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This well-worn 2 1/2-inch Z-Man Fishing Products’ pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle’s Mushroom Head jig was an extremely effective Midwest finesse rig in northeastern Kansas in March. For more details, please see the March 29 log.

Our March guide to Midwest finesse fishing contains 23 logs and 17,032 words that describe the piscatorial undertakings of Rick Allen of Dallas; Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas;  Lou Clewell of Roselyn, Pennsylvania; Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas; Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri; Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas; Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas; Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas; Ralph Manns of Rockwall, Texas; Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia;  Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina; Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas; Joel Schroeder of Overland Park, Kansas; Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, as well as my northeastern Kansas logs.

As always, we are more than thankful that Steve Reideler proof read all of the logs and words. He made them more readable and understandable.

March 3 log

Mother Nature allowed the wind to howl across northeastern Kansas during the first three days of March. It angled out of the north and northwest on March 1, and gusts hit 38 mph. Then gusts from the south were as high as 36 mph on March 2. It switched back to the north and northwest on March 3, and gusts reached 31 mph.

While the wind howled, some of the crocuses, daffodils, and forsythia bloomed in our gardens, and the snow drops, which began blooming on Feb. 15 and 16, began to peter out.

During some late winters of the past, we have enjoyed some bountiful largemouth bass fishing when the crocuses, daffodils, forsythia, and snow drops begin to bloom, but for some unfathomable reason, it has never been a consistent phenomenon. And when the wind allowed us to get afloat for a few hours this time around, the largemouth bass were difficult to find and entice. For instance, a Midwest finesse angler from Overland Park, Kansas, lamented in a Mar. 1 email that he fished one of the community reservoirs that lies on the west side of the Kansas City metropolitan area for several hours and caught only one largemouth bass.

I had to re-carpet the bunks on the boat trailer, and I elected to do that task on March 3. To do it, I took the boat off of the trailer at a state reservoir that lies about 20 miles north of the community reservoir where our Midwest finesse colleague recently fished and caught only one largemouth bass. And after I finished re-carpeting the bunks, I decided to battle the wind for a spell and fish.

The National Weather Service indicated that it was 36 degrees at 7:52 a.m. and 56 degrees at 2:52 p.m. For six hours, the sky fluctuated from being overcast to being speckled with a few clouds, and for the rest of the time, it was cloudless, which allowed the sun to shine intensely. The barometric pressure was 29.86 at 12:52 a.m., 29.86 at 5:52 a.m., 30.03 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.02 at 1:52 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing should transpire from 5:40 a.m. to 7:40 a.m., 6:06 p.m. to 8:06 p.m., and 11:27 a.m. to 1:27 p.m. I fished from noon to 2:00 p.m.

The water clarity exhibited more than six feet of visibility. The water level looked to be slightly above normal. The surface temperature was 44 degrees. The filamentous alga is blossoming, and several Frisbee-size wads of filamentous algae were floating about on the surface all around the reservoir.

For some unknown reason, the late-winter largemouth bass fishing at this reservoir has always been unfruitful, and its early spring largemouth bass fishing can also be problematic. But in the late summer and early fall, the largemouth bass fishing can be fabulous; for example, Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, and I caught 108 largemouth bass on Oct. 2, 2015, and Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I caught 121 largemouth bass on Oct. 9, 2015.

And during my two-hour outing on March 3, the largemouth bass fishing was wretched. I quickly probed five flats in the upper reaches of two of this reservoir’s feeder-creek arms, where there are extensive patches of curly-leaf pondweed growing in five to seven feet of water. I also fished one steep, rocky, and boulder-laden main-lake shoreline that is bordered by patches of winter-dead American water willows and eight main-lake points, which are rocky and rimmed with patches of winter-dead American water willows. And I caught five largemouth bass.

At one patch of curly-leaf pondweed, where the boat floated in seven to nine feet of water, I caught three largemouth bass. One was caught on a Z-Man Fishing Products’ PB&J Rain MinnowZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The second one was caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The third one was caught on a slightly shortened Z-Man’s California Craw Hula StickZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. These three largemouth bass were abiding in about six feet of water.

The fourth largemouth bass was caught at a rocky main-lake point that is rimmed with patches of winter-dead American water willows. The boat floated in 10 feet of water, and this bass was abiding in about four feet of water. I caught it on a slightly shortened Z-Man’s California Craw Hula StickZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and it engulfed this rig on the initial drop.

The fifth largemouth bass was caught at another rocky main-lake point that is rimmed with patches of winter-dead American water willows. The boat floated in 15 feet of water, and this bass was abiding in about six feet of water. I caught it on a slightly shortened Z-Man’s California Craw Hula StickZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

I failed to elicit a strike along the steep main-lake shoreline, the six other main-lake points, and the other four patches of curly-leaf pondweed I fished.

When I arrived home, I received an email from Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, and he reported that his efforts on March 3 at one of the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir in north-central Texas were sorrier than mine. He wrote: “The wind is howling at 24 mph. I thought I might be able to launch and fish the backs of two marinas, which would be the two most wind-protected spots on the lake. When I arrived, the water was extremely muddy and two- to three-foot waves were crashing onto the boat ramp, so I turned around and came home.”

Reideler also enclosed a brief report from Ralph Manns of Rockwall, Texas. Manns is a veteran In-Fisherman field editor and a dyed-in-the-wool power angler and a lunker-bass aficionado. In other words, he would rather catch one eight-pound largemouth bass in four hours than 101 small largemouth bass. But during the past two years, Reideler has gradually shown Manns a thing or two about the virtues of employing Midwest finesse tactics. And on March 2, Manns fished a marina cove at another United States Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir in north-central Texas, where he caught seven largemouth bass. And one of them was an eight-pounder, which he caught by employing one of Reideler’s Midwest finesse jewels on a spinning rod and light line, and that jewel is a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ affixed to a purple 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

March 4 log

The wind’s pace reached only 26 mph on March 4, which was a drop of about 10 mph from the pace it was howling on March 1, 2, and 3. But on the flatland reservoirs of Kansas, it is still a chore to deal with a south wind that is studded with gusts of 26 mph. Therefore, I elected to fish a community reservoir where some of its acres were partially sheltered from the wind on March 4.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 24 degrees at 6:49 a.m. and 68 degrees at 3:52 p.m. It was cloudy a couple of times, but it was sunny most of the time. The wind fluctuated from being calm for three hours during the early morning hours, and then it angled out of the east, east by southeast, southeast, south, southwest, and south by southwest at 3 to 26 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.18 at 12:52 a.m., 30.17 at 5:52 a.m., 30.10 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.97 at 2:52 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar said that the best fishing would occur from 6:28 a.m. to 8:28 a.m., 6:55 p.m. to 8:55 p.m., and 12:15 a.m. to 2:15 a.m. I fished from 11:30 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.

The surface temperature was 46 degrees. The water clarity exhibited 12 to 15 inches of clarity at the back portions of two of the reservoir’s four feeder creek arms, and it exhibited more than 20 inches of visibility at the mouths of all the feeder-creek arms. The water level looked to be a few inches above normal. Filamentous alga has begun to appear, but it did not interfere with any of the six Midwest finesse presentations that I employed.

While I was fishing, there were three other bass boats afloat. And I spent about 15 minutes chatting with an acquaintance from the Kansas City metropolitan area who was in one of those boats. He is a power angler that occasionally wields a Midwest finesse rig. Our chat was more of a dirge about how difficult the largemouth bass fishing has been during the winter of 2015-16 in northeastern Kansas. On this outing, he primarily employed a variety of power tactics, but he did make a few casts with a spinning rod and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pearl ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce jig. To his chagrin, he caught just two largemouth bass across 3 1/4 hours of power fishing and 15 minutes of finesse fishing.

I began the outing by dissecting three patches of curly-leaf pondweed in the backend of one of the feeder-creek arms, where I failed to elicit a strike. After that failure, I spent the rest of the outing probing shorelines and their secondary and tertiary points.

I fished the entire northwest shoreline inside one of the feeder-creek arms, and I fished about 100 yards of its southeast shoreline. The northwest shoreline is nearly a mile long. The southeast shoreline was completely sheltered from the wind. But along the northwest shoreline, the wind was occasionally pesky and swirling at times. Both shorelines are relatively flat. The boat floated in six to 12 feet of water. Much of the water’s edge is embellished with patches of winter-dead American water willows; the underwater terrain consist of silt, rocks, gravel, brush piles, laydowns, bits of Eurasian milfoil, some curly-leaf pondweed, and two dozen boat docks. As I probed this shoreline, I used all six of the Midwest finesse retrieves, and I worked with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Junebug ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s pearl Rain MinnowZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a slightly shortened Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ 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. Along the northwest shoreline, I caught 13 largemouth bass, and all of them were caught on the Junebug ZinkerZ rig. Five of them were caught while I was employing the hop-and-bounce presentation with a slight pause before the ZinkerZ bounced off of the bottom. The other eight were caught when I was executing a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. I failed to elicit a strike along the 100-yard stretch of the southeast shoreline. Some of the bass were extracted out of water as shallow as three feet and some were caught in five to seven feet of water.

The second area that I fished was along portions of the west and east shorelines of another feeder-creek arm. These shorelines are relatively flat. The boat floated in three to eight feet of water. The water’s edge is adorned with patches of winter-dead American water willows; the underwater terrain consist of silt, rocks, gravel, brush piles, laydowns, an array of stumps, minor patches of Eurasian milfoil, some curly-leaf pondweed, and a short section of riprap. I employed a drift sock to tame the effects of the wind. I fished nearly 100 yards of the middle portions of the west shoreline, and it yielded one largemouth bass. It was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pearl ZinkerZ-spin affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. The green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rig, green-pumpkin Hula StickZ rig and Junebug ZinkerZ rig failed to garner a strike. I fished about 75 yards of the east shoreline, which failed to yield a strike.

The third area that I fished was a relatively wind-sheltered shoreline inside another feeder-creek arm. I fished about a 75-yard section of this shoreline, and that section lies about 200 yards inside this arm. Winter-dead American water willows grace the water’s edge, and its underwater terrain consist of boulders, rocks, gravel, some minor laydowns, an array of stumps, minor patches of Eurasian milfoil, and some curly-leaf pondweed. It is steeper than the other shorelines I fished. The boat floated in 10 to 16 feet of water. From a 20-yard section of this shoreline, I caught six largemouth bass on the Junebug ZinkerZ rig. One largemouth bass was caught when the Junebug ZinkerZ rig was snagged around a boulder and I popped it free. Two of them engulfed it on the initial drop, and the other three were caught while I was executing a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve. These bass were extracted out of three to seven feet of water.

The fourth area that I fished was a somewhat wind-blown segment of the dam, which is rock laden, and it lies on the north end of the reservoir. It failed to yield a strike.

In sum, I caught 20 largemouth bass in three hours and 50 minutes. One was caught on the pearl ZinkerZ-spin and 19 were caught of the Junebug ZinkerZ rig.

As I was putting the boat on the trailer, another friend from the Kansas City metropolitan area was launching his bass boat, and he talked for a while about the sorry state of fishing in northeastern Kansas and the Missouri Ozarks. A goodly portion of our conversation was focused on the decline of one of northeastern Kansas’ power-plant reservoirs, which until 2014 was one of the crown-jewels of wintertime largemouth fishing in the Midwest. Its largemouth bass fishing has become so sorry that he has not fished it this winter, and I have journeyed there only once.

March 4 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his outing with Lou Clewell of Roselyn, Pennsylvania, on March 4.

Here is an edited version of his report:

Lou Clewell is an ardent trout and steelhead fisherman, and he usually wields a fly rod instead of light spinning tackle. And while Lou was visiting Denton, Texas, for a few days, he thought it would be fun to join me for an afternoon bank-walking venture at two community reservoirs located in two suburbs northwest of Dallas, with a spinning rod in hand instead of his usual fly rod.

The day was mostly sunny and quite pleasant, and the Bradford Pear and Silver Maple trees are displaying their vibrant blooms. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 49 degrees and the afternoon high was 69 degrees. The sky was partly cloudy. The wind quartered out of the southeast at 12 to 15 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.17 at noon, and it dropped to 30.09 by 5:00 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best fishing periods would occur from 12:06 a.m to 2:06 a.m., 7:38 a.m. to 9:38 a.m., and 8:03 p.m. to 10:38 p.m.

For Lou’s maiden Midwest finesse outing, I elected to take him to a 20-acre reservoir that has been our most fruitful venue this winter. We fished this community reservoir from about 11:45 a.m. to about 2:45 p.m., and we caught 25 largemouth bass and one large green sunfish.

The water was stained with about 1 1/2-feet of visibility. The water level was about normal. We did not have the means to measure the water temperature.

We caught 13 largemouth bass and one green sunfish in a 50-foot section of a feeder creek located in the northeast corner of the reservoir. These bass were caught in four feet of water near the middle of the creek, and they were relating to several basketball-size rocks strewn along the bottom of the creek.

On his first cast, Lou hooked and landed his first Midwest finesse largemouth bass on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Coppertreuse ZinkerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which he retrieved with a slow drag-and-shake presentation. His 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ rig also inveigled five other largemouth bass and one green sunfish from this same stretch of the feeder creek. Four of them were caught while he employed a slow drag-and-shake retrieve and one was caught on a slow do-nothing swimming retrieve. Another six largemouth bass were caught on a 2 1/4-inch tail section of a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin FattyZ affixed on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. The FattyZ tail rig was also retrieved with a slow drag-and-shake presentation. One largemouth bass was attracted to a customized 2 3/4-inch Z-Man’s PB&J EZ TubeZ on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and drag-and-shake retrieve.

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Lou Clewell with one of the 34 largemouth bass that he and Steve Reideler caught on Mar. 4.

We caught five largemouth bass along the south side of a clay and gravel point that lies along the north end of the east shoreline. All five of these largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man’s pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. One was caught while we were swimming, gliding, and shaking the Finesse ShadZ in five feet of water. Four were caught while we were dragging and shaking the Finesse ShadZ rig along the bottom in four to six feet of water.

We failed to elicit any strikes along the smooth concrete slab dam, which forms the south border of this reservoir.
We caught seven largemouth bass from two steep sand and gravel shorelines along the west side of the reservoir. Six of them were beguiled by the pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ rig, and one was caught on the 2 1/2-inch Coppertreuse ZinkerZ rig. Both of these lures were implemented with a slow drag-and-shake presentation.

We fished the second reservoir from about 3:45 p.m. to about 4:45 p.m., and during that hour, this reservoir surrendered nine largemouth bass.

The water was murky, with about a foot of visibility. The water level appeared normal, and we were unable to measure the water’s temperature.

Five largemouth bass were caught from two small points located along the eastern shoreline. All of them were abiding in about six to eight feet of water and about 30 to 40 feet out from the water’s edge. Three were caught on a customized 2 3/4-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-laminate EZ TubeZ rigged on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and presented with a slow drag-and-shake retrieve. Two were enticed into striking a shortened Z-Man’s black-blue Hula StickZ affixed on a blue 1/132-ounce Gopher jig and presented with a slow drag-and-shake retrieve.

Another largemouth bass was caught in four feet of water, and it was relating to a shallow mud flat that lies along the northern shoreline. This largemouth bass was caught on the customized 2 3/4-inch black-blue-laminate EZ TubeZ rig and a slow drag-and-shake retrieve. One largemouth bass was caught from the mouth of a small feeder creek that is located in the northwest corner of the reservoir. This largemouth bass was caught on the same customized 2 3/4-inch black-blue-laminate EZ TubeZ rig as it was dragged and shaken across the bottom of the creek in five feet of water.

The last two largemouth bass were caught in three feet of water off a small point that lies along the mid-section of the western shoreline. Both of these bass were relating to the deep-water edge of a small patch of emerging water lilies that were growing on top of the point. They were both coaxed into striking the customized 2 3/4-inch EZ TubeZ rig and slow drag-and-shake presentation.

All totaled, we hooked 39 largemouth bass and landed 34 of them. Most of them were smaller specimens and the largest one weighed two pounds, three ounces. We also inadvertently caught one green sunfish.

As we were driving home, Lou made the comment that this was the most fish of any species that he has ever caught in one outing. We both agreed that it was a fun and entertaining afternoon.

March 5 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his March 5 outing with Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas, at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hill-land reservoir in north-central Texas.

Here is an edited and condensed version of his report:

This reservoir was bustling with activity. People and boat traffic were everywhere. A bass tournament was also in progress. All of the parking lots were jam packed.

The last time I fished this reservoir was on Nov. 22, 2015. During that solo four-hour undertaking, I caught 19 largemouth bass and two spotted bass.

March 5 was a bright and sunny day, and occasionally a wispy cloud drifted by overhead. The Weather Underground noted the morning low temperature was 52 degrees and the afternoon high temperature soared to 82 degrees. A mild-mannered breeze meandered out of the north at 3 to 9 mph. The barometric pressure measured 29.92 at noon and dropped a tad to 29.89 by 4:00 p.m.

Norman and I were afloat from about noon to about 4:00 p.m. The In-Fisherman solunar calendar indicated the best fishing periods would occur from 12:54 a.m. to 2:54 a.m., 7:08 a.m. to 9:08 a.m., and 7:35 p.m. to 9:35 p.m.

This reservoir has been muddy for weeks on end, but upon our arrival, we were surprised to find that five main-lake coves in the southwest tributary arm had cleared more than the rest of the reservoir. We spent the entire four hours dissecting these five coves, where the water was stained and exhibited about 2 1/2 feet of visibility. The water temperature varied from 58 degrees to 65 degrees. The water level was normal.

Norman and I began the outing fishing three large coves that harbor large marinas. We focused our attentions on the narrow passageways between the covered boat docks and the shorelines that border the marinas. Most of the covered boat docks in these marinas float in water as shallow as eight feet and as deep as 35 feet. As we fished the narrow passageways between the boat docks and the shorelines, our boat floated in water as shallow as 10 feet and as deep as 15 feet.

The first cove we fished contains a large marina. It also features a mud flat that encompasses its west shoreline, as well as many yards of steep shoreline that is comprised of clay, gravel, and fist-sized rock. A steep secondary point occupies the mid-section of the cove, and a small cove lies in the back or south end of this big cove. The water temperature was 58 degrees. We shared this cove with two tournament anglers, and we failed to elicit any strikes in this cove.

The second cove we fished is slightly smaller than the first one. Its shorelines surround three sides of the marina. The layout of this cove is similar to the first cove; it possesses steep clay and gravel shorelines, and two secondary points that are situated in its mid-section. The water temperature was 60 degrees. This cove surrendered 13 largemouth bass and our first spotted bass of 2015.

Three largemouth bass were caught in about eight feet of water at one of the two steep and rocky secondary points, and they were abiding on the deep-water side of a small rock pile that lies in five to eight feet of water just off the east side of the point. One largemouth bass was caught in five feet of water off the west side of the secondary point and about 20 yards south of the rock pile. The other nine largemouth bass were caught at the end of the second secondary point. These nine black bass were extracted from four to 12 feet of water and were relating to several large boulders that are submerged in three to eight feet of water along the tip and west side of the point. The spotted bass was caught in the back of the cove in about 10 feet of water, and it was dwelling about 25 feet out from the water’s edge. We were unable to determine what it was relating to in this open-water area of the cove. Seven largemouth bass were caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Four largemouth bass and one spotted bass engulfed a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Coppertreuse ZinkerZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Two largemouth bass were enticed by a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. These lures were presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

The third cove we fished has a steep and rocky terrain, and it also contains a large marina. Flooded buck brush lines most of this cove’s shorelines. This cove is also endowed with five steep and rocky secondary points, two boat ramps, and two small feeder creeks. One of the two feeder creeks is located in the southeast corner of the cove and the second feeder creek lies in the southwest portion of the cove. The water temperature was 60 degrees.

We caught 10 largemouth bass in this cove. Four largemouth bass were caught from a steep and rocky shoreline on the northeast side of the cove. These four largemouth bass were scattered along the shoreline and extracted from four to 10 feet of water. We caught another largemouth bass that was abiding in five feet of water and relating to the deep-water edge of one of the two boat ramps. Another four largemouth bass were caught in three to six feet of water at three of the five secondary points, and one of these four largemouth bass was caught while we were trying to free one of our snagged lures from a large submerged tree root. The last largemouth was caught from the mouth of the southeast feeder creek, and it was relating to a large boulder that lies in about four feet of water. We failed to cross paths with any bass in the back of the cove, and we did not fish the southwest feeder creek or its adjacent shorelines.

Four of these 10 largemouth bass were caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Four others were caught on the Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Two were caught on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Coppertruese ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. All three of these lures were retrieved in a slow swim-glide-and-shake manner.

We concluded our outing by fishing two small main-lake coves located about an eighth of a mile east of the other three coves. These two coves are comprised of mostly shallow mud flats that are covered with three to five feet of water, and large quantities of flooded buck brush border the shorelines. The water temperature was 65 degrees in one of the coves and 60 degrees in the other, but we failed to find any largemouth bass or spotted bass inhabiting these two locals.

In sum, we caught 23 largemouth bass and one spotted bass in four hours, and we consider this an above average outing at this reservoir. Most of these black bass were nice ones and weighed between 1 1/2 pounds and two pounds, five ounces. The three largest bass were two-pounders.

The four-inch green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ rigged on either a chartreuse 1/32- or a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig were the two most productive lures.

We utilized the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, the hop-and-bounce retrieve, the drag-and-shake retrieve, and the strolling retrieve, and the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the only fruitful presentation.

It appears that our dreaded cold-water period is over, and we are delighted that the pre-spawn period has begun.

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Norman Brown with one of the 24 largemouth bass that he and Steve Reideler caught on March 5.

 March 8 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed this report on the Finesse News Network that chronicles a three-hour river outing that Rick Allen of Dallas undertook in the south Texas Hill Country on March 8.

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

The Weather Underground noted that the sky was mostly cloudy. The morning low temperature was 62 degrees and the afternoon high was 81 degrees. The wind blew out of the south at 15 to 18 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.73 at 11:35 a.m. and fell to 29.66 by 2:35 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the prime fishing periods would occur from 3:34 a.m. to 5:34 a.m., 9:48 a.m. to 11:48 a.m., and 10:15 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. Rick was afloat from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The river’s water was clear and displayed about six feet of clarity. The water level was normal. The water temperature was 58 degrees.

Rick reported that he caught 11 largemouth bass and one large rock bass during the three hours he was afloat. Three of the largest largemouth bass weighed just under two pounds and the other eight weighed a pound or less.

All of these fish were allured by a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. affixed to an Eagle Claw weedless 1/16-ounce nail-head jig, which was presented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

Rick caught two small largemouth bass along the south shoreline of the main river, and they were relating to the deep-water edge of a large lily pad field. The other nine largemouth bass were caught inside a feeder-creek arm that flows into the southwest end of the river. They were extracted from patches of lily pads that are growing underneath cypress trees. All of them were caught in five feet of water or less. Rick reported that it appears the largemouth bass are in their pre-spawn routines.

March 5 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his outing to a northeastern Kansas power-plant reservoir with his wife and their dog on March 5. Until 2014, this reservoir used to be an excellent wintertime venue for Gum and other Midwest finesse anglers. Nowadays, the largemouth bass fishing is in a sorry state of affairs.

Here is an edited version of his brief:

The Weather Underground reported that the wind was calm for three hours and then it angled out of the north, north by northwest, northwest, west by northwest, southeast, and east by southeast at 3 to 10 mph. At 1:53 p.m. a gust of wind erupted out of the west by northwest that hit 17 mph. It was sunny. The barometric pressure was 30.09 at 12:53 a.m., 30.17 at 5:53 a.m., 30.24 at 11:53 a.m. and 30.22 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 7:16 a.m. to 9:16 a.m., 7:43 p.m. to 9:43 p.m., and 1:03 a.m. to 3:03 a.m. We fished from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The water level looked to be six inches above normal. The surface temperature south of the warm-water plume ranged from 56 to 58 degrees. The water clarity around the dam exhibited two feet of visibility.

We fished a riprap shoreline along the east side of the reservoir, where we inadvertently caught a few channel catfish, two freshwater drum, and one white bass. We failed to catch a largemouth bass.

Our second stop was the riprap shoreline along the dam, where the wind was calm and the surface of the reservoir was glass smooth. We fished nearly every inch of that massive stretch and caught only two largemouth bass and one freshwater drum.

The third area that we fished was a rock pile, which consists of mainly big slabs of concrete, and a main-lake point. The wind began to angle out of the northwest while we plied this area. We caught three largemouth bass in a 10-foot radius around the rock pile, and we caught one on the point.

Our fourth stop was another stretch of riprap along the east side of the reservoir, and it was a tad windblown. We caught two largemouth bass, and I lost a nice one when I grabbed the line and the line broke. I lost the Z-Man’s Mud Minnow Rain MinnowZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig that I have been using and catching largemouth bass on for the past several months. I was disheartened to lose the bass, as well as my well-worn and extremely effective Rain MinnowZ rig.

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Bob Gum with one of the largemouth bass that he and his wife caught of March 5.

We ended the outing by fishing the same stretch of riprap that we fished at the start of the outing, and we caught a few more channel catfish.

Throughout the day, we also wielded a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Junebug ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Coppertreuse ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man’s PB&J EZ TubeZ with an inserted 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. In the future, I plan on experimenting a lot with the EZ TubeZ rig.

When I retrieved the Rain MinnnowZ rig, I would hold my rod tip low, and for the first five feet of the retrieve, I would twitch the Rain MinnowZ rig the way I twitch a jerkbait, and then I would employ a swim-glide-and shake retrieve. If it was not too windy, I would keep the rod tip up and retrieve the ZinkerZ rig by swimming, gliding, and occasionally shaking it.

In sum, we caught eight largemouth bass, which were abiding in two to six feet of water.

March 6 log

Ralph Manns of Rockwall, Texas, emailed this report to Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, and Reideler sent it to the Finesse News Network. His first sentence proclaimed: “This is too good not to report.”

As we noted in the March 3 log, Manns is a veteran In-Fisherman field editor and a dyed-in-the-wool power angler and a lunker-bass aficionado. But since Reideler has shown him a few of the virtues of employing Midwest finesse tactics, Manns occasionally will pick up a spinning rod with a Midwest finesse rig attached to it.

Here is an edited version of Mann’s report about fishing the community pond that graces his neighborhood.

The surface temperature was 68.5 degrees. The water Secchi was five feet with penetration to 10 to 15 feet. There was plankton.

Several small male largemouth bass were visible. Apparently, they are starting nests behind my home.

I fished from 3: 25 p.m. to 6:25 p.m. I caught seven adult largemouth and two small ones, which is an average catch for this pond in recent years. But, I caught the 22 1/2-inch female largemouth bass again, and that makes it 16 times that I have caught her. She isn’t hard to catch. She was at the far southeast end of the pond.

This catch, however, is a good story. After catching a 12-incher on a shallow crankbait at the dam and a 13-incher on my Senko rig, I picked up the Midwest finesse rod and a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ affixed to a purple 1/16-ounce gopher jig, and I did not put it down for most of the rest of the evening. It caught five adult largemouth bass and two teenagers.

Catching the big girl was an interesting event. Two days last week I fed her a hotdog; I think she wanted to give her eggs a little caloric boost. Then she went away. On this outing, another angler was walking the shoreline near the southeast end of the pond. He was using a small metallic lure, and I saw him catch a 12- to 13-inch largemouth bass, and as I approached him in my boat, he said that there was a big female right in front of him. A few minutes later, I asked him if he would mind if I cast there, and I was invited to cast. I caught her on the first cast. She is the same length as the eight-pounder that I caught on that Finesse ShadZ rig on March 2 at a nearby U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir, but she is not as hefty as that eight-pounder. Apparently, there is something about that Finesse ShadZ rig that attracts lunker bass.

The weather looks bad for the next week. But perhaps on Thursday afternoon, I can squeeze into some sheltered spots provided by the marina at the nearby U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir.

March 8 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed this report on the Finesse News Network about his March 8 outing.

Here is an edited version of his report:

Lou Clewell of Roselyn, Pennsylvania, was introduced to Midwest Finesse methods on March 4, when he and I caught and released 34 largemouth bass at two small community reservoirs that lie in the suburbs northwest of Dallas. After that successful maiden venture, Lou expressed a desire to see how Midwest finesse tactics are applied on larger waterways, and I agreed to take him to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir if the gusty winds that we have been enduring settled down.

During the early morning hours of March 8, Mother Nature unleashed a round of severe thunderstorms and a couple of tornados that swept across north-central Texas. The thunderstorms dropped 1.82 inches of rain and pea-size hail on the Dallas/Ft. Worth metropolitan area. Fortunately, the severe weather moved eastward by noon, the skies cleared, and the sun began to shine brightly by 2:30 p.m.

Around 3:30 p.m., Lou and I made a beeline to a nearby U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir in hopes of getting in a couple of hours of fishing before dusk. I last fished this reservoir on March 5 with Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas. We caught 24 black bass during that four-hour endeavor.

According to the In-Fisherman solunar calendar, the best fishing periods would take place from 3:24 a.m. to 5:24 a.m., 9:38 a.m. to 11:38 a.m., and 10:06 p.m. to 12:06 a.m. Lou and I were afloat from about 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The Weather Underground reported the morning low temperature at 60 degrees and the afternoon high was 72 degrees. While we were afloat, the barometric pressure was 29.59. A light breeze quartered out of the southeast at 3 to 7 mph. Around 4:30 p.m., thick tenebrous clouds returned and covered the sun and sky. Another round of severe thunderstorms were forecast to lambaste north-central Texas during the late evening hours of March 8, and they are expected to continue through March 11.

The water level was six inches above normal. The surface temperature had dropped from 60 degrees on March 5 to 59 degrees. The water was dingy from the aftereffects of the thunderstorms and exhibited about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. A significant amount of debris floated on the water’s surface and interfered with a few of our retrieves.

Since our time was limited, I took Lou to a couple of spots where he could get some bites fairly quickly. We fished two large marina coves in the southwest tributary arm of the reservoir, where Norman Brown and I had caught some largemouth bass on March 5. We targeted seven steep clay and gravel shorelines, six rocky secondary points, and one asphalt boat ramp. The boat floated in water as shallow as 11 feet and as deep as 17 feet.

The fishing started out slow while the sun was shining, but it picked up a smidgeon when the sky became cloudy. We hooked 19 black bass, but we landed only 14 largemouth bass and one spotted bass during our two hour foray. Most of the bass we caught were nice specimens, weighing from 1 1/4 to 2 1/4 pounds.

Ten largemouth bass were associated with four of the seven steep clay and gravel shorelines. Four other largemouth bass and one spotted bass were relating to the sides of three of the six rocky secondary points.

All but two of these black bass were suspended about five to 11 feet deep, and were about 20 to 25 feet out from the water’s edge. Two were caught in about two feet of water and within a couple of feet of the water’s edge.

Twelve largemouth bass and one spotted bass were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Coppertreuse ZinkerZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. One largemouth bass was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-orange ZinkerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. One largemouth bass was caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

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Lou Clewell with one of the 14 largemouth bass that he and Steve Reideler caught in two hours on March 8.

The two 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ rigs were presented with either a slow and steady do-nothing swimming retrieve or a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The steady do-nothing retrieve was a bit more productive than the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The Finesse ShadZ rig was implemented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation. The two shallow-water bass engulfed the 2 1/2-inch Coppertreuse ZinkerZ rig on the initial drop.

As we were preparing to leave, we spoke with a power angler who was slowly passing by. We talked with him for a few minutes. He told us that he has been baffled by his lack of success. He explained how he caught a 4 1/2-pound largemouth bass on his first cast of the day, but he had not had another bite after that. The same phenomenon occurred to him a few days earlier while he was fishing at Lake Fork.

While we were driving home, Lou commented that he enjoyed catching a bunch of bass of all sizes during a day’s outing rather than just one large one.

March 9 log

The wind howled out of the south up to 39 mph on March 7, which kept us at bay. We elected not to fish in the rain on March 8. But Mother Nature’s blustery and rainy ways subsided on March 9, and that allowed Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and me to spend four hours at a heavily fished community reservoir. We spent those four hours engaged in an endeavor that we call bass fishing for rainbow trout.

The Weather Channel reported that it was 44 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 60 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The wind was calm for three of the early morning hours, and then it angled out of the north, northwest, north by northwest, and north by northeast at 3 to 11 mph. The sky fluctuated from being partly cloudy to mostly cloudy to overcast to sunny. The barometric pressure was 29.82 at 12:02 a.m., 29.94 at 5:53 a.m., 30.02 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.95 at 2:53 p.m.

The water level was a few inches above normal. The water clarity exhibited 2 1/2 to four feet of visibility. The surface temperature ranged from 50 to 53 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 10:10 a.m. to 12:10 p.m., 4:28 a.m. to 6:28 a.m., and 4:56 p.m. to 6:56 p.m. We fished from 9:40 a.m. to 1:40 p.m.

We began the outing by dissecting four secondary points, sections of two flat shorelines, a tertiary point, and a shallow-water flat in the back of a secondary feeder-creek arm. The underwater terrain is graced with curly-leaf pondweed, filamentous alga, rocks, laydowns, stumps, silt, and riprap. Winter-dead patches of American water willows embellish portions of the two shorelines. The boat floated in three to 10 feet of water. We caught five largemouth bass, three rainbow trout, three crappie, and one white bass by wielding a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s EZ Money ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin/chartreuse ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red mushroom-style jig, and a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company’s pink Zero on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. These baits were retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. We elicited more than a dozen strikes that we failed to hook. All of the fish except the white bass were abiding in four to five feet of water on the flat and around the curly-leaf pondweed and filamentous alga, and all of the strikes that we failed to hook were in four to five feet of water on the flat and around the curly-leaf pondweed and filamentous alga. The white bass was caught in about six feet of water many yards off the shoreline of one of the secondary points.

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The first largemouth bass of our outing.

We moved from the back of the secondary feeder-creek arm to its mouth, where we fished a long shoreline, a tertiary point, a secondary point, and a main-lake point. The underwater topography consists of gravel, rocks, laydowns, and manmade brush piles, and patches of American water willows grace the water’s edge. As we plied this locale with our green-pumpkin and EZ Money ZinkerZ rigs, we caught four rainbow trout and one largemouth bass, and we failed to hook five strikes. The boat floated in seven to 14 feet of water, and these fish were abiding in four to six feet of water and within six to 13 feet from the water’s edge. We presented our baits with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

Our third stop of the outing was on a massive flat in the back of another secondary-feeder creek arm. Patches of Eurasian milfoil and filamentous alga grace this silt-laden flat. The boat floated in three to six feet of water, and we dissected a 50-yard-by-100-yard section of this flat with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin/chartreuse ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. These baits were retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. We caught 20 rainbow trout, 17 crappie, and 10 largemouth bass in three to six feet of water. We failed to hook approximately 50 strikes; some retrieves garnered three and four strikes, and we failed to hook a fish on most of those multiple-strike retrieves.

Our fourth stop occurred along a flat main-lake shoreline and two flat main-lake points. The boat floated in five to eight feet of water. The terrain is laden with rocks, gravel, boulders, stumps, laydowns, and winter-dead American water willows. We caught four largemouth bass and one rainbow trout along the shoreline near the outside edges of the patches of American water willows. Each main-lake point yielded a largemouth bass. These fish were caught with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin/chartreuse ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. We presented these rigs with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

Our fifth stop was inside a tertiary feeder-creek arm. We quickly fished a tennis-court-size portion of its silt-laden flat and a 50-yard section of its shoreline. The shoreline consists of rock, gravel, silt, a few minor laydowns, and patches of American water willows. The boat floated in six to eight feet of water. We caught one rainbow trout on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig that was retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. This trout was abiding in four feet of water.

The final stop of the outing occurred on a steep main-lake point and its adjacent shoreline. A submerged creek channel courses nearby. The boat floated in 10 to 20 feet of water. The water’s edge is lined with patches of American water willows. The underwater terrain consists of rocks, gravel, a few minor laydowns, and some manmade brush piles. We caught six largmouth bass that were abiding in four to six feet of water in front of the American water willows. We caught them with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red mushroom-style jig and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-orange ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce jig. We presented both rigs with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

In sum, we caught 29 rainbow trout, 26 largemouth bass, 16 crappie, and one white bass. In addition to those 72 fish, Desch and I estimated that we elicited 70 strikes that we failed to hook. In our eyes, eliciting 142 strikes in four hours is one of those joyous times when quantity exhibits a quality of its own.

Endnotes

Joel Schroeder of Overland Park, Kansas, filed a brief about his March 9 outing at a northeastern Kansas power-plant reservoir that lies about 55 miles south of where Desch and I fished on March 9.

On his outing, Schroeder fished a riprap shoreline that lies outside of the warm-water plume, where he caught six smallmouth bass and one largemouth bass on a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ affixed to a black 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. These bass were caught in about eight feet of water, and he presented this rig with an extremely slow retrieve that was frequently punctuated with five-second deadstick routines.

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Joel Schroeder with one of the 18 smallmouth bass that he caught on March 9.

He ended the outing by fishing the riprap shoreline inside the warm-water outlet, where he caught 12 smallmouth bass and seven largemouth bass. These fish were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin/orange Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. And he inadvertently caught four wipers and two channel catfish in the warm-water outlet. These fish were caught in four to six feet of water, and he presented his Finesse T.R.D. rig with a quick jerk-and-pause retrieve.

March 12-13 log

Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, posted a brief about his outings on March 12 and 13.

Here is an edited version of his brief:

On March 12, none of my regular fishing partners would fish with me, saying that they were still exhausted from their mid-week adventures.  So, I ventured out alone.

I fished from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  I hooked 66 largemouth bass and landed 50 of them, which is a record catch for a solo outing at this reservoir that I have fished for 55 years.

These largemouth bass were as shallow as they could get, and they were relating to or in emerging American water willows and primrose.  Anglers in another boat reported that the surface temperature was in the mid-60s. Water clarity exhibited eight to 10 inches of visibility.  The water level was normal.

I employed two baits. One was a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company’s purple-haze Zero affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The second one was a Zoom Bait Company’s black-red-flake Ultra Vibe Speed Worm affixed to a 3/8-ounce black-and-blue swim jig.

It was a mild and overcast day, and at times the bite was spectacular. For instance, within a span of five casts and retrieves with the Zero rig on a flat point, I caught one largemouth bass that looked as if it would weigh around 10 pounds, but I didn’t have a scale in the boat. And then I caught a small one, which goes to show that Midwest finesse tactics will allure all sizes of largemouth bass.

About 50 percent of the largemouth bass were caught on the Zero rig, and the others were caught on the Ultra Vibe Speed Worm. Many of these largemouth bass weighed from three to five pounds.

At 6:00 p.m., my battery was about drained, as was I.

On March 13, I could not find a partner to join me; all of them had other obligations to fulfill.   I fished by myself from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Area thermometers climbed into the 70s, and it was mostly cloudy. Around 2:00 p.m. storm clouds began to appear.  The largemouth bass were in the same places they were on March 12, relating to shallow-water haunts in or around emerging  American water willows and primrose.  I caught 20 on the same combos that I used on March 12, but I rigged the Ultra Vibe Speed Worm on a dirty 1/4-ounce swim jig rather than the 3/8-ounce black-and-blue swim jig, and the lighter jig allowed me to keep the bait on top of the mats of aquatic vegetation better, and that lead to some exciting frog-style explosions. The Zero rig accounted for the largest largemouth bass of the day, which looked to be a six-pounder that took me a long time to subdue.

The best retrieve for the Zero rig on both outings was a steady swimming-and-shaking presentation. But many of the largemouth bass engulfed it on the initial drop.

There were scores of other anglers afloat on both outings.  One of the great things about Midwest finesse fishing is that you never have to worry about fishing used water, and you can catch largemouth bass that the power anglers cannot entice.

The other anglers to whom I spoke with were catching some good-size largemouth bass, but they were not catching anywhere near the numbers I was catching.

Midwest finesse proves once again its ability to catch numbers and all sizes of largemouth bass.  Even after several years of using these tactics, I am constantly amazed at its effectiveness.
March 16 log 

 Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his outing with Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas, at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hill-land reservoir in north central Texas on March 16.

Here is an edited and condensed version of his report:

The sun’s warm rays sliced through the partly cloudy sky throughout the day. The Weather Underground noted the morning low temperature was 53 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 77 degrees. The wind quartered out of the southeast at 5 to 13 mph. The barometric pressure measured 29.71 at 11:00 a.m. and 29.75 by 5:00 p.m.

The In-Fisherman solunar calendar indicated the best fishing periods would take place from 12:54 a.m. to 2:54 a.m., 7:08 a.m. to 9:08 a.m., and 7:35 p.m. to 9:35 p.m.

This reservoir has been muddy since Thanksgiving, but during our last outing at this reservoir on March 5, we found five main-lake coves in the southwest tributary arm that had cleared more than the rest of the reservoir. Unfortunately, we received several rounds of thunderstorms between March 8 and March 11, and the five coves that we fished on March 5 were muddy once again. The water temperature was 63 degrees. The water level was about four feet high and a couple of parking lots were partially flooded. The water clarity displayed about a foot of visibility.

We had originally planned to pursue white bass and wipers all day, but the water conditions made fishing for them extremely difficult. We trolled Rapala’s Glass Rap crankbaits for them from about 11:30 a.m. to about 2:25 p.m., and we caught only two white bass. The wind velocity also increased from 5 mph to 13 mph, which caused ranks of white caps to cover the main-lake areas and made boat control difficult. We did not feel like fighting the wind and waves. What’s more, boredom had set in. So, we decided to  fish for largemouth bass and spotted bass in the back of three marina coves in the southwest tributary arm of the reservoir. We fished these three coves from about 2:30 p.m. to about 6:30 p.m.

We spent most of our time navigating the narrow passageways between the covered boat docks and the shorelines that border these marinas. The narrow passageways offered us shelter from the wind. Our boat floated in water as shallow as 12 feet and as deep as 23 feet. We graphed plenty of fish and baitfish suspended about four to 15 feet deep in water as deep as 23 feet, but they were extremely difficult to allure.

The terrain in these three coves is similar. There are hundreds of yards of steep shorelines that are comprised of clay, gravel, and fist-sized rock. There are 11 steep and rocky secondary points, three concrete boat ramps and one asphalt ramp, and two small feeder creeks. A small cove lies in the back of one of the coves. The shoreline is festooned with an abundance of flooded terrestrial vegetation. The surface temperature was 63 degrees, and the water clarity had diminished from 2 1/2 feet on March 5 to about a foot on this outing. We shared one of the  coves with another power angler who was pitching and flipping a large Texas-rigged crawfish imitation into thick flooded bushes just out from the water’s edge, and we saw him catch one largemouth bass.

The black bass bite was meager in the first cove, where we eked out two spotted bass. Both of them were caught in four to six feet of water off the ends of two secondary points. They were caught on a shortened Z-Man’s black/blue-flake Hula StickZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

We caught one largemouth bass in the second cove, and it was caught off the side of a secondary point along the west shoreline in five feet of water on the black/blue-flake Hula StickZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

The third cove yielded the most black bass of the three. We caught three largemouth bass that were relating to the outside edges of flooded buck brush in three to five feet of water along a steep rocky shoreline inside the small pocket-size cove that lies in the back portions of this marina cove.

But after 2 1/2 hours of tedious fishing, we were about ready to call it a day. We made one last cast along a 100-yard section of a steep and rocky shoreline on the east side of the third cove, and we caught another largemouth bass that was abiding in  four feet of water. This largemouth uplifted our spirits a bit and gave us some incentive to stay and fish this section of shoreline a while longer. We fished another 90 minutes, and we caught another 19 largemouth bass and two spotted bass in five to 12 feet of water along this 100-yard stretch of shoreline.

We saw several largemouth bass chasing shad on the surface about 25 feet from the water’s edge. We landed one feisty spotted bass that aggressively snatched a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse WormZ from the surface of the water next to the boat just before the lure was to be lifted out of the water for the next cast.

That last 90 minutes salvaged our outing. In sum we caught 23 largemouth bass and four nice spotted bass in four hours.

A shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse WormZ rigged on either a chartreuse 1/32- ounce or a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig enticed the bulk of these 27 black bass. We caught a few largemouth bass  and one spotted bass on a 2 1/2-inch Coppertreuse ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened Z-Man’s black/blue-flake Hula StickZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a shortened Z-Man’s pearl Hula StickZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

We employed the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, the hop-and-bounce retrieve, and the drag-and-shake retrieve. We also tried vertically jigging the Hula StickZ rigs and the ZinkerZ rig for suspended bass in deeper water, but we failed to entice any strikes with that method. The swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the only fruitful presentation.

March 16 log

Rick Allen of Dallas, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his outing at a river that courses through the south Texas Hill Country on March 16.

Here is an edited version of his report:

The Weather Underground reported that it was an overcast day in south Texas on March 16. The morning low temperature was 49 degrees and the afternoon high reached 81 degrees. The wind was calm for most of the morning, but around 10:00 a.m., the wind picked up and angled out of the east at 15 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.04. at 8:30 a.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would most likely occur from 6:11 a.m. to 8:11 a.m., 11:58 a.m. to 1:58 p.m., and 11:16 p.m. to 1:16 a.m. Rick fished from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

The water level looked about normal. The water clarity exhibited about three feet of visibility. Rick did not measure the water temperature during this outing, but during an afternoon excursion on this same stretch of river on March 9, Rick measured the water temperature at 63 degrees.

Rick began the outing by casting a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red FattyZ tube on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig into patches of lily pads and underneath boat docks along the north side of the river. He caught four largemouth bass in about six feet of water. The FattyZ tube rig was presented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

Rick then went across to the south side of the river and dissected a large lily-pad field with the same 2 1/2-inch watermelon-red FattyZ tube rig. He utilized a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve and caught 17 largemouth bass. All of them were scattered along the outside edges of the lily-pad field in about six feet of water.

In sum, he caught 21 largemouth bass in two hours. Most of them were relating to the deep-water edges of lily pads in six feet of water.

March 17 log

Rick Allen of Dallas, Texas, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his March 17 outing at a river in the south Texas Hill Country.

Here is an edited version of his report:

I got up at 7:00 a.m. fully intending to get out early. The weather forecast said it was overcast, and it would be sunny by 10:00 a.m., so I decided not to go until the sun was shining. But by 9:30 a.m., the clouds were getting heavier not thinner. The satellite picture showed a band of Gulf of Mexico clouds moving in; so I hooked up the boat and went fishing.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the prime fishing periods would occur from 12:48 a.m. to 2:48 a.m., 7:01 a.m. to 9:01 a.m., and 7:27 p.m. to 9:27 p.m. I was afloat from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

The Weather Underground recorded the morning low temperature at 62 degrees and the afternoon high was 79 degrees. A mild-mannered wind quartered out of the south-by-southeast at 5 to 9 mph. The barometric pressure measured 29.94 at 9:55 a.m. and dropped to 29.90 by 1:55 p.m.

I fished several miles upriver from where I fished on March 16.  The water was a bit off color with three feet of visibility. The water level appeared normal. The water temperature was 67 degrees.

The fishing was slow, and I had to really work hard to catch them.  Ultimately, I caught 11 largemouth bass. Most of them were small ones, and the two biggest weighed 1 3/4 pounds and two pounds, one ounce.  The majority of them were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s watermelon-red FattyZ tube affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The two-pounder was caught on a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Both lures were presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

These fish were abiding in four to six feet of water and relating to cypress trees that were growing along a steep 45-degree shoreline that dropped into 10 to 15 feet of water.

At 2:00 p.m., the skies cleared, the sun shined brightly, and what bite there was fizzled out.  So I quit.

 March 22 log

The wind howled again on March 22, and some of the gusts hit 37 mph. But it did not keep Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, and me at bay.  Instead, we ventured to a heavily fished northeastern Kansas community reservoir to partake in some bass fishing for trout, and to our delight, we were the only boat afloat.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 51 degrees at 7:53 a.m. and 78 degrees at 3:53 p.m. The sun was shining everywhere, and we even spotted an aquatic turtle sunning itself upon a laydown that adorned one of this reservoir’s shorelines. While we were afloat, the wind angled out of the south at 18 to 37 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.77 at 12:53 a.m., 29.66 at 5:53 a.m., 29.58 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.50 at 2:53 p.m.

This reservoir’s water level was brimful. The surface temperature ranged from 49 degrees to 52 degrees. The water clarity exhibited five to six feet of visibility, and it would have been much more if we used a seechi disk to measure the visibility. Ranks of white caps surged from the south end to the north end of this reservoir’s main body, and we spent the entire outing trying to hide from the wind and waves — or at least avoid as much of it as possible.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing might take place from 10:20 a.m. to 12:20 p.m., 10:42 p.m. to 12:42 a.m., and 4:09 a.m. to 6:09 a.m. Lau and I fished from 10: 20 a.m. to 2: 25 p.m.

We began the outing on a large mud flat in the back of a secondary feeder-creek arm that is adorned with patches of milfoil, and virtually all of the milfoil is bogged down with filamentous alga. The bulk of this arm was sheltered from the wind. The boat floated in four to seven feet of water.  Its shorelines are lined with winter-dead patches of American water willows, as well as some laydowns and a beaver hut. We spent two hours dissecting the patches of milfoil and filamentous alga in the back of this arm. We also fished one of its shorelines and both main-lake points.  The points failed to render a strike. But along the north shoreline and within the confines of an area that is about the size of a football field that contains many patches of milfoil and filamentous alga, we caught 48 rainbow trout and 14 largemouth bass.  One of the trout and one of the largemouth bass were caught on a slightly shortened four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. The other 13 largemouth bass and 47 rainbow trout were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin/chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ affixed to a hot-red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. These rigs were retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, which allowed them to glide several inches above the milfoil and filamentous alga. The trout and largemouth bass were abiding in three to five feet of water.

The second area that we fished was along a southwest shoreline. The upper reaches of this shoreline is flat, and it is rock- and gravel-laden, lined with patches of winter-dead American water willows, and endowed with a few laydowns. It was not completely sheltered from the wind; so we used a drift sock to control and diminish the speed that the boat moved along this shoreline.  The boat floated in six feet of water. We caught two largemouth bass on the green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ rig, which was retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. These largemouth bass were abiding in about three feet of water.

As we moved in a northerly direction along this southwest shoreline, it became steeper and bluff-like. This steep section is lined with winter-dead American water willows and stippled with an occasional laydown and stump, as well as some shallow-water ledges. It has two tertiary points and one main-lake point. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and some boulders. The boat floated in eight to 13 feet of water. We probed about 125 yards of this steep shoreline, and it yielded one rainbow trout, which was caught on the pumpkin/chartreuse ZinkerZ rig and a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and it was extracted out of about six feet of water.

The third area that we fished was along portions of the north and south shorelines and a large mud flat in the back of another secondary feeder-creek arm. The shorelines we fished are flat and graced with many laydowns and patches of winter-dead American water willows.  The mud flat is embellished with some meager patches of milfoil and filamentous alga. The boat floated in three to six feet of water. We caught four largemouth bass along the north shoreline, and three of them were caught on the pumpkin/chartreuse ZinkerZ rig, and one was caught on the green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ rig. These largemouth bass were abiding in three feet of water.

Our final stop of the outing was in the back of a tertiary feeder-creek arm, where we probed its north, west, and south shorelines. The boat floated in eight to 13 feet of water. The shorelines are adorned with patches of winter-dead American water willows, gravel, rocks, boulders, several offshore brush piles, a dock, and a short stretch of sand. The south shoreline yielded one largemouth bass, which was caught on the pumpkin/chartreuse ZinkerZ rig with a drag-and-subtle-shake retrieve.  This largemouth bass was abiding in five feet of water. The west shoreline yielded one largemouth bass, which was caught on the pumpkin/chartreuse ZinkerZ rig with a drag-and-subtle-shake retrieve.  This largemouth bass was abiding in four feet of water. The north shoreline yielded 10 rainbow trout and 12 largemouth bass, and they were caught on three baits: the pumpkin/chartreuse ZinkerZ rig, the green-pumpkin ZinkerZ rig, and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ affixed to a hot-red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. We employed a drag-and-subtle-shake retrieve to allure these largemouth bass and rainbow trout, and they were caught in five to eight feet of water.

In sum, we fished for four hours and five minutes. We caught 59 rainbow trout and 33 largemouth bass. We estimated that we elicited more than 75 strikes that we failed to hook, and on several retrieves, we garnered as many as five strikes that bore no fruit.   It is interesting to note that for the first time in 2016 we saw the claws and antenna of a crayfish protruding from the gullet of one of the largemouth bass that we caught, but we could not elicit a strike with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin/orange ZinkerZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which is usually an effective color combination when largemouth bass and smallmouth bass forage upon crayfish. We also failed to garner a strike with a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, but we made only 24 casts and retrieves with it.

March 23 log

On March 23, Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, filed a report on the Finesse News Network that delineates why he has not been compiling his logs that delineate how, when, and where he employs Midwest finesse tactics to catch smallmouth bass on the streams that he fishes.

Here is an edited and condensed version of his report:

The nearest United States Geological Survey’s gauge registered the flow on March 22 at the river that I normally fish as flowing at 740 cubic feet per second, and by the morning of March 23, the rate dropped to 670 cfs.  On March 16, it was flowing at 1,024 cfs. So, it is dropping at a good rate.

The weather forecasters are predicting that it will rain only once during the next seven days, and if that is so, the river should be ready for me to be afloat soon.

This high-water is not the byproduct of rain, but it is the result of a massive snowstorm that walloped us.

I have to cross the river over a large bridge to go get the mail, and in the river by the bridge, there is an extremely large boulder that I use as my gauge. And on March 22, the water was running well over it. Ideally, the water should be flowing around it and the top of the boulder is exposed.  The water clarity is good, exhibiting at least four feet of visibility.

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This is the river that Myers will fish as soon as he can see the boulder below this bridge.

Before I launch the kayak for the first float of the year, I take five factors into consideration:

(1) I want the leaves of the tulips in our front garden to be at least six inches high, which gives me a good indicator of the water and ground temperature.  As of the afternoon of March 22, they were six inches high, and the buds were beginning to bloom.

(2) I want to hear the wild turkeys gobbling up a storm first thing in the morning, and this phenomenon always coincides with the tulip phenomenon.

(3) The third factor is the amount of water flowing over or around my trusty boulder at the bridge near our house.

(4) The water clarity has to exhibit four to five feet of visibility, and the more visibility there is, the better it is.

(5) Daylight savings time has to commence; I do not fish before it begins. I call it the photo-period factor.

Therefore, I am ready to start my season as soon as the water stops rushing over the top of my trusty boulder. When that occurs, I will be able to safely float any area I need to float within 40 miles up or down river in order to find big aggregations of smallmouth bass.

Everything is dead on right now except the water level, and I learned as a youth growing up on a river that you need to respect it.

March 23-24 log

Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, filed a short report on March 23 and 24 about his March largemouth bass endeavors.

Here is an edited and condensed version of his report:

Our ice broke up for good at the end of February. Weather has been a mix of ups and downs, good and bad since that time.  And I have made several trips.

One of the earlier trips was for crappie, and we found a nice mess of them around a tree that had fallen into the original river channel of a small reservoir in 32 feet  of water. We managed to catch four to five dozen crappie out of that deep-water winter lair. A more recent crappie trip to a different reservoir proved not so fruitful.

My most recent bass trips occurred on March 19 and 20 at my nearby reservoir. I fished three hours on each outing. During those two outings, I was able to garner bites from nearly 100 laregmouth bass. These largemouth bass were caught on two baits:  about 60 percent were caught on my beloved tiny hair jigs and the other 40 percent were caught on jerkbaits. A friend fished this same reservoir during this time, and he fared well by using a mushroom-style jig  and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s  ZinkerZ; so that bait is  equally productive.

Our water temperatures are hovering a degree or two over 50 degrees at this moment. So, the season appears to be progressing a bit ahead of schedule. I have plans of making a trip or two on March 26 and 27.

I got information that an eight-pound, two-ounce largemouth bass was caught at my local reservoir on a Z-Man’s Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a mushroom-style jig. I hope to see a picture of it and confirm the weight, and then we will forward a photograph and more details.

March 24 log

 Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his outing with a friend on March 24.

Here is an edited version of his log:

Since mid-February, relentless and robust winds have plagued anglers in north-central Texas, and they have kept me and my cohorts at bay during much of the time. Along with the troublesome winds, we were walloped through much of March with several severe cold fronts, which played havoc with our springtime black bass fishing.

A harsh cold front blanketed the Dallas and Ft. Worth metropolitan area during the evening hours of March 23, dropping our air temperatures 20 degrees.  Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas, and I elected to ignore the cold-front conditions on March 24, and we conducted a bank-walking foray along the shorelines of two rivers that flow into two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoirs. We had hopes of tangling with a few late-spawning white bass, but after two hours of searching, it became evident that this year’s white bass spawn was over, and we had only one small largemouth bass to show for our efforts. Therefore, we decided to spend two hours or so plying a small and heavily fished community reservoir west of Lewisville.

March 24 was a typical post-cold-front day. The sun was intensely bright and shining everywhere. There was not a cloud in sight. The morning low temperature was 33 degrees and the afternoon high temperature struggled to reach 60 degrees. The wind blew incessantly out of the north at 17 to 21 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.01 at 11:00 a.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing periods would take place between 5:41 a.m. to 7:41 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and 11:51 p.m. to 1:51 a.m.  Norman and I fished this small watershed from about 2:30 p.m. to about 4:30 p.m.

This reservoir is about two acres in size. The water was muddy and exhibited less than a foot of visibility. The water level was slightly high. We were unable to measure the water temperature.

We began fishing the east side of the reservoir, which is steep and curved. This shoreline is endowed with two prominent points, three tertiary points, and several stands of cattails. This shoreline yielded seven largemouth bass and two large bluegills. All of them were positioned about 20 to 25 feet out from the water’s edge in five to seven feet of water and relating to the three small tertiary points.

The north shoreline of the reservoir is straight and borders a shallow mud flat. A small creek enters the reservoir from the west end of this shoreline. We caught one largemouth bass along the east end of the mud flat, and it was extracted from about three feet of water. Another largemouth bass was caught in four feet of water from the mouth of the small creek.

The west side of the reservoir is shallower than the east side and is endowed with three small points, several stands of cattails, and three large patches of emerging lily pads that line the shoreline. Three largemouth bass were caught along the deep-water edge of two of the large patches of water lilies in about three feet of water.

The south end of the reservoir is comprised of a concrete drain and decorative stone dam. The bottom area around the dam is covered with softball size rocks. A brush pile lies about 15 feet in front of the east end of the dam in about four feet of water. Two submerged rock piles are located about 25 feet in front of the center of the dam and are covered with about three to four feet of water. We failed to elicit any strikes from this area.

Overall, the fishing was not quite as lousy as we had expected. We caught a total of 13 largemouth bass and two large bluegills in four hours. We failed to hook several tentative strikes.

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Norman Brown with one of the 13 largemouth bass that he and Steve Reideler caught.

Seven largemouth bass were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. A four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig caught four largemouth bass and two large bluegills. A four-inch Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig caught one largemouth bass. These baits were slowly dragged and shaken across the bottom. The one largemouth bass that was caught from one of the two rivers was caught on a Z-Man’s pearl Slim SwimZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. This lure was presented with a slow and steady swimming retrieve. We also utilized a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve and a slow hop-and-bounce retrieve, but these two presentations failed to entice any strikes.

March 26 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed a brief and photograph on the Finesse News Network about his solo outing at a northeastern Kansas power-plant reservoir on March 26.

Here is an edited version of his report:

The Weather Underground reported that it was 37 degrees at 9:53 a.m. and 58 degrees at 5:53 p.m. From 12:53 a.m. to 3:53 p.m., the wind angled out of the southeast, south by southeast, east by southeast, south, and south by southwest at 4 to 11 mph. There were a few wind gusts that hit 27 mph.  From 4:53 p.m. to 11:53 p.m., the wind angled out of the west by southwest, north by northwest, and northwest at 4 to 18 mph.   Throughout the entire day, the sky fluctuated from being clear to partly cloudy to overcast, to mostly cloudy, and it rained lightly at times.  The barometric pressure was 29.94 at 12:53 a.m., 29.92 at 5:53 a.m., 29.98 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.94 at 2:53 p.m. During the morning hours of March 27, many areas in northeastern Kansas celebrated Easter in the snow; some locales received five inches of snow.  Gum noted that at times the gusts of wind that were intertwined with periods of intermittent rain made for a very raw morning.

The water temperature outside of the warm-water plume ranged from 57 to 59 degrees. Water clarity along the dam exhibited about two feet of visibility. The water level looked to be about six inches above normal.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would transpire from 1:11a.m. to 3:11 a.m., 1:33 p.m. to 3:33 p.m.,  and 7:22 a.m. to  9:22 a.m. He launched his boat around 7:30 a.m., and he put it on the trailer at 2:30 p.m.

He concentrated almost exclusively along the riprap of the dam, a riprap shoreline along the east side of the reservoir, and a rock-laden flat that lies to the east of the dam.

He caught and released 19 largemouth bass, three white bass and two freshwater drum. They were extracted out of water as shallow as two feet and as deep as seven feet.

These fish were caught on either a 2 1/2-inch Strike King’s purple-haze Zero affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig or a Z-Man’s green-pimpkin-blue Punch CrawZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. He presented these baits with a swim-glide-and-an-occasional shake retrieve.

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These are four of the biggest largemouth bass that Bob Gum caught. Before he weighed and released them, he asked another angler to hold two of them and another angler to take a photograph on them. The biggest one weighed seven pounds, 10 ounces. Another one weighed seven pounds, two ounces.

March 26 log

Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his outing with Joe Bragg of Topeka, Kansas, on March 26 at a community reservoir that lies in the northern suburbs of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Here is an edited and condensed version of his report.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would transpire from 1:11 a.m. to 3:11 a.m., 1:33 p.m. to 3:33 p.m.,  and 7:22 a.m. to  9:22 a.m. They fished from noon to 5:00 p.m.

The water level was normal. The water was extremely clear.  The surface temperature was 49 degrees.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 32 degrees at 1:54 a.m. and 55 degrees at 2:54 p.m. From 12:54 a.m. to 2:54 p.m., the wind angled out of the east by southeast, southeast, south, and south by southeast at 4 to 12 mph, and from  3:21 p.m. to 11:54 p.m., it angled out of the west by southwest, north by northwest,  and northwest at 8 to 15 mph. The sky was clear for about two hours, but the rest of the time it fluctuated from being partly cloudy to mostly cloudy to overcast, and it rained lightly for about five hours.  The barometric pressure was 29.94 at 12:54 a.m., 29.92 at 5:54 a.m., 29.98 at 11:54 a.m., and 29.94 at 4:54 p.m. They did not plan to fish in a cold rain, and Frazee said that he could not remember the last time he was so “miserable while fishing.”

Bragg makes some beautiful feathered crappie jigs and we planned to crack the code on brush-pile crappies with my new electronics. We marked plenty of fish, but only got a few to bite. But once we worked down to the causeway  at the highway, our luck changed dramatically. The rain stopped, and we saw bass busting gizzard shad in the back of a pocket.  I turned my trolling motor on high to get over there. Once we got closer, we could see a huge school of gizzard shad skimming across the surface and the green backs of the largemouth bass were everywhere. I picked up a rod rigged with a shad-colored spinnerbait and made a cast beyond the gizzard shad and brought it right through the school. As I retrieved this 1/2-ounce spinnerbait, I just plowed through the schools of gizzard shad, and they began flying in all directions. After executing six casts and eliciting no strikes, I switched to finesse. I picked up my spinning rod and reel spooled with four-pound-test monofilament, and I tied on a small smoke-glitter Swimming Minnow affixed to a black 1/16-ounce jig. I casted it into the schools of gizzard shad and largemouth bass, allowed it to sink, and as it sank, I shook it slightly. On the first cast and retrieve, I immediately got a strike and had something big on. It took me clear around the front of the boat, and then it snapped the line.

I tied on another Swimming Minnow rig, loosened the drag, and immediately began finding success. I caught four keeper-size largemouth bass, including one that looked to weigh between four and five pounds, on successive casts. Meanwhile, Joe was catching bass on a purple and chartreuse Patriot crappie jig adorned with a jig spinner.  We stayed in that spot until we caught 26 largemouth bass and four rainbow trout, and then we resumed our quest for crappies.

By the time we decided to call it an outing at 5:00 p.m., we had caught and released 28 bass, five rainbow trout and two crappie.

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Brent Frazee with one of the 28 largemouth bass that he and Joe Bragg caught on March 26.

March 29 log

The winds of March howled again on March 29.  The Weather Underground reported that it angled out of the southeast and south by southeast at 16 to 34 mph from 9:53 a.m. to 2:53 p.m., and Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas and I were afloat from 10:15 a.m. to 2:29 p.m. And we used a drift sock almost incessantly to tame Mother Nature’s windy ways, while we were bass fishing for trout at a heavily fished community reservoir in northeastern Kansas. To our delight, the wind kept most anglers off of the water, and in fact, we crossed paths with only one other boat, and that occurred about 45 minutes before we executed our final casts of the outing.

According to the Weather Underground, it was 42 degrees at 4:53 a.m. and 68 degrees at 3:53 p.m.  The sky was relatively clear from 12:53 a.m. to 9:53 a.m., and from 10:53 a.m. to 2:53 p.m., it fluctuated from being partly cloudy to overcast, and at 3:53 p.m., it became relatively clear again.  The barometric pressure was 30.07 at 12:53 a.m., 30.07 at 5:53 a.m., 30.04 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.98 at 1:53 p.m.

The water level looked to be a few inches above normal.  The surface temperature ranged from 50 to 52 degrees.  The water was clear, but the many windy days, which have cursed us and caused ranks of white caps to course across and up and down this reservoir, have stirred up the filamentous alga and created a slightly stained or greenish hue.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best fishing would transpire from 3:28 a.m. to 5:28 a.m., 3:52 p.m. to 5:52 p.m., and 9:40 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. We fished four hours and 14 minutes. And rather than being a routine bass-fishing-for-trout outing, it turned out to be a multispecies affair, and our Midwest finesse tactics inveigled 31 largemouth bass, 18 rainbow trout, 10 white bass, three smallmouth bass, two freshwater drum, and one wiper.

We used the following Midwest finesse rigs: a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s coppertreuse ZinkerZ on a homemade red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s  green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a homemade red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig,  a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man green-pumpkin ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.  Throughout this outing, the wind interfered with our abilities to keep an accurate record of how many fish each of the lures caught. But for the first 2 1/2 hours the coppertreuse ZinkerZ rig and green-pumpkin ones were the most fruitful, and during the final hour and 44 minutes, the pumpkin-chartreuse one was the most effective.

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This is what is left of the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that we used on March 29. We have used this same ZinkerZ off and on since 2014. We failed to keep a record of how many fish it has inveigled during that time. We suspect it tangled with more than a hundred. Because it was so tattered and torn during the last few outings that we used it, we had to affix it to the collar of the jig with some fly-tying thread. What’s more,  it was so buoyant that it floated on the surface when it was affixed to either a 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig or 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Across the years, we have discovered that the more tattered and buoyant the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ becomes, the more effective it is. We have also discovered that rainbow trout tear and lacerate  our ZinkerZs quicker than other species, and it was the rainbow trout that we caught on this outing that ended this ZinkerZ’s long and fruitful underwater career.

We began the outing by plying a wind-blown main-lake flat in the upper reaches of the reservoir.  As our boat floated in six to 11 feet of water, we caught 10 white bass, three largemouth bass, one freshwater drum, one rainbow trout, and one wiper. Much of the underwater terrain is silt-laden, but the terrain around the shoreline consists of gravel and rocks, and it is lined with patches of winter-dead American water willows and several laydowns.  The bulk of these fish were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s coppertreuse ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, and a few of them were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We retrieved these rigs by employing either a swim-glide-and-shake presentation or a drag-and-shake one. These fish were abiding in four to 10 feet of water, and they were many yards from the water’s edge.

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Steve Desch holds one of the 10 white bass that we caught.

The second area that we fished was inside a secondary feeder-creek arm.  We focused primarily on its north shoreline, which is flat and adorned with a few laydowns, a beaver hut, lined with patches of winter-dead American water willows, patches of curly-leaf pondweed, patches of Eurasian milfoil, and bogs of filamentous alga that covered the curly-leaf pondweed and milfoil.  The boat floated in four to 10 feet of water, and it was situated more than a cast and half from the water’s edge.  We plied this area six times, and we caught 13 trout and five largemouth bass, and we elicited scores of strikes that we failed to hook. The bulk of these fish were caught on our green-pumpkin ZinkerZ rigs, and a few were caught on the pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig. We retrieved these rigs by utilizing either a swim-glide-and-shake presentation or a drag-and-shake one.  These fish were abiding in four to seven feet of water and many yards from the water’s edge.

The third area that we fished was a flat main-lake point and shoreline that is adorned with boulders, rocks, gravel, patches of winter-dead American water willows, some stumps, a few laydowns, and bogs of filamentous alga. The boat floated in six to 10 feet of water. We fished nearly 100 yards of this shoreline. And we caught two largemouth bass on our green-pumpkin ZinkerZ rigs, which were retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. These two largemouth bass were abiding in four feet of water.

The fourth area that we fished was inside a tertiary feeder-creek arm. Its shorelines are relatively steep, and the boat floated in 10 to 18 feet of water.  Most of the shorelines are lined with patches of winter-dead American water willows. The underwater terrain is made up of rock- and boulder-laden ledges, which are laced with gravel. There are several manmade brush piles situated in 10 to 20 feet of water.  We caught 11 largemouth bass, two rainbow trout, one freshwater drum, and one smallmouth bass along portions of its northern and southern shorelines. These fish were abiding in five to nine feet of water. The bulk of them were caught on the pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig, and a few were caught on one of the green-pumpkin ZinkerZ rigs. These fish were caught while we used a drag-and-subtle-shake presentation. Nine of the fish were caught adjacent to the patches of American water willows. Five were caught on or near a rock pile and ledge. One was caught around a dock pole.

Our fifth stop of the outing was at the mouth of another tertiary feeder-creek arm, where we dissected its two main-lake points and adjacent shorelines.  One main-lake point and its adjacent shoreline are shallow, flat and rock and boulder laden, which failed to yield a strike.  The other main-lake point and its adjacent shoreline are steep, and the boat floated in 10 to 20 feet of water.  This point is lined with patches of winter-dead American water willows.  Its underwater terrain contains gravel, rocks, and boulders, as well as a few laydowns, some stumps, and manmade brush piles. The pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig with a drag-and-subtle-shake presentation caught one smallmouth bass and five largemouth bass. These six fish were abiding in five to six feet of water near the patched of American water willows.

The sixth area that we fished was a main-lake shoreline and point. It is bordered with massive patches of winter-dead American water willows, some stumps, and rock- and boulder-laden ledges.  It is relatively steep, and the boat floated in eight to 14 feet of water. It yielded two largemouth bass and one rainbow trout. The rainbow trout was caught on one of the green-pumpkin ZinkerZ rigs with a drag-and-subtle-shake presentation. The two largemouth bass were caught on the pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig with a drag-and-subtle-shake presentation. These fish were caught in about five feet of water along the outside edges of the patches of American water willows.

We spent the final 14 minutes of the outing plying a 75-yard section of a relatively steep shoreline inside a secondary feeder-creek arm, and its main-lake point. The boat floated in 12 feet of water. The underwater terrain is graced with rock and boulder ledges and several laydowns. The water’s edge is graced with patches of winter-dead American water willows. We caught one smallmouth bass at the point on one of the green-pumpkin ZinkerZ rigs, and along the shoreline that rig also caught a largemouth bass. The pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig caught a largemouth bass and a rainbow trout. These fish were caught in water as shallow as three feet and as deep as six feet. The smallmouth bass was caught on a drag-and-subtle-shake presentation. The rainbow trout and two largemouth bass were caught on a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

In sum, our Midwest finesse tactics caught 65 fish and six species. Our catch rate was about 15 fish per hour. We estimated that we elicited at least 50 strikes that we failed to hook, and we suspected that those missed strikes were generated by rainbow trout.

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This is the wiper we caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s coppertreuse ZinkerZ affixed to a homemade red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig.

March 29 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his bank-walking outing with Rick Allen of Dallas on March 29 at a community reservoir located in a suburb northwest of Dallas.

Here is an edited and condensed version of his log:

I fished this reservoir for three hours on March 4 with Lou Clewell of Roselyn, Pennsylvania. We caught 25 largemouth bass.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted the best fishing periods on March 29 would most likely occur from 3:33 a.m to 5:33 a.m., 9:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., and 3:57 p.m. to 5:57 p.m. Rick and I were afoot from about 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 55 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 77 degrees. The sky alternated from being overcast, to being mostly cloudy, and to being  partly cloudy. The wind blew steadily throughout the day and quartered out of the southeast at 12 to 20 mph. The barometric pressure measured 29.28 at 10:53 a.m., and it dropped to 29.08 by 3:53 p.m.

The water level was normal. The water clarity was stained with about two feet of visibility. We did not have the means to measure the water temperature.

We began the outing fishing a large mud flat in the northwest portion of the reservoir. This mud flat is festooned with thick stands of cattails and a small ditch that cuts across the southwest end of the flat. We caught two largemouth bass that were relating to the outside edges of the cattails in three feet of water. A power angler was fishing the ditch area of this flat, but we did not see him catch any fish.

After we fished the mud flat, we dissected a 35-yard section of a steep sand and gravel shoreline along the west side of the reservoir. This section of shoreline is enhanced with a fishing pier and a patch of hydrilla that runs underneath it in about eight feet of water. We caught 25 largemouth bass in six to eight feet of water along this section of shoreline, and most of them were relating to the top and outside edge of the patch of hydrilla.

We then plied the area along the face of a smooth concrete slab dam that forms the south boundary of this reservoir. This area yielded 10 largemouth bass and we failed to land three others. These largemouth bass were abiding in four to six feet of water and about 15 to 25 feet out from the face of the dam.

We then worked our way northward along the east shoreline, which relinquished 18 largemouth bass. Three largemouths were caught in four feet of water from the top of a sand and gravel flat that occupies the lower third of this shoreline. One largemouth was caught from five feet of water along the end of a broad point that is situated along the mid-section of the shoreline. Fourteen largemouth bass were caught along the south side of the long clay and gravel point on the northeast end of the shoreline. They were dwelling in about five feet of water.

In sum, it was a sterling outing. We caught 55 largemouth bass in 4 1/2 hours. Twenty-five largemouths were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Fourteen of them were caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse WormZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Eleven largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Three largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man’s black-gold-flake Scented LeechZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. A Z-Man’s California Craw Finesse T.R.D on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught one largemouth bass, and a customized 2 3/4-inch Z-Man’s California Craw EZ TubeZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught one largemouth bass.

A slow hop-and-bounce retrieve and slow drag-and-shake retrieve were the two most fruitful presentations. A swim-glide-and-shake retrieve enticed three largemouth bass and a steady do-nothing swimming retrieve caught another three largemouth bass.

March 31 log

Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I ventured to a nearby community reservoir on March 31. Until 2014 and 2015, this was the finest largemouth bass reservoir in northeastern Kansas. During those fruitful years, there were many outings when a pair of savvy Midwest finesse anglers could tangle with 15 to 25 largemouth bass an hour. But the aftereffects of heavy angler predation, the largemouth bass virus, and heavy applications of herbicides seem to have adversely affected our abilities to locate and catch them like we used to catch them. In fact, the largemouth bass fishing during the winter of 2015-16 was horrendous; it was the worst that we have ever experienced.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 48 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 61 degrees at 2:52 p.m.  During the daylight hours, the sky fluctuated from being mostly cloudy to being partly cloudy to being overcast. From midnight to 12:52 a.m., the wind angled out of the southwest at 4 to 8 mph, and from 1:52 a.m. to 2:52 p.m., it angled out of the west by southwest, west by northwest, west, and northwest at 6 to 32 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.45 at 12:52 a.m., 29.49 at 5:52 a.m., 29.61 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.66 at 2:52 p.m.

The water level was about a foot above normal, and consequently many of the winter-dead patches of American water willows that grace some this reservoir’s shorelines were completely underwater. The water clarity exhibited more than three feet of visibility around the dam, and it diminished to about 12 inches in the backend of one of the feeder-creek arms. The surface temperature ranged from 53 to 54 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing ought to transpire from 5:10 a.m. to 7:10 a.m., 5:35 p.m. to 7:35 p.m., and 11:22 p.m. to 1:22 a.m. Rick and I were afloat from 9:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., and we fished for four hours and 27 minutes and 58 seconds.

We employed five Midwest finesse rigs: a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse T.R.D. on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ 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. The most effective combo was the pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig; it inveigled 81 percent of the largemouth bass that we caught.

We caught 88 largemouth bass and nine crappie in four hours, and we fished another 27 minutes and 58 seconds in hopes of catching 13 largemouth bass, which would put our fish counter at 101 largemouth bass, but we could catch only six largemouth bass.

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We primarily plied wind-sheltered shorelines and points. We fished two-thirds of the dam, which was partially sheltered from the wind.  And during the last 66 minutes of the outing, we probed four wind-blown shorelines and five wind-blown points.

Even though we garnered oodles of strikes and caught 104 fish, there was no location pattern. We caught them on some points and failed to catch them on others points. We caught them on some rocky shorelines and failed to catch them on other rocky shorelines. We caught them adjacent to some patches of American water willows and failed to catch them adjacent to scores of other patches. We caught some of them at the water’s edge, and we caught some 20 feet from the water’s edge. We caught some on flat shorelines and points, and we failed to catch them on other flat points and shorelines.  We caught some along steep and rocky shorelines and points, and we failed to catch them on other steep and rocky shorelines and points. The only significant pattern that we discovered was that we could not garner a strike along the rock-laden shoreline of the dam.

Moreover, the presentation pattern was askew. We caught some on the initial drop of our rigs.  We caught some on a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.  We caught some by employing a drag-and-slight-shake retrieve. We caught some implementing a strolling presentation. We caught some on a hop-and-bounce presentation. We caught a few with a deadstick presentation.

As our outing came to a close, we reflected on how, when, where, and why we caught 104 fish, and we quickly concluded that we had no idea how, when, where, and why it occurred.  All we know is that we made scores of casts and retrieves that failed to elicit a strike and catch a fish, and then unexpectedly we caught a goodly number of them.  And even though it was somewhat mentally perplexing, it was a joy to catch 23 fish an hour – especially at this reservoir, which has been a difficult venue for many months.

 

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