Many fishermen are aware of two of Branson’s Tri Lakes, Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Lake because of the great world class bass and crappie fishing they offer. Still others, although not nearly as many, are aware that Lake Taneycomo, flowing 23 miles from Table Rock Dam to Powersite Dam, before forming the headwaters for Bull Shoals Lake, offers great Rainbow and Brown Trout fishing. Still fewer know that, in terms of numbers of trout and accessibility, it is one of the finest trout fisheries in the country and that it offers, year round, great fly fishing.
Although, all 23 miles offer great trout fishing using a variety of methods, it is the area that the locals call the “Trophy Area,” starting with the “tail waters” just below Table Rock Dam and running for three miles downstream to the opening of Fall Creek that is generally considered the prime fly fishing area on the lake. That results from its topography, which, particularly when they are not running water through the dam, is shallow enough and has enough public access to permit excellent wade fishing.
“It’s an awesome Tailwater fishery,” said Carolyn Parker, the co-owner of River Run Outfitters, who operates a full service fly shop and the only Orvis Endorsed Guide Service in Branson. How awesome? In 2006 out of all the Orvis Outfitters in the nation, River Run won the “Orvis Outfitter of the Year” award over many of the excellent “Orvis Outfitters” located throughout the United States and has been a finalist the last four consecutive years. That says a lot about the quality the experience their customers have in their fly shop; while on guide trips, primarily using non-motorized McKenzie style drift boats, and the quality of the fly fishing on Lake Taneycomo.
Being a Tailwater fishery, Lake Taneycomo is dramatically impacted when water is being run through the dam to generate electricity. When they are not generating electricity, the lake, particularly the first two miles offers great wading. When they are generating electricity, usually preceded by the blowing of a horn, the water level and speed of the current increases quickly in proportion to the amount of water they are releasing. This makes it, for all practical purposes, accessible only to boat fishing if they are generating at a rate of much more than 1300 cubic feet (cfs) per second.
From a safety perspective, the best advice, if wade fishing and the horn blows, is to get out of the water as quickly as possible and assess the situation. Calling 417-336-5083 will provide information on the current generation conditions including how many cfs they are running.
Typically the “hatches” that other trout fisheries are noted for do not play a big part in fly fishing on Lake Taneycomo. On a day to day basis, midges such as the P & P, Copper Dunn, Black Zebra and others in sizes 12 through 20, depending on how much water is being run, fished under an indicator, catch a lot of fish. When using an indicator normally 6x fluorocarbon is sufficient, but on sunny days in shallow water with no wind 7x wouldn’t hurt.
For those who like to strip “streamers,” the size 12 olive CQ or Wolly Bugger would be a good place to start. Both come weighted and un-weighted. My favorite method of fishing is to attach a 7 foot, 1.5 ips, sinking Rio Versi leader with about 5 feet of 5x Trout Hunter tippet to one of those flies and have at it. I use this system because it permits me to both indicator fish and streamer fish with the same rod and line simply by changing the loop to loop leader and adding a few feet of tippet.
The good news is that there are two excellent fly shops on Highway 165 just south of the entry to the hatchery that will be delighted to give you the very latest information on what is working. They are “River Run Outfitters” and “Anglers and Archery Outfitters.”
In terms of places to stay, the fishery is within ten minutes of the vast majority of hotels and resorts in Branson. One of the closest full service resorts is the Welk Resort, located just across the street from the Pointe Royale Golf Course, which has an indoor water park and a complete slate of activities that the non-fishing members of the family can enjoy.
“And there’s one other thing that fly fishing in Branson offers, that virtually no other trout fishery in the nation can offer,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center; “the shows, attractions, shopping and other fun filled exciting things that Branson is noted for, all within a ten minute drive of one of the best fly fishing experiences in America.”