Kenneth Kieser: Taneycomo trout, Branson enticing at this time of year

The Examiner
Rainbow or brown trout are not the only fish that bite in Taneycomo.

Try to imagine guiding on one of America’s premier fishing lakes where a state or world record trout is always possible. Duane Doty has been fishing out of Lilley’s Landing with the great trout angler Phil Lilley for several years. Both men studied the lake and how to catch trout from this great fishery.

The problem with guiding on Taneycomo is learning how to cope with changing conditions. The best bites are often dependent on water being released from Table Rock Dam. Guides learn how to fish for different species when water levels fluctuate.

Here is a recent communication between Doty and I:

Duane Doty (sent 21 hours ago): “Lake conditions are good right now. Running good water for fishing. Night time bite is great. Dissolved Oxygen Levels holding ok and fish fighting pretty good. These cooler temps should be getting Table Rock ready to turn over soon. Got a little color to the water so 4-pound test has been working well. Might have to go to 6x while fly fishing during the high sun of the day. Scuds working really well. Jig fishing good. Jerkbaits good early or late in the day and excellence after dark.”

Kieser: “I’m glad you’re getting some action. Maybe it will turn on.”

Duane Doty (sent 2 hours ago): “Well everything has changed. They just opened eight floodgates on table rock Dam. Flowing 14,000 CFS. This should put some shad into the system and make the bite very interesting. Usually puts them in shock for a bit then turns it on. I’ll get reports today.”

Kieser: “That sounds promising, please keep me advised of what happens.”

Duane Doty (sent 3 hours ago): “The white bass bite is on fire! Just get something white close to the water and you’ll catch fish. Trout spitting up Shad after you catch them and they are fighting hard. Easy to revive and release so Dissolved Oxygen Levels are good.”

Table Rock Dam throws clouds of shad into Taneycomo when water that once was on the bottom of the big lake is released. The bonus is fish like white bass and walleye often come down the same chutes. Not all quality fish survive the drop of more than 100 feet. But enough live to create a new fishery in this already world-class trout lake.

Lake Taneycomo, part of the White River chain located by Branson, Missouri is a world-class trout destination. Water generated through the Table Rock Dam power generators maintains a constant 48-degree lake temperature, perfect for brown and rainbow trout.

Surviving rainbow and brown trout prosper and grow because of a sound forage base of insects, trout guts and baitfish. Larger trout are mainly caught in the winter, spring and fall. The designated trophy area between the mouth of Fall Creek and the base of Table Rock Dam are excellent wade-in areas where only artificial baits are legal, with the exception of soft plastic baits.

There are several great trout docks on Taneycomo, but my favorite is Lilleys’ Landing Resort & Marina, a family owned and operated resort and marina located on Lake Taneycomo just minutes from the 76 Highway strip in Branson. They offer vacation rentals, boat rentals and fishing guides.  The resort’s fly shop has become a landmark for anglers voyaging to Lake Taneycomo. The Lilley Family has provided their guests with warm hospitality for 38 years. 

A Christmas gift opportunity: For a limited time, guests of Lilleys’ Landing will receive a free, full-day 22-foot pontoon rental with a reservation of 4 nights or more. Customers can view room pricing and availability at Reservations are made by phone. This offer, a $297 value, must be mentioned at the time of reservation and expires Jan. 1, 2021.

Home - Lilleys' Landing Resort & Marina

Branson is ready for Christmas: After fishing, it’s time for some holiday fun. Branson with a population of 1,200 has 1,700 beautifully decorated trees peppered throughout the town, that amounts to a staggering 7:1 human-to-tree ratio for this community that truly lives up to its nickname, “America’s Christmas Tree City.” And a new, very special tree is joining the ranks.

“United We Stand” is the name of a 39-foot-high, 25-foot-wide tree that was designed to serve as a symbol of peace, hope, joy and love. This spectacular tree features giant ornaments sent in by all 50 states. Each ornament measures nearly 2 feet, and many were crafted to look like the unique shape of their state.

Several feature notable wildlife, from Alaska’s moose to South Dakota’s bison to Georgia’s sea turtles, while others are adorned with their state’s very recognizable flag.

The tree stands adjacent to the Branson Wheel, a giant Ferris wheel that was relocated from Chicago’s Navy Pier in 2016. The wheel itself is electrified year-round, but for Christmas there are 16,000 LED fixtures holding more than 144,000 individual lights that all “dance” to favorite Christmas tunes. The light show takes place every hour on the hour once night falls.

Nearly every major business boasts its own themed Christmas tree and there are 56 “landmark” Christmas trees at least 20 feet tall, there are 10 or more trees displayed in one location, or there’s an “only-in-Branson” style of presentation.

Taking the prize for the location with the most trees is Silver Dollar City, a legendary theme park celebrating its 60th season that shines its brightest at this time of year. As the host of “An Old Time Christmas,” the park features 1,000 trees, including an eight-story animated one; more than 6.5 million lights; 30 outdoor shows; a light parade; plenty of holiday foods; and rides.

A full list of all holiday activities can be found at

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Holidays in Branson

– Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at

Kenneth L. Kieser