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Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, with one of  the 25 largemouth bass that he and Rick Allen of Dallas caught on Feb. 28.

The notion that quantity has a quality of its own lies at the heart of the perspectives of many Midwest finesse anglers. This is why these anglers prefer to catch 25 small largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, or spotted bass an hour rather than catching one or two lunkers an hour. This fascination with quantity becomes even keener as some of us Midwest finesse anglers reach the geriatric stage of their careers. This is not to say that old-timers, which I am, don’t relish tangling with a five-pound or bigger largemouth or smallmouth bass, or spotted bass. But day in and day out, it is more entertaining for us old-timers to elicit scores of strikes and hook scores of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass in an hour than just one or two big ones. (Of course, back in our macho years, we used to relish catching the big ones, and occasionally we even uttered words of disdain when we caught little black bass, calling then dinks, and some of us would use even more disparaging words.) In essence, as we have aged, we have gradually returned to the perspectives that we possessed during our preadolescent days. Back in those days of our youth boredom quickly erupted, and to keep it at bay, we had to be entertained by catching fish at a hand-over-fist pace. This return to that perspective is another manifestation of life’s great and marvelous cycle, and I am thankful for it.

Throughout the 29 days of February of 2016, Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas found that quantity, as well as quality, were impossible to attain. And from the perspective of my 75-year-old eyes, it was a sorry sight, and it was a tad frustrating, and it was more than a touch boring.

Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, was one of the fortunate ones; he escaped from this February’s doldrums. For years on end, he has never relished February in Kansas. So, this time around he and his wife, Jeanne, spent some of those days in the Florida Keys, where he employed Midwest finesse tactics in saltwater. And on one outing, he caught 13 species and 104 fish in two hours and 33 minutes, which in his eyes was a manifestation of the notion that quantity has a quality of its own. (For more information, please read his Feb. 12 log. This is also the same Drew Reese who took some of our old-time Midwest finesse tactics to compete at the first Bassmaster Classic at Lake Mead, Nevada, in 1971, which was the first time those Western largemouth bass had crossed paths with any sort of finesse tactics.)

In addition to the February woes that sullied the Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas, our brethren in North Carolina and north-central Texas suffered through similar February miseries.

We had a few minor successes, but this February guide is more about how we toiled and failed. It is important to read and ponder about how, when, and where we failed; it teaches us a lot about the art and quasi-science of fishing.

This February guide to Midwest finesse fishing contains 18 logs and 15,265 words that describe the piscatorial perceptions and undertakings of Rick Allen of Dallas; Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas; Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas; Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas; Preston Parks of Pittsboro, North Carolina; Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina; Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas; Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas; Joel Schroeder of Overland Park, Kansas; John Thomas of Denton, Texas; as well as my northeastern Kansas logs.

As always, we are thankful that Steve Reideler proof read all of the logs and words. He made them more readable and understandable.

Feb. 1 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his bank-walking endeavors with John Thomas of Denton at two community reservoirs situated in two northwestern suburbs of Dallas.

Here is an edited version of his report:

The sky conditions varied from clear to overcast to partly cloudy. The Weather Underground recorded the morning low temperature at 50 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature was 68 degrees. The barometric pressure measured 29.07 at 11:30 a.m. and 28.86 at 4:30 p.m. A robust wind quartered out of the southeast at 15 to 25 mph.
In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the most fruitful fishing periods would occur from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., 10:41 a.m. to 12:41 p.m., and 4:52 p.m. to 6:52 p.m.

John and I began the outing at a 20-acre community reservoir. We fished it from about 11:45 a.m. to about 2:45 p.m. Until this winter, this reservoir has been our most challenging wintertime venue since we began fishing it in 2003. Now it is our most fruitful one.

We started fishing a deep pool in the upper section of a small feeder creek that lies along the northeast end of the reservoir. This pool is about 50 feet long and about 30 feet wide. The mid-section of the pool is about five feet deep. The bottom is comprised of clay, gravel, and large rocks. The east side of the pool is lined with thick stands of cattails. The west side is strewn with basketball-size rocks.

The water in this pool was stained and exhibited about a foot of visibility. A moderately-paced current flowed through the creek at a faster rate than usual. We were unable to measure the water temperature.

We caught 29 largemouth bass, and we incidentally caught 10 green sunfish and one bluegill from this pool. The vast majority of these fish were associated with the large rocks that lie on the bottom of the pool in about five feet of water. Another seven largemouth bass were able to liberate themselves before we could bring them to hand.

We used a variety of Z-Man Fishing Products’ soft-plastic baits and Gopher Tackle’s Mushroom Head jigs. Six largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man’s Christmas-hue Scented LeechZ rigged on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Six were caught on a 2 1/4-inch tail section of a Z-Man’s Junebug FattyZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Another six were caught on a customized 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Junebug FattyZ tube affixed on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Four were caught on a Z-Man’s black-gold-flake Scented LeechZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Another four were cauht on a customized 2 3/4-inch Z-Man’s Canada Craw EZ TubeZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Three were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rigged on a brown 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. All of these lures were presented with a slow hop-bounce-and-deadstick retrieve. The deadstick portion of the retrieve spanned five to 10 seconds, and occasionally, we shook the bait while it rested on the bottom. We also experimented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve and a drag-and-shake retrieve, but they failed to garner any strikes.

After we finished fishing the feeder creek, we checked the main-lake portion of the reservoir, which has not yielded a bass since Jan. 1. We began on the eastern shoreline. We plied two main-lake points and a shallow mud flat with a ditch that courses across the flat on the southeast corner of the reservoir. One of the two points relinquished two largemouth bass that were abiding in about four feet of water along the wind-swept side of the point. Both of these bass were caught on the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig and a slow drag-and-shake retrieve. The second point and the mud flat area failed to yield any bass.

We then worked our way along a concrete slab dam that forms the southern border to the reservoir, and we failed to elicit any strikes.

On the west side, we plied two steep sand and gravel shorelines, where we failed to elicit a strike. We observed a power fisherman fishing portions of this shoreline and the dam area with a large jerkbait, and we did not see him catch a fish.

After we finished fishing the 20-acre reservoir, we spent an hour dissecting a small two-acre community reservoir. We fished this reservoir from about 3:45 p.m. to about 4:45 p.m., and it surrendered only four largemouth bass.

The north shoreline of the reservoir is straight and borders a shallow mud flat. A small feeder creek enters the reservoir from the west end of this shoreline, and we caught one largemouth bass that was residing in four feet of water in the mouth of the creek.

The west side of the reservoir is mostly shallow with several stands of cattails that line the shoreline. We failed to elicit any strikes from this area.

The south end of this reservoir consists of a decorative concrete and stone dam that is about eight feet high. The entire bottom area around the dam is covered with softball size rocks and is enhanced with a brush pile and two submerged rock piles. This area also failed to yield any bass.

The east shoreline is steep, curved, and adorned with several stands of cattails and a few scattered and partially submerged tree limbs. This area surrendered three largemouth bass that were relating to two small tertiary points in five feet of water.

These four largemouths were enticed into striking the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed on a brown 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and retrieved with a slow drag-and-shake presentation.

Overall, it was a fun and fruitful outing for the first day of February. John and I tangled with 35 largemouth bass, 10 large green sunfish, and one bluegill during this four-hour outing. We caught several nice-size largemouth bass, but the majority of them were small. The largest one weighed a couple of pounds. Nonetheless, they kept us entertained with their shenanigans; so we won’t complain.

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Steve Reideler with one of the 35 largemouth bass that he and John Thomas caught on Feb. 1.

Feb 2 log

Bill Beach of Topeka, Kansas, sent me an email on Feb. 2, reporting that the ice was disappearing on the community reservoir where he lives. And Kyle Markham of Lawrence, Kansas, telephoned me around 10:00 a.m. and reported that the ice was virtually off of the community reservoir where his family lives, but he noted that the water was still murky from the residue of El Niño’s wrath.

Every winter Markham’s reservoir is traditionally the site of our first ice-off outing, and when we are celebrating the end of the ice season in northeastern Kansas, a friend and I have occasionally caught 101 or more largemouth bass in four hours by wielding a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ affixed on a Gopher jig or a Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZ on a Gopher jig. At ice out, we ply patches of curly-leaf pondweeds in three to six feet of water on the flats in the back of the feeder-creek arms. This is where I fished on Feb. 2

The National Weather Service reported that it was 39 degrees at 3:52 a.m. and 53 degrees at 12:52 p.m. Throughout the entire 24 hours of Feb. 2, the wind was horrendous, angling out of the east at 16 to 28 mph, out of the southeast at 12 mph, out of the south at 12 to 32 mph, out of the southwest at 16 to 37 mph, out of the west at 13 mph, and out of the northwest at 24 to 32 mph. It rained and thundered; it was sunny; it was partly cloudy; it was mostly cloudy; and it was overcast. The barometric pressure was 29.65 at 12:52 a.m., 29.40 at 5:52 a.m., 29.38 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.35 at 1:52 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing might occur from 5:07 a.m. to 7:07 a.m., 5:31 p.m. to 7:31 p.m., and 11:19 p.m. to 1:19 a.m. I fished from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

The water level looked to be about a foot above normal. The water clarity ranged from being murky in one area to being stained in another area. The visibility in the murky-water areas was less than three inches. Around the stained water-areas, the visibility was about 10 inches in the stained water. The water clarity at many of the spots where we normally catch ice-off largemouth bass was very murky. The back 10 percent of one of the reservoir’s four feeder-creek arms was covered with ice, and the back of another one had a couple of big sheets of ice floating about. The surface temperature ranged from 37 to 39 degrees. Ranks of white caps covered the reservoir’s main body.

There were some curly-leaf pondweeds floating on the surface at the back of one feeder-creek arm, but I did not find any significant patches at the traditional ice-off lairs. Some of those lairs were partially sheltered from the wind, but it was swirling everywhere, which adversely affected my ability to execute an alluring presentation with a Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.  I even strolled both of those baits for many minutes across many square yards of a massive mud flat in search of largemouth bass abiding in burgeoning patches of curly-leaf pondweed, and I failed to elicit a strike.  But somehow I did manage to catch one largemouth bass by dragging and slightly shaking a Z-Man’s pearl Rain MinnowZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig across a rock pile in six feet of water. That was the only strike I encountered.

The combination of murky and ice-cold water and the horrendous wind and my inability to locate and allure more than one largemouth bass made for a rather dismal ice-off celebration.

Feb. 5 log

Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I ventured to a heavily fished community reservoir that lies in the western suburbs of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 23 degrees at 5:53 a.m. and 41 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The wind was mild-mannered and variable, angling out of the north by northeast at 4 to 6 mph, out of the east by southeast at 3 to 4 mph, out of the east at 3 mph, out of the southeast at 5 to 8 mph, out of the south at 4 to 6 mph, and at times it was calm. The sky fluctuated from being overcast to being clear to being partly cloudy to being mostly cloudy. The barometric pressure was 30.38 at 12:53 a.m., 30.41 at 5:53 a.m., 30.43 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.34 at 2:53 p.m. For the first hour of this outing, ice formed on our guides, and my fingers were ice cold.

The water level looked to be a few inches above normal. The water clarity at the dam exhibited about three feet of visibility and the visibility fluctuated from 1 1/2 to two feet on the mud flats in the upper reaches of the reservoir’s primary feeder-creek arm. The surface temperature ranged from 37 to 39 degrees, and throughout the outing, we crossed paths with many sheets of ice. In fact, Rick had to land one largemouth bass by dragging it across a sheet of ice that floated next to the boat as he was battling with that bass.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing might occur from 7:22 a.m. to 9:22 a.m., 7:49 p.m. to 9:49 p.m., and 1:08 a.m. to 3:08 a.m. We fished from 10:15 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

We fished nine areas, and at six of the nine, we failed to garner a strike.

One relatively steep shoreline along the east side of the upper portions of the reservoir yielded one largemouth bass, which was caught on a 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a drag-and-subtle-shake presentation. This largemouth bass was extracted out of five feet of water and many yards from the water’s edge. Along this shoreline, the boat floated in five to 16 feet of water, and when we caught that largemouth bass, the boat was floating in eight feet of water.

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Rick Heberstreit with the first largemouth bass of the outing. It took us almost two hours to catch it.

We caught 12 largemouth bass from a coontail patch about the size of a tennis court that lies on a massive flat along the east side of the upper portions of the reservoir. The boat was floating in seven to 11 feet of water. These largemouth bass were extracted out of four to seven feet of water. They were caught on either a three-inch or a 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. One largemouth bass engulfed the Hula StickZ on the initial drop. Three of them were caught when we were strolling and subtly shaking the Hula StickZ rig. Several of them were caught while we were employing the drag-and-slight-shake retrieve. A few of them were caught when we executed an extremely slow-paced swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve. Two were caught while we were retrieving the Hula StickZ rig with a drag-and-deadstick presentation. We also garnered five strikes; two of them we failed to hook, and three of them liberated themselves before we could see them.

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One of the 12 largemouth bass that we caught out of the tennis-court-size patch of coontail.

About 75 yards south of the tennis-court-size patch of coontail, where we caught 12 largemouth bass, we caught one largemouth bass by dragging and shaking the three-inch Hula StickZ rig in three to four feet of water around some coontail. The boat was floating in six feet of water.

We failed to elicit a strike along the riprap of the dam and a coontail flat adjacent to it. We failed to garner a strike on a coontail flat about halfway inside a secondary feeder-creek arm, and nearly 60 percent of this feeder creek was covered with a thin sheet of ice. We fished two coontail-laden flats along the west side of the upper portions of the reservoir, which failed to yield a strike. We failed to elicit a strike along a steep shoreline on the west side in the upper portions of the reservoir. An offshore hump in the middle of the primary feeder-creek arm in the upper reaches of the reservoir failed to yield a strike. A coontail patch that was surrounded by sheets of ice in the middle of a massive and shallow flat in the upper reaches of the reservoir did not yield a strike.

We elicited one strike on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, but we failed to land and see this fish. We failed to elicit a strike on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We failed to elicit a strike on a three-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We failed to elicit a strike on a Z-Man’s pearl Rain MinnowZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig.

Until this outing, we have been blaming El Niño for the problematic and wearisome largemouth bass fishing that we have been enduring in northeastern Kansas for more than a month. But we could not find any reason to blame this sorry outing on El Niño. All we know is that the largemouth bass are not where they used to be at this time of the year, and we are unable to locate where they have moved. (It is interesting to note that anglers elsewhere are also struggling .For example, we talked with Stacey King of Reeds Spring, Missouri, as we were traveling to this northeastern Kansas reservoir, and he told us that he fished in the lower portions of Table Rock Lake, Missouri, for three hours during the afternoon of Feb. 4. The surface temperature at Table Rock was 48 degrees, and he struggled to garner seven strikes.)

Feb. 10 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 10 bank-walking endeavors.

Here is an edited version of his report:

I took advantage of a warm but windy winter day and conducted a solo bank-walking outing at two small community reservoirs that lie in the suburbs northwest of Dallas.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the prime fishing periods would occur between 5:43 a.m. and 7:43 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and 11:57 p.m. and 1:57 a.m.

The Weather Underground recorded the morning low temperature at 49 degrees and the afternoon high temperature climbed to 74 degrees. An irksome wind blew steadily out of the southwest at 15 to 20 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.25 at noon and dropped to 30.12 at 4:00 p.m.

The first reservoir I visited is 20 acres in size. I fished it from about noon to about 2:00 p.m., and I struggled to eke out seven largemouth bass and inadvertently caught two large green sunfish.

The water was stained with about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The water level was normal. I did not have the means to measure the water’s temperature.

I began the outing fishing the west side of the reservoir, which is endowed with two steep sand and gravel banks in the mid-section of this shoreline, and I failed to garner any strikes.

I dissected the area along the smooth concrete dam, which forms the southern perimeter of the reservoir. I caught one two-pound largemouth bass that was dwelling in five feet of water along the mid-section of the dam. This largemouth was about 20 feet from the water’s edge when it engulfed a Z-Man’s 3 3/4-inch Canada Craw EZ TubeZ rigged on an exposed red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. I was unable to generate any other bites along the dam.

After the dam, I fished my way northward along the east shoreline that is steep and curved. A broad sand and gravel point occupies the mid-section of this shoreline. A long clay and gravel point extends westward into the middle of the reservoir from the north end of this shoreline, and this area failed to yield a strike.

The last area I fished was a relatively deep pool in the upper end of a feeder creek that flows into the northeast end of the reservoir. This pool is about five feet deep. The west side and bottom of the creek is littered with fist-size rocks, clay, and gravel. The east side of the creek is lined with tall stands of cattails. Usually, a visible current flows through this creek, and I was disheartened to find that there wasn’t any current flowing through the creek today.

This pool surrendered only six largemouth bass and two large green sunfish that were relating to the edges of the cattail stands in three feet of water and a patch of fist-size rocks that lie on the bottom of the creek in four feet of water. A customized 2 3/4-inch Z-Man’s PB&J EZ TubeZ on an exposed blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig enticed two largemouth bass. A customized 2 3/4-inch Canada Craw EZ TubeZ affixed on an exposed red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig caught two largemouth bass and one green sunfish. And two largenouth bass and a large green sunfish were caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-green-flake Finesse WormZ rigged on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. The only effective retrieve was a slow 20- to 30-second deadstick presentation. (I suspect that the lack of any current flow may have had a negative effect on the largemouth bass that inhabit this pool.)

The second community reservoir I visited is about the size of a football field. I concentrated on the most promising largemouth bass lairs from about 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and I could only muster three largemouth bass.

This small waterway is about 100 yards long and 60 yards wide. The water’s clarity was muddy, exhibiting about six inches of visibility. The water level was normal. I was unable to measure the water’s temperature.

I probed this reservoir with two baits: a customized 2 3/4-inch Z-Man’s black-blue laminate EZ TubeZ rigged on an exposed 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man’s black Split Tail TrailerZ affixed on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Both lures were retrieved with a slow drag-and-shake presentation.

I began this part of the outing along this reservoir’s east shoreline, where the terrain is steep and consist of clay. A black Split Tail TrailerZ rig caught two largemouth bass, and one of them was the largest bass of the day, which weighed 2 3/4 pounds. The customized 2 3/4-inch black-blue laminate EZ TubeZ rig enticed one largemouth bass. All three of these bass were abiding within 10 feet of the water’s edge in about three feet of water.

I dissected the north shoreline, which is comprised of a large mud flat, several small mud points, and a water outlet enclosed in a concrete structure that is positioned about halfway down the shoreline in about five feet of water. I failed to entice any strikes.

Near the west end of this reservoir, there is a large island. Two submerged creek channels run parallel to the north and south side of the island. I failed to find any bass relating to the island’s shorelines or along the two creek channels.

I fished the mouth of a spawning cove that lies at the west end of the reservoir. Here the terrain is steep, and the bottom is comprised of clay, which is littered with a few fist-size rocks. I failed to locate any bass utilizing this cove.

I finished this outing by fishing the south shoreline, which is fairly straight and enhanced with several small mud points and a decorative concrete and stone wall that borders a shallow mud point. I failed to cross paths with any largemouth bass along this entire shoreline area.

In sum, it was a gorgeous winter day to be outdoors, but the largemouth bass fishing was onerous. I could only manage to inveigle 10 largemouth bass and two green sunfish in three hours.

As I was driving home, I was figuring that anglers in these parts have to endure about three more weeks of this cold-water fishing before March arrives and ushers in the highly anticipated pre-spawn period. March can’t get here soon enough.

Feb. 11 log

Mother Nature allowed a north wind to gust across northeastern Kansas at 47 mph on Feb. 7, at 46 mph on Feb. 8, and at 39 mph on Feb. 9. And she let it howl night and day, and it was a wearisome and disconcerting phenomenon that roared in virtually everyone’s ears for hours on end. Her windy ways, of course, kept anglers at bay. But when she tamed it down on Feb. 10, Bill Beach of Topeka, Kansas, got afloat from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at a heavily fished northeast Kansas community reservoir, where the surface temperature ranged from 36 to 37 degrees, and to his chagrin, he found the fishing to be extremely trying. After the wind finally died, I waited until Feb. 11 to get afloat, and I plied a heavily fished state reservoir that lies in the exurban region west of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 21 degrees at 7:52 a.m., 30 degrees at 10:52 a.m., and 37 degrees at 2:52 p.m. It fluctuated from being sunny to being mostly cloudy to being partly cloudy. The wind angled out of the northeast and north by northeast at 4 to 11 mph, out of the east by northeast at 8 to 10 mph, out of the east by southeast at 5 to 8 mph, and out of the southeast at 3 to 9 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.13 at 12:52 a.m., 30.25 at 5:53 a.m., 30.32 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.22 at 2:52 p.m.

The water clarity was nearly crystalline for a northeastern Kansas flatland reservoir, and at some locales it exhibited a secchi-disc reading of more than eight feet of visibility. The water level was a foot or so above normal. The surface temperature was 38 degrees, and thin sheets of ice covered the water at several locales. (All of the farm ponds that I saw as I traveled to this reservoir were covered with a thin layer of ice.)

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing might transpire from 12:23 a.m. to 2:23 a.m., 12:05 p.m. to 2:50 p.m., and 6:37 a.m. to 8:37 a.m. I fished from 11:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

I spent the entire outing searching for burgeoning patches of curly-leaf pondweed on shallow-water flats. And I found and dissected nine patches of them in the back portions of two feeder-creek arms. I uprooted several curly-leaf pondweed plants that were 10 to 14 inches tall, but most were four to six inches tall. (By May these patches will have plants that reach the surface, and then during the summer they will be replaced by patches of coontail and bushy pondweed, and there will be a few summer and autumn outings when these patches of aquatic vegetation will yield 100 or more largemouth bass in four hours.) On this Feb. 11 outing, these patches were covered with four to seven feet of water, and as I dissected them, the boat floated in water as shallow as four feet and as deep as 11 feet. To find these patches, I had to survey many square yards of the shallow-water flats in the backs of the feeder creeks. These flats constitute an area as large as seven football fields. Some of the patches are the size of the infield of a baseball field, but most of them are smaller than that.

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Four of the biggest curly-leaf pondweed plants that i uprooted on Feb. 11.

Three of the nine patches of curly-leaf pondweed yielded a total of 14 largemouth bass. They were handsome specimens that exhibited their stunningly beautiful and distinctive wintertime hues.

Five of the largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Four of them were caught while I was employing a slow swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation, and one of them engulfed the Finesse ShadZ on the initial drop.

Five of the largemouth bass were caught on a three-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation.

Four largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man’s PB&J Rain MinnowZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation.

Three times I caught a largemouth bass on consecutive casts and retrieves. But there were many spells when I executed untold number of casts and retrieves without eliciting a strike. And as I searched for patches of curly-leaf pondweed and dissected them, many of my casts and retrieves failed to elicit a strike. I also employed a lot of dragging and strolling presentations, which failed to garner a strike.

One spot that is about the size of two ping pong tables within a large patch of curly-leaf pondweed surrendered five largemouth bass. It lies in five to seven feet of water, and it is adjacent to a submerged creek channel that was covered with nine to 11 feet of water.

Across many winters, we have found that a significant number of the largemouth bass that abide in the flatland reservoirs that stipple the countryside of northeastern Kansas can be caught in and around burgeoning patches of curly-leaf pondweed during January and February. And of all the reservoirs in northeastern Kansas that we have fished, this one is blessed with the finest patches of curly-leaf pondweed, but for some unknown reason, it has always been a difficult venue in February. And on this Feb. 11 outing, it proved to be a difficult one again.

Feb. 12 log
Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a lengthy report about a smallmouth bass outing that he and Rick Allen of Dallas had at a Civilian Conservation Corps’ reservoir in south-central Oklahoma on Feb. 12.

Here’s an edited version of his report:

Rick Allen of Dallas had been laid up since Thanksgiving, when he fell off a ladder at his home and injured his leg. Consequently, his leg was encased in a cast, which was finally removed earlier this week. To celebrate, he and I made a 71-mile sojourn to a Civilian Conservation Corps’ reservoir in south-central Oklahoma, where we hoped to tangle with some feisty smallmouth bass.

We couldn’t have asked for a more delightful winter day. An intensely bright sun filled a cloudless China-blue sky, and we commented that it felt more like March than February. The morning low temperature was 34 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 68 degrees. The barometric pressure was high, measuring 30.33 inches at 11:00 a.m. and 30.28 at 4:00 p.m. A mild-mannered breeze blew out of the north-by-northwest at 5 to 10 mph.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing periods would most likely occur from 1:31 a.m. to 3:31 a.m., 7:44 a.m. to 9:44 a.m., and 1:58 p.m. to 3:58 p.m. We were afloat from about 11:00 a.m. to about 3:00 p.m.

The water clarity was clear, exhibiting seven feet of visibility. The water level appeared normal. The water temperature ranged from 48 degrees to 50 degrees.

Across the span of these four hours, we concentrated our efforts on four locations, and none of them were very fruitful.

The first spot was a main-lake flat located in the southeast portion of the reservoir. This flat is about 75 yards long and is covered with 12 feet of water. The bottom of the flat is cluttered with basketball-size rocks and a few stumps. We positioned the boat just off the deep-water edge of the flat in 14 to 20 feet of water. We caught one 2 3/4-pound smallmouth bass on our second cast, and it engulfed a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s watermelon ZinkerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. We also tried a Z-Man’s pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, but it failed to entice any strikes. This smallmouth bass was suspended about six feet deep in 12 feet of water, and it was relating to the deep-water edge of the flat.

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Steve Reideler with one of the smallmouth bass that he and Rick Allen caught.

Our second spot was a bluffy shoreline along the south side of the southeastern feeder-creek arm. The bluff along this shoreline is buffeted with 25 to 51 feet of water, and it extends about a mile inside a feeder-creek arm. The face of the bluff is broken up by a few small pockets or cuts, and a large boulder-strewn flat.

We caught two nice-size smallmouth bass and one largemouth bass from three tertiary points along the face of the bluff. All three of these bass were enticed into striking a shortened Z-Man’s four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ affixed on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. All three of these black bass were suspended about 10 to 15 feet deep in water as shallow as 25 feet deep and as deep as 38 feet, and they struck the Finesse WormZ rig as it was slowly retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake action.

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Rick Allen with the only largemouth bass that he and Steve Reideler caught.

We also wielded an array of brands, colors, and sizes of suspending jerkbaits and Z-Man GrubZs, Slim SwimZs, 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZs, and 2 1/4-inch tail sections of FattyZs, which failed to entice any strikes.

The third spot was a main-lake point and its adjacent steep and rocky shoreline just north of the reservoir’s southeast feeder-creek arm. The boat floated in 17 to 35 feet of water.We plied this area with the 2 1/2-inch watermelon ZinkerZ rig and four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ rig, but we failed to find any smallmouth or largemouth bass relating to this point and shoreline. We also experimented with a 1/2-ounce chrome-and-red Heddon Sonar blade bait that is similar to the blade baits used by the late smallmouth guru Billy Westmorland of Celina, Tennessee, and it was retrieved with short 12-inch lifts and then allowed to settle back to the bottom on a semi-tight line. The blade bait was employed on several deep rocky ledges and a couple of steep secondary points in 12 to 30 feet of water, but it failed to entice any strikes.

The last spot we checked was a rocky shoreline with a submerged creek channel nearby in the back of a main-lake cove in the mid-section of the reservoir, and it failed to yield any bass.

In sum, we struggled mightily to inveigle three smallmouth bass and one largemouth bass in four hours. One smallmouth bass and the one largemouth bass weighed 2 3/4-pounds each, and the other two smallmouths weighed 1 3/4-pounds apiece. We looked down their gullets in hopes of discovering what type of prey they were foraging upon, but we found no clues.

This winter has been a learning experience for us. We have experimented with several techniques known to allure smallmouth bass from cold and clear-water reservoirs across many other parts of the country.

We have tried the float-and-fly rig during several of our wintertime outings, but we apparently do not possess the skill or talent to entice any smallmouth bass with this technique; so we have now eliminated it from our repertoire.

We have also tried suspending jerkbaits, which have been somewhat productive for largemouth bass in winters past, but they have not been fruitful for smallmouth bass this winter. But we have decided to continue employing this technique in any clear-water conditions we may encounter for the remainder of this winter.

We are also experimenting with metal blade baits, and though we do not know if this is considered a finesse technique or not, we are wielding them on our Midwest finesse tackle, but unfortunately, they have not garnered a single largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, or spotted bass for us.

Overall, Midwest finesse tactics have been the only successful techniques that we have employed this winter for alluring largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. But during the remainder of the winter, and when the conditions are appropriate, we will continue to experiment with suspending jerkbaits and blade baits. And at winter’s end, we will decide if they merit a role in our Midwest finesse arsenal.

Feb. 12 log

I made a brief outing at a nearby community reservoir in hopes of finding a bevy of largemouth bass milling about in patches of curly-leaf pondweed and milfoil. Traditionally, the patches of aquatic vegetation that used to grace the shallow-water mud flats in the back of this reservoir’s feeder-creek arms yielded a voluminous number of largemouth bass in February when the surface temperature ranged from 40 to 43 degrees and the water was relatively clear.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 24 degrees at 5:52 a.m. and 37 degrees at 1:52 p.m. The conditions of the sky ranged from being overcast to mostly cloudy to partly cloudy to clear. The wind angled out of the north, north by northwest and northwest at 3 to 18 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.22 at 12:52 a.m., 30.33 at 5:52 a.m., 30.48 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.48 at 1:52 p.m.

The water level looked to be more than a foot above normal. The water clarity was stained, exhibiting eight to 12 inches of visibility in the backs of two feeder-creek arms, and along the face of the dam, it exhibited a tad more than 16 inches of visibility. The surface temperature was 38 degrees. I struggled to find patches of aquatic vegetation, which might stem from the fact that the reservoir’s caretakers bushwhacked it with herbicides several times in 2014 and 2015.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing might occur from 1:23 a.m. to 3:23 a.m., 1:50 p.m. to 3:50 p.m., and 7:37 a.m. to 9:37 a.m. I fished from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

As I searched for largemouth bass abiding in patches of curly-leaf pondweed in three to six feet of water, I spent nearly an hour strolling a three-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which caught one largemouth bass that was abiding in three feet of water, and I do not think it was associated with aquatic vegetation.

I caught one largemouth bass on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, while I was employing a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. This largemouth bass was abiding in three feet of water and around some aquatic vegetation that I could not identify, but it looked like bushy pondweed.

When the boat was floating in six to seven feet of water adjacent to a shallow-water hump that was covered with three to four feet of water and endowed with a meager patch of curly-leaf pondweed, I made three casts onto that hump, and I caught two largemouth bass and battled another one that liberated itself before I could lift it over the gunnels. These three largemouth bass were caught on the three-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ rig, which was retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. After those three casts and retrieves. I made scores more of them, as well as strolled a bit, and I failed to elicit another strike.

After two hours of wearisome searching, I decided to load the boat onto the trailer and to go home. At this moment, I do not have a clue what is going on with the once stellar largemouth bass fishing in northeastern Kansas. I am hoping it is merely the water temperature and water clarity. And once the water warms and clears, the aquatic vegetation will grow and attract the largemouth bass to abide in it.

Endnotes

Upon arriving home, I received an email from Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina. He said “I have had some stellar February fishing, but it is dismal this year.” The reservoirs are cold and muddy. On top of that, the weather had stymied his fishing for two weeks, and the weather forecasts for Feb. 13 and 14 indicate that the low temperatures will be in the teens and the wind will howl. What’s more, his son-in-law Preston Parks of Pittsboro, North Carolina, who is a talented Midwest finesse devotee, has fished only once in the past 14 days, and it was unfruitful.

Feb. 12 log

Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, is one of the forefathers of Midwest finesse fishing. His participation with this piscatorial phenomenon stretches back into the 1960s, which is before anglers used the word finesse as an adjective to modify or describe fishing. And to this day, Drew remains uncomfortable having the words Midwest finesse fishing roll across his lips. He prefers to simply call it light-line fishing. Grammarians tell us he is correct: finesse is either a noun or a verb, and it is not an adjective.

Nevertheless, he is a master of this method, which allows him to catch fish of all kinds and in a variety of environments. And on Feb. 2, Drew and his wife, Jeanne, left Kansas and drove to the Florida Keys, where they hoped to employ his light-line tactics to inveigle a variety of saltwater specimens.

And on Feb. 12, he posted a report on the Finesse News Network that detailed his maiden saltwater outing. He entitled his report: “The Hula StickZ in Paradise.”

Here is an edited and condensed version of his report:

I have been reading about how tough it is back home, and it seems a little unfair to send this report. But I thought you might be interested to learn how well Z-Man’s Hula StickZ and Finesse T.R.D. work in the Florida Keys.

Jeanne retired last fall and I have wanted to spend February in the Florida Keys for several years. I hate February in Kansas. I know nothing about saltwater fishing; so, this is an exploratory trip. We have a house rented on a lagoon next week and have kayaks rented for several days. We spent the first week here just looking around.

I did some research and found a guide that has lived here all of his life. I told him I didn’t care about size or even whether we caught much. I just wanted him to show me around and teach me what to look for. I also explained I would be using artificial baits. I hired him for a half day and as usual I hit the last day of a week-long cold front and that was accompanied with extremely strong winds. It was 57 degrees when I met him, and he had on long johns, fleece-lined pants, five layers on top, a pair of gaiters, a wool cap, and heavy gloves. He told me not to expect much as the cold weather had shut things down.

I started the outing using a Z-Man’s pearl Hula StickZ, and because of the stiff current, I affixed it to a 1/4-ounce jig. It took about three or four casts to catch the first fish; then they became a little more active. In fact, after I caught the first four fish, the school of fish went crazy, and it was every cast until I caught 40. They would even chase the Hula StickZ rig on the surface; so I decided to try a Heddon Zara Spook, which caught 25 in 25 casts, and there were 50 fish boiling around the ones I had hooked. Then I picked up a Z-Man’s Mud Minnow Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a 1/4-ounce jig, and it caught 10 in 11 casts.  There was no set retrieve; I caught them by bouncing the Hula StickZ and Finesse T.R.D. rigs on the bottom with the current to skipping them across the surface and swimming them at all depths in between.

This happened in a little over one hour. I have fished all my life and I have never seen anything this crazy. Most of the fish were jack crevalle and blue runners, and they fought really well. Almost all of them were in the one- to 1 1/2- pound range.
blue runner

Drew Reese with a blue runner that was caught on a Z-Man’s Hula StickZ.

I put my rods down and said let’s go look at something else. We took a 30-minute boat ride to the Gulf of Mexico side. In his opinion, the water was too turbid, because the wind had severely battered this area. But he showed me what to look for. We caught 16 fish in about an hour, including lady fish and sea trout.

We then went back to the Atlantic side to reef fish with shrimp. Being hard headed I insisted on using the Finesse T.R.D. rig for a while and caught a few. He was catching fish so fast with the shrimp I did cheat a little at the end by putting a small piece of shrimp on my Hula StickZ rig.

At the end of four hours, of which one hour and 40 minutes was spent boat riding, I had caught 104 fish, and by the guide’s count, it included 13 species. All but 25 were caught on the Hula StickZ rig and Finesse T.R.D. rig. I have never had more action in a single outing, and the guide apologized at the end of our outing because the fishing was slow on all but the one spot. I cannot imagine what a good day is like.

Feb. 17 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his bank-walking endeavors at two small community reservoirs that lie in the northern suburbs of Dallas.

Here is an edited version of his report:

These two community reservoirs are usually fruitful warm-water venues, but they are difficult waterways to fish during the winter months.
Feb. 17 was a delightful late-winter day, and I enjoyed the warmth from the vibrant sun as it highlighted a vivid cobalt-blue sky. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 49 degrees and the afternoon high temperature reached 73 degrees. A 12- to 15-mph wind blew incessantly out of the south and southeast. The barometric pressure measured 30.27 at 11:00 a.m. and 30.18 at 4:00 p.m.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the prime fishing periods would take place from 6:07 a.m. to 8:07 a.m., 11:54 a.m. to 1:54 p.m., and 6:34 p.m. to 8:34 p.m. I was afoot from about 11:30 a.m. to about 3:30 p.m.

I began the outing at a small community reservoir that is about five acres in size. The south end of the reservoir encompasses a large mud flat with a small feeder creek that enters from the southeast corner. The west side of the reservoir features a broad and steep mud point and a small submerged concrete culvert that is reinforced on both sides with riprap. The north shoreline is steep and straight and is enhanced with a concrete overflow drain. The east side of the reservoir is flat and is endowed with two shallow mud points.

The water was muddy with less than four-inches of visibility. The water level was normal. I was unable to measure the water’s temperature.

I plied this pond for about an hour, and I could only eke out two largemouth bass. One was caught in about three feet of water along the south end of the eastern shoreline just north of the feeder creek. The other was extracted from about two feet of water in the northeast end of the reservoir and was relating to the steep shoreline.

Both of these bass were caught on a customized 2 3/4-inch Z-Man’s black-blue laminate EZ TubeZ rigged on an inserted 1/16-ounce Gopher tube jig, which was presented with a slow and subtle hop-and-bounce retrieve. I missed one strike on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ affixed on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig as it was dragged and shaken on the bottom along the deep-water edge of the mud flat on the south-end of the reservoir.

The second reservoir I fished lies a short distance to the north of the first one. This reservoir is about 100 yards long and 60 yards wide.

The water was stained and exhibited about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The water level appeared normal. I did not have the means to measure the water’s temperature.

I struggled to catch six largemouth bass from this reservoir, and they were all abiding in three to five feet of water and within 10 feet of the water’s edge. A Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig caught all six of them. Three of them engulfed the Finesse ShadZ rig as it was dragged and shaken across the bottom. A slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve allured the other three.

I began fishing the northern shoreline, which features a shallow mud flat with a concrete structure that surrounds a large outlet positioned near the middle-section of this shoreline. I failed to entice any strikes from this entire shoreline using a variety of Z-Man Hula StickZs, 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZs, Finesse WormZs, and EZ TubeZs affixed on a variety of sizes and colors of Gopher mushroom-head jigs.

Two creek channels run parallel to the north and south side of a large island that occupies the northwest end of the reservoir. I executed many casts and retrieves along the north side of the island and along the adjacent creek channel, and I failed to generate any strikes from this area.

A large spawning cove forms the west end of the reservoir, and it surrendered three largemouth bass. One was associated with the north entry point of the cove in about five feet of water. The other two were caught in four feet of water just off the deep-water edge of a small mud and gravel flat located along the west shoreline of the cove. The remainder of the cove failed to yield any other bass.

The south shoreline is steep and comprised of mud and gravel. A portion of the creek channel that parallels the south side of the island also parallels a good portion of the mid-section of this shoreline. This shoreline is also enhanced with a decorative stone retaining wall that borders a shallow mud point just east of the island.

I caught two largemouth bass from the south side of the creek channel in five feet of water. The remainder of this shoreline failed to yield any other strikes.

The last area I plied was the east shoreline, which has a steep mud and gravel terrain. It yielded one largemouth bass that was dwelling in about four feet of water and it was about 10 feet out from the water’s edge.

Overall, it was a trying afternoon of fishing. I could only muster eight largemouth bass in four hours, but they were all nice 15- to 17-inchers. It was a shame that the black bass fishing wasn’t as memorable as the picturesque weather.

Feb. 17 log

Joel Schroeder of Overland Park, Kansas, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his outings at two power-plant reservoirs in northeastern Kansas on Feb. 17.

At one of them, he plied the heavily fished warm-water outlet, where he caught eight smallmouth bass, four white bass, two largemouth bass, and one channel catfish. He fished from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., and he wielded a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig and a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig.

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Joel Schroeder with one of the largemouth bass that he caught on Feb. 17.

When the warm-water outlet became too crowded with anglers and the bite deteriorated, he ventured to the other power-plant reservoir, where he dissected two bluffs that lie along the southwest corner of the reservoir’s warm-water plume. The water clarity exhibited about 18 inches of visibility. He employed a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig, which caught two largemouth bass. Both of them engulfed the Finesse T.R.D. rig on the initial drop in about six feet of water.

Feb. 19 log

Before I launched the boat on Feb. 15, I had to use my boat’s push pole to break the ice around the boat ramp at a community reservoir where I was hoping to wield a float-and-fly rig and catch some smallmouth bass and rainbow trout. The surface temperature at the nine areas that I fished was 37 degrees. I fished from 10:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., employing two float-and-fly rigs and three standard Midwest finesse rigs without eliciting a strike. It was such a disheartening endeavor that I elected not to write a log about it. What’s more, I decided not to get afloat again until the surface temperatures at the flatland reservoirs hereabouts climbed above 40 degrees.

Old Man Winter got blown out of northeastern Kansas on Feb. 18 and during the early morning hours of Feb. 19, The Weather Underground reported that the wind howled out of the south at 23 to 45 mph. Moreover, area thermometers reached 75 degrees from 2:52 p.m. to 4:52 p.m. on Feb. 18. So, when the speed of the wind dropped to 10 mph at 8:52 a.m. on Feb. 19, I decided to venture to another community reservoir to see if I could fish some warmer water and locate some largemouth bass abiding in the burgeoning patches of curly-leaf weed on the shallow flats in the back of this reservoir’s feeder-creek arms.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 55 degrees at 7:52 a.m. and 70 degrees at 2:52 p.m. During the early morning hours, the wind howled out of the south by southwest at 27 to 41 mph; then it began to tame down and switch to the west, and for the rest of the day, it angled out of the west by southwest at 8 to 24 mph, out of the west by northwest at 9 to 27 mph, and out of the west at 8 to 15 mph. It was sunny enough that it felt as if the back of my neck was getting sunburned. The barometric pressure was 29.56 at 12:52 a.m., 29.75 at 5:52 a.m., 29.98 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.94 at 2:52 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing should transpire from 7:35 a.m., to 9:35 a.m., 8:01 p.m. to 10:01 p.m., and 1:22 a.m. to 3:22 a.m. I fished from 10:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

The surface temperature fluctuated from 43 to 44 degrees. The water level was about 10 inches above normal. The water clarity in the very back end of one of the feeder-creek arms was murky, exhibiting about four inches of visibility, but the clarity improved to 18 to 26 inches when the boat was 100 to 200 yards from the back end of this feeder-creek arm. The water clarity about 60 percent of the way inside another feeder-creek arm exhibited 18 inches of visibility. Throughout this outing, a significant hatch of insects took place, and I spotted one turtle sunning itself on a laydown. The back portions of one feeder-creek arm entertained thousands of gizzard shad and many of them were frolicking on and around the surface. When I fished this reservoir on Feb. 12, the surface temperature was 38 degrees, and I struggled to find patches of curly-leaf pondweed, and I caught only four largemouth bass.

This relatively small community reservoir is heavily fished, and while I was afloat in two of its four feeder-creek arms, I crossed paths with five other boats.

On this Feb. 19 outing, I spent about 20 futile minutes searching for patches of curly-leaf pondweed on a massive mud flat about 60 to 70 percent of the way inside one feeder-creek arm. I spent the other 220 minutes searching for patches of curly-leaf pondweed on a flat the size of at least three football fields inside another feeder-creek arm, and for about 45 minutes, another pair of anglers, who were employing power tactics and Midwest finesse tactics, shared this flat with me.

I found two fruitful patches of curly-leaf pondweed, which were about 85 percent of the way inside this feeder-creek arm.

One patch lies many yards off of the shorelines. The curly-leaf pondweed is growing in three to four feet of water. The size of this patch is 30 feet wide and 60 feet long. It yielded 10 largemouth bass. Three of the largemouth bass were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Three were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Two were caught on a Z-Man’s Junebug Rain MinnowZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Two were caught on a Z-Man’s pearl Rain MinnowZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Six of them were caught while I employed a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. I caught three of them while I used a drag-and-shake retrieve. One of the largemouth bass engulfed the Junebug Rain MinnowZ rig on the initial drop. As I dissected this patch, the boat floated in about seven feet of water.

The other fruitful patch is about 100 feet long and 10 to 15 feet wide. Its shape twists somewhat like the torso of a serpent. It lies from 15 to 35 feet from the water’s edge. The curly-leaf weed is growing in four to five feet of water, and there are a few significant gaps or holes in this long and narrow stretch of curly-leaf pondweed. It yielded 21 largemouth bass. One was caught on the Junebug Rain MinnowZ rig. Five of them were caught on the green-pumpkin ZinkerZ rig. Six were caught on the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rig. Nine were caught on the pearl Rain MinnowZ rig. I caught these largemouth bass by employing the swim-glide-and-shake presentation, the drag-and-shake presentation, and the strolling-and-subtle-shake presentation.

While I searched this three-football-field-size mud flat in the back of this feeder-creek arm for patches of vegetation by strolling the pearl Rain MinnowZ rig, I caught one largemouth bass in about five feet of water. At this locale, I tossed a buoy into the water, and I spent about six minutes fishing it in hopes that I had found a fruitful patch of vegetation. But I did not garner another strike.
Several of the largemouth bass that I caught had been foraging upon gizzard shad, and tails of these shad protruded out of the gullets of a few of these largemouth bass that I examined.

 

In addition to the 32 largemouth bass, I inadvertently caught one crappie, one gizzard shad, and one wiper. It was not a bonanza outing like the one that Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I enjoyed on this vast mud flat on Feb. 9, 2012, when we tangled with 118 largemouth bass in four hours. But since the winter of 2015-16 commenced on Dec. 21, 2015, it was my most fruitful one, and it was the most bountiful one since Dec. 11, 2015, when Rick Hebenstreit and I caught 45 largemouth bass in four hours at another northeastern Kansas community reservoir.

Feb 20 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed a brief and a photograph on the Finesse News Network about his outing with Greg Monahan of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, at a northeastern Kansas power-plant reservoir on Feb. 20.

Here is an edited version of his brief:

The Weather Underground reported that it was 43 degrees at 5:53 a.m. and 70 degrees at 1:53 p.m. The sky was clear from 12:53 a.m. to 1o:53 a.m., and from 11:53 a.m. to 11:53 p.m., it fluctuated from being partly cloudy to overcast to mostly cloudy. The wind was variable and mild mannered, angling out of the southwest, southeast, south by southeast, and south by southwest at 3 t0 8 mph; then it was calm for a short spell, and at 12:44 p.m., it switched directions and began angling out of the northeast, north by northeast, east by northeast, and east at 3 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.98 at 12:53 a.m., 29.95 at 5:53 a.m., 29.93 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.88 at 3:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would take place from 8:19 a.m. to 10:19 a.m., 8:43 p.m. to 10:43 p.m., and 2:06 a.m. to 4:06 a.m. We fished from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The water level looked to be a foot or more above normal. The surface temperature at the southwest edge of the warm-water plume was 60 degrees, and it was 50 degrees along the riprap shoreline of the dam. The water clarity at the dam exhibited 1 1/2 feet of visibility, and at the southwest corner of the warm-water plume, the water clarity exhibited about one foot of visibility.
We began the outing on the west side of the reservoir, where we fished one bluff and portions of another one. Both bluffs lie inside the southwest edge of the warm-water plume. We caught one largemouth bass and a freshwater drum.
At our second stop of the outing, we fished 150 yards of a riprap shoreline on the east side of the reservoir. It lies along the outside edge of the warm-water plume. We failed to elicit a strike.
From the east riprap shoreline, we ventured down the lake to the riprap shoreline of the dam, where we dissected the west end of the dam and caught eight largemouth bass.

The fourth spot we fished was another riprap shoreline on the east side of the reservoir, which yielded one largemouth bass.

Our fifth stop of the outing was at a flat main-lake point near the east end of the dam. The terrain of this point consists of gravel, rock, and boulders. This point yielded one largemouth bass

We finished this outing by fishing portions of the dam that we did not fish the first time we fished it, where we caught eight largemouth bass.

In sum, we caught 19 largemouth bass. Some were caught in water as shallow as one foot, and some were caught in eight feet of water. Some of them seemed to be suspended several feet off of the bottom. Greg lost a couple of nice largemouth, and one of them liberated itself at the boat; it looked to be six-pounder or bigger. He said that it might have been the biggest largemouth bass that he has ever hooked, but to Greg’s chagrin, the hook became unpinned as he reached down to grasp that beast. I caught all of my fish on either a vintage Z-Man’s Mud Minnow Rain MinnowZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig or a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Greg caught most of his fish on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California Craw ZinkerZ on a green 1/8-ounce jig.

Lacygne February 20, 2016 001

Bob Gum with one of the 19 largemouth bass that he and Greg Monahan caught on Feb. 20.

When I was using the Rain MinnowZ rig along the riprap, I had success retrieving it by keeping my rod tip low and executing a series of short jerks, which is similar to the way that I employ a jerkbait. The 1/32-ounce Gopher jig allowed the Rain MinnowZ to exhibit an erratic action. I executed the jerkbait motif with the Rain MinnowZ during the first five feet of the retrieve, and then I would retrieve it by employing a swim-glide-and-occasional-shake presentation all the way back to the boat.

Feb. 22 log

Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I ventured to a heavily fished community reservoir that lies in the western suburbs of the Kansas City metropolitan area. We were hoping to find two or three late-winter congregations of largemouth bass abiding in patches of coontail that adorn the mud flats in the back portions of this reservoir’s primary feeder-creek arm and in one if its secondary feeder-creek arms.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 32 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 48 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The wind was variable and mild mannered, fluctuating from being calm to angling out of the east by northeast, east, and northeast at 3 to 10 mph. The sky was clear from 12:53 a.m. to 5:53 a.m., and it was overcast from 6:53 a.m. to 1:53 p.m., and it fluctuated from being partly cloudy to clear after 2:24 p.m. The barometric pressure was 30.22 at 12:53 a.m., 30.17 at 5:53 a.m., 30.15 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.03 at 2:24 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing might occur from 9:49 a.m. to 11:49 a.m., 10:12 p.m. to 12:12 a.m., and 3:38 a.m. to 5:38 a.m. We fished from 10:00 a.m. to 2:32 p.m.

The water level was several inches above normal. The water exhibited a tea-colored hue, and the visibility was about three feet. The surface temperature ranged from 43 degrees to 46 degrees. When Rick and I fished this reservoir on Feb. 5, we had to cope with 37 to 39 degree water and patches of ice, and we had a difficult time finding patches of coontail and largemouth bass.

To our chagrin, significant patches of coontail were difficult to find on Feb. 22 until the overcast conditions abated a touch and some of the sun’s rays began to penetrate the water, which seemed to provoke some of the coontail plants to lift themselves off of the bottom. Even after the sun perked some of the plants up, they were still rather emaciated and difficult for us to find.

But to our delight, the largemouth bass were considerably easier to find and catch than they were on Feb. 5.

We spent 260 minutes fishing five locales in the upper reaches of this reservoir’s primary feeder-creek arm.

We spent a lot of minutes dissecting two patches of coontail that grace a massive mud flat on the east side of the feeder-creek arm. Each one of these patches is the size of a tennis court.

One patch yielded nine largemouth bass. One of the largemouth bass was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pearl ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Another one was caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Seven of them were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Along this patch of coontail, the boat floated in seven to 10 feet of water, and the largemouth bass were extracted out of four to six feet of water. Seven of them were caught while we were employing an extremely slow swim-glide-and-very-subtle-shake presentation. Two of the largemouth bass engulfed the bait on the initial drop.

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Rick Hebenstreit with one of the largemouth bass that we caught on Feb. 22.

The other tennis-court-size patch of coontail lies in shallower water than the first one we fished. The boat was floating in four to six feet of water. This patch yielded seven largemouth bass. Three of them were caught on the Hula StickZ rig. Three were caught on the Finesse ShadZ rig. One was caught on a Z-Man’s pearl Rain MinnowZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Five of them were caught while we were employing an extremely slow swim-glide-and-very-subtle-shake presentation. Two of the largemouth bass engulfed the bait on the initial drop.

We spent about 10 minutes fishing a relatively steep shoreline along the east side of the feeder-creek arm, and we failed to elicit a strike. But we spent more than 20 minutes fishing a relatively steep shoreline along the west side of this feeder-creek arm, where we caught six largemouth bass. These largemouth bass were caught on our green-pumpkin Hula StickZ rigs, which were presented with an extremely slow hop-and-bounce retrieve that was enhanced occasionally with some subtle shakes and a long pause between each hop and bounce. These largemouth bass were extracted out of five to nine feet of water, and they were associated with a rocky terrain and some boat docks. Along this shoreline, the boat was floating in 10 to 14 feet of water.

We spent about 15 minutes searching for patches of coontail on a flat main-lake point and an adjacent flat. The boat floated in six to nine feet of water. This area is normally graced with several patches of coontail, but we could find only two scrawny ones, and they failed to yield a largemouth bass.

The most bountiful locale was a shallow mud flat and its adjacent shoreline on the west side of the primary feeder-creek arm. Even though the patches of coontail along this flat and shoreline were puny, we were able to catch 20 largemouth bass. All of them were caught on our green-pumpkin Hula StickZ rigs. The boat floated in four to six feet of water, and the largemouth bass were extracted out of three to five feet of water. Three of them were caught on the initial drop of the Hula StickZ rig, and the rest were caught when we were employing either an extremely slow swim-glide-and-very-subtle-shake presentation or an extremely slow hop-and-bounce retrieve that was occasionally punctuated with a short deadstick-and-shake presentation.

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Rick Hebenstreit with  another one of the largemouth bass that we caught on Feb. 22.

We spent 12 minutes probing a small mud flat in the back of a secondary feeder-creek arm that lies in the lower portions of the reservoir, where we failed to find any coontail and any largemouth bass.

In sum, we fished for four hours and 32 minutes. We caught 42 largemouth bass, and 36 of them were caught on our green-pumpkin Hula StickZ rigs.

Feb. 25 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his bank-walking outing with Rick Allen of Dallas on Feb. 25.

Here is an edited version of his report:

Traditionally, the cold-water months of January and February are the most trying months for black bass fishing in north-central Texas. Furthermore, our U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoirs were closed from Thanksgiving to late January because of flooding. But gusty winds have kept the vast majority of anglers in these parts from venturing out onto the Corps’ reservoirs since February 13. Therefore, we are relegated to either fishing small community reservoirs or waiting until the winds subside.

Rick Allen and I elected to survey the water conditions on Feb. 25 at several heavily fished community reservoirs in hopes of finding a couple that were not muddied from the recent rains that fell on north-central Texas on February 23. We checked four small reservoirs, and we found only one that was not as muddy as the other three.

February 25 was a bright and sunny day. The sky conditions varied from being partly cloudy to clear. The morning low temperature was 35 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 60 degrees. The wind blew steadily out of the north at 14 to 19 mph. The barometric pressure measured 29.71 at 11:00 a.m. and climbed to 30.37 by 3:00 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the prime fishing periods would take place between 12:37 a.m. to 2:37 a.m., 6:07 a.m. to 8:07 a.m., and 11:56 a.m. to 1:56 p.m. Rick and I fished only one reservoir from about noon to 1:45 p.m.

This reservoir is about two acres in size. The water was muddied from the recent rains, and it exhibited less than a foot of visibility. The water level was slightly high, and a small stream of water was trickling over the concrete outlet at the dam. We were unable to measure the water temperature.

We began plying the east side of the reservoir, which is steep, curved, and adorned with two prominent points, three tertiary points, and several stands of cattails. A 35-yard section of this shoreline yielded seven largemouth bass and one large bluegill. All of them were abiding in three to five feet of water and relating to the three small tertiary points.

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Rick Allen with one of the largemouth bass that he and Steve Reideler caught on Feb. 25.

The north shoreline of the reservoir is straight and borders a shallow mud flat. A small creek enters the reservoir from the west end of this shoreline. We caught one largemouth bass along the deep-water edge of the mud flat, and it was extracted from about three feet of water.

The west side of the reservoir is shallower than the east side. It is endowed with three small points, two small patches of emerging lily pads, and several stands of cattails that line the shoreline. One of the three small points surrendered two largemouth bass that were dwelling about five feet out from the water’s edge in about four feet of water.

The south end of the reservoir encompasses a concrete drain and decorative stone dam. Two submerged rock piles are located about 25 feet in front of the center of the dam and are covered with about three to four feet of water. A brush pile also enhances the dam area, and it is situated about 15 feet in front of the east end of the dam in about four feet of water. The bottom area around the dam is covered with softball size rocks.

We caught two largemouths from the dam area. One largemouth was relating to the west side of one of the rock piles, and the other largemouth bass was associated with the north side of the other rock pile. Both of them were extracted from about four feet of water.

Overall, we caught 12 largemouth bass and one large bluegill. Another largemouth was able to pull free before we could land it, and we failed to hook several tentative strikes.
Seven largemouth bass were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s black-blue ZinkerZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. A shortened Z-Man’s black-blue Hula StickZ rigged on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig allured five largemouths and the large bluegill. Both of these lures were presented with a slow drag-and-shake retrieve. We also experimented with a slow hop-and-bounce retrieve and a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, but these two presentations failed to entice any strikes.

Feb. 27 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his outing with Andrew Trembath of Kansas City, Kansas, at a strip pit in western Missouri on Feb 27.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 34 degrees at 3:53 a.m. and 71 degrees at 2:53 p.m. Throughout the entire day, the wind angled out of the south, southwest, south by southwest, and west by southwest at 5 to 32 mph. It was sunny. The barometric pressure was 30.13 at 12:53 a.m., 30.11 at 5:53 a.m., 30.03 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.91 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would take place from 1:40 a.m. to 3:40 a.m., 2:01 p.m. to 4:01 p.m., and 5:51 a.m. to 9:51 a.m. They were afloat from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Here is an edited version of his report:

The strip pit runs basically north and south. It is about a half mile wide. Its deepest spot is about 30 feet. The water exhibited three feet of visibility. This pit contains schools of bluish minnows that are about 2 1/2 inches long, and they might be brook silversides. These schools contain 30 or more of these minnows.

I attempted to replicate those minnows by using either a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s purple-haze ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig or a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Andrew used a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Houndini ZinkerZ affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig.

Our most effective retrieve was a deadstick presentation that was enhanced with occasional twitches. We also caught a few fish as we strolled our ZinkerZ rigs as we worked our way upwind.

We caught fish as shallow as two feet of water on a shallow flat. Most of the fish were in six to eight feet of water. In total, we caught 25 largemouth bass, and the biggest ranged in size from 18 to 22 inches.

Feb. 28 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his bank-walking outing with Rick Allen of Dallas on Feb. 28.

Here is an edited version of his report:

Since I became a Midwest finesse devotee, I have learned that one of the general guidelines that many Midwest finesse anglers adhere to is not fishing the same reservoir more than once a week, and my cohorts and I generally adhere to that guideline as well. Unfortunately, many of the reservoirs that stipple the countryside in north-central Texas are still flooded with cold and muddy water. We continuously check the water conditions, but we have found only three heavily fished community reservoirs that are fishable. And of those three community reservoirs, only two have been fruitful.

Consequently, Rick Allen of Dallas, Texas, and I decided to turn a blind eye to the once-a-week guideline as we meandered along the shorelines of the only two fruitful reservoirs that we have found this winter. Both of these reservoirs are located in two suburbs northwest of Dallas.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted the best fishing periods would occur from 2:14 a.m. to 4:14 a.m., 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and 2:41 p.m. to 4:21 p.m.

The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 52 degrees and the afternoon high temperature climbed to 74 degrees. A nagging wind blew incessantly out of the south at 17 to 24 mph. The barometric pressure measured 29.98 at 11:00 a.m. and fell slightly to 29.91 by 5:00 p.m. The sky conditions deviated from overcast to mostly cloudy.

The first reservoir we fished is about 20 acres in size. We fished it from about noon to about 2:00 p.m., when Rick had to stop because of pain in one of his legs, which has not completely healed since he injured it during the Thanksgiving weekend.
I last fished this reservoir on Feb. 20 with John Thomas of Denton, and we caught twenty-six largemouth bass in three hours. During this Feb. 28 outing, we fished this reservoir for two hours and caught 15 largemouth bass.

The water was heavily stained and exhibited about a foot of visibility. The water level was normal. We were unable to measure the water temperature.

We plied a 50-yard section of shoreline along the west side of the reservoir, where the shoreline is the steepest and the bottom consists of sand and gravel. A 75-foot fishing pier is positioned on this section of the shoreline. A thin wall of hydrilla parallels the shoreline and stretches underneath the fishing pier in eight feet of water. On Feb. 20, this area surrendered 13 largemouth bass, but today, it yielded only two largemouth bass. Both of them were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Coppertreuse ZinkerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and presented with a slow drag-and-shake presentation.

We slowly fished along the face of the concrete-slab dam, which forms the southern boundary of the reservoir, and we failed to induce any strikes.

We dissected the steep and curved eastern shoreline. This shoreline features a small ditch that cuts across a shallow mud flat located along the southern end of this shoreline. A broad sand and gravel point occupies the mid-section of this shoreline. A long clay and gravel point lies about 20 yards north of the broad point, and this clay point extends westward into the middle of the reservoir.

The south side of the long clay and gravel point surrendered four largemouth bass on Feb. 20, but on this Feb. 28 outing, it yielded only one largemouth bass, and it was abiding in four to six feet of water. It was caught on a 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed on a brown 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was presented with a slow drag-and-shake retrieve. The broad point in the middle section of the shoreline was bereft of bass. The north side of the ditch, which is situated on the mud flat at the south end of the shoreline, relinquished one largemouth bass. This largemouth was a handsome specimen and weighed five pounds and 10 ounces, and it was caught on a Z-Man’s 2 1/2-inch Coppertreuse ZinkerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

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Steve Reideler with one of the 25 largemouth bass that he and Rick Allen caught on Feb. 28.

We fished along the creek that feeds into the upper portions of this reservoir, which lies at the reservoir’s northeastern end. We targeted a portion of this creek that is about 50 feet long and 30 feet wide. It contains the deepest water in this creek, which is about five feet deep. There has been no significant current flowing through this creek for the past couple of weeks, and in our eyes, it has negatively affected the bass bite. (When a visible current is flowing, this small area has surrendered as many as 36 largemouth bass.) On our Feb. 28 outing, this locale yielded eleven largemouth bass. Six largemouth bass were caught along the east side of the creek, which is festooned with tall stands of cattails, and these six largemouths were extracted from three feet of water in the small openings in the cattails. Five largemouth bass were extracted from the bottom of the feeder creek, which is comprised of fist-size rocks, clay, and gravel. Six of the largemouth bass were caught on a customized 2 3/4-inch Z-Man’s PB&J EZ TubeZ rigged on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Five largemouth bass were caught on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig. A slow hop-and-bounce retrieve was the only productive presentation.

After Rick went home, I spent another two hours fishing a smaller two-acre community reservoir from about 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and I caught 10 largemouth bass and one large bluegill. On Feb. 25, Rick and I fished this small reservoir for one hour and 45 minutes and we inveigled 12 largemouth bass.
The water was muddy and exhibited less than a foot of visibility. The water level appeared to be normal. I was unable to measure the water temperature.

The north shoreline of the reservoir is straight and encompasses a shallow mud flat. A small creek enters the reservoir from the west end of this shoreline. I caught one largemouth bass from the mouth of the creek, and it was extracted from about three feet of water. I failed to find any bass utilizing the mud flat.

The west side of the reservoir is endowed with two small patches of emerging lily pads, three small points, and several stands of cattails. The three small points surrendered five largemouth bass that were abiding in four to six feet of water and about 10 feet out from the water’s edge.

The south end of the reservoir encompasses a concrete drain and decorative stone dam, two submerged rock piles that are located about 25 feet in front of the center of the dam and covered with about three to four feet of water, and a small brush pile that lies about 15 feet in front of the east end of the dam in about four feet of water. The bottom area adjacent to the dam is covered with softball size rocks. I failed to elicit any strikes from this area.

The east side of the reservoir is steep, curved, and endowed with several stands of cattails, two prominent points, and three tertiary points. One prominent point and two tertiary points relinquished four largemouth bass and one large bluegill. All of them were dwelling in three to five feet of water and were about 10 to 15 feet out from the water’s edge.

Seven largemouth bass engulfed a customized 2 3/4-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-laminate EZ TubeZ rigged on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Three largemouth bass and one bluegill were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Coppertruese ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The 2 3/4-inch EZ TubeZ rig was implemented with a slow drag-and-shake retrieve. The 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ rig was presented with a slow swim-glide-and shake retrieve.

All totaled, we caught 25 largemouth bass and one large bluegill during four hours of fishing. We are hoping the blustery winds will begin to wane soon so we can begin venturing out on the larger U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoirs, where we can possibly cross paths with significant aggregations of pre-spawn largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass.

Feb. 29 log

It was a struggle to find and catch largemouth bass this February in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas. I was afloat 10 times. I fished for 30 hours and 30 minutes and caught 147 largemouth bass, which is an average of 4.8 largemouth bass an hour.

Two of those 10 outings were short reconnaissance undertakings, when I spent my time searching for aquatic vegetation, which is where we traditionally catch largemouth bass in the flat reservoirs of northeastern Kansas during February. As I searched I did catch 10 largemouth bass on the first reconnaissance outing, which occurred on Feb. 24, and I caught eight largemouth bass on the Feb. 27 one. During these two reconnaissance endeavors, I did not garner enough information to write a log about them. But I did conclude that the aquatic vegetation was not as bountiful and luscious as it was on Feb. 8, 2012, when I caught 57 largemouth bass from patches of curly-leaf pondweed in two hours and 10 minutes, and on Feb. 9, 2012, when Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I caught 118 largemouth bass in four hours from similar patches of curly-leaf pondweed. As February came to a close, I could never determine if the lack of aquatic vegetation was the reason why I could not find and catch significant numbers of largemouth bass this February.

My final outing of the month occurred on  Feb. 29 at a heavily fished community reservoir that lies in the western suburbs of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

The Weather Underground noted that it was 35 degrees at 5:53 a.m. and 69 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The sun burned intensely in a China-blue sky. Throughout the day, the wind angled out of the south and south by southwest at 4 to 29 mph, and while I was afloat it was pesky enough that I used the drift sock for the first time in 2016. The barometric pressure was 30.05 at 12:53 a.m., 30.00 at 5:53 p.m., 29.95 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.82 at 2:53 p.m. (It is interesting to note that it was bitterly cold at the end of February of 2015, when the low temperature on Feb. 27 was one degree below zero and the low temperature was 12 degrees on Feb. 28, and ice- covered reservoirs kept us at bay until Mar. 9, 2015. The wintry weather allowed me to fish only twice in February of 2015, and I caught 57 largemouth bass in eight hours.)

The surface temperature ranged from 43 to 45 degrees on Feb. 29. The water exhibited a tannic-brown hue with about three feet of visibility. There was a slight stream of water coursing over the spillway; thus, the water level looked to be several inches above normal. All of this reservoir’s coontail patches were either measly or lifeless. The red hue that colors the mouths and lips of the largemouth bass during the winter was fading dramatically.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing should occur from 3:16 a.m. to 5:16 a.m., 3:39 p.m. to 5:39 p.m., and 9:27 a.m. to 11:27 a.m. I fished from 10:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. During the first hour that I was afloat, I caught 14 of the 22 largemouth bass that I caught. During the last hour that I was afloat, I caught only two largemouth bass.

During that last hour, I spent about 10 minutes fishing a short section of the riprap shoreline at the dam, which was fruitless. I fished a short main-lake shoreline in the middle portions of the reservoir for about 10 minutes, and it was also fruitless.

I spent 205 minutes fishing in the upper reaches of the reservoir’s primary feeder-creek arm. I spent most of those minutes searching for patches of coontail on a massive mud flat.
About 25 of those 205 minutes were spent probing two relatively steep shorelines, where I caught one largemouth bass by dragging and subtly shaking a well-worn 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. This largemouth bass was extracted from about five feet of water while the boat was floating in 10 feet of water. I failed to elicit a strike along the other relatively steep shoreline. Both shorelines are laden with rocks.

I began the outing with the boat floating in three to five feet of water on a wind-sheltered section of the massive mud flat that is the size of seven or eight football fields. Within the first 15 minutes, I caught four largemouth bass on a shortened Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and two largemouth bass on a Z-Man’s pearl Rain MinnowZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Both rigs were presented with an extremely slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The largemouth bass were extracted out of about three to four feet of water. I did not find any coontail patches where I caught these six largemouth bass, but it has had significant patches of coontail in years past. I did, however, come across patches of filamentous algae. This area had a few gizzard shad moseying about, and one of the largemouth bass that I caught had a gizzard shad’s tail protruding from its gullet. There was also a significant insect hatch going on.

During the next 45 minutes, I rather quickly probed more than 100 yards of the wind-sheltered section of this flat and some of its shoreline, and I caught eight largemouth bass. Two were caught on the Rain MinnowZ rig. I caught five of them on the ZinkerZ rig, and one of them was caught on the Hula StickZ rig. Two of them were caught while I was strolling the ZinkerZ rig. One engulfed the ZinkerZ rig on the initial drop. One was caught while I was strolling the Rain MinnowZ rig. The other four largemouth bass were caught when I was employing an extremely slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

I spent the next 143 minutes looking for and dissecting patches of coontail at other locales on the massive mud flat that lies in the upper reaches of the primary feeder-creek arm. Some of these locales were wind-blown, which is where I employed the drift sock.

I found one patch of coontail that is the size of a tennis court that yielded five largemouth bass, one channel catfish, and one crappie. Two largemouth bass were caught on the Rain MinnowZ. Two largemouth bass were caught on the ZinkerZ rig. One largemouth bass was caught on the Hula StickZ. Two of the largemouth bass were caught while I was strolling, and the other three were caught while I was employing a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve. A large school of gizzard shad was swimming around this patch, and occasionally they would dimple the surface. The boat floated in four to six feet of water, and the largemouth bass were extracted out of four to six feet of water.

Another patch of coontail yielded one largemouth bass, which was caught on the Hula StickZ rig, which the largemouth bass engulfed on the initial drop. The boat floated in four feet of water, and the largemouth bass was extracted out of five feet of water.

At an extremely wind-blown patch of coontail, the Hula StickZ rig and a swim-glide-and-shake presentation caught one largemouth bass that was abiding in about four feet of water, and the boat was floating in seven feet of water.

In sum, the Hula StickZ rig caught eight largemouth bass, the ZinkerZ rig caught eight, and the Rain MinnowZ rig caught six. I failed to elicit a strike on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man’s pearl Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

As I executed my last cast of the outing, I told myself that I am utterly baffled by what has happened to the aquatic vegetation and the largemouth bass in these parts. And as I was driving home, I thought that perhaps the diminishing returns that are the byproduct of old age are adversely affecting my ability to find the lairs that the largemouth bass are inhabiting nowadays, and those diminishing returns are also affecting my abilities to concentrate and properly present my baits. In other words, I have been fishing in the past and focusing on my memory rather than the present conditions and what it takes to decipher the goings on with our reservoirs and its denizens.

 

 

 

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