As was stated in our Nov. 14 blog entitled ”Egoscue, Perret and me: an update,” I slipped on a section of a boat ramp that was covered with some filamentous algae. As I fell and slid into the water, I broke my left arm and wrist rather severely, and seven days later a surgeon pieced it back together again on Nov. 13. That ordeal prevented me from fishing. Consequently, I contributed only two traditional logs, which analysed my outings on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2. I also jotted down a few brief notes about a bank-walking outing on Nov. 19.
Thus, most of November’s compilation of logs, insights and analysis about finesse tactics for catching black bass in this blog were provided by anglers who filed reports on the Finesse News Network. Without the contributions of Terry Bivins of Lebo, Kansas, Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, Bob Gum of Kansas City, Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, Casey Kidder of Topeka, Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, Chris Rohr of Overland Park, Kansas, Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, Brian Watson of Papillion, Nebraska, and Dave Weroha of Kansas City, there would not have been a November addendum to the month-by-month guide to Midwest finesse.
In comparison to past months, the number of reports to FNN about finesse fishing for black bass diminished because several ardent Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas turned their attentions to pursuing crappie and white bass rather largemouth bass. It is interesting to note, however, that Midwest finesse anglers catch temperate bass in November the same way and at the same locales that they catch black bass during most months of the year. Therefore, a few multispecies outings, where the anglers caught black and temperate bass, were included in the logs posted below. What’s more, Terry Bivins’ unique jig-and-bobber outing on Nov. 28 was included. Although Bivins caught considerably more crappie than largemouth bass, his method in the eyes of Midwest finesse anglers is a Kansas rendition of what Tennessee anglers call float-and-fly fishing.
Most Midwest finesse anglers, who ply the flatland reservoirs across northeastern Kansas, do not fish deep-water lairs. Therefore, the number of smallmouth bass that they catch diminishes radically in November. But cold-water crappie anglers inadvertently catch smallmouth bass on crappie jigs around deep-water brushpiles and concentrations of gizzard shad along deep-water ledges. Some of these smallmouth bass are extracted out of 25 or more of water, and at the behest of our In-Fisherman blogging colleague, Matt Straw, we recommend that anglers not pursue deep-water smallmouth bass because of the dastardly effects caused by barotrauma.
We were hoping to examine how the wilting and dying patches of bushy pondweeds, coontail, milfoil and other varieties of pondweed affects the largemouth bass fishing in the small flat reservoirs of northeastern Kansas. We also wanted to observe what transpires with the curly-leaf pondweed as the water temperatures cool. But those endeavors will have to wait until November and December of 2013.
The largemouth bass fishing on the first day of November wasn’t as fruitless as it was on the last day of October, but it was a still trying outing for John Reese of Lawrence, Kansas, and me. From 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Reese and I fished a 100-acre community reservoir in the southwest suburbs of Kansas City.
The weather was as delightful as it was on the last day of October. Area thermometers recorded the morning low temperature as 35 degrees and the afternoon high temperature reached 77 degrees. During the first two hours of our outing, the wind angled out of the southwest at 9 mph, and around 12:30 p.m. it shifted to west and blew at 14 to 23 mph. The sun was hazy but warm.
According to the solunar calendar, the best fishing times were from 12:16 p.m. to 2:16 p.m. Thus, we fished all but 15 minutes of it, and we caught the bulk of the 34 largemouth bass that we caught during that time.
The reservoir’s surface temperature ranged from 55 to 57 degrees. The water level looked to be nearly normal. A significant algae bloom had the water clarity stained to the point that I could not see the propeller of the trolling motor. (We use the black propeller of the trolling motor as our water clarity indicator, and if we can see it, we call the water Kansas clear, and even when it is Kansas clear, it is always more stained than the water that graces reservoirs similar to Table Rock Lake, Missouri, or Bull Shoals Lake on the Missouri and Arkansas border.) The algae also created a scum line around the hull of the boat, which another is measure of its potency.
The first locale that we fished was the dam, which was embellished with riprap boulders, patches of coontail and American water willows. Here, we caught only two small largemouth bass, and failed to land another fish that we did not see. Those fish were allured by a 2 ½-inch Z-Man Fishing Product’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig.
The dam lies on the northwestern end of the reservoir, and it has failed to yield a significant number of largemouth bass throughout most of 2012. But in years past, except during the cold-water periods, we have caught scores of largemouth bass along the dam. What’s more, throughout the first 10 months of 2012, it has been difficult for Midwest finesse anglers to decipher the whereabouts of significant concentrations of largemouth bass in this reservoir, which was beset by the largemouth bass virus a few years ago.
From the dam, we headed to the south end of the reservoir and plied a long stretch of a rocky shoreline on the east side of the reservoir. Besides rocks, this shoreline was bespangled with some coontail patches and American water willows, as well as a bridge. Here we eked out seven largemouth bass, which were caught on a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s black-and-blue FattyZ customized tube affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a green-pumpkin Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. These baits were retrieved with a drag-and-deadstick motif, and it was periodically punctuated with a shake.
This eastern shoreline eventually became a flat that was graced with American water willows, scores of coontail patches and a raccoon den. Along a 25-yard stretch of this massive flat, we caught 26 largemouth bass. Most of these largemouth bass were inveigled by a four-inch green-pumpkin grub on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We employed a straight swimming retrieve with the grub, but at times we would enhance the straight swim with a few shakes or an occasional pause. The Finesse ShadZ was retrieved with the swim-glide-and-shake motif. Two largemouth bass were caught on a four-inch Z-Man’s black-neon Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.
We caught three largemouth bass on the west side of this south flat, and they were allured by the grub around patches of coontail. During November and early December of 2012, the west side of this flat was more fruitful than the east side. In fact, we caught 69 largemouth bass on Dec. 1, 2011, in about three hours and the bulk of those were on the west side.
On this outing, Reeves and I couldn’t determine if our sorry fishing hinged around our inabilities to be able to find and then allure the largemouth bass, or if the largemouth bass were in a negative mood. Both of us are old men, and we are beginning to suspect that our fishing abilities are beginning to go awry. And as we reflected about my sorry fishing on Oct. 31, when I caught only 14 largemouth bass in 2 ½-hours, we concluded some of these diminishing returns must be a byproduct of my age and the many ineptitudes that old age spawns.
I returned to the 195-acre community reservoir that snookered me on Oct 31, when I fished from 11:25 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and eked only 14 largemouth bass. On Nov. 2 I fished from 12:10 p.m. to 2:40 p.m., hoping to unravel the whereabouts of the largemouth bass that eluded me on Oct. 31. But they snookered me again. I caught only 18 largemouth bass. I talked to a veteran crappie angler who reported that this reservoir’s crappie have been snookering him, too.
The wind was pesky from the east by southeast at 16 mph, which forced me to employ a wind sock at five of the seven locales that I fished. It was sunny. The morning low temperature was 40 degrees. The afternoon high temperature was 67 degrees. Around noon, the barometric pressure was 29.94 and rapidly falling. The sky was cloudless, but the sun exhibited a hazy hue.
This reservoir’s surface temperature ranged from 56 to 57 degrees. Many of the patches of submergent vegetation were wilting, and some of them were decaying, which occasionally provokes the largemouth bass to inhabit rocky lairs a good distance away from the decaying vegetation, but not on this outing or on the Oct. 31 outing. A substantial algae bloom had the water clarity stained to the point that I could not see the propeller of the trolling motor at several areas around this reservoir.
I caught one largemouth bass on a 3 ¼-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a blue 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. Two largemouth bass were caught on a 2 ½-inch black-and-blue FattyZ customized tube attached to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and the rest were caught on a four-inch black-neon Finesse WormZ affixed to a red 1/6-ounce Gopher jig. (Z-Man’s four-inch Finesse WormZ is 4 7/8-inches long, and before I affix it to a Gopher jig, I regularly trim three-quarters of an inch off of its head.)
I caught them on a variety of retrieves and at a variety of depths and at a variety of lairs. In sum, there was no pattern. Some anglers might call junk fishing, and in my eyes and mind, it was sorry fishing.
Terry Bivins of Lebo, Kansas, reported to the Finesse News Network that on the afternoon of Nov. 2 that he fished a 7,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir for about three hours. Bivins wrote that it was windy, and his only option was to allow the southeast wind to blow his boat along the face of the dam, while he wielded a lipless crankbait that inveigled seven 14- to 15-inch smallmouth bass. Eventually the velocity of the wind waned a touch, this allowed Bivins to execute his patented bottom-bouncing retrieve into 20 feet of water with an 1/8-ounce white-blue-white Leroy Spellman marabou-tail jig on a main-lake point, where he tangled with a 17-inch smallmouth bass, two 15-inch crappie and a few small crappie. What’s more, he noted that he was able employ finesse tactics along the dam, which yielded 22 smallmouth bass, when the wind wasn’t howling on one afternoon during the last week of October. After he tangled with those 22 smallmouth bass, he searched for some walleye, but they eluded him, and to his chagrin, Bivins has caught only three walleye this fall.
On Nov. 3, Chris Rohr of Overland Park, Kansas, sent a report to the Finesse News Network about the four outings that he enjoyed on Oct. 29, Oct. 30, Nov. 1 and Nov.3. Across those four days, he fished three northeastern Kansas farm ponds. His first three outings were solo affairs, and on the fourth, he was joined by two friends.
The ponds lie about 40 miles south of Kansas City. One pond contained two acres of water, and the second pond contained four acres of water. Both looked to 3 ½ feet below their normal levels. They were rimmed with emergent and submergent aquatic vegetation, and the outside edge of this vegetation was about three feet deep. The width of this rim of the vegetation was about 10 feet wide. A few areas were stippled with flooded timber. Water clarity was about two feet. (A description of the third pond appears in the last paragraph of Rohr’s log.)
During Rohr’s first outing, he fished both ponds that were described above from 1 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The wind angled out of the southeast at 10 mph. Air temperature was 52 degrees. The sky was cloudy. He did not record the surface temperature on any of the outings. He walked the shorelines, wielding a 2 ½-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce round-headed jig. He caught 27 largemouth bass, and the biggest weighed three pounds. All were extracted from the outside edge of the aquatic vegetation with what he described as “a constant shaky retrieve.”
On the next afternoon from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Rohr fished the same two ponds. The wind blew at a 10- to 15-mph pace from the east by southeast. The air temperature was 56 degrees. During this two-hour outing, he caught 36 largemouth bass and two crappie. Most of them were 16-inchers, and one weighed 3 ½ pounds. He caught them by walking the shoreline and employing a 2 ½-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce round-headed jig. He tried a watermelon, PB&J and black-blue ZinkerZ, but failed to elicit a strike with them.
On his third outing, he fished from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The wind angled out of the northwest at 10 mph, and area thermometers registered a high of 69 degrees. Rohr wrote that he was surprised “the bass wanted nothing to do with finesse techniques, and in fact, during the as the first half hour, my finesse baits and tactics didn’t generated a single hit. Then I decided to throw a spinnerbait just because it was tied on an additional rod that I had in vehicle. It was a 1/2-ounce double-willow-leaf-bladed bait with a red head and red/black skirt. With this bait, I proceeded to catch 86 largemouth bass up to 7.25 pounds from 3:45 p.m. to 6 p.m. Ten of the largest largemouth bass exceeded 30 pounds in total weight. All them were caught in one to three feet of water, and most were caught within two or three feet from the flooded timber, laydowns and outside edges of the aquatic vegetation. The key was the angle at which I would cast at the timber and edge of the grass. I found that casting towards a tree or laydown and retrieving away from the sun was much less successful than when I would retrieve it towards the sun from a different angle. For example, along the northern shoreline, there was fallen cottonwood tree that was mostly submerged and lying at a perpendicular angle or at 90-degree angle from the shoreline. When I approached from the east side, I only garnered 3 strikes despite dozens of casts all along to the tree including casting past the tree and retrieving over the top of it. When I walked around to the west side of the tree and started casting back towards where I was just standing, I caught 22 bass without moving a single step. Lure was still the same, retrieve was still the same, and the only difference was that I was retrieving into the sun. With the bass actively striking, I again tried finesse techniques and still couldn’t get a hit. I immediately went right back to the spinnerbait and actively caught fish in the exact same spots.”
During his fourth outing, which occurred on Nov. 3, Rohr was accompanied by two friends. It was a partly cloudy, the wind blew at 10 to 20 mph from the north-by-northwest, and it air temperature was 37 degrees. They fished the four-acre pond, which was described above, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Rohr and one friend worked with a 2 ½-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce round-headed jig, which allured 25 largemouth bass. His other friend caught 30 largemouth bass on a 3/4-ounce double-willow-leaf spinnerbait dressed with a silver, white and red skirt.
At 10 p.m., this threesome meandered to a pond that Rohr hadn’t previously fished on his previous outings. The air temperature had climbed to 54 degrees. It was mostly sunny, being covered only occasionally by a thin sheet of clouds The wind remained from the north-by-northwest at 10 to 20 mph. He described this pond as containing about two-surface areas of water. He estimated that it was about three feet below its normal level, and the deepest spot was covered with only seven feet of water. Until the drought had lowered water level, about 20 percent of this pond was covered with lily pads, and Rohr reported that it was devoid of lily pads on this outing. The water clarity was about two feet. This threesome caught only eight largemouth bass, but they did catch 60 crappie. The failed to hook about 30 strikes and failed to land 15 fish. All of the crappie were caught in three feet of water. Fifty-five of the crappie were caught on a 2 ½-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce round-headed jig, and five were caught on a PB&J ZinkerZ. And they allured them on a variety of retrieves.
Dave Weroha of Kansas City ventured to a 350-acre community reservoir on Nov. 3. He reported to the Finesse News Network that when he launched his boat at 6:30 a.m. area thermometers indicated that it was 41 degrees. The wind blew at 15- to 18-mph from the north-by-northwest. The reservoir’s surface temperature was 55 degrees. He fished until 2 p.m. and tangled with only 21 largemouth bass, but one of them weighed 4 ½ pounds. His two most effective baits were a Z-Man’s green pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/8-ounce jig and a 2 ½-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a red 1/8-ounce jig. The dam and wind-blown shoreline were his most fruitful locales.
Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, filed this report to Finesse News Network about his Nov. 4 outing.
He wrote: “Finally set the crappie gear down this Sunday and chased the bass here in central Indiana. Actually, ‘setting the crappie gear down’ is probably the wrong term since all my finesse bass gear doubles as my crappie jig sticks. Works out well since I always have both with me in the boat.
“Thanks to the change with daylight-saving time, I actually got an early start to the day. Our morning low here at 7:00 a.m. hit 30 degrees, which was still well before I awoke. Our high for the day hit 45 at noon; then it slowly dropped throughout the afternoon. Skies were sunny for the first part of the trip; then it was partly to mostly cloudy later in the afternoon. Winds angled from the north all day at 8-13 mph, which is considerably lighter than what we have been experiencing from our brush with Hurricane Sandy. Water temperatures ran from 49 to 50 degrees on the surface, and water was pretty clear with about three feet of visibility, easily passing your trolling motor test. Barometer peaked at 30.22.
“I launched at my local 300-acre reservoir before 11:00 a.m., and was able to fish until 4:45 p.m., which is a pretty long trip for me now days. My usual plan of attack is to have one or two power techniques ready and on deck, along with several finesse sticks. I always try the power first, just in case it’s actually working, but I am quick to change over to finesse when it’s not. Today it started working rather quickly. The power outfits were a Megabass jerkbait on 12-pound-test fluorocarbon line on a baitcasting outfit and a Silver Buddy affixed to 12-pound-test fluorocarbon line on another baitcasting outfit. The finesse gear was six-pound-test braided line with a six-pound-test fluorocarbon leader and a variety of 1/16 and 1/8-oz hair jigs.
“I started out fishing rock points and the riprap of the dam with the jerkbait, and was able to coax several bass right away, including the largest of the trip: an 18-incher that weighed about three pounds. I sporadically picked up the hair jig and caught a few smaller bass on it, but the jerkbait bite was the better bite for the first several hours of the trip. Most bass came on main-lake points or riprap shorelines stretches bordered by 10 feet of water or more. Around 2 p.m., when the sun went away for numerous long spells, the jig bite picked up for some reason. I fished the jigs both with and without a trailer, and never really discerned any preference by the bass. Same with color, though I threw only versions of browns or blacks.
“By the end of the day, I’m guessing the split between the jerkbait and the jig was about 50/50. Total catch for the day was 72 largemouth bass, one crappie and four white bass. I had about eight largemouth bass in the 16- to 18-inch range. The rest were smaller, and plenty of them were 10- to 12-inchers. The white bass fell for the jerkbait and the Silver Buddy. I caught no largemouth bass on the Silver Buddy. Overall catch rate for bass worked out to be about 12.2 bass per hour, which is a fine trip in my book.
“Unfortunately, this lake will be drawn down in another week, it’s water level will drop six feet, leaving the ramp unusable. In fact, they are going to tear out the old ramp and rebuild a new one while the water is down. So, I may only get one more trip to this lake this coming weekend, and then I’ll have to start looking elsewhere. It’s the best cold-water bass lake in the area; though there are others better for crappie.
“Here’s hoping we get in a few more weeks worth of trips before our lakes start skimming over with ice.
On Nov. 4, a brisk southwest wind prevented Dave Weroha of Kansas City from launching his small boat at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir. Therefore, he walked the shorelines, wielding a 2 1/2-inch watermelon-white ZinkerZ on 1/8-ounce red jig and 2 ½-inch green-pumpkin-orange ZinkerZ on a red 1/8-ounce jig. He eked out only four smallmouth bass. But he did tangle with 27 white bass.
Clyde Holscher, who is a multispecies guide from Topeka, Kansas, fished the same 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir that Weroha fished. Holscher reported to the Finesse News Network that he and his client fished from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Even though Holscher said the “wind throughout the day was perfect for a white bass outing,” he noted with an air of dismay that “our catch rate was lackluster at best.” During this seven-hour endeavor, they caught only five smallmouth bass and 38 white bass. Their biggest smallmouth bass was allured by a 2 ½-inch dirt-colored ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce jig.
Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, reported to the Finesse News Network that he and his uncle fished a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir from 11:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
He noted that area thermometers reached a high in the mid-60s. The wind angled out of the southeast at 15 mph.
The water clarity was affected by an algae bloom. The surface temperature ranged from 58 to 60 degrees.
They caught 25 largemouth bass and four white bass that were abiding in two to five feet of water. They failed to land a half dozen largemouth bass. The most fruitful area was a riprap shoreline and several points on the east side of the reservoir.
The bulk of their catch was bewitched by a 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ affixed to a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. They used three colors of ZinkerZ: purple haze, pumpkin chartreuse, and Junebug. His uncle inveigled a few largemouth bass and white bass on a square-bill crankbait in a sexy-shad hue.
Brian Watson of Papillion, Nebraska, sent a brief report to the Finesse News Network about a bank-walking endeavor at small suburban reservoir. He fished from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
He chronicled these weather factors: wind blew out of the south and southeast at 10-15 mph; air temperature was 64 degrees; the sky was cloudless; barometric pressure was 29.72. The water was stained, and the surface temperature was 50 degrees. The patches of coontail were dying, turning during the past two or three weeks “from very green to nearly black.”
He emphasized that it was “hard to really characterize this as a Midwest finesse outing.” His rods sported a chartreuse-and-black crankbait, four-inch watermelonseed worm on an 1/18-ounce jig, and pearl fluke-style bait affixed to a 1/8-ounce jig.
He hooked 15 largemouth bass and landed 13 of them. The crankbait inveigled 10 of the 13. The four-inch worm caught the other three. He failed to land the biggest largemouth bass, which engulfed the pearl fluke-style combo.
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, posted a brief about a three-hour solo outing at 120-acre community reservoir, where the water was exceptionally clear, and the surface temperature was 53 degrees.
He caught 13 trout, seven big crappies and six bass.
He stated that “most of the trout came on a small silver and blue Little Cleo. The fish were in water so thin that I could hardly get my boat to within casting distance. I was kicking up mud with my trolling motor getting out of there. They were definitely in their ‘back of the coves’ mode.”
Frazee caught all of the crappies on a vintage Northland Fishing Tackle’s Slurpie. The bass were caught on a 2 ½-inch PB&J ZinkerZ. The crappies and bass were in 15 feet of water on the weedy flat. All of the bass were dinks. He tried some power tactics with a spinnerbait and a skirted jig and soft-plastic trailer, but didn’t even get a hit on either. He closed his report by stating that he wished that he had spent some time employing a jerkbait.
Bob Gum and Greg Monahan, both of Kansas City, fished a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir. Gum’s Finesse News Network report indicated that the surface temperature in the areas he fished ranged from 54 to 60 degrees. The water level was nearly normal and stained with an algae bloom.
They fished four bluffs on the west side of the reservoir, two riprap shorelines on the east side of the reservoir, and the riprap of the dam
Gum wrote: The most notable aspect about the day was that I’ve started throwing Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZ more, on what is essentially my white bass rig. I love the looks of the bait, but have had difficulty casting it due to its light weight.” He rigged a pearl Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a green-pumpkin-blue-flake one on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. He and Monahan also employed a 2 ½-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ and a PB&J ZinkerZ; both were affixed to a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
They caught 38 largemouth bass. The biggest largemouth bass was 20 inches long. Another was a 19-incher and another was an 18 ½-incher.
Throughout this outing, Gum and Monahan crossed paths with several anglers who were competing in a bass tournament. In fact, when Gum and Monahan fished one of the bluffs, they followed one of the tournament boats, and Gum and Monahan caught one of their biggest bass of outing when they were within 10 yards of the back of that tournament boat. They didn’t see any of the tournament anglers catch a bass, but they talked to one competitor who said he had caught one keeper-sized largemouth bass.
My wife, Patty, took me and one of her spinning rods to a nearby 195-acre community reservoir from 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. And she wanted to see if I could still fish.
We walked about 50 feet of the north shoreline adjacent to a defunct boat ramp.
Her rod sported a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig dressed with a four-inch Z-Man black-neon Finesse WormZ.
I made about 25 casts and drag-and-shake retrieves, and I caught and landed two largemouth bass and with some luck removed the jig from the roof of both bass’ mouths.
My left hand, which was partially enclosed in a cast, had a difficult time manipulating the bail on her reel (This is another reason why I prefer a manual bail on spinning reels.) and rotating the reel handle. But by the time I made my last cast and retrieve, my left hand was functioning a tad better.
In short, I was a long way from being able to attach the boat trailer to the hitch, launch the boat, climb into the boat and fish for three or four hours.
Nevertheless, it was delightful trip to the water’s edge with Patty.
What’s more, we crossed paths with Holden White of Lawrence, Kansas. White, who’s 81 years old and a veteran Midwest finesse angler, was recuperating from a far worse ordeal than my broken wrist. He was battling colon cancer, and he has endured two operations, rounds of chemotherapy and weeks of radiation therapy, and on Dec. 10, a surgeon will work on White again. But he was fishing. He couldn’t launch his boat. Thus, he was walking the shorelines. And on Nov. 18, he reported that he caught 10 largemouth bass, including a five-pounder, on a four-inch pumpkin grub affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig. And when we crossed paths with him on his outing, he reported that his grub combo had inveigled 15 largemouth bass. For several decades, he has been one our grub maestros. It was great to see him
After Casey Kidder of Topeka Kansas, received the report about Pat Kehde, Holden White and my outing on Nov. 19, he e-mailed a note, saying: “Pleased to hear you got a line wet. Vershun Tolliver of Lawrence, Kansas, and I went to [a 11,600 U.S Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir] Saturday morning, but it was dreadful. The water was more than five feet below normal, murky and 50 degrees, and the wind picked up briskly toward late morning. We caught only one bass on a spinnerbait, and lost three. It was a healthy-looking chunk of a three-pounder though. We also caught eight to ten bruiser white bass, but they were scattered. One brushpile gave up half a dozen tiny crappie, and a couple drum came in the boat as well. We fished a marina without a bite, and then fished some mid-lake areas. I think we’ll be sticking to small lakes for bass, or strictly crappie fishing at [the Corps’ reservoirs] till spring.”
Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, e-mail the following note about a variety of his piscatorial insights and endeavors that he had experience during the fall of 2012.
He wrote: “Hope your recovery with the arm/wrist incident is going well. Glad to hear you got out the other day, even if for just a short time. Not too much going on over here. Through the latter half of September and most all of October, I was focused on crappie fishing. Managed trips to numerous different lakes, and found pretty good bites at all of them. Had a really good time with all the bites and fish catching. Even got in on a couple nice white bass bites when that week of really strong winds pushed this way after belting you guys first.
“Then, starting in November, I switched back to largemouth bass, just as the water temperatures were resting in the low 50s. I’ve been fishing just two basic outfits, a set of finesse sticks with my beloved hair jigs, then a power setup with suspending jerkbaits. During the early excursions I found that the bite was about equally split between the two baits. However, as the colder weather began to set in, the jerkbait bite has become the dominant bite, to the tune of about 8:1 or 9:1. Historically the jig bite would get better, but this season has been a little different. Still, the suspending jerkbait bite is a pretty fun bite when it’s going on, so no complaints. Much of the damage has been done with Megabass 110 Vision Ito baits, but I recently tried the Luck-E-Strike STX RC jerkbait (a Megabass knockoff at 1/3 the price) and was pleasantly surprised.
“Best trip this fall was a 72-bass excursion on November 4, followed by a 50-bass day on Nov. 10, and a 41-bass day on Nov. 17. Also had a 39-bass day in mid October, one of the few bass trips I made during that month.
“The last week has had me enamored with walleye. We don’t have any good walleye lakes within about 75 miles from me, and the best lake is just over 100 miles, so they tend to be random and sporadic. But on Nov. 15 I hooked and landed my personal best walleye, a 27.5-inch fish that all DNR tables I’ve seen place the fish between 7.2 to as much as eight pounds. That fish got me a bit fired up over walleye, and I’ve started refocusing some attention that way. The timing of this new obsession is good, since my local reservoir has dropped its water level to the point of being unable to launch a boat. Therefore, nearby reservoirs (within 30 miles) that get stocked with walleye have become my newest targets of attention.
“As an aside, I do have to admit to not throwing the finesse ZinkerZ setup much through the summer or fall period. There is usually a pretty good crankbait/swimbait/football-head jig bite through the summer out here, and that’s what I focused on mostly. Then the crappie, which was followed by the hair jig/jerkbait bite, and I was a bit remiss on following up. Still looking to play with it some more though once we get back around to spring. I really need to try and simplify my fishing options and tackle, though that’s not an easy task for me. I do kind of envy anglers such as you who can fish happily within a limited set of tackle and baits. Rich Zaleski isn’t too dissimilar with his dropshot focus, though he does branch out a bit more with about three other baits and presentations.
“Hope this e-mail finds you and yours in good Thanksgiving spirits. We’re enjoying one of the last nice days of fall with a full house of family and temperatures in the low 60s. That will go away quickly beginning tomorrow.”
At 6 a.m. on Nov. 24, area thermometers around Lawrence, Kansas, recorded a morning low temperature of 17 degrees, but after that short frigid spell, the midday temperatures climbed into the 40s and 50s for the next six days. Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, reported on the Finesse News Network that this cold front was heading his way. Poe also filed an FNN report about his outing with his son-in-law.
Poe wrote: “We fished a local lake on Saturday Nov. 24. Our water temperatures are in the upper 40s. Saturday was beautiful with a high of 65 degrees and a light southwest wind. It was one day before a nasty cold front was scheduled to waylay us. No other anglers were out.
“We fished from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., and we caught 23 largemouth bass and two crappie. Most of the bass were caught on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig dressed with either with a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company green-pumpkin-red-flake Zero or a four-inch watermelon cut-tail worm. I used the Zero, and my son-in-law used the worm. We missed the solunar time, which was 6:40 a.m. to 8:40 a.m.
“The biggest largemouth bass of the day weighed 3 ½-pounds, and it was caught on a No. 5 Rapala Shad Rap in a crawfish hue. The other bass ranged in size from 12 to 15 inches. The fishing was not as good as last year’s Thanksgiving catches, but the water was much warmer last year. I was very pleased with my son-in-law’s work with the Gopher jig and cut-tail worm. It was nice having a different bait and retrieve working. I believe he is coming around a tad on the finesse. His only Christmas request was for some Gopher Mushroom Jig Heads.
“The fish we caught were related to outside river channel banks. Some bait fish were milling about in eight to 10 feet. But the fish we caught were only three to four deep. Most of the largemouth bass hit the bait on the bottom, engulfing it as we were starting to execute a shake. My son-in-law said he was deadsticking, but it was more of a pause than a deadstick.
“We failed to catch a bass on traditional larger crankbaits, skirted jigs and chucks, chatterbaits or spinnerbaits. The Midwest finesse tactics made this trip successful.”
Terry Bivins of Lebo, Kansas, posted this unique report on the Finesse News Network. In my eyes, Bivins is the greatest marabou jig I have ever seen.
He wrote: “I learned something today. The wind was supposed to blow and it did. So, I bank fished again today. I was twitching a 1/16-ounce gray Leroy Spellman’s jig about 30 inches under a cork. I tried about three different retrieves, and I would catch a crappie every once in a while, and then a black bass or white bass about every eight casts or so, but it was not to fast bite. Then I caught two fish in a row, using a three count after the cork hit the water, and they hit it on the fall like deadsticking at the dock or in a boat. So, I started reeling, making three medium-speed rotations of the reel handle and then a three-count pause. I started catching a fish almost every cast for two hours before I quit at 3.m. I caught over 85 crappie, 4 black bass and 4 whites. I had never used that deadsticking retrieve below a cork.
“It was an awesome today. We just never get too old to learn something new. I was fishing the exact same spot that yielded just a few fish before I switched retrieves and I never moved for the last two hours.”
Clyde Holscher and Steve Desch, both of Topeka, Kansas, went bass fishing for trout at a 416-acre community reservoir. They fished from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
In Holscher’s Finesse News Network report, he noted that the wind was from the southwest at 12 to 15 mph. At 11 a.m. various area thermometers indicated it was 53 degrees, climbing to 59 degrees around 2 p.m. The morning low temperature was 33 degrees. The sky was blue, and sun was warm and bright. The solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred from 10:20 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
Water level was more than four feet low, and the tires of their boat trailer dropped off the end of the ramp, which was the same ramp that I fell and broke my forearm, wrist and hand on Nov. 6. The water was the clearest that they had seen it since late winter of 2011-12. They did not register the surface temperature, but they suspected that it was 48 to 50 degrees.
Their most fruitful fishing occurred during and shortly after the solunar calendar’s best fishing hours, and their catch rate dramatically declined during their last hour afloat. They inveigled 45 largemouth bass, 14 white bass and one small rainbow trout.
Their most effective baits were dark-hewed 2 ½-inch ZinkerZs affixed to 1/16-ounce jigs, and they made many fruitless casts and retrieves with a pearl ZinkerZ
For more information about bass fishing for trout in northeastern Kansas, see http://www.in-fisherman.com/2012/02/22/bass-fishing-for-trout/