|Madison Patton with his first Lake Taneycomo
Trophy Area Rainbow, a beautiful 17 plus incher.
Branson, Missouri is blessed with Lake Taneycomo, one of the finest trout fisheries in the nation. Lake Taneycomo is actually an impoundment of the White River running from Table Rock Dam to the Power Site Dam near Forsythe, about 22 miles downstream. Formerly a warm water lake, Lake Taneycomo became a cold water lake virtually overnight when Table Rock Dam was completed and started generating electricity through its turbines in 1959 using the cold water from the depths of Table Rock Lake.
In anticipation of the colder water and the impact it would have on the then existing warm water fishery, the Missouri Department of Conservation built the Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery at the foot of Table Rock Dam. With their aggressive trout stocking, trout management program and the introduction of the Gammarus Shrimp as a food source, Lake Taneycomo has blossomed into one of the premier trout fisheries in the United States.
On the evening of July 2, one of Lakes Taneycomo’s newest professional guides, Steve Dickey, took Madison Patton, the 14 year old son of Lamar Patton, the co-owner of Scotty’s Trout Dock, and yours truly, on what was to be a “water running” fishing trip. In Lake Taneycomo, at any given time, they are either running water through the generators at Table Rock Dam or they are not. If they are not running water you fish one way and if they are running water you fish another way.
Well, actually, if they are running water, depending on how much water they are running and how you are fishing, there are a variety of ways you can fish. Although this writer has lived on the banks of Lake Taneycomo for over 20 years he has never gotten the “water running” method of fishing artificials down, hence, his interest in fishing under “water running conditions.”
This trip was set up a couple of weeks in advance in the hopes that Table Rock Dam would be generating water because we wanted to see the techniques Steve used under “water running conditions.” Although he has only been guiding full time for a year and a half, Steve has been fishing Lake Taneycomo for years and has specific effective techniques for all types of trout fishing on the lake. He better because he guarantees his clients will catch fish or they don’t pay for the trip.
We left the offices of Anglers Advantage and walked out on the deck overlooking Lake Taneycomo, at about 6 p.m. The view just set the mood beautifully. Steve called the “dam” number that tells if they are running water and how many generators are being used. The word was “two.”
On all his trips Steve furnishes all the equipment and flies, jigs, etc. All the client has to do is show up and be ready to go fishing. Although he has equipment for any type of trout fishing including fly rods etc. we decided on the open faced spinning reels with nine foot rods. The equipment was nearly new Cabela spinning rods and open faced reels with what appeared to be freshly spooled line.
Steve uses the nine foot rod set ups to accommodate the water running type of fishing we wanted to do. He uses shorter rods and a different set up for “water off “fishing. The rigs were set up and ready to go, we grabbed the nine foot setups, walked down the stars to his boat and were off.
In less than 10 minutes we had reached the Lookout Hole. Steve showed us the tandem rig set up, with two scuds, which resemble the Gammarus Shrimp, tied about 18 inches apart and fished deep enough to be just off the bottom.
It was a joy to watch him work with this young teenage boy, explaining the set up and techniques that would be used. With a nine foot rod, a tandem fly rig, indicator, and weights on over 12 feet of line there is a specific way to cast and Madison got it down in short order. Steve and Madison worked together getting the precise drift technique down to insure that the flies were getting a natural drift. There were a number of missed hits and then there was a firm hook set, the rod bent, and 15 minutes later Madison had a beautiful 17 and a half inch Rainbow in the boat.
As we finished that initial drift we decided to boat up above the boat launching ramp near the dam. Unfortunately, the” running water scenario” ended as we got to the ramp and Steve announced that they had shut the water down. On his way up he noticed the depth readings were lower than they should have been and that the water line on rocks etc. dropping. A call to the “dam” number confirmed that they were not generating.
With the right techniques, fishing is generally good when the water is off, just turned on and coming up, or running steady. Most Taneycomo fisherman would allow that one of the worst times for fishing is when the water has just been turned off and is dropping which was exactly the situation we were faced with.
That didn’t faze Steve in the slightest as he assessed the situation and made adjustments for the constantly dropping water we were experiencing. The situation was made even more challenging because we had intentionally left the equipment for this type of fishing back at the Angler’s Advantage office based on our plan to fish running water.
Again, it was a joy to watch this professional work with Madison as we switched over to the “water off” techniques involving less weight, shallower depths and micro and other jigs. Steve is a marvelous teacher and explained the new set up, and the way to fish it, that in a matter of moments had us back in the game.
Over all, in about an hour and a half on the water, under some of the most difficult normally occurring fishing conditions that Lake Taneycomo can present, we caught four trout, had six more hooked and missed countless strikes. It was a wonderful evening of fishing with a guide that is personable, a great teacher, and provides a great Lake Taneycomo trout fishing experience. Guide Steve Dickey and Angler’s Advantage can be reached by calling 417-619-9377 or visiting his website www.anglersadvantage.net.