Missouri’s Trout Fishing Tailwater

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Nathan “Shags” McLeod, host the “Morning Shag” on Columbia’s 96.7 KCMQ Classic Rock, is a hardcore Missouri trout fisherman.

Nathan “Shags” McLeod, host of the “Morning Shag” on Columbia’s 96.7 KCMQ Classic Rock, is a hardcore Missouri trout fisherman.

Nathan “Shags” McLeod hosts the “Morning Shag” on Columbia’s 96.7 KCMQ Classic Rock, but that’s only because he hasn’t figured out how to get paid to go trout fishing yet. An Oregon Coast native, Shags is a salmon man. For years, he thumbed his nose at Missouri trout. Then I took him to Lake Taneycomo.

Now he’s addicted.

The Conservation Federation hosted our 3rd annual media event February 5-7 at Lilleys’ Landing Resort and Marina on Taneycomo. For the third year in a row, we had incredible winter weather, this time with temperatures topping out at a sunny 75 degrees. With 21 writers and radio show hosts in attendance, we hoped to showcase the incredible trout fishing available all year in Branson, while educating our media friends about legislative issues the Federation is working on.

Table Rock Dam changed Lake Taneycomo into essentially a tailwater river. It flows 22- miles until it reaches Powersite Dam. Since it is enclosed at both ends, Taneycomo is called a lake. Don’t let the name fool you. It’s one of the best stretches of trout river in the country.

The water level in Taneycomo, as in all tailwaters, depends on how much water is being generated by the dam. The water right below Table Rock Dam is generally shallow enough to wade, and is heavily fly fished. Down the lake, the water is deep and slow. The deep slow water allows trout to grow to enormous sizes. Many believe the next world-record brown trout is swimming in Taneycomo. Fishermen look forward each year to the brown trout migration, when the river’s largest trout head to the dam to spawn.

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.

Branson is the lifeblood of Lake Taneycomo. If the lake were located anywhere else it would still be a popular destination based on fishing opportunity alone, but when you combine the qualities of Lake Taneycomo with all the attractions of Branson, the combination creates a destination ideal for family vacations or for a group of friends looking to getaway. You can answer all your questions about Branson by visiting the website www.explorebranson.com.

Each time I visit Branson, I love it a little more. From the excitement of the strip to the ambiance of little hole in the wall locations, Branson has something to offer everyone. As I return again and again to Lilleys’ Landing Resort, it has become a home away from home, and that’s exactly how Phil and Marsha Lilley make all their guests feel.

Staying at Lilley’s Landing gives you access to the best of Branson. Not only will have you access to Phil and his knowledgeable staff, but the resort is equipped with everything you would expect at a premiere on the water fishing resort, yet it is only minutes from all the amenities of downtown Branson. If you tire of eating fresh trout, which you can cook for yourself on Lilleys’ pavilion, then head down to the vibrant Branson Landing and check out the brand new, Saltgrass Steak House. Order the rib eye. You won’t be sorry.

See you down the trail…

Brandon Butler



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