A special experience fly fishing Branson’s Lake Taneycomo

Size 18 Burgundy Midge was the fly of the day!

People flying out west to trout fish probably fly over one of the best, trout fisheries in the country, Branson’s “Lake Taneycomo. A recent article entitled, “Are Branson’s Tri-Lakes the fresh water fishing capital of the world,” published on line in the Branson Courier, highlighted the excellent quality of fishing available for both “warm” water species such as Crappie and Bass on Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Lake and “cold water” species” such as Rainbow and Brown Trout in Lake Taneycomo.

At about 8:30 a.m. on a crisp March 4 morning, Orvis endorsed fly fishing guide, and one of the owners of River Run Outfitters in Branson, Stan Parker met, with his “clients” for the for the day, both friends, Bob Walden from Iola, Kansas and me. Parker informed us that even though they were currently running four generators, about 12,000 cfs, he expected the day to warm up rapidly and the water to be shut down by midmorning.

With that said, we went to breakfast at Sheri’s Café just south of the Table Rock Dam. By the time we returned to the shop the temperature was rising and the water generation had ceased. Things were good.

By the time everyone had their gear regrouped and Parker had launched his Clacker Craft McKenzie style drift boat at the public boat ramp by the Shepherd of the Hill Hatchery it was about 11:00 a.m. Things were really getting good, the water was still dropping, the temperature was still raising and it was a beautiful bright sunny day, with just a tad too much wind. Strangely, probably because it was a weekday, there were not many people wade fishing and only one other boat in the area.

Parker rowed about 200 yards upstream from where the boat had been launched and, so to speak, things really got good. For the next 4 plus hours we intensely fished from that point to an area about 200 yards either direction of the boat launching ramp, using a variety of fly fishing techniques. The result was over 70 Rainbow Trout to the boat and released, using barbless hooks, and easily another 50 missed strikes, break offs, etc.

Parker and Walden, being the finely honed and skillful fly fishermen that they are, used a variety of techniques. These included the standard midge strike indicator set up, size 16 Dark Olive Soft Hackles, size 14 Burgundy Crackle Backs and size 8 Bug Eyed Buggers and Gold Variant Sculpins fished using intermediate sink tip line. Every technique used produced trout, but only one type of fly fishing developed into a discernable pattern.

That was the standard midge strike indicator set up. One of the constant sources of food for Lake Taneycomo’s trout is the almost constant midge hatches taking place on the lake. Because the life cycle of the midge takes them from the very bottom of the lake to the surface, trout will hit the emerging midges anywhere in the water column.

Proving once again that luck can be as important as skill, the least skilled fisherman in the boat, yours truly, based on Parker’s advice, started with the standard midge strike indicator set up. The size 18 “Lightning Bug” fished on 6x Orvis Mirage Fluorocarbon tippet about three feet below the smallest strike indicator that would that would support it immediately started producing fish.

Adding the size 18 Burgundy Midge to the mix virtually guaranteed it would be hard for things to get much better. That combination, eventually used by all the fishermen in the boat, produced 90 percent of the fish caught, during the day.

It seemed like one of us was constantly either getting a hit or bringing in a fish. “Oh sure” with the wind, three of us fishing out of the boat, and yours truly being one of them, we had our share of tangles etc., but that’s fishing. What we also had was a day of trout fishing that would be hard to beat anywhere.

The numbers of trout caught testify as to the quality of the trout fishing experience that Lake Taneycomo offers Yet, the experience transcends mere numbers of fish and will be remembered more for the shared experience of being on the water with friends, fellowship, and the beauty of the day and upper Lake Taneycomo. It just doesn’t get a better than that.

About Gary Groman aka The Ole Seagull

Editor of The Branson Courier
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