By Steve Weisman
Fishing is fishing is fishing…every day presents a new challenge. A pattern will become established and the fishing will be great and all of a sudden something changes. Boom! And the angler must work to figure out how to adjust to the change. Sometimes it’s an easy little adjustment like a short move or a little different move on the presentation. At other times, it’s 180 degrees and figuring out what to do next.
I recently experienced this type of fishing challenge on a trout fishing trip to Lake Taneycomo in Branson, MO. Each year in mid-November, my wife and I, along with two other couples spend a week in Branson, and spend a day fishing trout. Bill Elling, John Amick and I meet up with two local anglers and friends Mark DeVore and Mark McSadden, who have fished the lake for over 30 years.
We rent a pontoon from Lilleys’ Landing (www.lilleyslanding.com), which is a popular resort and marina on upper lake Taneycomo. We then head upstream from Lilleys’ and work the cuts and channels of Tanneycomo, usually in 6-10 foot of water. Normally, the technique is using either fly rod with a tiny pink marabou jig tied to an eight-foot or longer leader and a strike indicator (small float) at the end of the leader. Often no bait is used, but sometimes a pink or other colored Berkley Trout Powerbait is used. The other option is using a spinning combination and a bobber to cast the same baits. We will spend the day on the lake and will usually find the fish.
So, with mild temperatures and light winds, around 8:30 a.m., we excitedly headed out. After nearly four hours, we had only caught two trout. We tried all of the normal places and baits, but we saw very few fish surfacing. So, we headed south to the bridge just before the Bass Pro Shop at the Landing. At first, nothing, but then just a 100 yards away back toward the bridge, we saw ripples on the water. With high skies, 80-degree temperatures and no wind, the trout were hanging around the current and the shade of the bridge. Rainbow trout were surfacing, so we moved close to the area, but nothing much happened. They didn’t seem hungry.
So, I decided to see if maybe these fish might be on a reactionary bite rather than a hunger bite. I put on a blade bait, a 3/16-ounce Johnson ThinFisher. With a sunny calm day and clear water, my hope was the trout would react to the glitter and tight wiggle action of the ThinFisher.
Sure enough, on the first cast, I had a hit, but the trout threw the bait. I quickly finished my retrieve, and then set the bait back to the same spot. Bang! This time I hooked the trout and brought in a 14-inch fish. Soon John had put on a #5 pink/white Berkley Flicker Shad and Bill had changed to a silver Little Cleo. It became a zoo with strikes and misses and strikes and hooksets. Often we would have 4-5 other fish following the hooked trout to the boat. In addition, it appeared that the trout were slashing at the baits, which led to a lot of hits and misses.
By 2:30, we had 18 trout in the livewell and had caught maybe another 30 fish. DeVore did keep working with his flyrod and pink jig and ended up catching several fish.
We had no trophy fish, but consistently caught 12-14 rainbow trout. Plus, the constant joking and kidding back and forth, it just doesn’t get any better than this!
For over three decades, Lilley’s Landing Resort and Marina, which is nestled below the bluffs on the shores of Lake Taneycomo, has offered anglers with some of the best trout fishing in the world, boats and pontoon rentals, fly and tackle shop, along with professional guide services. They also offer the comfort of modern, updated cottages, both lakeside and off-lake. What is really cool is that all of this occurs just two miles away from The Strip on the famous Highway 76, better known as the Country 76 or the Branson Strip!