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One of the January largemouth bass that Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas, caught on a Z-Man’s black-blue-flake T.R.D. TubeZ.

Our January guide to Midwest finesse fishing contains 16 logs and 11,737 words that detail how, when, and where Midwest finesse anglers fished in January. Many of us, however, spent more time being waylaid by Old Man Winter’s icy and windy ways than we spent waylaying largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass.  What’s more, some significant wintertime rain storms muddied some of the reservoirs in north-central Texas, which confounded several Midwest finesse devotees.

  This guide features the struggles and undertakings of Rick Allen of Dallas; Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas; Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas; David Harrison of Lawrence, Kansas; Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas; Preston Parks of Pittsboro, North Carolina; Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina; Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas; and John Thomas of Denton, Texas; as well as my northeastern Kansas logs. 

We are grateful, indeed, that Steve Reideler proof read each log and made them more readable and understandable.

Jan. 1 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his New Year’s Day outing at a northeastern Kansas power-plant reservoir. Across the years, Gum has spent more time fishing this reservoir and tangling with its largemouth bass than any Midwest finesse angler.

As we have noted several times during the past two winters, this reservoir used to be Midwest finesse anglers’ most bountiful one. But after the winter of 2013-14, it has become one of our most fruitless ones.   Some knowledgeable observers suspect the demise revolves around heavy angler predation — especially the predation created by the onslaught of largemouth bass tournaments during the winter and spring. But other knowledgeable observers contend that the reason for this decline defies our human abilities to render an interpretation, and according to these observers, anglers do not possess the wherewithal to accurately interpret the goings on in the murky world below the hulls of their boats. Gum says he is baffled and discouraged by the sorry state of the largemouth bass fishing that he had to endure in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Here’s an edited version of his report:

The Weather Underground reported that the low temperature was 23 degrees and the high temperature was 44 degrees. The sky was clear from 12:53 a.m. to 10:53 a.m., and then it became partly cloudy and overcast. The wind angled out of the east, southeast, east by southeast, and south by southeast at 4 to 11 mph.  The barometric pressure was 30.02 at 12:53 a.m., 30.01 at 5:53 a.m., 30.01 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.93 at 1:53 p.m.

The surface temperature in the heart of the warm-water plume was 54 degrees, and along one of the eastern shorelines, which borders the southeastern edge of the plume, the surface temperature was 47 degrees.  The water exhibited about 18 inches of visibility. The water level was normal.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 12:33 a.m. to 2:33 a.m., 12:57 p.m. to 2:57 p.m., and 6:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. I was afloat from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

The fishing was so difficult that it seemed as if I were power fishing. I struggled to catch four largemouth bass and one freshwater drum. The largemouth bass were healthy looking, and they ranged in size from 16 inches to 20 inches.

I caught the largemouth bass along two of this reservoir’s four bluffs. These bluffs lie inside the warm-water plume. The four largemouth bass were extracted out of water as shallow as two feet and no deeper than six feet.

I failed to boat two other fish; one broke the line around a stump. These fish were residing on a flat and shallow gravel point that has current from the warm-water outlet coursing across it.

I also tangled with an enormous buffalo that leaped like a porpoise. It eventually liberated itself.

I caught the largemouth bass on three different Midwest finesse rigs: a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Fishing Products’ coppertreuse ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle’s Mushroom head jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man’s mud minnow Rain MinnowZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. When I was fishing the bluffs, my casts would land at the water’s edge, and then I would lift my rod tip to the one o’clock position, and I would execute a delicate swim-glide-and-occasional-shake retrieve.

I crossed path with two other boats. They were power anglers. One of the anglers said that he had caught one largemouth bass, and it was a decent-size one. The anglers in the other boat had failed to catch a largemouth bass. They seemed surprised when I informed them that I had caught four largemouth bass.

Jan. 2 log

Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I ushered in the piscatorial new year at a northeastern Kansas community reservoir on Jan. 2.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 32 degrees at 1:18 a.m. and 48 degrees at 2:53 p.m. It was overcast, foggy, and misty throughout the day. Around 11:50 a.m. it began to rain lightly, and it rained lightly off and on during the afternoon hours. The wind angled out of the south, southeast, south by southeast, and east by southeast at 4 to 10 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.89 at 12:53 a.m., 29.83 at 5:53 a.m., 29.84 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.77 at 2:53 p.m.

The water level was normal. The water exhibited about five feet of visibility.  The surface temperature ranged from 37 to 39 degrees. A small section of the backend of one secondary feeder-creek was covered with ice.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would take place from 1:28 a.m. to 3:28 a.m., 1:52 p.m. to 3:52 p.m., and 7:40 a.m. to 9:40 a.m. We were afloat from 10:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

We spent the preponderance of this outing fishing a series of coontail patches that adorn a massive shallow-water flat in the upper portions of this reservoir’s primary feeder-creek arm.

One area of coontail patches on this massive flat is about the size of a basketball court, and it yielded three largemouth bass. These largemouth bass were extracted from four to 6 1/2 feet of water. They were caught on a  2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve.

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One of the three largmouth bass that we caught from a series of coontail patches in an area that is the size of a basketball court.

Another area of coontail patches on this massive flat is about the size of two football fields, and it yielded 13 largemouth bass.  These largemouth bass were abiding in three to five feet of water.

One of the 13 largemouth bass was caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle’s Mushroom Head jig, which was retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation.  One largemouth bass was caught on a prototype Z-Man’s green-pumpkin finesse creature bait that was affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and it was retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. Eleven of the 13 largemouth bass were caught on either a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.  One of the eleven largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of the California craw ZinkerZ rig.  The other 10 were caught while we were employing either a drag-and-slight-deadstick presentation or a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation.

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Rick Hebenstreit with one of the 13 largemouth bass that we caught from a series of coontail patches in an area the size of two football fields. It was caught on a prototype of Z-Man’s finesse creature bait.

We spent about 20 minutes fishing a shallow-water flat in a tertiary feeder-creek arm, andwe caught two largemouth bass. One largemouth bass was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a drag-and-slight deadstick retrieve. The other largemouth bass was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a swim-glide-and-no-shake retrieve. Both of these largemouth bass were abiding around a small patch of coontail in about four feet of water.

We spent less than 10 minutes fishing another shallow-water flat in another tertiary feeder-creek arm, and it did not yield a strike.

In the secondary feeder-creek arm that had ice covering the back portions of its shallow-water flat, we made about 30 casts and retrieves, and they failed to garner a strike.

We also quickly fished a main-lake point and its adjacent shorelines, one relatively steep main-lake shoreline, a small section of a flat main-lake shoreline, and the shoreline of the dam. One largemouth bass was caught on  along the dam in about six feet of water on the California craw ZinkerZ rig with a drag-and-deadstick presentation. We hooked and failed to catch one largemouth bass along the flat main-lake shoreline.  The relatively steep shoreline and the main-lake point and its adjacent shorelines failed to yield a strike.

In sum, we struggled to catch 19 largemouth bass, and 16 of them were caught during the first 75 minutes that we were afloat. We employed eight Midwest finesse rigs, and four of them were unproductive. The California craw ZinkerZ and green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ were our most productive rigs.

Jan. 2 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Jan. 2 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

On my first outing of 2017, I conducted a solo bank-walking excursion to six small community reservoirs that lie in three suburbs north of Dallas.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the prime fishing periods would take place from 1:19 a.m. to 3:19 a.m., 7:31 a.m. to 9:31 a.m., and 1:43 p.m. to 3:43 p.m. From about noon to 4:00 p.m., I inspected these six community impoundments, but I could only fish two of them, and I fished for three hours.

Between 1:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. on Jan. 2, the Dallas and Ft. Worth metropolitan areas were pummeled by thunderstorms, which dropped over and inch of rain on the surrounding landscape. To my chagrin, I discovered that four of these small community reservoirs were flooded and a muddy mess.

After the early-morning thunderstorms moved to the east, the remainder of the morning and afternoon turned into a delightful day. The powder-blue sky was partly cloudy and filled with an abundance of bright sunshine. A local TV meteorologist reported that the morning low temperature was 49 degrees and the afternoon high climbed to 71 degrees. The normal low temperature for this time of year is 33 degrees and the normal high is 53 degrees. The wind quartered out of the west by northwest at 15 to 20 mph.  Around noon, the barometric pressure measured 29.49, and by 4:00 p.m., it had dropped to 29.43.

My first stop was at a 12-acre reservoir. For the past 14 months, the water in this reservoir has displayed an odd chartreuse hue, which we suspect is the result of excessive amounts of lawn fertilizers and herbicides that wash into this reservoir, and we think it has adversely affected the largemouth bass that inhabit this impoundment to the point that they are virtually impossible to catch. But during this Jan. 2 outing, I was encouraged to see that the chartreuse tint was gone. Instead, the water displayed its normal green hue. The clarity was stained and displayed about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The water level appeared to be slightly above normal. The water temperature was 55 degrees. Unfortunately, the bass bite has not rebounded with the improved water conditions.  I dissected the most fruitful bass lairs for about 90 minutes, and I could only muster one largemouth bass and one large bluegill. Both of these fish were caught in four feet of water next to a shallow clay and gravel ledge along the north shoreline. They were both caught on a 2 1/4-inch tail section of a Z-Man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. This rig was presented with a slow hop-and-bounce retrieve.

After that miserable start, I checked four more community ponds that lie about 12 miles west of this first one. I was disheartened to find that all four of them were flooded and muddy. The water clarity in these ponds was less than two inches. I did not waste any of my time fishing them, and it may be several weeks before they are fishable again.

I spent the last 90 minutes of this outing plying a small two-acre community reservoir from about 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. By this time, it felt more like April than January, and I relished the warmth from the sun while I fished.

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

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

The south end of this reservoir 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.

The west side of the reservoir is mostly shallow with several stands of cattails that line the water’s edge. There are three patches of lily pads that grace three small sections of this shoreline.

The water was dingy from the rain and exhibited about a foot of clarity. The water level was about a foot high, and the areas where I was walking and standing along the shoreline was soggy like a wet sponge. The water temperature ranged from 59 degrees along the northwest end of the reservoir to 61 degrees in the southeast end.

The surface of the water was littered with small bits of debris, leaves, and globs of filamentous algae. Scores of 1/4-inch baitfish were moseying around the shallows in close proximity to the water’s edge.

Thirteen largemouth bass were caught from four points along the east shoreline. They were abiding in six to eight feet of water and about 20 to 30 feet from the water’s edge. Ten bass engulfed a 2 3/4-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake T.R.D. TubeZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Three were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rigged on a black 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Both of these combos were retrieved with a slow drag-shake-and-deadstick presentation.

Two largemouth bass were caught along the north shoreline. Both of these largemouth bass were extracted from the mud flat on the east end of the shoreline in three feet of water.  I failed to elicit any strikes from the small creek on the west end of the shoreline.

Six largemouth bass were caught along the outside edges of the three patches of lily pads in less than five feet of water. All six of them were caught on the 2 3/4-inch black-blue-flake T.R.D. TubeZ rig and a slow drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve. I hooked one largemouth bass that struck the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig, but it was able to pull free before I could land it.

I caught a total of 21 largemouth bass and one large bluegill in three hours, which we consider a pretty bountiful catch in north-central Texas during January. The bites were very light; the only indication of a strike was a slight tightening of the line or the lure felt slightly heavier than normal.

The 2 3/4-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake T.R.D. TubeZ caught 17 largemouth bass. Three largemouth bass were caught with the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ. One largemouth bass and one large bluegill were caught on a 2 1/4-inch tail section of a Z-Man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ.  A slow hop-bounce-and-deadstick retrieve was the most fruitful presentation.

A major cold front is predicted to hit north-central Texas on Jan. 3, which will keep us at bay for about a week.

Jan. 8 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Jan. 8 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

From about noon to 3:48 p.m., Rick Allen of Dallas and I donned our warmest winter attire for the first time this winter as we ventured to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hill-land reservoir in north-central Texas.

Texas was pummeled by a major arctic cold front on Jan. 3. Many bridges and overpasses were iced over and a light dusting of snow covered much of the Dallas and Ft. Worth metropolitan areas.

Area thermometers measured the morning low temperature on Jan. 8 at 21 degrees. When Rick and I launched the boat at about 11:45 a.m., it was 35 degrees. The afternoon high peaked at 47 degrees, and we peeled off our heavy winter jackets for a short spell during the afternoon. The sun shone through a partly-cloudy sky. A cold wind blew out of the south at 11 to 17 mph. The barometric pressure was high and measured 30.62 at noon and dropped to 30.47 by 4:00 p.m.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the prime fishing periods on Jan. 8 would occur from 12:14 a.m. to 2:14 a.m., 6:29 a.m. to 8:29 a.m., and 6:57 p.m. to 8:57 p.m. Rick and I fished from about noon to 3:48 p.m.

Upon our arrival at the boat ramp, we noticed that the riprap that borders the ramp and many of the bushes along the shoreline were partially covered with ice, which is an unusual sight for us. The water in the vicinity of the boat ramp was muddy and rank with white caps.

We made a short run to a small feeder-creek arm in the northern region of the reservoir that Rick and I discovered on Dec. 21. The water just inside this creek arm was stained and exhibited about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The water temperature had dropped from 65 degrees on Dec. 26 to 45 degrees.  Rick and I slowly made our way up the creek about a mile. We have never seen nor fished this section of the creek. In this portion of the creek, the water temperature ranged from 49 degrees to 56 degrees. The water clarity varied from three to five feet of visibility. The water level was 0.12 feet below normal.

We concentrated our attentions on the many partially-submerged laydowns that extend from the shorelines out toward the middle of the creek. The boat floated in four to nine feet of water. The creek’s underwater terrain is comprised of clay, gravel, and a few shallow rock ledges.

We enjoyed our best January outing at any Corps’ reservoir that we have ever experienced. We caught a total of 28 largemouth bass, two spotted bass, and one large bluegill in three hours and 48 minutes. Four other bass were able to pull free before we could land them. Most of these bass were smaller specimens, but nonetheless, they were fun to catch.

All of these fish were caught in warmer water that ranged from 53 degrees to 56 degrees. They were all caught in three to five feet of water and next to the submerged ends and sides of the laydowns. The laydowns located on steeper shorelines were more fruitful than those on flat and shallow shorelines. We also failed to catch a bass from any of the shallow rock ledges.

A Z-Man’s 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rigged on either a chartreuse or black 1/16-ounce Gopher jig was the most effective lure,  and it beguiled 24 black bass.  A chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig dressed with a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin GrubZ caught six black bass and the large bluegill. A Z-Man’s mudbug T.R.D. TubeZ rigged on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig enticed two strikes that we failed to hook. A Z-Man’s grudgeon CrusteaZ affixed on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig elicited one strike that we missed. We failed to entice any strikes with a 2 1/4-inch tail section of a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-orange FattyZ rigged on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s coppertreuse Finesse WormZ on a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Bass Pro Shops weedless finesse ball-head jig, or a Z-Man’s pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

The 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig was  presented with a slow swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve. The 3 1/2-inch green-pumpkin GrubZ combo was retrieved with a slow and steady swimming retrieve.

Local meteorologist are forecasting warmer weather with daytime temperatures soaring into the low 70s beginning Jan. 9, but gusty 20-plus mph winds may keep us off the larger Corps’ reservoirs for the next few days.

Jan. 10 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Jan. 10 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

The Dallas and Ft. Worth metropolitan areas looked entirely different on Jan. 10 than they did on Jan. 8.  Snow and ice covered much of the surrounding countryside on Jan. 8. But there was not a speck of ice or snow to be found on Jan. 10, and the daytime high reached an unseasonably warm 79 degrees.

Throughout the day, the sky conditions changed from clear to partly cloudy to mostly cloudy. The low temperature was 49 degrees. On average, the daytime high is 56 degrees and the low is 36 degrees. The wind blew out of the south at 15 to 25 mph, but it diminished to less than 10 mph by 3:00 p.m. The barometric pressure was steady at 29.92.

John Thomas of Denton, Texas, and I enjoyed the warm weather as we slowly meandered along the shorelines of two small community reservoirs that lie in two suburbs northwest of Dallas.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the prime fishing periods would take place from 1:57 a.m. to 3:57 a.m., 8:12 a.m. to 10:12 a.m., and 8:42 p.m. to 10:42 p.m.  We fished the first reservoir from about 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and the second one from about 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The first community reservoir we fished is about 20-acres in size. This reservoir relinquished 24 largemouth bass when I fished it on Dec. 30, 2016, but it was not very fruitful this time. To our chagrin, we could only eke out seven largemouth bass and one large bluegill in 2 1/2 hours.

The water level was normal. The water temperature ranged from 48 degrees in the main-lake area to 56 degrees inside a small feeder-creek on the northeast end of the reservoir.  The water was stained and exhibited about 1 1/2-feet of visibility. The water temperature was 53 degrees in the main lake and 56 degrees in the feeder creek on Dec. 30.

We started fishing a small pool in the feeder creek that enters the reservoir along the east end of the north shoreline. The underwater terrain of this creek consists of clay, gravel, and fist-size rocks. The east side of the creek is lined with thick stands of cattails. The deepest pool in this creek is about four feet deep and yielded 17 largemouth bass during my Dec. 30 outing. But it yielded only three largemouth bass and one large bluegill during this outing. Two largemouth bass were caught on a 2 1/4-inch tail section of a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin FattyZ that was rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. One largemouth bass was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. A shortened 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J EZ TubeZ affixed on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig caught the large bluegill.

Along the west side of the reservoir, we caught two largemouth bass that were relating to a patch of hydrilla that runs underneath a fishing pier in about six to eight feet of water. This patch of hydrilla is about five feet wide and 35 feet long. One largemouth bass was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig, which was retrieved with a slow drag-and-shake presentation. The other largemouth bass was caught with a Z-Man’s black-blue-flake T.R.D. TubeZ affixed on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and employed with a slow drag-and-shake presentation. We failed to elicit any strikes with the 2 1/4-inch green-pumpkin FattyZ tail combo.

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John Thomas with one of the 12 largemouth bass that he and Steve Reideler caught.

After that, we dissected portions of the concrete-slab dam that forms the south perimeter of this reservoir. Two largemouth bass were caught in three feet of water along the middle section of the dam on the 2 3/4-inch black-blue-flake T.R.D. TubeZ rig, which was presented with a slow drag-and-shake retrieve. We failed to elicit any strikes from the other sections of the dam.

After we fished the dam, we moved to the east shoreline, which is curved and steep.  We failed to entice any strikes from a long clay point on the north end of this shoreline, or from a broad gravel and sand point that forms the middle section of the shoreline.

We then drove 20 minutes to the second community reservoir, which is about two-acres in size. And it was a chore to allure five largemouth bass. When I fished this reservoir on Jan. 2, it yielded 20 largemouth bass.

The water was stained with about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The water level was slightly high. The water temperature was 54 degrees. The water temperature was 56 degrees on Jan. 2.

We caught two largemouth bass along the east shoreline, which is steep and graced with several stands of cattails. These largemouth bass were caught in three to five feet of water from two steep clay points. One was caught on the Z-Man’s black-blue-flake T.R.D. TubeZ rig and the other one was caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s coppertreuse Finesse WormZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Both of these lures were presented with a slow drag-and-shake retrieve.

Two largemouth bass were caught from a small feeder creek that flows into the northwest end of this reservoir. The underwater terrain of this creek is comprised of clay and graced with several small submerged stumps. These bass were next to two of the stumps near the center of the creek in about three feet of water.  They engulfed the four-inch coppertreuse Finesse WormZ combo with a slow drag-and-shake presentation adjacent to the base of the stumps.

The west side of the reservoir is mostly shallow. There are three small patches of green lily pads that adorn three sections of the shoreline, as well as several stands of cattails that line the water’s edge. We caught one largemouth bass from an open area between two patches of lily pads along the middle section of the shoreline. This largemouth bass was extracted from less than four feet of water with the four-inch coppertreuse Finesse WormZ and a drag-and-shake presentation.

The south end of this reservoir encompasses a concrete and stone dam. The bottom terrain adjacent to the base of the dam is covered with softball size rocks, two submerged rock piles, and a small brush pile. We failed to elicit any strikes from this area.

All told, it was a struggle to catch 12 largemouth bass and one large bluegill in four hours. We were surprised that the largemouth bass were not more active than they were after a couple of unseasonably warm winter days.

Jan. 20 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Jan. 20 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas, and I conducted an afternoon bank-walking outing at a 20-acre community reservoir located at a northwest Dallas suburb. This was Norman’s first outing in 2017.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted the most lucrative fishing periods would occur from 4:41 a.m. to 6:41 a.m., 10:51 a.m. to 12:51 p.m., and 5:02 p.m. to 7:02 p.m. Norman and I fished from about 11:45 a.m. to 2:17 p.m.

We could not have had a more pleasant winter day. The sky exhibited a beautiful powder-blue hue. The sun was warm and shone brightly everywhere. The morning low temperature was 51 degrees and the afternoon high soared to 79 degrees.  The wind quartered out of the south by southwest at 9 to 15 mph.  The barometric pressure measured 28.91 at 11:42 a.m. and dropped to 28.89 by 3:30 p.m.

The water was dingy from the thunderstorms on Jan. 15 and exhibited about one foot of visibility. The water temperature in the main-lake area ranged from 55 degrees to 58 degrees. The warmest water was found in a feeder creek on the northeast end of the reservoir which was 60 degrees.

We started this outing fishing from a fishing pier located in the middle portion of the west shoreline. This shoreline is steep. Its underwater terrain consists of sand and gravel. A thin patch of hydrilla, that is about five feet wide and 35 feet long, runs underneath the fishing pier and parallels the shoreline in five to eight feet of water.

We caught two largemouth bass that were relating to the patch of hydrilla in about six to eight feet of water. Both of these largemouth bass were enticed by a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. This combo was employed with a slow drag-shake-and-deadstick presentation.

We failed to elicit any strikes from a small sand and gravel tertiary point just south of the fishing pier.

After we finished plying the west shoreline, we dissected the concrete dam that forms the south perimeter of the reservoir. We caught three largemouth bass that were abiding close to the face of the dam in three to five feet of water.  They were caught on a Z-Man’s black-blue-flake T.R.D. TubeZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. This T.R.D. TubeZ rig was presented with a slow drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve parallel to the face of the dam.

After we fished the dam, we worked our way northward along the east shoreline. This shoreline is steep and curved. The southern end of this shoreline is enhanced with a submerged sand and gravel ledge that is covered with about two feet of water and quickly descends into six to eight feet of water.  A broad and steep sand and gravel point occupies the middle of the shoreline. On the north end of this shoreline, a clay and gravel point courses outward toward the middle of the reservoir.

Along the east shoreline, we caught six largemouth bass. They were caught on the black-blue-flake T.R.D. TubeZ combo with a drag-shake-and-deadstick presentation. Four largemouth bass were caught in six feet of water next to the sand and gravel ledge on the south end of the shoreline, and one of them was a feisty four-pound, 14-ounce specimen. One largemouth bass was caught on the broad and steep point in four feet of water. One largemouth bass was caught in three feet of water along the south side of the clay and gravel point on the north end of the shoreline. Two largemouth bass were able to liberate themselves before we could land them.

The north end of the reservoir is difficult to fish. This portion of the reservoir is a  large and shallow mud flat. Tall and thick stands of cattails border the shoreline and impede bank anglers from plying this area.  The most accessible area to fish along this shoreline is a small creek that enters the reservoir on the east end of the shoreline. One side of this creek is lined with tall stands of cattails. The bottom terrain of this creek is composed of mostly clay and is littered with fist-size rocks. The water in this creek was stained more than usual and exhibited about a foot of visibility. The water temperature was 60 degrees. A visible but light current was flowing through the creek. We caught two largemouth bass and inadvertently caught one large green sunfish from a relatively deep pool in the upper end of this small creek. They were caught on the black-blue-flake T.R.D. TubeZ rig and drag-shake-and-deadstick presentation. Another largemouth bass was able to pull free before we could bring it to hand.

After we finished fishing this creek, Norman had to leave. I spent another hour checking three other small community reservoirs that are located about five miles from this one. I fished a small portion of one of them for about 25 minutes and caught  two largemouth bass. I then called it a day.

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Norm Brown with one of the 15 largemouth bass that he and Steve Reideler caught.

In sum, we caught a total of 15 largemouth bass and inadvertently caught one large green sunfish in about three-hours. We lost three other bass and garnered two strikes that we failed to hook. Only one of these 15 bass was smaller than 12 inches. One was a four pounder, and the rest weighed between 1 1/4 pounds and 1 3/4 pounds.

Thirteen largemouth bass were caught on Z-Man’s black-blue-flake T.R.D. TubeZ. Two were caught on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ.

A slow drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve was the only effective presentation.

Jan. 23 log

The ice completely melted on most of the flatland reservoirs around the Kansas City metropolitan area on Jan. 20.

We were at the Kansas City Boat and Sport Show on Jan. 20 and 21, where we spent several hours being too braggadocios during our seminar presentations about the abilities of Midwest finesse tactics to catch an impressive array of largemouth bass on the massive and shallow flats in the backs of feeder-creek arms of our northeastern-Kansas reservoirs on the days shortly after the ice disappears. One of the examples that the seminar attendees heard focused on the Feb. 9, 2012, outing when Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I caught 102 largemouth bass in three hours and 10 minutes. We caught them on either a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ affixed to a red Gopher jig in 3 1/2 to six feet of water around patches of curly-leaf-pondweed sprouts on a massive flat in the back of a feeder-creek arm.

On Jan. 23, I paid a price for being such an unmitigated braggart. The first comeuppance occurred on the boat ramp at one of northeastern Kansas’ community reservoirs.  The outboard motor would not start, because the battery was so long in the tooth that it was unable to generate an adequate amount of amps to start the outboard.

After I acquired a new battery, which encompassed more than 90 minutes of driving and about 30 minutes of installation maneuvers, I eventually launched the boat at another northeastern Kansas community reservoir, and it is the reservoir where Rick Hebenstreit and I caught the 102 largemouth bass on Feb. 9. 2012.

On Jan. 23, the Weather Underground reported that it was 21 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 41 degrees at 3:52 a.m. Throughout the day, the wind fluctuated from being calm and variable to angling out of the west by northwest, northwest, north, east by southeast, east, and northeast at 3 to 9 mph. The sky fluctuated from being clear to overcast to mostly cloudy to light freezing fog to misty to scattered clouds to hazy. The barometric pressure was 29.94 at 12:52 a.m., 29.83 at 5:52 a.m., 29.94 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.84 at 3:53 p.m.

The water level looked to be a few inches above normal.  The water exhibited more than six feet of visibility at the boat ramp and nearly five feet on a flat in the back of one of the reservoir’s feeder-creek arms. The surface temperature was 39 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 6:37 a.m. to 8:37 a.m., 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and 12:25 a.m. to 2:25 a.m.  I fished from 1:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

I spent the entire 150 minutes that I was afloat on a massive flat in the back of a feeder creek arm, where the depth of the water ranged from three feet to seven feet. The underwater terrain consists primarily of silt. I was in search of patches of curly-leaf-pondweed sprouts, which is a submerged aquatic vegetation, that normally flourishes on this silt-laden flat.  I searched by dragging and strolling a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and I zigzagged around an area about the size of four football fields.

In the winters past, significant numbers of largemouth bass moseyed around the patches of curly-leaf pondweed and other types of aquatic vegetation on the massive flats in the backs of this reservoir’s feeder-creek arms.  But in 2016, this reservoir was bombarded by several massive applications of an herbicide that killed the submerged aquatic vegetation.

And my second comeuppance for all the bragging that I uttered on Jan. 20 and 21 about ice-off fishing occurred when I failed to locate significant patches of submerged aquatic vegetation and substantial numbers of largemouth bass.

On this Jan. 23 outing, I think I found three relatively scrawny patches of curly-leaf pondweed.  At one of these areas I saw four sprigs of curly-leaf pondweed floating on the surface, but at the other two areas, I failed to see any sprigs, but my ZinkerZ rig occasionally felt as if it was touching a leaf or stem of curly-leaf pondweed.

One patch yielded one largemouth bass.  Another patch, which was more than a hundred yards from the first patch, yielded five largemouth bass.  The third patch, which was about 200 yards from the second patch, yielded eight largemouth bass.

Ten of the largemouth bass were caught on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Six were caught as I was employing a drag-and-subtle-shake presentation.  Four of the largemouth bass were caught on a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake. These largemouth bass were extracted out of four to six feet of water.

Four of the largemouth bass were caught on a prototype and finesse-size Z-Man’s green-pumpkin creature-style bait affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was retrieved with a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation. These largemouth bass were abiding in four to six feet of water.

I had nine strikes that I failed to hook .Two of these strikes occurred at the second patch of aquatic vegetation, and seven of them occurred  at the third patch.

A pair of crappie anglers, who were fishing this same flat with jig-and-bobber rigs, said they had inadvertently caught three largemouth bass and 12 crappie in three and four feet of water. They had been fishing for about five hours.

When the ice melted on Jan. 20, it was the second time that we have had an ice-off phenomenon this winter. And in winters past, we have found for some unknown reason that multiple ice-offs are not as bountiful as single ice-offs for catching largemouth bass on the shallow flats in the backs of the feeder-creek arms.   Perhaps that is why this outing was so lackluster.

Jan. 23 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Jan. 23 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

Depending on weather trends and water conditions, mid- to late January is traditionally the time of year when anglers in these parts turn their attentions to pursuing the large aggregations of pre-spawn white bass that congregate in the upper ends of the feeder creeks that flow into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoirs.

My original plan for this outing was to chase those pre-spawn white bass in feeder creeks at two Corps’ reservoirs all afternoon. I spent a couple of fruitless hours checking two feeder-creek arms at two Corps’ reservoirs. These two feeder creeks are about 18 miles apart.

I was disheartened to find that both of these feeder creeks were still muddy from runoff after thunderstorms drenched the Dallas and Ft. Worth metropolitan areas on Jan 15.  The water levels in these creeks appeared to be slightly high. The water temperatures ranged from 51 degrees in the first creek to 53 degrees in the second one. A visible and robust current was flowing through both creeks. The water clarity was less than six inches in both creeks, which negatively affects our white bass fishing endeavors.

I was disappointed that I could not locate any white bass in either of the two feeder creeks. Ultimately, I decided to give up on my white bass pursuits and drove 13 miles to a small community reservoir, where I spent two hours targeting largemouth bass.

It was a beautiful January day.  The sky was cloudless and sun filled. The morning low temperature was 48 degrees. The daytime high was 69 degrees. The wind was mild mannered and blew out of the east at 4 to 6 mph.  The barometric pressure fluctuated from 29.94 at 12 noon to 29.80 at 4:00 p.m.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the optimum fishing periods would take place from 12:32 a.m. to 2:32 a.m., 6:44 a.m. to 8:44 a.m., and 7:07 p.m. to 9:07 p.m.

This community reservoir is about two-acres in size. I fished it from about 2:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.  I caught 12 largemouth bass, lost one, and missed two strikes during these two hours.

The water was muddy with less than a foot of visibility. The water level was slightly high. The water temperature was 55 degrees.

I started fishing the south end of the reservoir, which is graced with a concrete and stone dam, two submerged rock piles, and a small brush pile. The bottom terrain along the base of the dam is covered with softball-size rocks. A steady stream of water was flowing over the spillway located at the middle of the dam. I caught two largemouth bass that were relating to one of the two rock piles in five feet of water.

After that, I plied the west side of the reservoir.  This shoreline has three patches of green lily pads. I caught four largemouth bass from the first patch of lily pads, and three others from the second patch of lily pads. I failed to elicit any strikes from the third patch. These seven largemouth bass were abiding along the outside edges of the lily pads in about four feet of water.

I failed to elicit any strikes from a shallow mud flat that occupies most of the northern shoreline or from a small feeder creek that enters the reservoir at the west end of this shoreline.

Three largemouth bass were caught along the east shoreline. This shoreline is the steepest of the four shorelines. It is endowed with two primary points and three smaller tertiary points. These three largemouth bass were caught in three to five feet of water from two of the three tertiary points. I was unable to generate any strikes from the two primary points.

I wielded a variety of Z-Man’s Midwest finesse baits affixed on an array of colors and sizes of Gopher Tackle’s mushroom-head jigs. Eleven largemouth bass were caught on a shortened 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-laminate EZ TubeZ rigged on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.  A 2 1/4-inch tail section of a Z-Man’s Junebug FattyZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig caught one largemouth bass.

Both of these lures were presented with a slow drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve. The deadstick portion of the retrieve lasted about 20 seconds, and all of the strikes occurred during the deadstick portion of the presentation. The strikes were nothing more than the largemouth bass suddenly just being there. I failed to generate any strikes while employing a hop-and-bounce retrieve, steady swim retrieve, drag-and-no-shake retrieve, and slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

Catching 12 largemouth bass in two hours during the month of January is considered a splendid outing by north-central Texas standards. In contrast, many bass anglers in my neck of the woods will fish for six to eight hours and hope they can generate two or three strikes during that time.

Jan 24 log

Wow. What a memorable outing Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I had at a northeastern Kansas community reservoir on Jan. 24.

Rick and I are cousins, and we have fished together since the 1960s, and as he reflected on all of our many outings together, he was unable to remember one similar to this one since we moved to northeastern Kansas decades ago. In a jestful sense, he categorized this outing as being a more difficult one to accomplish than catching 101 largemouth bass in four fours.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 30 degrees at 7:53 a.m., 41 degrees at 11:53 a.m., and 57 degrees at 4:53 p.m. The wind chill ranged from 21 to 37 degrees, (and the wind chill was bitter most of the time that we were afloat.)  The wind angled out of the east and east by southeast at 5 to 26 mph. The sky fluctuated from being clear to partly cloudy to mostly cloudy to scattered with clouds.  (Around noon, a few sprinkles fell upon us as we fished.) The barometric pressure was 29.81 at 12:53 a.m., 29.74 at 5:53 a.m., 29.59 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.47 at 1:57 p.m.

The surface temperature was 38 degrees. The water exhibited a tannic hue with three to four feet of visibility.  The water level looked to be an inch or two above normal.  The many consecutive days of ice cover and cloudy weather seems to have caused most of this reservoir’s coontail patches to disappear.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would take place from 7:17 a.m. to 9:17 a.m., 7:24 p.m. to 9:24 p.m., and 1:05 a.m. to 3:05 a.m. We fished from 10:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.

In my Jan. 23 log, which detailed a 2 1/2-hour outing at another northeastern Kansas community reservoir, I wrote that I struggled to locate significant patches of submerged aquatic vegetation and substantial numbers of largemouth bass.  But, ultimately, I did find three patches and somehow caught 14 largemouth bass.

But on Jan. 24, Rick and I searched in vain for patches of submerged vegetation and largemouth bass. And for the 210 minutes that we fished, we failed to garner a strike.  We dissected all of this reservoir’s conventional wintertime lairs, as well as a few unconventional ones.

It is interesting to note that Rick and I fished this community reservoir on Jan. 2, and during that four-hour outing, we struggled to catch 19 largemouth bass, and 16 of them were caught during the first 75 minutes that we were afloat.  On that outing, we had a difficult time finding patches of submerged vegetation, but we found a few.

On Jan. 21, I chatted with the members of the Kansas State University Fishing Team in their booth at the Kansas City Boat and Sport Show, and Shaun Finn of Olathe, Kansas, told me that he and his father, Paul, fished this community reservoir on Jan. 1, and they failed to catch a fish. They are Midwest finesse practitioners, and Paul is a longtime member of the Finesse News Network. And it was the first time that they had ever been kayoed at this reservoir.

This community reservoir foiled Rodney Hartridge of Shawnee, Kansas, and me on Mar. 1, 2011. But at that time, the water level was substantially above normal, and the water was extremely muddy, and the surface temperature was 40 degrees.  The conditions were so onerous that we fished for about 10 minutes, and then we went home.

To the best of Rick’s and my recollections, we had not endured such a wintertime skunking since we lived in Columbia, Missouri, in the 1960s and fished Little Dixie Lake, Missouri, and the tailrace on the Osage River below Bagnell Dam at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Many piscatorial sages tell us that savvy anglers always learn something from their failures.  Rick and I readily confess that we are not savvy enough to have learned anything from this complete failure. It did, however, reinforce the notion that it is essential to find significant patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, such as coontail, curly-leaf pondweed, or Eurasian milfoil, in order to catch largemouth bass during the heart of the winter in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas, and we did not find any on our Jan. 24 outing.

Jan. 24 log

Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about Preston Parks’ Jan. 24 outing.

Here is an edited and condensed version of his report:

Last winter  my son-in-law Preston Parks of Pittsboro, North Carolina,  had some very successful outings when the conditions were difficult, such as extremely cold and dirty water, by using a Z-Man’s Hula StickZ.

On Jan. 24, he continued that trend by catching 12 largemouth bass.  The five biggest ones weighed 25 1/2 pounds, and the biggest one weighed 7 1/2 pounds.

In the eyes of  an old codger like me, the conditions could not have been worse. The rain on Sunday and Monday muddied our local reservoirs, reducing the visibility to about two inches.  But he was not hindered by the old wives’ tale about how cold and muddy water puts the kibosh on our abilities to catch largemouth bass.

He fished from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  During that spell, the sky was becoming clear.  Area thermometers climbed to 58 degrees. The wind angled out of the north at 10 mph.  The surface temperature hovered in the mid-40s.

He worked with a Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a black 1/10-ounce Z-Man’s Weedless Finesse WormZ jig and focused on channel-swing shorelines in one to three feet of water.

Six of the largemouth bass were caught on the initial drop of his Hula StickZ rig.  The other six were caught on a drag-and-shake presentation.

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Preston Parks with one of the 12 lartgemouth bass that he caught.

It was an incredible catch. I think he did indeed break all of our local paradigms by doing it. To be truthful, I thought it was a better day for working than fishing until he told me about all of the details about how and where he did it.  Now I think he is on the verge of teaching this old dog some new tricks.

Jan. 25 log

Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, filed a brief report on the Finesse News Network about his short bank-walking outing on Jan. 25.

Here is a condensed and edited version of his report:

At 4:00 p.m., area thermometers approached a record-high temperature of 72 degrees, and I snuck out of work to a pond during the last half hour of daylight.

It is adjacent to my wife’s office, and she told me last fall that she had seen an angler fish it with some regularity, and since then, I have waited for a good chance to get a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company’s purple-haze Zero affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig in play there.

The water was dingy, exhibiting about eight inches of visibility.  As best I could determine, the deepest water was 4 1/2 feet.  There is no bottom structure or vegetation.

I made casts and retrieves parallel to the shoreline.  I employed a swim-and-steady-shake retrieve or an index-finger-thump on the line during each rotation of the line as it is spooled onto the reel.

In 30 minutes, I caught five largemouth bass and lost three. And I had several strikes that I failed to hook.  I was retrieving the rig near the surface; so that most strikes were visible. I caught them along the north shoreline, which was a touch wind-blown and embellished with the sun’s warm rays.

This post is really just a reminder to FNN members that there are countless ponds like this one, where anglers can catch scores of largemouth bass on a 2 1/2-inch Zero and 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. It is without a doubt the best tool around on these featureless waters.

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One of the five largemouth bass that Mike Poe caught in 30 minutes.

I have dreams of getting back to some Iowa ponds that I fished one spring while hunting out there. Those fertile ponds were absolutely amazing to me.  The Zero rig would be outstanding in those waters. Meanwhile we will do what we can locally.

 Jan. 27 log

During the first 91 minutes of our Jan. 27 outing at a northeastern Kansas community reservoir, David Harrison of Lawrence, Kansas, and I failed to elicit a strike.

On Jan. 25, Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I fished at another northeastern Kansas community reservoir for three hours and 45 minutes without garnering a strike.

On our Jan. 25 and 27 outings, we searched in vain for patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, such as coontail, curly-leaf pondweed, or Eurasian milfoil, on the massive flats in the back portions of feeder-creek arms.

By 11:46 a.m. on Jan. 27, I had fished two community reservoirs for 286 minutes without locating any patches of vegetation and eliciting a strike. I had become so discombobulated by my inabilities to find patches of aquatic vegetation and catch largemouth bass, I suggested that we should put the boat on the trailer and travel to another northeastern Kansas community reservoir in hopes that we could find some aquatic vegetation and a few catchable largemouth bass.  Harrison agreed.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 23 degrees at 7:52 a.m. and 46 degrees at 3:52 p.m.  Except for two early morning hours, the sky was cloudless, and while we were afloat, the sun was blindingly bright. The wind angled out of the west at 7 to 25 mph.  The barometric pressure was 30.15 at 12:52 a.m., 30.15 at 5:52 a.m., 30.18 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.10 at 3:52 p.m.

At the first community reservoir the water level looked to be an inch or two above normal.  The water exhibited eight feet of visibility.  The surface temperate was 35 degrees, and several areas that we tried to fish were covered with ice. At the second reservoir, the water level looked to be a tad above normal.  The water exhibited about four feet of visibility.  The surface temperature ranged from 38 to 39 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 9:37 a.m. to 11:37 a.m., 10:03 p.m. to 12:03 a.m., and 3:25 a.m. to 5:25 a.m. We fished the first community reservoir from 10:20 a.m. to 11:46 a.m. We were afloat at the second community reservoir from 1:26 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

We fished five traditional wintertime areas at the first reservoir, and some of our endeavors were confounded by some ice-covered lairs and a pesky wind.

At the second community reservoir, we spent the entire time upon a massive flat in the back of a feeder-creek arm.  The entire area is the size of about six football fields, and we quickly explored portions of two of those football fields.

On our first cast and retrieve at the second reservoir, we caught a largemouth bass. It was caught on a four-inch Berkley Gulp Crawler Worm affixed to a 1/16-ounce brown-and-orange Gopher jig with a drag-and-deadstick presentation. It was caught in four to five feet of water around a series of scanty patches of curly-leaf pondweed. We caught three more largemouth bass from these patches.  Two were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California Craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a drag-and-slight-deadstick presentation.  One was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a drag-and-subtle-shake presentation.

This series of scanty patches of curly-leaf pondweed is 175 feet long and 15 feet wide. We dissected this stretch six times from a variety of angles and employing several standard Midwest finesse retrieves. This endeavor took about 20 minutes.

We spent 25 minutes zigzagging and meandering around and across many square yards of the massive flat in the back of this feeder-creek arm. In our search for patches of curly-leaf pondweed and largemouth bass, we strolled our ZinkerZ rigs, and we also executed scores of casts and retrieves with these rigs.

Ultimately, we found an area that is about the size of a basketball court, which we fished for 89 minutes and caught 23 largemouth bass and four black crappie.  These fish were abiding in three to five feet of water.

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A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to either a chartreuse or a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught 12 of the largemouth bass. A Z-Man’s coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught eight largemouth bass. A four-inch Berkley Gulp Crawler Worm affixed to a 1/16-ounce brown-and-orange Gopher jig caught two largemouth bass.  A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught one largemouth bass. And a 1/4-ounce chrome Johnson Thinfisher blade-bait caught one largemouth bass.

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David Harrison with one of the 27 largemouth bass that we caught.

We elicited 15 strikes that we failed to hook.  On two of our retrieves, we elicited as many as three strikes before we hooked a largemouth bass. The bulk of the largemouth bass were caught on a drag-and-deadstick presentation.  Some were caught on either a swim-and-glide or a drag-and-subtle-shake presentation. One was caught on the initial drop.

Jan. 30 log

Since the ice melted off of most of northeastern Kansas’ flatland reservoirs on Jan. 20, we have often toiled and toiled mostly in vain to find and catch largemouth bass at their traditional wintertime haunts, which consist of patches of submerged aquatic vegetation that grace the shallow-water flats in the back ends of our reservoir’s feeder-creek arms.

On Jan. 30, I hoped to find a solution to this piscatorial puzzle. To do this, I spent three hours exploring the shallow-water flats in the backs of two feeder-creek arms at one of northeastern Kansas’ many community reservoirs, hoping to find a half of a dozen or more patches of aquatic vegetation (such as coontail, curly-leaf pondweed, or Eurasian milfoil) that were entertaining a significant number of catchable largemouth bass.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 21 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 62 degrees at 1:52 p.m. The wind was calm until 9:52 a.m., and then it angled out of the southwest, south by southwest, west by southwest, west by northwest, and west at 8 to 18 mph. (The wind prevented us from exploring the flats in the feeder-creek arms on the east side of this reservoir.) It was sunny. The barometric pressure was 30.08 at 12:52 a.m., 30.02 at 5:52 a.m., 29.95 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.89 at 2:52 p.m.

The water level looked to be an inch or two above normal. The water in the back of one of the feeder-creek arms exhibited more than five feet of visibility. The surface temperature ranged from 38 to 40 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would transpire from 11:50 a.m. to 1:50 p.m., 12:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., and 6:02 a.m. to 8:02 a.m.  I was afloat from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The two shallow-water flats that I dissected are massive. Each one is large enough to encompass at least four football fields. They are covered with water as shallow as one foot to water as deep as eight feet.

The underwater terrain of these two flats consists primarily of silt, but there are a few spots that are littered with gravel and rocks.  Some areas are embellished with a submerged creek channel. Some locales are graced with a hump. A few stumps, some laydowns, and several man-made brush piles littered portions of these two flats.  In years past, a few largemouth bass have abided around the submerged creek channels, humps, stumps, laydowns, and brush piles, but these objects have never entertained the vast numbers of largemouth bass that the submerged vegetation entertained. The deepest areas in these feeder-creek arms plummet to a depth of about 22 feet.

To dissect these flats, I spent a lot of time strolling and simultaneously using two spinning rods.  One rod sported a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The second rod sported a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.  As I strolled, these rigs were being dragged in three to eight feet of water.  To my chagrin, I was able to elicit only one strike while I was strolling, which I failed to hook, on the Junebug ZinkerZ rig.

I probed one flat for nearly an hour, and it yielded only two largemouth bass. One was caught on a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. rig in 3 1/2 feet of water while I was employing a drag-and-deadstick presentation. The second one was caught on the Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. in about five feet of water around a scanty patch of bushy pondweed while I was employing a drag-and-deadstick retrieve, and there were several shallow-water stumps and two big laydowns within 15 feet of where I caught that largemouth bass.

The second flat was more fruitful. I caught 23 largemouth bass and three black crappie in about two hours. And they were caught while I was utilizing a drag-and-deadstick presentation, and some of the deadstick portions of these presentations encompassed 12 seconds or more, which is an unusual style for me to employ. I rarely employ the deadstick routine for more than four seconds, and most of the time it is three seconds or less.

Nineteen of the largemouth bass were extracted out of six feet of water within an area that is slightly smaller than a tennis court. I could not determine if this area was graced with vegetation, but at times during the dragging portion of the retrieve, I could feel something that felt like aquatic vegetation. One of the largemouth bass was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Five were caught on the Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Thirteen were caught on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. This spot also surrendered two black crappie. I also elicited seven strikes that I failed to hook.

At another area, where I found some tiny sprouts of curly-leaf pondweed, I caught three largemouth bass on the Z-Man’s Junebug ZinkerZ rig with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve. The Junebug ZinkerZ garnered three strikes that I failed to hook.

Along a drop-off adjacent to a hump, I caught one largemouth bass in seven feet of water on the Z-Man’s Junebug ZinkerZ rig.

Upon failing to hook the strike that I happened upon with the Z-Man’s Junebug ZinkerZ rig while I was strolling, I made a cast to the vicinity where I encountered that strike, and I employed a drag-and-deadstick presentation, which caught one largemouth bass that was abiding in six feet of water. On the next cast, I employed the drag-and-deadstick retrieve and caught a black crappie.

In sum, I caught 26 largemouth bass and three black crappie. All of them were caught while I employed the drag-and-deadstick retrieve.

As my three-hour endeavor came to a close, it was readily apparent that I had not found a solution to this winter’s mystery to the whereabouts of the submerged aquatic vegetation that used to adorn many of our reservoirs and to the whereabouts of the vast numbers of largemouth bass that used to abide around many of those patches of submerged vegetation. Because of the massive size of these flats, it is unlikely that this quagmire will be resolved if we have to use a drag-and-deadstick presentation. It is too slow and tedious of a presentation for dissecting these vast acreages.

Jan. 30 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Jan. 30 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

On Jan. 16, John Thomas of Denton and I fished at a heavily fished U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hill-land reservoir in north-central Texas. We had planned to fish a feeder-creek arm in the northern section of the reservoir, but once we arrived at that creek, we found that it was too muddy to fish. We were relegated to fishing a riprap-laden embankment of this reservoir’s southwest tributary arm, and we struggled to catch two largemouth bass and one white crappie.

On Jan. 30, we decided to go back to the same Corps’ reservoir and see if the muddy water in the feeder-creek arm had cleared up.

The weather was splendid. The sky was clear and not a cloud was in sight. The sun was bright and warm. The wind angled out of the west at 5 to 7 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.17 around noon and dropped to 30.07 by 4:00 p.m. The afternoon high was 72 degrees. The morning low was 39 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing periods would take place between 6:09 a.m. to 8:09 a.m.,11:57 a.m. to 1:57 p.m., and 12:22 p.m. to 2:22 p.m. John and I fished from about noon to about 4:00 p.m.

We spent most of our time in the middle and upper riverine sections of this creek. This creek is about 20  yards wide. The center of the creek is covered with water as shallow as three feet and as deep as 14 feet. The underwater terrain consists of mostly gravel and clay. Its two shorelines are cluttered with an abundance of flooded bushes, submerged brush piles, and partially submerged laydowns.

The water at the mouth of the creek was still muddy with about a foot of visibility. The water temperature was 53 degrees. The middle section of the creek was stained with about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The water temperature in this portion of the creek ranged from 54 to 58 degrees. The upper end of the creek was also stained with two feet of clarity. The water temperature in this part of the creek varied from 58 degrees to 64 degrees.  Though the water conditions had improved significantly since Jan. 16, the fishing was slow and trying.

After we had been fishing for about 15 minutes without a strike, we crossed paths with a bass angler who was slowly idling his boat out of the creek. He said he had caught only three small bass on a white spinnerbait. Later in the afternoon, we spoke with two bass anglers in another bass boat and three bank anglers. They had also found the fishing difficult, and the five of them had caught only seven small bass.

In sum, we struggle to inveigle 11 largemouth bass, one spotted bass, one large white crappie, and one white bass in four hours. Four other largemouth bass were able to free themselves before we could lift them into the boat. We also elicited about a dozen other strikes that we failed to hook. The bulk of these black bass were smaller specimens. The largest one weighed three pounds, one ounce. All of these fish were abiding in less than six feet of water and were relating to the deeper ends of the larger partially submerged laydowns along the shoreline. We failed to elicit any strikes from any of the flooded bushes, submerged stumps, or submerged brush piles.

IMG_2653

Steve Reideler with one of the 11 largemouth bass that they caught .

All of these fish were caught in water that was at least 57 degrees and exhibited a minimum of 1 1/2 feet of clarity. We failed to elicit any strikes in the muddier water near the mouth of the creek that ranged between 53 and 56 degrees.

A Z-Man’s 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig was the most effective bait. It caught 11 of the 12 black bass. One largemouth bass was caught on a Z-Man’s black-blue-flake T.R.D. TubeZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

The only effective presentation was a slow swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve.

Jan. 31 log

I was hoping to spend three to four hours on Jan. 31 probing the shallow-water flats in the back portions of the feeder-creek arms at one of the state reservoirs in northeastern Kansas.  Traditionally, this reservoir’s shallow-water flats are endowed with significant patches of coontail and curly-leaf pondweed, and in and around those patches, we have crossed paths with substantial numbers of largemouth bass.

But as I approached the boat ramp, I was disheartened to notice that the water exhibited an unusual reddish-brown hue. When I examined it, I could see countless numbers of tiny red particles that created about a four-inch layer across the entire surface of the reservoir. It looked like some sort of an algae bloom, and Richard Sanders of Lawrence, Kansas, who is a fisheries biologist for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism, identified as an Euglena  bloom, which is a protist, and it is similar to an algae bloom. The water clarity under that red layer looked to be almost crystalline. There was an angler fishing the shoreline adjacent to the boat ramp, and he said he was puzzled by it and noted that it had dyed his braided line red. After I talked with that angler for a spell and pondered the situation, I decided not to launch the boat.  Instead, I towed it to a nearby community reservoir and launched it.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 23 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 48 degrees at 1:52 p.m.  The wind fluctuated from being calm to angling out of the west by northwest, west, northwest, northeast, and north at 3 to 5 mph.  The sky fluctuated from being sunny to partly cloudy. The barometric pressure was 29.95 at 12:52 a.m., 30.01 at 5:52 a.m., 30.05 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.96 at 2:52 p.m.

The surface temperature was 39 to 40 degrees. The water exhibited more than five feet of visibility. The water level looked to be normal.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 12:45 a.m. to 2:45 a.m., 1:10 p.m. to 3:10 p.m., and 6:57 a.m. to 8:57 a.m.  I was afloat from noon to 3:15 p.m.

I spent the first hour of this outing inside one of the reservoir’s feeder-creek arms, searching for patches of submerged aquatic vegetation with an underwater camera. And at times, I made a few casts and retrieves with a Z-Man’s prototype green-pumpkin finesse creature bait that was affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.  I failed to find any significant patches of submerged aquatic vegetation with the camera. And I somewhat accidentally caught one largemouth bass in five feet of water along a rocky and boulder-laden shoreline while I executed a drag-and-deadstick retrieve.

The next two hours and 15 minutes were spent inside another feeder-creek arm. For about 20 minutes, I used the camera to search for patches of aquatic vegetation on the massive flat that lies in the back half of this feeder-creek arm. And I was delighted and astonished to find a plethora of patches of curly-leaf pondweed in three to nine feet of water.

In my eyes, this entire area looked to be the size of about 10 football fields, and I spent the next hour and 55 minutes dissecting small portions of this massive flat with three Midwest finesse rigs. One was the Z-Man’s prototype green-pumpkin finesse creature bait that was affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The second one was a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The third one was a slightly larger rendition of the Z-Man’s prototype green-pumpkin finesse creature bait, and it was affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

I found one 200-foot stretch of curly-leaf pondweed that yielded 31 largemouth bass, which were abiding in five to six feet of water. Ten of them were caught on the Junebug ZinkerZ rig with a drag-and-deadstick presentation. Twenty-one were caught on the smaller rendition of the Z-Man’s prototype green-pumpkin finesse creature bait with a swim-glide-and-radical-shake retrieve, and five of them were caught on back-to-back casts and retrieves. The bigger rendition of the prototype did not inveigle a largemouth bass.

Eight largemouth bass were extracted out of five feet of water from a small patch of curly-leaf pondweed. Four of them were caught on the small rendition of the prototype rig, and the other four were caught on the bigger rendition. Both baits were retrieved with a swim-glide-and-radical-shake presentation.

In sum, it was a wowie zowie performance by the smaller rendition of the Z-Man’s prototype green-pumpkin finesse creature bait and the swim-glide-and-radical-shake presentation. At times, I was radically shaking the bait by holding my rod at the one o’clock position and making a series of significant S-curves along the braided line from the tip of the rod to where the line touched the water. It was an enthralling way to put an end to January’s doldrums, which had snookered me several times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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