March 16 – Lake Taneycomo

Having planned for months in advance, Lowell, Jim and I left Canton on Sunday morning for our annual trek to Lake Taneycomo, which has a gazillion trout, all planted.  This is our “bridge” fishing event, between the ice fishing season and open water season.  We noted and commented upon the numerous skunk roadkills on the way down.  I should have taken that as a hint.  We made the obligatory stop at the Bass Pro Shops Mothership store in Springfield, MO.  I bought a couple of shirts and a new watch in the catalog outlet store.  We made it to Trout Hollow Lodge by 6:30.  Tom had been waiting for us for a couple of hours and was pretty worried by that time.  I baited up and ran down to the dock to test the waters.  A steady current was running.  In a couple of minutes I had hooked a fish.  I had it about half way in when it got off.  That was as close to landing a fish as I would ever get.  Nonetheless, I ran back up and delivered the good news, as first-night success has been a harbinger of good things in the past.  We went to dinner feeling fairly optimistic.  We played cards until bed. 

I woke up super early, according to the hotel room clock, and could not go back to sleep.  I listened to my iPod until others began to stir.  I noticed later that the clock had not been sprung forward for Daylight Savings Time.  Eeesh.  It was about 40 degrees, and I put on every layer I had.   After breakfast we went down to the dock and loaded into our rented pontoon boat.  There was no current in the lake, as no water was being released from the upstream dam to generate electricity.  It stayed that way all day.  Jim caught a couple and Tom caught one, but Lowell and I could not buy a bite.  We went to lunch with heavy hearts, and the hope that some water would be released.  But it was not to be.  The afternoon turned even colder.  I sat in the back of the boat trying to fish, but feeling very cold and nodding off to sleep.  When I could take the misery no longer, I suggested we head in early, or at least that they drop me off at our dock, and the rest could go fish for another hour or two if they wanted.  Lowell joined me on shore, while Jim and Tom went on to fish a bit more.  I took a nap, then a long hot shower that was absolutely heavenly.  The shower had the highest flow rate I’ve seen in forever.  Rested, warm, and clean, I felt like a million dollars.  Jim and Tom came back, with nothing to show for their efforts.  We went to dinner, then to the little Bass Pro Shops in Branson.  I bought a pair of rain pants to help break the wind and keep my legs warm.  A single layer of denim was not doing the job!  I ran into Bob and Jamie outside the store.  They were down there for a meeting, but we didn’t get to spend any time together, sadly.   On the weather report that night, we learned that we were in the coldest spot around, north and south.

Tuesday morning we went out and found that there was a slight current to the lake, which boded well.  Unfortunately, every time we put a line in the water, gobs of filamentous algae would accumulate on our bait and weights.  We spent more time clearing it off than actually fishing.  Even when we could get the bait down on the bottom, we couldn’t raise a bite.  When we drifted past our dock, the people fishing off the end of it were catching trout like mad.  Unbelievable.  At least I was warm with the rain pants on top of my jeans.  We carried on until about 10:30, when I suggested we give up.  The current had stopped, we weren’t catching fish, and Lowell wanted to get back a bit early.  We packed up and left, eating lunch in Lebanon at the Taco Bell.  When Lowell walked up to the table, his cup slipped out of his hand and he gave my leg a bath in root beer.  Wet clean-up, aisle two!  I thought it was pretty funny, and luckily I had an easily accessible pair of jeans in the trunk of the car.  We got back to Canton in good time, and both dog and wife were happy to see me.

One of the great things about Taneycomo is the usual hordes of great blue herons that tolerate human presence well.  When the fish aren’t biting, I can turn my attention to photographing the birds.  This year, we arrived a week later than usual, at my behest to match my spring break schedule (the others are all retired).   I think a lot of the herons had already migrated north, as there weren’t near the numbers we had in previous years.  Worse, the sun never shown, which makes photography difficult.  Nonetheless, I got a few shots in along the way.  Incidentally, the timing also meant more boats on the water and more tourist traffic in town.

From Winter 2010

GBH in flight

From Winter 2010

Mallard sex.

From Winter 2010

Heron eating fish.

From Winter 2010

Heron having just eaten fish.

From Winter 2010

Wood ducks on shore.

From Winter 2010

Old Crooked Foot.

From Winter 2010

Jim, Tom, Lowell, Joe

As usual, click through to see more photos, mostly more great blue herons.

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