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Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas, is a newcomer to black bass fishing and Midwest finesse fishing. This is one of the 24 largemouth bass that he and Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, caught on Feb. 21.

This monthly guide to Midwest finesse fishing reveals how Mother Nature’s wintry ways can toss a monkey wrench into the hopes and best-laid plans of scores of Midwest finesse anglers. For instance, anglers in northeastern Kansas discovered on Ground Hog Day that ice was covering the flatland reservoirs for the third time during the winter of 2014-15. That third coating melted during the nighttime hours of Feb. 7 and 8, and the weather was nice and windless enough to allow us to fish on Feb. 9, 13, and 14. But on Feb. 15, Mother Nature allowed Old Man Winter to waylay us again, and for the fourth time this winter, he coated northeastern Kansas’ reservoirs with ice, and as February came to a close and area thermometers dropped to zero degrees at 3:52 a.m. on Feb. 27, the weather forecasters uttered the proverbial prediction that March was coming in like a lion. Thus, Mother Nature and our ice-covered waterways might keep us at bay until the second week of March. It was so cold that anglers as far south as Table Rock Lake, Missouri, reported on Feb. 25 that they were finding surface temperatures in the 30s and ice in the back of some of the coves and feeder creeks, and tournaments were being canceled for Feb. 28 and Mar. 1.

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, and his angling companions weren’t plagued by ice-covered waterways. Yet Mother Nature did blitz the Texans several times. For instance, he reported on Feb. 27 that it was snowing, and the roadways would be icy until the afternoon hours of Mar. 1.   But the Texans were also blessed  with several balmy days, which allowed Reideler and his colleagues to fish seven times and catch more largemouth bass than they have ever caught during the month of February. Besides Reideler’s seven logs, the endnotes to this February’s guide illuminate how his catch rate has escalated since he and his partners have become Midwest finesse aficionados. And this February Reideler introduced Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas, to the joys of largemouth bass fishing, and Brown caught some largemouth bass for the first time in his life by employing Midwest finesse tactics.

This guide also includes the insights of Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and me. Also included  is the  bass fishing for trout report from Walt Tegtmeier of Leawood, Kansas, and his Feb. 20, 21, and 22  logs reveal the versatility of Midwest finesse fishing.

We are thankful that Steve Reideler proof read all of the 11,522 words of this month’s guide. He made it more readable and understandable.

 

Feb. 7 log
Across most of the nation, Mother Nature’s wintery and windy ways kept Midwest finesse anglers at bay during the first six days of February. But Steve Reideler and a friend fished on Feb. 7 and filed the following report on the Finesse News Network.

Reideler wrote: “North-central Texans have been relishing a couple of days of unseasonably warm temperatures. On Feb. 7, the National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 41 degrees and the afternoon high rose to 66 degrees. An incessant and annoying wind quartered out of the south-by southeast at 15 to 25 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.03.

“Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas, joined me for an afternoon of bank fishing at two nearby municipal reservoirs. Norman is a newcomer to bass fishing. In fact, he fishes only once a year in September, when he joins a college friend for a trout-fishing foray outside of Branson, Missouri. Norman could not remember the last time he caught a black bass, but thinks he may have caught one or two inadvertently while fishing for crappie or white bass when he was a youngster about 45 years ago.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted the best fishing would occur from 12:28 a.m. to 2:28 a.m. and 12:50 p.m. to 2:50 p.m. A minor period would occur from 6:39 a.m. to 8:39 a.m. Norman and I fished from about 12:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.

“The first reservoir we fished is about 12-acres in size. The water was muddy with about one foot of visibility. The water level appeared to be normal. We were unable to measure the water’s temperature.

“I last fished this reservoir on Jan. 28, and during that afternoon undertaking, this reservoir relinquished six largemouth bass.

“On this Feb. 7 endeavor, the incessant wind made the fishing problematic. Even though it impeded many of our casts and retrieves, we still managed to tangle with 12 largemouth bass. Eleven of these 12 bass were hooked in three to five feet of water and within ten feet of the water’s edge. One bass was caught about 20 feet out from the water’s edge in about eight feet of water.

“Our repertoire of lures consisted of a 3 1/2-inch Z-Man Fishing Products’ Chartreuse Sparkle GrubZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head jig and presented in a slow and steady swimming retrieve; a customized 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ tail fastened to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and presented with a slow drag-and-shake retrieve; Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and retrieved in a slow swim-glide-and- shake presentation; and a customized 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ tube threaded on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and retrieved with a slow drag-and-shake presentation.

“We started the afternoon plying the west end of this reservoir’s windswept northern shoreline. A three foot rock and clay ledge extends outward from the water’s edge and drops off into five feet of water. It failed to yield a bass.

“The wind became so troublesome that we decided to seek relief in a more wind-protected area, which we found in a cove on the southeast side of the reservoir. This cove is formed by steep rock and clay shorelines. A small creek channel courses its way from the northeast corner of the cove to the south side of the cove. A broad mud and gravel point extends northward from the southern shoreline and forms the southern mouth to the cove. The mud and gravel point at the mouth of the cove surrendered five largemouth bass. Three were caught on the customized 2 1/2-inch FattyZ tube and two were caught on the 3 1/2-inch GrubZ. We failed to entice any other strikes from this cove.

“We then fished the south side of a long sand, gravel, and rock point that extends westward from the eastern shoreline. This point separates the southeast cove from a cove in the northeastern section of the reservoir.

“We caught six largemouth bass that were scattered along the south side of the point. We were unable to coax any strikes from the north side of the point. Three largemouth bass were caught on the customized 2 1/2-inch FattyZ tube, and three were caught on the customized 2 1/4-inch FattyZ tail section.

“We then checked a 30-yard section of the north shoreline in the northeastern cove. The northeastern cove encompasses a large mud flat with a small ditch that courses across the middle of the cove from its east shoreline to its west shoreline. The customized 2 1/2-inch FattyZ tube enticed one largemouth bass, and it was milling about in three feet of water and about five feet out from the water’s edge.

“We did not fish the windy west shoreline of this reservoir.
“After we finished fishing the 12-acre reservoir, we venture to another local community reservoir. It is a small body of water, measuring about 100 yards long and 60 yards wide. The water was muddy, exhibiting from two to six inches of visibility. The water level appeared to be about a foot high.
“The eastern border of the pond is formed by a steep mud shoreline. The southern shoreline is mostly shallow and enhanced with a decorative concrete and stone wall that borders a shallow mud point. A large spawning cove forms the western end of this reservoir, and a large island is situated outside the mouth of the west-side cove. Two creek channels run parallel to the island’s northern and southern shorelines. A large and shallow mud flat forms the reservoir’s northern shoreline. A concrete structure that surrounds a water outlet is positioned about halfway down the northern shoreline, and it is surrounded by five feet of water.

“The wind continued to harass us at this reservoir, and we struggled to eke out four largemouth bass, and one bass was able to free itself from our lure before we could land it. All four of these bass were dwelling in less than five feet of water and were about five to ten feet away from the water’s edge.

“Two largemouth bass were hooked along the north end of the east shoreline. One largemouth bass was extracted from the side of a partially submerged tree limb that was lying along the mid-section of the north shoreline in about four feet of water. The second largemouth bass was caught from the south shoreline of the spawning cove. We failed to draw another strike along the south side of the reservoir.

“Two of these four largemouth bass were attracted to the Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The other two bass were coaxed into striking a 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Chartreuse Sparkle GrubZ attached to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and retrieved with a slow and steady swimming presentation.

“All totaled, we hooked 16 largemouth bass and landed 13 of them, which in our eyes is a good beginning to Norman’s black bass fishing endeavors. Seven of these 16 largemouth bass were allured by Z-Man’s customized 2 1/2-inch Z-man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ tube, four were attracted to the 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Chartreuse Sparkle GrubZ, three were allured by the customized 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s black-blue flake FattyZ tail section, and two were caught on the Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. The two most productive presentations were a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve and a slow drag-and-shake retrieve.”

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On Feb. 7, Bill Beach of Topeka, Kansas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about the state of the ice that covered a 416-acre community reservoir. He wrote: “I checked the main boat-ramp around 2:00 p.m., and the entire cove was still iced covered. I checked it again around 6:00 p.m., and the boat ramp was ice-free, and 75 percent of the cove was ice-free. The south boat ramp was still frozen. The west-side coves are mostly open. Half of one of the east-side coves was still covered with ice. Ninety-five percent of the main-lake was free of ice.

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At noon on Feb. 7, I hitched up the boat trailer and made a 15-mile trek from Lawrence, Kansas, to a 195-acre community reservoir, but upon arriving at the boat ramp, I discovered that about 45 percent of the reservoir was covered with ice. So, I returned home and changed the grease in the lower unit of the outboard and the oil in its engine and repacked the wheel bearings on the boat trailer.

Feb. 8 log

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

He wrote: “After several days of high winds, Rick Allen of Dallas and I were able to conduct an afternoon excursion to a 969-acre U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers’ reservoir located 80 miles northwest of Lewisville.

“It was an unseasonably warm winter’s day, with bright sunshine and beautiful blue skies, and there was not a cloud in sight all afternoon. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 44 degrees and the afternoon high temperature warmed to a pleasant 81 degrees. The wind blew out of the north at a manageable 8 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure measured 29.95.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing periods would occur from 1:25 a.m. to 3:25 a.m. and 1:46 p.m. to 3:46 p.m. A minor period occurred between 7:36 a.m. and 9:36 a.m. We fished from about noon until 4:10 p.m.

“The shorelines along the southern half of this reservoir are ringed with thick stands of flooded timber, which are intertwined with stumps, large boulders, fist-size rocks, scattered patches of brown pondweed, and submerged brush. Almost all of the points in this section of the reservoir are steep and rocky. The shorelines in the northern half of the reservoir are also steep and rocky, but there is little flooded timber in that section of the reservoir.

“The water’s clarity varied from stained with 3 1/2 feet of visibility in the southern half of the reservoir to muddy with less than a foot of visibility in the northern half. The surface temperature varied from 47 degrees to 52 degrees. According to the Texas Water Development Board, this reservoir’s water level was seven feet below normal.

“Except for an occasional open spot here and there, the thick stands of flooded timber and other submerged wood cover prevented us from using our Z-Man’s soft-plastic baits rigged on Gopher jigs with exposed hooks. Instead, we rigged most of our baits on Eagle Claw ball head jigs with a single wire weed guard.

“The fishing was horrid. Across the span of these trying four hours and 10 minutes, we worked hard to hook two largemouth bass, and one of those two bass, which was a large specimen, was able to break off in the maze of flooded timber.

“The large bass that broke off was hooked in eight feet of water in the southern half of the reservoir, and it was relating to a steep and rocky main-lake point that was embellished with thick stands of flooded timber, large boulders, stumps, brush piles, and scattered patches of brown pondweed. We enticed a second strike in this same area, but we were unable to hook that fish.

“We caught our one and only largemouth bass in the northern half of the reservoir. This bass was extracted from a steep and rocky main-lake shoreline in three to six feet of water.

Both of these largemouth bass were hooked on a 2 1/2-inch customized Z-Man’s California Craw FattyZ tube rigged on a black 1/16-ounce Eagle Claw weedless jig head and presented with a slow drag-and-shake retrieve. We enticed one strike with a Z-Man’s California Craw Hula StickZ rigged on a black 1/16-ounce Eagle Claw weedless jig head. We also tried an array of Z-Man’s 3 1/2-inch GrubZs, four-inch Finesse WormZs, Finesse ShadZs, 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZs, and 2 1/4-inch customized FattyZ tails, but to no avail.

“We also plied a riprap-covered dam which is situated along the east side of the reservoir, five heavily timbered and rocky main-lake points, one roadbed lined with thick stands of flooded timber, one main-lake channel bank, and one channel bank located in the mid-section of a cove, but these areas failed to yield any bass.

“As we were plying the roadbed lined with flooded timber, we spoke with a power fisherman who was loading his boat at a nearby boat ramp. He said he had wielded Rat-L-Traps, ChatterBaits, jig-and-pig combos, and soft-plastic lizards, but he did not receive a single strike all day.”

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Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, filed the following observations, which have been edited and condensed, on the Finesse News Network about his short Feb. 8 outing.

He wrote: The catch rates that you guys get in the Midwest have proven to be impossible for us down here. Occasionally we get flashes of the true potential of the Midwest finesse rig, but it is rare. In essence, our stained waters don’t have the number of largemouth bass that some of the waterways in northeastern Kansas have. There is simply too much space or water between each largemouth bass for us to catch 20 of them an hour.

But yesterday we had a nice 70-degree day and a brisk southwest and warm breeze that placed all of the largemouth bass in our pond in perfect position and attitude for a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig rigged on a Strike King Lure Company’s green-pumpkin-red-flake Zero to attract them.

We had family commitments for an afternoon at a circus. Our departure time was 11:30 a.m. So, I strolled down to the pond around 11:00 a.m. and fished for 30 minutes. During that spell, I fished only the wind-blown side, where I elicited 27 strikes and landed 22 largemouth bass and one bluegill.

These fish were extracted out of three feet of water, which was slightly deeper than I thought they would be.

Most of the largemouth bass engulfed the Zero and Gopher on the initial drop, and if they didn’t, I employed the late Charlie Brewer’s do-nothing retrieve.
In sum, it was an amazing catch for this pond, and the size of the fish was impressive, too. Once again, the 2 1/2-inch Zero and 1/16-ounce Gopher jig proved that it is the best bait in the world for catching pond bass.

Feb. 9 log

The ice has covered northeastern Kansas’ small flatland reservoirs three times this winter. The first covering occurred between Nov. 23, 2014 and Dec. 4, 2014. The second one began on Dec. 29, 2014, and that covering of ice disappeared on Jan. 28. The third coat of ice appeared on Ground Hog Day, and it melted during the nighttime hours of Feb. 7 and 8.

To celebrate the demise of our third covering of ice and the anniversary of the Feb. 9, 2012, outing when my cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I tangled with 118 largemouth bass in four hours at a 195-acre community reservoir, Rick and I returned to the site of that catch on Feb. 9, 2015.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, noted that it was 29 degrees at 5:52 a.m. and 43 degrees at 3:52 p.m. From midnight to 2:52 p.m., the wind angled out of the north and northeast at 6 to 10 mph, and for a two-hour span, it was variable at 6 to 7 mph. It was foggy and misty from 1:52 a.m. to 7:52 a.m., and then it was overcast and hazy from 8:52 a.m. to 3:52 p.m. The barometric pressure was 30.09 at 12:52 a.m., 30.18 at 5:52 a.m., 30.25 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.11 at 1:52 p.m.

The water level looked to be a tad above normal. The surface temperature was 40 degrees. The water clarity exhibited five to six feet of visibility.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would take place from 1:57 a.m. to 3:57 a.m. and 2:19 p.m. to 4:19 p.m. There was a minor period from 8:08 a.m. to 10:08 a.m. Rick and I fished from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

In short, it was not a reincarnation of February 9, 2012. Instead of catching 118 largemouth bass, we caught only 42 of them and inadvertently caught three gizzard shad, four crappie and seven wipers.

We spend three hours and 40 minutes dissecting a shallow and gigantic mud flat in the back end of a feeder-creek arm, which is where and how we fished three years ago. As we searched for patches of submerged vegetation and largemouth bass, the boat floated in three to 6 1/2 feet of water. During our search, we saw several dozen gizzard shad dimpling the surface, and Rick spotted one largemouth bass that was porpoising along the surface, but he could not detect if it was attempting to forage up a gizzard shad.

The bulk of the 42 largemouth bass were caught on a three-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

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One of the 42 largemouth bass that we caught.

The rest of them were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-red-glitter ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a customized 2 3/16-inch Z-Man’s Sprayed Grass FattyZ tube on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. These four combos were retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.
Across those three hours and 40 minutes, we examined an area that would encompass about seven football fields, and three of the football fields were explored several times. The majority of the fish were caught in an area that was the size of 1 1/4 football fields. There were spells when we would tangle with three largemouth bass in back-to-back casts.

During the last 20 minutes, we fished another mud flat, which is situated about halfway inside another feeder-creek arm. We quickly and rather unmethodically probed several large patches of submerged vegetation, while the boat floated in four to seven feet of water. We caught one largemouth bass on a three-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and we caught another one on the Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We retrieved these jigs with the slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Both largemouth bass were caught in four feet of water.

Throughout the four hours that we were afloat, one of us did a lot of strolling, but it was not an effective presentation. Thirty-two of the largemouth bass were caught during the first two hours, and during the last two hours, we struggled to locate and catch a dozen largemouth bass.

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Rick Hebenstreit with one of the crappie that we accidentally caught while we were fishing for largemouth bass.

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Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 9 outing:
He wrote: “I made a solo 40-mile sojourn to a 24,154-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir in north central Texas.

“The weather has been amazing for this time of year. The sun was ablaze in a beautiful indigo-blue sky. The National Weather Service recorded the high temperature for the day at 73 degrees and the low temperature was recorded at 51 degrees. The average high for this time of year is 59 degrees and the average low is 38 degrees. A light breeze angled out of the northwest at 5 to 10 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.16.

“The In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best fishing would take place from 2:05 a.m. to 4:05 a.m. and 2:27 p.m. to 4:27 p.m. A minor period would take place from 8:16 a.m. to 10:16 a.m. I was afloat from noon to 3:00 p.m.

“The water had a pleasant emerald-green hue with about four feet of visibility. The surface temperature ranged from 47 to 51 degrees. The water level was 7.90 feet below normal pool.

“I began the day by dissecting a 50-yard rock jetty adjacent to the boat ramp where I launched the boat. I wielded a 2 1/2-inch customized Z-Man’s Sprayed Grass FattyZ tube rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The customized FattyZ tube was primarily presented with a slow drag-and-shake retrieve, and the Finesse T.R.D. was primarily presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. I also slowly strolled both baits parallel to the jetty in 10 to 15 feet of water, but the jetty seemed bereft of bass.
“The next spot that I fished was at the mouth of a major feeder-creek arm, which is situated in the lower end of the reservoir’s east tributary arm. I fished a steep and rocky main-lake point and a shoreline that is graced with a submerged creek channel on the south side of this arm. The shoreline is enhanced with four stumps and several narrow ledges that drop off into 20 to 35 feet of water. I employed a 3 1/2-inch Z-man’s Blue Glimmer Sparkle GrubZ affixed to a blue 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, which I slowly strolled along the narrow ledges in 15 to 20 feet of water, and it failed to draw a strike. I also tried dragging, shaking, and occasionally hopping a Cabela’s 1/16-ounce black marabou hair jig with a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ trailer along the ledges of the channel and to the tip of the rocky main-lake point, but I was unable to coax a strike. I then slowly strolled the 2 1/2-inch customized Sprayed Grass FattyZ tube back and forth along the tip of the main-lake point in eight to 17 feet of water, but I failed to garner a strike.

“I then turned my attention to three steep and rocky bluffs and three boulder-laden secondary points located just north of the dam in the southeast portion of the reservoir. To help cover this large area in a reasonable amount of time, I elected to stroll the 3 1/2-inch Blue Glimmer Sparkle GrubZ and 2 1/2-inch customized Sprayed Grass FattyZ tube parallel to the bluffs and secondary points in 10 to 22 feet of water. The 3 1/2-inch GrubZ tricked one three-pound largemouth bass that was relating to the side of the first bluff in 12 feet of water. The other two bluffs and the three secondary points did not relinquish any other bites.

“During the past couple of months, the black bass fishing in north-central Texas has been exasperating and wretched, and today’s foray was no exception as I struggled to eke out just one largemouth bass.”

Feb. 10 log

My cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I ventured to a 100-acre community reservoir on Feb. 10. We had hopes of locating several aggregations of largemouth bass that were milling around shallow patches of coontail.

The last time that Rick and I fished this reservoir was on Dec. 9, 2014, when the surface temperature fluctuated from 39 to 40 degrees. During that four-hour outing, we extracted 46 largemouth bass from several shallow-water coontail patches. The last time that I fished it was on Dec. 29, 2014, when all of the shallow-water coontail patches were covered with ice, and I failed to garner a strike.

On Feb. 10, the National Weather Service at Olathe, Kansas, noted that it was 28 degrees at 7:53 a.m. and 51 degrees at 3:53 p.m. From 12:53 a.m. to 3:53 a.m., the sky was overcast, and after that, it was fair for the entire day. The wind angled out of the east at 10 to 12 mph, out of the southeast at 6 to 14 mph, and out of the south at 6 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.16 at 12:53 a.m., 30.11 at 5:52 a.m., 30.07 at 11:57 a.m., and 29.96 at 2:53 p.m.

The surface temperature was 40 degrees. The water level looked to be an inch or two above normal. The water clarity in the upper third of the reservoir exhibited a minor algae bloom, which intensified during our outing. The water clarity in the lower third of the reservoir had three to four feet of visibility.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would take place from 3:01 a.m. to 5:01 a.m. and 3:24 p.m. to 5:24 p.m. There was a minor period from 9:12 a.m. to 11:12 a.m. Rick and I were afloat from 9:55 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.
We were disappointed that we failed to replicate our rather fruitful Dec. 9 outing, but we were pleased that we didn’t duplicate my horrific solo outing on Dec. 29.

We spent the bulk of this four-hour-and-20-minute outing dissecting a massive mud flat in the upper reaches of this reservoir, where the coontail patches were winter-worn and coated with filamentous algae. In fact, all of the coontail patches that we fished were scraggly, but as the rays of the early-afternoon sun penetrated the water, some of the patches exhibited a tad more vibrancy than they did when we executed our first casts of the outing. But that vibrancy didn’t help our quest to tangle with unending numbers of largemouth bass.

On our third cast, we caught a largemouth bass from a coontail patch that was covered with four feet of water. It engulfed a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California Craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation. As this largemouth bass was lifted into the boat, we noticed that it was defecating some coontail. We have seen channel catfish excrete and regurgitate aquatic vegetation, but we have never seen a largemouth bass do it.

We caught two more largemouth bass around this patch of coontail, which is about the size of a tennis court. One of them was caught on a customized 2 3/16-inch Z-Man’s Mood Ring FattyZ tube affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The second one was caught on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California Craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Both baits were presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

This mud flat is about the size of 10 football fields, and we examined and fished an area that is the size of three football fields. Within the confines of these three football fields, we caught only six more largemouth bass.

Two of them were caught as we strolled a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California Craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig along scattered patches of coontail in about four feet of water, as the boat floated in six feet of water. Both of these largemouth bass were caught concurrently.

The other four largemouth bass were caught on a secondary point, where the boat floated in 7 to 10 feet of water. These bass were extracted out of four to five feet of water. Three of them were caught on a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig with a drag-and-shake presentation. One was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

One largemouth bass was caught while we strolled the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California Craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig along a rocky and steep shoreline. The boat floated in seven to 11 feet of water, and the largemouth bass was extracted out of about five feet of water.

Besides probing the coontail patches on the massive mud flat, we spent some time quickly fishing five points and four rocky shorelines in the upper third section of the reservoir, where we failed to elicit a strike.

During the last 15 minutes, we fished several coontail patches inside a small feeder-creek arm, where we caught three largemouth bass. One was caught on a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Another one was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California Craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The third one was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. All three of the largemouth bass were caught while we were executing the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. One was caught in about three feet of water, and two of them were caught in five to six feet of water.
In total, we caught only 13 largemouth bass. We suspect that the sorry state of the coontail patches at this reservoir might have adversely affected our abilities to locate and catch more than 13 largemouth bass.
Part way through this outing, when we were disheartened by the paltry fishing around the coontail patches, we attempted to emulate the Midwest finesse tactics of Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, who focuses on steep and rocky shorelines that grace the flatland reservoirs in central Indiana during the winter. But this tactic yielded only one largemouth bass.

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One of the 13 largemouth bass that we caught. This one was the only one that we caught along a steep and rocky shoreline.

Feb.11 log

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

He wrote: “North-central Texas enjoyed a sixth straight day of warm, spring-like weather. Feb. 11, however, was a bit cooler than the previous five days, but it was still very pleasant. There was no shortage of warm sunshine filling the light-blue sky. The morning low temperature was 50 degrees and the afternoon high warmed to a mild 67 degrees. During the morning hours, a mild-mannered breeze blew out of the northeast at 5 to 10 mph, but by mid-afternoon, the wind’s velocity steadily increased to a sustained 23 mph. The barometric pressure measured 29.94.

“After enduring two horrific outings at a 969-acre reservoir on Feb. 8, and a 24,154-acre reservoir on Feb. 9, where only one largemouth bass was caught during each outing, Rick Allen of Dallas, and I decided to take another crack at a couple of small and trying local municipal reservoirs. We hoped that our recent spell of warm weather had raised the water temperatures and improved the largemouth bass fishing in these two reservoirs.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar listed the best fishing periods occurring from 3:41 a.m.to 5:41 a.m. and 4:05 p.m. to 6:05 p.m. A minor period took place from 9:53 a.m. to 11:53 a.m. We fished from the banks of these two waterways from about 11:30 a.m. until about 4:00 p.m.

“Our first stop occurred at a particularly difficult 20-acre reservoir that is well known for keeping its largemouth bass population locked down tighter than the gold in the United States Bullion Depository at Ft. Knox, Kentucky.

“Rick and I have fished this reservoir for the past several winters, and until this past December, it has failed to surrender a single largemouth bass to us during the months of December, January, and February. But during a couple of outings at this reservoir in December 2014, I finally caught four largemouth bass that broke this exasperating and baffling trend for December. But my sudden success in December was short-lived, and by January 2015, this reservoir returned to its miserly ways and I failed to entice a single strike from this watershed.

“I last fished this reservoir on Jan. 20, and I failed to garner a single strike. But Rick and I were pleased to break this wretched wintertime trend a second time on our Feb. 11 foray, when we caught and released five very healthy and chunky largemouth bass.

“Our spinning rods sported the following lures: a 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s California Craw FattyZ tail section fastened to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was suspended about 24 inches below a rattling bobber, a Z-Man’s watermelon-red Finesse ShadZ rigged on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 1/2-inch customized Z-Man’s green pumpkin-orange FattyZ tube rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

“The water was stained with about 2 1/2 feet of visibility and the water level appeared to be normal. I was unable to measure the water’s temperature.

“We began by plying a steep, sand and gravel shoreline adjacent to a 75-foot fishing pier situated along the west side of the reservoir. We caught one chunky largemouth bass from four feet of water, and it was coaxed into striking the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ and slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

“We worked our way southward to the smooth concrete slab dam that forms the southern boundary of this reservoir. This structure surrendered one largemouth bass that was relating to the face of the dam in about three feet of water. This bass was also enticed by the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ and slow swim-glide-and shake presentation.

“We then fished the east shoreline, which is steep and curved, with one long, clay and gravel point that extends westward into the middle of the reservoir. A small brush pile is positioned on the south side of this point. We caught three largemouth bass along the first 30 yards of this shoreline, and they were dwelling in about four feet of water and between five and 10 feet from the water’s edge. The long clay and gravel point failed to yield any bass. One of these three bass was caught on the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ and slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The other two bass were fooled by the customized 2 1/2-inch green pumpkin-orange FattyZ tube and slow drag-and-shake presentation.

“The northern end of this reservoir is comprised of a large, shallow mud flat with tall stands of cattails lining its bank. It is a protected migratory waterfowl nesting area and we did not fish this area.

The second pond we visited is a small municipal reservoir, about the size of a football field. I last fished this reservoir with Norman Brown of Lewisville, on Feb. 7, and during the two hours that we fished this waterway, we could only muster three largemouth bass.

“I was pleased to see that the water conditions had changed since Feb. 7, when the water was muddy and visibility ranged from two to six inches. On Feb. 11, the water had cleared somewhat with 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The water level appeared to be about a foot high.

“To save time, Rick and I split this pond in half. Rick plied the northern and eastern sides, and I probed the south and western sides. Rick employed a 2 1/2-inch customized Z-Man’s green pumpkin-orange FattyZ tube threaded on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man’s California Craw Hula StickZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Both of these baits were implemented with a slow drag-and-shake presentation. I used a 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Chartreuse Sparkle GrubZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. donned on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. The GrubZ was presented with a slow and steady swimming retrieve, and the Finesse T.R.D. was worked in a slow swim-glide-and-shake manner. We were delighted to tangle with 14 largemouth bass but three of these 14 bass were able to extricate themselves from our lures before we could land them.

IMG_1503

Steve Reideler with one of the 19 largemouth bass that he and Rick Allen tangled with on Feb. 11.

“Two largemouth bass were caught along the eastern shoreline, which is steep and lined with mud. Both of these bass were abiding in four feet of water and were fooled by the 2 1/2-inch FattyZ tube.

“The reservoir’s northern shoreline is mostly a large and shallow mud flat. A concrete structure that surrounds a water outlet is positioned about midway down the shoreline, and it sits in about five feet of water. This shoreline surrendered two largemouth bass, and two others pulled free before they could be landed. Two bass were beguiled by the 2 1/2-inch customized FattyZ tube, and two of them were tricked by the Hula StickZ. All four of these bass were abiding in three to five feet of water and within 10 feet of the water’s edge.
“The southern shoreline is mostly shallow and enhanced with a decorative concrete and stone wall that borders a shallow mud point. The east end of this shoreline yielded four largemouth bass, but one came unfettered from my Finesse T.R.D. before I could land it. Two of these bass attacked the 3 1/2-inch GrubZ and the other two bass were enticed by the Finesse T.R.D. All four of these bass were extracted from three feet of water within five feet of the water’s edge. One bass was caught on the 3 1/2-inch GrubZ off the top of the mud point next to the decorative stonewall in about two feet of water.

“The western end of this reservoir is formed by a large spawning cove, and a large island is positioned near the mouth of this cove. Two creek channels run parallel to the island’s northern and southern shoreline, and for the first time since October 2014, I observed two pods of two and three inch bluegills hovering around several fist-sized rocks near the shoreline in the vicinity of the creek channel south of the island. I caught two largemouth bass that were milling about in five feet of water and about five feet away from the pods of bluegill. Both of these bass struck the 3 1/2-inch GrubZ. The last bass was caught off the tip of the northern entry point to the spawning cove, and it was attracted to the 2 1/2-inch customized FattyZ tube.

“Overall, we had a splendid outing for February. We hooked 19 largemouth bass and landed 16 of them. The quality of these bass was also pretty good, with six weighing over two pounds, and one weighing three pounds, three ounces. Only two bass were less than twelve inches in length.

“Five of these 19 bass were caught from one of our toughest wintertime venues, and these five bass are the first bass we have ever caught from that reservoir in the many Februarys that we have fished it.

“Six largemouth bass were caught on the 2 1/2-inch customized Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-orange FattyZ tube, four of them were allured by the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ, four were bewitched by the 3 1/2-inch Chartreuse Sparkle GrubZ; three largemouth bass were caught on Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D., and two of them were inveigled by Z-Man’s California Craw Hula StickZ. The bobber-rigged Z-Man’s watermelon-red FattyZ tail and Z-Man’s watermelon-red Finesse ShadZ failed to produce any strikes. The drag-and shake retrieve, swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and steady swimming retrieve were all effective presentations.”

Feb. 13 log

After Rick Hebensteit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I fished on Feb. 9 and 10, Mother Nature walloped us on Feb. 11 with a howling north wind with gusts that surpassed 30 mph, and that wind ushered in a frigid spell that caused area thermometers to plummet to 10 degrees and not climb above 30 degrees on Feb. 12. The cold spell faded on Feb. 13, and when area thermometers climbed above 32 degrees, I hitched up the boat trailer and headed to the boat ramp at a 195-acre community reservoir, where Rick Hebenstreit and I fished on Feb. 9 and caught 42 largemouth bass.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, noted that  it was 20 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 47 degrees at 3:52 p.m. From 12:52 a.m. to 10:52 a.m., the wind angled out of the southeast at 5 to 10 mph, out of the south at 6 mph, and out of the southwest at 9 mph, and from 12:52 p.m. to 3:52 p.m., it angled out of the west and northwest at 7 to 12 mph. The sky was occasionally graced with some cirrostratus clouds, but the sun was bright. The barometric pressure was 30.33 at 12:52 a.m., 30.25 at 5:52 a.m., 30.22 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.15 at 3:52 p.m.

The water level looked to be an inch or so above normal. There was about five feet of visibility. The surface temperature ranged from 38 to 39 degrees, and I had to break about 100 yards of thin ice to get into the back of one feeder-creek arm. Even though the water was ice cold, I witnessed several minor insect hatches. I also noticed that some of the curly-leaf pondweed was 10 to 12 inches long, while it was five to six inches long on our Feb. 9 outing.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing should occur from 5:28 a.m. to 7:28 a.m. and 5:55 p.m. to 7:55 p.m. And a minor period would happen from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. I fished from 11:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

I spent three hours and 10 minutes dissecting a massive and shallow mud flat in the back of a feeder-creek arm, where I failed to cross paths with an aggregation of largemouth bass. This flat is stippled with hundreds of square yards of curly-leaf pondweed patches, which are covered with three to five feet of water, and traditionally substantial numbers of largemouth bass mill around these patches of submerged vegetation during the winter. I methodically probed an area the size of 3 1/2 football fields by strolling a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a customized 2 3/16-inch Z-Man’s Junebug FattyZ tube on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The ZinkerZ rig inveigled one largemouth bass. The Finesse T.R.D caught three largemouth bass and inadvertently caught one crappie and one wiper. The FattyZ tube combo caught three largemouth bass, and it also hooked a humongous specimen, which liberated itself after a one-minute donnybrook, and I didn’t get to see it, but it seemed to be too hefty and powerful to be a largemouth bass. Three of the largemouth bass were caught in close proximity to one another, but the other four were separated by more than 50 yards. This flat is the same one where Rick Hebenstreit and I caught 40 of the 42 largemouth bass that we caught on Feb. 9. But it yielded only seven on Feb. 13.

I spent 35 minutes probing a shallow mud flat that lies about halfway inside another feeder-creek arm. This flat is graced with many patches of curly-leaf pondweed. At one location on this flat that is about the size of two big bass boats, I used a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve to catch five largemouth bass and a customized 2 3/16-inch Z-Man’s Junebug FattyZ tube on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve to catch one largemouth bass. These six largemouth bass were associated with a couple patches of curly-leaf pondweed that were covered with 4 1/2 feet of water.

After catching largemouth bass number 13 at 3:14 p.m., I called it a four-hour day.

As I was heading back to the boat ramp, I crossed paths with Steve Ortiz of Lawrence, Kansas, and we talked for a spell. He said that he had fished another feeder-creek arm with a clown-colored jerkbait. He fished the entire south shoreline, some portions of the mud flat in the back of that arm, and the entire north shoreline. He didn’t catch a largemouth bass until he arrived at a slight dent along the north shoreline, which is about halfway inside this arm, and it is endowed with several stumps, rocks, gravel, boulders, a ledge, and submerged vegetation. From this spot, his jerkbait inveigled three largemouth bass. Then as he progressed farther west along the north shoreline, he arrived at a steep, gravel, rocky, and boulder-ridden section that is situated about 50 yards from the mouth of this arm. Besides the gravel, rocks, and boulders, it is embellished with a few patches of Eurasian milfoil and curly-leaf pondweed, as well as a significant ledge that plummets into deep water. And along a 20-yard stretch of this shoreline, his jerkbait caught 14 largemouth bass. Ortiz called it our “old-time honey hole.”

Before this reservoir was waylaid by the largemouth bass virus, Ortiz and I, as well as several other anglers, used to waylay the wintertime largemouth bass along this steep and rocky shoreline, but it has been a rather fruitless locale for a long time. In fact, this entire feeder-creek arm has been unproductive for months on end. This time around, however, Ortiz and his clown-colored jerkbait caught 17 largemouth bass.
In short, I was befuddled during the entire four hours that I searched in vain for one or two sizable aggregations of largemouth bass that normally inhabit the shallow mud flats that are littered with patches of submerged aquatic vegetation. And after I talked to Steve Ortiz about where and how he found and caught 17 largemouth bass, I became even more befuddled by what is transpiring with the wintertime largemouth bass in northeastern Kansas.

The weather forecasters are predicting that the next seven days will be wintry affairs, which will keep northeastern Kansas anglers at bay and might cover some of our reservoirs with some ice, which would be the fourth time this winter. Thus, I will have plenty of time to ponder about the goings on of the largemouth bass at this reservoir, and those ponderings should provoke me to fish differently than I did on Feb 13.

 

DSCN0624

In some gardens around northeastern Kansas, the snowballs were blooming on Feb. 13, and here are some of the snowdrops that adorned the gardens at our home in Lawrence, Kansas. The leaves of the daffodils were also protruding several inches above the above the soil in our gardens, too. And as I drove to the boat ramp, I noticed three dead skunks. In winters past, the largemouth bass that abide in the small flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas have begun to abandon their wintertime habitats and habits, when the snowballs bloom, daffodil leaves appear, and skunk carcasses litter the roadways. And perhaps that is what transpired on Feb. 13, when I struggled to catch 13 largemouth bass. Years ago, when I was a young angler, I dismissed these kinds of observations as meaningless wives’ tales. But as I have become an old man, I have begun to view them through a different set of lenses, and consequently they don’t appear as meaningless as I once thought they were.

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Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 13 outing.

He wrote: “Our week of spring-like weather will be coming to an end shortly. Local television meteorologists forecast another round of cold, wintry weather that will hit north-central Texas during the evening hours of Feb. 15. But on Feb. 13, a warm and radiant sun glowed in a partly cloudy sky. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 41 degrees and the afternoon high climbed to 68 degrees. The wind quartered out of the southwest at 10 to 15 mph. The barometric pressure was high at 30.38.

“I spent the afternoon on a solo excursion at a 21,280-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir that frustrates and baffles me and many other anglers during the cold-water months of December, January, and February.

“I was afloat from about noon to 4:00 p.m. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the optimum fishing periods would take place from 5:20 a.m. to 7:20 a.m. and 5:47 p.m. to 7:47 p.m. A minor period would occur from 11:07 a.m. to 1:07 p.m.

“I last fished this reservoir on Jan. 27, and during that exasperating three-hour outing, I could only conjure up two freshwater drum.

“The water clarity in the southwest arm of this reservoir was muddy and exhibited one foot of visibility, and it was stained with two feet of visibility in the southern portion of the reservoir. The water temperature ranged from 50 to 52 degrees. The reservoir’s water level was 7.05 feet below normal pool.

“I started the afternoon by plying a 600-yard section of the riprap-laden dam, which forms the southern boundary of the reservoir. I employed a 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Chartreuse Sparkle GrubZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch customized Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-orange FattyZ tube rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. I used all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves with all four of these lures, and after 97 minutes, I could only entice one freshwater drum from six feet of water along the face of the dam, and it engulfed the 3 1/2-inch GrubZ, which was presented with a slow and steady swimming retrieve.

“After I fished the face of the dam, I spent some time probing a main-lake rocky point and an adjacent steep gravel and clay main-lake shoreline, which is situated along the south side of the reservoir’s southwestern tributary arm. I employed the Coppertreuse  Finesse T.R.D. with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation, and 3 1/2-inch GrubZ presented with a slow, steady swimming retrieve, but these two areas failed to yield a strike.

“I then plied two bridge embankments and eight concrete bridge support pilings in this southwestern arm. I utilized the 3 1/2-inch GrubZ and slow swimming retrieve, and 2 1/2-inch customized FattyZ tube implemented with a drag-and-shake presentation, and I failed to entice any strikes.

“After I finished fishing the two bridge embankments and concrete support pillars, I decided to dissect several covered boat docks, two steep clay and rocky shorelines that border a creek channel, and five steep and rocky secondary points situated inside a large cove. This cove lies along the southern shoreline of the southwestern tributary arm.

“I failed to find any black bass relating to the covered boat docks or five secondary points. But I caught three largemouth bass from one channel bank, and one largemouth bass from the second channel bank. All four of these bass were milling about in four to seven feet of water along the steep sides of the channel banks. All four of these bass were allured by the customized 2 1/2-inch  green-pumpkin-orange FattyZ tube with a slow drag-and-shake retrieve.

“In sum, I eked out four largemouth bass and one freshwater drum during this four-hour outing. The four largemouth bass were caught on the customized 2 1/2-inch green-pumpkin-orange FattyZ tube and slow drag-and-shake retrieve. The 3 1/2-inch Chartreuse Sparkle GrubZ, which was presented with a slow and steady swimming retrieve, caught the freshwater drum. The 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ and Coppertreuse T.R.D. failed to produce any strikes.”

Feb. 16 log

Here is a condensed version of a log that Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, filed on the Finesse News Network on Feb. 16:

After the ice went out on Feb. 14-15, I went belly-boat fishing three times during the week of Feb. 15-21. I fished three ponds. Two of them were the same ones that were featured in my Jan. 31 log. Here is a link to that log: http://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/midwest-finesse-fishing-january-2015/.

My primary purpose was to give a drop-shot rig a fair trial at these three ponds. All three ponds have significant vegetation and some filamentous algae issues that can be frustrating when we use a Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig.

Across the years, I have clipped many articles about drop-shot fishing, and I decided to follow the advice of Aaron Martens of Leeds, Alabama, who is extremely knowledgeable about the merits of the rig and how to employ it.

I used three different Z-Man baits on my drop-shot rig: Finesse WormZ, Finesse T.R.D., and Hula StickZ.

On my 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ, I used either a Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. or a New Money Finesse T.R.D.

During each of these three outings, I fished two hours, which was all my old feet could take in the ice-cold water. Throughout the six hours that I was afloat, I made an equal number of casts with a drop-shot rig and with a Finesse ShroomZ rig, which was accomplished by making 10 casts with a drop-shot rig, and then making 10 casts with a Finesse ShroomZ rig. I conducted this orderly routine for 120 minutes during of the each outings.

Many of the articles I read noted that Aaron Martens would cast his drop-shot rig onto the shoreline and drag it into the water, and his leader was three inches or shorter. I was just trying to compare Martens’ shallow-water methods with a drop-shot rig to what we do with a Finesse ShroomZ rig.

I am not experienced with the drop-shot rig. But I was shocked by the results. I caught 60 largemouth bass, and even though I made the same number of casts with the drop-shot rig as I did with the Finesse ShroomZ rig, the drop-shot rig caught only nine largemouth bass. The best drop-shot bait was the Hula Stick, and it caught six of the nine. The best leader length was about four-inches.

Feb. 18 log

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

He wrote: “North-central Texas is enjoying another five-day warm-up after a short three day spell of cold weather. Feb. 18 was mild and pleasant. The sun glowed radiantly in the cloudless sky. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 32 degrees and the afternoon high temperature slowly climbed to 57 degrees. A mild-mannered breeze meandered out of the north-by-northeast at 4 to 8 miles per hour. The barometric pressure was high at 30.27.

“I made a solo foray to a 21,280-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir. I last fished this reservoir on Feb. 13. During that four-hour undertaking, I labored to catch just four largemouth bass and one freshwater drum.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted the best fishing would occur from 9:40 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. and 10:09 p.m. to 12:09 a.m. A minor period took place from 3:26 a.m. to 5:26 a.m. I fished from noon until 4:00 p.m.

“The water was dingy. The clarity varied from one to one and a half feet of visibility. The water temperature ranged from 49 degrees to 53 degrees. The water level was 7.07 feet below normal.

“I suffered through another vexing afternoon of wintertime black bass fishing in north central Texas, which typically confounds even the most astute and skillful anglers hereabouts. During this four-hour outing, I could only muster two largemouth bass.

“Both of the largemouth bass were caught inside a large main-lake cove in the southwestern portion of the reservoir. One bass was caught on a small rocky secondary point situated along the cove’s southern shoreline, and the other bass was caught on a steep rocky bank along the east side of the cove. Both of these bass were dwelling in seven to 10 feet of water and were coaxed into striking a customized 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-orange FattyZ tube rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and presented with a slow drag-and-shake retrieve.

“I also plied two other main-lake coves and nine secondary points that lie inside those two coves, one main-lake bluff, four steep and rocky main-lake points, two 50-yard sections of a riprap-covered shoreline, and two main-lake mud and gravel flats. All of these areas failed to yield a strike.

“I also utilized a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin GrubZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. These baits were employed with all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves, but I was unable to generate any other strikes.”

Feb. 21 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 21 bank-walking outing with a friend who is a novice angler, and it was a remarkably fruitful endeavor for a wintertime excursion in north-central Texas.

Reideler wrote: “For the past few days, north-central Texas has been savoring another streak of unseasonably warm temperatures. Feb. 21, however, started off a bit chilly and cloudy, and by midafternoon, the weather conditions improved when the clouds broke apart and the sun began to shine. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 41 degrees and the afternoon high temperature climbed to 59 degrees. The average high for this day is 62 degrees and the average low is 41 degrees. A blustery wind quartered out of the northeast at 10 to 20 mph. The barometric pressure was measured at 29.96.

“Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas, joined me for an afternoon of bank walking at two local community reservoirs. Norman is a newcomer to bass fishing. His first bass fishing venture occurred on Feb. 7, when he and I managed to land 13 largemouth bass.

“According to the In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing would take place from 12:10 a.m. to 2:10 a.m. and 12:37 p.m. to 2:37 p.m. A minor period would occur from 6:23 a.m. to 8:23 a.m. We were afoot from about noon to 5:00 p.m., but we took about an hour break during the middle of the afternoon.

“We started this afternoon undertaking at a reservoir that is about the size of a football field, which traditionally has been a problematic waterway for catching wintertime largemouth bass.

“When Norman and I fished it on Feb. 7, we caught four largemouth bass. But on our Feb. 21 outing, we wielded a slew of Z-Man plastic baits on a variety of colors and sizes of Gopher jigs, and we tangled with only one largemouth bass.

“The water was dingy with about 1 1/2 feet of clarity. The water level appeared to be about normal. We did not have the means to measure the water’s temperature.
“We began plying the steep mud shoreline along the east side of this reservoir. It failed to yield a strike.

“We then fished our way westward along the northern shoreline, which is comprised of a large and shallow mud flat with a water outlet positioned about halfway down this shoreline and sits in about five feet of water. We failed to entice a strike.

“Then we fished the large spawning cove that forms the western end of this reservoir. The north shoreline of this cove surrendered one two-pound, five-ounce largemouth bass that was located about five feet from the water’s edge in four feet of water. It was caught on a 3 1/2-inch Zoom Bait Company’s Black-Blue Claw Lil’ Critter Craw rigged on a chartreuse Gopher jig, and it was retrieved with a slow drag-and-shake presentation. A small glass rattle was inserted into the head section of the bait. The remainder of the cove failed to yield any other bass.

“After we finished fishing the spawning cove, we dissected this reservoir’s south shoreline, which is shallow and enhanced with a decorative concrete and stone wall that borders a shallow mud point. We failed to garner any strikes from this shoreline. After we finished fishing this reservoir, we took about an hour break before we proceeded to the second reservoir.

“The second reservoir we visited is about 12-acres in size. Similar to the first reservoir that we fished, this one has also been an exasperating and unfruitful waterway in December, January, and February. But this winter, it has become our most productive wintertime venue. Norman and I fished it on Feb. 7, and we were delighted to tangle with 12 largemouth bass. And during this Feb. 21 outing, it was even more bountiful, relinquishing 23 largemouth bass.

“The water was muddy with about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The water level appeared to be normal.

“We caught two largemouth bass that were scattered along the south shoreline, and they were situated along a three-foot ledge that extends outward from the water’s edge. Both of these bass were coaxed into striking a customized 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ tube rigged on a purple 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and presented in a slow drag-and-shake manner.

“We then targeted a cove on the southeast portion of this reservoir. The shoreline is steep and consists of rock and clay. A small creek channel winds its way from the northeast corner of the cove to the southeast side of the cove. A large mud and gravel point lies at the mouth of this cove. The southeast end of the creek channel yielded one largemouth bass, and it was caught in five feet of water on a customized 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ tail section rigged on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a slow drag-and-shake presentation.

“We found a rare and large aggregation of largemouth bass along the creek channel in the northeastern end of this cove. This area relinquished 18 largemouth bass that were relating to the west side of the creek channel in three to six feet of water. Ten bass were attracted to the customized 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ tube and eight bass were allured by the customized 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ tail section. Both of these lures were retrieved with a drag-and-shake presentation, and three of these bass engulfed the customized 2 1/4-inch FattyZ tail as it sank to the bottom on the initial cast.

“We fished the south side of a long sand, gravel, and rocky point that extends westward from the east shoreline, and this point separates the southeast cove from a cove in the northeastern region of the reservoir. The tip of this point yielded one largemouth bass that engulfed the customized 2 1/4-inch FattyZ tail in five feet of water. The south side and north side of the point failed to surrender any bass.

“After we fished the south side of the point, Norman had to leave, but I continued to fish. I fished the northeastern cove, which is formed by a large mud flat and embellished with a small ditch that courses through the middle of the cove from the east shoreline toward the west shoreline. I was unable to locate any bass on the shorelines or along the creek channel.

“After checking out the northeast cove, I turned my attention to the reservoir’s north shoreline, which was sheltered from the wind. A three foot rock and clay ledge extends outward from the water’s edge and drops off into five feet of water. This shoreline yielded just one largemouth bass, and it was relating to the deep-water side of the ledge in five feet of water. It was caught on the customized 2 1/4-inch FattyZ tail and drag-and-shake retrieve.
“I also plied the west shoreline of this reservoir, which is similar to the north bank, and it failed to yield any strikes.

“All told, we had what we consider a splendid wintertime outing by catching 24 largemouth bass during four hours of fishing. Twelve largemouth bass were inveigled by the customized 2 1/2-inch Z-man’s black-blue flake FattyZ tube, 11 bass were attracted to the customized 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s black-blue flake FattyZ tail section; and one was caught on a 3 1/2-inch Zoom Black-Blue Claw Lil’ Critter Craw. The most productive presentation was a slow drag-and-shake retrieve.
North-central Texas is about to be pummeled by a major cold front during the evening hours of Feb. 22, which will usher in cold rain, sleet, and then ice. This cold spell may keep us at bay until the first of March.

 

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Norman Brown with one of the 24 largemouth bass that he and Steve Reideler caught on Feb. 21.

 

 

Feb. 20-22 log

Walt Tegtmeier of Leawood, Kansas, fled the frozen waterways of northeastern Kansas and headed to a 2,080-acre riverine reservoir in southern Missouri where he used a tactic we call bass fishing for trout, which is accomplished by wielding a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig affixed to a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ on spinning outfits. Here is a condensed version of the report that he filed on the Finesse News Network about his and a friend’s endeavors:

On Feb. 20, they fly fished instead of bass fished for trout. They plied the upper reaches of this 22-mile-long reservoir, and the area that they fished was a 3 1/2-mile stretch that is demarcated as a trophy area, where anglers cannot use live, scented, or soft-plastic baits, and all rainbow trout between 12 and 22 inches must be released, and all brown trout under 20 inches must be released.  Their fly rod undertakings yielded 75 rainbow trout, and Tegtmeier described it as a delightful four hours, but those four hours were all they could tolerate because it was so cold and windy.

On Feb. 21, they were plagued by battery woes in their boat, and they didn’t get afloat until noon. Once they were afloat, they fished a little more than four hours, and they about probed seven miles of the reservoir that lies below the trophy area.  They worked with the following baits: a variety of 1/8-ounce  marabou jigs, 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and their flyrod setups from the previous day. The ZinkerZ combos produced the bulk of the 60-plus rainbow trout and half a dozen brown trout that they caught. Tegtmeier said: “In the past, I have found the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ to not be a great numbers trout bait, but a producer of bigger fish. It was also the first time the ZinkerZ has done well for us when they weren’t running water. But alas, no big ones this trip.”  He presented the ZinkerZ with a variety of retrieves, depths, and locales.

On Feb. 22, Tegtmeier said he wielded the ZinkerZ and Gopher jig the entire morning in hopes of catching one big trout, which he failed to do. However, he said, “I caught a very nice brown on my first cast, and two casts later had something destroy my leader like it wasn’t even there, without me even setting the hook. My partner stubbornly stayed with a sculpin/ginger marabou jig all morning. At one point, I caught rainbows on 17 consecutive casts on the ZinkerZ. It was difficult to keep count, but we finished with at least 60.”

Although they were bass fishing for trout, they failed to catch a largemouth bass.  One of the reasons why they didn’t tangle with a largemouth bass stems from the fact that the preponderance of the largemouth bass reside in the lower portions of this reservoir, and Tegtmeier and his friend plied its upper-third portions.

“It is a lot easier to deal with winter when one has open water and biting fish nearby. I’ve been demoralized ever since we got back into town. Hoping for a thaw soon, as I know we all are.”

(For some insights about bass fishing for trout, please examine the stories at both of these links: http://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/bass-fishing-for-trout/ and http://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/bass-fishing-for-trout-2014/)

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Walt Tegtmeier with one of the many rainbow trout that he and a friend caught on Feb. 20, 21, and 22.

 

Endnotes

(1) Readers of these monthly guides to Midwest finesse fishing are well aware of the many words that Steve Reideler writes about his efforts, as well as the efforts of Rick Allen of Dallas and Ralph Manns of Rockwall, Texas, to catch the Guadeloupe bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass that reside in the reservoirs that embellish the countryside of north-central Texas and stretching down into the waterways in the Hill Country portions of the state. Because of Reideler’s insightful contributions, we have become poignantly aware of how problematic the black bass fishing is in Texas. And before he and Allen became devotees of Midwest finesse tactics in August of 2013, their outings were extremely unrewarding.

At the end of February,  Reideler filed an interesting and short synopsis on the Finesse News Network about the numbers of black bass that he and his colleagues caught jointly during the first 59 days of 2015.

He wrote: “I checked my records, which revealed that we are catching more bass this winter than last, but our numbers are still paltry compared to what most anglers would consider good fishing.

“These records show that in January of 2014 we caught 24 bass in 34.5 hours of fishing, which was a new January numbers record for us. In January of 2015, we set a new record by catching 32 bass in 30.5 hours.

“In February of 2014, we set another record by catching 35 bass during 30.5 hours of fishing. During February of 2015, we have surpassed the 2014 record by catching 68 bass during 28 hours of fishing.

“I must note that my records do not reflect the nine black bass that Rick Allen caught at a river in the Hill Country in January of 2015, and they don’t include the nine black bass he and his grandson caught on Feb 17. I am counting only the black bass that either Rick Allen, Norman Brown, or Ralph Manns and I caught during our joint outings.

“We are seeing an increase in our wintertime catch rates because we are beginning to figure out how, when, and where to catch the largemouth bass that reside in three small community reservoirs that have been fruitless and frustrating waterways for us across the many winters that we have fished them.

“Furthermore, we have come to the realization that our larger reservoirs are not fruitful venues during the winter, but we continue to fish them occasionally. This winter, we have shifted our focus to smaller reservoirs, which contain fewer than 700 acres of water. Some of them are graced with aquatic vegetation, and some of them are not. And not all of them have been fruitful. Ultimately, we hope to create a list of fruitful wintertime waterways to concentrate on in the future and waste less time at the unfruitful ones.”

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