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Midwest Finesse: April 2014

by Ned Kehde   |  May 1st, 2014 4

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, caught this largemouth bass on April 5.

 

 

The wind frustrated scores of Midwest finesse anglers in April.

And The Topeka (Kansas) Capital-Journal noted on its website that winds gusted up to 51 miles per hour by 11:30 a.m. on April 16, which was the highest recorded speed during the past 12 months. The second highest occurred on Jan. 26, when it hit 46 mph. According to this newspaper story, the “average and average maximum wind speeds for January and March of this year are by far the highest when comparing data from those months back to 2010.”

Accompanying those winds, scores of strong weather systems crisscrossed northeastern Kansas since the beginning of the year, and some Midwest finesse anglers called this phenomenon a piscatorial plague. John Woynick of Topeka, Kansas, and a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said, strong winds are associated with deep low-pressure systems that move across the Plains. As these systems moved across northeastern Kansas, they were often accompanied by unusually cold temperatures.

Consequently, several of the logs in this month’s guide contain some observations about how Midwest finesse anglers tried to deal with the wind and strange weather circumstances that confronted them.

After the long, windy, and brutally cold winter, and despite some unseasonably cold and windy stretches throughout the 30 days of April, spring unfolded quite elegantly across northeastern Kansas. The redbud trees glistened for days on end, as did the lilacs, plum thickets, crab apples, cherries, Bradford pears, and dogwoods. And on April 30, to our delight and amazement, dozens of daffodils were still blooming in our gardens. In spite of the many glorious elements of spring’s blossoms that sparkled in Midwest anglers eyes, there were a number of outings in northeastern Kansas when we struggled mightily to locate and catch largemouth bass. But for some unknown reasons, there were some outings when the largemouth bass were relatively easy to locate and catch. For instance, Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I caught 47 largemouth bass on April 1. Then I caught 44 on April 3 and 34 on April 4. But on April 5, I caught only 14 largemouth bass. On April 7, Rick Hebenstreit and I caught 55 largemouth bass, but on April 11, Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, and I labored to catch 11. Then four days later on April 15, I caught 59 largemouth bass, and then I caught 55 on April 18. Then my tussles with locating and catching largemouth bass erupted again on April 22, when I labored to catch 16 largemouth bass and four smallmouth bass. But to my delight, my grandson Gabe Bonanno of New York City and his brother-in-law, Tyler Savo of Lawrence, Kansas, and I caught 102 largemouth bass on April 23.

In total, I fished 10 times. During the 44 hours that I and my various partners fished, we caught 432 largemouth bass and four smallmouth bass, which was an average of 43.2 an outing and 9.90 an hour, which was below our 2013 hourly average of 11.6 per hour. Four of these April outings, however, were bass-fishing-for-trout affairs. On those four outings, we caught 39 rainbow trout, and these encounters with rainbow trout impeded our focus on catching largemouth bass.

Even though the countryside continued to sparkle with the splendors of spring, the wind howled and weather turned fowl during the last days of April, and it kept many of us at bay. In fact, the inclement weather, as well as several family obligations, prevented me from fishing during the last seven days of the month.

It is interesting to note that some of the Midwest finesse anglers who plied the strip pits that stipple the countryside in eastern and southeastern Kansas found that the largemouth bass preferred power tactics rather than finesse this April. And Chris Rohr of Overland Park, Kansas, penned a thought-provoking log about this phenomenon on April 15.

Some smallmouth bass began to show up in northeastern Kansas on April 18, but it was far from being a bonanza for Pok-Chi Lau and his son, Tyler Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, who caught 23 smallmouth bass in about three hours. Then on a very wind-blown April 26, Bob Gum of Kansas City and a friend tangled with 49 of them in six hours. The Laus and Gum were fishing a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ flatland reservoir, and they penned brief logs about how and where they caught these smallmouth bass.

Two Midwest finesse anglers made separate trips to Bull Shoals Lake on the Missouri and Arkansas border, during the days surrounding April’s full moon. They found the largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and spotted bass fishing to be surprisingly trying, and Bob Gum’s April 21 log provides a few details about his endeavors at Bull Shoals.

Besides the logs written by Gum, Lau, and Rohr, there are logs from Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, Paul Finn of Olathe, Kansas, Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, John McKean of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Dennis Medley of Morton, Illinois, Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, Drew Walker of Springfield, Missouri, and Dave Weroha of Kansas City. Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, wrote nine detailed logs, and as his logs reveal, the wind confounded and plagued a goodly number of his days in north-central Texas. In addition to his logs, Reideler helped edit all of the 25,561 words that make up this month’s guide.

Here’s hoping these logs will help anglers in the years to come to deal with all of the vicissitudes that Mother Nature and her aquatic denizens can generate during the 30 days of April.

April 1 log

Until this April 1 outing, my cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I had not fished together since Dec. 2, 2013, which reveals how brutal the winter of 2013-14 was and how windy the first dozen days of spring were.

On our Dec. 2 outing, we ventured to a 100-acre community reservoir that lies in the southwest suburbs of Kansas City, where the surface temperature was 42 degrees, and where we caught 43 largemouth bass. And we returned to this reservoir on April 1. I had also made a solo outing to this waterway on Mar. 17, when the surface temperature ranged from 42 to 44 degrees, and I struggled mightily to catch 11 largemouth bass.

A cold front had coursed across northeastern Kansas during the night of Mar. 31 and early morning hours of April 1. The National Weather Service at Olathe, Kansas, recorded the morning low temperature on April 1 at 29 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature was 53 degrees. Initially the wind angled out of the north at 6 mph and eventually switched to the east at 6 mph. Throughout our outing, the sun had a difficult time penetrating various layers and kinds of mid-level clouds. The barometric pressure was 30.11 and gradually falling at 9:53 a.m. On Mar. 31, the NWS recorded the low temperature at 62 degrees and the high temperature at 82 degrees. The sun was shinning nearly everywhere, and the wind was howling out of the south at 23 to 41 mph, and it had been blowing that furiously for several days.

The water level was an inch or two above normal. The surface temperature ranged from 48 to 50 degrees. The water was clear enough that I could see the black propeller on the transom-mounted trolling motor, which was about 22 inches below the surface, and when we can see it, we describe the water as Kansas clear, which isn’t very clear when it is compared to the extremely clear waterways in the Ozarks and Ontario. Patches of American water willows embellish some of this reservoir’s shorelines, and some of the stalks in these patches were exhibiting hints of green. This reservoir is graced with an abundance of coontail, but on this outing, the coontail patches were in their stubby wintertime motif, and many of them were coated with filamentous algae. Filamentous algae also coated some of the stalks of the American water willows, laydowns, rocks, boulders, boat docks, brush piles and other underwater objects, and of course, it adhered to our lures.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 12:26 p.m. to 2:26 p.m., and during those two hours, we caught the preponderance of the 47 largemouth bass that we caught. It is interesting to note that this was one of the rare times that our best catches corresponded with the solunar calendar’s best fishing times since we began monitoring the effectiveness of the solunar calendar during the past two years. We fished from 9:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., which was a little longer than we normally fish, but since Mother Nature had kept us at bay for days on end, we rationalized that we should fish a little bit more than we normally do on our midday Midwest finesse outings.

From 9:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., we caught only 11 largemouth bass, one walleye and one channel catfish.

Three of the largemouth bass were caught along the dam and at the west end of the dam, and they were caught in about four feet of water and allured by a 2 ½-inch Z-Man Fishing Products’ PB&J ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig, which was retrieved with a drag-and-deadstick presentation.

From the dam, we ventured to the upper portions of this reservoir, and we stayed up there until 2:20 p.m.

Four largemouth bass were caught along an east-side shoreline, and they were allured by a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ affixed to a 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. These largemouth bass were extracted from water as shallow as five feet and as deep as 10 feet, and they were seduced by either a drag-and-deadstick retrieve or a drag-and-shake presentation. This shoreline is about 200 yards long, and it is littered with a rock bridge, American water willows, rocky ledges, concrete and stone retaining walls, laydowns, coontail patches, boat docks, and a sundry of trash. A submerged creek channel courses along a short segment of this shoreline. Along some stretches of this shoreline, our boat floated in water as shallow as three feet and as deep as 16 feet. The deeper portions yielded the four bass.

We caught four largemouth bass along a north-side shoreline. It is graced with the same characteristics as the east-side shoreline, but it is bordered by a longer stretch of the submerged creek channel. These largemouth bass were caught on a 2 ¾-inch prototype Z-Man California Craw ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a 2 ½-inch Z-Man Junebug ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. One was caught on the initial drop by an American water willow patch, and three were caught along a rocky terrain on a drag-and-shake retrieve in four to five feet of water.

Around 12:30 p.m., we began fishing a west-side shoreline, which is about 400 yards long, and along this stretch we caught 33 largemouth bass. Its topography is similar to the east-side and north-side shorelines, but it is cluttered with more boat docks and trash. We wielded a 2 ¾-inch prototype Z-Man California Craw ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 ½-inch Z-Man Junebug ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 ½-inch Z-Man California Craw ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and we primarily employed a drag-and-shake retrieve. About a dozen of the largemouth bass engulfed our baits on the initial fall. The majority of the largemouth bass were in close proximity to the concrete and stone retaining walls that line this massive shoreline.

During the last 30 minutes of this outing, we probed a 30-yard section of a steep main-lake shoreline in the lower section of the reservoir, where we caught three largemouth bass adjacent to a retaining wall and two boat docks. These bass were allured by the 2 ½-inch Z-Man California Craw ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. They were extracted out of three to five feet of water, while the boat floated in 12 to 17 feet of water.

From that steep main-lake shoreline, we ventured inside a main-lake cove and fished a secondary point, some offshore coontail patches and around one laydown. The 2 ¾-inch prototype Z-Man California Craw ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig retrieved with a drag-and-shake presentation caught two largemouth bass along the secondary point, and the 2 ½-inch Z-Man California Craw ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig extracted one largemouth bass from the outside edge of the laydown.

In addition to the 47 largemouth bass, we inadvertently caught one black crappie, one channel catfish, and one saugeye.

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Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following report about his April 1 bank-walking outing.

He wrote: “Wind advisories became a common and recurring theme in March, and they continue into April as well. Thus, I was forced to continue my bank-walking endeavors on this April Fool’s Day excursion to two small community reservoirs near the southern boundary of Lewisville.

“The afternoon was partly cloudy with sun filled skies. The National Weather Service reported the morning low temperature at 66 degrees and the afternoon high was 83 degrees. A robust wind blew out of the south at 15 to 25 mph, with some gusts up to 30 mph.The barometric pressure measured 29.96 and was rising.

“I fished from noon until 5:00 p.m. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the optimum fishing period would occur between 12:34 p.m. and 2:34 p.m.

“The fishing, however, was disappointing and punctuated with long and tedious spells between bites.

The first of these two waterways is about five acres in size, and the largemouth bass were displaying some pre-spawning behavior.

The water was stained, exhibiting about one and a half feet of visibility. Its only outstanding features are a large mud flat that spans its south end, steep mud shorelines that are embellished with a large hydrilla bed and a small rock pile near the north shoreline. The water level appeared to be about two feet below normal.

I used two baits: Berkley’s four-inch black-blue Power Grub dressed on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and Zoom Bait Company’s four-inch watermelon-red Mini-Lizard rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

I caught two largemouth bass that were relating to the northeast edge of the hydrilla bed in five feet of water. Both of these bass were bewitched by the Berkley Power Grub presented in a slow swim-glide-and-shake manner. The large mud flat, steep mud banks, and small rock pile failed to yield any bass. The largest of these two bass weighed 2 1/2-pounds. The Zoom Mini-Lizard failed to induce a strike. I saw several largemouth bass slowly meandering along the east shoreline, but I did not find any spawners.

The second small reservoir is located just north of the first one. It is about the size of a football field, and there were visible signs that the largemouth bass were engaging in some of their spawning rituals.

The water was stained with about two feet of visibility. The water level appeared to be about three feet below normal. A large island is situated near its western shoreline with two creek channels running parallel to the island’s north and south shorelines. A steep mud bank borders the eastern shoreline. A decorative stone wall adorns a shallow mud point on the southern shoreline.

Upon arriving at the southeast shoreline, I immediately observed three spawning beds close to the water’s edge in about 1 1/2 feet of water, and there was one largemouth bass hovering above each bed. These are the first active spawning beds I have seen this spring. I decided not to disturb these fish from their spawning duties. Instead, I looked for aggregations of pre-spawn bass in the deeper waters off the shorelines. I struggled to catch six largemouth bass. All six bass were scattered and residing about 15 feet off the shoreline in three to five feet of water.

I employed an array of grubs, craw worms, Z-Man’s 2 ¼-inch FattyZ tails, and Z-Man’s four-inch Finesse WormZs affixed to various colors and sizes of Gopher jigs, but they failed to elicit any strikes. Zoom’s watermelon-red Mini-Lizard implemented with a slow twitch-and-deadstick retrieve allured one bass from the east shoreline. Z-Man’s three-inch bluegill-hue Scented LeechZ rigged on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and suspended 18 inches below a one-inch Thill Rattling fixed bobber allured three largemouth bass from the northern shoreline, and this rig was presented with a slow twitch-twitch-and-pause cadence. Two more bass, including a second 2 1/2-pounder, were caught from the south-side ledge of the creek channel that runs parallel to the southern shoreline of the island. I failed to elicit a strike on the mud flat adjacent to the decorative stone wall.

I then returned to the five-acre reservoir and refished its steep north shoreline. I used the bobber-and-Scented LeechZ rig with a slow twitch-twitch-and-pause presentation parallel to the shoreline, and I tangled with one largemouth bass. This bass was abiding about 10 feet off the shore in about five feet of water.

In total, I allured nine largemouth bass in five hours. The bobber-and-Scented LeechZ rig bewitched six largemouth bass, and another three bass were able to liberate themselves before I could land them. Berkley’s four-inch black-blue Power Grub caught two, and Zoom’s watermelon-red Mini-Lizard beguiled one. Two power anglers were also fishing the second reservoir. They employed large tandem-blade spinnerbaits and wacky-rigged Senko-type baits, and they spent some time trying to catch the three spawning largemouth bass along the southeast shoreline. They failed to catch a single fish during the two hours that they fished.

April 3 log

Mother Nature doused northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri with some much needed rain on April 2. The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, recorded 1.09 inches of rain, but that didn’t put much of a dent in the drought that has reigned in these parts for the past 27 months. In fact, the precipitation rate is nearly 24 inches below normal. Throughout the evening of April 2 and early morning hours of April 3, the weather forecasters predicted that a couple of thunderstorms would erupt across northeastern Kansas on April 3, but when those storms didn’t materialize, I ventured to a nearly-by 195-acre community reservoir.

According to the National Weather Service, the morning’s low temperature for April 3 was 49 degrees and the afternoon’s high temperature was 70 degrees. The wind angled out of the east at 8 to 10 mph, and shortly after 2:00 p.m., it switched out of the northwest at 10 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.61 and slowly falling at 9:52 a.m. Clouds covered the sun for most of the day, but there were spells when the sun found an opening, and its rays warmed the surface of this reservoir and provoked the leaves on the willow trees to unfold and the buds on several other species of trees to swell and exhibit spring hues. A cold front arrived around 4:30 p.m., causing area thermometers to plummet into the 40s, and it occasionally drizzled. Eventually, the north wind began to roar, and through the night and into the morning of April 4, some gusts surpassed 40 mph.

The water level at this reservoir looked to be up a touch since my last outing on Mar. 25. It looked to be at least six inches below normal, and to my surprise, the reservoir’s managers had opened the outlet, and a significant stream of water was streaming out of this reservoir. The water was clear enough that I could see the black propeller on the transom-mounted trolling motor, and the propeller is about 22 inches below the surface. The surface temperature at the dam was 49 degrees, and it was 54 degrees in the back end of this reservoir’s southwest feeder-creek arm. Since Mar. 25, the patches of curly-leaf pondweed had grown by leaps and bounds. Around 1:00 p.m. an uncountable number of aquatic turtles were lying on laydowns and boulders, relishing the sun’s occasional rays, and vast numbers of aquatic insects were milling about.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur at 1:56 a.m. to 3:56 a.m., and 2:21 p.m. to 4:21 p.m. There was a minor period at 8:09 a.m. to 10:09 a.m. I was afloat from 9:35 a.m. to 2:35 p.m.

I spent the first hour and 20 minutes fishing the rock and riprap shorelines along the dam and some of the shorelines adjacent to the dam. I caught 12 largemouth bass. Eight were caught on a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Three were caught on a 2 ¾-inch prototype Z-Man’s California Craw ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. And one was caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; this was the first largemouth bass that I have caught on a Finesse WormZ in 2014. One largemouth bass was caught during the initial drop, and 11 were bewitched by a drag-and-deadstick retrieve. These bass were extracted from three to nine feet of water.

I spent about 40 minutes fishing four spots inside the reservoir’s south feeder-creek arm, where I caught four largemouth bass. Two were caught on a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ spin affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was presented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve around patches of curly-leaf pondweed on the mud flat in the back third of this arm, where the boat floated in three to four feet of water. On the same mud flat, I caught a largemouth bass on a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was presented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve in a patch of curly-leaf pondweed. The third one was caught on a steep rocky shoreline on the 2 ¾-inch prototype Z-Man’s California Craw ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was retrieved with a drag-and-shake presentation.

I spent the last three hours in the back end of the reservoir’s southwest feeder-creek arm, where I caught 18 largemouth bass and seven crappie. All of the bass and crappie were abiding in two to four feet of water. Three largemouth bass and two crappie were associated with a short stretch of riprap; the rest were associated with patches of curly-leaf pondweed.

Two largemouth bass were caught on the shortened four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig along the short stretch of riprap. The Finesse WormZ also allured two largemouth bass out of a patch of curly-leaf pondweed. These four largemouth bass were allured by the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

The 2 ¾-inch prototype Z-Man’s California Craw ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve caught two largemouth bass around some curly-leaf pondweed.

The 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ spin affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig inveigled 11 largemouth bass that were abiding in patches of curly-leaf pondweed.

I spent the last 10 minutes wielding a bobber or float rig. The bobber was fastened to the line and 20 inches above a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig that was affixed to a Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Scented Leech. This rig caught one largemouth bass along the short stretch of riprap, which engulfed the Scented LeechZ on the initial drop.

Across five hours of fishing, I caught 44 small largemouth bass or an average of 8.3 largemouth bass an hour, which is a sub-par April outing for a Midwest finesse angler in northeastern Kansas.

But April 3 on this reservoir was even more problematic for power anglers.

The mission and passion of Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas is to catch 25 largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass an hour, and we do not care if they are tiny ones or big ones. On average throughout a calendar year, we tangle with 10 of them an hour. That philosophy, however, is the antithesis of power and tournament anglers whose aim is to catch five good-size largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass an outing.

During this outing, I crossed paths with Eric Fortner of Gardner, Kansas, twice, and both times, we complained about how difficult the fishing was. Fortner is a talented power angler, who cares more about tangling with big largemouth bass rather than vast numbers of small largemouth bass. On this outing, he wielded a Z-Man’s ChatterBait, several kinds of jerkbaits, a Storm’s Original Wiggle Wart, and a soft-plastic swimbait. But to his chagrin, he caught only seven small largemouth bass and one crappie. In his eyes, it was worse than a sub-par April outing. In Aprils past, he has tangled with scores of lunker-sized largemouth bass, and most of them were caught around the patches of curly-leaf pondweed.

April 4 log

Some unseasonably cold weather and blustery winds traveled across northeastern Kansas during the night of April 3. The wind roared with gusts that ranged from 25 to 40 mph until 11 a.m. on April 4.

When the wind started to wane a touch, I decided to do some bass fishing for trout at a 416-acre community reservoir, where an angler can often find refuge from pesky west and northwest winds.

The National Weather Service recorded the low temperature at 39 degrees and the high temperature at 51 degrees; the normal low is 38 degrees, and the normal high temperature is 61 degrees. The sky was cloudy and filled to the brim with stratus and nimbostratus clouds until 3:30 p.m., and then the sky was cluttered with altocumulus clouds, which allowed the sun’s rays to warm the late afternoon hours. Until the sun began to shine, the wind-chill factor had me donning a stocking cap, and my 74-year-old fingers tingled in the cold wind, which provoked me to wear a pair of gloves periodically.

The water level looked to be more than three feet below normal. The surface temperature ranged from 48 to 50 degrees. The water was clear enough that I could easily see the black propeller on the bow-mounted and transom-mounted trolling motors.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 2:54 a.m. to 4:54 a.m. and 3:19 p.m. to 5:19 p.m., and there was a minor period from 9:07 a.m. to 11:07 a.m. I was afloat from 12:35 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.

Although the velocity of the wind wasn’t as annoying as it was earlier in the day, it was still necessary to hide from it. Therefore, I spent the entire outing dissecting shorelines, main-lake and secondary points on the north and west sides of the reservoir. I hopscotched from the dam to the reservoir’s upper reaches. I did, however, attempt to spend a few minutes probing a beaver hut situated along the north shoreline on the east side of the reservoir, but the wind and waves that angled into that feeder-creek arm from the west and northwest allowed me to make fewer than 2o casts, but those casts yielded three largemouth bass.

The most fruitful locations were two bluffy shorelines in the upper end of the reservoir. One was inside a secondary feeder-creek arm. The other was a main-lake bluff. Both bluffs were linked by a main-lake point. From this locale, I extracted 21 largemouth bass, 13 rainbow trout, four white bass, and the first bluegill of 2014. This bluff is graced with ledges, laydowns, massive boulders, rocks, gravel, and deep-water.

Two largemouth bass were caught on riprap along the west end of the dam.

Seven largemouth bass were caught along the north shoreline and a short span of the south shoreline inside a large and steep-sided cove that was sheltered from the wind. These shorelines are rock-and-boulder laced, as well as embellished with a few laydowns, man-made brush piles, and three secondary points.

One largemouth bass was caught along a shallow, riprap shoreline inside a flat cove on the reservoir’s west side. The wind was a tad too bothersome for me to effectively fish in this cove.

The two most productive lures were a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and 3 ¾-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The Finesse WormZ is 4 ¾-inches long, and when we use it, we always customize it by shortening it by three-quarters of an inch or more.

During the first two hours, the most effective presentation was a drag-and-shake retrieve, and it was occasionally punctuated with the deadstick motif, which was terminated with some substantial shakes . Then for the final two hours, the best retrieve became a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. The shake component of both retrieves was vigorous. It was executed by employing a lot of slack line and creating a series of significant S-curves in the line between the rod tip and where the line penetrated the surface of the water. At locales that were sheltered from the wind, I held the rod at the two o’clock position, which allowed me to create more S-curves.

In total, I caught and released 34 largemouth bass and 13 trout, and four white bass. Some of these fish were caught from near the water’s edge in about two feet of water, a few were caught in eight to 10 feet of water, and others were caught in three to seven feet of water.

Since Mar. 18, we have witnessed the demise of the effectiveness of the Z-Man green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, the ascendency of the 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and the dawning of the effectiveness of the Finesse WormZ. The effectiveness of the Finesse WormZ should gain momentum as April continues to unfold, and once the spawn season is upon us, tiny lizards and creature baits usually become alluring options for us to rig on either a 1/32- or 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

April 5 log

On April 5 the wind was mild-mannered and angling out of the south and southeast instead of wailing out of the north and northwest as it did on April 4. This change motivated me to make a return trip to the 416-acre community reservoir that I fished on April 4 when the wind prevented me from fishing some of this reservoir’s finest lairs along its eastern shorelines.

The National Weather Service in Topeka, Kansas, recorded the low temperature at 39 degrees and the high temperature at 63 degrees. The barometric pressure at 10:53 a.m. was 30.16 and falling. Perhaps in an act of celebration and appreciation of a spell of rather balmy weather, several pelicans kited about majestically in the sun-drenched and cobalt-blue sky. A few loons even made a rare appearance, and one saluted me with its wail that resembles the haunting laugh of the severely insane.

It was a delightful day to be afloat, and it was only the second time in 2014 that I was warm from the tip of my toes to the top of my bald head while I was fishing; in fact, I even broke into a slight and enjoyable sweat for about a half of an hour.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 3:49 a.m. to 5:49 a.m. and 4:13 p.m. to 6:13 p.m., and a minor period would take place from 10:01 a.m. to 12:01 p.m. I was afloat from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and as noted above, I focused on the east side of the reservoir, which I could not fish because of the wind and waves on April 4.

The water level was more than three feet below normal. The surface temperature ranged from 48 to 52 degrees. The water was clear enough that I could easily see the black propeller on the transom-mounted trolling motor.

I fished about two-thirds of the riprap along the eastern section of the dam, and I failed to elicit a strike. I fished two massive off-shore rock piles, and I didn’t garner a strike. I fished a short bluff, where I eked out one largemouth bass. After plying those three lackluster areas, I spent the rest of the time fishing a variety of main-lake shorelines and points, as well as parts of two shorelines inside two feeder-creek arms, where I caught only 13 largemouth bass and 15 rainbow trout. But I elicit nearly two dozen strikes that I failed to hook, and the majority of those strikes felt as if they were administered by rainbow trout.

A 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig allured the bulk of the 14 bass and 15 rainbow trout that I caught and released. A 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig was responsible for bewitching a few of those 29 fish.

We trim 1 1/4-inches off of the head of the Finesse WormZ to make it 3 1/2-inches long.

The swim-glide-and-radical-shake retrieve elicited the most attention from the largemouth bass and rainbow trout. I caught a few by implementing a drag- deadstick-and-radical-shake presentation. And with both retrieves, most of the strikes occurred when I was creating a significant series of S-curves in the line between the rod tip and where the line entered the water.

Some of the largemouth bass and rainbow trout were inhabiting nine feet of water, others were abiding in water as shallow as three feet or less, and others were somewhere in between those two depths. In essence, I was unable to establish a location pattern.

Who really knows what was transpiring with the largemouth bass and rainbow trout in this reservoir. Some anglers might describe it as a post-cold-front syndrome, but I have never been able to deduce the cause and effect of a stellar outing versus a lackluster one. But I do know that Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and a friend fished this same reservoir on April 6, and they struggled. Then on April 7 Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, and his son, Tyler, fished it on April 7, and they found it even more trying.

April 5 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his outing with Ralph Manns of Rowlett, Texas, who is a longtime In-Fisherman field editor.

He wrote: “I made a 43-mile foray to a 21,671-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s flatland reservoir, where I joined Ralph Manns of Rowlett, Texas, for an afternoon of largemouth bass, white bass, and wiper fishing.

“The weather was chilly, wet, and dreary with light rain and drizzle falling most of the afternoon and early evening. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 50 degrees and an afternoon high of 56 degrees. A persistent wind blew out of the east at 10 to 15 mph, with occasional gusts of 20 mph. By 6:30 p.m., the wind changed and angled out of the north at 10 to 15 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.11 and was rising.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best fishing period would occur between 4:16 p.m. and 6:16 p.m. Manns and I fished from about 4:00 p.m. until about 7:30 p.m., though I arrived at the reservoir at about 12:30 p.m. and scouted out several white bass, wiper, and largemouth bass locations before meeting up with Manns at about 4:00 p.m.

“The water was mostly stained, with about two-feet of visibility. Wind-swept areas exhibited about one foot of visibility. The surface temperatures varied from 58 degrees to 61 degrees. The Texas Water Management Board recorded the reservoir’s water level at 7.44 feet below normal. With such low water levels, normally submerged stump fields and rocky shoals are now partially visible throughout the reservoir and hazardous to any unobservant boaters.

“Upon my arrival, I was surprised to find a local bass tournament in progress. Manns later estimated about 250 boats participated in the event, and from my observations, I believed he was accurate in his estimation. As I scouted out several white bass and wiper locations, I observed many tournament boats lined up to ply the only wind-sheltered largemouth bass lairs around the marinas and bridge embankments.

“About twenty minutes before I was to meet Manns, I checked a 50-yard section of a riprap-laden bridge embankment that was close to the boat ramp. I fished a respectable distance behind several tournament anglers who were wielding Alabama rigs, jig-n-pig combos, and large tandem-blade spinnerbaits, but I did not see them catch a fish.

“I graphed a rocky shelf jutting out from the south side of the causeway that was covered with three feet of water and abruptly dropped into 11 feet of water. The surface temperature at this location was 61 degrees. I probed the shelf with a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and presented in a slow swim-glide-and-shake manner. I allured two keeper-sized largemouth bass from the top of the shelf. I then left to meet up with Manns at the boat ramp.

“After picking up Manns at the boat ramp, we spent the first 20 to 30 minutes examining a small hump located by a nearby bridge. We graphed a large concentration of what we believed to be white bass and wipers near the bottom in 21 feet of water. Manns plied the area with a fire-tiger tail spinner while I tried in vain to hold the boat steady in the gusting wind. The tail spinner failed to draw a strike.

“We then elected to turn our attention to largemouth bass. Manns directed me to a wind-swept cove on the west side of the reservoir. This cove contained a creek channel lined with stumps and winds its way across the middle of the cove and into a small shallow spawning area next to the west shoreline. The water depth varied from four feet in the creek channel to two feet along the stump-lined channel ledges. The water temperature was 58 degrees and the water’s clarity was about one foot. I put the boat in the middle of the creek channel as we targeted the stumps on both sides of the channel. Manns employed an unknown brand white chatterbait and I used a four-inch Berkley’s green-pumpkin Power Grub affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We presented our offerings with steady do-nothing retrieves, and we failed to elicit any strikes.

We spent the remainder of the day fishing a 200-yard riprap-laden jetty that borders a channel that was once used as a hot water discharge area for an electric power plant. We saw one angler fishing the jetty while we fished the stump-lined creek channel, but we could not see if the angler caught any fish before he left. The surface temperature was 61 degrees, and the water exhibited about two feet of clarity. Manns switched to a wacky-rigged four-inch Gary Yamamoto Bait Company’s watermelon with black and gold flake Senko and a dyed chartreuse tail, and he also wielded a Rapala DT-10 crankbait in a baby-bass hue. I utilized a four-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. We worked our baits from the edge of the riprap out to about eight feet of water. The boat floated in 8 to 11 feet of water.

The jetty surrendered 10 largemouth bass, one crappie, and one catfish. Manns caught five largemouth bass, including one four-pounder, on his wacky-rigged Senko and slow lift-drop-and-deadstick presentation. I tangled with three largemouth bass, including a 5-pound, 7 ounce specimen, on the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. I coaxed one largemouth bass into striking Z-Man’s black-blue flake Finesse WormZ. Manns tangled with one largemouth bass on the Rapala DT-10 crankbait. The crappie and catfish were caught on the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ. We had several other largemouth bass that pulled free from the Finesse ShadZ and Senko before we could land them.

All told, we landed 12 largemouth bass, one crappie, and one catfish in about three hours of bass fishing, which includes the two largemouth bass I landed shortly before joining Manns. Yamamoto’s four-inch watermelon with black and gold flake Senko implemented with a slow lift-drop-deadstick presentation beguiled five largemouth bass, including a 4-pounder. Z-Man’s green- pumpkin Finesse ShadZ and slow swim-glide-and-shake motif inveigled five largemouth bass, including a five-pounder. Z-Man’s four-inch black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ utilized with a slow swim-glide-shake scheme enticed one bass. Rapala’s DT-10 crankbait in the baby bass hue and straight swim retrieve along the bottom allured one bass.

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Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, filed a brief report on the Finesse News Network about his April 5 outing at a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir, where the largemouth bass fishing has been extremely lackluster since late November in 2013.

He fished from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 3:45 a.m. to 5:45 a.m. and 4:10 p.m. to 6:10 p.m., and there was a minor period from 9:57 a.m. to 11:57 a.m.

He noted that the high temperature during his outing was 59 degrees. It was sunny, and the wind angled out of the southeast from 5 to 10 mph.

The water level looked to be a foot or more above normal, and it was littered with debris from a recent heavy rain. The water clarity ranged from stained to muddy. The surface temperature in the lower portions of the reservoir was 56 degrees.

He failed to elicit a strike along the riprap of the dam and along a riprap causeway that lies about a mile to the east of the dam. Ultimately, he crossed paths with a few largemouth bass and white bass along the cool-water side of the riprap jetty that funnels the hot-water from the power-plant into the reservoir. These fish were extracted out of five to seven feet of water, and his boat was floating in 10 to 11 feet of water. He caught 25 white bass, seven largemouth bass and seven freshwater on a 2 ½-inch green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. He employed a drag-and-shake retrieve.

April 6 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City posted the following report on the Finesse News Network about his April 6 outing with his wife, Yan, at a 2,600-power plant reservoir on April 6.

The National Weather Service at Olathe, Kansas, recorded the morning low temperature at 46 degrees and the high temperature at 60 degrees. The wind was slight and variable, angling out of the east, southeast, and south at 3 to 9 mph. The sky was overcast. The barometric pressure was 29.99 and falling at 9:53 a.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur at 4:37 a.m. to 6:37 a.m. and 5:01 p.m. to 12.49 p.m., and there was a minor period from 10:49 a.m. to 12:49 p.m. They fished from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The water level looked to be a foot above normal. The water clarity at the marina was less than a foot, and along the southeast corner of the lower portions of the reservoir, the clarity was about two feet. The high and murky water was the result of the heavy rains that hit several locales in eastern Kansas and western Missouri; for instance, Knob Noster, Missouri, received 6 ¼ inches.

They used the following baits: 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s Bubble Gum ZinkerZ, 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s Junebug ZinkerZ, and Z-Man’s Bloodworm ShrimpZ. Those baits were affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

Their first stop of the outing was a 200-yard stretch of riprap along the east side of the reservoir, where the surface temperature was 57 degrees. They caught seven white bass, one freshwater drum and not a single largemouth bass.

From the riprap, they crossed to the west side of the reservoir and plied a bluff and failed to elicit a strike.

Their third stop was at a rock pile situated on a roadbed that traverses a massive mud flat on the west side of the reservoir, where they didn’t garner a strike.

From that roadbed they crossed to the east side of the reservoir again and fished a 50-yard stretch of riprap that lines the shoreline around the power plant, where they caught three largemouth bass. They would have fished many yards of this riprap shoreline, but there were two boats of tournament anglers from the Flint Hills Bass Association tournament plying that riprap.

Instead, they ventured to the dam, where the surface temperature was 57 degrees.

Along the riprap of the dam, they tangled with several largemouth bass, including a 20 ½-incher that engulfed the ShrimpZ.

Gum wrote: “We crossed paths with a couple of engaging guys fishing the tournament. They said they were from Topeka and knew Clyde Holscher. They asked me what I was using. I told them I was throwing a Z-Man’s bait on a light jig. ‘Oh like a Ned Rig,’ one said, ‘I read Ned’s post from last week.’ After hearing this, I was somewhat mystified that they were throwing a large crankbait and a double-bladed spinnerbait. By two o’clock in the afternoon, they had only caught a couple of fish.

Gum and his wife ended their outing by fishing the riprap shoreline that parallels a roadway along the side of the reservoir, where they caught several wipers and a couple of largemouths.

 

In total, they caught three freshwater drum, 15 temperate bass and 16 largemouth bass. Most of the largemouth bass were caught in one to four feet of water, but the biggest one was in six to eight feet of water along the riprap of the dam. The most effective presentation was a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. When they were using the ZinkerZ, their rod tips were up, and while they worked with the ShrimpZ, their rod tips were pointed down.

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Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed this report on the Finesse News Network about his bank-walking endeavors with a friend on April 6.

He wrote: “The rain and cool temperatures that settled over north central Texas on April 5 continued into April 6, but it did not deter Rick Allen of Dallas, Texas, and me from donning some warm winter attire underneath our rain suits and conducting a second bobber-rig experiment at two local community ponds.

“Throughout the day, wave after wave of thunderstorms rumbled across the area, and rain fell continuously at varying degrees of intensity. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 47 degrees and the afternoon high temperature struggled to reach 52 degrees. A cold wind quartered out of the east at 10 to 23 mph. The barometric pressure measured 29.87. By day’s end, my garden’s rain gauge had measured one and a half inches of much needed precipitation.

“Allen and I were afoot from about 12:15 p.m. until about 6:15 p.m. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the optimum fishing periods occurred from 4:44 a.m. to 6:44 a.m., 5:06 p.m. to 7:06 p.m., and a minor period took place from 6:56 p.m. to 8:56 p.m. We did not have the means to measure water temperatures.

We started the outing at a small and scenic community pond that lies on the south side of Lewisville. It is about 100 yards long and 50 yards wide. The water was stained with about two feet of visibility. The water level appeared to be about two feet below normal. This pond features a fairly straight northern shoreline with shallow banks festooned with fresh green sprouts of aquatic vegetation. There is a large island occupying the western portion of this pond with two creek channels winding along the island’s southern and northern banks. The east border of the pond is formed by a steep mud bank, and a decorative concrete and stone wall enhances a shallow mud point on the southern shoreline. On April 1, I observed three spawning beds close to the bank in about 1 1/2 feet of water, and there was one largemouth bass hovering above each bed. On this April 6 excursion, there were no signs of any bedding bass.

“We prepared our rods with the following bobber-rigged lures: 2 ¼-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin FattyZ tail rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; Z-Man’s bluegill hue Scented LeechZ affixed to a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ rigged on a 1/32-ounce blue Gopher jig. All three baits were suspended 18- to 24-inches below a fixed rattling bobber.

“We presented the bobber rig with a slow twitch-twitch-pause retrieve. We found the largemouth bass to be in a finicky mood, and many times throughout the outing, we watched our bobbers slowly bob and glide about while a bass played with the bait. We found ourselves waiting for what seemed like 10 to 15 seconds before a largemouth bass decided to take the lure and finally pull the bobber-rig down below the water’s surface. Once the bobber plunged below the surface, we gently set the hook. This tentative and intriguing behavior that the largemouth bass exhibited enlightened our outing.

“We started fishing along the east shoreline and worked our way northward toward the north shoreline. This steep mud bank surrendered two largemouth bass which were caught on the 2 1/4-inch green pumpkin FattyZ tail. Both bass were abiding about 15 feet off the water’s edge in five feet of water.

“The north shoreline yielded seven largemouth bass, which were allured by the 2 1/4-inch green-pumpkin FattyZ tail, green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ, and bluegill-hue Scented LeechZ. Four bass were residing in five feet of water along the deep-water edge of this shallow shoreline; two bass were caught in three feet of water along the north bank of the island; and one bass was extracted from the west end of the north bank in about three feet of water. We failed to draw any strikes from the creek channel on the north side of the island.

“We then plied the cove just west of the island. We enticed three largemouth bass from a shallow mud point that extends from the west bank of the cove. These three bass were milling about in three feet of water on top of the point.

“We then proceeded eastward down the south shoreline and inveigled four bass. All four bass were residing about 25 feet off the bank in five feet of water just south of the creek channel.

“In total, we tangled with 19 largemouth bass at this delightful suburban waterway, but we landed only 16. Nine were allured by the 2 1/4-inch green-pumpkin FattyZ tail; five were caught on the bluegill-hue Scented LeechZ; and two were allured by the 2 1/4-inch green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ.

“Allen and I then drove 18 miles to a small community pond in the northern Dallas suburb of Plano, Texas.

“This small reservoir is about 12-acres in size, and it has been very fruitful over the past several weeks.

“It is graced with two small patches of hydrilla. One patch lies in five feet of water on its east side, and it is adjacent to the southwest end of a prominent point. The other one is situated in a cove on its northeast side in three to five feet of water.

“Its north shoreline is mostly straight, with a three-foot mud and gravel ledge that extends outward from the water’s edge and drops off into five feet of water. The west shoreline is similar to the north one, but it is comprised of sand, gravel, and a few scattered fist-sized rocks. This shoreline is adorned with a shallow ledge that extends about three feet from the water’s edge and slowly descends into five feet of water. The south shoreline borders a large mud and gravel flat, which was stippled with scores of vacant spawning beds near the water’s edge. The east side of the reservoir includes two coves that are divided by a prominent sand and gravel point. The southeast cove consists of steep mud and rock banks, a ditch that runs from the southern bank to the northeastern corner of the cove, and a mud and gravel point that courses outward toward deeper water from the southern shoreline, and this point forms the southern mouth to the cove. The northeastern cove is comprised of a large mud flat with a ditch that cuts westward through the middle of the cove from the east bank.

“We continued our bobber-rig experiment with the following baits: 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s Junebug FattyZ tail on a 1/32-ounce blue Gopher jig; Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; Zman’s 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s green- pumpkin FattyZ tail on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; and four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. All of these baits were suspended 18- to 20-inches below a fixed rattling bobber and presented with a twitch-twitch-pause retrieve.

“We started fishing on the west shoreline, where we caught nine largemouth bass. All of these bass were about 25 to 30 feet off the bank in five feet of water. We could not determine what type of cover or structure these fish were relating to.

“We plied the south shoreline next, which is a known spawning area, but we did not find any bass on the spawning flat. We tangled with eight largemouth bass, and they were milling about in five feet of water, and they were 25 to 30 feet from the water’s edge.

“We worked our way eastward into the southeast cove. A ditch in the south end of this cove yielded two largemouth bass. One bass was caught off the west-side edge of the ditch in about three feet of water, and the second was extracted from the middle of the ditch in about five feet of water. The north end of the ditch surrendered three more largemouth bass. All three of these bass were taken from the east side edge of the ditch in about three feet of water. We failed to muster any strikes from the west side edge of the ditch and the ditch itself.

“Along the south side of the prominent sand and gravel point, we caught four largemouth bass, which were in about five feet of water and 25 to 30 feet from the water’s edge.

“The north side of the point yielded one largemouth bass that was also residing about 25 to 30 feet off the bank in about five feet of water.

“We failed to catch a largemouth bass from the two patches of hydrilla.

‘The next spot where we made contact with some largemouth bass was along the east shoreline of the northeastern cove. These three largemouth bass were relating to the north-side ledge of the ditch. We received no strikes from the south-side ledge of the ditch or in the ditch itself.

“We finished our rain-soaked afternoon dissecting the northern shoreline, which produced four largemouth bass. All four of these bass were scattered and situated about 20 feet off the bank in about five feet of water.

“Allen and I tangled with 34 largemouth bass at this 12-acre community reservoir. Twenty-five were allured by the 2 1/4-inch Junebug FattyZ tail; four were beguiled by the Junebug Finesse ShadZ; two were caught on the four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ; another two were bewitched by the four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ; and one bass was caught on the 2 1/4-inch green-pumpkin FattyZ tail. We also experimented with a 2 1/2-inch customized Z-Man’s Junebug FattyZ tube on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, but it failed to draw a strike.

“Across the six hours that we fished, we landed 50 largemouth bass. We hooked seven other largemouth bass, but they were able to liberate themselves before we could land them.

“We found the bobber-rig very effective and a fun technique to add to our repertoire of Midwest finesse tactics. From our perspectives, it seems to be most effective when the largemouth bass are reluctant to chase down faster presentations. We also found that baits with floating tails, such as the FattyZ tails and FattyZ customized tubes, Finesse WormZs, Finesse ShadZs, and Scented LeechZs, seem to be the most productive. We did not get a chance to try a bobber-rigged Hula StickZ, but we believe it will work just as well. These baits suspend in a natural horizontal position when the bobber is at rest, and not with the tail angled down as many other plastic baits do.”

April 7 log

My cousin Rick Heberstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I were planning to do some bass fishing for trout on this outing, but our best rainbow trout waterway turned sour on April 4 and became sourer on April 5, 6, and 7. Therefore, we elected to spend five midday hours at a 100-acre community reservoir that lies along the southwest rim of suburban Kansas City.

Rick and I fished this same reservoir on April 1, when we caught 47 largemouth bass. The bulk of them were caught along a west-side shoreline near the upper end of this reservoir. We anticipated that the same scenario would unfold on this April 7 outing.

Traditionally, the upper portions of the feeder-creek arms in the small flatland reservoirs that stipple the landscape of northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri are where we find and catch the bulk of our late winter and very early spring largemouth bass. At the same time, we have a difficult time locating and catching largemouth bass in the lower two-third portions of these reservoirs. The upper portions consist of shallow mud flats and even the steeper shorelines in these upper reaches are relatively shallow. The lower two-third portions of these reservoirs have steeper and deeper shorelines, and we suspect that the bulk of the wintertime and very early-springtime largemouth bass in these lower sections abide in deeper lairs than Midwest finesse anglers probe. Normally the depth of our probings range from one to 10 feet of water, and on a few occasions we have explored depths of 12 to 15 feet. We have been told by anglers, such as Eric Fortner of Gardner, Kansas, that they have used drop-shot rigs and jigging spoons to catch largemouth bass in the winter in 25 to 30 feet of water in the lower segments of some of northeastern Kansas’ small flatland reservoirs, but we have no interest in probing those depths. One reason why we don’t fish deep-water is the adverse effects of barotrauma, which can erupt when largemouth bass are extracted from deep-water lairs. Another reason is we find deep-water fishing to be too tedious. What’s more, a goodly number of largemouth bass abide in shallow water in our reservoirs year around.

On our April 7 outing, the water level was normal. The surface temperature was 52 to 54 degrees. The water was clear enough that we could see the black propeller on the transom-mounted trolling motor, which was 22 inches below the surface. There was a major bloom of filamentous algae, which adhered to our baits on uncountable number of retrieves. In fact , a major quagmire of filamentous algae cluttered the west shoreline along the upper end of this reservoir.

The National Weather Service at Olathe, Kansas, noted that the low temperature was 38 degrees and the high temperature was 64 degrees. The barometric pressure was 29.78 and falling. The wind angled out of the northwest and west at 7 to 21 mph. It was partly cloudy to mostly cloudy throughout our outing. A few rain showers crisscrossed northeastern Kansas, but none fell upon us.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing times were from 5:42 a.m. to 7:42 a.m. and 5:47 p.m. to 7:47 p.m., and there was a minor period from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

To our surprise, we struggled to catch 11 largemouth bass in the upper reaches of the reservoir. Ten of these were caught along the west shoreline that yielded 33 largemouth bass on April 1. But we caught 44 largemouth bass along several of the shorelines in the lower half of the reservoir.

The best shorelines were relatively flat and graced with burgeoning patches of coontail, and these locales yielded 31 largemouth bass. But we did catch six largemouth bass along the steep riprap shoreline of the dam, and we also caught seven largemouth bass along a steep and rocky shoreline that is littered with a dozen boat docks.

Our three best baits were a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ , a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Until 1:00 p.m., when the velocity of the wind increased, a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig affixed to a 3 ½-inch Finesse WormZ was exceedingly effective. Once the wind gusts climbed into the 20-mph or more range, we employed either a blue or a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig affixed to a shorten four-inch Finesse WormZ.

The best retrieve was the swim-glide-and-shake motif, and our shakes were often vigorous and constant. Our aim was to create a series of S-curves on the line from the tip of the rod to the spot where the line enters the water. The swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was essential around the coontail patches and in the areas that were littered with filamentous algae. Along the steeper and rocky shorelines, which weren’t marred with filamentous algae, the drag-and-shake retrieve paid some dividends. The hop-bounce-and-shake presentation also allured several largemouth bass at lairs that weren’t covered with filamentous algae and coontail.

Most of the largemouth bass that we caught were abiding in three to seven feet of water.

In sum, this outing revealed that a transition had taken place at several of our small flatland reservoirs as the cold-water period has gradually come to an end. And from this date on, it looks as if we will be spending more time probing the lairs in the lower sections of our reservoirs.

April 8 log

John McKean of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, posted the following report on April 8 about his bank-walking outings for his style of bass fishing for trout, which is actually trout fishing for a few bass and crappie.

We wrote: “I was just checking the Midwest Finesse reports for March, and I was so inspired that I thought I should write a brief report about our early April endeavors near Pittsburgh.

“Ice-out occurred sometime between Sunday and early Monday on Mar. 31 at one of our small local reservoirs. Since then I got out for a few morning hours each day and wielded a little 1/40-ounce darter-head jig that my son and I tie out of raw wool and bright satin fabric, which I affix to three-pound-test line. The water was murky and I elected to use a jig that was tied with an orange and gold fabric.

“The three-pound-test line allowed me to make fairly long casts.

“The water was very cold, of course. So the best presentation tactic was a very slow steady retrieve with slight shaking and intermittent pauses to keep the light jig down and near bottom. It was best to visualize the lure crawling about an inch above bottom, having frequent spasms to get the fibers active. The strikes were really just a tiny bit of extra pressure, and I set the hook by slightly tightening the line, which allowed the sharp No. 8 VMC hook to penetrate the flesh.

“Toward the end of the week, the water warmed slightly and the trout took to the air for fights, but the jig still had to be crawling near bottom rocks to acquire a take. Rains hit on Friday, and the dark, muddy water made it hard for the trout to see even my bright Goldbugs.

“So far, I have tangled with 111 rainbow and brook trout, plus the odd bass and crappie.

“It is still raining, but better days ahead. I hear big Pymatuning Reservoir up north has now thawed and crappies and walleyes are invading the shallows. It is time to take a trip!”

 

April 9 log

Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, posted the following report on the Finesse News Network about his April outing with a friend on a 120-acre community reservoir that is situated along the northern suburbs of Kansas City.

The National Weather Service in Kansas City recorded the low temperature for the day at 39 degrees and the high temperature at 75 degrees. It was sunny. The wind howled out of the south and southwest at 14 to 35 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.10 and dropping at 8:54 a.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing occurred from 6:50 a.m. to 8:50 a.m. and 7:12 p.m. to 9:12 p.m.

Frazee wrote: “I am tired of the wind this spring. It was barreling out of the south today, with gusts up to 35 miles per hour.”

Nevertheless, he and his colleague spent a lot of time plying a wind-blown riprap shoreline in the upper end of this reservoir, and he readily confessed that it was a lot of work.

Their wind-blown work yielded 41 largemouth bass. The bulk of them were caught along the riprap shoreline, but a few were also extracted from some steep rocky shorelines and rocky points that had ranks of white caps crashing onto them.

Frazee caught the bulk of his largemouth bass on a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and he caught five of them on a black-and-blue skirted jig and soft-plastic trailer. His friend employed a spider-style grub.

Frazee concluded: “As much as it caused grief, the wind was needed. Every largemouth bass we caught was where waves were crashing into the bank. No trout today, which was surprising, and only one crappie. We had a couple big largemouth bass hooked, but we failed to land them.

April 10 log

Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, posted this report on the Finesse News Network about his April 10 outing at the 120-acre community reservoir that he also fished on April 9. On this April 10 trek, he was accompanied by David Gray of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, who is a fishing rod designer and proprietor of Carbon X Rods.

The National Weather Service in Kansas City recorded the low temperature at 57 degrees and the high temperature at 70 degrees. The wind angled out of the north and northeast at 10 to 24 mph. It was sunny. The barometric pressure at 8:53 a.m. was 29.80 and rising.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing times occurred from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 7:51 p.m. to 9:51 p.m.

Frazee wrote: “Wow, was this a day when changing baits made a huge difference.

“We spent the first part of our four-hour trip fishing the riprap along the shoreline in the upper end of the reservoir and it was a big disappointment. I used a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a black-and-blue skirted jig and pig, and a Wiggle Wart. David used a Jewel Bait Company’s brown-skirted jig with a brown trailer. We caught only 11 largemouth bass. I tried to force it, thinking the fish were there, but I finally gave in and went pioneering.

“I thought we could at least catch some trout in the back of one of the coves, and we did.

“Inside one cove, I stopped the boat and made a long cast to a beaver hut and got a strike, which I didn’t hook. That’s when I decided to change and affix a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse Shad Z onto a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The bite immediately changed for the better. I caught a 15-inch largemouth bass right away, then a few smaller largemouth bass and some big crappies. Then I had David switch to the same bait.

“I had one largemouth bass on that we got a good look at before it broke my 4-pound-test line even though the drag was working properly. I didn’t have time to get disappointed. On the next cast, I caught one even bigger. Then David landed another big one. We ended up catching and releasing six big largemouth bass and 10 crappies from that one small area, and all of them were caught on the green-pumpkin Finesse Shad Z.

“We had over 30 bass for the half day. We failed to keep an accurate count once we started catching those big ones.”

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Dennis Medley of Morton, Illinois, is an ardent bank walker. And on April 11, he filled his first report on the Finesse News Network. This was his first outing in 2014, and it occurred on April 10 at a farm pond that encompassed about three-quarters of an acre of water. Its deepest spot plunges into 30 feet of water.

The ice had melted on April 9. The water temperature along the shorelines was 40 degrees, and the water was exceptionally clear.

He noted that many of the ponds that he fishes suffered significant fish kills during the winter of 2013-14, but he did not know if the pond that he fished on April 10 was afflicted.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing occurred from 7:10 a.m. to 9:10 a.m. and 7:31 p. m. to 9:31 p.m. He fished from 10:00 a.m. until noon.While he was fishing, the air temperature hit 55 degrees. The wind angled out of the south at 20 to 25 mph. The sky fluctuated from partly cloudy to mostly cloudy.

Initially, he wielded Charlie Brewer’s Slider Company’s 2 1/8-inch watermelon red/copper/black flake Slider Minnow/Grub and several other jigs, but they failed to elicit a strike.

Ultimately, he began employing a live nightcrawler, which he partially threaded onto a No. 4 hook. He attached a RockyBrooks 1/64-ounce limestone sinker two inches above the hook. He also applied a touch of Pro-Cure Bait Scents’ Garlic Nightcrawler Super Gel to the nightcrawler. And by employing a slow drag-and-deadstick retrieve, this combo eked out four largemouth bass, which were abiding in five to 10 feet of water.

April 11 log

As Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, and I were struggling to bass fish for trout at a 416-acre reservoir on April 11, I occasionally wondered if I could find the words to adequately describe our inabilities to wield Midwest finesse tactics that would allure largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and some incidental rainbow trout. Since those initial ponderings erupted about 24 hours ago, I have come to the conclusion that I am unable to construct any sentences and paragraphs that will describe how and why we failed.

On April 4, I had a solo outing at this reservoir, when I battled a brisk northwest wind and unseasonably cold-weather conditions. Despite the problematic weather on that endeavor, I was able to catch 34 largemouth bass, 13 rainbow trout, and four white bass, which isn’t a stellar Midwest finesse outing, but it was far better than what I experienced on April 5 at this reservoir, and what Steve Desch of Topeka endured on April 6 at this reservoir and what Pok-Chi Lau and his son, Tyler, encountered on April 7 at this reservoir.

What I can report about our sorry April 11 outing is that the National Weather Service at Topeka, Kansas, recorded the low temperature at 40 degrees and high temperature at 78 degrees. The sun was shining everywhere. The wind angled out of the southeast and east at 5 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.07 and dropping at 9:53 a.m. It was a gorgeous spring day in northeastern Kansas with a bounty of flowers and trees blooming and about to bloom.

The water level looked to be about 3 1/2 feet below normal. Throughout our outing the surface temperature ranged from 51 to 57 degrees. In the lower 90 percent of the reservoir, the water was clear enough that we could see the black propeller on the transom-mounted trolling motor, which was about 22 inches under the surface. In the upper 10 percent of the reservoir, the water was stained to the point that we could not see the propellers of the bow-mounted and transom-mounted trolling motors.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 8:12 a.m. to 10:12 a.m. and 8:34 p.m. to 10:34 p.m. Lau and I fished from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Steve Desch and Gary Brown of Topeka, Kansas, who are talented Midwest finesse anglers, launched their boat around 10:00 a.m., too. The four of us worked together to see if we could locate the whereabouts of this reservoir’s largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and rainbow trout, and we dissected a variety of shorelines and offshore lairs from the dam to the upper reaches of this reservoir.

Across the five hours that Lau and I fished, we were able to catch only 11 largemouth bass, six rainbow trout, one crappie, one green sunfish, and one freshwater drum. We failed to land three rainbow trout and two largemouth bass.

Desch and Brown caught 16 rainbow trout and nine largemouth bass.

All of the rainbow trout were caught in the upper 15 percent of the reservoir. Most of those were caught on two shallow mud flats on the east side of the reservoir, and these trout were extracted from three to four feet of water. Five rainbow trout were caught along a steep rocky bluff on the west side of the reservoir. These trout were extracted out of four to seven feet of water.

Ten of the largemouth bass were caught on one of the shallow mud flats. Five were caught along a steep rocky bluff on the west side of the reservoir. Three were caught along two steep rocky shorelines inside a mid-lake cove on the west side of the reservoir. One was caught along a shallow riprap shoreline inside another mid-lake cove on the west side of the reservoir. And one was caught on a steep rocky main-lake point on the east side of the reservoir.

Because our catch was so paltry, we were unable to determine which baits, colors of baits, and retrieves were the most effective. Desch, however, guessed that a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig was the best bait, and a drag-and-deadstick retrieve was the best.

Upon struggling through this outing and the ones on April 5, 6, and 7, Brown, Desch, Lau and I are perplexed and worried about the state of the largemouth bass population in this reservoir, which was battered by the largemouth bass virus several years ago.

Traditionally, we are unable to catch smallmouth bass at this reservoir with our Midwest finesse tactics until the surface temperature constantly hovers in the high 50s and low 60s. So far in 2014, we have caught only one smallmouth bass from this reservoir, and that occurred when Lau and I fished it on Mar. 18, and the surface temperature was 43 to 45 degrees.

At the close of this outing, Brown, Desch, Lau and I said that we would wait until this reservoir’s surface temperature hits a constant 60 degrees before we return, and then we hope to tangle with a combination of at least 10 largemouth and smallmouth bass an hour.

April 11 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed this report on the Finesse News Network about his April 11 outing.

He wrote: “Rick Allen of Dallas, Texas, asked me to join him for an afternoon excursion to an 80-acre water-conservation reservoir located between Chico and Sunset, Texas.

“The weather was warm and partly cloudy. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 61 degrees and the afternoon high temperature warmed to 85 degrees. A vigorous wind blew out of the south at 18 to 25 mph. The barometric pressure was measured at 29.91.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing periods would occur from 2:16 a.m. to 4:16 a.m. and 8:20 a.m to 10:20 a.m. A minor period occurred between 8:42 p.m. and 10:42 p.m. We were afloat from 12:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Allen and I have never been to this reservoir before. Upon our arrival, we discovered that the reservoir’s banks were ringed with thick stands of flooded timber, which is intertwined with stumps, basketball-sized rocks, and submerged brush.

Throughout our entire outing, the wind was relentless and we could not find any locations that offered any appreciable shelter. Thus, our casting accuracy and lure presentations around the thick timber became a frustrating endeavor, and when we did make reasonably accurate casts for the conditions, the wind seemed to take great delight in blowing our lines around the many tree trunks and tree limbs that lined the banks. We found no aquatic vegetation.

The water was clear with a pleasant emerald-green hue that exhibited more than five feet of clarity. The surface temperature varied from 65-degrees at the boat ramp to 67 degrees in the back of two coves. The water level appeared to be about seven feet below normal.

Except for an occasional open spot here and there, the wood cover prevented the use of our Z-Man’s soft-plastic baits rigged on Gopher jigs with exposed hooks. Thus, we mostly employed four-inch Charlie Brewer Slider Company’s Plum-Glitter Slider Worms Texas-rigged on Brewer’s 1/16-ounce Original Weedless Slider jig, and four-inch Yum’s watermelon Dinger wacky-rigged on a 1/32-ounce Owner’s weedless Ultra wacky jig. Around the few open spots we found, we experimented with a 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red FattyZ tail affixed on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig that was suspended 24 inches below a fixed rattling bobber, and a four-inch Zoom Bait Company’s watermelon-red Mini-Lizard rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

During this four and a half hour outing, we struggled to entice 14 largemouth bass, and five of these fish were able to throw the bait while cartwheeling across the water’s surface after they were hooked. All fourteen bass were extracted from coves with steep-rock and thick-timbered banks in three to six feet of water. Five largemouth bass were attracted to the Slider-worm rig, which was presented with what the late Charlie Brewer of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, called a lift-and-drop retrieve across the bottom and through submerged brush and timber. The bobber-rigged FattyZ tail, which was retrieved with a slow twitch-twitch-and-pause presentation proved effective in a couple of small open areas, and it beguiled five largemouth bass. The weedless wacky-rigged Yum Dinger applied in a slow lift-drop-and-deadstick manner allured three bass, and the four-inch Zoom Mini-Lizard that was retrieved with a slow twitch-and-deadstick presentation enticed one.

April 12 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City filed this report on the Finesse News Network about his April 12 outing to a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir.

The National Weather Service in Topeka, Kansas, recorded the low temperature at 57 degrees and the high temperature at 84 degrees. During the early morning hours, the wind angled out of the south at 8 mph, but by 8:53 a.m. it began to howl, and throughout the day some gusts hit 32 mph. It was sunny. The barometric pressure was 29.75, and it dropped significantly throughout the day.

The surface temperatures were in the low 50s. The water level was 3.02 feet below normal. The water was clear.

In-Fishman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing times occurred from 8:51 a.m to 10:51 a.m. and 9:14 p.m. to 11:14 p.m. He fished from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

He launched his boat along the south side of the reservoir about three miles above the dam. He worked his way towards the dam, hoping to ply wind-sheltered shorelines, but those areas were not productive. The only areas that he could garner a strike were along wind-blown shorelines. Therefore, he attempted to deal with the wind by employing a drift sock and focusing on the east-side shorelines inside secondary and tertiary feeder-creek arms, and at times as he probed those shorelines, he wished that he had two drift socks. These shorelines are rock laden and most have less than a 45-degree slope into the water.

He tried to use a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s Bubble Gum ZinkerZ on 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, but the wind prevented him from properly presenting these baits. But he crossed paths with a pair of anglers who were using 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZs on 1/8-ounce jigs, and they had caught several largemouth bass. In retrospect, he thought that he should have tested his ZinkerZs on either a 3/32-ounce or 1/8-ounce jig.

Ultimately, Gum eked out one smallmouth bass that was allured by a three-inch Kalin’s blue/silver Triple Threat Grub affixed to a 1/8-0unce jig, and he used a three-inch jerkbait to catch seven white bass, four smallmouth bass, and one walleye.

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Dave Weroha and Joel Heckelbeck , both of Kansas City, fished a 5,090–acre power-plant reservoir and 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir on April 12.

The National Weather Service in Topeka, Kansas, recorded the low temperature at 57 degrees and the high temperature at 84 degrees. During the early morning hours, the wind angled out of the south at 8 mph, but by 8:53 a.m. it began to howl, and throughout the day some gusts hit 32 mph. It was sunny. The barometric pressure was 29.75, and it dropped significantly throughout the day.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing times occurred from 8:51 a.m to 10:51 a.m. and 9:14 p.m. to 11:14 p.m.

Weroha posted the following report on the Finesse News Network about their endeavors to deal with the horrendous winds that whipped across northeastern Kansas.

He wrote: “It was a wind-blown outing like no other I have experienced before. We launched at 8:00 a.m. and were immediately faced with a stiff south wind, which was blowing at 15 mph. Despite this, we headed into it and straight for the dam, where the surface temperature was 48 degrees.

“I worked with a radically customized Z-Man green-pumpkin ToobZ on a 1/8-ounce drop-shot rig. My partner used a chartreuse, jointed, and medium-diving crankbait. After we plied the dam for 15 minutes and failed to elicit a strike, we decided to fish the mile-long riprap jetty or dyke.

“This jetty runs north and south, and we allowed the south wind, which was blowing 20 to 25 mph, to briskly blow us along the west side of the jetty. My partner’s crankbait caught a smallmouth bass, 20-inch walleye and 24-inch walleye. I, however, couldn’t elicit a strike with my drop-shot rig or by slowly swimming a customized Z-Man’s Redbone-hue Diezel MinnowZ. We fished this jetty for about 45 minutes, and when the wind velocity hit 29 mph, the folks in the guard house signaled us that the reservoir was being closed for safety reasons.

“It is interesting to note that two weeks ago, when the surface the temperature at this power-plant reservoir was 45 degrees and the wind angled out of the north, my customized finesse lures garnered all of the strikes and my partner’s crankbaits failed to elicit a strike. I would submit that once surface temperatures hit a specific range (upper 40s and rising), the disposition of the fish changes. I have observed this before – especially at several strip pits in western Missouri –when the largemouth bass prefer faster moving lures, such as a crankbait, rather than a a slow and subtle finesse bait.

“When we were called off the power-plant reservoir, we decided to drive about 20 miles to the north and launch the boat at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir, where we were afloat from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. And the wind never relented.”

In-Fishman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing times occurred from 8:51 a.m to 10:51 a.m. and 9:14 p.m. to 11:14 p.m. They were afloat on this 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The surface temperatures were in the low 50s. The water level was 3.02 feet below normal. The water was clear.

“On the possibility that my failure to elicit a strike on my custom finesse lures at the power-plant reservoir was a fluke, I continued using them at this reservoir. My partner continued to work with the crankbait.

“We fished the riprap along the dam, and neither of us had a bite.

“After we fished the dam, we spent about 30 minutes fishing some wind-sheltered shorelines on the south side of the reservoir, where we each caught a smallmouth bass.

Our last destination was in the back of a tertiary feeder-creek arm on the north side of the reservoir. The surface temperature was 56 degrees, and the water was very murky. In the upper-third portion of this cove, a submerged creek channel swings near the shoreline, and the shoreline is also graced with a small cove, which is embellished with a laydown. My partner’s crankbait extracted a 2 ½-pound largemouth bass from this location.

“Overall, it was a trying and perplexing endeavor. My partner caught two smallmouth bass and one largemouth bass on a crankbait.

My finesse tactics caught only one smallmouth bass.

“In retrospect, I am evaluating the outing from the perspective of which bait and presentation matches the disposition of the largemouth and smallmouth bass. I have now seen three instances on three different bodies of water where the commonality is the surface temperature being 48 degrees and rising, and when that occurs, a faster moving lure is more effective than a subtle and slow-paced finesse bait and presentation. For reasons I cannot explain, it appears that when the bass are in the mood to chase, they, in some defiant way, will ignore a slower moving lure. Part of this observation, however, could be attributed to low-light conditions caused by the high winds, and thus, a faster moving lure combined with color and sound or vibration is more easily detectible than a slower moving lure. My thoughts are purely speculative though.”

April 13 log 

On April 16, Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, posted a short report on the Finesse News Network about his April 12 and 13 outings.

He wrote: “Finally able to submit a report after what has been one of the longest winters I can recall in quite some time, and technically it is not over yet either. Forecasters are calling for a half of an inch of snow tonight, which will be followed by nightly lows below freezing for the next two days.

“Anyway, I was able to get out for four hours on Saturday (2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.), and 3.5 hours on Sunday (2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.). Both days were near carbon copies of each other: air temperatures in the mid-70s, sustained southerly winds of 20 to 25 mph with frequent gusts of 30 to 35 mph. The little 325-acre reservoir I was fishing was white-capping something fierce. So, most fishing efforts were in the semi-protected coves. Saturday was mostly sunny, but Sunday was mostly cloudy. Our reservoirs are still suffering from muddy water due to all the rain we have received, but they are starting to clear a bit on their lower ends – not jerkbait clear but fishable, which they largely were not the weekend before.

“On Saturday, I tangled with 32 largemouth bass (eight per hour) on a combination of hair jigs and shallow crankbaits. I started down near the dam and proceeded to slowly move up the lake testing water clarity as I went until I reached fairly stained water.

“On Sunday, knowing what to expect and where, I focused all my time within a half mile of the dam, opting to stay in the clearer waters. I threw a crankbait for less than 10 minutes, a hair jig for another 10 minutes, then I picked up a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig on a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin/orange ZinkerZ , and I never set it down again for the remainder of the trip. I landed 42 bass on Sunday (12 per hour). All of them were caught on that one half of a ZinkerZ. It will likely be good for several more tussles once I rerig for the next trip.

“There were no large fish caught either day, the best being a pair on Sunday falling somewhat shy of 18 inches. Surface temperatures have moved into the mid-50s. It was a little warmer in some areas, but they are likely to drop with the impending cold front and snow. Looking to get out again this coming weekend.”

April 15 log  

During the late afternoon and early evening hours of April 12 some thermometers in northeastern Kansas climbed to 84. Then around dawn on April 15, some of those same thermometers plummeted to 23 degrees, and even the bird bath in one of our gardens was covered with ice. Besides those radical changes of temperatures, Mother Nature wacked these parts on April 12, 13, and 14 with hours on end of howling winds, and some gusts broached 40 mph. It even snowed a touch during the morning of April 14, coating the blossoms of the daffodils, tulips, forsythias, redbuds, Bradford pears, and Magnolias.

What’s more, the largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass have been difficult for scores of Midwest finesse anglers to find and catch since April 5 in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas. It has been a difficult spring to fish in northeastern Kansas. And according to Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, the fishing was even trying at Bull Shoals Lake around Lead Hill, Arkansas, on April 10, 11, 12, and 13. Reese is a veteran Midwest finesse angler. In fact, he is one of its pioneers who spent his youth in the 1950s and 1960s fishing with the late and great Chuck Woods of Kansas City, and Woods is the creator of this finesse tactic. Reese is also the creator of Z-Man’s Hula StickZ, and he is a maestro at wielding it and the 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ. But during his four-days at Bull Shoals, Reese said it was a struggle for him to catch a combination of 25 largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass across seven hours of employing Z-Man’s Hula StickZs and Z-Man’s 2 ¾-inch prototype ZinkerZs, which he affixed to his homemade mushroom-style jigs, and because many of Bull Shoals’ shorelines are littered with flooded buckbrush, his jigs sported hook or weed guards.

After Reese told me about his trying Bull Shoals endeavors, I made a solo trek to a nearby 194-acre community reservoir to see what was transpiring with its largemouth bass.

Many anglers assert that radical weather changes put largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass into a funk, which makes them difficult to locate and catch. But we tend to dismiss those notions, calling it anthropomorphism, which is attributing human characteristics and emotions to fish, mammals, birds, and insects. Instead of trying to describe the disposition and behavior of the largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass, we merely describe where, how, and when we fish for them and how many of them we catch.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, recorded the low temperature for April 15 as 22 degrees and the high temperature was 58 degrees. The wind was light and variable, and when it stirred, it angled out of the southeast at 7 mph and southwest at 5 mph. The sun was bright, and the sky exhibited a brilliant cobalt-blue hue. The barometric pressure was 30.22 and dropping at 10:52 a.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 4:49 a.m. to 6:49 a.m. I fished from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The water level looked to be about two feet below normal. On April 3, the water level was about six inches below normal, and the level dropped because one of this reservoir’s bridges is being replaced; this needed to be done to accommodate the construction efforts. The water was clear enough that I could see the black propeller on the transom-mounted trolling motor at most of the areas that I fished, but in the back ends of three feeder-creek arms, I could not see it. The surface temperature ranged from 55 to 57 degrees, and on April 15, 2014, the surface temperature was 52 degrees. There was a slight hint of an algae bloom, and this was the first outing in 2014 when the boat was ringed with a line of algae scum.

In the back end of the southwest feeder-creek arm, many of the patches of curly-leaf pondweed are approaching the surface, and those patches cover many square yards. Patches of bushy pondweed are developing, too. Elsewhere around this reservoir, the aquatic vegetation isn’t as thick as it is in the back of the southwest feeder-creek arm.

Traditionally we do not fish the mature or nearly mature patches of curly-leaf pondweed. Instead we focus of rocky shorelines, but I did fish several patches of immature curly-leaf pondweed with a 2 ½-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ spin on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. And the Finesse WormZ caught 12 largemouth bass, and the ZinkerZ spin caught one. The Finesse WormZ was retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. The ZinkerZ spin was presented with the straight-swim retrieve. All 13 of these largemouth bass were abiding in two to three feet of water.

I fished 95 percent of the dam, which is lined with rock, and I caught five largemouth bass on a 2 1/2-inch customized Z-Man’s Moon Ring FattyZ tube affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and I caught five largemouth bass on a 3 ¼-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Three largemouth bass engulfed the bait on the initial fall, and the other seven engulfed it as I employed a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. These 10 largemouth bass were extracted from three to eight feet of water.

Along the rocky and gravel shorelines inside the east feeder-creek and south feeder-creek arms, I caught 36 largemouth bass. And they were caught on three lures: a 2 1/2-inch customized Z-Man’s Mood Ring FattyZ tube affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a 3 ¼-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; and a 3 ¼-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Hula StickZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. These largemouth bass were caught in two to six feet of water on either a swim-glide-and-shake or a drag-and-shake retrieve.

In total, I caught 59 largemouth bass, which was a quantum leap from the sorry outing that Pok-Chi Lau and I endured on April 11 at a 416-acre community reservoir, where we caught only 11 largemouth bass in five hours.

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Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network.

He wrote: “During the night of April 13 and early morning of April 14, a cold front swept across north- central Texas, causing daytime temperatures to plummet 30 degrees. April 15 was a beautiful picture-postcard day, and the sun was dazzling in the clear blue sky. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 35 degrees and the afternoon high temperature rose to 64 degrees. The average temperatures for north-central Texas during this time of year ranges from a low of 52 degrees and a high of 75 degrees. The barometric pressure was high at 30.32 and rising. A pleasant breeze blew out of the northwest at 5 to 10 mph.

“I made a solo outing to a local 21,280-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir.

“The water was stained with two feet of visibility. Water temperatures ranged from 61 degrees to 65 degrees. The Texas Water Management Board recorded the water level at 7.62 feet below normal. I last fished this reservoir on February 21, and during that horrid four-hour outing, I failed to muster a single strike.

“I launched my boat at noon and fished until 5:00 p.m. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best fishing periods would occur between 4:52 a.m. and 6:52 a.m., 11:08 p.m to 1:08 a.m., and a minor period would take place between 5:21 p.m. and 7:21 p.m.

“I began the afternoon by plying a 200-yard stretch of a steep, rocky, and clay shoreline inside a small cove behind the marina where I launched. The surface temperature was 61 degrees. I began casting a three-inch Kalin’s white Lunker Grub attached to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. I employed the grub with a slow do-nothing retrieve, but it failed to elicit any strikes. As I continued working my way along the steep shoreline, I used a four-inch Z-Man’s green- pumpkin Finesse WormZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, which I retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation, and it inveigled one largemouth bass and one crappie from this steep embankment in three feet of water. I then switched to a Z-Man’s blue-steel Finesse ShadZ on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, which I retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake motif. This Finesse ShadZ beguiled two largemouth bass from four feet of water. I also used the Finesse ShadZ and Finesse WormZ to pick apart several covered boat docks and slips in the back of the cove, but I failed to arouse any bass from underneath those boat slips.

“I then fished my way westward along a shallow rocky bank that lies just to the north of the boat ramp where I launched. This bank leads into an area with three shallow mud and gravel coves. I worked this entire area for about 45 minutes, using a three-inch Kalin’s bluegill Lunker Grub affixed on a blue 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and the blue-steel Finesse ShadZ. Both baits were presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. All these areas failed to yield a largemouth bass.

“My next stop was along a riprap embankment and bridge in the southwest tributary arm of the reservoir. I employed the blue-steel Finesse ShadZ and tangled with a three-pound, 10-ounce largemouth bass and a 2 1/2-pound channel catfish. These two fish were relating to the riprap next to the water’s edge in about three feet of water. After tangling with those two fish, I failed to engender another strike along the rest of this embankment.

I finished the afternoon in a feeder creek that enters the reservoir from the north shore of the southwest tributary arm. I continued to use the blue-steel Finesse ShadZ with the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. This feeder creek surrendered 17 largemouth bass, most of which weighed between 1 1/2-pounds and two-pounds, 14 ounces. These largemouth bass were caught in the first half of the feeder creek, and they were relating to steep and rock-laden primary and secondary points. These bass were abiding in three to six feet of water. I found no bass inhabiting any of the shallow mud flats located between several of the rocky points or in the back ends of the coves that grace this feeder creek.

“In sum, I allured 21 largemouth bass, one crappie, and one channel catfish during five hours of angling. The blue-steel Finesse ShadZ enticed 20 largemouth bass, including the three-pounder, and one catfish. The green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ inveigled one largemouth bass and one crappie. I missed several strikes on the three-inch bluegill-hue Kalin’s Lunker Grub, and the three-inch white Kalin’s Lunker Grub failed to draw any strikes. The slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the most productive presentation.”

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On April 15 Chris Rohr of Overland Park, Kansas, filed the following report about several of his strip pit outings this spring in eastern Kansas.

He wrote: “I was finally able to get out during the past couple of weeks and thought I had forgotten how to finesse fish, but after reading some of Dave Weroha’s observations about his April 12 outing, I think I may have found a similar pattern.

“Just two weeks ago at the strip pits I fish near La Cygne, Kansas, water temperatures were in the mid to upper 40s, and finesse rigs were the go-to baits in the mornings up until about 11 a.m. After 11 a.m., the fish made a decisive move to spinnerbaits and large jerkbaits. Water temperatures also approached 50 degrees around that time.

“Dave Weroha’s observations in his April 12 log about finesse versus speed are spot on with what I observed on April 12. Four of us fished a total of 40 hours (10 hours each guy) at a number of strip pits near La Cygne, where water temps ranged from 52 to 57 degrees. Two of us committed 10 hours of non-stop finesse fishing with every possible color jig, Z-Man bait, and color combinations. The numbers were staggering. During the first five hours of the day, we had a total of 10 bass and two crappie on finesse rigs. Yet, during the same five hours of fishing in the exact same pits, our counterparts who threw spinnerbaits, 10-inch plastic worms and magnum lipless crankbaits, landed more than 100 largemouth bass. It did not matter if we fished an area first or last, finesse was not the answer, but size and speed were critical.

“My boat partner and I finally had enough and switched to power fishing for the second half of the day. We proceeded to land 91 largemouth bass in the next five hours, including a 6.1-, 6.6-, 6.14-and 8.8-pound largemouth. Even where we found schools of bass foraging on shad in coves or windswept banks, we couldn’t buy a hit on anything finesse. Yet the bigger the spinnerbait, worm or jerkbait, and the faster one retrieved it, the more hits one would receive.

“I do know the some FNN members were fishing some of the strip pits in the same area as we were, and they had some success with crappie and bass but the numbers were certainly much lower that what has been normal.”

April 18 log

Our grandson Gabe Bonnano of New York City is making his yearly pilgrimage to Lawrence, Kansas, for our family’s traditional Easter celebration, and he will be here for the week after Easter, and we will spend a couple of those days chasing largemouth bass. He likes to catch at least 15 largemouth bass an hour. In preparation for his arrival, I thought I should see how quickly I could catch 50 largemouth bass at a nearby 180-acre state reservoir.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, recorded the day’s low temperature at 28 degrees, and the high temperature was 70 degrees. The barometric pressure was 30.37 and dropping at 9:52 a.m. Initially the wind was calm, and then it angled out of the south and southeast at 3 to 8 mph. The sun burned brightly, and a pair of eagles occasionally kited about in the cobalt-blue sky, which was a glorious sight to see.

The water level looked to be about 10 inches below normal. The water was extremely clear for a flatland reservoir in northeastern Kansas. The surface temperature ranged from 54 to 56 degrees. I didn’t cross paths with any patches of aquatic vegetation, but I saw some pieces of coontail and bushy pondweed floating on the surface.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 1:24 p.m. to 3.24 a.m. and 1:52 p.m. to 3:52 p.m., and there was a minor period from 7:68 a.m. to 9:38 a.m. I began fishing at 9:50 a.m., and it took me until 1:21 p.m. to catch largemouth bass No. 50.

This time of the year we traditionally fish rock-and-gravel-laden lairs rather than aquatic vegetation. The natural terrain of this reservoir primarily consists of clay, but there are hundreds of yards of riprap.

And on this outing, I executed 90 percent of my casts and retrieves on riprap. I made a few fruitless casts and retrieves on a main-lake clay point and a main-lake clay shoreline. I caught five largemouth bass along a short span of a natural-rock shoreline, and it was a steep shoreline. These five largemouth bass were abiding in about seven feet of water, which is deep-water for mid-April in northeastern Kansas.

Forty-three largemouth bass were caught along the riprap that graces the dam. The dam in about 300 yards long, and it took me about two hours to fish it. I caught two largemouth bass along a steep riprap shoreline adjacent to the dam.

The majority of the bass that I caught on the riprap of the dam were abiding in seven to 10 feet of water, and they seemed to be flush to the bottom. These bottom-dwelling largemouth bass were allured by a slow hop-and-bounce retrieve that was enhanced by incessant shakes. The shakes were executed so that there was a constant series of S-curves radiating along the line from the tip of the rod to the point where the line met the surface of the water. If I elicited a strike and failed to hook a largemouth bass, I allowed the bait to lie on the bottom, and then I executed a series of shakes for more than five seconds, and occasionally that tactic would allow me to catch a largemouth bass. The shallower largemouth bass either engulfed the bait on the initial drop or when I presented it with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

Most of the largemouth bass were caught on a 3 1/4-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Four were caught on a 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Four were caught on a 3 3/4-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Three were caught on a customized 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Mood Ring FattyZ tube on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Three were caught on a customized three-inch Z-Man’s Mood Ring FattyZ.

I was hoping to catch 50 largemouth bass in about 2 1/2 hours, but it took more time to properly present a soft-plastic bait on either a 1/32-ounce jig or a 1/16-ounce jig in seven to 10 feet of water than it does to properly present one in two to six feet of water. So it took three hours and 31 minutes to accomplish the task of catching 50 largemouth bass. I tried a 3 1/4-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Hula StickZ on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, but it failed to elicit a strike. There are times — especially when the wind howls or when we are swimming a three- or four-inch grub — when a 3/32-ounce Gopher jig works well, but most of the time the no-feel presentation created by a 1/32- or a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig is our most effective way to present a soft-plastic bait to the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas. It is difficult to create that no-feel presentation with a 3/32-ounce jig.

It is important to note that the bluegill and green sunfish have not ventured to the riprap and rocky shorelines. In fact, I have caught only one green-sunfish and one bluegill so far in 2014. Traditionally, when we don’t inadvertently catch some green sunfish and bluegill, the pre-spawn period hasn’t arrived. What’s more, the crappie are still scattered and not inhabiting their traditional pre-spawn and spawning haunts along the riprap shorelines.

The standard four-inch Hula StickZ is at the top.  The 3 1/4-inch one that we often use in northeastern Kansas is created  by trimming three-quarters of an inch from the head of the four-incher. Lately, we have been using the 3 1/4-inch Hula StickZ more than then 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ.

 

The three-inch FattyZ is on the left. The standard five-inch Mood Ring FattyZ is in the middle. The 2 1/2-inch Mood Ring FattyZ tube is on the right. The three-incher includes the head and tail section of the five-inch FattyZ. The belly segment is removed. Then the head and tail section are glued together. Daniel Nussbaum of Ladson, South Carolina, and Z-Man Fishing Products created this customized FattyZ for his saltwater endeavors, and since then, some of Midwest anglers have been hoping that Z-Man would manufacture a three-inch FattyZ.

 

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Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed this report about his outing on April 18 with Ralph Manns of Rowlett, Texas, and In-Fisherman magazine.

He wrote: “I made a 43-mile trek to a 21,671-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ flatland reservoir on the far eastern edge of Dallas, where I joined Ralph Manns of Rowlett, Texas, for an afternoon of largemouth bass angling.

“Manns and I last fished this reservoir on April 5, and during that three and a half hour foray, we tangled with 12 largemouth bass including one four-pounder and one five-pounder, one crappie, and one catfish.

“The morning of April 18 was cloudy and calm, but by noon, the clouds had burned away, and the sun was radiant in the blue sky. The National Weather service recorded the morning low temperature at 54 degrees and the afternoon high reached a very pleasant 76 degrees. A light breeze quartered out of the northwest at about 8 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.29 at 11:00 a.m., but dropped to 30.12 by 6:00 p.m.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the optimum fishing period would occur between 1:57 p.m. and 3:57 p.m. We were afloat from about 2:30 p.m. until dark, which occurred around 8:00 p.m.

We spent the entire afternoon and evening meandering around a large marina for pre-spawn and spawning bass. The water temperature warmed from 63 degrees at 2:30 p.m. to 67 degrees by 7:30 p.m. The water level was 7.45 feet below normal. A dredger had been working inside the marina for the past several days, removing the mud and silt bottom so larger houseboats and cruising vessels could move from their now shallow water docks to deeper moorings, and also prevent them from becoming grounded on the mud bottom as water levels continue to recede. The dredging activity colored the water with an odd milky-white stain. Water clarity was less than a foot in the southern portion of the marina, and about 1 1/2 feet of visibility in the northern section of the marina. We utilized Manns’ eight foot boat, which allowed us to explore shallow rocky areas and narrow passageways between the docks and shorelines that larger boats could not access.

We began the afternoon targeting rock and brush along a shallow east-side shoreline ledge that dropped from two to four feet of water. Manns immediately tangled with two keeper-sized largemouth bass that were attracted to a four-inch Gary Yamamoto Bait Company’s watermelon with black and gold flake Senko with a dyed chartreuse tail, and nose-hooked on an Owner’s size 1 weedless wacky-rig hook. Manns worked the Senko in a slow lift-and-drop manner. I experimented with a four-inch Kalin’s bluegill hue Lunker Grub rigged on a blue 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. The grub failed to elicit any strikes.

Next, we probed a series of craggy jetties covered with a labyrinth of large concrete boulders interlaced with protruding twisted extensions of rusty steel rebar. I enticed three largemouth bass from four feet of water and about 10 feet off a jetty with a Z-Man’s blue steel Finesse ShadZ affixed to a 1/32-ounce blue Gopher jig, and implemented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Manns’ Senko produced three largemouth bass from the small gaps between the concrete boulders in two feet of water. When the Finesse ShadZ could no longer draw strikes from bass roaming outside their boulder and rebar lairs, I switched to a wacky-rigged four-inch Yum’s black-blue-flake Dinger, and quickly extracted one largemouth bass from between two concrete boulders.

We continued fishing the concrete boulders along the jetties and several covered boat docks for several hours, catching a largemouth bass here and there on our Senko-type baits, but we did not find any concentrations of fish, nor did we see any signs of spawning fish. Most of the largemouth bass were lying in the narrow gaps between the concrete boulders in shallow water next to the jetty, and if our baits landed more than a foot away from the boulders, we would not get a bite. I tried bobber-rigging a four-inch Z-Man’s coppertreuse Finesse WormZ and a four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig, and these baits were set 18 inches below a fixed rattling bobber. Unfortunately, I could not cast the rig accurately enough to get it into the narrow gaps between the boulders and I failed to elicit any strikes. Manns experimented with an unknown brand white chatterbait and a Rapala DT-6 crankbait, but these baits also failed to trigger a strike.

After fishing the jetties and several covered boat docks, we plied a series of shallow ledges that were situated in two to four feet of water between the boat docks and shoreline. We had to carefully maneuver Manns’ boat underneath several overhead walkways and through narrow passageways as we made short pitch casts down the ledge and to the edges of the boat docks in two to four feet of water. We landed an occasional bass, including a 3-pound, 10-ounce largemouth bass that could not resist my wacky-rigged Yum Dinger and slow lift and drop presentation.

As the afternoon slowly melded into evening, Manns suggested we use purple-tinted baits. Manns explained that his piscatorial records revealed a substantial increase in his catch rates when he used purple lures during the last one to one and a half hours of daylight. Furthermore, Manns believes the bass bite is significantly better at dusk than at dawn and he prefers fishing the twilight hours from sunset to nightfall.

I followed Manns’ suggestion and switched to a four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Hula StickZ that I threaded onto a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. I utilized the drag-shake-deadstick presentation as Manns slowly trolled down the side of a rock jetty reinforced by several thick wooden posts. As the evening progressed, I noticed the PB&J Hula StickZ became more effective as it got closer to dusk and the Senko-type baits we had used earlier in the afternoon and evening became much less effective. The Hula StickZ seduced six largemouth bass and one 14-inch crappie, while Manns’ alternated between his watermelon Senko and a Texas-rigged four-inch purple Roboworm. The Senko allured one largemouth bass and the Roboworm eked out one largemouth bass during the same time I was employing the Hula StickZ.

All totaled, we inveigled 24 largemouth bass, but landed only 21 of them. All but two were keeper-sized fish with several measuring between 15 to 19 inches. The majority of these bass were hunkered down in narrow gaps between the large concrete boulders, and I felt more like a power fisherman as I executed countless underhanded-pitch casts to gaps between boulders and around the edges of boat docks. The four-inch Yamamoto Senko worked in a slow lift-and-drop scheme allured 10 largemouth bass; Z-Man’s PB&J Hula StickZ presented in a drag-shake-and-deadstick manner enticed six bass and one large crappie; Z-Man’s blue steel Finesse ShadZ implemented with a slow swim-glide-shake retrieve conjured three; and Yum’s wacky-rigged four-inch black-blue-flake Dinger applied with a slow lift-and-drop motion attracted the other two. The white chatterbait and Rapala crankbait failed to trigger any strikes. The unwieldy bobber rig proved to be too difficult for me to employ in these close-quarter casting conditions.

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Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, filed a short report on the windy and difficult largemouth and spotted bass fishing that he and his wife endured at the Lake of the Ozarks’ Niangua Arm from April 13 to 18.

He wrote: “The bass fishing was very trying last week. The weather and high winds kept us off the water for the most part until Wednesday.

“On Wednesday, we caught only 10 bass in about six hours of fishing. All of them were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Most were caught on chunk-rock secondary points inside large coves and in four to five feet of water.

“On Thursday, the fishing was somewhat better. We caught 23 bass, and all of them were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Most of them were caught on either a chunk-rock or pea-gravel shoreline and halfway inside coves. Most of the time, the boat was in 10 to 15 feet of water, and the bass were caught about halfway between the bank and the boat, and they were in about five feet of water. We also caught about 10 freshwater drum and numerous crappie while bass fishing.

“On Friday we crappie fished most of the day and it was fantastic. We caught a limit in about three hours by using 1/16-ounce marabou jigs. All the crappie were nice ones, and some of them weighed 1 1/2 pounds.

“We caught only one bass over 15 inches all week, and it weighed 3 3/4-pounds. Most of the other bass were 12 to 13 inches long.”

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Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, filed a brief report about his April 18 outing with his son, Tyler Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir.

The water level was 3.25 feet below normal. The water was extremely clear for a northeastern Kansas flatland reservoir. The surface temperature ranged from 51 to 54 degrees.

He reported that they caught 23 smallmouth bass, five white bass, and two largemouth bass. Four were inveigled on a 2 1/2-inch white-and-red grub on a 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. The rest were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. One of the smallmouth bass weighed 4.5 pounds, three of the others were three-pounders, and one of the largemouth bass weighed about three pounds. These fish were caught along the riprap of the dam. A depth of eight feet was the deepest that they caught a smallmouth bass; most of them, however, were abiding in five to six feet of water.

April 20 log

Paul Finn of Olathe, Kansas, posted a brief report on the Finesse News Network about his April 20 outing with his son at a 195-acre community reservoir.

In-Fisherman’s  solunar calendar indicated the best fishing occurred from 3:29 a.m. to 5:29 a. m. and 3:58 p.m. to 5:58 p.m., and a minor period took place from 9:43 a.m. to 11:43 a.m. They were afloat from 10:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, recorded the low temperature at 52 degrees and the high temperature at 80 degrees. For spells it was partly cloudy and a few drops of rain dropped from those clouds, and at other times, the sun was shining everywhere. The wind angled out of the east, southeast and east at 5 to 26 mph. The barometric pressure at 9:52 a.m. was 30.08 and gradually dropping.

The water level was about two feet below normal. The surface temperature was 59 degrees. The water clarity ranged from 2 1/2 to three feet.

They spent the majority of the time probing the shorelines inside one of the reservoir’s east-side feeder-creek arms, which sheltered them from the pesky southeast wind. But they did allow the wind to blow their boat along the rock-lined dam, where they wielded Rapala DT Series No. 6 crankbaits and caught a few largemouth bass. They also worked with a 5/8-ounce Gene Larew Lures’ Biffle Hardhead Jig that they dressed with either a Strike King Lure Company’s Rage Twin Tale Menace Grub or a Larew’s Biffle Bug, but it garnered only a few strikes that were not hooked.

In total, they caught 42 largemouth bass. The biggest was a 20-incher that weighed four pounds, three ounces. It was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company’s Bama Craw Zero affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce homemade mushroom-style jig with a hook guard. Their most effective bait was a three-inch Missile Baits’ green-pumpkin Drop Craw affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce homemade mushroom-style jig. Finn’s son used the Drop Craw, and it allured nearly two-thirds of the largemouth bass that they caught.

They employed two retrieves: the swim- glide-and-shake presentation; and the hop-and-bounce motif.

The largemouth bass were caught in water as shallow as two feet and as deep as six feet.

April 21 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed this report on the Finesse News Network about his April 21 outing.

He wrote: “I conducted a solo afternoon outing to a local 21,280-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir on the northern fringe of Lewisville.

“It was cloudy with an afternoon thunderstorm. The morning’s low temperature was recorded at a mild 63 degrees, and the afternoon high reached 82 degrees. A mild breeze blew out of the north at five to 10 miles per hour. The barometric pressure measured 29.97.

“I fished from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., however, I sat idly underneath a covered boat slip for over 30 minutes during an afternoon thunderstorm. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicted the best fishing periods would occur between 4:37 a.m. to 6:37 a.m. and 5:05 p.m. to 7:05 p.m. A minor period would take place from 10:51 a.m. to 12:51 p.m.

“My rods were prepared with the following baits: a Charlie Brewer Slider Company’s three-inch watermelon/multi-flake Bass/Walleye/Striper Grub rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; customized 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Junebug FattyZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; customized 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California Craw FattyZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; and Z-Man’s blue steel Finesse ShadZ affixed to a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

“The water was stained with 1 1/2-feet of visibility. The surface temperatures ranged from 65 to 67 degrees. The water level was 7.63 feet below normal.

“I began the outing in the back of a marina in the southeastern portion of the reservoir’s southwest tributary arm. I plied steep rocky secondary points, rock and clay channel banks adjacent to shallow-water boat docks, and a series of covered boat slips. Brewer’s three-inch Slider grub enticed 11 largemouth bass from two to six feet of water along the steep channel banks and rocky points. I manipulated the grub with a steady do-nothing retrieve. I enticed one largemouth bass from underneath a covered boat slip with the 3 1/2-inch Junebug FattyZ and a slow drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve. This bass was abiding in five feet of water.

“I fished a long, steep, clay, and gravel shoreline that courses behind a slew of boat houses and worked my way underneath nine overhead walkways into a quiet cove. This cove encompasses steep rocky banks, several boat ramps, and a submerged tire reef. I tangled with two largemouth bass and one spotted bass that were caught in four feet of water along a steep rocky bank on the blue steel Finesse ShadZ worked in a slow swim-glide-and-shake manner.

“After waiting out a thunderstorm in a covered boat slip, I finished the afternoon probing several boat ramps, four secondary rock and clay points, three steep clay and gravel banks, and a tire reef. The bite fizzled out after the thunderstorm. During this lull, I experimented with the customized 3 1/2-inch California Craw FattyZ, and eventually it allured a 2 1/4-pound largemouth bass on a clay point behind a boat dock.

“In sum, I landed 15 largemouth bass and one spotted bass in 3 1/2-hours of fishing. Four of those weighed over two pounds. Brewer’s watermelon/multi-flake Slider grub retrieved in a steady do-nothing presentation caught 11 largemouth bass. The blue steel Finesse ShadZ and slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve attracted two largemouth bass and one spotted bass. The customized 3 1/2-inch Junebug FattyZ and a slow drag-shake-deadstick presentation enticed one largemouth bass. The customized 3 1/2-inch California Craw FattyZ implemented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve inveigled one largemouth bass.”

April 22 log

This was another reconnaissance outing in a quest to find a reservoir where our grandson and our granddaughter’s boyfriend can easily tangle with 15 largemouth bass or smallmouth bass an hour.

I made a similar outing on April 18, when I caught 50 largemouth bass in three hours and 31 minutes at a 180-acre state reservoir. The problem with that reservoir is the wind. And if it blows more than 12 mph from any direction, it is nearly impossible to fish.

So, on this second scouting endeavor, I explored a 416-acre community reservoir, which has numerous lairs that anglers can fish in a variety of wind directions and speeds.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing on April 22 would occur from 5:29 a.m. to 7:29 a.m. and 5:56 p.m.to 7:56 p.m. There was a minor period from 11:19 a.m. to 1:19 p.m. I was afloat from 10:45 a.m. to 2:25 p.m.

The water level looked to be more than three feet below normal. A slight algae bloom had erupted, and that colored the water to the point that I could not see the black propeller of the transom-mounted trolling motor, which is 22 inches below the surface. The surface temperature ranged from 52 to 60 degrees.

The National Weather Service in Topeka, Kansas, recorded the low temperature at 46 degrees and the high temperature hit 72 degrees. The barometric pressure was 30.15 and falling at 9:53 a.m. The wind was variable and exceptionally mild-mannered, and when it did stir a touch, it angled out of the northeast at 5 mph. The sky exhibited a brilliant blue hue, and the sun’s rays highlighted the blossoms on the redbud trees, plum thickets, lilacs, cherry trees, and apple trees. In my mind’s eye, it looked like an ideal day for catching scores of largemouth bass and smallmouth bass around shallow-water lairs that were graced with rocks and gravel. But the whereabouts of this reservoir’s largemouth bass and smallmouth bass has puzzled several Midwest finesse anglers this year, and consequently its largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishing at this reservoir has been extremely lackluster. And to my chagrin, it was lackluster again on April 22.

I caught only 16 largemouth bass and four smallmouth bass, as well as five rainbow trout and eight crappie, which were exhibiting their spawning hues and lingering around some of their traditional spawning haunts.

There was no rhyme or reason to why or where I caught the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass that I did catch. It was one of those outings, when I merely made unending numbers of casts and retrieves, and eventually I would catch a largemouth bass or smallmouth bass or inadvertently catch a crappie or a trout. In sum, it seemed to be mere happenstance.

Four largemouth bass were caught along rocky main-lake shorelines. Ten largemouth bass were caught on rocky shorelines inside two coves and two secondary feeder-creek arms. Two largemouth bass were caught on a clay shoreline inside a secondary feeder-creek arm.

One smallmouth bass was caught around a cable that anchors a buoy at an offshore rock pile on the main lake. One smallmouth bass was caught along a rocky bluff inside a secondary feeder-creek arm. Two smallmouth bass were caught on a rocky shoreline inside a small cove.

A 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig caught two smallmouth bass and six largemouth bass. A 3 1/4-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught one smallmouth bass and 10 largemouth bass. A 2 3/4-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin prototype ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig caught one smallmouth bass.

A drag-and-shake retrieve allured the majority of the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, as well as the other species.

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Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his April 22 outing.

He wrote: “I made a solo 38-mile jaunt to a 24,154-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir in north-central Texas.

“It was a picturesque spring day. The National Weather Service recorded the low temperature at 58 degrees and the high for the day was 84 degrees. The sun was shining brightly as a few wispy clouds drifted slowly across the light-blue sky. A light breeze quartered out of the northeast at 5 to 10 miles per hour, and the barometric pressure was steady at 30.04.

“The water was clear and exhibited a light-green tint. There was more than four feet of visibility. The surface temperature varied from 65 to 70 degrees. The Texas Water Management Board recorded the water level at 8.04 feet below normal.

“I had prepared the following baits for the day: 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red flake FattyZ tail rigged on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; Z-Man’s blue steel Finesse ShadZ rigged on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; and three-inch Kalin’s clear hologram Lunker Grub sported on a blue 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.

“The In-Fisherman solunar calendar indicated the best fishing periods would occur between 5:34 a.m. to 7:34 a.m. and 6:02 p.m. to 8:02 p.m. A minor period occurred from 11:24 a.m. and 1:24 p.m. I was afloat from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“I began the day plying a riprap bank and jetty adjacent to the boat ramp where I launched. I took my time whittling away at this area with the 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red flake FattyZ tail and the blue steel Finesse ShadZ, and I tussled with six largemouth bass, two spotted bass, one crappie, and one white bass. These fish were scattered along the rock jetty in three to six feet of water.

“My next spot was a spawning cove in the southeast end of the west tributary arm of the reservoir. The cove’s main features were a steep, gravel, and clay point at the entrance to the cove, a small feeder creek entering from the west end of the cove, a creek channel that parallels the north bank, and large boulders that enhance the northern shoreline. I was disappointed to find that the usual spawning sites were now several feet out of water, including the large boulders along the northern shoreline. I probed this cove with the watermelon-red flake FattyZ tail, blue steel ShadZ, and Kalin grub combos, using either the steady do-nothing or the swim-glide-and-shake retrieves. I enticed two largemouth bass and one white bass from the steep entry point to the cove. I landed four largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and one crappie from the northern edge of the creek channel. All of these fish were taken from three to six feet of water.

“I made a short run to another feeder creek in the same tributary arm. This feeder creek encompasses four mud and gravel spawning coves, two boat ramps, a set of ten concrete pillars that extend out from the north shoreline, and a long east-side shoreline that is covered with basketball-sized rocks. I used the Finesse ShadZ and Kalin’s grub to cover the area in a quick and efficient manner, and I garnered four largemouth bass, two spotted bass, and five white bass. One largemouth bass was abiding next to one of the concrete towers in four feet of water. Three largemouth bass, four white bass, and two spotted bass were relating to a boat ramp in three feet of water. One white bass was caught off the long rocky east shoreline in four feet of water. The Finesse ShadZ was presented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and the Kalin’s grub was retrieved in a steady swimming do-nothing manner.

“Next, I crossed over to the east side tributary arm of the reservoir, and entered a feeder creek on the west side of this tributary. This feeder creek is endowed with five steep rocky points and banks, two spawning coves, and numerous patches of brown hydrilla along one of the spawning cove’s northern shoreline. I executed scores of fan casts and steady do-nothing retrieves with the Kailin’s grub while I slowly drifted along with the breeze, and I tangled with one largemouth bass that was inhabiting the deep water edge of a hydrilla patch in four feet of water. A second largemouth bass and one white bass engulfed the blue steel Finesse ShadZ that was presented in a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve along the edges of the patches of hydrilla in five feet of water. The steep rocky banks and points were fruitless.

“My last stop of the day consisted of a submerged roadbed adjacent to a rocky main-lake shoreline and rocky point at the entrance to a main-lake spawning cove. I utilized the Kalin’s grub and blue steel Finesse ShadZ, and I failed to entice a strike.

“All totaled, I caught 16 largemouth bass, five spotted bass, eight white bass, and two crappies in five hours.

“Z-Man’s blue steel ShadZ inveigled seven largemouth bass, two white bass and one spotted bass. The Z-Man’s watermelon-red flake FattyZ tail enticed five largemouth bass, two spotted bass and one crappie. The Kalin’s clear hologram Lunker Grub attracted four largemouth bass, two spotted bass, six white bass and one crappie. The swim-glide-and-shake and steady do-nothing retrieves were the most fruitful presentations.”

April 23 log

The manifold virtues of Midwest finesse fishing were significantly displayed on April 23.

But it is not a tactic that  appeals to bass tournament anglers or recreational anglers who parrot the ways of tournament anglers or producers of televisions shows about bass fishing.

It is interesting to note, however, that on June 9 and 23, 2009, Harold Sharp, who was the original tournament director for Bassmaster, was featured on BassFan.com about the detrimental effects that bass tournaments have had on the way anglers fish for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass. And as we have seen from Ralph Manns comments in the “Midwest Finesse Fishing: March 2014” column it has also affected the way Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s fisheries biologists manage the waterways in Texas. Moreover, Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, says the way Texas manages it waterways also affects the way children learn to fish in Texas.

Sharp thought that the problem could be remedied if Bassmaster, FLW and other tournament circuits changed the rules, which he played a major role in creating in the 1970s.

In essence, Sharp called his scheme or remedy Cash ‘N Bass, and there would be no size and creel limits in these tournaments. What’s more, the tournament day would consist of four hours rather than eight hours.

In a June 12, 2009, e-mail, Sharp noted: If the Cash N’ Bass system was implemented, every tournament angler would have a chance of catching unending numbers of bass, and each of those bass would count, not just the five biggest bass. He said most anglers think it is easy to catch vast numbers of small bass, but it is not. He contended that anglers would “soon discover it takes as much or more skill to locate and catch numbers of bass,” as it does five big ones. In addition, Sharp thought his new system would change the way we fish and the equipment we use, noting more tournament anglers, as well as recreational anglers — who like to mimic the professional anglers –would adopt the finesse methods similar to the ones developed by the late Charlie Brewer of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. In Sharp’s eyes, it would make fishing fun again rather than a grind.

On April 23, I was afloat with our grandson Gabe Bonanno of New York City and his brother-in-law, Tyler Sova, who recently moved to Lawrence, Kansas, from New York City. Gabe fishes only once or twice a year, and that happens during his annual visit at Easter. This was only the second time that Tyler has fished, and his first outing took place on April 5, 2013, when he and Gabe joined me on a post-Easter outing, and on his maiden outing, they caught 64 largemouth bass and five crappie by employing Midwest finesse tactics, which are somewhat similar to the Charlie Brewer methods that Sharp lauded in BassFan.com observations.

The National Weather Service of Lawrence, Kansas, recorded the low temperature for April 23 at 51 degrees and high temperature at 78 degrees. At times, the sky was cloudy, partly cloudy and then sunny. The barometric pressure at 9:52 a.m. was 29.96 and falling. The wind was substantial at times, angling out of the southeast at 15 mph with gusts that hit 30 mph, and the wind provoked us to use a drift sock for the first time in 2014.

The water level looked to be about 2 1/2 feet below normal. The surface temperature ranged from 59 to 60 degrees. The water clarity was affected slightly by an algae bloom, but we could see the black propeller on the bow-mounted trolling motor, which is about 13 inches below the surface.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing happened from 6:20 a.m. to 8:20 a.m. and 6:47 p.m. to 8:47 p.m.

We were on the water at a 195-acre community reservoir from 10:00 a.m. to 2:20 p.m., and to our surprise and delight, we caught and released 102 largemouth bass, seven crappie, and four green sunfish.

We spent the bulk of our four hours and 20 minutes, hiding from the wind by plying a long rocky and gravel shoreline on the east side of the reservoir. Part of this shoreline stretched into one of the reservoir’s feeder-creek arms, but most of it is a main-lake shoreline. It is graced with four main-lake points and several secondary and tertiary points. Its shallow and flat contours, which were embellished with a few massive boulders and gravel, were more fruitful than its steep-sloping areas. Two of the flat main-lake points yielded more bass than the two steep ones. Even though we were hiding from the wind along this east-side shoreline, it was forceful enough that we had to use a drift sock about 90 percent of the time.

We did spend a few minutes trying to fish the west shoreline halfway inside the reservoir’s south feeder-arm, but the wind was too brisk and the shoreline is too steep, and we caught only five largemouth bass. The wind plays havoc with Midwest finesse tactics, and it makes it difficult for novice anglers to pinpoint their casts and properly execute their retrieves.

On the east side of the reservoir, we quickly fished the entire shorelines of a main-lake cove that was fairly sheltered from the wind, and we caught seven largemouth bass from its flat gravel and rocky shorelines.

Then we quickly examined the reservoir’s eastern feeder-creek arm. The wind was bothersome in this arm, and it had been fished for several hours by a pair of extremely talented Midwest finesse anglers. So we spent about 20 minutes hurriedly fishing some of its flat-rocky lairs, where we caught five largemouth bass.

We spend 240 minutes of the 260 minutes we were afloat hiding from the wind and fishing the east shoreline and its points. In fact, we fished nearly every yard of it twice, and during the last 20 minutes, we fished a 60-yard stretch of it for the third time.

As the first hour of our outing lapsed, we noted that we had caught 34 largemouth bass, and we thought that we were well on our way to catching 101 largemouth bass in four hours. But when 2:00 p.m. rolled around, our mechanical counter revealed that we were five largemouth bass short of our 101 goal, and it took us 20 minutes to reach that goal. In fact, we surpassed the 101 mark when Gabe and Tyler nearly simultaneously caught largemouth bass No. 101 and 102.

We caught these largemouth bass on a 3 3/4-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ on either a red 1/32-ounce or a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, 3 1/4-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, 3 1/4-inch Z-Man’s California Craw Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and 3 3/4-inch Strike King Lure Company’s green-pumpkin-red-flake Super Finesse Worm on either a chartreuse 1/32-ounce or a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. And Gabe spent about 20 minutes wielding a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ spin on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which inveigled one largemouth bass. Those were the only lures we used.

The customized Finesse WormZ and red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig on the bottom is one of the Finesse WormZ combos that we used to catch 102 largemouth bass on our April 23 outing.

 

 

The best retrieve was a drag-and-shake one that was occasionally punctuated by a deadstick motif. The shake was vigorous at times, and it was implemented by creating a series of incessant S-curves on the line from the tip of the rod to the spot where the line penetrated the surface of the water.

Some of the bass were extracted from water as shallow as two feet and near the water’s edge, and others were caught in six feet of water and 20 or so feet from the shoreline.

This was the second time in 2014 that I have enjoyed a 101 or more largemouth bass outing. The first one occurred when I joined Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri on Mar. 28, at a 125-acre community reservoir in the northern suburbs of Kansas City. It is always delightful to tangle with 101 largemouth bass in about four hours, but the one that I enjoyed with Gabe and Tyler is one of the grandest of them all. Our April 23 outing revealed one of the many attributes of Midwest finesse angling is that it helps novice anglers catch a lot of largemouth bass, and by tangling with 102 largemouth bass, their minds rarely wandered, they learned about the habits and whereabouts of the largemouth bass when the surface temperature is 59 to 60 degrees in late April in northeastern Kansas, they had fun doing it, and they want to do it again and again and again.

Footnotes:

(1) Here are the links to the BassFan.com pieces about Harold Sharp:

(a) http://www.bassfan.com/news_article.asp?id=3334#.U1kZ9lcy1MI.

(b) http://bassfan.com/opinion_article.asp?ID=129#.U1lCBFcy1MI.

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Clyde Holscher is a multispecies guide and veteran Midwest finesse angler who resides in Topeka, Kansas, and the brutally cold weather of the past winter and wind-blown days of March and April have kept him and his clients at bay. But on April 23, he filed a brief report on the Finesse News Network about his half-day outings on April 21, 22, and 23 at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir.

He noted that the water level was 3 1/2-feet below normal. The surface temperature fluctuated daily — depending on the intensity of the sun, the wind, and the areas that they fished — from the low 50s to 60 degrees.

They used 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZs in a variety of colors, and they were affixed on either 1/16- or 3/32-ounce Gopher jigs. They opted for the 3/32-ounce Gopher jigs around wind-blown areas.

They caught significant numbers of male smallmouth bass on shallow-water and rock-laden lairs. They also crossed paths with crappie that were inhabiting traditional spawning sites, and some wind-swept shorelines yielded a few white bass.

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Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, is the outdoor editor for the Kansas City Star. He was at the Lake of the Ozarks on April 22 and 23, working on a story for the newspaper. He also posted a brief report on the Finesse News Network.

On April 22, Frazee and his friend Jim Divincen of the Lake of the Ozarks and Tri-County Lodging Association were guided by Bob Bueltmann of Osage Beach, Missouri, and proprietor of BassBob.com.

They fished four hours in the Grand Glaize arm.

The National Weather Service in Jefferson City, Missouri, recorded the low temperature at 55 degrees and the high temperature was 69 degrees. The sun was bright, and the sky was cloudless. The wind was mild-mannered and angling out of the north at 7 to 9 mph. At 8:53 a.m., the barometric pressure was 30.10 and falling.

The water was extremely clear, and the surface temperature was 60 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing occurred from 5:15 a.m to 7:15 a.m. and 5:42 p.m. and 7:42 p.m. There was a minor period from 11:05 a.m. to 1:05 p.m.

Frazee wrote, “We tried everything in the tacklebox: jig and pig, Baby Brush Hogs, spinnerbaits, Wiggle Warts, and jerkbaits. Finally, I thought I would really sucker these guys and start throwing the finesse stuff. Even that was just minimally effective. I caught a 13-inch Kentucky on my first cast with a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ, but that must have been a jinx. For the rest of the trip, I only caught a few more. I think we ended up with 17 bass, fishing from 9:30 a.m. to about 1:15 p.m.”

On April 23, the low temperature was 40 degrees, and the high temperature was 69 degrees. It was cloudy. The wind angled out of the southeast and east at 9 to 14 mph. The barometric pressure at 7:53 a.m. was 30.09 and falling.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 6:08 a.m. to 8:08 a.m. and 6:34 p.m. to 8:34 p.m. A minor period happened from 11:54 a.m. to 1:54 p.m.

Frazee wrote: “We fished with Vern Jaycox of Lake Ozark, Missouri, who is one of the old masters on the lake. It was really fun to talk to him and get his ideas on bass fishing. We did much better than Tuesday, partly because cloud cover moved in and partly because Vern has plenty of spots. He fishes almost every day, and he knows where they’re hitting. We fished in the Lake Ozark area, concentrating mostly on transition banks (from bigger rock to gravel) and between boat docks. We fished from 8 a.m. to a little after noon and we caught exactly 30. Five were keepers, including the 6-pound, 7-ounce toad I caught on a Jewel Bait Company’s Jig in their Missouri Craw hue with a green pumpkin trailer. She was hanging in about seven feet of water, just out from a spawning bank. I used that jig for most of the day. Vern found success with a Zoom Bait Company’s green-pumpkin Baby Brush Hog on a Carolina rig. Jim caught bass on Crock-O-Gator’s Swamp Bug and an assortment of other baits. I tried using the Finesse ShadZ and 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ and had very little action.”

April 25 log

Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, filed a brief report on the Finesse News Network about his April 25 outing with a friend at a 100-acre community reservoir that lies in the southwest suburbs of Kansas City.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 7:53 a.m. to 9:53 a.m. and 8:18 p.m. to 10:18 p.m. A minor period occurred from 1:40 a.m. to 3:40 a.m.

The National Weather Service in Olathe, Kansas, recorded the low temperate at 46 degrees, and the high temperature was 74 degrees. It was sunny. And while they were afloat, the wind angled out of the south and southeast at 12 to 15 mph, but an occasional gust hit 30 mph. The barometric pressure at 12:53 p.m. was 29.74 and falling.

The water level was above normal. The water clarity in the lower half of the reservoir exhibited six feet of visibility. The upper half was murky.

They fished the clear-water. Wind-blown lairs were the productive ones. In fact, they failed to elicit a strike around the calm locations. Their most fruitful area was along the submerged patches of coontail along the east end of the dam.

They caught 40 largemouth bass by employing two lures: 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on either a red or chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; shortened four-inch Z-Man’s purple-haze Finesse WormZ on either a red or chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The best presentation was a slow do-nothing retrieve.

April 26 log

Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, filed a brief report on the Finesse News Network about his April 26 outing with a friend at a 30-acre community reservoir that lies in the west suburbs of Kansas City.

The National Weather Service in Olathe, Kansas, recorded the low temperate at 52 degrees, and the high temperature was 76 degrees. The sky was mostly covered with clouds until after 5:00 p.m., and it rained during the mid-morning hours. And while they were afloat, the wind angled out of the south at 17 to 29 mph. The barometric pressure at 12:53 p.m. was 29.47 and falling.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 8:38 a.m. to 10:38 a.m. and 9:03 p.m. to 11:03 p.m. They fished from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The water exhibited six feet of clarity. They did not record the surface temperature. It is littered with man-made laydowns and brush piles, as well as many thick patches of aquatic vegetation.

They caught 25 largemouth bass, and the bulk of them were caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s purple-haze Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The best presentation was a slow do-nothing retrieve.

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Bob Gum of Kansas filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his April 26 outing with Greg Monahan of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, to a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir.

The Corps of Engineers reported that the water level was 3 1/2-feet below normal. Gum noted that the water clarity in the main-lake portions of the reservoir was quite clear, and inside three south-side coves, the clarity was dingy. The surface temperature was 57 degrees.

The National Weather Service in Topeka recorded the low temperature at 62 degrees, and the high temperature was 79 degrees.

The wind howled out of the south and southeast from 10 to 38 mph. Initially the sky was partly cloudy, and from 9:53 a.m. on, the sun was shining brightly everywhere. The barometric pressure was 29.74 at 8:53 a.m. and falling.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing occurred from 8:41 a.m. to 10:41 a.m. and 9:06 p.m. to 11:06 p.m. They fished from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

The wind sequestered them to the south side of the reservoir, where they probed three large coves and a wind-sheltered main-lake flat and shoreline. The terrain of the flat was a mixture of gravel and rock and littered with some massive boulders.

Their most fruitful shorelines inside the three coves were buffeted a touch by the wind, and to dissect those shorelines, they moved with the wind, and to slow the pace that the boat moved along those shorelines, they employed a drift sock and the bow-mounted trolling motor.

They caught 49 smallmouth bass, five white bass, and one walleye. Gum noted that these “fish seemed to be fairly evenly distributed from the back of the cove all the way to the point. The water was clear enough that we could detect rocky outcroppings well under the surface in some areas. We would often hold our casts until we could make an accurate cast at a good looking spot before we blew by.”

These fish were caught in two to five feet of water.

They caught a few fish on a three-inch jerkbait, but the majority of them were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Bait Company’s coppertruese Zero on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; and three-inch Berkley PowerBait Minnow in the smelt-hue on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. They presented these three baits by keeping the rod tip down or pointed at the five o’clock position and trying to deadstick these baits for several seconds as the wind pushed the boat and dragged the baits.

 

April 28 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his April 28 outing.

He wrote: “This spring’s spawning cycle is winding down in north- central Texas, and the post-spawn phase is becoming more evident. Water temperatures have climbed into the high 60s to low 70s. Countless pods of largemouth bass fry are swarming in the shallows, and if one looks very closely, they can often see a male largemouth bass hovering underneath one of these pods of tiny fry, and these males exhibit a protective disposition as they chase away any bluegills or other predators that wander too close to the pods of fry.

“I observed these intriguing and fascinating sights during a solo afternoon foray to a nearby 21,280-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir.

“It was another delightful and picturesque day. A beautiful sun filled the bluebird sky and not a cloud was in sight. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 56 degrees and the afternoon high reached 83 degrees. The winds dissipated to a tolerable level for the first time in days, and it quartered out of the northwest at five to ten mph. The barometric pressure was steady at 29.62.

“The water was stained but clearer than normal, exhibiting 2 1/2-feet of visibility. The surface temperature varied from 68 degrees to 71 degrees. The Texas Water Management Board recorded the reservoir’s water level at 7.62 feet below normal pool.

“I was afloat from 12:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the optimum fishing period would occur from 10:20 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.

“My spinning rods sported the following baits: three-inch Kalin’s watermelon Lunker Grub with a dyed chartreuse tail and rigged on a black 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; four-inch Zoom Bait Company’s watermelon-red flake Mini-Lizard on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; and a wacky-rigged four-inch YUM’s watermelon Dinger rigged on an Owner’s No. 2 octopus-style hook.

“I spent the entire outing in the southeast section of the southwest tributary arm of the reservoir. The fishing was slow and somewhat tedious.

“I began by fan casting with the Kalin’s grub on a mud flat just south of the boat ramp where I launched. I applied a slow but steady do-nothing retrieve and caught one 14-inch largemouth bass that was in three feet of water.

“For the next 2 1/2 hours, I plied the steep, rock and clay shorelines near a marina. Some of these shorelines serpentine behind many rows of covered boat docks. Along these steep shorelines I observed several male bass suspended under large pods of largemouth bass fry, along with scores of carp that had paired up and were resting on the bottom in two to three feet of water. I was also entertained by a mother duck and her seven small chicks as they swam in single file ahead of me from boat dock to boat dock. The steep rock and clay banks surrendered 12 largemouth bass — the biggest weighed 2 1/4-pounds — and three 12- to 13-inch crappies. These fish were scattered and were extracted from three to five feet of water. The Kalin’s grub and steady do-nothing retrieve attracted nine largemouth bass and two crappies. The Zoom Mini Lizard worked in a slow twitch-and-deadstick manner enticed two largemouth bass. The green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ retrieved with a hop-and-bounce presentation seduced one bass and one crappie.

“Next, I made a short run to a 75-yard long stretch of riprap-laden causeway. I slowly dissected this area with the Kalin’s grub and Zoom Lizard. The lizard with a slow twitch-and-deadstick presentation induced one largemouth bass that was residing about 15 feet from the water’s edge and in six feet of water. The grub failed to elicit any strikes.

“My next stop was a small feeder creek just north of the riprap causeway. This feeder creek encompasses three shallow mud flats sprinkled with fist-sized rocks and rotted stumps, an old submerged asphalt roadbed, five rocky points, four boat ramps, seven enclosed boat houses, and two spawning coves. I caught one spotted bass off the shallow end of a boat ramp. One largemouth bass and one crappie were caught on two adjacent rocky points about halfway back in the feeder creek. Both of these bass were caught in three to five feet of water on the Kalin’s grub with a slow and steady do-nothing retrieve. The back half of the feeder creek seemed bereft of bass.

“My last spot was a main-lake point comprised of clay and gravel. This point leads into three shallow mud bottom coves. It is usually at its best in the summer and fall, but I thought I would check it. I quickly covered the point from the main-lake side to the entrance of the coves with the grub with steady do-nothing technique, and I inveigled three largemouth bass that were scattered in three to five feet of water.

“All told, I tangled with 17 largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and four crappies during my 4 1/2-hour endeavor. The Kalin’s grub maneuvered in a slow but steady do-nothing presentation proved to be the most fruitful offering, alluring 13 largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and three crappie. Zoom’s Mini Lizard retrieved with a slow twitch-and-deadstick technique garnered three largemouth bass. Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ presented with a slow hop-and-bounce method caught one largemouth bass and one crappie. The wacky-rigged YUM Dinger failed to elicit any bites.

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On April 28, Drew Walker of Springfield, Missouri, posted a note on OzarkAnglers.com about a 24-angler tournament that he fished at a 25,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir in western Missouri. He also sent a note to the Finesse News Network on April 30 that included more details about this tournament.

He said that he had been reading about the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ affixed to a jig for about two years. But in his eyes, it looked like a“dumb bait.” Therefore, he couldn’t use it with any confidence. He confessed: “I am the guy tackle companies love. I buy what looks good to me, not necessarily the fish.” What’s more, finesse tactics have never appealed to him.

In his e-mail he wrote: “I recently fished a local tournament with some buddies. I had pre-fished twice the week leading up to tourney day. Both times I enjoyed better than great success on the A-rig and a spinnerbait, landing a 5.3-pound and 5.9-pound largemouth bass. So I loaded up my partner’s boat with both of those lures tied on my rods and 40 pounds of additional tackle that I would likely not even touch.

“After throwing the A-rig for about four hours, and having nothing to show for it, I threw the spinnerbait with less confidence than I started the day with. After an hour of that, I all but gave up.

“With four hours left in the tournament, I considered my tackle options. I also texted some of my buddies, and no one was catching anything (not sure they would have told me if they were since it was all against all.). I remembered rigging a few 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J and green-pumpkin/orange ZinkerZ s on 1/8-ounce jigs, and saying out loud ‘what do I have to lose, nothing is getting bites right now.’ I used the PB&J ZinkerZ and 1/8-ounce jig with six-pound-test fluorocarbon line and a medium-light-action rod, and I began by casting it to the shoreline and pulling it down the rock ledges. Not ever fishing it before, I wasn’t sure what to expect or look for and honestly wasn’t paying much attention for lack of my overall success for the day. What I saw next literally took three to four seconds to register, but my line was moving at a rapid rate. I reeled quickly to catch up and lightly set the hook to bring in a keeper bass. On the second cast, I didn’t expect anything either, but as soon as the rig settled on the bottom, a thump-thump radiated up the line, and I set the hook. During the next three hours, I landed more than 15 bass.”

In sum, he won the tournament by catching 24-pounds of bass. What’s more, none of the other contestants had more than one bass. He also marveled about the durability of the ZinkerZ.

 

 

 

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  • Steve Craven

    Hello Ned, here in Maryland the wind has been a huge issue on every outing this year. Fishing out of a kayak as I do, every aspect of your fishing is affected. Boat control, casting accuracy, even the ability to retrieve the lure properly because I am constantly battling the wind. So far this year I have had to find protected or at least semi-protected areas to fish, which obviously limits my options. I have also needed to use heavier jigs then I would like do to the wind. However, having complained about all this it is WONDERFUL to be back out on the water catching fish after this long brutal winter past. No great days so far, but satisfactory none the less. Last outing, first cast of the day with a 4″ xps grub on a 1/8 oz. gopher mushroom jig across a point that drops into deeper water I hooked and landed a 6lb 3oz largemouth, my 2nd biggest ever!! Best day numbers-wise so far was 18, but it is still early in the season, water temps still not at 60 yet for most of lakes in region. Best is yet to come, and hopefully soon!! Speak to you soon, Steve Craven

    • nkehde

      Steve:
      As always, it is delightful to read about your kayak outings in Maryland.
      Please keep sending them. They make us wiser finesse anglers.
      As ever,
      Ned

  • Ralph Manns

    As Steve Reideler has included me in Midwest Finesse, I feel free to observe that he and several other contributors cite the In-Fisherman solunar tables. A few years ago I tabulated about 20 years of catch data of partners and myself hoping to either validate or disprove solunar influence on black bass fishing results

    I found statistical evidence of a catch improvement, the effect was NOT large and that solunar MINORS are as important as majors. More important perhaps was my finding that the nature of the water fished directly influenced the impact of the tables. Small ponds with bass-bluegill populations were much more directly effected than large reservoirs with large shad forage populations. I postulate that food chains with large insect populations and a primary sunfish forage base are more subject to the solunar influence.

    In recent years I’ve refined that observation. In reservoirs when shad populations are down due to poor reproduction or a severe winter-kill, the bass seem more likely to feed on a solunar schedule rather than upon a daily shad migration schedule.

    • nkehde

      Ralph:
      Thanks for taking the time to enlighten us about your research regarding the effects of solunar influences on the black bass in the waterways that you fish in Texas.
      Please keep in touch and continue to enlighten us with the insights that you have garnered across the years.
      Ned Kehde

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