Unusually cold temperatures hit the Ozarks in mid-November as Eric Olliverson and I met at the Branson landing on the shore of Lake Taneycomo. Early on there was no wind and it was bearable. Once the wind picked up about 11:00 o’clock our fingers became numb and continuing was not in the picture.
Fishing for Midwestern trout is usually a little different than in western or eastern waters. This is due to the fact that most Midwestern trout are hatchery raised and often found in ponds as opposed to rivers and streams. Such is the case with most of the trout in this lake. However there is some natural reproduction. The brown trout spawn in early fall and the rainbows are just beginning the spawn now.
Spin tackle in the main Midwestern choice for trout fishing. Out west and east there is more fly fishing. Both methods are popular on this lake.
You want a relatively light rod to match the style of fishing you are doing. Light to medium-light action is best because it is very soft and limber allowing the casting of very small lures. The reason for the preference of the open spinning reel for trout is the use lighter line. It works well with 4 to 6 pound test line. Typically drag is better too.
The closed face spinning reel tends to allow light line to bunch up on the reel. It does not cast as well if you get a snag or after you catch a fish. Closed face reels are for use with heavier line and for more basic fishing.
Most trout respond to lures of 1 1/2 inch or less. In stained water you might want to use something a little larger.
Some anglers like a camo-green line because it does not put off the fish. You can also get away with a little heaver line. You might up-grade to 6 to 8 pound line. You might use the heaver line with a 2 foot leader of the lighter line. Fluorocarbon line in the 2-lb and 3-lb size tends to be brittle. Four pound monofilament line works.
For lures you can use anything from micro jigs up. Pink and rainbow trout seem to go together. Red, brown and orange are good colors for brown trout. You can dress a jig by putting a bobber six or eight feet above it. It is not as a strike indicator. But, rather it gives the line additional weight for casting. In clear water a clear bobber is best. If you need to cast a long way you can put some water in the bobber or add split shot. You adjust the bobber according to the water depth you are wanting to fish.
Today we are using a pink Trout Magnet lure. It suspends about 6-feet beneath a fixed bobber. The bobber is very small.
If you are getting short strikes because the fish is attacking the feather portion of the jig presentation, trim the tail making the whole presentation shorter and closer to the hook.
Using the floating micro-crankbaits you can make them go lower than two or three feet by adding a split shot. Maybe you will want to put a large enough split shot on that the bait to make it actually sink. Let them sink longer to really fish deeper and not as long to go shallower.
For larger brown trout try a minnow crankbait. In deeper water you can throw a crankbait that has a larger bill on it. The longer the bill on a hard bodied bait, the deeper it will go. If it is one that suspends, you crank the bait down and then twitch it back. It works in really deep water.
The technique is simply to cast and retrieve it. You can vary the speed of the retrieve or you can cast it and allow the spoon to sink. Simple is good when trout fishing. It is what you are going to do most of the time if you are to be successful.
If you are fishing highly pressured areas use smaller line, smaller presentations, and be a little quieter. In an area with a lot of trout get out your favorite lure and make it work.
The best way to handle a trout if you plan to release it is to grab the lure without touching the fish and with the fish still in the water. If you use a net, get one that is very fine mesh. Large mess will damage the fish. Dunk the net before using it to hold the fish. Leave the net in the water as you remove the lure. Forceps or needlenose pliers are best for removing the lure.