Freezing on Taneycomo

March 18, 2014

Taneycomo rainbow

Warm, temperate, Missouri-springweather was hardly what we got on our day on Taneycomo. Really, it was more like hand-numbing, shivering, freeze-your-waders-off kind of weather. But it sure beats snow and negative fifty-something like we’ve had back home.

We stopped in Branson on the way back from Texas and hit Taneycomo. Braden and I stuck it out for most of the day despite rain and temps in the 40’s. I figured the miserable weather would discourage most anglers from fishing today, but I failed to calculate the horrible affects that cabin fever has on a fly fisher’s restless mind – there were still plenty of anglers plying the frigid waters with flies.

We followed the typical ritual that we perform each time we hit Taneycomo. Grab a few layers of clothes (which happened to be quite a bit this time around), stop at River Run Outfitters for licenses (an awesome shop right by the river), muse on the generation (didn’t exist today!!), find a likely spot (pretty close to anywhere on Taneycomo), and toss a midge at some trout.

The fishing wasn’t spectacular, but Braden and I each put some fish in the net. I managed to stick a nice rainbow (pictured above) on a tan #20 thread midge. He taped somewhere around eighteen to twenty inches and FAT, a good fish and definitely one of the bigger ‘bows I’ve caught on a fly. It was far too cold to take pictures, so the grip-n-grin will have to do for this trip. Fish were eating the typical stuff – midges, scuds, worms at high generation, and streamers (you can check out a few of our favorite flies for Taneycomo here). A few fish were even rising somewhat consistently to little midges, which was a beautiful sight for a few fly fishers that have looked at frozen lakes and snow for the past few months. Despite the rain, it was an awesome day on the water. Taneycomo is always a fun place to fish, and it was a good bridge to spring trout fishing in Minnesota. 

Tight lines,


Texas Trout – Fly Fishing the Southernmost Trout Fishery in the U.S.

a run on the guadalupe river tx trout fishing Trout fishing is about the last thing that comes to mind when most people think of Texas. More often, images of cactus, flashy bass boats, and John Wayne pop up when the Lone Star State is mentioned. Yet a Texas trout stream is exactly where we found ourselves a few weeks ago during spring break. The Texas Hill Country (and the state as a whole, for that matter) has long intrigued me, both for fishing opportunities and the character of the area. I’m not sure if it’s the pictures of obese, popper-crushing largemouths, or the thought of spring-fed rivers coursing through arid, desert-like terrain, or the starkly beautiful and majestic hills and bluffs, but for some reason the Hill Country and the rivers that flow through it have haunted my thoughts more than a few times.


The wind burst through the giant cypress trees as I attempted to lob my indicator nymph rig in the general direction of “upstream”. Braden and I had been fishing the trophy section of the Guadalupe, home to planted rainbows up to twenty inches, for just about an hour, but the stream was starting to puzzle us. You never know what to expect when fishing a new trout stream, and this one had taken us a bit by surprise. Here the Guadalupe was flowing up against a towering bluff, the current moving quite slowly, almost as if it were distracted from its inescapable task of moving downstream. Most of the water was quite shallow with large slabs of rock cutting out into the river before the water abruptly dropped off into a deep, narrow trench. The dilemma wasn’t so much a problem of finding the fish, as most of the river was about a foot deep, but rather knowing right where the fish should be, sitting out of sight somewhere in the blue waters. I had read a fishing report earlier in the week that ran something like “if you know there are fish in the water (where else would they be), keep switching flies ’till you hook up”. I now understood exactly what he was saying.


A rare and unique river rising in an even rarer and more unique area, the Guadalupe River first emerges from springs in the headwaters in a similar fashion to most spring creeks in the Driftless Area. The Guad, along with other Hill Country streams, is fed by the Edwards Aquifer, a system characterized by a layer of porous, water-holding limestone. This limestone is the lifeblood of the crystal clear rivers in the Hill Country. Much like in the karst topography found in the Driftless Area and Pennsylvania, the limestone collects and transfers groundwater, eventually regurgitating it in the form of spring fed rivers and streams. The Guadalupe is one of these streams that arises from springs, bursts with life, and flows down through the contrastingly stark terrain. Bass and other warmwater species thrive in the upper stretches before it flows into Canyon Lake, a massive impoundment of over eight thousand acres of deep, blue water. When the Guad re-emerges from Canyon dam, invigorated by its journey through the lake, its slightly blue waters are icy cold – and able to sustain trout, making it the southernmost trout fishery in the United States.


The indicator rig wasn’t doing me much good with the slow current and fierce wind. I had only seen one trout the whole afternoon, a thick-shouldered bruiser rainbow that lazily floated up from the blue waters, grabbed something microscopic off the calm surface, and sank back into the depths, out of sight, just as quickly as he appeared. I chopped off my clumsy nymph rig and rummaged through my fly box until I uncovered a #12 bead head Chickabou Bugger.

The Guad at Rio Raft

The Guad at Rio Raft

Streamers, I’ve found, are best suited for fishing this type of water, which seemed to be unable to make up its mind between behaving like a stream or a stillwater. The trout that live there seem to have a hard time, too, cruising the slow current in all directions, yet always keeping a wary eye out for food being washed down by the gentle current. They can be both the toughest and easiest fish in the stream to catch. Some are warier than a whitetail during gun season. Others – especially stockers – appear to be bored with their somewhat monochromatic environment, eager to pound the daylights out of anything than comes in sight. Those were the ones I was after.

Nothing really happened for the first few holes. Though there was a gentle current, I followed my standard stillwater streamer fishing procedure – tossing the woolly bugger upstream, letting it sink through the almost imperceptible current for what seemed like an eternity, and slowly dragging it back with a varied cadence of tugs and twitches and pulls. I changed it up a few times before a trout finally found it to his liking. The familiar tug of a fish – the first I’ve felt on a fly rod for nearly five months – coursed through the rod as a strong rainbow headed for the other side of the river. He rolled on the surface a few times before I scooped him into the net. A stocker, no doubt, but a great fish to start the season!

Rainbow on the trophy section, taped around sixteen or seventeen inches...

Rainbow on the trophy section, taped around sixteen or seventeen inches…

After releasing the trout, Braden and I decided to check out a different stretch of stream. We ventured out of the trophy section and hit the deep pool right below the dam. The pool was bordered by a big slab of cement and barbed-wire fences as the water tumbled out of the spillway – hardly a scenic spot, but definitely worthy of investigation. This stretch receives a healthy dose of smaller rainbows from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. canyon dam

Face full of meat!

Face full of meat!

It only took a few casts before a spunky ten inch rainbow smacked my streamer. Every couple casts a trout would dart out of the turbulent blue waters and slash at our streamers Action was non-stop for the next hour, and Braden and I pulled in around sixteen little ‘bows on woolly buggers before a thunderstorm pushed us off the water just before dark. Streamers were definitely the ticket for these aggressive rainbows, accounting for all our trout besides one little guy that ate a Tellico-style soft hackle.  nymphing a run on the guad

The hot Texas sun made a full appearance the next time we hit the water a few days later, but the trout didn’t seem to mind. We hit the same stretch below the dam. It was more like bluegill fishing than your typical trout scenario – small flies and light tippets had no place. Stretching all of eight inches – or twelve for a big one -, the fish weren’t monsters, but still lots of fun on streamers. Most of the time the fly wouldn’t survive for more than a minute before being jolted by an eager rainbow. It wasn’t hard fishing, but it’s the kind of day every fly fisherman needs once in a while. Noah tagged along this time and fished his glass 4 wt., which was a blast with the spunky rainbows. Each time his hook managed to stick, the little rod would bend and throb profusely under the strain of the small trout.

Bugger-eating rainbow on glass

Bugger-eating rainbow on glass

Noah got this bow on a bugger, Guadalupe River TXI lost track after half a dozen rainbows. We had a blast pulling fish out of the pool for the next hour or two. I played around with a few flies and rigs, but a woolly bugger with a small split shot was a sufficient offering most of the time. Braden tossed a #6 with a conehead – a big meal for the little ‘bows – and did quite well. Smaller streamers also produced a good share of trout. streamer fishing the guad

A better fish for this stretch...

A better fish for this stretch…

fly fishing the Guadalupe river

Texas is hardly a place you’d expect to find trout, but it hosts a surprisingly good fishery. Though the trout in the Guadalupe may not be wild or particularly discerning, it’s a blast to hit the water and toss streamers or nymphs to big rainbows in the heart of the Lone Star State.

It seems that winter still has a faint grip on the Northwoods, but things should start to warm up and melt pretty soon. Until then, we’ll be tying some bugs in preparation for the upcoming statewide trout opener, which is only a couple weeks away!

Tight lines,


Also, be sure to “like” us on Facebook for Driftless fishing reports, fly patterns, and the latest happenings on the blog!

Local Texas fly shops….

Reel Fly, Canyon City

Action Angler

Gruene Outfitters

Colorado Fly Fishing

In the middle of October the crew took a trip out to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The Yampa River, known for its big rainbows and browns, flowed right through town. Our first stop was Steamboat Flyfisher to grab a few flies and some gear. The guys in the shop were super helpful and pointed us toward some great spots on the river. If you’re ever in the area, definitely stop in and give them a visit, they run an awesome shop.

We started fishing a stretch on the Yampa right in town. The water was a bit high and stained, so we rigged some nymphs and started hitting the pockets and runs behind the many boulders. Noah stuck a nice brown swinging a white conehead wooly bugger, but he popped off right at the net. After a few minutes of tossing flies without any results, we decided to move to a more familiar stretch.

braden's colorado rainbow trout

One of Braden’s fat rainbows

Next we hit a piece of water where I actually caught my first trout on a fly. The river split into a side channel and flowed past a big pond that held plenty of stocked rainbows. Braden pulled a few fat stockers from the pond on a dry, and I busted off couple strong rainbows in the river dredging an indicator nymph rig. My 6X tippet was no match for the hefty rainbows and heavy current, and more than a few fish shot off downstream and shredded my line. The 6X was the only tippet I had, so unfortunately none of the bigger trout made it to the net. I ended the day with two little ‘bows on a #16 Frenchie.

Dry fly rainbow

Dry fly rainbow

Monday brought snow and some nasty conditions on the river, but I hit the water anyway. The fishing was pretty slow, and I honestly wasn’t fishing very well. I briefly connected on a few good trout before they popped off.

We fished a new stretch a ways upstream from town on Tuesday. A slow meandering river and rising trout greeted me as I strung up my rod. The trout were steadily sipping olives in the slow water and riffles. I made a few casts with a BWO parachute, but quickly got refusals. A fly change later, I stuck a rainbow on a #20 CDC BWO Comparadun, but he popped off after a decent fight. I pricked a few more fish before discovering the hook was bent out. Braden put a fat 17 incher in the net before we called it a night.

Elk River

The snowmelt made some trouble for us on Thursday. A habitat improvement project blew out the river, so after an hour of flogging the chocolate milk we wandered up to the Elk River hoping to pull some rainbows from the icy water. The frigid water temps from the recent snowmelt made things tough, and I only managed one rainbow on a #12 Mercer’s Micro May. The river was gorgeous, though, with mountains and pines towering above the rushing water.

Mountain Whitefish! Noah stuck this whitey on a midge that he tied while fishing the Elk River.

Mountain Whitefish! Noah stuck this whitey on a midge that he tied while fishing the Elk River.

The three of us hit the Elk again on Friday morning for the last day of the trip. Snow fell softly as we dredged the pocketwater with nymphs and split shot. Again, the fishing was pretty slow, but Noah stuck a nice mountain whitefish on a midge, his first on a fly. Later in the afternoon we hiked and fished a small lake up in the mountains that supposedly held cutthroats and a few grayling. The other two only fished a few minutes before deciding to hike in the thin layer of snow that blanketed the bank. I trekked over to the dam and pulled a gorgeous 17 inch cutthroat from the crystal clear water on a #12 Chickabou Bugger. A few casts later I hooked into another good fish. After a short fight, I put a grayling in the net! I was pumped! Cutthroats have been on my dream list for a long time, but I never imagined I’d catch a grayling, not to mention getting both within a few minutes! I released it back into the icy waters and decided to call it a day.mountain lake in colorado


Awful pic, but a beautiful fish

SAMSUNGIt was an awesome trip, and though the trout could have cooperated a bit better, it was great to fish out west! Winter is officially here in Minnesota, and its time to tie some flies or hit the ice for a few panfish…

Tight Lines,


10-26…White River Brown Trout

Today Braden and I hit Lake Taneycomo, Missouri’s portion of the legendary White River system. If you’re not familiar with Taneycomo, the “lake” is actually a tailwater flowing from the massive Table Rock Lake. Taneycomo is famous for its monster browns and rainbows, but is subject to an unpredictable generation schedule from Table Rock Dam. High generation makes wade fishing very difficult, if not impossible. We passed up the “combat” fishing at the hatchery outlets and found some solitude further downstream. We were greeted by a gentle Taneycomo at low generation and a multitude of visible trout.

Table Rock Dam

I started by tossing some streamers. I tied on a small beadhead chickabou bugger style fly and quickly found a willing rainbow. It wasn’t a bad fish at around twelve inches, but it was nowhere near the size Taneycomo is famous for. I played with a few different nymph rigs and hooked a few fish, but didn’t land any. A few midges started hatching later in the afternoon. Midges are the bread and butter on Taneycomo, which gets midge hatches almost every day.  Braden tied on a cdc midge and nailed a nice rainbow around the same size as mine.

Taneycomo rainbow on a dry fly

They started running water on us later in the afternoon, so we packed up and hit the outlets, which had emptied out a bit by then. Surprisingly, I got old outlet number three all to myself. I hooked a few rainbows on a scud, but nothing stuck. Braden caught the fish of the day, landing two nice browns in the fifteen inch range on a hare and copper.

Taneycomo brown trout

Today was tough, but fishing on the White is always a fun experience. Next up we are headed east for some mountain fly fishing to wild rainbow trout in the Smoky Mountains.

Trout, Turkeys, and Tailwaters

Our family just returned from a week in the Ozarks, home of the legendary White River and some huge trout.

For the first half of the trip, we were a short drive from the Little Red River, a tailwater and tributary to the White. It once gave up the world record brown trout, and continues to produce trophy fish. A national fish hatchery sits on the banks, and the trout stack up below the outlets, where we fished for the day. There was no generation, so we enjoyed low water for the afternoon. I started with a Gormans Egg and a gray

scud for a dropper. Noah dredged a streamer and Braden fished an egg with a zebra midge dropper. Within a few casts I hooked a ten inch rainbow on the scud, my first Arkansas trout. Noah got a bite on his streamer, but after that the fishing slowed down. We moved downstream to the next outlet. This outlet had a steep drop off close to the bank, and held tons of fish, including some monster rainbows (25″). As I waded across I noticed some rainbows nymphing in 6″ of water just above the drop off. At this time I had a bead head Nuke Egg on and drifted it to the trout. When it was about a foot from the trout it got lodged in the sand, but the trout didn’t care. He swam right up in the shallow

Braden's bow

water and grabbed that thing off the bottom. He turned, and I set the hook. As soon as he felt the metal, he shot across the riffle into the fast water and made a few hard runs before he broke my 6x tippet. It was a nice fish too, around 16″! The trout were nymphing and occasionally dimpling the surface eating midges. They were very selective and refused a number of patterns. Upon the recommendation another fisherman, I tied on a blood midge, which worked for another 12″ rainbow. I was on the other side of the outlet when I heard Braden shout “got one”! I splashed across the outlet and net the fish, a respectable rainbow that also ate a blood midge. By that time it was almost dark, so we packed up and ended a great day on a great river.

Little Red River with Greers Ferry Dam in the background

We spent the next half of the trip on Lake Taneycomo in Branson,

My biggest fish of the trip. Look at the colors

Missouri. Before we hit the water on Wednesday we stopped at River Run Outfitters, a great little shop just minutes from the river. When we got to the river we had low water, as the schedule had said the night before. Trout were rising and I put on a tiny cdc bwo comparadun to try and match the hatch of midges or possibly blue winged olives. I spotted a trout rising steadily about twenty feet out. I waited for him to rise again and made a cast. A few seconds into the drift and the trout gulped my fly. Somehow the size twenty hook stuck. He made a few runs and came to the net. A beautiful sixteen incher, my biggest of the trip.

Back to swim another day

After I released him, I hiked a little ways upstream to a riffle that had  fish rising in it. Before I could get a good cast, I heard some splashing and shouting downstream. Noah had hooked a fish and it was splashing like crazy. Since I was the only one with rubber boots, I ran over to net the fish. I got the fish on the first scoop. It was another big rainbow, around 16″ (Noah thinks it was 17″). Noah caught it on a Zoo Cougar, the polar opposite of the tiny dry I caught my big fish on. I went back to my riffle and caught a small rainbow on a blood midge before the horn blew and the water went up, ending our day of fishing.

Lake Taneycomo

On Thanksgiving we went fishing with Grandpa in a small creek behind the hotel. We caught a few green sunfish and saw a pod of carp, but couldn’t get them to bite.

Noah's Bow


Grandpa went with us to Lake Taneycomo for a solid day of fishing to rising fish almost all day long. We stopped by the hatchery outlets but they were crazy busy. I mean like fifteen people fishing an outlet! It was way too busy for my liking, so we drove down to the boat landing and found a less busy spot. This time we had some higher water, but the fish were still rising. Noah

Braden caught this trout on a cdc bwo

caught the first fish, a healthy 12 inch bow. As usual, he was fishing a streamer. For the next hour or so, the fishing was pretty good. I caught a feisty little bow on the same cdc fly I had used on Wednesday. Braden caught his first two Taneycomo trout on the cdc olive fly, both decent fish. Then it was Grandpa’s turn. He made a good cast, got a great drift, and his fly was slammed by a 14″ rainbow. He played it well and landed a nice fish. There was a lot more current today, so the fish were on the current seams instead of scattered throughout the “lake”. Noah switched to an Adams and landed another rainbow. After that fish the trout stopped rising as steadily and appeared to be eating emergers. I switched to a Ausable Bomber dry fly and a blood midge dropper. I cast the flies to a fish expecting the midge to be eaten. Surprisingly, a bow rose and grabbed the big dry. I set the hook and landed another rainbow. Two more trout took the bomber and ignored the blood midge. It was awesome to see midging trout take the big dry. The trout started rising again, so I tied on the cdc olive. The fish were in a seam rising like crazy. I caught three more trout, all rainbows, on the tiny dry as the sun was setting. It was great to do some trout fishing in November.

Grandpa's big rainbow


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