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Midwest Finesse Bass

Midwest finesse: June 2013

by Ned Kehde   |  July 3rd, 2013 0

Introduction:

In June, I fished seven flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas. All of these reservoirs are relatively small and heavily fished. The smallest reservoir was 100 acres, and the biggest one was 6,930 acres.

I was afloat 13 times. On five of those outings, I was accompanied by another angler, and cross those five outings, we caught 216 largemouth bass, 107 smallmouth bass and two spotted bass. Eight of the outings were solo endeavors, where I tangled with 227 largemouth bass. In sum, my partners and I fished for 37 hours, caught an average of 42 black bass an outing and 14.9 per hour.

Even though I could catch only 47 largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass at a 195-acre community reservoir, where I was afloat  four times for a total of  eight hours and 45 minutes of fishing, June of 2013 was more fruitful than past Junes. For instance,  I was afloat 13 times on several of the same flatland reservoirs that grace northeastern Kansas in June of 2011 and caught 446 black bass. In 2012, I was afloat 10 times at the same reservoirs and inveigled only 298 black bass.

Below are the 13 logs that describe how, when and where I and my partners caught 552 largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and spotted bass in June in northeastern Kansas.  In addition, there are logs from Burton Bosley of Sutton, West Virginia, Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas,  Jim Farrow of Lenexa, Kansas, Bob Gum of Kansas City, Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, Dwight Keefer of Phoenix, Arizona, Casey Kidder of Topeka, Kansas, Nathan Parker of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Travis Perret of Overland Park, Kansas, Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, Walt Tegtmeier of Kansas City, Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, and Dave Weroha of Kansas City.

It is interesting to note that several dyed-in-the-wool Midwest finesse anglers from Kansas and Missouri took their 2 1/2-inch Z-Man Fishing Products’ ZinkerZs, Z-Man’s Hula StickZs and a few other Z-Man finesse baits to Canada in June, and they tangled with an impressive array of fish. One pair of veteran and extremely talented Midwest finesse devotees fished six days and caught  897 smallmouth bass, and details about that catch will appear in a blog latter in the year.  There is, however,  in this monthly guide a brief log about  Terry Claudell’s four days in Ontario and catching 280 smallmouth bass.

Logs:

June 1

Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, filed a report about his June 1 and 2 outings on the Finesse News Network.

He wrote: “There are three things I really enjoy in bass fishing. I love a topwater bite, get silly when they are ganged up on a spot, and truly enjoy Midwest finesse tactics. Saturday I was blessed with a trip that had all three of my favorite circumstances come together on the same trip.

“On Saturday Mike McPherson of Siler City and I fished the same 350-acre community reservoir where he landed a lunker last week and so soundly thrashed me. We started fishing at 7 a.m., plying shady banks with shallow-running baits and I used a vintage Rebel Pop-R P-70 in a bone hue. We experienced a little run of healthy two-pounders, catching ten of them in about an hour. I really enjoyed their cooperation on the topwater bait, which was retrieved with a-walk-the-dog cadence. I was using 65-pound test braid with that bait. The water clarity was about 18 inches.

“The topwater bite gave way to a five-foot flat with brushy cover bordering a drop into 20 feet of water. The largemouth bass were there and we caught about 20 in the next hour. They were right on the cover. It was really a combination of factors coming together. The shad were visible on top of the flat, the wind was blowing about 6 mph onto the flat and the moon was straight overhead. We doubled three times and the fish were really nice size for schoolies with a couple of four-pounders in the mix. We caught them on Texas-rigged Zoom Bait Company’s black Magnum Trick Worms and Zoom’s green-pumpkin Speed Craws.

“The rest of the day was spent fishing the edges of the channel, as we search for more schools of largemouth bass. The action was consistent, but not outstanding in any one spot.

“Later in the day I had a nice run of about ten largemouth bass on some riprap and some channel banks, catching them on a 1/16-ounce blood-red Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig and Z-Man Fishing Products’ green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ. A couple of the largemouth weighed 2 ½ pounds. This reservoir has so much brush that it is hard to find areas clean enough to use the exposed hook on the Midwest finesse rig.

“We ended the day back on the flat. Our total catch for the day was 61 largemouth bass. From start to finish, it was a very nice outing. We stopped fishing  around 3 p.m. under sunny skies and 88 degree heat.”

June 2

Mike Poe wrote : “On Sunday, June 2,  I went solo on my backdoor reservoir. What a difference a day and a change in lakes can make.

“I was determined to force feed them Z-Man’s Finesse WormZ and 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. They did not take it. I caught only four tiny largemouth bass on it. It was pretty windy; so,I finally caved and went to some power techniques using the wind as my friend.

“That power tactic stunk as well, adding only three  two-pounders via a Strike King Lure Company’s ¼-ounce Red Eye Shad in the sexy-shad hue, which I  fished in front of the willow grass. The largemouth bass are not on my dragging spots yet; so I am pretty much at a loss on their whereabouts right now.

“I fished from noon until 5 p.m. It think it was my worse outing of the year, and by far the most disappointing.”

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Nathan Parker of Tulsa, Oklahoma, reported on the Finesse News Network about his June 2 outing to a 700-acre reservoir that lies southwest of Tulsa.

He noted that Mother Nature pummeled the landscape and waterways of northeastern Oklahoma during the last days of May, and thus most of its waterways were high and muddy. Because of the high-water levels, he was able to explore what he described as interesting backwater areas.

He said, “I spent most of the day just wandering around, not even fishing but exploring river sections of the reservoir that are usually impassable in a bass boat.

“I started fishing just a couple hours before dark, plying the backwaters in a small river and hooking upwards of 20 largemouth bass  in less than an hour along a flooded drainage culvert. The area was extremely snaggy, but I was able to more than hold my own with a little jika rig that was  constructed out of a No. 1 Gamakatsu G-Lock Worm Hook and 1/8-ounce finesse drop-shot sinker with a No. 2 stainless-steel split ring. It was dressed with a Zoom Bait Company’s green-pumpkin Tiny Brush Hog.

“My reel was spooled with eight-pound-test fluorocarbon line.

“It was my first positive experience with the jika, and it worked great with the tiny finesse bait and little hook.”

June 3

In May, I was able to fish for only 26 hours. So with the assistance of Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, I made up some of that lost piscatorial time on this outing, when we ventured to a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir, where we fished from 10:10 a.m. to 4:25 p.m.

I hadn’t made the 60-mile journey to this reservoir since Sept. 12, 2011. This time the water level was the lowest that I can remember seeing it, which was the residue of the draught of 2012, and therefore, we saw rock piles and shorelines that we had never seen before. According to the Corps, it was 2.27 feet below normal. What’s more, the water clarity around the dam was the clearest I have ever seen it, but in the middle sections of the reservoir, the clarity diminished to its normal slightly stained Kansas hue. The surface temperature ranged from 69 to 70 degrees; normally the surface temperature on June 3 ranges from 74 to 80 degrees.

According to the National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, the morning low temperature was 44 degrees, which was 16 degrees below normal, and the afternoon high temperature was 74 degrees, which was 6 degrees below normal. The wind angled from the southeast at 9 to 22 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.05 around 10 a.m. and dropping. Periodically some high and thin clouds floated over head, but for most of the six hours and 15 minutes we were afloat, it was sunny.

In-Fisherman’s calendar indicated that the best fishing hours occurred from 7:04 a.m. to 9:04 a.m.

Our goal was to fishing until we caught a combination of 101 largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. To our chagrin, we failed to meet that goal. Instead, we caught 92 smallmouth bass, two spotted bass, nine white bass, one channel catfish and one freshwater drum. What’s more, we were hoping to reach that goal without having to fish for six hours and 15 minutes.

This smallmouth bass was inveigled by dragging and deadsticking a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig.

We caught these fish on 10 lures: a Z-Man’s 2 ½-inch green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ on a green 3/32-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig, a 2 ½-inch green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 ½-inch PB&J ZinkerZ on a blue 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 ½-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s three-inch green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on an orange 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse Shad on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Gene Larew Lures’ green-pumpkin Baby Hoodaddy on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s 2 ½-inch pearl GrubZ on a 3/32-ounce green Gopher jig, a green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ on an orange 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a radically customized 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.

We failed to inveigle a fish on a Z-Man’s three-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ on a green 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s 2 ½-inch customized FattyZ tube on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man’s 2 ½-inch Junebug FattyZ tail on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

The preponderance of these fish was caught on primary and secondary points. A few were caught of what we call tertiary or minor points. About 15 were caught on and around several shallow rock piles, and 11 were caught along the riprap of the dam. We plied about two 100-yard segments of the dam, which was a fraction of this two-mile long dam. Most of the fish were caught in two to four feet of water.

The bulk of the fish were caught on three Midwest finesse retrieve styles: (1) The hop-and-bounce retrieve, which is achieved by dropping the rod to the five-o’clock position after the cast and holding it there during the entire retrieve. After the cast, we shake the rod as the jig combo falls to the bottom. Once it bounces on the bottom, we hop it off the bottom by moderately rotating the reel handle twice and then pause. As it falls back to the bottom during the pause, we shake the rod. We continue this reel-pause-and-shake motif for the duration of the retrieve. (2) The drag-and-dead-stick presentation, which is normally performed by the angler in the back of the boat. He casts the jig combo towards the shoreline and allows it to fall to the bottom as he shakes his rod. His rod is held at the three- to four-o’clock position, and he merely drags the jig combo slowly across the bottom as the boat moves along the shoreline. The angler often drags the jig combo until it is behind the boat. As he drags it, he occasionally shakes his rod, and periodically he takes some line off his reel, creating several feet of slack line, which allows the jig combo to lie dead still on the bottom for five seconds. This is our deepest presentation; at times it plummets into 12 feet of water or deeper. (3) The straight-swim retrieve, which is similar to the classic Charlie Brewer do-nothing retrieve, and that means we slowly swim the bait by rotating the reel handle. We do not shake the rod, but we occasionally stop rotating the reel handle, which allows the bait to glide slowly towards the bottom.

One reason why we made the 60-mile journey to this reservoir was because many of our reservoirs were roiled by several of the deluges that walloped northeastern Kansas during the last week of May. For instance, Olathe, Kansas, was pummeled by more than 4.18 inches of rain in a few hours. The water level at one nearby reservoir rose 7.48 feet from May 26 to June 3. But Terry Bivins of Lebo, Kansas, told us that the water shed of this 6,930-acre reservoir was not hit any of those substantial rains, and thus its water level and clarity wasn’t adversely affected by the series of storms that crisscrossed eastern Kansas in late May. Another reason, we made this journey was that Lau was hoping to inadvertently cross paths with several walleye as we employed our Midwest finesse tactics around scores of main-lake points, but we failed to accomplish that feat.

One of the many smallmouth bass that Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, caught on a Z-Man's 2 1/2-inch green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ on a green 3/32-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig.

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After Lau and I returned from our outing  at the 6,930-acre reservoir, we received a brief report from Bob Gum of Kansas City who fished the same reservoir on June 2 with Greg Monahan of Kansas City.

Gum reported that they battled a cold north wind all day, which relegated them to plying the dam and rocky points on the north side of the reservoir.

Along the dam, Gum and Monahan crossed paths with large schools of gizzard shad, and occasionally a big smallmouth bass and some white bass would knife through them.

They caught the bulk of the 99 fish that they caught along the riprap of the dam on either a green-pumpkin-red or purple-haze Z-Man’s 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ on a red  1/16-ounce  Gopher jig. Five of the 99 fish were largemouth bass that measured in length from 15 to 17 inches, and one of the scores of smallmouth bass they tangled with measured 17 inches.

June 5

Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, reported briefly on the Finesse News Network about his solo outing on June 5 at a small community reservoir.

He noted that the water level was slightly higher than full pool.

He said that the first two hours he fished were fruitless. During that spell, he was plying flooded willow grass with topwater baits, such as a Spro Frog, and a four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

He said,  ”It was extremely aggravating outing because the bass showed themselves with explosive blowups back in the grass. I thought they would be easy pickings for the Spro Frog, but I never got a bite.”

During the last hour, he eventually inveigled seven largemouth bass by plying the Junebug Finesse WormZ and Gopher jig along the riprap of a bridge. The largemouth bass were in about three feet of water. They engulfed the Finesse WormZ as Poe was shaking it on the initial fall.

June 6

On June  6,  Jim Farrow of Lenexa, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network that he  fished the same  6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir that Lau and I fished on June 3.

He caught 36 smallmouth bass, and the bulk of them were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s 2 1/2-inch PB&J ZinkerZ  on a 1/16-ounce jig.

He wrote: ” I had one  smallmouth bass that was 18 1/2 inches long and weighed right at 3 3/4 pounds. That’s the biggest smallmouth I’ve caught in years, and man, was that fun on the light tackle.”

While the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishing in many of the flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas were askew, the smallmouth bass fishing in this  6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir was very rewarding. In fact, on the great piscatorial grapevine, there were tales about a pair of anglers who tangled with 150 smallmouth bass in four hours.

June 7

I didn’t have time to fish, but since I had not seen any of our nearby reservoirs since 4 ½ and more inches of rain fell during the last week of May, I quickly examined a close by 195-acre community reservoir from 10:10 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

The water level was an inch or two above normal. During the heart of the drought of 2012 and 2013, this reservoir was about 3 ½ feet below normal. Normally we receive about 40 inches of precipitation a year, but in 2012 we received only 20 ½ inches. And in 2013, we were still 1.87 inches below normal on June 7. As I examined parts of the lake, I also made some casts with a three-inch green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on an orange 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, which I retrieved by dragging or strolling it behind the boat, and I caught only two largemouth bass. These two were along the dam in about 10 feet of water.

My sonar revealed massive concentrations of suspended fish in various depths of water. I also spotted two aggregations of fry milling about the shoreline adjacent to the boat ramp.

Because of the 4 ½-inch of rain, the water clarity was stained. But I could see the propeller on the trolling motor. The surface temperature was 71 to 72 degrees.

The wind angled from the north at 9 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.02 and falling. It was sunny, and the National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 50 degrees and the afternoon high hit 77 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s calendar revealed that the best fishing time occurred from 9:53 a.m. to 11:53 a.m.

Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, and a friend were afloat on this reservoir from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and they took a 45-minute lunch break. Claudell reported that the largemouth bass fishing was exceedingly difficult. Consequently, he and his partner could not find a location pattern. In sum, the largemouth bass they caught were scattered and abiding around different types of aquatic environments. They caught only 15 largemouth bass, and most of those were inveigled by a shortened Z-Man’s four-inch Finesse WormZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. They caught those 12 largemouth in depths as shallow as two feet and as deep as 10 feet, employing a hop-and-bounce retrieve.

In addition to Claudell, Rodney Hatridge of Shawnee, Kansas, and Joe Gwadera of Liberty, Missouri, were afloat, and they fished from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00  p.m. They eked out 35 largemouth bass. Hatridge wielded Z-Man’s Finesse WormZs, Finesse ShadZs and 2 ½-inch ZinkerZs on 1/16-Gopher jigs without garnering a largemouth bass. Instead they inveigled the bulk of the largemouth bass with a variety of small crankbaits, such Mega Bass’ 1 3/4-inch  Griffon, which allured three lunkers that weighed 4.3 pounds, 4.5 pounds and 5.4 pounds.

Hatridge and Gwadera concluded that the bulk of the largemouth bass were suspended and in water deeper than 10 feet, which was an unusual phenomenon in early June in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas. The gizzard shad populations in these reservoirs are meager, and therefore, the largemouth bass don’t seem to spend a lot of time in a suspended state and foraging upon the pelagic gizzard shad. Instead they forage upon a variety of invertebrates near the rocky shorelines.

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Walt Tegtmeier of Kansas City reported on the Finesse News Network that “I’m almost embarrassed to report my last outing.”

He and his five-year-old son fished one hour and 30 minutes on June 7 at a 930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir that lies in the southeastern suburbs of Kansas City.

He wrote, “I really had high hopes for finessing these power angler-pressured fish, but I was humbled perhaps like never before. I fished about a 50-yard stretch of the dam, a long shallow point just up from the dam, and a small rocky cove near the dam. In these locales, it was murkier than Kansas clear, but that shouldn’t be an excuse. When I was a power angler and living on the Missouri side of Kansas City, I used to fish this reservoir frequently and would usually catch a nice largemouth bass or two, but never more than a couple per outing. I hadn’t fished it in five years, but given that it’s the closest lake to my home (20 minutes driveway to ramp), I have vowed to figure it out. Obviously I’m not off to a good start.”

In short, June 7 was a weird day for Midwest finesse anglers who ply the small flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri, and this oddness continued for Terry Claudell and Bob Gum of Kansas City on June 8.

June 8

Bob Gum filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his outing with wife, Yan, at a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir. They fished from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The National Weather Service in Olathe, Kansas, reported that the morning low temperature was 53 degrees around 7:00 a.m. The afternoon high temperature hit 83 degrees.

The barometric pressure was 29.92 and falling around 9:00 a.m. The wind angled out of the south at 8 to 28 mph.

In-Fisherman’s calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred from 10:40 a.m. to 12:40 p.m.

The water level was slight above normal. The water clarity in the southern half of the reservoir was 2 ½ feet. The surface temperature was 75 degrees along stretches of the riprap shoreline on the east side of the reservoir.

Gum said, “We spent the day using three baits: 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s purple-haze ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, four-inch  Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a dark-blue Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits’ Double Tail Hula Grub in a dark-blue hue and rigged on an 1/8-ounce jig.

“We had our best action along the east riprap where the surface temperature hovered around 75 degrees. But in total we caught only 34 fish, and only eight were largemouth bass. The rest were channel catfish, crappie, freshwater drum, and green sunfish. One largemouth bass was a 19-incher.”

Terry Claudell reported to the Finesse News Network that his 9:00  a.m. to 2:00 p.m. outing at this power-plant reservoir was extremely trying and perplexing. His Midwest finesse tactics allured only six small largemouth bass, five crappie, three channel catfish and one freshwater drum. He closed his report by asking FNN members to explain why the bass fishing was so sorry on June 7 and June 8. To his chagrin, no one had an answer.

June 9

My wife, Patty,  and I made a quick jaunt to a nearby 180-acre state reservoir, where we fished from 5:35 p.m. to 7:10 p.m.

She stated that our goal was to equal her age in the number of largemouth bass that we caught, and at 7:10 p.m. she landed largemouth bass number 72, which equaled her age of 72 years old.

Initially, I thought that her goal was too rigorous. My reasoning stemmed from the reports of Joe Gwedera of Liberty, Missouri, Rodney Hatridge of Shawnee, Kansas, and Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas. These anglers said that their outings at a 195-acre community reservoir, which lies about 10 miles — as the proverbial crow flies — to the west of this state reservoir, was extremely trying on June 7. Therefore, I thought it would be a struggle to catch 15 largemouth bass an hour, and my reasoning was dead wrong.

Patty and I hadn’t fished together since Mother’s Day evening (May 12), when we ventured to this same state reservoir, fished from 5:10 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and caught 43 largemouth bass. Our family obligations were intense throughout the last half of May and the first week of June; therefore I fished only four times for a total of 13 hours since that Mother’s Day outing, and Patty didn’t fish a minute.

On May 12, the water level looked to be 1 ½ feet below its normal level, but on this outing it was several inches above normal. It was extremely clear on May 12, and on this outing it was a tad stained, but I could see the propeller on the trolling motor, and when we can see the propeller, we call the clarity Kansas’ clear, which is not as clear as Bull Shoals Lake or Ozark’s clear. The surface temperature was 73 degrees, which was eight degrees warmer than it was on May 12. At the boat ramp, we spotted one aggregation of newly hatched fry milling about in a patch of emerging American water willows.

The weather was gorgeous. Area thermometers recorded the morning low temperature at 64 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature reached 83 degrees. The sky was virtually cloudless. The wind angled from the west and northwest at 9 to 18 mph, forcing us to employ a wind or drift sock. The barometric pressure was 29.08 and falling around 5 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred from 11:29 a.m. to 1:29 p.m.

Patty wielded two spinning outfits. One sported a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The second outfit was adorned with a three-inch  Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on an orange 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. She caught scores largemouth bass and green sunfish on both outfits.

My three spinning rods were fitted with a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a three-inch green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on an orange 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. And these three lures allured a goodly number of largemouth bass.

Patty primarily employed a drag-and-deadstick retrieve. I used a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve, as well as the hop-and-bounce retrieve.

During the one hour and 35 minutes that we were afloat, we fished only the riprap of the dam. (Dams are traditionally extremely fruitful locales to ply in early June on the small flatland reservoirs that stipple the countryside of northeastern Kansas. Early June is when the curly-leaf pondweed dies, and many largemouth bass seem to abide around rocky terrains during the demise of the curly-leaf pondweed.) Some sections of the riprap of this dam were embellished with patches of bushy pondweed, which is a different than curly-lead pondweed; it flourishes when the water temperature warms up. But the curly-leaf pondweed dies when the water temperature climbs into the 70s. On this outing we caught some largemouth bass around the inside edges of the patches of bushy pondweed.

By the time that Patty landed largemouth bass No. 72, our catch counter revealed that we had also caught 19 green sunfish, one saugeye and failed to land 17 largemouth bass that jumped and liberated our barbless Gopher jigs from their jaws. (As Clyde Holscher, who is a multispecies guide from Topeka, Kansas, says: “June is jump month for the largemouth and smallmouth bass in Kansas waterways.” And our bass jumped a lot on this June 9 outing.) According to Patty’s calculations, we tangled with 1.13 fish per minute. And, of course, by the end of this short outing, we both had what we call bass thumbs.

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Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, reported on the Finesse News Network about his June 9 outing with Mike McPherson of Siler City at a 350-acre community reservoir.

He wrote: “We caught 45 largemouth bass. There was no finesse involved. And no bites at all on any vertical presentations — not even any on the channel breaks where we caught them on so well last week.

“The bass had moved up into the grassy and woody bank cover. The best areas were around areas where small lakes were dumping their excess water into this 350-acre reservoir. One of those areas gave up 14 bass in three visits during the day. A 1/2-ounce War Eagle tandem-willow spinnerbait in a bream hue and a 3/8-ounce white Chatterbait were our tools for the day.

“I tried Z-Man’s four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ a lot and caught only three largemouth bass all day on it, and two of those on bridge rip rap.

“I felt like I was on the Alabama river catching those bass in the current discharge. It was very unique and I will get a photograph of it this weekend if it is still in play. We expect more soaking rain; so it may well be.

“We had a lot of 2 ½-pounders but nothing over four pounds. We fished from 7:00  a.m. to 2:00  p.m.

“Buck Perry was quoted by Hank Parker, and Parker said: ‘If we expect to duplicate catches on consecutive trips with the same lures and presentations, we will be disappointed on most trips.’ Perry looks pretty smart this year based on my experiences. Different game every trip.”

June 10

Almost out of the blue, summer suddenly arrived this afternoon. This was revealed when the National Weather Service in Topeka, Kansas, reported that the temperature reached 87 degrees around 4 p.m., which was five degrees above normal. And the weather predictors said the high temperature for June 11 would push some thermometers in northeastern Kansas to 96 degrees.

But as of 5 p.m. this morning, spring was still in the air, and that was exhibited by the thermometer at the National Weather Service’s station in Lawrence, Kansas, where the low temperature was 55 degrees, which was seven degrees below normal.

Throughout the daylight hours, the wind was often calm, and occasionally it angled out of the west and northwest, and once it blew out of the south. The barometric pressure around 10:00 a.m. was 29.91 and falling. The sun shinned as brightly as a newly minted dime.

Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and I fished a 416-acre community reservoir that lies in the eastern suburbs of Topeka. We fished from 10:25 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and the surface temperature of this reservoir was 75 degrees when we executed our first casts, and at one locale later in our outing, our thermometer registered a surface temperature of 80 degrees. The heavy rains that fell during the last week of May caused the water level to rise, and it looked to be several inches below normal. The water clarity was stained, and colored with  a combination what looked to be some algae blooms and mats of pollen lying on the surface. At some areas around this reservoir, I could not see the propeller on the trolling motor.

We spotted several schools of fry, and we saw a half dozen aggregations of temperate bass foraging on the surface. That first surface feeding action that we had seen in 2013.

In-Fisherman’s calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred at 12:19 p.m. to 2:19 p.m. Thus, we fished all but 19 minutes of it.

We shared the water with several jet skiers and four ski boats, which is another sign of summer’s arrival. Pok-Chi Lau and Ted Kruata, both of Lawrence, Kansas, were also afloat and wielding Midwest finesse tactics.

Lau, Kruata, Desch and I were disappointed to see the stained water and the algae blooms. We were also frustrated by the trying fishing. We suspected that significant number of the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass were suspended and milling about in offshore areas that were impossible for us to find and ply.

By the time that Desch and I executed our last casts, our fish calculator indicated than we had caught only 25 largemouth bass, 12 smallmouth bass, three freshwater drum, two channel catfish, two crappie, and one wiper. We failed to land two big fish that we battled for a while but failed to see, and eight bass jumped and tossed our jig combos from their jaws.

Our three most effective baits were a shortened Z-Man’s four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s pearl ZinkerZ of a red 1/16-ounce jig, and a 2 ¾-inch green-pumpkin tube affixed to an 1/8-ounce purple jig.

Our two most alluring retrieves were the drag-and-deadstick retrieve, which was usually executed about 25 feet behind the boat, and the hop-and-bounce retrieve that was punctuated with an occasional deadstick motif and a few shakes.

We were unable to pinpoint a significant location pattern. Thus, we fished a variety of lairs and underwater terrains, and some of those lairs  yielded a largemouth bass or a smallmouth bass, and some didn’t. We called it hodgepodge fishing. Many of the largemouth bass exhibited a beat-up, emaciated and post-spawn demeanor, while most of the smallmouth bass had recuperated from their reproductive chores.

June 11

Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, reported several times on the Finesse News Network in May and early June about how the largemouth bass in his waterways were difficult to catch with Midwest finesse tactics. Likewise, Bob Gum of Kansas City, Joe Gwadera of Liberty, Missouri, Rodney Hatridge of Shawnee, Kansas, Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, and Walt Tegtmeier of Kansas City reported that it was a struggle for them to catch largemouth bass on Midwest finesse tactics on June 7 and June 8 on the three waterways that they fished.

Then Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, and I experienced similar struggles at a 195-acre community on June 11. And this was the same reservoir that Claudell, Gwadera, and Hatridge found the largemouth bass fishing to be problematic on June 7.

Lau and I endured a hot and windy outing. When we launched the boat at 12:35 p.m., the wind was howling out of the south at 18 to 24 mph, and after 1 p.m. some wind gusts hit 36 mph. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 71 degrees. By 4 p.m., some area thermometers hit 95 degrees. The barometric pressure around noon was 29.97 and falling. At sunrise, the sky was cloud covered, but as the morning progressed, the sun shone brightly, and the sky exhibited a metallic-blue hue.

The lake level was an inch or two below normal. We could see the propeller of the trolling motor at most of the lairs we fished. In our eyes, there was a hint of an algal bloom. The surface temperature ranged from 77 to 80 degrees. In all of my years of fishing this reservoir, I have never seen as many fry as I saw on this outing; it must have been a bountiful spawn.

During the first half of June in years past, significant numbers of largemouth bass inhabited the dam of this reservoir, as well as the rocky environs that are not embellished with curly-leaf pondweed. Traditionally, the curly-leaf pondweed dies once the water temperature climbs into the 70s. It was beginning to wilt and die on this outing.

(By the way, it is interesting to note that Rich Zaleski of Stevenson, Connecticut, wrote in his May 4, 2013, blog that he has trouble catching largemouth bass around curly-leaf pondweed at one of the natural lakes that he fishes in the spring. But at the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas,  we have found that the curly-leaf pondweed patches are fruitful lairs to ply in the winter and early spring. See Zaleski’s May 14 blog at http://www.richz.com/fishing/blog/)

We suspect that largemouth bass vacated the areas in this reservoir that are afflicted with dying and decaying curly-leaf pondweed, and they move to the rocky environs, where the curly-leaf pondweed didn’t grow. But it doesn’t seem as if that phenomenon occurred this June, or if the largemouth bass were along the dam and on other rocky lairs, we could not catch them. But it occurred on June 10, 2010, and a Midwest finesse colleague and I caught 102 largemouth bass along the dam and several rocky lairs at this reservoir by employing a four-inch Strike King Lure Company’s Junebug Finesse Worm on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a 2 ½-inch Strike King Junebug Zero on a 1/16-ounce. This time around, however, Lau and I caught only 12 largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass, which were caught on a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ on an orange 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. These 13 fish were allured by a drag-and-deadstick retrieve.

We have never encountered such a sorry outing in June. At this point, we don’t understand what has transpired with the largemouth bass population at this reservoir, because 34 days ago, I single-handedly caught 125 largemouth bass in three hours and 35 minutes. We do know, however, that our sonar devices reveal that there were incredible numbers of suspended fish in seven to 15 feet of water all across the main body of the reservoir. Perhaps some of those suspended fish are largemouth bass.

Besides the sorry bass fishing at this 195-acre community reservoir, Dave Weroha of Kansas City and Terry Claudell of Overland, Kansas, recently reported that a 100-acre community reservoir and a 172-acre community reservoir that lie in the southwestern suburbs of Kansas City were extremely muddy, and Claudell said the largemouth bass fishing at the 100-acre reservoir was wretched on June 9.

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Dwight Keefer of Phoenix, Arizona, responded to our June 11 log on the Finesse News Network.

He wrote: “I just read about your less than stellar fishing you and others have been having. I believe that the fish are simply not in the areas you are fishing. If they were there, you would be catching them.

“Decades of history tells us that there are a lot of fish suspended immediately after the  spawn.”

Keefer suggested that “when we can see a lot of fish suspended, we should employ baits like the Sworming Hornet Fish Head Spins or Aaron Martens’ Scrounger Jig Head that are dressed with a small Z-Man’s StreakZ or Finesse ShadZ Then slowly retrieve then through the schools suspended fish, as well as over and around submerged structure.

“Here are a couple of links for you:

“These are excellent baits for finding fish and used on and over the fish and structure.”

June 13

Dr. John Reese of Lawrence, Kansas, doesn’t fish a lot. He is also a newcomer to Midwest finesse tactics.

So, when he asked if he could join me for a few hours of finesse fishing on June 13, a bit of angst erupted. Some of that anxiety was spawned from my desire to have him tangle with a lot of largemouth bass while he experimented with a variety of Midwest finesse tactics. But I was struggling to find a reservoir where that could be accomplished. The problem that confronted me was that two of the small flatland reservoirs that Reese and I have fished together in the past had become extremely muddy and unsuitable for finesse fishing after their watersheds were recently inundated by torrential downpours. Another source of this anguish revolved around the sorry fishing that plagued Steve Desch and me on June 10 at 416-acre community reservoir and the absolutely putrid outing that Pok-Chi Lau and I suffered with on June 11 at 195-acre community reservoir.

Ultimately, this puzzle was resolved when my wife, Patty, suggested that Reese and I should spend a few hours at the 180-acre state reservoir that Patty and I fished on June 8 and caught 72 largemouth bass in one hour and 35 minutes. Normally, I use this nearby reservoir for a quick outing with Patty or our grandkids. I also use it to test finesse baits and tactics. In short, it was an ideal place for Reese to work with an array of finesse procedures and tangle with a goodly number of largemouth bass.

Here’s how the outing unfolded:

We fished from 10:00 a.m. to 1:05 p.m.

The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 59 degrees. The afternoon high temperature hit 85 degrees. The wind angled from the north, east and northwest at 6 to 9 mph, and for spells it was calm. The sky exhibited a hazy-blue hue. The barometric pressure around 10:00 a.m. was 30.07 and falling.

According to In-Fisherman’s calendar, the best fishing occurred from 2:50 p.m. to 4:50 p.m.

The water level was a few inches above normal. It was clear enough that we could easily see the propeller on the trolling motor, and in fact, while we were landing some of the largemouth bass that we hooked, we could see these largemouth bass fighting six to eight feet under the surface. The surface temperature was 77 degrees. There was a plethora of bushy pondweed patches and other aquatic plants embellishing this reservoir. And we saw several massive concentrations of fry milling about in patches of American water willows and American pondweed.

We spent 35 minutes plying the outside edges of the patches of aquatic vegetation with several colors of four-inch grubs affixed to  red 3/32-ounce Gopher jigs and shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Finesse WormZs on red 1/16-ounce Gopher jigs. And we failed to garner a bite.

After failing to determine where to locate and how to allure the largemouth bass in and around the aquatic vegetation, we spend two hours and about 40 minutes plying riprap, where Reese and I caught 102 largemouth bass. These largemouth bass were caught primarily on a shortened four-inch pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, three-inch Z-Man green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s California-craw ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The Hula StickZ was the most effective of three combos.

Reese, who was in the back of the boat, learned to proficiently execute the drag-and-deadstick retrieve. And I primarily utilized the hop-and-bounce retrieve that was punctuated with an occasional deadstick routine and a few subtle shakes.

Along the riprap we caught the largemouth bass as shallow as three feet and as deep as 14 feet. The largemouth bass that were extracted from 13 to 14 feet of water, where caught on the drag-and-deadstick retrieve. It needs to be noted that we rarely fish lairs that are deeper than 12 feet in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas.

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While I was fishing a small suburban reservoir on June 14, Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, was afloat at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir. For a few hours, he searched in vain for offshore white bass.

At 1:30 p.m., he switched his focus from white bass to smallmouth bass, and he plied main-lake rock piles, points and several shorelines that grace the south side of this reservoir. He also fished several secondary points and shorelines inside two coves.

His most effective bait was a seven-inch Z-Man’s Finesse WormZ that he cut in half, making it into a thin three-inch ZinkerZ-style bait. It is thinner than the 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ. In some ways, it looks like Z-Man’s Rain MinnowZ, which is no longer in production. This three-inch Finesse WormZ undulates and quivers more than the 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ and Rain MinnowZ. And the three-inch tail section undulates more than the three-inch head or top section of the Finesse WormZ.

He worked with two colors of the three-inch Finesse WormZ: PB&J and watermelon red.

He affixed them on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which we used around areas that were not wind-blown. At locales that were buffeted by a brisk wind, he dressed them on a 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.

On these baits, he caught 57 smallmouth bass, three largemouth bass, and one channel catfish.

He made his last cast around 7:00 p.m.

For more insights to the three-inch Finesse WormZ that Lau used, please see this blog: http://www.in-fisherman.com/2012/07/11/finesse-news-network-gear-guide-the-rain-minnow-is-dead/

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Nathan Parker of Tulsa, Oklahoma, posted a report on the Finesse News Network about catching suspended largemouth bass and smallmouth bass on June 12 and 13.

On June 12, he and a partner used a wacky rig at a 10,190-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir to inveigle bass that were suspended under the docks at the marina.

Then during the evening of June 13, he and his partner fished for two hours at a 200-acre reservoir. He wrote: “After 30 minutes of fruitless casting around shallow aquatic vegetation with a four-inch worm on a 1/16-ounce jig and a five-inch Senko-style bait on a wacky rig, we moved offshore and found some suspended bass chasing baitfish. We landed 10 and failed to land five other, and all of them were suspended in open water, and we could see them on the sonar, and occasionally they pushed a wad of bait up to the surface. We caught two on topwater baits. The rest of our bites were caught swimming a four-inch Bass Pro Shops XPS grub in smoke-pepper hue on a 3/16-ounce jig with a No. 1 Matzuo round-bend black-nickel hook. We swam the grub about five to eight feet below the surface. Most of the bass were 13- to14-inchers, but I did catch one nice 17 ½-inch smallmouth that weighed almost three pounds. It was my largest smallmouth this season so far.

Nathan Parker and a three-pound smallmouth bass.

 

June 14

I fished in suburbia on this outing. But that is not an unusual occurrence for the Midwest finesse anglers that live along Interstate Highway 70 that stretches for about 60 miles between Kansas City and Topeka, Kansas. It was a solo endeavor to a 100-acre community reservoir that lies in the southwest outskirts of Kansas City.

I hadn’t fished this reservoir since April 8, when I caught 41 largemouth bass in four hours.

In late May, this area was pummeled by an extremely heavy downpour that significantly riled several area reservoirs that we fish. For example, Terry Claudell of Overland Park reported on the Finesse News Network that  he fished this 100-acre community reservoir on June 9, and the “water clarity was the worst I have ever seen for any lake, looking and smelling like two-day-old coffee – dark and rancid.”

Because of Claudell’s report, I was a tad reluctant to make the 26-mile journey to this reservoir.  But, at the same time, I was curious to see what it looked like five days after Claudell’s outing, when he and two partners fished for two hours and caught only five largemouth bass.

I was expecting to see a mess and deal with some extremely problematic largemouth bass fishing. But when I arrived at the boat ramp at 11:35 a.m., I was delighted to see that this reservoir was surprisingly clear. Once I launched the boat, I could easily see the propeller on the trolling motor, and around several lairs in the lower portions of the reservoir, there was nearly four feet of clarity.

The weather was delightful, too. The National Weather Service at the Olathe, Kansas, and Johnson County, Kansas, Executive Airport registered the morning low temperature at 66 degrees and the afternoon’s high temperature at 87 degrees. The china-blue sky was a tad hazy and clouds cluttered the southern horizon. The wind angled from the south and southeast at 8 to 15 mph. The barometric pressure around noon was 30.00 and falling.

In-Fisherman’s calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred from 3:39 p.m. to 3:39 p.m.

The water clarity diminished in the upper half of the reservoir, but at several locales I could see the trolling motor’s propeller. The surface temperature ranged from 78 to 80 degrees. The water level was about an inch above normal. Many spots around this reservoir were adorned with dense patches of coontail, as well as a few patches of bushy pondweed, and some of it shorelines were bordered with American water willows.

At 11: 45 a.m. I made my first cast at the west end of the dam. I fished the entire dam, which consisted on riprap and patches of American water willows, as well as some patches of coontail and bushy pondweed. The dam yielded 15 largemouth bass. Most of them were inveigled by a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. But a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s purple-haze Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a three-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig allured six of those 15 largemouth bass.

After the dam, I fished four offshore rock humps, five main-lake points that were adorn with American water willows, and three long stretches of rocky shorelines. Portions of the shorelines were embellished with boat docks, rocks, and patches of coontail and American water willows.

Six largemouth were extracted off the rock humps. Another six largemouth bass caught around three of the five main-lake points. I caught seven largemouth bass along the shorelines that I probed. And the bulk of these 19 largemouth bass were allured by the pumpkin Finesse WormZ and chartreuse 1/16-ounce jig.

Eight of the 34 largemouth bass that I caught engulfed the bait on the initial drop. Six largemouth bass were caught as I utilized a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve over and around patches of coontail. Another eight largemouth bass were caught while I worked with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve in five to 12 feet of water. And 12 largemouth bass were caught while I employed the hop-and-bounce retrieve. The hop-and-bounce retrieve also inveigled a flathead catfish and a walleye.

I made my last cast at 2:55 p.m. It was executed along the dam were I started this outing, and I failed to garner a strike from a largemouth bass during my second probing of the dam.

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While I was fishing a small suburban reservoir on June 14, Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, was afloat at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir. For a few hours, he searched in vain for offshore white bass.

At 1:30 p.m., he switched his focus from white bass to smallmouth bass, and he plied main-lake rock piles, points and several shorelines that grace the south side of this reservoir. He also fished several secondary points and shorelines inside two coves.

His most effective bait was a seven-inchZ-Man’s Finesse WormZ that he cut in half, making it into a thin three-inch ZinkerZ-style bait. It is thinner than the 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ. In some ways, it looks like Z-Man’s Rain MinnowZ, which is no longer in production. This three-inch Finesse WormZ undulates and quivers more than the 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ and Rain MinnowZ. And the three-inch tail section undulates a more than the three-inch head or top section of the Finesse WormZ.

He worked with two colors of the three-inch Finesse WormZ: PB&J and watermelon red.

He affixed them on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which we used around areas that were not wind-blown. At locales that were buffeted by a brisk wind, he dressed them on a 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.

On these baits, he caught 57 smallmouth bass, three largemouth bass, and one channel catfish.

For more insights to the three-inch Finesse WormZ that Lau used, please see this blog: http://www.in-fisherman.com/2012/07/11/finesse-news-network-gear-guide-the-rain-minnow-is-dead/

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Casey Kidder of Topeka, Kansas, and Travis Perret of Overland Park, Kansas, fished a 16,020-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir on June 14 and 15.

They filed this report with the Finesse News Network: “The surface temperature hovered around 75 degrees. The water level appeared to be a foot or two below normal. The water clarity was fairly clear. We could easily see the trolling motor prop in most areas. Some areas were more stained, but for the most part, they were fairly clear. But we battled an extremely strong south wind both days.

“We focused on a variety of points: main-lake points and some secondary points, as well as some tiny points around the mouths of some tiny pocket coves.  We also fished one rocky hump.

“The most fruitful points were about halfway inside several of the feeder creek arms. We focused on areas in the lower quarter of the lake. We also quickly fished the entire riprap of the dam, but it yielded only a dozen dinky smallmouth bass.”

They fished from 6:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on June 14. They caught 35 to 40 smallmouth bass, two channel catfish, several freshwater drum and one walleye. Perret landed a 4 ½-pound smallmouth bass.  Kidder failed to land one that looked to be a three-pounder. Their best bait was a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-orange ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and it was the bait that allured the Perret’s big smallmouth bass.

On June 15 Kidder and Perret fished a team bass tournament, and Kidder said: “It was much tougher for some reason than it was on June 14. The smallmouth bass seemed to be deeper, and the bigger ones were difficult to catch. What’s more, the bites were tentative and the green-pumpkin-orange ZinkerZ that worked so well on June 14 was ineffective. Travis caught one keeper-size smallmouth bass on a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s watermelon ZinkerZ and 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and I caught a 3.1-pound smallmouth bass on a Z-Man’s FattyZ rigged on a split-shot rig.” Ultimately, they eked out a tournament limit of three keeper-size smallmouth bass and two keeper-size largemouth bass. The fact that the thirty teams of anglers caught only eight limits was a grim reflection of how trying the fishing was

Kidder said, “The split-shot rig was something I had in the back of my mind for awhile. I decided to try it during this tournament because it was a different bait and presentation than what I expected the other anglers were using. I worked with a  No. 4 (1/8-ounce) size spot and positioned the split shot on the leader from 8-12 inches above the hook. The leader was a five-foot piece of 12-pound-test monofilament leader, and it was attached to 10-pound-test braided line. I found that a fluorocarbon leader frayed too easily when it became snagged and the split shot slid down to the hook. What’s more, the zebra mussels frayed the fluorocarbon more than they frayed the monofilament leader. Several times the fluorocarbon leader became so frayed that several bass broke the leader. I experimented with three hooks: a 2/0 Gamakatsu extra-wide-gap hook, a 1/0 Gamakatsu worm hook, and a 1/0 Trokar round-bend hook. I prefer round-bend hooks when I am Texas-rigging Z-Man plastics, because the point of an extra-wide-gap hook tends to dig back into the plastic, which can keep the hook from penetrating into the flesh of a bass’ mouth. But extra-wide-gap hooks fit the five-inch FattyZ better than the round-bend hooks. Therefore, I am still not set on the best hook for the FattyZ on a split-shot rig, and I will do some more experimentation. Travis fished a customized or shortened FattyZ on a Gopher jig, and it accounted for one keeper-size smallmouth bass. The best retrieve on the split shot rig was a slow drag with no twitches or shakes.  Travis was primarily using a deadstick retrieve with the Gopher jig combs, and occasionally he shook it, but most strikes occurred when he was not implementing a shake. At times, I fished a wacky jig with a four-inch Yum Dinger, which was effective on June 14 but not on June 15. We also caught some fish on June 14 with a 3 ½-inch tube in various colors with a quarter-ounce insert jig. And if I were to do it again, I work with a greater variety of tube colors and sizes, as well as size of jigs.”

June 16

We received a note  from an ardent and talented saltwater angler about his June 16 outing, and we thought that our freshwater finesse bretherens would be interested in reading this angler’s observations.

He wrote: “Thought you would like to know that I’ve benefited greatly from reading about your finesse techniques. This weekend, the bite was really tough, and 19 out of the 23 seatrout and flounder I caught ate small baits on 1/16 oz Gopher jigs using a couple of the retrieves you’ve described. I just ordered another $50 worth of Gopher jigs.”

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Bob Gum of Kansas City reported to the Finesse News Network about his June 16 outing with his wife and their friend to a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir.

They searched in vain for offshore white bass. Then eventually they spent some time pursuing this reservoir’s smallmouth bass with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s purple-haze ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a four-inch Z-Man’s green pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. But to their chagrin, the smallmouth bass were difficult to locate and allure, and this threesome eked out on 17 of them.

June 17

On June 11, Pok-Chi Lau and I were confounded by the perplexing and sorry largemouth bass fishing at a nearby 195-acre community reservoir. On that outing we fished from 12:30 p.m. to 2:24 p.m. and caught only 12 largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass. Three days before that paltry outing, Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, Rodney Hatridge of Shawnee, Kansas, and Joe Gwadera struggled to inveigle this reservoirs’ largemouth bass.

After the horrendous fishing that Claudell, Gwadera, Hatridge, Lau and I experienced on June 7 and June 11, I vowed to keep plying this reservoir at least once a week or more in hopes that I could eventually locate and catch an average of 10 largemouth bass an hour. I was buoyed by the fact that on May 9 I had a solo outing on this same waterway, where I fished from 10:35 a.m. to 2:10 p.m., and single-handedly caught 125 largemouth bass. In short, I knew that this reservoir could easily yield 10 largemouth bass an hour.

On June 7 and June 11, we noted that our sonar devices indicated that were incalculable numbers of fish suspended pell-mell in the middle of the main-body of the reservoir, as well as suspended in a helter-skelter fashion in the middle of two of its major feeder creek arms.

Dwight Keefer of Phoenix suggested that when we can see a lot of fish suspended, we should employ baits like the Sworming Hornet Fish Head Spins or Aaron Martens’ Scrounger Jig Head that are dressed with a small Z-Man’s StreakZ or Finesse ShadZ Then slowly retrieve then through the schools suspended fish, as well as over and around submerged structure that are graced with suspended fish.

Keefer’s suggestion, however, didn’t bear fruit on June 17, when I fished from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. In short, there were vast numbers of suspended fish, but I couldn’t elicit a strike from any of them.

Except for my inabilities to locate and allure any suspended largemouth bass and smallmouth bass that abide in this reservoir, it was a beautiful late spring outing northeastern Kansas. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 70 degrees and the afternoon high temperature at 84 degrees. The wind was often nil, and when it did stir, it angled out of the north at 6 mph. The barometric pressure at 11 a.m. was 30.02 and falling. For most of the outing the sky was covered with clouds, which were the residue of a morning thunderstorm that rolled across these parts, and around 1:20 p.m., it became partly cloudy.

According to In-Fisherman’s calendar, the best fishing times occurred from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The water level was nearly normal. The water clarity was affected by a mild-mannered algae bloom, and I could faintly see the propeller of the trolling motor. The surface temperature was 79 degrees. The curly-leaf pondweed was wilting, but there were still massive patches of it.

On June 3, 2009 at this reservoir, 90 percent of the curly-leaf pondweed was dead, 90 percent of it was dead by June 10, 2010, and 95 percent of it was dead by June 10, 2011. But on this outing about 30 percent of it was dead. We are beginning to suspect that the slow demise of the curly-leaf pondweed might be one element that has caused the largemouth bass fishing at this reservoir to be so problematic.

Traditionally, when the curly-leaf pondweed dies, the largemouth bass abide around rocky lairs that are devoid of this vegetation, and the rock-laden dam has always been the most fruitful area during the dying days of the curly-leaf pondweed. On this outing, however, it yielded only 10 largemouth bass. Five of them were allured on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Four largemouth bass were inveigled by a 2 ½ Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher. And one largemouth bass was caught on a Gene Larew Lures’ green-pumpkin Baby Hoodaddy affixed to a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. Two of the largemouth bass were caught on the initial drop of the ZinkerZ combo, and the rest were caught on the hop-and-bounce retrieve.

I caught nine more largemouth bass on main-lake rocky points and rocky shorelines. The Junebug Finesse WormZ and California craw ZinkerZ caught six of them, and a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s purple-haze Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher caught three largemouth bass. Most of these largemouth bass were caught on a slow hop-and-bounce retrieve, and two were caught on a drag-and-deadstick retrieve.

In short, I caught only 19 largemouth bass, and that was not enough to develop a location, lure, and retrieve pattern. In the lexicon of anglers, I was junk fishing.

At 1:50 p.m., I crossed paths with another finesse angler who was primarily wielding a pearl four-inch grub on a white 1/8-ounce jig, and he had caught only one largemouth bass and a channel catfish. He said he spent a considerable amount of time swimming his grub through, around and over several schools of suspended fish that he spotted on his sonar, but he failed to garner a strike.

It was another woeful June day on this reservoir. But June 7, 11 and 17 make one appreciate the patience and stamina of the tournament anglers who rarely catch six largemouth or smallmouth bass an hour. I wonder how they bear it.

June 18

This was another outing to suburbia and the same 100-acre community reservoir that I fished on June 14.

I was afloat from 11:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Most of the time the sun shone brightly, but on the western horizon, a massive array of cumulus clouds slowly formed, and periodically a few clouds floated overhead. And around 4 p.m. several significant thunderstorms erupted 20 to 40 miles to the south of this reservoir. Some locales received nearly two inches of rain and were beleaguered with flash floods. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 62 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature was 87 degrees. While I was afloat, the barometric pressure was 30.03 and steady. The wind angled out of the northeast and east at no more than 8 mph.

In-Fisherman’s calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred from 6:22 a.m. to 8:22 a.m.

The water level looked to be a few inches above normal. The surface temperature ranged from 79 to 82 degrees. At the boat ramp, which adjacent to the dam, I could see a white 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ and chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig in five feet of water, and in the eyes of Kansas finesse anglers, that is what we call clear water. The upper third of the reservoir was somewhat stained, and the visibility was about three feet, and thus I could easily see the propeller of the trolling motor.

I made my first casts and retrieves along the dam, which was embellished with rocks, American water willows and patches of coontail. Some of the stalks of the coontail were coated with pods of filamentous algae. I spent 45 minute plying the dam with a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s purple-haze Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. And these three baits allure 16 largemouth bass. Most of these bass were caught in four to seven feet of water.

Then I fished a main-lake hump and an adjacent point, where I failed to elicit a strike. From that hump, I moved to another main-lake hump, where I caught two largemouth bass. One was caught on the purple-haze Finesse WormZ and the second one was caught on a four-inch green-pumpkin-and-orange-flake grub on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.

After that I fished a flat that was covered with patches of coontail, and I failed to catch a largemouth bass. From the coontail flat, I moved to a rocky shoreline that was buffeted by a submerged creek channel and adorned with a dozen boat docks, and I failed to catch a largemouth bass. These two humps, the coontail flat, and the rocky shoreline were on the west side of the reservoir and situated in its lower half.

The next spot I fished was on the east side of the reservoir and situated in its upper half, and it was a shallow main-lake point that was rimmed with a cement retaining wall. I extracted four largemouth bass from that cement retaining wall with the purple-haze Finesse WormZ. From that point, I slowly probed the east shoreline, which was stippled with cement retaining walls, boulders, boat docks, points, coontail patches, bushy pondweed patches, laydowns, rock walls, and American water willows. Along this 400-yard stretched, I eked out only eight largemouth bass. Four of them were caught on the California craw ZinkerZ combo and three were caught on the purple-haze Finesse WormZ and one was caught on the pumpkin Finesse WormZ.

The last area that I fished consisted on two main-lake points and a series of four offshore humps. They were in the lower third portion of the reservoir and along its east side. I caught one largemouth bass around the outside edge of a patch of American water willows on one of the points with the purple-haze Finesse WormZ combo. I failed to garner a strike at the second point. Along the series of four humps, which are graced with several boulders the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, I caught three largemouth bass on the purple-haze Finesse WormZ and two largemouth bass on the pumpkin Finesse WormZ. On my last cast of the day, I caught the biggest fish of the day, which was a four-pound walleye that was abiding around one of those big boulders in about four feet of water, and it engulfed the pumpkin Finesse WormZ.

The most effective retrieve was the bounce-and-hop one. The swim-glide-and-shake retrieve inveigled seven of the 36 largemouth bass that I caught. Traditionally, our most fruitful finesse fishing occurs when the largemouth bass prefer the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, but to our chagrin, it hasn’t been a fruitful retrieve for many moons. To my delight, I didn’t catch a largemouth bass on the tedious drag-and-deadstick retrieve, and here’s hoping this means we have turned some sort of piscatorial corner, and the swim-glide-and-shake will become the predominant retrieve, and our largemouth bass fishing will be easy again.

June 19

On June 18, I traveled east to fish in the southwest suburbs of Kansas City. Then on June 19, I decided to drive west, and I traveled 38 miles to what some city and suburban folks might call the boondocks and fished a 140-acre state reservoir from 11:25 a.m. to 2:20 p.m.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, recorded the morning low temperature at 60 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature hit 88 degrees.

While I was afloat, the wind was out of the southeast at 8 to18 mph. Around 11 a.m. the barometric was 30.02 and dropping. It was partly cloudy at times, but sunny most of the time.

I hadn’t fished this reservoir since Oct. 29, 2012, when Rodney Hatridge of Shawnee, Kansas, joined me, and we caught 62 largemouth bass, three white bass, two black crappie and one wiper. On that outing, the water level was the lowest that I had ever seen it, and that was  when we were in the midst of the great Midwest drought of 2012-13.

On my June 19 outing, the water level looked to be a few inches below normal. I fished the lower half of the reservoir, and most of the time I could see the propeller of the trolling motor; so it was what we call Kansas clear. But there were a few wind-blown spots along two of the reservoir’s western shorelines, where the water clarity was a tad murky. The surface temperature was 80 to 81 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred from 7:09 a.m. to 9:09 a.m.

During the two hours and 55 minutes that I fished, I plied two western shorelines, three main-lake points, six riprap jetties, one offshore patch of bushy pondweed, and the riprap of the entire dam.

I caught 26 largemouth bass along the two western shorelines. The bulk of them were caught adjacent to the patches of American water willows that border the two shorelines. Three largemouth bass were extracted from submerged patches of bush pondweed that bordered the American water willows. Four largemouth bass were caught around four of the six rock riprap jetties on those western shorelines.

Two largemouth bass were caught on two of the three main-lake points.

The offshore patch of bushy pondweed begot two largemouth bass. Vast numbers of largemouth bass rarely inhabit this reservoir’s offshore bushy pondweed patch and other types of offshore aquatic vegetation until late July, and then we catch significant numbers of them at those locales until the bushy pondweed wilts in the fall.

I caught a dozen largemouth bass along the dam, and most of them were associated with the patches of American water willows.

Of the 42 largemouth bass that I caught 23 of them were allured by a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Four largemouth bass were caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s purple-haze Finesse WormZ on a blue 1./16-ounce Gopher jig. Fifteen largemouth bass were caught on a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

All of these bass were extracted from two to five feet of water. About 20 percent of the strikes occurred on the initial drop of the bait. The rest were allured by either the swim-glide and subtle shake retrieve or the hop-and-bounce retrieve.

It is interesting to examine the third week of June’s logs for the past five years: On June 17, 2008. I caught only 16 largemouth bass. I caught 37 largemouth bass on June 17, 2009. My best catch occurred on June 16, 2010, when I caught 53 largemouth bass. I caught 24 largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass on June 21, 2011. And I inveigled 48 largemouth bass on June 21, 2012. In sum, my third week of June of 2013 equals what transpired in years past.

Around 1:45 a.m., I talked to power angler from Topeka, Kansas, who reported that he had been afloat most of the morning and caught 18 largemouth bass.

June 20

Burton Bosley of Sutton, West Virginia, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his outing with a friend at a 1,400-acre reservoir.

He wrote: “The surface temperature at this deep-water reservoir, which is surrounded by steeped forested hills, was 80.6 degrees. Because of recent rains, the water clarity was less than normal, but I could still see a little jig in four feet of water,  and logs in eight feet were visible. Recently the water level had dropped three feet, and it was still going down.

“We started fishing at 2:00 p.m. and quit at 6:00 p.m. I had a friend with me who is a novice.”

The National Weather Service at Elkins-Randolph County-Jennings Randolph Field, West Virginia, recorded the morning low temperature as 54 degrees and the afternoon high temperature hit 81 degrees. Around 2:00 p.m. the barometric pressure was 30.26 and falling. While this pair was afloat, it was partly cloudy and then sunny. The wind was nil until around 5 p.m. and then it blew from north at 8 mph. And the In-Fisherman calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 8:28 p.m. to 10:20 p.m. Bosley noted that the National Weather Station lies about 60 miles from the reservoir that they were fishing, and it is about 1000 feet higher in elevation, and as a rule it is somewhat windier and cooler.

Bosley said, “We begin fishing with 1/16- and 3/32-ounce Gopher mushroom jigs rigged with two-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZs. Then as the afternoon unfolded, I realized we were in a text book situation that dealt with the latest finesse fishing discussions on the Finesse News Network, which is casting distance and suspended bass. This was coupled with the fact that our jigs were getting snagged far too often upon the plethora of laydowns, submerged logs and branches that fall and tumble into the water from the steep and wooded hillsides that border the shorelines of this reservoir. What’s more, we were not getting any bites.

“To correct this two-fold problem, we began using a 1/32-ounce jig dressed with an inch trimmed off of a four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ.

“We found after an hour of searching that the largemouth bass were suspended off the laydown tops that were on or near the surface and sitting above 20, 30 and more feet of water. I would stop the boat well off the cover, make an extremely long cast to the outside of the tops and let the little bait drift down to around 10 feet. The weight was critical; the 1/16- and 3/32-ounce jigs sank too fast. My friend had neither the equipment nor the ability to make the long casts, but when I caught a fish it seemed to excite the rest of the school, and they would follow one of the  hooked bass almost to the boat. We could then move closer and catch several before moving to the next laydown. The fish (all largemouth) and were one- to 1 ½-pounders. I managed to lose a couple in the three- to four-pound range. This is at a reservoir where an eight-pound bag of bass in a tournament will often get a check.

“I was using my new eight-foot, light-action spinning rod, which enabled me to execute the long casts with the little bait that seemed necessary to catch the first largemouth bass or two. Then once the bass became excited, they were more vulnerable and allowed my college professor friend to become a finesse fishing fan.

“The four-inch Finesse WormZ on a little jig is a deadly bait for suspended bass if you have the patience to let it do its job.”

June 24

Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, posted a summary of his smallmouth bass endeavors around Atikokan, Ontario, where he was afloat from June 21 through June 24 on Marmion and Crooked Pine lakes.

He reported that the weather on June 21 and 22 hit a high temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. It was cloudy, and the wind was what he called manageable. On June 23, it was cloudy and it rained from noon to 4:30 p.m., and the high temperature of the day was 65 degrees. During those three days, he and his partner tangled with 220 smallmouth bass and scores of northern pike. But they caught only 60 smallmouth bass and one 40-inch northern pike on June 24, when a 20-mph northwest wind made boat control problematic. The smallmouth bass that they caught on June 24 were bigger than the ones they caught during the previous three days. In fact, 15 of them were 18 inches and longer.

 

The surface temperature was 65 degrees on June 21, and it climbed to 70 degrees on June 24.

Their most effective baits were a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ and Z-Man’s Hula StickZ. These baits were affixed to either a red 1/16-ounce or 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. They used the 3/32-ouncer when the wind blew. Green-pumpkin was the best color for the ZinkerZ and Hula StickZ. He noted that during the last two days they did not attach fluorocarbon leaders to their braided lines. Instead, the braided line was tied directly to the Gopher jig, and this did not adversely affect the number of smallmouth bass that they caught.

Most of the smallmouth bass that they caught were in the post-spawn phase, but there were some male smallmouth bass guarding spawning sites. The strikes were not aggressive; it was what Claudell called “a noticeable weight on the line, or a slow swim off during the initial drop of lure.”

The bulk of the smallmouth bass were caught around islands and what he called rock shoals. Wind-blown lairs were more fruitful than wind-sheltered lairs.

The best retrieve was what he described as a drag motif. At times, it was necessary to drag it on top of the rocky shoals, and other times, it was essential to drag it along the outer edges of the shoals.

What’s more the mosquito population was the most significant one that he had ever endured.

June 25

In an e-mail on June 25, Terry Bivins of Lebo, Kansas, exclaimed: “Is the wind ever going to stop blow at 30 mph?”

The wind began howling on June 20, and it kept me at bay until 12:55 p.m. on June 25. And to my chagrin, it howled for the entire two hours and 20 minutes that I was afloat at a 195-acre community reservoir, and some gusts hit 35 mph. And as I was putting the boat on to the trailer at 2:15 p.m., the wind seemed to be blowing the hardest it had blown for the past six days. And except when I plied two wind-sheltered lairs, I had a wind sock in the water entire outing

Between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. a series of thunderstorms rumbled across northeastern Kansas, and the wind was extremely mild-mannered during that rainy spell. According to the National Weather Series at Lawrence, Kansas, about a quarter of inch of rain fell. The morning low temperature was 76 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature reached 91 degrees. The barometric pressure around 1 p.m. was 29.81 and falling.

In-Fisherman’s calendar stated that the best fishing times occurred from 12:59 p.m. to 2:59 p.m.,  and I fished during that time.

The surface temperature was 80 degrees. The lake level was about eight inches below normal. The water clarity was stained to the point that I could barely see the propeller of the trolling motor at several locales, and inside the south feeder creek arm, I could not see the propeller. Some of the locales were wind stained, but most of the stained was from an algae bloom.

Nearly 90 percent of the reservoir’s curly-leaf pondweed had diminished. Patches of bushy pondweed and milfoil were growing. The American water willows were adorned with blossoms.

The largemouth bass fishing has been trying at this reservoir since June 7, and it remained so during this outing. I eked out only 14 largemouth bass. Four were caught on the top half of a seven-inch Z-Man’s pearl Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; and this customized bait is similar to the Z-Man’s Rain MinnowZ, which is no longer in production. Four largemouth bass were caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. (The four-inch Finesse WormZ is 4 ¾-inches long, and we remove about three-quarters of an inch from its head.) Four largemouth bass were caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Two largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man’s watermelon-red Hula StickZ on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.

There was no location pattern, and there was no presentation or retrieve pattern, which is a reflection of the sorry state of the bass fishing at this reservoir. Or it could be a reflection of my incompetence as an angler in determining a location and presentation pattern.

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Clyde Holscher is a multispecies guide from Topeka, Kansas, and he filed a report on the Finesse News Network about guiding three anglers at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir.

He wrote: “As soon as the rain, thunder, and lightning subsided, we launched the boat, and began fishing around 9 a.m. We found usual smallmouth bass haunts near the dam to be less than satisfactory. We ventured up the reservoir, and stayed out of the way of wicked wind, and we fished the south shorelines, point, and small coves.

“Once the sun began to shine, the smallmouth bass began to bite. Initially we worked with 2 ½-inch Z-Man ZinkerZs on a 1/16-ounce jigs. We used four colors of the ZinkerZ: black and blue, California craw, dirt and PB&J. Eventually we noticed that a goodly number of smallmouth bass were following or chasing the ZinkerZ rigs, and that provoked us to start wielding TTI Companies’ 1/8-ounce  Natural Science heads affixed to either a redbone-hue or shiner-hue Z-Man’s 3 ¾-inch StreakZ.

“We ended the day at 4 p.m. with a count of 50 smallmouth bass, seven white bass, five green sunfish and three freshwater drum.

 

“The surface temperature was in the high 70s. All of the main-lake areas that we fished were clear enough that we could see propeller on the trolling motor, but the back portions of the coves were stained.”

June 26

What a difference another day and another reservoir make. After six days, Mother Nature finally ceased venting her windy fury. But she turned up the heat, and by 2:54 p.m. on June 26, the National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, reported that their thermometers hit 99 degrees. Their wind gauges revealed that the wind was nil at 7:52 a.m., and by the time that I was afloat at 11:05 a.m., it angled mildly out of the west at 10 mph. It eventually switched to the northwest and ranged at speeds of 9 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure around 11 a.m. was 29.84 and steady. The sky exhibited a bright China-blue hue, and the rays of the sun were piercing.

In-Fisherman’s calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred 2:01 p.m. to 4:01 p.m.

I fished from 11:05 a.m. to 1:35 p.m. at a 160-acre state reservoir.

I had not been on this reservoir since Oct. 30, 2012, when the water level was 10 feet below its normal level. On this June 26 outing, the water level looked as if it was four to five feet below normal. Some terrestrial vegetation, such as smartweed, was in the water, but the patches of American water willows were many feed from the water’s edge. Nearly all of the curly-leaf pondweed had vanished. Patches of coontail and bushy pondweed were plentiful and growing. I could easily see the propeller on the trolling motor – even in areas that were still a tad riled from the past six days of brutal winds and ranks of waves. The surface temperature was 84 degrees.

I made my first casts on a flat in the back of the reservoir’s northwest feeder creek arm. This flat was embellished with a profusion of coontail and bushy pondweed patches and a submerged creek channel. From one offshore area on this flat that was the size of two tennis courts, I extracted 26 of the 35 largemouth bass that I caught. Adjacent to this spot, I caught six more largemouth bass on this flat.

I plied one eastern shoreline and several secondary points in the northwest feeder creek arm without eliciting a strike. I fished a coontail and bushy pondweed flat in the back of the reservoir’s northeastern feeder creek arm, where I caught only three largemouth bass.

Because my primary focus on each outing is to catch 25 largemouth bass an hour, I rarely comment on the size of the largemouth bass that I catch. But on this outing a goodly number of these largemouth bass were 15 inchers and bigger, and a couple looked as they might weigh four pounds or more. It was too hot to remove them from the water and weigh them; so I merely removed the hook from their jaws while most of their bodies were in the water. What’s more, all of 35 of them were feisty fighters, and the bulk of them had me back reeling as I battled them to the boat.

The majority of these largemouth bass were caught on three baits: a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s purple-haze Finesse WormZ on a purple Gopher jig. I caught one largemouth bass on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California Craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and caught three on a shortened four-inch green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

A swim-and-glide retrieve with no shakes was the most effective retrieve. Seven of the 35 largemouth bass engulfed the bait on the initial drop.

On June 25, I fished at 195-acre community reservoir, where the largemouth and smallmouth bass have been in some sort of puzzling funk for days on end, and I manage to eke out only 14 largemouth bass in two and 20 minutes of fishing. But on this June 26 outing, I caught 25 largemouth bass during the first 59 minutes that I was afloat, and during the last hour and 31 minutes, I could catch only 10 more. Many Midwest finesse anglers hereabouts are perplexed by what is transpiring with the largemouth and smallmouth bass in 195-acre community reservoir. After my June 26 outing at the 160-acre state reservoir, where the 85 percent of the largemouth bass were caught an extremely confined area, I am thinking that the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass at the 195-acre community reservoir might be inhibiting a similar lair or lairs, and we have not been able to locate those lairs. In essence, it is similar to looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. What’s more, they might be inhabiting a large expanse of water that is closed to anglers until September 16.

June 27

For the third time this week, I made short solo outing to one our small flatland reservoirs.

This time I ventured to a 100-acre community reservoir that lies in the southwest suburbs of Kansas City. It was my third solo outing to this reservoir in June, and its largemouth bass fishing hasn’t been extremely bountiful. For example, I fished it for three hours and 10 minutes on June 14, when I caught only 34 largemouth bass. Then on June 18 I fished in for three hours and caught 36 largemouth bass.

On this June 27 outing I fished 2 ½ hours, making my first cast at 12:20 p.m., and my last one at 2: 50 p.m. In-Fisherman’s calendar said that the best fishing time occurred from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The National Weather Service in Olathe, Kansas, said the low temperature was 71 degrees, which occurred around 2:00 a.m., and the high temperature hit 87 degrees around 11 a.m. While I was afloat, the temperature dropped to 76 degrees, and the sky became covered with clouds, and a touch of drizzle fell from those clouds and a touch of thunder rumbled, but the heart of the thunder sounded as if it were many miles to the north. The wind was mild mannered, angling out of the northeast and east at 7 to 9 mph. When I was fishing the barometric pressure was 29.94 and slowly falling.

The water level looked to be normal. The water was surprisingly clear. I could clearly see the propeller on my electric trolling motor. (Usually this reservoir is afflicted by algae blooms in the summer. Those blooms are feed by all of the lawn fertilizers that wash into the reservoir from the lawns of the houses that surround this reservoir.) The surface temperature ranged from 82 to 83 degrees. Many of the shorelines are embellished with patches of American water willows, and these patches were sporting scores of tiny white blossoms. In addition to the American water willows, patches of bushy pondweed and many patches on coontail graced many of the lairs that I fished.

I launched the boat without using the outboard, and I immediately began fishing the dam, which was lined with riprap, American water willows, some coontail and bushy pondweed. I caught three largemouth bass on my first six casts. By the time I had finished probing the dam, my fish counter indicated that I had caught 15 largemouth bass.

From the dam, I started the outboard engine for the first time and traveled to a series offshore boulder humps on the east side of the reservoir. To my surprise, these humps yielded only one largemouth bass; these humps are usually fruitful early summer lairs, yielding a half dozen to a dozen largemouth bass and an occasional walleye. After making my last cast on these series of humps, I moved to a main-lake point that was lined with a thick and massive patch of American water willows, as well as a long rock and cement retaining wall. This point yielded six largemouth bass.

The next stop was a main-lake boulder and coontail hump on the west side of the reservoir, which yielded five largemouth bass.

The fifth spot was a main-lake point and its adjacent shoreline, where I caught three largemouth bass around patches of American water willows. This point lies in the middle portions of the reservoir

The sixth spot was another main-lake point and its adjacent shoreline, and it gave up three more largemouth bass, which were milling around the outside edges of two boat docks.

I spent the final 40 minutes quickly fishing a 300-yard stretch of a shoreline along the east side of this reservoir. A submerged creek channel courses near part of this shoreline. It is also bedecked by eight boat docks, many yards of American water willows, a stone bridge, rocks, cement retaining walls, patches of coontail, laydowns and some outcroppings of bushy pondweed. It is situated in the upper third portions of the reservoir’s main feeder creek arm. Along this massive stretch shoreline, I caught nine largemouth bass.

Four baits allured the bulk of the 42 largemouth bass that I inveigled: a shortened four-inch Z-Man purple-haze Finesse WormZ on a purple 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened four-inch Z-Man pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a green-pumpkin Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a shortened four-inch Z-Man PB&J Finesse WormZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

A 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught only three largemouth bass.

The most effective retrieve was the swim-glide-and-shake motif, but the shakes were minimal, and on many retrieves I didn’t shake the baits.

 June 28

Dave Weroha of Kansas City reported on the Finesse News Network that he did some night fishing at a 160-acre state reservoir on June 28. He was afloat from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Sunset occurred at 8:50 p.m.

According the National Weather Service, it was 86 degrees around when he made his first cast, and it was 72 degrees when he made his last cast. The wind angled out of the northwest at 8 mph. The barometric pressure moved from 29.89 to 29.87 while he was afloat.

In-Fisherman’s calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 4:46 p.m. to 6:46 p.m.

He wrote: “Along the riprap of the dam, I caught six largemouth bass, which were abiding in about six feet of water and near a steep drop-off that goes from a depth of six feet to 15 feet of water. In the back of the northwest feeder creek arm, I caught 20 largemouth bass in depths of six to eight feet of water, and they were situated along the creek channel and were milling about in the flat adjacent to the channel. The flat was embellished with patches of coontail and bushy pondweed. The best bite occurred well after sunset. The bite was not subtle. In fact, they sure slammed it.

The sizes of these largemouth bass ranged from about 14 to 15 inches.

“All of these largemouth were caught on a customized Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ rigged weedless and employing a swim and glide motif.”

June 29 

Bob Gum of Kansas took a solo trip with his dog to a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir. He reported on the Finesse News Network the wind howled from the north and northwest with gusts that hit 37 mph. The National Weather Service at Olathe, Kansas, recorded the morning low temperature at 64 degrees and the afternoon hit 84 degrees. Occasionally a few clouds dotted the china-blue sky. The barometric pressure ranged from 29.90 to 29.87.

In-Fisherman’s calendar reported that the best fishing time occurred from 4:22 a.m. to 6:22 a.m.

The surface temperature ranged from 86 degrees along the riprap on the east side of the reservoir to 84 degrees along the dam. The water level was normal.

Gum wrote: “I started along the east rip rap, where the channel catfish and drum bite was good, and I caught 12 fish, but only two of these fish were largemouth bass. I tried the long point east of the marina, where I caught one channel and missed another fish. I fished the submerged rock pile on the west side of the reservoir, and I failed to garner a bite. Then I fished a 100-yard stretch of the west end of the dam before getting blown off. Along the dam, I caught only two green sunfish. I had my best luck fishing a submerged farm pond dam and its adjoining point, and the wind was blowing baitfish onto the north side of this dam, where some quality largemouth bass were actively feeding. I used an 1/8-ounce jig dressed with a four-inch Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits Single Tail Grub, which caught an 18-, 19- and 19 ½-inch largemouth bass in quick order. I also lost another nice one on a crankbait. In total, I caught 21 fish and by 1:00 p.m. the winds became impossible to deal with.

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Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, reported on the Finesse News Network that Mother Nature walloped his world with torrential rains. Consequently the reservoirs that he fished are what he called “full to overflowing.”

He wrote: “There is no finesse action of any merit or offshore dragging. The bass that I can catch are in the middle of shallow grass or wood.

“I am doing my best to imitate Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu, Arizona, and frog-fishing fame and Craig Powers of Rockwood, Tennessee, and Rebel P70 Pop-R fame. For years Powers has successfully wielded the P70 Pop-R in and around heavy cover. Both lures catch the same fish, but the frog gets into some places where the treble hooked P70 Pop-R cannot. Both entice the fish in non-matted cover with their side to side tight walk. They will go sided to side but will stay in the strike zone much longer than other walking baits that I am familiar with. I bit the bullet and purchased several vintage P70 Pop-Rs; so I now have a lifetime supply. I refuse to fish them on anything but braid, and I am ashamed to have paid so much for any lure, but they are awesome to fish. I am using a Koppers Fishing’s Live Target Frog. In mind, it is better that the Spro Bronzeye Frog. The Koppers is durable and walks well. I have also order some other brands, which I will soon try.

Compare to Midwest finesse tactics, my catch rates are extremely low, but the fun of the explosive strikes and the size of the fish make up for it somewhat. Plus I can’t catch them any other way.

I am getting about six strikes during my three-hour evening outings, and we caught 25, during our seven-hour outing on June 29. Most of these topwater largemouth bass were over two pounds and several are better than four pounds

When I return from vacation, maybe out reservoirs will be on their normal summer deal. Until then, I am staying on top.

Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, wrote a footnote to Poe’s Finesse News report, saying: “I just read Mike Poe’s North Carolina reports, and I had to make a couple comments.

“First, tell Mike not to feel bad. Two friends and I, one is an FLW Tour Pro, just dropped $450 to buy 11 original Repel P70 Pop-Rs; eight of which were new in the package. They really are that good (and fun to fish).“Next, the Live Target Frog is probably the best rated hollow-body frog on the market. So beating it might be tough, but you can get a ton of great information on the pros and cons of many of the popular makes of frogs and toads from the following Web site before buying:  http://bassjunkiesfrogpond.blogspot.com/

“Finally, a report of my own: I have to admit, I finally got around to buying all the “right stuff” to complete my Midwest Finesse box, and I can already tell just by the two trips I made this past weekend, it really makes a difference. I’ve mostly been using a couple alternative baits on my Gopher jigs: a four-inch Zoom Bait Company’s Tiny Brush Hog (4″) and Zoom’s 4 3/4-inch finesse worm, starting with the head trimmed down on the worm about a half on an inch, and then retrimming and rerigging as necessary. All my half Senko-style-bait efforts were with various knock-offs. I finally ordered several packs of Z-Man’s ZinkerZ, along with the highly recommended gel glue, and was really impressed. Everything you’ve mentioned over and over before was true. The baits hold up forever, especially with the glue. It fishes better as it ages, and it flat catches fish. My first trip out with nothing but the original ZinkerZ was from the bank where I scored 36 bass in less than three hours. The second trip of the weekend was in the boat, and after fishing for just over an hour with a standard jig and pig and catching three bass, I fished exclusively with the ZinkerZ-Gopher-jig combo (1/16-oz.) for the final 2 hours and caught 31 more bass.

“After reading everyone’s comments about hook size and setups, I’ve pretty much settled on going with my seven-foot dropshot rod, which is more of a “noodle stick” as opposed to the F/XF light or ML outfits I own, largely to help from overpowering on the hook set, as well as while playing bass with the small hooks. It also seems to help with the “no feel” aspect of fishing the bait, as I usually like to have some sense of feel while jigging, even with the tiny brush hog and worm. I think the ZinkerZ fishes better without that feel component though, and I found myself using more of a swimming motif with assorted twitches, shakes and pauses.

“Bottom line: the ZinkerZs really are superior in this regard. Accept no substitutes. I’m sold.”

 

 

 

About Ned Kehde

Field Editor Ned Kehde has been writing for In-Fisherman since the 1980s. His recent finesse bass tactics and findings have been influential throughout the Midwest and beyond. He writes the online column Midwest Finesse for In-Fisherman.com

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