By Steve Weisman
For the past several years, my wife and I have joined two other couples for a week trip to Branson, MO. We’ve been going there for so long that it is actually kind of like coming home when we reach the crest of the hill that announces Branson city limits.
For one thing, there is so much for us to do as couples, ranging from seeing a variety of shows to day-tripping to just kicking back and relaxing and enjoying the milder weather. In the case this year, that meant missing the big snowstorm that rolled across Iowa this past Friday.
That was the good news. The bad news? We knew we would get to face the white stuff sooner or later as we headed home.
There is one other attraction for John, Bill and me: Lake Taneycomo. Lake Taneycomo, which gets its water flow from the 160-foot depth of Table Rock Lake, is a cold water lake that has become one of the finest trout fisheries in the Midwest.
A close friend of ours, Mark DeVore who lives in Branson and regularly fishes Taneycomo, is always willing to guide the three of us for a day’s fishing. Our headquarters is always Lilley’s Landing, the premier resort and marina located only a five minute drive just southeast of the famous 76 Music Country Boulevard. For those looking for a kick-back relaxing vacation, Lilley’s offers a wide range of overnight accommodations.
Lilley’s is also the hub of fishing news with its tackle shop, up-to-date fishing information, a full service marina and boat rentals. We have found that renting one of Lilley’s Landing pontoons works perfectly for the four of us to comfortably fish for trout.
Each year the bite is a little different, but we always get some pretty good action with several 50-60 fish days for the four of us. This year, however, Mother Nature has caused a lot of issues with extreme flooding from early spring through late summer. As a result, the U. S. Corp of Engineers spent much of that time releasing water through up to four turbine generators into the lake from Table Rock Lake in an attempt to minimize the flooding. In March, for instance, my wife and I spent a few days here, and Mark and I tried to use waders and fly fish. There was no way with Taneycomo so extremely high and such a fast current.
Things looked pretty good for us this time. We arrived on Saturday, and waters were down with only sporadic water being released. Then over a two-day period we had five inches of rain. You guessed it. By Thursday, the water was up, and the current was going pretty good with a lot of leaves and debris in the water.
Still, when you make plans to go fishing, you still try to do so. We did and had our usual great time together. As John said, “It’s just great being out here together. The scenery is so awesome. If we catch some fish, it’s the icing on the cake!”
We tried hard for nearly six hours. However, we only had half a dozen bites and only boated two trout. The normal tiny pink marabou jigs at the end of a strike indicator (bobber) that always takes its share of trout just didn’t work. The tiny pink jigs tipped with Berkley plastics received only a few bites. Reflecting on the results, Mark said, “I really should have brought some shiny spoons and spinners, but I really thought we could still catch them the way we always do.”
I did catch a 12-inch rainbow early in the morning on a 1/80-ounce pink jig tipped with plastic, but then that was it. Finally, in desperation and with only a half hour left to our day, I turned to a 3/16-ounce Johnson ThinFisher (black gold sunset) blade bait. It has a built in sonic rattle chamber and really vibrates. It works great either with a steady retrieve or after a cast rip jigging up and letting it fall back down.
In that 30-minute time period, I had four strikes and caught a beautifully colored 15-inch brown trout. It took me a while to get the hang of the hookset. Then it was time to head back.
No, not a lot of fish, but fun? Oh, yes. Plus, I learned another technique that will work to take finicky trout during high, fast current times. The only thing is I’ll have to wait a few months before I can come back down and try it again!