Lake Taneycomo fishing Guide John Sappington shows us how to catch trout using conventional fishing tackle and gear. And while the best trout lures varies by waters, season, and even time of the day, Sappington targets big tailrace rainbow and brown trout using minnow-imitating balsa plugs on spinning setups. Timing on reservoir-fed rivers is essential, with Sappington stressing the importance of current and choosing lures that fish cleanly through snag-infested waters.
TACKLE USED (retail links)
- LURE – Rapala Original Floater (F13), color – Gold: Buy at Bass Pro Shops, Buy at Tackle Warehouse
- ROD – Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris CarbonLite 2.0 Spinning Rod – JCT69MLSDS: Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- REEL – Pflueger President Spinning Reel – Model PRESSP25X: Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- LINE – Bass Pro Shops Excel Monofilament Line, 6- and 8-pound: Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- TROLLING MOTOR – Minn Kota Ulterra Bow Mount Trolling Motor: Buy at Bass Pro Shops
WHEN TO TARGET TROUT ON TAILRACE FISHERIES
Current is the dinner bell that initiates rampant trout feeding on many reservoir-fed rivers (tailraces). Sappington plans his outings around timed water releases from the upriver dam. Running water, as it’s commonly referred to, is usually on a set and published schedule, which makes timing your outings simple. Cold, flowing water is well-oxygenated and stirs life from invertebrates to forage fish. Additionally, current positions trout in specific locations, making it possible to run location patterns.
WHERE TO TARGET TROUT IN TAILRACES
Sappington quickly notes that trout can use the entire river, so don’t discount spots as unproductive. Naturally, boulders and laydowns are high-percentage current breaks (ambush spots) and always demand a look. But active trout often chase prey across flats, so fish anything that looks good. Choose a lure that provides good versatility around a range of cover and habitat to improve your odds.
THE POWER OF MINNOW-IMITATING PLUGS (aka Jerkbaits)
Sappington has found that balsa plugs fish well in current and around a range of shallow river habitats. It’s easy to fish ultra-buoyant minnow plugs from the surface or deeper through the water column. The Rapala Original Floater is a trout fishing staple for these reasons, comes in a wide range of sizes and colors, and a close imitator to the native river chubs favored by big trout. Choose a size and color that matches the predominant forage for the best luck.
ROD, REEL, AND LINE SETUP FOR TROUT FISHING WITH PLUGS
As a passionate fly fishing angler, Sappington prefers using lighter lines than one might think. A spinning reel spooled with a 6- to 8-pound monofilament line presents the bait naturally, has minimal visibility, and plenty of strength for fighting mighty river trout. A medium-light spinning rod rounds out his basic setup, and is one that most anglers already have in their arsenal.