The Saga of Lake Taneycomo
designed to protect some of the rainbows and allow them to grow larger. Fishing pressure is heavy in upper Lake Taneycomo, and the trout there needed more protection.
Studies show a trout is about five times more likely to die if caught and released on natural or prepared baits than one caught on artificial lures or flies. Because the new rules require anglers to release most of the trout they catch, it was necessary to limit fishing tackle in the upper lake to artificial lures and flies only. The new rules protected many of the rainbows from harvest and minimized losses of released fish to hooking mortality.
The new fishing regulations created an almost immediate improvement in the fishery. Before the rule change, fewer than 10 percent of the rainbow trout in the upper part of the lake exceeded 13 inches. Only five months after the regulation change, the percentage jumped to 30 percent.
In a little more than two years, there was also a ten-fold increase in the number of rainbows in the upper lake. More than half were longer than 13 inches, and 10 percent exceeded 16 inches. Bigger rainbows are back, and with one- to three-pound fish being caught daily, anglers are recalling memories of the glory days
Taneycomo still has some problems. Branson continues to grow, white suckers are still abundant, and water from Table Rock Lake still has low oxygen levels during late summer and fall. The Conservation Department is working with other agencies to protect the lake and its fishing, and to determine if it's possible to make changes in the operation of Table Rock Dam that would help the fishery.
Not everyone who fishes Lake Taneycomo is interested in catching a trophy. Many simply want to catch a few trout to eat, and the Conservation Department has devoted considerable effort to helping anglers who choose not to fish in the special regulations area of the upper lake.
Below the mouth of Fall Creek, for example, the Department heavily stocks rainbow trout. Anglers may keep any trout they catch up to the daily limit of five, regardless of size, and they may fish with any kind of bait, lure or fly. In addition, the Department has built a new access facility at Cooper Creek, and improved the access facilities in Forsyth and Rockaway Beach. These areas bring the thrill of fighting a rainbow trout to more anglers by increasing bank fishing opportunities, making boat access easier and easing access for disabled anglers.
The saga of Lake Taneycomo continues, providing plenty of grist for new stories of how the fishing in this unusual cold-water lake promises to get better and better.