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Night Fishing Taneycomo Report, Oct 15 (Really 16)

Phil Lilley

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After watching the Cardinals take game four in the NLDS, I had a choice--go to bed and get up at 5 a.m. to play basketball at the Rex Plex at 6 with the guys or pull the waders on and drive to the dam and do some night fly fishing.  I chose fishing.  Mind you, I usually pick basketball but the conditions for fly fishing were too tempting last night.

Conditions:  Cloudy and some rain, but ever so slight.  There was a breeze which is a big plus when fly fishing, day or night.  The moon last night was waxing gibbous which is a couple days away from full.

When I pulled up to the main parking area, I really wasn't surprised to see may be 10 cars.  Other anglers had the same thought I did.  I had planned to start up at the cable so I turned right and parked in the upper lot which had zero vehicles.  Cool!

Confession time.  Walking in just above outlet #1, I felt like a rookie.  I have not waded or fished this area (from the cable down to outlet #2) in probably over a year and I assumed there wasn't many changes.  There are!  There's deep water and new rocks I hadn't experienced before!  No I didn't get wet . . . but I didn't wade out as far as I thought I would.  And the rocks that were placed above and below the outlet are working!  Quite a bit of deep water where there wasn't a year ago.  And it's holding fish!!

Browns were jumping out and down from outlet #1 but no current up there to speak of.  I couldn't get a drift which I believe is key to a good bite.  I tried a few different night time patterns and as many retrieves as I could think of.  I got a couple short strikes (probably a trout knocking the fly with it's tail) but no hook ups.  I moved down.

I hadn't waded far when I noticed the water was moving ever so slight down lake.  I continued to vary my retrieve till I paused to adjust my hood, put the rod under my arm for a minute and wham!  I got a hard take.  I had allowed the fly to dead drift for a good 25 seconds.  Humm . . . was I on to something?

For the next couple of hours, I worked downstream fairly quickly because I wanted to fish the whole area from outlet #1 to outlet #2.  My normal pace is to fish in one place too long, so even though I was getting bit, I kept moving.  The dead drift was the key to the bite last night.  If I stripped it even a little, I wouldn't get bit.

After discovering the retrieve they wanted, I settled on using a #8 black/purple UV Hybernator (Leonard Keeney's pattern).  It has a bead head and just enough weight to roll across the bottom with the amount of current and depth of water I was fishing.  I would have to pull or strip a little once in a while to pull it off the bottom.  Got snagged up twice but was able to wade out and free the fly.

I found some interesting holes, deep holes in that stretch, I was not expecting.  That whole area had filled in with gravel after the 2011 flood but since, generation has carved out good, deep pockets.  I'm glad to see these because they do hold fish.  I think with the rocks MDC has placed, this stretch will only get better.  I does present some wading challenges though, especially at night!

I ended up catching close to 25 trout last night, all but one were rainbows.  One brown caught just up from outlet #2 and he was about 17 inches.  The rainbows were mostly small--12 to 14 inches--with two or three pushing 16 inches.  The takes were fairly hard but I missed 2 for every fish I hooked.

If you're night fishing up below the dam, here are a few helpful tips:

1.  Watch your light!  Historically, these fish spook with the slightest light at night.  If you shine your light in the water you're fishing you greatly diminish your chances of hooking anything there was probably 30 minutes.  Turn your back on the water you're fishing if you have to turn your light on.  And please don't shine your light at another person fishing.

2.  If you're not getting bit, keep switching colors and size flies, keep either moving or casting in different places and vary your retrieve.  I believe the latter is the most important.  Trout are moody.  Sometimes they're aggressive and will like an aggressive retrieve.  Sometimes they're lazy and want very little action.  And they'll change through the night.  You have to stay ahead of the their game.

Sorry - no more pics.  It's hard to stop fishing to take a picture.  And when I do, I don't like to flash others fishing.  I never pull the fish out of the water, especially this time of year.  The oxygen is low and keeping the fish out of the water for a pic may kill it.  Just have to be mindful.

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What size tippet do you use at night? Also, do red lights scare the fish as much as white, I have a headlamp with a red light and was wondering if this would be better?

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Don't know about the red light. So bright out right now you don't need a light. I tied on my last fly last night without using a light at all.

Tippet- depends on the fly. I used 4x on a leech dead drifting it. But it was cloudy. Moon lit- 4 or 5x. If you're not getting bit, you might think about going lighter.

Mouse and other big flies you have to go bigger - to throw it and not to get broke off on the hook set. Also flies like mice and big streamers you're working fast to you can get away with big line - 1x and 2x.

Lilleys Landing logo 150.jpg

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red and even green lights are the ticket. I see guys running around half the night with those two colors and they always leave them turned on. They surely must be catching al lot of fish on them two colors. They must be catching fish every cast because they leave them on the whole time they are fishing. I think I will stop at bssp and buy both for the next trip.

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