IMG_1493 (3)

Rick Allen of Dallas, Texas, with one of the bass that he and Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas caught during a bank-walking outing on Jan. 28.

This monthly guide to Midwest finesse fishing reveals how humdrum and vexing the black bass fishing can be during the 31 days of January at a variety of waterways across the nation.

It contains wintertime perspectives from Rick Allen of Dallas, Texas; Don Baldridge of Springfield, Missouri; Burton Bosley of Sutton, West Virginia; Charlie Croom of Fayetteville, Arkansas; Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri; Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas; Ralph Manns of Rockwall, Texas; Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina; Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas; Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas; and me from Lawrence, Kansas.

Because Mother Nature’s wintery ways kept many of us at bay, this guide contains only 19,094 words rather than the 22,410 words that constituted the November 2014 guide.

Until Jan.28, ice covered the reservoirs in northeastern Kansas, which relegated Midwest finesse anglers to fishing two power-plant reservoirs. But at times the power plant at one of those reservoirs wasn’t functioning regularly, which caused the water temperature to fluctuate significantly. That temperature fluctuation seemed to adversely affect the number of largemouth bass that Midwest finesse anglers, as well as power anglers, could locate and catch. Elsewhere across the nation, there was a day or two in North Carolina and north-central Texas that Poe and Reideler failed to catch a largemouth bass. According to Baldridge, who became a convert to Midwest finesse tactics in the spring of 2014, January of 2015 was considerably more fruitful than January of 2014. In 2014, Baldridge fished only twice and caught eight fish, but this time around he fished six times and caught 30 black bass and two crappie. As January came to a close, Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas were heartened to see the ice melting and disappearing on their reservoirs, farmers laboring in their fields, and daffodil leaves stippling our gardens. But to Midwest finesse anglers’ dismay, winter returned on Ground Hog Day, and area thermometers dropped to -2 degrees on Feb. 5, and for the third time this winter,  ice covered most of the waterways across northeastern Kansas.

Here is hoping that some of the words in this guide will provide readers with some ideas about how, when, and where a few Guadeloupe bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass can be caught at various waterways during January.

As we have been for months on end, we are constantly thankful that Steve Reideler continues to proof read all of the logs. His work made this 19,094-word guide more readable and understandable.

Jan. 1 log

Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, posted a brief on the Finesse News Network about his New Year’s Day outing on a 120-acre community reservoir with Larry Chambers of Parkville, Missouri.

This is a slightly edited version of Frazee’s report:

Larry Chambers and I have a tradition of fishing each Jan.1, no matter what the weather is like.

We didn’t get much help this year. It was darned cold. We had to break ice to even get Larry’s boat out of the stall and to reach open water. We used his boat because he has new electronics, including a down scan.

We planned on using that unit to locate large balls of shad. Then vertically fish for them. And it worked perfectly. The down scan picked up schools of shad in 30 to 40 feet of water that weren’t showing on the split screen regular locator. It even showed our jigging spoons dropping. So, we could put our lures exactly where we wanted them.

That’s the good news.

The bad news: we didn’t even get a hit doing that. I thought for sure we could open a new way of fishing for us, but no luck. Anyone out there with any advice, I’m open.

After trying that on several balls of shad, we went back to our regular finesse fishing. We pulled into a cove where we have always caught trout, and I had one on, but it managed to escape. That was the highlight of the day.

I had three other slight hits, all on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man Fishing Product’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a black 1/16-ounce ball jig. But that was it.

All of the hits came in about five feet of water three-quarters of the way back in coves.

We tried fishing main-lake points, but a bitter wind made it just too unbearable. We were dressed for the cold, but it still bit.

The surface temperature was in the mid-30s and headed down. As I write this log on Jan. 6, the reservoir is half-covered with ice and not looking very inviting.

C’mon spring, or c’mon Florida. My wife and I are looking into heading South in early February. It can’t come soon enough. I hate winter.

*********************************************************************************************************************************************

Burton Bosley of Sutton, West Virginia, is a Midwest finesse pioneer who fished many days in the 1960s and 1970s with the late Chuck Woods of Kansas City who is heralded as the forefather of Midwest finesse fishing. For decades, Bosley was a freshwater and saltwater guide in south Florida, and when he retired from guiding several years ago, he moved to West Virginia.

On several of his December 2014 outings in West Virginia, Bosley spent a lot of time wielding a float-and-fly rig. But on his New Year’s Day outing, he employed one of the late Billy Westmoreland’s classic wintertime tactics by using the Silver Buddy, which is two-inches long and weighs a half of an ounce. Of course, Westmorland’s wizardry with a spinning rod and an aspirin-head jig  had a profound effect on the early members of the Midwest finesse fraternity.

Here is an edited rendition of his report:

I have been fishing, but not with little jigs. Until the ice eventually covers the water, this is some of the best bass fishing of the year. A local pro has graciously helped me adjust and become reacquainted with the refined techniques needed for fishing these wintertime venues.

On the first day of the year, I fished alone at a nearby 1,400-acre reservoir.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing should occur from 10:11 a.m. to 12:11 p.m. and 10:42 p.m. to 12:42 a.m. And a minor period would occur from 3:55 a.m. to 5:55 a.m. I figured the moon was on the far side of the world, which I favor in full-moon times. I fished from noon to 3:00 p.m.
The surface temperature ranged from 39.4 degrees to 40.2 degrees. The water is at winter pool, which is 25 feet below full pool. The clarity was two feet, which isn’t clear enough for the float and fly by my reckoning.

There were gusty breezes from several directions. The air temperature was 33 degrees.

During the winter, our bass relate to large flats and to some extent bluffs. The flats are considerably deeper than the ones in northeastern Kansas. On this New Year’s Day outing, I set up on a large flat that tapers from the shoreline out to 55 and 60 feet of water before dropping into the river channel. I started fishing the Silver Buddy in 10 to 15 feet of water, but I didn’t catch a bass until I reached 24 feet of water, and I found the better-sized ones, which means they were more than 15 inches long, in 30 to 42 feet of water.

I worked the Silver Buddy with very subtle 12-inch lifts and drops. I think it qualifies as a finesse technique in some respects.

For the most part, the bass were light biters. I would feel a sluggishness and start reeling and have a fish on. The exceptions were the smallmouth bass, which popped the lure pretty good and stayed hooked better than the largemouth bass and spotted bass. I reel these fish in very slowly, and I have seen no barotrauma or other deep-water issues.

These bottom-oriented bass sometimes have mud on their stomachs. I think they are almost dormant, but they will occasionally eat a dying shad or a crawfish on the muddy bottom. The only ones we have put in a live well for photographs have coughed up two-inch shad and perch.

Across the three hours that I fished, I  caught eight bass, and I was thankful that they were so lightly hooked  that I was able to shake many of them off at the boat without having to  land and touch them.  A friend and  I  caught 15 on a four-hour outing a few days prior to my solo one on New Year’s Day. I know this sounds poor compared to what Midwest finesse anglers normally catch  in the reservoirs around northeastern Kansas, but it is a much better hourly average than what we experience most of the time around here.

I hope to get in a quick trip to Dale Hollow, Tennessee, for finessing smallmouth this month before I head to Lake Okeechobee, Florida, for some heavy-duty close combat with a flipping stick and 65-pound-test braid.

 

Jan. 2 log

On New Year’s Day my wife, Patty, and I took an early afternoon drive around the countryside and surveyed the winter landscapes and it denizens. We also examined the ice at two nearby reservoirs, and we found that it covered about 30 percent of a 416-acre community reservoir and 40 percent of a 195-acre community reservoir.

Across the years, we have discovered that the largemouth bass fishing becomes extremely problematic when 10 percent or more of a reservoir in northeastern Kansas is covered with ice. That fact was poignantly revealed to me once again on Dec. 29, 2014, when I fished a 100-acre community reservoir and failed to elicit a strike. On that last outing of 2014, about 20 percent of that reservoir was ice covered.

On Jan. 2, weather forecasters were predicting that it would snow one to three inches on Jan. 3. Then from Jan. 4 to Jan. 9, the high temperatures would range from 15 degrees to 30 degrees, and the low temperature would range from 4 degrees to 19 degrees. Thus, more and more ice would be covering our reservoirs in the days to come, and we would not be fishing them until about 95 percent of the ice disappears. What’s more, Mother Nature’s wintry ways would probably prohibit us from fishing our power-plant reservoirs, which are ice free inside the warm-water plumes.

In contrast to that wintery seven-day forecast, Jan. 2 was relatively balmy, which provoked me to make the 76–mile drive to a 2,600–acre power-plant reservoir.

The National Weather Service at Olathe, Kansas, noted that it was 28 degrees at 8:53 a.m. and 35 degrees at 3:53 p.m. Throughout the day, it fluctuated from being overcast to being mostly cloudy and hazy. It snowed lightly at 6:53 a.m., and it drizzled occasionally. The wind angled out of the southwest at 3 to 6 mph, out of the south at 3 to 8 mph, and it was calm for an hour. The barometric pressure was 30.20 at 12:53 a.m., 30.21 at 5:53 a.m., 30.18 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.12 at 3:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 10:23 a.m. to 12:23 p.m. and 4:42 a.m. to 6:42 a.m. There was a minor period from 5:12 p.m. to 7:12 p.m. I fished from 12:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

The water level was normal. The water exhibited a greenish hue, and I could see a chartreuse head of a 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Jig about two feet under the surface. The surface temperature at the five areas that I fished ranged from 47 degrees to 51 degrees. The 47 degree areas were along the northern fringe of the warm-water plume, and the 51 degree areas were around the heart of the plume.

Traditionally, the largemouth bass fishing is more fruitful when the surface temperature at those five areas ranges from 49 degrees to 59 degrees. On Jan. 13, 2014, the surface temperature at those five areas ranged from 41 degrees to 50 degrees, and I caught only five largemouth bass. But when the surface temperature ranged from 47 to 60 degrees on Jan. 28, 2012, I caught 37 largemouth bass.

Except for a few outings in 2014, Midwest finesse anglers found the largemouth bass fishing at this reservoir to be trying throughout the year. Before 2014, the largemouth bass fishing — especially during the cool- and cold-water months — had been quite fruitful. Nowadays, some anglers are worrying that the largemouth bass virus might have arrived. A few other anglers think that the largemouth bass population has been adversely affected by too many bass tournaments.

During the 3 1/2 hours that I fished on Jan. 2, the largemouth bass fishing remained as difficult as it was in 2014.

I thoroughly dissected two main-lake bluffs, and I half-heartedly fished about 30 percent of another one. These bluffs are situated on the west side of the reservoir. Along these bluffs, I used a Z-Man Fishing Products’ green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to either a chartreuse 1/32- or chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a shortened Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ that was affixed to either a chartreuse 1/32- or chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. I employed three Midwest finesse retrieves: swim, glide, and shake; drag and shake; and stroll.

The first bluff I fished is about 125 yards long. It is adorned with laydowns, brushpiles, rock slides, boulders, and ledges. The points at each end of this bluff consist of gravel and a ledge. The boat floated in eight to 12 feet of water. The surface temperature along this bluff ranged from 47 to 48 degrees. The shortened Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ and chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught the first largemouth bass of 2015 at one of the points. At this point, the boat floated in nine feet of water. This largemouth bass was extracted from three feet of water and was allured by the drag-and-shake retrieve. While strolling the Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ and 1/32-ounce Gopher jig along a ledge, I hooked a hefty fish that I battled for about a minute before it became unfettered.

DSCN0566

The first largemouth bass of 2015, and the shortened Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ and chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that this bass engulfed.

The second bluff isn’t as steep as the first one, but it possesses many of the same geological features. The surface temperature was 48 degrees. The boat floated in six to 10 feet of water. Another angler was fishing it with a jerkbait and a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce homemade round jig. Therefore I fished just a portion of it, and I did it rather haphazardly, and it didn’t yield a largemouth bass or a strike as I strolled the shortened Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ and chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. (Along this bluff, the other angler said he inadvertently caught one channel catfish and failed to land another fish that he could not identify the species.)

The third bluff is about 200 yards long, and it is endowed with several laydowns, some man-made brushpiles, rock slides, piles of boulders, and many ledges. The boat floated in 10 to 16 feet of water. The surface temperature along this bluff ranged from 47 to 49 degrees.

The shortened Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ and chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve caught two largemouth bass. One largemouth bass was on the outside edge of a laydown in about seven feet of water. The second one was situated at a pile of boulders and in about three feet of water.

Four more largemouth bass were caught along this bluff, and they were inveigled by the Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, which was retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Two were extracted from the rock piles, and the other two were caught along the ledges.

Besides the three bluffs, I spent some time probing a submerged creek channel edge that meanders across a shallow, west-side mud flat, and eventually this submerged creek channel merges with the third bluff that I fished. The channel edge and adjacent flat is adorned with a few stumps, laydowns, and something that feels like boulders. The surface temperature was 50 degrees. The boat floated in four to eight feet of water, and I caught two largemouth bass while dragging and shaking the shortened Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ and chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig in three to four feet of water. I inadvertently caught a hefty white bass, and I failed to land another fish that broke my line when it crossed paths with a submerged stump.Where the creek channel begins to merge with the point of the bluff, another angler was fishing with a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce homemade round jig, and he caught four largemouth bass.

The fifth area that I fished was on the east side of the reservoir. It is a large, shallow, flat point that separates two coves. It is graced with two humps, some stumps, ledges, rocks, gravel, boulders, laydowns and two submerged creek-channels. The current from the warm-water outlet courses across it, and the surface temperarture  was 51 degrees.The boat floated in four to seven feet of water. The Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation caught two largemouth bass and one accidental wiper. Another largemouth bass engulfed the shortened Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ and chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig on the initial fall. The largemouth bass and wiper were extracted from two to three feet of water adjacent to a ledge on one of the humps, and they were abiding in an area that is about 10 feet wide and 30 feet long.

In sum, I caught 12 largemouth bass. Three were caught on the shortened Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ and chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.Three were caught on the Junebug Hula StickZ and chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig caught six largemouth bass.

DSCN0567

One of the three largemouth bass that was inveigled by the shortened Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ and chartreuse 1/16-ounce  Gopher jig.

********************************************************************************************************************************************

Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, is a veteran Finesse News Network contributor, and he posted a brief on FNN about a stained-water tactic that his son-in-law, Preston Parks of Pittsboro, North Carolina, uses with a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company’s Junebug Zero that is affixed to a Z-Man’s 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig.

Parks inserts Bobby Garland Crappie Baits’ Crappie Glass Rattles into the Zero. The tube of rattles is nine-sixteenths of an inch long and very loud.

Poe watched Parks catch 12 largemouth bass in 15 minutes with this rig on Jan. 2. What’s more, Parks used it to catch a five-pound largemouth bass on it on Dec. 31at a 46,768 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir.

Poe said Parks presents the rattling Zero with a steady shaking retrieve along flat shorelines that have less than a foot of clarity.
According to Poe, “There is no better pond technique in the world.”

rattles-hp

 

For more information about crappie rattles with Midwest finesse baits, please see the column at this link: http://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/midwest-finesse-fishing-rattles/.

 

**********************************************************************************************************************************************

Jan. 3 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville,Texas, filed this report on the Finesse News Network that chronicles a river excursion that Rick Allen of Dallas undertook in the south Texas Hill Country on Jan. 3.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar listed the best fishing periods would occur from 10:24 a.m. to 12:24 p.m. and 10:56 p.m. to 10:56 a.m. A minor period occurred from 4:11 a.m. to 6:11 a.m. Rick was afloat from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Rick emailed that the day was sunny with clear, bluebird skies. The Weather Underground noted that the morning low temperature in Ingram was 34 degrees and the afternoon high reached 61 degrees. The wind blew out of the west at about 13 mph. The barometric pressure measured 29.96.

Rick was surprised by the clarity of the water, which exhibited five to six feet of visibility. The water temperature was 46 degrees and the river appeared to be at full capacity.

Rick reported that he had a slow and trying outing, and he felt fortunate to catch four Guadeloupe bass and one largemouth bass during his 3 1/2-hour excursion. All five bass were relating to the deep-water side of a main-river-channel ledge in eight to 15 feet of water. There was some type of cover, which Rick suspected was most likely stumps, along the lip of the river channel, and he lost three lures to those stumps.

He caught the five bass on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-orange ZinkerZ threaded on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Rick enticed all of these bass by hopping the ZinkerZ across the bottom on top of the river channel ledge. He did not use any other baits.
Jan. 4 log
Steve Reideler of Lewisville,Texas, filed this report on the Finesse News Network about the river outing in the south Texas Hill Country that Rick Allen of Dallas, Texas, had on Jan. 4.

Rick said that the day was about the same as Jan. 3, but colder. The Weather Underground recorded the weather on Jan. 4 as sunny with partly cloudy skies. The morning low temperature was 22 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature climbed to 49 degrees. The wind quartered out of the north-by-northwest at about 6 mph. The barometric pressure had risen significantly from 29.96 on Jan. 3 to 30.48 on Jan. 4.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted the optimum fishing periods for Jan. 4 would occur from 12:52 a.m. to 2:52 a.m. and 1:19 p.m. to 3:19 p.m. A minor period occurred from 7:05 a.m. to 9:05 a.m. Rick fished from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Rick made a run up the river from where he fished on Jan. 3. The water temperature in the upper regions of the river was 46 degrees. It displayed about five to six feet of clarity. The water level was normal.

Rick reported that the bass fishing was as difficult and tedious as it was on Jan. 3, and he struggled to find any significant concentrations of bass on this Jan. 4 foray.

For the first 90 minutes of this outing, Rick plied ledges along the main-river channel in 15 to 18 feet of water with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-orange ZinkerZ affixed on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red ZinkerZ rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, but he was unable to entice any strikes from this portion of the river.

Rick then returned to the mid-section of the river, and he concentrated on the same section of the main river-channel where he inveigled four Guadeloupe bass and one largemouth bass on Jan. 3.

During the last 90 minutes of this Jan. 4 excursion, he was able to coax three largemouth bass and one Guadeloupe bass into striking the 2 1/2-inch watermelon-red ZinkerZ and red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, as he slowly hopped it along the top of one of the river channel ledges in eight to 15 feet of water.

Jan. 6 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Jan. 6 outing.

He wrote: “The beginning of 2015 has been an inauspicious one for bass fishing in Texas. On Dec. 30, 2014, a major cold front rolled across north-central Texas bringing several days of cold wintertime temperatures, high winds, and cold rains. On Jan. 3, I took advantage of a break in the bad weather and made my first foray of this young year to several small municipal reservoirs in north-central Texas. Unfortunately, I discovered that all the small reservoirs that I checked had been muddied from the cold rains, and when this occurs, the black bass bite becomes nonexistent until water conditions improve. As a result, I didn’t wet a line.

“Rick Allen of Dallas has recently experienced a spell of wretched black bass fishing as well. He fished a river in the south Texas Hill Country on Jan. 3, 4, 5, and 6. On Jan. 3, he could muster only four Guadeloupe bass and one largemouth bass. On Jan. 4, he struggled to eke out three largemouth bass and one Guadeloupe bass. On Jan. 5, he caught only one largemouth bass, and on Jan. 6, he was unable to garner a single strike.

“What’s more, Ralph Manns of Rockwall,Texas, fished a three-acre community reservoir behind his house for a little over an hour on Jan. 6. He was able to scrounge up only one largemouth bass and one two-pound crappie. What made this outing interesting is that Ralph, who is a diehard power angler, finally had  to use Midwest finesse tactics to catch these two fish, which were inveigled by a Z-Man’s California Craw Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.  He also tried a 1/16-ounce black hair jig with no trailer, but it failed to generate any strikes.

“On my Jan. 6 excursion, I drove 38 miles to fish a 250-acre Trinity River Water District reservoir that lies along the northwest city limits of Ft. Worth, Texas. I last fished this reservoir on Dec. 20, and during that four-hour outing, I caught only eight largemouth bass.
“Jan. 6 was a bright and sunny winter day. A few thin clouds occasionally drifted across the beautiful powder-blue sky. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 30 degrees and the afternoon high slowly climbed to 54 degrees. The wind quartered out of the northeast at 6 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure was high at 30.39.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best fishing periods would take place from 4:25 a.m. to 6:25 a.m. and 4:49 p.m. to 6:49 p.m. A minor period would occur from 10:37 a.m. to 12:47 p.m. I fished from about 11:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

“The water was unusually dark and murky from the recent rains, and it exhibited about one to 1 1/2 feet of visibility. Normally, the water clarity is about five feet. The water’s surface temperature was 45 degrees, and the water level appeared to be about two feet above normal.

“I fished three steep and rocky main-lake points with a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Hula StickZ rigged on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, customized 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-orange FattyZ tube on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Two of these points are situated along the west side of the reservoir, and the other lies along the east-side. I slowly strolled these lures back and forth across the points, starting in water as shallow as six feet and working my way deeper out to 21 feet of water. These three points failed to yield any bass.

“I then plied two coves situated along the west side of the reservoir. The shorelines of these coves are adorned with softball and baseball-sized rocks and festooned with patches of dead American water willow stems and cattails. A creek channel parallels the north shoreline of one of the coves. I wielded an array of Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZs, Finesse WormZs, 2 1/2-inch customized FattyZ tubes, and 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZs affixed to various hues of 1/32-, 1/16-, and 3/32-ounce Gopher jigs, and I was unable to coax any bites.

“After I finished fishing the two coves, I spent the last 95 minutes of this outing slowly dissecting the riprap-covered dam that forms the southern boundary of the reservoir. I employed Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, customized 2 1/2-inch Sprayed Grass FattyZ tube on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, customized 2 1/2-inch green-pumpkin-orange FattyZ tube on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and Canada Craw Hula StickZ on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. The entire length of the dam failed to surrender a single bass.

“The bass fishing at this reservoir was so horrendous that I ended this endeavor early. Across the span of these frustrating and baffling 3 1/2 hours, I used a vast selection of Z-Man baits, Gopher jigs, and utilized all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves, and it soon became apparent that the largemouth bass and spotted bass that inhabit this reservoir were exhibiting a severe case of lockjaw. And with more cold winter weather forecast to hit Texas on Jan. 7, it appears that the comatose black bass fishing will continue for a good while longer.”

Jan 16 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log about his Jan. 16 outing on the Finesse News Network. He has to fish some of the most woebegone waterways in the black bass fishing world, and FNN members across the nation applaud his steadfastness and abilities to catch largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass from these waters. Since he has been contributing his rather startlingly insights about black fishing in north-central Texas, he has told us that employing Midwest finesse methods has improved his catch rate significantly in comparison to what it was when he was a power angler, and as he notes below, his catch rate is significantly better than the catch rate of the power anglers that he crosses paths with on his various outings.

He wrote: “Since Jan. 7, north-central Texas anglers have been kept at bay by what we consider a dreadful winter-time spell of cold, dreary, sunless days. But as of Jan. 15, a mid-winter thaw settled in across the area with mild daytime temperatures warming the surrounding landscape.
Jan. 16 started off mostly cloudy, but by mid-afternoon, the clouds broke apart and the skies turned bright and sunny. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 39 degrees and the afternoon high was a comfortable 66 degrees. A light wind blew out of the south-by-southeast at 3 to 6 mph. The barometric pressure measured 29.72.

“I opted to take advantage of this mild-weather and conducted a four-hour bank-walking excursion to two nearby municipal reservoirs.
“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar listed the prime fishing periods occurring from 6:31 a.m. to 8:31 a.m. and 6:58 p.m. and 8:58 p.m. A minor period was expected to occur from 12:18 a.m. to 2:18 a.m. I fish from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“The black bass fishing in north-central Texas has been wretched since the beginning of this new year, and this trend continued today. Recent cold rains have muddied the local waterways, and I haven’t seen an angler afloat on the larger reservoirs for days on end.

“My first stop for the day was a community reservoir that is a little over 100 yards long and about 60 yards wide. The water’s clarity was muddy, with about six inches of visibility. The water level appeared to be normal. I didn’t have the means to measure the water’s temperature.

“This reservoir features a relatively straight northern shoreline that is shallow, and it is endowed with a thin and shallow mud flat along its eastern end. A concrete structure that surrounds a large outlet is positioned near the center section of this shoreline. A large island occupies the western portion of this reservoir and two creek channels course along the island’s northern and southern shorelines. A mud shoreline borders the east side of the reservoir, and it is relatively steep. The southern shoreline is enhanced by a decorative concrete and stone wall that borders a shallow mud point.

“I began plying the south end of the east shoreline with a customized 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ tube rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. I caught one chunky 15-inch largemouth bass on my first cast, as I retrieved it parallel to the shoreline in three feet of water with a subtle hop-and-bounce presentation. I also wielded a four-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, but it failed to induce any strikes. For the next two hours, I slowly dissected the east, north, and west shorelines, as well as the creek channels by the island, and the mud point adjacent to the concrete and stone decorative wall on the south shoreline, but all these areas failed to surrender any other bass.

“After I finished fishing the first reservoir, I made the 20-minute drive to the second reservoir, which is about two-acres in size.

“The water in this small reservoir was muddy, exhibiting about six inches of visibility. The water level was slightly high.

“The east shoreline is steep, curved, and adorned with several stands of cattails and sprinkled with a few submerged tree limbs.

“The north shoreline is straight and borders a shallow mud flat. A small creek enters the reservoir from the west end of this shoreline.

“The west shoreline is mostly shallow with several stands of cattails that line the water’s edge, but a creek channel that enters from the northwest portion of this reservoir forms a steep channel bank along the north end of the west shoreline.
“The south shoreline consists of a decorative concrete and stone dam that is about eight feet high. Two large and submerged rock piles lie about 25 feet in front of the center of the dam, and both piles are covered with about three to four feet of water. A brush pile also enhances the dam area, and it is situated in four feet of water and about 15 feet in front of the east end of the dam. The entire bottom area around the dam is covered with softball size rocks.

“This tiny reservoir yielded only two largemouth bass, and both were taken from four feet of water along the steep channel bank along the northwest shoreline. Both of these bass were hooked on a Z-Man’s black-blue Scented LeechZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a slow drag-and-shake retrieve. I also employed several other Z-Man finesse baits rigged on different sizes and colors of Gopher jigs, but I was unable to entice any other bites. Six other power-anglers were also fishing this waterway, and they were using thick seven-inch plastic worms, large tandem-bladed spinnerbaits, and jig-n-pig combos, but none of them were able to entice a strike.”

“Overall, I struggled to eke out three largemouth bass during four trying hours of fishing, and these three bass are the first ones that I have caught this year. The only productive baits were a Z-Man’s black-blue Scented LeechZ and a customized 2 1/2-inch black-blue-flake FattyZ tube. A drag-and shake retrieve allured two largemouth bass and a subtle hop-and-bounce presentation attracted one.”

Jan. 17 log

Steve Reideler posted the following log on the Finesse News Network about his Jan. 17 outing.

He wrote: “I made a 50-mile journey to Rockwall, Texas, where I joined Ralph Manns for an afternoon foray at a three-acre community reservoir behind his home.

“According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing periods would occur from 7:17 a.m. to 9:17 a.m. and 7:45 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. A minor period would take place from 1:03 a.m. to 3:03 a.m. Ralph and I were afloat from about 2:15 p.m. to about 5:15 p.m.

“It was a beautiful and sunny winter day in north-central Texas. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 37 degrees and the afternoon high was a pleasant 66 degrees. A brisk wind blew out of the northwest at 10 to 20 mph. The barometric pressure was steady at 29.95.

“This three-acre reservoir lies in a southeast to northwest direction. One small feeder creek enters the water along the east shoreline in the lower third of the reservoir. A second feeder creek enters along the southeast corner of the pond. A mud dam forms the boundary on the northwestern end. The main creek channel courses its way northward from the southeast corner northwards through the middle of the pond and ends at the dam. Small patches of dead American water willows are scattered along the shoreline, and several small beds of submerged hydrilla occur throughout this waterway and have now died back. The shorelines are adorned with a couple of decorative stone walls. A concrete culvert and ditch cuts across a shallow mud flat. There are several submerged brush piles and laydowns. There is a long mud bar that extends westward from the southeastern section of the reservoir.

“This watershed was stained with about two and a half feet of visibility. The pond’s surface temperature was 48 degrees. Its water level appeared to be normal.

“We began the outing fishing three brush piles situated along the northeast shoreline. These brush piles surrendered one largemouth bass, and it was caught from three feet of water next to one of the brush piles.

“As we worked our way southward along the east shoreline, we checked the concrete culvert and ditch, and the deep-water edge of a large mud flat along the east shoreline. These structures failed to yield any bass.

“The next area we probed was a deep hydrilla bed located in 13 feet of water next to the main creek channel in the middle of the reservoir. We plied this area for about 45 minutes, but we failed to elicit a strike.
“We then targeted several brush piles and laydowns along the west shoreline, and none of these black bass lairs produced a single bite.

“After we fished the west shoreline, we focused on the south shoreline and the mud bar that extends from the southeast shoreline. The south shoreline failed to yield any bass. One largemouth bass was caught from the top of the mud bar, and this bass was extracted from six feet of water.

“We then investigated the east creek arm, and the back portions of this creek arm relinquished one largemouth bass that was relating to the edge of the creek channel in about four feet of water.

“We finished the outing by fishing the mud dam along the northwest end of the reservoir, and it failed to yield a largemouth bass.

“In sum,the fishing was dismal. Ralph caught three largemouth bass on a Cabela’s 1/16-ounce brown-orange marabou jig with no trailer, and it was retrieved with a slow drag-and-shake presentation. I failed to garner a single strike on a vast array of Z-Man’s finesse baits: four-inch Finesse WormZs, Finesse ShadZs, customized 2 1/2-inch FattyZ tubes, customized 2 1/4-inch FattyZ tails, Scented LeechZs, Finesse T.R.D.s, and Hula StickZs. All of these Z-Man baits were rigged on a variety of colors and sizes of Gopher jigs and implemented with all six of the Midwest finesse retrieves.”

Jan. 18 log

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

He wrote: “I joined Rick Allen of Dallas, Texas, for a 45-mile venture to an 80-acre reservoir that lies north of Decatur, Texas.

“It was a vibrant and sunny winter day. The bluebird-colored sky was cloudless. The morning low temperature was 34 degrees and the afternoon high reached a spring-like 68 degrees. The wind quartered out of the south-by-southwest at 10 to 20 mph, with frequent 25 mph gusts. The barometric pressure was high at 30.35.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the optimum fishing periods would occur from 8:13 a.m. to 10:13 a.m. and 8:42 p.m. to 10:42 p.m. A minor period would occur from 1:57 a.m. to 3:57 a.m. We were afloat from about 12:30 p.m. to about 3:30 p.m.

“Rick and I have not fished this reservoir since Nov. 25, 2014, when the water temperature was 52 degrees, the water level was about three feet below normal, and we caught and released 14 largemouth bass during the three hours that we were afloat.

“On this Jan. 18 undertaking, the water was muddy with about one foot of visibility. The water level was about four feet below normal pool. The water’s surface temperature varied from 43 degrees in the southeast corner of this reservoir to 44 degrees in its main feeder-creek arm.

“We launched the boat in the southeast corner of the reservoir and began fishing our way northward along the east shoreline. This shoreline is fairly steep. It is adorned with two small feeder creeks, thick stands of flooded timber, stumps, several submerged hydrilla beds, and two brush piles. The flooded timber areas begin about halfway up the reservoir, and it covers the entire northern half of this reservoir.

“Rick and I began the outing wielding a customized 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ tube rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was employed with a drag-and-shake retrieve. We failed to engender any strikes.

After we finished dissecting the east shoreline, we made our way over to the south end of the reservoir, which is formed by a clay and gravel dam and accented with a thin wall of hydrilla that stretches along the length of the dam. We continued to employ the 2 1/2-inch FattyZ tubes and slow drag-and-shake technique, but this area failed to yield any bass.

“After we finished plying the dam area, we slowly sauntered our way northward along the west shoreline. The west shoreline is comprised of a large mud flat and is adorned with a large hydrilla bed, two partially submerged laydowns, and a few widely scattered flooded trees standing in six to eight feet of water. We caught three largemouth bass along this bank, and they were relating to the large hydrilla bed in three feet of water. All three of these bass were tempted by the 2 1/2-inch FattyZ tube, which was manipulated with a drag-and-shake presentation.

“We continued to work our way northward into the northern half of the reservoir. The north end of this reservoir narrows down into a main feeder-creek arm, and it is enhanced with thick stands of flooded timber, stumps, and brush piles lining both sides of the main creek channel. The creek channel is about 12 feet deep and winds its way through the center of the feeder-creek arm. We caught only one largemouth bass, and it was extracted from three feet of water next to the tip of a steep secondary point, which is situated about halfway up the feeder-creek arm. This bass was allured by the 2 1/2-inch FattyZ tube and a slow drag-and-shake retrieve. The rest of this feeder-creek arm failed to surrender any other bass.

“After we finished fishing the north feeder-creek arm, we decided to return to the southeast end of the east shoreline, where we began our outing. We fished the east shoreline again, and this second time around, it relinquished two largemouth bass. Both of these bass were milling about in six to eight feet of water and about 10 to 15 feet away from a large hydrilla bed. They were coaxed into striking a customized 3 1/4-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was retrieved with a drag-and-shake presentation. We also tried a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, the customized 2 1/2-inch black-blue-flake FattyZ tube on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 1/2-inch black-blue ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, but none of these lures were able to muster another strike.

“Overall, the black bass fishing in north-central Texas remains slow and tedious. When we first arrived at this reservoir, we had serious doubts that we could generate any strikes in this cold and muddy water. But during this three-hour endeavor, we were able to scrounge up six largemouth bass. Four of these six bass were fooled by the customized 2 1/2-inch black-blue-flake FattyZ tube, and two were snookered by the customized 3 1/4-inch black-blue-flake FattyZ. The Junebug Finesse ShadZ and 2 1/2-inch black-blue ZinkerZ failed to conjure any strikes.

“We experimented with all six Midwest finesse presentations, and only the drag-and-shake presentation was productive.”

IMG_1490

Rick Allen with one of the largemouth bass that he and Steve Reideler caught. This one was caught on a a customized 3 1/4-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

****************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Charlie Croom of Fayetteville, Arkansas, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his Jan. 18 outing with his father at a 500-acre power-plant reservoir. It was their first outing of 2015.

Here is an edited and condensed version of his report:

The National Weather Service noted that it was 24 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 62 degrees at 3:53 p.m. It was sunny. From 10:53 a.m. to 4:53 p.m., the wind angled out of the west and southwest at 10 to 35 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.15 at 12:53 a.m., 30.19 at 5:53 a.m., 30.16 at 11:53 a.m., 30.04 at 2:53 p.m., and 30.02 at 5:53 p.m.
The water level was nearly normal. There was a slight algae bloom, and the visibility ranged from three to four feet of clarity. The surface temperature ranged from 66 degrees to 67 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best fishing should take place from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and 8:29 p.m. to 10:29 p.m. A minor period occurred from 1:45 a.m. to 3:45 a.m.

Upon our arrival at the boat ramp, we noticed that the parking lot was full and on the verge of becoming overfilled, which is a normal phenomenon at this popular wintertime fishery. We knew the wind was predicted to be extremely gusty during the afternoon, and we figured that it would send a bunch of the anglers home. So, we decided to wait until after lunch to get started.

We fished from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

We started out by looking for schools of deep-water largemouth bass with the help of our down-imaging unit, which pinpointed a massive concentration of fish, but we could not extract a largemouth bass from it.

We spent the next 30 minutes looking for spawning beds, but we saw only two of them, which told us that the largemouth bass were somewhere between deep water and the shallow spawning areas.

For the first hour, I quickly plied the shorelines and my dad strolled a Texas rigged Roboworm’s 4 1/2-inch Aaron’s Magic Straight Tail Worm on a seven-foot baitcasting rig. We failed to catch a fish.

During that first hour, the wind began to roar, gusting to 35 mph. And as we had hoped, the wind and waves sent scores of anglers home, and the others huddled in the wind-protected coves.


Most of the anglers that we observed were fishing way too fast. It was likely that the wind and all of the frustrations that the wind provokes caused these anglers to over fish their baits, and that was exactly what we had hoped for: a bunch of worm fishermen who were buzzing down the bank and fishing way too fast. At that point, I knew it was time to start using a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ affixed to a 1/8-ounce green-pumpkin mushroom-style jig with a hook guard. The jig is made by Dave Reeves of Lansing, Kansas. I wielded this rig on a six-foot, nine-inch Falcon drop-shot rod spooled with 10-pound-test SpiderWire Ultracast Fluoro-Braid and Yo-Zuri Hybrid Fluorocarbon/Nylon Line.

We found a small main-lake cove that was devoid of anglers. It was also embellished with several new laydowns. I made short pitches with the ZinkerZ rig to shaded areas around the laydowns, and my dad focused on the open-water areas in front of the boat. I caught a largemouth bass on my third pitch, which caused me to keep fishing shallow for 30 minutes. And that was a mistake because we failed to catch another largemouth bass from those shallow-water lairs in this cove.

After we finished fishing that small cove, we decided to look for a larger cove with a creek channel meandering through it. And we were heartened to discover that our favorite cove did not have a boat in it. We began fishing in the back of this cove, and straightaway the ZinkerZ rig caught a largemouth bass that was inhabiting a pea-gravel secondary point, and it was abiding in deeper water than the first one we caught. But then we spent the next half hour dissecting pea-gravel secondary points, where we failed to garner a strike. Then I decided to make a long cast into the submerged creek channel, which was lying in 20 feet of water, and laced with brush piles. As soon as the ZinkerZ rig hit bottom, a largemouth bass grabbed it and started swimming towards the boat. From that moment on, we sat in the same spot for another hour, and we caught eight largemouth bass. We used several presentations to beguile these fish. One was a slow drag-and-deadstick presentation, and at times we deadsticked the ZinkerZ rig for 20 seconds. We also employed a drag-and-shake retrieve. And with these first two presentations, we had to keep the baits in contact with the bottom. But we did elicit several strikes when we popped the ZinkerZ rig loose when it became partially hung up on a limb of a submerged brush pile. As the bite began to peter out, we began to employ a pendulum presentation, which inveigled three largemouth bass. None of the strikes were detectable, and it was especially difficult to detect a strike when the wind created a bow in our lines and moved the boat around. The bites can be best described as phantom-like, exhibiting a soggy feeling on the line.

IMG_8177

This is what the creek-channel lair looked like electronically where the Crooms caught eight largemouth bass.

The wind blew so hard that we couldn’t fish the best spot until 5:00 p.m. Even then we had a difficult time maintaining proper boat control and executing precise casts to a laydown on the deep side of a main-lake point. We had to cast beyond the laydown. Then count the bait down to the bottom, and once it reached the bottom, we had to pull the bait over each limb and allow it to fall back down to the bottom. We caught eight large bass at that laydown during the last 20 minutes of our outing. Every one of them was caught after the ZinkerZ rig was pulled over the limb and fell to the bottom, and they engulfed it as it was lying dead still on the bottom. These largemouth bass were caught in eight to 14 feet of water. Unlike the phantom-like bites we had in the center of the submerged creek channel, the bites around this laydown were very detectible.

In sum, we caught 21 largemouth bass in four hours. The most fruitful locale was in the back half of a spawning cove that had a submerged creek channel coursing through it, and these largemouth bass were caught in 15 to 20 feet of water around brush piles in the center of the submerged creek channel. The best bait was the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ rig. We employed three retrieves: drag and deadstick, drag and shake, and pendulum. (The pendulum presentation is what some Midwest anglers call a swim and glide retrieve, and at times they also shake the bait as it swims and glides.)

IMG_8161

This is one of the 21 largemouth bass that the Crooms caught. This one was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ affixed to a 1/8-ounce green-pumpkin mushroom-style jig with a hook guard.

Jan. 19 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, invited me to hop into his boat on Jan. 19 and fish a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir, where the largemouth bass fishing has been awry for many months on end.

This was Gum’s first outing in 2015. The last time that he was afloat occurred on Dec. 13, when he and Greg Monahan of Lees Summit, Missouri, fished this power-plant reservoir and eked out only six largemouth bass. Three days before his last outing of 2014, Gum and I fished this same waterway on Dec. 10, and we endured some of the most bitterly cold weather that we have ever fished in, and we struggled mightily to catch 11 largemouth bass.

This Jan. 19 was only my second outing of 2015. My first one occurred at this reservoir on Jan. 2, when I caught only 11 largemouth bass.
Until 2014, the early winter largemouth bass fishing at this reservoir was stellar. For instance, Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, caught 45 largemouth bass in three hours and 20 minutes at this reservoir on Jan. 7, 2013. Then Travis Perret and I caught 51 largemouth bass on Jan. 15, 2013 in three hours and 15 minutes.

By Jan. 1, ice had begun to cover all of our non-power-plant reservoirs, which relegated northeastern Kansas anglers to this reservoir or a 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir that is a nightmare to fish if the wind blows more than 10 mph.

On Jan. 14, winter took a hiatus, causing area thermometers around Lawrence, Kansas, climbed from a low of nine degrees during the morning hours of Jan. 14 to a high of 67 degrees at 2:52 p.m. on Jan. 19. As this hiatus unfolded, Gum, Hebentreit, and I were hoping to fish this 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir on Jan. 15. But we discovered that the power-plant was not generating electricity, and the water temperature was becoming ice cold. Thus, we opted not to make the 76-mile journey.

On Jan. 18, Gum contacted me, saying that he was told that the power-plant was functioning, and he thought we should attempt to fish it.

Upon our arrival at the boat ramp, it looked as if the power plant was generating electricity. But to our chagrin, we discovered after we launched the boat that ice covered some parts of this reservoir, and the surface temperature within the area that we traditionally describe as the warm-water plume ranged from 37 degrees to 48 degrees.

In years past, we found that insignificant plunges and wild variations of the water temperature creates problematic largemouth bass fishing for Midwest finesse anglers, as well as for power anglers, who fish this reservoir.

Despite the water temperature issues, the water level looked to be nearly normal. But the water was stained with a minor algae bloom, which allowed us to see a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. and chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig about 10 inches under the surface.

The National Weather Service in Olathe, Kansas, noted that it was 31 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 63 degrees from 1:53 p.m. to 3:53 p.m. Until around 1:00 p.m., when some altostratus clouds appeared, the China-blue sky was virtually cloudless. The wind was calm for five of the morning hours, and when it wasn’t calm, it angled out of the northwest at 5 to 8 mph, out of the west at 5 to 6 mph, and out of the southwest at 5 to 14 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.96 at 12:53 a.m., 29.93 at 5:53 a.m., 29.92 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.84 at 3:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing should take place from 8:56 a.m. to 10:56 a.m. and 9:26 p.m. to 11:26 p.m. There would be a minor period from 2:42 a.m. to 4:42 a.m. We fished from 9:35 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
We fished the end of one bluff, where the surface temperature was 37 degrees, and we failed to elicit a strike.

We fished another bluff, which is about 200 yards long. It is endowed with several laydowns, some man-made brushpiles, rock slides, piles of boulders, and many ledges. The boat floated in 10 to 16 feet of water. The surface temperature along this bluff ranged from 40 to 42 degrees, and we failed to garner a strike.

We fished a small main-lake point adjacent to the second bluff, where the surface temperature was 39 degrees, and we failed to elicit a strike.

We fished another point that is adjacent to that bluff, and this locale is graced with a submerged creek channel. Within a span of 120 feet, the surface temperature ranged from 40 to 42 degrees. We did not catch a largemouth bass, and we did not get a strike.

We fished a riprap point at the warm-water outlet, where the surface temperature ranged from 39 degrees on the outside edge of the outlet to 48 degrees along the inside edge of the outlet. We did not elicit a strike.

We fished a mud flat that is endowed with several ridges and secondary points, and the current from the outlet flows across the flat, ridges, and secondary points. The surface temperature ranged from 47 to 48 degrees. We did not get a strike at this locale.

We fished a massive clay and gravel flat that is graced with a radically meandering ledge, some boulders, a few stumps, and current from the outlet. The surface temperature ranged from 47 to 48 degrees. We failed to catch a largemouth bass, but we inadvertently caught one humongous freshwater drum and three wipers as the boat floated in four to nine feet of water.

We fished a large, shallow, flat point that separates two coves. It is graced with two humps, some stumps, ledges, rocks, gravel, clay, boulders, laydowns and two submerged creek-channels. The current from the warm-water outlet flows across it, and the surface temperature ranged from 47 to 48 degrees. The boat floated in three to seven feet of water. We caught 12 largemouth bass, and inadvertently caught four white bass. Eight of the largemouth bass were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company’s Coppertreuse Zero affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a drag-and-deadstick presentation. Two largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a slow drag-and-shake retrieve. One largemouth bass was caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and a slow drag-and-subtle-shake retrieve. One largemouth bass was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s purple-haze ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve. The boat floated in three to 6 1/2 feet of water, and the largemouth bass were extracted from two to four feet of water. Throughout the outing, this point was fished by anglers in four other boats.

Shortly after we caught largemouth No. 12, we headed home with hopes dancing in our heads that the ice would soon disappear on our non-power-plant reservoirs so we would not have to make the 76-mile journey to this trying waterway for the rest of the winter of 2014-15.

DSCN0581

Bob Gum with one of the 12 largemouth bass that we struggled to find and catch on Jan. 19. This one was caught on a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. and chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

************************************************************************************************************************************************************
Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed this report on the Finesse News Network about his Jan. 19 outing.

He wrote: “A local morning television broadcast reported that Jan. 19 is considered the gloomiest and most depressing day of the year. But I felt neither gloomy nor depressed. Instead, I enjoyed a delightful afternoon at a nearby 21,280-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir, where the fishing can perhaps make some folks gloomy and depressed.

“I last fished this reservoir on Dec. 22, 2014, and during that four-hour undertaking, I worked hard to catch seven largemouth bass.

“On Jan. 19, the National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 40 degrees and the afternoon high warmed up to a balmy 71 degrees. The day was quite picturesque, with gorgeous sun-filled cobalt-blue skies. The wind quartered out of the southwest at 5 to 10 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.01.

“The weather has been spring-like for the past several days, and when I arrived at the boat ramp, I observed several temperate bass fishermen on the water for the first time this year. I was also amazed to see another first for this year: a ski boat pulling a water skier donned in a wet suit.

“This reservoir’s water color has begun to settle after our recent rains, changing from a dark muddy brown hue to a more pleasant stained-green tint that exhibited about two feet of clarity. The water’s surface temperature varied from 44 degrees along the face of the dam to 47 degrees in the southwest tributary arm of the reservoir. The Texas Water Development Board listed the water level at 7.27 feet below normal pool.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted the best fishing periods would take place between 9:05 a.m. to 11:05 p.m. and 3:52 p.m. to 5:52 p.m. A minor period would occur from 9:41 a.m. to 11:41 a.m. I was afloat from about 11:30 a.m. to about 3:30 p.m.

“I prepared my four spinning rods with the following Z-Man baits: a 3 1/2-inch Pearl Blue Glimmer GrubZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; and a 2 3/4-inch green pumpkin BatwingZ threaded on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

“I began the afternoon plying a four-hundred yard section of the riprap-laden dam, which forms the reservoir’s southern boundary. The first hour was fruitless as I slowly strolled the 3 1/2-inch Pearl Blue Glimmer GrubZ back and forth along the face of the dam in 10 to 23 feet of water. I occasionally stopped and probed a couple of rocky outcroppings that jutted out from the face of the dam with the 3 1/2-inch grub, 2 3/4-inch BatwingZ, and Finesse ShadZ, but I failed to coax any strikes. I then tried the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and it allured two largemouth bass and two freshwater drum. All four of these fish were scattered along the face of the dam in four to six feet of water. I continued to ply the face of the dam for another hour, but I was unable to dredge up any other bass.

“My second spot was the east side of two riprap-covered bridge embankments situated in the southwest tributary arm of the reservoir.

“The southeast embankment of the bridge yielded one largemouth bass that was relating to the embankment in five feet of water, and it was attracted to the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

“The northeast bridge embankment surrendered one largemouth bass. This bass were relating to the deep-water edge of the riprap embankment and was coaxed into striking the 3 1/2-inch Pearl Blue Glimmer GrubZ that was slowly strolled parallel to the embankment in 13 feet of water. The green- pumpkin Finesse ShadZ presented in a slow drag-and-shake manner and the green-pumpkin BatwingZ worked in a slow hop-and-bounce and drag-and-shake presentation went untouched. The west side of the bridge embankment was inaccessible due to a bridge construction project.

“My last spot was the main river channel that courses underneath the bridge in 30 feet of water. I slowly strolled the 3 1/2-inch GrubZ along the top lip of the river channel ledge in 25 to 30 feet of water, but I failed to arouse the interest of any bass.

“All totaled, I caught four largemouth bass and two freshwater drum during this four-hour endeavor. Three of the four largemouth bass and both freshwater drum were allured by the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ and slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The fourth bass was attracted to the 3 1/2-inch Pearl Blue Glimmer GrubZ as it was slowly strolled across the bottom in 13 feet of water.”

Jan. 20 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his Jan. 20 bank-walking endeavors.

He wrote: “Since mid-December of 2014, I have opted to target mostly smaller lakes and ponds with aquatic vegetation in hopes of finding more fruitful wintertime largemouth bass fishing. But for the past several winters, two particular community reservoirs have been a thorn in my side when it comes to wintertime largemouth bass fishing. Both of these small reservoirs are fruitful warm-water venues, but for reasons unknown to me, the largemouth bass fishing shuts down during the cold-water months and the largemouth bass that inhabit these waters elude me during the months of November, December, January, and February. And each winter, I have high hopes of breaking the frustrating and vexing cycle of wretched wintertime fishing at these two waterways, but so far, my efforts have failed miserably.

“This Jan. 20 outing was another one of my attempts to break the baffling and exasperating wintertime cycle at these two reservoirs. I had high hopes that the warm-weather conditions that north-central Texas has been experiencing for the past five days would make the largemouth bass in these two waterways more active and easier to catch.

“The day was a carbon-copy of the previous ones, exhibiting an abundance of radiant sunshine and clear powder-blue skies. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 42 degrees and the afternoon high soared to a warm 75 degrees. A mild-mannered breeze blew out of the northeast at 5 to 10 mph. The barometric pressure was low at 29.78.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing periods would occur between 10:02 a.m. and 12:02 p.m. and 10:31 p.m. and 12:31 a.m. A minor period would take place from 3:47 a.m. to 5:47 a.m. I was afoot from about 12:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.

“The first reservoir I visited lies in a suburb northwest of Dallas. It is about 20-acres in size, and it has been the toughest and most perplexing of the two for me to figure out.

“It consists of a smooth concrete slab dam that forms the southern boundary of the reservoir. The west shoreline is steep and straight with a fishing pier that extends eastward about 75 feet out from the water’s edge. A large and shallow mud flat extends across the upper third of the reservoir, and it is lined with thick stands of cattails. The east shoreline is steep and curved, and it is endowed with a 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. The bottom of the reservoir is covered with large hydrilla beds that have now turned brown.
“The water was stained, exhibiting about 2 1/2 feet of visibility. The water level appeared normal. I was unable to measure the water’s temperature.

“I fished this reservoir six times in November and December, and as each month unfolded, each outing resulted in diminishing results. On November 6, 2014, I caught four largemouth bass; on November 8, I eked out one largemouth bass; and on November 10 and November 29, I failed to entice a single bite. On Dec. 4, I caught one largemouth bass, and it was the first bass I had ever caught from this watershed during the month of December.Then on Dec. 18, I enjoyed my best December outing at this reservoir by tangling with three largemouth bass. After that outing, I thought that I was on the verge of finally figuring out this baffling waterway, but after my Jan. 20 outing, I realized I had been fantasizing rather than understanding the goings on of the largemouth bass that abide in this 20-acre impoundment.

“On this Jan. 20 foray, I plied the prominent point that extends from the east shoreline, the steep west bank, the area around the fishing pier, and the entire face of the concrete dam. I primarily used two lures: a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Both of these baits were employed with a slow swim-glide-shake retrieve, drag-and-shake retrieve, and hop-and-bounce retrieve, and I failed to garner a single strike. Consequently, the cycle of horrid wintertime bass fishing continues at this reservoir.

“The second reservoir I visited is situated in a suburb northeast of Dallas. It is about 12 acres in size. In the past I have stopped fishing this reservoir between mid-December and mid-March when the bass seemed to develop lockjaw and the fishing became too miserable to pursue.

“The water in this pond is usually muddy with about one foot of visibility. But on this Jan. 20 endeavor, I discovered the water had cleared somewhat from muddy to stained with about 1 1/2-feet of visibility. The water level was normal.

“I started by plying this reservoir’s southeastern cove. This cove is formed by steep mud and fist-size rock shorelines. A submerged creek channel or ditch winds its way across this cove from the south shoreline to the northeastern corner of the cove. A broad mud and gravel point courses outward toward deeper water from the south shoreline and forms the mouth to the cove. I caught two largemouth bass from this cove. One was extracted from four feet of water along the west side edge of the submerged creek channel near the south shoreline. The other was caught from five feet of water along the east side lip of the submerged creek channel in the northeast corner of the cove.

“I then probed a prominent sand and gravel point that extends from the east shoreline and divides the southeast and northeast coves, and it produced three strikes, but I failed to hook these three fish.

“I then worked my way into the northeastern cove, which encompasses a large mud flat with a small submerged ditch that courses across the middle of the cove from the east shoreline toward the west shoreline. I failed to entice any strikes.

“I finished the outing fishing the northern shoreline, which is mostly straight and adorned with a three foot mud and gravel ledge that extends outward from the water’s edge and drops off into five feet of water. I caught three largemouth bass from this area, and they were hooked in three feet of water, and all of them were scattered along the top of the ledge. I hooked a fourth largemouth bass along the top of this same ledge, but it was able to pull free before I could land it.

“Overall, I had mixed results. The first and toughest pond failed to yield a single bite, and it continues to be a trying and baffling wintertime venue.

“The second pond was more fruitful. I was delighted that it surrendered five largemouth bass, and I’m beginning to think that I am making some progress with this reservoir. I missed three additional strikes and had another largemouth bass liberate itself before I could land it. All five of these bass, the three missed strikes, and the one lost bass were coaxed into striking a customized 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ tube rigged on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig that was implemented with a slow drag-and-shake presentation. I also experimented with a Z-Man’s 2 1/2-inch black-blue-flake ZinkerZ affixed on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, but it failed to muster a single strike.”

 Jan. 22 log

On Jan. 1, ice began to cover the non-power-plant reservoirs that stipple the countryside of northeastern Kansas. On Jan. 20, the ice began to melt. In fact, many of the farm ponds that lie on the south side of Interstate 35 were virtually ice-free by the afternoon of Jan. 22, but our bigger flatland reservoirs were still ice covered.

Consequently, Midwest finesse anglers hereabouts have been relegated to fishing for black bass that reside in either a 2,600-acre or a 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir for the past 22 days.

On Jan. 19, Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, and I fished the 2,600-acre one, where we struggled to catch 12 largemouth bass. We suspected that a lot of our woes during that outing revolved around the fact that the power plant was not generating electricity, causing the water temperature to plummet. While Gum and I were afloat, the surface temperature ranged from 37 degrees to 48 degrees within the warm-water plume. Traditionally, the surface temperature within the warm-water plume during January ranges from 42 to 53 degrees, and in late December, we have fished it when the surface temperature ranged from 52 to 62 degrees. Across the years we have discovered that whenever the power plant stops creating electricity and the water temperature drops radically, Midwest finesse anglers, as well as power anglers, have a difficult time locating and catching this reservoir’s largemouth bass.

On Jan. 22, the power plant at the 2,600-acre reservoir was still not generating electricity. Therefore, I made the 73-mile journey to the 5,090-acre one. This was my first winter outing at this reservoir since Jan. 28, 2011. I had stopped fishing the reservoir because the wind is often too intense and even hazardous. In fact, whenever the wind blows 20 mph or more from the north during the winter, the reservoir’s gatekeepers prohibit anglers from launching their boats, and they also alter anglers who are on the water to get off. What’s more, the geological makeup of most of the acreage within the warm-water plume, in my eyes, is not an appealing area for a Midwest finesse angler to fish, and the area that is appealing is relatively small and overfished.

An example of how overfished the warm-water outlet can be occurred on Jan. 18, when there were 63 anglers afloat, and the preponderance of them were probing the outlet.

The National Weather Service in Emporia, Kansas, noted that it was 27 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 37 degrees from 12:53 p.m. to 3:53 p.m. The sky was fair from 12:53 a.m. to 6:53 p.m., mostly cloudy from 7:53 a.m. to 8:53 a.m., and overcast from 9:53 a.m. to 2:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the north at 6 to 8 mph, out of the northwest at 5 mph, out of the northeast at 5 to 8 mph, and out of the east at 8 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.37 at 12:53 a.m., 30.42 at 5:53 a.m., 30.48 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.40 at 2:53 p.m. It is interesting to note that one of the reservoir’s gatekeepers told me when I was preparing to launch my boat that the wind at this reservoir usually blows at least 5 mph faster than it does elsewhere in northeastern Kansas, and when I was launching my boat, this gatekeeper reported that the wind was blowing out of the northeast at 13 mph, which was considerably faster than it was blowing at the NWS’s office at nearby Emporia, Kansas.

The water level looked to be nearly normal. For a flatland reservoir in northeastern Kansas, the water was astonishingly clear, exhibiting six feet of visibility at some locales. The surface temperature at the boat ramp, which is in the southwest fringe of the warm-water plume, was 45 degrees. The surface temperature along the riprap shoreline inside the warm-water outlet ranged from 69 to 72 degrees, and along two flat clay points inside the outlet, the surface temperature was 69 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing should occur from 11:31 a.m. to 1:31 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. to 1:59 a.m. A minor period took place from 5:45 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. I fished from 10:35 a.m. to 2:35 p.m.

When we used to fish this reservoir in the winter, we often spent most of the time fishing the cold-water lairs in the southern half of the reservoir rather than fishing around the warm-water outlet and the offshore lairs that are within the warm-water plume. One of the reasons we did that was because the outlet was usually too crowded and the wind made the offshore lairs difficult to fish. Back in those days, we spent much of our time searching for largemouth bass and smallmouth bass rather than catching them, and to our chagrin, we found only a few cold-water lairs that would yield some smallmouth bass and an occasional largemouth bass. On a productive 4 1/2- to five-hour outing, two of us would tangle with only 20 smallmouth bass and one largemouth bass, which we caught on either a 1/32- or 1/16-ounce gray-and-silver marabou jig that Leroy Spellman of Mt. Vernon, Missouri, manufactured, and these fish were caught along extremely steep sections of riprap or upon a rock-laden hump.

On my Jan. 22 outing, I did not spend a minute searching for largemouth bass and smallmouth bass in the cold-water section of this reservoir. Instead, I spent the entire four hours fishing inside the warm-water outlet. For three hours and 15 minutes, I fished a riprap shoreline that is several hundred yards long. I shared this shoreline with two other boats. Rodney Kirk of Kansas City and a friend were in one of the boats, and they were using Midwest finesse tactics, and they had been fishing this riprap for several hours before I arrived. Kirk reported that he had caught a combination of 27 largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, but he did not say how many his friend had caught. The other boat was manned by a power angler, and I did not see him catch a fish while I was following him, but I saw Kirk catch three.

During the first 90 minutes that I fished the riprap, I caught 11 largemouth bass and five smallmouth bass. Ten of those bass were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. (By the way, Z-Man stopped manufacturing the Rain MinnowZ several years ago.) Six of the 10 bass were caught on a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

Both baits were retrieved with a swim-and-glide presentation. In essence, I was attempting to do what the late Charlie Brewer of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, called polishing the rocks. There was significant current coursing along the riprap, and I allowed the current to move the baits rather than using my rod and reel to move them. I think these baits were delicately ricocheting off of the boulders and rocks, but since it was a no-feel presentation, I rarely felt a ricochet.

DSCN0582

This is the first fish of the outing. It was caught on the Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ and chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, which is placed below this largemouth bass’ head.  bass.

The Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ is a salt-free bait and extremely buoyant – especially when it is rigged on a 1/32-ounce jig. This rig has always been a stellar shallow-water performer at this reservoir, and on this outing it extracted largemouth bass and smallmouth bass out of two to four feet of water. I never felt any of the bass engulf the Rain MinnowZ.

The Finesse T.R.D. is impregnated with salt, and it sinks. I used it and the 1/16-ounce Gopher jig to ply deeper sections of the riprap, and it extracted largemouth bass and smallmouth bass out of three to nine feet of water.

From noon until 2:00 p.m., I struggled to catch three largemouth bass and two smallmouth bass. Three of them were caught on a Z-Man’s PB&J Rain MinnowZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and three were caught on the Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. During this two hour struggle to catch six bass, I also spent 15 minutes dissecting two flat, clay and gravel points inside the outlet, and the Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve caught one largemouth bass. The other four bass were caught along the riprap and current.

During the last 30 minutes that I was afloat, I caught four smallmouth bass and three largemouth bass along the riprap. I inadvertently caught two white bass, and one freshwater drum.

Three of the smallmouth bass were caught on the Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. Two were caught in two to three feet of water with the swim-and-glide presentation, and one was caught in about six feet of water with a straight-swim retrieve along the bottom as I was attempting to polish the rocks the way Charlie Brewer would do it.

The three largemouth bass were caught on the Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a straight-swim retrieve on a small rocky shelf in five to eight feet of water. The two white bass and freshwater drum were caught on the same bait and shelf.

In sum, I caught 17 largemouth bass and 11 smallmouth bass. And only three of those bass exhibited any recent hook scars, which is a rare phenomenon to experience with this reservoir’s warm-water outlet. In the 69- to 72-degree water, all of the fish exhibited a feisty demeanor when they were hooked, and most of them performed several acrobatic leaps that reached a foot or so above the surface.

DSCN0584

This is my first smallmouth bass in 2015. It was inveigled on a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D and red 1/6-ounce Gopher jig, and it is situated below this fish.

 

Jan. 25 log

Don Baldridge of Springfield, Missouri, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network on Jan. 25 about his Jan. 10, 13, and 23 outings.

He noted that all of the small waterways that he fishes had been covered with ice until after the middle of January, which relegated him to walking the shoreline at a warm-water outlet at a power plant that is very heavily fished.

In his log, he noted that the deepest spot in this outlet is covered with about five feet of water. The current is swift. It is also chock full of snaggy rocks and boulders.

When he fished it on Jan. 10 with a Z-Man’s MinnowZ, which was rigged weedless on a red Gamatatsu 4/0 Offset Shank Worm EWG hook and a Bass Pro Shops’ 1/8-ounce clamp on weight, he learned a lot about the outlet’s hidden rocks, boulders, and swirling eddies. And while he was learning, he tangled with 10 largemouth bass. He watched a few of his fellow anglers wield four-inch finesse worms that were affixed to either a shaky-head jig or a split-shot rig. During this outing, Baldridge concluded that it was an unsuitable environment for employing a standard Midwest finesse rig, such as a Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZ or 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ on a mushroom-style jig with an exposed hook.

On his Jan. 13 outing, he decided to Texas rig a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ to a small worm hook and a 1/16-ounce bullet or slip sinker. He cast the rig to the middle of the current and let the Finesse ShadZ slip and slide through the rocks. If a fish didn’t engulf it immediately, he employed a very slow retrieve that he punctuated with a deadstick motif. In his mind’s eyes, he pictured the slip sinker lying on the bottom and the Finesse ShadZ quivering alluringly above it. Ultimately, one crappie and eight largemouth bass were allured by it during the two hours that he was walking the shoreline of this outlet. He readily confessed that catching eight largemouth bass was “no great accomplishment unless you consider that the other anglers caught maybe one or none.”

On January 23, he launched his kick boat onto a 318-acre community reservoir. The Weather Underground noted that the low temperature was 20 degrees and the high temperature was 43 degrees. Throughout the day, the sky was clear except from 9:52 a.m. to 12:52 p.m., when it fluctuated from being hazy to partly cloudy. The wind angled out of the northwest with gusts that reached 18 mph. The barometric pressure ranged from 30.33 at 12:52 a.m. to 30.03 at 11:52 p.m. The surface temperature ranged from 40 to 42 degrees.

He worked with three rigs: a 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse-laminated ZinkerZ rigged Texas-style on a 1/16-ounce slip-sinker and No. 1 Gamakatsu Offset Shank Worm EWG hook; a 2 1/2-inch Bama Craw ZinkerZ rigged Texas-style on a 1/16-ounce slip-sinker and No. 1 Gamakatsu Offset Shank Worm EWG hook; a 2 1/2-inch Watermelon Candy ZinkerZ rigged Texas-style on a 1/16-ounce slip-sinker and No. 1 Gamakatsu Offset Shank Worm EWG hook. They were attached to eight-pound-test fluorocarbon line.

He fished from 11:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and caught seven largemouth bass and failed to hook four strikes along rocks and drop offs in 10 feet or less of water. He described the bites as being very light and difficult to detect — especially when the wind placed a bow in his line. He admitted that his catch rate was lackluster, but he liked the way these Texas-style and slip-sinker rigged Midwest finesse baits worked in snaggy lairs, as well as the way they undulated and quivered when he retrieved them.

20150123_165303

One of the seven largemouth bass that Baldridge caught on Jan. 23.

************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, filed the following brief on the Finesse News Network about his outing on Jan. 25 with his son-in-law, Preston Parks of Pittsboro, North Carolina. It reveals how trying wintertime largemouth bass fishing can be.

He wrote that they fished a 1,100-acre reservoir, where the surface temperature was 44 degrees, and the water clarity exhibited five feet of visibility. From 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., they wielded several colors of 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZs with a rattle inserted and affixed to a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, as well as Rapala Shad Raps and other kinds of jigs. And they failed to catch a fish. He jokingly ended his brief by writing: “I didn’t have enough line on my reel to reach what few baitfish we saw on the bottom with our electronics.”

Jan. 27 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his Jan. 27 outing that rivaled the vexing fishing that Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, experienced on Jan. 25.

Reideler wrote: “It felt more like spring than winter in north-central Texas on Jan. 27. The sun was radiant and filled the unclouded China-blue sky, and it was one of those days where I felt a little extra pep in my steps. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 48 degrees and the afternoon high soared to a warm and delightful 81 degrees. The wind quartered out of the south-by-southeast at 3 to 7 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.01.

“I opted to try a solo jaunt to a nearby 5,107-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir, where I have never been able to catch any largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, or spotted bass during the month of January. So, I was hoping to break that awful trend. But upon my arrival at the boat ramp, I was disheartened to find that all the public boat ramps at this reservoir were closed because of the low water level.

“The Texas Water Development Board listed this reservoir’s water level at 12 feet below normal pool, which is the lowest level I have ever seen it in the 34 years that I have resided in north-central Texas. Consequently, I was forced to return to a nearby 21,280-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir that I fished on Jan. 19, and during that four-hour outing, I could only muster four largemouth bass and two freshwater drum.
“When I arrived at this 21,280-acre reservoir, I was surprised to find that the parking lot was almost full. It was cluttered with ski boats, jet skiers, and other large cruising vessels that were running willy-nilly around this reservoir.

“I fished from about 12:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the optimum fishing periods would take place from 4:25 a.m. to 6:25 a.m. and 4:51 p.m. to 6:51 p.m. A minor period would occur from 10:38 a.m. to 12:38 p.m.
“The water clarity varied from 2 1/2 feet at the dam, which lies at the south end of the reservoir, to about 1 1/2 feet at a bridge embankment in its southwestern arm. The water temperature also varied from 46 degrees at the dam to 49 degrees at that bridge embankment. The Texas Water Development Board listed this reservoir’s water level at 7.07 feet below normal pool.

“During the course of the three hours that I was afloat, I failed to cross paths with a single black bass. Furthermore, the fishing at this reservoir was so tedious and vexing that I ended this outing early and went home.

“I started the outing by slowly strolling a 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Blue Glimmer Sparkle GrubZ attached to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a three-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. I strolled them parallel to the face of the riprap-covered dam in eight to 17 feet of water. After strolling those baits for 95 minutes and failing to entice a strike, I employed a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Both of these baits were presented with all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves, but I could only scrounge up two freshwater drum that attacked the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ that was manipulated with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. They were caught in two to five feet of water and were relating to the riprap along the face of the dam.

After I failed to encounter any black bass along the face of the dam, I fished two bridge embankments in the southwestern arm of the reservoir, eight concrete bridge support pilings, six rocky main-lake points, and a rocky entry point to a large main-lake cove, where I failed to garner a strike.

Jan. 28 log

The last time that I was on a reservoir that wasn’t heated by a power plant was Dec. 29, 2014. It turned out to be a wretched outing at a 100-acre community reservoir that was on the verge of becoming completely covered with ice, and it was so wretched that I failed to garner a strike.

From Jan. 15 to Jan. 28, winter has taken a respite from northeastern Kansas, which has allowed the ice to melt.

On Jan. 27, my wife, Patty, and I went on a short ice-scouting expedition, and we discovered that the 100-acre community reservoir was 95 percent ice free. Until the weather forecasters predicted that the wind would howl out of the south with gusts that approached 30 mph, I thought that I would spend four hours on Jan. 29 fishing that 100-acre community reservoir. But because the wind was supposed to howl, I elected to fish a 195-acre community reservoir, which is a more wind-friendly waterway than the 100-acre one. The last time that I fished the 195-acre community reservoir occurred on Dec. 20, when I caught 25 largemouth bass in 3 1/2 hours. I attempted to fish this reservoir on Jan. 26, but when I arrived at the boat ramp, I was disheartened to see that 60 percent of its 195 acres was covered with ice.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, reported that it was 33 degrees at 3:52 a.m. and 74 degrees at 2:52 p.m. on Jan. 28. The NWS noted that it reached a high of 76 degrees, which was a record. The wind angled out of the southeast at 8 to 10 mph from 12:52 a.m. to 4:52 a.m., out of the east at 8 to 9 mph from 5:52 a.m. to 7:52 a.m., out of the southeast at 8 to 12 mph from 8:52 a.m. to 9:52 a.m., out of the south at 9 to 29 mph from 10:52 a.m. to 3:52 p.m., and out of the west at 15 to 23 mph at 4:52 p.m. The sky exhibited a China-blue hue that was laced and crisscrossed with a multitude of contrails from jet planes. At times during the afternoon, several thin layers of clouds graced the sky, but they didn’t dim the sun’s intensity. The barometric pressure was 30.02 at 12:52 a.m., 29.94 at 5:52 a.m., 29.83 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.70 at 2:52 p.m. According to various weather forecasters, northeastern Kansas’ respite from winter is about to end. In fact, it is predicted that some area thermometers might plummet to zero on Feb. 2.

Before I arrived at one of this reservoir’s boat ramps, I drove around a portion of its 195-acres, and I was shocked to see that this rather long spell of unseasonably warm weather hadn’t melted all of the ice. In fact, 2o percent of one of this reservoir’s four feeder-creek arms was covered, 10 percent of another one was covered, 40 percent of another one was covered, and the fourth creek-arm was virtually ice free. The feeder-creek arm that was 40-percent covered with ice traditionally yields our best wintertime catches, and in fact, there have been several early ice-off days when we have tangled with more than 101 largemouth bass in four hours in the back end of this feeder-creek arm. Initially, I thought about driving to the 100-acre reservoir that Patty and I scouted on Jan. 27, but I decided not to do it because I thought that the wind and unseasonably warm weather would melt the ice before I headed home around 2:00 p.m. Even though we have received only .05 inches of precipitation in January, the water level, for some unknown reason, was a tad above normal and the highest that I have seen it in many months. The water was exceptionally clear. Throughout this outing, the surface temperature ranged from 39 to 41 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing should occur from 5:08 a.m. to 7:08 a.m. and 5:34 p.m. to 7:34 p.m. There would be a minor period from 11:21 p.m. to 1:21 a.m. I fished from 10:00 a.m. to 2:08 p.m., and I spent about 20 minutes of those four hours and eight minutes trying to break up the ice in one of the feeder-creek arms, and about 10 minutes talking to Rodney Hatridge of Shawnee, Kansas, and his grandson.

Besides Hatridge, who is a veteran Midwest finesse angler, there were two other boats afloat, and one of those boats was manned by a pair of Midwest finesse anglers. Hatridge was also wielding a variety of Midwest finesse baits, such as a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ and Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZ, on 1/16-ounce Gopher jigs, and his grandson, however, employed a tiny crankbait. The pair of Midwest finesse anglers were using a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse T.R.D. on a 1/16-ounce jig, a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a 1/16-ounce jig, and a jerkbait. I did not talk with the angler in the third boat.

I spent the bulk of my outing fishing a massive and shallow mud flat in the back of the feeder-creek arm that was virtually free of ice. The boat floated in three to eight feet of water, as I focused on patches of submerged aquatic vegetation. This flat is about the size of three football fields. I shared it with the pair of Midwest finesse anglers who were using a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse T.R.D. on a 1/16-ounce jig, a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a 1/16-ounce jig, and a jerkbait. Hatfield and his grandson also fished the north end this flat for a spell, but they spent most of their outing plying steep, rocky shorelines.

DSCN0601

These are two species of aquatic vegetation that I was fishing around on Jan. 28. The one on the lefty is Eurasian milfoil, and the one on the right is curly-leaf pondweed.

On this flat, I caught 10 largemouth bass, and all of them were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and I employed a strolling or semi-strolling presentation. These largemouth bass were extracted out of three and four feet of water.

I also fished a short stretch of the rock-laden dam, where I employed a homemade 1/16-ounce brown-and-gold hair jig, as I attempted to replicate the way Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, waylays the wintertime largemouth bass in the small flatland reservoirs in central Indiana. I failed to parrot his genius. In fact, I did not elicit a strike.

I also failed to garner a strike when I plied a relatively steep shoreline on the north side of another feeder-creek arm. This shoreline is endowed with ledges, submerged aquatic vegetation, stumps, boulders, brushpiles, and 15 to 30 feet of water lies within a long cast from the water’s edge.

Around 1:25 p.m., it was warm enough that one of the two Midwest finesse anglers with whom I was sharing the massive mud flat with inside one of the feeder-creek arma took off his hooded-sweat shirt and began fishing in a T-shirt. When I saw that, I thought the sun and wind might have begun to melt the ice. So, I ventured to the feeder-creek arm that was 40 percent covered with ice at 10:00 a.m., and I was delighted to discover that the ice was thin enough that I could slowly navigate the boat through it to the shallow and massive mud flat in the very back of this arm, which was totally free of ice. I spent my last 10 minutes of this outing strolling a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig along a narrow stretch of the massive and shallow mud flat. And I caught one largemouth bass, which was extracted from four feet of water. I elicited another strike, which was hooked for a second or two. This flat is the size of five football fields, and on some outings, it takes a long time to locate where the largemouth bass are residing – especially if they are tightly congregated in a patch of submerged vegetation that is smaller than a tennis court, but once they are found, a Midwest finesse angler can catch vast numbers of them.

But I failed to catch vast numbers of largemouth bass on this Jan. 28 outing; in fact, I caught only 11. Rodney Hatfield said that he and his grandson failed to catch even one. At 1:25 p.m. the two Midwest finesse anglers said that they had caught one largemouth bass on a Junebug Finesse T.R.D., one on a Junebug Finesse ShadZ, and one on a jerkbait. The 11 that I caught were allured by Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on either a chartreuse 1/32- or 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. I did not get a strike on a shortened Z-Man’s watermelon-red Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a homemade 1/16-ounce brown-and-gold hair jig.
***********************************************************************************************************************************************************

Steve Reideler filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his Jan. 28 outing with Rick Allen of Dallas, Texas.

He wrote: “North-central Texas has been enjoying a week of unseasonably warm temperatures. Unfortunately, this warm spell is expected to end on Jan. 29 when a cold front is forecast to plow across this area bringing colder temperatures, high winds, and cold rain.

“Jan. 28 was mostly sunny and unseasonably warm. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 40 degrees and the afternoon high rose to 80 degrees. A blustery wind blew steadily out of the southwest at 15 to 25 mph, and the barometric pressure measured 29.96.

“I joined Rick Allen of Dallas, Texas, on a bank-walking foray to three municipal reservoirs. Two of these reservoirs are located in a suburb just north of Dallas, and the third is near Lewisville.

“Rick and I were afoot from about 10:00 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the optimum fishing periods would occur from 5:15 a.m. to 7:15 a.m. and 5:41 p.m. to 7:41 p.m. A minor period would occur from 11:02 a.m. to 1:02 p.m.
The first reservoir we visited 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.

This waterway surrendered six largemouth bass, but we landed only five. One bass was able to unfetter itself from one of our lures before we could land it. All six of these bass were hooked in three to five feet of water and within ten feet of the water’s edge.

We caught one largemouth bass along the northern shoreline. This bass was relating to the top lip of a three foot mud and gravel ledge that extends outward from the water’s edge and drops off into five feet of water.

We then fished our way eastward and probed the east side of the reservoir. This area is comprised of two coves that are divided by a long sand and gravel point. The southeast cove is formed by steep mud and rock shorelines, and a ditch courses through this cove from its northeastern shoreline to its south bank. A mud and gravel point courses outward toward deeper water from the south shoreline and forms the southern mouth to the 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. A small hydrilla bed adorns a small section of the south shoreline of this cove, and another hydrilla bed lies just off the southwest tip of the long sand and gravel point. We caught three largemouth bass that were scattered along the south side of the point. But we were unable to coax any strikes from the northeast cove or southeast cove.

After we finished fishing the southeast cove, we worked our way westward along the southern shoreline, which is formed by a large mud and gravel flat. This area failed to yield any bass.

We finished this visit to this pond by dissecting its west shoreline, which is similar to the north one, and it is comprised of sand, gravel, and a few scattered fist-sized rocks. This shoreline is also enhanced with a shallow ledge that extends about three feet from the water’s edge before slowly descending into five feet of water. We hooked two largemouth bass along the north end of this shoreline, but we were unable to land one of those two bass.

Five of these six bass were inveigled by a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse FinesseT.R.D. rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, which was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The sixth bass was attracted to a customized 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ tube threaded on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and implemented with a slow drag-and-shake presentation.

After we finished fishing the 12-acre reservoir, we made a 10-minute drive to a small three-acre reservoir. The water was slightly stained with about three feet of visibility. The water level was about a foot high.
This waterway has an unique crescent shape that lies in an east-to-west direction. The south shoreline consists of a broad point that protrudes northward, and it is embellished with a small hydrilla bed, sparse patches of brown pondweed, and several brush piles. The north shoreline is curved, steep, sandy, and augmented with a small stand of cattails and sparse patches of brown pondweed. The east and west shorlines consist of shallow sand and gravel flats and are covered with brown hydrilla. We also observed an abundance of small baitfish roaming near the water’s edge.

We fished this small pond for about an hour and a half, and we could only conjure up one white bass from five feet of water next to the north bank. This white bass was attracted to a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a red 1/132-ounce Gopher jig and presented with a slow swim-glide-and- shake retrieve. We also employed an array of Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZs, customized 2 1/2-inch FattyZ tubes, and customized 2 1/4-inch FattyZ tail sections on chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jigs or red 1/32-ounce Gopher jigs.

“Our last stop for the day was a community reservoir that is about the size of a football field.
“The water was muddy with just a couple of inches of visibility. The water level appeared to be about a foot high.

“The reservoir’s northern shoreline is composed of a shallow mud flat. A concrete structure that surrounds a water outlet is positioned about midway down this shoreline in about five feet of water. The east shoreline is steep and consists of just mud. 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 west end of this reservoir, and a large island lies just outside the mouth of this west-side spawning cove. Two submerged creek channels run parallel to the island’s northern and southern shorelines.

“This reservoir was more fruitful than the previous pond we fished. We eked out five largemouth bass, but one bass was able to detach itself from our lure before we could land it. All five of these bass were dwelling in less than five feet of water and were about five to ten feet out from the water’s edge.

One largemouth bass was caught off the north end of the east shoreline. Two largemouth bass were extracted from the west end of the northern shoreline, and two more largemouth bass were gleaned from the north shoreline of the west-end spawning cove. We failed to draw a single strike along the entire south side of the reservoir.

Four of these five largemouth bass were allured by the Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The fifth bass was caught on a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ fastened on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and retrieved in a slow swim-glide-and-shake manner.

All told, Rick and I were delighted to tangle with 11 largemouth bass and one white bass, and this catch is considered a sterling wintertime outing by north-central Texas standards.

Nine of these 11 largemouth bass were allured by the Z-Man Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. One largemouth bass was beguiled by the Z-Man Junebug Finesse ShadZ, and one bass was enticed by a customized 2 1/2-inch Z-man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ tube. The white bass was bewitched by a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. The most productive presentation by far was a slow swim-glide-and-shake technique.

IMG_1493 (3)

Rick Allen of Dallas with one of the 11 largemouth bass that he and Steve Reideler caught on Jan. 28.

 

Jan. 30 log

For several years, I have written scores of words about how fruitful the largemouth bass fishing can be on the shallow mud flats in the back of some of the feeder-creek arms that are embellished with submerged aquatic vegetation as soon as the ice melts off the small flatland reservoirs that grace the countryside of northeastern Kansas. There were some early ice-off outings when I and a friend tangled with 25 largemouth bass an hour.

From our kitchen table, Friday, Jan. 30, looked as if it would be a delightful winter day to be afloat. After some area thermometers climbed to historic highs for January on Wednesday and a south wind with gusts that reached 30 mph on Thursday, all of the small flatland reservoirs hereabouts were ice free for the second time during the winter of 2014-15. So, as soon as our thermometer broached 32 degrees, I was on the road to the boat ramp at a 195-acre community reservoir, which has been our most fruitful ice-off waterway for years on end.

On Jan. 30, the National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, noted that it was 14 degrees at 4:52 a.m. and 41 degrees at 3:52 p.m. The wind ranged from being calm to whispering from the north at 6 mph and from the northwest at 5 to 7 mph and from the south at 7 mph. (No wind is a delightful circumstance for Midwest finesse anglers – especially in the dead of winter.) It was sunny and a tad hazy. The barometric pressure was 30.55 at 12:52 a.m., 30.55 at 5:52 a.m., 30.55 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.43 at 3:52 p.m.

The water level looked to be a touch higher than normal. The water was unusually clear for a flatland reservoir in northeastern Kansas, and in fact, I have never seen it this clear at this reservoir. The clarity allowed me at times to see the bottom of the mud flat that I was dissecting, but I could not see the submerged aquatic vegetation. The lack of wind might have enhanced the visibility on this outing. The surface temperature ranged from 39 to 40 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would take place from 6:42 a.m. to 8:42 a.m. and 7:07 p.m. to 9:07 p.m. There was a minor period from 12:29 a.m. to 2:29 a.m. I fished from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and I was the only angler afloat.

All of my braggadocio about how many hundreds of largemouth bass a Midwest finesse angler can catch as soon as the ice melts came back to plague me on this outing. For years, I thought that northeastern Kansas possessed, which was unbeknown to the rest of the world, some of the most bountiful largemouth bass fishing in the nation. But since the arrival of the largemouth bass virus in 2010, this great bounty has dwindled significantly, and I suspect that the effect of the virus was manifested once again on Jan. 30.

 

Instead of catching 25 largemouth bass an hour, I caught only four an hour. And nine of them were caught during a 20 minute span, which means it took me three hours and 40 minutes to catch seven more largemouth bass. All 16 of these largemouth bass were caught within an area the size of two tennis courts, and nine of them were caught within an area that was about 10 feet wide and 30 feet long.

Except for 15 minutes, which were spent by quickly examining two other shallow flats that were adorned with submerged vegetation, I spent the entire outing trying to locate some largemouth bass on a massive mud flat in the back of a feeder-creek arm. In winters past, when the water was never as clear as it was on this outing, we found aggregations of largemouth bass moseying around in three to five feet of water within an area that is the size of five football fields. Because the water was clearer than I have ever seen it, I decided to spend some of the time exploring deeper sections of this mud flat, which I have never fished before, and this endeavor increased the size of this mud flat to equal about eight football fields, but it was to no avail. On the next outing to this mud flat, I will expand my search by adding an expanse that will encompass at least three more football fields, and during that excursion, it would be helpful to have another angler or two on board and perhaps another boat loaded with a pair or threesome of Midwest finesse anglers.

The first bass of this outing was caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig that I was strolling through a patch of curly-leaf pondweed that adorned a tiny hump, which was covered with four feet of water and the boat floated in five to six feet of water. This hump is situated in the middle of the mud flat, and the nearest shoreline is 50 yards away.

The next nine bass were caught on a 10-foot-by-30-foot section of a large hump that lies about 50 feet to the east of the tiny hump where I caught the first largemouth bass. One of these nine largemouth bass was caught on Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; one was caught on a Z-Man’s PB&J Rain MinnowZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; and seven of them were caught on a 2 3/16-inch customized Z-Man’s Sprayed Grass FattyZ tube affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. These baits were retrieved with a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation. The boat floated in five to 6 1/2 feet of water, and the bass were extracted from three to four feet of water.

Six bass were extracted from a patch of aquatic vegetation that has a circumference of about 35 feet and lies 50 feet west of the large hump and 70 feet south of the tiny hump. The bass were caught in five feet of water and the boat floated in five feet of water. One largemouth bass was caught while I was strolling the Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. One was caught while I was swimming, gliding, and shaking the Z-Man’s PB&J Rain MinnowZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Three were caught when I was swimming, gliding, and shaking the 2 3/16-inch customized Z-Man’s Sprayed Grass FattyZ tube affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and one was caught while I was strolling the FattyZ tube.

Within the area that I caught those 16 largemouth bass, I had three strikes on the FattyZ tube that I failed to hook.
Throughout the outing, I also wielded a shortened Z-Man’s California Craw Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a homemade 1/16-ounce brown-and-gold hair jig, and they failed to elicit a strike.

I inadvertently caught one white bass while strolling the Finesse ShadZ, and I inadvertently caught one white crappie while I strolled the FattyZ tube.
Several of the largemouth bass exhibited signs that they had been foraging rather heavily and recently. In fact, one of them had the tail of a gizzard shad protruding from its gullet.

Traditionally, the ice-off largemouth bass that inhabit the patches of submerged vegetation on this shallow mud flat mill about in schools and a few of these aggregations can yield a dozen or more largemouth bass. Some days these schools seem to move incessantly, and they also seem to move great distances. (Since we do not possess the scientific tools to measure the size of the schools or their movements, this description is merely our intuitive perspectives. We also do not know if it is just one big school or several small ones that inhabit this massive mud flat.) There have been outings when the largemouth bass seem to run into us as they are moseying about this massive flat rather than us finding them. When this occurs, we will be dissecting a patch of submerged vegetation without garnering a strike for about five minutes, and then out of the blue, we will tangle with a half dozen or more largemouth bass from the same area that failed to yield a largemouth bass on scores of previous presentations with the same Midwest finesse lures.

At this point, I do not know if the largemouth bass were roaming more and across greater portions of this mud flat than they used to roam when the water wasn’t as clear as it was on this Jan. 30 outing, and that prevented me from finding them, or if the largemouth bass virus has trimmed the population down to the point that we will not be able to relish those 25-bass-an-hour outings ever again.

During the first ice-off fishing of this winter, which occurred on Dec. 9, 12, and 20, it seemed to me that the largemouth bass population has declined at two of the reservoirs that have been wacked by the largemouth bass virus. For example, when Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I fished a shallow mud flat at a 100-acre community reservoir that is embellished with patches of coontail, we fished four hours and caught 37 largemouth bass. I had a more hopeful solo outing on Dec. 12, when I fished the same mud flat that I fished on Jan. 30 and caught 22 largemouth bass in 1 1/2 hours. But my hopes sank on Dec. 20, when I fished the same mud flat and caught 25 largemouth bass across 3 1/2 hours.

As February unfolds, we should be able to develop a better understanding of what is transpiring with the largemouth bass populations in the small flatland reservoirs hereabouts.

Of course, another reason why I might be having a difficult time locating and catching the largemouth bass in these virus-affected reservoirs might stem from the fact that my 75-year-old mind and body no longer possesses the wherewithal to do what it used to do.

 

DSCN0602

This is one of the 11 largemouth bass that was caught on a 2 3/16-inch customized Z-Man’s Sprayed Grass FattyZ tube affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

 

Jan. 31 log

Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about three belly-boat outings that he had during the last three days of the month, when he field tested a prototype of Z-Man’s 1/20-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig, which is embellished with a hook guard. Reese has played a major hand in the creation of the Finesse ShroomZ.

Here is an edited and condensed version of his report:

I did something that I usually do not do in January, which is fish in my belly boat. Daniel Nussbaum at Z-Man sent me four prototypes of the 1/20-ounce weedless Finesse ShroomZ jigs, saying he wanted my thoughts. I wanted to use them to give him a true report. As you know I am not a big fan of heads that weigh less than 1/15-ounce.

I made three trips to three different lakes. These lakes varied in maximum depth from eight to 17 feet. The smallest one was two acres, and the biggest was seven acres. All of them still had some ice on them.

The air temperature ranged from 73 to 39 degrees. The wind ranged from 8 to 35 mph. One day was sunny. One day was cloudy. One day was mixed with clouds and sun.

I fished about two hours at each lake, and that was because that was all my feet could handle even with three pairs of socks.

On the worst outing, I caught 14 largemouth bass. On the best outing, I caught 24. Across all three days, I caught 60 largemouth bass. All of them were caught on the 1/20-ounce prototype ShroomZ affixed to a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse TRD.

None of the fish moved up shallow — even on the 73 degree day. In March, I have found that wind-blown shorelines can entertain scores of largemouth bass on a balmy day. When I moved the belly boat out so that it floated over eight feet of water, which allowed me to present the bait in four to eight feet of water, I immediately started catching fish. This depth range held up the next two times I fished. On one lake, the largemouth bass were on the face of a chunk rock dam. At the second lake, they were primarily situated on the drop offs of two shallow points. On the third lake, they were abiding along the edge of submerged weed lines. The retrieve that worked was just to fish it painfully slow with a lot of pauses with an occasional gentle shake. It was tough in all of the wind. All of the fish were stuck to the bottom and some still had mud on their bellies.

 

 

 

Load Comments ( )

Don’t forget to sign up!

Get the Top Stories from In-Fisherman Delivered to Your Inbox Every Week