Thanks to my dadâ€™s love of fishing, our family spent nearly every summer vacation at Table Rock Lake during my childhood years.
I remember wading in the freezing water below Table Rock Dam with my dad and catching limits of rainbow trout before sunrise. Then in the evenings we would spend some time bass fishing on Table Rock. Even though we did a lot of fishing during our vacation, it was still a family affair because we also got to spend quality time with my mom and sister at the various tourist attractions in the area.
Although I would rather have been fishing, I still enjoyed our family time that we spent swimming, sightseeing and visiting Silver Dollar City, Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Theater and the shops in downtown Branson.
Another of my favorite summertime vacation spots was Montauk State Park. We never spent a full week at that destination, but used it more as a three-day-weekend get-away spot. The park was an ideal place for our whole family to fish together since the trout were stocked every day, which gave my mom and sister a good chance to catch some fish too.
We enjoyed camping at the park during our earliest visits to Montauk but eventually we switched to lodging at the cabins in the park or one of the nearby resorts. The trout fishing was the main attraction for us, but I do remember doing some horseback riding.
The Show Me State has plenty of areas like Table Rock and Montauk where families can combine fishing with other fun activities for a great vacation. Missouri has excellent fishing spots throughout the state and most of those fisheries offer other recreational opportunities such as swimming, hiking, water skiing, sightseeing and camping that the whole family can enjoy. Many of the lakes and rivers around the state also have tourist attractions that are less than a one-hour drive from a great fishing hole.
Letâ€™s take a trip around the state to look at some of the best places to spend a family fishing vacation this summer.
This tourism mecca has to be considered the stateâ€™s premier location for a fishing family to spend a summer vacation.
Lake Taneycomo offers some of the best trout fishing in the state whether you fish with a fly rod or with spinning tackle. The trophy area below Table Rock dam offers fly-fishermen of all skill levels a chance to catch plenty of rainbow and brown trout.
The most popular technique among the locals is to drift an olive scud below a strike indicator with the current. Water flow from the dam is usually low during the summer so anglers have plenty of opportunities to wade in the trophy area.
Rainbows and browns can also be taken on spinning tackle with 2- to 3-inch jerkbaits, micro jigs or 1/80- or 1/100-ounce marabou jigs in brown or olive hues. Tie the micro or marabou jigs on 4- to 6-pound line and set a float about 2 to 3 feet above the lure.
A wide array of live or scented baits produce best for anglers of all ages down lake. I have used pieces of nightcrawlers, Berkley Power Bait Eggs and Berkley Gulp! worms in pink or chartreuse to catch plenty of trout from Cooper Creek to downtown Branson. A drift rig with a 1/4- ounce weight and a small bait hook works best for drifting or tightlining the bait. Although we usually rent a boat to fish the lower lake, a family staying at one of the many resorts on the lake can catch plenty of rainbows fishing off of the resortâ€™s dock.
Table Rock is full of spotted and largemouth bass that hit topwater plugs such as Cotton Cordell Red Fins and Heddon Zara Spooks in the early morning hours. Try the pole timber on main and secondary points, and later in the day switch to crankbaits or slowly dragging a split shot rig with a finesse worm in green pumpkin or watermelon hues 10 to 20 feet deep on the gravel bottom of those same points. The local guides also set up their clients with inflated nightcrawlers to catch bass during the heat of summer.
Hand-sized bluegills and goggle-eyes can be taken on the split shot rig at Table Rock throughout the summer. However, I have had good luck fishing for big bluegills by dropping a cricket 10 to 20 feet down through the limbs of cedar trees along secondary points. I use the biggest split shot I can find so the cricket descends quickly past the smaller panfish that usually suspend higher in the tree limbs.