Kayaking in Missouri can be a wonderful adventure. If you need some ideas of where to get started, checkout my recent post.
I am going to focus on kayaking in Branson on Lake Taneycomo for a minute. Come take a trip with me and let’s explore a hidden kayaking gem.
Where is Lake Taneycomo
Lake Taneycomo is nestled in the heart of the Ozarks in Branson, Missouri. It’s name alone tells you where it is. Taneycomo is the combination of Taney County Missouri, or Taney co mo. I know, ingenious!
Branson is known for its musical shows ranging from Country to some good ol’ 50s and 60s, to some Classic Rock n Roll and sweet Gospel. Branson boasts of things to do with the family and lots of places to eat. It also has 1.5 miles of boardwalk along the bank of Lake Taneycomo that also houses the Branson Landing.
Lake Taneycomo was the first of now several reservoirs on the White River. It began in 1913 when the Ozark Beach Dam in Powersite was constructed. Nothing more than a widening of the White River and hosting a number of species of sport fish native to the river.
Lake Taneycomo became the first tourist attraction in the area and for 38 years hosted many sport anglers on the shores of Rockaway Beach. Everything changed in 1958 with the construction of Table Rock Dam 22 miles upstream.
After the construction of Table Rock Dam, the ecology of the lake changed. It is now being fed from 160 miles below the surface of Table Rock Lake. This caused the waters in Lake Taneycomo to drop significantly. The lake generally maintains a temperature between 45 and 55 degrees year round. The warm water species of the lake started to decrease in numbers and there needed to be a fix.
Why is it Unique
This is where the unique part of the lake comes in. As the waters got colder and the fishing declined the Missouri Dept. of Conservation scouted for ways to bring the Lakes fishing back up. So, the Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery was constructed and in come the rainbow and brown trout. Now the lake is stocked constantly with trout.
If you like to fish there is no shortage of fish in Taneycomo. I personally have kayaked and fished it several times near the Branson Landing and in a few of the inlets nearby. Trout being the main fish in the waters these days, you can still catch bass, crappie, and walleye depending on the season and the way you hold your mouth.
If you have never fished froma kayak, I highly recommend you try it. Check out my post “Kayak fishing for beginners” and get all the scoop on how to get started.
Why Kayak Lake Taneycomo
Actually, it really is a gem. There are several places to access Lake Taneycomo if you are looking to put in a kayak. There is public access at the Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery, which is up at the Table Rock Dam. A little further down stream there is public access at Cooper Creek again at the Branson Landing and at Rockaway Beach. Those are the ones I know of for sure.
While normally Lake Taneycomo is a flat water float, it is dependent on the release of water from Table Rock as to how fast it is moving. Meaning that, if they are releasing a fair amount of water, it will not take to long to get downstream. If they aren’t, your arms may get a bit tired.
The scenery of Lake Taneycomo is stunning. Up by the dam you will find gravel bars and tree line shores. You can spot trout in the water underneath you and you will probably spot an eagle or two in the tree tops. As you move downstream the scenery will be spotted with houses and private boat docks with and occasional stream flowing into the lake.
Watch out for the Canadian Geese and ducks, they are everywhere. The Great Blue Heron is a constant companion along the way hoping you will toss a morsel or unwanted catch. I have been lucky enough to see an occasional mongoose and otter along the way as well.
Because of the cold water of the lake it is not uncommon for the fog to roll in the evenings and hang out well into the morning. I haven’t had the pleasure of getting on the lake early enough to paddle in the fog yet, but I want too, with caution of course
Don’t overlook the little inlets either. Turkey Creek is straight across from the Branson Lakeside RV Park, which by the way is a great place to camp and launch your kayak. Also, downstream from the campground, just past the Branson Landing there is Roark Creek. In between the two is a smaller inlet that doesn’t go very far in before it becomes too shallow to navigate, but is very scenic to see.
Turkey Creek is where you can also find Branson Kayak. The most popular outfitter in town. So if you do not have your own kayak, no worries. They have you covered. It is also chock-full of wildlife. Everything from herons, ducks, turtles and the occasional snake.
Roark Creek is a popular fishing spot and scenic as well. Lots of turtles and bird life. Also, if you happen to float up Roark look out for the giant orange goldfish that hangs out by the boat docks.
Places to Stay
There are several options for accommodations on Lake Taneycomo. I mentioned the Branson Lakeside Rv Park earlier. It is a great RV park right in the heart of Branson. It is city owned and maintained. Clean amenities and right on the lake. You are also right next door to the Branson Landing. Just a few strides away you will find Bass Pro Shops for all your fishing needs and eateries to keep you from cooking. Although, nothing beats a campfire and some hot dogs and s’mores.
Also, on the Lake is Cooper Creek Campground. I cannot vouch for Cooper Creek, I have never stayed there. I do know that they are right on Lake Taneycomo and there is a boat launch there. Also, right on the lake is Lilly’s Landing. Again, I have not stayed here, but I know they provide fishing guide services and boat rentals. I do not think they rent kayaks though.
There are also countless hotels, motels and resorts in the area. It is Branson after all.
Thoughts on the Hidden Gem
So, while Lake Taneycomo is not the most popular river or lake in Missouri to kayak on, it is certainly a gem to explore and fish.
The only downside in my opinion is the amount of powerboats on the lake during the busy season. The fishermen can get a little impatient when the fish are biting, so just be alert and aware of what is around you.
If you have had the pleasure of kayaking on the lake let me know your thoughts below. I would love to know about your experiences and see your photos. All the pictures here were taken by myself on the lake. So head over to the Facebook page and share yours.
Until Next Time!