As everyone knows in the Midwest (and North Mexico), we're coming out of a extremely cold weather event. This cold spell will have a huge impact on Lake Taneycomo going forward. Why do I say that? Because we get our water from Table Rock, and in many places on that lake, its surface is frozen from bank to bank. Because it's so deep, the lake will hold this cold water clear through the summer and into the fall months. We'll probably see temperatures in the upper 30's on Taneycomo later in April and May, maybe into June. And water temps in the fall will not rise into the mid 50's like in years past. This will greatly help water quality for our fall fishing season.
Threadfin shad are not found in lakes to the north of us. Those lakes get too cold in the winter to sustain a good population of this species of bait fish. So this cold spell will affect threadfins in all three White River lakes -- Beaver, Table Rock and Bull Shoals. We may see some shad die on lower Taneycomo, too.
Anglers were already reporting dead shad on Table Rock last weekend. Even with the warmer winters we've been having, shad die-offs are not uncommon. But with Table Rock's water temps diving into the 30's, we should see massive shad kills lake wide. If these shad start dying in the dam area, and they reach the depths of 130 feet, we should see threadfins come through the turbines into Lake Taneycomo.
There's no way to know when this may occur. But typically we see "shad runs" in March on up into May. We've seen them as late as June and July. You just never know.
One thing that would help suck these shad through is heavy generation. During this cold spell, the most generation we've seen is about 150 megawatts or three units, three-quarters of the maximum capacity of the system. Not sure why operators didn't run it a full capacity with the demand for power. They're now running two units during morning hours and backing it down to less than one in the afternoons. Table Rock is almost a foot below its seasonal power pool of 914 feet.
Going forward, our weather looks to be mild and relatively dry, so look for minimal generation with possible periods of no generation.
Trout fishing has been pretty good. It does seem like it's much better when generation drops to the 2,500 cubic feet per second flow that we're seeing in the afternoons. Our water temp has dropped from 43 to 41 in the last two weeks and will probably drop even more in the coming weeks.
The Elfrink Tournament last weekend did not show quite the weights we've had at the last three contests, but they were still much better than past years. The bright, sunny day with very little wind maybe did not help. Most trout were caught on jigs, but a few of the big trout were caught on jerk baits early in the day.
This was a catch-n-release tournament with artificial-only lures and flies.
Reports did come in of rainbows caught close to the cable at the dam that were spitting up shad. But because the dam is not running much water, they aren't coming through in droves . . . yet. There's only a little rain in the forecast, so we might not see much generation for a while.
A lot of anglers fished a jig or fly under a float. Sculpin/ginger and black were hot colors. Fish them close to the bottom wherever you fish unless it's a cloudy, dark day or the wind is blowing and there's a chop on the surface. Then fish them four-to five-feet deep. Use a small jig -- from 1/125th to a 1/50th-ounce jig and use two-pound line or 6x tippet. Our water is clear enough that two-pound line will make a big difference. Of course, you can use either a fly or spinning rod when fishing a jig and float.
There are a lot of trout down in the Branson Landing area, but these are mainly freshly-stocked rainbows. You can catch them on casting spoons and spinners as well as a jig and float.
If you're drifting something on the bottom, use just enough weight to get the bait to the bottom and that's all. Just a small split shot will do. Minnows and night crawlers usually catch bigger trout -- those that have been in the lake a long time and are accustomed to eating more natural things. But you'll catch fish on Berkley PowerBai, too, Gulp being the easiest and best to use.
Duane and I were talking the other morning about shad kill. There is a good population of threadfin shad living in Lake Taneycomo which we tend to forget about. They live in the lower half of the lake where the water temp tends to be higher, but I wonder how far up lake could you find them? The reason being that they should be dying like in other area lakes. Bass and trout should be feasting on them.
We've also talked about below Powersite Dam -- in Bull Shoals. If shad are dying above the dam and getting sucked through the turbines there, walleye and brown trout, among other fish, should be getting a good dose of shad. That sounds like fun!