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Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, with on of the largemouth bass that he and Norman Brown caught on March 22.

The weather, as it frequently does, confounded many Midwest finesse anglers throughout much of March.

On March 29, Charlie Croom of Fayetteville, Arkansas, wrote in an email to the Finesse News Network, in which he reported that March was a ghastly time for him. The weather and the fishing were awful. The weather allowed him to fish only four times between March 1 and 27, and the fishing was dreadful; he caught only three largemouth bass. His catch rate improved on March 28, when he ventured to a 500-acre power-plant reservoir, where he caught 16 largemouth bass, but he classified his catch rate as abysmal, averaging only one largemouth every 30 to 45 minutes.

Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, filed a report on the Finesse News Network on March 29 that summarized his piscatorial endeavors in March. He said that it has been “a very miserable start to the year around here.” Waldman said the ice disappeared on March 15, and he fished on March 20, 21, and 22. The March 21 outing was a short bank-walking endeavor, and he caught six largemouth bass. On March 21 and 22, he was afloat two hours each day, and he caught 12 largemouth bass on each outing by wielding a tiny hair jig and a jerkbait. On March 28, Old Man Winter reappeared, setting a record low temperature and area thermometers struggled to climb above freezing during the afternoon hours. It was so wintry that several fishing tournaments were canceled. Then on March 29, the wind howled between 20 and 30 mph, and area thermometers ranged from a low temperature of 25 degrees to a high of only 44 degrees around 2:00 p.m. Therefore, he did not fish on March 28 and 29.

Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, who is one of the pioneers of Midwest finesse fishing, noted that the weather fluctuated so markedly from day to day and week to week in northeastern Kansas that neither the anglers nor their quarries knew which way to go. There were some unseasonably warm days and the water was warm enough that Reese could fish comfortably in his float tube for several hours. Then there were bitterly cold days when anglers had to don stocking caps, gloves, and heavy-duty winter wear, and the water temperature dropped, causing Reese’s feet to ache when he was fishing in his float tube.

Croom, Reese, and Waldman ended their observations by saying that they were hoping for better weather and fishing in April. Even some of us old codgers who hate to see the days fly by were glad to see March come to a close.

Besides Croom’s, Reese’s, and Waldman’s insights, this monthly guide includes the piscatorial observations and endeavors of Rick Allen of Dallas; Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas; Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri; Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas; Rick Heberstreit of Shawnee, Kansas; Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas; Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas; Ralph Manns of Rockwall, Texas; Greg Monahan of Lees Summit, Missouri; Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina; Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas; and me.

Reideler’s contributions are the most bountiful ones of the month. And as always, we are thankful that Steve Reideler proof read all of the 28,272 words of this month’s guide, which made it more readable and understandable.

March 3 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his March 3 outing with Rick Allen of Dallas.

He wrote: “Between Feb. 22 and March 1, north-central Texas was waylaid by two severe arctic storms that blanketed the area with snow and ice. But on March 2, the daytime high temperature rose to 46 degrees, which melted all of the snow and ice.

“The weather on March 3 was cloudy and dreary. It drizzled off and on throughout the day. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 40 degrees and the afternoon high reached 52 degrees. A gentle breeze blew out of the south at 4 to 6 mph. The barometric pressure measured 29.83. To our displeasure, more rain, sleet, and ice are forecasted for March 4. This next cold spell is expected to last through March 8.

“I joined Rick Allen at a nearby 30-acre reservoir. We were afloat from about noon to 5:00 p.m. In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted the best fishing periods would occur from 8:34 a.m. to 10:34 a.m. and 8:56 p.m. to 10:56 p.m. A minor period occurred from 2:23 a.m. to 4:23 a.m.

“This reservoir is T-shaped with an east to west orientation. It is linked to a series of four adjacent reservoirs that vary in size from two to 30 acres. It has limited shoreline access, and the access that is available is primarily along the southwest side and around a cove along the west shoreline.
“Except for a smooth concrete spillway that occupies about one quarter of the northern shoreline and a large concrete culvert that forms about one third of the southern shoreline, all of the shorelines are adorned with a decorative stone retaining wall that surrounds the entire reservoir. Thick walls of hydrilla usually flourish along the deep-water edge of the submerged base of the retaining walls during the summer months, but we did not find any hydrilla during this outing.

“There is only one cove in this reservoir, and it is situated along the western shoreline. It is slightly larger than a football field and is embellished with scores of 12-foot concrete pillars that stand in eight to 10 feet of water. A large brush pile lies between several of the concrete pilings along the north shore of the cove in about six feet of water.

“The water was stained with about two feet of visibility. The water’s temperature was 46 degrees, and the water level appeared to be about a foot high.

Rick and I began the afternoon probing the base of the decorative retaining wall and the large concrete culvert along the south shoreline, and these two areas failed to yield a strike.

We then plied the base of the decorative wall along the east side of the reservoir. The water depth next to the wall is five feet deep, and the boat floated in 10 to 20 feet of water. We caught two largemouth bass on a Z-Man Fishing Products’ green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher Tackle’s Mushroom Head Jig, and it was retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation. Both of these bass were dwelling in about eight feet of water and about 20 feet out from the base of the retaining wall.

Then we fished the concrete spillway and north shoreline of the reservoir, which is littered with several submerged brush piles and partially submerged tree limbs. The brush piles and tree limbs failed to surrender any bass, but one largemouth bass was caught from about five feet of water along the face of the concrete spillway. This bass was attracted to a Z-Man’s blue-steel Finesse ShadZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake action.

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Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, examines one of the largemouth bass that he and Rick Allen caught on March 3.

 

“Rick and I continued to work our way southward along the northwest end of the reservoir, which is also littered with submerged brush piles and tree limbs. We hooked one feisty largemouth bass that was relating to the retaining wall in five feet of water, but it was able to pull free before we could land it. This bass engulfed a Z-Man’s watermelon-red Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and presented in a slow swim-glide-and-shake manner.

“After we fished the north end of the reservoir, we made our way into the west-side cove. We caught only one largemouth bass in this cove, and it was caught next to one of the concrete pillars in eight feet of water. This bass was fooled by a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

“When we finished fishing the cove, we slowly meandered southward down the west shoreline, and the submerged brush piles and tree limbs that adorn this bank failed to relinquish any bites.

Rick and I finished the afternoon by returning to the east shoreline area where we caught two largemouth bass earlier in the day. We slowly dissected this area with a four-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red Finesse WormZ threaded on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man’s watermelon-red Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. The Finesse WormZ was presented with a slow hop-and-bounce presentation, and it finagled one largemouth bass. The Finesse ShadZ and a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve fooled another largemouth bass.
“All totaled, we struggled to catch six largemouth bass during five hours of fishing. Z-Man’s green pumpkin Finesse ShadZ inveigled three of the six largemouth bass. The watermelon-red Finesse ShadZ attracted two largemouth bass, but only one of these two bass were landed. The blue-steel Finesse ShadZ enticed one largemouth bass, and the four-inch watermelon-red Finesse WormZ bewitched one.

“We also tried a variety of Z-Man’s customized 2 1/2-inch FattyZ tubes, 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZs, Finesse T.R.D.s, and Hula StickZs, but these baits failed to produce any strikes.

“We applied all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves, and the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the most fruitful presentation.”

 

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Rick Allen of Dallas and one of the largemouth bass that he and Steve Reideler caught on March 3.

 March 3 log

Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, filed this brief on the Finesse News Network about his son-in-law, Preston Parks of Pittsboro, North Carolina, and his March 3 outing.

Here is a revised version of Poe’s brief:

Poe noted that Parks made a solo trip to a 4,000-acre power-plant reservoir. This was the first time that Parks had fished it. The reservoirs that he normally fishes were covered with ice.

It is a hill-land reservoir. The water clarity exhibited five to six feet of visibility. Within the warm-water plume, the surface temperature was 56 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best times would occur from 8:42 a.m. to 10:42 a.m. and 9:04 p.m. to 11:04 p.m. There was a minor period from 2:31 a.m. to 4:31 a.m. Parks was afloat from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The National Weather Service noted that the daylight temperatures ranged from 36 to 37 degrees. The sky was cloud covered, and it began to drizzle around 2:51 p.m. The wind angled out of the east at 5 to 20 mph, out of the southeast at 8 mph, and out of the northeast at 3 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.35 at 12:51 a.m., 30.37 at 5:51 a.m., 30.37 at 11:51 a.m., 30.24 at 2:51 p.m., and 30.18 at 5:51 p.m.

He used two baits: a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig and a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. Parks normally adds a rattle to his Midwest finesse rigs, but he didn’t employ a rattle on Mar. 3.

The two best locations were around docks that had eight to 10 feet of water in the front of them and some secondary creek points with gravel. This was his maiden-outing for fishing docks.

He used the Finesse T.R.D. combo around the docks, and he found it to be a stellar combo for skipping under the docks, where he focused on the piers of the docks. After the skip cast was executed, he allowed the Finesse T.R.D. to plummet vertically and adjacent to a pier, and if a largemouth bass did not engulf it on the initial fall, Parks moved and shook it a touch, and then he quickly made a cast to another piling.

On the gravel points, he retrieved the Hula StickZ with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

He caught 40 largemouth bass, and only three of them were dinks. The rest ranged from 1 1/2-pounds to three pounds.

March 8 log

Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his and a friend’s March 8 outing to a 4,000-acre power-plant reservoir, and it is the same reservoir that he wrote about on March 3.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 37 degrees at 4:51 a.m. and 71 degrees at 3:51 p.m. The wind was calm for eight of the nighttime and early morning hours, and then it angled out of the southwest at 6 to 10 mph, out of the west at 6 to 21 mph, and out of the northwest at 9 mph. It was partly cloudy most of the day. The barometric pressure was 30.24 at 12:51 a.m., 30.22 at 5:51 a.m., 30.26 at 11:51 a.m. at 2:51 p.m. , and 30.15 at 5:51 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing should occur from 12:58 a.m. to 3:58 a.m. and 1:20 p.m. to 3:20 p.m. There was a minor period from 7:09 a.m. to 9:09 a.m. Poe and his friend fished from 9:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Here is a condensed and edited version of his log:

One of the hardest things to do in angling is catch another man’s fish. I got another lesson in that yesterday. I tried to duplicate Preston Park’s nice catch of 40 largemouth bass that occurred earlier in the week, when I was joined by Abe Abernathy of Greensboro, North Carolina, who is an angling legend in North Carolina.

Compared to our other central piedmont reservoirs, this one was in fine shape. The water is warm and clear versus cold and muddy.
We fished the lower half of the reservoir, where the water was clear and the surface temperature ranged from 56 to 60 degrees. The upper half was cold and muddy as are all of the other reservoirs.

We were joined by 42 other boats. I had not fished this reservoir in more than 40 years, and Abe and I were interested to see where the other anglers where fishing. All the activity was focused on bluff ends. So, we decided to fish them, too. We fished an assortment of jigs, crankbaits, swimbaits, and a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company’s green-pumpkin-red-flake Zero on a blood- red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The terrain along the bluff ends consists of rock and scattered stumps.

After a couple of hours of failing to catch a largemouth bass on the bluff ends, we went into a windblown secondary creek, where we started catching a few largemouth bass around dock piers and other shallow wood-laden lairs. The 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company’s green-pumpkin-red-flake Zero on a blood-red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig was my best bait, and Abe caught his on a No. 5 Rapala silver-blue Shad Rap.

Ultimately, we caught 18 largemouth bass. The 2 1/2-inch Zero rig caught 13 of them, and the Shad Rap caught five. One of them weighed three pounds, and the rest of them were dinks, which was very disappointing.

The bulk of these largemouth bass were caught along the outside-corner poles or piers of the docks in about 10 feet of water. Most of the bites occurred on the initial fall and close to the bottom. None were caught by tricky manipulations that I tried. It seems as if the docks on this lake were built to thwart anglers. All have horizontal boarding at or below the waterline, which makes casting and presentations a nightmare.

In hindsight, I am guessing that we should have copied the masses and stayed deeper. But I was with the best mid- to deep-range springtime bass fisherman I know, and because he was befuddled by that deep bite , we scratched around shallow.

March 8 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his March 8 shoreline-walking outing.

He wrote: “The first day of daylight savings time was not a particularly pleasant one in north-central Texas. It was cloudy, dreary, and a cold rain fell throughout the morning. But when there was a break in the rain around 2:00 p.m., I made a quick beeline to a nearby small community reservoir.

“The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 44 degrees and the afternoon high slowly rose to 54 degrees. The average low temperature for March 8 is 45 degrees and the average high is 66 degrees. A chilly wind quartered out of the southeast at 5 to 11 mph. The barometric pressure measured 29.95.

“According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing for this day would occur from 12:50 a.m. to 2:50 a.m. and 1:12 p.m. to 3:12 p.m. A minor period would occur from 7:01 a.m. to 9:01 a.m. I walked this small reservoir’s shorelines for two hours from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

“This reservoir is about 100 yards long and 60 yards wide. The water’s clarity was extremely muddy, exhibiting just an inch or two of visibility. The water level was a couple of feet high, which was a byproduct of the recent rainfall that graced north-central Texas. I did not have the means to measure the water’s temperature.

“After Rick Allen of Dallas, who frequently fishes with me, and I read a number of articles that proclaimed how difficult largemouth bass fishing could be when the water is cold and muddy,  we always avoided fishing those trying water conditions in winters past. But since we have become ardent practitioners of Midwest finesse tactics, we have been delighted to discover that we can catch a few largemouth bass in the smaller reservoirs of north-central Texas that exhibit the cold and muddy conditions that most other anglers refuse to fish until the waters warm significantly in the spring.

“I began the outing by fishing this reservoir’s east shoreline, which is formed by a plain, steep mud terrain. I probed this shoreline with two baits: a Z-Man’s Chartreuse Sparkle 3 1/2-inch GrubZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a customized 2 3/16-inch Z-Man’s green pumpkin-orange FattyZ tube rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The GrubZ was retrieved with a slow and steady swim retrieve, and the FattyZ tube was presented with a drag and shake technique. Neither of these baits produced a strike from this area.

“I then dissected the north shoreline, which is comprised of a large mud flat, several small mud points, and a water outlet enclosed in a concrete structure that is positioned about halfway down the bank in about five feet of water. A small but steady stream of water was trickling over the top of the concrete structure that surrounds the water outlet. The east end of the mud flat surrendered one largemouth bass. The concrete structure surrounding the water outlet relinquished two largemouth bass. Another largemouth bass was caught on a small mud point about 50 feet west of the water outlet, and one bass was caught along the west end of this shoreline, which is slightly deeper and steeper than the east end. All five of these bass were extracted from about three to five feet of water and about six feet out from the water’s edge. Four of these five bass were inveigled by a customized 2 3/16-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ tube on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The fifth bass was caught on a Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Both of these baits were presented in a slow drag-and-shake manner.

“Near the western end of this reservoir, there is a large island, and two creek channels run parallel to the north and south side of the island. I plied the shorelines of the island and both of the creek channels with the FattyZ tube and Hula StickZ, but I failed to find any bass relating to the island’s shorelines or along the two creek channels.

“I checked a spawning cove that forms the west end of the reservoir. The north and south shorelines in this cove are steep and made of clay and a few scattered fist-size rocks. I failed to cross paths with any bass in this cove.

“I finished the outing by fishing the south shoreline, which is fairly straight and enhanced with several small mud points and a decorative concrete and stone wall that borders a shallow mud point. The mud point adjacent to the decorative stone wall yielded one largemouth bass that was relating to the west side of the point in three feet of water, and it was caught on the black-blue-flake FattyZ tube and drag-and-shake retrieve. I also experimented with a customized 2 1/4-inch black-blue flake FattyZ tail section rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, but it failed to allure any largemouth bass.

“In sum, the fishing was slow and trying after the cold morning rain. I was only able to conjure up six largemouth bass in two hours, but those six bass ranged in size from 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 pounds. However, this excursion was more fruitful than my previous outing on March 3, when Rick Allen of Dallas and I struggled to eke out six largemouth bass during five-hours of fishing.

“The customized 2 3/16-inch black-blue-flake FattyZ tube was the most productive lure, and a slow drag-and-shake presentation was the most lucrative retrieve.

March 8 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed the following brief on the Finesse News Network about his outing with Greg Monahan of Lees Summit, Missouri, at a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir on March 8.

The National Weather Service at Olathe, Kansas, reported that it was 38 degree at 5:53 a.m. and 67 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The wind blew out of the east at 6 mph, out of the southeast at 3 mph, out of the south at 3 to 13 mph, out of the southwest at 5 to 9 mph, and out of the west at 5 to 20 mph. (Gum described the wind as being a touch breezy but manageable.) The sun was shining everywhere. The barometric pressure was 30.15 at 12:53 a.m., 30.10 at 5:53 a.m., 30.08 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.01 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar notes that the best fishing would occur from 6:44 a.m. to 8:44 a.m. and 7:12 p.m. to 9:12 p.m. There would be a minor period from 12:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Gum and Monahan fished from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The water was stained, exhibiting 1 1/2 feet of clarity. The water level was normal. The surface temperature was 41 degrees at the dam and 54 degrees in the vicinity of the warm-water outlet. Only one generator was producing electricity. The second one is scheduled to start generating on March 16, which should help the water to warm up. The generating system is being rebuilt. And throughout much of the winter, the generators have not been producing electricity, and the water temperatures have been extremely cold and the largemouth bass fishing has been very lackluster.

They caught only seven largemouth bass and inadvertently caught seven white bass. The largemouth bass were caught on three Midwest finesse baits: a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Strike King green-pumpkin-red-flake Zero on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Bama Craw Zero on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

These largemouth bass were extracted from two to five feet of water. They were caught along a bluff inside the warm-water plume, on a flat point near the warm-water outlet, and along an eastside riprap shoreline outside the warm-water plume.

Gum noted that there was a largemouth bass tournament at this reservoir on March 14, and none of the contestants weighed in a largemouth bass. The tournament organizers returned the entry fee to all of the competitors. Also Casey Kidder of Topeka, Kansas, emailed Gum and reported that he and a friend fished this reservoir on March 14, and he said, “Fishing was terrible for us. My partner caught two bass toward the end of the day. I fished finesse 50 percent of the time, and I never had a bite. No drum, no white bass, nothing.”

 

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Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, and I were confounded with ice that covered more than 15 percent of the the 195-acre community reservoir that we fished on March 9.

 

March 9 log

This winter’s largemouth bass fishing in northeastern Kansas has been almost as difficult as the largemouth bass fishing that Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, and Rick Allen of Dallas frequently endure at their north-central Texas waterways.

What’s more, the flatland reservoirs that stipple the countryside of northeastern Kansas have been covered with ice four times. Consequently, Mother Nature’s wintery and icy ways had kept me at bay since Feb. 13, and the fourth coating was still prevalent on March 8 and 9.

After area thermometers climbed to 61 degrees on March 6, and 71 degrees on March 7, and 70 degrees on March 8, my wife, Patty, and I thought that we might be able to dissect some of the patches of submerged aquatic vegetation that grace the shallow mud flats in the back of the feeder-creek arms at a 195-acre community reservoir. Our mission was to find an array of largemouth bass that our three youngest grandsons from San Antonio, Texas, could catch on Mar. 10-13, when they visit us during their spring break from school.

But as we drove across the dam on the way to one of the boat ramps, we were astonished to see that ice covered more than 55 percent of this reservoir. Nevertheless, we launched the boat, surveyed the condition of the ice and made a few half-hearted and fruitless casts and retrieves. While we were afloat, anglers in four other bass boats were fruitlessly plying some of the ice-free shorelines and offshore lairs. We also spent about 15 minutes chatting with Eric Fortner of Gardner, Kansas, about the winter woes that have afflicted anglers in northeastern Kansas. And the three of us surmised that the ice would disappear during the nighttime hours of March 8 and 9. After our chat with Fortner, Patty and I put our boat on the trailer and headed home.

On the morning of March 9, Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, and I ventured to the same 195-acre community reservoir in hopes of finding some largemouth bass that these three youngsters could catch.

Lau had just returned from China, where he had been for several months, and he was suffering from jet lag and terrible arthritis around both of his thumbs. His arthritis affected the way he could hold a spinning rod and reel. Because of these two woes, we planned to fish about an hour and a half, which we thought would be enough time to locate an area or two where a significant number of largemouth bass were abiding.

The National Weather Service noted that it was 28 degrees at 7:52 a.m. and 57 degrees at 1:52 p.m. The wind was nonchalant, and occasionally when a slight breeze erupted, it came from a variety of directions at 3 to 8 mph. The sun was shining everywhere. The barometric pressure was 30.09 at 12:52 a.m., 30.08 at 5:52 a.m., 30.11 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.07 at 1:52 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 1:31 a.m. to 3:31 a.m. and 1:51 p.m. to 3:54 p.m. There was a minor period from 7:24 a.m. to 9:42 a.m. We fished from 10:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., which were a lot more minutes than we intended to spend.

The water level was several inches above normal. The surface temperature ranged from 40 to 42 degrees. The water clarity was extremely clear, but it was stained halfway back in one of the feeder-creek arms, where it looked as if some underwater creatures had been uprooting the aquatic vegetation and stirring up the silt. The back corner of another feeder-creek arm was afflicted by a similar looking phenomenon.

Despite the 40- to 42-degree surface temperature, Lau and I were disappointed to discover that all of the ice had not disappeared during the nighttime hours of March 8 and 9. In fact, 15 to 20 percent of the reservoir’s surface was still covered with ice, and ninety percent of one of the feeder-creek arms was covered with unbreakable ice.

We had to break several hundred yards of ice to reach a mud flat in the back of one of the feeder-creek arms, where the surface was ice free. More than 20 acres of this mud flat is scattered with several minor humps and a multitude of patches of curly-leaf pondweed. Lau and I spent an hour and 40 minutes dissecting this entire area, and as we dissected it, our boat floated in three to seven feet of water. Several significant schools of gizzard shad were sashaying around this flat and dimpling the surface.

During ice-off days in years past, we have been able to tangle with 100 largemouth bass in three to four hours of fishing on this particular mud flat, but on this outing, Lau and I tangled with only six largemouth bass, and we inadvertently caught four crappie and one wiper.

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Pok-Chi Lau holds the wiper we inadvertently caught.

 

One largemouth bass was caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. One largemouth bass was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California Craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Four largemouth bass were caught on a customized 2 3/16-inch Z-Man’s Junebug FattyZ tube on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. All of these baits were retrieved with a drag and subtle shake presentation. These fish were extracted from three to five feet of water.

At 11:50 a.m., we decided to explore some patches of submerged aquatic vegetation on a shallow mud flat that lies about halfway inside another feeder-creek arm. This flat is also embellished with a ledge. As we fished this area, which is the size of a football field, our boat floated in five to eight feet of water. We failed to elicit a strike.

By 12:05 p.m., we thought about calling it a day, and at the same time, we were desperate to garner another strike. So, we decided to examine a spot near the mouth of the feeder-creek that was ninety percent covered with ice. Steve Oritz of Lawrence, Kansas, fished this locale with a clown-colored jerkbait on Feb. 13, and he tangled with 17 largemouth bass. Part of the area where Oritz caught those 17 largemouth bass was still covered with ice. But to our delight, we caught a largemouth bass on our second cast around the ice-free portions of this locale, and we caught another one on our third cast. For the next 20 minutes, we fished about a 120-foot stretch of water several times. Our boat floated in 17 to 20 feet of water, and we made casts into about four feet of water. We probed a terrain that was littered with massive boulders that is interspersed with gravel and football-size rocks, a half dozen big stumps, patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, some dilapidated brushpiles, and a significant ledge. During this final 20-minute span, we caught eight more largemouth bass.

Two of those 10 largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Four were caught on a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Four were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California Craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We retrieved these baits with a drag and minor shake routine. These 10 largemouth bass were extracted out of five to 10 feet of water.

In years past, we found that our ice-off endeavors were always lackluster when 10 percent of the reservoir’s surface is covered with ice, and perhaps that might have been the reason why Lau and I struggled to catch 16 largemouth bass in 2 1/2 hours on March 9.

Pok-Chi Lau with the first largemouth bass of the outing.

Pok-Chi Lau with the first largemouth bass of the outing.

March 12 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his spectacular bank-walking outing on March 12. (A spectacular outing is a rare phenomenon in north-central Texas.)

He wrote: “Mother Nature is beginning to release her wintry grip on north-central Texas, and our dreaded mid-December to mid-March fishing woes will be coming to an end soon. Dandelions are cropping up in many area lawns, daffodils are in full bloom in our gardens, and the Bradford pear, purple plum, and dogwood trees are beginning to display their vibrant springtime blooms.

“The day started off dark and cloudy, but it became sunny and partly cloudy by mid-afternoon. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 50 degrees and the afternoon high was a mild 68 degrees. The barometric pressure measured 30.21. The wind quartered out of the northeast at 8 to 12 mph.

“I enjoyed the afternoon by leisurely meandering around the shorelines of a 12-acre reservoir that lies in a suburb north of Dallas, where the water was stained with about 2 1/2 feet of visibility. The water level was normal. I was unable to measure the water’s temperature.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted the best fishing periods would occur from 2:29 a.m. to 4:29 a.m. and 2:41 p.m. to 4:21 p.m. A minor period occurred from 8:04 a.m. to 10:04 a.m. I fished from about 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
.

“The east side of this reservoir encompasses two coves that are divided by a long, sand, and gravel point. I opted to start in the southeastern cove. The southeastern cove is formed by a steep mud and rock terrain, and a creek channel courses across this cove from the mid-section of its south shoreline to the northeastern corner of the cove. A mud and gravel point courses northward from the south shoreline and forms the mouth of this cove.

“Throughout this winter, this cove has been the most fruitful area. But after I probed this cove for over 90 minutes with a variety of customized Z-Man’s FattyZ tubes and customized 2 1/4-inch Z-Man’s FattyZ tail sections rigged on a variety of colors and sizes of Gopher jigs, I was surprised that I was unable to catch a largemouth bass.

“After I finished fishing the southeast cove, I proceeded westward along the south side of the prominent east-side point that divides the southeast cove and northeast cove. The south side of this point has been this reservoir’s second most productive area this winter. I experimented with a variety of Z-Man’s Scented LeechZs, Finesse T.R.D.s, and four-inch Finesse WormZs, and I failed to garner a single strike. When I reached the western tip of this point, I switched to a Z-Man’s pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and it was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The Finesse ShadZ fooled one largemouth bass that was about 45 feet off the shoreline in about eight to ten feet of water. The remainder of this point failed to surrender any strikes.

“I then worked my way eastward into the northeastern cove. This cove contains a large mud flat with a small ditch that courses across the middle of the cove from the east shoreline toward the west shoteline. I caught one largemouth bass from the south edge of the ditch in four feet of water, and one largemouth bass from the northeast end of the ditch in two feet of water. Both of these bass were attracted to the Finesse ShadZ and slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

“I then worked my way northward and plied the northern end of the reservoir. The north shoreline is mostly straight, with a three foot mud and gravel ledge that extends outward from the water’s edge and drops off into five feet of water. I continued to use the Finesse ShadZ, but this area did not yield any bites.

“Next, I focused on the west shoreline, which is comprised of sand, gravel, and a few scattered fist-sized rocks. This shoreline is also enhanced with a shallow ledge that extends about three feet from the water’s edge before it slowly descends into five feet of water. I caught one largemouth bass along the northwest end of this shoreline, and it was extracted from the top of the ledge in three feet of water. This bass was inveigled by the Finesse ShadZ worked in a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

“Up to this point, I was very disappointed with my results, and I was contemplating ending this outing early and going home. But I decided to stay and finish the outing by probing the south shoreline. This area consists of a large mud and gravel spawning flat that has been unproductive all winter long. I checked the deep water edge of the flat, which lies about 35 feet from the water’s edge and is covered with three to five feet of water. I was astonished when it relinquished 33 largemouth bass during the last 42 minutes of this outing. I caught 10 of these 33 bass on my first 10 consecutive casts. Twenty-nine of these 33 bass were caught on the pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. I caught two more largemouth bass from this same area on a four-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-green flake Finesse WormZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and presented with the same slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. A Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and retrieved with the slow swim-glide-and-shake motif caught the last two largemouth bass. Four other bass were able to pull free before I could land them, and I missed several other strikes on the hook set.

“Overall, I was delighted to tangle with 37 largemouth bass during this four-hour foray, which is considered a spectacular outing for this time of year in north-central Texas. Z-Man’s pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ allured 33 of the 37 bass. A four-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-green-flake Finesse WormZ caught two. A Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. caught two. A slew of customized Z-Man’s 2 3/16-inch FattyZ tubes, customized 2 1/4-inch FattyZ tail sections, and Scented LeechZs, failed to induce any bites. The slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the only productive presentation.”

March 14 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his bank-walking endeavors on March 14.

He wrote: “The larger reservoirs in north-central Texas are still cold and murky, with water temperatures ranging from 44 to 46 degrees. We have found that when water temperatures are this cold, the black bass bite in the larger reservoirs becomes practically nonexistent. As a consequence, we continue to ply our smaller reservoirs until the larger reservoirs warm up enough for the black bass to become active again.

“March 14 was cloudy and windy, and on a couple of occasions, it lightly rained for about 10 minutes. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 50 degrees and the afternoon high was 60 degrees. The wind was out of the northwest at 10 to 18 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.11.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the optimum fishing periods would take place from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and 6:27 p.m. to 8:27 p.m. A minor period would occur between 11:46 a.m. to 1:46 p.m. I walked the shorelines at two nearby community reservoirs from about noon to 4:00 p.m.

“My first stop was at a 20-acre reservoir. I last fished this reservoir on Feb. 11 with Rick Allen of Dallas, and during that outing, we caught five largemouth bass, which were the first bass we had ever caught from this reservoir during the month of February.

“On March 14, the water was stained with about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The water level appeared to be slightly high. I was unable to measure the water’s temperature.

“The north end of this reservoir is composed of a large, shallow mud flat with tall stands of cattails lining its bank. It is a protected migratory waterfowl nesting area, and I did not fish this area.

“I began plying the east shoreline, which is steep and curved. Just south of the nesting area is a long, clay and gravel point that extends westward into the middle of the reservoir. A small brush pile is positioned on the south side of this point. A smaller sand and gravel point is located along the mid-section of this shoreline, and it is steeper than the long clay and gravel point. I caught two largemouth bass off the tip of this point in four feet of water. One was enticed by a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and shake presentation. The second bass was caught on a customized 2 3/16-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ tube on a blue 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, and it was presented with a slow drag-and-shake retrieve. The south end of this shoreline is covered with sand and gravel, and is flatter than the area surrounding the second point. I caught two largemouth bass that were scattered in about eight feet of water, and they were about 25 feet from the water’s edge. Both of these bass were allured by the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

“I then probed the smooth concrete slab dam that forms the southern perimeter of this reservoir, and this area failed to surrender any bass.

“After I finished fishing the dam area, I explored two steep, sand and gravel shorelines adjacent to a 75-foot fishing pier that is positioned along the mid-section of the western shoreline. This area relinquished two largemouth bass that were scattered along the steep shoreline in four feet of water. One of these largemouth bass was attracted to the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ and slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The other bass engulfed the customized 2 3/16-inch FattyZ tube and slow drag-and-shake retrieve.

“From there, I drove to a smaller community reservoir, which I fished on March 8, and it produced six largemouth bass during two hours of fishing.

“This watershed is about the size of a football field. The water was about a foot high and it exhibited an odd chartreuse and green hue. I suspect this phenomenon may be the result of fertilizers and other chemicals that washed into this pond during the rain storms that occurred on March 13.

“I started off dissecting the northern shoreline, which is comprised of a large mud flat, several small mud points, and a water outlet enclosed in a concrete structure that is positioned about midway down the shoreline in about five feet of water. I coaxed only one strike along this entire shoreline, and it came from the west end of the mud flat. This largemouth bass was residing in three feet of water, and it engulfed a four-inch Berkley’s black-blue Power Grub rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a slow hop-and-bounce retrieve.

“I plied a spawning cove that forms the west end of this pond. The north and south shorelines in this cove are steep and made of clay and sprinkled with a few fist-size rocks. I caught two largemouth bass from three to five feet of water along the south bank of this cove, and they both attacked the four-inch Berkley Power Grub and hop-and-bounce presentation.

“There is a large island situated toward the west end of this reservoir. Two creek channels parallel the north and south side of the island. I plied the shorelines of the island and both of the creek channels with the Berkley Power Grub and a Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ threaded on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, but these areas failed to render any bass.

“Then, I focused on the south shoreline, which is fairly straight and enhanced with several small mud points and a decorative concrete and stone wall that borders a shallow mud point. I caught one largemouth bass along the east end of this long shoreline, and it was relating to a small mud point in three feet of water. This bass was caught on the Hula StickZ and slow drag-and-shake retrieve.

“I finished this outing by probing the east shoreline, which is formed by a plain, steep mud terrain. This area failed to yield any strikes.

“All totaled, I could only dredge up ten largemouth bass in four hours. Four of these bass were two pounders, and two weighed more than three pounds.

“A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ and slow swim-glide-shake retrieve allured four largemouth bass. A Berkley’s four-inch black-blue Power Grub and hop-and-bounce presentation inveigled three. A customized 2 3/16-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake FattyZ tube and drag-and-shake technique garnered two bass. A Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ and drag-and-shake presentation caught one.”

March 15 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed this report on the Finesse News Network about a river outing on March 15 that Rick Allen of Dallas enjoyed in the south Texas Hill Country.

Here is a condensed and edited version of Allen’s report:

The Weather Underground noted that on March 15 the weather in Ingram, Texas, was sunny with partly cloudy skies. The morning low temperature was 58 degrees and the afternoon high was 71 degrees. The wind blew out of the north at 4 to 14 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.25.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar listed the prime fishing periods occurring from 7:01 a.m. to 9:01 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. A minor period would take place from 12:47 a.m. to 2:47 a.m. Rick was afloat from 3:45 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The river’s water temperature was 60 degrees, and it displayed about four feet of clarity. The water level was normal.

He said that the bass fishing was horrid on March 13, and he could muster only one largemouth bass while he struggled to locate any significant concentrations of bass during this three-hour outing.

On March 15, he said the bass fishing had improved significantly, and he was delighted to tangle with 18 largemouth bass and two Guadeloupe bass during this two-hour and fifteen-minute excursion.

Allen wrote that he started the outing at a shallow point on the north side of the river that was covered with lily pads, which floated in about four feet of water. He selected a Z-Man’s watermelon-red Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and fished it with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. In about 20 minutes, he caught six largemouth bass, and all of them were caught from the deep-water edge of the lily pads.

After he finished fishing the point, he continued to probe the outside edge of this patch of lily pads, but he failed to elicit any other strikes.

Then he moved to the south side of the river, where he fished another patch of lily pads, employing a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. During the next hour, he caught 12 largemouth bass and two Guadeloupe bass that were relating to the edges of the lily pads in four to six feet of water.

After he caught the 20th black bass of the outing, he called it a day, describing it as a pretty good one, considering the same water produced only one bass the day before at the same time of day.

March 15 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed the following brief on the Finesse News Network about his March 15 outing with Greg Monahan of Lees Summit, Missouri, to a 160-acre state reservoir.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 24 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 75 degrees at 5:52 p.m. The wind was nil from 12:52 a.m. to 9:52 a.m., and after that it angled out of the south at 9 to 15 mph and southwest at 12 to 24 mph. It was sunny. The barometric pressure was 30.26 at 12:52 a.m., 30.28 at 5:52 a.m., 30.30 at 10:52 a.m., and 30.17 at 3:52 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 6:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. and 7:14 p.m. to 9:14 p.m. A minor period took place from 12:31 a.m. to 2:31 a.m. Gum and Monahan fished from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The surface temperatures hovered around 47 degrees. The water level was above normal. The water clarity exhibited six feet of visibility. Mats of filamentous algae littered some of the shallow-water lairs. Gum and Monahan focused most of their attention on patches of curly-leaf pondweed that embellished the flats in the upper third segment of the reservoir’s two major feeder-creek arms.

To their chagrin, the largemouth bass fishing was lackluster, as it has been at most of the waterways in northeastern Kansas during the last half of 2014 and during the first two and half months of 2015.

They caught only 18 largemouth bass and inadvertently caught eight crappie. Some of the crappie were bigger than bass, which provokes the fear that the largemouth bass virus has hit this reservoir, as it has waylaid several nearby reservoirs. Gum also suspects that the change in the 13- to 18-inch slot limit to a 15-inch minimum length limit has adversely effected the size of the largemouth bass that abide in this heavily fished reservoir.

Gum and Monahan caught the bulk of the 26 fish on either a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Junebug Zero or a 2 1/2-inch Strike King green-pumpkin-red- flake Zero. These Zeros were affixed to either a blood-red or chartreuse-black 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. They retrieved these baits by dragging them through the sparse patches of curly-leaf pond weed in seven to 10 feet of water.

March 16 log

Seven days ago, Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, and I fished a 195-acre community reservoir, and 15 to 20 percent of it was covered with ice. On our March 16 outing, we ventured to a 416-acre community reservoir, and the weather and water conditions were markedly different.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 45 degrees at 3:53 a.m. and 84 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The normal low temperature for March 16 is 32 degrees. The normal high temperature is 55 degrees. From midnight to 5:53 p.m., the wind angled out of a variety of directions and speeds; it blew out of the south at 6 to 30 mph, out of the north at 7 mph, out of the west at 7 mph, and out of the southwest at 7 to 32 mph. (It was the first outing in 2015 that we had to use a drift sock for boat control .) The barometric pressure was 30.13 at 12:53 a.m., 30.09 at 5:53 a.m., 30.02 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.89 at 3:53 p.m.

The water level was nearly normal. The surface temperature ranged from 44 to 47 degrees. The water clarity exhibited more than eight feet of visibility at many locales. Some locales were infested with massive clumps of filamentous algae. We didn’t find any patches of curly-leaf pondweed or Eurasian milfoil.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing should occur from 7:39 a.m. to 9:39 a.m. and 8:07 p.m. to 10:07 p.m. There was a minor period from 1:25 a.m. to 3:25 a.m. Lau and I fished from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and we were bass fishing for trout. (For more information about bass fishing for trout, please see the articles at these links: http://www.in-fisherman.com/2012/02/22/bass-fishing-for-trout; http://www.in-fisherman.com/2013/12/02/midwest-finesse-fishing-november-2013; http://www.in-fisherman.com/2013/05/09/a-month-by-month-guide-to-midwest-finesse-april-2013; http://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/bass-fishing-for-trout-2014/.)

The largemouth bass fishing at the community, state, and federal reservoirs across northeastern Kansas has been worse than lackluster during the first 75 days of 2015. The sorry nature of what has been transpiring was poignantly reflected by the fact the Lau and I tangled with only five largemouth bass on this outing. Before the largemouth bass virus walloped this reservoir, we always caught considerably more largemouth bass than trout, but since the virus has performed it dastardly deeds, we usually catch more trout than largemouth bass while we are bass fishing for trout.

On this March 16 outing, Lau and I caught 18 trout, as well as the first cold-water smallmouth bass of 2015. (We caught 10 smallmouth bass on Jan. 22, but we fished the warm-water outlet at a 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir.)

Four of the five largemouth bass that we caught were scattered far and wide along three main-lake shorelines on the east side of the reservoir, and the total length of these three shorelines is about 500 yards. And they are located in the mid-portions of the reservoir.

One largemouth bass was caught on a shortened Z-Man’s Canada Craw Hula StickZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig adjacent to a laydown. The boat floated in seven feet of water. The largemouth bass was abiding in about four feet of water, and it engulfed the Hula StickZ on the initial fall. The topography of this flat shoreline is cluttered with rocks and an occasional boulder and a few laydowns.

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Pok-Chi Lau with the first largemouth bass of the outing.

Two of the largemouth bass were caught along a steep bluff, while the boat floated in 15 to 22 feet of water. They engulfed a green-pumpkin TrailerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a drag and deadstick retrieve. Both of the bass were abiding in about six feet of water. A submerged creek channel buffets a portion of this bluff. And the terrain consists of rocks, boulders, gravel, and several ledges. One largemouth bass was caught 20 yards upstream from where the submerged creek channel strikes the bluff, and the second one was caught about 20 yards downstream from where the submerged creek channel hits the bluff.

One largemouth bass was caught along a 45-degree shoreline that was embellished with a massive patch of winter-dead American water willows, gravel, rocks, and boulders. It was extracted out of six feet of water, and it was inveigled by the green-pumpkin TrailerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was being presented with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve.

The fifth largemouth bass was caught along a west-side bluff in the upper portions of the reservoir. The boat floated in 15 feet of water. This bluff is embellished with scores of massive boulders, several laydowns, a series of minor ledges, patches of winter-dead American water willows, and several tertiary points. This largemouth bass was extracted out of six feet of water. It was allured by a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve.

The smallmouth bass was caught along a submerged rock fence in the lower portions of the reservoir. The boat floated in 15 feet of water. The smallmouth bass was extracted out of three to four feet of water. It was caught on a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve.

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The first cold-water smallmouth bass of 2015.

Ten of the trout were caught along the same west-side bluff in the upper portions of this reservoir where the fifth largemouth bass was caught. These trout were caught while our boat floated in 11 to 15 feet of water. The trout were allured by three baits: a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California Craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a shortened Z-Man’s Canada Craw Hula StickZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. These baits were presented with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve. Most of the trout would strike our baits two or three times before we could hook them.

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The biggest trout of the outing.

Three of the 18 trout were caught more than halfway inside a main-lake cove on the west side of the reservoir. The boat floated in 12 to 15 feet of water. And these trout were caught on a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve.

Three trout were caught along three main-lake shorelines on the east side of the reservoir, which is where we caught four of the five largemouth bass that we caught. One trout was caught on a green-pumpkin TrailerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve along a 45-degree shoreline in about five feet of water. One was caught on a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve along a steep bluff in about seven feet of water. One was caught on a shortened Z-Man’s Canada Craw Hula StickZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig along a flat shoreline in about four feet of water.

Pok-Chi Lau holds the first trout of the day.

Pok-Chi Lau holds the first trout of the day.

We caught one trout on a massive shallow flat about halfway inside a feeder-creek arm. This trout was abiding in five feet of silt-laden water, and it engulfed a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California Craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was being retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

We caught one trout along the north shoreline of another feeder-creek arm. This shoreline is graced with scores of laydowns, gravel, rock, several man-made brushpiles, and some boulders. The boat floated in nine feet of water, and the trout was extracted from about five feet of water. It was caught on a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

On this first wind-blown day that we have fished in 2015, we tangled with 24 fish, which is a subpar outing for anglers who employ Midwest finesse tactics in northeastern Kansas. In short, something is awry in this part of the piscatorial world, but the number of variables (such as the weather and the effects of the largemouth bass virus) that interact with one another makes it difficult for us to fathom what is transpiring.

March 17 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his March 17 outing at a 250-acre reservoir.
He wrote: “I last fished this reservoir on Jan. 6, and during that awful 3 1/2-hour outing, I was unable to generate a single strike and I ended the outing early.

“At the beginning of this winter’s dreaded mid-December to mid-March cold-water period, I had high hopes that this reservoir would be a fruitful wintertime venue. But to my dismay, I discovered that the bass bite fizzled out in this reservoir, just like it does in the other large reservoirs in north-central Texas. As I drove home that afternoon, I swore to myself that I would not fish it again until mid-March.

“March 17 started off bright and sunny, but by mid-afternoon, dark cumulonimbus clouds began gathering overhead. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 60 degrees and the afternoon high warmed to 84 degrees. The wind was light and variable. The barometric pressure was 30.12. Heavy thunderstorms are forecasted for the late night hours of March 17, and they are expected to last throughout March 18, and into the morning hours of March 19.

“In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best fishing periods would take place from 8:43 a.m. to 10:43 a.m. and 9:11 p.m. to 11:11 p.m. A minor period would occur from 2:29 a.m. to 4:29 a.m. I fished from about 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

“The water was clear and exhibited about four feet of visibility. The water’s surface temperature ranged from 55 to 58 degrees. The water level appeared to be about normal.

“I prepared my four spinning outfits with the following lures: a 2 1/4-inch customized Z-Man’s watermelon-red FattyZ tail on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; four-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red Finesse WormZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-blue flake Finesse ShadZ on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; and a 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

“I started off plying a cove situated along the southwest end of the reservoir. The shorelines in this cove are covered with softball-sized and baseball-sized rocks. It is also festooned with patches of winter-dead American water willows and cattails. Thick clumps of filamentous algae were growing between the American water willow stems. A submerged creek channel parallels the north shoreline. The south shoreline is flatter and shallower than the north bank and is graced with rocks, thick patches of American water willows, two wooden swimming docks, and two dilapidated concrete boat ramps.

“The northern shoreline yielded five largemouth bass that were scattered along the shoreline in five to eight feet of water. Four were caught on the 2 1/4-inch customized FattyZ tail presented in a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and the fifth bass was allured by the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ that was retrieved with a slow drag-and-shake presentation. I also tried slowly strolling the ZinkerZ along the ledges of the creek channel in 10 to 17 feet of water, but I was unable to entice any bass.

“I also fished the south shoreline in this cove and found it less fruitful than the northern bank, but it surrendered two largemouth bass and one crappie. All three of these fish were relating to the deep-water edges of the patches of American water willow in three to five feet of water. They were bewitched by the green-pumpkin-blue flake Finesse ShadZ and swim-glide-and-shake action. I found no bass relating to the two swimming docks and two dilapidated concrete boat ramps.

“After I finished fishing the cove, I fished a steep and rocky main-lake point just north of the cove. I failed to find any bass relating to the shallow water rocks or American water willow patches along the shoreline. My sonar revealed a large school of fish about 25 yards off the point. These fish were suspended four feet deep in 15 to 17 feet of water. I have not had much luck this winter enticing bites from suspended fish in open water, but I spent about 30 minutes trying to coax these fish into biting. I managed to entice two largemouth bass and one white bass into striking the customized FattyZ tail section manipulated in a slow swim-glide-and-shake manner. I could not get any other fish in this large school to strike the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ, four-inch Finesse WormZ, and Finesse ShadZ.

“My next stop was at a riprap-covered dam that is situated along the south end of the reservoir. The dam is about 150 yards long, and there is 30-feet of water nearby. The east end of the dam did not surrender any bass. I hooked two largemouth bass along the mid-section of the dam, but I landed only one. Both of these bass were inveigled by the 2 1/4-inch FattyZ tail and swim-glide-and-shake presentation. The west end of the dam relinquished one largemouth bass and one white bass. These two fish attacked the Finesse ShadZ retrieved in a slow swim-glide-and-shake manner. All four of these fish were milling about in six to eight feet of water and about 10 feet from the water’s edge.

“The fifth spot I fished was a main-lake rocky shoreline along the southeast end of the reservoir. This stretch of shoreline is about 50-yards long. It is adorned with five separate patches of American water willow stems, two rock piles, and several tall stands of cattails. The deep-water edge of the patch of American water willow on the north end of this stretch of bank produced one largemouth bass and one white bass. Both of these fish were abiding in four feet of water and engulfed the four-inch Finesse WormZ worked in a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation. One of the two rock piles yielded one spotted bass that was relating to the deep-water edge of the rock pile in five feet of water. This bass also engulfed the four-inch Finesse WormZ, and it is the first spotted bass I have caught this year.

“My last locale was a small, shallow-water cove located along the southeast end of the reservoir. It is about 75-yards long. It is adorned with patches of dead American water willows and cattails that border the shoreline in two to three feet of water. The deepest area of this cove is covered with eight feet of water. This cove yielded one largemouth bass and one crappie. Both of these fish were caught along the deep-water edge of a patch of American water willows in about three feet of water. Both of these fish were beguiled by the 2 1/4-inch FattyZ tail and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

“I caught 14 largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and I inadvertently caught three white bass and two crappie in five hours of fishing. This is considered a good late-winter outing by north-central Texas standards. I’m now optimistic that our wintertime bass fishing woes may be finally coming to an end.

“Overall, the 2 1/4-inch customized FattyZ tail section garnered nine largemouth bass, one white bass, and one crappie. Three largemouth bass, one white bass, and one crappie were bewitched by the green-pumpkin-blue flake Finesse ShadZ. The four-inch watermelon-red Finesse WormZ tempted one largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and one white bass. One largemouth bass engulfed the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ. The swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was by far the most fruitful presentation.”

March 19 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his Mar. 19 outing.

He wrote: “Winter has come to a close in north-central Texas. That’s not to say that there won’t be a cold spell or two now and then during the next few weeks. But in the eyes of most Texans, winter is over. Now comes an exciting piscatorial event that many Texas anglers anticipate all winter, and that is the pre-spawn period.

“The last couple of days of winter have been soggy ones in these parts, and today’s weather was a fitting end to winter. The day was mostly foggy, dreary, and peppered with occasional spells of drizzle. The National Weather Service registered the morning low temperature at 56 degrees and the afternoon high reached 71 degrees. The barometric pressure measured 29.95. A light breeze blew out of the east-by-northeast at 4 to 8 mph.

“I spent the afternoon meandering about a 21,280-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir that has befuddled and frustrated me and many other anglers all winter.

“In-fisherman’s solunar calendar determined the best fishing periods would occur from 10:47 a.m. to 12:47 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. A minor period would occur from 4:03 a.m. to 6:03 a.m. I was afloat from about 11:30 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m.

“The much welcomed rains in recent days raised the water levels two to three feet in most of our larger reservoirs, and one local TV meteorologist reported that our five-year drought has been downgraded from extreme to severe. Another welcomed side-effect of these rains has been the sudden and significant increase in water temperatures. For example, the water temperature at this reservoir was 44 degrees on March 5, but during the last 14 days, the water temperature has climbed to 58 degrees. From my experiences, when the water temperature reaches 58 degrees, it marks the end of the dreadful largemouth bass fishing that we have to endure throughout the winter.

“The water clarity in this reservoir was dingy, exhibiting about one foot of visibility. The water level has also risen 2 1/2 feet during the past two weeks, but it still remains 5.10 feet below normal pool.

“I fished only three areas. Two of these areas were inside two marinas positioned along the south side of the southwest tributary arm of this impoundment. The other area was a feeder-creek arm located along the north side of this same tributary arm, and about two miles west of the two marinas.

“I had my four spinning rods prepared with the following Z-Man baits: a 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a customized 3 1/4-inch black-blue FattyZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a Junebug Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; and a customized 2 3/16-inch green-pumpkin-orange FattyZ tube on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

“The first marina is situated in a large cove that is endowed with one large mud flat along its west shoreline, several steep shorelines that are comprised of clay and fist-sized rock, three steep and rocky secondary points, and scores of covered boat docks that float in five to 35 feet of water. I found bunches of black-colored carp that were milling about in large pods in the back of the marina, and numerous turtles were also milling about in the water and along the banks. I caught 12 largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and one catfish in this marina. One largemouth bass was caught on my second cast, and it was relating to the south end of the mud flat in three feet of water. Nine largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and one catfish were extracted from four to six feet of water along the steep clay and rock shorelines. One largemouth bass was enticed from underneath the side of a covered boat dock that was floating in 10 feet of water. One largemouth bass was caught off one of the three steep and rocky secondary points near the back of the marina.

“Six of the 12 largemouth bass were caught on the customized 3 1/4-inch black-blue FattyZ that was implemented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Four largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and one catfish were beguiled by the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ and a swim-glide-and–shake presentation. Two largemouth bass were allured by the Junebug Finesse ShadZ and a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

My second stop of the outing was a feeder-creek arm situated along the north shoreline in the west end of this reservoir’s southwest tributary arm. I plied its two main-lake entry points, nine secondary points, three steep and rocky shorelines, five boat ramps, and two newly constructed swimming docks. I inadvertently caught three wipers that were relating to two of the nine secondary points and one of the steep and rocky shorelines. I did not find any black bass in this feeder-creek arm. Two of the wipers struck the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ and one hit the customized 3 1/4-inch black-blue FattyZ. Both of these baits were worked in a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

“The last area I explored was the second marina, which is located a short distance east of the first marina that I fished. It is not as large as the first marina, but it is endowed with five secondary points, several steep and rocky shorelines, and a large number of covered boat docks. This marina yielded four largemouth bass. Three of these four bass were associated with two steep clay and rock shorelines along the east side of the marina. They were abiding in three to five feet of water. The fourth bass was associated with a thick 10-foot wood pole that was partially submerged along a rocky shoreline in the southeast end of the marina. This bass was holding next to the side of the pole in two feet of water. Three of these bass were caught on the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ and one bass was caught on the customized 3 1/4-inch FattyZ. These two lures were retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. The Junebug Finesse ShadZ and swim-glide-and-shake technique failed to garner any strikes.

“All totaled, I caught 16 largemouth bass, one spotted bass, three wipers, and one catfish in five hours. The customized 3 1/4-inch black-blue FattyZ allured eight largemouth bass and one wiper. The 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ inveigled six largemouth bass, one spotted bass, two wipers, and one catfish. The Junebug Finesse ShadZ bewitched two largemouth bass. I did not get around to using the customized 2 3/16-inch green pumpkin-orange FattyZ tube during this outing. The swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the most fruitful retrieve.

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The customized 3 1/4-inch Z-Man’s black-blue FattyZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig

 

“Since the first severe winter cold spell hit north-central Texas in November 2014, the black bass that inhabit this reservoir mysteriously disappeared to unknown lairs that I could not find. But now that the water temperature has climbed back into the high 50s, it seems as if Mother Nature has suddenly flipped a mystical switch, and the black bass are suddenly reappearing once again.”

March 20 log 

The last 20 days of winter have been vexing ones for Midwest finesse anglers who have been chasing largemouth bass at the state and community reservoirs in northeastern Kansas. Details about these trying times can be reviewed in the March, 8, 9, 15, and 16 logs above.

Power anglers struggled as well. In fact, all of the contestants (and most were power anglers) failed to catch a legal-size largemouth bass at a tournament on March 14, and the tournament organizers returned the contestants’ entry fees.

What’s more, our three grandsons from San Antonio, Texas, struggled to catch largemouth bass on their outings on Mar. 11 and 13, and during the two hours and 15 minutes that they were afloat, they caught only two largemouth bass, two wipers, and one crappie. We have found that five-, seven- and 10-year old boys have to catch at least five fish an hour to keep the boredom factor at bay. Therefore, we spent most of their spring vacation out of the boat and not fishing.

On March 17, I made a quick trip to a nearby community reservoir and spent 65 minutes probing the steep and rock-laden dam with a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Split Tail TrailerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig in hopes of discovering the whereabouts of this reservoir’s largemouth bass. Since Feb. 9, when Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I caught and released 44 of them in four hours on Feb. 9, we have not been able to locate and catch significant quantities of them. And on my short March 17 reconnaissance endeavor, I failed once again to find a significant number of largemouth bass, and I eked out only five of them. It was such a lackluster outing that I couldn’t conjure up enough words to write a log about it.

On March 20, the vernal equinox occurred at 6:45 p.m., and during the last hours of the winter of 2014-15, I made a solo outing to the 195-acre community reservoir that Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, and I fished on March 9, our grandsons fished it on March 11 for 95 minutes, and I fished for 65 minutes on March 17.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 29 degrees at 7:52 a.m. and 66 degrees at 3:53 p.m. It was foggy until 8:00 a.m., and then it became sunny, and around 2:00 p.m., a coating of altostratus clouds appeared. For many hours, the wind was nil, and at times it angled out of the southeast at 3 mph, out of the northwest at 8 mph, out of the west at 10 mph, out of the southwest at 5 mph, and out of the south at 9 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.15 at 12:52 a.m., 30.15 at 5:52 a.m., 30.19 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.14 at 2:52 p.m.
Besides the spring–like weather, some of spring’s ambiances graced the landscapes: dandelion greens were emerging; some daffodils, forsythias, and plum trees were blooming.

The water level was normal. There was a minor algae bloom, but the water clarity exhibited four to five feet of visibility. The surface temperature ranged from 48 degrees at 11:15 a.m. to 53 degrees at 3:00 p.m. Turtle heads occasionally dimpled the surface, and some turtles were basking in the sun.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing should occur from 11:48 p.m. to 1:48 a.m. and 5:06 a.m. to 7:06 a.m. There was a minor period from 5:34 p.m. to 7:34 p.m. I fished from 11:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Periodically, during this outing, I spent about 15 minutes talking to a power-fishing friend, who occasionally wields some Midwest finesse tactics. And for about 20 minutes, I fished behind his boat while we chatted and compared insights about what was going on with the largemouth bass at this reservoir and several other northeastern Kansas waterways.

From 11:15 a.m. to 2:0o p.m., I caught two tiny largemouth bass and inadvertently caught one crappie. My friend caught one largemouth bass on a spinnerbait in the back of a secondary feeder-creek arm.

I caught the crappie and one of the largemouth bass on a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig in the back of the feeder-creek arm on a mud flat that was embellished with curly-leaf pondweed. The bass was extracted out of three feet of water, and it engulfed the Finesse T.R.D. while I was dragging and deadsticking it in a patch of curly-leaf pondweed. I dissected about 30,000 square yards of this mud flat, and that crappie and largemouth bass were the only bites that I garnered.

The second largemouth bass was caught in a small patch of Eurasian milfoil that adorns a gravel and rock main-lake hump. It was extracted out of five feet of water, and it engulfed the Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve.

On the main-lake I fished half of the steep and rock-laden dam, two steep and rocky shorelines, and one rocky point without eliciting a strike.

I fished about 75 yards of two shorelines about halfway inside another feeder-creek arm, where the boat floated in water as shallow as seven feet and as deep as 20 feet. These shorelines are embellished with submerged aquatic vegetation, boulders, stumps, man-made brushpiles, gravel, and some ledges. I failed to get a strike along these shorelines.
During this two-hour-and-45-minute fruitless ordeal, I also employed a Z-Man’s Mud Minnow Finesse T.R.D.-spin on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Split Tail TrailerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

At 2:00 p.m. I began fishing a mud flat in the back half of another feeder-creek arm. This flat is adorned with patches of curly-leaf pondweed and Eurasian milfoil. On my first cast, I had a strike as I was slowly swimming a Z-Man’s Mud Minnow Finesse T.R.D.-spin on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig in about five feet of water. On my second cast, I caught the third largemouth bass of the outing. The boat floated in five to six feet of water, and this bass was abiding in about four feet of water around some curly-leaf pondweed.

At 2:20 p.m., I caught the sixth largemouth bass of the outing, and it was caught on the T.R.D.-spin along the edge of a massive patch of Eurasian milfoil. This bass engulfed the T.R.D.- spin as I was swimming it an inch or so under the surface. The boat was floating in three feet of the water, and some of the Eurasian milfoil was within an inch of the surface. I spent the rest of the outing dissecting this patch of Eurasian milfoil, which encompassed an area the size of a football field. During the next 55 minutes, I caught 26 largemouth bass. One was caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Split Tail TrailerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The T.R.D.- spin with a fast-paced swimming retrieve inveigled 25 of them. At times, the T.R.D.-spin was retrieved on the surface, and at other times, it was retrieved a foot under the surface. The depth and speed of the retrieve depended on the depth of the milfoil. The T.R.D.-spin engendered 13 strikes that I failed to hook, but after some of those missed strikes and within a couple cranks of the reel handle, another largemouth bass totally engulfed the T.R.D.-spin.

Thanks to the T.R.D.-spin, I ended up catching 31 largemouth bass on this four-hour outing.

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The Z-Man’s Mud Minnow Finesse T.R.D.-spin on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. It caught 29 largemouth bass, and it looks  as if it has the wherewithal to tangled with 60 more of them.

Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, introduced Midwest finesse anglers to the T.R.D.-spin in the spring of 2013. Back then, he rigged it on either a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s ZinkerZ or a Z-Man’s Hula StickZ with the tentacles removed. For more information about these stickbait-spins, please see these links: http://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/zinkerz-hula-stickz-spin/; http://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/zinkerz-spin-precursors-3/.

March 20 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his March 20 outing.

He wrote: “The first day of spring was a wet one in north-central Texas, but it didn’t deter Norman Brown of Lewisville and me from venturing to a 5,170-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir.

“Norman and I were afloat from about 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and it rained the entire time. There were spells when we took shelter underneath a covered boat dock and waited out the heavier downpours. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 54 degrees and the afternoon high crept up to 60 degrees. The barometric pressure measured 30.12. The wind was out of the north at 8 to 12 mph.

“The surface temperature varied from 51 degrees to 57 degrees. The water exhibited about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The water level was 9.75 feet below normal pool.

“We fished two feeder-creek arms on the north side of the reservoir.

“The first feeder-creek arm has steep, clay and gravel shorelines, several rocky secondary points, and one covered boat house. The surface temperature in this cove was 51 degrees. We plied this creek arm with a 2 1/2-inch Z-man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Both of these baits were retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. We failed to catch a black bass in this feeder-creek arm.

After we failed to cross paths with any black bass in the first feeder-creek arm, we made a short run to a second feeder-arm that is much larger than the first one. The second feeder-creek arm splits into two smaller arms. The west arm features steep and rocky shorelines festooned with flooded standing timber and submerged stumps, nine steep and rocky secondary points, and a long bluff that forms the entry way into this feeder-creek arm. The east arm harbors a marina, three spawning coves, a large island, and a bluffy shoreline. There is no flooded standing timber in this arm. The surface temperature was 57 degrees.

“We commenced our endeavors by plying five steep and rocky secondary points along the south shoreline in the mid-section of the west arm with the 2 1/2-inch green-pumpkin ZinkerZ and Junebug Finesse ShadZ. We caught two largemouth bass from two steep secondary points, and both of these bass were relating to the tip of the points in two to four feet of water. Both of these bass were coaxed into striking the Junebug Finesse ShadZ and swim-glide-and-shake presentation. A steep rocky shoreline at the mouth of the west-side creek arm yielded two smallmouth bass that were about 20 feet away from the water’s edge in about 10 feet of water. Both of these smallmouths were tricked by the Junebug Finesse ShadZ retrieved in a swim-glide-and- shake fashion.

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Norman Brown with one of the three smallmouth bass that he and Steve Reideler caught

“We found the east arm more productive than the west arm, and it relinquished 11 largemouth bass, two spotted bass, one smallmouth bass, and one catfish. Two largemouth bass and two spotted bass were caught in eight feet of water along a steep shoreline in the back of the marina. Both largemouth bass and one spotted bass were caught on a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a purple 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. The other spotted bass engulfed the Junebug Finesse ShadZ retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

“We caught another largemouth bass in four feet of water off the end of an entry point to one of the smaller spawning coves, and it was inveigled by the Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a purple 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. We fished the spawning cove as well, but we failed to cross paths with any bass in this cove.

The bluffy shoreline was the most productive area that we found. It surrendered eight largemouth bass, one smallmouth bass, and one catfish. All of these fish were within 15 feet of the water’s edge and dwelling in three to five feet of water. The boat floated in 10 to 15 feet of water. Three largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass were caught on a four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Three largemouth bass were enticed by the Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a purple 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. One largemouth bass was caught on a 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Blue Glimmer Sparkle GrubZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. One largemouth bass and one catfish was caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. All of these baits, except for the 3 1/2-inch GrubZ, were presented with a swim-glide-and-shake action. The 3 1/2-inch GrubZ was retrieve with a slow, steady swim presentation.

“We finished the afternoon with 13 largemouth bass, three smallmouth bass, two spotted bass, and one catfish. We fished off and on for about four hours. We lost two additional largemouth bass, and one of those two bass was a large specimen that was able to throw the lure when it wallowed across the surface of the water.

 

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Steve Reideler with one of the three smallmouth bass that he and Norman Brown caught.

 

“Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig beguiled two largemouth bass, two smallmouth bass, and one spotted bass. A Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a purple 1/32-ounce Gopher jig allured six largemouth bass and one spotted bass. The four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig enticed three largemouth bass. Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught one largemouth bass and one catfish. The 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Blue Glimmer Sparkle GrubZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig inveigled one largemouth bass.

“The swim-glide-and-shake retreive was the most lucrative presentation.”

March 21 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed the following brief on the Finesse News Network about his March 21 outing to a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir, where the largemouth bass fishing has been problematic for many months. And it confounded Gum on this outing, too.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 45 degrees at 7:53 a.m. and 71 degrees at 2:53 p.m. It was sunny. The wind angled out of the southwest at 5 to 7 mph, out of the west at 3 to 5 mph, out of the north at 7 mph, out of the east at 5 to 9 mph, out of the southeast at 7 mph, and out of the northeast at 9 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.11 at 12:53 a.m., 30.11 at 5:53 a.m., 30.17 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.08 at 2:53 p.m.
The surface temperature was 64 degrees around the warm-water outlet and 54 degrees along the dam. Water clarity was around two feet. The water level looked to be normal.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would take place from 11:33 a.m. to 1:33 p.m. and 12:01 p.m. to 2:01 p.m. And there was a minor period from 5:47 a.m. to 7:47 a.m. Gum fished from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

He caught seven largemouth bass, two white bass, and one channel catfish. Five of the largemouth bass were caught along the riprap-laden dam, and two largemouth bass were caught along a main-lake bluff. They were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Strike King’s Junebug Zero on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Strike King’s bubblegum Zero on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. These two baits were retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. And the seven largemouth bass were extracted out of two to five feet of water.

Gum reported that the parking lot at the boat ramp was filled to the brim with anglers who were competing in the Backlashers Bass Club of Kansas City’s Open Buddy Bass Tournament. The winner of that event weighed in only two largemouth bass, which weighed 10.58 pounds. The winner also caught the biggest bass of the tourney, and it weighed 5.32 pounds.

Bob Gum with the biggest largemouth bass of the outing.

Bob Gum with the biggest largemouth bass of the outing.

March 22 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his Mar. 22 outing.

Reideler wrote: “Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas, joined me for a 40-mile jaunt to a 24,663-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir. I last fished this reservoir on Feb. 9, and I could eke out only one largemouth bass in three hours.

“The sky was layered with heavy clouds, and it rained. But by 12:30 p.m., the clouds disappeared, and the sun began shining brightly in a China-blue sky.

“The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 48 degrees and the afternoon high reached a mild 68 degrees. The wind was light and variable. The barometric pressure measured 30.07.

“In Fisherman’s solunar calendar listed the optimum fishing periods occurring from 12:42 a.m. to 2:42 a.m. and 1:10 p.m. to 3:10 p.m. A minor period occurred from 6:56 a.m. to 8:56 a.m. Norman and I were afloat from about noon to 4:30 p.m.

“The water temperature varied from 54 degrees to 60 degrees. The water clarity exhibited about 4 1/2-feet of visibility. The water level was 5.77 feet below normal pool.

“Norman and I began this undertaking in a large feeder-creek arm that is situated along the west shoreline of the east tributary arm of this reservoir. We saw several other anglers fishing this feeder-creek arm, and we were unable to fish several black bass lairs because they were occupied by other anglers. Norman wielded a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. I employed a 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Blue Glimmer Sparkle GrubZ affixed on a blue 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. We fished two spawning coves, two steep, clay and rock shorelines at the mouths of the two spawning coves, five rocky secondary points, two small pockets between the secondary points, and a steep bluff bank at the entrance to the feeder-creek arm. We failed to elicit any strikes in this feeder-creek arm.

“Next, we fished a mud and gravel point at the mouth of a main-lake cove, a 50-yard section of clay and rock main-lake shoreline, and an old submerged concrete roadbed just south of the main-lake cove. The point at the mouth of the cove failed to yield any strikes. The 50-yard section of the main-lake shoreline just south of the cove surrendered one largemouth bass that was milling about in about five feet of water, and it struck the Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. When we reached the submerged roadbed, we opted to slowly stroll the Finesse ShadZ rig and Finesse T.R.D. rig along the edges of the roadbed from three feet to 13 feet of water, but we failed to catch another bass.

“After we fished the main-lake shoreline, roadbed, and cove area, we proceeded to a marina, which is positioned at the southeast end of the west tributary arm of the reservoir. We fished a mud point enhanced with a floating tractor-tire reef at the entrance to the marina area. The Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and swim-glide-shake presentation caught one chunky spotted bass from underneath the floating tire reef in eight feet of water.

“We plied a large spawning cove located in the northern portion of the marina. One rocky secondary point that lies along the northern bank of the cove surrendered one largemouth bass that was relating to the point in about three feet of water. This bass was caught on a four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

“The back of this cove relinquished one feisty six-pound, nine-ounce largemouth bass that was holding next to a laydown on a small mud flat in about three feet of water. This bass engulfed the PB&J Finesse WormZ as it was retrieved in a swim-glide-and-shake motif parallel to the side of the laydown.

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Steve Reideler with the biggest largemouth bass of the outing.

 

“Overall, the fishing at this hill-land reservoir was tedious. We fished about four hours during the 4 1/2 hours that we were afloat, and we could only scrounge up three largemouth bass and one spotted bass. The four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ rig enticed two largemouth bass, including the six-pound specimen. A green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ combo caught one largemouth bass, and one spotted bass engulfed the Canada Craw T.R.D. rig. The 3 1/2-inch Blue Glimmer Sparkle GrubZ failed to induce any strikes. We applied several of the Midwest finesse retrieve techniques, but the swim-glide-and-shake presentation was the only productive retrieve.”

March 24 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his March 24 bank-walking outing.

He wrote: “It was a bright but windy day in north-central Texas. The sun glowed dazzlingly in a powder-blue sky. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 63 degrees and the afternoon high soared to a balmy 88 degrees. A blustery wind blew incessantly out of the south at 15 to 25 mph, and it almost snatched my wide-brimmed Tilley hat from my head on a couple occasions. The barometric pressure was low at 29.11.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar listed the best fishing periods occurring from 2:45 a.m. to 4:45 a.m. and 3:12 p.m. to 5:12 p.m. A minor period would take place from 8:58 a.m. to 10:58 a.m. I fished from about 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

“Since the wind prevented me from venturing onto our larger reservoirs, I grabbed a couple of spinning outfits and enjoyed an afternoon of bank-walking at a 12-acre community reservoir located in a suburb north of Dallas.

“I last fished this waterway on March 12, and I was delighted to tangle with 37 largemouth bass during that four-hour excursion.

“The water was the clearest I have ever seen it, exhibiting about three feet of clarity. Usually, the water in this reservoir is muddy with less than a foot of clarity. The water level was normal. I did not have the means to measure the water temperature.

“I kept things simple by employing only two baits: a Z-Man’s pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and a 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red GrubZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The Finesse ShadZ was allowed to sink about three to four seconds before I began retrieving it with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. The 3 1/2-inch GrubZ was also allowed to fall three to four seconds before I worked it back in a slow swim-and-glide retrieve with no shakes.

“I began this endeavor along the south shoreline. This area encompasses a large mud and gravel spawning flat that yielded 33 largemouth bass during my March 12 outing. I checked the deep-water edge of the flat, which lies about 35 feet out from the water’s edge and is covered with three to five feet of water. I plied the deep-water edge of the flat, but I failed to find any bass relating to this spawning flat. With the wind at my back, I began to make long 55- to 60-foot casts toward the deeper water in the center of the reservoir, and I caught 22 largemouth bass. These bass had pulled away from the edge of the spawning flat and were grouped together in an area about 10-yards square and about 50 feet from the water’s edge. These bass were suspended about three feet deep in about eight feet of water. I was unable to determine what, if anything, these bass were relating to. I had several strikes that I was unable to hook, and had five bass that were able to liberate themselves before I could land them.

“I worked my way northward along the western shoreline, which consists of sand, gravel, and a few scattered fist-sized rocks with a three-foot ledge that extends outward from the water’s edge into three to five feet of water. I found no bass relating to the ledge, but I caught six largemouth bass that were about 50 feet out from the ledge and suspended three to four feet deep in eight feet of water.

“After I finished fishing the west shoreline, I probed the wind-swept northern shoreline, which is similar to the west shoreline, but straighter. The north shoreline is also graced with a three-foot mud and gravel ledge that extends outward from the water’s edge and drops off into five feet of water. This shoreline was not very productive, and it yielded only two largemouth bass. Both of these bass were also suspended about three feet down in about five feet of water. These bass were hovering about 15 feet out from the deep-water side of the ledge.

“The next area I investigated was the east side of the reservoir. This area encompasses two coves that are divided by a long sand and gravel point. The northeastern cove encompasses a large mud flat with a small ditch that courses across the middle of the cove from the east shoreline toward the west shoreline. The northeast end of the ditch in this cove surrendered nine largemouth bass that were bunched together in about five feet of water and about 25 feet out from the water’s edge.

“Next, I fished the long sand and gravel point that separates the two coves. The south side of this point relinquished six largemouth bass. These bass were scattered and about 40 feet out from the water’s edge. They were suspended about three feet deep in six feet of water.

“The last area I targeted was the southeastern cove. Its terrain is steep and composed of clay and fist-sized rocks. This cove is enhanced with a creek channel that courses its way across the middle of the cove from the northeast corner of the cove to the mid-section of the south shoreline. A broad mud and gravel point extends outward toward deeper water from the south shoreline and forms the mouth to the cove. I enticed 17 largemouth bass from the deepest portion of the creek channel that is located in the center of this cove. These bass were about 60 feet out from the south shoreline and suspended about three feet deep in about 10 feet of water. The mud point that forms the mouth of this cove failed to yield any bass.

“This reservoir surrendered 62 largemouth bass. Thirty-five bass were allured by the pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ and 27 bass were attracted to the 3 1/2-inch GrubZ. Many of these bass engulfed either the Finesse ShadZ or the 3 1/2-inch GrubZ while the bait was slowly settling toward the bottom on the initial cast.

“After I left the 12-acre reservoir, I decided to stop and check out a 20-acre reservoir that lies in a suburb northwest of Dallas. I fished this reservoir for just 45 minutes.

“The water was slightly stained with about 3 1/2 feet of visibility, and the water level appeared to be normal.

“I continued to use the same Z-Man’s pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ on the chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and the 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red GrubZ on the red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

“This reservoir is comprised of a large and shallow mud flat that occupies the northern third of this reservoir, and this flat is bordered with thick stands of cattails. It is a protected migratory waterfowl nesting area, and I did not fish this area.

“The east shoreline is steep and curved, and it has a long clay and gravel point that protrudes westward into the middle of the reservoir. It is enhanced with a small brush pile on the south side of the point. I caught one largemouth bass from four feet of water along the south side of the point. It was enticed by the 3 1/2-inch watermelon-red GrubZ and a slow swim-and-glide retrieve with no shakes. The pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ and swim-glide-and-shake presentation failed to attract any bass.

“The southern boundary of the reservoir is formed by a smooth concrete slab dam. The entire dam area yielded only one largemouth bass, and it weighed four-pounds, five-ounces. This bass was about five feet away from the face of the dam in about four feet of water, and it was caught on the 3 1/2-inch GrubZ and swim-glide-and-no-shake retrieve.

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Steve Reideler with one of the 64 largemouth bass that he caught on March 24.

 

“The west shoreline is relatively straight with steep sand and gravel banks. A fishing pier extends eastward about 75 feet out into the reservoir. I probed this area for about 10 minutes, but I failed to engender any strikes before I called it a day.

“In sum, I savored a bountiful and rare five-hour endeavor that could rival some of the forays that Midwest finesse anglers enjoy in northeastern Kansas. I inveigled 64 largemouth bass that ranged in size from 10 inches to four pounds, five ounces. The Z-Man’s pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve beguiled 35 largemouth bass. The 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red GrubZ and swim-glide-and-no-shake presentation caught 29 of them.”

March 24 log

Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, and I fish together about four times a year. One of our outings usually occurs in late March or early April. And on March 24, I hopped into his boat at a 120-acre community reservoir that lies in the northern suburbs of Kansas City, where we spent 5 1/2 hours bass fishing for trout.

Frazee is the outdoors editor for the Kansas City Star. And when we fish together, it is usually a recreational outing rather than a working one for him. But on this one, he fished and worked on a story for his weekly outdoor column. The focus of this story revolved around the recent goings on in the world of Midwest finesse fishing, which has its origins in Kansas City in the 1950s and 1960s.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 41 degrees at 3:54 a.m. and 52 degrees at 1:54 p.m. The wind-chill temperature fluctuated from 41 to 43 degrees, and it felt colder than 41 degrees to various parts of our bodies. It was overcast. The relative humidity ranged from 72 to 83 percent, and there was dampness in the air that occasionally sent chills down the back of our necks and penetrated to the bones of our hands. The wind angled out of the east at 7 to 23 mph. The wind was stiff enough that we used a drift sock a lot. The barometric pressure was 30.09 at 12:54 a.m., 30.00 at 5:54 a.m., 29.86 at 11:54 a.m., and 29.79 at 3:54 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar table indicated the best fishing occurred from 2:36 a.m. to 4:36 a.m. and 3:04 p.m. to 5:04 p.m. There was a minor period from 8:50 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. We fished from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The water level looked to be a foot or more below normal. The surface temperature ranged from 48 degrees at the north or upper end of the reservoir to 50 degrees in its south or lower end. The water clarity exhibited more than four feet of visibility. This reservoir used to be graced with massive patches of coontail and a few other types of aquatic vegetation, but during the past three years, much of the vegetation has disappeared. This reservoir was stocked with gizzard shad in 2013. The gizzard shad population is burgeoning, and in our eyes, the stature of the largemouth bass has improved dramatically during the past two years.

Frazee and I fished this reservoir on March 28, 2014, when the surface temperature ranged from 43 to 45 degrees, and we caught 101 largemouth bass. Because the largemouth bass fishing has been so sorry in northwest Missouri and northeastern Kansas for the past five or more months, and because a four-day spell of cold weather had been making its way across this part of the world since March 22, we had no hopes of tangling with 101 largemouth bass on this outing. Nevertheless, we tried mightily to match that 2014 catch, and to our surprise, we caught one bluegill, one crappie, one walleye, 25 rainbow trout, and 75 largemouth bass. Although we failed to catch 101 largemouth bass, we did catch 103 fish, which exhibited once again the manifold virtues of Midwest finesse angling for catching a vast number of fish, as well as a variety of species.

One of the largemouth bass was caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Two largemouth bass were caught on Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Split Tail TrailerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Four largemouth bass were caught on a shortened Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a black 1/16-ounce Bass Pro Shops’ jig.

Ninety-six of the fish were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
Back on April 1, 2006, Shin Fukae of Palestine, Texas, and Osaka, Japan, showed Midwest finesse anglers the value of wielding a green-pumpkin shad-shaped worm (similar to the Finesse ShadZ) affixed to red jig, and ever since then, it has paid us substantial dividends — especially during the first weeks of spring.

Because outboard motors are prohibited on this community reservoir, it usually takes us more than five hours to fish it. And this time, we were afloat for 5 1/2-hours. Some of those 5 1/2 hours were consumed with several photograph sessions, as well as having to crisscross the main body of the reservoir several times with the electric trolling motor.

We fished two boulder-laden and ledgy main-lake points on the west side of the reservoir, where we caught only one largemouth bass. At both of these points, the boat floated in nine to 20 feet of water, and the largemouth bass was extracted out of seven feet of water.
We fished a main-lake point on the north end of the reservoir, where we caught two largemouth bass. The boat floated in eight to 12 feet of water, and the two bass were extracted out of six to seven feet of water adjacent to a rocky ledge.

Along the shoreline of the reservoir’s north end, we fished two stretches of riprap, where we caught six rainbow trout. The boat floated in four to 10 feet of water, and the rainbow trout were extracted from three to five feet of water.

 

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Brent Frazee with one of the 25 rainbow trout that we caught.

 

We spent the bulk of the outing dissecting the reservoir’s east shoreline, which was sheltered at times from the cold and brisk wind. On our east- side endeavors, we also fished six main-lake points and three north-side shorelines and one south-side shoreline that lie inside three coves.
We failed to elicit a strike along the south-side shoreline, where the boat floated in eight to 12 feet of water.

Along the steep, boulder-laden, and ledgy main-lake points and shorelines on the east side and the three north-side shorelines inside the east-side coves, we caught 94 fish. The boat floated in nine to 20 feet of water. A few of these fish were extracted out of water as shallow as three feet, but most of them were abiding in five to 10 feet of water. A few were abiding in 12 feet of water. Nine of the 94 fish were caught adjacent to several of the laydowns that embellished some of the shorelines. Some of these largemouth bass had crayfish antennae protruding from their gullets.

The flat, gravel shorelines and points along the east side weren’t as fruitful as the steep, boulder-laden, and ledgy points. They yielded only seven largemouth bass.

We also found that the most fruitful locales had deep water nearby, and a few of them were embellished with a laydown.

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Brent Frazee with one of the 75 largemouth bass we caught.

 

Six of the fish engulfed Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig on the initial drop. The rest of the fish engulfed the Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Split Tail TrailerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a black 1/16-ounce Bass Pro Shops’ jig, and Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig while we were dragging and deadsticking or strolling and deadsticking them. All of our presentations were devoid of shakes.

Although we were dragging and strolling our baits across boulder-laden terrains, we could not feel the baits crawling over and ricocheting off the boulders. In the parlance of Midwest finesse angling, we call this the no-feel presentation, and we have found that it is the most effective way to present our baits. Most anglers prefer to feel their jig crawling, dragging, or hopping along the bottom, and to accomplish this, they have to employ a 3/32- ounce or heavier jig. From our perspectives, the no-feel presentation created by a 1/16-ounce or smaller jig creates a more natural presentation than the presentation that can be achieved with a heavier jig.

Even though we were dragging and deadsticking these baits with an exposed hook across extremely snag-infested terrains, we lost only two Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZs and red 1/16-ounce Gopher jigs, and that was two more than we normally lose. One reason why this combo is snag resistant is its lightness, which prevents it from becoming wedged in the crevices of all of the boulders that it was dragged through. Another reason is the hook is small. A third reason is the unique shape of the head of the 1/16-ounce Gopher jig seems to help keep this combo from becoming snagged. (It is interesting to note that Al Lindner of Brainerd, Minnesota, once called Gopher’s  1/16-ounce Mushroom Head Jig “a half of a jig,” because of the unique shape of its head.)   What’s more, the buoyancy of the Finesse ShadZ helps it to gingerly travel across rock, boulder, and riprap terrains.

Across the first 83 days of 2015, this was by far our most bountiful outing. In retrospect, we might have caught a few more largemouth bass if we have had employed a 1/32-ounce Gopher jig rather than the 1/16-ounce one. The smaller jig would have enhanced our no-feel presentation, and it might have enticed a few more largemouth bass and rainbow trout to engulf our baits, and we might have been able to equal our March 28, 2014, catch.

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Two of the 75 largemouth bass that we caught. Several times throughout this outing , we simultaneously caught two bass or two rainbow trout.

 

March 25 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his March 25 outing with Rick Allen of Dallas.

He wrote: “The wind usually howls across north-central Texas from mid-February through mid-May, which prevents many anglers hereabouts from venturing out onto our larger reservoirs. But during the first 23 days of March 2015, the winds have been surprisingly mild-mannered. Therefore, I and a couple of companions have taken full advantage of this situation. But things changed on March 24 and 25, when winds resumed their usual robust ways and kept me and my companions shore bound.

“March 25 was a picturesque spring day. The vibrant sun highlighted a vivid Indigo-blue sky. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 52 degrees and the afternoon high reached a warm 82 degrees. A vigorous wind blew incessantly out of the south-by-southeast at 18 to 30 mph. The barometric pressure was steady at 29.75.

“I joined Rick Allen on a six-hour bank-fishing excursion to three community reservoirs that lie in two suburbs northwest of Dallas. The bass fishing in north-central Texas has steadily improved over the past couple of weeks, and we were interested in seeing what we could scrounge up in these three difficult waterways.

“According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the prime fishing periods would take place from 3:44 a.m. to 5:44 a.m. and 4:11 p.m. to 6:11 p.m. A minor period would take place between 9:58 a.m. and 11:58 a.m. Rick and I fished from 12:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.

“We began our afternoon endeavor moseying along the banks of a 20-acre reservoir that I visited on March 24, when this reservoir seemed to be in a dormant state and I could only muster two largemouth bass in 45 minutes. What a difference 24 hours can make. On this March 25 undertaking, we caught 15 largemouth bass in about two hours, and this is the most bass we have caught out of this reservoir since April of 2014.

“The water was stained, and its clarity varied from 1 1/2 feet in the upper or northern end of the reservoir to about three feet along the dam on the south end. The water level was normal. We were unable to measure the water’s temperature.

“We started by plying the west shoreline, which is relatively straight with a steep sand and gravel terrian. A fishing pier stretches 75 feet into the reservoir, and a sand and gravel point extends about 20 feet out from the shoreline and lies adjacent to the fishing pier. This shoreline surrendered seven largemouth bass, including one that weighed four-pounds, 13-ounces, and two others that were in the three-pound class. Four of these bass were caught on a 2 3/16-inch customized Z-Man’s California Craw FattyZ tube rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and retrieved with a slow hop-and-bounce presentation. Two were caught on a four-inch Zoom Bait Company’s watermelon-red Mini-Lizard rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and presented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. One bass was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. All seven of these bass were abiding in four to six feet of water.

“Next, we probed the smooth slab concrete dam that forms the southern perimeter of the reservoir. We saw several male bass hovering over nests that were butted up against the base of the concrete dam in about 2 1/2 feet of water. We saw one pair of bass near the east end of the dam in the process of spawning. The west end of the dam yielded two largemouth bass, and the center section relinquished one largemouth bass. All three of these bass were relating to the face of the dam in four feet of water, and were coaxed into striking the four-inch Zoom Mini-Lizard and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

“After we finished fishing the dam, we made our way northward along the east shoreline, which is steep and curved. It features a long clay and gravel point that juts out about 20 yards into the middle of the reservoir. The point is adorned with a small brushpile on the south side of the point. A small ditch cuts across a shallow mud flat along the south end of this shoreline. Three largemouth bass were extracted from four feet of water along the edges of this small ditch. They were enticed by the four-inch Zoom Mini-Lizard and swim-glide-and-shake motif. The center section of this shoreline yielded two largemouth bass, and they engulfed the 2 3/16-inch customized FattyZ tube as it was slowly hopped and bounced across the bottom in about three to five feet of water.

“We did not fish the northern end of this reservoir, which is a protected migratory waterfowl nesting area.

“Rick and I then made a short drive to a small, five-acre community reservoir that has not been very productive over the past four years. Rick and I suspect that this reservoir’s demise was a result of a major fish-kill that occurred in several of our small municipal and community waterways during the extremely hot summer of 2011. Most of those reservoirs have since bounced back, but two, including this one, have not.

“This reservoir is crescent shaped, with a north-to-south orientation. The north and south ends are comprised of shallow mud flats. The east and west shorelines are steep and comprised of sand and gravel. Several brushpiles enhance the east-side bank area, and a large hydrilla bed occupies the deep-water basin of this reservoir. We did not see any signs of spawning bass in this reservoir.

“The water’s clarity was stained, with about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The water level was about a foot high.
“We fished this reservoir with a four-inch Zoom watermelon-red Mini-Lizard, a Z-Man’s 2 3/16-inch customized California Craw FattyZ tube, and a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We eked out only one bass in an hour, and it was caught off the mud flat on the south end of the pond. This bass was caught in about three feet of water on the 2 3/16-inch customized California Craw FattyZ tube and hop-and-bounce retrieve.

“We finished the afternoon at a small community reservoir that is about the size of a football field. The water clarity varied from stained to muddy, and it exhibited one to two feet of visibility. The water level was about a foot high. We saw several male bass guarding nests in two feet of water along the north and south shorelines, but we did not see any females around any of these nests.

“We caught 14 largemouth bass from this reservoir. All fourteen bass were dwelling in three to five feet of water and within 10 feet of the water’s edge.

 

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Rick Allen with one of the 30 largemouth bass that he and Steve Reideler caught on March 25.

“We caught three largemouth bass along the north shoreline, which is comprised of a shallow mud flat with a concrete structure that surrounds a large outlet and positioned near the middle-section of this shoreline. One of these bass was caught on a 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Chartreuse Sparkle GrubZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher Jig and presented with a slow hop-and-bounce retrieve. One bass struck the 2 3/16-inch customized Z-Man’s California Craw FattyZ tube on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig as it was slowly dragged and shaken across the bottom. The third bass hit the four-inch Zoom watermelon-red Mini-Lizard and red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig as it was presented in a slow hop-and-bounce retrieve.

“A spawning cove that lies along the west end of the reservoir surrendered three largemouth bass. One was tricked into striking the 3 1/12-inch GrubZ and hop-and-bounce retrieve, and the other two bit the FattyZ tube implemented with a drag-and-shake presentation.

“We fished two creek channels that parallel the north and south side of a large island in the western portion of the reservoir, but they failed to yield any bass.

“The south shoreline surrendered six largemouth bass. This shoreline has a steep mud and gravel terrain, and a decorative stone retaining wall borders a shallow mud point about midway down the shoreline. One of them was caught on the 3 1/2-inch GrubZ and hop-and-bounce retrieve. The other five preferred the 2 3/16-inch customized FattyZ tube that was manipulated with the drag-and-shake presentation. All six of these bass were caught in three to five feet of water and within 10 feet of the water’s edge.

“The east shoreline has a steep dirt terrain. It yielded one largemouth bass that was residing in about three feet of water, and it was caught on the 2 3/16-inch customized FattyZ tube and slow drag-and-shake retrieve.

“All told, Rick and I caught 30 largemouth bass in six hours, which is an outstanding outing for these three problematic reservoirs. Seventeen bass were allured by the 2 3/16-inch customized Z-Man’s California Craw FattyZ tube. Nine bass were caught on the four-inch watermelon-red Mini-Lizard and swim-glide-and- shake presentation. Three were caught on the 3 1/2-inch Chartreuse Sparkle GrubZ and hop-and-bounce retrieve. One engulfed the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake action. The Z-Man Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. went untouched.”

March 27 log

My cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I were walloped by a spell of wintry weather on March 27, when we fished a 100-acre community reservoir. It was cold enough that we wore stocking caps for the entire five hours and 20 minutes that we were afloat. And I had on a pair of gloves most of the time. This was a protracted cold spell that began its journey across northeastern Kansas on March 24. The weather forecasters were predicting that some snow flakes would fall during the nighttime hours of March 26-27, but the snow flakes never materialized.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 34 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 44 degrees at 3:53 p.m. Some area thermometers registered a low temperature of 28 degrees on March 26 and 29 degrees on March 27. The average low temperature for March 27 is 35 degrees and the average high temperature is 59 degrees. The wind angled out of the north at 7 to 15 mph and out of the northeast at 10 mph. At times it was mostly cloudy; then it was partly cloudy; and at other times, it was sunny. It rained a touch during the nighttime hours. The barometric pressure was 30.14 at 12:53 a.m., 30.17 at 5:53 a.m., 30.25 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.14 at 3:53 p.m.

The water level looked to be normal. The surface temperature ranged from 47 degrees to 52 degrees, and we had heard the surface temperature had been 57 degrees on March 20. The water was stained with an algae bloom, and the visibility fluctuated between two feet and three feet. Filamentous algae littered many of the lairs that we fished, and it coated all of the patches of American water willows and coontail.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing should transpire from 5:24 a.m. to 7:24 a.m. and 5:49 p.m. to 7:49 p.m. There would be a minor period 11:13 a.m. to 1:13 p.m.

We fished from 10:00 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.

As this outing was coming to a close, Rick and I were lost for words to describe it — except to say that it was not worth spending a lot time describing it. Therefore, this log will be a skimpy one. But we can say that it was a rather random ordeal, which made it a frustrating and baffling one for us. Moreover, our catch rate was rather fruitless.

During the first 55 minutes, we failed to elicit a strike. During this strikeless spell, we fished the dam, which is steep, adorn with riprap, patches of winter-dead American water willows, and some patches of winter-stunted coontail. We also fished the back portions of a small feeder-creek arm, which is graced with some winter-wilted coontail patches. Both of these locales are in the lower-third portions of the reservoir. From there, we moved into the upper-third section of the reservoir, where we fished a relatively steep, rocky shoreline that is cluttered with patches of winter-dead American water willows, some patches of winter-stunted coontail, a few laydowns, and several boat docks. It is also partially lined with concrete-retaining walls. As we approached the last boat dock along this shoreline, two casts in a row yielded two largemouth bass. These two largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a few casts later on the other side of that boat dock the Finesse T.R.D. combo inveigled another largemouth bass. The boat was floating in 12 to 14 feet of water, and two of the largemouth bass engulfed the Finesse T.R.D. combo when it was being retrieved with a drag-and-deadstick presentation in about six feet of water. The third one inhaled the Finesse T.R.D. rig on the initial drop in about three feet of water. After that, we failed to garner another strike along this shoreline.

Before we launched the boat, we thought and hoped that we would find a significant number of largemouth bass milling around the patches of coontail that embellish the massive mud flat in the upper reaches of this reservoir. This is a traditional place to find them in March. This flat is littered with winter-wilted coontail patches that are coated with filamentous algae. And we crossed paths with an occasional school of gizzard shad that were dimpling the surface.

During this outing we spent about 100 minutes dissecting this massive flat that looks to be the size of about 10 football fields. We dissected parts of it twice, as our boat floated in water as shallow as three feet and as deep as seven feet. Despite these many minutes of fishing, we caught only three largemouth bass. One was caught in four feet of water on a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a drag-and-deadstick presentation. One was caught on a Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a drag-and-deadstick presentation. One was caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig on the initial drop.

We thought that a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man’s Mud Minnow Finesse T.R.D.-spin affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig would be effective baits to employ on this mud flat. But to our surprise, they failed to elicit a strike.

We spent the rest of the outing (which encompassed 165 minutes) fishing two main-lake points and four steep shorelines in the upper- , middle- and lower- third portions of this reservoir.

These four shorelines were endowed with scores of boat docks, rocks, boulders, gravel, ledges, patches of winter-dead American water willows, some patches of winter-stunted coontail, some laydowns and man-made brushpiles, and partially lined with concrete-retaining walls. The terrain of the two main-lake points is similar to the terrains of the shorelines, but the points aren’t as steep. Along these six locales, the boat floated in eight to 20 feet of water.

We caught one largemouth bass at one of the main-lake points, which lies in the lower-third portion of the reservoir. It was caught adjacent to a boat dock in about six feet of water on the Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve. The other main-lake point that lies in the middle-third portion of the reservoir failed to yield a strike.

Along three of the steep shorelines in the middle-portion, we caught 17 largemouth bass. They were caught on the Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. A couple of them were caught on the initial fall of the Finesse T.R.D. rig. Most of them were caught on a drag-and-deadstick retrieve, but there was no pattern to where and what depth we caught these 17 largemouth bass. Some were near the water’s edge in three and four feet of water and some were 20 feet from the water’s edge in 10 to 12 feet of water. Some were adjacent or under a boat dock, and some were a goodly distance away from a boat dock. Some of these largemouth bass were in seven to 10 feet water. Two of them were adjacent to patches of winter-dead American water willows. A few were caught around the winter-wilted and filamentous algae-laden coontail patches. And a few were abiding on the rocks and boulders. These divergent-catch patterns discombobulated us.

Along the fourth steep shoreline, which lies in the upper-third portions of the reservoir, we caught five largemouth bass. The same discombobulating pattern that we endured on the other three steep shorelines unfolded on this one. Three of these largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a drag-and-deadstick presentation, and two were caught on Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a drag-and-deadstick presentation.

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One of the 29 largemouth bass that we caught on March 27.

 

During the last 50 minutes, we caught 16 largemouth bass, and across the 320 minutes that we were afloat, we caught 29 largemouth bass.

During the last hour that we were on the water, we crossed paths with Aaron Suess. He is an ardent and veteran power angler, and he was heading to the massive mud flat that yielded only three largemouth bass for us. He told us that we didn’t venture far enough onto the mud flat and explained that the largemouth bass were abiding in coontail patches that are lying in shallower water than the ones we were fishing. After he got off the water, we talked to Suess on the telephone, and he said he fished from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. He caught 25 largemouth bass, and they were inhabiting the filamentous-laden coontail patches in two to three feet of water, and these patches are about 75 yards above the coontail patches that we fished. He caught them by employing a weightless and Texas-rigged five-inch soft-plastic swimbait that he slowly retrieved over and around the coontail patches. He focused on spots where he saw a lot of gizzard shad dimpling the surface.

Another one of the 29 largemouth bass that we caught on this extremely cold spring outing.

Another one of the 29 largemouth bass that Rick Hebenstreit caught on this extremely cold spring outing.

March 27 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his March 27 outing with a friend.

He wrote: “It was another gorgeous spring day with plenty of warm sunshine filling a cloudless and bluebird sky. A cold front had passed through north-central Texas during the late night hours of March 25, which cooled down our daytime temperatures from the low 80s to the middle 60s. The blustery southern winds of March 24 and 25 had also waned to more manageable levels.

“Norman Brown of Lewisville and I took the opportunity to ply a 24,325-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hill-land reservoir.
“I last fished this reservoir on March 19, and during that solo five-hour excursion, I caught 16 largemouth bass and one spotted bass during five hours of fishing.

“The National Weather Service noted the morning low temperature was 41 degrees and the afternoon high was 70 degrees. The wind blew out of the north at 10 to 15 mph, and the barometric pressure measured 30.13.

“Norman and I were afloat from about 11:30 a.m. to about 5:00 p.m. The In-Fisherman solunar calendar indicated the best fishing phases for this day would occur from 5:33 a.m. to 7:33 a.m. and 5:58 p.m. to 7:58 p.m. A minor phase would occur from 11:21 a.m. to 1: 21 p.m.

“The water was murky from the previous two days of high winds and exhibited about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The water temperature varied from 59 to 63 degrees. The water level is slowly rising, but still remains 4.05 feet below normal pool.

“Norman and I spent our time in two marina coves that are situated in the reservoir’s southwest tributary. We concentrated our efforts on searching for largemouth bass and spotted bass underneath the multitude of covered boat docks and along the narrow passageways between the covered boat docks and the shorelines that border the marinas.

“The first marina occupies a large cove and features a large mud flat along its western shoreline. Many yards of its shoreline is relatively steep and comprised of clay and fist-sized rock. There are three steep and rocky secondary points. There are also two small coves in the back or south end of the marina.

“We hooked and landed six largemouth bass and two spotted bass from this marina. One four-pound, 14-ounce largemouth bass was caught in four feet of water off a steep clay and rock shoreline along the west side of the marina. One spotted bass was caught in six feet of water off a steep rocky point in the southwest end of the marina. Two largemouth bass and one spotted bass were caught in three feet of water along a riprap covered point that forms the west border of a cove in the southeast portion of the marina. Two largemouth bass, including one three-pound-eight ouncer, were caught in three feet of water in the back of the southeastern cove, and one largemouth bass was caught off the east shoreline of this cove from five feet of water.

 

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Steve Reideler with one of the largemouth bass that he and Norman Brown caught on March 27.

 

“The covered boat docks in this marina did not yield any strikes.

After we finished fishing the first marina, we made a short run to the second marina cove, which is smaller than the first one. The terrain around this marina is steep and rocky. It is graced with five secondary points, two spawning coves, two boat ramps, and a large number of covered boat docks. This marina cove yielded ten largemouth bass and one spotted bass. Three largemouth bass and one spotted bass were caught about hallway back in the marina along the west shoreline. These four bass were relating to a boat ramp in three to five feet of water. Four largemouth bass were extracted from five feet of water along a steep rocky shoreline in the back of a spawning cove. This cove lies in the rear or southern end of the marina cove. Three largemouth bass were caught in five feet of water next to three steep rock and clay points along the east side of the marina.

We did not locate any black bass relating to any of the covered boat docks in this marina.

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Norman Brown with one of the largemouth bass that he and Steve Reideler caught on March 27.

 

Overall, we caught 16 largemouth bass and three spotted bass that included a four-pound, 14-ounce largemouth bass and a three-pound, eight ounce largemouth bass. Nine bass were enticed into striking a four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Eight bass were allured by a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed on a blue 1/32-ounce gopher jig. Two were caught on a 3 1/4-inch modified Z-Man’s California Craw FattyZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

We employed all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves, and the swim-glide-and-shake presentation was the only fruitful one.

March 30 log

Our grandson Gabe from New York City is about to make his annual Easter pilgrimage to Lawrence, Kansas. He will be here from April 4 to April 10. Traditionally, we fish several times during his visit.

And on March 30, I made a reconnaissance venture to a 195-acre community reservoir to see if I could find several bevies of largemouth bass that Gabe could tangle with. On April 23, 2014, Gabe and I were joined by Tyler Sova of Lawrence, Kansas, and we caught 102 largemouth bass in four hours and 20 minutes. But for the past 10 months this reservoir has become a difficult venue, and it was more than difficult on my March 30 outing.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 28 degrees at 4:52 a.m. and 73 degrees at 2:52 p.m. The sky exhibited a silvery-indigo-blue hue, and the sun was shining everywhere. From 12:52 a.m. to 8:52 a.m. the wind was calm for five hours, and for three hours throughout the eight-hour spell, it angled out of the north and northwest at 5 to 7 mph. From 9:52 a.m. to 11:52 a.m., it angled out of the south at 9 to 13 mph. From 12:52 p.m. to 2:52 p.m., it angled out of the southwest at 13 to 23 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.18 at 12:52 a.m., 30.18 at 5:52 a.m., 30.16 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.05 at 2:52 a.m.

Many dandelions are blooming, the redbud trees are about to bloom, and the plum thickets are exhibiting a greenish hue.

The surface temperature ranged from 5o to 52 degrees. The water level was normal. The water exhibited a slight algae bloom and three to four feet of visibility. The curly-leaf pondweed has grown dramatically during the past three weeks; some stems are more than three feet long.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would take place from 7:38 a.m. to 9:38 a.m. and 8:01 p.m. to 10:01 p.m. There would be a minor period from 1:27 a.m. to 3:27 a.m.

I fished from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and I caught only 15 largemouth bass and inadvertently caught two black crappie.

I caught two largemouth bass on back-to-back casts with a Z-Man’s Mud Minnow Finesse T.R.D.-spin affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig on the outside edge of a shallow patch of Eurasian milfoil that graces a massive mud flat inside a feeder-creek arm. And a few casts later, I hooked another largemouth bass that quickly liberated itself. I was retrieving this bait with a swimming retrieve, and it was a relatively fast retrieve.

Along a south shoreline about a third of the way inside another feeder-creek, I caught two largemouth bass on back-to-back casts with a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was retrieved with a drag and deadstick presentation in about five feet of water, and several casts later, I caught another largemouth bass on the same bait, retrieve, and depth.

I also probed hundreds of yards of shorelines of various configurations and depths, as well as hundreds of square yards of patches of submerged vegetation without eliciting a strike. And when I did mysteriously garner a strike and catch a bass, I could not duplicate it again. In essence, there was no rhyme or reason why or where I caught the other 10 largemouth bass.

But I can say that the Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a drag and deadstick presentation caught five of those 10 largemouth bass. Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig caught three of those 10 largemouth bass on the initial drop or fall. And a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a drag-and-shake retrieve caught two of those 10 largemouth bass.

Other than the description of the baits and retrieves, I can’t conjure up any more words to describe this sorry outing. I can, however, reinforce its wretchedness by noting that I crossed paths with another finesse angler at 1:25 p.m. who was more despondent than I was. He glumly said that he had caught only one largemouth bass and had not elicited another strike.

The March 20 log above has more details about the puzzling goings on at this 195-acre community reservoir.

March 3o log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his March 30 outing with a friend.
Reideler wrote: “I made a 50-mile trek to join In-Fisherman field editor and fisheries biologist Ralph Manns of Rockwall, Texas, at an 18,363-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hill-land reservoir.

“The water was stained with about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The water temperature varied between 60 and 63 degrees. The water level in this reservoir has risen four feet over the past three months, but it remains 5.82 feet below normal pool.

“According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the optimum fishing phases would occur at 7:43 a.m. to 9:43 a.m. and 8:05 p.m. to 10:05 p.m. A minor phase would occur between 1:32 a.m. and 3:32 a.m. We fished from about 1:00 p.m. to about 7:00 p.m.

”We fished beneath an overcast sky. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 62 degrees and the afternoon high reached 74 degrees. The winds were variable at 8 to 13 mph, and the barometric pressure measured 30.13.

“I worked with four spinning rods. One rod sported a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The second outfit donned a 3 1/4-inch modified Z-Man’s black-blue FattyZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The third rod was dressed with a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig affixed to a 3 ½-inch Z-Man’s Chartreuse Sparkle GrubZ. A Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig adorned the fourth rod.

“Ralph’s rods sported a white chatter-style bait, a white tandem-blade spinnerbait, a four-inch watermelon finesse worm Texas rigged with a 1/8-ounce slip-sinker rig, a four-inch Gary Yamamoto Bait Company’s watermelon with black-gold-flake Senko nose hooked with an Owners’ No. 1 weedless wacky hook, a white and black topwater popping bait, a Bill Lewis Lures’ gold-black-back floating Rat-L-Trap, and a deep-diving crankbait. [Although he has witnessed the effectiveness of Midwest finesse methods many times, Ralph is yet to become a devotee.]

“We fished only two areas. A large main-lake cove located along the west side of the east tributary arm, and a long riprap-laden jetty situated along the southeast side of the west tributary.

“We probed the large main-lake cove first. This cove contains a marina, which is endowed with scores of covered boat docks. The terrain of this cove has several stretches of steep and rocky shorelines, a large rock pile, and a couple of mud flats. We caught two largemouth bass and inadvertently caught two white bass from the northwest end of the cove. One largemouth bass was relating to a boulder in four feet of water, and it was allured by the Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The second bass was caught about 30 yards offshore in 12 feet of water on the 3 1/2″ Z-Man Chartreuse Sparkle GrubZ and steady swim retrieve. I was unable to determine what this bass was relating to. The two white bass were caught about 20 yards offshore in 10 feet of water on the white chatter-style bait and a steady swim presentation.

“We caught two largemouth bass from the middle section of the cove. These two bass were caught in six to eight feet of water along a steep and rocky portion of the west shoreline. Both of these bass were inveigled by the 3 1/2-inch Z-Man Chartreuse Sparkle GrubZ that was presented with a slow hop-and-bounce retrieve. We were unable to coax any bass from the large rock pile or large mud flat situated in the south end of the cove.

“We spent the last four hours plying the north side of the long riprap-covered jetty in the southeast end of the reservoir’s west tributary arm. This jetty extends eastward about 400 yards from the west shoreline. We caught seven largemouth bass, 24 wipers, and one white bass along this jetty. The east end of the jetty surrendered just one wiper, and it engulfed the 3 1/2-inch GrubZ that was presented with a steady swim retrieve. The seven largemouth bass were caught from the middle section of this jetty in three to five feet of water along a 50-yard stretch of the jetty. The two largest bass weighed three pounds, 12 ounces, and four pounds, nine ounces. Four of the seven largemouth bass, including the three-pounder, engulfed the Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a slow, swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The other three bass, including the four-pounder, were caught on the four-inch Senko and slow lift-and-drop presentation. The west end of the jetty yielded 23 wipers, which ranged in size from three to seven pounds, and one white bass. Twenty-two wipers and the white bass were caught on the Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and swim-glide-and-shake technique. One wiper was caught on the Bill Lewis Lures’ gold-black-back floating Rat-L-Trap with a steady swimming retrieve. All of these wipers were quite feisty, requiring at least a couple of minutes to land. At one point, we battled several nice wipers on consecutive casts, and we felt like we were saltwater fishing instead of bass fishing. Although we enjoyed the many donnybrooks that these fish provided, we found that they took up a lot of our black bass fishing time as well.

“In sum, we caught 37 fish in six hours, but the black bass fishing in this reservoir remains slow and trying. We struggled to eke out 10 largemouth bass. The Z-Man Junebug Finesse ShadZ was by far the most fruitful bait we used, enticing four largemouth bass, 22 wipers, and one white bass. The four-inch Gary Yamamoto watermelon with black and gold flake Senko allured three largemouth bass. The 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Chartreuse Sparkle GrubZ beguiled three largemouth bass and one wiper. One largemouth bass was caught on the Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. Two white bass were caught on the white chatter-style bait. The modified 3 1/2-inch Z-Man black-blue FattyZ, deep-diving crankbait, four-inch Texas rigged watermelon finesse worm, and topwater bait failed to engender any strikes. I did not see Ralph employ the tandem-blade spinnerbait. The swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the most productive presentation.”

 

 

IMG_1546

Ralph Manns of Rockwall, Texas, and two of the 10 largemouth bass that he and Steve Reideler caught on April 30.

“In sum, we caught 37 fish in six hours, but the black bass fishing in this reservoir remains slow and trying. We struggled to eke out 10 largemouth bass. The Z-Man Junebug Finesse ShadZ was by far the most fruitful bait we used, enticing four largemouth bass, 22 wipers, and one white bass. The four-inch Gary Yamamoto watermelon with black and gold flake Senko allured three largemouth bass. The 3 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Chartreuse Sparkle GrubZ beguiled three largemouth bass and one wiper. One largemouth bass was caught on the Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. Two white bass were caught on the white chatter-style bait. The modified 3 1/2-inch Z-Man black-blue FattyZ, deep-diving crankbait, four-inch Texas rigged watermelon finesse worm, and topwater bait failed to engender any strikes. I did not see Ralph employ the tandem-blade spinnerbait. The swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the most productive presentation.”

March 31 log

Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network about his March 31 outing at a 120-acre community reservoir in northwestern Missouri. (See the March 24 log above that features another bass fishing for trout adventure at this reservoir.)

The National Weather Service reported that its 47 degrees at 5:53 a.m. and 76 degrees at 3:53 p.m. Occasionally a few clouds floated overhead, but the sky was virtually cloudless for many hours in a row. The wind angled mild mannerly from a variety of directions: out of the southwest at 7 to 8 mph, out of the west at 5 to 7 mph, out of the north at 3 mph, out of the northeast at 7 to 12 mph, and out of the east at 6 to 9 mph.
In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would take place at 8:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. and 8:36 p.m. to 10:36 p.m. There was a minor period from 2:04 a.m. to 4:04 a.m.

The surface temperature was 50 degrees. The water level was about a foot below normal. The water was relatively clear, exhibiting four or more feet of visibility.
Here is a condensed and edited version of his report:

Usually, when Warren Platt of Kansas City and I get together, it is in late spring or early summer and we are casting antique topwater lures.

Today, we went out and used finesse baits, something Warren isn’t accustomed to doing. In fact, he took one look at the Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZ and scoffed, especially when I told him we would catch a mix of bass and trout on that bait. “That’s too big for trout,” he said.

He soon changed his tune. We didn’t have a great day, like you and I did on March 24, when we caught 25 rainbow trout and 75 largemouth bass, as well as a walleye, a crappie, and a hefty bluegill.

Still, we had a decent hourly average. Fishing from 10 a.m. to a little after 1 p.m., we caught 31 bass and seven rainbow trout. We measured several of the bass and they were right at 14 1/2 to 15 inches. There seems to be a good year-class of that size bass. We had several trout that we estimated at more than two pounds.

The pattern was far different than when you and I fished together on March 24. I started by working that rocky bank on the east side where we caught good numbers. But the fish weren’t there.

Instead, they were in the middle of coves, and they were bunched up. We had several good bursts of activity.

Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ShadZ on a 1/16-ounce jig was still the most productive bait. Warren started off with a heavier spinning rod and six-pound test and wasn’t having much luck. I finally convinced him to use one of my light St. Croix rods with a small reel and four-pound-test monofilament line, and he loved it.
We used 1/16-ounce jig heads with a variety of retrieves. The most productive one was scrawling or dragging it along the bottom as you and I discovered on March 24. But several times we caught bass and trout as we reeled up our line. So, we tried swimming the baits and found success that way, too.

The rocky and riprap shoreline along the highway still remain puzzlingly frustrating. That’s usually where I start my quest for springtime largemouth bass, but so far this spring that area has produced slow fishing.

We tried to catch some pre-spawn crappies, but no luck. Still, it was a good day.

March 31 log

Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, asked me to join him on his midday reconnaissance outing to a 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir on March 31 to pursue smallmouth bass, as well as some crappie, temperate bass, and walleye.

Holscher is a veteran multispecies guide and talented Midwest finesse angler, and this was his second outing of 2015. His first one occurred on March 30, when he had a solo reconnaissance outing searching for temperate bass at a 4,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir. His reconnaissance missions are always quick paced endeavors, and the reason for that is he is trying to pinpoint a vast number and variety of areas where he can guide his clients to and entertain them for hours on end. Thus, he rarely fishes slowly and seldom thoroughly dissects a lair. Therefore, his search missions are not conducive for Midwest finesse anglers to catch a lot of fish – especially when the black-bass fishing is as trying as it has been in the heavily fished public waterways of northeastern Kansas this March.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 41 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 78 degrees at 3:53 p.m. From 12:53 a.m. to 3:53 p.m. the wind fluctuated significantly, angling out of the southeast at 6 to 8 mph, out of the south at 9 mph, out of the southwest at 6 mph, out of the northwest at 5 to 6 mph, out of the northeast at 13 to 25 mph, and out of the east at 5 to 22 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.95 at 12:53 a.m., 29.92 at 5:53 a.m., 30.00 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.93 at 3:53 p.m.

Hints of spring were in the air. The horizons were littered with smoke that radiated from the pastures that area farmers were burning, which is a yearly phenomenon in March and April in northeastern Kansas. Several redbud trees looked as if they were about to blossom, and all of the weeping willow trees exhibited a viridescent-chartreuse hue. We also saw a significant assembly of pelicans and one loon.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 8:19 a.m. to 10:19 a.m. and 8:41 p.m. to 10:41 p.m. There was a minor period from 2:08 a.m. to 4:08 a.m. We fished from 10:15 a.m. to 3:20 p.m.

The water level looked to be normal. The water clarity in the calm, mid-reservoir areas exhibited more than seven feet of visibility. In the wind-blown areas, the visibility decreased several feet, and it diminished in the reservoir’s upper regions. The surface temperature fluctuated from 49 to 54 degrees.

Holscher used two Midwest finesse baits. One was a Z-Man’s Mud Minnow Hula StickZ on a red 3/32-ounce jig, and the Hula Stick was affixed to the jig with its four tentacles around the collar of the jig. The second one was a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. on a red 3/32-ounce jig.

I worked with a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 1/16-ounce silver-gray marabou jig.

During the first hour, we fished four flat points, which are quite extensive. Their terrains consist of gravel, rocks, piles of rocks and boulders, ledges, submerged roadbeds, and stumps. The boat floated in three to nine feet of water. We failed to elicit a strike on these points. We also fished a 100-yard stretch on the dam, which is steep and riprap-laden. The boat floated in 15 to 22 feet of water. The wind caused ranks of waves to pummel the dam’s shoreline. We did not garner a strike along the dam.

The first smallmouth bass was extracted off of a rock pile that lies on a massive flat. It was sheltered from the wind. This pile of rocks is surrounded by water as deep as 14 feet and as shallow as six feet. This smallmouth bass was caught on the Z-Man’s Mud Minnow Hula StickZ on a red 3/32-ounce jig and presented with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve in 14 feet of water. We fished this rock pile at the end of our outing, and it yielded three more smallmouth bass. Two were caught on the Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. on a red 3/32-ounce jig with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve in 14 feet of water. One was caught on the Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a drag and deadstick retrieve in about eight feet of the water. We spent a lot of time dissecting this rock pile, and besides the four smallmouth bass that we caught, we hooked another fish on the Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that liberated itself before we could see it.

The rest of the outing was spent fishing the shorelines along two massive riprap jetties, and two main-lake points at the ends of these jetties. The wind hammered both points with waves. But the riprap shorelines were either wind-sheltered or partially wind-sheltered.

One smallmouth bass was caught on both main-lake points. The Z-Man’s Mud Minnow Hula StickZ on a red 3/32-ounce jig and presented with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve inveigled one in about 10 to 12 feet of water. The Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. on a red 3/32-ounce jig with a drag-and-deadstick presentation allured one in about five feet of water.

Along the shorelines of the two riprap jetties, we caught nine smallmouth bass. The Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. on a red 3/32-ounce jig with a drag-and-deadstick presentation caught six of them, and they were extracted out of 12 to 16 feet of water. Two smallmouth bass were caught on the Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve in five to seven feet of water. And one was caught on the Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig on the initial drop in about five feet of water.

Along many sections of the riprip shoreline the boat floated in 15 to 25 feet of water. And we made extremely long casts. And in order to survey a vast amount of shoreline, the boat moved at a relatively fast pace. But we did spend a few minutes dissecting three short sections of the riprap.

Traditionally, Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas shun long casts, and we employ a 3/32-ounce jig only occasionally. We do use a 3/32-ounce jig when our quarries are in water deeper than eight feet, which is a rare phenomenon. We also employ one when we swim a grub or a Finesse T.R.D.-spin. Then there are spells when the black bass seem to prefer our baits to gingerly ricochet off of rocks and boulders, which necessitates using a 3/32-ounce jig. We are proponents of the no-feel retrieve, and most of the time the 3/32-ounce jig radiates too much feel. But because we were making extremely long casts and probing deep-water lairs, the 3/32-ounce jig was by far the best one on March 31. Thus, the Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and 1/16-ounce silver-gray marabou jig were too light to be effective in the many deep-water lairs that we were quickly surveying. Consequently, the 3/32-ounce jig combos were the most effective.

In sum, across the five hours and five minutes that we fished, we caught 15 smallmouth bass, four white bass, one wiper, and one channel catfish.

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Clyde Holscher with a smallmouth bass and the smoke from the burning grasslands on the horizon behind him.

 

Endnotes:

On March 31, Glenn Young of Blythewood, South Carolina, posted a brief on the Finesse News Network about his outing on a 300-acre reservoir during the weekend of March 28 and 29.  He also created a YouTube video. It features him catching 10 largemouth bass while fishing in a kayak and employing a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. rigged Texas-style on a Z-Man’s 1/10-ounce green-pumpkin Finesse ShroomZ jig. Here is the link to his video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Te1u-9yGszA .

 

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