Midwest anglers have no excuse for cabin fever. Lake Taneycomo, which runs through Branson, Missouri offers excellent winter trout fishing. With the summer crowds dissipated, winter is the perfect time to visit this premiere Midwest trout water.
Lake Taneycomo is unique. The 22-mile long lake is really a section of the White River sandwiched between Table Rock Dam and Powersite Dam. The Missouri Department of Conservation stocks approximately 750,000 trout in Taneycomo each year. The state record brown trout, weighing 27 pounds, 10 ounces, came out of Taneycomo on in 2005.
With so many fish stocked in Taneycomo each year, this is one water you can feel fine about keeping trout from for the dinner table. You need to pay attention to where you are fishing and what you are catching though, because special regulations apply in certain sections of the lake.
There are both brown trout and rainbow trout in Taneycomo. The daily limit per angler is four trout. Of your four, only one may be a brown and it must have a minimum length of 20 inches. In the “trophy zone,” which runs from below Table Rock Dam to the mouth of Fall Creek, there is a slot limit on rainbows. You must release any fish between 12 and 20 inches. Also in the trophy zone, you can only use flies and artificial lures. To fish anywhere between Table Rock Dam and the Highway 65 bridge, you must have trout permit, as well as a fishing license.
I have fished Taneycomo using a number of different tactics. If you’re after numbers of fish, it’s hard to beat jigs. White and brown are popular colors. For a real challenge, fly fishing is the way to go. But if you want to focus on catching a “pig,” one of the monster browns that help make Taneycomo famous, then throwing stick baits is the way to go. One of my personal favorites is the Rebel Tracdown Minnow, because it is slow sinking and easy to control in moving water. Overcast days with enough wind to put a slight chop on the water should be your most productive for throwing stick baits.
Branson is the lifeblood of Lake Taneycomo. If the lake were located anywhere else it would still be a popular destination based on fishing opportunity alone, but when you combine the qualities of Lake Taneycomo with all the attractions of Branson, the combination creates a destination ideal for family vacations or for a group of friends looking to getaway. You can answer all your questions about Branson by visiting the website www.explorebranson.com.
I have traveled all over America to fish, and it seems every lake and river has its local guru. Phil Lilley is the man on Taneycomo. Phil is the owner of Lilleys’ Landing Resort and Marina, and he keeps his finger on the pulse of Taneycomo by monitoring all the anglers and guides who fish out of his trout dock. He knows what the fish are biting on and where you need to go to catch them.
Staying at Lilley’s Landing gives you access to the best of Branson. Not only will have you access to Phil and his knowledgeable staff, but the resort is equipped with everything you would expect at a premiere on the water fishing resort, yet it is only minutes from all the amenities of downtown Branson. If you tire of eating fresh trout, which you can cook for yourself on Lilleys’ pavilion, then head down to the vibrant Branson Landing. Stop into the Bass Pro Shop’s Fish House Restaurant and order their “World Famous” Islamorada fish sandwich. You can thank me later.
See you down the trail…
Photo above: Brandon Butler drives Spencer Turner, the father of modern trout fishing in Missouri, down Lake Taneycomo near Branson.