Branson, Mo, was an unlikely site for the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers, which held its 56th annual conference at the Chateau on the Lake. If you’ve ever been to Branson, you were probably there to take in the shows, the strip and all the glitz. But there’s much more to Branson than the entertainment experience. In fact, just 15 minutes from all the stage lights there’s an outdoor experience that’s simply awesome. My favorite – Lake Taneycomo.
I jumped at the opportunity to take my wife, Sandy, on a trout fishing experience aboard a pontoon boat. Since we’ve been talking about acquiring one of these boats and she’s indicated that she’d like to do a little more fishing with me, I thought it would be a marriage made in heaven. Unfortunately, the only thing coming out of the heavens was a bunch of the wet stuff.
Even though the pontoon had a canvas top, everything was wet – the cushions, our clothes – everything. Sandy was a trooper and tried to get a trout to hit her offering. I managed to catch one small one, losing it at the boat. We really weren’t prepared for this time of weather … or this type of fishing. Still, from past experience, I know that this is a great trout lake.
The Missouri state record brown trout comes from here, a 28.8-pound, 37-inch monster from 2009. That said, a 45-pound fish was found floating at the dock back in 1997, so they can get bigger than the current record. A lot bigger.
“The colder the better,” said Ryan Titus of Lilley’s Landing, a full-service resort and marina that was our home for the day. From boat rentals and guides to efficiency cabins and a swimming pool, this place has it all (www.lilleyslanding.com). “Spring and fall are the best times of year for trout fishing. The end of October, the browns start running, but you can catch fish all year long here.”
During the remainder of the conference, I know of at least a dozen writers who had excellent fishing experiences there for trout. Fly fishing is exceptional. Because of the clear water, two- or four-pound test line is recommended.
Taneycomo has a dam at both ends. At one end is Table Rock Dam, which helps form Table Rock Lake. At the base of the dam is Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, stocking trout into the system, both browns and rainbows. Taneycomo sees roughly 700,000 fish a year.
If you are looking for a great getaway and something a little different, give Taneycomo and Lilley’s Landing a try. And if you bring your wife, make sure you do your homework … and bring along some rain gear!