Our report on generation patterns is an easy one, although it may change very shortly. Operators at the dam have been running two units of water -- about 6,500 cubic feet of water per second -- non stop for a week now. But after about a two-inch rain Wednesday and Thursday, the lakes are on the rise.
Strangely enough, Beaver opened one spill gate yesterday and shut its turbine down, then closed the gate and started the turbine. I have no idea what's the purpose. Today at noon, Table Rock, while still running two full turbines, opened one spill gate 12 inches, releasing 1,000 cubic feet of water to bring the total release to 7,400 c.f.s.. An email from the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers stated there was a "hydropower unit outage." I'm speculating that there are two turbines offline. I have no idea how long that could last, but this could make this spring season very interesting!!
Lake water temperatures have held to about 45 degrees, but we've seen as low as 43 degrees at times. Water clarity is very good most of the time.
Trout fishing has improved since my last report. Compared to the first of March, anglers are doing much better, although some are still having trouble catching numbers. Some blame it on cold water temperatures and some on the amount of algae the trout seem to be eating. Fish don't have to eat as much when the water is this cold. But it is encouraging to see some days when fishing is very good both in numbers and size.
Our guides have been making their money on the same combo of flies --the scud and egg duo. Most are using a #12 gray scud and either a peach or yellow egg fly, catching fish on both flies almost equally. The San Juan worm in big puffy pink is working well, too, and the Pink Power Worm is catching a lot of fish drifted on the bottom from Fall Creek down.
The Missouri Department of Conservation and the Neosho Federal Hatchery have been stocking rainbows regularly on the upper end of the lake. This seems to have really helped fishing above the Branson Landing. We're still seeing a good number of bigger rainbows caught from our place up to Fall Creek, but most trout caught are recently stocked rainbows.
If the scud/egg bite is off, it's hard to beat a night crawler. We've sold a lot of minnows lately but have not received too many reports on how they produced. We did hear that some anglers were fishing them around the bridges down lake and catching nice trout.
A lot of people ask if the trout are up in the creeks yet. After this rain they surely may be. The warmer water from the rain will draw trout up in Turkey, Coon and Roark creeks, and they can be caught on the Pink Worm, a jig or even PowerBait under a float. They'll also chase a spoon or spinner if they are freshly stocked.
Marabou jigs have made somewhat of a comeback lately. There's still speculation as to whether our trout have eaten threadfin shad coming through the turbines at the dam. They are hitting white shad flies and white jigs but not like they normally do when they're seeing shad. They're also taking olive or sculpin color jigs.
There are two variants in the green shades of baits. One is like the algae our trout eat -- from off the bottom on the rocks and what is drifting down the lake that's either been dislodged or coming in from Table Rock Lake. Either way, our trout do eat it. The other shade is the olive brown that mimics sculpins that live on the bottom. Trout love these little fish and there are tons everywhere right now.
We've been throwing jigs that weigh 1/16th-ounce to 1/18th-ounce. I've been throwing mainly 1/16th-ounce using two-pound line. The best areas so far are from Lookout Island to Fall Creek in the Trophy Area and from Fall Creek down to Trout Hollow. Ironically, I'm catching nice rainbows above Fall Creek and nice browns below Fall Creek. I'm working the middle to channel side of the lake and keeping the jig as close to the bottom as possible. It's been fun to catch fish on the jig again.
With one spill gate open, there's a slight chance we may see some shad spilling over the top, but I wouldn't hold your breath for that. Last spring dam operators ran spill gates quite a few times, and I don't think there were many little morsels introduced to our fishery. But we will keep checking!!
I've seen a few boaters either tie up to downed trees and anchor or "spotlock" (with trolling motors) along the banks in slow moving water. I know they're catching trout, fishing night crawlers, salmon eggs, PowerBait and minnows. I recommend doing this on the inside bend and not on the outside or bluff side. I also recommend tying off the very front of the boat, not the side or definitely not off the back of the boat. To be safe, always keep a sharp knife handy just in case you need to cut the rope in a hurry.
The Missouri Department of Conservation, Fisheries Division, conducted a "shock survey" last week because there was some speculation that we were short of trout in the upper end of the lake. Our winter fishing had not been as good as recent years, and guides and out-of-town visitors were concerned. The results showed that there is the same number, and quality, of trout in our lake as there was in August of last year. So there's plenty of trout in the lake; they're just getting a lot smarter -- or we're getting a lot dumber.
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