're catching rainbows and browns on white jigs away from the dam more than below it. White jigs and spoons have been working well along the banks and on the bottom from Fall Creek down past the Branson Landing. I've been working the eddies and slack water on the bluff side of the lake from our place, Lilleys' Landing Resort, down to Monkey Island and doing pretty well. This brown was caught on Saturday by Kelly Stammer, who comes to stay with us from my old stomping grounds of Parsons, Kansas.
Bryan Stammer, Kelly's son from the Stammer group, caught another brown on a white jig but it came up a little short of 20 inches. But these browns are fat!
Fishermen were dragging minnow baits on the bottom over the weekend and hooking some big fish, it was reported. We have been talking about dragging these baits, using a Carolina rig, for the past month of so. I asked Duane Doty how to describe these baits -- are they jerk or crank baits? He said really neither. They're a hard plastic bait that resembles a minnow.
Some of the anglers fishing this past weekend were using other hard plastic baits like Flat Fish. These floating baits do not have diving bills, so they're less apt to dive down and get caught up on the bottom.
We hosted our annual Masters Trout Tournament Saturday. And as always, there was lots of conversations afterwards about "the big one that got away." But this year those stories were repeated by many anglers. One contestant said he lost five big trout. Another fought a fish for more than 30 minutes just to lose it in a tree. Interesting . . .
We weighed in two legal browns Saturday, one caught on a minnow bait and one on a white jig.
We're selling a lot of minnows right now. A couple of weeks ago, we were told they were catching "nothing but brown trout," but we had no legal browns before the tournament either reported caught or brought in to the dock. Minnows will catch rainbows as well. I have done pretty well anchoring along the bank in slow current and fishing them tight-line behind the boat in current. But you have to be careful not to anchor in fast current, and always tie to the very font of your boat, not to the side or to the back. This can be dangerous, so please use wisdom.
Drifting with night crawlers on the bottom is also catching mainly rainbows and a few brown trout. Best area is down at Monkey Island, drifting down through the Branson Landing. Also drifting with PowerEggs is catching all rainbows.
Drifting with scuds and San Juan worms is still a hot technique to reel in trout both in and down from the Trophy Area. In my experience lately, the scuds are catching bigger, older rainbows on average. I think those trout actually target scuds since that's what they know in the wild.
In the scuds, we're using #12 mainly in various shads of gray as well as tan and the best colors in the San Juans are cerise and pink.