Much of what there is to see and do in Branson is amid the beauty of the Ozarks. Each year, tens of thousands of its visitors enjoy Branson’s Moonshine Beach on Table Rock Lake. Operated by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the beach opens, for the 2018 season, on May 15.
When people think of Branson, great live shows, shopping, golfing, fishing, outdoor fun, and attractions typically come to mind. Enjoying a beautiful big sandy beach is not something most think of. One visit to Branson’s Moonshine Beach will change all of that!
Branson’s Moonshine Beach Location and Amenities
Moonshine Beach, is in a long gentle cove of Table Rock Lake at the north end of Table Rock Dam. It’s location, in the shadow of the Chateau on the Lake Resort, on State Highway 165 in Branson, is fewer than ten minutes from the center of the famed “Branson Strip.”
The beautiful large sandy beach surprises many. Whether it’s swimming, beach volleyball, sunbathing, or simply relaxing, Branson’s Moonshine Beach is “full service.” It offers amenities including showers, flush toilets, a large picnic shelter (pavilion), kid’s playground, picnic tables, food vendors, and a boat launching ramp.
Branson’s Moonshine Beach is conveniently located near other attractions that you, and your family, may enjoy. It’s less than five minutes from the Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery; the multi-million dollar Dewey Short Visitors Center, the “White River Landing,” home of Branson’s Showboat Branson Bell, and a number of hiking trails.
Tips and Suggestions
Moonshine Beach is one of Branson’s least advertised, but most popular, attractions. As a result, in planning a day at Moonshine Beach, especially during the months when school is out, it’s best to plan to arrive as early as possible. The beach’s parking fills up rapidly, resulting in a long walk from the closest alternate parking. Also, you need to get there early if you want your choice of spots on the beach, picnic tables, or other amenities.
Hours of operation and contact information for Branson’s Moonshine Beach
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers runs Moonshine Beach for “day use” only. Therefore, it has no overnight camping and is only open from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM daily. It does not allow pets, and charges a $5.00 per carload per day fee.
Please visit the website, Moonshine Beach, or call 1-877-444-6777 for more information.
Ninety percent of all Monarch butterflies have disappeared in the last decade, but Bass Pro Shops is doing something to change that. The City of Branson recently certified the newest “Mayors Monarch Garden,” at Bass Pro Shops White River Outpost at Branson Landing.
“Bass Pro Shops is proud to join the City of Branson in restoring habitat for Monarch butterflies and other pollinators,” said Martin MacDonald, Bass Pro Shops Director of Conservation. “Inspired by the visionary conservation leadership of our founder and CEO Johnny Morris, we are committed to protecting wildlife and habitat alongside great local and national partner organizations like the City of Branson.”
The new landscaping now includes two types of native Missouri milkweed, essential for Monarch reproduction. Each Monarch waystation garden must include a minimum of five Missouri milkweed plants, plus five nectar plants needed to provide energy for the migration.
Mayor Karen Best has been a leader in this national effort, signing on the City of Branson as an official “Mayors for Monarchs” city in October 2016. There are now over 337 Monarch cities, stretching from southern Texas to Canada. These cities, including Branson, pledged action items which will help provide habitat for the dwindling populations of the iconic Monarch butterfly.
City of Branson committed to ten action items, including a public communication effort to encourage citizens to plant monarch gardens in local neighborhoods, and creation of a demonstration garden at the Branson Recycle Center. Since last year, the city has helped distribute 900 pollinator seed packets donated to the city by National Fish and Wildlife Federation & Monsanto, and several hundred milkweed plants donated by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
“This is truly a community effort,” said Mayor Karen Best. “Branson lies in the very center of the Monarch migration flyway so our actions make a difference. We are a green and sustainable city with visitors, residents and businesses who appreciate the natural beauty of our region, and are willing to include habitat for Monarch butterflies. We can all make small changes to prevent the Monarch butterfly from disappearing completely in our lifetime.”
Several local businesses have included pollinator habitat in their landscaping, and many homeowners are doing the same. The city has incorporated Monarch habitat within its landscaping at the Branson Convention Center, Branson Lakeside RV Park, Fire Station Two, Lakeside Forest, Branson Recycle Center, a Historic Downtown planter, and other city facilities. A map of all registered Monarch gardens is available on the city website. Signage is available free of charge to city residents and businesses. Signage for gardens outside the city limits can be purchased for a small fee at Wild Birds Unlimited Branson.
Bass Pro Shops is known as a national leader working to ensure the health of fish and wildlife resources for generations to come. The company’s efforts have restored millions of acres of habitat, healthy rivers, lakes and streams across North America, with programs that have significantly increased wildlife populations for hundreds of native species.
For more information see bransonmo.gov, or monarchwatch.org
[Publisher’s Note: Phil Lilley, Lilley’s Landing Resort and Marina and Ozark Anglers, submits this information to the Branson Register as “fishing report.” The typical “fishing report” info, relatively speaking, is not time sensitive and doesn’t change much when fishing for trout on Lake Taneycomo. Phil’s tips and commentary however, do change, are very insightful, interesting and well worth the read for anyone who fishes Lake Taneycomo for trout!]
Reports from our guests are fishing is slow. They’re catching a few trout off the dock but not many. Night crawlers are the best.
Out in the boats it’s better. Most are coming back with limits but it’s taking some work to get there. Again, worms are best but Gulp eggs are good too – orange and pink. Four-pound line is ok. Water clarity is still murky.
Bill Babler says when the water is off, fishing is very good using the Berkley Pink Powerworm. Best to use 2-pound here but 4-pound is ok. You will do better using 2-pound though. He said the best area is from our dock to the bend and from Trout Hollow to Fall Creek. He’s also using black or olive Turner’s half-micro jigs under an indicator 5-6 feet deep and again, using 2-pound line.
When the water is running, he says it slows down for him. He’s drifting a night crawler using an 1/8th ounce weight on a drift rig.
The Sweeso guys are here this weekend. They just brought their limit in for the day, drifting from Cooper Creek down and using a variety of Powerbaits. They said it’s spotty, catching a fish here and a fish there.
Since my last report, not much has changed in the jig world. We’re still doing pretty good using black or black/olive jigs. We’re throwing 1/16th, 3/32nd and 1/8th depending on water generation, as well as when we’re fishing. If the current it heavy, 1/8th or 3/32nd is better. Need to get the jig down and heavier is better. If there’s not a whole lot or no current, then a 1/16th ounce is best.
There’s been a good amount of top water action this week. From Lookout Island down through the Narrows, trout have been looking up! They’re taking mostly small midges but anything that hits the water is getting a good look. They are mainly hanging close to the bluff bank. I’ve haven’t been hooking a lot of them yet but plan to work on it in the coming days.
Throw small dries at them — elk hair caddis, ants and beetles. Number 16 and smaller is best. I haven’t seen many trophy fish rising — lots of smaller rainbows but there are some 15-inch-plus trout lurking around.
Now for the big fish story.
Went out this morning to get a baseline for a fishing report – try some things. They are running one unit of water, lake level 705.3 feet. I didn’t get out till about 9 a.m. – boated up to just above the Narrows in the trophy area.
I threw some jigs — black, sculpin and olive — with only a couple of bites. The midges were hatching in clouds and rainbows were taking them along the current edges close to the bluff bank. I didn’t have my fly rod in the boat or I would have been throwing a small dry.
I wanted to try one more thing before heading back — a bead. We use beads in Alaska to catch big rainbows during the salmon spawning season and I’d been experiment with them here.
You peg the bead, which comes in various sizes and colors, to your line about 2 inches above a small hook. Then you pinch a small split shot above the bead about 2 feet. I was using 4 pound line. Throw it out and drift it like you would any fly or bait. Bump it on the bottom. [Click here for more info on the bead technique.]
I picked up 2 small rainbows and had 3 more good strikes. Both rainbows had the hook in its mouth, not outside of it.
Then I thought, let’s do a comparison. So I boated back up to the top of the Narrows and drifted a #12 grey scud (200R hook) using the same split shot. Caught one small rainbow right off the bat. Then got a good strike, then another. I thought it would be about the same result. But towards the end of the faster water, I hooked something that surprised me.
Why surprise? Well, I wasn’t ready for something to pull hard enough to break my line, plus my drag wasn’t set for it either. Nor did I have my anti-reel switched so I couldn’t reel backwards like I usually do. Luckily, my line held up as the drag started to slip a little. Then I was able to flip the switch and reel backwards.
It was a good fish but the hard fast run fooled me. I didn’t think it was as big as it was. It stayed deep for almost the entire fight, making 3 long runs and fought hard close to the boat to stay down.
I grabbed the Gopro, turned it on and set it up on the bar. The video shows the fight towards the middle to the end, not the long runs.
I netted the fish but kept it in the water. I called Duane at the resort and asked him to come up with the camera to take some pics. He was on a room repair mission so it took a while for him to boat up to where I was. I drifted down to a spot on the bank where I could get out with the fish. It’s way too hard to get good, SAFE pics of a trophy trout while in a boat. I say safe for the fish, not me. I didn’t want to raise the rainbow out of the water unless it was for a few quick pictures.
The color of this big sow was incredible! I was blessed to have landed and released. I did get a measurement, marking my spinning rod against her length while in the net. I set it on a measuring board and was surprised to see it was 28.25 inches long. It didn’t seem that long in the water.
With summer not yet over it might seem a little premature to be thinking about Branson’s Fall Foliage Season, but it will be here before we know it. Greg Cassell, Research Forester, with the Missouri Department of Conservation said that, although things depend on the weather, there should be lots of beautiful foliage in and around Branson for people to enjoy this year.
Here’s Cassell’s responses to some of the most common questions people ask about Branson’s Fall Foliage Season:
1. When does it start? Depending on the weather, about the middle to end of September.
2. When does it peak? A lot depends on the weather, but typically during the last two week of October or the first week of November.
3. What do you think the 2017 Fall Foliage Season will be like in Branson? With the weather and moisture, we have had all summer, up to now, things are setting up for a wonderful Fall Foliage season.
4. What could spoil it? A long period of very hot and dry weather.
5. Do all the tree varieties change color at about the same time? No. The Sassafras, and Sumac start if off. They are followed by the Black Gum, Bittersweet, and Dogwood with the Ashes, Hickories, Oaks, and Maples turning last.
6. What triggers the color change? Warm sunny days followed by cool nights.
“Where’s the best place to view the fall foliage?” is another question that’s commonly asked. Branson’s location in the middle of the beautiful Ozark Mountains makes the answer to that easy, “Wherever you are!” From scenic panoramic views to the magnificent beauty of a single tree up close, there’s beautiful foliage at just about every turn.
“Scenic Overlooks” provide panoramic view of the foliage and are easily reachable from the Branson Strip. These include the Overlooks on Taney County Route 165, about a mile south of its intersection with State Route 265; the Table Rock Dam Overlook, located on the south end of Table Rock Dam across the road from the Dewey Short Visitors Center; and the Henning Conservation Area Overlook located about a mile west of the junction of State Route 76 and State Route 376. The Point Lookout scenic overview is located on the campus of the College of the Ozarks on top of a bluff overlooking Lake Taneycomo. It has a unique and breathtaking view of Branson’s fall foliage surrounding Lake Taneycomo.
Cassell said the “Ozark Mountain Highroad,” State Route 465, is an excellent way to see the Ozarks’ fall foliage. Another is on a sightseeing cruise on Lake Taneycomo aboard Main Street Lake Cruises Lake Queen. The spectacular views of Ozark vistas, bluffs, wild life, and birds, are amazing anytime. They are something that most of the visitors coming to Branson each year never get to see. Add the magnificent colors of the fall foliage and the result is a spectacle that most will never forget!
* Photos in composite courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation
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