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Midwest Finesse Fishing: August 2014

by Ned Kehde   |  September 2nd, 2014 1

 

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One of the many smallmouth bass that the Weroha family of Kansas City caught in August by employing Midwest finesse tactics in Canada. See Dave Weroha’s Aug. 14 log.

August’s guide to Midwest finesse fishing is brimming with the piscatorial perceptions of Don Baldridge of Springfield, Missouri; Burton Bosley of Sutton, West Virginia; Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas; Paul Finn of Olathe, Kansas; Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri; Bob Gum of Kansas City; Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas; Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas; Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas; Ralph Manns of Rockwall, Texas; John McKean of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas.

These anglers’ logs provide us with scores of details and insights about the waterways they fished, and how they caught largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass during the 31 days of August, when the fishing at many locales across the nation was challenging.

We are thankful that Steve Reideler proof read all of the logs and made this 21,967-word guide more readable and understandable.

Aug. 4 log

Don Baldridge of Springfield, Missouri, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 4 outing at a 115-acre community reservoir in west-central Missouri.

The low temperature for the day was 66 degrees; the high temperature was 90 degrees. The barometric pressure was 30.04 at 12:53 a.m., 30.08 at 5:53 a.m., 30.07 at 11:53 a.m., 30.00 at 4:53 p.m., and 29.99 at 11:53 p.m. The wind blew out of the west by southwest at 4.6 mph at 5:53 a.m., out of the west by northwest at 8.1 mph at 8:53 a.m., and out of the southwest at 15 mph at 12:53 p.m. Scattered clouds stippled the sky at 5:53 a.m., and by 6:30 a.m. it was mostly cloudy and from 7:53 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. it sprinkled. It was mostly cloudy from 9:53 a.m. to 10:53 a.m., and the clouds disappeared by 11:53 a.m.

The surface temperature was 78 degrees, and there was three to four feet of water clarity. According to Baldridge, this reservoir endures a lot of angler predation, but anglers can harvest only two 18-inch or larger largemouth bass, which he suspects is why the reservoir is blessed with a significant number of good-sized specimens. It is a shallow-water reservoir; more than half of it is covered with 10 feet of water or less; the deepest water that he has found is 20 feet, which is near the spillway. Its east shoreline is graced with a bluff, that is about 160 yards long, and the rest of it is shallow and brushy. During the summer, 15 percent of it is covered with lily pads, American pondweed, globs of filamentous algae, and other varieties of pondweeds. The dam lies along the reservoir’s north side, it is more than 450 yards long, and it is lined with a metal retaining wall. Next to that retaining wall, the water is two to three feet deep, and it gradually drops into 12 feet of water about 35 feet away from the retaining wall.
About 90 percent of it cannot be fished by walking the shorelines. Anglers cannot use outboard motors. Baldridge fished in a pontoon/kick boat.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 11:01 a.m. to 1:01 p.m., and there was a minor period from 5:11 a.m. to 7:11 a.m. He fished from 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

His strategy was to fish the dam and the bluff, using and testing Z-Man Fishing Products’ Finesse T.R.D. (The Real Deal) in the following colors: California Craw, Coppertreuse, Junebug, Mud Minnow, and New Money. They were rigged on a 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig that David Reeves of Lansing, Kansas, crafts.

His first casts and retrieves were made with the New Money T.R.D. When he caught a 15-inch largemouth bass on it, he switched to the Junebug T.R.D. Once he caught a 15-incher on the Junebug, he switched to the Mud Minnow T.R.D. After he caught a 15-incher on the Mud Minnow, he switched to the Coppertreuse T.R.D. Upon catching a 15-inch largemouth bass on the Coppertreuse one, he began wielding a California Craw T.R.D.

Baldridge caught a 15-incher on every color, but the California Craw. When he was working with the California Craw, the weather changed and the location and behavior of the largemouth bass also changed. The California Craw, however, inveigled a goodly number of largemouth bass.

The best fishing took place during the first three hours of his outing, and it was especially fruitful when it was sprinkling.
Oodles of actively feeding largemouth bass of all sizes were abiding along the retaining wall of the dam. Many of them engulfed the T.R.D. as it plummeted from the surface to the bottom, and most of them were extracted out of less than five feet of water.
During the last hour and a half of fishing, the weather changed: the wind blew and the sky turned blue and sunny. In addition, the location and activity level of the largemouth bass changed. The last ones that he caught were abiding in eight to 10 feet of water.

He caught an average of nine largemouth bass an hour, and he also inadvertently tangled with some channel catfish, crappie, bluegill, and green sunfish.

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Don Baldridge and one of the largemouth bass that he caught on a Z-Man’s Junebug T.R.D.

Aug. 6 log

Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, posted the following report on the Finesse News Network about his smallmouth bass outing with Rick Dykstra of Junction City, Kansas, at a 16,020-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir in northeastern Kansas.

The National Weather Service at Manhattan, Kansas, indicated that it was 67 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 99 degrees at 1:52 p.m. It was foggy at 6:52 a.m.; it was fair and hazy at 7:52 a.m.; it alternated from partly cloudy to mostly cloudy to fair; several thunderstorms erupted across northeastern Kansas around 4:00 p.m. The barometric pressure was 29.98 at 12:52 a.m., 29.96 at 5:52 a.m., and 29.92 at 11:52 a.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 7:05 a.m. to 9:05 a.m. They fished from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

He wrote: “After a couple of weeks of getting frustrated by the largemouth bass in [northwest Missouri], it was fun to get out with an old friend, Rick Dykstra, and fish for smallmouth bass [in Kansas].

“I have been fishing with Rick for years and we share a passion for catching smallmouth bass. We’ve had many great trips over the years (thanks to Rick’s knowledge), and Wednesday just added to our tradition.

“We got out early (about 6:30 a.m.), and it was gray and drizzling — perfect weather for topwater. Well, that’s what Rick and I thought. The smallmouth apparently didn’t agree.

“I started using a green-pumpkin Strike King Lure Company’s Bitsy Tube on a black 1/16-ounce jig, and the bite changed immediately. Rick finally put down his topwater lure and used a similar tube bait, and we had many doubles.

“We were working rocky points and banks, many times casting to the shallows and working them back. The fish wanted a lot of action on the tubes. We used a hop-and-fall retrieve most of the time. But I got strikes many times just swimming the bait.

“The smallmouth bass were so aggressive that many times they would hit, miss it, then miss again before finally getting the hook the third time. In fact, that got to be a pattern. If the fish would hit and not get the hook, we would let the lure sink and just start jigging or shaking it. I don’t know if it was the same fish, but a smallmouth bass would inevitably come up and strike.
“Great day. We caught and released 46 smallmouths until I had to leave at about 11:30 a.m. They came in an assortment of sizes, with our biggest fish weighing probably 2 1/2 pounds.

“I was using four-pound test line on my St. Croix Power Lite rod, which might seem a little light. But I had my drag set loose and the fish just made runs before they finally wore out. I only broke off once.

“Water was clear, and the surface temperature was 80. Not much sign of the famous blue-green algae blooms that have closed beaches on this reservoir.

“There was a moderate wind, but it definitely helped the fishing. We caught all of our fish on banks where the wind was sending waves into the rocks.

“Rick is a heck of a good smallmouth bass fisherman, and he’s taught me a lot about fishing for Kansas smallmouth bass.  We hardly ever fish power baits. Both of us throw finesse baits and it usually pays off.”

Aug. 8 log

John Reese of Lawrence, Kansas, and I fished a 195-acre community reservoir on Aug. 8.

This was my first outing since our return from our family’s vacation in the Northwoods of Minnesota. Instead of fishing during those days in Minnesota, I guided our children and grandchildren and watched them fish. So, this was the first time that I had seriously fished since July 22.

The National Weather Service in Topeka, Kansas, noted that it was 69 degrees at 4:53 a.m. and 83 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The wind was mild mannered, angling out of the north at 5 mph, northeast at 3 to 13 mph, east at 5 to 6 mph, southwest at 3 mph, and at times it was even calm. Throughout the outing, the sky alternated from being mostly cloudy to partly cloudy. The barometric pressure was 29.95 at 12:53 a.m., 30.02 at 10:53 a.m., and 29.96 at 2:53 p.m.

The water level was normal, and for the first time in many moons, all of the American water willow patches were in the water. The submerged vegetation, however, was not healthy looking. The water in the lower sections of the reservoir exhibited about 30 inches of visibility, and in the south feeder-creek arm, the clarity was 18 to 20 inches. At the end of the outing, the boat’s hull was encircled with an algae stain. The surface temperature ranged from 81 to 82 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing occurred from 8:44 a.m. to 10:44 a.m. We fished from 10:10 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The first area that we fished was a 200-yard stretch of shoreline on the east side of the reservoir’s south feeder-creek arm. This stretch is endowed with 30 yards of riprap and 500 feet of patches of American water willows that are enhanced with a beaver hut, numerous stumps, some logs, rocks, gravel, clay, and lackluster patches of submerged vegetation. We caught five largemouth bass, and they were caught on a Z-Man Fishing Products’ California Craw Finesee T.R.D. affixed to a black 1/32-ounce Gopher Tackle’s Mushroom Head Jig, Z-Man’s pearl Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and four-inch Strike King Lure Company’s Coppertreuse Super Finesse Worm on a black 1/16-ounce jig.

In our eyes, a 1/32-ounce jig accentuates the no-feel aspect of our retrieves, and across the years, the no-feel retrieve has been an extremely effective tactic for alluring largemouth bass and smallmouth bass in the flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas. This was the first time that we have rigged the T.R.D. on a 1/32-ounce jig. It was easy to cast, and because the wind was mild mannered, we could easily execute a drag and shake retrieve with it. We used to try to rig a well-worn ZinkerZ on a 1/32-ounce ZinkerZ, but the ZinkerZ was so buoyant that it floated on the surface. We are eager to see if this will happen with a well-used T.R.D.

The second area we fished was a 100-yard stretch of the west shoreline in the south feeder-creek arm. This locale is graced with stumps, laydowns, boulders, remnants of a bridge, American water willows, and patches of submerged vegetation. We caught four largemouth bass. Three were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and one was caught on the four-inch Coppertreuse Super Finesse Worm rig.

The third location that we fished was on the main body and along the east shoreline. It is appointed with many patches of American water willows, a few laydowns, four main-lake points, several tertiary points, and concentrations of offshore boulders and rock piles. All of the shoreline is rock laden. Some of the points and shorelines are steep and some are flat. It is more than 500 yards long, and we fished more than 250 yards of it. The four-inch Coppertreuse Super Finesse Worm rig caught two largemouth bass, California Craw T.R.D caught three largemouth bass, and pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ caught eight largemouth bass.

The fourth spot we fished was a 30-yard stretch along the east end of the dam and a 100-section of the north shoreline adjacent to the dam. This is a rock- and boulder-laden terrain that is also embellished with American water willow patches, several man-made brush piles, some submerged vegetation, and several stumps. What’s more, it is relatively steep and occasionally studded with a tertiary point that consists of boulders that are five feet long and five feet wide. A four-inch Z-Man’s purple-haze Finesse WormZ on a black 1/16-ounce jig caught one largemouth bass. The pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ caught three largemouth bass.

Our last stop of the outing was a main-lake point and its adjacent shorelines along the west side of the reservoir. This location is stippled with a boat dock, a patch of cattails, boulders, rocks, man-made brush piles, logs, stumps, submerged vegetation, laydowns, and patches of American water willows. There is one steep section, and the rest of it is relatively flat. The Coppertreuse Super Finesse Worm rig caught one largemouth bass. The pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ caught one largemouth bass. The California Craw T.R.D caught two largemouth bass.

In sum, we caught 30 largemouth bass in three hours and 20 minutes. Nine of them engulfed our baits on the initial drop, and the bulk of these were caught along the outside edges of the American water willow patches, and they were extracted out of about two feet of water. The rest of them were caught by executing a drag-and-shake retrieve, and these largemouth bass were caught in water as shallow as two feet and as deep as seven feet.
It is interesting to note that on Aug. 7, 2013, I fished this same community reservoir and caught 15 largemouth bass from noon to 2:30 p.m. I spent those 2 1/2 hours plying lairs in two feeder-creek arms. On Aug.9, 2013, I fished it again from 1:05 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and caught 40 largemouth bass and three smallmouth bass, and all of those were caught along the dam and one of its adjacent shorelines. Perhaps, Reese and I should have spent more time on the dam.

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John Reese with one of the largemouth bass that we caught on Z-Man’s California Craw T.R.D. rigged on a 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

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Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, posted the following report on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 8 bank-walking outing.
He wrote: “I have not fished since July 19, when I fished a local 21,280-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir. That foray turned into a dismal affair, and I struggled to inveigle two small spotted bass and two small largemouth bass during four frustrating hours of fishing. All four of those small bass were caught during the last hour of the trip. But shortly after I arrived home from that excursion, I was waylaid with a summer flu bug, and it has kept me home bound since.

“Today, I was feeling somewhat better and decided to get out of the house for a couple of hours and walk the banks of a scenic community pond situated on the south side of Lewisville. I usually fish this pond during the cold-water months of December, January, and February, but today it provided me with a much welcomed diversion from the slow and tedious process of recuperating from the flu.

“The weather was hot and humid, which is typical for an August day in north-central Texas. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 82 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was a scorching 102 degrees. The wind quartered out of the south at 12 mph, and the barometric pressure was steady at 30.09.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best fishing periods would occur between 8:51 a.m. to 10:51 a.m., 9:21 p.m. to 11:21 p.m., and a minor period would occur from 2:36 a.m. to 4:36 a.m. I was afoot from about 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. I caught all my bass between 9:03 a.m. and 10:27 a.m.

This pond is about 100 yards long and 50 yards wide. The water was stained with about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The water level appeared to be about three feet below normal. I did not have the means to measure water temperature. This pond features a relatively straight northern shoreline with shallow banks that are normally festooned with thick green sprouts of aquatic vegetation. But I discovered during this August 8 foray that the aquatic vegetation has been decimated by low water levels and chemical spraying. This pond is endowed with only a few interesting features. A large island occupies its western portion with two creek channels winding along the island’s southern and northern banks. At times, these two creek channels harbor good numbers of quality largemouth bass. The eastern border of the pond is formed by a steep mud bank, and it usually surrenders a fish or two each trip. The last feature is along the south shoreline; it features a mud point and a decorative concrete and stone wall, and it is usually one of the more fruitful lairs in this pond, but it failed to yield any bass today.

“I began plying the south end of the steep east bank with a four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. On my first cast, I tangled with a chunky 15-inch largemouth bass that engulfed the Finesse WormZ as it touched bottom. I continued working the steep east shoreline with the green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ and a three-inch Charlie Brewer Slider Company’s muscadine Bass/Walleye/Striper grub rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, but neither one of these baits could elicit another strike.

“During the next 45 minutes, I worked my way northward along the east shoreline then westward along the north shoreline. I employed an array of 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZs, three-inch Slider grubs, 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s FattyZ tails, 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Hula StickZs, and various hues of the four-inch Finesse WormZs along with various Midwest finesse retrieve techniques, but I failed to induce any strikes.

“When I reached the creek channel that runs parallel to the island’s north shoreline, I switched to a Z-Man’s black Scented LeechZ that was dressed on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. I began using a slow swim-glide-shake presentation, and I extracted six largemouth bass from the north ledge of the creek channel in about six feet of water, and a couple of these specimens were feisty two pounders.

“After I finished dissecting the north creek channel, I worked my way westward into a cove just west of the large island. The north shoreline of this cove is steep, and the black Scented LeechZ and slow swim-glide-shake technique seduced two largemouth bass that were inhabiting five feet of water about 20 feet off the water’s edge. The remainder of the cove seemed bereft of bass.

“I finished the outing by slowly working my way eastward along the south shoreline. I meticulously plied the creek channel along the south side of the island, the mud point that extends northward into the pond from the base of the decorative stone retaining wall, and three steep points protruding from the southern shoreline. I continued to wield the black Scented LeechZ and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ rigged on a brown 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, but what little bass activity I had enjoyed earlier in the morning quickly came to an end, and I failed to coax any more strikes during the last 63 minutes of this outing.

“Overall, I landed nine largemouth bass during two hours and 30 minutes of fishing. The black Scented LeechZ worked in a slow swim-glide-and-shake manner inveigled eight largemouth bass. The four-inch green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ allured one largemouth bass that engulfed the bait on my first cast.”

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Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his Aug 8 outing to a 110-acre reservoir in northwestern Missouri.

The National Weather Service in St. Joseph, Missouri, reported that it was 67 degrees at 2:53 a.m. and 80 degrees at 4:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the north at 5 mph, northeast at 5 to 7 mph, east at 3 to 8 mph, and periodically it was calm. It was overcast for much of the day. The barometric pressure was 29.96 at 12:53 a.m., 29.98 at 6:53 a.m., 29.99 at 12:57 p.m., and 29.97 at 5:53 p.m. Claudell said the weather was more September-like than like the normal dog days of early August.

The reservoir is rimmed with submerged vegetation, graced with a massive patch of lily pads (some of the pads are the size of a lid on a 50-gallon barrel) and some flooded timber. The surface temperature was 77 degrees. Claudell said the riparian landscape was spectacular; its rolling hills were covered with long-stem grasses, various agricultural crops, and wild sunflowers. The distinctive calls of quail reverberated across the countryside, and scores of doves flew about. More than three inches of rain had fallen on this watershed during the past week, and the lake level was brimming to the point that water was coursing across the spillway.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing occurred from 8:41 a.m. to 10:41 a.m. and 9:11 p.m to 11:11 p.m. Claudell was afloat from noon to 6:30 p.m.

Claudell said the largemouth bass fishing was a struggle. Some fish were foraging on schools of young gizzard shad, but Claudell failed to allure any of those surface feeders. Ultimately, he caught three largemouth bass by wielding a Z-Man’s PB&J Rain MinnowZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce jig.

Aug 9 log

Terry Caudell of Overland Park, Kansas, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 9 outing at a 1,006-acre flatland reservoir in northwestern Missouri.

The National Weather Service in St. Joseph, Missouri, noted that it was 69 degrees at 12:53 a.m. and 84 degrees at 2:53 p.m. Throughout the day the wind angled from the northeast at 5 to 7 mph, east at 6 to 8 mph, and occasionally it was calm. The sky was mostly cloudy to partly cloudy. The barometric pressure was 29.96 at 12:53 a.m., 29.96 at 5:53 a.m., 29.99 at 12:53 p.m., and 29.97 at 5:53 p.m.

The surface temperature ranged from 77 to 78 degrees. The water exhibited about two feet of clarity.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing would occur from 9:36 a.m. to 11:36 a.m. There was a minor period from 3:21 a.m. to 5:21 a.m. He fished from 6:45 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

When he arrived at boat ramp, he was met by a virtual flotilla of anglers in expensive bass boats, who were getting ready to spend the day practicing for a tournament on Aug. 10. Straightaway he concluded that it was not a good idea to visit this waterway on a weekend. What’s more, as the day wore one, there were more than 40 bass boats and recreational boaters running around this small reservoir.

He started his day by fishing the southwest portion of the riprap along the dam. He was using a NetBait’s green-pumpkin Tiny Paca Craw that was Texas-rigged on a No. 2 hook and 1/16-ounce slip sinker, which inveigled three largemouth bass.

From the dam, he ventured into a nearby tertiary feeder-creek arm, where he caught another largemouth bass on his Paca Craw rig. He also failed to land another largemouth bass that was allured by the Paca Craw.

After he fished the small feeder-creek arm, he surveyed the reservoir and noted that it was embellished with emergent and submerged aquatic vegetation and flooded timber.

He noticed that there were unending numbers of tiny gizzard shad milling about on the surface and under the surface. And he caught a couple largemouth bass by working a two-inch Z-Man pearl ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a two-inch Z-Man watermelon-white ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which he thought replicated the size and hue of the gizzard shad.

He plied the edges of some of the patches of aquatic vegetation, but he allured only a couple largemouth bass. He did not fish any of the flooded timber.

Ultimately, he returned to the dam, where he remained until he executed his last cast at 2:00 p.m. Along the dam, he caught 13 largemouth bass and one walleye by employing a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-orange ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. These fish were extracted out of eight to 10 feet of water, while he was using a drag-and-shake retrieve and his boat was floating in 17 feet of water.

Aug. 12 log

Throughout my Aug. 12 outing to a 100-acre community reservoir that lies along the southwest outskirts of suburban Kansas City, I was accompanied by the trolling-motor devil. And he bedeviled my endeavors by twisting and fraying the 10 gauge lead wire that runs from the switch in the head of the trolling motor and down the shaft or tube to the motor assembly. Thus the trolling motor worked fitfully, and when the north wind hit 20 mph and the trolling motor malfunctioned, my boat-control was worse than helter-skelter. The trolling-motor devil is a convenient cuss for me to blame my paltry catch of 21 largemouth bass upon.

The National Weather Service noted that it was 59 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 77 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The normal low temperature is 67 degrees and the normal high temperature is 89 degrees. The sky exhibited an intense silver-blue hue, and in essence, it was an eye-squinting day, and only occasionally did a tiny and wispy cirrus cloud meander overhead. The wind angled from the northwest at 5 to 20 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.09 at 12:53 a.m., 30.10 at 6:57 a.m., 30.14 at 10:53 a.m., and 30.11 at 1:53 p.m.

The water level was normal. The surface temperature ranged from 79 to 81 degrees. The water was stained with 24 inches of clarity in the lower third of the reservoir, declining to 18 inches in its upper section. The American water willow patches were hale and hearty and surrounded by several feet of water. The coontail patches, however, were not vivacious; they seemed to be adversely affected by the stained water.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar the best fishing occurred from 12:31 p.m. to 2:31 p.m., and there was a minor period from 6:17 a.m. to 8:17 a.m. I fished from 9:35 a.m. to 1:35 p.m.

On Aug. 11, Ken Lindberg of Kansas City and Ethan Dhuyvetter of Manhattan, Kansas, told me that their largemouth bass fishing at various reservoirs across northeastern Kansas had been very unrewarding during the past several weeks. Lindberg noted that he had cross paths with significant numbers of largemouth bass that were roaming pell-mell around and across the reservoirs and foraging upon young gizzard shad. Most of these largemouth bass are milling about many yards off the shoreline; some of them are even in the middle of the lake and are not associated with any offshore lairs, such as a rocky hump, and when the largemouth bass are doing that, they are difficult to catch. For more than a month, Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, has been reporting about similar behaviors of the largemouth bass that he and his friends have experienced at a 120-acre reservoir in the northern suburbs of Kansas City, and the largemouth bass fishing has become so trying that some of his friends have been relegated to trolling across and around the mid-sections of the reservoir to catch a few of the pelagic largemouth bass that are foraging on young gizzard shad. Normally, the small flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas do not have abundant populations of gizzard shad, but during the past two summers, some of these reservoirs have had a copious hatch of young gizzard shad, and it has adversely affected the number of largemouth bass that we can catch. For instance, Lindberg said his outing on Aug. 11 at a 407-acre reservoir that lies along the northwest outskirts of suburban Kansas City was extremely unproductive, and he was able to tangle with only three largemouth bass.

On Aug. 12, I did not notice any roaming largemouth bass foraging upon gizzard shad, and if it occurred, the north wind and the ranks of waves obstructed my sight and prevented me from witnessing that phenomenon.

In the lexicon of many modern-day tournament anglers, I had to resort to what they call junk fishing, which means that I fished a lot of different kinds of lairs with a lot of different lures.

During the four hours that I was afloat and battling my trolling-motor woes, I caught two largemouth bass along the riprap of the dam, which is endowed with American water willows and some coontail. I caught three around patches of submerged coontail, and one hefty fish liberated itself from a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ and chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig before I could see what kind of fish it was. I caught four around boat docks. I caught five around patches of American water willows. Seven largemouth bass were extracted from around either concrete or rock retaining walls.
Six were caught in the lower half portion of the reservoir. Fifteen were caught in the upper half porti0n of the reservoir. They were extracted out of water as shallow as three feet and as deep as seven feet of water.

One largemouth bass was caught on a 2 1/2-inch PB&J ZinkerZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. One was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Three largemouth bass were caught on a wacky rigged four-inch Strike King Lure Company’s  green-pumpkin-red-flake Super Finesse Worm on a 1/16-ounce green-pumpkin Bass Pro Shops Flickin’ Shimmy Jighead. Five were caught on a Z-Man’s California Craw T.R.D. on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Eleven were caught on a Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

The three largemouth bass that were caught around the patches of coontial were bewitched by a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, as were two of the five largemouth bass that were caught around the patches of American water willows. The rest of them were caught by the drag-and-shake retrieve that was occasionally punctuated with a deadstick motif.

 

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Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 12 outing.

He wrote: “Rick Allen of Dallas, Texas, joined me for a 38-mile sojourn to an 8,375-acre Trinity River Water District reservoir that lies northwest of Ft. Worth, Texas. But upon our arrival, we were surprised to find that the owners of the boat ramps and parking lots had set exorbitant boat ramp and parking fees. Consequently, we decided to change our plans and fish a nearby 250-acre TRWD reservoir instead.

“I fished this reservoir on July 7. It was the first time that I had fished this reservoir, and during that five-hour outing, I tangled with 20 largemouth bass and one spotted bass.

“The National Weather Service reported that the morning low temperature was 68 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was a comfortable 93 degrees. The wind angled out of the north at 14 to 26 mph. The sun was radiant in the clear powder-blue sky. The barometric pressure measured 30.02 and was steady.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best fishing periods would occur from 12:12 a.m. to 2:12 a.m., 12:38 p.m. to 2:38 p.m., and a minor period would take place from 6:26 a.m. to 8:26 a.m. Rick and I were afloat from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. We took a 30-minute lunch break from noon until 12:30 p.m.

“This reservoir’s water level appeared to be about a foot low. The surface temperature was 85 degrees, and the water clarity was stained with about two feet of visibility.

“Rick and I began the day by plying a cove situated in the southwest region of the reservoir. The shorelines of this cove are embellished with softball- and baseball-sized rocks and lined with water willows and cattails. A creek channel parallels the north bank.

“We began fishing the wind-swept south shoreline at the mouth of the cove and worked our way westward into the cove. I employed a three-inch Kalin’s green-pumpkin- purple-flake Lunker Grub affixed on a 3/32-ounce blue Gopher jig with a steady do-nothing presentation, and a four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ dressed on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake motif. Rick opted to use a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California Craw modified FattyZ tube rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and suspended 30-inches below a rattling bobber. The four-inch green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ worked with a swim-glide-and-shake manner allured one largemouth bass that was relating to the outside edge of a patch of water willows. The bobber-rigged California Craw modified FattyZ tube and three-inch Kalin’s green pumpkin-purple flake Lunker Grub failed to entice any strikes.

“As we worked our way eastward along the wind-protected northern shoreline, Rick switched his bobber-rigged 2 1/2-inch California Craw modified FattyZ tube to a bobber-rigged 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green- pumpkin modified FattyZ tube, and he coaxed one largemouth bass into striking the bobber-rigged tube with a slow twitch-pause retrieve. This bass was about 25 feet off the bank in about five feet of water. I switched to a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man’s four-inch Canada Craw Hula StickZ rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The ZinkerZ was worked with the swim-glide-and-shake technique, and the Hula StickZ was employed with a hop-and-bounce action. The Hula StickZ extracted three largemouth bass from about three feet of water along the outside edges of the water willows in about three feet of water. The ZinkerZ allured two largemouth bass from the same area.

“Once we reached the main lake, we plied a point that was covered with fist-sized rocks and water willows. Rick caught two largemouth bass on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin modified FattyZ tube rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and presented with the hop-and-bounce retrieve. These two largemouth bass were abiding in three to four feet of water and were associated with an open rocky area between two large patches of water willows.

“After Rick and I enjoyed a 30-minute lunch break, we elected to run to the north end of the reservoir and fish a long and rocky main-lake point that is stippled with small patches of water willows, a few laydowns, and several small hydrilla beds. The wind had picked up, and for the remainder of our outing, we deployed a drift sock to help control our drifts. We both wielded Z-Man’s four-inch Canada Craw Hula StickZs donned on red 1/16-ounce Gopher jigs, and we manipulated them in a hop-and-bounce manner. We enticed 10 largemouth bass and one spotted bass from the east and west sides of the point. All 11 of these bass were inhabiting five to seven feet of water and were about five to 10 feet away from the outside edges of the water willows.

“Our next spot was another wind-swept main-lake point located in the northwest area of the reservoir. This point has a west to east orientation, and is also festooned with thick walls of water willows, fist-sized rocks, and a partially submerged wire fence. A creek channel courses along the north side of the point. We continued to utilize the four-inch Canada Craw Hula StickZ and hop-and-bounce technique, targeting the outside edges of the water willows and the partially submerged wire fence in five to eight feet of water. The water willows yielded two largemouth bass and the wire fence relinquished one largemouth bass.

“We finished the day plying the main-lake point just north of the southwest cove where we began our day. We continued to cast the four-inch Canada Craw Hula StickZs and retrieved them using the hop-and-bounce motif, and we landed two largemouth bass that were relating to the outside edges of the water willows in four feet of water.

“All told, we tangled with 24 largemouth bass and one spotted bass during four hours of angling, which we consider to be an above average outing for north-central Texas. Z-Man’s four-inch Canada Craw Hula StickZ and hop-and-bounce retrieve allured 18 largemouth bass and one spotted bass. The 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ and swim-glide shake retrieve enticed two largemouth bass. The 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin FattyZ tube and hop-and-bounce technique induced two largemouth bass. The bobber-rigged 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin FattyZ tube and slow twitch-and-pause action coaxed one largemouth bass. The four-inch Z-man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ worked in a swim-glide-and-shake fashion attracted one largemouth bass. Kalin’s three-inch green-pumpkin-purple-flake Lunker Grub and steady do-nothing retrieve and a bobber-rigged 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California Craw FattyZ tube with a twitch-pause action failed to entice any strikes.”

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Don Baldridge of Springfield, Missouri, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 12 outing to a 115-acre community reservoir in west-central Missouri.

He fished this reservoir on Aug. 4, which he described as a field-testing mission with Z-Man’s T.R.D.s. The Aug. 12 outing was aimed at testing Z-Man’s 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig.

He wrote: “This was basically a fingers–crossed expedition, because heavy rains and cooler air temperatures had caused significant water level and temperature changes during the past few days. On 12 August, I found the water level up about eight inches and surface temperature had dropped to 76 degrees since my last outing.

“There was not a cloud in the sky. A brisk west wind was unseasonably chilly. So, I donned a rain jacket to cope with the cold. Sensibility said don’t go, but I charged ahead.

“My desire was to see how Z-Man’s new Finesse ShroomZ would perform. I used only the 1/15-ounce size in chartreuse and toned it down a bit with some purple nail polish.

“These new jigs come in three sizes (1/15-, 1/10-, and 1/6-ounce) and four colors (Green Pumpkin, Black, Chartreuse, and Red). The jigs have a unique welded wire keeper on the shank of the hook, which is designed to keep Z-Man’s ElaZtech baits affixed securely to the jig without using glue. That was a claim I just had to test for myself.
I launched in a Classic Accessories Cumberland float tube at around 6:30 a.m. and fished along the dam and a small section of the bluff shoreline for about three and a half hours.

“I used the Finesse ShadZ, Slim SwimZ, T.R.D.s and 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ, employing a lift-glide –swim-and-drop retrieve in three to eight feet of water.

“As I’d predicted, fishing was really slow and completely unlike my experience on Aug. 4, when ravenous bass were stacked like cordwood along the dam’s retaining wall. I caught only 19, but a few were decent-sized bass; the rest were undersized bass, small crappie, green sunfish, and bluegill.

“All the Elaztech lures I chose caught fish. However, once I switched to a 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ in the green- pumpkin-orange hue, I caught a 22 1/2-inch largemouth bass, and I lost another heavy one a few cast earlier.

Here are my reflections on the Finesse ShroomZ:

“The wire keeper does indeed keep the bait on the jig securely with no glue. It was quite impressive.

“The quality black nickel hooks were very sharp and caught everything that hit except for one larger bass that got off. I attribute the loss of that bass to la-dee-da operator error. Fishing had been very slow and all I’d been getting were these little taps from crappie, bluegill, and dinky bass. Having become lackadaisical, I just gave the rod a little wrist snap instead of a proper hook set. Thus, the subsequent fight turned from victory to agony when the bass erupted like a Poseidon missile and threw the lure about 30 seconds later.

“As are most, if not all, jigs with no weed guard, the Finesse ShroomZ was prone to hang ups in the rocks. It is my understanding that Z-Man is currently working on a weed guard design for the Finesse ShroomZ and that should be a very good product improvement.

“Of all the ElaZtech baits I mounted on the heads, it seemed like the T.R.D. and ZinkerZ mounted the easiest. Again, all baits held securely with no glue.

“Here’s  a link to the video review of the jig heads and the actual fish catching experience: http://youtu.be/NvFvhNyaB4c.

22 and half

Don Baldridge with one of the 19 largemouth bass that he caught on Aug. 12.

 

Aug. 14 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, posted the following report of the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 14 outing.

He write: “I decided to change things up a little and try a solo four-hour morning excursion to a local 21,280-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir that lies along the northern city limits of Lewisville, Texas. I last fished this reservoir on July 19, and that wretched outing resulted in only two small largemouth bass and two small spotted bass.

“Aug. 14 was bright and sunny with partly cloudy skies. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 74 degrees and the afternoon high reached 96 degrees. A mild-mannered breeze meandered out of the south and southeast at 5 to 10 miles per hour. The barometric pressure measured 30.04 and falling.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicted the best fishing period would occur from 2:39 p.m. to 4:39 p.m. A minor period would occur from 8:26 a.m. to 10:26 a.m. I was afloat from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m.

“The water was murky with about one and a half feet of visibility. The water temperature was 84 degrees and recent summer thunderstorms raised the water level from 8.31 feet below normal pool to 5.25 feet below normal pool.

“The fishing was difficult. During this four-hour outing, I struggled to catch six largemouth bass, four spotted bass, two freshwater drum, one large crappie, and one large bluegill.
“Two spotted bass were caught along a riprap causeway located in the southwest tributary arm of this reservoir. Two main-lake points consisting of clay and fist-sized rocks and situated along the southern shoreline of this same tributary arm surrendered one largemouth bass, one spotted bass, two freshwater drum, and one large crappie. A 400-yard section of the riprap-laden dam that forms the southeast boundary of this reservoir surrendered five largemouth bass. A main-lake clay and gravel flat embellished with three dilapidated concrete boat ramps yielded one spotted bass and one large bluegill. I also plied a submerged main-lake roadbed enhanced with a large rock pile; two additional main-lake points; a main-lake cove endowed with three dilapidated boat ramps and a shallow creek channel; and one large sand and gravel flat that is adjacent to the east end of the dam. All of these areas failed to relinquish any bass. All ten of these bass were milling about in less than seven feet of water, and I observed numerous pods of two-inch shad cruising the shallows at all of these locations.

“Kalin’s three-inch white Lunker Grub affixed to a black 3/32-ounce Gopher jig allured one spotted bass. A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig bewitched six largemouth bass, three spotted bass, one crappie, and one bluegill. Z-Man’s Canada Craw Hula StickZ donned on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and Z-Man’s pearl Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig failed to elicit any strikes.
“The three-inch Kalin’s Lunker Grub was presented with a slow and steady do-nothing retrieve. The 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ and Finesse ShadZ were employed with a swim-glide-and-shake motif. The Hula StickZ was implemented with a hop-and-bounce presentation along the dam.”

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Around 3:45 p.m. on Aug. 14, Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, telephoned me. He is a multispecies guide and knowledgeable Midwest finesse angler. And in an odd and selfish way, I was to some extent heartened to hear that he and Russ Guenther of Topeka had spent the morning suffering through a perturbing five hours of relatively fruitless smallmouth bass fishing at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir. In short, their outing was about as unrewarding as the one John Reese of Lawrence, Kansas, and I had on Aug. 14 at a 140-acre state reservoir that lies about 20 miles north of the reservoir that Holscher and Guenther fished.

The National Weather Service in Topeka, Kansas, said that it was 56 degrees at 5:52 a.m. and 88 degrees at 2:52 p.m. The normal low temperature is 67 degrees. The wind was calm at times; then it angled out of the southeast at 5 mph and south at 8 to 10 mph. The sun was eye-squintingly bright. The barometric pressure was 30.10 at 12:52 a.m., 30.09 at 6:52 a.m., 30.07 at 12:52 p.m., and 30.05 at 1:52 p.m.

The water level was a tad above normal. The water clarity was about 30 inches in the lower half of the reservoir and 24 inches in its upper reaches. The surface temperature ranged from 80 to 81 degrees. This reservoir once had flourishing patches of coontail and bushy pondweed, but not this summer. In fact, the coontail patches began to disappear in 2009.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing occurred from 2:08 a.m. to 4:08 a.m. and 2:34 p.m. to 4:34 p.m. There was a minor period from 8:21 a.m. to 10:21 a.m.

Reese and I fished from 1o:45 a.m. to 1:20 p.m., and we caught only 13 largemouth bass. Holscher and Guenther fished from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Holscher said they might have tangled with 20 tiny smallmouth bass. According to Holscher, the highlight of their outing was watching a young loon eat a 10-inch smallmouth bass, which was bigger than many of the smallmouth bass that they caught. (Loons, by the way, are a rare sight in Kansas – especially during the summer.) The highlight of my outing with Reese occurred when he buried a hook in his right index finger. Reese is a retired surgeon, and after I somewhat surgically removed the hook from his finger, we decided to go home.

Nine of the 13 largemouth bass that Reese and I caught were allured by a four-inch Strike King Lure Company’s green-pumpkin-red-flake Super Finesse Worm wacky rigged on a 1/16-ounce green-pumpkin Bass Pro Shops’ Flickin’ Shimmy Jighead, which was presented with an extremely slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. These nine largemouth bass were caught along the outside edges of American water willow patches in four to six feet of water. One largemouth bass was caught on a 2 3/4-inch green-pumpkin-candy tube on a 1/16-ounce jig along the riprap of the dam with a drag-and-shake retrieve. Another one was caught on a Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig along the riprap of the dam with a drag-and-shake retrieve. A 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin GrubZ on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig with a swim-and-shake retrieve caught one largemouth bass on a flat secondary point that was embellished with a few scrimpy patches of bushy pondweed. A four-inch Z-Man’s black-neon Finesse WormZ on an unpainted 1/16-ounce jig caught one largemouth bass in five feet of water along the edge of a patch of American water willows with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve.

One measure of how difficult the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishing in northeastern Kansas is and has been during the past month can be seen by my use of a wacky-rigged worm. The only time that I use it is when I fail to garner strikes on our standard Midwest finesse rigs, and that rarely occurs. Another level of measure of how challenging it is this summer to catch largemouth bass can be seen by examining the logs from a year ago: I caught 46 largemouth bass in four midday hours at this reservoir on Aug. 13, 2013.

Fishing can be a humbling endeavor, indeed, and on Aug. 14, the largemouth bass taught us a few more important lessons about the many virtues of humbleness.

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On Aug. 14 Dave Weroha of Kansas City filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his family’s fishing vacation in the heart of Quetico Country in Ontario, Canada, noting that it was more of a family adventure than one that was aimed at inveigling unending numbers of smallmouth bass.

Nevertheless, he, his wife, and daughter caught an impressive array of fish during their midday outings during the first week of August.

He noted that the surface temperature ranged from 70 to 75 degrees. The water clarity ranged from 10 to 15 feet of visibility.

They readily caught 12- to 15- inch smallmouth bass that inhabited eight to 10 feet of water, and some were also abiding in lily pads and laydowns.

But they spent most of the time probing lairs that were situated in 15 feet of water near a ledge that dropped into 30 feet of water. These areas were also graced with scores of small, medium, and large rocks. At some of these lairs, the water was clear enough that they could see smallmouth bass lingering around the shady side of the big rocks. It was around these kind of lairs that they caught smallmouth bass that measured 17 inches and more.

Their most effective baits were a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ and 3 1/2-inch GrubZ. They worked with a pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ and watermelon-white one, which were affixed to a 1/4-ounce football-head jig. They rarely dragged the ZinkerZ rig on the bottom. Instead, they employed what they described as a hop-and-glide retrieve and several feet above the bottom. The GrubZ was a chartreuse-sparkle hue. They rigged it on a 1/4-ounce football-head jig, and it was retrieved a few feet above the bottom with the hop-and-glide presentation.

They worked with several topwater baits, which allured some smallmouth bass that inhabited the patches of lily pads and laydowns. But the topwater baits were not effective at the deeper lairs. A Prism Fire Tiger Yo-Zuri 3DB Shad that was retrieved with a subtle twitch bewitched a few of the deep-water smallmouth bass.

He concluded his report by saying: “It was a great fishing experience, and I am already looking forward to next year.”

DC0007

One of the smallmouth bass that the Weroha family caught on a 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ.

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Paul Fine of Olathe, Kansas, posted the following report on the Finesse News Network about his Aug 14 outing with his son to a 100-acre community reservoir that lies along the southwest outskirts of suburban Kansas City.

They fished from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. During that three hour spell, the National Weather Service noted that it was 81 degrees at 5:53 p.m. and 74 degrees at 8:53 p.m. The wind blew out of the southeast at 8 mph at 5:53 p.m. and out of the east at 6 mph at 8:53 p.m. The sun was shining. The barometric pressure was 30.02 at 5:53 p.m. and 30.00 at 8:53 p.m.

The water was normal. The water exhibited a greenish tint, and the clarity was about 18 inches.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing occurred from 2:04 a.m. to 4:04 a.m. and 2:31 p.m. to 4:31 p.m. There was a minor period from 8:18 a.m. to 10:18 a.m.

He wrote: “The fishing was slow, but we experimented with some different lures, and we power fished, so that kept our numbers lower than normal.” They caught only 16 largemouth bass, but he noted that the size of the largemouth bass at this reservoir, which was walloped with the largemouth bass virus several years ago, are getting bigger.

None of the largemouth bass that they caught were associated with the many patches of American water willows that graces the reservoir’s shoreline.

They used two Midwest finesse baits. One was a Junebug Bailey Magnet Magnum (http://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/bailey-magnet-magnum/ ) on a chartruse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig and four-inch Strike King Lure Company’s Bama Craw Super Worm on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. They retrieved both baits by dragging them across the bottom. By dragging those baits, they caught 12 largemouth bass that were abiding in five to 10 feet of water and 10 to 15 feet from the water’s edge. The Bailey Magnet Magnum was more effective before 7:00 p.m., and the Bama Craw Super Worm became the dominant bait during the last hour and a half.

When they were power fishing, they wielded Zoom Bait Company’s Fluke, and this tactic inveigled four largemouth bass, which were the biggest ones of the outing.

Aug. 15 log

On Aug. 15, 2008, a friend and I caught 47 largemouth bass at a 135-acre state reservoir. I didn’t fish on Aug. 15, 2009, but on Aug. 18, 2009, I caught 42 largemouth bass at a 160-acre state reservoir. We caught 55 largemouth bass on Aug. 15, 2010 at a 55-acre community reservoir. On Aug. 15, 2011, we caught 46 largemouth bass at a 100-acre community reservoir. I caught 27 largemouth bass in a couple of hours at a 195-acre community reservoir on Aug. 15, 2012, and several hours before I arrived at this reservoir a pair of veteran Midwest anglers had already tangled with 102 largemouth bass. I didn’t fish on Aug. 15, 2013. On Aug 15, 2014, I fished that same 195-acre community reservoir from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and I caught only 18 largemouth bass. It is interesting to note that the same pair of anglers who caught 102 largemouth bass on Aug. 12, 2012 were afloat on Aug 15, 2014, and they said that their catch rate for the first 227 days of 2014 was down 50 percent from years past.

It is difficult to determine why the largemouth bass fishing has become rather problematic in 2014 at several of the small flatland reservoirs that we regularly fish in northeastern Kansas.

Some anglers think that the largemouth bass are still suffering from the aftereffects of the largemouth bass virus that walloped them four years ago.

Other anglers note that the gizzard shad had prodigious spawns in 2013 and 2014, and that might have changed the summertime foraging and location patterns of the largemouth bass, which used to forage primarily on a variety of invertebrates in one to seven feet of water along the shorelines. These anglers suspect the largemouth bass have become highly pelagic and residing offshore for much of the summer. Therefore, we need to change the locations where we fish, as well as our presentations.

Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, says one of the problems that is compounding our catch rates might revolve around the fact that there are more anglers employing Midwest finesse tactics than there were a few years ago, and perhaps a goodly number of the largemouth bass in these small flatland reservoirs have become a tad wary of the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ and other finesse baits that we regularly use. Reese also thought that the effects of the severe drought that has plagued the Midwest for several years might have compounded the aftereffects of the largemouth bass virus.

Here’s a short description of my Aug. 15 outing:

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, noted that it was 66 degrees at 12:52 a.m. and 85 degrees at 1:52 p.m. Throughout the day, the sky varied from being fair to partly cloudy to mostly cloudy. The wind angled out of the east at 3 to 8 mph, southeast at 6 to 7 mph, and south at 10 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.98 at 12:52 a.m., 29.96 at 5:52 a.m., 29.94 at 12:52 p.m., and 29.90 at 2:52 p.m.

The water level was nearly normal. The water clarity in the vicinity of the dam was clear enough that I could see the black propeller of the electric trolling motor on the transom, and that is about 24 inches below the surface. About midway inside the southwest feeder-creek arm, the propeller was not visible. The surface temperature was 80 to 81 degrees. The submerged aquatic vegetation looked as if it was dying.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing would occur from 3:05 a.m. to 5:05 p.m. and 3:31 p.m. to 5:31 p.m. There was a minor period from 9:18 a.m. to 11:18 a.m.

At 11:00 a.m. I made my first cast and caught a largemouth bass on a Z-Man’s Dark Melon Red Scented LeechZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and across the next 15 minutes I caught six more largemouth bass on that combo along the rock-laden dam by executing a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. These fish were extracted out of three to seven feet of water.

After that I fished five main-lake points and many yards of their adjacent shorelines, one tertiary point and many yards of one of its adjacent shorelines in the southwest feeder-creek arm, 150 feet of a bluff, and the outlet area. All of these locales were rocky. Some were lined with American water williows. Some had skimpy patches of Eurasian Milfoil. Two shorelines were strewn with several docks.

From these eight locations, I eked out 11 largemouth bass. One was caught on a Z-Man’s California Craw T.R.D. on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. One was caught on a three-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Three were caught on a four-inch Strike King Lure Company’s green-pumpkin-red-flake Super Finesse Worm wacky rigged on a 1/16-ounce green-pumpkin Bass Pro Shops’ Flickin’ Shimmy Jighead. Six were caught on the Scented LeechZ combo.

Across those 3 1/2 hours, I was able to catch only 5.14 largemouth bass an hour, and it seemed as if it was far fewer bass than that.

 

Aug. 16 log

Donald Baldridge of Springfield, Missouri, filed the following report about his Aug. 16 outing to a 28-acre community reservoir in northeastern Missouri.

He wrote: “I’m not exactly sure how to describe this expedition to a childhood haunt that’s easily become my favorite 28- acre water-supply reservoir in northeastern Missouri.

“Although it is well over a four-hour drive from Springfield, the lake is relatively near where my mother lives. So, when I visit her, I’ve been crafty enough to carve out some time to fish.

“A cold front had moved in bringing lots of rain, especially to the northern third portions of the state, and on the morning of August 16, it was sprinkling moderately. The radar map and local radio station’s reports suggested that it might not be the most sensible day to be fishing. Naturally I proceeded straight away.

“When I arrived at the lake, shortly after first light, the water actually looked beautiful with a very delightful loaded-with-fish- greenish color.

“After launching my Classic Accessories Cumberland model float tube, I waited a few minutes for the transducer to pick up the accurate water temperature reading. It was a little cool for this time of the year: 76 degrees.

Water visibility was about four feet. The main lake level was just a smidgen over full, and some water was flowing out of the overflow. Although the main lake clarity remained the same during the entire six-hour outing, later in the morning I found some of the creek arms had become quite dingy because of the run-off.

“Back to the rain: it initially sprinkled, then rained, then really rained, then tapered off, and finally quit after three or more hours. Thankfully there was no lightening whatsoever.

“Throughout the deluge, the fish never stopped attacking the Z-Man lures I threw at them. Silly me wasted quite a bit of time periodically slinging a 1/2-ounce spinnerbait — without a single strike.

“The fish were hugging the shoreline where there was any sort of vegetation. They also abided along the riprap of the dam in four to five feet of water, as well as on steep bluff banks, where they were either right on the water’s edge or in three to five feet of water. Many of them were also lounging around on drop-off edges in eight to 10 feet of water.

I began using a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse T.R.D. on a chartreuse-and-purple 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig, and I caught several largemouth bass, including two 15-inchers, next to a grassy shoreline in a foot of water and on a sloping gravel flat in about four to five feet of water. After I lost that rig in the riprap along dam, I exclusively used brown 1/16-ounce button-head jigs made by Dave Reeves of Lansing, Kansas.

What followed was essentially a tag team match where I alternated using two spinning outfits, and each one sported a different color of a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ affixed. Bass of all sizes littered the banks, and soon I feared my hand would cramp from pushing the button on the tally counter hanging around my neck.

The preferred retrieve was the lift -swim-glide-and-drop presentation. I did a little jiggling or shaking every now and then, but it really didn’t seem to matter. If the fish where anywhere nearby and saw the ZinkerZ, they grabbed it.

“As I made my way around the perimeter to about 600 yards south of the dam, the rain started to clear up. For the remainder of the time, I continued the tag-team approach and changed to a different colored ZinkerZ whenever I caught a 15-inch or bigger largemouth bass.

“I fished six hours, and the tally counter read 71 as I concluded the adventure. Four of those were green sunfish, and one was a 20-inch channel catfish. Eleven of the 66 largemouth bass were 15-inches or longer. I caught an average of 11 largemouth bass an hour.

“The Sore Thumbs Up award goes to the Watermelon/White, Green Pumpkin/Orange and New Money colors because the fish just wouldn’t stay off of them.

“Although no whoppers showed up on this excursion, there are some really healthy largemouth bass featured in the YouTube video. Here is the link to it: http://youtu.be/yyPkVndp7BU.”

Aug. 17 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 17 outing with Greg Monahan of Lees Summit, Missouri, at a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir.

The National Weather Service in Olathe, Kansas, noted that it was 67 degrees at 7:53 a.m. and 81 degrees at 3:53 p.m. It alternated from being foggy and misty to overcast from 5:53 a.m. to 1:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the northwest at 3 to 6 mph, out of the north at 5 to 8 mph, and out of the northeast at 3 to 7 mph. Gum said the wind was blowing briskly out of the north when their outing commenced, but it eventually became mild-mannered. The barometric pressure was 29.93 at 12:53 a.m., 29.95 at 6:53 a.m., 29.98 at 12:53 p.m., and 29.96 at 3:53 p.m.

The water level was normal. The water clarity was 2 1/2 feet. The surface temperature was 84 degrees around the dam.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing times were from 4:52 a.m. to 6:52 a.m. and 5:18 p.m. to 7:18 pm. There was a minor period from 11:05 p.m. to 1:05 a.m. Gum and Monahan fished from 7:00 a.m. to 2:oo p.m.

They dissected many yards of riprap shorelines — including the dam, patches of American water willows, some main-lake points, a rock-laden flat, a submerged roadbed, bridge, and farm-pond dam.

Gum also noted that some new power lines have been erected, and they stretch over the inlet where the water flows into the power plant. When they fished this area, Gum said “it felt like I had an insect fluttering under my index finger were I held my rod. I surmised that it must be the electrically charged air that was causing this phenomenon.”

Gum described their catch as lackluster: they caught 20 largemouth bass, as well as a flathead catfish, several freshwater drum, and one white bass. The most effective bait was a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was retrieved with the swim-glide-and shake presentation.

Half of their catch occurred on a stretch of a riprap shoreline on the east side of the reservoir and north of the power plant. This stretch is embellished with patches of American water willows. They fished it twice. The first time they fished it the largemouth bass engulfed the bait on the initial drop, and they were situated along the outside edge of the American water willows. The second time they fished it was later in the day, and the largemouth bass moved into a little deeper water and were a few yards away from the edge of the American water willows.

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Darryl Brown of Aurora, Canada filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 17 outing.

He wrote: “Fishing here in southern Ontario has been very trying this summer. The weather has been cooler than normal. On Aug. 13 we reached a high of only 60 degrees. The water temperature reached 70 degrees this summer, but in the last week it has already dropped to 65 degrees. The cooler temperatures have stunted the growth of the weeds, causing the fish to be scattered, and it is difficult to locate any concentrations of them. On August 17 I fished from 7:15 a.m. to 1:oo p.m. It was sunny with some cloud cover, and the air temperature reached a high of 71 degrees.

“I caught 26 smallmouth bass along a riprap shoreline in one to four feet of water. I could not locate any on flats with basketball sized rocks, and the sparse weed lines did not produce anything. I used and failed to catch any smallmouth bass on a 2 3/4-inch green- pumpkin tube with an inserted 1/16-ounce jig, four-inch green-pumpkin finesse worm on a black 1/8-ounce ball jig, and a four-inch pearl grub on a black 1/8-ounce ball jig. All of the smallmouth bass where caught on a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company’s green-pumpkin Zero on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The best retrieve was the drag and shake.”

 

Aug. 18 log

Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, returned home on Aug. 15 from a marathon piscatorial journey to Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, where he tangled with a variety of exotic quarries, including several petite Mekong catfish, and each of these catfish weighed only 60 pounds rather than 600- pound goliaths that we see photographs of on the Internet. Even though the Mekong catfish that he tangled with were diminutive specimens, Lau said they were a struggle to land and difficult for him to hold for a photo opt. By Aug. 18, he had recovered from the rigors of his piscatorial battles and the long flight home, and he joined me for a smallmouth bass outing on Aug. 18 at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir.

The National Weather Service noted that it was 64 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 91 degrees at 4:53 p.m. Some area thermometers hit the mid-90s. The sun burned brightly before, throughout, and after our outing, but some scattered rain showers fell around 2:53 a.m. From 4:53 a.m. to 3:53 p.m., the wind altered from being calm to fluttering mildly out of the east at 3 to 5 mph, being in a variable state at 3 to 6 mph, angling out of the northeast at 6 mph, out of the south at 6 mph, and out of the southeast at 7 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.05 at 12:53 a.m., 29.88 at 6:53 a.m., 29.84 at 12:53 p.m., and 29.87 at 3:53 p.m.

The Corps of Engineers recorded the water level at 1035.80; the normal elevation is 1036. The surface temperature ranged from 79 to 84 degrees. The water clarity in the lower quarter of this reservoir was the clearest that I have ever seen it in August, exhibiting six feet and more in some locations. In fact, it was clear enough that Lau and I saw a score or two of smallmouth bass milling about at several of the shorelines, humps, and points that we fished. It is a rare day, indeed, when an angler can sight fish at a flatland reservoir in northeastern Kansas. Many of the smallmouth bass that we tangled with regurgitated tiny gizzard shad, and we did not encounter any crayfish, which is an unusual phenomenon in northeastern Kansas.
According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing would occur from 5:59 a.m. to 7:59 a.m. and 6:24 p.m. to 8:24 p.m., and there would be a minor period from 11:46 a.m. to 1:46 p.m. Lau and I fished from 10:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

During the first two weeks of August, the largemouth bass fishing had been a struggle for the Midwest finesse anglers who ply the small flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas. Therefore, Lau and I elected to chase smallmouth bass at one of our bigger reservoirs. And to our delight, we caught 48 smallmouth bass, as well as two spotted bass and one largemouth bass.

We caught the bulk of these fish from the dam to about three miles above the dam.

Two spotted bass were caught around two boat docks, and they were in three to four feet of water.

Two smallmouth bass were caught along a riprap jetty, and they were abiding in two feet of water.

Four smallmouth bass and one largemouth bass were caught on secondary points, and they were in three to four feet of water.

Five smallmouth bass were caught on main-lake points. Most of the main-lake points that we fished failed to yield a fish.
Ten smallmouth bass were caught along the riprap of the dam, and most were extracted out of water as shallow as two to four feet, and one was in seven feet of water.

Twelve smallmouth bass were caught along main-lake shorelines and shorelines inside coves. Most of these were caught in water shallower than five feet.

Fifteen smallmouth bass were caught on humps and rock piles. Four humps and rock piles are situated on the main-lake. Three of them are inside coves. All of the smallmouth bass were extracted out of three to five feet of water.

All of the smallmouth bass were caught around rock-laden lairs, but one of them was caught on a rocky shoreline in a beaver hut, and another one was caught around a laydown adjacent to a rocky shoreline.

The most effective bait was a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man green-pumpkin-orange ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We also caught significant numbers of smallmouth bass on Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, Z-Man’s California Craw T.R.D. on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig , Z-Man’s PB&J Hula StickZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, Z-Man’s green-pumpkin GrubZ on an orange 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, Z-Man’s watermelon-red-flake GrubZ on a red 1/8-ounce Gopher jig, and four-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin Finesse WormZ rigged wacky style on a 1/16-ounce green-pumpkin Bass Pro Shops’ Flickin’ Shimmy Jighead.

Slightly more than 50 percent of the smallmouth bass engulfed these baits on the initial drop. We had scores of strikes that we failed to hook; we had as many as three strikes on some retrieves, and occasionally we would hook one of those multiple strikers by allowing the bait to plummet towards the bottom. We also had scores of smallmouth bass follow our baits back to the boat, and we could never get them to touch or make a pass at our baits. We caught some on the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. We caught others with a drag-and-deadsick presentation. Some were caught on a straight-swim retrieve. A goodly number of smallmouth bass followed a hooked bass around the boat, but we could never entice one of those followers to engulf a bait that we pitched to them.

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Pok Chi Lau with one of the 48 smallmouth bass that we caught on Aug. 18.

 

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Burton Bosley of Sutton, West Virginia, filed the following comments on the Finesse News Network on Aug.18.

He noted that he just returned home from his annual Aug. 18 outing on a nearby river with a friend, where he caught oodles of 10- to 14-inch smallmouth bass on Z-Man’s T.R.D. affixed to a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

He wrote: “The fishing has been tough for most folks but drifting that little bait beside a midstream ledge resulted in hook ups most every cast. I did have one decent sized fish get off, but I wasn’t there for size just to watch those brave little brown fish leap and pull. My professor friend that lives on the river had caught one fish in the last two weeks. I think he is now a convert.

“I think the T.R.D. will be very effective for me. I’ve read that Z-Man has a new jig called ShroomZ that I very much want to try as soon as I find them in the tackle suppliers.”

In a second report on Aug. 18 Bosley wrote: “This cool damp summer has been an oddity for me. I’ve been fishing with my very young grandsons using the Z-Man’s ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with pretty reliable results. It has worked in the river for smallmouth bass and on a small flood- control reservoir for largemouth bass. The reservoir has thicker weed growth than normal this summer, and it has been difficult to retrieve the ZinkerZ and small jig over it. I started burning the little thing very fast and then stopping , resulting in several fish of decent size. I noticed when I reeled the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ and 1/16-ounce Gopher jig fast that they will hunt, which means that they will go off on tangents. The old 1/16-ounce Beetle did this, albeit at a slower speed. The largemouth bass in the shallow weed beds and smallmouth bass in the shallow riffles have jumped on this goofy retrieve several times this summer.

“The PB&J has been far more successful than any other color for me, and I’m not a big believer in color difference most of the time, but in this river the PB&J has been getting the most attention.”

“Sorry for the lack of attention to numbers and water temperatures, but with four- and six-year -olds from England as fishing partners, I’ve been pretty busy.”

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Don Baldridge of Springfield, Missouri, filed the following log about his Aug. 18 outing on a 318-acre community and power-plant reservoir in southern Missouri. It is heavily fished and enjoyed by unending numbers of kayakers and canoeists. There is a six-horsepower or less motor limit.

He wrote: “The reservoir is quite shallow. I’d estimate that two thirds of it is less than five feet deep, and in the summertime, about half of its surface area is covered with dense lily pads and other types of aquatic vegetation. It’s best to not get an exposed hook snagged in this junk on light line.

“Many anglers experience good success fishing the shallows around these weedy clumps with buzzbaits and other top water lures.

“My favorite location is a 500-yard stretch of the river channel where it joins the main reservoir. The channel is endowed with scattered stumps, ledges, rock piles, and surrounded with about 15 feet of water in some spots.

“At certain times of the year, the river east of the reservoir is also very good. For example, during the cold-water months, the stumps, brush piles, and rocks along the river become a haven for crappie and spotted Kentucky bass.

“The main section of the reservoir harbors good populations of largemouth bass, crappie, and channel catfish. And the river is the domain of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass.

“In the river and the reservoir, the water level, water clarity, water temperature, and flow of the current can fluctuate quickly, and all of these factors can quickly foul the fishing.

“The last time I had a fruitful outing on this reservoir occurred on May 28. Since then, the fishing has been lackluster.

“Fishing in the middle of the day in the middle of a heat wave on Aug. 18 might appear to be a disaster in the making. However, around 1 p.m., I was attempting to revive some wilted flowers on the back deck of our house, and I noticed that some clouds were starting to gather. We’d had nothing but clear skies for many days. Naturally I grabbed my gear and headed out straightaway.

“I used the new Z-Man’s 2 1/2-inch Slim SwimZ and see if these downsized swimbaits would entice some strikes, possibly from crappie that were chasing minnows in the river channel.

“Because we were in the middle of the aforementioned heat wave, my expectations weren’t high. Skies were mostly sunny with a west wind around 10 mph. The air temperature hovered near 90. The surface temperature was 85 degrees. The water was stained with around three feet of visibility.

“I fished from about 2:30 p.m. until 7 p.m.” [In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 11:57 a.m. to 1:57 p.m.]

“I began fishing with a Greasy Prawn Slim SwimZ affixed to a black-and-purple 1/10-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. I used a two- to three-second count down followed by a slow, continuous retrieve (with an occasional twitch) to take advantage of the vibrating tail of this nifty little lure.

“My trusty mental map, augmented by a fish finder on my Roanoke model kick boat, allowed me to locate and concentrate on submerged stumps and rock piles in five to eight feet of water. Rather than crappie, I found largemouth bass meandering around these spots.

“The bass were scattered, and it was many casts between catches.

“After alluring six largemouth bass with the Greasy Prawn Slim SwimZ, which included a plump 16-incher, I switched to a Watermelon Red Slim SwimZ affixed to a brown 1/16-ounce button-style jig fashioned by Dave Reeves of Lansing, Kansas.

“I also employed a slower presentation, using a lift- swim-glide-and-drop retrieve for the rest of the outing, and it proved to be a good decision. Bass lurking on rock piles were eager to engulf the lure during the swim part of the retrieve.

“In an otherwise blah-to-mediocre outing, a bright spot occurred when a hefty 20 1/2-inch largemouth bass slurped up the little lure and rocketed off.

“After catching this nice largemouth bass and about four others on the Watermelon Red Slim SwimZ, I switched colors to the Bloodworm hue. It was another good decision. Bloodworm accounted for a frenzy of at least eight largemouth bass in about a 30-minute time span late in the trip.

“Overall the fishing was slow. The total number of largemouth bass landed was 18. I didn’t catch any crappie or other species.

“In conclusion, the new Slim SwimZ appears to fit right in the same fish-catching groove as other Z-Man finesse lures. When the crappie are actively chasing baits later this fall, I predict the Slim SwimZ will be excellent for this species.

“The You Tube video associated with this trip is at this link: http://youtu.be/39lcKhKwjqM.

Bass2 (2)

One of the 18 largemouth bass that Don Baldridge caught on Aug. 18.

Aug. 19 log 

During the past week or so, it has been a struggle for Midwest finesse anglers who fish the small flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas to catch more than five largemouth bass an hour.
For instance, my cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and his wife, Kathy, fished a 100-acre community reservoir on Aug. 18. They were afloat from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and during the first hour, they caught 13 largemouth bass. Then during the next three hours, they caught only seven largemouth bass.

On Aug. 14 John Reese of Lawrence, Kansas, and I fished a 140-acre state reservoir from 1o:45 a.m. to 1:20 p.m., and we caught only 13 largemouth bass.

Paul Finn of Olathe, Kansas, and his son fished a 100-acre community reservoir from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and they caught only 16 largemouth bass.

These woes are not occurring only in northeastern Kansas. The largemouth bass befuddled Don Baldridge of Springfield, Missouri, on Aug. 12, when he fished from 6:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at a 115-acre flatland reservoir in west central Missouri and tangled with only 19 largemouth bass.

Even though our largemouth bass fishing has been lackluster, we are still fishing in hopes of deciphering the whereabouts of these creatures. But at times we have to take a retreat from our largemouth bass endeavors, as Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, and I did on Aug. 18. But on Aug. 20, a brisk south wind prevented my cousin Rick Heberstreit and me from chasing the smallmouth bass at the bigger flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas. Therefore, we opted to make a 55-mile drive to a 55-acre community reservoir, which we rarely fish nowadays, but it used to be one of the most fruitful largemouth bass waterways in these parts.

There was a boat filled with three finesse anglers when we arrived around 11 a.m. They put their boat on the trailer at noon, and we didn’t get to talk to them to ascertain how their outing unfolded.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 75 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 94 degrees at 5:53 p.m. The normal low temperature for Aug 12 is 66 degrees and the normal high temperature is 87 degrees. Throughout the day the wind varied from the south at 7 to 28 mph and southwest at 16 to 22 mph. It was totally sunny until about noon, when a few isolated clouds began to float overhead, and by 2:53 p.m., it became partly cloudy. The barometric pressure was 29.85 at 12:53 a.m., 29.88 at 6:53 a.m., 29.90 at 12:53 p.m., and 29.88 at 2:57 p.m.

The water level looked to be about 1 1/2 feet below normal. Many of the patches of American water willows that grace this reservoir’s rocky shorelines had only a few inches of water covering their roots, and some patches were out of the water. This reservoir supplies the water for a nearby golf course, which causes its water level to drop precipitously during extended rainless times in the spring, summer, and fall. The surface temperature hit a high of 85 degrees. The water clarity was stained by the most significant algae bloom that I have seen this year. We could not see the black propeller on the transom-mounted trolling motor. At most locations, there was about a foot of visibility, but in the back of the reservoir’s south feeder-creek arm, the visibility was less than a foot. We suspect that this algae was created by all of the fertilizer that courses into this reservoir from the golf course and nearby lawns that are in its watershed.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar, the best fishing should have occurred from 7:15 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. and 7:39 p.m. to 9:39 p.m. There was a minor period from 1:02 a.m. to 3:02 a.m. We fished from 11.00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and we caught the bulk of the 28 largemouth bass that we caught from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

There is a theory about waterways that are afflicted with a heavy algae bloom, and that theory contends that the fishing is better in the afternoon than it is in the morning at those algae-laden waterways. The reason why that is revolves around the fact that the algae reduces the oxygen level during the night, which causes the fish to become lethargic, and it takes several hours of intense sunlight to increase the oxygen levels. Then once the oxygen levels are up during the afternoon hours, the fish aren’t as lethargic as they were during the morning hours. We, of course, didn’t have the tools to test if that theory played a role in our largemouth bass endeavors on Aug. 20, but our catch rate paralleled that theory.

Perhaps one reason why our catch rate increased during the last hour and a half was that we finally fished this reservoir’s best shoreline during the last hour we were afloat. This shoreline lies along the eastside of this reservoir, and across the many years that we have fished these 55-acres, this shoreline has yielded the most largemouth bass. But throughout our entire outing, this eastside shoreline had ranks of waves paralleling it, making it nearly impossible to fish into the wind with the transom-mounted trolling motor. We usually use a drift sock and the bow-mounted trolling motor on wind-blown outings, but the bow-mounted motor is on the fritz, and we are waiting for a replacement part to arrive. So we attempted to battle the wind with the transom-mounted motor, and it beat us until we decided to use the drift sock with the transom-mounted trolling motor during the last 60 minutes. At 2:00 p.m., we tossed the drift sock into the water and affixed it to the bow of the boat and drifted with the wind, using the trolling motor to help control the direction and pace of the drift. We drifted portions of the eastside shoreline twice during the last hour that we were afloat, and during that spell, we caught 12 of the 28 largemouth bass that we caught during this four-hour outing, and we also one walleye along this windy and rocky shoreline.

Throughout the entire outing, we fished about 70 percent of this reservoir’s rocky shorelines. In our eyes, all of this reservoir’s rocky shorelines look as if they are ideal locations for employing Midwest finesse tactics and alluring unending numbers of largemouth bass, but we have discovered across the years that less than 50 percent of them pay many dividends. We fished all but two of its main-lake and secondary points, which are also rocky. We fished three mud flats inside three of its small coves, but we did not fish the flats in the backs of its south feeder-creek and east feeder-creek arms. Our sonar revealed that there were vast concentrations of fishlife suspended and milling about offshore, and we did not make any presentations to those fish.
We caught one largemouth bass on a mud flat inside one of the small coves. It was extracted from four feet of water after it engulfed a four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

Nine largemouth bass were caught on four main-lake points. And the other 19 were caught along the rocky shorelines.

Our two most effective baits were the four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ rigged wacky style on a 1/16-ounce green-pumpkin Bass Pro Shops’ Flickin’ Shimmy Jighead. (Until recently, we have rarely wielded wacky rigs, but it has paid some dividends since late July.) We also caught some largemouth bass on a Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and a four-inch green-pumpkin grub on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.

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One of the largemouth bass that we caught on a four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

About 30 percent of the largemouth bass engulfed our baits on the initial fall. The rest were caught by executing three different presentations: a straight-swim retrieve, a drag-and-shake retrieve, and a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Most of them were caught in two to four feet of water, and none were caught in water deeper than six feet.

It is somewhat interesting to note that we caught more than two dozen green sunfish along the shorelines, which is a phenomenon that we have not encountered often in 2014. In addition, none of the largemouth bass regurgitated any green sunfish, crayfish, gizzard shad, bluegill, or silver brooksides. All of the green sunfish were chunky, but several of the largemouth bass looked as if they hadn’t eaten for a significant spell.

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One of the largemouth bass that we caught on a four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ rigged wacky style on a 1/16-ounce Bass Pro Shops’ Flickin’ Shimmy Jighead.

 

 

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Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following report about his Aug 19 outing.

He wrote: “I fished a 23,140-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir that lies along the northern border of Lewisville, Texas.

“According to the Texas Water Development Board, this reservoir’s water level has risen about three feet during the last month, increasing its size from 21,280 acres to 23,140 acres. The rising water has also flooded acres of shoreline vegetation that sprung up on the bare banks and mud points when the water level was three feet lower.

“The water was murky with about one and a half feet of visibility. The surface temperature was 85 degrees. In spite of the rising water levels over the past month, the water level is still 5.28 feet below normal pool.

“The weather was a carbon-copy of what it has been for the past several weeks. It was bright and sunny with partly cloudy skies. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 72 degrees and the afternoon high climbed to just 93 degrees. A southeasterly wind blew at 10 to 15 miles per hour. The barometric pressure was steady at 29.85.

“According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing period would occur from 6:37 a.m. to 8:37 a.m. I fished from noon to 3:00 p.m.

“The fishing continues to be grueling and perplexing. During this three-hour foray, I was able to allure only four largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and one large bluegill.

“This reservoir has basically two types of black bass habitats: rocks and docks. But since the water level has risen, I have spent a considerable amount of time exploring long stretches of the many acres of newly flooded vegetation along several main-lake points and shorelines. I observed countless numbers of small baitfish cruising along the outside edges of the flooded weed lines, but I failed to find any largemouth bass relating to the vegetation.

“I have also been having difficulty finding any significant numbers of largemouth bass and spotted bass on main-lake rocky structures lately. Thus, I opted to concentrate on the scores of covered boat docks that embellish the southwestern tributary arm of this reservoir. I concentrated on covered boat docks that were floating close to or over creek channels and points. I fished docks that were floating in water as shallow as seven feet and as deep as 35 feet. During that mind-numbing two-hour-and-27-minute endeavor, I used all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves and employed an array of Gopher jigs rigged with different colors of Z-Man’s 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZs, Finesse ShadZs, Finesse WormZs, three-inch Charlie Brewer Slider Company’s Bass/Walleye/Striper Grubs, and wacky rigged four-inch YUM Dingers. To my dismay, I failed to coax a single strike.

“I finished the last 33 minutes of this outing fishing a nearby rip-rap laden bridge embankment, which surrendered four largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and one large bluegill.

“Three largemouth bass and one spotted bass were caught on a Z-Man’s 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher Jig worked in a swim-glide-and-shake manner. Z-Man’s four-inch green- pumpkin Finesse WormZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher Jig enticed one largemouth bass that engulfed the bait on the initial drop. All five of these bass were caught in two to five feet of water and within 10 feet of the water’s edge.”

Aug 23 log

John McKean of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, posted two reports on Aug. 23 about some of his tactics and outings this summer.
In his first report, he wrote: “It’s been a wet, stormy summer with way too many cold fronts rolling through. But despite much groaning about the lack of fish, I’ve lucked into a dynamite tipping for my small jigs that continue to produce bass, rainbow trout, crappie, freshwater drum, carp, and panfish everywhere I fish.

“The tipping is merely a two-inch soft-plastic hellgrammite. I first got onto this when I read about the tremendous crappie exploits of a North Carolina guide by the name of Bud Haynes, and that story can be read at this link: http://www.northcarolinasportsman.com/details.php?id=1833. Then a few months ago, I discovered Crabby Bass Lures’ Crabby Helgie. Here’s a link to it: http://www.crabbybasslures.com/Crabby-Helgie_p_51.html.

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Crabby Bass Lures’ Crabby Helgie.

“Recently — in between the wind and rain — on a small creek in Ohio that flows into Lake Erie, I used a 1/64-ounce darter-head jig and a hellgrammite on four-pound-test line with a drift presentation, and it caught some dandy-sized smallmouth bass for such a shallow stream, as well as some other species. Then on Erie, it allured endless numbers of crappie, fresh water drum and rock bass when it was rigged on a 1/28-ounce jig.”

In his second report, he wrote; “I am just back from a tough and windy weekend at a 17,088-acre Pennsylvania reservoir.

“I got blown off the main lake on Aug. 16, but went to my buddy’s large pond to test out two different trailers for our little jigs.

“The first trailer was a swirly little worm developed and given to me by the inventor of the plastic worm (it’s not who you think. This guy never got credit for it.).

“The second trailer and the main killer was the little cellophane strip cut from a plastic grocery bag. This one even totally outfished live minnows by about five to one in our actual testing.

“On Aug. 17, we caught smaller fish than usual, and they consisted of 56 crappie, 37 yellow perch, 10 largemouth bass, and six bluegill. It was a post-cold-front scenario that was highlighted with a bright sun, and the fishing was difficult. In fact, the other anglers around us didn’t catch much of anything under the tough conditions. All totaled, we caught well over 400 fish on that weekend, and most of them were allured by that silly, pointy little baggie strip.”

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John McKean and a hefty smallmouth bass that was caught on a 1/64-ounce darterhead jig and Crabby Bass Lures’ Crabby Helgie.

 

Aug. 25 log

Before Aug. 18, it had been an unusually cool summer in northeastern Kansas. Then from Aug. 18 to Aug. 25, area thermometers climbed well above the normal high temperatures, which range from 87 to 88 degrees. In fact, on Aug. 21 it was 101 degrees, 102 degrees on Aug. 22, 104 degree on Aug. 23, 103 degrees on Aug. 24, and 102 degrees on Aug. 25.

Some Midwest finesse anglers thought that this summer’s unseasonably cool temperatures might be one reason why the largemouth bass fishing at many of northeastern Kansas’ small flatland reservoirs has been so lackluster. The reason for those thoughts was that many of us struggled to catch an average of five largemouth bass an hour during this long cool spell. .

Therefore, on Aug. 25, I thought that I would see if the heat during the past eight days had caused the largemouth bass at a nearby 195-acre community reservoir to be easier to catch then they have been during the past two months.

My goal was to see how long it would take me to catch 25 largemouth bass. I started fishing at 10:30 a.m., and In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing should occur from 10:43 a.m. to 12:43 p.m. and 11:05 p.m. to 1:05 a.m. A minor period occurred from 4:33 a.m. to 6:33 a.m. Thus, I was fishing during the heart of one of the best times, but it took me until 1: 50 p.m. to catch largemouth bass No. 25. After I released that bass, I made another cast, which was to be my last one, and it yielded largemouth bass No. 26. That gave me an average of about 7 1/2 largemouth bass an hour. Throughout 2013, the hourly average in my boat was 11.6 an hour. Therefore, the recent heat wave did not help me equal that average of 11.6 largemouth bass an hour. But I did fare better than I did when I fished this reservoir on Aug. 15; on that outing, I caught only 18 largemouth bass from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, noted that it was 76 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 102 degrees at 2:52 p.m. It was sunny with some cirrus clouds occasionally floating overhead, and a few thunderstorms rumbled across the area before daylight. Throughout the day, the wind angled out of the southeast at 7 to 9 mph, west at 5 to 9 mph, south at 3 to 9 mph, east at 5 to 7 mph, southwest at 12 mph, and northwest at 12 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.91 at 12:53 a.m., 29.94 at 5:52 a.m., 30.00 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.96 at 2:56 p.m.

The water level looked to be a touch below normal. All of the American water willow patches were standing in water. The surface temperature ranged from 83 to 86 degrees. The water was stained by a minor algae bloom, and there was 18 inches to 26 inches of clarity. It was clearer in the lower end of the reservoir than it was in the south and southwest feeder-creek arms.

Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, fished this reservoir on Aug. 22 for wipers, and he inadvertently caught a six-pound largemouth bass, as well as 10 other largemouth bass, while he dissected several offshore lairs in search of wipers. On Aug. 25, I fished those lairs too, as well as one that Lau didn’t fish, but I failed to garner a strike on and around them.

I caught only two largemouth bass on main-lake locales. One of those was caught on a main-lake point on the east side of the reservoir. The second was caught on a main-lake point on the reservoir’s west side.

The steep, rock-laden, slightly wind-blown dam failed to yield neither a largemouth bass nor a strike of any kind.

Six largemouth bass were caught along the north shoreline inside one of the reservoir’s east feeder-creek arms. This shoreline is embellished with American water willows, some patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, some massive boulders, and some stumps. Twenty to 25 feet of water lies nearby.

Six largemouth bass were caught along the west shoreline inside the reservoir’s south feeder-creek arm. This shoreline is graced with rocks, boulders, laydowns, some patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, and American water willows. Twelve to 18 feet of water lies nearby.

Twelve largemouth bass were caught along the north and south shorelines inside the southwest feeder-creek arm. These shorelines are littered with boat docks, boulders, concrete retaining walls, laydowns, stumps, American water willows, some patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, some cattails, rocks, and boulders. Portions of these shorelines are flat, and other sections are steep with 20 feet of water nearby. The bulk of the 12 largemouth bass were caught along the flatter sections of the shorelines.

Two largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Three largemouth bass were caught on a four-inch Z-Man’s black-neon Finesse WormZ rigged wacky style on a 1/16-ounce green-pumpkin Bass Pro Shops’ Flickin’ Shimmy Jighead with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. Twenty-one largemouth bass were caught on a four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

The 26 largemouth bass were caught in three to seven feet of water. The bulk of them were caught from six to 15 feet from the water’s edge. A few of them were caught from three to five feet from the water’s edge.

One of them regurgitated a two-inch gizzard shad that swam away after it was freed from that largemouth bass’ gullet. None of the other largemouth bass exhibited any hints what they had been foraging upon.

In sum, the weather was hot during the late morning and early afternoon in northeastern Kansas, and there was not another boat on the 196-acre reservoir that I fished. Moreover, there wasn’t one on a 7,000-acre reservoir that I drove by on my way to and from the reservoir that I fished. I like those days in the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter when I am the only angler afloat. On some of those extreme outings, the largemouth bass fishing can be extremely fruitful. Even though this outing wasn’t exceptionally productive, it was a tad better than it had recently been, and that makes me full of hope that the largemouth bass fishing in northeastern Kansas will become more bountiful in the days and weeks to come.

 

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Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, posted the following report on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 25 outing at a 120-acre community reservoir that lies along the northern suburbs of Kansas City.

He wrote: “Just when I thought the fishing couldn’t get any worse …, another terrible outing.

“Bruce Janssen of Kansas City and I went out at 8:00 a.m. this morning, and stayed on the lake until about 11:00 am.

“It was hot from the start, and the fishing was terrible. We caught only seven largemouth bass. The only bright spot was that two of them were keepers. Bruce caught one about three pounds on a white Mepps spinner right at the tubes. I caught another on a Swimming Minnow.

“There was absolutely no pattern to the fishing. We caught some shallow, and some as deep as 20 feet.

“The fact that our American pondweed has been a bust has really hurt us. In the past, we could target clumps of that vegetation and always catch fish. Now that it’s not there, we’re casting blind.

“I tried positioning the boat over drop offs, but to no avail. I also used every Z-Man product I have, including a Rain Minnow and a Punch Craw, with no success.

“I wanted to experiment today, but I couldn’t find one lure that was hot.
“Get this: I even used night crawlers for about an hour and I had a hard time getting bit.

“Oh, well . . .”

Aug. 26 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 26 outing.
He wrote: “I made another morning sojourn to a local but troublesome 23,140-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir that is situated along the northern city limits of Lewisville, Texas. This reservoir can be very temperamental, such as during the cold-water period from mid- December to mid-March and the hot-water period during the dog days of summer when the largemouth and spotted bass seem to vanish for weeks at a time.
“I fished this reservoir on August 19, and the fishing was horrid. On that outing, I concentrated on the many rows of covered boat docks in the southwestern tributary arm of this reservoir for most of that three-hour foray, and I didn’t catch a fish until the last 33 minutes, which was when I abandoned the covered boat docks and plied a nearby rocky bridge embankment that yielded four largemouth bass and one spotted bass.

“Throughout August, I have struggled to find any significant aggregations of largemouth or spotted bass. Even the delightful sight of huge schools of surface-feeding white bass has not materialized. I have tried changing my fishing times on the water from afternoons to mid-mornings to dawn in hopes of finding these perplexing summertime bass more active during the different times of the day. But that has not happened. To the contrary, I have not found any significant difference in the bass’ activity levels no matter what time of day I fished, and this has left me more discombobulated than before.

“I have targeted different types of black bass lairs such as flooded vegetation, covered boat docks, dilapidated boat ramps, riprap-laden embankments along the dam and a bridge, many concrete bridge pilings, a submerged roadbed or two, several submerged rock piles, a couple of shallow to mid-depth creek channels, and numerous rocky main-lake points. Of these listed bass habitats, only a couple of main-lake points and a couple of short stretches of riprap along the dam and one bridge has produced much action, and that action has been inconsistent from one day to the next.

My Aug. 26 plan of attack was to change sections of the reservoir. The southwestern arm of this reservoir is by far the most productive that I have found, but I began to wonder if perhaps the bass may be more active in a different arm of this reservoir. Therefore, I elected to fish the northern and mid-sections of the eastern tributary arm of this reservoir. The water in these regions was murky with about one foot of visibility. The surface temperature was 86 degrees. The Texas Water Development Board recorded this reservoir’s water level at 5.48 feet below normal pool.

The day was not unlike many of the past few weeks: sunny, hot, and humid with partly cloudy skies. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 75 degrees and the afternoon high reached 97 degrees with a heat index of 102 degrees. The average low is 72 degrees and the average high is 95 degrees. A pleasant morning wind blew out of the east at 6 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure was steady at 29.95.

I fished from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicted that the best fishing period would occur between 11:13 a.m. to 1:13 p.m., and a minor period would take place from 5:23 a.m. to 7:23 a.m.

My plan of fishing a different section of the reservoir flopped. During this four-hour foray, I was able to allure only two largemouth bass, one spotted bass, two freshwater drum, and one channel catfish. Only one spotted bass, one drum, and one catfish were caught from the northern end, and I did not garner a strike in the mid-section of this tributary arm.

I started the day fishing a riprap-ladened bridge embankment located in the upper north end of the reservoir. The bridge has an east to west orientation, but the east end of the bridge was inaccessible because of a construction project. A nearby submerged roadbed parallels the north side of the bridge. I caught one spotted bass, one freshwater drum, and one channel catfish that were relating to the riprap along the north side of the bridge embankment. These three fish were allured by a Z-Man’s 3 1/4-inch modified green-pumpkin FattyZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig . The modified FattyZ was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake technique. All three of these fish were extracted from three to five feet of water and within 10 feet of the water’s edge. I slowly graphed the adjacent submerged roadbed, but found no signs of any fish relating to the top or sides of the roadbed.

After fishing the bridge embankment, I fished several rocky main-lake points just south of the bridge. I plied these points with the Z-Man’s 3 1/4-inch green-pumpkin FattyZ and a four-inch Berkley green-pumpkin Power Grub rigged on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. The 3 1/4-inch modified FattyZ was presented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrive, and the four-inch Berkley Power Grub was retrieved in a slow, steady swimming fashion. I was unable to coax any strikes from any of these points.

My third stop was in the mid-section of the eastern tributary arm at an old concrete spillway adjacent to two long rocky points. I plied these areas with the Z-Man’s 3 1/4-inch modified green-pumpkin FattyZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, four-inch Berkley green-pumpkin Power Grub rigged on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, and Z-Man’s bluegill-hue Scented LeechZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved in a swim-glide-and- shake manner. I failed to entice any strikes from these three lairs.

My fourth stop was a shallow rock pile just west of the old concrete spillway. The 3 1/4-inch modified FattyZ and Scented LeechZ failed to allure any bass.

After spending the first three hours in the upper and mid-sections of the eastern tributary arm and with little to show for it, I decided to run southward and fish the dam on the southeast end of the reservoir. The water along the dam was slightly clearer than the water was in the northern end of the reservoir, and it exhibited about two feet of visibility. The water temperature was 85 degrees. I plied a 200-yard stretch of the dam’s rocky embankment with the same four-inch Berkley Power Grub, the 3 1/4-inch modified FattyZ, bluegill-hue Scented LeechZ, and a wacky-rigged four-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red Finesse WormZ rigged on an Owner’s Ultra weedless wacky jig head. The Berkley Power Grub and a slow, steady swimming action attracted the attention of one freshwater drum, but I failed to garner any other strikes.

My final stop was a main-lake rocky point situated along the southeastern portion of the southwest tributary arm of this reservoir. This point extends northward from the south shoreline and is embellished with three dilapidated boat ramps, fist-sized rocks scattered along the northern tip of the point, and a large gravel flat along its western bank. During the last 15 minutes of this outing, I caught one largemouth bass off the rocky northern tip of the point in about three feet of water, and one largemouth bass off one of the dilapidated boat ramps in about six feet of water. Both of these bass were caught on the 3 1/4-inch modified FattyZ and swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

After such an exasperating and lackluster performance, I consoled myself with the memories of the many days when I failed to catch a fish or caught only one or two during the past winter. I also speculated that these bass might not be active during the bright and hot daytime hours, and instead, they prefer to do their foraging at night.

 Aug. 27 log
One of the boat ramps at a 7,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir lies 11 miles from our front door, but we rarely fish it. One reason why we seldom fish it is that it is often wind-blown. Another reason why revolves around the fact that its largemouth bass population is paltry.

But thanks to Richard Sanders of Lawrence, who is a fisheries biologist with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, this reservoir was stocked with 148,217 fingerling (3/4-inch) smallmouth bass across four springs beginning in 2008 and ending in 2011.

Now it has a small but burgeoning population of adult smallmouth bass. In fact, one day in June a pair of veteran and talented Midwest finesse anglers caught 53 smallmouth bass in about four hours. But on a subsequent four-hour outing, they caught only three smallmouth bass.

Because the wind was mild-mannered on Aug. 27 and the largemouth bass fishing at the small flatland reservoirs hereabouts has been rather problematic, I decided to spend a couple hours fishing for smallmouth bass at this nearby reservoir.

The National Weather Service at Lawrence, Kansas, noted that it was 75 degrees at 5:52 a.m. and 91 degrees at 2:52 p.m. It was sunny, and a few clouds floated overhead, but these clouds never covered the sun. The wind angled out of the northeast at 6 to 9 mph, out of the east at 5 to 9 mph, and out of the southeast at 3 to 5 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.08 at 12:52 a.m., 30.06 at 5:52 a.m., 30.12 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.10 at 1:52 p.m.

The water level was about a half of a foot below normal. The Corps of Engineers noted that the surface temperature was 80 degrees at 8:00 a.m., and when I was afloat from 10 a.m. to noon, it ranged from 82 to 83 degrees. The water was clear enough that I could see the black propeller on the transom-mounted trolling motor, which is 24 inches under the surface. When I traveled across the dam of this reservoir on Aug. 25 as I was on my way to a nearby 195-acre community reservoir, I noticed that this reservoir was affected by an algae bloom, but there was no sign of it on Aug. 27 in the areas that I explored. In summers past, we have noticed that a week or more of extremely hot and sunny weather causes some of the algae blooms that plague many our flatland reservoirs to diminish, and that phenomenon might have occurred at this reservoir since Aug. 25.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing would take place from 11:51 a.m. to 1:51 p.m., and 12:13 p.m. to 2:13 p.m. There was a minor period from 6:02 a.m. to 8:02 a.m. I fished nine minutes during the 11:51 a.m. to 1:51 p.m. period.

During the two hours I fished, I caught only six smallmouth bass, two channel catfish, and one walleye. The walleye was a buxom and feisty critter, as was one of the smallmouth bass.

At the boat ramp, I crossed paths with a veteran and knowledgeable power angler, who had largemouth bass fished from 6:00 a.m. to noon, and he caught only two largemouth bass. Both of us said that the population of the young-of-the-year gizzard shad is the largest that we have seen for many years, noting that all of the areas that we fished were teaming with schools of 1 1/2- to two-inch gizzard shad. We surmised that all of these schools of gizzard shad might have had a lot to do with our inabilities to allure our quarries.

I caught five smallmouth bass on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin T.R.D. affixed to an orange 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation around rock piles and stumps on two main-lake points. These smallmouth bass were extracted from three to four feet of water, and one of them had a tail of a gizzard shad sticking out of its gullet. One smallmouth bass was caught along a riprap shoreline on a three-inch customized Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-orange FattyZ on a green-pumpkin 1/16-ounce homemade mushroom-style jig, which was retrieved with the swim-glide-and-shake motif. I had about a dozen strikes that I didn’t hook, and after some of those strikes, I executed a deadstick presentation to no avail. I also tried a pause-and-radical-shake routine after a few of those missed strikes, and they failed to allure another strike. I didn’t notice any smallmouth bass following my lures back to the boat, which Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, and I frequently experienced with the smallmouth bass at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir on Aug. 18, when we caught 48 smallmouth bass in five hours.

We suspect that this reservoir’s smallmouth bass population needs another five to six years before it is significantly large enough to allow Midwest finesse anglers to catch an average of eight to nine smallmouth bass an hour on a regular basis.

Aug. 28 log
On Aug. 28, my cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I discovered once again why this has been an August of our discontent, as it as been for a goodly number of other Midwest finesse anglers hereabouts.

Rick and I fished a 416-acre community reservoir, where we hoped to catch at least five smallmouth bass and four largemouth bass during each hour that we were afloat.

The National Weather Service in Topeka, Kansas, noted that it was 77 degrees at 3:53 a.m. and 94 degrees at 2:53 p.m. Some nearby thermometers climbed to 98 degrees at 2:52 p.m. From 6:53 a.m. to 12:53 p.m., it was sunny until noon, and then clouds appeared and occasionally covered the sun for a couple hours. While we were afloat, the wind angled from the south, southeast, and southwest at five to 23 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.00 at 12:53 a.m., 29.94 at 5:53 a.m., 29.44 at 11:54 a.m., and 29.88 at 2:53 p.m.

The water level looked to be about two feet below normal. The water was the clearest that we have ever seen in August at a flatland reservoir in northeastern Kansas. Traditionally, this reservoir is afflicted with poignant alga blooms in the summer. The surface temperature ranged from 82 to 84 degrees. We crossed paths with many schools of young-of-the-year gizzard shad.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing would occur from 12:40 a.m. to 2:40 a.m. and 1:02 p.m. to 3:02 p.m. There was a minor period from 6:51 a.m. to 8:51 a.m. We fished from 10:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

During the first 45 minutes, we failed to garner a strike, and during the next 15 minutes, we caught two smallmouth bass. As the next three hours and 10 minutes unfolded, we struggled to catch 10 smallmouth bass and two largemouth bass. During the final 35 minutes, we caught six largemouth bass. So, instead of catching nine bass an hour, we caught only 4.2 an hour.

We fished eight main-lake points, and only one of those main-lake points yielded one largemouth bass. None of those points yielded a smallmouth bass. We caught four smallmouth bass along the riprap of the dam. Four smallmouth bass were caught on two offshore rock piles. Three smallmouth bass were caught on a secondary point inside one of the feeder-creek arms, but we were unable to get a strike at five other secondary points. One smallmouth bass was caught along a shoreline inside a feeder creek, and one largemouth bass was caught along another shoreline inside a feeder creek arm, but four shorelines inside feeder-creek arms failed to yield a strike. Two smallmouth bass and four largemouth bass were caught along two steep main-lake shorelines, but two other steep main-lake shorelines failed to yield a strike.

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Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, with one of the Largemouth bass that was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Pearl ZinkerZ.

A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pearl ZinkerZ on a black 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and Z-Man’s PB&J Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig were the two most effective baits.

We never established the most effective retrieve. But seven of the 2o bass were allured on the initial drop of the bait. And 13 of them were caught with a variety of retrieves, and some of those retrieves were executed rather haphazardly. In fact, our retrieves were often so haphazard that we noted several times that the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass seemed to catch us rather than Rick and I catching them.

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One of the smallmouth bass that was allured by a Z-Man’s PB&J Hula StickZ.

Aug. 29 log

My Aug. 29 outing to a nearby 180-acre state reservoir was an appropriate ending to this month’s bedeviling largemouth bass fishing, which has confounded oodles of power anglers and Midwest finesse devotees across the nation’s Heartland.

The primary objective of this outing was to test my bow-mount trolling motor, which had been on the fritz and awaiting the arrival of a part since Aug. 12. But as I tested it for 2 1/2 hours, I fished, and the largemouth bass essentially bedeviled me as they have for the entire month of August.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, noted that it was 71 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 91 degrees at 3:52 p.m. Throughout the day the wind was calm for a couple of hours, and then it angled out of the southeast at 6 mph, out of the east at 5 mph, out of the south at 3 to 20 mph, and out of the southwest at 13 to 26 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.81 at 12:52 a.m., 29.86 at 5:52 a.m., 29.86 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.97 at 4:52 p.m. It became cloudy between 4:52 a.m. and 5:52 a.m.; it sprinkled at some locales in northeastern Kansas around 10:00 a.m. to noon, and for most of the daylight hours it fluctuated from being partly cloudy to mostly cloudy. A thunderstorm erupted at 7:50 p.m., and according to the NWS, these storms dropped less than a quarter of an inch of rain

The water level looked to be about 10 to 12 inches below normal. There was six feet or more of clarity in the vicinity of the dam, which is unusually clear for this time of the year. The surface temperature was 83 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 1:50 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. I was afloat from 1:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Typically, it has been a relatively easy task for a Midwest finesse angler to tangle with 15 largemouth bass or more an hour at this reservoir. But as it has been at most of the small flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas during August – even stretching back through July and into late June — the largemouth bass fishing was difficult at this normally fruitful reservoir. In fact, I eked out only 22 largemouth bass in 2 1/2hours (or an hourly average of only 8.8 an hour), which is a better catch rate per hour than the 4.2 per hour that Rick Hebenstreit and I caught on Aug. 28 at a 416-acre community reservoir.

Eighteen of the largemouth bass were caught along the riprap of the dam, which was inhabited by a goodly number of green sunfish. Fifteen of the largemouth bass were caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Two largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man’s PB&J Hula StickZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a drag-and-shake presentation. One largemouth bass was caught on a 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s smoke-purple GrubZ on an unpainted 3/32-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a straight-swim retrieve and accented with a few shakes. Two of the largemouth bass were caught in eight to 10 feet of water. Sixteen of them were caught in three to six feet of water.

Four of the largemouth bass were caught on a main-lake point around some submerged aquatic vegetation in four to five feet of water. The shortened four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a drag-and-shake presentation allured those four largemouth bass.

I fished the outside edges of several massive patches of American pondweed that lined one steep shoreline and two flat shorelines without getting a strike.

Some Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas have been blaming the sorry largemouth bass fishing in August on the fact that the population of young-of-the-year gizzard shad is extremely bountiful in most of our reservoirs. These anglers think that the gizzard shad have provoked the largemouth bass to become pelagic, which makes them difficult to locate and catch. This reservoir, however, doesn’t have a substantial population of gizzard shad, and yet this reservoir’s largemouth bass were difficult to locate and catch for me on Aug 29, and another Midwest finesse angler reported that he had trouble locating and catching them on Aug. 22. Of course, that makes one think that something else is going on in the largemouth bass’ world in northeastern Kansas, which is making them hard for us to locate and catch.

Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, says the unusually clear water that is gracing several of our reservoirs might be affecting the whereabouts and foraging habits of the largemouth bass. Desch and I hope to spend a number of hours fishing together in September. We want to probe several of our clear waterways and dissect some lairs that are deeper than we used to fish at these reservoirs when the water was dingier.

Aug. 30 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 30 outing with Shishen Du of Kansas City at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir.

The National Weather Service at Emporia, Kansas, noted that it was 65 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 91 degrees at 2:53 p.m. It was sunny. Throughout the entire day, the wind was mild-mannered and variable, angling out of the south at 3 mph, southwest at 6 mph, northwest at 5 mph, northeast at 6 mph, north at 5 mph, southeast at 6 to 7 mph, and east at 8 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.90 at 12:53 a.m., 29.93 at 5:53 a.m., 29.96 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.97 at 3:53 p.m.

The water level was about a quarter of a foot below normal. The surface temperature ranged from 79 degrees to 82 degrees. The water was clear, exhibiting five feet of visibility at the dam and declining to 4 1/2 feet of clarity about three miles west of the dam.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing would occur from 2:33 a.m. to 4:33 a.m. and 2:57 p.m. to 4:57 p.m. There was a minor period from 8:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. They fished from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Gum wrote: “We had our best luck concentrating along the main-lake points and some isolated rock piles back in a couple of coves. I caught most of my fish on a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Coppertruse Zero on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. I caught a few on a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Du did well throwing either a four-inch Strike King Coppertruse or green-pumpkin Super Finesse Worm on a red 1/16-ounce jig. In several areas he was getting more strikes than me, but he is still learning how to apply a good hook set, and therefore, he lost a few fish.

“Most of the fish we caught were shallow, inhabiting two to six feet of water. Several fish hit on the initial drop. I mostly employed a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. We tried backing off the bank some, but could not catch one deeper than about six feet. Caught some dinks along the dam, but we couldn’t catch anything else there.

“Fishing pressure was slight. A handful of guys were doing some walleye or crappie fishing. But we did run into Greg Monahan of Lees Summit, Missouri, who reported he was catching fish primarily on a 2 1/2-inch Coppertruse Zero.

“In total, Du and I caught 43 smallmouth bass.”

Melvern August 31 2014 002

Bob Gum with one of the 43 smallmouth bass that he and Shishen Du caught on Aug. 30.

Aug. 31 log
Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 31 outing with Ralph Manns of Rockwall, Texas, who is a fisheries biologist and longtime field editor with In-Fisherman. Besides fishing together, they also talked about why the largemouth bass fishing can be challenging in north-central Texas in August. Manns expounded profoundly and provided many details about the effects of water temperatures, available forage, the times that largemouth bass feed and how they feed, the various moods of the largemouth bass, their strike windows, and where they reside in big reservoirs and small reservoirs. During one of their discourses, Manns drew a bell curve that featured the relationship between available forage and the differences between how big bass feed compared to smaller bass.

Reideler wrote: “August has not been one of my more fruitful months. In fact, between August 1 and August 30, I fished only four times for a total of 16 hours, and I inveigled only 43 bass.
“Therefore, when Ralph Manns invited me to fish a three-acre pond behind his home in Rockwall, Texas, I jumped at the chance.

“Ralph normally spends his fishing time in his two-man, eight-foot bass boat, exploring the various nooks and crannies inside and around a marina situated on a 21,671-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir close to his home. Unfortunately, low water levels have made boat access difficult, and many of his shallow-water lairs are now either on dry land or covered with just an inch or two of water. Therefore, he occasionally spends two or three hours during the evening plying a three-acre community pond behind his home.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best fishing period would occur from 3:40 p.m. to 5:40 p.m., and a minor period would take place from 9:27 a.m. to 11:27 a.m. Ralph and I employed a two-man fiberglass paddleboat, and we were afloat from about 5:30 p.m. to nightfall, making our final casts at 8:08 p.m.

“The late afternoon and early evening hours were sunny, hot, and humid with partly cloudy skies. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low at 74 degrees and the afternoon high climbed to 95 degrees. The brisk wind blew out of the south at 10 to 20 mph, and the barometric pressure was steady at 29.92.

“The three-acre community pond behind Ralph’s home has an elongated shape, with a southeast to northwest orientation. The upper two thirds of this reservoir appeared to be slightly wider than the lower third. One small feeder creek enters the pond from its east shoreline in the lower third of the watershed, and a second feeder creek enters the pond from the southeast end of the pond. A mud dam forms the boundary on the northwestern end, and the main creek channel winds its way from the southeast end through the middle of the pond to the dam. Small patches of American water willows are dispersed along the shoreline, and several small beds of submerged vegetation occur throughout the pond. The shorelines are also adorned with several laydowns, a couple of decorative stone walls, and a concrete culvert. A ditch cuts across a shallow mud flat. There are several submerged brush piles. A mud bar covered with two to six feet of water extends westward from the eastern shoreline in the lower section of the pond. The water was clear with about four feet of visibility. We we’re unable to measure the pond’s water temperature.

“We began the outing by fishing the dam. A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and worked in a swim-glide-shake manner attracted one largemouth bass that was extracted from four feet of water along the west end of the dam.

“After we finished probing the dam, we slowly worked our way southward along the west-side shoreline, which yielded five largemouth bass. Three were caught off a submerged brush pile in four feet of water just south of the dam, and the other two were caught off a submerged brush pile that was positioned in three feet of water and several feet away from the outside edge of a patch of American water willows in the mid-section of the pond. A five-inch Zoom Bait Company’s Kudzu hued Finesse Worm with a dyed chartreuse tail Texas-rigged with an unpainted 1/8-ounce slip sinker rooted out three largemouth bass. A four-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-green-flake Finesse WormZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig allured two bass. Both of these baits were implemented with either a slow lift-and-drop technique or a slow drag-and-shake presentation.

“As we worked our way eastward along the southern bank, we discovered a good population of largemouth bass relating to the ledges of the small feeder creek and the mud bar that extended from the east shoreline. This area was the most fruitful area in the pond, and it surrendered 11 largemouth bass. All 11 of these bass were milling about in four to six feet of water. Several of these bass were attracted to a four-inch Gary Yamamoto Bait Company’s watermelon/gold-black-flake Senko nose hooked on an Owner’s size 1 weedless wacky hook; a couple were caught on a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Hula SickZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a couple were tempted by a four-inch Z-Man’s black-neon Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; and the remainder were attracted to the four-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-green-flake Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The Senko was presented with a slow lift-fall-deadstick action, and the Hula StickZ and Finesse WormZs were utilized with a slow drag-and-occasional shake motif.

As we worked our way northward along the eastern shoreline, we were able to catch two largemouth bass from a small point adorned with American water willows and a small stump. One bass was tempted by the four-inch Senko and the other preferred a five-inch Zoom Redbug Finesse Worm donned on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Both of these bass were relating to the stump in three feet of water. The Senko was employed with the lift-drop-deadstick presentation, and the Zoom Finesse Worm and Gopher jig was slowly dragged across the bottom with an occasional shake and pause.

“We eked out two more largemouth bass from a concrete culvert and ditch that are situated along the northeast end of the pond. One bass was allured the five-inch Zoom Redbug Finesse Worm and Gopher jig. The other bass was enticed by a pair of five-inch Zoom Redbug Finesse Worms that were nose hooked on an Owner’s size No. 1 weedless wacky hook. The single five-inch Zoom finesse worm and Gopher jig combo was retrieved in a slow drag-and-occasional shake manner. The pair of five-inch Zoom Redbug Finesse Worms were slowly dragged across the bottom. Both of these bass were taken from three to five feet of water.

“At 8:08 p.m., darkness began to fall across the pond, and we made our last casts along a rocky bank next to where we launched the paddleboat. On my last cast, I enticed the final largemouth bass of the day on the four-inch Z-Man’s black-neon Finesse WormZ and slow drag-and-shake presentation. This largemouth bass was relating to the edge of the rocks in three feet of water.
“All told, this was one of the most fruitful outings I have enjoyed this August. Ralph and I tangled with 22 largemouth bass in 2 1/2 hours, which calculates to 8.8 bass per hour. We had three largemouth bass that were able to liberate themselves before we could land them. Z-Man’s four-inch pumpkin-green-flake Finesse WormZ allured six largemouth bass. Gary Yamamoto’s four-inch watermelon/gold-and-black-flake Senko caught five. Zoom’s five-inch Kudzu Finesse Worm with a dyed chartreuse tail enticed three. A four-inch Z-Man’s black-neon Finesse WormZ caught three. Z-Man’s Canada Craw Hula StickZ allured two. Zoom’s five-inch Redbug Finesse Worm and Gopher jig garnered one. The two five-inch Zoom Redbug Finesse Worms nose hooked together on an Owner’s weedless wacky hook beguiled one. The 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ attracted one.

“A slow drag-and-occasional-shake retrieve was the most productive presentation.”

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Paul Finn of Olathe, Kansas, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 31 outing to a 225-acre community reservoir that lies along the west suburbs of Kansas City.

The National Weather Service in Kansas City noted that it was 73 degrees at 5:54 a.m. and 95 degrees at 3:54 p.m. Around 5:54 p.m., the wind was howling out of the south at 16 to 24 mph, and it was still roaring at 16 to 23 mph at 7:54 p.m. The NWS said the sky was fair from 5:54 p.m. to 9:54 p.m., but at 10:54 p.m. a heavy thunderstorm erupted. The barometric pressure was 29.76 at 4:54 p.m. and 29.69 at 8:54 p.m.

In-Fisheman’s solunar calendar said that the best fishing time occurred from 3:50 p.m. to 5:50 p.m. Finn fished from 5:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.

He wrote: “This is my favorite lake to fish in Kansas because of the vast numbers and the average size of the largemouth bass. I have been fishing this lake for 30 years, and it is a dynamite finesse lake. It is where I once caught 16 largemouth bass on 16 casts finesse fishing. But on this outing the fishing was tough.

“The water level was normal. The surface temperature was 82 degrees. The water was a little more stained than usual, exhibiting 12 to 18 inches of visibility.
“I started off fishing with a Junebug Bailey Magnum Magnet on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, and I caught a largemouth bass within the first five minutes. I caught it at the end of the dock, which is a common pattern there this time of the year, and they usually engulf it on the initial fall. After fishing another 45 minutes and many more docks without another bite, I switched to a four-inch Strike King Bama Craw Super Finesse Worm on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. I finally caught another one on the Super Finesse Worm, which made a grand total of two largemouth bass in one hour and 15 minutes. A few casts later I broke the worm off on a snag, and I switched to a Z-Man’s New Money T.R.D. on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. Eventually I caught four and lost a couple others by casting the T.R.D. to the edge of some patches of American water willows, where I employed a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

“By the time I made my last cast, I had only six largemouth bass, and it was by far my worst outing of the year. Yet, it was still always a good day to be out fishing.”

  • Steve Craven

    Here in central Maryland, August can be a very trying month at our local resevoirs. Good days and ok days and bad days, but no excellent days. The Upper Potomac river is usually the most consistent producer, but is greatly influenced by even the smallest amount of rainfall. In two of our local back-up drinking water resvoirs I fished 5 times and had minimal success, best day was 11 fish on 14 hookups. After 2 weeks of zero rainfall, myself and two other kayakers took an overnight float trip down the Upper Potomac from Paw Paw West Virginia into Greenridge state park in western Maryland. We fished for 7-10 hrs both days as we slowly drifted along. Some shallow ripple type areas, some deep slow holes and everything in between. Hundreds of smallish smallmouths, a few rainbow trout and dozens of large, aggressive blugills. Variety of lures and presentations used; Mepps #0-1-2 in silver and gold, small floating jerkbaits, small topwater plugs and of course jig and grub combos. I was the only one using 1/16 oz and 3/32 oz gopher jigs with 3″ bass pro shop sticko’s as well as 4″ Z man finesse worms. In the deeper holes ( 5′-10′ ) the presentation I was using was the gold medal winner. Slow drag and shake with a prolonged pause of 10-15 seconds produced in every single deeper area we encountered. No large fish, but very consistent action throughout. Just wanted to share Steve Craven

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