Melvern July 2 2015

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, with a largemouth bass that he caught on July 2

This monthly guide to Midwest finesse fishing is graced with the angling perceptions and feats of Don Baldridge of Springfield, Missouri; Burton Bosley of Sutton, West Virginia; Charlie Croom of Fayetteville, Arkansas; Dean and Chris Fitori of Leawood, Kansas; Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri; Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas; Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas; Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas; Ralph Manns of Rockwall, Texas; Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia; Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, and Sioux Narrows, Ontario, Canada; Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas; and me.

As she did in May and June, Mother Nature played havoc with scores of Midwest finesse anglers in July. In fact, her rainy ways caused all of the big north-central Texas reservoirs that Reideler fishes to be closed for the entire month. Her downpours also fouled several of the waterways in northeastern Kansas, and one of the byproducts of some of her deluges has been the eruption of algal blooms, which in our eyes has adversely affected our largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishing.

The best fishing of the month was enjoyed by Drew Reese in southwestern Ontario, Canada, and Travis Myers in eastern West Virginia.  Even though the fishing for largemouth bass was lackluster at most northeastern Kansas flatland reservoirs, Pok-Chi Lau and I did enjoy a bountiful outing on July 16, when we caught 80 largemouth bass in three hours and 20 minutes.

Mother Nature’s ways also reduced the size of this guide. For instance, June’s guide contained 24,290 words, whereas this guide contains only 12,415 words. As always, we are thankful that Steve Reideler proof read all of the words. He makes our monthly guide more readable and understandable.

July 1 log

Dean and Chris Fitori of Leawood, Kansas, fished with me at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir on July 1.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 77 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 86 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The sky was described as being fair, partly cloudy, cluttered with a few clouds, and a few rain showers graced some areas in northeastern Kansas. The wind angled out of the south at 3 to 17 mph, out of the southwest at 10 to 25 mph, out of the southeast at 5 mph, and out of the northwest at 5 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.84 at 12:53 a.m., 29.86 at 5:53 a.m., 29.81 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.80 at 1:53 p.m.

The water level was about a half of a foot above normal. The surface temperature was 79 degrees at 7:30 a.m. The water clarity around the dam exhibited about 15 inches of visibility, and one mile above the dam, the water was stained to the point that the visibility ranged from six to 10 inches. In May and early June, the massive watershed of this reservoir received more than 17 inches of rain, which caused the water level and clarity to fluctuate radically. During and since all of this fluctuation transpired, the smallmouth bass fishing was and has been problematic. On top of that, angler predation has been extremely heavy at times during the past couple of years at this reservoir, and some knowledgeable observers contend it has adversely affected the smallmouth bass population and the fishing for them.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would transpire from 10:23 a.m. to 12:23 p.m., and 10:51 p.m. to 12:51 a.m., and 4:09 a.m. to 6:09 a.m. We were afloat from 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The Fitoris and I stayed within eyesight of the dam for virtually the entire outing. The farthest that we venture was one and a half miles west of the dam and inside a tertiary feeder-creek arm.
We dissected four main-lake points, two boat docks, five rock and boulder reefs inside two tertiary feeder-creek arms, three riprap jetties, two rocky and gravel shorelines, and the riprap shoreline along the dam.

One of the main-lake points yielded one smallmouth bass. One rock-and- boulder reef yielded two smallmouth bass. One of the boat docks yielded two spotted bass and one smallmouth bass. The riprap shoreline along the dam yielded 40 smallmouth bass and one largemouth bass. We thoroughly dissected 11 locales, where we failed to garner a strike, which reveals how problematic the smallmouth bass fishing has become at this reservoir.

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Dean Fitori with one of the 44 smallmouth bass that we caught.

Two smallmouth bass were caught on a shortened Z-Man’s Fishing Product’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig. A Z-Man’s Copperteuse Finesse T.R.D. on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig inveigled two spotted bass and one smallmouth bass. A Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce jig caught two smallmouth bass. A Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce jig caught one largemouth bass and 39 smallmouth bass.

Some of the smallmouth bass engulfed the Finesse T.R.D. rig on the initial drop. Some were caught as we employed a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. Others were caught when we used a drag-and-shake-and-deadstick retrieve. When our Hula StickZ and Finesse T.R.D. rigs became snagged on a rock, and immediately after we popped them free by banjoing our lines, several smallmouth bass inhaled those rigs.

The one largemouth bass, two spotted bass, and 44smallmouth bass were caught in water as shallow as two feet and no deeper than six feet.

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Chris Fitori with one of the smallmouth bass that he caught.

 

July 2 log

Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, and Sioux Narrows, Ontario, Canada, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his first 30 days of fishing at the Lake of the Woods in Ontario, Canada.

Here is an edited and condensed version of his report:

I have discovered a few things that have really increased my catch rates.

I fished for smallmouth bass 30 days, and I fished slightly more than six hours on each of those outings. I caught 2,270 smallmouth bass or an average of 75 an outing. On 17 of those 30 days, another angler joined me, and they caught about a 1,000 smallmouth bass. I caught about 150 of the smallmouth bass on a Heddon Lures’ Zara Spook, and all of the rest of them were caught on a Z-Man’s Hula StickZ, Finesse T.R.D., 3 1/2-inch Grub Z, Finesse T.R.D.- Spin, and Finesse ShadZ.

When I was fishing shallow-water areas, they were rigged on a green-pumpkin 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig, and when I was fishing areas that were lying in 10 to 15 feet of water, they were rigged on a green-pumpkin 1/10-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. The color of the jig is not important. In fact, I prefer an unpainted jig.

These five rigs were on the deck of my boat the entire time. In order not to get locked into using just one bait, I have developed a system. It revolves around making five casts and retrieves, and if I catch a smallmouth bass on one of those five casts and retrieves, I make five more casts and retrieves, and I continue that five casts and retrieves scheme until I fail to catch a smallmouth bass. Then I begin making five casts and retrieves with one of the other rigs, and I continue that system throughout the outing. It has amazed me how the best bait changed from day to day or even during the day. I have experimented with many colors, and they all worked, but the Canada Craw and green-pumpkin hues were the most consistent.

What’s more, I am retrieving these baits at a relatively rapid pace. Most anglers work a jig on or near the bottom. But when I am retrieving these five jig rigs, I am swimming them for a significant distance just a foot or two below the surface. This retrieve is executed by making two or three moderately paced rotations of the reel handle, and then I pause for two seconds or so and make two or three delicate shakes or twitches of my rod, and then I continue the reeling-and pausing-and-twitching routine until the rig is slightly more than halfway to the boat. At that point, I stop swimming it and allow it to plummet all the way to the bottom. If that fall doesn’t elicit a strike, I swim, pause, and twitch it back to the boat.

We have also caught 65 lake trout and scores of northern pike and walleye.

I have fished in Canada for 50 years. Except for one summer, I have already caught more smallmouth bass this year than I normally catch, and I still have 2 1/2 more months to fish. The combination of Z-Man’s baits and Lake of the Woods is as good as it gets. Our warmest day has been 80 degrees. The scenery is spectacular — it is like fishing in the middle of a post card. What is amazing is I rarely see another smallmouth bass fisherman.

July 2 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed a brief to the Finesse News Network about his outing with a friend at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir on July 2.

Here is an edited and condescend version his brief:

It was 68 degrees at 8:30 a.m. and 80 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The wind was occasionally calm, and it also angled out of the northeast at 4 to 13 mph, out of the north by northeast at 5 to 13 mph, out of the east by northeast at 11 mph, and out of the north at 5 mph. The sky alternated from being clear to being partly cloudy to being mostly cloudy to being overcast to being littered with scattered clouds. The barometric pressure was 29.80 at 12:53 a.m., 29.83 at 5:53 a.m., 29.92 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.90 at 3:53 p.m.

The water level was about a half of a foot above normal. The surface temperature was 79 degrees at 7:30 a.m. The water clarity around the dam exhibited about 15 inches of visibility, and one mile above the dam, the water was stained to the point that the visibility ranged from six to 10 inches.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing might occur from 11:19 p.m. to 1:19 a.m., 5:04 a.m. to 7:04 a.m., and 5:33 p.m. to 7:33 p.m. They fished from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and there were not many other anglers afloat. In fact, when they loaded their boat on the trailer, there was only one other boat trailer in the parking lot.

To find some shelter from a gusty northeast wind, they began the outing by dissecting a shallow main-lake hump that lies on the north side of the reservoir about three miles from the dam’s outlet. They failed to elicit a strike, which provoked Gum to think about putting his boat on the trailer and launching it at a nearby 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir. But as the windy calmed down and the morning unfolded, they began to catch some smallmouth bass.

They fished main-lake points along the north side of the reservoir. They fished the riprap of the dam. They fished main-lake points of the south side of the reservoir as far as three miles from the dam’s outlet. They fished inside several secondary and tertiary feeder-creek arms.

They caught 45 smallmouth bass, one largemouth bass, and one spotted bass, and inadvertently caught a few green sunfish and one channel catfish. Most of these fish were caught on main-lake points.

The bulk of them were caught on either a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company Junebug Zero affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Companys Purple Haze Zero affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. They employed a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, which often made contact with the bottom. They caught one largemouth bass on a black 1/8-ounce buzzbait around a patch of lily pads.

They caught 45 smallmouth bass, one largemouth bass, and one spotted bass, and inadvertently caught a few green sunfish and one channel catfish. Most of these fish were caught on main-lake points.

The bulk of them were caught on either a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company Junebug Zero affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Companys Purple Haze Zero affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. They employed a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, which often made contact with the bottom. They caught one largemouth bass on a black 1/8-ounce buzzbait around a patch of lily pads.

Andrew Melvern

One of the45  smallmouth bass that Bob Gum and his friend caught.

July 3 log

Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his July 3 outing at a 126-acre community reservoir in northwestern Missouri.
Here is an edited and condensed version of his brief:

The fishing here is about as tough as I have seen it. Thus, there is not much to write about.

A friend and I went out this morning for three hours and caught only four largemouth bass and six green sunfish.

I started off using power baits, but I switched to Midwest finesse tactics when it became apparent the largemouth bass were not active. It didn’t make much of a difference.

I tried a Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse T.R.D. on a black 1/16-ounce jig. Then I switched to a Z-Man green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ and then to a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula Stick. There was no pattern, and the fish we did catch came off of rocky shorelines.

We could not really pinpoint why the fishing was so terrible — other than the cold front that dropped the air temperatures to 65 degrees from 4:53 a.m. to 7:53 a.m. The barometric pressure ranged from 29.95 at 12:53 a.m. to 29.98 at 12:53 p.m. The water clarity is in good shape. Surface temperature is 78. The water level is just a bit high. The solunar forecast indicated that some good fishing would occur from 2:06 a.m. to 4:06 a.m., 2:35 p.m. to 4:35 p.m., 7:34 a.m. to 8:34 a.m., and 9:29 p.m. to 10:29 p.m.

Oh, well, this reservoir always has ways of humbling fishermen who start to think they have it all figured out.

July 3 log

Charlie Croom of Fayetteville, Arkansas, filed the following brief on the Finesse News Network about his kayak outing on a northwestern Arkansas stream on July 3.

It was 68 degrees at 4:53 a.m. and 87 degrees at 3:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the southwest at 4 mph at 9:01 a.m., out of the west by southwest at 6 mph at 12:53 p.m., and out of the west at 10 mph at 3:53 p.m. At 9:01 a.m. it was mostly cloudy, and it was overcast at 11:53 a.m., and at 3:53 p.m. it was mostly cloudy. The barometric pressure was 29.90 at 12:53 a.m., 29.90 at 5:53 a.m., 29.92 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.84 at 3:53 p.m.

The solunar forecast indicated that some good fishing would occur from 2:06 a.m. to 4:06 a.m., 2:35 p.m. to 4:35 p.m., 7:34 a.m. to 8:34 a.m., and 9:29 p.m. to 10:29 p.m. Croom fished from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and he fished about a mile of the river.

Croom said the stream was in perfect shape, exhibiting three to four feet of visibility.

He caught a combination of 54 largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass, as well as seven rock bass. Some of them were regurgitating either crayfish or creek chubs. The five biggest ranged from 15 inches to 17 inches long.

He caught about half of them by employing a Z-Man’s Greasy Pawn Slim SwimZ affixed to a 1/16-ounce Prescription Plastics’ Ozark Finesse Head jig. And the other half were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-orange ZinkerZ affixed to a 1/8-ounce Prescription Plastics’ Ozark Finesse Head jig.

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He said: I caught 12 bass in the first 15 minutes with the Slim SwimZ.

They were aggressively feeding most of the time that I was fishing.

On most retrieves, I employed a moderate-paced straight swimming presentation. Occasionally, I would burn the bait and elicit a strike. I caught a blackish-colored smallmouth while rippling the bait on the surface at the end of the retrieve. I also caught them on the drop, and they would engulf it when it hit bottom or got near the bottom. They hit it at all three levels: top, middle, and bottom.

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I fought the temptation to use a topwater bait. I saw bass foraging on baitfish around logs, patches of American water willows, and undercut dirt banks. While wading through a patch of water willows, I nearly stepped on a 14-inch smallmouth bass in ankle deep water. The bass were literally biting all over the place.

The Greasy Prawn Slim SwimZ is nearly matches the color of a creek chub. The biggest smallmouth bass of the day slammed that Slim SwimZ at the kayak, and when it got airborne, it spit up a large creek chub. At that point, I knew the Slim SwimZ would work as well as the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ rig.

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July 6 log

Mother Nature has spent many hours roiling the waterways throughout the Heartland during this past spring and the early days of this summer. The consequence of her deeds has made for some problematic largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishing for me at most of the flatland reservoirs that stipple the countryside of northeastern Kansas.

My cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I got together on July 6 at a 100-acre community reservoir to see if we could decipher the whereabouts of this reservoir’s largemouth bass and find a way to catch them with some of our Midwest finesse tactics.

The National Weather Service predicted that heavy rains would wallop northeastern Kansas after 4 p.m., and their forecast was on the mark. The NWS reported that it was 72 degrees at 5:53 a.m. and 86 degrees at 1:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the south at 9 to 25 mph and out of the southwest at 10 to 33 mph. The sky was virtually cloudless from 12:53 a.m. to 10:53 a.m. Then at 11:53 a.m. a few clouds cluttered the sky and by 4:53 p.m. thunderstorms had erupted, depositing 0.78 to 1.55 inches of rain by 5:53 p.m. The barometric pressure was 29.91 at 12:53 a.m., 29.90 at 5:53 a.m., 29.92 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.88 at 1:53 p.m.

The water level was a few inches above normal. All of the patches of American water willows that grace some of this reservoir’s shorelines were completely in the water. Flotillas of duckweed embellished the outside edges of some of the American water willow patches. Coontail patches flourished at many locales, stretching from the dam to the upper reaches of this reservoir’s primary, secondary, and tertiary feeder-creek arms. The water was stained, and at many locales it was difficult to see the propeller of our bow-mounted trolling motor. The surface temperature at 10:00 a.m. was 80 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing might occur at 3:06 a.m. to 5:06 a.m., 3:32 p.m. to 5:32 p.m., and 9:19 a.m. to 11:19 a.m. We were afloat from 9:35 a.m. to 1:54 p.m.

In short, Rick and I failed to unravel the quagmire that Mother Nature has rendered with her stormy ways. Across the four hours and 24 minutes that we fished, we tangled with 30 largemouth bass, and we inadvertently tangled with four channel catfish, three bluegill, and one war mouth. They were caught hither and yon, which means that we failed to establish a significant location pattern.

We fished the entire dam, which is embellished with riprap, luscious- looking patches of American water willows, and voluminous patches of coontail, and we failed to elicit a strike. In springs and summers past, this dam normally yielded six to more than a dozen largemouth bass, but since 2013, the dam has become an extremely humdrum area to fish.

We fished two main-lake humps that did not yield a largemouth bass.

We fished four main-lake points, and one of those points yielded one largemouth bass.

We fished six secondary and five tertiary points, and we caught eight largemouth bass on six of those 11 points.

We fished two shorelines inside a secondary feeder-creek arm, which are flat and adorned with docks, gravel, rocks, many patches of coontail, and a few patches of American water willows. One of those shorelines yielded two largemouth bass.

We fished four main-lake shorelines, where we made hundreds and hundreds of casts and retrieves. These shorelines are long and graced with scores of docks, stone and concrete retaining walls, many patches of American water willows, rocks, gravel, boulders, a few laydowns, some man-made brushpiles, duckweed, and many patches of coontail. Those many casts and retrieves allured only 19 largemouth bass, and there was no rhyme or reason to where and why we caught these largemouth bass. It seemed as if they caught us rather than Rick and I catching them.

A shortened four-inch Strike King Lure Company’s green-pumpkin-red Super Finesse Worm affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig was our most productive rig. A four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught some, as did a shortened Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. A Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught two largemouth bass.

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One of the 30 largemouth bass that Rick Hebenstreit and I caught.

 

A significant number of the largemouth bass that we caught engulfed our baits on the initial drop. The other largemouth bass engulfed our baits when we were executing a swim-glide-and incessant-shake retrieve. When we were dissecting patches of American water willows and coontail, this retrieve was executed so that the bait traveled from one foot to three feet under the surface. In areas that are devoid of vegetation, we retrieved it so that it traveled from six inches to a foot above the bottom.

The largemouth bass were caught in water as shallow as three to four feet of water and as deep as seven to eight feet of water.

July is always a difficult time for Midwest finesse anglers to catch vast numbers of largemouth bass in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas. But it seems to be more trying this time around than it used to be.

July 7 log

I fished with Seward Horner of Garnett, Kansas, and his son Seward Horner, Jr., of South Bend, Indiana, and his grandson Chris Horner of South Bend, Indiana. Our primary mission was to teach Chris how to use Midwest finesse tactics, and we elected to do this at a 55-acre community reservoir.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 62 degrees at 4:52 a.m. and 72 degrees at 1:52 p.m. The normal low temperature is 68 degrees, and the normal high temperature is 88 degrees. The wind angled out of the north at 8 to 20 mph, out of the northeast at 3 to 20 mph, and out of the east at 3 mph. It rained from midnight until 6:52 a.m., and then it was mostly cloudy, and for a short spell it drizzled, and at other times, the NWS described it as being foggy and misty. The NWS in Lawrence, Kansas, noted that it has recorded 22.44 inches of rain this year, which is 2.04 inches above normal. The barometric pressure was 29.96 at 12:52 a.m., 30.02 at 5:52 a.m., 30.09 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.07 at 2:52 p.m.

Despite Mother Nature’s rainy ways, the water level at this reservoir looked to be normal. The water was a tad stained, exhibiting 10 to 20 inches of visibility, which allowed us to see the propeller of the bow-mounted trolling motor at several locales. The surface temperature was 77 degrees, which was three degrees cooler than it was at the 100-acre community reservoir that Rick Hebenstreit and I fished on July 6.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would take place from 3:48 a.m. to 5:48 a.m., 4:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m., and 10:01 a.m. to 12:01 p.m. We fished from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

In sum, we fished 90 percent of this reservoir’s shorelines, which are lined with rocks, boulders, some ledges, a few laydowns, and score of patches of American water willows. We dissected all of its primary, secondary, and tertiary points.

We fished these areas with three Midwest finesse rigs: a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse T.R.D. affixed to either a chartreuse 1/32- or 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a shortened four-inch Strike King Lure Company’s green-pumpkin-red Super Finesse Worm on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

Chris Horner and his father and grandfather used these three lures to catch 25 largemouth bass, and they inadvertently caught several dozen green sunfish and bluegill, five channel catfish, and one crappie. The Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ was the most effective one of the three baits.

A good percentage of these fish engulfed the Horners’ baits on the initial drop, and the ones they didn’t catch on the initial drop were caught on a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

Some of these fish were caught in water as shallow as two feet, and a few of them were caught in water as deep as nine to 10 feet, and others were caught in between those two depths.

The largemouth bass fishing at scores of locales across northeastern Kansas has been trying for weeks on end. As a result, Midwest finesse anglers have been unable to establish a consistent location pattern. In essence, the location pattern has been extremely random, and when one of us catches a largemouth bass, it seems as if it was pure luck that we caught it. Furthermore, it is impossible to anticipate where and when we might catch one. Some anglers describe this phenomenon as the largemouth bass catching the angler rather than the angler catching the largemouth bass.

Some of us are blaming Mother Nature’s rainy and unseasonable ways for the sorry fishing.

July 8 log

Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about how Mother Nature’s rainy ways have roiled the streams that he fished.

He said he had not fished in a couple of weeks, and he was getting extremely antsy. During the second week of June, the water conditions and the smallmouth bass fishing were on track. But during the last two weeks of June and the first week of July, it rained a lot, and throughout this rainy spell, when the streams began to exhibit some promise of receding and clearing, more rain would fall.

July 8 log

Burton Bosley of Sutton, West Virginia, filed a brief with the Finesse News Network about his July 8 outing at a 1,500-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir with a friend who is a professional bass fisherman.

He reported that the water level was 18 inches above normal. The water clarity exhibited two to three feet of visibility. The surface temperature was in the mid-70s.

He noted that it had been raining for almost a month, and it rained almost continuously while they were afloat. Area thermometers ranged from 65 to 75 degrees.

They started fishing at 6:30 a.m., and they quit at 3:00 p.m.

Their original plan was to hunt open water fish with his friend’s sophisticated electronics and target them with Heddon Spooks and jigging spoons. But the lack of sun, dinginess of the water, and the rain changed their game plan.

Bosley immediately switched to a Z-Man’s Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. Bosley caught a bass on his first cast, and his partner showed interest in trying some Midwest finesse tactics. So, Bosley supplied him with a green- pumpkin 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s ShroomZ jig affixed to a Z-Man’s California Craw Finesse T.R.D., and he proceeded to catch a nice smallmouth followed by several other decent bass.
They caught these fish on a clay and gravel point with laydowns and logs strewn all over it. Then they fished down the nearby shoreline, which was mainly gravel, and they had no luck.
From then on, they moved around the reservoir with varying success.

One bluff yielded the two best bass of the day; one was a largemouth bass and the other was a spotted bass. These fish were extracted out of five feet of water.

They finished their outing on the other side of the reservoir, dissecting a laydown-infested series of bluffs interspersed with very steep shorelines. Bosley hooked two good-sized fish that chose to free themselves. They were abiding in 18 to 22 feet of water.
In sum, they caught fish shallow and deep, and they failed to find a reliable pattern. They caught seven bass that were more than 12 inches long. The largest was a 16-incher. They also tangled with a dozen black bass that failed to surpass the 12-inch mark, and they inadvertently caught one rock bass and a dozen bluegill. Eight bass liberated themselves before they could be lifted across the gunnels.

Bosley noted that their outing would be considered a tough day by the standards of the Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kanas, but in West Virginia, it is an okay or better outing for this reservoir. Furthermore, Bosley said it was fun watching his high-octane fishing buddy try a new technique. To Bosley’s chagrin, his camera quit working, and so, he didn’t take any photographs of the latest angler to enjoy our style of finesse.

July 9 log

Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, filed a report to the Finesse News Network about his river outing with his wife and three other anglers on July 9.

Here is an edited and condensed rendition of his report:

My neighbor and two of his friends stopped by this morning and asked if we wanted to fish. I told him that I hadn’t looked at any of the rivers for the last few days, and that was because I feared that the riled conditions would be to disgusting or revolting to see.

I said that I was itching to, but I would have to see what the river looked like. So, we went on an inspection sortie. I put on my Costa Del Mar Sunglasses, climbed onto a high bank, and to my surprise and delight, I could see fish milling about in the middle of the river among some boulders. And that was a good enough sign for me.

Even though we have had day after day of rain, the water was as clear and the water level was as low as I have seen it for the past two weeks. The water exhibited four feet of visibility.

As we were getting our kayak and gear loaded at 11:00 a.m., area thermometers were hovering around 90 degrees, and the humidity was 100 percent.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing ought to occur from 5:51 a.m. to 7:51 a.m., 6:17 p.m. to 8:17 p.m., and 11:38 a.m. to 1:38 p.m. We fished a total of five hours.

My wife caught 23 smallmouth bass, four big rock bass, and nine bluegill on a three-inch Z-Man’s Mud Minnow Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. She retrieved her Hula StickZ rig by casting it across the current and at a slight downstream angle.  Her rod tip is held high initially, and depending on depth of the water and the whereabouts of the Hula StickZ, she manipulates the rod from high to low. As the Hula StickZ sweeps along in the current it eventually swings across the current and directly below the angler, and she shakes her rod continuously throughout the retrieve.

My neighbor and his two friends caught 31 smallmouth bass on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ on red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. This was their first time that they had used Z-Man’s Midwest finesse rigs.

I caught 49 smallmouth bass, 13 bluegill and seven rock bass. I caught 38 smallmouth, nine bluegill and five rock bass on a radically customized Z-Man’s Canada Craw EZ TubeZ affixed to a burnt-orange 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and depending on the current and depth, the jig would be inserted inside the tube and at other times the head of the jig would be exposed. The rest of my fish were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Dirt ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig with a hop-bounce-and- shake retrieve. The largest smallmouth bass was an 18-incher, and it was caught on the EZ TubeZ rig. The EZ TubeZ and ZinkerZ were well coated in Pro Cure’s Garlic Crawfish Super Gel.

My wife and I fished a half mile behind our guests. But at one spot, my neighbor and his friends watched me wade and fish a riffle with the EZ TubeZ. They had fished that riffle, and the EZ TubeZ inveigled 11 smallmouth bass. When we arrived at our take-out spot, my neighbor’s friends asked me if Z-Man had a website.

It felt great getting out, and I hope to fish again on July 10.

The heavily customized EZ TubeZ rig that I used today has the wherewithal to catch 50 or more fish tomorrow. It lost only two tentacles on this outing, and that is incredible.

In all my years of fishing rivers, I have not used a bait that is as effective in shallow rocky riffles as the tiny EZ TubeZ. What’s more, it doesn’t get wedged or snagged between the boulders. It truly defies belief. River smallmouth bass that set up in these riffles, which I call conveyor belts, are strictly eating young crayfish. And this EZ TubeZ rig replicates them.

Every fish today ate it completely, including the 18-inch smallmouth bass. No outside-of-the-mouth or on-the-fringe hookups here. The smallmouth bass’ eyes were pointed down, and they were fooled. We have been waiting for this exact bait for years on end, and now we finally have it.

July 9 log

Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, and Sioux Narrows, Ontario, Canada, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his July 9 outing on the Lake of the Woods, Ontario.

Here is an edited and condensed version of his report:

After a quick trip to Kansas to pick up my wife, we returned to Canada to find out that my fishing partner hit a granite reef with my boat. The skeg is severely damaged, and the boat has a minor seeping leak, but it looks as if it will make it through the rest of the summer. That delayed my return to the water until July 9.

I had a fair day by 2015 standards by catching 53 smallmouth bass, an eight- pound northern pike, and a half dozen walleyes. The highlight was a four-pound, two-ounce smallmouth bass that was caught on a Z-Man’s Blue Glimmer Sparkle 3 1/2-inch GrubZ affixed to a pearl 1/6-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig.

I caught them in water as shallow as one foot and as deep as 15 feet. They were caught on a Z-Man Finesse ShadZs, Z-Man’s 3 1/2-inch GrubZs, Z-Man’s Finesse T.R.D.s, Z-Man’s Hula StickZs, and Z-Man’s Finesse T.R.D.-spins.

The fishing will be tougher now than it was just before I left for the trip to Kansas. It is always tough when the smallmouth bass spread out after the mayfly hatch is over.

The most impressive news is that one of my friends who has owned a resort up here and guided since the 1970s caught his largest smallmouth ever, and he caught it on a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Hula StickZ on a Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. It weighed five pounds, four ounces, and it is probably 21 years old. During the last two years he, Chris Bell, and I have all caught our largest Canadian smallmouth bass on unshortened Z-Man’s Hula StickZs. The amazing thing is the three of us combined have fished in Canada for more than 120 years, and not until we began using the Hula StickZ did we catch the biggest smallmouth bass of our lifetimes.

July 11 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his July 11 outing.
July has been a topsy-turvy month for my wife, Nancy, and me. It has kept me from pursuing the black bass that reside in the many waterways that grace the landscape of north-central Texas.

For example, Nancy’s father had a stroke on June 27 and was hospitalized for several days. After he was released from the hospital, our time has been relegated to mostly helping to provide necessary in-home care that he needs to recover from that traumatic event. Consequently, Nancy and I have decided to sell our house in Lewisville and relocate 14 miles to the north of here around Denton, Texas, where we can be closer to Nancy’s parents.

But the major problem plaguing me and other anglers is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoirs in north-central Texas have been closed since May 12. These closures are the byproduct of the heavy spring rains, which caused the once low-water levels to rise and overflow these reservoirs by 10 to 30 feet. And these closures are expected to continue throughout July and August and into the first week or two of September.

Therefore, when Ralph Manns of Rockwall, Texas, emailed me and asked if I would like to join him for an afternoon outing at a three-acre community reservoir behind his home, I jumped at the chance.

This was my first outing since June 25. According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing periods would occur from 1:04 a.m. to 2:04 a.m., 7:18 a.m. to 9:18 a.m., and 7:44 p.m. to 9:44 p.m. Ralph and I were afloat from 4:15 p.m. to dusk, which occurred at about 8:45 p.m.

It was sunny, hot, and humid, with a few wispy clouds adorning the powder-blue sky. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 74 degrees and the afternoon high reached 96 degrees. A light wind blew out of the south at 5 to 10 mph, and the barometric pressure measured 30.06 at 4:00 p.m.

The three-acre community reservoir behind Ralph’s home is oriented in a southeast to northwest direction. One small feeder creek enters the reservoir from the east shoreline in the lower third of the reservoir, and another feeder creek flows into the southeastern corner of the reservoir. A mud dam forms the northern boundary, and the main creek channel winds its way northward from the southeast corner through the middle of the reservoir and ends at the dam. Several beds of submerged bushy pondweed and Khara occur throughout the pond. The banks of this reservoir are adorned with a couple of decorative stone walls, a concrete culvert and ditch that cuts across a shallow mud flat, several submerged brushpiles, several laydowns, and a long mud bar that extends westward from the southeastern section of the reservoir. Scattered patches of American water willows also enhance the shorelines.

The water was stained with about three feet of visibility. The pond’s surface temperature was 93 degrees, and Ralph estimated the water level to be about 1 1/2 inches low.

The fishing was slow, but we managed to tangle with 28 largemouth bass.

We began the outing fishing three brush piles situated along the northeast shoreline in two to four feet of water. These brushpiles surrendered only one largemouth bass, which was able to liberate itself before we could land it. This bass was enticed by a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red Slim SwimZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and presented with a steady swimming retrieve. Two largemouth bass were caught in eight feet of water about 25 feet from the brushpiles. Both of these bass struck a Rapala bluegill-hue DT-6 crankbait and a stop-and-go retrieve.

As we worked our way southward along the east shoreline, we fished the concrete culvert and ditch, and the deep-water edge of a large mud flat along the east bank, and these areas failed to yield any largemouth bass.

The next area we probed was a deep flat with scattered patches of Khara in 13 feet of water. This flat lies next to the main creek channel in the middle of the reservoir. We failed to induce a single strike.

Then, we focused our attention on the mud dam along the north end of the reservoir. We coaxed one largemouth bass into striking a Z-Man’s pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

We then targeted several brushpiles and laydowns along the west shoreline in four to 10 feet of water, and these lairs yielded 16 largemouth bass. The Z-Man’s pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve allured seven largemouth bass. A four-inch Gary Yamamoto Bait Company’s watermelon-black-and-gold-flake Senko nose hooked on an Owner’s No. 1 weedless wacky hook enticed seven largemouth bass. The Rapala bluegill DT-6 crankbait caught one largemouth bass. Another largemouth bass was caught on a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The Senko rig was presented with a slow lift-drop-and-deadstick technique, the Rapala crankbait was presented with a fast stop-and-go retrieve, and the Finesse T.R.D. and Finesse ShadZ were presented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

After we finished dissecting the lairs along the west shoreline, we investigated the south shoreline and the mud bar that extends from the southeast shoreline. The south shoreline relinquished one largemouth bass, which was abiding in about 10 feet of water next to the main creek channel. This largemouth engulfed a shortened Z-Man’s California Craw Hula StickZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig as it settled to the bottom on the initial cast. The remainder of the south shoreline failed to yield any other bass.

The top of the mud bar extending from the southeast shoreline surrendered three largemouth bass. One engulfed the shortened California Craw Hula StickZ as it was worked with a slow drag-and-shake retrieve, and the other two were attracted to the four-inch Senko and a deadstick presentation. These three bass were extracted from four to six feet of water.

We then investigated the east-side creek arm and the surrounding east shoreline areas. We caught one largemouth bass from the side of a small submerged mud point that extends about 10 feet out from the east shoreline. This largemouth bass engulfed a shortened Z-Man’s Mud Minnow Hula StickZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig as it was slowly settling to the bottom on the initial fall. We failed to garner any other strikes from this area.

We finished the outing by returning to the mud dam, which was shaded from the hot afternoon and evening sun. This time around, we caught four largemouth bass that were milling about in two to four feet of water. Two were caught on the four-inch Senko with a deadstick presentation. The other two were caught on a Z-Man’s black Split Tail TrailerZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and it was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

Throughout these 4 1/2 hours, we struggled to find any consistent bass location pattern, dominate bait, or presentation. The two most productive baits were the Z-Man’s pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ and the four-inch Senko. We allured largemouth bass with a deadstick presentation, a swim-glide-and-shake presentation, a drag-and-shake presentation, and two largemouth bass struck our lures as the lures were settling to the bottom on the initial drop. We also had eight other largemouth bass that were able to pull free from our lures before we could land them.

July 11 log

Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his river outing with his wife and a neighbor and his neighbor’s two friends on July 11.

Here is an edited and condensed rendition of his report:

Our rivers are dropping at a fast rate and clearing up nicely. We are finally getting on track for some delightful days afloat. And this was an absolutely picturesque one. My wife and I and our neighbor commented regularly about how beautiful it was.

As I reported two days ago, our dear neighbor is here this weekend with two friends.

I am indebted to them for helping my wife and I launch our Jackson Tuna kayak. At the remote stretch of the river that we fished, it took a winch to get it into the water.

When we all launched at 11:00 a.m., it was 79 degrees and the humidity was nil. The water exhibited five feet of visibility.

My wife and I let our friends take the lead, and we gave them a half hour lead time. We agreed to meet up at a waterfall for lunch consisting of three racks of ribs from the smoker last evening with a hearty salad.

We fished a total of seven hours. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing might take place from 7:06 a.m. to 9:06 a.m., 7:32 p.m. and 9:32 p.m., and 12:52 a.m. to 2:52 a.m.

All of us were wielding Z-Man baits.

My wife and I caught 91 smallmouth bass, 34 big bluegill, and 18 rock bass.

I caught 32 smallmouth bass, 20 bluegill and all of the rock bass on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Dirt ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

I caught 37 smallmouth bass on a heavily customized Z-Man’s pumpkin EZ TubeZ affixed to a burnt-orange 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

My wife caught the rest of the smallmouth bass and bluegill on a three-inch Z-Man’s Mud Minnow Hula StickZ affixed to an orange 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

All of these rigs were liberally covered with Pro Cure’s Garlic Crawfish Super Gel. We wielded them on our G Loomis 791 GLX Trout Series Spinning Rods and four-pound-test Gamma fluorocarbon line.

I sent our dear friends afloat with an ample supply of Z-Man’s Canada Craw and Pumpkin Finesse T.R.D.s and 20 various-colored Gopher jigs. They caught 27 smallmouth bass on their T.R.D.s rigs, and one of them was a 19-incher.

I fished my baby EZ TubeZ in shallow riffles and the ZinkerZ on the flats. The ZinkerZ was retrieved with a straight swim-and-shake presentation. The EZ TubeZ was presented do that it ticked tops of boulders, and I shook it constantly.

July 12 log

Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his river outing with his wife and a neighbor and his neighbor’s two friends on July 12.

Here is an edited and condensed rendition of his report:

I began the morning in the garage, where I cut a half of an inch off of the torso of 32 Z-Man’s Finesse T.R.D.s .The dropping water level necessitated a slower drop speed, which is made possible by shortening the Finesse T.R.D. to 2 1/4-inches. The normal 2 3/4-inch Finesse T.R.D. on a 1/32-ounce Gopher Jig will start floating on the on or near the surface after an hour of using it, and that is because the salt that is impregnated in the Finesse T.R.D.’s torso dissipates.

My neighbor and his friends that we have enjoyed sharing water with the last few days had a limited amount of time to fish. They needed to get back into civilization and the airport in Washington, D.C. They got on the water at 9:10 a.m. and as they floated down the river, they had the joy of spotting a bobcat and watching a full-size bear cross the river. As they passed us on their way back up the river, we said our goodbyes with hopes of seeing each other in October.

My wife and I fished for 4 1/2 hours. The air temperature was 80 degrees , and the humidity was low. Where we fished, the sun’s rays were blocked by the canyon walls.

We focused on a big-fish run, which takes a lot of work to fish. It is four mile downstream and four miles back upstream that stretches over and through numerous shallow ledges

The water exhibited eight feet of visibility.

The depth of water that flows across the granite shelves varies from two feet to 15 feet of water. Both sides of the river were bordered by canyon walls. The stretch of water that we fished is three-quarters of a mile long.

My tinkering with the Finesse T.R.D.s in the garage this morning paid some dividends.

My wife and I watched numerous smallmouth bass go nose down in the depths to follow our Finesse T.R.D. rigs. Every smallmouth bass that we hooked had followers with it. I twice spotted a fish all of 21 inches or more following a hooked fish. I will be back to visit that brute again soon. And maybe I will return tomorrow. And as I am writing this report, I am still seeing that one in my head.

I fished with 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s California Craw FinesseT.R.D. on a burnt -orange 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

My wife used a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D .on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

We let our Finesse T.R.D. rigs fall completely to the bottom. Then we would shake it, and we caught a smallmouth bass, it usually occurred during the first series of shakes.

We caught 44 smallmouth bass and 19 adult bluegill. One smallmouth bass measured slight more than 18 inches and a goodly number of them were 17-inchers.

July 16 log

On July 16, Pok-Chi Lau and I enjoyed a midsummer’s day outing that reminded us of the good old days in northeastern Kansas before the largemouth bass virus performed its dirty deeds at several of our favorite waterways.

Since Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, retired in December of 2013 from the University of Kansas School of Fine Arts, where he had been a professor of photography for more than three decades, he has spent most of his days afloat in pursuit of a variety of species in foreign waterways in Asia, and especially the saltwater species that abound in the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortes that surround Baja California, where he keeps his boat. So, we don’t fish together very often nowadays.
He recently returned to Lawrence, and he will be hereabouts for a few weeks before he is off again on another piscatorial adventure. So, he hopped into my boat, and we fished a 180-acre state reservoir, which is one of the many northeastern Kansas flatland reservoirs that we have fished on together during the past 25 years.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 76 degrees at 12:52 a.m. and 92 degrees at 1:52 p.m. The wind angled out of the southeast at 3 to 8 mph, out of the south at 6 to 21 mph, and out of the southwest at 12 to 18 mph. The sun was shining everywhere in the China-blue sky. The barometric pressure was 29.85 at 12:52 a.m., 29.84 at 5:52 a.m., 29.83 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.80 at 1:52 p.m. The heat index was 101 degrees at 1:52 p.m.

The water level was normal. The water clarity exhibited one to three feet of visibility. The surface temperature ranged from 83 to 85 degrees. Many areas of this reservoir are adorned with massive patches of bushy pondweeds, some patches of coontail, several patches of American pondweed, and numerous patches of American water willows (but most of the American water willow patches are in extremely shallow water.)

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing should take place from 11:40 p.m. to 1:40 a.m., 5:03 a.m. to 7:03 a.m., and 5:28 p.m. to 7:28 p.m. Lau and I were afloat from 10:30 a.m. to 1:50 p.m. and we caught 80 largemouth bass, as well as hooking nine largemouth bass that liberated themselves and catching nearly a dozen green sunfish.

One of the virtues of catching an average of 24 largemouth bass an hour is that it is easy to write a log that describes the three hours and 20 minutes that we fished. In essence, when the fishing is easy, writing a log about it is easy, and when the fishing is burdensome, writing a log about it is burdensome.
We fished four areas.
Our outing commenced at the dam, where we plied the riprap shoreline and some patches of bushy pondweed, one patch of American water willows, and one patch of American pondweed. We caught 30 largemouth bass along the dam. They were caught on a four-inch Z-Man’s Purple Haze Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher Jig, a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a shortened Strike King Lure Company’s green-pumpkin Super Finesse Worm affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

We enticed these 30 largemouth bass by employing four of the six Midwest finesse retrieves: the swim, glide, and shake, the drag and deadstick; the hop and bounce, and the straight swim. Before we executed a retrieve, several of the largemouth bass engulfed our rigs during the initial drop. The boat floated in eight to 14 feet of water. Some of the largemouth bass were extracted out of water as shallow as two feet, and some were extracted out of water as deep as 11 feet, and the rest of them were abiding between those two depths.

We caught 30 largemouth bass on a massive main-lake point that is graced by four humps and several patches of bushy pondweed. The boat floated in six to 15 feet of water. We caught these 30 largemouth bass on three Midwest finesse rigs: a four-inch Z-Man’s Purple Haze Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher Jig, a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a shortened Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We extracted them out of six to 10 feet of water. They were enticed by two retrieves: the swim-glide-and-shake presentation and the drag-and-deadstick presentation.

We caught four largemouth bass along the edge of a submerged creek channel on the four-inch Z-Man’s Purple Haze Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher Jig and the shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We fished about a 75-foot section of this edge, where the boat floated in eight feet of water. The edge is adorned with several manmade brushpiles and patches of bushy pondweed, coontail, and American pondweed. Three of these largemouth bass were caught when we used the swim-glide-and-shake presentation, and one of them engulfed the Junebug Finesse WormZ on the initial drop.

During the final 30 minutes of this outing, we quickly fished six riprap jetties, where we caught 16 largemouth bass. These largemouth bass were inveigled on a four-inch Z-Man’s Purple Haze Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher Jig and a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Thirteen of the largemouth bass were enticed by two retrieves: the swim-glide-and-shake presentation and the drag-and-deadstick presentation. Three of them engulfed our Finesse WormZ rigs on the initial drop.

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One of the 80 largemouth bass that Pok-Chi Lau and I caught of July 16.

July 17 log

Don Baldridge of Springfield, Missouri, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his July 17 outing at a 40-acre reservoir in northeastern Missouri.

Here is a condensed and edited version of his report:

The water exhibited the aftereffects of the heavy rains that have plagued anglers in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas this summer. The water clarity was stained. Debris and flotsam was scattered around the shorelines. A brisk flow of water coursed across the dam’s outlet. The surface temperature was 83 degrees.

The archives of the Weather Underground noted that the high temperature was 95 degrees and the low temperature was 77 degrees. The wind angled out of the south by southwest at 8 to 15 mph. The barometric pressure fluctuated from 29.85 to 29.81. And the sky was clear, but a few clouds floated overhead at times.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing might occur from 11:57 a.m. to 1:57 p.m., 12:21p.m. to 2:21 p.m., and 6:09 a.m. to 8:09 a.m. I fished for 3 1/2 hours, and the best fishing occurred from 6:15 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

I fished the riprap of the dam and several shorelines, where I employed Megastrike’s three-inch Mega Bug and caught approximately three dozen largemouth bass, and inadvertently caught two channel catfish and several green sunfish. These fish were extracted from water as shallow as two feet and no deeper than 10 feet. Two-thirds of them were caught on the Mega Bug affixed to a 1/16-ounce Owner Ultra Wacky Style jig, and the other third were caught on the Mega Bug rigged Texas style with a 1/8-ounce slip sinker. I employed a slow lift-glide-and-drop retrieve.

Here is the link to the YouTube video that features this outing: https://youtu.be/_BBHZ1loyEc .

July 19 log

Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his river outing with his wife on July 19.

Here is an edited and condensed rendition of his report:

My wife and I set off mid-morning at 9:00 a.m. At that time, it was a muggy 80 degrees. The wind was nil. The air was nearly liquid with a 100 percent humidity level. We were hoping this outing would cool us down.

Four nights ago we were blessed with yet another major rainstorm, which rendered our fishing worthless since then.

By yesterday, the river had dropped from the 870 feet per second, which was its peak four days ago, to half of that flow, and it is still dropping. I knew nothing of the water clarity until we arrived at the river’s edge, and it was still stained for this time of the year, exhibiting about two feet of visibility. Two feet of visibility in July isn’t something I have experienced since moving here nine years ago.

To beat the heat and humidity, we elected to wade, and upon getting knee deep, the heat relief was realized immediately.

Our G. Loomis 791 GLX Trout Series Spinning Rods were spooled with four-pound-test Gamma fluorocarbon line. One rod sported a Z-Man’s Gudgeon Slim Swimz affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. The second rod sported a Z-Man’s watermelon red CrusteaZ affixed to a burnt-orange 1/32- ounce Gopher jig. The third one sported a two-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin GrubZ on a pearl 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

These baits were retrieved with a down-and-across-sweep presentation. We shook our rods incessantly, and as these baits flowed downstream, they traveled about a foot above the bottom. We focused on presenting our baits in the boulder-strewn current seam that was between us and the far shoreline.

We fished a quarter mile section of the river, which has been good to us in years past when the river is up. As we walked in knee-deep water and worked our baits in four feet of water, the humidity got worse and the temperature climbed dramatically. After three hours, the heat beat us down, and we waved the white flag at Mother Nature. By the time we got back to the house the heat index was near 100 degrees.
Our final tally was 31 smallmouth bass, eight big bluegill, three giant rock bass, and two channel catfish.

The CrusteaZ rig caught 19 smallmouh bass. The Slim SwimZ rig caught 12 smallmouth bass. The panfish and channel catfish were caught on the GrubZ . The biggest smallmouth was a 17 1/2-incher, which was inveigled by the CrusteaZ. The biggest fish of the day was a 23-inch channel catfish.

This coming week looks to be a scorcher, which will help to get our rivers back to normal by next Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. And we are hoping to take advantage of it.

July 21 log

For three hours and 20 minutes on July 16, at a 189-acre state reservoir, Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, and I ascended to piscatorial nirvana. On July 21, Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I returned to earth, and for a spell during the four hours and 20 minutes that we were afloat at a 160-acre state reservoir, it felt as if we had descended into a piscatorial hellhole.

Even though the fishing was hellish at times, we hadn’t descended into a piscatorial inferno. The National Weather Service reported that it was 66 degrees at 5:52 a.m., and from 11:52 a.m. to 2:52 p.m., it was 80 degrees. The normal low temperature for July 21 is 69 degrees and the normal high temperature is 89 degrees. The wind angled out of the north at 3 to 7 mph, out of the northwest at 3 to 6 mph, out of the northeast at 5 to 8 mph, and out of the east at 7 mph. Some clouds occasionally covered the rays of the sun, but most of the time the sun was shining everywhere. The barometric pressure was 29.93 at 12:52 a.m., 29.97 at 5:52 a.m., 30.00 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.96 at 2:52 p.m.

The water level was about two feet above normal. Along one steep shoreline, a waterfall was pouring a significant volume of water into this reservoir. At the spillway, a substantial volume of water was cascading out of this reservoir, and thus, there were two locales that were graced with some current, which is an unusual occurrence in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas. The surface temperature ranged from 83 degrees to 85 degrees. The water clarity fluctuated from one foot to three feet of visibility. Water as shallow as two feet and as deep as five feet bordered the outside edges of all the patches of American water willows that rim this reservoir’s shorelines. There was a lot of flooded terrestrial vegetation, which is not an attractive feature in the eyes of most Midwest finesse anglers. Scores of brightly colored redbreast sunfish and bluegill were abiding in two to three feet of water in the flooded terrestrial vegetation.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing might take place from 3:15 a.m. to 5:15 a.m., 3:36 p.m. to 5:36 p.m., and 9:25 a.m. to 11:25 a.m. We were afloat from 9:30 a.m. to 1:50 p.m., and there was a stretch from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 a.m. that was virtually fruitless.

At this reservoir in Julys and Augusts of the past, Rick and I usually spent most of our hours afloat dissecting the edges of massive patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, such as bushy pondweed, chara, and coontail. Back in those good old days, we dissected these offshore lairs with a four-inch green-pumpkin grub affixed to a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to either a chartreuse 1/32-ounce or chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. On our July 21 outing, Rick and I spent too much time fishing with our minds focused on the past rather than on the moment, which yielded some very sorry dividends. Consequentially, those offshore haunts and those two baits inveigled just six largemouth bass. When we caught two of those largemouth bass in back to back casts, we thought we might have found a pattern, but those thoughts rapidly faded.

One of the elements that confounded our abilities to locate and to catch a significant number of largemouth bass from these offshore patches of submerged vegetation is that these patches are not as big and healthy as they were in summers past. These patches of vegetation used to be omnipresent, but on this outing, we spent more time searching for offshore aquatic vegetation than we did fishing it.

Another factor that might have confounded our abilities to locate significant aggregations of this reservoir’s largemouth bass as we did in summers of the past might stem from the fact that the water level of this reservoir has risen dramatically this year, and some knowledgeable anglers say that this phenomenon often scatters the largemouth bass hither and yon, and in our eyes, that looked to be the case on July 21.

Ultimately, we stopped fishing the offshore areas, and we fished eight points and many yards of shorelines. From 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., our catch rate improved substantially. Upon making our final casts at 1:50 p.m., our fish counter indicated that we had caught 38 largemouth bass.

Twenty-four of the largemouth bass were caught on flat and relatively shallow points and shorelines that were embellished with flooded terrestrial vegetation and American water willows. These bass were extracted out of two to three feet of water.

We caught one largemouth bass on a rocky section of a point, and we caught two more on a rocky section of another point. Five largemouth bass were caught along the edge of some American water willows that were graced by current. Three largemouth bass were caught along a steep shoreline that was embellished with flooded aquatic vegetation and American water willows.

DSCN0825-001

Rick Hebenstreit with one of the 38 largemouth bass we caught on July 21.

 

A Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was our most fruitful rig and presentation. But a few were caught on a four-inch green-pumpkin grub affixed to a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Junebug ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s PB&J Hula StickZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Several of the largemouth bass engulfed our rigs on the initial drop, and a couple of largemouth bass were allured by a deadstick presentation. When we fished the flooded terrestrial vegetation, our Gopher jigs were rigged to our soft-plastic baits with an exposed No. 4 hook (devoid of a hook or weed guard), and they became snagged only three times, and only one was lost to a snag. One of the many virtues of using small hooks is that they are relatively snag-free.

In sum, it was one of those disconcerting outings in which it seemed as if the largemouth bass were finding and catching us rather than Rick and I finding and catching them. When this occurs, it is impossible to describe how, when, and where we found and caught them.

July 22 log

The last time I fished with John Reese and Glen Hildebrand was on June 8. On that outing, John scared Glen and me, when he was waylaid by a heat stroke, and in a semiconscious state, he fell onto the floor of my boat. We feared that he was having a heart attack or a stroke.

At the age of 75, I am the youngest of this trio. John is 80 years old. Glen is 86, and he is a recent covert to Midwest finesse tactics. To their chagrin, some of the complications that result from becoming old-timers keep John and Glen at bay more often than they want to be. And until July 22, the weather had been too hot, windy, or rainy for them to climb into my boat again.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 62 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 83 degrees at 1:52 p.m. The normal low temperature for this date is 69 degrees, and the normal high temperature is 89 degrees. The NWS described the sky as fair, but at times we found it to be partly cloudy. The wind angled out of the east at 5 to 7 mph, out of the southeast at 3 mph, out of the south at 10 mph, and out of the northeast at 3 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.96 at 12:52 a.m., 29.95 at 5:52 a.m., 29.94 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.91 at 1:52 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would transpire from 4:01 a.m. to 6:01 a.m., 4:22 p.m. to 6:22 p.m., and 10:12 a.m. to 12:12 p.m. We were afloat upon a 180-acre state reservoir from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The water level was a few inches above normal. The water clarity fluctuated from 12 inches to more than 3 1/2 feet of visibility. The surface temperature ranged from 83 to 85 degrees. The bountiful patches of American pondweed and bushy pondweed graced many locales. There were also a few patches of chara and coontail. Before we arrived at this reservoir, a pair of ardent and accomplished Midwest finesse anglers had spent several hours afloat, and while we were afloat, we shared several areas with a talented power angler.

During the three hours that we were afloat, we caught 53 largemouth bass and inadvertently caught seven green sunfish and one channel catfish. And all but a few of them were caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Purple Haze Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Some of them engulfed this combo on the initial fall, but the majority of them were caught while we implemented a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

We quickly fished four main-lake riprap jetties, which yielded nine largemouth bass. Around these jetties the boat floated in four to seven feet of water, and the nine largemouth bass were extracted from water as shallow as two feet and no deeper than four feet.

We spent most of our time fishing three main-lake points, which yielded 34 largemouth bass. These points are flat and massive, and one of them is graced with four humps and a significant ledge. Most of the largemouth bass were associated with patches of American pondweed or bushy pondweed. The boat floated in water as shallow as four feet and as deep as 16 feet of water, and the largemouth bass were extracted out of water as shallow as three feet and as deep as eight feet.

We caught one largemouth bass along the outside edge of a patch of American pondweed that embellished a secondary point, where the boat floated in six to 15 feet of water, and this largemouth bass was abiding in four feet of water. We fished this point for about five minutes.

We spent almost an hour dissecting nearly every yard of the riprap along the dam, and we were disappointed. We caught only nine largemouth bass. We suspected that the pair of Midwest finesse anglers who were float earlier in the day had caught and released several dozen largemouth bass along the dam, and that might have been the reason we were able to catch just nine. The nine that we caught were extracted from three to seven feet of water, and our boat floated in seven to 14 feet of water.

Despite the frustrating spell on the dam, John and Glen were pleased indeed that we tangled with an average of 17.6 largemouth bass an hour.

July 22 log

Don Baldridge of Springfield, Missouri, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his July 22 outing at a five-acre state reservoir in west-central Missouri.

Here is a condensed and edited version of his report:

The archives of the Weather Underground noted that the high temperature was 82 degrees and the low temperature was 68 degrees. The wind angled out of the east, east by northeast, and east by southeast at 3 to 8 mph. The barometric pressure fluctuated from 29.89 to 29.95. And the sky was clear.

The water was stained. The surface temperature was 85 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing might occur from 3:40 a.m. to 5:40 a.m., 4:01 p.m. to 6:01 p.m., and 9:50 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. I fished for 3 1/2 hours, and the best fishing occurred from 6:15 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. I fished about three hours after sunrise at 6:08 a.m.

I caught approximately 30 largemouth bass by employing a three-inch Megastrike’s green-pumpkin-black-red-flake Mega Bug affixed to a 1/16-ounce Owner Ultra Wacky Style jig. The largemouth bass were abiding in two to five feet of water along the aquatic vegetation that embellished the shoreline, and they aggressively engulfed the Mega Bug rig that was retrieved with a slow hop-and-deadstick presentation.

Here is the link to the YouTube video that features this outing: https://youtu.be/SDoKNOYSOcU.

July 23 log

Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, and Sioux Narrows, Ontario, Canada, posted the following brief on the Finesse News Network.

Here is an edited and condensed rendition of his report:

I have been somewhat remiss in sending reports. The weather has been trying. We have had a lot of wind and lightning, which has limited our fishing time from three to four hours a day. We were without power for a couple of days when we had the strongest wind storm I have ever experienced. It blew a large tree down on the cabin, but it was at such an angle that our deck helped to support it and it only did minor damage to the cabin. There was a lot of work involved in the cleanup.

July is always a confusing month at the Lake of the Woods. For instance, I caught smallmouth bass from water as shallow as one foot and as deep as 18 feet of water on July 23. They are feeding on anything they can find; so minnow baits and crayfish baits work about the same.

Because of the wind, I have been using Z-Man’s Blue Glimmer Sparkle 3.5-inch GrubZ affixed to a 1/6-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig, and it is easy to wield in the wind. On July 22, I inadvertently caught a 19 1/2-pound northern pike on the GrubZ rig.

Z-Man’s 3.75-inch StreakZ has also been excellent. The Hula Stick, as usual, has been extremely effective on boulder-laden terrains. I am using the 1/10-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig most of the time on the Hula StickZ. I am still catching a lot of smallmouth bass, but this is the hardest time of the year to catch big ones.

Area thermometers finally reached 85 degrees, and it was sunny, which made the smallmouth bass fishing excellent, as it always does. I fished from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and I caught 101 smallmouth bass, but only two of them weighed more than three pounds.

July 25 log

Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, posted the following log on the Finesse News Network about his and his wife’s July 25 outing.

Here is an edited and condensed rendition of his log:

My wife and I began the day before sunrise, tending to some household duties. Once those obligations were completed, we launched our Big Tuna kayak at 10:30 a.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 6:14 a.m. to 8:14 a.m., 6:38 p.m. to 8:38 p.m., and 12:02 a.m. to 2:02 a.m. We fished six hours and 45 minutes.

Last week, when we last fished together, one of the rivers we fish most often was flowing at a rate of 410 cubic feet per second, according to the United States Geological Survey. Since that outing, we have not had a drop of rain, and it is the first time this spring and summer that we have not seen a drop of rain for a seven-day spell. Today, the river was flowing at a rate of 125 cubic feet per second, exhibiting nine feet of clarity.

As we fished, we asked ourselves: Has summer finally arrived? We were enjoying the most summer-like conditions we have seen since last September, and the fish were exhibiting their normal summertime behavior. The temperature upon launching was a non-humid 91 degrees, and there was not a cloud in the sky to cover the scorching sun.

We caught fish today on everything we threw. My two-inch baby or heavily customized Z-Man’s Canada Craw EZ TubeZ affixed to a burnt-orange 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, which was inserted, caught 31 smallmouth bass, nine bluegill, and two giant rock bass. A three-inch Z-Man’s Mud Minnow Hula StickZ affixed to a red 1/13-0unce Gopher jig caught 28 smallmouth bass and two giant bluegill. A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a burnt-orange 1/32-ounce Gopher jig caught 21 smallmouth bass and six bluegill. A customized Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig caught 18 smallmouth bass and two largemouth bass.

I customized the Finesse ShadZ so that its belly is blue steel, and its back and tail is green pumpkin. I used the chartreuse Gopher jig so that I could see it as I retrieved it in and around the boulders. As I customized the Finesse ShadZ, I shortened it an inch and added two five-millimetre red/chartreuse 3D holographic eyes. I removed the collar on the Gopher jig in order to create a slower drop speed, and I rigged the Finesse ShadZ flat on the jig by inserting the hook through the side rather than through its back, and this tactic allowed the Finesse ShadZ to fall slowly and erratically.

All of our baits were liberally coated with Pro-Cure’s Garlic Crawfish Super Gel.

I fished my baby EZ TubeZ in the shallow riffles. I fished the Finesse ShadZ on the skinny flats. My wife threw her beloved Hula StickZ all day everywhere. I fished the Finesse T.R.D. in the deepest water, which is four feet or more. They were retrieved across and down the current with a basic straight-swim-and-shake presentation.

In sum, we caught 98 smallmouth bass and two largemouth bass, and every smallmouth bass we hooked was accompanied by a variety of followers, and a few of those followers looked to be 18 inches long or longer.

 

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