Although most people probably think of shows and entertainment when Branson comes to mind, Fishing in Branson is also insanely popular. The three lakes within easy reach–Table Rock Lake, Lake Taneycomo and Bull Shoals Lake–make this an angler’s paradise year-round.
Table Rock Lake is known across the country for its bass. Spring spawning is the best time to fish for largemouth, smallmouth, Kentucky spotted bass, white bass and rock bass, while early spring and late fall is best for lunker bass. March and April are also good for crappie, while summer nights are good for rod and reel fishing for catfish.
Trout is king in Lake Taneycomo’s cool waters, with more than 750,000 fish deposited into the lake every year from the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, making its location just below Table Rock Dam a favorite spot. Winter is the best season for rainbow trout, though they are fished year-round. The top season for brown trout occurs in autumn when they spawn. The lower end of the lake, near Forsyth, is warmer and is home to other kinds of fish. There are restrictions on the number of fish allowed, how long they must be and the types of lure and bait. Note that if you hear a horn blow, especially near the dam, it’s a warning that they are going to start generating power, which will release more water into the lake, causing the current to flow and the water to rise.
Fishing permits are required in Missouri. 24-hour permits are $7, while annual permits cost $42 for nonresidents and $12 for Missouri residents (anyone younger than 16 and Missouri rsidents older than 65 do not need a basic license). An additional $7 trout permit is required for fishing Lake Taneycomo between the dam and the U.S. Highway 65 bridge in downtown Branson.
If you’d like to fish with a professional guide, Ozark Mountain Guide Service leads anglers to the best spots on Table Rock Lake and Taneycomo, while River Run Outfitters is a full-service fly fishing shop and offers equipment, two rental cabins, classes and guided fly-fishing expeditions on Lake Taneycomo. Lilleys’ Landing is a family-owned resort and marina on Taneycomo, with jon boats, bass boats and pontoons for rent plus fishing guides. State Park Marina at Table Rock Lake State Park also has rental boats, tackle and other fishing equipment.
Finally, if it’s bad weather and you’re miserable at your bad luck, take a tour of The History of Fishing Museum, where you can feast your eyes on more lures, rods, reels, boats, motors and other fishing paraphernalia than you’ve ever set eyes on.