Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Crane Creek - Taneycomo 11/5 - 11/7
This time of year there are several rivers and streams I know of that keep me up at night trying to plan that next visit. The White River tailwater of Taneycomo is close to the top of that list for obvious reasons. With my last two trips to the tailwater producing some very nice fish I decided to give it another shot and see if the third time really was a charm. With a little coaxing I convinced my buddy Kevin to take Friday off work and hit the water with me. The plan was to meet at Taney Friday morning around 8:00 am, but after checking generation schedules the night before we were forced to devise a plan B. They were predicting 4 generators online until 11:00 am which would make it virtually unfishable without a boat. We decided to meet at Kevin's house in Aurora and then head to Crane Creek about 20 miles away and spend the morning there waiting on the water to drop out.
The Crane Creek mystique is that the trout are all wild strain McCloud rainbows that were supposedly stocked by railroad engineers riding the trains cross country. Story has it that they stocked likely streams in areas where they stopped over, either for recreational purposes or to have access to an easy fish dinner. Regardless of how they arrived, these fish have survived extreme low water conditions and poaching problems over the years and established a reproducing population of trout that is a real jewel here in Missouri.
Neither Kevin or myself had been to Crane since early last spring so this trip was to be a kind of scouting trip as much as anything. We wanted to see how the little stream had fared over the fairly dry summer and fall we have been experiencing and how the fish were doing as well. Our first stop was the upper access bordering private water , Upper Wire Road Access.
At times this section has been known to dry up so it was good to see plenty of water flowing under the low water bridge. After rigging up in the parking lot we headed off downstream, stalking the streambanks keeping our eyes peeled for our quarry.
The water looked good but to our disappointment we only saw a couple of fish in this upper section and weren't able to hook up with either of them. We decided to check out the section of water in town and see if there were any more fish in that section.
While it's not the most scenic section of this little creek the town section has some nice water that always has fish. As expected we saw more fish in this area and were each able to pick up a few young of the year fish on small nymphs.
A few larger fish were seen but were simply too spooky to get a good drift over. Sometime around noon I checked the water level at Taney and heard what we were hoping for , zero units online. Although we both had the desire to check out another section or two of Crane we decided to pack it up and head for Taneycomo to finish off the day.
We arrived below the dam around 1:00 to a tailwater still falling out , at a level of 704.2.
After gearing up in the parking lot we headed down to the water. After doing some scouting in several areas it was becoming evident to me that the brown numbers below the dam had decreased since my last visit two weeks prior. There were still some really nice fish around but not in the same quantity as before. Although there were less browns to be found, a good number of really nice rainbows had shown up to take their place in all their bright spawning colors. Kevin and I both had a really good day of catching fish on Friday using several different methods.
Fish were caught using midge imitations 18 inches under an indicator , unweighted scuds sight fished in less than 6 inches of water to feeding trout and tandem nymphing through some of the deeper runs.
Lots of good healthy rainbows were caught but nothing breaking the 20" mark and not a single brown landed.
Just as the sun was going down behind the dam they blew the horn twice signaling the start of two generators again. With camp still to set up before dark we decided to call it a day and finish up with a hot meal and a few cold beers.
Saturday morning we awoke and called to check water flows only to find 4 generators online and a tailwater level of 707.8. This wasn't fishable water for us so we took our time with breakfast hoping that the prediction was correct and the water would be coming back off by 10:00 am. Not surprisinly 10:00 rolled around with no change in water flows to our dismay. Kevin had only planned on staying until early afternoon and with no change in water flow yet he decided to throw in the towel and head back for Aurora. I decided to stay until noon hoping that the water would be shut down as predicted. Just about the time I was ready to give up hope, the water began to fall. All units had been shut down and now it was just a matter of an hour or so until the water fell out to normal levels.
With half the day gone already I decided to stay another night and fish hard the rest of the afternoon, not knowing when I'd get another opportunity.
I spent more time sight fishing to some of the larger rainbows I could find and landed several really nice rainbows over 20 inches over the course of the afternoon.
The largest fish was a 23 inch rainbow that took a # 18 olive bit-scud.
Towards dusk when the light wasn't good enough to sight fish I switched tactics and started fishing less than six inches of water to fish that were feeding on scuds with their backs practically out of the water. I finished up the day catching more fish than I could count using this method in one little backwater area.
Even with the shortened day of fishing I had once again had another great day on this tailwater. While not catching any of the browns I had come to chase , these fall rainbows were more than making up for it. I headed back to camp to have a hot meal and warm up around a big campfire for the evening.
I wrapped the night up celebrating another good day with a few cold beers and a good cigar.
Sunday dawned cold and clear as I awoke just as the sun was beginning to rise over the surrounding hillside. I began taking down camp after making a quick cup of coffee over the cookstove. My plan was to hit the water for a few hours before having to hit the road back to KC for some evening plans. I fished several areas from the day before and landed one rainbow over 20 inches as well as good numbers of average sized fish.
The fishing got better as the sun rose higher in the sky and was getting really good just about the time I had to call it a day of course. Those fish will just have to wait for another day I suppose.
Another fantastic weekend on one of my favorite rivers in the Ozarks. As I walked back towards the truck I began thinking about maybe making my next trip to one of those other rivers that had been keeping me up at night, maybe a little streamer fishing on the Current for a change of pace. Decisions...decisions...
Posted by HighPlainsFlyFisher