Who’s getting tired of high water at Lake Taneycomo?
We are going on three months of steady generation and it’s getting OLD!!! I must say the Corp is doing a better job of making sure we don’t get into flood stage so I can’t blame them for doing what they are doing. It’s a gambling act to make sure we don’t get the lakes too low or too high, so the balancing act has everything to do with how they release water. We were going into April with the Table Rock Lake being down two feet below power pool which is 913.00 above sea level. Those last two snowfalls about three weeks ago coupled with rain on the last one changed everything. It’s a “science” figuring out how this whole thing works and being that we are in the middle of the chain of dams on the White River basin, it’s always tougher to predict Taneycomo verses Beaver and the White River. Usually, if Taneycomo is running then Beaver and the White River aren’t unless the lakes are all above power pool. For the last month, even with all this water running, Table Rock Lake is still the same as it was with the lake being somewhere in the High 914- 915.00 range. It’s two feet from where they want it right now. So until we get the lake back down a little more, then we will see this pattern of generation. People who don’t understand this are frustrated with how to plan a trip to Branson to be able to fish low water. I don’t blame them, but to be honest with you, we never know what the Corp is going to do. I’m still trying to figure it out and I’ve been fishing Taneycomo since 1994. All we can do is hope for low water. Fish when we get it because that’s when Taneycomo fishes the best.
Because Taneycomo is laid out different then the White River, Norfork and Beaver it’s a challenging tailwater compared to the rest. Not with just the generation, but it has only three miles of fishable water that is truly designed for the fly fisher. A big downfall to this river is,that it’s not a long floatable river where there is shallow water with riffles, runs, and shoals, all places that trout love to hold. We do have some of this when the water is off, but it’s pretty much all below the dam and there’s not a lot to go around. Getting these prime spots are few and far between so it forces you to learn different ways to fish. I like the “frog” water, large slow pools, better anyways because most fishermen look for current. “Frog water” intimidates a lot of fly fisherman who are newer to the sport. Once you graduate from the outlets and rebar hole, you’ll find yourself fishing more in the frog water because it holds the same amount of trout and big ones too.
Revised – As I’m continuing to finish this report, we did see some low water for three days, but it didn’t last that long. We are now back to heavy generation with Table Rock being a little under 914.00. These little isolated storms have everything to do with generation and until we get out of the wet months we will continue to see this pattern. We might see low water here and there, but who knows, unless you are a local or can get here pretty quick, it’s going to be hard to say when we will see steady low water for longer periods of time.
Revised – We did have low water the weekend of May 1st through the 4th. Hopefully it will last through the week.
What has three months of generation doing to the river you ask?
How about a lot of moss and algae on the bottom. I did a wading trip the other day and could not believe how mossy the bottom is. The trout would have to eat a gallon of moss just to get to the scud’s . Just be prepared to clean moss if you plan on bouncing flies on the bottom. I’m not fishing the bottom right now. I’m fishing subsurface patterns or swinging. It’s also been better to fish from the boat instead of wading but you will have to deal with the wind. I can’t remember having such a windy month and the wind continues to blow steady anywhere from 10-25 mph. I’ve been anchoring when it’s gusty and drifting to cover more water when it’s not. I would also fish down river, it seems to be holding more trout than right below the dam. Until we get lower water to burn off the moss, we will be dealing with this. So I guess you can say, high water isn’t so bad if you have a boat, but one to two units is always better then three to four. The positive to this is the water is cleaner when they are running than when they are not. If you are fishing low water and then they turn it on, plan on cleaning you fly off after every drift. It’s almost not worth fishing the rise because of how dirty the water is. Good luck out there and hope this information finds you well!
Flies of choice?
The typical stuff will work (scud’s, sowbug’s, eggs, sjw, sculpins, soft hackles, wd40’s, rs2’s,loop wing emergers, crackle back’s, zebra midges, small woolies, big ugly, griffith’s gnat. I’m mostly fishing midge patterns and swinging crackle back’s. Unless you fish the faster water that will move your fly patterns a little faster on the bottom , stick to flies in the water column that are not on the bottom to achieve better results. If you have any questions feel free to email or call and I can go more into depth on what to do and what to use. You can also purchase flies from me and I can let you know how to fish them. The river changes all the time, so make sure you call me before coming down and I can help you have a better fishing experience. Who wants to drive all this way to get skunked or have a bad day on the river because they didn’t do their home work. I understand that some people can’t afford a guide and if you can’t then I’m always here to help anyways. Just give me a ring and we can help you out.
White River –
I really can’t tell you in great detail what has been going on with the white. The few times I gave fished it, it wasn’t fishing all that well. Some of my buddies that are guides are saying the same thing. I’m sure if I spent a little more time over here I would be able to tell you more. When they yo-yo the water from big to small then it’s the same story over there as it is at Taney. Steady generation on the water ,regardless what level, it is better than them bouncing it all over the place. Big water is big water on all these dams and when that happens then plan on tougher fishing conditions. If you want my honest opinion, Norfork is where it’s at for the better fish as of right now.
I know I keep talking this river up. When the results are proven to be great every time you fish it, then why would you want to stop? My dad once told me, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. So I stick to that motto and it hasn’t let me down yet. Before I get into story telling, I’ll give you an oversight on why this river is thriving and when I think the best time to fish it. Now this is just my opinion and some will agree to it and some won’t, but my goal here has to always been to educate and give back to the sport. That’s why I share so much information and I hope it helps you the next time you’re out.
I’m sure those of you who read my reports already knows about the siphon they put in up at the dam. This has really bounced this tail water back in a positive way and it’s not taking long for the fish to know it either. I keep talking about big rainbows over here and when I’m mean big, I don’t mean anything over twenty two inches generally speaking, but when you start catching 18-20 inchers that you never did in the past or for that matter ever on this particular river you have to start asking yourself why. Why all of a sudden? I’m not a rocket scientist, but the proof is in the pudding. In the past when I fished over here it was always small rainbows. This has always been a river that stores big browns during the spawn and it did hold some big brooks in the late 90’s, but everyone who fishes this river is looking for varity and hopefully the grand slam. Not only that, but it’s truly one of the best stretches of water that really makes you feel like you are fishing a “real” river with lot’s to do. Because of all the shoals, riffles, runs, and seams, it makes for some exciting fishing and you never get tired of finding a new spot that trout would potentially hold in. The other tail waters don’t offer this as far as floating the river. The White does have some shoals, riffles etc, but they are few and far between and when I mean few a far I mean it takes a while to get another one. You have to float several miles before you stumble on a new one that get’s you blood pumping for the challenge of hooking into another nice fish. We all know sound coming from the shoals has everything to do with the trout not spooking as easy like they would in water with no disturbance. That is why we look for areas like this. It holds fish bottom line, good oxygen equals fish. The Norfork offers this almost the whole way down the river. This river makes you feel like you are fishing out west. Coupling the scenery with nice fish makes for one great fishery that will have you coming back for more. This my friends is why I’m spending a lot more time here than on the White river when I’m guiding in Arkansas.
The other positive to this river they didn’t have in the past is adding another mile of trophy catch and release water. The trout have a better chance to grow bigger without being eaten. That has been the mentality for decades and will continue to. This trophy area is in the middle of the 4.4 stretch and it’s in more of the “fly” water that does have the riffles, runs, seam etc. that store these fish and will continue to grow these trout without getting taking out. What I’m anxious to see is how this river will fish in the summer months when they’ve had bad D.O. levels. Possibly, that would cause the fish to leave and go back out into the White. That to me is going to be the real question this year and I’m hoping for great results.
When is the best time to fish the Norfork?
It’s really hard to say until I go a full year fishing with the siphon. So far, since the siphon has been installed, it’s been good all year. I stopped fishing here in the past for two reasons. One was after the floods, it got too shallow to run trips out of a drift boat. Two, it got to the point where I never got great results catching bigger fish after the 2008 and 2011 floods. It filled the river in and reshaped the river and like I said, it got to the point where my clients had to help me push the boat over several spots for hundreds of yards that where once not like that. I’m sure if you are about customer service like me, then a great day on the water isn’t having your clients do physical work. That’s the guides job so their clients can have a relaxing trip and catch fish. I started fishing here last fall and that’s when it really got my focus again. I could tell there was a big difference than the previous years. The siphon created minimal flow and raised the river about 4-5 inches and in return. I hardly get out of my drift boat anymore. This makes for a great float nowadays.
October is the best time for hooking bigger browns, but all winter has been great this last year. One thing I like about winter is less pressure on the river and more quality fish seem to bite. If you can be first down the river in the morning, then you are going to have first dibs on these trout and I think that’s a big factor on hooking bigger fish. Another big key here is being the only guide fishing it too. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does you can expect a stellar day. If most of the guides are fishing the White then go here. I like to break up the norm from what everybody else is doing. It seems like when everyone is talking that’s what everybody is doing. So I don’t like to do that unless it’s a certain bite like hopper fishing or streamer fishing. Yes, you have to share the water, but there’s enough to go around .
The biggest thing I have found out when fishing the Norfork is knowing where these fish like to hold. They seem to be in certain areas because I keep catching them there. That’s been a big key when making the right call on where fish are holding, so you can put your clients on better quality trout. I’m starting to call the shots because it’s happening every time I go out. I have a few stories that I will share with you from the last two times I have been out. They’re pretty good, so please take the time to read them when you have a chance. All I can say is, I get excited when I get to put clients on this river these days.
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You’re welcome my friend. Looks like we are still seeing low water through the day. I’ve been throwing ant patterns and having a ball in the wind chop.