Branson Lakes Rank Among the Best Fishing in America

Where else can you go and fish three different lakes for 23 different species of fish in one trip and all three have been ranked as some of the best lakes in America? The answer is Branson, Missouri and the famous Tri-Lakes area of southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas. In 2018 Branson was named # 1 in ”Top 10 Lake Towns” and in 2020 was ranked #2 in ”Top Affordable U.S. Lake Towns” by

Wrapping around the eastern border of Branson is Lake Taneycomo known as the “Trout Capital of America.” It is also internationally known for world-class trout fishing for rainbows and browns. The Missouri state record brown trout was broken twice in 2019 with a 34-pound 10-ounce fish followed seven months later by a 40-pound 6-ounce brown. The world record is 42 pounds 1 ounce and was caught in New Zealand. Back in 1997 a dead brown trout was found floating in Taneycomo that was 41.75 inches long and based on those measurements it would have weighed over 44 pounds.  Will the next world record come from Lake Taneycomo? The fabulous trout fishing is not the only thing Taneycomo offers. It is also a diverse fishery featuring catfish, crappie, bass, sunfish and walleye that all thrive in the cold, nutrient-rich waters.

Table Rock Lake is also a big part of the fishing and fun in the Branson area and is in both Missouri and Arkansas. When I say big, I do mean BIG! The 43,100-acre reservoir has great bass fishing year-round and is annually ranked in Bassmaster Magazine’s 100 Best Bass Lakes listing.  If you have dreamed of catching the “Triple Crown of Bass” (largemouth, smallmouth, spotted) this is the place you could make it happen. White bass is also in these waters, so I guess if you caught one of them along with the other three you would have a “Grand Slam of Bass.” There are also a limited number of striped bass but I have no idea what you would call it if you caught one along with the other four. A miracle, I guess, and something you can tell your grandkids about. In addition to all the species of bass available in Table Rock waters, there are also white and black crappie, walleye, goggle-eye, channel and flathead catfish, carp, bluegill and longear sunfish. If you are into catching something really different, Table Rock is also home to the ancient paddlefish.

Bull Shoals Lake is a short drive from Branson, and like Table Rock, is in both Missouri and Arkansas. It too is nationally known for its great bass fishing. Largemouth weighing up to 12 pounds have been caught here. There are also lots of hybrid, smallmouth, spotted, striped, and white bass too. Bull Shoals is not known for hybrid bass but a local angler recently caught a state record 29-pound 1-ounce hybrid that might very well also be a line class world record if it passes all the judging criteria.  A 65-pound 10-ounce state record striped bass was also taken from these waters. Bull Shoals is also nationally recognized as a fabulous walleye lake. The Missouri state record at 21 pounds 1 ounce came from Bull Shoals. Crappie fishing is also popular and, if you’re into catfishing, there’s plenty of that too. There are a limited number of rainbow trout and a few of the historic paddlefish here also. Another fish that is in Bull Shoals, and conservation folks are not sure how they got there, is the yellow perch which is very popular in America’s northern lakes and in Canadian waters. The Missouri state record is 2 pounds 7 ounces which is a good size for this good tasting cousin of the walleye.

Besides fishing, there are many family fun things to do in this beautiful area of America. Go to and check it all out for yourself then come explore all that Branson, Missouri has to offer for fishermen and families.

Note: For pictures of Missouri state record fish mentioned in this article please contact Larry Whiteley at the contact information below.

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Larry Whiteley                                        Lynn Berry
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