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Phil Lilley
Phil Lilley

Generation: Boating and Wading

Lake Taneycomo is a tailwater lake below Table Rock Lake.  Table Rock's dam releases water for two reasons -- flood control and generation of electricity.   Recreation does not figure in to the overall plan for managing water.  The U.S. Corps of Army Engineers does work with the power companies, as well as the Missouri Department of Conservation, when asked to change water flows for various, important projects.  For instance, Table Rock Dam will hold generation when work is needed to be done on the lower dam at Powersite.

The dam's operation is in the hands of the US Army Corp of Engineers.  The entity that controls the power generation is Southwest Power Administration.


There are four lakes in this White River Chain -- Beaver, Table Rock, Taneycomo and Bull Shoals.  Each one is managed to reflect the whole chain as to water storage simply because each one has different abilities to store a volume of water.  This comes in to play when heavy, seasonable rains come, normally in the spring.  That's when we may see high flows from Table Rock Dam, moving rain water down the chain of lakes to prevent flooding.

Summer time brings hot temperatures and more demand for electricity.  This is when we may see more heavy flows at peak times of the day, when air conditioners are running at full tilt.  We also may see heavy flows after a rainy spring season, moving floods waters out of the upper lakes.

Fall is normally the time we see low flows.  Less demand for electricity and drier skies means less generation most years.

Winters bring cold temperatures and more demand for power.  We can see heavy generation during peak times during the mornings and less as it warms up in the afternoon.


702.0 feet -- 000 m.w. -- 0,000 c.f.s.
703.0 feet -- 010 m.w. -- < 1,000 c.f.s.
704.0 feet -- 035 m.w. -- 2,500 c.f.s.
705.0 feet -- 055 m.w. -- 4,000 c.f.s. -- 1 turbine (unit)
705.5 feet -- 075 m.w. -- 5,000 c.f.s.
706.0 feet -- 085 m.w. -- 6,250 c.f.s.
707.0 feet -- 110 m.w. -- 8,000 c.f.s. -- 2 turbines (units)
708.0 feet -- 125 m.w. -- 9,500 c.f.s.
708.5 feet -- 165 m.w. -- 12,000 c.f.s. - 3 turbines (units)
709.0 feet -- 175 m.w. -- 13,500 c.f.s.
710.0 feet -- 200 m.w. -- 14,750 c.f.s.
711.0 feet -- 220 m.w. -- 16,000 c.f.s. - 4 turbines (units)

Understand that if there's a number of units running at any one time, those units may be running at less than capacity.  That's why you can't depend on flow according to the number of units reported running.  You have to read the lake level and/or and cubic feet per second flow.

Flow vs Wading Below the Dam

Warning!  A loud horn will sound when turbines come online.  Get out of the water immediately.  Do not wait until water is rising.

Warning!  Water release may increase WITHOUT any sounding horn or warning!!  Be watchful, and have an exit strategy in mind.

The following is a general depiction of flow conditions as to the availability to successfully wade from the shore below Table Rock Dam.

702 feet -- no generation.  Wading is possible below dam.

703.0-704.5 feet -- up to 4,000 c.f.s..  Some wading on edges, at outlets, behind island across from #2 Outlet, in front of #3 Outlet and out on gravel bar, below boat ramp and above Trophy Run there's a long chute that can be good, but be careful not to get caught on rising water back to boat ramp (on foot) and Lookout Island (boat access only).  The inside bend at the Lookout area along Pointe Royale's property (boat access only unless you have special access to the property, which is private).

704.5-706.5 feet -- up to 7,000 c.f.s.  Wading is difficult but not impossible.   Wade at the hatchery outlets and some edges, but be careful.

706.5 + feet -- Wading is restricted to the outlets only.  Be very careful.  Currents are strong even along the banks.

If you're wading below the dam and hear the horn blast, move to the bank immediately. Don't cast a few more times, don't try to catch that last trout, don't hesitate and get caught in rising water. Many have done it and found themselves in a dangerous situation, having to wade across fast and rising water to dry ground. Some have not made it. Be smart and get to the bank as soon as you hear the horn.

Call the automated service provided by the U.S.A.C.E. at 417-336-5083.  It will give you real time information as to what the lake level is (above and below the dam), how many units are running and the c.f.s. flowing at that time.

Other useful links:


Boating up lake with different flows on Lake Taneycomo

The #1 question we get asked when it comes to boating on Lake Taneycomo is how high up lake lake can I boat?  That all depends on how much water is running at Table Rock Dam.

*Zero water running, lake level 701-702 feet

If there is no water running, you're generally safe to boat up and past the mouth of Fall Creek to the Narrows.  Stay middle to bluff side to Fall Creek and middle to right side past Fall Creek.

At the Narrows, you HAVE to be on the far left, "at the tips of the tree branches" in the channel.  I can't express enough how narrow this channel is and how shallow the right edge will be.  The gravel is generally very dark and it is hard to see the bottom there.

If there is a boat or two fishing the Narrows, don't try to be nice and go to the right of them.  Excuse yourself and stay in the channel.  They will understand . . .  and if they don't, well, they are clueless to the lake.

There's a tree stump on its side off the bank that marks the top of the Narrows.  From there, go to the right slightly and get away from the bluff bank a bit.  Don't ride too close to this bank because there are big trees and rocks that will get you.  Stay middle left of center all the way to Lookout Island.

You can boat more than halfway up past the island at Lookout but that's about all.  The lake is super shallow all the way across -- there is no channel here.  I have seen boats raise their motors up and creep past this shallow area to the Trophy Run Hole, but I wouldn't advise it.  But if you do get up there, the next chute past the club house will be too narrow and too shallow to get through.

703.0 feet -- 010 m.w. -- < 1,000 c.f.s.

These produce the same conditions as if the water was not running.  Not much difference in levels, just a little more current at the narrow areas.

704.0 feet -- 035 m.w. -- 2,500 c.f.s.

At the Narrows, you still should stay in the channel.  The current will be a lot faster, and it will look safe, but there's not enough water to go over the bar.  I have seen some people make it, but I sure wouldn't chance a prop by cutting through to save time.

At Lookout Island, if you keep your boat up on plane, you can run up by the island, staying right of center.  You should be able to see the shallow flat riffling off the top of the island -- stay clear of that shallow water.  There's also a couple of big logs on the right, too, but their tops should be exposed, up out of the water.

At this level, you can run up through the chute above Trophy Run.  Head right straight up the "V." marking the center of the channel along the right bank.  Again, don't get too close to the bank because there are a few logs and bigger rocks.  Better to stay on the left side and tip the gravel if you're going to err.

At the ramp, you should be right of center.  Stay there until you're at the Rocking Chair access on the left bank (road/path coming down out of the trees).  At that point, you need to edge to the left and head towards the stump sticking up below the island.  Some people will stop at this point, but I would miss the stump on the right and cut it hard right toward the wooden steps on the right bank.  That's about where the channel is at Rebar.

When you've traveled to about mid-lake, turn up towards the dam and stay mid center  all the way to the cable.  You should be clear of the boulders on each side.

705.0 feet -- 055 m.w. -- 4,000 c.f.s. -- 1 turbine (unit)
705.5 feet -- 075 m.w. -- 5,000 c.f.s.

At this flow, you should be able to run over the shallow flat at the Narrows.  And you should be able to run the middle of the lake all the way to the cable below the dam.  But I would stay on plane over all the areas I've mentioned that are shallow.

706.0 feet -- 085 m.w. -- 6,250 c.f.s.

No worries at this point.  Unless you're running too close to any bank, you should be fine boating anywhere in the trophy area.

*If there is no water running, don't assume the lake level is at "power pool" or 702 feet.  There are times, although not often, that Empire Electric draws more water out of the lake than it should.  Empire owns and operates Powersite Dam, the dam at the lower end of Taneycomo.  If  too much water is let out there, our lake level does drop to levels above Short Creek that could get you in trouble.


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