It's been a wild summer here on Lake Taneycomo. Dozens and dozens of big rainbow and brown trout have been caught -- and 95% released to be caught again! That figure isn't official but just my estimate of what I observe on the lake.
"Catching" in general has been good, but our guides report it's slowing down a bit. Our water quality is actually very good for this time of year, though. We have our guesses as to why the trout are not as aggressively feeding during the day.
We are seeing a small release for most of the night through mid day on weekdays with heavy flows in the afternoon and evening. The morning release is strange if you don't know what's going on with the dam's turbines. I've been told that one turbine is not being shut down (or can't be shut down completely) because of technical issues. They are afraid to shut it down at this point because they might not be able to bring it back online. Thus, some gauges online show zero generation and others show 17 megawatts, or about 1,200 cubic feet per second of flow.
Our water temperature is holding at about 55-56 degrees which is normal for September. Our trout seem to be in good shape. They're fighting hard and swimming off fairly well when released.
Note that in the fall months when our water quality starts to wane, pay close attention to each fish's condition before releasing. If you catch a trophy and want to release it, we advise you to keep the fish in the water as much as possible (in the net) and only take it out for a quick picture and measurement. We ask that you do not bring it into our dock, especially if you're a good distance from our place.
Captain Steve Dickey says most of the time he's fishing with night crawlers, either drifting or spot locked, and doing fairly well. He said the trout are not ingesting them as well as they did a couple of weeks ago. "They're chewing it and spitting it out before we can hook them," he said.
Captain Jeremy Rasnick told me the bite has slowed down for him, too. He's using small scuds and midges (#18) and still catching nice rainbows and a few browns in the trophy area. But the bites are quick, so you have to pay attention.
Both guides said they think the trout are loading up on food in the afternoons when heavy flows are occurring. The blast of current always kicks up scuds and sculpins off the bottom, making easy meals for our trout. Later in the evening when the water is dropping out, we're seeing absolutely huge midge hatches, and the trout are feeding all over the surface. The trout caught are very fat, probably nourished with all the free food mentioned.
Throwing marabou jigs is working fairly well early during the slow flow and later when the water is running hard. Of course, you have to make adjustments in the weight of the jigs you're throwing. I'm using 1/32nd- and 1/16th-ounce jigs with two-pound line early and 1/8th-ounce jigs with four-pound line later with the fast water. Best colors have been black, sculpin, olive, sculpin/peach -- and I always try white or white/gray. For the heard color, try orange or brown but white on white.
We're selling our own micro jigs now. We've finally trained some tiers who have produced enough for us to stock our shop with them. We don't have all the colors we want, yet, but we do have black, olive and sculpin. They're working on tan, ginger and white.
These are perfect jigs to use under a float with two-pound line early in the morning almost anywhere from the Branson Landing up to the dam. Early in the morning, fish them two- to four-feet, and as the sun comes up, go deeper -- down to six- to eight-feet deep.