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Midwest Finesse Arkansas Kansas North Carolina

Midwest finesse fishing: August 2013

by Ned Kehde   |  September 23rd, 2013 7

 Introduction:

August was a trying and puzzling 31 days for the Midwest finesse anglers who plied the flatland reservoir in northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri for largemouth bass. Our laments and bewilderments are laced in several of the logs posted below. We were, however, somewhat heartened to hear from Tommy Martin of Hemphill, Texas, and Stacey King of Reeds Spring, Missouri, who said the largemouth bass fishing in their waterways during August was difficult, too.

I fished 11 times for largemouth bass for a total of 30 hours and 30 minutes and caught only 261. That was average of only 8.5 largemouth bass per hour. On one of those outings, my cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, helped me catch some of those largemouth bass.

It is interesting to note that I caught 345 in August of 2011 and 469 during August of 2013.

By Aug. 17, the smallmouth bass fishing at two northeastern Kansas reservoirs became surprisingly easy to inveigle. For example, Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, and I caught 72 smallmouth bass on Aug. 27 in four hours. On two other outings, I caught eight smallmouth bass while pursuing largemouth bass. So, the total catch for August was 341 largemouth and smallmouth bass, which was an average 9.8 per hour. (For the first five days of the month, I was in the Northwoods of Minnesota with some our children and grandchildren, and for details about those days, please see this link: http://www.in-fisherman.com/2013/08/08/family-finesse-fishing-and-more/.)

Until the last week of August, the weather was unseasonably cool and wet. In fact, some thermometers across northeastern Kansas hit 102 degrees on Aug 30, which is when the normal high temperature is 86 degrees and the normal low is 65 degrees. Despite the wet weather, the National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, reported on Aug. 30 that they had collected 20.88 inches of rain in 2013, and normally they collect 28.54 inches of precipitation in their gauges; thus the drought of 2012-13 persist.

The logs of Charlie Croom of Fayetteville, Arkansas, Bob Gum of Kansas City, Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, Eric Fortner of Gardner, Kansas, Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, and Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, grace this month’s guide to finesse fishing. It needs to be noted that Poe and Fortner employed power tactics, but they are included because their accounts provide us another level of measure and add a touch of versatility to our finesse addictions.

My newest finesse addiction is  Z-Man Fishing Products’ Scented LeechZ and its 2 3/4-inch Hula StickZ, and these baits are feature in several of the logs. They are also featured in the photograph below.

 Logs:

Aug. 4 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City reported on the Finesse News Network that he and his wife fished a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir on Aug. 4 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

He said, “It rained to some degree for the entire time we were on the water except for a 15-minute spell in the early afternoon.

“Initially the bite was good along the southeast corner of the dam, and we caught 10 smallmouth bass, including one 18-incher, during our first 15 minutes of fishing.

“We worked with three different hues of Z-Man’s Fishing Products’ 2 ½-inch ZinkerZs, which were rigged on a 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig. The coppertreuse and the Junebug hues were the most productive. I was unable to draw a strike on a four-inch Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits’ Double Tail Hula Grub in a dark-brown hue. Nor could we get a strike on topwater baits. The greatest concentrations of fish were located in slack-water areas — mostly on the west side of points, which were not pounded by waves.

We caught 37 smallmouth bass, three walleye, two white bass and one sauger.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred from 9:02 a.m. to 11:02 a.m.

According to the National Weather Service in Topeka, the morning low temperature was 67 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature was 77 degrees. The wind angled out of the east and northeast at 6 to 10 mph. The barometric pressure around 8 p.m. was 30.13 and rising. It was cloudy and drizzly.

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Charlie Croom of Fayetteville, Arkansas, filed the following reported on the Finesse News Network about an outing with a friend on Aug.4.

He wrote: “The sky was overcast. Severe weather was threatening in our area.The temperatures were lower than average with high humidity rates: air temperature was in the lower 80s, and the humidity was a stifling 87 percent. The wind blew from the east at 5 to 10 mph. and it became calm. The barometric pressure was 30.09 and falling.

“Heavy rains have caused widespread flooding though parts of the Ozarks. I’ve watched the United States Geological Survey’s stream gauges closely all week. My plans to make a return trip to the Elk River were washed away Saturday morning (Aug. 3), when two to four inches of rain fell across the Ozarks in the early morning hours. Some areas were walloped with more than four inches of rain. Flash floods erupted. A dozen campers had to be rescued from the Cyclone access along the Big Sugar Creek on Saturday afternoon.

“I spent several hours Saturday night analyzing stream flow, trying to determine the best stretches of the creeks to fish. Over the years, I’ve noticed the far upper reaches of a river system are the best areas to try when flooding is widespread. These areas rise and fall quickly, allowing them to be fishable 24 hours after heavy rain.

“I concluded that the Illinois River around Savoy, Arkansas, was my only option. The river had flooded downstream from the Wedington township. The United State Geological Survey stream gauge was showing a level of 2.81 feet with a flow of 58 cfs at Savoy. So we fished the upper river and its tributaries between Savoy and Prairie Grove, which is the upper stretch of the Illinois River as it meanders through the north through northwestern Washington County.

“The water was barely moving. You could only notice its current along the riffles and runs. The bigger pools had almost zero flow, and they were stagnant and murky.

“We decided to wade a narrow one-mile stretch of Muddy Fork Creek. Most of this area had waist-deep water, but there were area of ankle deep water and slick bedrock to contend with. The access was under a concrete bridge with a washout underneath. There were no canoes or people around. We did see a pair of cottonmouths and a kingfisher, a well as quite a few cicadas floating around the surface. Maybe that is the reason why black buzzbaits are so effective in the dog days of summer.

“Some deer were feeding in surrounding pastures, which was noteworthy since their feeding schedules tend to coincide with the fish this time of year.

“My old fishing buddy decided to join me on this problematic outing because he had heard about my recent success with the 2 ½ -inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ rig. I set him up with a 2 ½-inch PB&J ZinkerZ on a PJ’s Finesse 1/16-ounce jig. I worked with a 2 ½-inch pumpkin/orange ZinkerZ on the same jig.

“I immediately caught a 10-inch Kentucky bass. Then, I caught five bass on five consecutive casts, and most of these were Kentuckies.

“As we waded downstream, it occurred to me the bass were suspended and biting better with a skip cast and swimming retrieve. Sometimes, I would skip it into the current and let it fall to the bottom on a slack line then pick up and swim it back.

“If I missed a fish, then I immediately executed what I call a flop cast, which puts the ZinkerZ in the vicinity of the fish, and that fish would invariable engulf the ZinkerZ. The flop-cast presentation is similar to casting a weightless bait after an angler misses strike with a topwater. The ZinkerZ-and-jig rig is a great primary bait, as well as an excellent follow-up bait. (For more information on the flop cast, see Croom’s log at this link: http://www.in-fisherman.com/2013/08/08/midwest-finesse-fishing-july-2013/.)

“We fished from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. I caught 31 bass, which was average on one bass every 5.8 minutes. I also hooked a nice long nose gar by swimming the ZinkerZ rig across a deep pool, but the gar threw the bait with a hard jump. My cohort caught 16 bass or one every 11.25 minutes. Our catch consisted of Kentucky bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and Ozark bass, which are goggle eye.

“It was a great way to spend time with an old friend.

“Endnotes:  For the past week, we have had a couple months of rain, ranging from 10 to 20 inches. The water level at Elk River and Sugar Creek reached all-time highs. Entire gravel bars were moved, deep holes scoured out, and miles of bank eroded. Some folks are calling it a 200-year flood event.”   In late August Croom noted: “The rivers have since returned to normal and the fishing is excellent, and it’s topwater time!”

Aug. 6 log

After spending the last week of July and first week of August with several of our children and grandchildren in Itasca County, Minnesota, at a 400-acre eutrophic lake, I wanted to see  upon our return to northeastern Kansas what was transpiring with the largemouth bass at a nearby 195-acre community reservoir, where the largemouth bass fishing has been problematic since mid-May.

While we were in the Northwoods, Rodney Hatridge of Shawnee, Kansas, sent a note about an abysmal outing that he endured at this reservoir on Aug. 1. He wrote: “The fishing was terrible. I caught five bass, and all of them were dinks. The county’s public works department had sprayed the milfoil a week ago, and it was dying. Do you think the dying milfoil was the problem?”

When I arrived at the boat ramp, the first thing that I noticed was the water level was slightly above normal and the water was stained from several heavy rains that rolled across the reservoir’s watershed recently. I also noticed that some of the American water willows grace this reservoir’s shorelines had been killed by the herbicide that was used to kill the milfoil.

This was an extremely short outing. I was afloat from 2:10 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. Therefore I had time only to examine and fish part of the reservoir’s south feeder creek arm, where I probed the residue of a submerged bridge, part of its western shoreline, a shallow flat on its east side that is embellished with a roadbed and series of stumps, and 100 yards of the east shoreline. Both shorelines were graced with American water willows, stumps, laydowns, a beaver hut and some submerged aquatic vegetation.

I worked with four spinning rods, which sported a Z-Man’s Christmas hue Scented LeechZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened Z-Man’s four-inch black-neon Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s black-and-blue ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 ½-inch Z-Man pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ spin on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.

In less than hour of fishing, I caught 12 largemouth bass and one channel catfish. All four lures were effective, but the ZinkerZ spin was the most productive.

The folks at National Weather Service predict that there is a 60 percent chance of thunderstorm storms tonight and a 30 percent chance on Aug. 7 and a 70 percent chance on Aug.8. Those storms might keep me at bay, and they might even muddy up some of our flatland reservoirs. But if we aren’t beleaguered with stormy weather, I will be spending a few more hours at this reservoir on Aug. 7 and perhaps on Aug. 8.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, reported that it received three-quarters of an inch of rain between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. on Aug. 6. But the rain gauge in our garden indicated that 2 ½ inches of rain fell during the early morning hours around our house. The morning low temperature was 73 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature was 91 degrees. While I was fishing, the wind angled from the south at 9 mph. The sky was cobalt blue. According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing occurred from 10:29 a.m. to 12:29 p.m.

 Aug. 7 log

Our rain gauge indicated that we got an inch of rain during the early morning hours, and it was overcast until the middle of the afternoon. Once I concluded that all of the rain had moved eastward, I made another outing to the nearby 194-acre community reservoir that I fished on Aug. 6 for an hour. On this outing, I fished from noon to 2:30 p.m.

Shortly after I launched the boat, I crossed paths with a pair veteran and talented Midwest finesse anglers who had been afloat for more than four hours and complained that they had caught only 40 largemouth bass. We spent 10 minutes chatting about how trying the largemouth bass fishing at this reservoir had been since early May. The three of us confessed that we were baffled by what was transpiring at this reservoir and several nearby ones. The three of us noted that the gizzard population was the most robust that we have ever seen at this reservoir, and that provoked us to wonder if this was adversely affecting our abilities to catch the largemouth bass with the finesse tactics that we traditionally employ. (Our finesse tactics tend to replicate the antics of invertebrates rather than gizzard shad.) What’s more, our sonars reveal that there are scores of suspended fish, which have not been able to catch. We also wondered if the aftereffects of the largemouth bass virus were still rendering its dastardly deeds, and after we parted, I saw two largemouth bass struggling on the surface, and one looked to be nearly dead. The virus whacked several of reservoirs four and five years ago.

Since this duo had plied all of the best largemouth bass lairs, I spent this outing fishing areas that Midwest anglers rarely fish, and the results were lackluster. I eked out only 15 largemouth bass. Six of them were extracted from two offshore humps, and those six were allured by either a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s black-and-blue ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The other nine were caught along stretches of two of shorelines; six of those largemouth bass were caught on a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-chartreuse ZinkerZ spin affixed to a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, and the other three were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

The surface temperature was 81 degrees. The water clarity was stained to the point that I could not see the propeller on the electric trolling motor. The water level looked to be slightly above normal.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, reported that the morning low temperature was 73 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 88 degrees. At times the sky was overcast, and at other times it was partly cloudy. The barometric pressure was 29.84 and steady.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing time occurred from 10:48 a.m. to 12:48 p.m.

The National Weather Service predicts that we will be beleaguered with thunderstorms on Aug. 8 through Aug. 9, which has provoked some local anglers to say that the great drought on 2012-13 has come to an end.

Aug. 8 log

Since July 15, I have had a difficult time location and catching largemouth bass in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas, and my Aug. 8 outing failed to lift me out this long slump.

I drove 25 miles in a light drizzle to a 160-acre state reservoir and fished in the rain from 10:45 to 12:45.

To my dismay, I failed to pack any rain gear. I was so wet and the action was so lackluster that I failed to keep an accurate count of the paltry number of largemouth bass that I tangled with. I am guessing it was only 16.

I worked with four spinning rods. They were rigged with the following jig combos: Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s California Craw ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a three-inch Z-Man’s prototype GrubZ in a smoke hologram hue on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

I think I caught three largemouth bass on the prototype GrubZ with a straight swim or do-nothing retrieve, five largemouth bass on the green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and eight largemouth bass on the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ with a swim-slide-and-subtle-shake retrieve.

Every largemouth bass was associated with offshore patches of coontail and bushy pondweed.

The surface temperature was 80 degrees. The water level looked to be about six feet below normal. The water was relatively clear for a Kansas flatland reservoir in August, but there was a slight algae bloom affecting the visibility.

The wind angled out of the northeast at 3 to 8 mph. The morning low temperature was 69 degrees and reached a high temperature of 74 degrees. The barometric pressure around 11 a.m. was 29.91 and rising significantly.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, I fished during one of the day’s best fishing time, which occurred from 12:01 a.m. to 2:01 p.m.

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On Aug 8, Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, sent the following report to the Finesse News Network:

“My waters are high and murky. I am fishing a few hours in the mornings on the weekends and after work during the week. I am working Rebel P70 Pop-R, Koppers Fishing and Tackle Corporation’s LIVETARGET Frog and Ish’s Phat Frog around flooded cover. I am having between five and 10 bites per outing, and I am lucky to hook 70 percent of those strikes. The size is great: multiple five-pounders per outing is my goal. On one Sunday morning I caught two six-pounders. I have been five times in the last 11 days. Yesterday I had five bites on a brim-colored Ish’s Phat Frog and caught three three-pounders

“These topwater tactics are out of necessity and interest. I can’t catch them any other way. My dragging spots are void of fish, and except for around the bridge, the 1/16-ounce Gopher jig dressed with a 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ is catching only channel catfish. I can flip the willows and catch about the same number of largemouth bass, but the topwater approach is loads more fun.”

Aug. 9 log

It drizzled much of the morning, and after enduring a wet and trying outing on Aug. 8, I was reluctant to endure a similar outing on Aug. 9. But once the drizzle abated for a short spell, I headed to a nearby 195-acre community reservoir, where I launched the boat at 1:05 p.m., and I fished until 3:30 p.m. As I noted on Aug. 6 and 7, the largemouth bass fishing at this reservoir had been sorry and perplexing since mid-May. Thus, I was anticipating another woeful time. Yet, I did possess a few minor hopes that a renaissance was about to unfold.

Shortly after I executed my first cast, I crossed paths with Rodney Hatridge of Shawnee, Kansas, and Joe Gwadera of Kansas City. Hatridge complained that on his Aug. 1 outing at this reservoir, he was able to eke only five largemouth bass, but since he and Gwadera began fishing at 7 a.m., they had tangled with about 80 largemouth bass during their six hours of fishing, which seemed to be the beginning of largemouth-bass-fishing renaissance in my eyes. Most of the largemouth bass that Hatridge and Gwadera inveigled were allured on topwater baits and jerkbaits. In fact, Hatridge said their Midwest finesse tactics were fruitless. What’s more, Gwadera said it was essential to employ a fast-pace retrieve.

I spent my two hours and 25 minutes afloat plying rocky and riprap shorelines in the vicinity of the dam with three Midwest finesse combos: a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ on an orange 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s dark-melon-hue Scented LeechZ on an orange 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

To my surprise and delight, I inveigled 42 largemouth bass, one smallmouth bass and one flathead catfish. Thirty-nine of the largemouth bass and the one smallmouth were bewitched by the ZinkerZ combo. The Scented LeechZ caught two largemouth bass, and the Finesse ShadZ caught one largemouth bass. The flathead catfish engulfed the ZinkerZ.

I worked these baits by employing two retrieves styles: the hop-and-bounce motif and the swim-glide-and-shake presentation. I executed those two retrieves into deeper water and at a slower pace than I normal do. Some of the largemouth bass were caught in water as shallow as two feet, some were caught as deep as nine feet, and the others were caught between those two depths, but more were abiding in deeper water than shallow water.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, recorded the morning low temperature at 70 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature was 78 degrees. The average low temperature for Aug. 9 is 68 degrees and the average high temperature is 89 degrees. It was cloudy, and a light drizzled fell from the clouds periodically during the two hours and 25 minutes that I was afloat. The wind varied from being nil to a few miles per hour from the north. The barometric was 30.07 and steady.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred 12:49 p.m. to 2:49 p.m.

Water was being slowly released at the dam’s outlet, and the water level looked to be a few inches below normal. The surface temperature was 78 degrees. There was a slight algae bloom, but I could see the propeller on the trolling motor; therefore, the water clarity was what we call Kansas clear.

Some locales in southern Kansas and Missouri were whacked by heavy rains during the past week, dropping as much as 12 inches in three hours in areas south of Springfield, Missouri. But the yearly rainfall total for Lawrence, Kansas, is about six inches below normal. So the great drought of 2012-13 is still hanging on. But since Hatridge and Gwadera caught 80 largemouth bass and I caught 43 largemouth and smallmouth bass, we are thinking that the bass drought that has plagued us for the past several months is about to wane.

Aug. 10 log

Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about an outing that he and a friend had at 120-acre community reservoir that sits in the northern suburbs of Kansas City on Aug. 10. He exclaimed that there were hints that the mid-summer funk that had been befuddling him and other Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri might have ended.

The National Weather Service in Kansas City recorded the morning low temperature as 67 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature was 84 degrees. The wind was out of the east at 7 to 8 mph. The sky exhibited a China blue hue. The barometric pressure was 30.15 and rising. According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing time occurred from 1:40 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Frazee and his friend fished from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

He wrote: “Larry Chambers and I went out for three hours this morning and we caught 28 bass. That’s not great, but it’s sure better than we had been doing. Only two were keepers, but at least we had some action.

“We would have caught more if I had caught on earlier that the fish weren’t on the banks, even early. They were in 20 feet of water, right where the weeds ended.

“The ZinkerZ bite was off. So, I started experimenting with other finesse baits. Initially the bass were hitting Northland Fishing Tackle’s Slurpies Swim’n Grub and a generic Swimming Minnow, preferring a slow retrieve over the weed tops. When that bite slowed, I experimented with a finesse plastic worm, attached to a 1/16th-ounce black ball jig head. That proved to be the ticket. I caught a number of fish on a watermelon with red flake four-inch worm. My friend found success with an electric-blue finesse worm.

“Because we hit onto this pattern late, I’m looking forward to give it more time in the near future.

“By the way, the water temperature was 79 degrees and the water had a slight stain to it.”

Aug 11 log

Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 11 outing with one of his cousins at a 100-acre community reservoir in the southwest suburbs of Kansas City.

They fished from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and the reservoir was brimming with party boats, swimmers (even two intoxicated nude swimmers) and a goodly number of anglers.

Claudell and his cousin eked out 20 largemouth bass by employing a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-white ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. These bass were extracted out of patches of coontail that were adjacent to deep water.

The water level was normal. The water clarity was discolored by an algae bloom. The surface temperature was 79 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing occurred from 2:32 p.m. to 4:32 p.m.

The National Weather Service at nearby Olathe, Kansas, recorded the morning low temperature at 63 degrees and the afternoon high temperature hit 82 degrees. Around 5 p.m. the barometric pressure was 30.08 and falling. The sky was partly cloudy, and the wind angled out of the south at 5 to 7 mph.

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Bob Gum of Kansas City reported to the Finesse News Network about his outing with his wife, Yan, at a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir on Aug. 11.

He wrote: “We experienced a tough day on the water. We began the day by plying a short stretch of American water willows and then worked northward along the riprap shoreline on the east side of the reservoir. Along this stretch, we used four lures: a buzz bait, a Heddon Zara Spook, a four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and we caught nine largemouth bass. One on the buzz bait, one on the finesse worm, seven on the ZinkerZ, and lost a nice one on the Spook. The ZinkerZ also caught the biggest of the lot, and it was an 18 ½-incher.

“After that, we worked the very end of a long main-lake point on the east side of the reservoir, using a Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits’ Double Tail Hula Grub on a 1/14-ounce jig and a Rapala DT 10 crankbait, and we failed to get a strike. Then we fish a 20- yard stretch of a rocky breakline adjacent to a submerged ditch without getting a strike. We did manage to catch a couple largemouth bass along the east side of the inlet on the Finesse WormZ and ZinkerZ. At the next spot, we fished a rocky point main-lake point without a strike. Subsequently we caught a nice flathead catching bouncing the Rapala DT-10 crankbait along the rocky breakline next to the spillway on the dam. The flathead walloped the bait and almost completely inhaled it. Shortly after that encounter with the flathead, we spent 20 minutes working a submerged farm pond dam without a strike and called it a day before noon.”

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Eric Fortner of Gardner, Kansas, is a power angler, but he occasionally files a report on the Finesse News Network, which gives Midwest finesse aficionados another perspective. Here is what he had to say about his power endeavors on Aug. 11 at a 195-acre community reservoir, which was the same reservoir that I fished on Aug. 9: “Not much to report. Early this morning I caught a couple largemouth bass on a frog, one on a Heddon Zara Spook, one on buzz bait and about 20 bottom bugging with a Gene Larew Lures’ Biffle Bug and HardHead jig. No real size to any of them; the biggest was 2 ½ pounds; most were 11 to 14 inches. I have had a hard time finding the big ones since they killed the milfoil. Other than that, I have been fishing a nearby 100-acre community reservoir, using and catching them on the Biffle Bug. I am trying to learn as much as possible about bottom bugging; so I am doing that during most of the days that I go. The fish like it. It is too bad that the HardHeads cost $5 for two of them, but other than the price I like them. I was the same way when the whole swimbait craze hit. I just wanted to learn as much as I could about the new stuff.”

Aug. 12 log

My cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I were planning on spending four hours fishing a 100-acre community reservoir in the southwest suburbs of Kansas City. But Mother Nature tossed a monkey wrench into our plans by sending a series of thunderstorms across northeastern Kansas throughout the morning hours. Thus, we elected to not fish.

By 11 a.m. the storms had abated around Lawrence. Therefore, I decided to make quick trip to the nearby 195-acre community reservoir that I fished on Aug. 9, and where I caught 42 largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass in two hours and 25 minutes.

On Aug. 9, I spent the entire outing fishing rocky and riprap shorelines in the vicinity of the dam. Therefore on this Aug. 12 outing, I decided to explore that back portions of the south feeder creek arm and the southwest feeder creek arm.

In the back portions of these two arms, I probed two offshore humps that were embellished with some patches of milfoil, and one hump contained the residue of a concrete bridge. I fished a shallow flat that was stippled with a dozen stumps and some patches of milfoil. I also fished four shorelines. Two of the shorelines were graced with some boat docks and American water willows. The other two shorelines were enhanced with American water willows, some stumps and old laydowns, and some clumps of milfoil.

I spent the first hour in the south feeder creek arm, where I inveigled 12 largemouth bass on a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-chartreuse ZinkerZ spin affixed to a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, and the bulk of those were inveigled around a stump or a laydown. I failed to garner a bite on a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s California Craw ZinkerZ on an orange 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

I spent the second hour quickly fishing the back of the southwest feeder creek arm and about 50 yards of the dam. At both of those locales, I failed get a strike on all three of the baits noted above. After that dismal hour of fishing, I put the boat of the trailer and drove home.

The water level looked to normal. The water clarity was stained, and it was especially stained in the backs of the two feeder creek arms that I fished, and it was clear enough around the dam that I could dimly see the propeller on the electric trolling motor. The surface temperature was 80 degrees.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, reported that the low temperature was 68 degrees and the high temperature was 84 degrees. The barometric pressure around noon was 30.06 and dropping. By the time I launched the boat, the sky exhibited a cobalt-blue hue, and the sun was eye-squinting bright. The wind was mild mannered out of the northwest at 5 to 9 mph. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred at 3:26 p.m. to 5:26 p.m.

 Aug. 13 log

After my sorry two hours afloat on Aug. 12 at a nearly by 195-acre community reservoir, I decided to make a 38-mile jaunt to a 140-acre state reservoir in hopes of catching at least 10 largemouth bass an hour.

At this reservoir, I found the water level to be nearly normal. The water clarity in its lower third section was clear enough that I could easily see the propeller on the bow and transom trolling motors, and it was stained to the point that I couldn’t clearly see those propellers in the upper two-third sections of this reservoir. The surface temperature ranged from 80 to 81 degrees. I failed to locate any offshore or shoreline patches of coontail. The patches of bushy pondweed were skimpy, and they were not harboring many largemouth bass.

The weather was almost spring-like. The National Weather Service indicated that the morning low temperature was 68 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 82 degrees. The sky alternated between being hazy and partly cloudy. The wind angled out of the northeast at 5 to 7 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.13 and dropping around 11 a.m. The illusion of spring was enhanced by the fact that scores of wildflower bespangled the reservoir’s extremely viridescent shorelines and wide riparian borders.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing times occurred from 4:22 p.m. to 6:22 p.m. I fished from 11 a.m. to 2:55 p.m., and during the last 30 minutes, I caught only one largemouth bass. But from 11:15 a.m. and 2:25 p.m., I tangled with 45 largemouth bass. It was not a stellar catch, but it was an average of 11 ½ largemouth bass an hour, which far better than the six largemouth bass an hour that I average on Aug. 11.

I caught 27 of the 46 largemouth bass on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The other 19 were allured by a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ on an orange 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a four-inch green-pumpkin grub on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s dirt ZinkerZ spin on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

The new Scented LeechZ and 1/16-ounce Gopher jig is an extremely effective combo when the largemouth bass are not foraging and rooting around on the bottom. At shallow-water lairs, it is an ideal combo to employ with the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and on this outing, it even bewitched some largemouth bass when I was slowly dragging and deadsticking it, as well as implementing the hop-and-bounce retrieve. While I was working with it, I thought that it might become one of my primary combos in the weeks to come.

The riprap and occasionally patches of American water willows that graced the dam yielded most of the largemouth bass. A stretch of American water willows along the reservoir’s west shoreline was the second most productive locale.

The flats surrendered only a half dozen largemouth bass. In late summer, these flats are usually adorned with lush patches of coontail and bushy pondweed in which the largemouth bass inhabit and are easy to catch, but not this time around.

On Aug. 9, I thought that the sorry largemouth bass fishing that has been plaguing Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas for weeks on end had finally ended. But my Aug. 12 and 13 outings revealed that I was wrong.

In Augusts past, Midwest finesse anglers often found that dragging and deadsticking a 2 ½- or 2 ¾-inch tube affixed to a 3/32-ounce Gopher jig was the most effective bait. Perhaps I will give a tube whirl on my next outing.

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Tom Jones of Cumming, Georgia, sent a note to the Finesse News Network about his finesse endeavors.

He wrote: “Hey, Ned, I hope you’re doing alright. There’s been lots of weather out your way so I hope you’re staying safe. Lots of rain here, too, and high humidity. Surprisingly, recent outings have been good, and the largemouth bass that I’ve caught have mostly ranged from 1 ½ to two pounds in size. The areas holding fish (or ones that would bite) have varied from outing to outing. Therefore I have to move around a lot, searching for some active bass.

“Like you, I don’t get out until the power fishermen are heading off the water and most of the areas I fish they haven’t bothered with. The lakes that I fish are limited to electric trolling motors, and I usually take the time to travel to areas that haven’t been bothered as much as the lairs near the boat ramp. Most anglers just launch their boats, start casting, and never fish areas that are a long way from the boat ramp.

“The majority of fishermen at these reservoir fish early in the morning or late in the evening, and they often do well with their techniques at those times.

“I’ve been swimming various colors of small worms on 1/16-ounce jigs. I haven’t really found a hot color. I tend to fish with light transparent colors, such as pale watermelon in the clear-water lakes I usually fish. But black has caught a lot of largemouth bass in clear and stained waters. I think black is a color that many anglers ignore, including me, because we tend to be attracted by cool-looking colors.

“Like you, I often shorten my offerings. I will usually cut the front end of the finesse worm at the egg sac. When we look at the sizes of minnows around the boat ramps and watch the way they swim or move, we think about Charlie Brewer and his do-nothing retrieve. He has been my hero since the 1970s. And his lures and tactics work as well today as they worked decades ago.

“There are no big bass boats where I fish. Sometimes, I never see another boat. Therefore, it is quiet, and I often see a variety of wildlife. The big, noisy reservoirs that are brimming with bass boats, jet skis, pleasure boaters and all sorts of noise pollution are unpleasant environments in my eyes.

“Also, I go out with no anxiety towards whether or not I will catch fish, how big they will be or how they will compare with the catches of others. I’m grateful for being able to be out and enjoy the outdoors in a way that belongs to a bygone era. So, in many ways, I don’t really fit into our modern times and that’s fine with me.

“Despite my old world perspectives, I recently came across a relatively new jig; it is Fin-tech Tackle Company’s Nuckle Ball Jig. It’s an interesting and creative design, which works well with finesse lures –especially the shaky-head technique.

“Take care and I hope you and our finesse friends are able to enjoy our outdoor world. Best wishes, Tom Jones.”

Aug. 14 log

Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, and Dave Weroha of Kansas City, fished a 172-acre community reservoir that lies in the southwest suburbs of Kansas City.

Across the years, most Midwest finesse anglers have found it to be a problematic reservoir, and by that they mean it is difficult to tangle with 10 largemouth bass an hour, and 10 largemouth bass an hour is considered an average catch for veteran Midwest finesse anglers. Consequently, Midwest finesse anglers haven’t fished it for several years. But recently some of the staff at a nearby Bass Pro Shops began touting this reservoir as being one of the most fruitful big-bass waterways in the Kansas City area. Moreover, a fisheries biologist with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism recently rated it a good largemouth bass waterway. Thus, Claudell and Weroha decided to give this reservoir’s largemouth bass a whirl, and they concluded that it is a difficult waterway for Midwest finesse anglers to catch 10 largemouth bass an hour

What’s more, angler predation was extensive — especially along the reservoir’s eastern shoreline.

Claudell and Weroha fished from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 5:18 p.m. to 7:18 p.m.

The National Weather Service at Olathe, Kansas, reported that the low temperature was 61 degrees and the high temperature was 76 degrees. Around 5 p.m. the barometric pressure was 30.12 and slowly dropping. It was cloudy, and the wind angled out of the south and southeast at 6 to 7 mph.

The surface temperature was 79 to 80 degrees. The water clarity was about 18 inches. The water level looked to be more than a foot below normal.

They caught only nine largemouth bass, which were extracted from the area around the dam, along one bluff and the shoreline of an island. The worked with a variety of baits, but a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ affixed to a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig was the most effective.

Aug. 16 log

At the end of the Aug. 13 log, I said that I might test a 2 ½- or 2 ¾-inch tube on a 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, because it used to be an effective bait in August for a goodly number of Midwest finesse angler in northeastern Kansas. But I failed to test it on my Aug. 16 outing at a 160-acre state reservoir.

By the way, after I returned from this outing, I received an e-mail from Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, who said that Z-Man’s Hula StickZ is a better finesse bait than a tube, and it really shines when the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass are foraging on crayfish. Therefore, on my next outing I will work with the Hula StickZ on a 3 /32-ounce Gopher jig rather than a tube.

Northeastern Kansas has been graced with a long stretch of unseasonably cool weather. On Aug. 16, the National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, recorded the low temperature at 61 degrees and the high temperature at 79 degrees; the normal low temperature is 66 degrees and the normal high temperature is 88 degrees. The wind was out of the east at 5 to 7 mph. The sky was partly cloudy. Around 10 a.m., the barometric pressure was 30:15 and stable.

The water level looked to be six feet below normal. The water was stained a tad, but I could see the propellers on the transom and bow trolling motors. The surface temperature ranged from 77 to 79 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 6:40 a.m. to 8:40 a.m. I fished from 10:30 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. The largemouth bass fishing was subpar. I eked out only 34 largemouth bass and inadvertently caught three channel catfish, one crappie, and one walleye.

I caught 19 of the largemouth bass on a four-inch green-pumpkin grub affixed to a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, seven largemouth bass on a four-inch watermelon-and-red-flake grub on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, five largemouth bass on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, two largemouth bass on a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and one largemouth bass on a green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. This was the first outing in 2013 that a grub was the most effective bait.

Three of the largemouth bass were caught along rocky shorelines, and 31 of them were caught around offshore patches of coontail and bushy pondweed. I utilized the straight-swim retrieve (or Charlie Brewer’s patented do-nothing retrieve) with the grubs. I opted for the 1/16-ounce combo around the shallower and thicker patches of aquatic vegetation. At the edge of some of the patches of vegetation, I executed a two- to three-second pause in the retrieve, which allowed the grub glide towards the bottom, and that bewitched several largemouth bass.

In sum, catching an average of only 8.5 largemouth bass an hour was disappointing. But while I was in the midst of writing this log, I received a telephone call from Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and he reported that he and a friend fish for four hours at an 11,600-acre U.S. Army Corp of Engineer’s reservoir, where the fishing was more disappointing than my sorry endeavors. They caught only four largemouth bass and one freshwater drum. This is the same reservoir that Casey Kidder of Topeka, Kansas, and Ethan Dhuyvetter of Manhattan, Kansas, ventured to on the evening of Aug. 9, and they caught only one 3 ½-pound largemouth bass and two small ones. Kidder, Desch and I are baffled by the state of the largemouth bass fishing at this 11,600-acre reservoir – as well as its white bass fishing. Fishing for both species has been lackluster for a few years. What’s more, Desch and I are equally puzzled by the sorry state of the largemouth bass fishing this summer at several of the small flatland reservoirs that we regularly fish. But Desch, who is a master at wielding a grub, said he was pleased to learn that grub bite might be in the midst of turning on. During some late summer and fall outings, when the grub bite is fruitful, we can usually catch more than 16 largemouth bass an hour. We are eager to see what transpires with the grub and Hula StickZ next week.

Aug. 17 log

Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network that he and a friend fished a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Aug 17.

The National Weather Service at Olathe, Kansas, recorded the morning low temperature at 57 degrees and afternoon high temperature at 77 degrees. The wind angled out of the northeast and east at 5 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure around 8 a.m. was 30.19 and rising. The sky was cloudless until around noon, when it became partly cloudy.

They caught only 15 largemouth bass and no other incidental species, such as a freshwater drum or a channel catfish, which is a rare occurrence at this waterway.

Only three of the largemouth bass were caught with Midwest finesse tactics, and two of them were caught on a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and the third one was caught on a Junebug 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ on a blue 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.

Claudell caught a 7 ½-pounder on his second cast of the day; this lunker engulfed a topwater lure about a foot from the shoreline.

The most productive bait was a green-pumpkin-red NetBait’s six-inch Big Bopper worm rigged Texas-style with a 1/8-ounce slip sinker. It allured the largemouth bass in two to six feet of water, but deep-water was nearby. Four of the bass were caught of riprap shorelines and the rest were extracted from one main-lake point.

Aug. 18 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City reported on the Finesse News Network about his solo outing on Aug. 18 to a 160-acre state reservoir.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, recorded the morning low temperature at 53 degrees and the afternoon high temperature at 84 degrees. The wind was initially nil and then angled out of the southeast at 3 to 7 mph and then out of the south at 6 to 9 mph. The sky gradually turned from cloudless to partly cloudy. The barometric pressure around 8 a.m. was 30.16 and slowly rising, and around noon it began to drop.

He wrote: “The lake level was down about 5 to 6 feet, but launching the boat was no problem. Surface temperature was 78 degrees. The water clarity was three feet.

“The largemouth bass failed to reveal a discernible pattern. I caught fish almost everywhere: rocky shorelines, submerged weed lines, main-lake and secondary points. I caught them as shallow as two feet of water and as deep as 15 feet of water, which is considered very deep water in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas.

“I caught most of the fish on a 2 ½-inch Z-Man coppertreuse ZinkerZ with a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. I had some success on a 2 ½-inch white ZinkerZ and a four-inch green-pumpkin/red flake Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits Double Tail Hula Grub.

“I started the outing by fishing a rocky point just east of the boat ramp. One of the best rocky humps had only two to three of water covering it. I fished one main-lake point, where two old house or barn foundations were partially out of the water. I fished a third of the riprap along the dam and failed to get a strike. I fished the submerged weed line in the back ends of the two major coves. I kept my boat in about eight feet of water, casting over the patches of coontail. At depths of seven feet, the coontail became very sparse. In most areas the coontail was growing at heights of two to three feet above the bottom.

“In all had around 22 largemouth bass, two crappie, two bluegill, one freshwater drum and one walleye.”

Aug. 19 log

My cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I fished a 100-acre community reservoir that lies in the southwest suburbs of Kansas City.

Before I left home this morning, Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, and I talked on the telephone for a few minutes. He was on Interstate 35 and driving around Mason City, Iowa, on his way to the Lake of the Woods, Ontario. As we ended our conversation, he reminded me to use a Z-Man’s Hula StickZ.

I had written the follow observation in the Aug. 13 log: “In Augusts past, Midwest finesse anglers often found that dragging and deadsticking a 2 ½- or 2 ¾-inch tube affixed to a 3/32-ounce Gopher jig was the most effective bait. Perhaps I will give a tube whirl on my next outing.” Reese responded to that log by saying that I should opt for a 2 ¾-inch Hula StickZ instead of a tube.

Therefore, in honor of Reese’s suggestion, the preponderance of our casts on this Aug. 19 outing were made with a Junebug Hula StickZ that was shortened to be 2 ¾-inches long and affixed to a blue 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.

Weatherwise, it was a splendid day to be afloat. The National Weather Service at Olathe, Kansas, said the low temperature was 63 degrees and the high temperature was 83 degrees. The sky was partly cloudy. The wind angled out of the south at 5 to 18 mph. The barometric pressure around 9 a.m. was 30.11 and rising.

The water level was normal. The water clarity exhibited what we northeastern Kansans call a summer stain, which means there was a slight algae bloom. The surface temperature ranged from 77 to 79 degrees. The many patches of American water willows had one to three feet of water covering their roots. There was a considerable number of coontail patches; many of the deeper ones were exhibit their late summer wilt, but there were some shallow patches that had coontail stems gracing the lake’s surface.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred from 9:20 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. We fished from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. We eked out 45 largemouth bass, which is a tad more than 11 an hour, but only 11 of the 43 were caught between noon and 1:30 p.m.

We caught nine largemouth bass along the riprap and American water willows of the dam. Seven largemouth bass were extracted from two offshore rock humps. Five largemouth bass were inveigled along a concrete and rock breakwall that was embellished with American water willows, and five more largemouth bass were caught at a similar location, and both of these breakwall locations bordered a main-lake point and a submerged creek channel. The rest of the largemouth bass were caught around patches of coontail on secondary points and patches of American water willows along rocky shorelines.

The 2 ¾-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ and blue 3/32-ounce Gopher jig was the most effective bait. The second most productive bait was a green-pumpkin grub on either a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. We caught some largemouth bass on Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a blue1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

The most effective retrieve with Hula StickZ combo was the hop-and-bounce motif that was occasional accentuated with a deadstick maneuver that last for no more than six seconds. The grubs were retrieved with the straight-swim or do-nothing retrieve, but occasionally we executed a pause once the grub was at the outside edge of a coontail patch, and this allowed the grub to glide at angle towards the bottom.

Several Midwest finesse anglers have reported that have not been inadvertently catching green sunfish this summer on their 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ combos. My cousin and I are aware of that phenomenon, too, and in fact, we caught only one green sunfish on this outing. We extracted one crappie on a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ from a massive patch of coontail in the back of a cove. From what we saw on our sonar devices, we suspected that many of the many panfish, and perhaps scores of largemouth bass, were suspended and milling around offshore.

Aug . 20 log

This is a brief log about a quick outing that I had at a nearby 195-acre community reservoir, where I wanted to spend about an hour comparing the effectiveness of a generic Junebug 2 ¾-inch tube on a 3/23-ounce Gopher jig to a 2 ¾-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ on a blue 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.

The test failed because I could inveigle only one largemouth bass for the first 30 minutes that I fished the dam of this reservoir with those two lures, and the Hula StickZ allured that fish on the fourth cast. Then I tried to continue the test at an offshore lair that is cluttered the rubble of an old concrete bridge, as well as a submerged roadbed, creek channel, milfoil patches and logs. But I couldn’t garner a bite at that lair, which in Augusts past has been a fruitful spot to catch about 25 largemouth bass in an hour or slightly more.

After that second failure, I decided to attach a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s watermelon/chartreuse ZinkerZ spin and chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig to one of the spinning rods, and I began probing a massive flat in the back on one of the feeder creeks. The water was two to four feet deep, and flat was embellished with a few laydowns, stumps and some patches of milfoil. What’s more, there were many schools of young gizzard shad moseying around in an area about the size of an infield at a baseball stadium. The entire flat is about 100 yards wide and 500 yard long. I fished about 15 percent of it, focusing primarily on the area where the gizzard shad were abiding.

I made extremely long cast and retrieved the ZinkerZ spin so that it traveled about six to 10 inches under the surface. Occasionally, I paused the straight-swim retrieve for two seconds when then ZinkerZ reached the outside edge of a stump, laydown or patch of milfoil. Within 35 minutes, I caught 24 largemouth bass and one handsome channel catfish.

For several months, we suspected that the bulk of the largemouth bass at this reservoir were suspended and following the gizzard shad, but we could never locate them and catch them until this outing when a goodly number of the gizzard shad and largemouth bass had moved onto this shallow flat.

The surface temperature was 81 degrees. The water level was normal. The water was stained to the point that I could not see the propeller on the trolling motor.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred from 10:12 a.m. to 12:12 p.m. I fished from 1:30 p.m. to 3:20 p.m.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, recorded the morning low temperature at 66 degrees and the afternoon high temperature at 90 degrees. The barometric pressure around 1 p.m. was 30.06 and dropping. A bright sun hung overhead in a cobalt-blue sky. The wind blew mildly out of the south a 10 mph.

Aug. 22 log

Today’s catch was a paltry and putrid one. It was if I were trying to see how few fish I could catch in 3 ½ hours of fishing.

I fished a 416-acre reservoir from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and I caught only seven largemouth bass, seven smallmouth bass and one channel catfish. And it seemed as if those fish caught me rather me catching them.

Some of our reservoirs are graced with a significant gizzard shad population this summer, and this is an unusual phenomenon for the flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas. At these shad-endowed reservoirs, the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass are not abiding at the lairs where they traditionally forage upon invertebrates. Instead they seem to be roaming and following the schools of young gizzard shad, and occasionally the roaming gizzard shad and largemouth and smallmouth bass cross paths with me, and that is what we mean when we say the fish caught us rather us than catching them.

I caught one largemouth bass and two smallmouth bass at one main-lake point on a 2 ¾-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. And I caught three smallmouth bass and four largemouth bass on a submerged rock fence on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The other smallmouth bass and largemouth bass were caught on points with the Junebug Hula StickZ.

I spent a lot of time probing several flats with a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-chartreuse ZinkerZ spin on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, and I failed to get a strike. The milfoil that used to embellish these flats has been eradicated, and last year there were a goodly number of largemouth bass abiding in the milfoil on these flats.

Shortly after I made my first casts around 10:30 a.m., I crossed paths with Steve Desch of Topeka and two of his friends. They had been employing Midwest finesse tactics since 8:45 a.m., and they had caught only three largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass. Desch said it was perplexing, and we spent about 10 minutes lamenting the difficult largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishing that has confounded us scores of times this summer.

We crossed paths three more times. And during our second meeting, we noted that this was the first outing in a long time that we had caught any bluegill and green sunfish. The disappearance of those two species had puzzled us about as much as the disappearance of the smallmouth and largemouth bass. When we crossed paths again at the end of their outing around 1:45 p.m., they said that they had caught only nine largemouth bass and six smallmouth bass and a channel catfish.

The National Weather Service in Topeka observed that the wind angled out of the south and southeast at 3 to 8 mph. The low temperature was 70 degrees and the high temperature was 90 degrees. The sky ranged from partly cloudy to sunny. The barometric pressure around 10 a.m. was 30.08 and dropping.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar listed the best fishing at 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

The water level looked to be about one foot below normal. The surface temperature was 80 degrees. The water was slightly stained with a minor algae bloom, but I could see the propeller on both of my trolling motors.

Perhaps I will venture to a shad-free reservoir on my next outing, and see if the fishing is easier. An example of a shad-free reservoir is the 5,090-acre power plant reservoir that Chris Rohr of Overland Park, Kansas, and a friend fished on Aug. 17, when they caught 52 largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass. Rohr said that fished from 7:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. And all of the bass were caught on a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce jig. The two best colors were PB&J and pumpkin-chartreuse, and the pumpkin-chartreuse hue inveigled 40 of the 53 bass. Most of the smallmouth bass were caught within four feet of the shoreline and on the initial drop of the ZinkerZ combo. The water clarity exhibited 10 feet of visibility.

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Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about an outing that he and a friend had at a 100-acre community reservoir in the southwest suburbs of Kansas City on Aug. 22.

Claudell said the water clarity was clearest that he had seen it for many moons.

They fished from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and it was his friend’s first finesse, which made it a touch trying. But ultimately, they eked out 28 largemouth bass and two walleye, which they allured on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ, and they saw a power angler, who was wielding an Alabama rig into deep water, catch a five-pound largemouth bass.

Claudell and his friend caught their largemouth bass along the riprap of the dam, at several of the offshore humps and on a few main-lake points by retrieving the Hula StickZ combo with a slow-drag-and-deadstick presentation.

Aug. 23 log

At the close of Aug. 22 log, I said that I would try a shad-free reservoir on my next outing.

But the 5,090-acre shad-free, power-plant lake where Chris Rohr of Overland Park, Kansas, caught 52 smallmouth bass and one largemouth bass on Aug 17 lies 74 miles from my front door, and I had time to drive no more than 30 minutes, to fish about two hours, and drive another 30 minutes home. I debated about going to a 180-acre state reservoir, which is totally devoid gizzard shad, or a 160-acre state reservoir that has a minor gizzard shad population. I opted for the 160-acre one, because it’s more of a challenge to catch largemouth bass. And it proved to be a challenge indeed. In fact, I was disappointed with the catch.

I was hoping to tangle with more than 16 largemouth bass an hour. But I am in a terrible slump. The largemouth bass in some our reservoirs seem to be in either a major funk or they are milling about areas that are impossible for me to find. I fished from noon to 2 p.m., and tangled with only 23 largemouth bass. I fished five spots and caught 22 of the 23 at two of the spots. Those two spots were graced with massive patches of bushy pondweed in two to four of water; the unfruitful spots had massive patches of bushy pondweed in two to four feet of water, too.

Two of the largemouth bass were caught on a 2 ¾-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Six of the largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Fifteen of the largemouth bass were caught on a four-inch green-pumpkin grub affixed to a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, which was presented with a straight-swimming retrieve. The Finesse ShadZ and Hula StickZ were fished with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

The water level was about six feet below normal. The surface temperature was 83.9 degrees. The water clarity was stained with a slight algae bloom, but at several locales, I could see the propeller on the trolling motor.

The wind angled out of the south at 10 to 20 mph. The National Weather Service at Lawrence, Kansas, said the morning low temperature was 67 degrees and the afternoon high temperature hit 94 degrees. It was sunny and the barometric pressure around noon was 30.09 and falling.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred from 12:55 p.m. to 2:55 p.m.

Next week I will force myself to travel 55 miles and fish some water that I haven’t been on since July 3. I am at the point in my life where I hate to spend more than two hours driving to a reservoir, but the sorry fishing nearby is forcing to sit behind the steering wheel rather wield a spinning rod.

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Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about three outings that he and a friend had on Aug. 23 and 24 at a 120-acre community reservoir that lies in the northern suburbs of Kansas City.

He wrote: “After a long layoff at my home lake, I fished it three times in the last 24 hours. Hosting Ken White, a longtime friend of mine and a fellow outdoors writer, we fished for 2 1/2 hours Thursday evening, then fished under the lights for crappies that night, then got up and fished for three hours this morning.

“We started off pretty well. On Friday evening, we caught 32 bass, most of them on the 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ and a green pumpkin Zoom Bait Company’s finesse worm on 1/16-ounce jigs. Lots of small fish, but they were in very good shape, with fat bellies.

“The night crappie fishing was baffling. We had a flurry when we sat down and I thought we were in for a good night, then the fish just disappeared. We ended up catching 12, which is a lot less than in recent trips.

“Friday morning’s trip also was disappointing. We caught only 15 bass and three crappies in three hours of fishing. The water was like glass and it was hot when we went out at 8 a.m. That might have had something to do with it.

“Still, it was great being back on my home lake, spending time with an old friend.”

Aug. 24 log.

Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his outing with a friend at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir on Aug 24.

They fished from 7:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The National Weather Service in Emporia, Kansas, reported that the morning low temperature was 70 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 93 degrees. The wind angled out of the southeast and south 6 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure around 7 p.m. was 30.12 and rising. Initially it was foggy; once the foggy clear, the sky was cobalt blue until it became partly cloudy around midday.

The water was exceptionally clear for this time of the year, exhibiting five feet of visibility. The surface temperature was 79 degrees. The water level looked to be more than 1 ½ feet below normal.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 1:50 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.

They focused their attention primarily on main-lake and secondary points near deep water, but they examined some back portions of several coves. Their primary quarry was smallmouth bass, but they spend some time looking for some white bass several offshore humps and ridges.

Initially, they wielded topwater baits, and his friend caught a big smallmouth bass on his second cast with a vintage Heddon Tiny Chugger. Once the topwater bite waned, they began working with Z-Man’s Hula StickZ on 1/16-ounce Gopher jigs. The best colors were Mud Minnow, PB&J and Junebug. The Hula StickZ were periodically coated Pro-Cure’s nightcrawler scent.

By the time that they executed their last cats and retrieve, their fish counter indicated that they had caught 54 smallmouth bass, and four of them were 19 inches long.

Aug 25 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his outing with a friend at a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir on Aug 25.

The National Weather Service in Olathe, Kansas, reported that the low temperature was 69 degrees and the high temperature was 90 degrees. The wind angled out of the south and southwest at 9 mph. It was hazy for a spell and then the sky was blue. The barometric pressure was 30.22 at 9 a.m. and dropping.

He wrote: “We got a little later start than usual, and we may have missed the early morning bite. The surface temperature was 92 degrees along one of the bluffs on the west side of the reservoir; this bluff lies on the southern fringes of the warm-water plume. The surface temperature along the dam was 85 degrees. The water level was normal. There was 2 ½ feet of clarity.

“In sum, the largemouth bass action was very spotty and really hadn’t improved much since I was there two weeks ago, and we caught only 22 largemouth bass, one white bass, one freshwater drum and one green sunfish.”

They caught three largemouth bass along a 150-yard stretch of a riprap shoreline on the east side of the reservoir. One big largemouth bass was extracted off a main-lake point on the east side of the reservoir. They caught four largemouth bass around a submerged farm pond dam. They caught four largemouth bass along one side of the power-plant’s inlet. One largemouth bass was caught adjacent to the dam’s outlet. They caught three largemouth bass along a second stretch of riprap of the east side of the reservoir. Two largemouth bass were extracted from a rock pile on the west aside of the reservoir. One largemouth was caught along a bluff. Three largemouth bass were caught on a rocky point on the reservoir’s west side and near the marina.

They caught the largemouth bass on several kinds of grubs manufactured by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits.

*******************************************************************

Casey Kidder of Topeka, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network that he and a friend fished a 11,600-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir on Aug, 25.

He said: “The surface temperature was in the low 80s. The water clarity was okay. But the bass fishing was poor; we caught three dinky largemouth bass and one four-pounder. Luckily, we encountered a big school of whites on a point, and had a fun couple hours catching 25 of them.

“I am not sure what is going on with the largemouth bass. We saw many big schools of two-inch gizzard shad, and even more on the graph. Maybe the bass are suspended and chasing shad, but we never caught any out of the schools.”

Aug. 27 log

For weeks on end, we have been moaning (almost in a state of despair) about the sorry largemouth bass fishing that we have been enduring at a number of our flatland reservoirs. Unquestionably, something has gone awry at the reservoirs that lie along a 50-mile wide corridor that stretches between Kansas City and Topeka, Kansas, and we can’t determine what it is.

But recently Chris Rohr of Overland Park, Kansas, and Clyde Holscher of Topeka have been pursuing and catching substantial numbers of smallmouth bass that inhabit a 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir and a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir.

I have been reluctant to fish these reservoirs because the power-plant reservoir is 74 miles from our front door and the Corps’ reservoir is about 63 miles, and I didn’t want to spend more than two hours a day driving. What’s more, the high price of gasoline has also tempered my lust for driving more than 35 miles to fish.

But I bit the bullet on Aug. 27, when Holscher and I fished the 6,930-acre Corps’ reservoir from 9:35 a.m. to 1:40 p.m.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the reservoir reported that the high temperature was 95 degrees and the low temperature was 69 degrees. The National Weather Service in Emporia, Kansas, said the low temperature was 69 degrees and the high temperature was only 90 degrees. The NWS noted that the wind howled out of the south and southwest at 14 to 23 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.08 and rising around 9 a.m. The sun burned brightly in the China-blue sky.

Holscher didn’t record the surface temperature. But according to the Corps of Engineers, the water temperature was 77 degrees. The water level was 1.79 feet below normal. The water clarity was surprisingly clear for a Kansas reservoir during the heat of our traditional algae bloom season.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred at 4:06 a.m. to 6:06 a.m.

The brisk southwest wind kept us sequestered to the south side of the reservoir, where we fished 150 yards of riprap along the dam, 11 rocky main-lake points, one rocky secondary point, four humps and several rock piles. We caught smallmouth bass at every locale but one, and by the time we executed our last casts and retrieves at 1:40 p.m., our fish counter indicated that we had caught 72 smallmouth bass and two walleye.

All of these fish were extracted from two to five feet of water. They were allured by a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 ¾-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin FattyZ on a white 1/8-ounce jig, a Z-Man’s Junebug FattyZ on an orange 1/8-ounce jig, a 3 ¾-inch Z-Man’s redbone StreakZ on an 1/8-ounce Road Runner, a 1.66-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man’s white ChatterBait.

We couldn’t garner a strike on a grub, ZinkerZ spin, and small crankbait. Holscher wielded a small crankbait for about 30 minutes in hopes of tangling with a five-pounder. In his quest for that five-pound smallmouth bass, he also made a lot of casts with the five-inch FattyZ affixed to a 1/8-ounce jig, which bewitched a goodly number of smallmouth bass but no five-pounders. We suspected that if he had used traditional Midwest finesse tactics for the entire four hours and five minutes, we might have tangled with 90 or more smallmouth bass.

We inveigled these fish by employing a variety of presentations: the swim-glide-and-shake motif; the bounce-and-hop retrieve; the drag-and-deadstick method; and the do-nothing or straight-swim tactic. About 15 percent of them engulfed our baits on the initial drop.

Until Aug. 23, our weather had been unseasonably cool. Our normal low temperature for Aug 27 is 65 degrees and the normal high temperature in 86 degrees. The NWS reports that it will continue to be unseasonably hot through the last three days of August and first three of September. We are hoping this hot spell will have a salutary effect on the largemouth bass fishing in northeastern Kansas, and either way, we will report what transpires in our logs to come.

 

 

 

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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  • Chad

    I look forward to the monthly reports you guys post. I live on Lake Conroe, TX. This lake was once known for being a big bass fishing lake and the lake record is 15lbs. Sadly this lake has become a mecca for weekenders from Houston. Half the lake is now bulkheaded and they petitioned the state years ago to get rid of the Hydrilla. The state put in 1 million grass carp from Asia. They were only supposed to get 12 inches long and not be able to breed. Now they are 4ft long and can weigh 40lbs. It is illegal to kill them and there is no grass at all on this lake now. This has caused this lake to become a wash basin and the fishing has gotten very hard. This is the last year that the Texas Toyota Bass Classic will be held on this lake due to the droughts and bad fishing. Using the midwest finesse tactics is the only way I seem to be able to catch any fish these days. Would love to be on the network and learn more and contribute what I experience. basspro.scout@gmail.com

    Chad

    • nkehde

      Chad:
      Thanks for the note.
      Sorry to read, however, about the sorry conditions at Lake Conroe, Texas.
      We will add you to the Finesse News Network, and we would be pleased indeed to get your daily fishing logs and include them in our monthly guides to Midwest finesse fishing.
      Best wishes and please keep in touch,
      Ned Kehde

  • Dewey Reams

    Ned please add me to Finesse News Network, papadew64@gmail.com.

    Thank you Dewey

    • nkehde

      Dewey:
      Thanks for the note. And we have added you to the Finesse News Network. Please send us reports about your finesse endeavors
      Best wishes,
      Ned

  • Steve Reideler

    Mr. Kahde- I live in Lewisville, Texas, just north of Dallas. I mostly fish Lewisville Lake, Grapevine Lake, and Lake Ray Roberts. Lake Lewisville and Lake Grapevine are highly pressured, old, and almost coverless reservoirs. Lake Ray Roberts is heavily timbered but not as old as the other two lakes. I don’t have many days on these lakes where I catch more than 5 to 10 bass in a four hour afternoon trip. I’ve recently started reading your articles on Midwest Finesse tactics on the Finesse News Network, and have since purchased the Gopher Mushroom Jig Heads you recommend in your articles. The ZMan products are few and far between in this area, so I have ordered the products you and your friends described on the internet. I’m currently waiting for their delivery. Can you add me to the Finesse News Network if you don’t have too many people already? I think it would be fun to try this technique and let others see how well this technique can help beginners like me. I would also be open to any helpful advice when I have problems….Thanks for the instructional information in your articles…..Steve Reideler

    • nkehde

      Steve:
      Thanks for taking the time to write your observations. We have added you to the Finesse News Network. We are eager to read about your Midwest finesse endeavor at your Texas reservoirs. Please send them when you have a chance.
      Best wishes,
      Ned

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