July’s guide to Midwest finesse fishing is graced with piscatorial insights from Don Baldridge of Springfield, Missouri; Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas; Andrew, James, and Nicholas Cox of San Antonio, Texas; Charlie Croom of Fayetteville, Arkansas; Ethan Dhuyvetter of Manhattan, Kansas; Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas; Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri; Paul Finn of Olathe, Kansas; Bob Gum of Kansas City; Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, and Ontario, Canada; Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas; Blake Russell of Shawnee, Kansas; and Walt Tegtmeirer of Kansas City.
Gum and Reese enlighten us with their explanations of how they catch smallmouth bass in a couple of the waterways in Ontario, Canada, and Croom explains how he does it in the Ozarks.
Details about the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass exploits of my children and grandchildren in the Northwoods of Minnesota in July are not featured, but they can been seen at this link: http://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/vacationing-northwoods-minnesota-2014/.
Scattered throughout some of these logs there is some kvetching and despair about the trying fishing that some of us were confounded by this month, and in the eyes of some readers, it makes for some irksome reading. We readily acknowledge words of complaint and despair are not a virtue, and we should try of avoid them. But an integral part of these monthly guides revolves around acknowledging our failings as anglers in hopes that we can learn to profit from them. For years, we have relished Winston Churchill’s astute insights about failure, and one of those insights is reflected in these words: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to the next with no loss of enthusiasm.” Thus, we hope that readers of this month’s guide will see that the kvetching is done with an air of enthusiasm and hope.
We are also thankful that Steve Reideler proof read all of the logs and made this 18,630-word guide more readable and understandable.
July 1 log
Paul Finn of Olathe, Kansas, filed a brief report on the Finesse News Network about his outing with his son at a 100-acre community reservoir that lies along the southwest suburbs of Kansas City.
The National Weather Service at Olathe noted that it was 67 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 82 degrees at 5:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the northwest at 7 to 20 mph from 4:53 p.m. to 8:53 p.m. The barometric pressure was 29.91 and falling at 5:53 p.m. The sky was cloudless. Finn said, “It was a nice evening of fishing with a little breeze and cooler weather.”
The water level was normal. There was about 24 inches of visibility. They didn’t measure the water temperature.
In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred from 1:55 a.m. to 3:55 a.m. and 2:16 p.m. to 4:16 p.m. There was a minor period from 8:06 a.m. to 10:06 a.m. They fished from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
They began their outing by fishing the dam, which is graced with riprap and lined with patches of American water willows. Along the dam, which lies on the north end of the reservoir, they caught four largemouth bass and tangled with several more that they failed to land by using a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company’s Bama Craw Zero on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, which was retrieved with either a swim-and-glide retrieve or a hop-and-bounce retrieve. The bulk of these bass were extracted from five feet of water and five to 10 feet from the outside edge of the water willows.
After they fished the dam, they moved up the reservoir and plied the American water willow patches and boat docks that clutter the shorelines. They caught 20 largemouth bass and tangled with a dozen that they failed to land along the edges of the water willows and under some of the docks by wielding a shortened Strike King Bama Craw Super Finesse Worm affixed to a red mushroom-style 1/16-ounce jig. They caught the bass from 2 to 8 feet of water depth with either a swim-and-glide retrieve or the hop-and-bounce-retrieve, but most of the strikes occurred during the initial fall of the Finesse Worm.
Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, and Ontario, Canada, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his July 1 outing in southwest Ontario.
He wrote: “After yesterday’s 20- to 30-mph winds that led to a day spent raising our water-system pump three feet, I needed a little lake time. The first day of July seemed a lot like June with a 15- to 20-mph northwest wind and a high temperature of 54 degrees. It was cloudy, and it drizzled and at times the drizzle felt like sleet. All and all it was just a dank day. I fished from 11:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. and managed to catch 45 smallmouth bass. There seemed to be a pattern developing, because most of the smallmouth bass were on boulder points.
“George Robison of Conway, Missouri, left yesterday after fishing for a week. And it is interesting to note that I have converted all of my friends to Z-Man’s Fishing Product’s Hula Stick. They used to use the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ, but now they want the Hula Stick. The nice thing about that is it frees me up to experiment with other baits. During the last week of June, I had solid results with Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZ and Z-Man’s new 3 1/2-inch grub. The best bait, however, was Z-Man’s new one, which is called The Real Deal or TRD. I affixed the TRD to a 1/10-ounce mushroom-style jig, which is a prototype of Z-Man’s new ShroomZ jig.
“I think every angler who likes the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ is going to love the TRD with the new ShroomZ heads. When an angler takes the TRD out of the package, it immediately exhibits the great soft feel the ZinkerZ has after it has been used for an hour or two and the salt has disintegrated. What’s more, rather than lying flat or horizontally on the bottom as the ZinkerZ does when it is new and full of salt, the TRD sits with its head on the bottom and its tail at nearly a 90-degree angle from the bottom. It is also extremely durable.
“The Canadian Craw hue has been a great hit so far on sunny days, and we have always used green pumpkin on cloudy days. During all of the cloudy and dark days that have plagued us, I have had time to experiment with the coppertreuse TRD. I have been using it a great deal the last few days and it has been the star.
“When I lived in Nashville, Tennessee, we caught a lot of smallmouth on chartreuse grubs. I did not have much luck on them when I moved back to Table Rock Lake, Missouri. I had little if any luck on them up here in Canada. I am completely shocked about the effectiveness of the coppertreuse hue up here. I noticed that anglers are having a lot of success on Table Rock catching smallmouth bass on the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ. They may want to try coppertreuse on cloudy days.
“The weather forecast says we are going to have a few days of sunshine. So we will see what happens.”
July 2 log
Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, posted the following report on the Finesse News Network about his July 2 outing.
He wrote: I made a solo 40-mile sojourn to a 24,154-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir that lies along the eastern boundary of Sanger, Texas.
The National Weather Service recorded the low temperature at 71 degrees and the high for the day at 89 degrees. It was cloudy. A northeastern wind blew at 10 to 15 mph. The barometric pressure was measured at 30.06.
“The water was clear with a light-green hue. The water clarity was more than five feet. The surface temperature varied from 79 to 81 degrees. The Texas Water Development Board recorded the water level at nine feet below normal pool.
“I had prepared my four spinning rods with the following baits: Z-Man’s blue-steel Finesse ShadZ rigged on an unpainted 1/16-ounce prototype weedless Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig; Charlie Brewer Slider Company’s three-inch pearl/chartreuse tail Bass/Walleye/Striper Grub rigged on a black 3/32-ounce Gopher jig; Z-Man’s 2 1/2-inch PB&J ZinkerZ affixed on a brown 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; and Z-Man’s four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ rigged on an unpainted 1/16-ounce prototype weedless Gopher jig.
“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best fishing period would occur between 3:13 p.m. to 5:13 p.m. I was afloat from 10:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
“I started the day probing a riprap bank and jetty adjacent to the boat ramp where I launched. I wielded the 2 1/2-inch PB&J ZinkerZ that was retrieved in a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation, and quickly tangled with one largemouth bass and two spotted bass that were associated with the riprap in about four feet of water.
“My next area consisted of a series of five main-lake points that lie along the east shoreline of the east tributary arm of the reservoir. These points are flat and comprised of clay, small rocks, and stumps. I plied these points with the 2 1/2-inch PB&J ZinkerZ, blue-steel Finesse ShadZ and Brewer’s three-inch Slider grub, while instituting a steady do-nothing retrieve and a swim-glide-shake retrieve. I enticed five largemouth bass from these five points with the 2 1/2-inch PB&J ZinkerZ. All of these fish were taken from two to four feet of water.
“My next spot was a heavily timbered creek channel about halfway back inside a large cove. The timberline is fairly straight along the creek channel, and it is surrounded by four to 12 feet of water. I slowly probed this timberline with the blue-steel Finesse ShadZ rigged on a prototype weedless Gopher jig. I used a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, but I was unable to elect any strikes as I worked the Finesse ShadZ through the flooded trees, which were littered with thick horizontal branches.
“From the creek channel, I made a short run to a shallow rocky hump close to a larger island in the mid-section of the east tributary arm. This hump is surrounded by thick stands of standing timber and two small patches of hydrilla along its western side. I switched to the four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ rigged on an unpainted prototype weedless Gopher jig, and I probed the patches of hydrilla and the timbered areas in five to 12 feet of water using a slow hop-and-bounce retrieve. I failed to induce any strikes from this area.
“After I finished checking out the hump, I made my way over to the southeast side of the island. The east side of the island is endowed with two steep rocky points and a thin wall of hydrilla that stretches about 30 yards toward the south side of the island. I utilized just two baits while I plied the southeast, south, and southwestern shores of the island; the 2 1/2-inch PB&J ZinkerZ and the four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ, and both of these baits were presented with a slow swim-glide-shake retrieve. The southeast bank surrendered three largemouth bass and one spotted bass that were inhabiting the deep water edge of the hydrilla in about four feet of water. The three largemouth bass were attracted to the 2 1/2-inch PB&J ZinkerZ, and the spotted bass was tempted by the four-inch PB&J WormZ. I also checked the sides and top of a submerged tank or farm-pond dam that is positioned about 20 yards south of the island. I continued to employ the PB&J ZinkerZ and PB&J WormZ along with the swim-glide-shake technique, but I failed to allure any bass from the submerged tank dam.
“The sixth area I visited was a main feeder-creek arm located along the west shoreline of the east tributary arm of the reservoir. The south main-lake point at the mouth of this feeder creek arm is long and flat, and it consists of clay, large scattered boulders, and a few small stumps. I executed scores of fan casts along this point with the PB&J ZinkerZ and PB&J WormZ. The PB&J ZinkerZ and slow swim-glide-shake presentation allured one largemouth bass that appeared to be milling about along the east side of the point in three feet of water.
“Then I motored across the mouth of this feeder-creek arm, and I fished the south-side entry point. This point is steep and rocky, and it is also enhanced with a few scattered stumps. I executed scores of fan casts with the 2 1/2-inch PB&J ZinkerZ, but it failed to trigger a strike.
“My last stop for the day occurred at a rocky main-lake shoreline and rocky point at the entrance to a main-lake cove. I continued to utilize the four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ and PB&J ZinkerZ, but this area failed to yield a bass.
“All told, the fishing was arduous and tedious. I could only muster 10 largemouth bass and three spotted bass during this five hour endeavor. Z-Man’s four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ allured one largemouth bass. The 2 1/2-inch PB&J ZinkerZ allured nine largemouth bass and three spotted bass. The three-inch Slider grub and Z-Man’s blue-steel Finesse ShadZ failed to coax any strikes. The swim-glide-shake retrieve was the only fruitful presentation.”
July 3 log
Our youngest daughter and her family made their annual Fourth of July trek from their home in San Antonio, Texas, to Lawrence, Kansas. Except on the Fourth of July, when all of our waterways are cluttered with scores of folks, we like to fish an hour or so every day with our grandsons when they are here. But this year, July Fourth was on a Friday, and for 3 1/2 of the seven days that they were visiting, our waterways were brimming with folks celebrating the three-day Fourth of July holiday. What’s more, there were spells during their visit when our home was brimming with eight of our 10 grandchildren and three of our four children and their spouses, and there were a lot of other activities that superseded our hours on the water. Therefore, James Cox of San Antonio, who is nine years old, Nicholas Cox, who is seven years old, and Andrew Cox, who is four years old, were able to fish only 3 1/4 hours during their visit. Those outings occurred on July 2 and 3.
During that short spell, James caught 21 largemouth bass, three green sunfish, and two huge bluegill. Nicholas caught nine largemouth bass and four green sunfish. Andrew caught five largemouth bass and two sunfish.
All but one of the 35 largemouth bass were caught along the 250-yard stretch of riprap that lines a dam at a 180 state reservoir. One largemouth bass was caught along the outside edge of a patch of bushy pondweed. Some of the largemouth bass were abiding in water as shallow as three feet and some were in water as deep as nine feet. The biggest bass was caught by Andrew.
It was Andrew’s first outing, and he hooked a largemouth bass on the first cast of his life. That bass jumped and tossed a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s purple-haze ZinkerZ and blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. On his second cast, he hooked and landed a hefty green-sunfish. He used a 5 1/2-foot, medium-action Shakespeare Synergy IM6 casting rod and a Shakespeare TI 10 Synergy spincasting reel that was spooled with six-pound-test Cajun Line. He employed a strolling presentation and a drag-and-shake retrieve. And occasionally he needed some help with his casts, which I provided.
James and Nicholas used standard Midwest finesse spinning rods and reels that were spooled with 10-pound-test Sufix Performance Braid and eight-pound-test Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon leaders. Both of these outfits sported a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s purple-haze ZinkerZ and blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. James primarily employed a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and at times, he used the drag-and-shake routine that was punctuated with a deadstick tactic. Nicholas strolled his bait behind the boat.
The water level was about six inches above normal. I could barely see the black propeller on the transom-mounted trolling motor, and that propeller was 26 inches under the surface. The surface temperature was 80 degrees.
On July 2, the National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, noted that it was 56 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 74 degrees at 1:52 p.m. The normal low temperature is 68 degrees, and the normal high temperature is 87 degrees. It was partly cloudy. The wind was pesky and angling out of the northwest at 14 to 28 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.07 at 12:52 a.m. and 30.14 at 1:52 p.m.
On July 3, the NWS noted that it was 50 degrees at 4:52 a.m. and 81 degrees at 5:52 p.m. A record low temperature of 49 degrees also occurred during the morning hours. It was sunny. The wind was calm at times; then it angled out of the northwest at 3 to 8 mph, and it also angled out of the west at 3 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.19 at 12:52 a.m. and 30.33 at 1:52 p.m.
According to the In-Fisherman solunar calendar, the best fishing on July 2 happened at 2:44 a.m. to 4:44 a.m. and 3:06 p.m. to 5:06 p.m. There was a minor period from 8:55 a.m. to 10:55 a.m. On July 3 the best fishing was supposed to occur from 3:31 a.m. to 5:31 a.m. and 3:52 p.m. to 5:52 p.m. There was a minor period from 9:42 a.m. to 11:42 a.m. On July 2, James was afloat from 10: 10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., and Andrew was afloat from 2:00 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Nicholas and James fished together from noon to 1:00 p.m. on July 3. Some of the time that they were afloat, they learned how to start, stop, and steer the outboard motor. They also learned a little bit about how to use an electric trolling motor.
Because the largemouth bass fishing around San Antonio, Texas, is extremely difficult, the only time that James, Nicholas, and Andrew fish is when they come to northeastern Kansas to visit their grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. The fact that these youngsters tangled with 35 bass in 3 1/4 hours of fishing is a tribute to the effectiveness of the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ rigged on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. It is also a tribute to the bountiful black bass populations that grace some of the flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas.
Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his July 3 outing.
He wrote: “I made a solo afternoon trip to a local 21,280-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir that is situated along the northern border of Lewisville, Texas.
“It was cloudy until 1:30 p.m.; then the sun shined brightly. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 74 degrees and the afternoon high climbed to 86 degrees, but the high humidity levels made it feel like it was 95 degrees. The wind quartered out of the northeast at 10 to 15 miles per hour. The barometric pressure measured 30.10.
“I was afloat from 12:15 p.m. until 4:15 p.m. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicted the best fishing periods would take place from 3:38 a.m. to 5:38 a.m., 3:59 p.m. to 5:59 p.m., and a minor period would occur from 9:49 a.m. to 11:49 a.m.
“The water was murky with about one and a half feet of visibility. The water temperature was 83 degrees. The water level was 7.95 feet below normal pool.
“I equipped my spinning rods with the following baits: four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company’s white Zero affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; Z-Man’s modified 3 1/2-inch black-blue-flake FattyZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; and Charlie Brewer Slider Company’s 2 1/8-inch smoke-blue flake Minnow Grub on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.
“Since April, I’ve been plying two productive channel banks along the mid-sections of two marinas situated in the southwestern tributary arm of this reservoir. These two banks are steep and rocky, with numerous boat docks close by. I checked them again today, but found very few bass still inhabiting these structures. I caught one largemouth bass on the modified black-blue-flake FattyZ and two spotted bass on the four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ. Both baits were presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and these three bass were extracted from the steep sides of the channel banks in three to five feet of water.
“After I finished checking the channel banks, I made a short run to the north side of the tributary arm, where I plied two points at the entrance to a small cove. These two points are long and flat, and they are comprised of clay, gravel, a few basketball-sized rocks, and three dilapidated boat ramps. One boat ramp is located on the tip of the east entry point, a second ramp is positioned on the east side of the west entry point, and the third ramp is located on the west shoreline and about two-thirds of the way back in the cove. A narrow creek channel runs parallel to the west shoreline and about 10 yards offshore. I fished the east point first, utilizing the 2 1/8-inch Slider grub and four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ, but I failed to catch a bass at this point. I then plied the west point and west shoreline of the cove next to the creek channel. This area yielded four largemouth bass and one spotted bass. Three of the largemouth bass were attracted to the four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake action. One largemouth bass was tempted by the 2 1/8-inch Slider grub and slow do-nothing swim retrieve. The spotted bass was beguiled by the 2 1/2-inch Strike King white Zero, which was retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation. All five of these bass were extracted from water less than six feet deep, and a short distance from the edge of the creek channel.
“My next spot was a windswept 200-yard section of a riprap-laden dam on the south end of the reservoir. The water was white capping but slightly clearer at this location than it was elsewhere; it exhibited about two feet of visibility. The northeasterly wind seemed stronger than 10 to 15 mph, and it confounded my attempts at casting, lure presentations, and boat control. I managed to wield the 2 1/8-inch Slider grub and employed a steady, do-nothing retrieve, and I could only muster two largemouth bass and two white bass that were relating to the riprap embankment in three to five feet of water.
“My last stop consisted of two clay and rock main-lake points situated along the southeast end of the southwestern tributary arm. The first point is long and steep, and it has an east to west orientation. Deep water encroaches upon the north side of the point, and the south side is flat and protected somewhat from the wind. I plied this point with the Slider grub and 2 1/2-inch Strike King’s white Zero, but I failed to entice any strikes.
“The second point is shorter and flat, and lies adjacent to a shallow submerged tank or pond dam. I was able to coax one largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and one channel catfish into striking the 2 1/2-inch Strike King white Zero that was retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. Both of these bass were inhabiting the tip of the point and milling about in less than three feet of water. I found no bass abiding along the submerged tank or pond dam.
“The fishing in north-central Texas continues to be slow and tedious. I labored to catch four spotted bass, eight largemouth bass, two white bass, and one channel catfish during this four-hour jaunt. The four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ allured five bass; the Slider grub bewitched three bass and two white bass; Strike King’s 2 1/2-inch white Zero beguiled three bass and one channel catfish, and the modified FattyZ enticed one largemouth bass. The swim-glide-and-shake retrieve proved to be the most lucrative presentation.
July 6 log
Bob Gum of Kansas filed a brief report on the Finesse News Network about his July 6 outing to a 160-acre state reservoir with his wife, Yan, who didn’t fish. Gum said she spent most of the time talking and dangling her feet in the water.
The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, noted that it was 74 degrees at 5:52 a.m. and 93 degrees at 5:52 p.m. The barometric pressure was 29.97 at 12:52 a.m. and 29.82 at 7:52 p.m. Throughout the day, the wind blew out of the south, southeast, and southwest at 7 to 28 mph. The sky alternated from mostly cloudy, to fair, to fair with haze, and to partly cloudy.
According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the fishing would occur from 5:46 a.m. to 7:46 a.m. and 6:10 p.m. to 8: 10 p.m. A minor period took place from 11:34 a.m. and 1:34 p.m. They were afloat from 7:00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m., and they noted that the best fishing occurred at 11:30 a.m.
Even though more than nine inches of rain fell upon northeastern Kansas during the 30 days of June, the water level at this reservoir looked to be five below normal. Nevertheless, the terrestrial vegetation along the shoreline was covered with some water. The water was relatively clear, but not as crystal clear as it had been during winter and spring. The surface temperature fluctuated from 78 to 79 degrees.
Gum worked a 2 1/2-inch Strike King green-pumpkin-red-flake Zero on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, four-inch Strike King green-pumpkin Super Finesse Worm on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, four-inch Gary Yamamoto Custom Bait’s dark blue Double Tail Hula Grub on a black 1/8-ounce Gopher jig, and three-inch Kalin’s Firetiger Triple Threat Grub on a black 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. He caught fish on all of these baits.
He retrieved the 2 1/2-inch Zero, Finesse ShadZ and Super Finesse Worm by gradually lowering the rod tip as the bait followed the contour of the bottom, and he implemented a swim-glide-and-slight-shake retrieve. He retrieved the Yamamoto grub by keep the rod tip up between the one and two o’clock positions and dragging and shaking the bait along the bottom. While retrieving the Kalin’s grub, his rod was pointed between the one and two o’clock positions, and he slowly turned the reel handle, allowing the grub to swim along the bottom, and he occasionally used the rod to employ a few short jerks.
He dissected several rock humps, some gradually sloping rocky banks, submerged aquatic vegetation, and the riprap that lines the dam. The riprap along the dam and the rock shoreline along the west side of the reservoir yielded the bulk of the largemouth bass, and the majority of those largemouth bass were inveigled by the Junebug Finesse ShadZ. He pointed out that dam and west shoreline was sheltered from the wind, which allowed him to present the bait more alluringly than he could around the patches of submerged vegetation, which was wind-blown.
Walt Tegtmeier of Kansas City filed the following brief report on the Finesse News Network about his July 6 outing with a friend.
They fished the same 160-acre state reservoir that Bob Gum fished from 7:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tagtmeier and a Midwest finesse fishing cohort were afloat from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. For weather, lake, and solunar data, please see Gum’s log above.
Tegtmeier wrote: “We started out at the main point between the two arms, working the east side briefly before turning around to the west. We fished the entire northwest arm on down to and including the dam. I threw a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California Craw Zinker on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig for about an hour, but my partner was doing better on the PB&J hue. I switched to a 2 1/2-inch purple-haze ZinkerZ, and from then on our hookups were about even. We caught 53 largemouth, only four of which exceeded 15 inches, and the better fish were all caught dead-sticking and dragging the rig out to eight to 10 feet of water. Green sunfish and small largemouth bass ruled the shallows. Despite the heat, it was a great time to be on the water, and only two other anglers were afloat.”
Charlie Croom of Fayetteville, Arkansas, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his and his wife’s July 6 outing on an Ozark river.
He wrote: “Independence Day is the busiest day of the year on most Ozark streams, and they are cluttered with thousands of canoes, hundreds of campers, and untold numbers of swimmers. BBQ grills filled the air with smoke around most campgrounds.
“Since the Fourth of July was on Friday, we decided Sunday afternoon would be the best time for us to fish. On Sunday morning Mother Nature gave us a helping hand by waylaying the area with a big thunderstorm, which sent the campers, canoers, and swimmers home early, and as we arrived, trucks filled with camping gear and canoes lined the the highway. When we saw the river, there weren’t many canoes afloat. In fact, it looked like a typical summer day rather than the biggest holiday of the year.
“The temperature cooled off a bit. The high temperature was 87 degrees, which is 5 degrees below normal for early July. And the humidity wasn’t as noticeable. There was a nice mixture of sun & clouds. Every so often, the wind would blow a little bit. It was perfect weather for a float trip.
“Another factor that helped us was that in the midst of all this Fourth of July madness no fisherman in his right mind would have been afloat. So the fish hadn’t seen a lure for several days when Sunday rolled around.
“We started fishing at 2:00 p.m., and we got off the river at 7:00 p.m.
“The river was very low and very clear. In fact, we had to drag the canoe across several shoals along the way. The current was slow in places and dead still in other places that usually have current. Any decrease is current velocity would have been bad. We were fortunate that it wasn’t all the way stagnant at this point. I knew this would require fishing the deepest areas with the most current. Because we were focusing only on deep-water areas with current, we quickly moved from current spot to current spot, and did waste our time fishing other spots.
“We floated about five miles of the river. We wanted to keep it short because we needed to fish each spot slowly and thoroughly.
“When we caught 19 fish at the first spot, we knew it would be a productive day. And by the time be made out last casts of the outing, we had caught 162 fish: 120 smallmouth bass, 40 rock bass, and two largemouth bass. Cindy caught 103 of them and I caught 59. It was good to see her go to work on those bass. It was her first fishing trip since our Fourth of July outing in 2013. And it was extra special to end the holiday weekend by fishing with my wife.
“Cindy used a six-foot, six-inch Bass Pro Shops Bionic Blade medium-power, fast-action spinning rod and Abu Garcia Cardinal spinning reel that was spooled with eight-pound-test Yo-Zuri Hybrid line. I worked with a six-foot, nine-inch Falcon Cara T-7 medium-power, fast-taper spinning rod and Shimano Stradic spinning reel spooled with 17-pound-test Berkley NanoFil line and a six-foot eight-pound-test Yo-Zuri Hydrid leader.
“We used two baits: a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin/red ZinkerZ rigged on an unpainted 1/16-ounce homemade jig, and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin/orange ZinkerZ rigged on a green-pumpkin/red 1/16-ounce homemade jig with a stranded wire weedguard.
“To catch the fish, we needed three things: current, rocks and shade. And if we found all three together, it was ideal. Moving water was a premium, and the deeper it was the better it was. Anything from waist deep to chest deep was prime.
“Big boulders breaking the current were also key. The bass were hunkered down under the shade of those flat rocks sticking out of the bank. Rocks mixed with gravel were ideal, too. But current had to be present for the rocks to hold fish. The bigger smallmouth bass were in packs that consisted of four to five fish, and they were abiding under the boulders.
“Some of the wolf packs would try to take the bait away from the smallmouth bass that we were fighting.
“Anywhere we could find current present with a big rock and a shadow or some shade, we caught fish.
“To properly present our baits, we had to cast the Z-Man rig upstream from the boulder and let the current wash the bait past the shadow of the rock. Once it reached the bottom, we had to wait for them to swim down to the bait and engulf it. This usually took five to 10 seconds each time.
“Deadsticking the bait was critical, as they weren’t interested if we tried to move it or twitch it. And deadsticking it on the initial drop was the most important aspect of our presentation. Then the smallmouth bass would swim out from the shadow of the boulders and quickly engulf the ZinkerZ.
“Crayfish were climbing all over those rocks, and the smallmouth bass were feeding heavily on them.
“The water was so clear that I could see the green-pumpkin/orange ZinkerZ rig on the bottom as the fish swam up to it. They swallowed the bait most of the time, but we killed only one smallmouth bass because it was hooked too deeply. That’s a pretty good mortality ratio.
“Time management was an important factor. To fish effectively, we had to fish slowly and methodically. We didn’t want to rush through the five miles of water. To accomplish this, we paddled quickly to the best stretches, and then we beached the canoe, got out of it, and fished these fruitful stretches by wading them. Then we got back in the canoe and paddled hard to the next area.
“It is interesting to note that this same tactic yielded 142 bass on the Fourth of July a year ago. So, history repeats itself.
July 8 log
Until July 8, Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, hadn’t wielded a Midwest finesse rig for more than a month, and I hadn’t made a cast since June 25.
Frazee, who is a longtime outdoors writer and editor for The Kansas City Star, was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award by the Outdoor Writers Association of America on May 27 at the OWAA national conference in McAllen, Texas. The next day he was fishing on the Gulf of Mexico, and while he was afloat, he was waylaid by excruciating abdominal pain. Then on May 29, he was lying in an operating room in a Kansas City hospital, where a surgeon was employing his handiwork and repairing the damage created by a ruptured appendix. After the operation, Frazee remained in the hospital for six days. Upon being released from the hospital, he was nursed at his home by his wife, Jana, for a week. But to their chagrin, a massive internal infection erupted during while he was homebound, which sent him to the hospital for another six days. He gradually battled through all the woes, and on June 29, his doctor said that he could go fishing again.
In contrast, I was engaged with in array of family get-togethers, which entailed a sad but gratifying trip to California for a family funeral. Then we relished eight days of delightful escapades in northeastern Kansas with eight of our 10 grandchildren and a few of their parents.
I joined Frazee on July 8 at a 120-acre community reservoir that lies along the northern suburbs of Kansas City. The last time that we fished this reservoir together was on March 28 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., and we caught 101 largemouth bass.
The National Weather Service in Kansas City noted that it was 69 degrees at 5:54 a.m. and 85 degrees at 2:52 p.m. Throughout our outing, the wind was variable, angling out of the north, west, and northwest at 9 to 14 mph, with occasional gusts that reached 20 mph. There were spells when it was virtually calm, and for a few minutes, it angled out of the southwest. The sun shined brightly and everywhere around this reservoir except under the canopy of leaves of several of the beautiful hickory trees that leaned over the water’s edge. During the night of July 7 and 8, a severe storm raged across northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri; the wind howled at 75 mph, golf-ball size hail plummet from the sky, and the NWS at Kansas City recorded 1.36 inches of rain. The barometric pressure was 29.84 at 12:52 a.m. and 30.00 at 2:52 p.m.
The water level was normal and stained. Because of the drought that has encompassed Kansas and Missouri since 2011, the water level at this reservoir was below normal for several years, which allowed the shoreline to sprout a variety of terrestrial vegetation, and that vegetation was partially covered with water on July 8. Traditionally, the water at this reservoir exhibits more than seven feet of visibility, and it is graced with copious patches of coontail, American pondweed, and other varieties of aquatic vegetation. But the visibility at some locales was less than a foot and no more than four feet at its clearest locales. There were only a few meager patches of American pondweeds, and the coontail patches were not up to their normal snuff. The surface temperature ranged from 80 to 81 degrees. Throughout our outing, we saw incalculable numbers of fry-sized fish.
According to the In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing occurred from 7:16 a.m.to 9:16 a.m. and 7:43 p.m. to 9:43 p.m. A minor period took place from 1:03 a.m. to 3:03 a.m. We fished from 8:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Before we climbed into Frazee’s boat, we talked for a spell, and he said that his angling friends and his son had found the fishing to be extremely difficult for the past several weeks. One of those anglers told Frazee that he failed to garner a strike on one outing. Frazee’s son reported that his sonar device revealed massive schools of fish suspended pell-mell across the main body of the reservoir, which we discovered, too, and we presented several Midwest finesse baits to them that failed to engender a strike.
It is interesting to note that a similar phenomenon plagued anglers at several of the small flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas during many outings in June, but only at a 195-acre community reservoir was the largemouth bass fishing as lackluster as the fishing had been at this 120-acre reservoir in northwestern Missouri.
According to Frazee, all of the anglers at this reservoir wielded power tactics, and he was hoping that our Midwest finesse tactics would allow us tangle with at least 30 largemouth bass in four to five hours of fishing.
But to his disappointment and mine, our Midwest finesse tactics failed. We caught only 10 largemouth bass. Seven of them were caught on either a Junebug or green-pumpkin Z-Man’s shortened four-inch Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Three were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a black 1/16-ounce ball-headed jig. There was no rhyme or reason to where and how we caught those 10 largemouth bass. When we did catch one, it seemed as if it was an accident. Thus, it would be a worthless endeavor to write a description of how, when, and where we caught those 10 largemouth bass, or how, when and where we didn’t garner a strike. But we crossed paths with a pair of anglers who were wielding big bobber rigs that were baited with small sunfish. We assumed that that they were fishing for channel catfish, but they were largemouth bass fishing, and they caught three lunker-size largemouth bass. We also caught three largemouth bass at the spot that they were fishing, which was around two culverts and riprap shoreline in the upper reaches of this reservoir.
Paul Finn of Olathe, Kansas, filed a brief about the Finesse News Network about his and daughter’s outing on July 8 at a 100-acre community reservoir that lies along the southwest suburbs of Kansas City.
The weather and solunar information parallels the data that we posted in the log above that features the outing Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, and I struggled through on July 8 at a 120-acre community reservoir that lies along the northern suburbs of Kansas City.
Finn wrote: “My daughter rarely fishes, but she seems to have a touch that catches them. We started at 6:00 p.m. and fished till 8:30 p.m.
“The water clarity was much dingier that it was when my son and I fished this reservoir on July 1. The water exhibited a greenish hue and displayed about a foot of visibility.
“We tried a few different tactics than we normally do mainly because she is not as experienced as her brother. We started off wacky rigging a Strike King Bama Craw Zero along the dam. On my second cast with the wacky rig, I caught a largemouth bass that weighed around three pounds. After that I put down the rod for a while and let her fish on her own as I ran the boat. On about her fifth cast, she caught a 14-inch largemouth bass that put up quite a fight, and that got her a little excited. We proceeded to fish the dam, as well as all the major points around the lake. We wound up the evening with only 14 largemouth bass, but I was pretty much the guide and did not fish that much. Nevertheless, it was a fun and memorable evening with my daughter.
“Awhile back I was at Rogers Sporting Goods in Liberty, Missouri, and I was looking through their bargain bins of soft-plastic baits, searching for something new to try on the finesse rig. I came across some Junebug and black neon Bailey Magnet Magnums, which is a unique and solid-body 3 1/2-inch tube-style bait, and I bought a couple packages of them. I finally tried them on July 8. Throughout the evening, I took about 75 casts with a Junebug one, and on my first five casts, I caught three largemouth bass, including a 15-incher. I rigged it on a homemade 1/16-ounce chartreuse mushroom-style jig. I retrieved it by employing either the swim-glide-and-shake presentation and hop-and-bounce one. From the get-go, I loved the way it undulated and quivered. I became so enchanted with it that I have ordered 100 of them in various colors.”
July 9 log
Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his July 9 outing.
He wrote: “I made a solo afternoon excursion to a local 21,280-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir that lies along the northern boundary of Lewisville, Texas. I last fished this reservoir on July 3, and I worked hard to eke out 12 largemouth bass.
“The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 77 degrees and the afternoon high climbed to 95 degrees. Even though it was partly cloudy, it was a bright and sunny day. A mild-mannered breeze meandered out of the south at 5 to 10 miles per hour. The barometric pressure was steady at 29.95.
“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicted the best fishing period would occur from 8:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. I was afloat from noon until 4:00 p.m.
“The water was dingy with about one and a half feet of visibility. The water temperature was 89 degrees and the water level was 8.08 feet below normal.
“I have recently been reading on the Finesse News Network about the trying and perplexing fishing that is plaguing Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri; so I felt some solace after suffering through a similar lackluster and vexing afternoon of bass fishing in north-central Texas. During my four hour outing, I could only muster seven largemouth bass, two spotted bass, one channel catfish, and one large bluegill.
“Five largemouth bass, two spotted bass, one catfish, and one large bluegill were caught along a riprap covered bridge embankment located in the southwestern tributary arm of this reservoir. One main-lake point on the northern shoreline of this same tributary arm surrendered one largemouth bass and an adjacent main-lake point yielded the other largemouth bass. I also plied nine other main-lake points, three dilapidated boat ramp areas, two large mud and gravel flats, and one rocky ledge submerged in 10 feet of water with three large brush piles placed along the top of the ledge. These areas seemed bereft of bass.
“All of these bass were milling about in less than five feet of water with deeper water close by. I observed small pods of two-inch shad cruising the shallows along the riprap-laden bridge embankment. A three-inch Kalin’s clear hologram Lunker Grub affixed to a black 3/32-ounce Gopher jig allured three largemouth bass and one spotted bass. Z-Man’s green pumpkin Scented LeechZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig bewitched three largemouth bass, one spotted bass, one catfish, and one bluegill. A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig beguiled one largemouth bass. The Kalin’s grub was presented with a slow and steady do-nothing retrieve, and the ZinkerZ and LeechZ were employed with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. I also experimented with a Z-Man’s four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ rigged on a prototype weedless Gopher Jig, and I slowly strolled it along the brush piles stacked on top of the submerged ledge, but it failed to produce any strikes.”
Terry Claudel of Overland Park, Kansas, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his July 9 outing with his uncle at a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir.
According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing would occur from 8:06 a.m. to 10:06 a.m. They were afloat from 8:00 a.m. to noon.
The National Weather Service at Olathe, Kansas, noted that the temperature was 63 degrees at 5:53 a.m. and 83 degrees at 1:53 p.m. it was cloudless from 12:53 a.m. to 11:53 p.m. The barometric pressure was 30.03 at 12:53 a.m. and it was 30.08 at 12:53 p.m. The wind was variable and light, angling out of the west at 3 to 8 mph and northwest at 6 to 8 mph.
The water level looked to be more than a foot above normal. The water exhibited 12 to 18 inches of visibility. The surface temperature along the riprap shoreline on the east side of the reservoir and near the warm-water outlet was 94 degrees, which is where they caught the bulk of the 12 largemouth bass that they caught. And the majority of them were caught on a three-inch NetBait’s Tiny Paca Craw affixed to a 1/16-ounce slip-sinker rig.
July 10 log
Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, and southwest Ontario, Canada, filed the following report of the Finesse News Network.
He wrote: “Ned: In my last report, I mentioned how confusing this year has been. I have some very close friends here that are terrific anglers. They have lived here all of their lives, and they are guides, and topnotch sticks in the local tournaments, and they pocket a lot of tournament checks. All of them were adamant that the spawn was done. But their contentions flew in the face of all of my observations, but all of them kept saying ‘you don’t know these fish like we do.’
“The second thing that kept bothering me was the lack of scat [which is smallmouth bass excrement] in the boat. During the past two year, the boat carpet was pretty much orange from the digested crayfish that the smallmouth bass were defecating during this time of the year. What’s more, the livewell was filled with regurgitated crayfish from the walleye we kept.
“And last but not least, my catch rates have been off the norm by a considerable amount.
To me one of the great joys of bass fishing is all of the variables it presents and the clues it provides to solve the puzzle. I do believe Z-Man’s ElaZtech line of lures provide the tools to catch lots of bass if we pay attention to the clues and circumstances Mother Nature provides.
The first observation was the spawn. On July 4th I began catching smallmouth bass that were all beat up. By that I mean their mouths were bloody and torn up. There was also some damage to their sides and their pectoral fins. To me this means, they are spawning and that has continued for the last week. The flood has spread them out some, but a good spot is still a good spot. The primary difference is many are spawning on boulders that were well above the water’s edge before the flood, and now you must deal with shoreline vegetation. The side benefit is this has improved the topwater bite dramatically on calm days. During the past several years, the topwater fishing has been putrid to say the least, and I have missed it a lot.
You may remember that four years ago when you introduced me to a prototype of Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZ in a pearl hue. As soon as I saw it, I knew that it would be great up here, paralleling (if not exceeding) the effectiveness of Zoom Bait Company’s 5-inch Zoom Fluke which had been one of our go to baits. I called Z-Man enough times and begged enough that they finally sent me the last 17 prototypes. I knew the production mold would be coming shortly and I could get more when I went home to pick up my wife in mid-June. All of my fishing friends called it the magic lure. I went through a bottle of crazy glue at night trying to reconstruct them. I sent Z-Man one of the lures that caught 144 smallmouth, as well as countless walleye. I have never seen anything as good as that lure was that year. That same year I kept trying the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ and had only minor success with it; so, I kind of blew it off.”
“As the fall approached, Z-Man’s 3.75-inch Streak Z took over, and it was so good we took third in the big fall tournament using it. What made that unusual was we caught only smallmouth bass, and most winning bags up here include some largemouth bass.
“I came back the next spring loaded with Finesse ShadZs and StreakZs , and I caught very few fish. When I started fishing the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ, the fish wore it out. All summer, I kept trying the Finesse ShadZ, and I caught virtually no smallmouth, but it proved to be deadly on walleyes and lake trout. I caught vast numbers of walleye in water as deep as 50 and significant numbers of lake trout in 90 feet of water, but I couldn’t catch any smallmouth bass. The 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ, however, caught scores of smallmouth bass, and it was the most fruitful smallmouth bass summer of my life. During that summer, everything we caught was stuffed with crayfish, including large numbers of walleye that weighed as much as nine pounds, and all of these fish were caught on the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ.
“Last year, Z-Man humored me and agreed to make the Hula StickZ. The Hula StickZ improved our catch rate and significantly increased the size of the smallmouth bass that we caught. It allowed me to have my best year ever on smallmouth bass. Z-Man agreed to make The Real Deal this year, and it eliminated a lot of the problems that I had with the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ. I came up here all excited about using it, but it has been a tough spring. It is not that the lure had flaws; it has just been a slower than normal spring and summer. And to catch fish on The Real Deal, I had to develop a strange retrieve by reeling it fast a foot or two under the surface to make it look like a frightened crayfish, and then when it was about two-thirds of the way back to the boat, I execute a pause and let The Real Deal glide towards the bottom.
“When I fished Z-Man’s new 3 1/2-inch grub, I caught a lot of fish, but I was focused on using The Real Deal. My duck hunting buddy, came up for a few days, and he is not a fisherman. But when we were fishing together, I fished The Real Deal in the front of the boat, and he sat on the back deck and threw Z-Man’s new grub. I hit all of the boulders, and most of the time he missed them. The light came on when he proceeded to kick my behind cast after cast with the grub. It really caused a dilemma, because I did not want to fish a grub in front of him, but I wanted to catch some fish. That is when I pulled out the pearl Finesse ShadZ, and the magic lure is back.
“Where I really blew it on solving the puzzle was not paying attention to the lack of crawfish. What I love about the entire Z-man line of finesse baits is that you have tools to adapt to all the circumstances that Mother Nature deals out. Since I figured the puzzle out, I have caught 554 smallmouth bass from July 1st to July 10th. I fished nine days for about six hours during each outing. And all of the 554 smallmouth bass were caught on the forgotten pearl Finesse ShadZ.
“I have been using the Finesse ShadZ on a 1/10-ounce jig, and most of the time I cast it at a boulder or bush. When it hits the water, I allow it to fall to the bottom. Then I will swim it back to the boat, keeping it about two feet above the bottom. When it is about two-thirds of the way to the boat, I allow it to fall to the bottom, where I allow it lie dead still for a few seconds. Then I shake, trying not to move the jig head but make Finesse ShadZ to undulate and quiver provocatively. After that shaking routine, I pause for a second or two, and pop it off the bottom and swim all of the way to the boat.
“One of the major problems with the Finesse ShadZ has been keeping it straight when I glued them to the jig. They tended to twist the line bad and spin rather than dart. This is the first time I have used them for an extended period of time on the new ShroomZ jig with the bait keeper on the hook shank. These new heads work great. Now it is easy to readjust the Finesse ShadZ when it gets out of line. What’s more, I caught 60 smallmouth bass and I used the same jig and only three Finesse ShadZs.”
July 11 log
Ethan Dhuyvetter and I fished a 100-acre community reservoir that sits along the southwest peripheries of Kansas City’s suburbs on July 11.
Dhuyvetter is 21 years old and resides in Manhattan, Kansas. He is a member of the Kansas State University Fishing Team and proprietor of www.fishingtheback.com. He is working this summer as an intern in Kansas City for Dyna-Tek. When he graduates from KSU in December of 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, he hopes to work in the fishing industry and compete as a co-angler on the Walmart FLW Tour. On this outing, he wanted to perfect some of his Midwest finesse techniques, create some video footage for his website, and work on a review of some Z-Man Fishing Products’ ElaZtech baits for his website. He will attend the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show on July 15-18 in Orlando, Florida, with Brent Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kansas, and Bassmaster fame. At ICAST, he hopes to visit Z-Man’s booth and examine the new Midwest finesse items that they are introducing to the angling world.
On July 11, The National Weather Service at Olathe, Kansas, noted that the temperature was 68 degrees at 2:52 a.m. and 91 degrees at 3:53 p.m. While we were afloat the sky was blue for a spell, partly cloudy for a stretch of time, and mostly cloudy for a stint. The wind angled out of the southeast at 7 to 10 mph, south at 9 to 14 mph, and southeast 10 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.06 at 12:52 p.m. and 30.03 at 1:52 p.m.
The water level was a few inches above normal. The water clarity ranged from three feet of visibility around the dam to less than two feet in the upper reaches of the reservoir. The surface temperature was 80 to 81 degrees. This reservoir is graced with many patches of coontail and a significant number of patches of American water willows. Some areas were endowed with a coating of duckweed. The massive patches of filamentous algae that litters this reservoir were not as omnipresent as they often are.
According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing occurred from 9:55 a.m. to 11:55 a.m., and we fished from 9:10 a.m. to 1:50 p.m.
In his heart, Dhuyvetter is a tournament angler or perhaps at this point he is a wannabe tournament angler. Therefore, his piscatorial hankerings lean towards catching five hefty largemouth bass rather than messing around with 101 small ones. But we were fishing a small flatland reservoir that had been waylaid by the largemouth bass virus several years ago, and it was unlikely that we would tangle with any hefty ones. So, he wielded several Midwest finesse baits, but he occasionally picked up a big casting outfit and chucked a Strike King Lure Company’s three-inch Red Eye Shad in the Sexy Shad hue. His Red Eye Shad failed allure a largemouth bass, but it did catch saugeye. He caught a few largemouth bass on his hand-poured green-pumpkin Sting Ray Grub that was affixed to a black 1/16-ounce Outkast Tackle’s Money Jig. Ultimately his most effective bait was a prototype of Z-Man’s green-pumpkin The Real Deal that was affixed to a black 1/16-ounce Outkast Tackle’s Money Jig. He retrieved this combo with either the drag-and-shake presentation or the swim-glide-and-shake motif.
My most effective bait was a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Bama Bug ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. I did catch two largemouth bass on one of Dhuyvetter’s three-inch hand-poured PB&J skirted Sting Ray Grubs on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. (By the way, his skirted StingRay Grub is a handsome bait.) I caught two largemouth bass on a 2 3/4-inch Junebug tube that was affixed to a 1/16-ounce inserted jig. I also caught two largemouth bass on a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ that was affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce jig. Besides the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, I caught a few largemouth bass by employing the drag-and-shake presentation and that was occasionally punctuated with a deadsticking routine.
We fished the riprap of the dam, which is totally lined with American water willows and a few patches of coontail, and it yielded six largemouth bass. These bass were abiding in five to eight feet of water.
We fished four offshore humps. The first hump failed to yield a largemouth bass. The second hump rendered two largemouth bass. The third one yielded one largemouth bass, as did the fourth one.
In the lower portions of the reservoir, we occasionally witnessed some fish foraging on the surface many yards off the shoreline. And while we were dissecting the first offshore hump, Dhuyvetter saw some foraging activity, and he made a mega cast with his Sting Ray Grub combo, and it caught one largemouth bass.
The rest of the largemouth bass were caught in the upper half of the reservoir along several concrete and rock retaining walls, a couple of rocky shorelines and points that were enhanced with American water willows, several submerged patches of coontail, and a short section of a bluff shoreline that is enhanced with a stretch of retaining walls and a shallow ledge.
In sum, it was a long way from being a stellar Midwest finesse outing. But it was more fruitful than the horrid outing that Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, and I endured on July 8 at a 120-acre community reservoir that lies in the northern suburbs of Kansas City. Dhuyvetter and I caught 38 largemouth bass, and tangled with 11 that we failed to haul across the gunnels of the boat. Dhuyvetter described it as an entertaining multi-species outing, which is a typical Midwest phenomenon. Besides the 38 largemouth bass, we caught two saugeye, three channel catfish, and a score or two of green sunfish, warmouth, and bluegill. What’s more, Dhyuvetter became infatuated with Z-Man’s green-pumpkin The Real Deal, and he said that it will be a bait for a co-angler to use on the Walmart FLW Tour.
Here is a link to Dhuyvetter’s review of The Real Deal: http://fishingtheback.com/products/product-reviews/z-man-finesse-trd/.
Here is a link to his interview with me about Midwest finesse fishing from the back of the boat: http://fishingtheback.com/videos/.
July 13 log
Bob Gum of Kansas City filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his outing at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir with Greg Monahan of Lees Summit, Missouri, on July 13.
The water level was a few inches above normal, and 20 cubic feet per second were being released through the dam’s outlet. Around the dam, there was about four feet of clarity. The surface temperature was 8o degrees.
The National Weather Service at Emporia, Kansas, noted that it was 71 degrees at 5:53 a.m. and 86 degrees at 5:53 p.m. According to the NWS, the wind angled out of the southeast at 10 mph at 6:53 p.m., and then it switched to the east and northeast at 5 to 9 mph, but Gum described it as a light northeasterly breeze. The barometric pressure was 29.98 at 12:53 p.m. and 30.02 at 1:53 p.m. At times, the sky was sunny, and at other times, it was mostly cloudy, occasionally it was littered with only a few clouds, and at some nearby locales rain drops fell from the clouds, but none of those fell upon Gum and Monahan.
In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 11:31 a.m. to 1:31 p.m., and there was a minor period from 5:45 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. Gum and Monahan fished from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Gum wrote, “This is one of the rare times I was expecting a good day on the water. Typically I possess a low-expectations attitude. That way it’s not so much of a let-down if I don’t do well. Because the water level was about six inches above normal, I was eager to fish some of the rocky humps that were now submerged after being high and dry for months on end. But to my chagrin, I have to borrow a phrase from Steve Reideler, who is the FNN reporter from Lewisville, Texas, and say that the fishing was ‘arduous and tedious’.
“We fished a variety of locales and baits with hopes of developing a pattern, but none developed. The fishing was consistently spotty regardless of where we fished or what we threw.
“I recently purchased some Jackall Lures’ three-inch Cross Tail Shad, which I rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and I caught a few on it, but it is not as buoyant as the Z-Man baits; therefore, it probably would have worked better with a 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. The Jackall baits have a distinctive ‘beach ball’ smell. I also threw a 2 1/2-inch Strike King green-pumpkin/red flake Zero on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Greg threw a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Coppertreuse Zero on a red 3/32-ounce jig. Greg caught the nicest bass on a 1/8-ounce black buzzbait.
“In total, we caught only 31 fish which included six drum, one walleye and one bluegill. The rest were smallmouths. I failed to land a lunker smallmouth along the dam, which would have helped my day.”
Paul Finn of Olathe, Kansas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his July 13 outing with his son at a 195–acre community reservoir.
The National Weather Service at Lawrence, Kansas, noted that it was 72 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 88 degrees at 4:52 p.m. The barometric pressure was 30.03 at 12:52 a.m., 29.99 at 7:52 a.m., and 30.03 at 11:52 a.m. It was overcast at 5:52 a.m., raining lightly at 6:52 a.m., thundering and raining heavily at 8:52 a.m., fair at 9:52 a.m., overcast at 10:52 a.m., and mostly cloudy at 11:52 a.m. Throughout the day, the wind blew from a variety of angles: out of the south at 6 to 10 mph, east at 6 mph, northwest at 8 to 9 mph, northeast at 3 to 10 mph, and north at 5 to 10 mph.
In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 11:27 a.m. to 1:27 p.m. There was a minor period from 5:42 a.m. to 7:42 a.m. The Finns fished 5:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Finn wrote: “We put the trolling motor down as soon as we launched the boat on the west boat ramp and started fishing heading north toward the dam.
“I started fishing with a 2 1/2-inch Bass Craft Squarebill Balsa Crankbait in the Table Rock hue, and on my third cast the water exploded as soon as the lure hit the water. I set the hook and caught a eight-pound channel catfish.
“While I wielded this finesse crankbait, my son used a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Bama Craw Zero affixed to a red 1/16-ounce homemade mushroom-style jig. He caught a 13 inch largemouth bass on his second cast.
“I fished the crankbait for another 20 minutes and caught a short largemouth bass, while my son and the Bama Craw Zero caught three largemouth bass.
“We crossed the lake and fished the riprap shoreline adjacent to the reservoir’s east boat ramp. We fished this area with square-bill crankbaits and buzzbaits. This is my favorite stretch of shoreline at this reservoir, and I was shocked that we did not catch a fish along it.
“We fished our way into the marina cove, which is a secondary feeder-creek arm. We caught two small largemouth bass along the south shoreline of this cove. It started to really rain hard as soon as we got to the marina so we sat underneath the marina for about 20 minutes. After the rain ceased, we fished past the marina on the south bank, and we did not have a bite. We crossed the marina cove and started fishing the north shoreline, and my son immediately started catching fish on the Bama Craw Zero. I had switched to the 3 1/2-ounce Junebug Bailey Magnet Magnum affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce homemade mushroom-style jig. The rain started again, and we returned to the marina and sat it out for another 15 minutes. Once the rain stopped, we went back to the north shore, and I switched to the Bama Craw Zero on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, and I started catching them as well.
“After we finished fishing the north shoreline, we fished the entire dam. I used the 2 1/2-inch Bass Craft Squarebill Balsa Crankbait and my son worked with a 2 1/2-inch Rapala Scatter Rap in a hot-mustard hue, and we caught several largemouth bass.
“Once we got to the end of the dam, we traveled up the lake and fished the north shoreline on the reservoir’s southwest feeder-creek arm. We thoroughly fished the main-lake point, where we traditionally catch goodly numbers of largemouth bass, but we failed to get a bite. We continued down the north shoreline, and we caught a few largemouth bass here and there. The rain started up once again, and a nice lady let us sit under her dock for about 10 minutes until it stopped raining. As we continued down the north shoreline, I noticed the water moving in a patch of American water willows, and I pitched my Zero up next to the edge of the water willows, and I immediately got a strike, and I landed a 15-inch largemouth bass.
“All in all, it was not a bad outing — except for the rain delays. Because of those delays, we probably fished four hours. We caught 25 largemouth bass, two channel catfish and numerous sunfish. When we were finesse fishing, all of the largemouth bass were caught on the Strike King Bama Craw Zero and red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. We caught most of the finesse fish with either the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve or the hop- and-bounce retrieve. Most of the bass were caught along the edges of the patches of American water willows, and they were in one to five feet of water. I could not believe I did not catch a fish on the Bailey Magnet Magnum; I did not even get a bite on it, where as it was my most effective bait on July 8 when my daughter and I fished a 100-acre community reservoir in the southwest suburbs of Kansas City.”
In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing times would occur from 11:24 a.m. to 1:24 p.m. and 11:53 p.m. to 1:53 a.m. There was a minor period from 5:39 a.m. to 7:39 a.m.
He wrote: “We decided to float the same stretch of river that my wife and I fished on July 6.
“This time it was much hotter. The high temperature was 95 degrees. Initially, the wind blew out of the south at 10 to 15 mph. The sky was cobalt blue and totally void of any clouds. Later on, it became partly cloudy, and the wind calmed down, which seemed to adversely affect an already tough bite.
“Another monkey wrench was the full moon, and we fished from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., which wasn’t the best time to fish a full moon.
“On top of the moon situation, the water level was the lowest that I have ever seen it. Most of the productive areas that were graced with a slow current on July 6 had now diminished to a stagnant and hot creek that was void of any current. It just felt like leech heaven in some places. Even the deeper holes could be waded in most places. This allowed the fish to see you before you could make a cast. The fish weren’t hugging the bottom this time as they were when my wife and I caught 163 of them on July 6. Instead they were all suspended anywhere from 12 inches off of the bottom to cruising just beneath the surface.
“We caught 20 smallmouth bass and 35 rock bass on this outing.
“My fishing buddy is famous for catching bass in tough conditions with a weightless Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits’ Senko. All 10 of the smallmouth bass that he caught were beguiled by a four-inch cinnamon-brown-purple Senko that was Texas rigged on a 3/0 Gamakatsu round-bend offset hook. He employed it on a six-foot-eight-inch Shinamo Convergence medium-power spinning rod, 2500 Shimano Sahara spinning reel, and eight-pound-test Yo-Zuri Hybird line.
“He worked with it by casting it to the riffle and run areas in waist-deep water that had some current. They were located where the water was leaving or pouring into a hole. He almost always caught them on the initial drop or after he twitched it and let it flutter down. They reacted to the wobble a Senko puts off when it is falling. None of his fish of his fish were caught on the bottom. His biggest was a 15-inch smallmouth.
“I used a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin/orange ZinkerZ affixed to an unpainted 1/16-ounce jig, and I all of the rock bass and 10 smallmouth. None of my fish exceeded the 12-inch mark.
“I could see smallmouth bass swimming around and finning in the slight current behind smaller rocks.
“The deep and slack pools had plenty of fish, but they would not bite a bait fished on the bottom. They wanted something in the middle to upper section of the water column. Right, then I should’ve switched to a drop- shot rig, but I left that setup at home. I didn’t have a topwater bait other than a buzzbait, and they didn’t want it.
“Usually in this scenario they will destroy a topwater bait with a propeller, such as the Cotton Cordell Crazy Shad with only a tail spinner. And now that the grasshoppers are moving about, a yellow-colored topwater bait can be deadly. Another good bait to try is a 3 1/2-inch Reaction Innovations’ Little Dipper that is rigged on a weighted hook; it is the exact same size and shape as a large creek chub.
“The river is near an all-time low right now. We desperately need a good steady rain to get the current moving again. It was thundering and trying to rain as we loaded up the canoe and drove home. I could see the lightning popping across the sky.”
July 14 log
Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, posted the following report on the Finesse News Network about his July 14 outing.
He wrote: “I conducted a solo excursion to a 3,489-acre water supply reservoir located along the northwestern border of Ft. Worth, Texas.
“It was sunny, hot, and partly cloudy. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 78 degrees and the afternoon high reached 101 degrees. The wind quartered out of the southwest at 5 to 10 mph. The barometric pressure measured 29.98.
“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated a primary feeding period would take place from 1:07 p.m. to 3:07 p.m. I fished from about 10:30 a.m. to about 2:30 p.m. I caught only one largemouth bass during the prime feeding period.
“The water was heavily stained with about one foot of visibility. The water temperature was 89 degrees. The Texas Water Development Board recorded the water level at 3.52 feet below normal pool. I did not find any submerged vegetation. I observed many shallow mud flats and the back of those flats were festooned with tall patches of cattails in about one foot of water.
“I have never fished this reservoir before. I found the fishing vexing and trying, and I could only muster six largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and one freshwater drum in four hours.
“I first concentrated on several mud flats embellished with cattails and several boat houses. Most of my casts landed in one to two feet of water while the boat floated in four to six feet of water. I caught one largemouth bass in two feet of water on the first mud flat I fished. This bass inhaled a three-inch Kalin’s white Lunker Grub on a black 3/32-ounce Gopher jig on the initial cast. I also plied these flats, boat houses, and cattail patches with a four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ threaded on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, a four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a slew of different colored 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZs rigged on different colored 1/16-ounce Gopher jigs. I employed these various combinations of baits and jigs with the swim-glide-shake, steady do-nothing, drag-and-deadstick, hop-and-bounce, and strolling techniques, but none of them produced any strikes.
“I then focused on a series of five rocky main-lake and secondary points situated at the mouth of a major cove along the southeastern shoreline. I continued to use the Kalin’s Lunker Grub, Z-Man’s Finesse WormZs, and ZinkerZs, but they failed to elicit any strikes.
“My next spot was a rocky shoreline in the mid-section of the cove. This rocky shoreline is about 50 yards long, and it is covered with baseball-sized rocks and runs parallel to a set of covered boat docks. This shoreline surrendered three largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and one freshwater drum that were relating to the rocks in three to five feet of water. I allured one largemouth bass and one four-pound freshwater drum on a three-inch Z-Man’s black-blue Scented LeechZ affixed on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Two largemouth bass and one spotted bass were attracted to a Z-Man’s four-inch black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Both of these baits were presented with a swim-glide-shake retrieve. The boat docks failed to yield any bass.
After I finished fishing the main-lake cove, I ventured eastward to the dam area. To my chagrin, I discovered that the dam was buoyed off as a no-access area. I elected to finish the day fishing six rocky main-lake points just west of the dam area. Three points were along the northern shoreline and the other three points were situated along the southern shoreline. These six points yielded only two largemouth bass. One largemouth bass, which weighed three pounds, was bewitched by the four-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ and swim-glide-shake presentation. The other largemouth bass was allured by the three-inch Kalin’s Lunker grub and steady do-nothing retrieve.
In sum, the four-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ allured three largemouth bass and one spotted bass, Kalin’s three-inch white Lunker Grub beguiled two largemouth bass, and Z-Man’s three inch black-blue Scented LeechZ enticed one largemouth bass and one freshwater drum. The swim-glide-shake retrieve induced four largemouth bass and one spotted bass. The steady do-nothing retrieve allured two largemouth bass.
Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, fished with me at a 416-acre community reservoir on July 14.
The National Weather Service in Topeka, Kansas, noted that it was 69 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 82 degrees at 5:53 p.m. The leading edge of a significant was cold front, which some folks mistakenly called a polar vortex, was arriving while we were afloat, and at times, Desch and I remarked that it was chilly for a mid-July outing, and then by 6:52 a.m. on July 14, area thermometers would plummet into the low 50s, many low-temperature records were set. The barometric pressure was 30.00 at 12:53 a.m. and 30.05 at 2:53 p.m. The wind at times was a tad pesky; it angled out of the northwest at 8 mph, out of the north at 9 to 15 mph, out of the northeast at 9 mph, out of the west at 3 to 6 mph, and it was virtually calm at 12:53 p.m. It was mostly cloudy at 9:53 a.m., lightly raining, foggy, and misty at 11:53 a.m., lightly raining at 12:52 p.m., and mostly cloudy from 1:53 p.m. to 2:53 p.m.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, some locales in northeastern Kansas are no longer drought ridden as of July 14. Instead these areas are classified as being abnormally dry. Consequently, the water level at this reservoir was only about a foot below normal. In the lower portions of this reservoir, I could easily see the black propeller on the transom-mounted and bow-mounted trolling motors. But in the upper portions of this reservoir, I could not see these propellers. The surface temperature was 82 degrees. We found many patches of bushy pondweed. This reservoir is graced with the finest patches of American water willows in northeastern Kansas, and most of them had a foot or two of water covering their roots, and it was the most water that had covered these roots for many months. We also found a few patches of American pondweed, and one tiny patch of coontail. The largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishing turned sour at this reservoir on May 27, and in our eyes, it has remained that way for 59 days.
According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing happened from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. We fished from 9:45 a.m. to 2:35 p.m., and as Bob Gum of Kansas City noted in his July 13 log about his outing to a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir, the fishing was arduous and tedious. Since the middle of June, the fishing has been trying at most of the small flatland reservoirs that stipple the countryside of northeastern Kansas. To find some solace from those difficult venues, a significant number of Midwest anglers have been venturing to the reservoir that Gum fished. Now we fear that reservoir has become a difficult venue, too.
Desch and I began our outing by methodically dissecting three submerged offshore rock walls. On Desch’s first cast with a Bass Pro Shops Bass Teaser Tube in the Puke hue affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig, he caught a channel catfish, and throughout the rest of our outing, we tangled with six more channel catfish. A few casts after that first channel catfish encounter, we failed to land a lunker-size smallmouth bass that jumped and jettisoned a Z-Man’s California Craw The Real Deal affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. That smallmouth bass engulfed The Real Deal when it was snagged on a rock, and while we were banjoing the line to free it from that snag. At the end of our outing, we fished this spot again. During both endeavors, we were able to inveigle only three smallmouth bass and three largemouth bass, as well as some incidental encounters with two crappie, three mega bluegill, and two channel catfish.
Besides those three offshore submerged rock walls, we fished nine main-lake points, five secondary points, three main-lake bluffs, patches of American water willows along four shorelines, one bluff inside a secondary feeder-creek arm, one shallow main-lake hump, one flat and shallow shoreline that was endowed with many patches of bushy pond weed and American pondweed, one riprap shoreline, and the entire dam, which is lined with riprap. During the entire 290 minutes that we fished, we never found a reliable location or presentation pattern.
It seemed if the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass caught us rather than Desch and me catching them. Or in other words, every fish we caught seemed to an accident.
The sonar revealed significant aggregations of fish life milling about many yards off the shorelines.
In fact, three schools of offshore white bass crossed paths with us as they were foraging on tiny gizzard shad along the surface. From these three encounters, we tangled with 17 white bass and one smallmouth bass. These surface-feeding fish were caught by virtually racing the puke-hue Teaser Tube and California Craw The Real Deal about an inch under the surface. After the white bass decimated the Teaser Tube, Desch caught two white bass on a white-and-chartreuse 1/8-ounce Worden’s Vibric Rooster Tail, which he raced across the surface, too.
When we ended the outing, our fishing counter revealed that we had caught only 16 smallmouth bass and 13 largemouth bass. The bulk of those were caught on three baits: Z-Man’s California Craw The Real Deal affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pearl ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Two of the smallmouth bass were caught on the Tender Tube, and two of the largemouth bass were caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We caught them on all six Midwest finesse retrieves, as well as several improvisations on those retrieves.
It was such a pell-mell outing that it is beyond our abilities to describe and write about how, when, and where we caught the fish we caught. And if we possessed the abilities to describe and write about it, it would be useless jabber to those folks who attempted to read those words.
In short, the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishing at many of the small flatland reservoirs around northeastern Kansas remains indescribably fruitless for a goodly number of Midwest finesse anglers.
July 15 log
Paul Finn of Olathe, Kansas, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his July 15 outing with a friend at a 100-acre community reservoir that is situated in the southwest suburbs of Kansas City.
The National Weather Service in Olathe noted that it was 55 degrees at 5:53 a.m. and 72 degrees at 5:53 p.m. It was cloudless from 12:52 a.m. to 10:53 a.m. Then clouds covered the sun from 11:53 a.m. to 6:53 p.m., and from 7:53 p.m. to 11:53 p.m., the clouds disappeared. During various times throughout the day, the wind blew from the north at 3 to 21 mph, northwest at 6 to 13 mph, and west at 3 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.12 at 12:53 a.m. and 30.06 at 6:53 p.m.
According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing took place from 1:32 a.m. to 3:32 a.m. and 1:59 p.m. to 3:59 p.m. There was a minor period from 7:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. They fished from 4:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The water level was normal. The water exhibited a green tint, and Finn could barely see the trolling motor propeller, which was about 18 inches below the surface. He did not take the surface temperature.
Finn wrote: “We started by fishing the dam. I used a Junebug Bailey Magnet Magnum on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig head. My friend used a NetBait’s root-beer-pepper-green Baby Paca Craw affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce jig.
“The action started off pretty slow, and I was halfway down the dam before I had my first bite. We each caught two largemouth bass along the dam. All four of them were caught on a hop-and-bounce retrieve about 15 feet from the water’s edge in four to eight feet of water.
“Once we reached the northwest corner of the dam, I began using a five-inch YUM green-pumpkin-chartreuse F2Dinger rigged wacky style on a weightless No. 2 size Gamakatsu circle hook. And during the next 2o minutes, we fished the northwest corner of the dam and five boat docks along the west shoreline, and the wacky-rigged YUM Dinger caught four largemouth bass. One of them was a three-pounder.
“Then we moved to the south end or upper end of the reservoir, where we fished the boat docks that line the west shoreline, and we caught a few more largemouth bass on the Paca Craw and wacky-rigged Dinger.
“After we finished fishing the docks along the west side, we crossed over to the east shoreline, which is where we caught the majority of the largemouth bass. And they were scattered all over this area. We caught some on the ends of docks, some along the rock and concrete retaining walls, and some along the edge of the American water willows. In essence, there was no pattern to where they were.
“All totaled, we caught 32 largemouth bass. From 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., I only threw the Bailey Magnet Magnum, and I caught the majority of the fish on it by using a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. I did use the four-inch Strike King Bama Craw Super Finesse Worm on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig at the start of the outing, and I did not catch a fish on it. The bite seemed to pick up around 6:30 p.m. till we quit at 8:30 p.m. The bigger fish seemed to prefer the wacky rig last night.”
July 16 log
For about a month, we have been kvetching on the Finesse News Network about the trying fishing that we have endured at several of the small flatland reservoirs that grace the countryside of northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri.
And recently one FNN member stated that reading these reports have become as wearisome and sorry in his eyes as the fishing that we have been describing. He also hinted that diminishing returns have begun to plague FNN to the point that he is not learning anything new and insightful about finesse fishing, and therefore, he is thinking about dropping his membership. We agree with him, and we told him that we are pondering ways to change it or even shut it down and start another online piscatorial endeavor.
Part of the tailspin that has afflicted FNN is reflected by the fact that two major reporters – Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, and Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina – have stopped contributing reports. Holscher, who is a multispecies guide, said that he had been plagued by folks who wanted him to send them such things as GPS coordinates and other information that he has worked years to acquire for the clients that he guides. Poe said his fellow anglers from his neck of the woods complained that he revealed too much information in his logs, and they feared it would soon adversely affect the fishing around Siler City. Thus, Holscher and Poe thought it was best for them to leave the network.
Another FNN member, who was tired of reading our many complaints about our trying outings, asked us to define a sorry, wretched, arduous, tedious, and horrible outing. We explained to him that in 2008 we caught an average of 7.6 black bass an hour, in 2009 we caught an average of 8.8 an hour, in 2010, we caught an average 10.9 an hour, in 2011 we caught an average of 9.01 an hour, in 2012 we caught an average of 10.2 an hour, and in 2013 we caught an average of 11.6 an hour. Across the past six years, we have caught an averaged 9.6 black bass an hour. Therefore, any time we catch fewer than 9.6 largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, or spotted bass an hour, it is a subpar outing. In our eyes, a sorry, wretched, arduous, tedious, and horrible outing occurs when we catch five or fewer black bass an hour.
On July 16, I barely missed hitting the five-largemouth-bass-an-hour threshold during a two-hour outing at a 160-acre state reservoir.
The record low for July 16 in Lawrence, Kansas, was 57 degrees. The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, noted that it was 50 degrees at 5:52 a.m. and 77 degrees at 1:52 p.m. The normal low temperature is 69 degrees, and the normal high temperature is 89 degrees. The wind was calm at times; then it angled out of the north at 3 to 5 mph, northwest at 5 mph, and northeast at 5 mph. The sun shined brightly until 12:52 p.m., and then it became partly cloudy. The barometric pressure was 30.10 at 12:52 a.m. and 30.09 at 1:52 p.m.
The surface temperature was 82 degrees. The water level looked to be five feet or more below normal, but the water level has risen this year to the point that some locales around the reservoir have a lot terrestrial vegetation that is flooded. There was a minor algae bloom, and it left a significant stain on the hull of the boat, but the water was clear enough that I could see the black propeller on the transom-mounted trolling, which was 24 inches below the surface. All of the American water willow patches that used to line many of this reservoir’s shoreline are out of the water, but many of those shorelines now have significant patches of bushy pondweeds flourishing on them – even the riprap along the dam is endowed with a few patches of bushy pondweed. Patches of pondweed and coontail also grace many of the reservoir’s shallow mud flats. There were a lot of fish foraging on the surface in the middle of the reservoir, and the sonar revealed that were a lot of fish milling about and suspended many yards away from the shorelines.
In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 2:34 a.m. to 4:34 a.m. and 3:01 p.m. to 5:01 p.m. A minor period took place from 8:47 a.m to 10:47 a.m. I was afloat from noon to 2:00 p.m.
I fished one patch of coontail that encompassed an area about 20 feet wide and 70 feet long. From this patch, I eked out two largemouth bass. They were beguiled by a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. These bass were caught near the outside edge of the coontail, which was adjacent to five to seven feet of water, and I think these bass were two to three feet under the surface and milling about in the coontail.
fished a massive flat of coontail and bushy pondweed in the back of the reservoir’s northwest feeder-creek arm. Around a submerged creek-channel edge, which meanders through a segment of this patch of aquatic vegetation, I caught five largemouth bass on the Finesse ShadZ combo that was retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.
I fished 30 yards of the dam and failed to garner a strike.
On the east side of the northwest feeder-creek arm, I fished 100 yards of a rocky shoreline and three points that were graced with occasional patches of bushy pondweed. Along this stretch, I didn’t elicit a strike on a Z-Man’s California Craw The Real Deal on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
I fished a steep, rocky shoreline and two points on the west side of the reservoir, and I caught five largemouth bass. Two were caught on a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a hop-and-bounce presentation. Three were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a hop-and-bounce presentation. These largemouth bass were abiding in three to seven feet of water.
In total, I fished two hours and caught 12 largemouth bass. So it can’t be called a sorry, wretched, arduous, tedious, and horrible outing, but it was a long way from being an average one.
Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, posted the following report on the Finesse News Network about his July 16 outing.
He wrote: “I made a solo afternoon outing to a local 21,280-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir that is situated along the northern city limits of Lewisville, Texas. I last fished this reservoir on July 9, and I could only muster five largemouth bass, two spotted bass, one catfish, and one large bluegill.
“During the night of July 15 and early morning hours of July 16, a cold front passed through north-central Texas, which helped relieve the high humidity levels we have been enduring over the past few days. The morning hours were sunny with partly cloudy skies, but by 4:00 p.m., the skies were completely clouded over. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 70 degrees and the afternoon high reached 90 degrees. The wind quartered out of the southeast at 10 to 15 miles per hour. The barometric pressure was steady at 29.89.
“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted the best fishing period would occur between 3:07 p.m. to 5:07 p.m. I fished from noon until 4:00 p.m. I did not catch a fish during the solunar calendar’s optimum time period.
The water was stained with about one and a half feet of visibility. The water temperature was 85 degrees. The water level was 8.36 feet below normal pool.
“Since June 13, the bass fishing in north-central Texas has taken a nose-dive, and I have had great difficulty locating and catching any significant numbers of bass. To my dismay, today was a continuation of that trend.
“I started the outing by probing a ledge about 30 yards east of the boat ramp where I launched. It is covered with 10 feet of water. The ledge is enhanced with three brush piles, which are stacked on its top edge. I began by strolling a Z-Man’s Mud Minnow Hula StickZ affixed on a blue prototype 3/32-ounce weedless Gopher jig along the top of the ledge and along the sides of the brush piles, but I failed to entice any strikes.
“My next spot was a shallow gravel and mud flat just north of the boat ramp, and I observed large numbers of two-inch baitfish cruising about the flat. I wielded a 2 1/8-inch Charlie Brewer Slider Company’s pearl/chartreuse Minnow Grub rigged on a black 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, and it was employed with a slow and steady do-nothing retrieve. The Slider Minnow Grub closely matched the size of the small baitfish, but it failed to produce any bites.
“The third locale was a large island positioned about a quarter of a mile inside a large feeder-creek arm. This feeder-creek arm feeds into the reservoir’s eastern tributary arm, and it is located in the southeast portion of the reservoir. The island is endowed with shallow mud and gravel flats along most of its shoreline, and a long and shallow mud point extends southeastwardly from its southwestern shoreline. I found more pods of two-inch baitfish along the west side of this long mud point, and I employed the Slider Minnow Grub with a slow and steady do-nothing retrieve. I allured one white bass from three feet of water along the west side of the point. I also checked the mud flats surrounding the island with the Slider Minnow Grub, but the flats seemed barren of any fish activity.
“My fourth spot was a steep rocky bank about 200 yards south of the island. This steep and rocky bank is adorned with two boat ramps and several large concrete boulders. I first tried the Slider Minnow Grub and slow do-nothing retrieve, but it failed to elicit any strikes. I then wielded a four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ threaded on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, which I retrieved with a slow hop-and-bounce presentation, and it allured three largemouth bass from four feet of water. Two of these bass were relating to one of the two boat ramps. The third bass was abiding next to one of the large concrete boulders.
The fifth local was a 600-yard section of a riprap-laden dam on the south end of the reservoir. I observed scores of two-inch baitfish milling about the riprap. I continued to use the Slider Minnow Grub and steady do-nothing retrieve, but it failed to attract any bass. I then employed a Z-Man’s blue-steel Finesse ShadZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and I worked it in a slow swim-glide-and-shake manner. The Finesse ShadZ beguiled four largemouth bass, and one large fish with the mannerisms of a large catfish that broke me off in the rocks before I could see it. About an hour later, I caught one largemouth bass on the mud minnow Hula StickZ and blue prototype weedless Gopher jig that was retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake technique. These five bass were scattered along the face of the dam, and they were extracted from three to five feet of water next to the riprap embankment. I also experimented with the green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ, but it failed to coax any strikes.
“I then made a 10-minute run to the north side of the southwestern tributary arm, where I plied two points at the entrance to a small cove. These two points are long and flat, and they are comprised of clay, gravel, a few basketball-sized rocks, and three dilapidated boat ramps. One boat ramp is located on the tip of the east entry point, a second ramp is positioned on the east side of the west entry point, and the third ramp is located on the west bank and about two-thirds of the way back in the cove. A narrow creek channel runs parallel to the west shoreline and it lies about 10 yards off of the shoreline. I plied the east point first with the Hula StickZ with a drag-and-deadstick presentation, but I fail to catch a fish. I then probed the edges and bottom of the creek channel that runs along the west side of the cove. I continued using the Hula StickZ with a slow strolling technique, but it failed to garner any strikes. Next, I dissected the rocky west bank of the cove and the ends of the boat ramps with the Z-Man’s blue-steel Finesse ShadZ with a slow swim-glide-and-shake action, but I failed to allure any bass.
“In sum, I could only eke out eight largemouth bass and one white bass during four vexing hours of fishing. Z-Man’s blue-steel Finesse ShadZ and swim-glide-shake retrieve allured four largemouth bass. Z-Man’s four-inch green pumpkin Finesse WormZ and hop-and-bounce presentation bewitched three largemouth bass. The mud minnow Hula StickZ with a swim-glide-and shake motif beguiled one largemouth bass. Brewer’s 2 1/8-inch pearl/chartreuse Minnow Grub and a steady do-nothing retrieve attracted one white bass.”
July 19 log
Don Baldridge of Springfield, Missouri, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his July 19 outing with his sister’s grandson.
He wrote: “It is a pleasure to report about a fishing excursion to a private subdivision lake in Jefferson City, Missouri. Although the outing was brief, only about 3 1/2 hours, the fish were extremely cooperative.
“The back story is that my sister Lorraine of Jefferson City is a float tube angling enthusiast. She called me and said her grandson Connor was interested in learning how to fish from a float tube. Because Lorraine is currently recovering from cancer surgery, she asked if I would teach him the ropes. How could I refuse?
“Connor, who is a baseball player at Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, was enthusiastic. But he had very limited fishing experience, no workable equipment, and no lures. Thus I gave him two decent open faced spinning reels and rods, several Midwest finesse rigs, as well as a casting and knot-tying clinic. He is a quick learner, and he got the hang of casting mechanics quickly. Thus around 4:30 p.m. off we went to the subdivision lake located a short distance from his house.
“The weather was mostly sunny. The temperature was in the mid-80s. The wind was calm.
“This eight-acre lake was in great shape. The water level was normal. A year ago the water level was way below normal. It had a small amount of aquatic vegetation.
“We fished with several Z-Man products. We started with the Finesse ShadZ in Watermelon Red, Junebug, and Pumpkin Green Flake. They were rigged on a 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, which Dave Reeves of Lansing, Kansas, makes, and a 1/32-ounce Strike King Lure Company jig. When I found a bait that was working exceptionally well, I would give my rig to Connor and tie on something else just to judge the mood and preferences of the fish. The largemouth bass and bluegill loved the Finesse ShadZ. As for the best color, I would give a nod to Pumpkin Green Flake.
“Another small lure that worked very well — particularly because it would catch almost every bluegill that hit it — was a home-made lure I dubbed the Scrunchie. I’d seen Dave Reeves make a similar looking lure with the front section of a FattyZ, and I used the same idea with the front (about two inches) section of a Z-Man’s seven-inch Finesse WormZ in either the Watermelon/Red hue or Pumpkin hue. I mounted this little lure on a 1/32-ounce Strike King jig head, and it was deadly.
“We also used were the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig and Z-Man’s PB&J The Real Deal on a 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. We used only 1/16-ounce jigs because the fish were ten feet of water or less.
The best retrieve was a slow lift-swim-and-drop presentation. Nearly all strikes were on the drop. I think the fish were bottom hugging because of the bright skies.
“We caught them along the riprap of the dam, as well as along the shorelines that were embellished with sunken brush, rocks, aquatic weed patches, and deeper contours.
“Even though we covered a lot of water somewhat quickly, we still located many spots where the fishing was fast and furious — often with those ‘fish-every-cast’ fiestas that we have learned to love when using Midwest finesse rigs. We both agreed that the rate of catch was easily an average of 10 fish an hour, mostly largemouth bass, with a smattering of bluegill, green sunfish and a crappie. About half the largemouth bass were 10 to 13 inches long; the rest were 14 to 16 inches long. We conservatively estimated that we caught at least 70 fish.
“I made a short YouTube video to chronicle the trip and show some representative samples of the fish we encountered. Here is the link to the video: http://youtu.be/tach8DeHZfs.”
July 22 log
Blake Russell of Shawnee, Kansas, is working on a story for Bassmaster’s BASS Times Magazine about Midwest finesse fishing, and during the evening of July 22, he and I fished a 100-acre community reservoir on the outskirts of Kansas City.
For about 35 minutes, Blake’s wife, Mary Beth Russell, joined us. She is a professional photographer, and she took a series of photographs that focused on a couple of the largemouth bass we caught, the baits we used, and the way we presented our baits.
The National Weather Service in Olathe, Kansas, noted that it was 73 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 96 degrees at 5:53 p.m. Many area thermometers hit 100 degrees. The sun burned brightly in a China-blue sky. The wind angled from the south at 3 to 10 mph and from the southwest at 8 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.00 at 12:53 a.m. and 30.02 at 8:53 p.m.
The water level looked to be a few inches below full reservoir. The surface temperature fluctuated from 87 to 88 degrees. The water exhibited a greenish hue and about two feet of visibility.
In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 7:35 a.m. to 9:35 a.m. and 7:59 p.m. to 9:59 p.m. Blake and I fished from 6:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., and some of those minutes were consumed with the photography sessions. It was a rare and enjoyable evening outing for me. Normally I prefer to fish from about 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and enjoy breakfast and dinner with my wife, Patty, and some occasional family members. But the Blakes had other obligations to fulfill.
For years I have maintained that we could catch (if we used Midwest finesse tactics) as many largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and spotted bass by fishing from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. as we could catch during the low-light periods of the day – even in the heat of the summer. But since mid-June our midday black bass fishing has been rather sour, and this evening outing has caused me to rethink my midday contentions.
In essence, it was a relatively simple, easy, and fruitful affair.
We spent the bulk of the outing plying patches of coontail along the moderately flat shoreline that borders the west side of the reservoir. This west-side area is also graced with scores of boat docks, several points, and one hump that is adjacent to the flat shoreline. This hump is endowed with some coontial patches, gravel, rocks, boulders, and a ledge that plummets into deep water.
We spent a few minutes fishing concrete and rock retaining walls, as well as a few steep and rocky shorelines.
During a portion of the photography session, we fished a main-lake hump on the east side of the reservoir. It is littered with gravel, rocks, and boulders the size of a 21-foot bass boat. It is devoid of coontail.
During the last 15 minutes of our outing, we quickly fished a 125-yard stretch of the flat shoreline that lies on the east side of the upper–third segment of this reservoir. This area is embellished with patches of coontail, seven boat docks, and concrete retaining walls.
We failed to catch a bass on the east hump and along the steep, rocky shorelines.
We caught 26 largemouth bass along the west shoreline. The bulk of them were extracted from the coontail patches in four to six feet of water. Of the scores of boat docks that we plied only two of them yielded a largemouth bass. Another two of the 26 largemouth bass were caught from a group of surface-foraging fish at the west-side hump. Two patches of American water willows that were associated with some coontail yielded a largemouth bass, and both of these were on a point.
We caught five largemouth bass along the east-side shoreline, and they were extracted from coontail patches in three to four feet of water.
In total, we caught 31 largemouth bass, and we failed to land a half dozen that jettisoned the hook during our donnybrooks with them.
The most effective bait was a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. At times, the best retrieve was to drag and shake the Finesse ShadZ across the patches of coontail. There were spells, however, when the swim-glide-and-shake presentation was the best. Several of the bass were allured by a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom–style jig, 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, and Z-Man’s California Craw The Real Deal on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. But the 1/16-ounce jig combo tended to become cluttered with pieces of coontial when we were retrieving it across the patches of coontail.
When the largemouth bass inhabit the patches of coontail and bushy pondweed during the summer, a Finesse ShadZ and 1/32-ounce jig is frequently the best option for us to employ when we are fishing the small flatland reservoirs that grace the countryside across northeastern Kansas. In years past, we used to catch a significant number of summertime largemouth bass from coontail and bushy pondweed patches by wielding either a 3 1/2- or four-inch grub that was attached to either a 1/16- or 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. But the grub hasn’t been an effective option for several years. It should be noted that we had a significant gizzard shad spawn this year, which might provoke a grub renaissance as this summer unfolds.
July 30 log
Bob Gum of Kansas City filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his trip to Canada with his dog, Josie.
It was a fly-in excursion to Rollingstone Lake, which lies in White Otter Lake Provincial Park in northwestern Ontario, near Ignace, Mine Centre, and Atikokan.
The lake has eight miles of shoreline. It is graced with scores of small islands and 12 feet or more of water clarity. It is blessed with a bountiful population of smallmouth bass, northern pike, and lake trout.
He found that the best lairs to fish were around areas that possessed a mix of baseball- to basketball-size rubble along a sloping incline. Only about 200 yards of the lake’s shoreline contained this mix of ingredients; the best locales were situated around main lake humps and islands.
He said, “When the smallmouth bass were feeding actively, I could often see other smallmouth bass following the smallmouth bass that I had hooked. If I’d had a partner with me, we would have enjoyed many impressive double hook ups.”
“Typically, the bite was very subtle. The best way to detect it was to watch for any tightness in my line.
“During a sunshiny afternoon with little wind, I wore polarized sunglasses and could see the brownish haze of a five-foot-deep hump from as far away as 100 yards. By paying close attention to my depth finder, I found several humps that were laden with smallmouth bass.
“Most of the smallmouth bass were caught in eight to 18 feet of water. To catch them, I used either a pink or a red-blood 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The smallmouth bass seemed to like the more natural and suspending action of the 1/16-ounce jig. And it didn’t really matter what it was dressed with. I used mostly Strike King’s four-inch Coppertreuse Super Finesse Worm, 2 1/2-inch Strike King Junebug Zero, and either a Z-Man’s Junebug or green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ.
“Most of the time, I used a do-nothing retrieve, and I occasionally gave the bait a few token shakes as it plummeted to the bottom.
“I fished for eight days and for about eight hours every day. I often took a break in the afternoon. But during the first three days, I didn’t have a functioning outboard, and I had to paddle around. Fortunately, the wind was light, and I was able to get around pretty well. On the third day, I placed a large orange emergency triangle on the dock hoping to get some assistance. The next morning they flew in and were able to get the outboards going. Every one of the outboards had been flooded from the recent rains.
“The fishing here was excellent in both quantity and quality. I caught many smallmouth bass in the 17- to 19-inch range. I didn’t keep daily totals of fish, but I recall a stretch when I caught 12 smallmouth bass in a row.
“When I was loading Josie onto the plane for the trip home, I carried her on her back and stepped on the ladder leading to the rear door. As I rotated her to her feet, she kicked the door and sent us both flying into the lake.”
Despite the three days without an outboard and plummeting into the lake as they were climbing into the plane for the trip home, Gum declared that “it was a great trip.”