American bass fishing wasn’t necessarily born here, but you could say this is where it grew up. Table Rock and Bull Shoals are both giant reservoirs on the upper White River system in the southern Missouri Ozarks, a scant 50 miles south from the home of Bass Pro Shops and just a few miles north of the Flippin, Arkansas, home of Ranger, the famous bass boat maker. Both reservoirs offer good-at times, excellent-fishing for largemouth, spotted, and smallmouth bass. Table Rock, especially, should have better-than-average spotted bass fishing in 2003. The tailwaters below the reservoirs, meanwhile, have legends of their own. The trout fishing in Lake Taneycomo (as much a tailwater as it is a lake) is simply extraordinary. Fly, spin, and bait anglers can chase huge numbers of coldwater rainbows here. There are so many trout that I’ve had them actually follow my feet to catch the scuds stirred up by my boots as I was wading. The Lodge ¿¿¿ Lilleys’ Landing is on the banks of Lake Taneycomo. Rooms start at $54 a night for two people. The kitchen-equipped units are scrupulously clean and a real bargain. Their adjoining marina-dock rents johnboats and motors for $60 a day. Bass guides on the big reservoirs nearby, meanwhile, generally charge $275 a day, which includes fishing from a fully rigged bass boat. The Fishing ¿¿¿ The spring and fall months offer the best fishing. Late fall is best for a chance at big spawning browns in the Upper Taneycomo, where winter fishing is also available. Avoid the hot summer with its crowds of tourists.

How to Go
Fly to Springfield, Missouri (where you can pause to visit the mind-boggling Bass Pro Shops headquarters store), then drive about an hour south to Branson near the Missouri-Arkansas border. Call 888-545-5397;