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Midwest Finesse Fishing: June 2014

by Ned Kehde   |  July 9th, 2014 4
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Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, and a smallmouth bass on the Mississippi River near Grand Rapids, Minnesota. For details, see his June 30 log.

 

In this June guide to Midwest finesse fishing, Don Baldridge of Springfield, Missouri; Ethan Dhuyvetter of Manhattan, Kansas; Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas; Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri; Bob Gum of Kansas City; Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas; Casey Kidder of Topeka, Kansas; Nathan Parker of Tulsa, Oklahoma; Travis Perret of Overland Park, Kansas; Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, and Ontario, Canada; Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas; Casey Scanlon of Lenexa, Kansas; and Dave Weroha of Kansas City revealed how, when, and where they caught largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass across 30 days of fishing.

We are grateful for the help of Steve Reideler who proofread every log and made this 21,359-word guide more readable and understandable.

June 1 log

Ethan Dhuyvetter of Manhattan, Kansas, 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.

He filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his June 1 outing with a friend to a 195-acre community reservoir in northeastern Kansas.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, noted that it was 67 degrees at 5:52 a.m. and 87 degrees at 2:52 p.m. From 9:55 a.m. to 1:52 p.m. the wind blew out of the south and southwest at 13 to 24 mph. The sky fluctuated from being partly cloudy to mostly cloudy to overcast. The barometric pressure at 9:52 a.m. was 29.95 and 29.89 at 1:52 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 1:44 a.m. to 3:44 a.m. and 2:07 p.m. to 4:07 p.m., and there was a minor period from 7:55 a.m. to 9:55 a.m. Dhuyvetter and his friend fished from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

The water level was about a foot below normal. The water clarity exhibited about two to three feet of visibility. The surface temperature was not recorded, but was estimated in the 75-80 degrees range.

He wrote: “As soon as we got there, the wind started howling, making it hard to control the boat along some of the steeper rock banks that we were getting consistent bites on.

“Thus, we moved a little further back into the feeder-creek arms to avoid the wind. There was a lot of curly-leaf pondweed growing to the surface, but it was very brown, and didn’t look too healthy. We fished around the edges of these patches of curly-leaf pondweed, and we generated some bites, but not as many as around the rocky banks.

“Throughout the four hours we were afloat, we bounced around all over the lake and managed to land around 30 largemouth bass and one channel catfish, which we caught on a variety of baits. One of the baits was a 1/16-ounce Eco Pro Gnat Jig that was dressed with a green-pumpkin finesse silicone skirt and a green-pumpkin-red-flake Stingray Grub, which I pour. This jig combo caught 14 largemouth bass. My friend caught 10 largemouth bass on a green-pumpkin tube, but he was having trouble with hook sets on a lot of these fish because they were so small.

We also caught a few on an Ima Shaker crankbait, a Texas-rigged Z-Man’s Fishing Products’ Flappin’ CrawZ Flappin craw, and a few other miscellaneous baits. The Eco Pro Gnat Jig dressed with the three-inch Stingray Grub caught most of the largemouth bass, but they were small.

“At the end of the day, the channel catfish was easily the biggest. The bass ranged in size from 10 to 14 inches. We had a lot of fun playing around with the little guys, but we were hoping to run into more fish in the keeper-size class. I will likely return to this reservoir throughout the summer and continue to try to hone in on the bigger largemouth bass by fishing a little deeper off of the points.”

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Nathan Parker of Tulsa, Oklahoma, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his June 1 outing at a 762-acre reservoir in northeastern Oklahoma.

This reservoir has a mean depth of 66.1 feet, and a maximum depth of 182 feet.

The National Weather Service at Grove, Oklahoma, said it was 64 degrees at 5:15 a.m. and 84 degrees at 3:55 p.m. From 9:55 a.m. to 5:53 p.m. the sky ranged from being partly cloudy to mostly cloudy to overcast, and from 5:55 p.m. to 7:55 p.m., the clouds disappeared. The barometric pressure was 29.99 at 5:15 a.m., 29.99 at 11:55 a.m., and 29.85 at 7:55 p.m. The wind angled out of the south and southwest at 9 to 20 mph. Parker described the wind as being variable, switching from the south to the west over the course of the afternoon and evening.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 1:41 a.m. to 3:41 a.m. and 2:04 p.m. to 4:04 p.m. A minor period took place from 7:52 a.m. to 9:52 a.m. He fished from 12:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

He wrote: “It is an electric trolling motor only lake of roughly 800 acres. I fished from my kickboat, and I was fishing alone. Clarity ranged from stained to clear in different parts of the lake. I did not get a water temp reading.

“I caught 35 fish: eight largemouth bass (two weighed between 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 pounds; my scale is a little flaky), six smallmouth bass (the largest was 16 inches ), four white bass, three freshwater drum, two channel catfish, two crappies (one was a monster that was almost 16 inches long), and 10 sunfish.

“After I caught a five-pound largemouth bass on my tenth cast with a four-inch watermelon-red-flake grub on a 1/8-ounce mushroom-style jig, I thought I was on to something, but caught only two more fish on that bait during the day. The rest of my fish were caught on a potpourri of Charlie Brewer’s Slider Company’s 1 1/2-inch Crappie/PanFish Grubs, 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company’s Zeros, and Zoom Bait Company’s Tiny Brush Hog. All of these baits were rigged on 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jigs. However, the fishing was pretty tough until I switched from finesse plastics to what I call finesse power baits. Then I caught the final 15 fish during the last two hours of the day on a Z-Man’s pearl Finesse ShadZ on a 3/16-ounce Lucky-E- Strike Scrounger and a silver No. 4 Rapala Shad Rap RS.

“The kickboat continues to be an excellent fishing platform. I was able to cover about 350 acres of the lake and countless miles of shoreline in it in 7 1/2 hours of fishing. I am also learning a lot about the conditions in which power-finesse baits can out fish finesse plastics. Between last fall and this spring, I have had three days when small crankbaits and the Scrounger outfished my traditional finesse offerings, and on all three occasions rocky shorelines were being pounded by moderately windy conditions and the sun was shining brightly. These conditions seem to activate predator fish feeding activity in my local reservoirs, and constitute good times to put down the 2 1/2-inch Zero and four-inch grub, which are my bread and butter baits, and fish faster.

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Don Baldridge of Springfield, Missouri, posted the following report about his June 1 outing with Barry Vanden Berg of Strafford, Missouri, at a 43,100-acre highland reservoir in the Ozarks.

The archives at Friendly Forecast Weather noted that the temperature in Springfield, Missouri, at 6:00 a.m. was 68 degrees and 82 degrees at 5:00 a.m. From midnight to 9:00 a.m. the sky was described as fair, and from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., it alternated from partly cloudy to overcast to mostly cloudy. The barometric pressure was 30.01 at 6:00 a.m., 30.04 at 9:00 a.m., and 29.90 at 3:00 p.m. The wind angled out of the south at 8 mph at 6:00 a.m., 15 mph at 9:00 a.m., gusting to 24 mph at noon, and 15 mph at 3:00 p.m. Baldridge described the weather as partly cloudy turning to completely overcast. The wind was out of the south and southeast at 5 to 15 mph.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 1:36 a.m. to 3:36 a.m. and 1:59 p.m. to 3:59 p.m. There was a minor period from 7:47 a.m. to 9:47 a.m. Baldridge and Vanden Berg fished from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The surface temperature was 75 degrees. Water level was normal. The water exhibited five to eight feet of clarity.

Baldridge wrote: “Pre-trip intelligence suggested the topwater bite was on. So our plan was to seek topwater fish early using jointed Cotton Cordell Red-Fins and Heddon Super Spook Jrs and switch to Midwest finesse rigs or the Varmint (2.5-inch Z-Man’s Fishing Products’ ZinkerZ on a 1/8-ounce button- head jig) if and when the bite waned. [Bill Beck of Kimberling City, Missouri, and other bass anglers around Springfield and Branson, Missouri, call the 2 1/2-inch-ZinkerZ-and-jig combo the Varmint or Little Varmint.]

“We found the topwater bite to be slow and almost non-existent. So being impatient, I switched to the Midwest finesse rig in a green-pumpkin/orange hue, and immediately started catching voluminous numbers of bass and primarily smallmouth bass. Although Barry continued to ply the waters with topwater lures and would periodically coax a hook up, he also threw the Midwest finesse rig in the watermelon color about half the time with excellent success.

“We fished rocky points and shorelines, all within one mile of the launch ramp. On points or rocky shorelines, the fish were near the bottom in roughly 10-15 feet of water. The rocky shorelines that seemed to hold the most fish were where the water depth was about 25 feet deep under the boat and the boat was situated about a cast and a half from the water’s edge.

“The presence or absence of submerged trees didn’t seem to matter much. The fish appeared to be in the 10-15 feet depth range and actively feeding on a diet of small crayfish, which they routinely coughed up at the boat.

“At the depth the fish were found, the 1/8-ounce button-head jig worked very well with the no-feel presentation. The best retrieve was the drag-and-deadstick presentation, and the second best one was the swim-glide-and-shake presentation. Numerous times the lure would not reach the bottom before a fish inhaled it and swam off. Bites were typically extremely light taps or nothing more than a feeling of weight on the line.

“Overall results were well over 50 largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass, and the bulk of them were smallmouth bass. A goodly number of them were 15 inches long or more. More than 40 of them were caught on our Midwest finesse rigs, and the others were caught on Barry’s topwater presentations. Barry also caught a large goggle eye and a large bluegill.”

Here is a link to a YouTube feature about this outing: http://youtu.be/DmfqZV538-A.

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Barry Vanden Berg of Straffford,  Missouri,  with a handsome Ozarks largemouth bass.

 

June 3 log

On May 21 Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and I spent five delightful hours fishing a 416-acre community reservoir, where we caught 45 smallmouth bass, 36 largemouth bass, six walleye, three crappie, three channel catfish, three freshwater drum, one rainbow trout, and a score or more of bluegill, green sunfish, and warmouth. Then at this reservoir on May 27 we struggled to catch 24 largemouth bass, six smallmouth bass, our walleye, three channel catfish, and two freshwater drum. On June 3, our struggles with this reservoir’s denizens continued.

The National Weather Service in Topeka, Kansas, reported that it was 71 degrees at 5:53 a.m. and 90 degrees at 2:53 p.m. It was cloudless at 8:53 a.m., mostly cloudy at 9:53 a.m., partly cloudy at 10:53 a.m., mostly cloudy at 11:53 a.m., partly cloudy at 12:53 p.m., and there were only a few clouds at 1:53 p.m. From 8:53 a.m. to 2:53 p.m., the wind angled out of the south from 6 to 14 mph, but from 3:53 p.m. to 6:53 p.m., it howled at 14 to 31 mph from the south. The barometric pressure was 29.98 at 8:53 a.m., 29.90 at 1:53 p.m., and 29.88 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 3:26 a.m. to 5:26 a.m. and 3:48 p.m. to 5:48 p.m. A minor period took place from 9:37 a.m. to 11:37 a.m. We fished from 9:20 a.m. to 2:20 p.m.

The water level looked to be about three feet below normal. At some locales, the water exhibited a clarity of five to six feet, and at other locales, the visibility was about two feet. The surface temperature ranged from 79 to 81 degrees. We were heartened to discover many patches of curly-leaf pondweed and some burgeoning patches of bushy pondweed at several locales in the upper reaches of this reservoir, and across the many years that we have fished this reservoir, this was the first time we have ever seen these two aquatic plants here. In our eyes and from our experiences, if these plants continue to flourish, they should help us catch more largemouth bass and smallmouth bass in the months and seasons to come, but to our chagrin, these aquatic plants didn’t pay us any dividends on our June 3 outing.

This outing was perplexing. We failed to catch largemouth and smallmouth bass where we thought we should catch them, and we caught some were we assumed we wouldn’t garner a strike. We failed to catch any largemouth bass and smallmouth bass on lures that we thought we would catch them on — such as a Z-Man’s Fishing Products’ Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle’s Mushroom Head Jig and a 3 3/4-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; these two combos inveigled 52 largemouth bass in two hours and five minutes at a nearby 195-acre community reservoir on May 30.

Across the five hours that we fished, Desch and I caught only 26 largemouth bass, six smallmouth bass, two channel catfish, two freshwater drum and one walleye.

Our four most effective baits were a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig; a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig; a shortened four-inch Z-Man PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a shortened four-inch Z-Man purple-haze Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

Ten of the largemouth bass and three smallmouth bass engulfed the bait on the initial drop. The bulk of them were caught by employing the drag-and-shake retrieve, and a few were inveigled by the swim-glide-and-shake presentation. Some were caught in one and a half feet of water, and the deepest water that we caught them in was about eight feet deep.

We saw several schools of what looked like to be small temperate bass feeding on the surface at the mouth of one of the feeder creeks, and we made a few casts at them, but we failed to garner a strike.

We extracted only one largemouth bass from three of this reservoir’s best offshore lairs, and these offshore spots failed to yield a smallmouth, but we failed to land a hefty fish that exhibited the mannerisms of a smallmouth bass. The lower half of the reservoir yielded all six of the smallmouth bass and six of the largemouth bass. Five of the six largemouth bass were caught along rocky shorelines and riprap shorelines, and the six smallmouth bass were caught on the same terrains.

Twenty of the largemouth bass were caught in the upper third portions of the reservoir, and some of the lairs that yielded these largemouth bass were so shallow that the boat was floating in 1 1/2 to two feet of water. Some of the largemouth bass were abiding around logs, stumps, and laydowns. Some inhabited shallow rock-laden terrains. Two were associated with pieces of metal.

Only one of the largemouth bass exhibited any spawning scars. Twenty –five of the largemouth bass and all six of the smallmouth bass looked as if they hadn’t spawned.

In sum, Desch and I are mystified by the goings on of this reservoir’s largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. Fourteen days ago, they were easy for us to locate and catch. Since then, we have fished nine hours and caught 17 fewer largemouth bass and smallmouth bass than we caught in five hours on May 21.

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One of the 30 bass that Steve Desch and I caught on June 3.

Endnote to June 3 log:

After we filed our June 3 log on the Finesse News Network, Casey Kidder of Topeka, Kansas, posted a note, saying that he and a friend fished the same reservoir on June 1 that Desch and I fished on June 3, and they were as befuddled by this reservoir’s largemouth bass and smallmouth bass as Desch and I were.

Kidder wrote: “I also fished this community reservoir the evening of June 1 with a friend. We had to hide from the late afternoon wind to start, but it gradually died down. The bite was still perplexing, but it was still a nice, relaxing outing with a good friend. To compound matters, I had forgotten all of my Z-Man baits in the garage; so I felt handicapped from the start. We had about 20 bass, up to 15 inches, a couple of nice warmouth, one little walleye, and two channel catfish. I fished a Tightlines three-inch UV green craw and a 2 1/2- inch tube. Allen fished with a watermelon generic Senko. All of our baits were rigged on 1/16-ounce Gopher jigs.

Water clarity was surprisingly clear in some areas, but we did notice a greenish tinge to the water; so the clarity may be short lived. We were disappointed not to tangle with any big ones, but I did have a larger smallmouth try to steal a bait from a hooked largemouth close to the boat. That was exciting to see.”

June 4 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following report about his June 4 outing.

He wrote” “I made a 50-mile sojourn to a 21,671-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s flatland reservoir on the far eastern perimeter of Dallas, where I joined Ralph Manns of Rowlett, Texas. Ralph and I fished this reservoir on May 21, and during that five hour and 15 minute endeavor, we tangled with 22 largemouth bass.

“The afternoon of June 4 was bright and sunny with partly cloudy skies. The National Weather service recorded the morning low temperature at 74 degrees and the afternoon high reached a very hot and humid 95 degrees with a heat-index of 100 degrees. A pesky wind quartered out of the southeast at 15 to 25 miles per hour. The barometric pressure was steady at 29.87.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the optimum fishing period would occur between 4:38 p.m. and 6:38 p.m. We executed our first casts at 3:00 p.m. and completed our final casts at nightfall, which occurred at 9:04 p.m.

“We spent the afternoon and evening dodging the irksome wind by meandering around a large marina situated along the east shoreline of this reservoir. The water was stained and exhibited about one and a half feet of visibility. The water’s temperature was 84 degrees, and the water level was 7.30 feet below normal. We utilized Ralph’s eight-foot boat, which allowed us to explore the abundant shallow rocky areas and narrow passageways between the docks and shorelines that larger boats are unable to navigate.

“Today was an experimental day, as we concentrated on shady, snag-infested areas along three concrete seawalls, underneath seven covered boat docks, and along three long concrete, rock, and steel-rebar jetties. We began the afternoon targeting concrete boulders, several rusty metal pipes, and a brush pile positioned along an east-side concrete seawall. Ralph coaxed two largemouth bass into striking a Zoom Bait Company’s green-pumpkin Trick Worm (which is a floating worm) that was nose-hooked on an Owner’s No.1 weedless wacky-rig hook, and he slowly twitched it across the surface of the water next to the seawall. I started off using a four-inch Charlie Brewer Slider Company’s watermelon red/black/copper flake Slider worm Texas-rigged on Brewer’s black 1/16-ounce Spider Slider Head jig, and it failed to garner a strike with a slow lift-and-drop presentation, which the late Charlie Brewer of Lawrence, Tennessee, described as the pull n’ drop retrieve. These two bass were extracted from about two feet of water. “We then ambled over to a nearby row of covered boat docks. Ralph began pitching a Texas-rigged 6 1/4-inch Berkley Havoc green-pumpkin Bottom Hopper worm around the boat slips and slowly worked it along the bottom with a lift and drop technique. I continued using the four-inch Slider worm but changed my presentation from a slow lift and drop scheme to a slow do-nothing swim retrieve. I enticed one largemouth bass that was suspended just underneath the port-side of a docked boat that was floating in nine feet of water. Ralph was unable to coax any strikes with the 6 1/4-inch green pumpkin worm.

“After we finished fishing around the covered boat docks, we made our way westward to the west side of the marina, where we probed a series of craggy jetties, consisting of rocks, large boulders, pieces of concrete and steel rebar. In addition, a large rock pile occupied a sandy flat just east of one of the jetties, and this rock pile was covered with about three feet of water. We caught a few largemouth bass along the jetties, and they were in less than three feet of water and relating to the narrow openings between the rocks, boulders, pieces of concrete and twisted rebar. We quickly learned that if our baits landed more than a foot away from the narrow openings between the rocks and boulders, we would not get a bite.

“The most productive area was the rock pile. Ralph caught several largemouth bass on the 6 1/4-inch green-pumpkin Havoc worm and a four-inch Gary Yamamoto Bait Company’s watermelon-with-black-and-gold- flake Senko with a dyed chartreuse tail, which was nose-hooked on an Owner’s size 1 weedless wacky-rig hook. Ralph utilized the same slow lift-and-drop presentation he used around the boat docks earlier in the afternoon. I beguiled several largemouth bass with a four inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ , which was nose-hooked on a drop-shot rig. The drop- shot rig consisted of a Tru-Turn No. 1 Stand-Out Drop Shot hook with a 15-inch leader extending below the hook. A Bass Pro Shops 1/8-ounce cylindrical swivel drop-shot weight was clipped onto the end of the leader. I worked the drop-shot rigged Finesse WormZ in a slow drag and deadstick manner, much like one would use with a Carolina-rigged plastic bait. And periodically, I would subtly shake the worm during the deadstick portion of the retrieve.

“Next, we examined a shallow rock ledge along a concrete seawall just north of the rock pile. Ralph continued to utilize the four-inch Senko, but also experimented with a couple of Rapala diving crankbaits, a Z-Man’s black chatterbait, and a topwater chugger-style lure. I experimented with the four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ Texas-rigged on a Brewer’s 1/16-ounce Slider jig, and a four-inch Zoom Bait Company’s Red Bug Finesse worm Texas-rigged on a Brewer’s 1/16-ounce Slider jig. Ralph caught one bass on the Senko bait, and I caught two largemouth bass on the Zoom Red Bug Finesse worm. I had one bass strike at the drop-shot rigged Z-Man’s green pumpkin Finesse WormZ, but I missed the fish on the hook set. The crankbaits, chatterbait, and topwater lure failed to trigger a strike.

“As the afternoon transitioned into the twilight hours of evening, we concentrated on one jetty with a long rocky point extending from its east end. The top of the point was covered with two feet of water, and this point extended out into about 10 feet of water. We employed the Texas-rigged Zoom Red Bug Finesse worms and a four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ Texas-rigged on a Brewer’s 1/8-ounce Slider jig. We caught several largemouth bass from the deep-water end of the point and the north side of the point. Ralph caught a 23-inch largemouth bass that weighed six pounds, two-ounces. All of these fish were relating to the point in four to six feet of water. We presented our baits with a lift-and-drop retrieve.

“At about 8:53 p.m., the evening light began fading into nightfall. We plied a series of shallow ledges that were situated along a concrete seawall just north of the boat ramp where we launched, and these ledges where covered with two to four feet of water. We made short pitch casts down the seawall and along the ledges next to the seawall. We landed an occasional bass on the Zoom Red Bug Finesse Worm and the Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ and presented with a slow lift-and-drop retrieve.

“All totaled, we caught 27 largemouth bass, three large bluegills, and one flathead catfish. All but three of the largemouth bass were 12 inches or larger, with the majority measuring between 14 and 17 inches. We spent most of our time concentrating on small openings in numerous snag-infested areas, which dictated the use of weedless lures, which prevented me from using the Gopher jig with an exposed hook that I normally employ. In the more open areas, I worked with a drop-shot rig, and Ralph employed diving crankbaits, a black chatterbait, and a topwater lure. We managed to catch a largemouth bass from a shallow-water lair here and there, but it wasn’t until the twilight-hour bite materialized before we caught a significant number of largemouth bass. The Texas -rigged Z-Man, Zoom, and Charlie Brewer’s finesse worms were the most fruitful offerings during this outing; they allured 12 largemouth bass, two large bluegill, and one flathead catfish. The drop-shot rigged four-inch Z-man’s green-pumpkin finesse WormZ allured eight largemouth bass and one large bluegill; the nose-hooked weedless Senko garnered five largemouth bass, and the nose-hooked weedless floating worm caught two. The diving crankbaits, black chatterbait, and topwater chugger lure failed to draw any strikes. The slow lift-and-drop presentation was the most productive presentation.

Endnotes for June 4 log:

Here’s Reideler’s description of the lift-and-drop retrieve.

“It is one of three retrieve techniques that the late Charlie Brewer of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, described in his book, ‘Charlie Brewer on Slider Fishin’. Brewer called it the pull n’ drop technique, which he accomplished by casting a four-inch plastic worm that was Texas-rigged on a 1/16-ounce Spider Slider Head and he let it to sink to the bottom on a slack line. After the bait reached to the bottom, he reeled up the slack line without moving the bait, and he kept his rod at about the 10:00 o’clock position. When the line was taut to the bait, he slowly pulled his rod tip up from the 10:00 o’clock position to the 12:oo o’clock position, then he took about two to four seconds to slowly drop the rod tip back to the 10:00 o’clock position. The upward pull or lift of the rod slowly lifted the bait off the bottom, and then it glided back to the bottom. This procedure was repeated until his lure was past the cover or structure holding fish. Brewer said this technique should be performed smoothly and rhythmically without imparting any shakes, twitches or jerks. If wind, swift current, or deep water is a problem, Brewer suggested moving up to a 1/8- or 1/4-ounce Spider head. But generally, Brewer recommended using the lightest weight possible for the conditions. Brewer also explained that this technique can be performed by simply keeping the rod tip at 10 o’clock and turning the reel handle once or twice, and then executing a pause to allow the bait to glide back to the bottom, which is similar to the traditional Midwest finesse presentation called the hop-and-bounce retrieves. Midwest finesse anglers, however, often shake the bait during the hop-and-bounce retrieve. But Brewer favored the do-nothing approach to his pull n’ drop retrieve.”

June 5 log

It is finesse worm time again at the flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas. For years on end, this has been a regular phenomenon in early June.
John Reese of Lawrence, Kansas, was going to join me for an outing at a 100-acre community reservoir that lies in the southwest suburbs of Kansas City. But Mother Nature tossed one of her proverbial monkey wrenches into those plans by whacking northeastern Kansas with a series of thunderstorms that dropped 0.99 inches of rain and an east and southeast wind that roared at more than 41 mph, causing an untold number of trees to topple.

After the wind subsided and the storms skedaddled, I made a short solo trip to a nearby 195-acre community reservoir.

In addition to recording the speed of wind and amount of rain, the National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, noted that it was 68 degrees at 9:52 a.m. and 82 degrees at 4:52 p.m. The sky was virtually cloudless from 11:52 a.m. to 2:52 p.m. Around 3:52 p.m., a few clouds reappeared, and then it alternated from being mostly cloudy to being overcast into the evening hours. From 1:52 p.m. to 4:52 p.m., the wind fluctuated from being variable to angling out of the east and then out of the southeast at 3 to 8 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.84 at 7:52 a.m.; 30.03 at 9:52 a.m.; 29.66 at 10:52 a.m.; and 29.84 at 1:52 p.m. So far this month, 2.48 inches of rain have fallen at the NWS office in Lawrence.

The recent rains have caused the water level to increase a tad, but it is still about a foot below normal. As the water level has increased, the water clarity has decreased. Around some areas, the visibility was less than two feet, but around the dam, the water exhibited about four feet of visibility. The surface temperature ranged from 80 to 82 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing occurred from 4:56 a.m. to 6:56 a.m. and 5:17 p.m. to 7:17 p.m. A minor period occurred from 11:07 p.m. to 1:07 a.m. I fished from 2:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

On June 3, Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and I found that the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass at a nearby 416-acre community reservoir began to display a fondness for a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. On my June 5 outing, I wanted to see how many largemouth bass I could catch in an hour and a half with this rig. Throughout the entire 90 minutes, it was the only rig that I used.

I also stayed in the lower-quarter portions of this reservoir. I avoided fishing any areas that were endowed with patches of curly-leaf pondweed, which was beginning to wilt. In years past, we have discovered that vast numbers of largemouth bass in this reservoir tend to reside around rocky lairs that are situated a long distance from these patches of wilting and dying curly-leaf pondweed. So, I focused only on rocky shorelines and points that were devoid of curly-leaf pondweeds.

I quickly fished three main-lake points, which are rock laden and have deep-water nearby. I fished about 250 feet of the rocky shorelines inside one cove and one feeder-creek arm; these shorelines had a 45-degree slope, and they were graced with a few patches of American water willows. I fished about 75 feet of a bluff at the mouth of the small feeder creek arm. I rapidly fished 75 feet of a rocky main-lake shoreline. And I fished about 60 percent of the dam, which is a massive rock structure.

I caught 12 largemouth bass along the two rocky shorelines inside the cove; seven of them were inhabiting the shallow water around some patches of American water willows.

I failed to catch a largemouth bass on the three main-lake points and along the 75 feet of the rocky main-lake shoreline.

In the small feeder-creek arm, I caught six largemouth bass along its bluff, and I caught seven largemouth bass along its rocky shoreline and a few feet of its American water willows. Along that rocky shoreline in the feeder-creek arm, I also tangled with a humongous channel catfish, which looked to weigh at least 15 pounds. After I battled it for five minutes, I estimated that it might take me another five minutes to tame it to the point that I could remove the jig-and-worm combo from its jaw. Because I had only 30 minutes more to fish for largemouth bass, I sorrowfully elected to break the line and tie on another shortened four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

I spent the last 25 minutes plying the dam, where I caught 16 largemouth bass.

In sum, I caught 41 largemouth bass in 90 minutes. Part of that time was consumed with that goliath of a channel catfish, and I also spent a few minutes chatting with a pair of veteran Midwest finesse anglers who had been fishing many of the same areas that I fished since 11:15 a.m.
Seventeen of the largemouth bass and the channel catfish engulfed the Finesse WormZ and Gopher jig on its initial fall. Twenty-three of them were bewitched by the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Some were caught in water as shallow as a foot and a half, while the others were caught in three to six feet of water.

June 6 log

What a difference a day and a lake make.

On June 5, I fished for 90 minutes and caught 41 largemouth bass at a 195-acre community reservoir. On June 6, my cousin Rick Heberstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I fished for 245 minutes and struggled to catch 36 largemouth bass at a 100-acre community reservoir that lies about 30 miles east of the reservoir that I fished on June 5.

The National Weather Service at Olathe, Kansas, noted that it was 62 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 75 degrees at 2:53 p.m. It was foggy from 5:53 a.m. to 8:53 a.m. From 9:53 a.m. to 1:53 p.m., the sky alternated from being partly cloudy to mostly cloudy to being cluttered with just a few clouds. Between 8:53 a.m. and 1:53 p.m., the wind angled out of the northeast, east, and southeast at 5 to 10 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.93 at 8:53 a.m., climbing to 29.98 at 9:53 a.m., 10:53 a.m., and 11:53 a.m., and dropping to 29.97 at 12:53 p.m. and 29.95 at 1:53 p.m.

The water level was several inches above normal. At some locales in the lower portions of the reservoir, the water exhibited 4 1/2 feet of visibility, and in the upper reaches of the reservoir, the visibility decreased to 2 1/2 feet and less. The surface temperature was 79 degrees. Some of the patches of American water willows had more than two feet of water covering their roots, but we did notice that a homeowner had ripped out a patch of water willows that graced the water’s edge along his yard, and this big patch of water willows was drifting on the surface along the dam. The reservoir’s coontail patches were thick, handsome, flourishing, and covering many square yards of the underwater terrain. Filamentous algae covered the surface in the back portions of several coves, and small pods of it floated along the surface at many locales.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred from 5:37 a.m. to 7:37 a.m. and 5:59 p.m. to 7:59 p.m. There was a minor period from 11:26 a.m. to 1:26 p.m. We fished from 9:40 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.

Throughout the outing, we could not find a substantial pattern regarding the bait to use, the type of lairs to focus upon, and presentation to employ. But as we were executing our last casts, we quickly analyzed and summarized our outing, and we concluded that more than half of the largemouth bass were caught in the upper half of the reservoir. In fact, the closer we got to the dam, the more we struggled to generate a strike from this reservoir’s largemouth bass. (It is interesting to note that all 41 of the largemouth bass that I caught on June 5 were caught along the dam and in the lower third portions of the reservoir.)

We caught five largemouth bass by swimming, gliding and shaking a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rigged on either a chartreuse 1/32- or 1/16-ounce Gopher jig around the coontail patches and edges of the American water willows.

A few of the largemouth bass were caught while we deadsticked a shortened four-inch Z-Man PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and these largemouth bass were extracted from four to six feet of water along rocky terrains that were many feet from the water’s edge or the outside edges of the American water willows.

Some of the largemouth bass were caught by dragging and shaking either a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a shortened four-inch Z-Man PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig around the outside edges of the American water willows and along some rocky and steep shoreline. Others were caught on the initial drop of the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher or a shortened four-inch Z-Man PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

Traditionally, we usually tangle with a goodly number of largemouth bass along this reservoir’s dam in June, but to our dismay, the luxuriant patches of American water willows along the dam, and its steep and rocky terrain, which is also graced with some patches of coontail, yielded only two largemouth bass.

What’s more, this reservoir’s offshore humps, which are normally fruitful in June, failed to yield a largemouth bass; these humps often yield an accidental saugeye or two in June, but not on this outing. And we were unable to catch a largemouth bass at several other lairs that used to be bountiful lairs in June.
One of the virtues of Midwest finesse fishing is that during those spells when the largemouth bass fishing is trying in June is that we can usually be entertained a touch by tangling with an array of handsome and hefty bluegill, green sunfish, and warmouth. And we were entertained by those beautiful creatures on this trying largemouth bass outing on June 6.

We spent a little time wielding a four-inch watermelon-red-flake grub on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig over the top of some of the coontail patches, and it failed to garner a strike. But in retrospect, we should have spent a lot more time exploring this reservoir’s massive flats that are covered with coontail with a grub and a Finesse ShadZ. In fact, Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, reported in an e-mail on June 6 that he fished at a 540-acre community reservoir in southeastern Kansas recently, and his co-angler dissected the aquatic vegetation with a six-inch Big Bite Baits’ six-inch Trick Stick rigged wacky style on a Flick-A-Jig. He retrieved this rig by swimming and fluttering it across the top of the vegetation, and according to Frazee, this tactic waylaid the largemouth bass. Frazee said that he will try this tactic around the massive patches of coontail and bushy pondweed that grace the 120-acre community reservoir that he regularly fishes and reports about on the Finesse News Network. And in his future reports, he will note the effectiveness of this rig. But Frazee was waylaid while he was fishing in Texas by a perforated appendix. After the operation, he was in the hospital for five days. Now he suspects that the next time that he will be fishing will be down the road a piece.

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Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, with one of the 36 largemouth bass that we caught on June 6.

Endnotes to June 6 log:

Steve Deasch of Topeka, Kansas, reported that blue-green alga is plaguing Milford Lake and several other Kansas reservoirs. Here’s a link to one newspaper story: http://www.ccenterdispatch.com/news/article_7585ddf0-ed95-11e3-9bb2-0017a43b2370.html.

June 8 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his outing with his wife, Yan, to a 160-acre state reservoir of June 8.

The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, reported that it was 61 degrees at 5:52 a.m., 72 degrees at 1:53 p.m., and 77 degrees at 4:52 p.m. The wind angled out of the north at 7 mph at 6:52 a.m., out of the northeast at 7 mph at 7:52 a.m., out of the east at 8 mph at 8:52 a.m., out of the northeast at 6 mph at 9:52 a.m., out of the northeast at 3 mph at 10:52 a.m., it was calm at 11:52 a.m., and out of the southeast at 6 mph at 12:52 p.m. (Gum noted, however, that there was a southeasterly wind when they began their outing at 7:00 a.m., and then it gradually became a very light wind that angled out of the south.) The barometric pressure was 30.02 at 6:52 a.m., 30.06 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.01 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing occurred from 7:02 a.m. to 9:02 a.m., and Gum and his wife fished from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The surface temperature was 77 degrees. The water clarity was 3 1/2 feet. The water level looked to be about six feet below normal, and scores of small sycamore trees are growing along the old shorelines where the patches of American water willows used to flourish.

Gum wrote: “We focused our fishing mostly along the riprap along the dam, rocky shorelines, rocky humps, and patches of coontail in the back ends of the coves. We caught largemouth bass at all of these locations.

“We fished several rocky humps that had extensive patches of curly-leaf pondweed on them, and we failed to draw a strike on these humps.

“We primarily used the 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company’s green-pumpkin/red- flake Zero on a blood-red 1/6-ounce Gopher jig, Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a blood-red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blood-red Gopher jig. Occasionally, we worked with a four-inch Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits’ green-pumpkin/red-flake Hula Grub on a black 1/8-ounce Gopher jig.

“In all we caught 59 fish: 55 largemouth bass, two bluegill, one channel catfish, and one green sunfish. Most of our fish were caught by using the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and the shake was an occasional one. We caught several fish along the edges of the coontail patches in seven to nine feet of water by simply dragging our baits on the bottom in and around the sparse edges of the coontail patches.”

June 9 log

From May 29 to June 9, we fished six times at four small flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas. During these outings, the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishing at times has been perplexing and lackluster. What’s more, the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass have exhibited a radical divergence of tastes for the Midwest finesse baits that we normally employed. And on June 9, the divergence was the most radical of them all. During this about-face outing, Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas and I discovered that the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass at a 416-acre community reservoir exhibited a preference for a 2 3/4-inch Junebug tube affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig. Before this outing, Desch had caught only a couple largemouth bass and smallmouth bass on a finesse tube during the first five months of 2014, and the tube had been so ineffective that I had not used one since September of 2013. But on this outing the majority of the 52 largemouth bass and smallmouth bass that we caught were beguiled by a 2 3/4-inch Junebug tube affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig.

In fact, I failed to garner a strike on three traditional Midwest finesse baits that had been extremely effective on recent outings. Those baits were a 3 1/4-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, 3 1/4-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-red-flake Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a shorten four-inch Z-Man purple-haze Finesse WormZ on either a red or a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Likewise, Desch failed to elicit a strike on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig.

For several weeks throughout a calendar year, our largemouth bass and smallmouth bass will relish a small tube more than any of our other offerings. But we have never been able to determine when and where it will occur. Thus one of us has to periodically experiment with a finesse tube. Some years this phenomenon erupts for a week or so in late May or early June when the channel catfish spawn commences. Some years, it will also occur in either July or August. There are also some September tube eruptions. What makes this phenomenon perplexing is that it doesn’t happen at all of the reservoirs even though they lie in close proximity to one another.

Here is a description of how Desch and my outing unfolded on June 9:

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 7:46 a.m. to 9:46 a.m. We fished from 9:30 a.m. to 1:35 p.m.

The National Weather Service in Topeka, Kansas, noted that it was 61 degrees at 3:52 a.m., 72 degrees at 1:52 p.m., and 69 degrees at 2:52 p.m. At 8:52 a.m., the sky became covered with clouds, and around 2:00 p.m., it began to rain substantially for hours on end, dropping about a quarter to a half of an inch an hour at some locales across northeastern Kansas, and by 7:00 a.m. on June 10, the rain gauge in one of our gardens on the south side of our yard in Lawrence, Kansas, had collected four inches of rain. The wind angled out of the east at 9 mph at 8:52 a.m., increased to 13 mph at 11:52 a.m., and increased again at 1:52 p.m. to 16 mph with gusts hitting 24 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.84 at 8:52 p.m., 29.79 at 12:52 p.m., and 29.75 at 1:52 p.m. At times, Desch and I thought the wind was peskier than 9 to 13 mph. Therefore, we employed a drift sock to tame its adverse effects on our abilities to control the boat and execute effective retrieves.

The water level was about two feet below normal. In the upper reaches of the reservoir, the water exhibited less than two feet of visibility, and in its lower end, the visibility was more than four feet at many locales that were not windblown. It is interesting to note that on May 21 and 27, the water clarity at this reservoir was the clearest that Desch and I had ever seen it, and on this June 9 outing, it was clearer than it normally is in June. The surface temperature was 76 degrees, which was significantly cooler than it was on June 3. The patches of bushy pondweed are expanding, and this reservoir’s massive patches of American water willows had a bit more water covering their roots than they had on June 3.

We caught a largemouth bass on the initial drop of the bait on the first cast of the outing. This bass engulfed a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, and it was situated in extremely shallow water on a rocky and laydown-laden secondary point inside a feeder-creek arm on the east side of the reservoir. Along three shallow and rocky shorelines inside this feeder-creek arm, we caught two smallmouth bass and six more largemouth bass. These eight fish were extracted from two to three feet of water; they were associated with laydowns, American water willows, a metal contraption, and rocks. Two of these bass were caught on a shorten four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce jig, and six were caught on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. These baits were retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

After we finished fishing the three shallow shorelines inside the east-feeder creek arm, we fished a long submerged rock fence, which was covered with three to five feet of water and surrounded by deep water. It is located on the east side of the main body of this reservoir, and it was sheltered from the wind. We caught six largemouth bass and three smallmouth bass. Five of them were caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce jig, three were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, and one was caught on a 2 3/4-inch Junebug tube affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig. These baits were retrieved with a hop-and-bounce presentation that was highlighted with some shakes, and whenever one of our baits became snagged around the rocks, we executed some extreme line-strumming shakes and jerks, which allured one largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass.

The third area fished was a shallow, wind-sheltered, rock-laden and sunken-barrel-laden shoreline adjacent to the offshore rock fence. This shoreline is also endowed with a long but shallow patch of American water willows. It yielded only two smallmouth bass. One was caught on the shortened four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce jig, and the other was caught on the 2 3/4-inch Junebug tube affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig. These baits were retrieved with the swim-glide-and-shake presentation. Both of these fish were caught many yards off the shoreline in about three feet of water.
Our fourth stop of the outing was a flat shoreline inside a cove on the west side of the reservoir, and it was windblown. This shoreline is endowed with two tiny secondary points, 25 yards of riprap, and a long stretch of very shallow American water willows. The entire terrain is rocky and occasionally littered with a massive boulder and a sunken-barrel. (We suspect that the sunken barrels were scattered around this reservoir to create haunts for channel catfish to spawn in.) This shoreline yielded two largemouth bass. One was caught by deadsticking the 2 3/4-inch Junebug tube affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig in four feet of water, and the other was caught on the shortened four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce jig with the swim-glide-and-shake presentation in front of the American water willows.

The fifth spot that we fished was a main-lake point and long main-lake shoreline on the west side of the reservoir, and it was extremely windblown. The entire shoreline is rock. Half of it is shallow or flat, and the other half is steep. We caught four largemouth bass and two smallmouth bass along the shoreline and nothing on the main-lake point. The Junebug tube and a swim-glide-and shake retrieve inveigled them.

Our sixth stop consisted of a main-lake point and 400 yards of shoreline. The point and shoreline are rocky. Some the rocks are long, flat, and table-like, some are boulders, some are football and softball size, and some are gravel. This area is enhanced by stumps, laydowns, and patches of American water willows and bushy pondweed. Some of it is steep and relatively deep. Some of it is shallow and flat. The deeper areas yielded only one largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass. The shallower locales yielded nine largemouth bass. Four of those 11 were caught on the shorten four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce jig, and the rest were caught on the Junebug tube. The shallow ones were caught on the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve in two to three feet of water. The deeper ones were caught on a hop-and-bounce retrieve in five to six feet of water.

The seventh stop of the outing was a flat and very shallow main-lake point on the east side of the reservoir. It is embellished with some riprap, a steel retaining wall, and some American water willows. The riprap yielded one largemouth bass, and the steel retaining wall yielded one largemouth bass. Both of the largemouth bass engulfed the shortened four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce jig on the initial drop.

The first three areas that we fished were in the lower third portions of the reservoir, and the next four that we fished were in the upper regions of the reservoir. The last area that we fished was along the dam and a short segment of the shorelines on the east and west sides of the dam. This vast expanse of water produced six largemouth bass and four smallmouth bass. Seven of them were caught on the Junebug tube, two were caught on 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, and one was caught on a shorten four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce jig. Two of them were caught around a massive laydown on the initial drop of the bait. The rest were caught around rocks in two to six feet of water, and they were allured by either the hop-and-drop or the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

In total, we caught 38 largemouth bass, 14 smallmouth bass, four freshwater drum and two black crappie. To our surprise, we failed to inadvertently tangle with a channel catfish, which usually occurs when the Junebug tube is the dominate bait during the channel catfish spawning season.
As we ended this outing, Desch and I remarked that we were curious and eager to see how long the Junebug-tube bite would prevail. But Mother Nature might have put a significant damper on our piscatorial pursuits for a spell. Since 2011, northeastern Kansas has been plagued by a drought, but as of June 10, many of the feeder-creeks that course into our flatland reservoirs are more than brim full and extremely muddy. We fear that she has fouled our fishing for a week or more.

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Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, with one of the 52 bass that we caught on June 9.

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Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his June 9 outing.

He wrote: “I made a solo excursion to a local 21,280-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir that lies along the northern city limits of Lewisville, Texas.

“The day started off cloudy and wet, with rain squalls beginning around 2:00 a.m. and continuing off and on throughout the day until about 2:30 p.m. At about 3:00 p.m., the clouds broke up and the sun began shining brightly. I was delighted that the storms brought much needed rain to the area, as well as cooling down the hot daytime temperatures from the mid-90s to 80 degrees. They also alleviated the high humidity levels that have annoyed north-central Texans for many days.

“The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 65 degrees and the afternoon high reached a comfortable 80 degrees. The wind quartered out of the southwest at 10 to 15 miles per hour. The barometric pressure measured 29.75.

“I was afloat from 11:25 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. I spent 45 minutes sitting idle underneath a covered boat slip while waiting out a thunderstorm that erupted at about 1:30 p.m. and lasted to about 2:15 p.m. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicted the best fishing periods would take place from 7:52 a.m. to 9:52 a.m., 8:17 p.m. to 10:17 p.m., and a minor period would occur from 1:39 a.m. to 3:39 a.m.

“I prepared my four spinning rods with the following baits: a four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ rigged on a purple 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin/orange ZinkerZ-spin affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; and a 2 3/4-inch Strike King Lure Company’s green-pumpkin Bitsy Tube on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

“The water was murkier than usual as a consequence of the rain. It exhibited about one foot of visibility. The water temperature was 80 degrees and the water level was 7.73 feet below normal pool.

“I elected to fish the entrances and mid-sections of two marinas situated in the southwestern tributary arm of this reservoir. I wanted to stay close to cover and not get caught out on the main lake if more storms developed during the afternoon. The largemouth bass and spotted bass were mostly scattered along steep rocky banks, one secondary point, and a long rock and clay channel bank in two to four feet of water.

“I last fished this reservoir on May 23, and during that trying four-hour endeavor, I eked out 11 largemouth bass, four spotted bass, three large bluegills, and one freshwater drum. On this June 9 foray, the fishing continued to be slow and tedious, and I struggled to catch 10 spotted bass, seven largemouth bass, one white bass, and one large bluegill. After the rain stopped, the sun popped out around 3:00 p.m., and what little bass bite that existed before the storm erupted became nonexistent after it subsided. There was no dominate bait. Z-Man’s 2 1/2-inch green-pumpkin/orange ZinkerZ-spin enticed seven spotted bass and one largemouth bass. The four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ inveigled four largemouth bass, two spotted bass, one white bass, and one large bluegill. Strike King’s green-pumpkin Bitsy Tube allured one largemouth bass and one spotted bass, and the Junebug Finesse ShadZ attracted one largemouth bass. Twelve bass, one white bass, and one bluegill where found scattered along the long, steep channel bank. The other five bass were caught off one rocky secondary point.

“I worked the ZinkerZ-spin, Finesse WormZ, and Finesse ShadZ in a slow swim-glide-shake manner, and this proved to be the most fruitful presentation. The Strike King Bitsy Tube was employed with a hop-and-bounce retrieve.”

June 11 log

Many areas across northeastern Kansas received from two to more than four inches of rain on June 9 and 10. Thus, for the first time in a long time, some of the waterways that grace northeastern Kansas’ countryside are brimming with water. For instance, 37,000 cubic feet of water per second are coursing down the Kansas River at Desoto, Kansas; its normal long-term-median flow is 8,470 cfs. The water level at Perry Lake, Kansas, jumped to 3.63 feet above normal, and the water level at Milford Lake, Kansas, quickly climbed to 3.37 feet above normal. Likewise, the water levels at many of the smaller flatland reservoirs, which have been affected by the drought that began in 2011, have risen to normal or above normal water levels.

In addition to the increase in the water levels, the water clarity, which had been abnormally clear throughout the spring of 2014 — exhibiting six feet or more visibility at some locales — has become stained.

Dramatic changes in the water levels and clarity usually confounds anglers in northeastern Kansas for several days or more. For instance, Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas reported that a walleye-fishing friend of his enjoyed a stellar outing on June 9 at a 4,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir, but when he returned on June 10, the reservoir’s water level was climbing from an elevation of 972.82 feet to 977.16 feet, and he failed to garner a bite. Desch said this angler knows every walleye nook and cranny at this reservoir, and if he can’t get a walleye to bite, conditions are extremely awry.

Desch’s comments motivated me to see what had transpired with the water at a nearby 195-acre community reservoir and how the change affected its largemouth bass. When I fished this reservoir of June 5, the water level was about a foot below normal, the water clarity ranged from two to four feet of visibility, and I caught 41 largemouth bass in 90 minutes. On June 11, when I arrived at the boat ramp, I immediately noticed that the water level was more than a foot above normal, and the clarity had diminished considerably. What’s more, I was astonished to see six boat trailers in the parking lot at the boat ramp, and in my eyes, there were too many anglers fishing these 195 acres of riled-up water.

So, I drove another 22 miles to the southwest, where I hoped to explore and fish a 140-acre state reservoir. As I drove, I noticed that the green wheat fields had become a russet hue within a 24-hour spell, the corn stalks were nearly hip high, and some roadways were littered with untold numbers of hackberry butterflies; these sights provoked me to reflect how quickly things can change. When I arrived at the boat ramp, there was only one boat trailer in the parking lot, and it belonged to a bass angler who had just put his boat on the trailer. I talked to him for a few minutes, and he told me that he had fished for about four hours and caught 11 largemouth bass by employing a variety of power tactics. He also uttered a few disparaging words about anglers who use what he called tiny plastic worms, saying that such tactics kill and injure too many largemouth bass. Of course, he didn’t know that I was a tiny plastic worm aficionado, and I didn’t tell him that I was. I merely smiled and wished him a good day.

The National Weather Service in Topeka, Kansas, indicated that the temperature was 56 degrees at 4:52 a.m. and 81 degrees at 3:52 p.m. The wind angled out of the east at 6 mph at 10:52 a.m., it was calm at 11:52 a.m., it whispered out of the southwest at 6 mph at 12:52 p.m., and it blew out of the southeast at 9 mph at 1:52 p.m. The sun was shining brightly everywhere. The barometric pressure was 29.86 at 10:52 a.m. and 29.84 at 1:52 p.m.

Traditionally, this reservoir isn’t as adversely affected by heavy rains as other nearby reservoirs are, and that was the case this time. The water level, which had been several feet low for several years, looked to be nearly normal. The surface temperature was 76 degrees. The water clarity was six inches at a few locales, but around most areas the water exhibited two to more than three feet of visibility. For the first time in many months, the scores of American water willow patches that ring this reservoir were standing in water.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing took place at 9:35 a.m. to 11:35 a.m. I fished from 11:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.

I spent 135 minutes fishing nearly all of the newly flooded American water willow patches that border the west shoreline from the dam into the back portions of this reservoir’s northwest feeder-creek arm. And I caught 42 largemouth bass around the outside edges of those American water willow patches by using a 2 3/4-inch Junebug tube affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig that was inserted into the tube. In addition to the massive patches of American water willows, there are seven riprap jetties along this shoreline. Two of those seven jetties yielded a largemouth bass, and both of those bass were inveigled by the Junebug tube. A shortened Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ caught one largemouth bass around a patch of American water willows. All 45 of these largemouth bass were caught in two to four feet of water by executing the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

I spent about 10 minutes fishing a main-lake point and both shorelines that are adjacent to the tip of the point. The point and its adjacent shorelines are graced with American water willows, and the outside edges of the water willows yielded four largemouth bass, which were caught on the Junebug tube with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

I spent five minutes probing a short span of American water willows along the east shoreline of the northwest feeder-creek arm, and the Junebug tube bewitched two largemouth bass along the outside edges of the water willows.

I spent 30 minutes fishing the dam, where I caught 13 largemouth bass. Eleven of them were caught on the Junebug tube, and two of them were caught on a 3 1/4-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Hula StickZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Nine of the 13 largemouth bass were associated with small patches of American water willows, and they were abiding in two to four feet of water. Four of them were inhabiting a rocky terrain in about five to six feet of water.

In sum, I caught 64 largemouth bass in three hours, and 61 of them were caught on the Junebug tube. I didn’t tangle with any other species, which is a rare phenomenon in June.

On June 9, Steve Desch and I discovered that the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass at a 416-acre community reservoir exhibited a hankering for the same tube that the largemouth bass relished at the 140-acre state reservoir on June 11. It is interesting to note that a couple of weeks ago Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, and I were talking about the demise of 2 1/2-, 2 3/4- and three-inch tubes, saying that they have been replaced by the Z-Man’s Hula StickZ and 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ. Obviously, we were mistaken.

DSCN0285

This is the Junebug tube that I used on June 9 and 1. Across those two outings, it tangled with 76 largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, and it looks as if it can withstand several more donnybrooks before it is torn to smithereens.

 

June 13 log

My cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I made the 60-mile journey from Lawrence, Kansas, to a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir on June 13.

The National Weather Service in Emporia, Kansas, noted that the temperature was 52 degrees at 7:53 a.m. and 76 degrees at 3:53 p.m. From 8:53 a.m. to 11:53 a.m. the wind was out of the east at 7 to 9 mph; it blew out of the south at 8 mph at 11:53 a.m.; it was variable at 6 mph at 12:53 p.m.; from 1:53 p.m. to 2:53 p.m. it angled out of the southeast at 8 mph.
There was not a cloud in the sky. The barometric pressure climbed from 30.06 at midnight to 30.11 at 10:53 a.m., and then it dropped to 30.10 at 11:53 and to 30.03 at 2:53 p.m.

For the past 12 days, more than six inches of rain have graced many of the drought-stricken landscapes of northeastern Kansas. Consequently, the streams that we crossed on our drive to the reservoir were very muddy, as were many of the farm ponds that we saw.

This reservoir’s water level was 1.31 feet above normal. This rise is a recent phenomenon. For example, the water level on May 31 was 2.01 feet below normal. The water clarity along the dam exhibited six feet of visibility. In the back of several of the coves and one of the tertiary feeder-creek arms, the water clarity diminished dramatically. Along many of the shorelines, a foot or so of water flooded scores of green willow and sycamore saplings, as well as Queen Anne’s Lace and other Kansas wildflowers and weeds.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best fishing would occur from 11:29 a.m. to 1:29 p.m. We fished from 10:40 a.m. to 2: 24 p.m.
We suspected that the high-water levels and all of the newly flooded vegetation might have affected or changed the foraging habits and locations of some of this reservoir’s smallmouth bass, but since we possess only human senses, we were unable to ascertain that sort of piscatorial knowledge. Therefore, we just went fishing, and here’s a short synopsis of where and how we did it.
We fished 10 main-lake points on the south side of the reservoir. Three were relatively steep, seven were flat, and all of them were laden with rocks and boulders. Some were graced with a slight breeze, and some were breezeless. We failed to garner a strike on the steep ones. We caught 15 smallmouth bass and one spotted bass at six of the flat points. The breeze wasn’t a factor.

We probed six shorelines inside two coves and one of the tertiary feeder-creek arms. Along three of these shorelines, we caught 12 smallmouth bass.
There was no logical reason why some shorelines produced smallmouth bass and others didn’t.

We fished three shallow rock piles. One was on the main body of the reservoir, and two were inside one of the coves. We failed to draw a strike on the rock pile on the reservoir’s main body. But inside the cove, we caught four smallmouth bass off one of the rock piles and two off of the other one.

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One of the smallmouth bass that we caught on a rock pile inside a cove.

We fished three secondary points, and we caught two smallmouth bass at one, one smallmouth at another, and failed to elicit a strike at the third one.

We fished 200 yards of the riprap near the center of the dam, where we caught nine smallmouth bass.

In sum, we fished four hours and five minutes and caught 45 smallmouth bass and one spotted bass. Several of the 45 smallmouth bass regurgitated tiny crayfish that were about the size of a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ . The most effective bait was a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The second most effective bait was a 3 1/4-inch Z-Man’s California Craw Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We caught several smallmouth bass on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and we caught a few on a 3 1/4-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Hula StickZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. A 2 3/4-inch Junebug tube with an inserted 1/16-ounce jig inveigled three smallmouth bass. (It is interesting to note that this tube tangled with 76 largemouth bass and smallmouth bass on June 9 at a 416-acre community reservoir and at a 140-acre state reservoir on June 11, but it was relatively ineffective on June 13 .) A shortened four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught one smallmouth bass.

Throughout this entire outing, we failed to establish a significant location pattern. We fished a variety of locations, and we could not determine why one location yielded several smallmouth bass and a similar location failed to yield a smallmouth bass. For instance, a relatively small lair yielded four smallmouth bass, while a similar but larger lair yielded only one or no smallmouth bass. We did determine that we could catch more smallmouth bass in two to four feet of water than we could catch in five to seven feet of water. In fact, we never caught a smallmouth bass or spotted bass in water deeper than five feet. A significant number of the smallmouth bass engulfed our baits on the initial drop. A few were allured by a deadstick presentation. Many were caught while we executed the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and a few were caught when we utilized the drag-and-shake presentation.

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Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, posted a report on the Finesse News Network about his June 13 outing.

He wrote: “I made a solo 40-mile excursion to a 24,154-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir that lies just east of Sanger, Texas.

“The National Weather Service recorded the low temperature at 72 degrees and the high for the day was 89 degrees. The sun was shining brightly as a few wispy clouds drifted slowly across the powder-blue sky. The wind quartered out of the northwest at 8 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure was steady at 29.97.

“The water was the clearest I have ever seen it, exhibiting a pleasant light green tint and more than five feet of visibility. The water’s temperature varied from 77 to 83 degrees. The Texas Water Development Board recorded the water level at 8.69 feet below normal pool.

“I had prepared the following baits for the day: 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red-flake FattyZ tail rigged on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; Z-Man’s blue-steel Finesse ShadZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; Kalin’s three-inch clear hologram Lunker Grub on a blue 3/32-ounce Gopher jig; 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company’s white Zero on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; and four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best fishing periods would occur between 5:05 a.m. to 7:05 a.m. and 11:20 p.m. to 1:20 a.m., with a minor period occurring from 5:35 p.m. to 7:35 p.m. I was afloat from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“I began the day plying a riprap bank and jetty adjacent to the boat ramp where I launched. I took my time dissecting this area with the 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red flake FattyZ tail, and I caught one largemouth bass on the riprap in about three feet of water.

“My next area was a series of seven wind-swept main-lake points that are situated along the east shoreline of the reservoir’s east tributary arm. Several of these points are steep and rocky, and the others are flat and comprised of clay, small rocks, and a few stumps. I plied these points with the watermelon-red flake FattyZ tail, blue-steel Finesse ShadZ, Kalin’s grub, and 2 1/2-inch Strike King Zero, which were retrieved with either a steady do-nothing presentation or swim-glide-and-shake presentation. I enticed one largemouth bass and two white bass with the three-inch Kalin’s grub; two largemouth bass and three white bass were attracted to the 2 1/2-inch white Zero. The watermelon-red flake FattyZ tail and blue steel Finesse ShadZ failed to elicit any strikes. All of these fish were taken from three to six feet of water.

“I made a short run to a shallow rocky hump and a larger island in the mid-section of the east tributary arm. The hump is surrounded by thick stands of standing timber and small patches of hydrilla adorned its western side. I switched to the four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ and probed the open-water areas between the trees and tangled with two largemouth bass that were relating to the small patches of hydrilla in three to seven feet of water. The Finesse WormZ was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake technique.

“After I finished fishing the hump, I made my way over to the east 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. Usually, this thin wall of hydrilla is thick and matted on the water’s surface, and it extends several yards out from the bank. And when it is flourishing at its peak, the hydrilla wall courses along the southeast, south, and southwestern banks of the island. But today, I was very disappointed when I discovered that there were no hydrilla beds thriving along the island’s south and southwestern shorelines. I utilized just two baits while I plied the southeast, south, and southwestern shores of the island. They were the 2 1/2-inch white Zero and the four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ, and both of these baits were retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation. The southeast bank surrendered four largemouth bass and one white bass that were inhabiting the deep water edge of the hydrilla wall in about four feet of water. I also tangled with one largemouth bass that was inhabiting the top of a rock and clay retaining wall of a submerged tank dam that is positioned about 20 yards south of the island. The four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ inveigled three of the five largemouth bass and one white bass. The 2 1/2-inch white Zero finagled two largemouth bass.

“The next area I visited was a secondary feeder-creek arm located along the west shoreline of the east tributary arm of the reservoir. The north entry point to this feeder-creek arm is long and flat, and it consists of clay, large scattered boulders, and a small dollop of hydrilla. I executed scores of fan casts along this point with the three-inch Kalin’s grub, but it failed to draw a strike. I then worked over the point a second time using the four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ, and the slow swim-glide-shake presentation coaxed one largemouth bass and one white bass from four feet of water along the deep-water side of the hydrilla patch. I was unable to garner any other strikes from this spot.

“I then moved to another hydrilla bed that occupies a mud flat about half way back in the feeder-creek arm. This hydrilla bed is about 25 yards long, and it was apparent that the low water levels had decimated a large portion of this hydrilla bed. I continued to use the four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ and I extracted one largemouth bass from the deep-water edge of the hydrilla bed in about three feet of water. I failed to entice any other bites from this area.

“As I was idling out of the feeder creek arm toward the main lake, I thought I would check the south-side entry point to this feeder creek arm. This point is steep and rocky, and it is also endowed with a few scattered stumps. I executed scores of fan casts with the four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ and the 2 1/2-inch white Zero. The four-inch Finesse WormZ bewitched one largemouth bass from eight feet of water along the north side of the point. The 2 1/2-inch white Zero failed to trigger a strike.
“My last locale for the day consisted of a submerged roadbed adjacent to 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, but it failed to entice a bass.

“As I was trailering my boat, I overheard two other anglers standing close by and talking about their lackluster day on the water. One angler stated that he had caught only two bass on a crankbait, and the other angler admitted that he was unable to muster a single bite during his outing.
“All totaled, I eked out 15 largemouth bass and seven white bass during this trying five-hour endeavor. Z-Man’s four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ allured nine bass, the 2 1/2-inch white Zero produced four, and the three-inch Kalin’s grub and 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s FattyZ tail garnered one bass each. The blue-steel Finesse ShadZ failed to induce any strikes. The swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the most fruitful presentation.”

June 14 log

Dave Weroha of Kansas City posted a report on the Finesse News Network about his June 14 outing with a friend to a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir.

The Corps noted that the water level was 1.42 feet above normal. The discharge rate was 20 feet per second. The surface temperature was 71 degress at 7:30 a.m. Recent rains dropped nearly seven inches of water across several locales in northeastern Kansas, which caused many waterways rise dramatically. According to Weroha, the rising water levels and the wind caused the water clarity to become stained at this reservoir, and he said that as they motored into the mouth of each cove and tertiary feeder-creek arm, they could see a definite mud line, and nearly all of the shorelines on the south side of the reservoir were stained and murky.

The National Weather Service at Emporia, Kansas, noted that it was 60 degrees at 12:52 a.m. and 82 degrees at 3:53 p.m. At 5:53 a.m. a southeast wind blew at 16 mph, increasing to 21 to 32 mph out of the south at 9:53 a.m., and increasing again to 26 to 40 mph out of the south at 2:53 p.m. The barometric pressure was 29.92 at 12:53 a.m., 29.85 at 8:53 a.m., 29.87 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.71 at 2:53 p.m. The sky was cloudless at 8:53 a.m.; it became cluttered with a few clouds at 12:53 p.m.; it was mostly cloudy at 1:53 p.m., and at 2:53 p.m. only a few clouds coursed overhead.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best fishing occurred from 12:31 p.m. to 2:31 p.m. There was a minor period from 6:16 a.m. to 8:16 a.m. Weroha and his friend Bryan Blanck of Lawrence, Kansas, were afloat from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The wind made the fishing problematic. Some waves were three to four feet high. To their chagrin, they eked out only 17 smallmouth bass. One was caught along the riprap of the dam. Sixteen were caught along the flooded terrestrial vegetation that lined the shorelines inside some of the coves and tertiary feeder-creek arms.

Their two most effective baits were a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a drag-and-shake retrieve, and a heavily customized 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s hot- chartreuse ToobZ with inserted rattles on a Carolina rig. The customized ToobZ inveigled the two biggest smallmouth bass, but to Weroha’s dismay, he lost the only two ToobZs that he had crafted to two fish that snapped his line.

June 17 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, joined me on June 17 for a Midwest finesse outing at a 55-acre community reservoir.
He and his wife, Nancy, were traveling to Minnesota, and they thought Lawrence, Kansas, would be a good place to visit for a day during their long journey to the Northwoods of Minnesota. What’s more, it would allow Steve to see the countryside and maybe one of the waterways where the late Chuck Woods of Kansas and several other anglers created the foundations of Midwest finesse fishing in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Reideler became a Midwest finesse devotee in August of 2014, and since then he has penned many words on the Finesse News Network about the trying largemouth bass and spotted bass fishing that plagues anglers who ply the reservoirs in north-central Texas. Before he began using Midwest finesse, he was a disciple of the finesse methods developed by the late Charlie Brewer of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, and before his Brewer days, he was a power angler. And on our June 17 outing, he remarked that a talented power angler in north-central Texas struggles to catch one black bass an hour; for instance, Kevin Van Dam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Bassmaster fame, fished Ray Roberts Lake, Texas, on Oct. 26, 2013, and caught only three largemouth bass.

But despite the sorry black bass populations that abide in the north-central Texas reservoirs that he has to fish, Reideler’s black bass catch rates have increased significantly since he began employing Midwest finesse methods. For example, his catch rate from Jan. 1, 2013, to June 11, 2013, was 164 black bass, and from Jan. 1, 2014, to June 11, 2014, it increased to 924. Throughout the entire year of 2013, he caught only 844 black bass and more than half of those were caught after he became a Midwest finesse aficionado.

Throughout our June 17 outing, Reideler noted that catching 30 black bass during a four to six-hour Midwest finesse outing in Texas would be considered an outstanding Midwest finesse endeavor. Therefore, in his eyes, we enjoyed a stellar Texas outing in northeastern Kansas on June 17. But from the perspectives of many veteran Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas, it would be classified as a less than an average excursion. For instance, throughout the calendar year of 2013, Midwest anglers in my boat caught an average of 11.6 black bass an hour; we caught 10.2 per hour in 2012, 9.01 in 2011, and 10.9 in 2010.

The National Weather Service in Emporia, Kansas, noted that it was 74 degrees at 7:53 a.m. and 87 degrees at 3:53 p.m. The sky was cloudless from 12:53 a.m. to 6:53 a.m., and then it fluctuated from being mostly cloudy to partly cloudy to being graced with a few clouds from 8:53 a.m. to 4:53 p.m. The barometric pressure was 29.77 at 12:53 a.m., 29.83 at 9:53 a.m., and 29.78 at 3:53 p.m. The wind was brutal, howling non-stop from 16 to 43 mph.
In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing occurred from 2:58 a.m. to 4:58 a.m. and 3:25 p.m. to 5:25 p.m. There was a minor period from 9:11 a.m. to 11:11 a.m. We fished from 9:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The water level was normal, and the patches of American water willows that border much of this reservoir’s shorelines had one to three feet of water covering their outside edges. More than seven inches of rain has fallen on many areas of northeastern Kansas since June 1, and consequently, the water clarity at this small-town reservoir, which is bordered by a golf course, swimming pool, football field, and community park, was dingy, exhibiting 1 1/2 feet of visibility in most locales. The surface temperature ranged from 74 to 76 degrees.

We elected to fish this small reservoir because it was relatively wind-sheltered. Yet, ranks of white caps pummeled its dam and several other locations. Throughout this terribly wind-blown outing, Reideler learned about the advantages of employing a drift sock. He also learned about the best casting angles and most effective retrieves to use when the wind howls.

We were afloat for five hours and 45 minutes, and we struggled to catch 36 largemouth bass. Ten largemouth bass liberated themselves before we could lift them out of the water; thus we tangled with about eight largemouth bass an hour. We also caught 17 channel catfish, and we failed to land two channel catfish that broke our lines; we estimated that the donnybrooks with those 19 channel catfish consumed about 50 minutes of the 345 minutes that we were afloat. We also caught two crappie, one walleye, and an untold number of green sunfish.

We fished 80 percent of this reservoir’s shorelines, and the ones we fished were rock-laden and endowed with many patches of American water willows and two dozen laydowns. The steep shorelines and points yielded only seven of the 46 largemouth bass that we tangled with. The flatter shorelines in the back half of the south feeder-creek arm produced the majority of all the largemouth bass and other species that we caught.
Because Reideler wanted to see a variety of Midwest finesse tactics, we spent a considerable amount of time experimenting with a lot of Midwest finesse baits and presentations, and most of them were ineffective.

The four baits that yielded the best results were a 3 1/4-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a significantly customize three-inch Z-Man’s Junebug FattyZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 3/4-inch Junebug tube with an inserted 1/16-ounce jig.

The two most effective retrieves were the drag-and-shake presentation, which was occasionally punctuated with a three- to five-second deadsticking routine, and the swim-glide-and-shake motif. Some of the strikes occurred on the initial drop, and the largemouth bass were extracted from water as shallow as 1 1/2 feet and no deeper than 4 1/2 feet.

Even though we were fishing in a community park in a small northeastern Kansas town, and the wind was incessantly roaring in our ears, Reideler was enchanted with the rustic nature of the reservoir’s riparian borders and all of the largemouth bass lairs that line its shorelines. He said compared to the urban and suburban infestation that clutters north-central Texas and its sorry black bass fishing, northeastern Kansas is a virtually Nirvana.

June 20 log

On the last day of spring, Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and I wanted to see if the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass that reside in a 416-acre community reservoir would exhibit the same preference for the 2 3/4-inch Junebug tube and 1/16-ounce inserted jig that they showed a fondness for on June 9.

The National Weather Service in Topeka noted that it was 71 degrees at 5:53 a.m. and 93 degrees at 3:53 p.m. The heat index climbed over 100 degrees. A few clouds floated overhead while we were afloat, and at 1:53 p.m. it turned mostly cloudy for a spell. The barometric pressure was 29.99 at 12:53 a.m., 30.05 at 9:53 a.m., and 30.01 at 1:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the west, northwest, south, and southwest at three to 14 mph, but it was mostly calm when we were fishing; in fact, it was too calm, humid and hot for Desch, who was battling a stomach ailment that made him dizzy and feel nauseated, and because of his woes, we decided to end our outing on the last day of spring prematurely.

On May 27, the water level at this reservoir was three feet below normal. But because many locations across northeastern Kansas had been drenched with more than eight inches of rain from June 1 to June 20, the water level was finally at its normal elevation on June 20. The clarity had diminished from six or more feet of visibility on May 27 to 24 inches on June 20. The surface temperature ranged from 80 to 82 degrees. All of this reservoir’s patches of American water willows were surrounded with water for the first time in many months. We were also pleased to see many patches of bush pondweed, as well as one patch of American pondweed. The patches of curly-leaf pondweed were still flourishing, which is an unusual phenomenon because they normally disappear in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas by mid-June. At some locations, we noticed algae blooms.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 5:56 a.m. to 7:56 a.m. and 6:21 p.m.to 8:21 p.m. A minor period happened from 11:43 a.m. to 1:43 p.m. We executed our first casts at 9:45 a.m., and by 12:20 p.m. Desch was feeling so rocky that we decided that we should put his boat on the trailer.

For the first 30 of the 155 minutes that we were afloat, we dissected a 150-yard stretch of a rocky shoreline along the north side of a feeder-creek arm. This shoreline is graced with two secondary points, one main-lake point, several laydowns, patches of American water willows, and some bushy pondweed. To our dismay, we failed to catch a largemouth bass and smallmouth bass.

After that dismal start, we spent the next 45 minutes fishing two massive offshore rock piles, where we caught two smallmouth bass, three largemouth bass, and two channel catfish. Four of these fish engulfed a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and three of them were inveigled by the 2 3/4-inch Junebug tube affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig. These baits were presented with a drag-and-shake retrieve. These fish were abiding in three feet of water, and these long piles of rocks are bordered by water that is 25 feet deep.

We spent the next 10 minutes fishing a flat, rocky, and boulder-laden main-lake shoreline and point. The shoreline is endowed with a long patch of American water willows. We caught two smallmouth bass. One was caught by executing a swim-glide-and-shake presentation with the shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and the second one was caught by swimming, gliding, and shaking the 2 3/4-inch Junebug tube affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig. Both fish were caught many feet off the shoreline and in four to five feet of water.

We spent 10 minutes fishing a rocky and relatively steep main-lake point and its adjacent shorelines. Both shorelines are lined with American water willows, boulders, a significant ledge, and laydowns. This area yielded only one largemouth bass, which engulfed a 3 1/4-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. That largemouth bass was on the outside edge of the water willows, and it engulfed the bait on the initial drop.

The last 65 minutes of this outing was spent in the upper third segment of this reservoir.

We quickly fished four main-lake points. Three of them were shallow and flat, and one was relatively steep. One of the flat points yielded three largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass. Three of those bass engulfed the 2 3/4-inch Junebug tube affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig on the initial drop, and one hit the shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig on the initial drop.

In this upper portion, we also quickly fished 200 yards of the main-lake shoreline, 100 yards of a flat shoreline along the north side of a feeder-creek arm, and 50 yards of a flat shoreline along the south side of a cove.

Parts of the main-lake shoreline are steep, and other portions are flat. All of it is rocky, and it is graced with laydowns, some bushy pondweed, some shallow patches of American water willows, and several manmade objects. Along the flat portion of the main-lake shoreline, the 2 3/4-inch Junebug tube affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig enticed a largemouth bass on the initial drop.

The south shoreline inside the cove is flat and rocky. It is partially lined with American water willows, and it is graced with some burgeoning patches of bushy pondweed. A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig and a drag-and-shake retrieve caught one largemouth bass.

The north shoreline in the feeder-creek arm is endowed with patches of curly-leaf pondweed, bushy pondweed, a small patch of American pondweed, a beaver hut, a laydown, gravel, clay, rocks, and a few boulders. A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinlerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig and the swim-glide-and-shake presentation caught one largemouth bass.

In sum, we caught only 10 largemouth bass and five smallmouth bass, as well as two channel catfish and a dozen green sunfish. During the 155 minutes that we were afloat, we could not determine where the bulk of the reservoir’s largemouth bass and smallmouth bass were abiding.

June 22 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his first outing of the summer 2014. It was a solo outing to a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir. On his solo outing, Gum is usually accompanied by his dog, Joise, but not to the warm waters of this reservoir during the heat of the summer.

The National Weather Service at Olathe, Kansas, noted that it was 74 degrees at 12:52 a.m. and 91 degrees at 2:52 p.m. The barometric pressure was 29.99 at 12:52 a.m., 29.88 at 5:52 a.m., and 29.88 at 11:52 a.m. The sky was cloudless from 12:52 a.m. to 11:52 a.m. The wind was calm at 5:53 a.m., angling out of the southwest at 7 mph at 8:52 a.m., and blowing out of the west at 10 mph at 11:52 a.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 7:11 a.m. to 9:11 a.m. Gum fished from 6:30 a.m. until noon.

The lake level was about a foot above normal. The surface temperatures ranged from 84 degrees along the dam to 87 degrees along the riprap shoreline along the east side of the reservoir. The water exhibited 3 1/2 feet of visibility along the dam and 2 1/2 feet of visibility along the east shoreline.

He failed to elicit a strike along a shoreline on the eastside of the reservoir that is graced with rirprap and patches of American water willow, where he wielded two topwater baits, four-inch Z-Man’s coppertreuse Finesse WormZ on a blood-red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, Z-Man’s Houdini ShrimpZ on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a four-inch Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits’ green-pumpkin-red-flake Double Tail Grub on an 1/8-ounce black Gopher jig.

A flat main-lake point on the east side of the reservoir failed to yield a largemouth bass.

The Yamamoto grub allured one largemouth bass from a shallow rock pile that lies on top of a submerged roadbed on the west side of the reservoir, and it caught another largemouth bass from the top of a submerged farm pond dam on the reservoir’s west side.

He fished nearly every inch of the dam, which yielded three largemouth bass and were caught on the coppertreuse Finesse WormZ in eight to 10 feet of water.

He fished part of the inlet at the power plant and a portion of the riprap shoreline around the power plant, where he failed to catch a largemouth bass.

In sum, it was a toilsome outing. The only solace in Gum’s eyes was that all of the largemouth bass were 16 to 17 inches long.

June 23 log

The largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishing has become trying at most of the flatland reservoirs that grace the countryside of northeastern Kansas since mid-June. For instance, Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and I endured a horrible outing on June 20. Then Bob Gum of Kansas City suffered through an extremely ugly 5 1/2 hours of fishing on June 22, when he caught only five largemouth bass. Pok Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, and his son had the best catch during the past week, when they tangled with 49 smallmouth bass on June 22, but it took them six hours to accomplish that feat.

An examination of our logs from years past reveals that our largemouth and smallmouth fishing can often be lackluster in June. So on June 23, I was hoping to dodge these June doldrums by fishing a 140-acre state reservoir that is traditionally a relatively easy waterway on which a Midwest finesse angler can tangle with 10 or more largemouth bass an hour – even when the fishing is vexing elsewhere. For instance, I caught 64 largemouth bass in three hours on June 11 at this reservoir.

The National Weather Service in Topeka, Kansas, noted that it was 68 degrees at 5:53 a.m. and 83 degrees at 4:53 p.m. It was cloudy for the entire three hours and 45 minutes that I was afloat, and it drizzled occasionally. The wind rarely stirred, but when it did it was slight, and it angled out of three directions: north, east, and south. The barometric pressure was 29.89 at 12:53 a.m. and 29.95 at 1:53 p.m. During the nighttime hours of June 22-23, some areas in the vicinity of this reservoir received nearly an inch of rain, and since the first of June, nine inches of rain have fallen around this reservoir.

The water level looked to be about six inches above normal. Despite all of the rain, the water exhibited three feet of visibility at most locales. The surface temperature fluctuated from 80 to 81 degrees. All of the American water willow patches were sitting in one to three feet of water, and there might have been a goodly number of largemouth bass inhabiting the interior portions of those patches. I didn’t dissect any of the interiors of the American water willow patches. Several schools of wipers occasionally foraged on the surface, and until I caught one of them when a school meandered within casting distance of the boat, I thought they might have been largemouth bass.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 7:58 a.m. to 9:58 a.m. and 8:23 p.m. to 10:23 p.m. A minor period took place from 1:46 a.m. to 3:46 a.m. I fished from 10:15 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

At the boat ramp, I caught a largemouth bass on the first cast, and it engulfed a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig, which was retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation, and this bass was caught in four feet of water about 10 feet away from the outside edge of an American water willow patch. After that cast, I struggled to catch 27 more largemouth bass.

I caught seven largemouth bass along the west end of the dam, which were caught on three baits: a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig, 3 1/4-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Hula StickZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher Jig, and 2 3/4-inch Junebug tube affixed to an inserted 1/16-ounce jig. They were allured by a drag-and-shake retrieve. These bass were abiding in five feet of water and about six feet from the outside edges of several American water willows patches that line the west end of the dam.

I failed to garner a strike at two main-lake points, which are laden with boulders, and three east side shorelines that are lined with patches of American water willows.

Along about 400 yards of the west shoreline, which is lined with American water willows, rocks, boulders, riprap jetties, and some brush piles, I made countless numbers of casts and retrieves that were fruitless. But I occasionally caught a random largemouth bass, and when I ended the outing at 2:00 p.m., my mechanical fish counter revealed that this massive shoreline yielded only 19 largemouth bass. They were caught on the shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig, 3 1/4-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Hula StickZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher Jig, and 2 3/4-inch Junebug tube affixed to an inserted 1/16-ounce jig. A few of these largemouth bass engulfed those baits on the initial drop along the outside edges of the American water willow patches. Others were allured by a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and some of those were caught along the outside edge of the water willows, and some were caught five to 10 feet from the outside edge of the water willows. The drag-and-shake presentation bewitched several of these largemouth bass, and some of those were caught along the outside edge of the water willows, and some were caught five to 10 feet from the outside edge of the water willows.

In sum, it was a hodgepodge outing, or in other words, it was devoid of a significant presentation pattern and a significant location pattern. I could not determine any rhyme or reason to where and how I caught the largemouth bass that I caught.

June 25 log

The largemouth bass and smallmouth fishing has been extremely tedious since June 17 at most of the small flatland reservoirs that stipple northeastern Kansas’ countryside.

In fact on June 24, it was so horrendous at a 195-acre community reservoir that I couldn’t muster up the wherewithal to write a log that described it. All I can say is that it was onerous. For some inexplicable reasons, the entire environment seemed to be askew. It was such a wretched ordeal that I could only endure it 70 minutes. And during that spell, I caught only two tiny largemouth bass. There were hints of this same malady, and they were described in our June 17, June 20, and June 23 logs.

On June 25, my cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I avoided our current small-reservoir quagmire by venturing to one of our bigger reservoirs, and from 10:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. we fished a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir.

The National Weather Service in Emporia, Kansas, noted that the temperature was 64 degrees at 4:52 a.m. and 88 degrees at 3:53 p.m. Throughout the day, the wind angled out of the northeast at 3 mph, northwest at 3 mph, east at 3 mph, south at 9 mph, southeast at 7 mph, and occasionally it was calm. The barometric pressure was 30.01 at 12:52 a.m., 30.06 at 8:52 a.m., and 30.00 at 2:52 p.m. The sky fluctuated from being cloudless to be being adorned with some delightful looking nimbostratus clouds that occasionally hid the sun.

The Corps of Engineers noted that the water level was 1.07 feet above normal, and 500 cubic feet per second of water was being discharged from the dam. The water exhibited three to six feet of visibility. At 7:30 a.m., the Corps recorded the surface temperature at 78 degrees, and during our outing, it ranged from 80 to 81 degrees. Many of the shorelines were bejeweled with a variety of partially flooded terrestrial vegetation — such as smartweed, Queen Anne’s lace, cottonwood sapling, and sycamore saplings. Some of this vegetation had been in the water for a few weeks, and it was dying.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would take place from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. But the bulk of the 43 smallmouth bass and one spotted bass that we caught occurred from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

While I waited for Rick to park the trailer and return to the dock at the boat ramp, I caught a spotted bass from under the dock. It engulfed a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig on the initial drop, and that was the only strike the Finesse ShadZ engendered during the next four hours and 14 minutes.

For the entire outing, we fished on the south side of this reservoir.

We fished 16 points and several shorelines on the reservoir’s main-body.

The main-lake points at the mouths of the tertiary feeder-creeks yielded nine smallmouth bass. All of these points are rock laden. The flatter ones with ridges and piles of rocks were more fruitful than the steeper ones. The nine smallmouth bass were extracted from four feet of water.

Along the reservoir’s main body, we also fished six secondary points and their adjacent shorelines, as well as an offshore hump. All of these points and shorelines are relatively flat and rocky and embellished with flooded terrestrial vegetation, as well as a few stumps and an occasional laydown. Some of the flat shorelines were also graced with some nearby rocky ledges and significant rock piles. We failed to garner a strike on the offshore hump. But four of the secondary points and three of the adjacent shorelines yielded 19 smallmouth bass, which were abiding in three to five feet of water. One of the rock piles along one of the main-lake shorelines yielded one smallmouth bass.

We caught 14 smallmouth bass inside two coves and two of the tertiary feeder-creek arm. Three of those 14 smallmouth bass were extracted from four feet of water on two offshore rock piles in one of the coves. Eleven of those 14 smallmouth bass were caught along shorelines and secondary points inside the coves and feeder-creek arms. Five of those smallmouth bass were extracted from four to five feet of water along shorelines that were rocky and endowed with flooded terrestrial vegetation, and six of them were extracted from four to five feet of water along shorelines that were rocky and devoid of flooded terrestrial vegetation.

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Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and one of the 43 smallmouth bass that we tangled with on June 25.

Our two best baits were a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin/orange ZinkerZ on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and a first-generation prototype of Z-Man’s California Craw The Real Deal on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. (In essence, The Real Deal is a 2 3/4-inch ZinkerZ.)

Nearly half of the 43 smallmouth bass engulfed our baits on the initial fall. Three smallmouth bass engulfed our bait when it was snagged on a rock and as we were strumming our line and shaking our rod to liberate the bait from the snag. Four smallmouth bass were caught at the boat as we were about to lift the bait out of the water to make another cast. Several were caught by a drag-and-shake presentation. Two smallmouth bass were caught during a deadstick presentation. The rest of them were caught by the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

Day in and day out, we are wedded to using either a 1/32- or 1/16-ounce Gopher jig in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas, but there are days — especially in June and July — when a 3/32-ounce Gopher jig will for some unknown reason garner more strikes than the smaller ones, and June 25 was one of those days.

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Rick Hebenstreit with another one of the 43 smallmouth bass that we tangled with on June 25.

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Travis Perret of Overland Park, Kansas, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his outing with Casey Scanlon of Lexena, Kansas, on June 25 at the same reservoir that my cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee , Kansas, and I fished.

It is important to note that Rick and I reported that we found that a 3/32-ounce Gopher jig allured many more bites than either a 1/16- and 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. But Perret and Scaclon used a 1/16-ounce jig and caught an impressive array of smallmouth bass. Thus, readers must not heed my observations as a piscatorial gospel.

Perret wrote: “I saw your vehicle and trailer at the boat ramp, and I was hoping we would cross paths. Glad you said hello on the dam.
“Some back story to our fishing trip. Casey Scanlon stopped by the house the evening before for some business. Ethan Dhuyvetter of Manhattan, Kansas, who is temporarily living next door, also came over to say hello. We all got to talking about fishing and the standard Midwest finesse rig, which is a 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ affixed to a 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. Ethan also mentioned a past trip he had made to a great smallmouth bass lake. This peaked Scanlon’s interest and he said he was going the next day to try and catch some smallmouth bass. I told him he better take his spinning reel and throw the standard Midwest finesse rig. He replied he had thrown it some but had not caught a whole lot of fish with it. I asked him to give me the details of what he thought the Midwest finesse rig was. He was throwing it on a 1/16-ounce round ball jig head with a large hook and cutting any Senko-style bait in half. So I tried to explain to him it would be better to do it the way the Midwest finesse anglers do it because they have perfected the technique from years of practice. Well I decided to show him instead of tell him, as they say: ‘actions speak louder than words.’

“We arrived at the same lake you fished at 1:30 p.m. and finished our escapade at 7:30 p.m. I think we saw you around 2:30 p.m., and as you said in your FNN report, we only had eight fish. We had started on the marina riprap and had very limited success. I think we each caught two dinks and two of those dinks were spotted bass. Scanlon had six rods on the deck with one of them being a spinning rod. He was interested in using the Midwest finesse rig, but I could tell he wasn’t going to commit to it quite yet.

After we finished fishing the marina, we headed towards the dam. We stopped to fish one rocky point on the way which yielded me a nice 1 1/2-pound smallmouth bass. I caught it on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s watermelon ZinkerZ with a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom head. We had fished the corner of the dam for about 20 minutes before we saw you. By that time, it was obvious to Scanlon that they were biting the Midwest finesse better than anything else he had on the deck. When you stopped to say hello and mentioned you had caught them on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green pumpkin/orange ZinkerZ, I basically started putting the hammer down on Scanlon. I actually had that color rigged up but had not thrown it much until you mentioned it.

“About five minutes after seeing you, I caught our first four- pound smallmouth on the green pumpkin/orange ZinkerZ. After about five more fish, Scanlon forced me to give him one. The fish had no chance after that. The rest of the day was amazing. I’m just amazed you can go to a lake in the middle of Kansas and catch so many smallmouth and a lot of them being very good quality.

“At about 5:30 p.m., Scanlon broke off and retied. He found a PB&J ZinkerZ I had cut from earlier in the day laying in the bottom of the boat. Funny thing was, it was the top half of the ZinkerZ. So I’m thinking here’s my chance to really out catch him. So the next rocky point we pull up to he proceeds to catch two three-pounders and a two-pounder. Using the wrong end! So I quickly switched to PB&J.”

“Our other four -pound smallmouth bass came at about 7:00 p.m. on the dam. We were getting ready to head in and wanted to see if any other big fish had pulled up on the dam. Sure enough one did.

“Throughout the day, Scanlon did try some power techniques, such as a tube and a jerkbait, for about three or four casts, but he never got a strike on them, and then he would go back to the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ rig . He would make the comment several times, ‘It’s so hard not to throw it.’

“In sum, we fished for 6 hours and caught 57 smallmouth bass. We had six or seven white bass that we found busting the surface. We also spent about 30 minutes to have a photo shoot for his Facebook and social media stuff. We had two four-pounders, four three-pounders, and quite a few that weighed from 1 1/2 pounds to two pounds. The rest were small ones. One four-pounder was on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ and one was caught on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green pumpkin/orange ZinkerZ. Both baits were rigged on a 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. About 70% of the fish were caught on the PB&J ZinkerZ, and 30% on the green-pumpkin/orange ZinkerZ.”

Photographs of this outing can be seen at: http://www.felixfishing.com/2014/06/smallmouth-pictures/. Here’s a link to Scanlon’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Casey-Scanlon-Professional-Angler/247718761943835.

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Paul Finn of Olathe, Kansas, posted a brief about his evening outing with his son at a 100-acre community reservoir on June 25.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing occurred from 10:12 a.m. to 12: 12 p.m. and 10:36: p.m. to 12:36 a.m.

Finn wrote: “The water was stained, and we could barely see the trolling motor propeller in the water. I would say the visibility was less than 18 inches. The water level was a foot above normal.

“It was a very odd trip. We started fishing around 5:30 p.m., and we began fishing along the dam. About 15 minutes after we started, wipers were schooling all around the boat, and we had two strikes but lost both fish. I was throwing a four-inch Strike King Bama Craw Finesse Worm, which was trimmed down to 3 1/2-inches, and it was rigged on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. My son was using a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Bama Craw Zero on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. After the wipers came up, I put on a lipless crankbait and chugging topwater bait. We continued to fish along the dam, where we caught four largemouth bass on a swim-and-shake retrieve. Those four bass were caught within the first two feet of the patches of American water willows that border the dam. The whole time we were fishing along the dam we were watching to see if the wipers would reappear, and they did appear at the northwest corner of the dam. Then we followed them around the lake for the next couple of hours. We caught 14 wipers, which were 14 to 20 inches long, and they put up a good fight, and they were especially fun to catch on topwater. At around 8:00 p.m. the wiper action stopped, which provoked us to return to the dam, we began using our seven-foot spinning outfits and flipping the 2 1/2-inch Zero rig to the outside edge of the water willows. The boat was positioned so that it floated about 10 feet away from the outside edges of the water willows. We caught a 15-inch largemouth on the third flip, and another one on a couple flips later. When we were flipping the Zero, we would just drop it along the edge of the water willows or in little cuts in the patches, and then we would hop it a couple times before we executed another pitch.”

In sum, they caught 14 wipers and 12 largemouth bass.

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On June 25, Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, posted a report on the Finesse News Network about his Midwest finesse endeavors in Ontario, Canada.

He wrote: “I thought I would bring the Finesse News Network up to speed on what is going on up North.

“We are projected to reach the highest water level in 84 years, and they are still not sure when it will peak. Many boat houses are already flooded and docks are unusable. June 5 was the fifth day of sun since June 1.To compound the misery lifelong residents have never seen the mosquitos as bad as they are.

“I truly love Canada because the fishing is never the same two years in a row, and this year is exceptionally trying. Surface water jumps around 10 to 15 degrees some days, depending on wind, sun, current, and lake sections. Many of my friends think the fish have finished spawning, but the lake is crystal clear and there are very few beds. The water is the perfect temperature for them to be spawning, but spawners are super scarce.

“The other rare thing is the fish are not regurgitating anything and by now in normal years there is lots of scat on the boat, and there is none this year. It is like they are not eating and these fish normally love to eat.

“Today might give you an indication of the difficulty I am having in solving the puzzle. We spent 30 minutes fishing a very large and dependable spawning flat that always holds large numbers of fish this time of year. We caught one smallmouth bass that weighed three pounds, 14 ounce, and that was the only strike we had. It was caught on a Z-Man’s Canadian Craw Hula StickZ affixed to a 1/10-ounce Z-Man’s ShroomZ jig. Later in the day we pulled up on a boulder-infested point, and there were really nice fish all over it, and they were killing Z-Man’s Canadian Craw The Real Deal on a a 1/10-ounce Z-Man’s ShroomZ jig. The biggest one was stuffed like it swallowed a baseball and it weighed three pounds, 11 ounces. We caught several other really nice fish at the same time, and all of them were exceptionally cold to the touch like they just came from deep water. They were also the only fish we caught that were regurgitating anything, and they were blowing out crayfish in large quantities.

“If we had been fishing most places in the world, we would have considered it an excellent day of fishing. We fished from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and boated 91 smallmouth and 12 nice walleye. The most frustrating part of this outing revolved around the fact that we should be catching 200 or more smallmouth bass per outing this time of the year. It is probably going to take another couple of weeks to figure out what is really going on. I will let you know when it comes together.”

June 26 log

Donald Baldridge of Springfield, Missouri, filed this brief log about his outing at a 28-acre community reservoir in northeastern Missouri. It was his maiden endeavor at wielding a Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZ, which is one of the primary soft-plastic baits in the Midwest finesse anglers’ repertoire.

He noted that the water color was murky, and the reservoir was littered with flotsam. He described it as “basically ugly looking.”

Despite the problematic water conditions, the Finesse ShadZ surprised him by inveigling more than 60 largemouth bass, numerous bluegill and green sunfish, and a channel catfish in a 5 1/2 hour outing.

He explained that “just about everything that swims was within five feet of the shorelines, sometimes as close as one to two feet, and often stacked up so tight that it was a “fish-a-cast” festival.”

He dressed a pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ on a brown 1/16-ounce button-style jig that is crafted by Dave Reeves of Lansing, Kansas, and a watermelon-red Finesse ShadZ on a 1/32-ounce Strike King Lure Company’s jig head, which he painted purple with nail polish.

He said: “Only one presentation pattern was necessary: skip, cast, or flip the lure close to the bank and just let it drop. If nothing picked it up after a few seconds, a slow lift-swim-glide-and-drop presentation usually did the job. No shaking was necessary. Nearly all of the fish were caught in five feet of water or less, but an occasional largemouth bass was extracted out of 10 feet of water. The riprap and log jams along the dam were infested with fish. Rocky, steep-dropping shorelines with overhanging trees or bushes were also littered with fish.”

In addition to the Finesse ShadZ’s ability to allure vast numbers of largemouth bass and other species, Baldridge raved about its durability, noting that he used the same baits for the entire outing. But he did say, “they are pretty beat up; so they will be replaced before the next time.”

He concluded his report by saying, “This excursion definitely changed me from a ShadZ skeptic to a fan.”

He also attached a link to a You Tube video that chronicles just a few of the fish that  he caught: http://youtu.be/LfTIpP9tpjQ.

June 30 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network on June 30 about his 15-day journey to Minnesota with his wife, Nancy.
On their way, they stopped in Lawrence, Kansas, and we fished together on June 17. When they were in Minnesota, he donned a pair of waders and fished several short stretches of the Mississippi River, as well as some of the shoreline at Lake Pokegama. On his four bank-walking endeavors, he fished 12 hours and caught 50 largemouth bass, 30 smallmouth bass, 13 green sunfish, three northern pike, and one yellow perch. This calculates to 6.66 black bass per hour, which is a higher catch rate than he usually experiences in north-central Texas.
Here is his description of how, when, and where he fished in Minnesota:

On June 18 and 19, Nancy and I visited Elk River, Minnesota, where I had high hopes of fishing for smallmouth bass in the Elk River. Much to my chagrin, the area was hit with a deluge of rain during our short stay. Several roads were flooded. One city park we visited was closed, and several inches of water were covering its parking lot. We later learned from a local news broadcast that the area had received more than nine inches of rain and set a rainfall record for the month of June. The river was extremely muddy, and it had overflowed its banks, and it even flooded some of the flower gardens of the residents that border the river. Consequently, my high hopes for catching smallmouth bass from this river quickly vanished.

After leaving Elk River, Nancy and I continued our journey to Grand Rapids, where I enjoyed a two hour bank-walking foray to the nearby Mississippi River on June 20. The day started off sunny, but by 1:30 p.m., the skies turned cloudy, and by 4:30 p.m., it began to lightly rain. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low at 53 degrees and the afternoon high climbed to a pleasant 75 degrees. A mild-mannered wind quartered out of the east-by-southeast at 8 mph, and the barometric pressure measured 29.90. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best fishing periods would take place from 5:34 a.m. to 7:34 a.m., 5:59 p.m. to 7:59 p.m., and a minor period occurred between 11:21 a.m. to 1:21 p.m. I was afoot from about 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The river was stained with a tannic-brown hue, and it exhibited about three feet of clarity. I estimated the water level to be about four feet high, and the high water level greatly limited my bank access. I was unable to measure the water temperature. I fished a 75-yard section of the river below a bridge with two rocky areas along the northern shoreline. I began employing a five-inch Kalin’s chartreuse/black flake Lunker Grub affixed to a purple 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. I made numerous casts upstream and parallel to the rocky areas in about three to five feet of water, employing a steady or do-nothing swimming retrieve. I was unable to entice any strikes from this area. I then crossed over the bridge to the south-side bank, where I discovered an eddy that had formed just below a steel and concrete bridge support piling within casting distance from the bank. I continued using the Kalin’s grub and steady do-nothing retrieve. The eddy surrendered one 20-inch northern pike, which was a first for me, and nine smallmouth bass, including a 4 1/4 pounder and a 3 3/4 pounder. The smallest weighed 2 3/4 pounds.

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Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, and one of the Mississippi River smallmouth bass that he caught in Minnesota.

June 21 was another pleasant sunny day with partly cloudy skies. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low at 56 degrees and the afternoon high reached 79 degrees. A light wind angled out of the south-by-southwest at 7 mph, and the barometric pressure measured 29.87. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar listed the optimum fishing periods occurring from 6:20 a.m. to 8:20 a.m., 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m., and a minor period occurred from 12:08 a.m. to 2:08 a.m. I conducted another two-hour bank-walking excursion along the banks of the Mississippi River from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., but I plied a section of the river that was about two miles east of the area that I fished on June 20. The water in this area exhibited the same tannic-brown color with about four feet of visibility. The water level still appeared to be about four feet high, which limited my bank-walking endeavors. I fished a 35-yard section of the river located just east of a major bend in the river. A large eddy was created downstream of a broad weedy point along the southern bank of the river. The bank along this portion of the river was comprised of fist-sized rocks, a concrete culvert discharging water into the river, and several laydowns and shoreline weeds. I dissected this area with a Kalin’s five-inch chartreuse/black flake Lunker Grub on a purple 1/16 Gopher Jig, and I retrieved it with a steady do-nothing retrieve, and it inveigled six smallmouth bass and one northern pike. A four-inch Z-Man’s coppertreuse Finesse WormZ rigged on a purple 1/16-ounce Gopher Jig and a swim-glide-and-shake presentation enticed two smallmouth bass, and a three-inch Kalin’s chartreuse/black flake Lunker Grub on a purple 1/16 Gopher Jig caught one smallmouth bass. All of these bass were allured from three feet to five feet of water and about five feet from the bank.

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Steve Reideler and another Mississippi River smallmouth bass.

 

On June 22, I decided to sample the bass fishing at Lake Pokegama, just south of Grand Rapids. The day was cloudy, and occasionally it sprinkled rain. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low at 57 degrees and the afternoon high was 79 degrees. The wind had picked up a bit, and blew out of the east at 12 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.82. I fished this reservoir from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar listed the best fishing periods occurring from 7:05 a.m. to 9:05 a.m., 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., with a minor period occurring between 12:53 a.m. to 2:53 a.m. The water at this reservoir was clear, exhibiting at least four feet of visibility. The water level appeared to be about two feet above its banks. During this three hour endeavor, I caught 26 largemouth bass up to three pounds, one ounce; four smallmouth bass, and six green sunfish. Twelve largemouth bass were enticed from a small weedy cove on the northeast end of the reservoir. These 12 bass were relating to the submerged outside edges of what I believed to be Eurasian milfoil in about four feet of water. The majority of these 12 bass were caught on a four-inch Z-Man’s coppertreuse Finesse WormZ rigged on a purple 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red FattyZ tail rigged on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Both of these baits were retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation. After I finished fishing the weedy cove area, I worked my way southward along the east side of a riprap-laden causeway. This area surrendered four smallmouth bass that where relating to the fist-sized rocks in seven to 10 feet of water. These four smallmouths were allured by the four-inch coppertreuse Finesse WormZ and a slow hop-and-bounce retrieve. As I worked my way underneath the bridge to the west side of the causeway, I found a submerged weed bed near one of the concrete support pilings underneath the bridge. I utilized the four-inch coppertreuse Finesse WormZ and tangled with 14 largemouth bass that weighed up to three-pounds, one ounce. These 14 bass were attracted to a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation. I caught no bass along the west side of the causeway, and I did not have time to fish the south side of the bridge. I did, however, manage to catch an average of 10 bass per hour.

June 23 was the last day of our visit to Grand Rapids, and I fished my two most productive spots on the Mississippi River, as well as the small weedy cove and riprap causeway at Lake Pokegama that yielded 26 largemouth bass and four smallmouth bass on June 22. It was another pleasant early-summer day. The morning’s low temperature was 57 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature was 77 degrees. The wind had calmed somewhat since my June 22 outing, and it quartered out of the northwest at 5 to 10 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.84. I fished the Mississippi River from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and I fished Lake Pokegama from noon until 4:00 p.m. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar listed the best fishing periods occurring from 7:49 a.m to 9:49 a.m., 8:14 p.m. to 10:14 p.m., and a minor period would occur from 1:37 a.m. to 3:37 a.m. The river’s water conditions had not changed since June 20; it still exhibited a tannic-brown hue and remained about four feet over its banks. The water clarity remained the same at three to four feet. I first fished the eddy along the southern shoreline just east of the sharp river bend. This area relinquished nine smallmouth bass and one northern pike on June 22, but today, the bass seemed to be in a funk and did not show any inclination to chase the five-inch or three-inch Kalin’s chartreuse/black flake Lunker Grubs rigged on purple 1/16-ounce Gopher jigs. I eked out one two-pound smallmouth from three feet of water on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red ZinkerZ affixed on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. Three smallmouth bass, including one four-pounder, showed an appetite for a three-inch Z-Man’s black Scented LeechZ donned on a purple 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and manipulated with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. After the bite fizzled out at this spot, I moved up river to the bridge, where I plied the rocky banks and an eddy behind one of the concrete and steel girder support pilings. This area surrendered nine smallmouth bass and one northern pike on June 20. But on this June 23 outing, the smallmouth bass at this location also seemed to be displaying a sour disposition, and I caught only two smallmouth bass and one 18-inch northern pike. These three fish were relating to the rocky shoreline of an eddy just below the bridge, and they were inhabiting three feet of water. They were attracted to the five-inch Kalin’s chartreuse/black flake Lunker Grub rigged on a purple 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was worked in a steady do-nothing manner. After taking a lunch break and checking out a local tackle shop, I returned to the southern city limits of Grand Rapids, and began fishing the weedy bay and rocky causeway along the northeastern shore of Lake Pokegama. This area yielded 24 largemouth bass and four smallmouth bass on June 22, but on this June 23 foray, the bite was much slower and tentative. I extracted 18 largemouth bass from four feet of water along the edges of the submerged milfoil beds in the bay. I inveigled two smallmouth bass and one yellow perch from seven feet of water along the east side of the riprap-laden causeway, and two largemouth bass from five feet of water that were associated with the submerged weed bed underneath the north end of the bridge. I then plied the rocky banks along the south end of the bridge. I landed two largemouth bass that were abiding in six feet of water just off the rocky bank underneath the bridge. I tangled with two more largemouth bass and several green sunfish off the southwest side of the causeway, and these fish were relating to the deep water edges of the riprap in seven feet of water. I tried many combinations of Z-Man baits and Gopher jigs, and the two most effective baits were the four-inch coppertreuse Finesse WormZ rigged on a purple 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a 2 1/4-inch watermelon-red FattyZ tail rigged on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Both of these baits were employed with a slow swim-glide-and-shake technique. All totaled, I caught 24 largemouth bass, eight smallmouth bass, eight green sunfish, one northern pike, and one yellow perch during six hours of fishing.

In conclusion, it quickly became evident that one needs a boat to access the many lakes and rivers in Minnesota. I also found that the tackle stores, fishing boats, and lake resorts are all geared for walleye fishing, and I did not see another bass angler while I was there. I also discovered that shoreline access along the banks of many of these lakes and rivers was almost nonexistent.

 

 

  • Steve Craven

    The blog above by Nathan Parker has a sentence in there that finesse fisherman need to re-read. There are times that a more aggressive approach to fishing the same waters where you usually have success with finesse will reap excellent results. While I also consider the 2.5″ stickbait and the 4″ curlytail grub to be my go-to baits day in and day out, there have been mutiple times when a crankbait instead of the grub and a small jig with craw trailer instead of the stickbait have really ruled or saved the day. As finesse fisherman versatility is not our strong suit. I am very guilty of fishing in a somewhat stagnant, but often productive manor. Fishing on the bottom with a stickbait or a finesse worm while swimmng a grub through the water column on a 2nd rod will almost always produce some sort of catch. But there will always be times that with a little experimentation, we can have more success and increase our catch rate or catch size. Finesse fishing in the highly pressured reservoirs and rivers of central Maryland is usually the first line of fishing tactics but in order to fully explore catching opportunities I find that occasionally delving into semi-power tactics is usually worth the time and effort. Hope all is well with you and yours, Steve Craven

    • nkehde

      Steve:
      Sorry that I am late in responding to your comments; we have been in Minnesota fishing with some of grandkids and their parents.

      Thanks again and again for contributing your insights to our monthly guides to Midwest finesse fishing. They are always refreshing.

      You are correct about that lack of versatility in our finesse tactics.

      In essence, some of us are old codgers who have grown weary of using power and semi-power tactics. In our minds and eyes, power is not a fun way to fish, and nowadays our focus is on having fun. In fact, I have come to the point in my piscatorial life were wielding a topwater bait isn’t fun; so I haven’t done it for a number of years.
      Please keep sending us your wonderful observations.

      Best wishes,
      Ned

      • Steve Craven

        First off Ned, I hope your vacation went well and there were some fond memories made. Secondly , I fully understand your veiwpoint about power fishing. The reason I fish out of a kayak is it’s simplicity. The reason I fish Midwest Finesse ( most of the time ) is because of it’s simplicity: a few basic baits on a few basic rigs with 2-3 rods. Simple,basic, productive. No need to worry about multiple lures for multiple situations in a never ending array of sizes, colors and shapes. For me, it is almost always one Plano waterproof tackle tray with 2 (maybe 3) spinning outfits. Simple, basic. However I occasionally like to break the same-old same-old with a little something different. In fishing this usually means crankbaits and jig and soft bait combos. I follow the same routine in my golfing life and my exercising routines. Even when what I am doing is productive in these venues, I will occasionally mix it up just for varieties sake. I find these little “breaks” from the routine can be mentally and physically refreshing. Playing a round of golf with just 2 clubs or taking a yoga class instead of my usual workout routine. But, like always, to each his own. Talk to you soon, Steve Craven

        • nkehde

          Steve:
          Brilliantly written. Please keep sending us your insights; they makes us better anglers and mortal beings.
          Best wishes,
          Ned

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