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Midwest Finesse Bass Kansas Missouri Texas

Midwest Finesse Fishing: November 2013

by Ned Kehde   |  December 2nd, 2013 2

During November of 2012, the broken bones and soft tissue in my left wrist and hand, as well as the aftereffects of surgery, prevented me from reporting on how, when, and where to catch largemouth bass, as well as some smallmouth bass, in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas. This time around Mother Nature did a dandy job of tossing a monkey wrench in my way and the way of other Midwest finesse anglers. Thus we were at bay too often and unable to record an adequate portrait of how, when, and where Midwest finesse anglers catch largemouth bass and some smallmouth bass during a typical November in northeastern Kansas.

On November 12 and 13, the weather turned winterish in northeastern Kansas. Area thermometers dropped to 16 degrees at 6:52 a.m. on Nov. 12, and it was 17 degrees at 4:52 a.m. on Nov. 13. The high temperature on Nov. 12 was 36 degrees. The normal low temperature on Nov.12 is 34 degrees and the normal high temperature is 56 degrees. What’s more, there were spells when the north wind howled at speeds of 30 mph, and all of the autumn leaves flew off the trees and covered the surface of our waterways, and the elm, oak, and walnut trees along the riparian borders exhibited their gloomy hues and austere wintertime scaffoldings. In sum, it was not a hospitable time to be afloat and wielding finesse baits, and our power-fishing brethrens carped about the weather, too.

Mother Nature made it even more daunting to be afloat on Nov. 16, when she coaxed the wind to roar out of the south at speeds that hit 46 mph, and then she induced it to howl out of the northwest at 47 mph on Nov. 17, which kept the weekend anglers ashore in northeastern Kansas. During those windy days, however, area thermometers hit 73 degrees on Nov. 16 and 67 degrees on Nov. 17, which were 20 and 14 degrees above the normal high temperatures. Then from Nov. 21 through Nov. 24, Mother Nature walloped us with more wind and frigid temperatures; wind speeds reached 32 mph at times, and according to the National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, its thermometer plummeted to 13 degrees at 5:52 a.m. on Nov. 24.  A skim of ice began to cover many ponds and the back ends of some our comunnity and state reservoirs. And the day before Thanksgiving, NWS thermometer registered 11 degrees at 5:52 a.m.

The unaccommodating weather allowed us to fish only nine times and for a total of 33 1/4 hours. Two of those outings, which encompassed 8 1/4 hours of fishing, revolved around a tactic that we call bass-fishing-for-trout, and on one of those outings we spent more time catching trout than we did catching largemouth bass.  Four outings were solo endeavors. On four of the outings, I was accompanied by another angler. And during one outing, a pair of angers joined me. We caught 349 largemouth bass, 21 rainbow trout, and two smallmouth bass, which is an average of 10.5 black bass per hour.

Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, Bob Gum of Kansas City, and Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, contributed a number of logs and insights to this month’s guide to Midwest finesse fishing. But as Bob Gum wrote in a Nov. 26 note to the Finesse News Network: “It has been a couple of weeks since I’ve been out either due to the wind or cold, but I am looking forward to trying it later this week.” And Steve Reideler also noted on Nov. 26 that sleet, cold rain, and blustery winds had prevented him from fishing since Nov. 21.

Here’s hoping we will be able to do a better job in November 2014 of describing how, when, and where Midwest finesse anglers catch their quarries.

Nov. 1 log

On this Nov. 1 outing, all of the low-slung hills that border the south side of the Wakarusa River valley were illuminated in yellow and occasionally highlighted with various hues of orange and crimson.

As I have aged, I have developed a slight aversion to fall — even its brilliant and glorious colors rarely console me. One reason is that I am no longer a hunter. Another reason is that our largemouth bass fishing can be trying, our shallow-water smallmouth bass fishing evaporates, and winter is in the offing. But as I made the 15-mile drive to a 195-acre community reservoir around 11 a.m., this fall’s colors did sparkle in my eyes, and this autumnal splendor provoked me to utter a few spontaneous wows at various times during this outing. What’s more, the largemouth bass fishing wasn’t as sour as it had been on my last outing in October. In short, it was a rewarding time to be afloat.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, noted that the morning low temperature was 37 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 62 degrees. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the wind angled out of the northwest at 13 to 30 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.84 and rising. It was cloudy to partly cloudy until around 1 p.m., and then it became eye-squinting sunny. During the last three days of October, it rained in northeastern Kansas, and some locales received more than four inches of precipitation.

The runoff from the recent rain raised the water level of this reservoir; on Oct. 24, it looked to be 1 ½ feet below normal, and on Nov. 1, it looked to be about six inches below normal. The water clarity was stained in some locales because of the runoff, and a minor algae bloom also affected the clarity, but in most places, I could see the propeller on the electric trolling motor, which is what we call Kansas clear. There were some locales, however, where I couldn’t see a green-pumpkin bait on a chartreuse jig in 16 inches of water. The surface temperature ranged from 57 to 58 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 8:49 a.m. to 10:49 a.m. I fished from 11:40 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

I spent 185 minutes of the 230 minutes that I was afloat fishing the back halves of the reservoir’s four feeder-creek arms. I spent 40 minutes fishing the first front halves of the north shorelines of two of those feeder-creek arms.

I began fishing the north shoreline of the reservoir’s biggest eastern feeder-creek arm. It was adorned with boulders, rocks, patches of Eurasian watermilfoil, American water willows, a patch of cattails, a couple of laydowns, stumps and a few man-made brush piles. I fished about 350-yards of this shoreline, and I caught only six largemouth bass.

Then as I crossed to the south side of this feeder-creek arm, I quickly fished the part of the mud flat that lies in the back end of this arm,  and I failed to garner a strike.

Upon arriving on the south shoreline, I fished about 100 yards of it, probing American water willow patches, laydowns, stumps, boulders, rocks and patches of milfoil, and I eked out only one largemouth bass.

My fourth stop was the north shoreline of the reservoir’s southwest feeder-creek arm. This shoreline was adorned with two dozen boat docks, boulders, rocks, patches of American water willows, scores of laydowns, two cattail patches, innumerable milfoil patches, and some stumps. I fished from its mouth to its backend, which was about a 500-yard stretch of shoreline, and I caught 24 largemouth bass. The majority of the largemouth bass that I caught were caught in the back third of this arm.

As I used the trolling motor to meander across the back end of this feeder-creek arm, I fished a mud flat and extracted two largemouth bass in back-to-back casts.

Then I fished about 75 yards of the south shoreline, and caught one largemouth bass, as well as a channel catfish that looked as if it might weigh eight pounds or more. After I quickly fished 75 yards of this shoreline, I began probing an offshore hump from which I extracted three largemouth bass.

From that hump, I ventured into the back half of this reservoir’s south feeder-creek arm. Here I fished 100 yards of its west shoreline and an offshore hump, where I failed to entice a strike. Then I fished about 50 yards of its east shoreline, where I caught only one largemouth bass. The makeup of these two shorelines was similar to the makeup of the shorelines in the first two feeder-creek arms that I fished, but unlike the second feeder-creek arm, this one was devoid of boat docks. The major difference was that the northwest wind was sending ranks of white caps into this arm and upon some of its shorelines.

The eighth and final stop of this outing took place in a small feeder-creek arm along the eastern side of the reservoir. I fished about 75 yards of its south shoreline and 30 yards of its north shoreline. Except for not having boat docks, its shoreline habitat was similar to the habitats along the shorelines in the first three feeder-creek arms that I fished, and I caught three largemouth bass along its south shoreline and two along its north shoreline.

I don’t catch many lunker-size largemouth bass. Therefore, on those rare occasions when I tangle with a big one, I can’t accurately judge how much it weighs. On this outing, I caught one that I thought was a lunker, but when I weighed it, which I only do when the water and air temperatures are cool, it weighed only four pounds, 13 ounces, and I caught another one, which I weighed, and it weighed only four pounds. If I hadn’t weighed those two, I would have exaggerated the size of those two bass, and I would have called them lunkers, when they were merely four-pounders. Moreover, when I estimated that the channel catfish weighed eight pounds or more, I probably overestimated its weight.

The bulk of the 42 largemouth bass and the hefty channel catfish were bewitched by a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Fishing Products black-and-blue Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle’s Mushroom Jig Head. Six largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Six largemouth bass were caught on a 2 ¾-inch prototype of Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Two largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man’s Christmas-hue Scented LeechZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. One largemouth bass was caught on a three-inch prototype Z-Man’s pearl GrubZ on a purple 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

About half of the largemouth bass were caught on the initial drop of the bait, and the other half were beguiled by the swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve. They were caught in two to five feet of water.

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Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, filed this brief report of the Finesse News Network about his Nov. 1 outing at a 120-acre community reservoir in the northern suburbs of Kansas City.

He wrote: “Maybe there’s something to your World Series Doldrums theory.

I just had one of my worst trips at this lake ever. Two of us fished from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., and we caught only nine fish — a mix of bass, crappies and bluegills.

The Northland Fishing Tackle’s Slurpie on a 1/16-ounce jig was again the best bait, but only by default. I caught a couple of bass on the Z-Man’s Finesse WormZ, but couldn’t get any pattern going. The fish were very scattered. Even when we would catch a crappie, it was a loner. I don’t know if it was the turnover or what. The surface temperature was 57 degrees, and the water had a green hue to it.”

 Nov. 3 log.

Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, posted a report on the Finesse News Network about his Nov. 3 bass-fishing-for-trout outing on a 120-acre community reservoir that lies in the northern suburbs of Kansas City.

He wrote: “A friend and I actually went to catch trout, but we ended up having a pretty decent bass day.

“We fished from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and caught 29 bass and a three-pound walleye.

“What was encouraging is that most of the fish were caught on a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ. As I have mentioned in recent reports, Z-Man baits have not been productive lately here. For whatever reason, I don’t know. But I used a Junebug ZinkerZ on this outing, and the fish were eating it. As on recent trips, we had to be in weeds to get bit. I was letting the ZinkerZ sink to the bottom and then just shaking it. When I would go to lift it, I would either have a fish or weeds. We were fishing in 15 feet of water. The bass still aren’t shallow. And they’re still not hitting a jig and pig. The finesse baits are still the way to go.

“Another encouraging thing is the health of our bass. Ever since we stocked gizzard shad and the population has developed, our bass have been gorging themselves. We have many more bass in the 13- to 15-inch range than we’ve had since I began fishing this reservoir. Even the smaller ones have big bellies. The shad that escape the bass’ dinner table may cause problems in the future, but right now we are seeing nothing but benefits from stocking them.

“The surface temperature was 57 degrees, and the water had a green hue to it.”

Nov. 4 log

Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and I ventured to a 416-acre community reservoir to do some bass fishing for trout. And we also remembered my spill at the boat ramp at this reservoir on Nov. 6, 2012, when I slipped on the filamentous algae that covered the boat ramp. When I slipped, I slid into the water and broke several bones in my left wrist and hand, which a surgeon operated on. Then Travis Perret of Overland Park, Kansas, Exercise Therapy of Kansas City, and felixfishing.com worked on me with his exercise routines. On the eve of the anniversary of this spill, my wrist is in excellent shape and can endure untold numbers of donnybrooks with black bass and rainbow trout.

The National Weather Service in Topeka recorded the low temperature at 52 degrees and the high temperature at 64 degrees. While we were fishing, the wind angled out of the southwest at 9 to 13 mph. The barometric pressure around 11:00 a.m. was 29.95 and rising. The sky was covered with clouds, and the NWS predicted that some significant rains and thunderstorms would crisscross northeastern Kansas from the night of Nov. 4 until 9:00 a.m. on Nov. 6.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 9:53 a.m. to 11:53 a.m. We fished from 11:00 a.m. to 2:20 p.m.

The water level looked to be three feet below normal. The surface temperature was 56 degrees. The toxic blue-green algae, which walloped this reservoir during the first week of October, looked as if it was diminishing. The water was clear enough that we could see the propeller on the trolling motor.

To our surprise, Desch and I spent 180 of the 200 minutes that we were afloat fishing a mud flat in the back end of one this reservoir’s east feeder-creek arms. The area we fished was a tad smaller than a Little League baseball field. The depth of the water ranged from two to five feet.

During many of the 180 minutes that we spent dissecting many inches of this area, rainbow trout were jumping into the air and nearly turning cartwheels as they plunged back into the water. It was an unusual sight. And one of the trout was a humongous specimen.

Throughout this outing, we used several colors of a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ, which were affixed to 1/6-ounce Gopher jigs, two colors of Z-Man’s Scented LeechZ on 1/16-ounce Gopher jigs, and a green-pumpkin Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher.

The only bait we could bewitch the trout with was a green-pumpkin ZinkerZ rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Ultimately, this combo caught 20 trout. The best retrieve was a slowly executed swim-glide-and-shake motif, which allowed the ZinkerZ combo to swim and glide an inch or two off the bottom.

During the last 10 minutes of this outing, we plied 35 yards of a bluffy shoreline, where we caught one largemouth bass on a green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

In the days to come, we are hoping that the large congregation of trout that inhabited the mud flat in the back of the feeder-creek arm disperse and begin inhabiting many of the same locales that this reservoir’s largemouth bass hang around in November and December. Then we will be able to catch largemouth bass and trout.

Nov.6 log.

I wore a stocking cap for the entire four hours that I was afloat on a 194-acre community reservoir, and occasionally I donned a pair of  brown Jersey work gloves.

I even saw my breath a couple times. Perhaps our days of Indian summer have begun to wane.

The National Weather Service at Lawrence, Kansas, reported that the low temperature was 40 degrees and the high temperature was 48 degrees. The normal high is 60 degrees. It was overcast, which it had been since 1:52 a.m. on Nov. 4, but I saw a few rays of the sun around 2:15 p.m. From 2:52 a.m. on Nov. 4 to 2:52 a.m. on Nov. 6, it drizzled off and on, and the NWS ‘s rain gage accumulated 0.61 inches of precipitation. The wind blew from the north and northwest at 9 to 14 mph. The barometric pressure around 10:45 a.m. on Nov. 6 was 30.25 and rising.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar revealed that the best fishing occurred from 12:35 p.m. to 2:35 p.m. I fished from 10:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

The water level looked to be about 10 inches below normal. The surface temperature ranged from 53 to 54 degrees. There was a minor algae bloom, and this bloom was more significant in this reservoir’s southwest feeder-creek arm than it was elsewhere.

The water clarity was stained to the point that I couldn’t see the propeller on the trolling motor in many sections of the southwest feeder-creek arm, but I could see it when I was in the reservoir’s south feeder-creek arm and one of its three east feeder-creek arms.

I started fishing at the mouth of the southwest feeder-creek arm and dissected its entire northwest shoreline by making casts and retrieves around and across boulders, rocks, patches of American water willows (which were turning yellow and brown), some laydowns, three cattail patches, some wilting Eurasian watermilfoil patches, several stumps, and two dozen boat docks. Along this 500-yard stretch, I caught and released 21 largemouth bass and failed to land four largemouth bass. The last 100 yards of this shoreline yielded only two largemouth bass. I caught four largemouth bass along the first 100 yards of this shoreline. The majority of the largemouth bass were caught about halfway inside this arm. Many yards of this shoreline were cluttered with leaves, and the leaves fouled more than a dozen presentations.

I quickly fished the mud flat in the back end of this arm, where I failed to elicit a strike. From the mud flat, I moved to a shallow offshore hump that was graced with one big patch of milfoil, and I caught one largemouth bass.

The next stop was the west shoreline of the south feeder-creek arm, which was stippled with boulders, rocks, patches of American water willows, six laydowns, a few wilting Eurasian watermilfoil patches, and several stumps. The water was clearer in this arm than it was in the first arm that I fished. I didn’t inveigle a largemouth bass until I was about halfway inside this arm, and within a 50-yard stretch of this shoreline, I caught 15 largemouth bass. Then I caught four largemouth bass about two-thirds of the way inside this arm, where the boat was floating in three feet of water. I also caught one largemouth bass on an offshore hump that is enhanced with the remnants of a concrete bridge, and its adjacent to the west shoreline.

After I fished the west shoreline and the offshore hump, I moved to the east shoreline, which was embellished with rocks, a few boulders, scores of stumps, one manmade brush pile, a beaver hut, 100 feet of riprap, and patches of American water willows. I caught and released 12 largemouth bass and failed to land two largemouth bass.

The sixth area that I fished was a 150-yard section of the north shoreline in one of the reservoir’s eastern feeder-creek arms. The shoreline was graced with many huge boulders, rocks, stumps, American water willows, gravel, some patches of wilting milfoil, laydowns and several manmade brush piles. I caught seven largemouth bass, six of the seven were caught halfway inside this arm. One was caught near the mouth of the arm.

I spent the last eight minutes of the outing fishing a bluff on the south shoreline near the mouth of this feeder-creek arm, where I caught three largemouth bass.

The first largemouth bass of this outing was caught on a prototype 3 ½-inch Z-Man’s pearl Grubz affixed to a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, and that was the only one that the GrubZ allured. (For some unknown reason, we have had only one outing this fall, which occurred on Oct. 28, when a grub was effective. In fact, our grub bite has been lackluster for the past three years.) After I caught that one on the GrubZ, I caught 18 largemouth bass on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The next 45 largemouth bass were caught on a prototype 2 ¾-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. I made several dozen casts and presentations with Z-Man’s Christmas hue Scented Leech on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and failed to allure a largemouth bass.

The bulk of the 64 largemouth bass were allured by the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve that was executed so that the bait traveled only a few inches above the bottom, and occasionally the bait ricocheted off the bottom or a stump or a boulder or a patch of milfoil. About 25 of the largemouth bass were caught on the initial drop phase of this retrieve. A few were bewitched by a hop-and-bounce-and shake retrieve, and two were caught during a short deadsticking routine. Most of the 64 were caught in two to four feet of water. A few largemouth bass were extracted from five to seven feet of water.

Nov.4-8 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about finesse endeavors in southwestern Arkansas.

He wrote: “My wife Nancy and I took a five day excursion to a 9,800-acre highland reservoir on the outskirts of Kirby, Arkansas, and I fished four of the five days we were there, and I used only Midwest Finesse tactics.

“We arrived there in the early afternoon on Nov. 4. The weather was dark and overcast. Rain had fallen incessantly throughout the day. The National Weather Service recorded the low for the day at 48 degrees and the high temperature for the day at 57 degrees. A mild-mannered wind blew out of the northeast at 5-10 miles per hour. The barometric pressure was measured at 30.19. The In-Fisherman solunar calendar indicated the best fishing period was between 9:50a.m.and 11:50 a.m. The rain was a nuisance as I launched my boat at 2:30pm, and the rain continued to badger me until my 4:30 p.m. quitting time. The surface temperature was 65 degrees. The water was clear with about six feet of visibility. I surmised that the water level was between six to eight feet low, though I was unable to find any data to support my estimate.

“I worked with the following baits: a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green pumpkin FattyZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin/orange ZinkerZ rigged on a black 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a four-inch Z-Man’s watermelon WormZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin FattyZ modified tube on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a four-inch Kalin’s watermelon Lunker Grub threaded on a black 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. The fishing was slow and tedious. I began fishing a steep rocky bank on the north side of the marina where I launched. I tricked one largemouth bass and one large sunfish on the 2 1/2-inch green-pumpkin/orange ZinkerZ. I continued fishing northward into a tributary creek, which was situated on the north end of the reservoir. Along the south side of this tributary, a rocky shoreline transitioned into a steep and deep channel bluff, where water depths plummeted into 50 and more feet of water, just a few feet from the face of the bluff. I enticed one spotted bass at the steep rocky point where the steep channel bluff began. This bass engulfed the green-pumpkin FattyZ modified tube lure, which was presented with a slow hop-and-bounce retrieve along several of the ledges that extended out from the bluff. I continued to probe the bluff wall, but I was unable to elicit another bite for the next hour. Eventually I caught another sunfish and a spotted bass off a 10-foot deep rock ledge that extended out from a steep rocky point where the deep channel bluff ended. I fished another thirty minutes scouting out boat docks, mud flats, and bridge pilings, but I found these areas bereft of bass. For the last 15 minutes of this outing, I returned to the steep rocky point where I began, and I caught one largemouth bass on the four-inch watermelon Finesse WormZ. During the two hours that I fished, the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve produced two bass and one sunfish, and the hop-and-bounce retrieve caught two bass and one sunfish. I was unable to locate any concentrations of bass.

“The storms continued into the morning of Nov.5. When the rain ended around noon, I opted to accompany Nancy to a nearby state park for the afternoon, which featured an above ground public-access diamond mine. The public is allowed to keep any diamonds they find. But after several hours of traipsing through the mud, we came away empty handed. We returned to our cabin just before the next round of storms rolled in.

“Nov. 6 started off the same as the previous two days: a dark and gloomy sky that released more torrents of rain. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low at 38 degrees, and the high temperature was 61 degrees. The barometric pressure was 30.03. The wind quartered out of the northeast at 10 mph. I took advantage of a momentary break in the storms and elected to take a short bank walking endeavor along the marina’s shoreline, where I fished from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The In-Fisherman solunar calendar predicted the best fishing time was from 12:32 p.m. through 2:32 p.m., and I found the fishing to be as trying as it was on Nov. 4. I used only one rod during this outing, and it sported a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s California Craw FattyZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. I began probing the rocky point just north of the marina, where I caught one spotted bass and one large sunfish off the point, while employing the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Then I proceeded westward and fished a shallow mud and gravel flat, a clay bank with a culvert that spewed rain water into an underwater ditch, and several empty slips of a covered boat dock; none of these areas were fruitful. I then turned my attention to another steep rocky bank just south of the covered boat dock. This shoreline surrendered one large sunfish but no black bass. I finished this outing at a steep rocky point on the southwest end of the marina, and before it started to rain again, I was able to catch two spotted bass, one largemouth bass, and one sunfish. The three spotted bass and one largemouth bass that I caught during this two-hour bank-walking endeavor were allured by employing the California Craw FattyZ with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve at steep rocky points.

“On Nov. 7, the weather finally changed. The rain moved to the east. The sky was blue, and the sun was shining for the first time since we arrived on Nov. 4. The low temperature for the morning was recorded at 38 degrees and the temperature slowly warmed to a high of 61 degrees. The wind was variable at about 10 miles per hour, and the barometric pressure shot up to 30.46. I decided to try out a large mid-lake tributary arm on the east side of the reservoir. Nancy accompanied me, but she did not fish. I was afloat from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 .pm. The In-Fisherman solunar calendar predicted the best fishing period between 1:39 p.m. and 3:39 p.m. The surface temperature was 65 degrees. The water was muddy, exhibiting less than a foot of visibility. My rods sported the following lures: a Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ affixed on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig; a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California Craw FattyZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig; a four-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red Finesse WormZ fastened to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; and a three-inch Kalin’s clear hologram Lunker Grub dressed on a black 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. I endured another vexing day of fishing. I commenced the outing by plying shallow mud flats with stumps and brush, some gravel shorelines, a steep rocky point adjacent to a boat ramp, and some steep rocky secondary points in the back third of the tributary. I caught four largemouth bass, two spotted bass, and two large sunfish on the Junebug Hula StickZ, which was manipulated with a slow drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve. I did not elicit any strikes on the other baits. All the fish were caught on steep rocky secondary points in less than two feet of water.

“On Nov. 8, the fishing improved somewhat, but it still remained arduous. I decided to try a tributary arm in the southern portion of the reservoir. Initially, the sky was blue and sun filled, but eventually it became cloudy. The low temperature was 34 degrees and the high temperature was 65 degrees, and during the late afternoon hours, it cooled down into the high 50s. I was unable to get the barometric pressure. The wind was light and variable, and at times, it was calm. The In-Fisherman solunar calendar indicted the best fishing period was from 2:42 p.m. to 4:42.p.m. I fished from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00.p.m. The water was 65 degrees and clear with five feet of visibility. My rods sported an array of Z-Man lures: a watermelon-red Hula StickZ on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig; a Junebug Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch watermelon-red ZinkerZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a white Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The only pattern I had developed over the past few days was fishing steep rocky secondary points situated in the back third of tributary arms in two to ten feet deep water. That pattern continued in this tributary arm as well. I caught five spotted bass and five large sunfish on the watermelon-red Hula StickZ on the slow hop-and-bounce retrieve. The 2 1/2-inch watermelon-red ZinkerZ retrieved in the swim-glide-and-shake motif allured three largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and two large sunfish. I also plied steep rocky main-lake points and shallow tributary flats with stumps, laydown trees, and steep channel bluffs that quickly dropped off into 50 or more feet of water, but they failed to yield a bass. I couldn’t fish the rocky areas around the dam because it was a restricted area. I finished the day with six spotted bass, three largemouth bass, and seven large sunfish. The slow drag-and-shake retrieve was the most prolific tactic.

“I found the fishing at this highland reservoir to be challenging and different than what I am used to fishing in Texas. I was definitely out of my comfort zone, and I caught only 23 bass and 14 sunfish during 13 hours that I was afloat. The only location pattern I discovered was steep secondary rocky points, which harbored only one or two bass.”

Nov. 10 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his and his wife’s Nov. 10 outing.

He said that they had planned to fish a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir, but they changed their minds when they discovered that the power plant was not operating. Then they thought about chasing white bass at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir until they learned from a friend that the recent rains had turned the water murky, and he was able to catch only 10 white bass.

Therefore, Gum and his wife,Yan, spent this outing at a 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir, where the surface temperature was 61 degrees at the boat ramp, which lies on the northwest side of the reservoir, and 55 degrees at the dam, which is situated on the south end of the reservoir. The water level looked to be nearly normal. It exhibited four feet clarity along the dam and about 1 1/2 feet of clarity in the upper-third section of the reservoir.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred at 4:12 a.m to 6:12 a.m. and 4:38 p.m. to 6:38 p.m. They fished from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

At 6:53 a.m., the National Weather Service at Emporia, Kansas, recorded the morning low temperature at 38 degrees, and the high temperature of the day was 61 degrees, which occurred from 3:53 p.m. to 5:53 p.m. The sky ranged from cloudless to partly cloudy to mostly cloudy to a few clouds to overcast. The wind angled out of the east and southeast at 5 to 13 mph. At 9:53 a.m., the barometric pressure was 30.41 and dropping.

Their first stop was at a rocky, flat point along the west side of the reservoir, where they used a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB7J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and three-inch Kalin’s blue-sliver Triple-Threat Grub on a 1/8-ounce jig. And witin a few minutes they caught 11 white bass and two smallmouth bass.

Then they spent 30 minutes probing a mid-lake hump for walleye, where they wielded a potpourri of jig combos and crankbaits, and they could muster only one strike.

Their third stop was the eastern portion of the dam, including a flat gravel point that separates the longest stretch of the dam and the outlet area. Here they failed to garner a strike.

The fourth spot they fished was a 100-yard stretch of riprap along the west end of the dam, where they caught only one white bass and failed to land two smallmouth bass.

Their fifth and final area that they fished was a 200-yard segment of a long riprap baffle, which is situated in the middle section of this reservoir. They plied the east side of this dike, and they primarily used a 2 ½-inch PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a 2 ½-inch green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which allured five smallmouth bass.

Nov. 11 log.

When I launched the boat around noon at a 100-acre community reservoir that lies along the outside edge of Kansas City’s southwest suburbs, some area thermometers in northeastern Kansas registered a delightful 63 degrees. What’s more, it was partly cloudy, and the wind was mild-mannered from the west and northwest at 7 to 8 mph. By the time I put the boat back on the trailer around 2 p.m., many of those same thermometers registered 45 degrees, it was cloudy and drizzling, and the wind was howling out of the north at 28 mph. The barometric pressure ranged from 30.19 at 11:53 a.m. to 30.17 at 12:53 p.m. The National Weather Service at Olathe, Kansas, was predicting the temperature would plummet to 20 degrees overnight and climb to a high of only 36 degrees on Nov. 12 and drop to 19 degrees during the night of Nov. 12-13. Some weather forecasters predicted that it might snow.

The In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred at 5:01 a.m. to 7:01 a.m. and 5:26 p.m. to 7:26 p.m.

The water level was an inch or two above normal. The surface temperature fluctuated from 53 to 54 degrees. The water was clear enough that I could easily see the propeller on the electric trolling motor.

I fished a main-lake point in the upper-third section of the reservoir. It was endowed with many patches of coontail, six boat docks, five patches of American water willows, and a nearby dropoff. On the west side of this point there is a massive mud flat that is cluttered with coontail patches, and on its east side, there is a steep and rocky shoreline. I used a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig to extract three largemouth bass from the coontail patches at this point. Along the steep and rocky shoreline, the Finesse ShadZ inveigled one largemouth bass.

I quickly fished about 200 yards of the west shoreline that lies above that point and its steep shoreline. This shoreline is flat graced with some rocks, retaining walls, 18 boat docks, and hundreds of patches of coontail. I used the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ, a four-inch green-pumpkin grub on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s black-neon Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. And I did not elicit a strike.

After I failed to catch a largemouth bass along the west shoreline, I fished a shallow main-lake point on the east side of the upper-quarter section of the reservoir and about 40 yards of the east shoreline that meanders to the north of that point. This point is flat and is surrounded by American water willows and patches of coontail. The shoreline is flat and bedecked with coontail patches, retaining walls, and a few boat docks. I use the same three baits that I used on the west shoreline, and I failed to catch a largemouth bass.

Then I fished a secondary point along the east shoreline, which lies in the upper-third section of the reservoir. It is a shallow and flat point that is embellished with scores of thick patches of coontail. The green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ and chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught two largemouth bass, and a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a 1/32-ounce Gopher jig caught seven largemouth bass.

I fished 30 yards of a steep shoreline along the east side of the reservoir, and it was lined with many patches of American water willows. I worked 1/32- and 1/16-ounce Gopher jigs dressed with a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ, and I didn’t get a strike. Along this area, I cross paths with a power angler, who said that he had caught only two small largemouth bass, and they were bewitched by a buzzbait, and he said that his other five power options had failed to engender a bite.

The sixth spot was the north shoreline in the upper-third portion of the reservoir. It was sheltered from the north wind, which was howling at times. I fished about 30-yards of it, focusing on three boat docks, some boulders, patches of coontail and American water willows. I used the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ and 1/32-ounce Gopher jig to extract one largemouth bass from a coontail patch next to a boulder.

The final spot was about 50 yards of the dam, which was embellished with rocks, boulders, and American water willows. I worked with a prototype 2 ¾-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. I did not get a strike. As the cold drizzle became colder and more intense, I made my last cast at 1:55 p.m., and my fish counter indicated that I had caught only 12 largemouth bass.

Fifty-one days have lapsed since the autumnal equinox, my best outing this autumn at this reservoir occurred on Sept. 23, when I caught 42 largemouth bass in four hours, and it got tougher on Oct. 7, when I could catch only 33 largemouth bass in four hours. Then during the past four weeks, the largemouth bass fishing at this reservoir has been extremely wretched. For instance, I eked out only 16 of its largemouth bass on Oct. 15, my cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I caught only 23 largemouth bass on Oct. 23, and my cousin was blessed that he was unable to join me on this Nov. 11 outing.

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Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, posted the following observations on the Finesse New Network about his attempt to fish on Nov. 11: “I was ready to go out today. I had my equipment in the car, and I stopped to get something to eat. In that short amount of time, the temperature must have dropped 10 degrees. And I’m a fast eater.

I just said, ‘Forget it. The fish will be there when it gets warmer.’”

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Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, reported on the Finesse News Network about his trying Nov. 11 outing.

He wrote: “I made the 38-mile trip to a 24,154-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir in north central Texas. The day was a picturesque fall day. The National Weather Service recorded the low temperature at 48 degrees and the high temperature was 74 degrees. The sun was shining brightly as a few wispy clouds meandered across the light blue sky. A light breeze quartered out of the southeast at four miles per hour. The barometric pressure was measured at 30.19.

“The water was a tad stained, exhibiting a light green tint with three and a half feet of visibility. The water level was 7.19 feet below normal. The surface temperature was 64 degrees.

“I had prepared the following baits for the day: a 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red FattyZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; a Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Scented LeechZ on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; and a Z-Man’s watermelon-red Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

“The In-Fisherman solunar calendar designated the best fishing periods from 5:12 a.m. to 7:12 a.m. and 6:58 p.m. to 8:58 p.m. I was afloat from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

“I have always found fall bass fishing in north central Texas to be perplexing and unpredictable. Today’s meager results reinforced that observation. I began the day plying a rip-rap bank and jetty adjacent to the boat ramp where I launched. Some aquatic vegetation enhanced a gravel and clay bank just north of the jetty. This area had been very productive for me during October. However, today was different. I took my time whittling away at this area, using the 2 1/2-inch watermelon-red FattyZ and the black-blue-flake Scented LeechZ. To my dismay, I failed to catch a bass.

“My next spot was a main-lake rocky point covered with scattered stumps and patches of aquatic vegetation. I changed lures and began plying the point and patches of vegetation with the pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ combo and the swim-glide-shake retrieve. I coaxed one small spotted bass off a small patch of vegetation, but the remainder of the point was unfruitful.

“I made a run up the east fork of the reservoir to a shallow mid-lake hump, which was cluttered with flooded timber and a few small patches of hydrilla. I plied the timberless areas around the hump with the Scented LeechZ combo, using the swim-glide-and-shake motif. The east end of the hump surrendered one small largemouth bass and the west end of the hump yielded one small spotted bass.

“My next stop was a mid-lake island that was embellished with hydrilla mats along its south shoreline. I continued welding the Scented LeechZ, pinpointing the outside edges of the hydrilla mats. I inveigled five largemouth bass with the swim-glide-and-shake technique, and the largest bass tipped my digital scale at 2 1/2-pounds.

“I crossed the east fork of the reservoir to a tributary arm, where I probed several rocky points and hydrilla beds. I landed one small spotted bass off a rocky secondary point situated about halfway back in this tributary arm. The bass inhaled the Scented LeechZ that was presented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. I also tried the watermelon-red Hula StickZ combo and a 2 1/2-inch black-blue-flake ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, but they failed to elicit a strike.

“My last locale for the day consisted of a submerged roadbed adjacent to a rocky main-lake bank. I utilized the watermelon-red Hula StickZ combo with the hop-and-bounce retrieve along the roadbed and failed to catch a bass. I fished the adjacent rocky bank with the black-blue-flake Scented LeechZ with the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, which proved to be fruitless.

“My five hours of wielding finesse baits yielded only six largemouth bass and three spotted bass, which was very discouraging and perplexing, indeed.”

Nov. 14 log

Old Man Winter made a premature appearance in northeastern Kansas around noon on Nov. 11. Then he lingered around several days, dropping early-morning temperatures to 15 degrees on Nov. 12 and 16 degrees on Nov. 13. He also whacked us with some pesky north winds that occasionally hit 30 mph. And he kept me at bay until 11:20 a.m. on Nov. 14, which was when I launched the boat at a 195-acre community reservoir.

The National Weather Service at Lawrence, Kansas, recorded the morning’s low temperature on Nov. 14 at 35 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature was 57 degrees. The sun shined, but its radiance and heat were tempered by some cirrus and cirrostratus clouds. The wind angled out of the south and southwest 12 to 15 mph, creating a wind-chill factor in the 40s. The barometric pressure at 11:52 a.m. was 30.04 and dropping.

The water level looked to be six inches below normal. I could easily see the propeller on the trolling motor; therefore the visibility was what we call Kansas clear. The surface temperature ranged from 47 to 50 degrees. The bulk of the American water willows exhibited a brownish-yellow hue. Many of the patches of Eurasian watermilfoil that were flourishing on Nov. 1 had either diminished or disappeared.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 7:11 a.m. to 9:11 a.m. I fished from 11:20 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.

I attempted to fish the northwest shoreline inside this reservoir’s southwest feeder-creek arm, but the southwest wind was too pesky, and even the drift sock couldn’t tame it. So, after I executed about 20 sorry casts and retrieves, I moved to the west shoreline in the reservoir’s south feeder-creek arm, which was endowed with rocks, boulders, gravel, four laydowns, several patches of American water willows, some stumps, some lackluster patches of milfoil, one patch of cattails, and a nearby submerged creek channel. I fished about 75 yards of this shoreline and caught seven largemouth bass on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, which was retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. These largemouth bass were abiding in three to eight feet of water.

The second area that I fished was the east shoreline of the south feeder-creek arm. It was embellished with a 25-yard stretch of riprap, 100-yards of American water willows, a dozen stumps, a beaver hut, three laydowns, gravel, clay, boulders, rocks, and a few meager patches of milfoil. I fished about 150-yards of this shoreline, and I caught 27 largemouth bass. Eight of them were bewitched by a Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Scented LeechZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and the other 19 were allured by the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ and chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. These largemouth bass were extracted from water as shallow as a foot to as deep as six feet. Nine of the largemouth bass engulfed the bait on its initial drop, and the rest were caught on the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

The third area that I fished was the back end of the southwest feeder creek arm. I plied about 100 yards of its shoreline, focusing on three boat docks, two concrete retaining walls, some cattails, five laydowns, some patches of milfoil, some rocks, some boulders and several stumps. I caught only two largemouth bass, and both were caught on the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ combo. One was caught of the initial drop of the Finesse ShadZ, and the other was caught on a hop-bounce-and deadstick retrieve. I had to use the drift sock while I fished this shoreline, but it wasn’t able to slow down the pace of the drift enough, and, therefore, I wasn’t able to efficiently dissect all of the lairs along this shoreline.

My fourth stop of the outing was the southeast shoreline of the southwest feeder-creek arm. I fished about 125-yards of the middle portions of this shoreline. I focused on shallow patches of milfoil, five boat docks, eight laydowns, several patches of American water willows, some boulders, two retaining walls, and four stumps. The Finesse ShadZ inveigled six largemouth bass. Three of the largemouth bass consumed the bait on the initial fall, and the other three largemouth bass engulfed it while I was slowly hopping-and-bouncing-and-shaking it.

The fifth area that I fished was the back half of one of the reservoir’s eastern feeder-creek arms. The green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ combo caught three bass along its south shoreline, and these bass were situated along outside edge of patches of American water willows, and they were caught on the initial drop of the Finesse ShadZ. Along the north shoreline of this feeder creek arm, I used the Finesse ShadZ to extract three largemouth bass from a gravel pocket in front of a boat house. These three largemouth bass were allured by the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. All six of these largemouth bass were abiding in two to four feet of water

During the sixth stop, I quickly probed a short stretch of American water willows, some rocks and boulders, a few stumps, two laydowns, and some submergent vegetation along the north shoreline of another feeder-creek arm on the east side of this reservoir. I failed to get a strike.

At the seventh stop, I made eight casts on a wind-blow section of the riprap of the dam with a prototype Z-Man’s 2 ¾-inch green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and I didn’t engender a strike.

The final stop was a 20-yard stretch of the south shoreline of the reservoir’s spillway, which was embellished with some riprap, three patches of American water willows, some boulders, gravel and rocks. I made about 20 casts and retrieves with the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ and 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and did not get a strike.

In sum, I fished 230 minutes and caught 48 largemouth bass, which was an average catch of slightly more than 12 largemouth bass an hour. Forty of them were caught on Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, which is traditionally one of our most fruitful combos during our cold-water months.

 Nov. 16 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed this report on the Finesse News Network about his Nov. 16 outing.

He wrote: “Rick Allen of Dallas joined me for a 35-mile jaunt to a 40-acre lake in the northeast Dallas suburb of Wylie. I introduced Rick to Midwest finesse fishing last month. Since then, he has purchased the Z-Man baits and Gopher jigs that make this method so effective, and he is learning how to use these baits.

“The National Weather Service recorded the low for the day at 58 degrees and the high at 78 degrees. The wind blew incessantly out of the south at 22 to 39 miles per hour. The barometric pressure was measured at 29.64. The sky was blanketed with tenebrous clouds.

“I used the following Z-Man baits: a Junebug Finesse ShadZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a 2 1/2-inch purple-haze ZinkerZ on a blue 1/32-0unce Gopher jig; a 2 1/2-inch PB&J ZinkerZ affixed to a blue 1/32-ounceGopher jig; a 2 1/2-inch Junebug FattyZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a 4-inch black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a 3-inch black-blue-flake Scented LeechZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a 2 1/2-inch black-blue-flake ZinkerZ threaded on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; and a Junebug Hula StickZ dressed on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

“Rick employed an assortment of lures: a Charlie Brewer Slider Company four-inch Junebug-chartreuse tail Slider Worm that was Texas-rigged on a 1/16-ounce Slider Spider Head; a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ  on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuese ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s  black-blue-flake FattyZ fastened on a blue 1/32-ounceGopher jig; and a Charlie Brewer Slider Company four-inch black-blue tail Slider Worm on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

“The In-Fisherman solunar calendar predicted the best fishing period between 8:48 a.m. and 10:48 a.m. We fished from 11:30 am to 5:00 pm.

“The water is usually clear with four to five feet of visibility. However, on this outing,  the clarity was heavily stained, exhibiting one and a half feet of visibility. The surface temperature was 59 degrees, and Rick estimated the water level was about three feet below normal.

“The fishing at this usually productive watershed was arduous and baffling. We elected to start in the south end of the lake. We had to anchor the boat in order to ply a large wind-swept hydrilla and stump covered flat. We graphed many fish suspended above the submerged grass beds in three to five feet of water, but they were difficult to allure.

“We commenced casting and retrieving the Junebug Finesse ShadZ rig and the Texas-rigged four-inch Junebug-chartreuese tail Slider Worm rig. The wind made even short casts and retrieves difficult at best. I enticed a two-pound, 11-ounce largemouth bass on my third cast and a one-pound, eight-ounce  largemouth bass a few casts later, using the Junbug Finesse ShadZ, but the bite quickly fizzled out thereafter. We continued to pursue the suspended bass relating to the flat, but were only able to allure two keeper-size largemouth bass and one small largemouth bass, and both were allured by the Junebug Finesse ShadZ rig with the swim-glide-shake retrieve.

“We then moved to the west bank, which consisted of several points garnished with thick stands of cattails and submerged hydrilla beds. I landed one keeper-sized largemouth bass on the 2 1/2-inch purple-haze ZinkerZ. About 30 minutes later, Rick snared a chunky keeper-size largemouth bass on the pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ. Both of these largemouth bass were enticed by the swim-glide-shake scheme. The rest of the west bank was devoid of catchable largemouth bass.

“We crossed to the east shoreline, which was more exposed to the wind than the west one. As we fished our way down several cattail and hydrilla-covered flats and points, Rick was able to inveigle three largemouth bass on the 2 1/2-inch black-blue-flake FattyZ and one keeper-size largemouth bass on a four-inch black-blue tail Slider Worm affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce blue Gopher jig. He utilized the swim-glide-shake retrieve with both baits.  I allured two largemouth bass with the 2 1/2-inch black-blue-flake ZinkerZ rig, which was retrieved with the swim-glide-shake motif.

“We were unable to find any concentrations of actively feeding largemouth bass, and we endured long spells without getting a strike. We caught only 13 largemouth bass across five and a half hours of finesse fishing. Three of those bass were two-pounders, seven were keeper-size largemouth bass, and three were squealers. Rick broke off two fish during his initial hook sets and I missed one strike. The Junebug Finesse ShadZ on the blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig was the most effective bait. The swim-slide-and-shake retrieve enticed the 13 largemouth bass that we caught.”

Nov. 18 log

My cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I began our Nov. 18 outing without knowing what reservoir we were going to fish.

As we drove south of Lawrence, Kansas, on U.S. Highway 59, we deliberated about what reservoir we should fish. We talked about driving 56 miles to a 55-acre community reservoir, where it would be a struggle to tangle with 40 largemouth bass in four hours. We also talked about driving 38 miles to a 140-acre state reservoir, where we might be able to catch 60 or more largemouth bass in four hours.

In the eyes of many anglers – especially power anglers, one of the virtues of the 55-acre reservoir is that its largemouth bass are heftier than the largemouth bass that abide in the 140-acre impoundment. But we are more concerned with catching vast numbers of largemouth bass than we are with catching big ones. Therefore, by the time we approached the junction of U.S. Highway 56 and U.S. Highway 59, we had decided to take U.S. 56 to the west and spend about four hours at the 140-acre reservoir, where we would try to catch at least 15 largemouth bass an hour.

The National Weather Service at Topeka, Kansas, indicated the morning low temperature was 31 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 60 degrees. The normal low temperature for Nov. 18 is 32 degrees and the normal high temperature is 53 degrees. The wind was virtually nil, angling irregularly out of the west and northwest at 3 mph, which was a dramatic contrast to the way the wind howled on Nov. 16 and 17 at 46 to 47 mph. The sky exhibited a China-blue hue, and the sun was eye-squinting bright. The barometric pressure at 10:52 a.m. was 30.31 and dropping.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing time occurred from 10:17 a.m. to 12:17 p.m., and we fished from 10:45 a.m. to 2:40 p.m.

The surface temperature at this reservoir ranged from 48 degrees to 52 degrees. The water was clear enough that we could easily see the propeller of the trolling motor. The water level looked to be 1 ½ feet below normal.

The boat ramp is situated on the southwest corner of the reservoir and about 20 yards from the west corner of the dam. Along the western shoreline and about thirty feet from the boat ramp, we made our first cast, which allured the first largemouth bass of the outing. Then we spent about 125 minutes probing more than 600 yards of the western shoreline. About three-quarters of this shoreline is flat or gradually sloping, and the other quarter is relatively steep with a submerged creek channel bordering the water’s edge. The entire shoreline is embellished with gravel, clay, rocks, massive boulders, eight riprap jetties, two main-lake points, many yards of American water willows, several laydowns, some stumps, and more than a dozen man-made brushpiles. We fished this western shoreline from the dam into the back of this reservoir’s northwest feeder-creek arm, but we didn’t fish a 300-yard stretch of a massive shallow flat that was graced with three riprap jetties. We caught 43 largemouth bass along this 600-yard stretch of shoreline.

We also fished two riprap jetties and a 60-yard section of a moderately steep shoreline along the east side of this reservoir’s northwest feeder-creek arm. This area yielded seven largemouth bass.

Our third stop was at the dam, where we probed a short section of the shorelines on its eastern and western ends. These shorelines were adorned with rocks, clay, boulders, three man-made brushpiles and American water willows. The dam is covered with riprap and occasional patches 0f American water willows. At this locale, we caught 10 largemouth bass.

The fourth stop was at a main-lake point that separates the northwest feeder-creek arm from the reservoir’s middle feeder-creek arm. The point is endowed with boulders, gravel, rocks and American water willows, and we extracted six largemouth bass from this point.

The fifth spot was a riprap jetty, situated halfway inside the middle feeder-creek arm and along its western shoreline. We fished the jetty and a steep clay shoreline adjacent to the jetty. The shoreline was graced with three laydowns and some patches of American water willows. We extracted only one largemouth bass from the jetty, and we failed to elicit a bite from the lairs along the adjacent shoreline.

At our final stop of the outing, we quickly fished an area that we fished during the first 125 minutes that we were afloat. This was along a steep section of the western shoreline of the northwest feeder-creek arm, and here we caught 10 largemouth bass, which gave us a total of 77 largemouth bass for the outing and an average of about 19.5 largemouth bass per hour.

Two of the largemouth bass were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, two were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, seven were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, 13 were caught on a 2 1/2-inch section of the tail of a Z-Man’s Junebug FattyZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and 53 were caught on either a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-inch Gopher jig or a 2 ¾-inch prototype Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce jig.

Throughout this outing, the periodic application of a dab or two of Pro-Cure, Inc.’s Nightcrawler Super Gel scent on our Z-Man soft-plastic baits seemed to make a noticeable difference. But we were unable devise a scientific method that would substantiate that the scent provoked the largemouth bass to engulf our offerings.

About half of the largemouth bass engulfed our baits during the initial fall of the bait from the surface to the bottom, and most of those largemouth bass were abiding in three feet or less of water. A few were allured by a deadstick presentation. One largemouth bass engulfed the 2 ½-inch FattyZ when it was snagged on a boulder and we were strumming the line. Several were inveigled with a drag-and-subtle-shake routine. The rest were caught as we implemented a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake, and some of these bass were caught near the shoreline while others were caught 15 or more feet from the shoreline.

The National Weather Service predicted that the wind will roar again on Nov. 19,rain on Nov. 20 and 21, snow on Nov. 22, and area thermometers will plummet to 14 degrees on Nov. 23. That forecast provoked my cousin and I to fear that our Nov. 18 outing might have been our last big-numbers outing of 2013. For sure, it was a delightful fall day (some might call it an Indian-summer-type day) to be afloat.

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Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his Nov. 18 outing.

He wrote:  ”I made a solo foray to a 20,280-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir close to my home. The weather started out delightfully. The sun was radiant and the skies were partly cloudy. However, by mid-afternoon, gray opaque clouds moved in and covered the sun. Area thermometers recorded the morning low temperature at 58 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature reached 72 degrees. A pleasant and light breeze angled out of the north-by-northeast at 7 mph. The barometric pressure was measured at 30.16.

“The In-Fisherman solunar calendar predicted the best fishing period would occur between 10:28 a.m. and 12:48 p.m. I was afloat from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“This reservoir’s water level was 8.51-feet below normal. The surface temperature was 62 degrees. The water’s clarity was stained, exhibiting 2 1/2-feet of visibility.

I worked with the following baits:  a Charlie Brewer Slider Company’s  three-inch pearl-chartreuse-tail Bass/Striper/Walleye Grub rigged on a black 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-Flake  FattyZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a Z-Man’s  Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-inch Gopher jig; and a Zoom Bait Company’s  black-blue Lil Critter affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

I began the afternoon by plying a small cove behind the marina where I launched. I caught two largemouth bass from a steep clay and gravel point on Charlie Brewer’s Grub and employing a slow do-nothing retrieve that was accentuated with an occasional shake and pause. I enticed another largemouth bass on the black-blue-flake FattyZ with the swim-glide-shake retrieve.

“I continued southward in the cove and probed a steep clay and gravel bank. I allured another largemouth bass on Charlie Brewer’s Grub, and two largemouth bass inhaled the black-blue-flake FattyZ with the swim-glide-shake retrieve. I then tested the Zoom Lil Critter Craw under a nearby set of covered boat docks in the back of the cove, retrieving it with the hop-and-bounce and drag-and-shake techniques, but it failed to elicit any strikes. Charlie Brewer’s Grub also failed to arouse any bass from underneath several of the boat slips.

“Then I fished the bank adjacent to the boat ramp, where I launched. I worked the area for about 30 minutes with Charlie Brewer’s Grub and Z-Man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ. From that boat-ramp area, I moved west and into an area with three coves. All these areas failed to yield a largemouth bass

“My next spot was a cove on the north side of a major tributary. My initial focus was on a boat ramp situated in the back half of the cove; the shoreline adjacent to the boat ramp was littered with riprap.  I caught one largemouth bass and one spotted bass on Charlie Brewer’s Grub around a rocky lair next to the boat ramp. After I finished fishing the boat ramp and its riprap, I plied a rocky shoreline, a nearby mud flat, and a secondary mud point with Charlie Brewer’s Grub. I eked out one largemouth bass off the mud point with Charlie Brewer’s Grub in the do-nothing mode, while the rocky bank and mud flat appeared to be lacking bass.

“My fourth spot was a submerged roadbed, which was endowed by a rock pile. I probed the roadbed and rock pile with Charlie Brewer’s Grub, but I failed to elicit a strike. 

“My fifth locale was at a cove inside a northwest tributary.  It was graced with some steep rocky banks and several secondary points. I plied this cove for an hour, and caught one bass with Charlie Brewer’s Grub at one of the secondary points. The black-blue-flake FattyZ failed to elicit any strikes.

“When I left this cove, I moved westward to another cove in the same tributary arm. This cove was also graced with several steep and rocky shorelines, some secondary points, and several old and unused boat ramps.  I switched to the Junebug Finesse ShadZ and tangled with three largemouth bass: one was caught along a steep rocky shoreline and two were caught on secondary points. Charlie Brewer’s Grub inveigled one largemouth bass on the southwest point at the entrance to this cove.  The southeast point at the entrance of this cove failed to yield a bass. 

“My final stop was a highway bridge, which crosses over the southwest tributary arm of this reservoir. The bridge embankments were covered with riprap. I failed to catch a bass along the riprap along the north side of the bridge. At the southeast end of the bridge side, the Junebug Finesse ShadZ allured a three-pound nine-ounce largemouth bass. 

“In sum, I caught 15 largemouth bass and one spotted bass during my five-hour sojourn. Charlie Brewer Slider Company’s three-inch pearl-chartreuse-tail Bass/Striper/Walleye Grub rigged on a black 1/16-ounce Gopher jig allured eight largemouth bass and one spotted bass.  Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-inch Gopher jig enticed four bass, including the three-pound nine-ounce specimen. The 2 1/2-inch black-blue-flake FattyZ bewitched three largemouth bass. Charlie Brewer’s do-nothing retrieve — with an occasional shake or pause thrown in for good measure — was the most lucrative retrieve. The swim-glide-shake motif was the second most effective retrieve. The bass ignored the drag-shake-deadstick and hop and bounce techniques. “

Nov. 19 log

On Nov. 18, the National Weather Service predicted that the wind would roar on Nov. 19, and it did, angling out of the southeast at 16 to 29 mph. Despite the wind, Pok Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, and I half-heartedly decided to go bass-fishing-for trout at a 416-acre reservoir.

Lau hasn’t been able to fish as much as he wanted to fish this fall. What’s more, this might have been his last outing of 2013. The reason why he hasn’t been afloat stems from the fact that he has been preparing a photography exhibit for a museum in Houston, Texas, which he will install in December, and he will also be in Myanmar, shooting a documentary video about a Chinese pilot who helped the allies in World War II in Burma. The pilot is a 100-years-old and lives in San Francisco, and he will be in Myanmar with Lau, too.

At heart, Lau is an avid temperate bass devotee, who uses Midwest finesse tactics to catch white bass and wipers along wind-blown shorelines and points at several reservoirs in northeastern Kansas and central Missouri during the fall. He readily admits that he doesn’t enjoy fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass, proclaiming that it is boring. In contrast, he quicky explains and exclaims why white bass and wiper fishing is so exhilarating and challenging. He does, however, enjoy catching rainbow trout with Midwest finesse tactics and doesn’t mind incidentally catching an occasional largemouth and smallmouth bass while he is in pursuit of the trout.

The National Weather Service in Topeka, Kansas, reported that the morning low temperature was 31 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 63 degrees. The barometric pressure was 30.17 and dropping around 9:53 a.m. The sky ranged from being fair to partly cloudy to mostly cloudy. And as we noted in the first paragraph, the wind was pesky. (Since Lau is a die-hard temperate bass angler, he has learned to relish the wind. And, in fact, he relies on it to help him catch his quarry. So this wind did not perturb him. But I found it to be a tad troublesome at times — especially when I failed to use the drift sock to tame the dastardly effects of the wind on boat control and with our retrieves.)

In-Fisherman indicated that the best fishing occurred from11:09 a.m.to1:09 p.m. We fished from 10:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

The reservoir’s  surface temperature fluctuated from 48 degrees to 50 degrees. The water level looked to be three feet below normal; as we were fishing, the golf course that lies along the southeast shoreline of this reservoir was pumping more water out of the reservoir and sprinking sections of the golf course. The water was clear enough that we could see the propeller of the electric trolling motor. The toxic blue-green algae bloom that erupted around Oct. 10 seems to have dissipated; it is suspected that the bloom is a byproduct of all the fertilizers that the golf course and nearby homeowners use.

We spend the first hour and 10 minutes fishing most of the south shoreline and about 30 percent of the north shoreline in one of the reservoir’s east feeder-creek arms. We plied rocky shorelines, scores of laydowns, patches of American water willows, a 40-yard stretch of a riprap shoreline, some clay shorelines, six secondary points, a boat dock, some boulders and several silt-laden flats. We were able to catch only 10 largemouth bass.

Our second stop was a large cove on the west side of the reservoir. We fished the north, west, and south shorelines in the back half of this cove. These shorelines were graced with rocks, clay, silt, laydowns, American water willows, a few stumps, and some man-made brushpiles. We caught seven largemouth bass.

The third area was another cove on the west side of the reservoir, where we fished about 50 yards of its south shoreline, and it was about halfway inside this cove. Some of the shoreline that we fished consisted of clay and American water willows, but most of it was riprap. We caught five largemouth bass along the riprap, and three of those were extracted from a secondary point along the riprap.

The next locale was a bluffy shoreline along the south side of a feeder-creek arm on the west side of the reservoir. It was adorned with several significant rock ledges, numerous laydowns, football-size rocks, softball-size rocks,  boulders, gravel, and some patches of American water willows. This shoreline yielded eight largemouth bass.

The fifth stop was a feeder-creek arm on the reservoir’s east side. We focused on about 60 percent of its north shoreline, which was embellished with numerous boulders and massive flat rocks, a beaver hut, American water willows, football-size rocks, softball-size rocks, clay, gravel, and several laydowns. We also spent a lot of time in the back half of this feeder-creek arm dissecting a portion of its massive mud flat, where we tangled with six rainbow trout; this flat was covered with four to five feet of water. Along the north shoreline and its main-lake point, we caught one rainbow trout, one wiper, four largemouth bass, and 13 white bass. (These white bass, by the way, were the high-light of Lau’s outing.)

Our last stop was a cove on the east side of the reservoir. Here, we quickly fished a riprap jetty that is situated on the main-lake point on the south side of this cove and 20 yards of a slab-rock flat that is adjacent to the riprap point. We caught two largemouth bass and two smallmouth bass. (Both smallmouth bass were caught in about four feet of water, and it is rare to catch a smallmouth bass in shallow water during the fall when the water temperature is 49 degrees in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas.  It has occurred in the fall at our 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir. Here’s a link to a story about cold-water smallmouth bass fishing in northeastern Kansas: http://www.in-fisherman.com/2011/12/18/cold-water-smallmouth-bass/)

 

In total, we caught 36 largemouth bass, 13 white bass, seven rainbow trout, two smallmouth bass, one wiper,  and one freshwater drum

Our three most effective baits were a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s Junebug FattyZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 ½-inch Z-Man green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a either chartreuse or red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We caught a few fish on a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s pearl GrubZ on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and on a three-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

We used a variety of Midwest retrieves: swim, glide, and shake; drag and deadstick; hop and bounce; and straight swim. All four retrieves bewitched an equal number of fish. The majority of the fish were caught in three to six feet of water.

 Nov. 20-21 logs.

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, reported on the Finesse News Network about his Nov. 20 and 21 outings.

He wrote: “Our weather has taken an unfortunate turn for the worse. A major cold front roared across north central Texas during the night on Nov. 21, causing our temperatures to plummet 40 degrees in less than five hours. Before the cold front arrived, we experienced a cloudy but very pleasant afternoon, and area thermometers climbed to as high as 75 degrees. On the morning of Nov. 22, we were beleaguered with blustery cold north winds, and area thermometers struggled to reach the predicted afternoon high of 37 degrees. Local weather forecasts said that there was a chance that a wintry mix of precipitation might wack us during the weekend, which is very unusual for this time of year. Though the weather has been pleasant for much of the month of November, the fishing has been baffling and lackluster since October 17. But according to my fishing logs, this is the time of year when our fishing turns lackluster. Our area lakes’ water temperatures have now dropped into the upper 50s, and many of the black bass seem to have become more lethargic, and consequently they ignore fast-paced presentations. By mid- December, our water temperatures will hover in the upper 40s, and bass fishing on our cold-water reservoirs becomes so difficult that anglers fish hard for one or two bites per outing. Therefore, many recreational anglers, me included, turn our attention to temperate bass, which Texans call sand bass and hybrids, throughout the winter months. If I elect to pursue cold-water largemouth bass, experience has taught me to focus on small ponds containing clear water with at least three feet of visibility, and enhanced with significant submerged hydrilla beds. Six of the eight large reservoirs in this area were impounded in the early 1950s. Their water clarity is stained with less than two feet of visibility. Most, if not all of the wood cover has rotted away over the past 60 years, constantly changing water levels have eliminated the aquatic vegetation, silt has filled in most of the creek channels, which leaves mostly rocky lairs, a few bridges and causeways, and boat houses for the black bass to inhabit. There is only one reservoir, which was impounded in 1990, that contains any significant amount of aquatic vegetation and wood cover. I have spoken with several area black bass fishing guides during the past several years, and most prefer to work boat shows from mid-December through the end of February. Some area guides head to Lake Falcon and Lake Amistad in south Texas in order to take advantage of the mid-January pre-spawn and, in some instances, spawning opportunities. Some anglers turn to the two hot-water power-plant lakes in the region, but both get heavy fishing pressure from scores of winter black bass fishing tournaments. These tournaments leave the black bass pretty beat up and finicky by mid-March. It is not until March when black bass anglers’ attentions once again focus on the area’s large reservoirs in anticipation of a good pre-spawn bite.

“On Nov. 20, I fished the same 20,280-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s reservoir that I fished on November 18. On that day, the fishing showed some signs of improvement, as I was able to garner 15 largemouth bass and one spotted bass.

“Throughout this outing, the sky was covered with high caliginous clouds. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 48 degrees, and the high for the day reached 66 degrees. The wind was peppy out of the east and southeast at 13 to 20 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.89. The In-Fisherman solunar calendar indicated the best fishing period was from 11:49 a.m. to 1:49 p.m. I was afloat from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“The main lake was white-capping, and the water clarity was stained with 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The surface temperature was 59 degrees, and the water level was 8.54 feet below normal.

” I worked the following baits: a four-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a Z-Man’s pearl Finesse ShadZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ threaded on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; and a Charlie Brewer Slider Company’s 2 1/8-inch smoke-blue flake Slider Minnow dressed on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

“This outing had an inauspicious beginning, a frustrating ending, and the hours in between were confounding.

It commenced as I was slowly idling to my first destination, and I hit a submerged stump that was hidden by the white-capping waves. That encounter disabled my boat’s main depth finder transducer. Since I no longer had a depth finder to help me traverse the tricky and shallow-water areas, which were covered with ranks of white caps, I was forced to alter my plans and fish the calmer areas in the coves around the two marinas where I launched the boat. Both coves are graced with steep, chunk-rock banks, several secondary mud points and flats, some old and unused boat ramps, and covered boat docks. Straightaway, I found that the black bass fishing had become trying again. I slowly combed both coves, concentrating on the most promising lairs, catching a single fish here and there, but I never found a concentration of bass. The first cove surrendered only three largemouth bass. The first one was caught along a steep, chunk-rock bank with the Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ. The second bass was induced further down the same bank on the Charlie Brewer Slider Minnow. The third largemouth bass was taken from a covered boat slip in the back of the cove on  the Z-Man’s pearl Finesse ShadZ.  I did not find any bass on a steep rocky point that surrendered several bass on past outings. The swim-glide-and- shake retrieve was the only productive technique.

“The second cove was about three times larger than the first cove, and it surrendered five largemouth bass and one spotted bass. All of these bass struck the Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ used with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. They inhabited several secondary chunk-rock points.

“My bad luck continued when I returned to the boat ramp at the end of the afternoon. One of the trailer’s bunker boards broke off the boat trailer as I was preparing to load my boat. Fortunately, I had some rope and was able to secure the board and load my boat. My boat will be in the shop for repairs for the next week or so, so my angling endeavors will be scaled back until repairs are completed. What’s more, I was able to eke out only eight largemouth bass and one spotted bass during four hours of fishing.

“In sum, the swim-glide-and shake retrieve was the only technique that elicited any attention from the bass. The Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ on the blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig was the most effective bait.

“On November 21, I decided to go on a bank-walking excursion to a couple of ponds on the southern edge of Lewisville. Texas. The National Weather Service forecasted that an early winter storm would arrive this evening, and it would be around for several days. Since my boat and boat trailer were knocked out of action on my previous day’s outing, a bank-walking outing was my only option if I wanted to get out and enjoy the afternoon before enduring the next few days of winter weather.

“I was afoot from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar predicted the best fishing times from 1:05 p.m. to 3:05 p.m.

“It was mild but windy outing. My outdoor thermometer registered the morning low temperature at 64 degrees and the afternoon high temperature at 75 degrees. The sky was mostly cloudy, with the sun peeking out on occasions. A nagging wind howled out of the north-by-northwest at 24 to 37 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.02.

“These two ponds usually produce decent numbers and quality of bass through November. But in December, the largemouth bass in these ponds see to go dormant, and the fishing becomes wretched.

“The first of the two ponds I fished is a five-acre watershed. It was stained, exhibiting about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The second pond is about 30 acres. It had an odd dark-gray tint, and its visibility was less than one foot. I was unable to measure the water temperature, but I surmised that it ranged from 55 to 58 degrees.

Throughout this outing, I experienced the same sorry fishing that has plagued me throughout this fall. I found no concentrations of largemouth bass, and there were long spells between bites. I landed seven largemouth bass out of the first small pond. Five of these fish were taken on a four-inch Z-Man black-blue- flake Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and the other two fish were tempted by a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Junebug FattyZ modified tube bait on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. All the fish were caught in deep water and a goodly distance from the shoreline. A hop-bounce-deadstick retrieve was the only effective retrieve.

“The fishing in the second pond was worse than it was in the first, and I spent most on my time fishing this pond. This pond consists of several mud points, long stretches of mud flats, and a concrete wall bordering a mud point. This pond surrendered only three largemouth bass, with the largest specimen weighing 2-pounds 12-ounces. All three of these bass were caught on the four-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. The bass were caught on two different mud points, and were enticed by a slow drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve. All three of these bass were in deep waters and way off the shoreline. The strikes were nothing more than a slight tightening of the line.

“I finished the day with 10 largemouth bass in four hours of tedious fishing.”

Nov. 25 log

Our son-in-law Mike Myers of Lawrence, Kansas, Eric Hughes of Olathe, Kansas, and I made the 76-mile trek to a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir on Nov. 25.

Mother Nature and Old Man Winter had conspired to keep most northeastern Kansas anglers at bay since Nov. 20 by walloping us with heavy winds, ranks of white caps, and unseasonably cold temperatures. For instance, the National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, reported that the low temperature on Nov. 24 was 13 degrees, which was 16 degrees below normal. Consequently, many of the ponds that stipple northeastern Kansas’ countryside were glazed with a thin sheet of ice as we drove by them on this trip .

The National Weather Service at the Johnson County Executive Airport in Olathe, Kansas, reported that the low temperature on Nov. 25 was 25 degrees and the high temperature was 35 degrees. It was cold enough that I wore gloves during most of the outing, and there were a few icicles decorating two of the shorelines at this power-plant reservoir. Except for a few moments during the four hours and 45 minutes that we were afloat, the sun was covered with layers of stratocumulus clouds, and the weather forecasters thought that some of these clouds might drop a wintry mix upon us, and to our delight, that wintry mix didn’t occurr. The wind was mild-mannered, angling out of the southwest and west at 8 to 12 mph. At 9:35 a.m. the barometric pressure was 30.22 and dropping.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing time would take place at 4:08 p.m. to 6:08 p.m. We fished from 10:15 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The water level looked to be nearly normal. The power plant was not generating electricity, and the surface temperature in the middle-third segment of the reservoir, which was where we fished, ranged from 48 degrees to 59 degrees. The hot water from the power plant is deposited into the middle-third segment of this reservoir, and the surface temperature around the outlet was 59 degrees, and along the southern fringe of the warm-water plume, the surface temperature was 48 degrees. We couldn’t see the propeller on the transom-mounted trolling motor, which was situated about two feet below the surface; thus, we called the water stained.

We made our first casts of the outing at a bluff point on the west side of the reservoir, and we caught a largemouth bass on the second cast and another largemouth bass on the fourth cast. From that point and a short section of its adjacent shoreline inside a flat cove, we extracted five largemouth bass. The point and shoreline were graced with a few laydowns, gravel, boulders, football-size rocks, some stumps and ledges. The five largemouth bass that we caught were abiding in three to five feet of water. This point was situated on the north end of the bluff. The surface temperature was 49 degrees. Our boat floated in three to 10 feet of water.

Mike Myers of Lawrence, Kansas, with the first largemouth bass of the outing.

After we fished the bluff point and its adjacent shoreline, we dissected the entire bluff, as well as the point at the south end of the bluff. The surface temperature was 48 degrees, and our boat floated in five to 13 feet of water. Here we failed to catch a largemouth bass, but we did land a mega carp and a hefty channel catfish.

The third spot that we fished was the southern point of another bluff of the west side of the reservoir. The surface temperature was 49 degrees. Our boat floated in five to seven feet of water. The terrain was embellished with gravel, boulders, and a brushpile. We didn’t garner a strike at the point.

The fourth area that we fished was a shallow and big clay point inside a flat cove that was adorn with some stumps and many laydowns. The boat floated in three to five feet of water. We failed to elicit a strike.

The fifth spot was another northern point on a bluff on the west side of the reservoir. This point was cluttered with scores of laydowns that were surrounded by gravel, football-size rocks and boulders. The surface temperature was 50 degrees. The boat floated in eight to 10 feet of water. This point didn’t yield a largemouth bass.

From that fruitless bluff point, we probed the entire bluff, which was bedecked with several piles of boulders, two shallow piles of brush, many laydowns, some ledges, several stumps, stretches of gravel and rocks. Our boat floated in five to 12 feet of water. Here we eked out only one largemouth bass.

The seventh spot of the outing was a submerged creek channel that courses across a mud flat on the south side of the reservoir. The surface temperature was 55 degrees. Thousands of tiny gizzard shad were roaming the flat that bordered the submerged creek channel. The flat was covered with three feet of water, and the heart of the creek channel was covered with eight feet of water. We fished about 100 yards of it, and we caught only one channel catfish.

After we fished the submerged creek channel, we went to another bluff on the west side of the reservoir, where the surface temperature was 55 degrees. Our boat floated in nine to 14 feet of water. This bluff was littered with many ledges, four big piles of boulders, several piles of brush, seven laydowns, scores of individual boulders, several stretches of gravel and football-size rocks. There were untold numbers of tiny gizzard shad moseying along this bluff, and we occasionally saw some largemouth bass attempt to engulf a shad. We caught five largemouth bass on this bluff. At the flat point on the south end of this bluff, where the boat floated in three to 10 feet of water, we extracted 19 largemouth bass. Vast numbers of tiny gizzard shad were roving around and across this point, too.

Eric Hughes of Olathe, Kansas, with the biggest largemouth bass of the outing.

The ninth area that we fished was a mud flat on the west side of the reservoir that is situated between two bluffs. The surface temperature was 55 degrees. The flat was embellished with a myriad of laydowns, brushpiles and stumps. The boat floated in three of six feet of water. We caught six largemouth bass on this mud flat, as well as another channel catfish. Here we also crossed paths with a veteran power angler who had been fishing for several hours and had caught only one largemouth bass, and we gave him a green-pumpkin and a Junebug Finesse ShadZ.

The tenth spot that we fished was another west-side bluff. The surface temperature ranged from 53 to 55 degrees. The boat floated in five to 10 feet of water. It was strewn with laydowns, ledges, gravel, boulders, brushpiles and football-size rocks. We eked out only one largemouth bass and one humongous freshwater drum.

Our eleventh stop of the outing was on the east side of the reservoir at the riprap point adjacent to the hot-water outlet. The surface temperature was 59 degrees. The boat floated in three feet of water, and we tangled with four largemouth bass.

The twelfth stop was a large, flat point on the east side of the reservoir and 200 yards north of the hot water outlet. The surface temperature was 59 degrees. The boat floated in two to eight feet of water. The terrain was primarily gravel and cluttered with eight big laydowns. We caught 10 largemouth bass on this point, and most of them were abiding in two to three feet of water.

The thirteenth area that we fished was a massive clay and gravel point on the north end of the outlet area. The surface temperature was 59 degrees. Our boat floated in three to six feet of water. We fished it quickly and failed to catch a largemouth bass, but we did catch one wiper.

The final stop of the day was the point and bluff where we began the outing, and we failed to garner a bite.

In sum, we fished 285 minutes, caught 51 largemouth bass, three channel catfish, one carp, one freshwater drum, one white bass and one wiper. We caught an average of 10.5 largemouth bass an hour.

Our three best baits were a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ, Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ and Z-Man’s PB&J Rain MinnowZ. These three baits were rigged on either a chartreuse 1/32-ounce or a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. A Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig inveigled a few of the 51 largemouth bass, including one that weighed four pounds, four ounces, and a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin FattyZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig enticed three largemouth bass. (The Rain MinnowZ is an extremely effective bait in northeastern Kansas waterways during the fall and winter – especially at both of our power-plant reservoirs. But to our sorrow, Z-Man no longer manufactures the Rain MinnowZ. But Midwest finesse anglers can customize one, by cutting three inches off of the head of a seven-inch Finesse WormZ and affixing it to a 1/32- or 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.)

On the flat terrains, the two most effective retrieves were the hop and bounce and the drag and deadstick. Along the steeper terrains, the best retrieve was the swim-glide-and-shake motif.

Nov. 29 log

The day after Thanksgiving and Easter used to be a day that my brother, John Kehde of Sedalia, Missouri, and I and one or two of our eight kids spent fishing at either the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, or one of the reservoirs in northeastern Kansas. But to our dismay, as our children had many children, these holidays became a bit too complex for us to find a way to fish together. Therefore, a number of years have lapsed since I have fished on the day after Thanksgiving.

On Nov. 29, however, our 12-year-old grandson, Brady Cayton of Emporia, Kansas, joined me for a short but memorable outing to a nearby 195-acre community reservoir. In the past, he has fished with me only on balmy spring and summer days. So, this was his first cold-water outing. His parents were more than a tad skeptical, hinting that it looked to be a foolish endeavor. And Brady uttered some minor protests when he discovered that he had to wear long underwear and an assortment of rather bulky and uncomfortable winter wear. But within the first five minutes that we were afloat, he was pleased that he had dressed warmly. Moreover, he was astonished that the water felt so cold on his hands

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, recorded the low temperature for the day at 20 degrees and a high temperature at 54 degrees. The barometric pressure at 11: 52 a.m. was 30.41 and dropping precipitously. The sky exhibited a China-blue hue and the sun was bright and relatively warm. Initially, the wind was mild-mannered and angling from the east and southeast at 5 to 9 mph, and shortly after we were afloat it switched to the south and blew at 12 mph and was occasionally wailing at 20 mph.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred from 6:36 a.m. to 8:36 a.m. and 7:01 p.m. to 9:01 p.m. We fished from 12:25 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.

As we made the 15-mile journey to the boat ramp, we noticed that the past six days of unseasonably cold weather had caused all the waterways along the roadway to be covered with ice, and we worried that a skim of ice might be covering the feeder-creek arms at the reservoir that we were driving towards. But to our delight, that worry was needless. The reservoir was totally free of ice. In fact, the surface temperature ranged from 40 degrees to 43 degrees. The water level looked to be less than a foot below normal. The water was stained to the point that we could not see the propeller on the transom-mounted trolling motor.

We began the outing plying the eastern shoreline halfway inside the reservoir’s south feeder-creek arm. The surface temperature was 40 degrees. We probed about 75 yards of this shoreline, which was endowed with American water willows, a dozen stumps, a beaver hut, three laydowns, gravel, clay, boulders, rocks, and a few meager patches of some unidentified submergent vegetation. Our boat floated in eight to 10 feet of water, and we retrieved our baits in three to seven feet of water. We failed to elicit a strike.

The second area that we fished was a 40-yard stretch along the west shoreline in this feeder-creek arm. This shoreline was slightly steeper than the east shoreline. It was embellished with rocks, boulders, gravel, two laydowns, a patch of American water willows, and a nearby submerged creek channel. The surface temperature was 40 degrees. The boat floated in 11 to 13 feet of water, and we retrieved our baits in two to nine feet of water. We failed to garner a strike.

Our third stop began a quarter of the way inside the reservoir’s southwest feeder creek arm and along its steep southeast shoreline. We fished about 50 yards of this shoreline, which consisted of rocks, clay, gravel, some boulders, several stumps, and five laydowns. The surface temperature was 42 degrees. The boat floated in nine to 15 feet of water. We caught one largemouth bass on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on an unpainted 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was presented in a slow-drag-and-deadstick retrieve.

The fourth and last area that we fished was a massive stretch of shoreline along the northwest side of the southwest feeder creek arm. This immense terrain  included three significant flats, which were graced with some ledges, as well as a submerged creek channel. There were also 11 boat docks, some patches of submergent vegetation, gravel, clay, silt, football-size rocks, boulders, three secondary points, and a few man-made brush piles. We fished this shoreline and its flats from the mouth to about a third of the way inside this feeder-creek arm. The surface temperature was 43 degrees. The boat  floated  in seven to 12 feet of water. From one of the flats, which was the size of four tennis courts and was situated about a third of the way inside this arm, we extracted 14 largemouth bass by dragging and deadsticking a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on an unpainted 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s Junebug FattyZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The largemouth bass on this shallow flat were abiding in five to eight feet of water, and about 20 to 25 feet from the water’s edge. We also caught one largemouth bass on a secondary point near a boat dock by dragging the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ and unpainted Gopher jig in five feet of water. We caught three largemouth bass along the northwest shoreline near the mouth of this southwest feeder-creek arm, and this area was embellished with some patches of submergent vegetation, gravel, clay, silt, football-size rocks, boulders, some ledges, a pile of boulders and one boat dock. These three largemouth bass were allured by dragging the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-oounce Gopher jig.

In sum, we fished 110 minutes, which is about the maximum amount of time that most of the youngsters in our family can fish before the boredom factor erupts and takes the bloom off the outing. We caught 18 largemouth bass, which was an average of about 10 largemouth bass an hour. During the first 35 minutes, we failed to fetch a strike, and during that spell, a Brady exhibited a tad of disillusionment and a touch of boredom, but once we found the small concentration of largemouth bass abiding on the shallow flat, he became enchanted with executing an alluring drag-and-deadstick retrieve, and he became rather adept at it.

After we loaded the boat on the trailer and were driving home, he said that he wanted to make the day after Thanksgiving an annual fishing affair.

Nov. 30 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, who has been without a boat since he damaged it on Nov. 21, filed a report about his bank-walking endeavors on Nov. 30.

He wrote: “In late November, the daily temperatures in north central Texas average a low of 39 degrees and a high of 61 degrees. However, on November 22, a major Arctic cold front swept across north central Texas, bringing five days of unseasonably cold temperatures, high winds, sleet, and cold rain. Area thermometers plummeted to lows in the mid-20s and highs barely reaching the mid-30s. This wintry weather kept me off area lakes and ponds for seven days.

“On Nov. 30, the weather improved substantially. The National Weather Service recorded the low temperature at 42 degrees and the high for the afternoon reached the average high of 61 degrees. The skies were mostly cloudy, with the sun breaking through on occasions. A pesky wind blew out of the south at 13 to 20 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.32.

“I elected to take a pond-hopping excursion to the northwest Dallas suburb of Carrollton. The fishing was tedious and exasperating. I was afoot from noon to 5:00 p.m. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the most productive fishing periods were 7:32 a.m. to 9:32 a.m. and 7:59 p.m. to 9:59 p.m.

“The first public pond I visited was the size of a football field. The water was stained with about 1 ½ feet of visibility. I was unable to measure water temperatures throughout this outing. This pond consists of two large shallow flats on its western and northern banks. The eastern shoreline is framed by a concrete and rock retaining wall, and the south end is formed by a concrete spillway. Submerged hydrilla beds embellished the upper north end of the pond.

“I alternated between the following baits: a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig; a Z-Man’s four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on a 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig; a Z-Man’s 2 1/2-inch California Craw ZinkerZ on a 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig. I also experimented with a Bass Pro Shops’ 1/8-ounce black Enticer Pro Series hair jig with a Berkley three-inch black-blue-fleck Chigger Craw trailer trimmed down to 2 3/4-inches. I tested the hair jig about 65% of the time, utilizing a short hop and glide retrieve and a very slow crawl-deadstick presentation, which failed to produce any strikes.

“My next stop was at a larger community pond. This pond was about two football fields long and two football fields wide. This waterway has a large flat along its north shore, several points with steep clay banks and submerged hydrilla beds, a fishing pier on the west shore, and a concrete dam on the southern shore. The fishing at this pond was as dismal as the fishing was at the first pond. I continued experimenting with the hair jig and Critter Craw combo. I also tried a Z-Man’s four-inch Junebug Hula StickZ on a 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s 2 1/2-inch Junebug FattyZ modified tube lure on a 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig; and a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ on a 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig. After three and a half hours and hundreds of casts, I caught my first largemouth bass of the day off a steep clay bank on the green pumpkin Scented LeechZ. It was caught in less three feet of water, and it engulfed the bait as soon as the lure hit the water. I was unable to elicit any other strikes in this pond.

“My third stopover was a small municipal pond about half the size of a football field. This pond had a hour glass shape, and it was encircled with shallow vegetation. I extended my hair jig experiment to this watershed as well, but was unable to garner any strikes. I switched to the green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ and caught one bass using a slow swim-glide-shake technique.

“The last pond I plied was about the same size as the third pond. It was oval in shape and ringed with shallow submerged vegetation. I tested the black hair jig with the Critter Craw trailer at this pond as well, but to no avail. I also used the green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ, which did not yield any strikes.

“In total, I eked out only two largemouth bass in five frustrating hours of fishing. I concentrated my efforts on ponds enriched with submerged vegetation, and they all exhibited stained water clarity. All four of these ponds are productive warm-water venues. I focused on slowly and meticulously dissecting the submerged vegetation. The only lure that produced results was the green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ rigged on a 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig. I was unable to establish any dominant retrieve style. I was baffled by the lack of any concentrations of active largemouth bass around the aquatic vegetation. I was also disappointed with the ineffectiveness of the black hair jig with the Critter Craw trailer. It appears that the cold, stained-water lakes and ponds in north central Texas, including those enhanced with aquatic vegetation, are not as fruitful as those in northeastern Kansas.”

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Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, submitted this report about his Nov. 30 outing at a 120-acre community reservoir in the northern suburbs of Kansas City.

The National Weather Service at the Kansas City International Airport recorded the morning low temperature at 35 degrees and the afternoon high temperature at 54 degrees. It was sunny. While he was afloat the wind angled out of the south and southwest at 6 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.14 at 10:53 a.m. and falling.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the most productive fishing periods were 7:32 a.m. to 9:32 a.m. and 7:59 p.m. to 9:59 p.m.

Frazee  wrote: “A friend and I went out from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and it was a great trip–not for the fishing, but for the wildlife watching.

“It was obvious that the deer were in the rut. We watched two bucks run three does ragged. It was something to see.

“Big flocks of Canada geese landed and took off regularly. And a flock of mallards let us get unbelievably close before taking off.

“The fishing wasn’t bad. The crappies we had been on disappeared. So did the trout. But the largemouth bass bit reasonably well.

“We caught 18 largemouth bass, three of them keepers. Even the smaller ones were in great shape. I’m sure much of that has to do with the shad we stocked.

“That’s the good news. The bad news is that I think our robust shad population has changed fishing patterns. I’m marking big balls of shad suspended in 50 to 60 feet of water with big fish around them. I haven’t tried fishing for them yet, but I’m going to. I’m going to try jigging spoons and some heavier grubs and tubes to see if they’ll bite.

“Almost all of the largemouth bass we caught today came on Northland Fishing Tackle’s Slurpies and 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s Junebug ZinkerZs retrieved slowly over weed stubble in 15 to 20 feet of water. Again, rocky areas were not productive.

“I tried a suspending stickbait and a jig and pig with no success.

“The surface temperature was 44 degrees, and the water was fairly clear, despite its greenish hue.”

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  • Steve Craven

    Hey Ned, Steve from Maryland again. Saw in the above article your mention of a prototype 3.5″ grub from Z-Man products. Any type of details you can share? As in colors, availability dates, sizes…..etc….? Thanks, Steve

    • nkehde

      Steve:
      I am sorry that it has taken us 18 days to respond to your question about Z-Man’s prototype 3 1/2-inch GrubZ.

      It should be available in July and will be introduced at the 2014 ICAST show. Our grub bite in northeastern Kansas has been extremely lackluster for the past several years. Therefore, we have not used it has much as we had hoped to use it. But in our eyes, it looks as if it will play an intergral role in many anglers Midwest finesse tactics. What’s more, several of our temperate bass friends are extremely eager to use it. We don’t know what colors it will be made in. The one that we have fished with is green-pumpkin. It has been extremely durable.

      When we get more information, we will post an update.

      Best wishes and happy New Year’s
      Ned

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