Rain has returned to the Ozarks. And after watching my source of future rainfall amounts, we're getting about what NOAA predicted. We received three inches of rain last night with similar amounts dropped into the Table Rock watershed, but fortunately it appears Beaver Lake was spared. That will help us in the long run.
Generally, one inch of rain equals a one-foot rise on Table Rock. With the lake level starting at 913 feet, we may see a rise to about 917 feet. This will not trigger any automatic flows from Table Rock Dam, but we may see releases in the neighborhood of 11,000 cubic feet per second, or four units of generation. Table Rock's level has to crest above 920 feet before spill gates come into play.
So for Lake Taneycomo we're looking at moderate generation for the next couple of weeks. Drift fishing will be the norm for most anglers, although as soon as the creeks clear out, I'm sure there will be big numbers of trout taking shelter in the warmer and calmer water.
Salem Kellenberger 16-inch brown - Released
The creeks to target would be Bull, Bee, Coon, Roark, Turkey, Cooper and Short creeks. Really, any side water that's fed by ground water will be warmer than the 42 degree water coming through Table Rock's Dam. Yes, trout are coldwater fish, but 42 is chillier than they like. They would prefer 50-55 degree water over 42 any day. So would their food.
A spring rain like this one will wash worms into the lake . . . lots of night crawlers. We should see a lot of worms in the bellies of trout below these creek mouths. Minnows and night crawlers will be the bait of choice after a good rain. And if you're fly fishing, the San Juan Worm would be a good fly to try.
I drifted a minnow on Friday out in front of the resort and had three good bites. The first, I had a large minnow on a #8 hook. The bite was a good one, but I evidently didn't let him take it long enough -- although I missed the fish, my minnow showed scars of a fish with teeth. It was almost bit in half, which means my bite came from a brown trout. I sure hate missing those bites! But I did nail a few rainbows on Saturday late afternoon including a nice 18-incher in front of Lazy Valley Resort.
This week, we've been hammering the upper lake, using white jigs and shad flies, hoping to find evidence of any threadfin shad coming through the turbines at the dam. So far I don't think we've seen any shad. We're catching a few trout on white, but that's pretty typical all during the year. Table Rock's surface water temperature is starting to warm up, but the water below the surface is still in the low 40's. Threadfin shad don't do well in this cold water so we should see shad dying for most of the spring. Hopefully some will make down to 130 feet deep at the dam and get sucked through the turbines.
With the low flows this winter, the green algae we see on the bottom of our lake has been pretty thick. We haven't had enough hard flows to kick it loose yet. But with this rain, I'm hoping the heavier flows will dislodge and clear out some of this stuff and at the same time roll some gravel and move some scuds out of their safe places into our trout's mouths. In the spring, we usually see our trout beefing up on scuds, and drifting scud flies on the bottom becomes the number one technique of choice for plump catches. We will see!
Conner Walker caught this 20” Rainbow in the trophy area using an 1/8oz. white jig - Released
Way too windy Saturday at the dam but boatloads of anglers were out trying. White jigs were reportedly hot in the morning, but they had cooled off by the time I arrived. Ended up finding some rainbows and did One Cast showing how I caught them. Basically I had to fish a scud under a float, keeping it from dragging on the bottom. There's too much algae to drag a fly across the bottom. I used a spinning outfit with a weighted float and a split shot about 20 inches from the scud. I fished a #12 gray and a #14 rainbow/dubbing scud and both caught fish.
We had a 25-inch rainbow come in, caught on an 1/8th-ounce white jig in the Narrows area Saturday afternoon. Released.
Anglers are also catching trout drifting orange Gulp Power Eggs from above our place at Lilley's down past Cooper Creek. Also white is doing pretty well, too. But remember night crawlers and minnows -- they have a much better chance catching a trophy brown or rainbow.