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Midwest finesse fishing: September 2013

by Ned Kehde   |  October 9th, 2013 4

September can be one the most fruitful finesse months of the year.

For example, I fished 16 times in September of 2011, and with the assistance of an occasional companion, we caught 721 largemouth and smallmouth bass.

This year I fished 12 times, which encompassed46 hours of brandishing Midwest finesse tactics. On six of those outings, I was joined by another angler, and on one of them, there were three of us. And with the help of those seven anglers, we inveigled 344 largemouth bass, 209 smallmouth bass and two spotted bass. How, when and where those 555 black bass were caught in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas are delineated in 12 of the logs that are posted below.

In addition to the 12 logs that describe my outings, Burton Bosley of Sutton of West Virginia; Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas; Charlie Croom of Fayetteville, Arkansas; Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri; Bob Gum of Kansas City; Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas; Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina; Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas; Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana; and Dave Weroha of Kansas City contributed logs that described their endeavors. At times, Frazee, Gum, Holscher, Poe and Weroha didn’t use traditional Midwest finesse tactics, but they wielded enough of them to enlighten all of us on how, when and where to use these extremely effective techniques in Septembers to come.

Sept. 2 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City fished with Andy Cole of Kansas City at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir on Sept. 2.

The National Weather Service in Emporia, Kansas, reported that the morning low temperature was 60 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 83 degrees. The wind angled out of the north and northeast at 3 to 10 mph. The sky fluctuated from sunny to partly cloudy, and a short thunderstorm erupted, which sent Gum and Cole to seek sanctuary in the marina until the storm ceased. The barometric pressure around 8 a.m. was 30.07 and rising.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 8:33 a.m. to 10:33 a.m. Gum and Cole fished from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The surface temperature was 82 degrees. The water clarity ranged from murky to stained in some areas, but it exhibited exhibited five feet of clarity at several locales. The Corps indicated that the water level was 1.93 feet below normal, and 20 cubic feet per second was being released through the dam.

They spent their outing plying the riprap shoreline of the dam, two riprap jetties, a partially flooded farm pond dam, several rock piles and humps, a few main-lake shorelines and several main-lake points. And they caught 46 smallmouth bass, two spotted bass, one white bass, and one sauger.

The bulk of the smallmouth were caught on a 2 ½-inch Z-Man Fishing Products ZinkerZ and Strike Lure Company’s Zero, which were affixed to a 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig. Junebug and Coppertreuse were the most fruitful hues of the ZinkerZ and Zero. They caught a few on a four-inch Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits’ Single Tail Grub and 1/18-ounce jig, and a brown-and-blue-flake hue was the one they used. The wielded a several topwater bait, which enticed only one smallmouth bass.

 Sept. 3 log

I made a solo midday outing to a nearby 195-acre community reservoir on Sept. 3 to examine the state of the largemouth bass doldrums that have been plaguing northeastern Kansas’ Midwest finesse anglers  since late May and early June at this reservoir.

I fished from 12:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m., and during three hours, I concluded that the doldrums persist. I was able to inveigle only 27 largemouth bass.

The National Weather Service at Lawrence, Kansas, reported that the morning low temperature was 55 degrees and the high temperature was 88 degrees. The sky exhibited a cobalt-blue hue and the sun glistened as brightly as a newly minted dime. The wind was out of the southeast at 5 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.12 and falling around noon.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 9:55 a.m. to 11:55 a.m.

The water level looked to be a foot below normal. The surface temperature ranged from 84 to 86 degrees. An algae bloom stained the water to the point that I could rarely see the propeller on the trolling motor, and the algae deposited a significant scum line on the hull of the boat.

I used six Midwest finesse rigs: a 2 ¾-inch Z-Man Fishing Product’s Junebug Hula StickZ on a blue 3/32-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig, a 2 ¾-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s pearl Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-chartreuse ZinkerZ spin on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher Jig, and a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

The Scented LeechZ and Finesse WormZ failed to garner a strike. The ZinkerZ spin allured only one largemouth bass. The Finesse ShadZ allured three largemouth bass. The Junebug Hula StickZ and 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught six largemouth bass, and the Junebug Hula StickZ and 3 /32-ounce Gopher jig combos caught 17 largemouth bass.

Five largemouth bass were extracted from a hump that was graced with a submerged creek channel, the residue of a bridge, and scattered patches of submergent aquatic vegetation. Two largemouth bass were caught on a shallow mud flat that was embellished with some stumps, a few laydowns and dispersed patches of milfoil. Six were caught along the riprap of the dam. Fifteen were caught along the outside edges of patches of American water willows that were adjacent to some stumps and boulders and several boat docks.

A drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve enticed most of the strikes with the Hula StickZ combos. A few of the largemouth bass were allured by a swim-glide-and-shake motif.

After reading Bob Gum’s Sept. 2 log, it looks as if our smallmouth bass fishing is as rewarding as it has been since Aug. 17, while our largemouth bass remains as sorry as it has been since about May 17.

Sept. 4 log

My cousin Rick Hebestreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I fished a 100-acre community reservoir that sits at the edge of the southwest suburbs of Kansas City. The reservoir’s shoreline is cluttered hundreds of homes and boat docks. And while we fished, our ear drums were frequently littered with the noises of suburbia: lawn mowers, music, carpenters pounding nails and sawing boards, helicopters monitoring roadways, and sirens emanating from ambulances, police and fire vehicles. In sum, it is not the Northwoods of Minnesota where I was a month ago,  but it has been our most fruitful largemouth bass reservoir this summer in northeastern Kansas.

Rick and I fished this reservoir on Aug 19 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and we inveigled 46 largemouth bass. On this Sept. 4 outing, we fished from 9:30 a.m. to 1:50 p.m., and we caught 52 largemouth bass.

The National Weather Service at nearby Olathe, Kansas, recorded the morning low temperature at 62 degrees and afternoon high temperature at 85 degrees. The sky was blue and sun burned bright until around 12:15 p.m., when the sky became partly cloudy. The wind ranged from nil to 7 mph out of the south, and every once in a while it angled out of the southeast and the southwest. The barometric pressure around 9;00 a.m. was 30.17 and rising.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 9:55 a.m. to 11:55 a.m.

The water level looked to be about six inches below normal. An algae bloom put a significant ring of scum around the hull of our boat, and it stained the water clarity in the upper half of the reservoir to the point that we could not see the propeller on the trolling motor. But we could see it when we were plying lairs in the lower third portions of the reservoir. The surface temperature was 84 degrees.

We fished the entire dam, including the spillway and some of the adjacent shorelines, and we caught 21 largemouth bass. Some of the largemouth bass were associated with patches of American water willows; some were around patches of coontail; some were on the rocky bottom in five to eight feet of water.

After fishing the dam, we plied a main-lake point on the west side of the reservoir, which was embellished with healthy patches of coontail and a nearby hump, and we extracted five largemouth bass from the coontail and one from the hump. The largemouth bass around the coontail patch were in shallow water , and the one on the hump was in 10 feet of the water.

Our next stop was on the east side of the reservoir, where we fished a series of four humps, two boat docks, several patches of coontail and a main-lake point. From this long stretch of lairs, we extracted only five largemouth bass.

The fourth area we fished was a main-lake point that was lined with American water willows and an adjacent shoreline what was endowed with a rock and concrete breakwall and two docks. This point and shoreline was on the east side of the reservoir, and it failed to yield us a strike.

Our fifth stop was a main-lake hump on the west side of the reservoir, which was festooned with several big patches of coontail, and those patches produced two largemouth bass.

After we finished fishing the hump, we worked an extremely long shoreline on the reservoir’s west side, which included two flats, a steep rocky shoreline, a score of boat docks, three small main-lake points and scattered patches of coontail. This area was situated in the mid-section of the reservoir. We eked out only six largemouth bass from this long and many-faceted stretch of water.

The next series of lairs was on the east side of the reservoir, and it was about as long as four football fields. It consisted of nine points, 14 boat docks, many patches of coontail and American water willows, several rocky shorelines, several flats, rock and concrete breakwalls, and a few laydowns. What’s more, a submerged creek channel courses nearby several of those lairs.

As we worked our way into the upper reaches of this reservoir, the water became more stained and our fishing became more and more fruitless. To our dismay, we caught only five largemouth bass along that entire 400 yards, which traditionally includes several ideal late-summer lairs for largemouth bass.

After that dismal spell, we crossed over to the west shoreline and quickly fished 75 yards of coontail patches and boat docks without eliciting a strike from a largemouth bass, and that sorry fishing provoked us to return to the dam, where we caught seven largemouth bass, which gave us a total of 52 largemouth bass for the entire outing and an average of 12 largemouth bass an hour.

Our three most effective baits were a 2 ¾-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, 2 ½-inch Z-Man pearl ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. A 2 ¾-inch Junebug Hula StickZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught one largemouth bass, as did a four-inch green-pumpkin grub on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce jig. A Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig bewitched two largemouth bass.

Around the coontail patches, the best retrieve was the swim, glide and shake. Along the deeper and rocky lairs, a drag-and-deadstick retrieve was the most effective presentation.

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Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his Sept. 4 outing at a 120-acre community reservoir that lies in the northern suburbs of Kansas City.

He wrote: “The lake  has finally come out of its coma.

I took a friend outlast night for a double dip — fishing for bass in the evening, fishing for crappies under lights at night.

“We did well on both. We ended up with 49 bass fishing from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and 15 crappies fishing from 8:30 p.m.to 10 p.m.

“I tried different techniques for bass and they worked well. Instead of pounding the aquatic vegetation in the shallows, I followed them out until the vegetation  dropped off into deeper water. There, I positioned the boat so that we were casting into the areas that were just starting to drop off.

“I started off with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California Craw Zinker Z on a 1/16-ounce black jig, and I did real well. When I finally talked my friend into using the same thing, he started catching fish, too.

“I then experimented with different finesse worms and the action got even better. We had numerous doubles.

“I found my best success with a little stick worm that Chapman’s Bait and Tackle used to make (I think they’re out of business now.) I used a watermelon with a bright yellow tip and a green with a chartreuse tip, and the bass were eating them.

“I would look for the flats with the heaviest weeds, position the boat over the dropoff and make a cast and let the worm settle. Then I would work it through the weeds, sometimes ripping it, sometimes just jigging it. We had six keepers (nothing huge) and a number of other bass in the 12-13-inch range. What impressed me was that our fish have gone from skinny little things to plump, healthy fish.

“We think the stocking of shad and golden shiners is already paying big dividends.

“By the way, the water temperatures was 83 and very clear.

“The only disappointment of the evening was that I couldn’t get the bass to bite a Chatterbait or a big jig and pig. This was definitely a night for finesse baits.”

Sept.5 log

John Reese called at 8:00 a.m., and asked if I was going fishing, and if I was, he said he would like to join me.

I picked him up at 9:15 a.m., and we drove 38 miles to a 140-acre state reservoir.

Traditionally, significant numbers of largemouth bass inhabit patches of coontail and bushy pondweed on several of this reservoir’s shallow flats in September. And when the largemouth bass become congregated in these patches, it is a relatively easy task for a pair Midwest finesse anglers to inveigle more than 15 of them an hour. For instance, another angler and I caught 87 largemouth bass there on Sept. 3, 2010. And the fishing is usually best around these patches of aquatic vegetation at high noon.

Before Reese called, I was thinking about a solo endeavor for smallmouth bass at a nearby 7,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir, where the population is growing, but the fishing for them can be problematic, and even on the best of days, it is difficult to catch 25 smallmouth bass during three intense hours of finesse fishing. Because Reese fishes only eight to nine times a year, I thought we should pursue the largemouth bass in the coontail and bushy pondweed at the 140-acre state reservoir.

The weather was delightful. The National Weather Service in Topeka, Kansas, recorded the morning low temperature at 62 degrees and afternoon high temperature reached 90 degrees. The wind rarely stirred the leaves on the trees that flanked the reservoir’s shorelines,  and when it did, it angled from the east at no more than 8 mph. The sky displayed a China-blue hue. The barometric pressure was 30.20 and falling around 10 a.m.

The water level looked to be about 1 ½ feet below normal. There was a slight algae bloom, which encrusted the boat’s hull with a slimy-green ring, but the visibility was more than five feet in the lower portions of the reservoir. In fact, the water was clear enough that we did a little bit of sight fish, and we caught two largemouth bass that we saw and allured with a traditional Midwest finesse bait. The surface temperature was 84 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred from 10:39 a.m. to 12:39 p.m. We fished from 10:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., and for the first hour, we saw more than a dozen largemouth bass milling about a foot or so under the surface, and we caught 14 largemouth bass during the first hour and 15 minutes. These fish were caught along the riprap of the dam and along two rocky shorelines that were bordered with American water willows and occasionally embellished with a few scrawny patches of bushy pondweed.

At 11:45 a.m., we began probing a massive shallow-water flat, which in Septembers past has been adorned with lush patches of coontail and bushy pondweed, but to our dismay, we could find only one thin and undernourished-looking snippet of bushy pondweed, and not an iota of coontail. This area yielded only three largemouth bass.

Around noon, we examined a steep and rocky shoreline, which was similar to places that we caught our first 14 largemouth bass, and we failed to elicit a strike along this 30-yard stretch of rocks.

Our next stop was another massive shallow-water flat, and this one was endowed with some thick and healthy patches of bushy pondweed, but it was devoid of coontail. We eked out only seven largemouth bass from this area that was the size of two football fields.

The fifth spot was a thin hump or ridge that was enhanced with a small patch of bushy pondweed, and it yielded four largemouth bass.

The sixth spot consisted of several laydowns, a riprap jetty that was partially wrapped with American water willows and a small patch of offshore bushy pondweed. Here we caught five largemouth bass.

The next spot we fished was a big main-lake point that was rimmed with American water willows, a few big boulders and a thin patch of bushy pondweed. We were unable to engender strike around any of these objects.

The eighth locale was the west shoreline and a boulder-ridden point in the back of one the reservoir’s three feeder creek arms. The shoreline was graced with rocks, stumps, some American water willows, and a few laydowns. We caught one largemouth bass near a patch of American water willows.

Our last and ninth spot was the dam again, where we caught four largemouth bass, giving us a paltry total of 38 largemouth bass, which was an average of about 11 an hour.

Our two best baits were a 2 ¾-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

The two best presentations were the drag-and-deadstick motif on the rocky lairs and the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve around the bushy pondweed.

I usually don’t complain about the size of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass that we catch, but these 38 largemouth bass were exceedingly puny, exhibiting a sickly demeanor. As Reese and I were driving home, we concluded that we should have spent our three hours and 15 minutes chasing the smallmouth bass at the 7,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir that lies only a few miles from our front doors rather than driving 38 miles to catch 38 measly largemouth bass at this 140-acre state reservoir.

In sum, the largemouth bass fishing at most of our flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas remains devilish difficult, and it has been that way since late spring.

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Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, and a friend reported on the Finesse News Network that he and a friend went smallmouth bass fishing at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir on Sept. 5, and their outing was considerably more fruitful than the largemouth bass fishing that John Reese and I endured at a 140-acre state reservoir.

Holscher and his friend fished from 6:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., and to their chagrin, the topwater bite was nonexistent, and the size of the smallmouth bass was smaller than Holscher had experienced since mid-August. Nevertheless, they inveigled 64 smallmouth bass, which was 25 more bass than Reese and I caught.

Holscher said that they caught them on main-lake rocky points and some the reservoir’s many offshore rock piles and humps. Their five biggest smallmouth bass were caught on flat points that were graced with schools of young gizzard shad.

Their five most productive baits were a Z-Man’s 3.75-inch redbone StreakZ on a 1/18-ounce Road Runner, a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a 1/16-ounce jig, a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s California Craw ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce jig, a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce jig, and a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s Junebug  ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce jig.

The U.S. Corps of Engineers reported that water level was 2.05 feet below normal, and the surface temperature was 79 degrees. Holscher described the water clarity as being relatively clear.

Sept. 6 log:

Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network about his outing with a friend to the same U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir that Holscher and a friend fished on Sept. 5.

The U.S. Corps of Engineers reported that water level was 2.07 feet below normal, and the surface temperature was 79 degrees. And Claudell said: “The water clarity the best I have seen anywhere” in Kansas this summer.

The National Weather Service in Emporia, Kansas, reported that the low temperature was 68 degrees and the high temperature was 94 degrees. Around 9 a.m. the barometric pressure was 30.13 and dropping. The wind angled from the east to the south at 3 to 9 mph. It was sunny.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred from 11:03 a.m. to 1:03 p.m. Claudell and his friend fished seven hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

They caught 87 smallmouth bass. The bulk of them were caught along the riprap of the dam. Besides the dam, they caught some on a submerged farm pond dam and several offshore humps.

Their most effective baits were a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ and a Z-Man’s Hula StickZ, and the best two colors were green pumpkin and watermelon red. These baits were affixed to either a 1/16- or 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.

A drag-and-deadstick retrieve enticed the majority of the smallmouth bass.

 Sept. 7 log

Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, is a multispecies guide who has been focusing since mid-August on the smallmouth bass at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir, and on Sept. 7 he guided a father-and-son combo at this reservoir.

The National Weather Service at Emporia, Kansas, reported that the low temperature was 69 degrees and the high temperature was 97 degrees, and at some other locales around northeastern Kansas, the high temperature hit 99 degrees, and on Sept. 8, some thermometers climbed to 103 degrees. The wind angled out of the south at 12 to 20 mph, which Hoslcher said helped to reduce the dastardly effects of the midday heat. The barometric pressure around 7 a.m. was 30.00 and rising. The sky was cloudless and the sun’s rays were intense.

In-Fisherman’s calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 12:16 p.m. to 2:16 p.m. Holscher and his two anglers  fished from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The U.S. Corps of Engineers reported that water level was 2.10 feet below normal, and the surface temperature was 79 degrees. The water clarity at some locales in the lower portions of the reservoir had a visibility of five feet.

Holscher reported that they enjoyed some stellar topwater action during the first two hours of their day afloat.  During this low-light period, they quickly fished a variety of the reservoir’s best smallmouth bass lairs with their topwater presentations. Then as the sun completely filled the sky, they refished those same lairs with Midwest finesse tactics. They focused especially hard at locales where they engendered topwater strikes from some hefty smallmouth bass that they failed to catch, and at these spots, their finesse presentation inveigled several nice-size smallmouth bass.

By the time they executed their last casts, Holscher’s fish countered revealed that they had caught 46 smallmouth bass and three spotted bass.

The 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ affixed to a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig was their most effective Midwest finesse bait. They worked with four colors of the ZinkerZ: California Craw, Junebug, dirt, watermelon chartreuse. Their Gopher jigs were painted either chartreuse or orange.

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Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, reported on the Finesse News Network about his Sept. 7 outing.

He wrote: “I really detest post-cold-front-bluebird days. And that was exactly what faced me and two friends Saturday. It was the coldest night of the summer, which was followed by a clear, calm, 77-degree day.

“We fished our brush-filled 350-acre community reservoir from 7:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. The only largemouth bass we caught were concentrated around a few lairs, and after we extracted several largemouth bass from a lair, there were long intervals of no bites until we discovered another lair that was entertaining several largemouth bass. For instance, we caught seven largemouth bass along on a channel ledge at the mouth of a small cove; the channel edge was covered with five feet of water, and it dropped into 20 feet of water.

“Later in the day, we found some cooperative largemouth bass in the extreme upper end of the reservoir that would bite shallow-diving crankbaits by the stumps that bordered the channel, and these largemouth bass were  in three to four feet of water. There was a nice population of shad in this area, and we caught seven largemouth bass on crankbaits, such as a Rapala DT6 in the hot mustard hue. These largemouth bass weighed from one pound to 2 ½ pounds.

“In total we caught only 27 largemouth bass. I got what I expected in terms of a tough bite. The bass all came from submerged wood cover adjacent to the creek channel. None were caught with mindless casts, no chasing of the baits by active fish, and no topwater bites at all. What’s more, there was no Midwest finesse action because we focused on heavily wooded and snag-filled lairs.

“It was a disappointment to one of my friends who was expecting better action from a lightly fished and fairly new reservoir. But had he fished instead of changing baits 50 times, we might have eked out a few more.”

Sept. 8 log

Charlie Croom of Fayetteville, Arkansas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his Sept. 8 outing on the Elk River, Missouri, where he fished from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. with his father.

The surface temperature was 78 degree. The water level was low, and it was clear. It was sunny, hot and humid. The high temperature was 95 degrees, and the low temperature was 63 degrees. The wind was light and variable.

He said that the recent flood caused a lot changes in the river’s character by moving the gravel bars, scour holes, logjams and fish. In essence, it was a new river, and he spent a lot of time discovering its secrets.

He wrote: “It’s amazing how much a major flood can change a section of river. The launch area was filled in with gravel, making it difficult to launch an aluminum boat. Some of my best logjams have been wiped out and filled in with gravel. One of the deepest holes was filled in with desktop-sized boulders, the water was swift, and the deeper area shifted to one side of the river instead of straight down the middle.

“The lack of main-river current and gin-clear water, also, affected the fishing. This made the bass extremely spooky and hard to catch. If they saw the boat, it was game over. So, scouting these new areas became exceedingly difficult, because if I could see the bass, they wouldn’t bite.

“I began using a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-orange ZinkerZ affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig. Although there was no visible current on the river’s surface, I noticed straightaway there was just enough deep-water current to push the 1/16-ounce jig and ZinkerZ off course. This adversely affected the baits ability to get down, causing it to fall extremely slowly, and it almost became neutrally buoyant when it was near the bottom. Therefore, I couldn’t feel it touch the bottom, and this created a mental challenge of sorts. I should’ve switched to a 1/8-ounc jig, but I was bull headed and continued to use the lighter one. I struggled to catch the bass that were on the bottom in eight to 10 feet of water, because they would not strike if the bait didn’t touch the bottom. As soon as I switched to a 1/2-ounce jig in a green- pumpkin-orange hue, I immediately started catching fish, and it was fast and furious.

“When we approached one the river’s main riffles that poured into its deepest pool, I discovered it had been filled in with boulders and gravel. This spot was totally transformed by that nasty flood, and the current was so fast that my jig would hang immediately. Then I pulled the boat over onto the gravel bar to eat lunch and make a halftime adjustment. Here I noticed baitfish were being pushed onto the gravel flats and away from the current. The bass were corralling them and busting in ankle deep water. This is a classic buzzbait scenario and a welcome relief from the outing’s earlier frustrations. I pulled out my trusty Falcon Cara Head Turner casting outfit and tied on a Molix Lover Buzz Buzzbait in the baitfish color to 65-pound Suffix Performance Braided Line.

“This proved to be the best decision that I made on this trip, and a pattern was discovered. The bass were situated near the surface but under isolated logjams near shallow and current-free water. The best approach was to quickly move and wield the buzzbait parallel to the undercut banks. I would back off when a logjam was present. This required a methodical approach and pinpoint casting accuracy. Some of the logjams consisted of trees that still had their summer foliage, which provided the best shady cover available in this area. I quickly caught a few keeper largemouth. Then the unexpected occurred. I made a MacGyver-type cast that traveled over and thru limbs and foliage into the heart of this nasty fallen tree. The cast required a rocket fire thru a paper-plate-sized hole in the leaves. I landed the buzzbait 20 feet back into the lair and it immediately jumped up and starting churning back in there. As it cleared the outside edge, a six-to seven-pound largemouth raced out behind it. The water was bath tub clear and it took nerves of steel to refrain from setting the hook too early. The giant followed my buzzbait to the boat and hovered near the trolling motor as I engineered a figure-eight maneuver (like muskie fishing). To my surprise, that bass stayed there until I pulled the buzzbait out of the water and then it slowly disappeared into the deep abyss.

“Throughout the entire outing, we caught only 15 bass on the ZinkerZ, three on the buzzbait, and three on a finesse jig. But even though it was hot and the fishing was tough, it was a great way to spend time with my Dad.  I started fishing with when I was a toddler. In fact, I was 2 years old when I caught my first bass. In 34 years, it never gets old. We love to fish as a family.”

 

Sept. 10 log

Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, filed this report on the Finesse News Network about his short outing on Sept. 10.

He wrote: “I had a two-hour trip after work last night. I caught seven largemouth bass, including a five-pounder. I caught two nice ones on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig dressed with a 2 ½-inch Strike King Lure Company’s PB&J Zero, and these two largemouth were extracted from two rocky shorelines along two steep creek channel edges. The biggest bass hit a Zoom Bait Company’s WEC E-I Crankbait in the chartreuse-black-back-mesh hue, and this bait was caught around a shallow tree that a beaver had recently toppled. My topwater frogs and Repel P70 Pop-R were fruitless.

“All the largemouth bass were in the back third of a creek. Big shad schools were milling on the surface. The biggest five weighed 15 pounds. Several crappie, including several 12-inchers, were caught on the Zero-and-Gopher-jig combo around some bridge pilings.

“The weather was hot and muggy, and I noticed the moon was nearly overhead.

“My new Minn Kota Endura 55 trolling motor is amazingly quiet and vastly superior to any I have had. I fish close to every lair, and because this motor is so quite, it should allow me to catch more fish.

“In terms of catch rates, no one down here has come close what you Midwest finesse folks can catch in Kansas, well not since we had some new big lakes in the early eighties. Back then, we caught 62 in fifteen minutes on one memorable day. But that’s another time and place, and I won’t get started with those war stories.”

Sept. 12 log

Throughout September and October, we relish some heavy doses  of grandparenting joys, which revolve around cross country, soccer, tennis, and volleyball events. And we had one of those doses on Sept. 12, and this one revolved around one of granddaughter’s high school tennis matches. Therefore, I didn’t have time to fish seriously. What’s more, my wife called around 8:45 a.m. to report that she had a flat tire, and her car was parked at the university’s tennis complex, where she was playing tennis. The tennis complex is about 1 ½ miles from the boat ramp at a 7,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir. So, after I drove out to the tennis complex, removed the flat tire, put on her spare tire and took her flat to be fixed, I decided to fish for about an hour.

I launched the boat at 10:30 a.m., and I had it back on the trailer before noon, and we were soon on the way to our granddaughter’s tennis tournament.

To my chagrin, however, I accidentally pulled one the trolling motor’s battery cable terminals off as I was removing a tie-down rope from one of the boat’s battery boxes. It took me about 10 minutes to reopen up the flared end of the terminal and firmly reattach it to the cable.

Around 10:50 a.m. I made by first cast along the riprap of a main-lake jetty. On the 13th cast with a 2 ¾-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, I allured a smallmouth bass.

The second locale was a flat and rocky main-lake point that is endowed with a submerged roadbed, and I extracted two smallmouth bass from this area with a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

The third spot was another main-lake, rocky and flat point. I fished about 50 yards of the point and its adjacent shoreline and caught six smallmouth bass on the Scented LeechZ combo.

The fourth and final spot was a bluffy shoreline that was graced with some gravel patches, stretches of boulders, some rock piles, few stumps, some flat-table-size rocks, and a few laydowns. It encompasses a 125 yards of shoreline, and I didn’t have time to thoroughly dissect it. But the Scented LeechZ inveigled another smallmouth bass and a walleye.

In sum, I fished about 48 minutes and caught 10 smallmouth bass and one walleye.

The National Weather Service at Lawrence, Kansas, reported that the low temperature was 72 degrees and the high temperature was 84 degrees. A light rained fell from 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., and for the rest of the day, the sky ranged from being mostly cloudy to partly cloudy. Around 10 a.m. the barometric pressure was 30.16 and rising. The wind fluctuated from being nil to angling out of the northwest at 5 mph.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred at 4:39 a.m. to 6:38 a.m.

The water level was 3.23 feet below normal. The surface temperature was 81 degrees. The water was clear enough that I could see the propeller on the electric trolling motor, which means it was what we call Kansas clear.

Occasionally some anglers grumble about the vast numbers of small bass that they catch when they use Midwest finesse tactics. Six days ago a pair of northeastern Kansas anglers lamented on the Finesse News Network that they had become weary of catching scores of small largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. And instead of catching 85 bass — of which 80 of them were small — per outing, this pair of anglers said they would prefer to catch 75 fewer bass an outing if the 10 they caught were lunkers.

One of the problems that is confounding northeastern Kansas anglers stems from the fact that the largemouth bass populations at several of the  reservoirs are recovering from the largemouth bass virus, and the virus has wrecked havoc with the big largemouth bass. Therefore, it has been difficult during the past four years to tangle with largemouth bass that weigh from three to six pounds. But it should be noted that on my short Sept.12 outing six of the 10 smallmouth bass looked as if they would weigh from 2 ½- to 3 ½-pounds, which are not lunkers, but they are nice-size fish. As long as I can elicit at least 10 largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass strikes an hour, I am a happy angler, and I am even happier when I elicit 25 or more an hour. The size of the bass is immaterial to me, but that is not to say that I don’t enjoy tangling with an occasional 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-pounder or a handsome lunker. Across the years when we had healthy populations of big largemouth bass, we have tangled some of big largemouth bass with our Midwest finesse tactics, but we use it so that we can catch an average of at least 10 bass an hour.

Besides the effects that the  largemouth bass virus has rendered on our big largemouth bass, all of the flatland reservoirs that we fish in northeastern Kansas are afflicted with heavy angler predation, and this might affect our abilities to catch as many lunkers as we used to catch.

As I pondered the small bass laments of the two Midwest finesse anglers, I thought about Guido Hibdon of Sunrise Beach, Missouri, who was one of the Midwest finesse pioneers in the 1960s and 1970s, and for years Hibdon used to say: “Many people don’t believe little baits will catch big fish, but they do.” But to catch as many of lunkers as we used to catch in our northeastern Kansas reservoirs, we have more of them than we have since the virus has been running its course.

Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, sent the following observation to the Finesse News Network about the small bass woes that plague some Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas.

He wrote: “Years ago, we caught hundreds of them daily at our new reservoirs in North Carolina. But unless there is money involved or the lunkers are 10-pounders, I’ll prefer catching big numbers of largemouth bass rather just several big ones.

“Midwest finesse baits catch the big ones as well. For example, I was showing Jeff Coble the 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ and 1/16-ounce Gopher jig at his Kerr Lake home a few seasons ago. I skipped it under an adjacent pier and a nice one bit. Coble said it was the biggest bass he has seen all year at Buggs Island, which had been hit by the largemouth bass virus.

“This spring a jig expert watched me tangle with 16 largemouth bass in a row while his jig went untouched, many of them five-pounders. This was in March when the jig usually attracts the big ones.

“The beauty of the Midwest finesse technique to me is that it appeals to all sizes of largemouth bass. I’ve given up on obtaining catch rates in North Carolina that Midwest anglers achieve in Kansas, but many times Midwest finesse tactics are better than anything else, and it is always a fun way to catch them. I can’t imagine not using them.”

Sept.13 log

John Reese of Lawrence, Kansas, and I made the eight-mile drive to the same 7,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir that I fished on Sept.12.

Folks who are superstitious might blame our sorry fishing on the fact that it was Friday the 13th. Some anglers might blame it on the cold front that sashayed across northeastern Kansas during the night. But I have never been able to determine the cause and effect good and poor largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and spotted bass fishing.

The National Weather Service at Lawrence, Kansas, reported that the low temperature was 51 degrees around 7 a.m. and the high temperature reached 78 degrees. The normal low temperature is 58 degrees and the normal high temperature is 80 degrees. The wind was variable at times, but angled primarily out of the northeast at 5 to 7 mph. It was sunny, and the barometric pressure at 10 a.m. was 30.20 and dropping.

The water level was 3.23 feet below normal. The surface temperature ranged from 79 to 80 degrees. The water was clear enough that I could see the propeller on the electric trolling motor, which means it was what we call Kansas clear.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred from 5:36 a.m. to 7:36 a.m. We fished from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and we eked out only 16 smallmouth bass, three walleye, two largemouth bass and one white bass.

We fished a riprap shoreline on which we caught four smallmouth bass and one walleye. At a riprap jetty we caught three smallmouth bass, one largemouth bass and one walleye. A long bluffy shoreline that was graced with patches of gravel, stretches of boulders, interspersed with some flat-table-size rocks, and a few laydowns and stumps was unfruitful. A rocky main-lake point that was embellished with laydowns, stumps, piles of boulders and several ledges yielded only one white bass. A rocky main-lake point, which was adorned with some standing timber, three laydowns, a submerged roadbed, and several rock and boulder piles, yielded six smallmouth bass and a walleye. At this point, we also had a big fish break the leader about a foot below the knot that attached the leader to the braided line; this fish wrapped the braided line and leader under one of the boulders. We caught three smallmouth bass and one largemouth bass along a rocky and flat main-lake point and its adjacent shoreline, and the shoreline was endowed with boulders, rock piles, stumps, a riprap jetty, and a gravel flat that is interlaced with boulders.

Our two most fruitful baits were a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

This reservoir’s smallmouth bass population is growing, but there are not enough smallmouth bass to withstand two Midwest finesse outings in a row. In fact, it doesn’t yield enough smallmouth bass per hour for me to fish it more than a few times a year, but the average size of the smallmouth bass is larger than they at our other nearby reservoirs.

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Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, submitted the following observations and log on Sept. 13. He wrote: “I thought about  the recent Finesse News Network  comments from you and one of your readers about poor fishing after cold fronts. As you stated, just ignore cold fronts and go fishing because you just never know. And I went fishing.

“A major cold front is coming through our area right now. Monday through Wednesday of this week we experienced near record highs that reached into the mid-90s. Today, the National Weather Service in Indianapolis reported that the low temperature was 55 degrees and the high temperature was 69 degrees. The normal low temperature is 58 degrees and the normal high temperature is 79 degrees. The partly-cloudy skies cleared to bluebird skies by evening. The barometric pressure trended higher and ranged from 30.05 to 30.09. When I was afloat, the north wind blew at 16-18 mph with gusts of 20-25 mph, but it diminished to about 10 mph by evening. And that wind began howling at 8:00 p.m. on Sept. 12, when it switched from the west at 13 mph to the northwest at 20 to 26 mph.

“The surface temperature was 78 degrees, which was a drop of five degrees from this past weekend.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred from 5:36 a.m. to 7:36 a.m. I fished from 12:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and then again from 5:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for a total of 4 hrs and 45 min.

“Despite the conditions, I managed to have my best day in many years by catching 102 largemouth bass, and this was a solo outing. All fish except four came on either a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ or a 4 ¾-inch Z-Man’s Finesse WormZ on  1/32- and 1/16-ounce Gopher jigs. Rocky banks were the best producers today by a long shot. The many patches of aquatic vegetation that I encountered didn’t yield many largemouth bass.

“The day didn’t go completely without a hitch. Around 1:00 p.m. a bass buried one of the treble hooks on my finesse crankbait deep into my middle finger on my left hand. It was the first time in my 30 years of bass fishing that I have had that happen. I thought about going to the hospital as the little line trick isn’t easy to pull off when you have to do it on yourself with the crankbait still attached to one of your fingers. After 10 -15 minutes of fiddling with it using a pair of long nose pliers I was able to finally back it out using the same reverse principle. Painful.”

Sept. 14 log

Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network about his outing Sept. 14 with two friends at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir.

The Corps of Engineers reported that the water level was 2.26 feet below normal, and the surface temperature was 79 degrees. Holscher noted that the water was surprisingly clear for a Kansas flatland reservoir in September, which is when algae blooms usually foul the clarity.

The National Weather Service in Emporia, Kansas, recorded the morning low temperature at 52 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature reached 79 degrees. Initially the wind angled out of the east at 5 to 7 mph, switching to the southeast and south at 6 to 21 mph. The sky was relatively cloudless. The barometric pressure around 7 a.m. was 30.06 and rising.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred at 6:31 a.m. to 8:31 a.m. Holscher and his friends fished from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

To their chagrin, their small topwater baits  allured only a few smallmouth bass.

Their most productive baits were 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZs affixed to 1/32- and 1/13-ounce jigs. The two most effective ZinkerZ colors were California Craw and green pumpkin.

They caught some smallmouth bass along several rocky and gravel shorelines and shallow ridges that consisted of rocks and boulders. The most fruitful lairs were rocky main-lake points that were flat and wind-blown. Along one shoreline, their sonar spotted a congregation of gizzard shad under the boat in 10 to 12 feet of water, and they presented their ZinkerZs vertically around these gizzard shad and inveigled several smallmouth bass and white bass. The massive riprap shoreline that lines the dam yielded only a few smallmouth bass.

As their outing came to a close, Holscher’s fish counter indicated that they had caught 47 smallmouth bass, four white bass, two walleye, two channel catfish, and one sauger.

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Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, reported on the Finesse News Network about his Sept. 13 outing with Abe Abernathy and Mike McPherson at a 350-acre community lake.

He wrote: 

“Our fishing was good the last few hours that we were afloat, but it really stunk during the first four hours, when we caught only eight largemouth bass.

“When we moved to the very upper end of the lake, we caught them much better from noon till 3:30 p.m. We worked with either shad-colored square-bill crankbait or black-back-and-yellow-sided square-bill crankbait, as well as several kinds of Texas-rigged soft-plastic baits, such as Zoom Bait Company’s Speed Worms and Ultravibe Speed Craws in pumpkin and black hues and Strike King Lure Company’s Rage Craw in the Alabama Craw hue. We presented our soft-plastic baits, like the Rage Craw, by swimming them around the shallow cover.

“Around 3:00 p. m., Abe landed a bass that shook it’s head as Abe lifted it into the boat, and that bass dislodged one of his meals and tossed against  Mike’s back. Abe asked what the fish had thrown up. Mike looked around and declared it was a salamander. Then he said ‘Oh, look it’s a snake.’

“Then Mike picked up this pencil thin 8- to-10-inch water snake and said I should get a picture of it. I responded by saying he should get it the heck out of the boat. I noticed it was moving in his hands. Mike pitched it over the side and (here comes the good part) it swam off. Was that a lucky snake or what?

“What’s more, that bass had a significant gap in its dorsal fin. Apparently, something had tried to eat him earlier in his life.

“The water level was dropping, which might have caused the largemouth bass to inhabit the lairs adjacent to the submerged creek channel rather than milling about on the shallow-water flats.

“Most of the 48 largemouth bass weighed two pounds or more, and two of them were four-pounders. But I am guessing that the three of us will remember Jonah the snake more than any of the bass we caught.

“Weather was clear cool and breezy from the northeast.”

Sept. 16 log

The difference between my outing on Sept. 13 with John Reese to a 7,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir and my solo outing on Sept. 16 to a 195-acre community reservoir was significant. It is also important to note that these reservoirs are about five miles apart.

Reese and I struggled four hours on Sept. 13 to catch 16 smallmouth bass and two largemouth bass. On Sept. 16, I was afloat from 10 a.m. to 2:25 p.m. About 15 minutes of those four hours and 25 minutes were consumed with me removing the propeller from the trolling motor and then removing a massive wad of line from around the drive pin and drive shaft and reinstalling the propeller.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, noted that the low temperature was 61 degrees and the high temperature was 63 degrees. The wind angled out of the east at 7 to 10 mph. It was cloudy, and it rained lightly around noon. The barometric pressured at 10 a.m. was 30.26 and rising.

The water level looked to be 15 inches or so below normal. The surface temperature was 75 to 76 degrees. The water clarity in the reservoir’s south feeder creek and southwest feeder creek was stained to the point that I could not see the propeller on the trolling motor. Around the dam and inside the one of the reservoir’s east feeder creek arm, the water was clear enough that I could see the propeller.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred between 8:11 a.m. to 10:11 a.m. Thus, I fished only 11 minutes of those 120 minutes, but I was able to  tangle with 83 largemouth bass.

A talented finesse angler and regular contributor to the Finesse News Network sent me an e-mail on Sept. 15, reporting that he wasn’t impressed with Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZ. He wrote: “The issue I have with the Finesse ShadZ is its extreme thinness (skinny), and its deep belly slit makes it very difficult to thread it accurately or straight onto a jighead, plus its flat sides makes the bait plane more than other motifs.” I responded by telling him that it was one of the finest finesse bait that I have ever used, and to validate that contention, I rigged two of my spinning outfit with a Finesse ShadZ. One outfit sported a Junebug Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and it inveigled 58 largemouth bass. The other outfit was rigged with a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and this combo allured 11 largemouth bass.

I caught eight largemouth bass on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s purple-haze ZinkerZ on a blue 3/32-ounce Gopher, five on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and one on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-chartreuse ZinkerZ spin on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.

The preponderance of the 83 bass was caught halfway inside the reservoir’s south, southwest and east feeder creek arms. Most of them were associated with patches of American water willows and shallow submergent vegetation along the shorelines. Eleven of them were associated with shallow laydowns and pieces of brush. A few were extracted from shallow rock piles and stumps. Three were caught along the riprap of the dam, which I fished during the last six minutes of the outing. At all of the locales, most of the largemouth bass were abiding in 1 ½ to three feet of water and near the shoreline, and only six of the largemouth bass were caught goodly distance from the shoreline. The majority of them were allured on a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve, and several were caught on a drag-and-deadstick motif.

Throughout this summer I have uttered many disparaging words about the sorry largemouth bass fishing that I and other Midwest finesse anglers have endured at this reservoir since May 9, when I caught 125 largemouth bass in three hours and 20 minutes and May 13 when I caught 63 largemouth bass in two hours and 10 minutes. Between May 13 and Sept 16, I fished this 195-acre community reservoir 11 times, which encompassed 21 hours of casting and retrieving a variety of Midwest finesse baits, and I caught only 189 largemouth bass and two smallmouth bass, which was nine bass an hour. During these 11 outings, I found only one concentration of largemouth bass, and that occurred on Aug.9, when I caught 39 largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass along the riprap of the dam and its adjacent shoreline. Throughout the summer, I groused about the sorry fishing, saying that I suspected that the largemouth bass were milling about offshore and foraging on gizzard shad that were extremely abundant this year. At other times, I thought that the largemouth bass virus, which initially whacked this reservoir four years ago, was whacking it again.

But after tangling with 19 largemouth bass per hour on this Sept. 16 solo outing, the state of the largemouth bass fishery at this reservoir looks to be hunky-dory. As summer ends and autumn unfolds, we will file another dozen or so reports about its largemouth bass fishing, and then we will have better level of measure about what is going on.

Sept. 17 log

It rained till nearly noon on Sept. 17, which kept me at bay during the morning. If it hadn’t rained, I was going to continue working with Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZ at either a 100-acre community reservoir or a 160-acre state reservoir. But by the time it stopped raining, I didn’t have time to drive to one of those lakes. Instead I went to the nearby 195-acre community reservoir that I fished on Sept. 16.

I don’t like fishing these small reservoirs more than once a week. The reason for that is these reservoirs are beaten to smithereens by anglers, and I don’t want to beat the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass populations any harder than they are already beaten. So when I do I fish one of our small reservoir more than once a week, I never fish the same areas.

I fished from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and I used four spinning outfits. The first one was rigged with a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and at 2:10 p.m. I replace the 1/16-ounce jig with a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and then at 3:05 p.m.,  I re-rigged that green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ with a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.   The second outfit was rigged with a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The third spinning rod was rigged with a 2 ¾-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The fourth rod sported a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

I fished about 30 percent of the riprap of the dam and about 150 feet of a nearby rocky shoreline. That shoreline was embellished with American water willows, a few stumps, and several massive boulders. I caught seven largemouth bass along this stretch of water.

I fished parts of four rocky shorelines in two feeder creek arms, as well as the shallow mud flats in the back of both arms. The shorelines were graced with American water willows, boulders, scattered patches of submergent vegetation, a few stumps, several rock piles and eleven laydowns. I caught two largemouth bass along one shoreline. I caught one largemouth bass on the second shoreline. I caught two largemouth bass on the third shoreline. I caught 18 largemouth bass along the fourth shoreline. And I caught four largemouth bass on one of the shallow mud flats and two on the second shallow mud flat.

In sum, I caught 33 largemouth bass.

I fished these areas with either the Hula StickZ or Scented Leech combos, and then I refished many yards of them with either the Junebug or green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ. The Hula StickZ failed to catch a largemouth bass. The Scented LeechZ caught one largemouth bass. The two Finesse ShadZ combos affixed to a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught 31 largemouth bass. The chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ caught eight of the 32 largemouth bass. (In some outings to come, I hope to compare the Finesse ShadZ to Z-Man’s 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ and Z-Man’s four-inch Finesse WormZ.)

Three retrieves worked equally well, and they were the swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve, hop-and-bounce retrieve, and drag-and-deadstick retrieve.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, reported that the low temperature was 62 degrees and the high temperature was 76 degrees. The wind angled out of the southeast at 13 to 16 mph. The barometric pressure around 1:00 p.m. was 30.10 and dropping. Except for the first 15 minutes of this outing, it was cloudy. The rain gauge at the National Weather Service received slightly more than three-quarters of an inch of rain.

The surface temperature was 75 degrees. On Sept. 16, I surmised that the water level was about six inches below normal, but on this Sept. 17 outing I took the time to examine the water gauge, which revealed that the water level was 15 inches below normal. The water in the locations that I fished was clear enough that I could see the propeller on the trolling motor.

In-Fisherman’ solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred from 8:59 a.m. to 10:59 a.m.

Sept. 18 log

Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, reported on the Finesse News Network about his bank-walking outing on the evening of Sept. 18.

He wrote: “I didn’t have time to get the boat out, but I did have enough time to hit the bank and fish a stretch of water very familiar to me.

“I worked with one outfit and two baits: a 1/16-ounce chartreuse jig a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-blue-flake Finesse ShadZ and a 1/16-ounce black jig with a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ. First pass through I threw the Finesse ShadZ and caught three largemouth bass in 45 minutes, including the largest of the night, which was a 15 ½-incher. Then I cut off the Finesse ShadZ combo and tied on the ZinkerZ combo, and I worked in reverse through the exact same areas. I ran out of light in 30 minutes. The ZinkerZ caught seven largemouth bass.

“One thought: The In-Fisherman system recognizes eight triggers, including action, size, and shape. I’m wondering if there are regional differences in how bass respond to those triggers, or fail to respond. Since all Z-Man baits are fished on the same jigheads, and all with the documented retrieves you’ve established, action wouldn’t seem to be the difference. And since a four-inch Finesse ShadZ isn’t much different in length than say a 4Âľ-inch trimmed Finesse WormZ (which works well here), I’m thinking shape might be the key trigger. Kansas and Ozark bass fall for that shad shape, while our more Midwestern bass in central Indiana don’t? Just a thought to ponder.

“As of this evening I have caught a total of 1003 bass since June 29, of which close to 90% have been on the Z-Man plastics fished Midwest finesse style. It is a killer system.”

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Throughout 2013, a goodly number of finesse and power anglers in northeastern Kansas have been grousing about the state of the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishing at a 11,600-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir. On Sept. 18 Casey Kidder of Topeka, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network about his recent experiences while practicing for a Sept. 21 buddy tournament on this reservoir.

He wrote: “It’s been very tough, and we are only catching two of three keepers a day and very few dinks. But we are catching a lot of drum and white bass, and seem to catch a sauger every trip. But the bass are very scattered and hard to find. I don’t know what is going on. I have talked to some other locals, and haven’t heard any good reports lately.”

Sept.19 log

Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, and I have recently been on a minor quest to measure the effectiveness of Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZ rigged on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

He described one of these endeavors in his Sept. 18 log above.

Waldman fished during the evening for about an hour and 15 minutes on Sept 18. I fished for 2 ½ hours during the middle of the day on Sept. 19 at 195-acre community reservoir, executing my first cast at 11 a.m. and making by last retrieve at 1:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service at Lawrence, Kansas, registered the morning low temperature at 75 degrees and the afternoon high temperature at 93 degrees. The wind howled out of the south and southwest at 12 to 29 mph. It was sunny, but the northwestern horizon was laced with massive cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds, and around 5:00 p.m. a significant thunderstorm erupted, and it rained hard for several hours, dropping nearly 1 ½-inches of rain at many locations around northeastern Kansas. The barometric pressure was 29.88 and rising around 11:00 a.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 10:35 a.m. to 12:35 p.m.

The surface temperature was 75.8 degrees. The water was stained to the point that I could not see the trolling motor. The water level was about 15 inches below normal and only six to 12 inches of water covered the roots of most of the reservoir’s many patches of American water willows.

I used four identical rods, reels, lines and leaders. One outfit sported a Z-Man Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The second one was bedecked with a four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The third outfit was rigged with a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The fourth one was decked out with four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

I fished four areas. The first three of them were in the back half of a feeder creek arm.

The first area was a rocky shoreline on the west side of the feeder creek arm. I fished about 100 yards of it. It was embellished with seven laydowns, some boulders, several patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, five patches of American water willows, and several minor ledges. A submerged creek channel bordered about a hundred feet of this shoreline. On the first pass along this stretch, I used the Junebug Finesse ShadZ. I also employed a drift sock and the bow-mounted electric trolling so that I could move slowly with the aid of the wind and not have to deal with a major bow in my line, which occurs when finesse anglers try to maneuver into the wind. When I probed the laydowns, I worked with a swim-glide-and-slight-shake retrieve, and along the rest of this shoreline, I employed the drag retrieve that was punctuate at times with a short deadstick motif. The drag-and-deadstick routine allured four largemouth bass. On the second pass along this shoreline, I used the Junebug Finesse WormZ, and I tried to replicate all the casting angles, retrieve angles and cadences that I administered on the first past. The gusty wind fouled that endeavor a couple of times. On the second pass, I caught one largemouth bass.

The second area was a softball-field-size mud flat that had about three to four feet water covering it, and it was graced with a score of stumps and some patches of submerged aquatic vegetation. On the first pass across this flat, I moved with the wind, using the drift sock and trolling motor, worked with the Junebug Finesse WormZ and caught one largemouth bass with a swim-glide-and-slight-shake retrieve. During the second pass, I used the Junebug Finesse ShadZ, and I fished the same way and same spots that I fished on the first past. I caught two largemouth bass on the second pass.

The third area was a shoreline on the east side of the feeder creek arm. It was stippled with two dozen stumps, a long patch of American water willows that had about 12 inches of water along the outside edge, an old and decaying beaver lodge, a shallow man-made brush pile, some boulders, a few patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, and the shoreline consisted of some stretches of clay and some stretches of rocks. I fished about 200 yards of this shoreline.  On the first past, I used the Junebug Finesse WormZ, employing the swim-glide-and-slight-shake retrieve around the stumps, beaver lodge, submerged vegetation, and brush pile, and the drag-and-deadstick motif was used elsewhere. I moved with the wind and used the drift sock and trolling motor to slow the speed of the drift. I caught five largemouth bass on the first past. On the second pass, I used the Junebug Finesse ShadZ, and I tried to replicate the same casts and retrieves that I used on the first past, and I caught only one largemouth bass.

The fourth area was a wind-sheltered,  and it was located in back two-thirds of a feeder creek arm,  and it was situated along its south shoreline. It was embellished with six patches of American water willows, which had less than a foot of water around their outside edges, some submerged aquatic vegetation, several laydowns, and a few boulders. The geological features of the shoreline consisted of  clay, rock and some silt. The water was clearer than the water at the first three areas that I fished; consequently, I could see the propeller of the trolling motor at times. On the first pass, I used the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ, working with the drag-and-deadstick retrieve 95 percent of the time, and around the laydowns and some of the submerged vegetation, I used the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and I caught six largemouth bass. On the second pass, I used the green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ and tried to replicate the same casts and retrieves that I used on the first pass, and I caught four largemouth bass.

In sum, the largemouth bass bite was lackluster, and the pesky wind might have adversely affected my abilities to allure this reservoir’s largemouth bass with the lures that I was using. I might have caught more if I had used other baits, such as Z-Man’s Hula StickZ and Z-Man’s 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ, but the parameters of this testing endeavor inhibit such versatility. I caught only 24 largemouth bass in 2 ½ hours. Thirteen were caught on the Finesse ShadZ, and 11 were caught of the Finesse WormZ.

Sept. 20 log

Steve Desch of Topeka and I spent four midday hours pursuing largemouth bass and smallmouth bass on Sept 20 at a 416-acre community reservoir.

The National Weather Service in Topeka, Kansas, reported that the morning low temperature was 59 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 74 degrees, which provoked Desch and I to wear sweatshirts. The wind was pesky at times, angling out of the north and northwest at 12 to 14 mph. The barometric pressure at 10 a.m. was 30.10 and dropping. The NWS declared that the sky was fair, but in our eyes it was partly cloudy and occasionally sunny.

The water level looked to be two feet below normal. The surface temperature was 75 degrees. The water was clear enough that we could see the propeller on the trolling motor. Traditionally, this reservoir is cursed with a terrible algae bloom this time of the year, and the water clarity is extremely stained; one reason why this reservoir has been plagued with algae blooms is that it is surrounded by a golf course and hundreds of suburban homes, and thus all of its watershed is flush with all kinds of grass fertilizers, as well as an assortment of dastardly pesticides. The zebra mussel has recently arrived at this reservoir, and some anglers suspect that these mussels have something to do with improving the water clarity. (We also noticed that one of the bass we caught regurgitated two mussels.)

In-Fisherman solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 11:01 a.m. to 1:01 p.m. Desch and I fished from 10:05 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.

We caught 41 largemouth and smallmouth bass: 18 smallmouth and 22 largemouth.

The most fruitful locale was the riprap shoreline along the dam; it yielded 22 black bass, as well as one humongous freshwater drum, a smaller drum and a hefty channel catfish.

An offshore submerged rock wall surrendered only one smallmouth bass.

A rocky and flat shoreline adjacent to the rock wall produced four largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass. This shoreline was on the east side of the reservoir, and besides its rocky base, it was graced with a long patch of American water willows that had about a foot of water around its outside edge. The four largemouth bass were caught within a 10-foot square area and along the edge of the water willows, and the smallmouth bass was extracted from a rocky area about 20 feet south of the water willows.

A rock-laden main-lake point on the east side of the reservoir yielded two largemouth bass and two smallmouth bass. This point was bordered with American water willows, which had slightly more than a foot of water covering their roots. It is interesting to note that these bass were caught by making long casts behind the boat and dragging our baits parallel to the shoreline in four to six feet of water. In sum, the angle of the cast and retrieve is a critical factor in finesse fishing, and the finesse angler in the back of the boat has the responsibility to make a lot casts and retrieves at a 45-degree angle behind the boat. There will be scores of outings, when the casts and retrieves behind the boat bare more fruit than the ones that are perpendicular to shoreline and the casts and retrieves that are executed at a 45-degree angle in front of the boat.

We caught 32 black bass from those four spots, which were located in the lower-third section of this reservoir.

The next three spots were located on the west side of the upper-third section of the reservoir. Here, we plied a rocky main-lake point and its adjacent shorelines that were graced with ledges and American water willows, and it failed to engender a fish.

A secondary point begot two largemouth bass, and one of those largemouth bass was caught by casting and retrieving a finesse bait behind the boat. The other largemouth bass was caught with a perpendicular cast and retrieve.

We caught one largemouth bass and three smallmouth bass along a rocky main-lake shoreline, which was graced with American water willows, some boulders, some brush and several steel and PVC pipes.  Three of these bass were caught by executing casts and retrieves behind the boat.

The final three spots that we fished were on the west side in the lower-third section of the reservoir. Here we caught one smallmouth bass at a rocky main-lake point that was bordered by American water willows. At another rocky main-lake point that was partially bordered with some American water willows, we caught another smallmouth bass. Adjacent to that second point, we fished a rocky and steep shoreline that was enhanced with American water willows, boulders and some massive segments of concrete rubble, and it did not yield a fish.

Our two best baits were a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man’s PB&J Rain MinnowZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. A 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s purple-haze ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught four black bass. A 2 ½-inch Z-Man California Craw ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher caught two black bass. A Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher caught two black bass. A 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s coppertreuse ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught one black bass. But a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s pearl ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a 2 ¾-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ didn’t catch a fish. (After making hundreds of casts and retrieves with the Finesse ShadZ on Sept. 16, 17, and 19, I gave it a rest on this outing and used it only 25 times. What’s more, the PB&J hue was the most effective color on this outing, and the Finesse ShadZ isn’t manufactured in this color. It also needs to be noted that the Rain MinnowZ is no longer manufactured by Z-Man because not enough Midwest finesse anglers purchased them.

We worked with two retrieves: the swim-glide-and-shake motif and the drag-and-deadstick one. We estimated about 15 of the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass that we caught engulfed our baits on the initial fall, and these bass were in about two feet of water. Most of the bass were extracted from five to eight feet of water.

Sept. 23 log

Rodney Hatridge of Shawnee, Kansas, and I fished 100-acre community reservoir that lies along the southwestern border of Kansas City’s suburbs.

The National Weather Service at nearby Olathe, Kansas, recorded the morning low temperature at 53 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature climbed to 75 degrees. The normal low temperature for this date is 54 degrees and the normal high temperature is 77 degrees. The wind howled out of the south and southwest at 12 to 25 mph. The barometric pressure around 10 a.m. was 29.95 and falling. The cloudless sky exhibited a robin’s-egg-blue hue.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred from 2:10 p.m. to 4:40 p.m. We fished from 10:05 a.m. to 2:07 p.m.

The water level looked to be nearly normal. The surface temperature was 72 degrees. The water was clear enough that I could see the propeller of the trolling motor in the reservoir’s lower, middle, and upper segments. Thus, it was what we call Kansas clear, and that is an unusual phenomenon during the late summer and early fall, when algae blooms usually erupt and stain most of the flatland reservoirs that stipple northeastern Kansas.

Hatridge and I caught 42 largemouth bass and one saugeye.

The most fruitful locale was the dam and its adjacent shoreline, which was adorned with riprap, rocks, healthy patches of coontail and American water willows. As much as two feet of water covered the roots of the outside edges of the American water willows. We caught 22 largemouth bass at this locale, and most of them were extracted from the American water willow patches. Some were caught on the riprap and rocks, and three were associated with the coontail patches.

Five largemouth bass were caught along three of the reservoir’s many rock and concrete retaining walls. Four largemouth bass were extracted from under or around three of the reservoir’s many boat docks. We caught eleven largemouth bass around patches of American water willows and coontail that embellished two shorelines and three main-lake points.

Our three most effective baits were a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We failed to garner a strike on a four-inch pearl grub, a Z-Man’s PB&J Rain MinnowZ, a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s pearl ZinkerZ and a Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ, and all of these baits were rigged on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. (It is interesting to note that throughout the year a Finesse ShadZ is one our most effective options at this reservoir, and for the first 90 minutes of this outing, it allured the bulk of the largemouth bass we caught.)

We estimated that 19 largemouth bass engulfed our baits on the initial fall. The ones that we didn’t inveigle on the initial fall were bewitched by either a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve or a drag-and-deadstick one. The swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was most effective around the coontail and American water willow patches, and these largemouth bass were in two to four feet of water. In depths of four or more of water, the drag-and-deadstick motif was the most alluring retrieve, and these largemouth bass were associated with rocks.

Sept. 24 log

Stacey King of Reeds Spring, Missouri, ventured to northeastern Kansas on the afternoon of Sept. 24 to work on a five-minute segment for “The Bass Pros” television show. The focus of this segment revolved around tubes, and how to use them to catch smallmouth bass.

Before the camera crew arrived on Sept 25, King wanted to quickly examine the reservoir and several of its smallmouth bass lairs. Therefore,  I met him at the boat ramp at 3:30 p.m., and we started the tour around the lower and middle portions of the reservoir, examining six main-lake rocky points, four offshore humps, two rocky shorelines and one 100-yard stretch of riprap. These were shallow-water lairs, ranging in depths from one to seven feet.

King worked with three seven-foot, two-inch Johnny Morris CarbonLite Series Spinning Rods that were fitted with Johnny Morris Signature Series Spinning Reels (JM20). The reels were spooled with 10-pound-test XPS 8 Advanced Braid Fishing Line and a five-foot leader made from eight-pound-test XPS Signature Series Fluorocarbon Fishing Line.

These three spinning outfits sported Bass Pro Shops’ 2 ¾-inch Teaser Tube, Bass Pro Shops’ 3 ½-inch Tender Tube, and Bass Pro Shops’ 3 ½-inch Double Dipped Tube. They were rigged on 1/6- and 3/32-ounce jigs, and eventually they were all affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig that he inserted inside the tube. The size of his jig hooks were 1/0. As we fished, he tested a variety of green-pumpkin and brown hues.

My four spinning outfits were decked with a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ on an orange 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, 2 ¾-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Bass Pro Shops’ pumpkinseed Teaser Tube on a 1/16-ounce inserted jig.

The National Weather Service reported that the low temperature was 60 degrees and the high temperature was 72 degrees. The wind angled out of the northwest at 8 to 14 mph.

Until about 5:30 p.m., it was cloudy. The barometric pressure around 3 p.m. was 29.87 and steady.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred from 3:04 p.m. to 5:04 p.m. We fished from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The water level was 2 ÂĽ feet below normal. The water was extremely clear for a flatland reservoir in northeastern Kansas, and it was clear enough that King thought the camera crew could do some underwater work when they arrived on Sept 25. The surface temperature was 74 degrees.

We inveigled 34 smallmouth bass, four white bass, and two walleye. We caught smallmouth bass at every spot. The Teaser Tube was the most effective, and the one we used the most. The Finesse ShadZ was the second most fruitful bait, and the Hula StickZ was the third. We basically employed three retrieves: swim-glide-and-shake motif, hop-bounce–and-shake one, and drag-and-shake-pattern. Occasionally we would deadstick the drag-and-shake retrieve.

Some of King’s casts were executed at a 45-degree angle in front of the boat; at some locales he made casts that were parallel to the shoreline, and at other times, his casts were virtually perpendicular to the shoreline. My casts ranged from perpendicular to the shoreline to a 45-degree angle behind the boat.

The essence of our Midwest finesse fishing is to catch 25 smallmouth bass (or largemouth bass) an hour, and we do not care what size they are. Television shows about smallmouth bass fishing involve catching at least five big smallmouth bass, and many ways it is more difficult than tournament fishing. On this late afternoon outing, we managed to tangle with six smallmouth bass that King said were worthy of appearing on television, but, of course, on this short Midwest finesse outing, we didn’t have two boats full of cameramen and all of their equipment and different sun angles to deal with, which King will have to contend on Sept. 25.

 Sept 25 log

This was an extremely long outing for Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and me. When Desch and I  fish together, we are rarely afloat for more than 4 1/2 hours, and most of our Midwest finesse outings commence around 10:00 a.m. and end about 2:00 p.m. But on Sept. 25, we launched his boat at 7:30 a.m., and we didn’t put it on the trailer until 5:30 p.m.

Stacey King of Reeds Spring, Missouri, is Desch’s long-time friend, and Desch said he would help King by providing a boat for camera crew of the “The Bass Pros” television show to work out of and create a five-minute feature about how King employs a tube to catch smallmouth bass.

On this affair, I joined Desch in the camera boat. Most of the time, we tailed behind King’s boat and carried some of the camera equipment. Occasionally one or both of the cameramen joined Desch and me. We were afloat 10 hours, but a lot of those many minutes were consumed in camera work and other tasks that crop up during the creation of a television show. As Desch and I followed King’s boat, we fished at times, but it wasn’t as concentrated as our normal four-hour Midwest finesse outings.

The only time that we were not following King’s boat was when he and one of the cameramen were working on what they described as a sit-down sequence, which was when King explained how, when and where to employ a tube. During that spell, Desch, one of the cameramen and I fished two main-lake points for about 30 minutes.

Besides focusing on the finesse applications of tube fishing, King spent a few minutes spotlighting of how, when and where to use a tube with casting tackle. Thus, he had one casting outfit rigged with a Bass Pro Shops’ Magnum Flipping Tube on a 4/0 Gamakatsu round-bend, offset hook and 1/8-ounce slip sinker. To facilitate setting the hook in the flesh of a bass’ mouth, the point of this hook was affixed Texas style to the side of the tube rather in the middle of the tube. He caught several smallmouth bass on casting outfit on Sept. 25, when he made several casts with it for the camera crew to record.

Most of the time, however, he was finesse fishing and using three seven-foot, two-inch Johnny Morris CarbonLite Series Spinning Rods that were fitted with Johnny Morris Signature Series Spinning Reels (JM20). The reels were spooled with 10-pound-test XPS 8 Advanced Braid Fishing Line and a five-foot leader made from eight-pound-test XPS Signature Series Fluorocarbon Fishing Line. These outfits sported s Bass Pro Shops’ 2 ¾-inch Teaser Tube, a Bass Pro Shops’ 3 ½-inch Tender Tube, and a Bass Pro Shops’ 3 ½-inch Double Dipped Tube. His tubes were inserted with 1/16-ounce jigs with 1/0 hooks, and throughout the day, he used a variety green and brown hues that were stippled with different colors of flakes.

Desch worked two spinning rods and a variety of Midwest finesse lures: a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a red1/16-ounce jig, a five-inch green-pumpkin grub on a red 1/16-ounce jig, a four-inch watermelon-red-flake grub on a red 1/16-ounce jig, a Bass Pro Shops’ green-pumpkin-pepper 2 ¾-inch Teaser Tube on a 1/16-ounce inserted jig, a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s pearl ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce jig, a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce jig, and a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin  ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce jig. When the cameraman fished with us, he used Desch’s green-pumpkin-pepper 2 ¾-inch Teaser Tube.

Steve Desch with a smallmouth bass that he bewitched with a green-pumpkin grub.

I worked with a potpourri of Midwest finesse baits, too: a 2 ¾-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Hula StickZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a four-inch watermelon-red-flake grub on a red 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 Scented LeechZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Bass Pro Shops’ green-pumpkin-pepper 2 ¾-inch Teaser Tube on a 1/16-ounce inserted jig.

King fished the entire time with his tube rigs, and the Teaser Tube was the most fruitful size that he used. Desch and I caught some smallmouth bass on tubes, but since we were fishing behind King, we thought it would be best to wield other Midwest finesse baits, and our three most productive lures were the 2 ½-inch PB&J ZinkerZ, 2 ¾-inch PB&J Hula StickZ and our grub combos.

Across our 10 hours of work on Sept. 25, we fished five main-lake points, 12 secondary points, three humps, and six shorelines. All of these were shallow-water and rock-laden locales, ranging in depths from one to five feet of water. (Seven of these, King and I fished on Sept. 24, when we probed six main-lake rocky points, four offshore humps, two rocky shorelines and one 100-yard stretch of riprap, and these were shallow-water lairs, ranging in depths from one to seven feet.) On Sept. 25, we found a significant number of smallmouth bass milling about on secondary points and shorelines in the back portions of four big coves, whereas on Sept 24, most of the smallmouth bass that King and I caught were caught on main-lake points.

At the end of the day, our fish counter revealed that King, Desch, and I had caught 131 smallmouth bass, two spotted bass, two walleye, two white bass and one channel catfish. There were four spells when King’s boat was too far ahead of us, and we were not able to count every smallmouth bass that he tangled with. Besides those 133 black bass, we hooked and failed to land several dozen smallmouth bass. There was too much going on for us to keep an accurate tabulations how many fish we hauled over the gunnels of the boat, how many jumped off before they could be hauled over the boat’s gunnels, how the fish were caught on each bait, and where each fish was caught.

By the middle of this long outing, Desch and I were well aware of one of the problems that often confound largemouth bass and smallmouth bass anglers who ply the small flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas, and that problem is that we can rarely successfully fish the same reservoir two days in a row. Even though King, Desch and I caught a goodly number of smallmouth bass, it was a struggle (compared to the smallmouth bass that King and I caught on the evening of Sept. 24) to catch smallmouth bass that were worthy being of being featured on television. But it is interesting to note that both cameramen said that it was the most black bass that they had ever seen caught in all of their days of filming several notable and extremely talented professional tournament anglers at various waterways across the nation.

Because they needed one more big smallmouth bass, King and the two cameramen fished a couple hours on the morning of Sept. 26, and he caught a three-pounder on his first cast, which gave them five descent-size smallmouth bass to feature on the show, which will be aired in 2014. Then after filming and catching that three-pounder, he and the camera crew tried to catch several more big ones, but they couldn’t muster another filmable one. In fact, King said the little ones were difficult to come by.

King thought the change in the weather was what adversely affected his ability to allure the bigger smallmouth bass on Sept. 25 and 26, noting that the weather on Sept. 24 was ideal in his eyes for catching shallow-water smallmouth bass on a tube.

The National Weather Service reported that that low temperature on Sept. 25 was 53 degrees and high temperature was 79 degrees. The wind was calm to variable and blew no more than 5 mph. The sky exhibited a China-blue hue, the sun was eye-squintingly bright. The barometric pressure around 7:00 a.m. was 29.92 and falling. On Sept. 26 the NWS reported that the low temperature was 61 degrees and the high temperature was 84 degrees. Around 7 a.m. the barometric pressure was 29.84 and rising. The wind was howling out of the southeast and south at 14 to 30 mph.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar stated that the best fishing time on Sept. 25 occurred at 3:57 p.m. to 5:57 p.m., and on Sept. 26, it occurred at 4:24 a.m. to 6:24 a.m.

The water level was 2 ÂĽ-feet below normal. The water was clear, but some shorelines were stained from boat wakes. The surface temperature ranged 71 to 74 degrees. On the morning of Sept. 26, King said that many of the areas that we fished on Sept 24 and 25 were wind-blown and stained, and he thought fouled his shallow-water fishing.

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Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, reported about his Sept. 25 outing to a 120-acre community reservoir that is situated in the northern suburbs of Kansas City.

He wrote: “Thanks for your advice on trying the Finesse WormZ.

“It paid off big time today. My friend and I fished from 7:30 to 11:30 this morning and we caught 46 largemouth  bass. But the big news was that eight of them were keepers and another three were what I call Pomme de Terre keepers (13 inches).

“The pattern was similar to what I found a couple weeks ago. Water temperature was 75 degrees, but the bass are still in a summer pattern.

“I would position the boat in about 20 feet of water over a dropoff and we would make long casts onto the weedy flats.

“I would let the finesse worms drop, then start slowly dragging them through the weeds. With a 1/16-ounce jig, they didn’t get hung up as often as I would have thought. Most of the hits came when I dragged the worm through the weeds, raised it, then let it drop again. Interestingly, though, a fair number of bass were caught when I would just jig the worms vertically.

“I’ve always been one who doesn’t believe that color makes a big different, but I may have to change my mind after what I saw today.

“I started off with a watermelon color and did fair with that. But when I switched to a pumpkin color, the change was noticeable.

“And all of the keepers came on the pumpkin. No monsters today. The biggest fish was maybe a three-pounder.  But just a lot of plump, healthy bass, which is unusual for this time of the year at this lake.

“The gizzard shad we stocked in here has obviously made a difference.”

Sept. 27 log

Burton Bosley of Sutton, West Virginia, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network  about his short outing on Sept. 27 with his nephews.

“During the month of September, we run trotlines to fill our freezers for the winter; so my bass fishing has been on  hold. Yesterday I took three nephews visiting from Kansas on a tour of our mountains and stopped at my favorite smallmouth stream so they could try their luck. The river was low and clear and the fishing difficult. However I had one 1/32-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig with a shortened Z-Man’s Finesse WormZ on it. In 30 minutes it caught 14 smallmouth and three rock bass. All the other lures accounted for one fish. Needless to say these avid young anglers are going to be looking for Z-Man’s Finesse WormZs when they return home to the heartland.”

Sept. 28 log

Dave Weroha of Kansas City filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his Sept. 28 outing with Walt Geiger of Lakin, Kansas, to a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir.

The National Weather Service at Emporia, Kansas, recorded the morning low temperature at 55 degrees and the afternoon high temperature at 69 degrees. Around 8:00 p.m., the barometric pressure was 29.87 and rising. The wind angled from the west and northwest at 12 to 21 mph. Weroha said that a light rain fell until 11 a.m., and then there were a few scattered showers for the rest of their outing.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that best fishing with occurred from 5:57 a.m. to 7:57 a.m. and 6:20 p.m. to 8:20 p.m. They fished from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

They launched their boat at a ramp in the upper third portion of the reservoir. Weroha said they opted to launch in the upper portions because they wanted to see if some of the reservoir’s black bass were migrating up lake in pursuit of gizzard shad along its primary river and secondary feeder creeks, which is a pattern that is said to occur at other reservoirs across the nation during the fall. What’s more, he had never ventured to the upper portions of this reservoir, and he wanted to examine the primary river channel, some of the secondary feeder-creek channels, a few of the humps, the main-lake points and some secondary points.

He said that they primarily fished the windblown points and coves of the upper and middle third sections of the reservoir, using a tiny shad-colored crankbaits, a customizes Z-Man’s ToobZ on a 1/8-ounce Gopher jig, a customized soft-plastic swimbait and a customized twin-tailed grub. But they were able to catch only 12 smallmouth bass and no largemouth bass, but they did tangle with 32 white bass.

Sept. 29 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed a report about his Sept. 29 outing on the Finesse News Network.

He wrote:

“I made a solo outing to a local 20,280-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir. It was a picture-postcard fall day. After a previous day of much needed rain, the sky was sun filled. The National Weather Service recorded the high temperature for the day at 82 degrees, and the low for the morning was 63 degrees. The wind meandered out of the north at 5-10 mph, and the barometric pressure was 30.05 and steady.

“Our drought conditions continue into the third year. The water was heavily stained, exhibiting a brownish-green color from the previous day’s rain, and the visibility varied from two feet to less than one foot in places. The surface temperature was 79 degrees. The water level was 8.29 feet below normal.

“This was my first day of Midwest Finesse fishing. I was afloat from about noon to 4:00pm. The In-Fisherman solunar calendar showed that the best fishing time occurred from 6:59 a.m. to 8:59 a.m. The fishing was slow and trying. I was able to entice only  five largemouth bass, three spotted bass, five white bass (which we call “sand bass”), three sunfish, and one freshwater drum. All the fish were caught in two to seven feet of water.

“ I have not received my first Z-Man lure order in the mail yet. Therefore, I used the following baits: Charlie Brewer’s Slider Company’s 2 1/8-inch smoke-and-blue-flake grub on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 ½-inch YUM’s black-and-blue-flake Dinger on a black 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 ¾-inch Strike King Lure Company’s black/blue Bitsy Tube on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. These baits were rigged on Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris 6 foot-9 inch medium-light Carbonlite rods and Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris JM 20 reels. The reels were spooled with six-pound-test green Berkley XT monofilament line.

“Strike King’s Bitsy Tube and the drag-and-deadstick retrieve were the most productive lure and retrieve technique.

“I started the day fishing a large clay flat just west of the boat ramp where I launched. I drifted across the flat with the wind, fan casting the area with the Charlie Brewer  grub. I retrieved the grub with a steady, do-nothing retrieve and caught two chunky white bass, but found no largemouth bass relating to the flat.

“The second area I fished consisted of boat ramps with rip-rap borders, which situated halfway inside a cove. I caught one bass on the YUM Dinger along  the rip-rap. The fish inhaled the lure on its initial fall. I also caught one sunfish off a nearby submerged roadbed on the same lure, but found no other bass at this location.

“The third locale I fished was rip-rap shoreline at a main lake bridge. I plied the rip-rap with the Strike King Bitsy Tube. I eked out one 14-inch spotted bass and two more sunfish using the hop-and-bounce retrieve.

“My fourth spot consisted of two main-lake rocky points. I worked the points with the Charlie Brewer grub and then followed up with the Strike King Bitsy Tube and YUM Dinger. Though I saw plenty of two-inch shad in the area, I received no bites on the grub.  The tube allured four largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and one freshwater drum.  The YUM Dinger extracted one spotted bass. These six fish were caught on the drag-and-deadstick retrieve. The second point produced one largemouth bass on the grub, using the steady retrieve in mid-water. I also checked out a nearby secondary rocky point with the Strike King Bitsy Tube and the YUM Dinger, which resulted in no bites.

“The last stop for the day was a long clay point embellished with scattered softball-sized rocks. I observed small clouds of two-inch shad minnows inhabiting the area. I repeated the drift-fan cast technique with the Charlie Brewer Slider grub and landed three white bass. I followed up with the YUM Dinger, using the drag-and-deadstick retrieve, but I was unable to tempt any more black bass before it was time to head in for the day.

“Though today’s results represent a lackluster day to Midwest Finesse anglers, it gave me the opportunity to begin using a new technique and see what I need to do to improve. It will take me a little time to get used to the no-feel sensation when using this technique, but I found that watching my line helped me determine what my lure was doing most of the time.”

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Bob Gum of Kansas City filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his outing with his wife on Sept. 29 to a 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir, where he caught 31 smallmouth bass and six walleye. They were afloat from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The National Weather Service at Emporia, Kansas, reported that the low temperature was 45 degrees and the high temperature reached 73 degrees. The barometric pressure was 30.11 and falling. The wind was calm for a spell, variable for a spell and then it angled out of the south and southeast at 6 to 7 mph. But Gum said the wind initially angled out of the northwest, and then it was calm for their entire outing.

He wrote: “My wife forgot to bring her drivers and fishing license. Therefore, she spent the day helping me keep track of the fish I caught rather than fishing.

“The surface temperature ranged from 68 degrees to 72 degrees.

“I started fishing at a rocky point on the west side of the reservoir, and I didn’t draw a strike.

“Then I fished the riprap along the west side of an extremely long baffle dike. Along this riprap, I used three finesse baits: a four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ, a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ, and a Z-Man’s green pumpkin Finesse ShadZ. All three baits were rigged on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. All three of these baits were equally effective, and they allured 28 smallmouth bass and one walleye.  Most of the strikes that occurred along the riprap happened during the initial fall. About 50 percent of the time that I lost a smallmouth bass, I would immediately hook another one that was following the smallmouth bass that was liberated.

“The next spot I fished was a main-lake rocky hump, where I caught five walleye and missed three others. All of them were caught on a No. 7 Rapala Shad Rap. It was necessary to make contact with the rocks here to draw a strike. I couldn’t get them to bite one of my jig and Z-Man combos.

“The fourth spot I fished was a 100-yard stretch of the riprap along the dam, where I hooked one fish and failed to land it.

“Then I spent some time looking for white bass and wielding a spoon at the end of the long baffle dike, but I caught only one crappie.

“The sixth spot that I fished was a portion of the riprap along the east side of the baffle dike, and I failed to get a strike.

“The final spot was a shallow, rocky point on the east side of the reservoir. It yielded three smallmouth bass, which were caught on the PB&J ZinkerZ.”

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Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network about his Sept. 29 outing with Steve Ortiz of Lawrence, Kansas, to a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir.

The water level was 2.29 feet below normal. The surface temperature was 74 degrees. Twenty cubic feet of water per second was being released from the dam. The water was relatively clear for a northeastern Kansas reservoir in late September.

They fished from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred from 6:40 a.m. to 8:40 a.m.

The National Weather Service at Emporia, Kansas, reported that the low temperature was 45 degrees and the high temperature reached 73 degrees. The barometric pressure was 30.11 and falling. The wind was calm for a spell, variable for a spell and then it angled out of the south and southeast at 6 to 7 mph. And Holscher said it was calm during the last hour that they were afloat.

They primarily focused on flat shorelines and points on the south and north sides of the reservoir. They ventured from the lower portions of the reservoir well into its middle portions. They also fished about halfway inside several coves.

Initially they wielded buzzbaits, which inveigled several smallmouth bass, but its effectiveness was short-lived.

Ortiz also worked with a crankbait and a Gene Larew Lures 3 1/2-inch Biffle Bug Jr. affixed to a 3/16-ounce Biffle HardHead. His crankbait and Biffle Bug Jr. were feckless.

Eventually, they began working with several finesse options, which the smallmouth bass found to be  alluring.

Ortiz worked with a 3 1/3-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce jig, a Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits cherry-coke-hue Shad Shape Worm, and a  Z-Man’s pearl Finesse ShadZ. The Finesse ShadZ and Shad Shape Worm was affixed through its nose to a 1/0 drop-shot hook, and it was weighted a short nail sinker.

Holscher used a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce jig, and he worked with four colors: California Craw, clear silver, dirt, and Junebug. (The clear-silver is no longer available.)

Holscher noted that the zebra mussels frayed his line to the point that his line broke twice during two donnybrooks with this reservoir’s smallmouth bass.

By the time they executed their last cast of the outing, Holscher’s fish counter indicated that they had caught 32 smallmouth bass and one spotted bass.

Sept. 30 log

I made an unexpectedly quick outing to a nearby 195-acre community reservoir. I was hoping to fish three hours or so, but circumstances beyond my control curtailed this outing to a mere one hour and 50 minutes.

The water level looked to be about a foot below normal. The surface temperature was 72 degrees. There was a slight algae bloom, which decorated the hull of the boat with a scum line, and it stained the water clarity to the point that I could only occasionally see the propeller on the trolling motor, and it is was difficult to see a hooked bass in 3 1/2 feet of water.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, reported that the low temperature plummeted to 45 degrees, which was six degrees below normal, and the high temperature reached 80 degrees. It was sunny, but there were scores of cirrus clouds framing the sun. The wind angled out of the south and southwest at 8 to 17 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.90 and dropping around 11 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred from 7:20 a.m. to 9:20 a.m. I fished from 11:10 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

As I noted, I was planning to fish about three hours or more, but as I was traveling into one of the reservoir’s feeder arms, I saw and smelled the public works folks in their boat spraying a herbicide, which provoked me to skedaddle home. (In my eyes, Kansans have gone off the deep end on their usage of herbicides. I didn’t want to get near the spray and breathe it; therefore I didn’t talk to the workers who were spraying, but I assumed that we were spraying the milfoil again. This was either the second or third time they have sprayed it in 2013, and they also sprayed it in 2012. They spray it because some people classify milfoil as an invasive species, but milfoil has had a significant place and role in our aquatic environments for more than a half of a century, and it has never been a problem at this 195-acre reservoir. In my mind, one of the major problems that confront us nowadays is all of the dastardly chemicals that we spray and allow to flow into our waterways.)

Before I crossed paths with the herbicide boat, I fished this reservoir’s dam and about 25 yards of its adjacent shoreline on its west side and 30 yards of its adjacent shoreline on its east side. The American water willows along the dam were either out of the water or nearly out of the water, but some of the patches of American water willows along the two shorelines had six to 12 inches of water covering their roots. There were also a few patches of submergent vegetation along the shoreline on the east side of the dam. I failed to catch a largemouth bass around the American water willows and submergent vegetation. But I did catch 15 largemouth bass that were abiding along the rocks of the dam and both shorelines. These largemouth bass were allured by a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved by a hop-and-bounce retrieve.

The second stop of the outing was along the northern shoreline in the reservoir’s southwest feeder creek arm. I fished about 250 yards of it. The water was more stained along this shoreline than it was along the dam. This shoreline was graced with rocks, some stumps, an occasional boulder, patches of submergent vegetation, eight boat docks, a few laydowns, patches of American water willows, a secondary point and a main-lake point. This massive area yielded only six largemouth bass, which were allured by the Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve around the submergent vegetation.

As I was going towards my third stop of the outing, I encountered the spray boat, which sent me went home before I wanted to go. In sum, I had tangled with 21 largemouth bass in one hour and 50 minutes.

 

 

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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  • steve craven

    2 thoughts: 1- to Brian Waldman’s comment about bait shape and regional differences, here in Maryland we don’t have a shad population to speak of in our reservoirs so the swimbaits that are longer and thinner (Zoom Fluke style) do not seam overly effective or consistent. Bass generally feed on perch,various sunfish and crayfish. 2- I have tried several smaller boot style grubs/mini-swimbaits and do not find them to be as effective as a standard twister-tail grub and they cost considerably more. Any thoughts on twister-tail vs, boot-tail???

    • nkehde

      Steve:
      Thanks for writing your observations about bait shapes and your experiences in Maryland.
      We will ask the anglers on the Finesse News Network about their opinions regarding the single-tail grub and the boot-tail grub.
      And we perhaps we will write a blog that features these anglers’ insights.
      Please keep in touch,
      Ned

      • steve craven

        Today is October 16, fished a large back-up drinking water reservoir today for 5 hours from 9am to 2pm. Partly cloudy, light breeze and temps around 70 by noon. Caught 17 largemouth bass, no big fish almost all 8″-14″, with one about 2.5 lbs. Three fish on swim and glide with a 3/32 oz mushroom head unpainted on a 4.5″ Bass Pro Cut-Tail worm, green pumpkin. All the rest were on a 3/16 oz mushroom head unpainted with a Zoom grub also green pumpkin. The most fruitful retrieve with the grub was what I describe as a “varied-cadence”. Med-slow-pause-med-fast-stop-slow…Etc…. most hits came on pause or stop. Tried hop and bounce plus drag and shake/deadstick, no takers. All fish in about 4′-8′ of water. Do not know why the hop and bounce didn’t work, usually my most productive retrieve at this particular body of water.

        • nkehde

          Steve:
          Thanks for posting your Oct. 16 log.
          Please keep sending them.
          Best wishes,
          Ned
          PS– Our editing program or system had been out of commission for several days. Therefore we have not been able to work on new blogs and post them. We hope that all will be well that system sometime soon.

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