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Thursday, May 12, 2016

How Exactly Did Branson, Missouri Become Such a Popular Fishing Destination?

Image courtesy of Billy Hathorn via Wikimedia Commons

When most people around the United States here about Branson, Missouri, their first thought isn’t fishing, but rather its entertainment venues and attractions centered mostly on country music. 

Not only do visitors enjoy live shows from such luminaries as Lee Greenwood, the Eagles, or a tribute to the 80s rock band ABBA, there are also several other attractions like the local Ripley’s Believe It or Not, interactive Titanic exhibit and one of many wineries nestled in the surrounding Ozark Mountains.

What most people from other parts of the country don’t realize is the amazing fishing around Branson, Missouri. In fact, many visitors come to this small town for just the fishing – not only is Branson nestled within in the Ozark Mountains, it also sits between two large man-made lakes that are well known for their healthy numbers of Bass, Crappie, Catfish and Trout.

Continue reading for a brief overview of these two lakes and the types of fish anglers can expect to find.

Lake Taneycomo

The first lake just to the north and east of Branson is named after Taney County, MO – hence the name “Taneycomo.”

Lake Taneycomo origins go back to 1913 when the White River was confined by the Powersite Dam. In its first few decades, this lake was fed directly by the White River and its waters were warm. It is a thin but long body of water, and in some spots, resembles a river more than a lake.

Another dam built on the White River in the 1950s changed Lake Taneycomo’s water source from the warm river water to the cold bottom tailwater from the new dam. As a result, Lake Taneycomo’s water temperature averages 48 degrees in some spots, making it one of the largest coldwater lakes in Missouri.

This cold water creates an ideal environment for Rainbow and Brown Trout. The best area for trophy trout is right around the spillway for Table Rock Dam where the narrow stream allows anglers to catch Trout from the bank.

As you move through the Lake and on to the Powersite Dam, the water gets warmer and deeper.
Besides the cold waters at the beginning of Lake Taneycomo, the healthy population of Rainbow and Brown Trout is also supported by the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery at the foot of Table Rock Dam. The hatchery was created in the late ‘50s upon completion of the dam and is operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Table Rock Lake

To the south and west of Branson lies Table Rock Lake, another artificial water body that has become a popular fishing destination for several varieties of Bass (i.e. Smallmouth, Largemouth Spotted and Black) plus Bluegill, Crappie and Walleye. The Lake covers just over 67 square miles in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas and is by far the larger of the two lakes immediately around Branson.

The Lake was created by the Table Rock Dam, which was constructed between 1954 and 1958 on the White River to help control flooding and provide a source of low cost electricity for the surrounding area.

Although the White River was already known for its incredible Bass fishing, the creation of the Lake and subsequent efforts to boost fish populations has been tremendously successful.

For example, the Missouri Department of Conservation completed an extensive habitat project in Table Rock Lake a few years ago. This project involved placing over 1,400 structures like brush piles, stumps and rock piles into the lake to attract more fish. You can click here for an interactive map of these spots.

Besides being a popular fishing destination for anglers of all types, Branson and Table Rock Lake also hosts two B.A.S.S. tournaments annually.

Bass isn’t the only fish who calls Table Rock Lake home. Catfish like Channel and flathead may not be as popular as Largemouth Bass, but they are known to gather in the river arms, or the outflow from the White and James River. Bluegills are another popular type of fish that prefer gravel bottoms in 10 to 20 feet of water.

John Sappington has been fishing the waters of Lake Taneycomo and Table Rock Lake both professionally and recreationally for well over 20 years. His extensive knowledge of the area ensures you and your traveling companions will have a good time and come home with at least a few fish. We invite you to to learn more about John Sappington and guided fishing trips around Branson, Missouri.

Image courtesy of Missouri State Parks

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