Chasing Big Browns on Taneycomo

I went down to Taneycomo again this week with my dad and specifically targeted larger browns. It was a little different trip. I specifically wanted to catch larger trout. We still caught the typical 10-14 inch trout, a mix of rainbows and browns, and plenty of them. I used a sinking tip line this time and worked streamers, but they did not work so well. The water was not flowing much on this trip so we had low water conditions and very little flow. I still used 8 lb tippet at night, but dropped to 6lb during the day. I hate to risk the chance of hooking up on a large fish, over 24 inches, with only 6lb test or less.

We tried to work the top end of deeper pools and bottoms of short runs, outside bends and cover when we could find it, where predatory fish would typically sit. Knowing that bigger browns, larger than 20 inches, become more carnivorous, we were throwing larger and larger baits. When you ask around what is the best fly to use for larger trout, we commonly received the answer, the largest green thing you have in your box. Well, they were correct.

We started with inch long wooly buggers in gray, olive or black. Once I started hooking a few nicer trout, I continued to go larger with my flies. I ended up doing best on an olive green wooly bugger about 3 inches long, and wished I had something larger in the box to throw. I don’t think there were too many large fish around, but every once in a while, I could see one here or there that I estimated around the 20in mark. They were finicky though!

The largest Brown we caught was this one in the picture that went about 17-18 inches. Not too bad. He sure fought well though. Browns fight a lot like a walleye. They battle with lots of muscle, staying low in the water, short runs to strip some line from you, but like fighting a bull. They don’t run fast or jump a lot like the rainbows. A great target and battle on fly gear!

We had 2 others on on this trip that we estimated quite a bit larger than this one, but the hook pulled out. It is tough to get a good hook set on the larger trout when swinging a wooly bugger through a hole. You have a very small hook and it is tough to keep the slack out of the line at night. We are learning and have the fever to keep on trying.

It was like a game trying to match the weight of the fly line, and the sink of the fly to get it to swing through the strike zone about 6 in above the bottom. I scraped the bottom quite a bit, and came up with a lot of suckers. Don’t get me wrong. A 2.5 lb sucker is a nice battle on fly gear. Not the targeted species though. This told me I was drifting too deep so I had to change things up a few times.

Taneycomo is an excellent fishery to test your trout skills and learn the ropes. Each time we go, we come back a little more knowledgeable about the fish and gear it takes to fool them. Thank goodness it is a target rich environment. Enough targets tells us if we are doing something wrong or if we have connected with a line, drift, fly pattern that a nice trout will eat.

When they open the gates, hit it hard for about an hour. The newly flowing water washes a lot of bugs off the exposed rocks and bars and gets a nice feeding frenzy to roll for a short while. I love throwing a surface fly called the Big Ugly, with a midge dropper about 18 inches below it. Action can be fast and furious for a while. Use the Big Ugly as a strike indicator, but often they hit the surface fly more than the midge.

Sometimes it is difficult to pass up the fast and furious action of the smaller trout though and stick with the plan of throwing “Meat” flies in hopes of getting a line stripper on. I hope to break 24 inches again this year. I can do that with little brown scuds and midges and such for nice rainbows, but for now, I am trying a little meatier presentation and stripping wooly buggers and large streamers in hopes something nicer will take me for a ride.

~ Jon

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