Main Species Present: rainbow trout, brown trout, suckers, and largemouth bass
Lake Taneycomo in southwestern Missouri might well be considered the world’s finest trout fishery. Its popularity mostly relies on the approximately 700,000 rainbow trout stocked per year, which causes this twenty-two-mile riverine lake to be positively always loaded with dumb stockies. They are stocked once a month, and even towards the end of each stocking period the lake holds many trout. Due to these easy to catch fish, few people come up empty handed here.
However, there are many fisheries around that hold lots of easy to catch rainbow trout. What sets Taneycomo apart is the enormous brown trout it produces. Twenty-inch browns are routine, ten-pound trout aren’t at all out of place, and each year several larger than twenty pounds are pulled from its icy waters. All this was capped off when a Missouri Department of Conservation agent who was sampling the lake found a thirty-six-pound brown trout. There is little doubt that someday this lake will produce the world record brown trout to some lucky angler.
The lake can be effectively broken down into three sections. The first would be the section of lake from Table Rock Dam downstream to Fall Creek. Legal fishing begins a few hundred yards downstream from the dam. This section has special trophy regulations for both rainbows and browns, and this is where most of the largest trout in the lake live. Flies and lures only are allowed in this section. This part of the “lake” is for all intents and purposes a river and can be waded if Table Rock Dam is not generating.
The next section of the lake worth mentioning is from Fall Creek to the Highway 65 Bridge. The upper part of this section looks like a river, but the further downstream you get, the more it becomes a lake. This entire part of the lake holds many trout, both rainbow and brown, and it can be effectively fished from the bank with bait, as that is legal below Fall Creek’s mouth. Another popular method is to get a boat and troll spoons and spinners. Trophy regulations remain in effect for brown trout, but not rainbows.
The final section of the lake is from Highway 65 to Powersite Dam, which is the lake’s lower boundary. This far downstream, Taneycomo is indeed a lake, although it is quite shallow. Effective bank fishing can be done with worms and Powerbait, but it is more of a boat fishery. Both rainbow and brown trout respond to the same trolling methods as above Highway 65, and that is probably the best way to fish. You will not need downriggers, or other special equipment due to the lake’s shallow depth. This section also boasts some surprisingly good largemouth bass fishing in the creek arms and gigging for non-game fish is quite popular in this part of the lake.
One item of caution is in order regarding Taneycomo. Water levels can rise rapidly in some locations. Anglers are well-advised to do their homework on this matter ahead of time. Better yet, consider hiring a Tanycomo Guide to help you get on more fish and to help keep you safe.