Showtime for trout: Fishing good on Branson waterway's split personality

Showtime for trout: Fishing good on Branson waterway's split personality

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Hard-fighting rainbow trout take center stage for fishermen in the town where music shows rule.

Lake Taneycomo flows through the heart of Branson, Mo. Visitors come from all over for the live music and variety shows that line the highways. Scores of guests work in a little trout fishing during their stay or come just for the fish.

Taneycomo offers superb trout fishing. Life-long Branson resident Jeremy Rasnick proved it during a morning on the lake hosting two anglers, including his pal Alan Bland of Rogers.

Both are former Army Corps of Engineers park rangers. Bland spent most of his career on Beaver Lake. Rasnick put in 12 years at Table Rock Lake, then left the corps not long ago for his new vocation as a fishing guide.

Fog cloaked Lake Taneycomo when the three left Lily’s Landing Resort at dawn in Rasnick’s comfortable boat. Rasnick motored upstream to the waterway’s trophy trout area. Regulations are tighter in the 3-mile long trophy area between Table Rock Dam and the mouth of Fall Creek.

Rasnick rigged spin-cast rods with two fishing flies and a weight. That way we could cast the feather-light flies with spin-cast gear instead of fly rods.

Our first casts hit the water and in five seconds, a 13-inch trout bit hard and stretched the line tight as a Branson fiddle string. Rasnick reached out with a long-handled wood net and welcomed the regal rainbow trout aboard.

Rasnick, 38, has been catching trout all his life, but admired the fish’s beautiful colors and canvas of black spots before releasing the graceful trout. Here in the trophy area, any fish between 12 and 20 inches must be released.

The fishing rig Rasnick uses worked wonders this chilly Friday in mid-December. It’s basically an egg-pattern fishing fly with a scud fly tied below the egg on a dropper line. A third dropper line has a small weight on the end so the rig can be cast with a spin-cast gear.

“The egg acts as an attractor fly,” he said. “Trout mostly bite the scud, but today they’re keying on the egg.”

By mid-morning, some 30 to 40 trout danced their way into Rasnick’s net. Bland kept four of the smaller trout to take home for dinner. The daily limit on trout at Lake Taneycomo is four.

Some fine homes sit along the Taneycomo shoreline in the music town. Trout after trout bit in front of one particularly nice home.

“That’s Andy Williams’ house,” Rasnick said, pointing to the home of the late, iconic singer.

Lake Taneycomo isn’t Moon River, but it’s part river, part lake. The waterway is one of the White River chain of lakes. It’s sandwiched between massive Table Rock Dam and a smaller low-head dam called Powersite Dam 23 miles downstream.

Taneycomo’s flow starts at the base of Table Rock Dam. Water can flow over the top of Powersite Dam, which is 70 feet tall. When electricity is generated at Table Rock Dam there’s a steady flow and Lake Taneycomo is more like a river.

Powersite Dam was built in 1913 and is the first hydroelectric dam built in Missouri.

Table Rock Dam has four generators for making electricity, compared to two at Beaver Dam. On this fishing trip, one generator was online at Table Rock Dam. That creates the perfect flow for drift-fishing, Rasnick said.

Fishing is good the whole length of Lake Taneycomo thanks to good management by the Missouri Department of Conservation, the former ranger testified. The biggest reward of Rasnick’s new job is seeing the joy and excitement of his guests when they’re in his boat catching trout.

“I spent 12 years protecting our natural resources. Now it’s fun to teach people how to utilize them,” he said.

Rasnick encourages anglers to release big trout. Anglers freeing a trout 20 inches or longer can get a certificate from Lily’s Landing Resort that documents their trophy catch.

    Jeremy Rasnick shows a fine Lake Taneycomo rainbow trout. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
 
 
  photo  Taneycomo isn’t Moon River, but some of the best fishing was in front of the home of the late iconic singer Andy Williams. Williams died in 2012 and had a theater in Branson that bears his name today. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
 
 
  photo  A foggy morning on Dec. 10 2021 proved ideal for trout fishing at Lake Taneycomo. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
 
 
  photo  Rasnick shows a double he and Bland scored together, each catching a trout at the same time. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
 
 
  photo  Bland (left) and Rasnick are both former Army Corps of Engineers park rangers. Bland worked for decades at Beaver Lake and Rasnick worked several years at Table Rock Lake. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
 
 
  photo  This trout bit Rasnick’s egg fly but mostly they bit the scud on a dropper line below the egg. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
 
 

Taneycomo trout

Missouri Department of Conservation stocks Lake Taneycomo with rainbow trout and brown trout. Ninety percent of the trout anglers’ catch are rainbow trout. The daily limit is four trout. Brown trout must be 20 inches or longer to keep and only one brown trout can be part of the four-fish limit.

From Table Rock Dam to the mouth of Fall Creek, any fish between 12 and 20 inches must be released. Only flies and artificial lures may be used. There is no length limit on rainbow trout downstream from Fall Creek.

Fishing information: Jeremy Rasnick, 417-337-4218.

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