Branson is a year-round tourist destination made famous by music shows, but right now, the brown trout fishing may be the city's greatest draw.
The Missouri state record for brown trout changed hands twice this year, with the new record being a behemoth 40-pound, 6-ounce fish that fell just shy of the world record by less than two pounds.
There are many Christmas activities to experience in Branson. A trip to this quaint Ozark Mountains destination wouldn't be complete without taking in a show or two, but a winter fishing trip for monster brown trout is certainly a good excuse for a visit.
Being in Branson, Lake Taneycomo receives a lot of interest from tourists. People travel to the Ozarks in search of entertainment while also looking to soak up much of the surrounding natural splendor.
A guided fishing trip on Lake Taneycomo allows visitors to achieve both at once.
Duane Doty guides out of Lilleys' Landing Resort
"I know the most productive areas to fish," Doty said. "We usually don't have to go far before wetting the lines. I talk to my guests about what has been the best way to present the lure we will be fishing, how to retrieve the lure and what to expect as far as the bite. As the guests are fishing, I watch their lines, indicators and rods letting them know when they are getting bites that they may not be detecting. It usually does not take long before they catch on and start catching fish."
The Missouri Department of Conservation stocks approximately 750,000 trout in Taneycomo each year. These stocked fish allow for the lake to actively serve trout anglers who want to keep their fish for eating.
A lot of wild trout fishing is heavily catch and release, but because of the aggressive stocking program, anglers regularly keep fish, but not all of them are caught and kept early on. Some Taneycomo trout grow to impressive size.
There are both brown trout and rainbow trout in Taneycomo. The daily limit per angler is four trout. Of your four, only one may be a brown and it must have a minimum length of 20 inches.
In the "trophy zone," which runs from below Table Rock Dam to the mouth of Fall Creek, there is a slot limit on rainbows. You must release any fish between 12 and 20 inches. Also in the trophy zone, you can only use flies and artificial lures.
To fish anywhere between Table Rock Dam and the Highway 65 bridge, you must have trout permit, as well as a fishing license. Regulations like these can be tricky to newcomers. A guide will keep you straight on the rules.
I have fished Taneycomo using a number of different tactics. If you're after numbers of fish, it's hard to beat jigs. White and brown are popular colors. For a real challenge, fly fishing is the way to go. But if you want to focus on catching a "pig," one of the monster browns that help make Taneycomo famous, then throwing stick baits is the way to go.
One of my personal favorites is the Rebel Tracdown Minnow, because it is slow sinking and easy to control in moving water. Overcast days with enough wind to put a slight chop on the water should be your most productive for throwing stick baits.
See you down the trail.
Brandon Butler, the director of communications for Roeslein Alternative Energy, is an outdoors columnist for the News Tribune. Contact him at [email protected]