AGLOWers discover great fishing in midsection of U.S.

The mist-covered waters of Lake Taneycomo greeted Tim Lesmeister and Tony Weldele (pictured) for a morning of trout fishing when Lesmeister attended the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Conference. Weldele is making a long cast to a gravel bar that is home to some big rainbows and huge brown trout.

Branson, Mo., hosted this year’s Association of Great Lake Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) conference, and while there was much in the way of incredible musical venues, stage presentations ,and incredible historical displays – all things Branson is well known for – attendees also were surrounded by phenomenal natural resources.

The event center where we were headquartered looked out over Table Rock Lake. This southern reservoir nestled in the Ozarks was designed, built, and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers when the lake was impounded by Table Rock Dam, constructed from 1954 to 1958 on the White River.

Table Rock provided some tremendous fishing for many AGLOW members who caught spotted bass, white bass, crappies, and even a few walleyes. It seems the walleye population in this lake has been growing tremendously the past few years.

Another lake on this stretch of reservoirs is Bull Shoals. My guide on Lake Taneycomo (more on that later) said he loves fishing Bull Shoals because the shoreline of the lake is totally undeveloped and protected by a buffer zone (locally called the “take line”) owned, operated, managed, and controlled by the Army Corps. He said that not only is the bass fishing outstanding, the beauty of the lake always will bring you back for more.


The rainbow trout on Lake Taneycomo are healthy and happy and eager biters. Tony Weldele landed this nice rainbow while guiding Tim Lesmeister. Lesmeister has chased big trout all over the world and rates this resource as one of the best.

I spent my conference free time on Lake Taneycomo. This lake used to be a warm-water reservoir but the completion of Table Rock Dam in 1958 changed the source of water from that of the White River’s flowing waters to the clear cold waters from the deep tailwaters of Table Rock Lake, which pour out of the base of the dam into Lake Taneycomo. The cold water made swimming and water sports undesirable and tourism declined sharply when the water temperatures dropped dramatically.

It was soon replaced by fishermen who found the chilly water of Lake Taneycomo made it one of the top trout fishing lakes in the country. In 1957, the Missouri Department of Conservation constructed the Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery, and there are plenty of rainbows and brown trout to keep an angler like me who loves to fight a big trout happy.

My guide on Taneycomo was Tony Weldele from Rainbow Chasers Guide Service. Weldele has been guiding on the lakes around Branson for 30-plus years and has seen the many ups-and-downs impoundments go through as they evolve. He says there’s a lot to like about the impressive opportunities all three lakes have to offer these days.

I discovered on my trip with Weldele that the rainbow trout are willing biters, and they fight hard for their size. I was hoping for one of the giant brown trout that roam the lake, but the rainbows loved me more. There are some huge browns in Taneycomo with the state record caught by Bill Babler who landed a monster 40-pound, 6-ounce fish on Sept. 4, 2019.

I have fished rainbow trout all over the world and while Alaska’s Kenai River might still be my No. 1 spot for this species I would rate Taneycomo an easy No. 2 for trout production and size. It’s an incredible fishery.

From my many excursions to Branson I have discovered this area has it all. It’s an incredible tourism destination for entertainment, and it’s a phenomenal port-of-call for anglers who want loads of options for both species and lake options.

For more information check out And for the best guide in the region contact Tony Weldele at Rainbow Chasers Guide Service. It’s a journey worth taking.

Categories: Tim Lesmeister

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