Dive into great water fun - Branson's three nearby lakes provide endless activitiesBRANSON, MO – The Branson/Lakes Area is naturally entertaining! The shows allow visitors to revel in the glittering lights and sparkling stars, but for some, a vacation means reveling in a prize-winning catch, escaping the world while listening to the rhythm of the waves, or seizing the chance to parasail or hop on a wave runner. These are just some of the ways to enjoy the natural side of Branson's entertainment offerings.
Nestled in the scenic Ozark Mountains, Table Rock Lake, Lake Taneycomo and Bull Shoals Lake offer water enthusiasts an incredible choice of activities. Visitors can swim, ski, boat, sail, scuba dive, jet ski, parasail and of course, fish. Access to the water is easy—Lake Taneycomo flows through the city of Branson and Table Rock is just a ten-minute drive from the central district. Bull Shoals Lake, just 20 minutes away, provides a secluded, rustic getaway.
All of Branson's lakes offer camping and picnicking facilities in addition to a wide range of accommodations. Several commercial docks provide fuel, supplies and boat rentals including ski boats, pontoon boats, bass boats and wave runners. Also, most of the resorts on the lakes offer rental boats and private dock facilities for their guests' boats too.
Wildlife is plentiful in the Ozarks, and the lakes provide the perfect backdrop for spotting wildlife of all kinds. Frequent sightings include eagles, deer, wild turkeys, cranes and other water birds. Even during the busy summer months, visitors can find a private spot to drop in a fishing line or just enjoy the peaceful surroundings. The lakes' pristine waters never freeze, welcoming visitors year-round.
For a truly unique experience, houseboat rentals are available on Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Lake. These floating hotel suites sleep ten in comfort and feature living and dining areas, fully equipped kitchens, television, VCRs and barbecue grills.
TABLE ROCK LAKE
The clear waters of Table Rock Lake have been attracting visitors for many years. Native Americans first discovered Table Rock Lake's 857 miles of shoreline more than 10,000 years ago. Artifacts found in the area suggest that Bluff Dwellers inhabited the area about 3,000 years ago. Modern-day vacationers "discovered" the lake in the early 1900s, drawn by the area's rugged beauty and bountiful fishing. The construction of Table Rock Dam in the late 1950s brought hydroelectric power to the area and created today's 52,300-acre Table Rock Lake.
Table Rock Lake is a freshwater fisherman's dream come true. From novice to expert, anglers of all levels find this lake makes for great fishing. The lake is nationally recognized as a top bass fishing lake. Large numbers of largemouth, smallmouth, Kentucky spotted bass can white bass can be caught at the lake.
During the spring, when white bass make their annual spawning run to the upper reaches of the main tributaries, the challenge of the catch heightens, allowing serious fishermen to test their skills. Also during this time, catfish of all sizes roam the shallows at night looking for food making an ideal occasion for a more leisurely fishing outing. No matter the time of year or a fisherman's skill level, Table Rock Lake offers an abundance of fish and fishing opportunities.
The wide variety of accommodations available on Table Rock Lake provide visitors with options to suit most any taste and budget. Guests can select from numerous family-owned and operated resorts or campgrounds, as well as larger resort properties and a full-service convention hotel. A host of different lodging styles are offered, such as hotel suites, cabins, cottages and condominiums. Amenities including marinas, boat rentals, swimming docks, pools, playgrounds and restaurants will please everyone.
The lake offers two types of camping facilities: those operated by the Corps of Engineers and privately–owned camping facilities. The 15 Corps of Engineers recreation areas provide electricity, restrooms, showers, dump stations, boat launches and swimming areas ideal for campers and RVers. The private campgrounds offer visitors a personal touch and many amenities such as pools and full hook-ups.
Lake Taneycomo was formed with the completion of Powersite Dam in 1913. Taneycomo is technically a lake, but it has the look and feel of a river. When the Table Rock Dam was completed at Taneycomo's headwaters in 1958, the results made Taneycomo's water several degrees colder as the water then came from the bottom of the pool at the Dam.
The cold, clear water combined with the Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery has made Lake Taneycomo a world-class trout fishery. In fact, in September of 1998, an area resident caught a World Record 25-pound brown trout in Taneycomo. The trophy catch, measuring 23.5 inches long, is the heaviest ever caught with a two-pound line.
The locals claim that the best way to catch trout is by drifting salmon eggs or angle worms. Affix the eggs or worms to a small hook and cast into holes with an ultralight rod and reel. This method used from a drifting boat or from a dock or the shore will yield a nice stringer of trout.
The uppermost portion of the lake is reserved for artificial lures only such as tiny jogs and crankbaits. These headwaters are ideal for fly fishing with flies that imitate the freshwater shrimp and other natural bait that the trout feed upon.
Public marinas also offer water craft rentals so visitors can experience the lake at their own pace. These full-service marinas can supply fishing boats, motors, guides, tackle and pontoons for relaxing and fun-filled lake activities.
BULL SHOALS LAKE
Visitors looking for a rustic getaway travel to Bull Shoals Lake. Bull Shoals flows eastwardly from Forsythe (10 miles from Branson) into Arkansas and features a rugged and undeveloped shoreline. Bull Shoals meanders through the hills making it a perfect place to escape from the hectic world. The lake also offers a variety of water activities and public lakes access points.
Bull Shoals is popular as a tournament lake and has a reputation for producing lunker fish of several varieties, including stripers over 50 pounds. Other record catches include a 5-pound, 5-ounce white bass, a 13-pound, 14-ounce largemouth bass and a 21-pound, 1-ounce walleye. Fishermen will also find smallmouth and spotted bass along with crappie, bream and catfish of all sizes.
Whether diving in for a day filled with activities or awaking before dawn in search of a championship catch, Branson's lakes are another perfect way for visitors to experience Branson's great entertainment - naturally.