Lake Taneycomo Fishing: Complete Angler’s Guide

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Finding solitude at one of the best trout fisheries in the U.S. might surprise many who visit the bustling streets of nearby Branson, Missouri.

Sure, most visitors are here for the shows or Silver Dollar City, but those in the know grab a fishing rod and head for the shores of Lake Taneycomo.

Lake Taneycomo is a 2,000-acre riverine reservoir with around 40 miles of shoreline between Bull Shoals and Table Rock lakes. It’s home to many fish species, but the main attraction here is trout. 

Alright, enough chitter-chatter, let’s wade into Lake Taneycomo fishing tips.

Lake Taneycomo Trout Fishing

Lake Taneycomo is a world-class trout fishery; there’s no argument to be had otherwise.

The Missouri Department of Conservation stocks Taneycomo monthly, totaling over 500,000 fish annually. These fish aren’t small, either. According to the MDC, 87% of rainbow trout in Taneycomo are greater than 13 inches, plenty big enough to put up a great fight and make a meal.

Trophy brown trout are also commonly caught in Taneycomo but are not as abundant because the MDC only stocks 15,000 brown trout yearly. However, brownies grow much larger than rainbows. As of this writing, the current state record weighed over 40 pounds and was caught in Lake Taneycomo. 

So how do we catch these fish?

Luckily, trout aren’t difficult to catch if you keep a few things in mind. 

Let’s start with the gear. 

Spinning and fly fishing rods are most commonly used, and we also recommend waders because the average water temperature of Taneycomo is 48 degrees.

Regarding baits and lures, you’ll have to carefully read the local regulations, as specific areas are for artificial lures only. PowerBait fishing is allowed below Fall Creek, as well as using artificial lures.

Flies, such as scuds, sow bugs, and soft hackles, are very popular, from Table Rock Dam to Fall Creek, where only artificial lures are allowed. Regulations prohibit soft plastics, natural, and scented baits in this portion of the lake. 

I love using Super Duper spoons, small spinners, and small shallow-diving crankbaits to catch trout on a spinning rod.

Alright, now that we have the gear figured out, let’s talk about where to fish.

Trout spend most of their time in deep holes above and below riffles and rapids. That’s why I spend most of my time fishing in these areas.

While trout fishing at Taneycomo, I always look for a current break, such as a log, rock, or river bend, because brown and rainbow trout will use them to rest while waiting on their next meal to drift along.

It’s critical to remember these breaks might be hiding away below the lake’s surface.

In the deep holes, I grew up using PowerBait (where it’s legal); in the areas where it’s not legal, flies are a very effective lure for the deep, slow-moving pools. Remember, deep is a relative term; sometimes, it means 3-5 feet, and other times it means 6+ feet deep.

I love using Super Duper spoons in the lake’s shallow areas, 5 feet or less.

From Table Rock Dam to Fall Creek is where the highest concentration of big trout hang out, so if you’re looking to catch a trophy-sized fish, this is where you should spend most of your time.

However, if you’re looking to catch some trout for dinner and perhaps fish with bait, head below Fall Creek. This is where the highest numbers of fish are located, with most in the 13-16-inch range.

Lake Taneycomo Bass Fishing

Trout aren’t the only fish species that call Taneycomo home. Bass are another big draw to the lake. 

Three species of black bass inhabit these waters. Largemouth are the most abundant, but anglers regularly catch spotted and smallmouth bass.

Most of the bass fishing opportunities are below Rockaway Beach on the warmer lower portion of the lake.

Bass are primarily caught during the spring and summer when they’re in Taneycomo’s creek arms and coves. During this time, bass move shallow to spawn and feed heavily after spawning.

In the winter, bass migrate back to the main lake, where they spend most of their time during the colder months.

It’s best to target a specific black bass species to have the highest chance of success. Each species has unique preferences, so I’ve broken them into different sections.

Largemouth Bass Fishing

As I previously mentioned, largemouth are the most abundant bass in Taneycomo. They regularly grow up to 5 pounds, which is why this is one of the best largemouth bass lakes in Missouri.

To target largies, I focus on fishing the shallows near the shore, as they’re better suited for these areas.

My go-to lures for largemouth are spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jigs, chatterbaits, and soft-plastic rigs like the Texas ig and Wacky rigs.

Because the water that makes up Taneycomo is clear, I prefer natural colors like white, silver, translucent, and green pumpkin. Sometimes using a splash of a bright color like red or chartreuse helps differentiate your lure from all the others the fish see every year. 

Spotted Bass Fishing

Spotted bass are better suited for the open water, so look for them in the creek and river channels, as well as the main portion of the lake. 

I focus on main lake points and deep structures when fishing for spots. My lures generally remain the same for spotted bass and largemouth, except I try to downsize a bit, and my colors are mainly shad patterns.

Hair jigs and drop shot rigs are great lures to try when the others aren’t getting you bites. 

Smallmouth Bass Fishing

The hard-fighting smallies of Taneycomo are better suited to handle the currents, so you often find them in the swifter-moving portions of the lake. That’s not to say you won’t find them in the coves, but it’s less likely. They also prefer rock piles over brush piles, most of the time.

When warm water is released from Table Rock Dam upriver, smallies are often caught below the dam.

I change up my lures for smallmouth, even though the same lures will occasionally work. I prefer spinners, soft-plastic swimbaits, swim jigs, Neko rigs, and drop shot rigs when going after smallmouth.

Since crawfish and small minnows are their primary food source, I tend to replicate those colors as much as possible. That’s why I use lots of reds and oranges during the spring and switch to green pumpkin, silver, white, and translucent in the summer.

Crappie Fishing Lake Taneycomo

Another fish that’s most often caught in the creek arms and coves of the lower portion of Lake Taneycomo is the black crappie. Crappies are one of the tastiest fish to swim in freshwater, and they’re relatively easy to catch when you understand their spawning cycle.

They move to shallow waters in the spring to spawn along rocky banks and other hard surfaces, like boat docks and brush piles.

Once they’ve spawned, crappies find deep brush piles located around the thermocline (where the warm and cool water meet) for the summer. 

In the winter, they’ll patrol shallow flats on warmer days and suspend near deeper ledges and main lake points on the colder days.

Generally, the best bait will be minnows. They catch crappie year-round at varying depths. However, my favorite is soft plastic crappie jigs. 

Very few anglers think about trolling with crankbaits while crappie fishing, but this is a great way to locate fish in the summer without fancy electronics like Garmin Livescope.

I keep my lure colors simple for crappie fishing. Since Taneycomo is so clear, I use natural colors. Anything that resembles a minnow should be good.

I also like to add a touch of pink, chartreuse, orange, or red to help them stand out just enough to get the fish’s attention.

Lake Taneycomo Walleye Fishing

The walleye is arguably the tastiest yet most challenging fish to catch that swims in Lake Taneycomo.

There aren’t many anglers who fish for walleye on this lake exclusively because the population is modest. Even so, there’s still enough walleye washed down from Table Rock Lake to make the attempt, especially when warm water flows from the dam at the top of Taneycomo. 

To be a successful walleye angler, one must understand the spawning cycle. 

Walleye are one of the earliest freshwater spawners, so they move to the shallows along riprap banks in early spring to do their thing. Once they’ve finished, they move back to the deepest holes in search of their next meal. 

They primarily feed at night because they are incredibly light-sensitive. So if the sun is up, walleyes often duck into the deepest hole they can find, especially along a ledge.

That’s why I recommend fishing for them during low-light hours, such as dusk and dawn.

There are several ways to catch walleye. The first is casting and reeling a swimbait or jig. This method works best during the spring when they’re shallow and feeding. 

The next method is floating a jig, minnow, or worm with a bobber. This is great once you’ve found fish and they’re not aggressively feeding. 

The last method is to troll using deep-diving crankbaits or bottom bouncers. I love trolling during the late evening hours, but you can deploy this tactic any time of day around main lake points and channel ledges. 

Lure color selection is similar to crappie. Natural colors with a touch of bright colors always seem to catch the eye of a walleye.

Catfish in Lake Taneycomo

Lake Taneycomo is often overlooked as a top catfishing spot in Missouri because channel catfish are the only species regularly caught in the lake. 

However, the numbers are very healthy, so the likelihood of catching catfish is high, especially once you understand their spawning habits. 

Channel cats spawn in late spring and early summer in shallow overhangs, tiny caves, and other hard surfaces. Unlike many other fish species, the spawn is one of the worst times to try and catch them.

However, once they’ve finished spawning, channel cats quickly transition into feeding mode, making mid-summer one of the best times of the year to catch catfish in the deeper holes and along the channel ledges. 

In the fall, catfish follow their food to shallow flats to feed up before they spend most of the winter in deeper water.

Speaking of what catfish eat, the best baits for channel cats are earthworms, minnows, chicken liver, stink bait, and small chunks of cut bait.

White Bass Fishing

One of the most underrated fish is the white bass. I love catching these fish because they’re aggressive, put up a great fight, and are pretty good to eat. 

While they’re not the most abundant fish in the lake, there’s a healthy population willing to save any day of fishing. 

In the spring, you’ll have to fish for them in the creeks and as far up the river as possible because they swarm to these areas to spawn. 

After spawning, they head back to the main channel to spend most of the summer patrolling ledges around shallow flats and main lake points.

When cooler weather begins to set in, they first will follow their food shallow to feed up before returning to suspend in deeper water for the coldest months.

Catching these fish, also known as sand bass, is so great because they’re not that picky. I’ve caught a ton of white bass using spinners, crappie jigs, and swimbaits. I cast these lures at targets (rocks, ledges, or other fishy areas).

I also troll with spoons and crankbaits. This is a great way to find a school and spend a weekend cruising the lake.

As far as colors, I also keep it simple with white, silver, translucent, or chrome to mimic a shad or small baitfish works.

Catch More White Bass

Check out my favorie techniques and tips for white bass fishing.

Sunfish Fishing at Taneycomo Lake

If you’re looking to introduce someone to fishing, especially a kid, take them sunfish fishing. These are the easiest fish to catch, and they’re a ton of fun. 

Most sunfish species are in the shallows in the spring, summer, and fall. They are so shallow you’ll often see them swimming near the shore. 

Once you’ve found a school of sunfish, bait up with a worm or a crappie jig beneath a bobber and drop it in their face. It won’t take long to get a bite.

The best place to catch sunfish like bluegill and redear sunfish is the lower, warmer portion of Lake Taneycomo, often in the same areas where largemouth bass like to hang out.

Planning Your Trip to Lake Taneycomo

Now that you know how to catch all the fish in Taneycomo, it’s time to start planning your trip to this beautiful angler’s paradise. 

Below you’ll find some boat ramps, public areas, and places to stay on and near the lake.

Besides all of the tourist attractions of Branson itself, anglers could spend weeks in this area. As mentioned, Lake Taneycomo is right between two equally renowned fishing spots in Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Lake, both famous for their excellent warm-water fishing.

Boat Ramps & Public Access Areas

The Shepard of the Hills Hatchery has a boat ramp, but it’s not recommended for boats over 16 feet. It’s a very popular boat ramp for smaller boats, though.

There’s also a well-maintained boat ramp at Cooper Creek Access Area, which many say is much less busy than Shepard of the Hills Hatchery.

Rockaway Beach also has a boat ramp, but anglers report that it’s not as well maintained as the others.

Lastly, Empire Park has a boat ramp located near the dam. 

Places to Stay

Since Lake Taneycomo runs near Branson, there are many, many hotels to stay at, just a short drive from the lake. 

However, if you’re a little more adventurous and want to get out of town, private campgrounds and resorts are scattered around the lake.

If you’d rather camp at a public site while staying in the area, Table Rock State Park is just across Branson.