Winter fishing can be fantastic, on Lake Taneycomo!!! Trout often want smaller flies, so go to size #18-20, on midges, and #16-18, on scuds and small nymphs. These sizes will hold true for the next few months.
Some brown trout are still spawning. There are a few browns staged below #3 outlet, up below the dam, and a few left in the area between outlets #1 and #2. Remember to revive any brown caught during the next couple of months, since these fish are often weakened by the spawn, and any help you give them, helps them recover, after being caught.
When there is no current or wind, the clarity of the water becomes a big issue. Try a smaller lure or fly, and the lightest line you can get. If possible, attempt to get your bait offering deep enough to become invisible to you. If you can’t see the trout, they can’t see you, and your catch rate will increase.
Changing water conditions offer new opportunities. Lake levels are back down. When no generators are running, wading up by the dam is possible. Even with one generator going, some wading may be possible.
If two generators are running, bank fishing is a better choice, if a boat is not available. Where you find deeper areas near the bank, fish close in to the bank first, although bank fishers should stay back from the edge of the bank. Trout are sensitive to vibrations, such as those made when walking along the bank shore line. Stay back at least three feet.
Currents resulting from generation, or rain runoff, cause trout to look for areas with an eddy, and many of those are near bank structure. Trout feed all day long while residing in these sheltered eddies, and are often accessible to the bank or dock fishing angler. Power bait, earth worms, spoons, spinners, and flies all work on these fish, so fishing on Taneycomo is good!
Trout become a little less finicky when current brings them a quick meal. These fish have less time to examine passing food. During this time, a presentation of two flies, under an indicator, works well. The first fly could be an egg imitation, a worm, nymph, scud, or midge, followed by another fly about 3 ft. behind. This same rig will work for the spin fisherperson. The fish concentrate on the first offering, and if that is refused, the second bait is on them quickly, and little time is left to evaluate it. Fish having to make this quick choice, often choose to bite.
Anglers who offer bait presented below a bobber, drifted from upstream to downstream, find success at times. When the bobber rig does not work, try a 1/8 to1/4oz sinker rig, and allow it to rest on the bottom, with a bait above.
Anglers choosing to throw a jig, need to adjust for the amount of current at the time. During a time of no current, a 1/16oz jig is fine, but as generation increases, jig weight can vary all the way to ¼ oz. Excluding a mini jig, most jigs attract more fish when they are fished on or very near the bottom. Keep increasing your jig weight, until you are in contact with the bottom, and more fish will see the bait, and your bites per day will increase. Remember, trout have eyes that see best ahead, up, and to the side. Trout normally do not see food items that are presented to them at a lower vertical point in the stream than their holding water. So, if you present something to them on the bottom, when they are holding on the bottom, they see it, and may feed on it. If the trout holding lie is in the surface film, however, a mini jig or other bait presented 6” or less, under an indicator or bobber, will be seen, and may be taken.
Fly fishers can streamer fish with great success, during mild generation. Olive wooly buggers, slow stripped in the current, will take trout, as will many other streamer patterns. Flies such as soft hackles and crackle backs can be fished as small streamers, and will often take trout any time of the day. Remember, small and slow. Go smaller with your baits, and move them slowly. Give the trout time to decide to take them.
Spoons and spinners will take fish when there is generation. Vary the weight of the lure, to match the amount of force of the current. Greater generation requires more lure weight. Anglers wanting the best all-around lure weight will find 1/6 oz. spoons and spinners a good bet.
Thomas Bouyant and Little Cleo spoons are working well, and best power bait colors have been white, pink, red, orange and Gulp eggs. Fish two colors of eggs on the same hook for more bites. Don’t forget real earth worms, and add air to them, if possible, to make them float. A real earthworm, when combined with a Gulp egg, will take a surprising number of trout. Minnows will work well, also.
Trout go for nymphs as temperatures drop. The angle of the sun, and the length of the days, help get the water temperatures down. Try sizes #14-#18, especially the point fly, if you use a two fly rig, and add a small midge, size #18 or #20 below that big point fly. If the water is crystal clear, make the tippet on the trailer fly 2lb. fluorocarbon.
Remember, the current can change at a moment’s notice. Take care to watch water levels. Fall is here, and it is the perfect time to catch big trout! It is also just nice to be outside, during this time of the year!
Good luck, and good fishing!