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David Mull of Paw Paw, Michigan, with a six-pound, seven-ounce smallmouth bass that he caught on a Midwest finesse rig. For more information, please see his May 2 log.

The May guide to Midwest finesse fishing contains 22 logs and 20,369 words that detail how, when, and where Midwest finesse anglers fished. It features the endeavors of Rick Allen of Dallas; Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas; Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas; Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri; Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas; David Harrison of Lawrence, Kansas; Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas; Seward Horner of Garnett, Kansas; Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas; David Mull of Paw Paw, Michigan; Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia;  Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina; Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas; Joe Showengerdt of Kansas City, Kansas; John Thomas of Denton, Texas; Jay Vannorthwick of Junction City, Oregon;  and Larry Vannorthwick of Havensville, Kansas,  as well as my northeastern Kansas logs.

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

May 2 log

The final days of April and the first two days of May in northeastern Kansas were unseasonably cool ones. What’s more, many of our flatland reservoirs became either muddy or very stained after Mother Nature pummeled the region with many inches of rain on April 26 and 27, and the water level at some of them rose to more than eight feet above normal.  The cool weather caused the surface temperatures at the reservoirs to drop from the mid-60s to the low-60s.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 48 degrees at 7:52 a.m., 57 at 10:52 a.m. on May 2, and 55 degrees at 3:52 p.m. The sky was overcast and mostly cloudy; it sprinkled upon us for a few minutes. The wind angled out of the north by northwest, northwest, west by northwest, north, northeast, and east by northeast at 6 to 11 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.16 at 12:52 a.m., 30.11 at 5:52 a.m., 30.12 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.11 at 2:52 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 7:17 a.m. to 9:17 a.m., 7:43 p.m. to 9:43 p.m., and 1:03 a.m. to 3:03 a.m.

On May 2, Pok-Chi Lau and I ventured to a state reservoir that we rarely fish in May and June. It is a clear-water reservoir, and during May and June many of its acres are brimming with curly-leaf pondweed.  The water was clear enough on May 2 that the curly-leaf pondweed was flourishing in 15 feet of water; it covered the surface at many locales, and at other locales it was three to 10 inches below the surface. We suspect that it harbors vast numbers of largemouth bass, but it is so thick in May and June that it cannot be penetrated with our Midwest finesse tactics.  Traditionally we probe the curly-leaf pondweed patches in the winter, which is when it begins to sprout. Then we wait until it wilts in June, which is when the water temperature climbs into the mid-70s. Ultimately, it is replaced by bushy pondweed, coontail, American pondweed, and a few other types of aquatic vegetation, and those patches of vegetation become heavenly locales for our Midwest finesse tactics, and we catch scores of largemouth bass in them and around them throughout the summer and fall.

On May 2, we could have dissected the outside edges of the massive patches of curly-leaf pondweed, but we elected to fish rock-laden shorelines that were not overladen with curly-leaf pondweed. These shorelines were lined with patches of American water willows, which were completely covered with water. The American water willows were making their transition from winter to spring, and there were scores of green sprouts protruding from the roots of the American water willows. The shorelines were also endowed with some tiny cottonwood and sycamore trees.  The surface temperature was 62 degrees. The water level was several feet above normal. Our push pole is eight feet long, and we use it for a substitute for a secchi disk, and according to the push pole, the visibility of the water was more than eight feet. The sole reason that we ventured to this reservoir was that it possesses the clearest water after a significant rainfall pummels northeastern Kansas.

We fished from 12:01 p.m. to 2:58 p.m.  Across these two hours and 56 minutes, we focused solely on rocky main-lake shorelines and points that were devoid of curly-leaf pondweeds, and we fished as many of these shorelines and points as was humanly possible. All of them were somewhat fruitful, but none of them were extremely bountiful.

As we fished, the boat floated in 10 to 21 feet of water. We caught 56 largemouth bass, two crappie, and one channel catfish. We caught a largemouth bass on the first cast of the outing and caught one on the last cast. Some of the largemouth bass were extracted out of water as shallow as three feet of water,  some were caught in 11 feet of water, and the others were caught somewhere between three and 11 feet of water.

Our two most effective baits were a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man Fishing Product’s green-pumpkin ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle’s Mushroom Head jig and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce jig. We caught four largemouth bass on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and we caught three largemouth bass on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

A significant number of the largemouth bass were caught on the initial drop of our baits. The bulk of them, however, were caught when we employed a drag-and-shake presentation. A few of them were caught while we executed a deadstick presentation.

May 2 log

David Mull of Paw Paw, Michigan, posted a report on the Finesse News Network about his endeavors on Lake Erie on May 2.

Here is an edited and condensed version of his report:

The Erie smallmouth developed a severe case of lockjaw.

The surface temperature ranged from 43 to 46 degrees, and it rained on us. The wind angled out of the northeast at 5 to 10 mph.

We started fishing at a well-known pre-spawn area that is laden with large boulders that Jeff Draper, who is a guide from Grand Island, New York, found.  While my two boat mates dragged the locally popular tubes, I used a Z-Man’s Mud Minnow Finesse T.R.D on a red 1/6-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. I won my second first-fish prize of a dollar for the second consecutive day from Charlie Puckett of Flambeau Outdoors.  This smallmouth bass weighed three pounds, and it was abiding on the bottom in 26 feet of water. My Finesse T.R.D. rig caught four more smallmouth bass before Ray Lynch of Columbus, Georgia, and Realtree. Lynch’s smallmouth bass weighed a solid five pounds.

I used my Finesse T.R.D. rig as if I were using a tube. I let it tick along the bottom while the wind pushed the boat at .5 to .6 mpg. Occasionally, I shook it. Sometimes I ripped it, which caused it to dart off the bottom similar to the way the goby behave. All of my strikes occurred when it was creeping along the bottom. The strikes were difficult to detect. At times, the smallmouth was just “there.” Twice I was certain I was snagged on the bottom, and then the snag started to move, which is always a thrill. I felt only one strike. Two of these strikes were rendered by three-pound smallmouth bass and two were executed by five-pound smallmouth bass.

At about 1:00 p.m., we headed into the massive sea walls at the Buffalo Harbor, where we made many casts and dragging presentations.

While we were still offshore, Charlie began employing a Z-Man’s Mud Minnow Finesse T.R.D on a red 1/6-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig, and he hooked and lost one offshore smallmouth bass, and he lost two more at the Buffalo Harbor.  Meanwhile, I hooked and brought two more smallmouth bass into the boat; these specimens were abiding in about 24 feet of water. We ultimately worked our way to an area that was covered with 16 feet of water, and I hooked what someone on a Bassmaster TV show would call a giant. It did seem bigger than any of the others that I had tangled with, and after it was netted, it proved to be a fat, fat, fat 21-incher that weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces, which is my personal best smallmouth bass.

The final tally was my Finesse T.R.D. rig caught eight smallmouth bass, and the tube and my two companions caught one on a tube.

Yeah, I guess I am bragging. I would like to note that on a day when the fish were super finicky about eating a tube, they sucked the Finesse T.R.D. rig down pretty well, and I landed all eight that I hooked. And even though I hooked only eight,  it was the first that I have  landed 100 percent of my hookups with this Midwest finesse rig.

May 2 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his May 2 outing.

Here is an edited and condensed version of his report:

A couple of thunderstorms drenched some locales in north-central Texas last night, but we received only .05 of an inch of rain around Denton. The day remained overcast with just two short spells of intermittent sunshine. Air temperatures were also significantly cooler than normal.

The Weather Underground reported the morning low temperature at 47 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 63 degrees. The average high for this date is 78 degrees and the average low is 56 degrees.  An irksome wind blew out of the north at 13 to 20 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.06 at 1:58 p.m. and dropped to 30.02 by 4:58 p.m.

The In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred between 1:11 a.m. to 3:11 a.m., 7:24 a.m. to 9:24 a.m., and 7:51 p.m. to 9:51 p.m.

Rick Allen of Dallas, and his grandson Tim Michels of Dallas, and I fished a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir where I fished on April 30.  This outing served two purposes. First, it was the first outing with Rick’s new Lund boat, and we wanted to check it out and make sure everything was working properly. And second, we wanted Tim to tangle with a largemouth bass or two after we checked out Rick’s new boat. Most of our time was devoted to checking out the boat. We were able to fish from about 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The surface temperature ranged from 66 to 68 degrees, which was a three to five degree drop in temperature from my last solo outing to this reservoir on April 30. The water level was 2 1/2 feet above its normal level. The water conditions varied from muddy with less than a foot of clarity in the upper northwest end of the reservoir to stained with 1 1/2 feet of visibility in the southwest end.

We began the outing in the mid-section of a large main-lake cove, where we fished a large mud flat festooned with patches of flooded buck brush. This cove is located in the north end of the west tributary arm of the reservoir.  The water in this cove was muddy with less than a foot of visibility, and the surface temperature was 66 degrees. The boat floated in seven feet of water. We made our first casts with a 3 1/4-inch tail section of a Z-Man’s Junebug FattyZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s chartreuse-sparkle GrubZ rigged on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Coppertreuse ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We garnered two tentative strikes with the 3 1/4-inch FattyZ tail rig and the chartreuse sparkle GrubZ, but we failed to hook either of these fish.

We looked inside three other main-lake coves that are situated along the west side of the west tributary arm of the reservoir, but the water was still muddy and not to our liking, so we ventured to a large feeder-creek arm in the south end of the tributary arm in hopes of finding clearer water. Inside the feeder-creek, the water was stained with 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The water temperature was 68 degrees.

We fished the east side of this feeder-creek arm. This area contains a long and steep rocky shoreline, a large brush-laden mud flat covered with three to eight feet of water, three flat and shallow secondary points that are enhanced with basketball-size rocks, gravel, and flooded buck brush, and the remnants of a partially submerged clay and gravel stock-pond dam that is now covered with flooded terrestrial vegetation and enhanced with a laydown log.

During this short two-hour outing, we managed to hook 18 largemouth bass and one spotted bass, but landed only 15 of them. The largest was a feisty and chunky specimen that tipped our Berkley digital scale at five pounds, one ounce, and it is the second five-pound largemouth bass that we have encountered during the last two outings at this reservoir.

We discovered that there was no distinctive location pattern as to where we found and caught these black bass. A few of these black bass, including the five-pound largemouth, were relating to the steep rocky portion of the shoreline in eight to 10 feet of water. Several others were associated with a flooded brush-laden flat in three to five feet of water. A couple of the largemouth bass were caught at one of the three secondary points, but none were caught on the other two secondary points that looked identical to the first one. Three others were caught along the deep-water side of the stock-pond’s dam

Eight largemouth bass and the one spotted bass were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, including the five-pound lunker. (This same combo also allured a five-pound, four-ounce largemouth on my April 30 outing, and it was caught inside a main-lake cove on the east side of the reservoir.)  A Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught three largemouth bass. A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin/orange ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught two largemouth bass. One largemouth bass was caught on a 2 1/2-inch green-pumpkin ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. All of these baits were employed with a slow, swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

We lost several other largemouth bass that were hooked  to either a Z-Man’s black-blue Hula StickZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a Canada craw Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. A Z-Man’s chartreuse sparkle GrubZ on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin GrubZ on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig elicited several tentative strikes each, but we were unable to hook these fish.

A slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the only productive retrieve.

May 3 log

During the ghost light of dawn on May 3, some thermometers across northeastern Kansas hovered at 39 degrees. The normal low temperature for May 3 is 50 degrees.   The unseasonably cool weather, which has hovered over northeastern Kansas for many days, has provoked a lot of anglers to complain, saying that it has prevented them from locating and catching their quarries.  These anglers have also been confounded by the vast quantities of muddy water that flowed into northeastern Kansas’ reservoirs on April 26 and 27.

Nevertheless, Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and I spent four hours and four minutes on May 3 at a community reservoir, where we had a delightful time catching 54 smallmouth bass, 27 largemouth bass, six crappie, five freshwater drum, one rainbow trout, one bluegill, and an untold number of green sunfish. We relish tangling with a variety of species and eliciting more than 25 strikes per hour, which is why we are Midwest finesse devotees.

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Steve Desch with one of the 54 smallmouth bass we caught on May 3.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 39 degrees at 5:57 a.m. and 71 degrees at 4:53 p.m. (The normal high temperature for May 3 is 70 degrees.) The sky fluctuated from being clear to misty to foggy to partly cloudy to scattered clouds. For hours on end, the wind was calm, and when it stirred, it angled in a mild-mannered pace out 0f the southwest, south by southeast, and west by southwest.  The barometric pressure was 30.08 at 12:53 a.m., 30.08 at 5:53 a.m., 30.07 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.01 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing might occur from 8:06 a.m. to 10:06 a.m., 8:33 p.m. to 10:33 p.m., and 1:52 a.m. to 3:52 a.m. We fished from 10:14 a.m. to 2:18 p.m. The second hour that we were afloat was the most bountiful. The last hour was the least bountiful.

The water level was 2 1/2 feet above normal. The water clarity around the dam exhibited five feet of visibility, and it declined to two feet of visibility at other locales. The surface temperature was 62 degrees at 10:20 a.m. and 65 degrees at 2:00 p.m. The American water willows, which grace a significant portion of this reservoir’s shorelines, were sprouting. Patches of Eurasian milfoil are growing at a number of locales, and we found one massive patch of curly-leaf pondweed.

Around 1:30 p.m. we saw about a dozen bluegills lollygagging near the surface and acting as if they were sunning themselves. We also saw two humongous carp dawdling in the sun. Throughout the outing, we often had two or three large gizzard shad follow the black bass that we caught to the boat. It was the first time that we had seen these phenomena in 2016.

We spent the entire outing in the lower portions of the reservoir. We fished five main-lake points, three shorelines inside two feeder-creek arms, two secondary points, four main-lake shorelines, the riprap shoreline of the dam, two main-lake humps, one hump inside a feeder-creek arm, and the dam’s outlet.

Traditionally, the two main-lake humps and the hump inside the feeder creek are very fruitful during the first week of May, but they were not this time around. One of the main-lake humps yielded only a freshwater drum, and the second one yielded one smallmouth bass, and the hump inside the feeder creek yielded two smallmouth bass.

Forty-seven of the black bass were caught at a flat and boulder-laden main-lake point and along the riprap shoreline of the dam.

The other 34 black bass were caught hither and yon. In essence, to catch those 34 black bass, we merely turned the trolling motor on at a moderate pace and dissected as many rock-laden shorelines and points as humanly possible. Some of the black bass were caught along the outside edges of the patches of American water willows, but the bulk of them were rock oriented.

Our four most effective baits were a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Coppertreuse ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

A sizable number of the black bass were caught on the initial drop of our baits. And when we failed to inveigle one on the initial drop, we employed either the swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve or the drag-and-subtle-shake retrieve. We caught several black bass when we punctuated our retrieves with a deadstick presentation.

Some of the black bass were caught in two feet of water; some of them were caught in 10 to 12 feet of water; some of them were caught in three to nine feet of water. The drag-and-subtle-shake retrieve was best in seven to 12 feet of water, and the swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve was best in three to six feet of water.

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Steve Desch with two of the six crappie that we accidentally caught.

May 4 log

Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, filed this edited brief on the Finesse News Network:

In my last reports, I made strong mention that the extremely low and clear water that we were experiencing would not last.

As of the morning of May 4, the nearest US Geological Survey gauge had our area flowing at a rate of 1,350 cubic feet per second.  On April 25, it was flowing at 556 CFS. The weather forecast for May 4 and the next three days is yet more rain.

My wife and I ventured north of Pittsburgh to attend her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary and a large family gathering on April 29, and we remained there through the weekend. The heavy rain greeted our drive to and from Pittsburgh, and it has not let up since  then.

If there is a bright spot to any of the above, my morel mushroom gatherings have been superb with bountiful numbers showing up. I was also able to land a few healthy stream trout specimens while in Pennsylvania from a private stream that courses through my brother-in-law’s remote property. What’s more, our nephew reported that he has been doing very well with Midwest Finesse tactics for smallmouth bass at Lake Erie and the many rivers that course through his neck of the woods.

I would venture a guess that it will sadly be a while until I am able to report of any fishing being done in these parts.

May 5 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his outing on May 5.

Here is an edited and condensed version of his log:

John Thomas of Denton and I elected to return to a nearby U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir where Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas, and I relished a 274-fish outing on April 27.

May 5 was a bright and sunny day. The morning low temperature was 52 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 82 degrees. There was not a cloud in sight for much of the afternoon. The wind quartered out of the north by northeast at 5 to 10 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.12 at noon and 30.03 at 4:00 p.m.

According to the In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing times would take place between 3:36 a.m. and 5:36 a.m., 9:50 a.m. and 11:50 a.m., and 10:18 p.m. and 12:18 a.m. John and I were afloat from about noon to 4:00 p.m.

John and I spent the afternoon plying a riprap-covered bridge embankment, two feeder-creek arms, a large and shallow main-lake flat,  and two small main-lake coves in the southwest tributary arm of the reservoir.

The water was mostly stained in the main-lake areas and exhibited about 1 1/2 feet to 2 1/2 feet of visibility. The water was muddy with less than a foot of clarity in the west end of the southwest tributary arm. The water level was 2 1/2 feet high. The surface  temperature ranged from 72 degrees in the main lake to 75 degrees in the feeder-creek arms.

Our first spot was the main river channel that courses underneath a large bridge in the southwest tributary arm of the reservoir. We had hoped to cross paths with another large school of white bass and wipers, but it didn’t take long for us to realize that they had completely vacated this locale. We caught only one spotted bass in eight feet of water along the riprap-laden bridge embankment. It was caught on a Z-Man’s Space Guppy Slim SwimZ rigged on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, which was presented with a steady swimming action. We failed to elicit any strikes with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s The Deal ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

Our second spot was inside a feeder-creek arm that lies on the north side of the tributary arm and just east of the bridge embankment. We fished 11 secondary points and three coves inside this feeder creek. Most of the shorelines inside this feeder-creek were lined with gravel, boulders, and flooded buck brush. We caught one largemouth bass and one spotted bass relating to two of the 11 secondary points. One was caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and the other one engulfed a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Both of these baits were presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. We caught six largemouth bass inside one of the three coves, where we observed scads of two-inch shad flickering along the surface of the water in the middle of the cove. This cove was enhanced with flooded buck brush, a few stumps, and several laydowns. These largemouth bass were relating to the deep-water sides of the flooded buck brush, and they engulfed either a Z-Man’s pearl Slim SwimZ rigged on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig or the Space Guppy Slim SwimZ rig. Both of these lures were retrieved with a steady swimming action. All eight of these black bass were abiding in less than five feet of water. We failed to garner any strikes with the 2 1/2-inch The Deal ZinkerZ rig, the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rig, or a 2 1/2-inch green-pumpkin/orange ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

Our third spot was a large and shallow main-lake flat that is the approximate size of a football field. It is situated along the north shoreline of the tributary arm. Its underwater terrain is comprised of mud, gravel, and flooded buck brush. It is covered with three to eight feet of water. We fished about half of this flat and caught only three largemouth bass. They were associated with the flooded buck brush in three to five feet of water, and they engulfed the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rig and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

After that, we fished another feeder-creek arm adjacent to the main-lake flat. In our eyes, this feeder-creek looked similar to the one we fished earlier, but the east shoreline is steeper and rockier. This feeder-creek encompasses seven secondary points, three mud flats, and three coves. Flooded buck brush, large stumps, four dilapidated boat ramps, and a couple of laydowns adorn its shorelines. We caught only one largemouth bass from a rocky secondary point along the east shoreline and about halfway back in this feeder creek. We caught two more largemouth bass from a mud flat along the mid-section of the west shoreline, and they were caught many yards apart from each other. We failed to find any bass relating to the boat ramps, stumps or laydowns.  All three of these largemouth bass were caught in less than five feet of water and were relating to the sides of patches of flooded buck brush. They were caught on the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rig with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

Our last two spots were two smaller main-lake coves. The water in the first one was muddy with less than a foot of visibility. We did not find any black bass inhabiting this cove.

The second cove is about 1 1/2 miles east of the previous cove. The water clarity was much better, exhibiting about 2 1/2 feet of visibility. It is enhanced with flooded buck brush, sand, boulders, and a small creek channel that parallels its west shoreline. This cove relinquished just one largemouth bass that was caught off the deep-water end of a line of flooded buck brush in the backend of the cove. It was extracted from six feet of water and engulfed the Space Guppy Slim SwimZ and a steady swimming retrieve.

In sum, the fishing was disappointingly slow and tedious, and boredom set in about halfway through this undertaking. We struggled to catch 14 largemouth bass and two spotted bass in four hours. None of them were big ones. Normally, we consider catching 16 black bass in four hours an average catch rate at this reservoir, but after I enjoyed catching and releasing 274 black bass, white bass, and wipers on April 27, this outing seemed much worse.

The most fruitful lures were Z-Man’s Space Guppy and pearl Slim SwimZ rigs that were presented with a steady swimming retrieve, and they caught seven black bass. The Z-Man green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rig and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was second best, and it caught six.

We have determined that the dominant location pattern for the largemouth bass and spotted bass during the past several weeks has been the deep-water sides of flooded buck brush in three to eight feet of water. The mid-sections of feeder creeks and feeder-creek coves have been much more fruitful than the backends of the coves. Sadly, we have not seen any black bass spawning activity or pods of bass fry lingering around in the shallows of the spawning coves in any of our U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoirs this spring. We speculate that the incessant muddy- water conditions and radical water level fluctuations during the past winter months and early spring may have hindered their normal spawning rituals. It also appears to us that if any spawning activity had occurred, it is now over and the black bass seem to be in their post-spawn recovery phase, and they are beginning to migrate out of the coves and feeder creeks and to their summertime main-lake lairs.

May 6 log

For two days in a row, Mother Nature graced northeastern Kansas with some charming springtime weather.  The Weather Underground reported that it was 44 degrees at 5:52 a.m. and 82 degrees at 2:52 p.m. on May 6.  The sun was shining everywhere. The wind was calm until 7:52 a.m., and then it angled out of the south, southwest, south by southwest, and west at 4 to 18 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.05 at 12:52 a.m., 30.06 at 5:52 a.m., 30.07 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.01 at 2: 52 p.m.

On this lovely spring day, I spent three hours and 58 minutes fishing a heavily fished northeastern Kansas state reservoir, and Pok Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, joined me at noon for two hours and 13 minutes.

The water level at this reservoir looked to be about a foot above normal.  The heavy rains that fell upon northeastern Kansas on April 26 and 27 caused this normally clear-water reservoir to become heavily stained, but  the water clarity during the past nine days has cleared up to the point that it exhibited more than three feet of visibility at several locales. The surface temperature was 64 degrees at 10:15 a.m. and it increased to 69 degrees at 2:13 p.m.

The American water willows are sprouting, and their green shoots are protruding several inches above the surface of the water. We crossed paths with many massive patches of bushy pondweed, and some of the patches are covered with gobs of filamentous alga. The filamentous alga was abundant most everywhere. The American pondweed is emerging, and its red leaves are several inches under the surface.  Scores of coontail patches are burgeoning at several locales.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 10:38 a.m. to 12:38 p.m., 11:07 p.m. to 1:07 a.m., and 4:23 a.m. to 6:23 a.m. I was afloat alone from 10:15 a.m. until noon, and Lau and I fished together from noon until 2: 13 p.m.

We fished six rock jetties, two main-lake points, three secondary points, two shorelines inside one cove, short sections of five main-lake shorelines, and the riprap shoreline of the dam.

We used five baits: a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened Z-Man’s California craw Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig,  a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man’s pearl MinnowZ on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.

We caught 75 largemouth bass, three crappie, and one green sunfish. The California craw Hula StickZ rig caught one largemouth bass, the green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ rig caught 21 largemouth bass, and the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ caught 53 largemouth bass.

We noticed that a significant number of the largemouth bass had crayfish antennae protruding from their gullets, and occasionally a largemouth bass would spit up crayfish particles. We thought this foraging upon crayfish would accentuate the effectiveness of our Hula StickZ and ZinkerZ rigs, but our Finesse ShadZ rigs were by far the most effective, and that has been the case on many of our outings this spring.

Fifty-one of the largemouth bass were caught along the riprap of the dam. Eight largemouth bass were caught at one of the main-lake points. Three largemouth bass were caught at the second main-lake point. The five main-lake shorelines yielded six largemouth bass. The six rock jetties yielded five largemouth bass. The two shorelines inside one cove yielded two largemouth bass.

About 30 of the largemouth bass engulfed our presentations on the initial drop. A few of the largemouth bass were caught while we executed a deadstick presentation.  A few more were caught while we employed a drag-and-subtle-shake presentation. The bulk of them were allured as we executed a slow swim-glide-and-no-shake retrieve. Some were caught in water as shallow as three feet; some were caught in water as deep as 10 feet; most were caught in four to eight feet of water.

May 6 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his May 6 outing.

Here is an edited and condensed version of his report:

After John Thomas of Denton and I endured a tedious four hour, 16-bass outing at a nearby U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir on May 5, I decided to make a 38-mile drive to a more fruitful Corps’ reservoir in north-central Texas.

The weather on May 6 was as picturesque as it was on May 5. The sun was shining radiantly through a cloudless blue sky. The morning low temperature was 52 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was a balmy 84 degrees. The barometric pressure measured 30.12 at 11:00 a.m. and 30.02 at 4:00 p.m. The wind quartered out of the southeast at 5 to 10 mph.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted the optimum fishing periods would most likely occur from 3:36 a.m. to 5:36 a.m., 9:50 a.m. to 11:50 a.m., and 10:18 p.m. to 12:18 a.m. I fished from about noon to 4:30 p.m.

The water in this reservoir is clearing faster than the other reservoirs in north-central Texas, and it exhibited about 2 1/2 to three feet of visibility. Its normal clarity is about four to six feet. The water level was 2 1/2 feet above normal, and the water temperature ranged from 72 to 78 degrees.

My spinning rods sported the following lures: a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s EZ Money Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a Z-Man’s pearl Slim SwimZ on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig; and a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin EZ TubeZ attached to an inserted generic 1/16-ounce tube jig.

I fished an island and two large coves inside a large feeder-creek arm located in the southeast section of the reservoir. I focused on the openings and cuts along the deep-water edges of the flooded buck brush in five to eight feet of water, which has been the primary pattern in our local reservoirs for the past several weeks.

I enjoyed a sterling outing at this heavily-fished reservoir. I caught 63 largemouth bass, two crappie, and two white bass, which is a rare occurrence at this reservoir. All of these fish were caught in five to eight feet of water.

I fished the east and south sides of the island first. The north and west sides were devoid of buck brush, so I didn’t fish those areas. The boat floated in eight to 13 feet of water. The flooded buck brush along the east side and south side of the island yielded 13 largemouth bass. They were relating to the deep-water sides of several large clusters of buck brush in five feet of water.

After I finished fishing the island, I ventured into the backend of the feeder-creek arm and checked two small coves that appeared to be identical in my eyes. Each cove is comprised of sand, gravel, long and thick walls of flooded buck brush, a few stumps, and a couple of large laydowns.

The first cove, which lies on the south side of the feeder creek, yielded 10 largemouth bass and two large white crappie, and they were caught from small openings in the buck brush in five feet of water while the boat floated in eight to 10 feet of water.

The second cove lies along the north side of the feeder creek. It yielded 40 largemouth bass and two white bass. These largemouth bass were positioned differently in relation to the buck brush than they were along the island and the south feeder-creek cove. In the north feeder-creek cove, the bass were caught in more open water areas about 25 to 30 feet away from the edges of the buck brush, and they were abiding in eight feet of water instead of relating to the edges of the buck brush in five feet of water.  I kept the boat in 12 to 15 feet of water  while I plied this cove.

The most effective lure was the shortened four-inch Z-Man’s EZ Money  Finesse WormZ rig, and it caught 50 of the 63 largemouth bass, both crappie, and the two white bass. The Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rig caught 13 largemouth bass. I didn’t get around to using the pearl Slim SwimZ or green-pumpkin EZ TubeZ rigs.

The thick patches of buck brush and wood debris on the bottom relegated me to just two retrieves: the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve and the steady do-nothing swimming retrieve. The swim-glide-and-shake presentation was the only effective one.

The majority of these bass were larger than 12 inches, with several in the 15- to 17-inch range, but none weighed more than 2 3/4 pounds. I was also encouraged to see that several of them had minor spawning-type injuries to their tails, sides, and mouths, though I did not see any pods of small bass fry at any of the three areas I fished. I am  hopeful that the largemouth bass and spotted bass may have spawned at this reservoir.

May 7 log

David Mull of Paw Paw, Michigan, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his May 7 outing at the Michigan Kayak Fishing Series on Gull Lake, Michigan, where he competed against 37 kayak anglers.

Here is an edited and condensed version of his report:

Yesterday’s kayak tournament was fun but a little frustrating.  And I allowed the tournament-fishing mentality to get into my head, and after I lost a big bass on about the third cats with a Z-Man’s Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a 1/16-ounce Prescription Plastics’ Ozark Finesse Head jig, I started doing weird stuff like throwing a jerkbait and a lipless rattling crankbait. Ultimately, I settled down and picked up the finesse rod again, and I caught eight largemouth bass.

Four of them were caught on a Z-Man’s New Money Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a green-pumpkin 1/16-ounce Ozark Finesse Head jig. Three of them were caught on a Z-Man’s Mud Minnow Finesse T.R.D.  affixed to a green-pumpkin 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. One was caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-blue Finesse ShadZ on a home-painted sparkly-green 1/16-ounce Ozark Finesse Head jig. My biggest five  largemouth bass measured 72 inches.

I ended up sixth in the tournament. My friend and fellow Hobie Fishing Team member Tim Percy from Windsor, Ontario, caught all five of his black bass on a Midwest finesse rig and got fifth with two more inches than I had.

The tournament was on Gull Lake in southern Michigan. I do not know what the surface temperature was, because I have yet to install electronics on the current kayak, but the largemouth bass were active and on the flats as well as right on the deep edges of flats. I caught two of my largemouth bass from under the same pier.

I let a new fishing pal, Neal Vandebiezen of Portage, Michigan, borrow one of my Hobies for the tournament. He is a veteran tournament bass angler and despite never having fished from a kayak before, he blew the tournament away throwing jerkbaits and a swim jig. he caught five black bass that totaled 95.5 inches. Second place was 78.5 inches.  Neal caught one 18-inch largemouth bass and four smallmouth bass that were 19 to 20 inches long. His 20-inch smallmouth bass won big bass honors, too.

May 9 log

Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, filed a note on the Finesse News Network on May 9, stating that the U.S. Geological Survey’s gauge reported that the river was flowing at 2,140 cubic feet per second, and it is the highest flow that he has seen during the past five years. To his chagrin, he has not yet been afloat in May.

May 12 log

From May 9 through May 11, I battled some diabolical pains in my back, which were a by-product of taking a head-over-heals tumble in one of our gardens. Travis Perret of Overland Park, Kansas, and Exercise Therapy of Kansas City sent me 10 exercises on May 11. Those exercises tamed about 90 percent of the pain, which allowed me to get afloat for a short spell on May 12 to see how many largemouth bass and smallmouth bass that I could catch in two hours and 30 minutes.

I spent those 150 minutes at a suburban community reservoir, where the surface temperature was 68 degrees.  The water level looked to be 2 1/2 feet above normal.  In the vicinity of the dam, the water clarity was more than six feet.  All of the patches of American water willows that grace much of this reservoir’s shorelines are green and growing profusely, as are the patches of American pondweed, Eurasian milfoil, curly-leaf pondweed, and other various kinds of aquatic vegetation.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 52 degrees at 6:53 a.m.  and 72 degrees at 3:53 p.m. It was sunny. The wind angled out of the north by northwest, north, northwest, and west by northwest at 5 to 25 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.09 at 12:53 a.m., 30.15 at 5:53 a.m., 30.22 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.10 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 4:34 a.m. to 6:34 a.m., 4:59 p.m. to 6:59 p.m., and 10:47 a.m. to 12:47 p.m.  I fished from 11:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., and the best fishing occurred from 1:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.

I caught two smallmouth bass at one off-shore main-lake hump, which traditionally yields a half dozen or more smallmouth bass this time of the year.

I failed to garner a strike at an offshore hump inside a feeder-creek arm, which normally yields a handsome bounty of smallmouth bass in early to mid-May. But before I fished it, it had been pummeled by a pair of power anglers for nearly 30 minutes. I caught one smallmouth bass along the shoreline adjacent to that offshore hump.

I caught one largemouth bass at a secondary point inside another feeder-creek, and I caught one largemouth bass at another secondary point inside that same feeder-creek arm. I caught one largemouth bass along a shoreline in this feeder-creek arm.

I spent the rest of the outing probing three main-lake shorelines and two main-lake points, and these areas are located in the lower section of the reservoir. All of them were relatively fruitful, yielding 25 smallmouth bass, 15 largemouth bass, one yellow perch, one crappie, one freshwater drum, one channel catfish, and three green sunfish.

Rock- and boulder-laden areas along the shorelines and points that are devoid or nearly devoid of aquatic vegetation were more fruitful than the areas that are embellished with aquatic vegetation.  Nine black bass were caught around boulders near the outside edges of patches of American water willows.

Some of the black bass were extracted out of water as shallow as two to three feet; some were abiding in four to five feet of water; some were extracted out of six to nine feet of water. The black bass were caught when the boat was floating in water as shallow as six feet and floating in water as deep as 18 feet

A Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught 36 of the black bass. A Z-Man’s PB&J Rain MinnowZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught eight black bass. A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught one smallmouth bass. And I failed to elicit a strike on a slightly shortened Z-Man’s California craw Hula StickZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

A swim-glide-and-subtle shake retrieve was the most effective. Thirteen of the black bass engulfed the bait on the initial drop. A few of the black bass were caught while I was employing a drag-and-no-shake retrieve.

 May 13 log

 Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, and I ventured to an extremely heavily fished community reservoir that lies in the suburbs of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

To our chagrin, the 1.84 inches of rain that fell on this reservoir’s watershed since May 8 had the water level flowing at a high and quick pace across the outlet of the dam. We estimated that the water level was more than two feet above normal. The water clarity in the upper half of the reservoir was very murky, and the visibility in the lower half ranged from two feet to 3 1/2 feet. The surface temperature was 68 degrees. The American water willow patches that line some of the shorelines were green and growing robustly, and because of the high-water conditions, some of them were completely covered with water.  Most of the flat shorelines and shallow offshore flats were embellished with vast patches of coontail. Pods of filamentous alga were nearly everywhere, and these pods covered many of the coontail patches, which made dissecting them with our Midwest finesse rigs virtually impossible.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 48 degrees at 5:53 a.m. and 77 degrees at 1:43 p.m. The wind angled out of the south, southwest, and south by southwest at 3 to 27 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.15 at 12:53 a.m., 30.13 at 5:53 a.m., 30.03 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.98 at 2:53 p.m. It was sunny until 2:00 p.m., and a torrential rainstorm, which was accompanied with some hail, bashed northeastern Kansas at 3:15 p.m.  A major cold front past across Kansas during the evening hours of May 13, and predictions indicate that unseasonably cold weather will prevail until May 18.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 5:26 a.m. to 7:26 a.m., 5:50 p.m. to 7:50 p.m., and 11:14 a.m. to 1:14 p.m. We fished from 10:15 a.m. to 1:34 p.m., and the entire three hours and 28 minutes that we were afloat were exceedingly fruitless and frustrating for three veteran Midwest finesse anglers to endure.

With astonishing regularity, Midwest finesse fishing is a joyful time that is punctuated by catching as many as 25 black bass an hour on the best of outings and as few as 10 on an average outing. But this time around, we spent an equal amount of time bemoaning the pesky wind that seemed to be howling simultaneously from a variety of angles and the difficult and bewildering largemouth bass fishing that we were enduring.

Customarily three veteran Midwest finesse anglers should catch at least 15 largemouth bass an hour in May at any of the small flatland reservoirs that grace northeastern Kansas. We, however, struggled and fretted to catch 28 largemouth bass, three warmouth, one bluegill, one crappie, and one channel catfish.  These fish were caught on a slightly shortened four-inch Z-Man’s purple-haze Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a slightly shortened four-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a slightly shortened Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a slightly shortened Z-Man’s Junebug  Hula StickZ on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s Junebug Rain MinnowZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and  a slightly shortened four-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

DSC01265

One of the 28 largemouth bass that we struggled to catch. This one was caught on the Finesse ShadZ rig.

Some engulfed our rigs on the initial drop. Some were caught as we employed a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. A few were caught on a drag-and-deadstick presentation.

One 10-yard section of a relatively steep and rocky main-lake shoreline that was bordered by patches of American water willows yielded four largemouth bass. The rest of the largemouth bass were caught hither and yon, and in other words, there was no absolute pattern. But rocky shorelines with patches of American water willows were more fruitful than ones that were graced with coontail and filamentous alga.  Offshore flats and humps were fruitless, but we did see a power angler catch one largemouth bass with a crankbait at a rocky offshore hump that is traditionally a bountiful lair in May, and shortly after he fished it, we dissected it with a variety of Midwest finesse rigs and failed to elicit a strike.

We caught one largemouth bass along a rocky shoreline in the murky water in the upper half of the reservoir. The other 27 were caught in the reservoir’s lower half, where the water was stained but not murky.

Other than to say the fishing was disappointing and difficult, we were lost for words to describe what transpired with us and the largemouth bass. Thus, we will end this log by noting that we received a note of solace from Bill Ward of Warsaw, Missouri, who reported that he suffered a similar outing to ours in the northern Ozarks on May 13. Likewise, Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, who edits the logs for the Midwest Finesse columns, wrote: “If it is any consolation, we would be happy to catch 28 largemouths in four hours in our U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoirs, and we would consider it an above-average outing as well.”

May 14 log

Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his May 14 outing.  Here is an edited version of his log:

It has been entirely too long since I have caught a smallmouth bass. This absence has been due only to high water. It is higher than I have witnessed in a good many years this late in the year, and it has stuck around entirely too long for my liking. During this spell, I have taken some UTV trips into the mountains to enjoy some largemouth bass fishing at a few long forgotten farm ponds.  I have also been collecting a lot of morel mushrooms, which I adore, but I like smallmouth bass even more.

I have been chomping at the bit to get back on moving water, but the local rivers have been flowing at a rate of 2,100 or greater cubic feet per second, which is more than enough to keep me off of any moving water.

In my April 25 log, I reported that the conditions of the river changed dramatically from what they were on April 15, 16, 17, 20, and 21. The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the flow changed from 180 cubic feet per second on April 21 to 730 CFS on April 24 to 556 CFS on April 25. And in mid-April, the water clarity exhibited 12 feet of visibility. The last time I was afloat I witnessed some behemoth smallmouth bass scouting out spawning areas.

On May 16, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that the river at one locale was flowing at 1,060 CFS, and the water temperature was 62 degrees. The water exhibited less than two feet of visibility.

Area thermometers registered a high of 64 degrees. Wind gusts broached 20 mph. It rained intermittently, and it was buckets full of rain.

It has long been my contention that when riverine smallmouth bass are faced with extremely high water (except in the cold-water periods) that they move toward the weak side of small rivers, where the velocity of the current is a tad less, and they will abide behind any object that breaks the pace of the current. What’s more, these locales are typically in shallow water and remarkably close to the river’s edge.

My kayak would stay home on May 13, because it would be safer and I would not have to worry about controlling the kayak. It is also easier to dissect these shallow-water lairs on foot than it is in a kayak.

It was with this in mind that I got out some topographic maps on the evening of May 13 in an effort to find the best water I could fish on May 14. I found one that I would not have to be a part billy goat to get there on foot. It is a three-mile stretch  that was extremely shallow on the weak side of the river.

I picked the longest rod in my arsenal, which is a seven-foot, six-inch G. Loomis NRX 901S with a medium-light power and fast action. I also had a bag of customized two-inch Z-Man’s EZ TubeZs in a variety of colors,  a bag of Gopher Tackle’s 1/32-ounce TJ jigs, and a two-ounce bottle of my customized formula of Pro-Cure, Inc.’s Super Gel.

I started my way through the woods at 9:43 a.m. Once I arrived at the water’s edge, I instantly began making pitches behind any current obstruction I could see. These obstructions were either large boulders or timber. Every pitch was into two feet or less of water and right behind a current obstruction. They were no more than three feet off the bank. Stealth was a necessity, when the EZ TubeZ rig hit the surface, it did not generate a sound nor a ripple.

After the rig entered the water, I waited for it to settle. Then I employed a deadstick presentation for a five count, and after that, I shook it. Every fish I caught was caught when I was empoying the shake.

I fished a total of 5 1/4 hours.  I caught 49 smallmouth bass, four largemouth bass, more green sunfish than I could count, eight rock bass, and two channel catfish.

I used two customized EZ TubeZs, and both had a green-pumpkin back and a pumpkin belly.

Being able to make accurate pitches that landed a few inches behind the current breaks without spooking fish, which were just feet from the water’s edge, was the key to catching the fish that I caught.

I hope to be back on the water in the middle of the week. Here is hoping the conditions will be better. Nevertheless, this one was an enjoyable one.

May 15 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his outing on May 15 with Joe Showengerdt at a northeastern Kansas power-plant reservoir.

Here is an edited version of his report:

The Weather Underground reported that it was 39 degrees at 5:57 a.m. and 63 degrees at 1:53 p.m.  Throughout the day, the wind was calm for four hours, and then it angled out of the west by northwest, north, east, south by southeast, southeast, and east by southeast at 3 to 10 mph. The sky was clear from 12:53 a.m. to 10:53 a.m., and it was overcast from 11:53 a.m. to 11:53 p.m.  The barometric pressure was 30.27 at 12:53 a.m., 30.26 at 5:53 a.m., 30.22 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.16 at 2:57 p.m.

The surface temperature in the lower portions of the reservoir was 67 degrees. The water level was slightly above normal. The water exhibited three to 4 1/2 feet of clarity.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would take place from 6:40 a.m. to 8:43 a.m., 7:05 p.m. to 9:05 p.m., and 12:32 a.m. to 2:32 a.m. We fish from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and when we arrived there were 10 boats afloat.

We fished a variety of areas:  rocky points, a mid-lake hump, stretches of rip-rap shorelines and several gravel flats. The most fruitful spot was a long shallow point that is adorned with aquatic vegetation.

We primarily used either a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. It was Joe’s first encounter with the effectiveness of the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ, and he was impressed.

We caught 56 smallmouth bass, five channel catfish, and five freshwater drum.  We were surprised that we failed to inadvertently catch some crappie, some largemouth bass, some temperate bass, and some walleye. The fish were extracted out of water as shallow as a foot and as deep as eight feet.

The most effective presentation was the Midwest finesse stroll – especially on the flats. We enhanced the stroll with some occasional shakes.

May 15 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his May 15 outing.

Here is an edited version of his report:

I spent the afternoon at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hill-land reservoir in north-central Texas. The last time I fished this reservoir was on May 3, and during that tedious 4 1/2-hour endeavor, I could only eke out six largemouth bass.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing periods for May 15 would occur from 12:36 a.m. to 2:36 a.m., 6:46 a.m. to 8:46 a.m., and 7:08 p.m. to 9:08 p.m.

I was afloat from about noon to 4:30 p.m.

May 15 was an overcast day. The Weather Underground recorded the morning low temperature at 63 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was a pleasant 75 degrees. The barometric pressure measured 30.15 at noon and dropped to 30.03 by 4:00 p.m. The wind blew out of the southeast at 10 to 12 mph.

The water temperature was 73 degrees. The water clarity varied from one to two feet of visibility. The water level was 6.79 feet above normal pool, and many picnic areas and parking lots were flooded.

I fished five main-lake points, two small main-lake coves, and one feeder creek arm.

The five main-lake points and two main-lake coves lie along the north side of the reservoir. They are flat and rocky. Patches of partially flooded buck brush embellish the shorelines of all five points and the shorelines inside both coves. I caught two largemouth bass from two of the five points. Neither of the two coves yielded any bass. Both of these largemouth bass were abiding in five feet of water and relating to the deep-water sides of flooded buck brush. Both of these bass engulfed a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. I also employed a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man’s Space Guppy Slim SwimZ rigged on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, but they went untouched.

After that, I made a short run to a feeder-creek arm that is located a short distance from the main-lake points and coves that I just fished. This feeder-creek arm splits into two arms. The east arm harbors a marina, four coves, an island, six secondary points, and a steep bluffy shoreline about midway back in the arm. The west arm features steep and rocky shorelines lined with flooded standing timber and submerged stumps, four coves, nine steep and rocky secondary points, and a bluffy shoreline that forms the west-side entrance into the feeder-creek arm. Thick patches of flooded buck brush border most of the shorelines in both of the arms.

I spent three trying hours dissecting the east-side arm, which usually is more fruitful than the west-side arm, and I could only muster five largemouth bass.

One largemouth bass was caught in 13 feet of water along the west side of the island that is located near the mouth of the feeder-creek arm. The other four largemouth bass were caught inside two of the four coves that are situated north of the island, and they were relating to the outside edges of flooded buck brush in three to six feet of water. The steep bluffy shoreline and the six secondary points failed to yield any bass. All five of these largemouth bass were many yards apart, and they were caught on the shortened four-inch black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ rig and a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. I failed to elicit any strikes with the Junebug Finesse ShadZ, Junebug Hula StickZ, and the Space Guppy Slim SwimZ rigs.

Boredom had set in by this time and I was about ready to call it a day, but I decided to spend the last 45 minutes of this outing plying the steep bluffy shoreline along the entrance to the west side of the feeder-creek arm. This shoreline is a couple of hundred yards long, but only about 20 yards of it was fruitful. A 30-foot portion of this bluff relinquished 17 largemouth bass and six spotted bass. They were relating to the submerged branches of a large tree that was dangling upside down from the mid-section of the bluff, which is buffeted with 23 feet of water. The Space Guppy Slim SwimZ rig caught 14 largemouth bass and three spotted bass. A Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught three largemouth bass and three spotted bass. The Slim SwimZ rig was presented with a moderately fast but steady swimming retrieve, and the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rig was retrieved in a slow swim-glide-and-shake manner.

Overall, it was a slow and tedious outing. I caught seven largemouth bass during the first three hours and 45 minutes of this outing. The final 45 minutes were the highlight of the afternoon, when I caught 23 black bass during that spell.

The Space Guppy Slim SwimZ rig and steady swimming retrieve was the most effective combo. The shortened four-inch black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ and swim-glide-and-shake presentation was second best.

May 17 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his May 17 outing.  Here is an edited version of his log:

Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas, joined me for a 55-mile drive to a water-district reservoir in north-central Texas. But upon our arrival, we were disheartened to see that the water was muddy and exhibited the color of chocolate milk. Therefore, we decided to drive another 23 miles to a U.S. Federal Grasslands reservoir in hopes of finding a less turbid waterway.

It rained during the early morning hours of May 17, and the day remained overcast. The Weather Underground recorded the morning low temperature at 64 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 76 degrees. For part of the day, the wind quartered out of the southeast at 8 to 10 mph, and then it turned out of the northwest at 15 to 17 mph. The barometric pressure was steady at 29.93.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best fishing periods would occur from 1:18 a.m. to 3:18 a.m., 7:29 a.m. to 9:29 a.m., and 7:50 p.m. to 9:50 p.m. We were afloat from about 11:00 a.m. to about 2:00 p.m.

The water displayed a brownish tint with 2 1/2 feet of visibility.  When this reservoir is at its best, the water exhibits about four to six feet of visibility, and flourishing hydrilla beds abound throughout the reservoir. The water temperature ranged from 71 to 72 degrees. The water level was about four feet high.

We launched the boat in the southeast corner of the reservoir and began fishing our way northward along the east shoreline. This shoreline is fairly steep, and it is endowed with two small feeder creeks, an abundance of flooded terrestrial vegetation, thick stands of flooded timber, stumps, and brush piles. The flooded timber areas begin about halfway up the reservoir,  and they cover the entire northern half of this reservoir. We wielded a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened Z-Man’s four-inch Coppertreuse Finesse WormZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. On his second cast of the outing, Norman caught one largemouth bass on the four-inch Coppertreuse Finesse WormZ rig and a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. This largemouth bass was relating to the outside edge of a wall of flooded terrestrial vegetation that borders the east shoreline in two feet of water. We thought that catching this largemouth bass on the second cast was a good sign of many more bass to come, but we were wrong. As we continued to work our way northward into the thick stands of flooded timber, we veered eastward into a feeder creek. We executed many more casts and retrieves with the Finesse WormZs, Finesse ShadZ, and 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ rigs, but we were unable to elicit any other strikes.

The north end of this reservoir narrows down into a main feeder-creek arm. It is enhanced with thick stands of flooded timber, stumps, and brush piles, which border both sides of the main creek channel as it winds its way through the center of the feeder-creek arm. We fished our way northward into the main feeder-creek arm and caught two largemouth bass and lost another largemouth at the mouth of the feeder-creek. They were associated with two small open pockets in a long wall of flooded terrestrial vegetation on the east-side of the feeder creek and abiding in about 1 1/2 feet of water . These bass engulfed a 2 1/4-inch tail section of a Z-Man’s Junebug FattyZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation.  We failed to elicit any other strikes inside this feeder creek.

After we finished fishing the north feeder-creek arm, we slowly meandered southward along the west main-lake shoreline. The west shoreline consists of a large mud flat that extends southward to the dam. It is adorned with patches of hydrilla, several partially submerged laydowns, many stumps, several submerged brush piles, and a few flooded trees standing in six to eight feet of water. We could only scrounge up six largemouth bass along this shoreline, and they were caught from the outside edges of the flooded terrestrial vegetation in less than three feet of water. These largemouth bass were caught on a 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig  and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Coppertreuse ZinkerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Both of these lures were presented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

After we finished dissecting the west shoreline, we fished the south end of the reservoir, which is formed by a clay and gravel dam. It is adorned with hydrilla, flooded terrestrial vegetation, and a partially submerged barb-wire fence that stretches along the entire length of the dam. We caught two largemouth bass, and they were both extracted from three to six feet of water along the face of the dam. Both of these bass were caught on a 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig that was presented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Another largemouth bass was able to pull free before we could hoist it across the gunnel of our boat.

After we finished probing the dam, we returned to the southeast end of the east shoreline, where we began our outing. We fished a thirty-yard section of it where we caught one largemouth bass at the beginning of our outing, and this second time around, we caught one more largemouth bass in two feet of water from the outside edge of the flooded terrestrial vegetation. This bass engulfed the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on the initial fall.

Overall, it was a lackluster outing. We caught 12 largemouth bass in three hours. Three other bass were able to liberate themselves before we could land them. Our sonar unit graphed many fish suspending in open water away from the shorelines in 15 to 17 feet of water, but we were unable to entice any of them to bite.

The 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig allured nine of the 12 largemouths. The 2 1/4-inch tail section of a Junebug FattyZ bewitched two. The shortened four-inch Coppertreuse Finesse WormZ caught one. We were unable to generate any strikes with our four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ and green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rigs.

We experimented with the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, hop-and-bounce retrieve, and drag-and-shake retrieve, but the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the only fruitful presentation.

May 18 log

The Weather Underground reported that it was 45 degrees at 5:53 a.m. and 66 degrees at 1:53 p.m. on May 18. (The normal low temperature for this date is 55 degrees and the normal high temperature is 75 degrees.) The sky fluctuated from being partly cloudy to scattered with clouds to mostly clouds to clear to overcast. During most of the day, the wind was virtually nil, but for a short spell it angled out of the west at 3 mph, and then it angled out of the east at 5 mph.  The barometric pressure was 30.25 at 12:53 a.m., 30.25 at 5:53 a.m., 30.27 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.22 at 1:53 p.m.

From May 15 through most of May 17, it either rained or drizzled almost incessantly in northeastern Kansas, and since May 11, the low and high temperatures were significantly below normal. And as of May 18, some of the reservoirs have not recovered from the torrential rain that walloped northeastern Kansas on April 26 and 27.

The high water levels and the murky water, which have been coupled with the unseasonably cool weather, have adversely affected the black bass fishing hereabouts.   For example, Casey Kidder of Topeka, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network that he fished a bass tournament at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir on May 14, and the murky water, dropping water temperatures, and cold-front conditions made for some trying fishing. But he did manage to catch enough largemouth bass to garner second-place honors.

Steve Desch of Topeka and I shunned the fouled-up Corps of Engineers’ reservoir that Kidder fished and the other Corps’ reservoirs that grace northeastern Kansas. Instead we ventured to an extremely heavily fished community reservoir. The water level in this suburban reservoir looked to be about three feet above normal.  The surface temperature ranged from 65 to 67 degrees.  To our surprise, the water clarity in the lower portions of the reservoir exhibited about seven feet of visibility. A minor alga bloom was erupting, and it left a substantial scum line around the hull of the boat. Patches of bushy pondweed and Eurasian milfoil are flourishing, and the patches of American water willows that adorn many of this reservoir’s shorelines and points are green and lush.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would transpire from 8:48 a.m. to 10:48 a.m., 9:10 p.m. to 11:10 p.m., and 2:38 a.m. to 4:38 a.m. Desch and I fished from 10:12 a.m. to 2:12 p.m.

Essentially, we put the electric trolling motor into the water and attempted to dissect as many main-lake points, secondary points, main-lake shorelines, and secondary shorelines in the lower section of this reservoir as is humanly possible for a couple of old codgers to accomplish.

In total, we fished three secondary points, four main-lake shorelines, five secondary shorelines, and nine main-lake points, as well as two main-lake humps, one hump inside a feeder creek arm, and an offshore main-lake ledge. All of these locales, but one main-lake shoreline and one secondary shoreline, were fruitful.

During our four-hour outing, we caught  35 smallmouth bass,, 31 largemouth bass, five freshwater drum, four white bass, two bluegill, one rainbow trout, one walleye, one warmouth, and more than a dozen green sunfish.

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One of the largemouth bass that Steve Desch and I caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ.

We caught these fish on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Coppertreuse ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, and a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The Finesse ShadZ was the most effective of the lot.

A sizable number of the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass engulfed our rigs on the initial drop, and these fish were abiding in three to five feet of water. At some locales, the most effective presentation with our ZinkerZ rigs was a drag-and-deadstick retrieve. Some of the drag-and-deadstick retrieves were executed in 10 to 15 feet of water, which is what we call deep-water fishing in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas, and several smallmouth bass were extracted out of those depths. The most effective retrieve with the Finesse ShadZ rig was a swim-glide-and-minimal-shake presentation.

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Steve Desch with one of the smallmouth bass that we caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ rig.

May 18 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his May 18 outing.  Here is an edited version of his log:

I joined Rick Allen of Dallas, Texas, on May 18 at a heavily fished U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hill-land reservoir in north-central Texas.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted the best fishing periods should occur from 2:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m., 8:41 a.m. to 10:41 a.m., and 9:02 p.m. to 11:02 p.m. Rick and I fished from about 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

It felt more like early March than mid-May. It was windy, chilly, and overcast. And  it rained off and on during the morning hours. The Weather Underground recorded the morning low temperature at 56 degrees and the high temperature for the afternoon barely reached 61 degrees, which is the lowest high temperature recorded on this day since 1996. The average low temperature for May 18 is 62 degrees and the average high is 80 degrees. The barometric pressure measured 30.05 at noon and 29.97 at 4:00 p.m. The wind quartered out of the east by northeast at 12 to 17 mph, with gusts reaching 20 mph.

The water was stained as a result of the winds and rains that erupted across north-central Texas during the past several days, and it exhibited about 2 1/2 feet of clarity. The water temperature dropped from 74 degrees on May 13 to 67 degrees.  The water level was 1.72 feet above normal pool.

The chilly and blustery winds were causing ranks of white caps to course across the main-lake areas of the reservoir. Therefore, we elected to seek refuge from the wind and waves inside a large feeder-creek arm in the southeast section of the reservoir. This feeder-creek arm relinquished 63 black bass in 4 1/2 hours during my solo May 6 sortie, and on May 13, John Thomas of Denton and I caught 32 black bass in five hours. Unfortunately, this area of the reservoir had been pummeled during a large 200-boat bass tournament on May 14 and 15. And during our May 18 outing, we observed several more tournament anglers pre-fishing this area again today in preparation for two more two-day tournaments that are scheduled to take place on May 21 and 22.

Rick and I fished two large coves, two rocky secondary points, and the east and south sides of a large island. Our primary black bass location pattern over the past few weeks has centered on thick patches of flooded buck brush that line the shorelines inside coves and along secondary points in five to eight feet of water. A secondary location pattern that revolves around rocky secondary points inside feeder-creek arms has also begun to emerge as the black bass have started filtering out of the spawning coves.

Our first spot was a cove that is situated along the northern shoreline of the feeder-creek arm, which offered us some protection from the wind. Just as we arrived, we observed a mixed school of white bass and largemouth bass foraging on two-inch shad on the surface in the middle of the cove. We spent about 45 minutes wielding a Z-Man’s Space Guppy Slim SwimZ on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man’s gold-flake Slim SwimZ on a black 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, and we caught 11 white bass and one largemouth bass in 15 to 17 feet of water before they disappeared. Both of these Slim SwimZ rigs were retrieved at a steady and moderately-fast pace about a foot underneath the surface of the water.

After we finished chasing the school of white bass and largemouth bass, we positioned our boat in 10 to 12 feet of water about 40 feet away and parallel to the thick wall of buck brush. We began dissecting the small pockets and other open areas along the wall of buck brush that rings most of the shoreline in this cove, but we failed to locate any black bass inhabiting the buck brush. We then used the wind to drift over the top of thick patches of submerged green bushes, which are different than the buck brush, and they are covered with three to five feet of water. These thick patches of green bushes adorn the east side of the cove in seven to nine feet of water. This east side of this cove yielded 16 largemouth bass on May 13, but during this May 18 undertaking, we could only eke out two largemouth bass, one white bass, and one white crappie. The two largemouth bass were caught on a shortened three-inch Z-Man’s California craw Hula StickZ rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The other white bass and the white crappie were caught on a Z-Man’s black-gold-flake Scented LeechZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The two largemouth bass, one crappie, and the one white bass were extracted from the tops of the submerged green bushes in nine feet of water, and they were about 25 feet out from the wall of buck brush along the east side of the cove.  We failed to locate any black bass inhabiting the northern or western sections of this cove.

After that, we fished two steep and rocky secondary points at the mouth of this cove. We kept the boat in 10 to 12 feet of water as we caught three largemouth bass off the first point and two more largemouth bass off the second point. Three of the largemouth bass engulfed the Z-Man’s black-gold-flake Scented LeechZ rig, and the other two were enticed into striking the shortened California craw Hula StickZ rig. Both of these combos were presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. All five of these bass were relating to the sides of the two points that were shielded from the wind, and they were milling about in less than four feet of water.

The third spot we fished were thick patches of flooded buck brush in four to six feet of water along the east and south sides of the island. While the boat floated in eight to 17 feet of water, we caught one largemouth bass off the east side of the island and another largemouth bass off the south side of the island. Both of them were caught on the shortened California craw Hula StickZ and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

Our last spot was another cove, which is lined with thick patches of buck brush. This cove lies along the northeast end of the feeder-creek arm,  and it is a short distance from the island. It yielded only eight largemouth bass and two white bass, which were scattered along the outside edges of the flooded buck brush in four to six feet of water. All eight of the largemouth bass were caught on the shortened California craw Hula StickZ rig, which was presented in a slow swim-glide-and-shake fashion. We were surprised to find a lipless crankbait still hooked in the corner of one of the largemouth bass’ mouth.

In sum, we caught 18 largemouth bass, 14 white bass, and one crappie in four hours. By north-central Texas standards, we would consider this an average outing.

Our most effective lure was the shortened Z-Man’s California craw Hula StickZ rig, which beguiled 14 of the 18 largemouth bass. The Z-Man’s gold-flake Slim SwimZ caught one largemouth bass and nearly all of the white bass. The Z-Man’s black-gold-flake Scented LeechZ caught  three largemouth bass, one white bass, and one white crappie. We also used a variety of Z-Man’s Finesse ShadZs, shortened four-inch Finesse WormZs, customized 2 3/4-inch EZ TubeZs, and 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ rigs, but we were unable to generate any strikes with these lures.

The swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the most effective presentation for the largemouth bass. The white bass preferred a moderately fast and steady do-nothing retrieve just underneath the surface of the water.

To our dismay, we are seeing our catch rates plummeting at this reservoir. We suspect that the extensive angler predation that revolves around bass tournaments is adversely affecting the recreational fishing for the largemouth bass and spotted bass that inhabit this reservoir.

May 18 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed a brief and several photographs on the Finesse News Network about his May 18 outing at a northeastern Kansas power-plant reservoir with two very novice anglers.

Here is a revised version of his brief:

Much of the day felt like I was in an episode of the “Keystone Cops”. I spent considerable time getting my friends’ jigs unsnagged from the rocks and retying them.  One of them stumbled and managed to break the plastic cap on my outboard motor’s cowling.

Nevertheless, it was a perfect day to be on the water.  The wind was light out of the northeast. The water exhibited five feet of clarity in the vicinity of the dam. The surface temperature was 65 degrees, which was two degrees cooler than it was on May 15.

We spent much of the time strolling a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Junebug  ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

The most fruitful locales were flat points and a main-lake flat. The topography is rocky, and some of them are graced with submerged aquatic vegetation. A 50-yard stretch of riprap was somewhat fruitful, but it was a trying spot for the two novices who struggled with their casts and retrieves.

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Bob Gum with one of the smallmouth bass that were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California craw ZinkerZ rig.

We caught 48 smallmouth bass, as well as one crappie, one blue catfish, two channel catfish, and three freshwater drum.   They were extracted from four to 10 feet of water.

May 19 log

David Harrison of Lawrence, Kansas, received his first taste of Midwest finesse fishing on April 1, when we fished together at one of the many state reservoirs that grace northeastern Kansas’ countryside. At the end of that outing, Harrison said that he was a tad bamboozled by the no-feel retrieve that lies at the heart of all of our Midwest finesse presentations in northeastern Kansas.

On May 19, he hopped into the boat again with me, and we fished at another northeastern Kansas state reservoir, where he encountered his second taste of Midwest finesse fishing and the no-feel retrieve.

The Weather Channel reported that it was 42 degrees at 5:29 a.m. and 66 degrees at 1:52 p.m.  It was another in a string of unseasonably cool days. From 12:52 a.m. to 7:52 a.m., the wind was calm, and then from 9:52 a.m. to 1:52 p.m., it angled out of the south, southeast, and south by southeast at 6 to 12 mph.  The sky was clear from 12:52 a.m. to 10:52 a.m., and then it was littered with scattered clouds, and then it became mostly cloudy, and ultimately it became overcast and sprinkled a tad.  The barometric pressure was 30.19 at 12:52 a.m., 30.15 at 5:52 a.m., 30.13 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.11 at 1:52 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 9:12 a.m. to 11:12 a.m., 9:33 p.m. to 11:33 p.m., and 3:01 a.m. to 5:01 a.m.  We fished from 10:13 a.m. to 2:13 p.m.

The water level looked to be about one foot above normal. The water clarity in the lower third section of the reservoir exhibited slightly more than four feet of visibility. The surface temperature ranged from 65 to 66 degrees. There are patches galore of bushy pondweed fourishing all around this reservoir, as well as a multitude of American pondweed patches. And there are a few patches of coontail. There are some patches of American water willows, but the outside edges of most of them are covered with just a foot of water.

We fished five riprap jetties, two main-lake points, portions of four main-lake shorelines, two bushy-pondweed flats, and the riprap shoreline along the dam.

We normally avoid fishing around aquatic vegetation, such as bushy pondweed, American pondweed, and curly-leaf pondweed, in May and early June in the flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas. Instead, we focus on rock, boulders, gravel, and sand. (We do, however, fish around rocky underwater terrains along outside edges of patches of American water willows.) But at this state reservoir, it was virtually impossible for Harrison and me to find underwater terrains of rock, boulders, gravel, and sand that were not embellished with some kind of vegetation. What’s more, we have found that most of the outside edges of this reservoir’s patches of American water willows are too shallow to attract significant numbers of largemouth bass, and the ones that are deeper are cluttered with bushy pondweed, American pondweed, and bogs of filamentous alga.

The dam is the most vegetation-free locale, and it yielded 63 of the 88 largemouth bass that we caught.

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David Harrison with one of the 88 largemouth bass that we caught. None of them would have won a bass tournament, and none of them would have impressed a producer of a television show. But  they provided us with a joyful four hours of recreational fishing for largemouth bass.

We caught those fish on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s watermelon-red Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s purple-haze Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin Finesse WormZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig,  a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig,  a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse T.R.D. affixed to an orange-and-black 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

Until around 1:20 p.m., the Finesse ShadZ rig was our most effective rig. And from 1:20 p.m. to 2:13 p.m. a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s Coppertreuse Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and  a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig became our most effective rigs.

We caught 11 largemouth bass by swimming and gliding a purple-haze Finesse WormZ rig, a Junebug Finesse WormZ rig, a pumpkin Finesse WormZ rig, and a Rain MinnowZ rig around some of the patches of American pondweed and bushy pondweed that adorned the shorelines, flats, and points.

We caught eight largemouth bass from the riprap jetties. The other six were caught hither and yon.

We caught the 88 largemouth bass on a variety of presentations: the initial drop, the drag and deadstick, the swim, glide, and no-shake, and the stroll. While we employed those retrieves, we inadvertently caught four jumbo bluegill, one crappie, and perhaps a dozen green sunfish.

These fish were caught in water as shallow as two feet and as deep as 12 feet, and the bulk of them were caught in three to seven feet of water.

At the end of our outing, Harrison said that he is finally getting the hang of the no-feel retrieve, and he learned a lot about it while he was either strolling or employing the drag-and-deadstick presentation.

May 21 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log and two photographs on the Finesse News Network about his May 21 outing.  Here is an edited version of his log:

Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas, joined me at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hill-land reservoir in north-central Texas. The last time I visited this reservoir was on May 16, and it yielded 30 black bass in 4 1/2 hours of fishing.

May 21 was mostly a cloudy day. The Weather Underground recorded the morning low temperature at 61 degrees and the afternoon high temperature reached 86 degrees. The barometric pressure measured 30.06 at noon and fell slightly to 29.98 by 4:00 p.m. The wind blew steadily out of the southeast at 6 to 12 mph.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing periods would occur between the hours of 4:32 a.m. to 6:32 a.m., 10:43 a.m. to 12:43 p.m., and 4:55 p.m. to 6:55 p.m. We fished from about noon to 4:30 p.m.

The water temperature varied between 73 and 75 degrees. The water clarity varied from less than a foot to two feet of visibility. The water level was 5.15 feet above normal pool.

This reservoir was extremely busy with jet skiers, pleasure boaters, and water skiers. They were continuously buzzing back and forth, creating incessant wakes that riled and churned  the water along many of the main-lake points and shorelines into a muddy mess.

We dissected part of a feeder-creek arm, a portion of a large main-lake cove, and 11 main-lake points in the north and northwest regions of the reservoir. We focused on the clearest water we could find.

We employed four Midwest finesse combos: a Z-Man’s pearl Slim SwimZ affixed on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed to either a chartreuse or brown 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s pearl Split-Tail TrailerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We used the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ and pearl Slim SwimZ combos about 97 percent of the time. We made less than two dozen casts with the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ and pearl Split-Tail TrailerZ rigs.

Throughout the afternoon, we utilized just two of the six standard Midwest finesse retrieves. We presented the Slim SwimZ rig with a slow and steady do-nothing swimming retrieve. We used a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve with the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ, green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ, and pearl Split-Tail TrailerZ rigs.

We began the outing at the mouth of a large feeder-creek arm that is located along the north side of the reservoir. This feeder creek splits into two arms. The west arm encompasses steep and rocky shorelines that are littered with submerged stumps and flooded standing timber, nine steep and rocky secondary points, four coves, and a bluffy shoreline at the mouth of the feeder-creek arm. The east arm contains four coves, an island, six secondary points, a marina, and a steep bluffy shoreline. Thick patches of flooded buck brush line most of the shorelines in both feeder creek arms. The water was stained, 73 degrees, and exhibited about two feet of clarity.

On May 16, I spent three trying hours dissecting the east-side creek arm, where I caught five largemouth bass. During this May 21 outing, we concentrated on the west creek arm, and we caught 22 largemouth bass.

We caught two largemouth bass in five feet of water off the main-lake entry point on the west side of the feeder-creek. Four largemouth bass were caught off the mid-section of the steep bluffy shoreline in 15 feet of water. Two more largemouth bass were caught inside a small feeder-creek cove, and they were both relating to the side of an isolated bush that was partially submerged in five feet of water. Fourteen largemouth bass, including a feisty three-pound, one-ounce specimen, were caught off the windward side of one of the rocky secondary points situated on the south side of the feeder-creek arm, and they were dwelling in four to 10 feet of water.

 

 

 

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Steve Reideler with one of the 53 black bass that he and Norman Brown caught on May 21.

After we left the feeder-creek arm, we ventured to the northwest region of the reservoir, where we investigated a sand and gravel shoreline adorned with patches of flooded buck brush, and a riprap-laden jetty inside a large main-lake cove.   The water inside this cove was heavily stained with about eight inches of visibility. The water temperature was 75 degrees. We caught one largemouth bass along  the west shoreline, and it was associated with a few patches of flooded buck brush in four feet of water. The riprap-covered jetty relinquished just one white bass.

After we finished fishing the main-lake cove, we concentrated our efforts on a series of 11 main-lake points. The water conditions varied from muddy with less than a foot of visibility to stained with about 1 1/2 feet of clarity. The water temperature ranged from 73 to 75 degrees. We caught 22 largemouth bass and eight spotted bass that were relating to the ends of the points. The best points were adorned with submerged boulders. These 30 black bass were abiding in water as shallow as four feet and as deep as 15 feet.

For the past several weeks, we have been catching a goodly number of black bass in the south end of reservoirs, and these black bass have been inhabiting feeder-creek arms and feeder-creek coves that are festooned with thick walls of buck brush in four to eight feet of water. Rocky secondary points inside those same feeder-creek arms have just started to become fruitful during the past week. During this May 21 outing, we were delighted to discover that main-lake rocky points that lie along the northwest portion of this reservoir have suddenly become fruitful black bass lairs. Points with stained water exhibiting at least 1 1/2-feet of visibility were more productive than muddy-water points and shorelines.

The 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rigs were our most effective lures, and they caught 41 of the 53 black bass and the one white bass. The Z-Man’s pearl Slim SwimZ rig caught 10 black bass. The Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ and pearl Split-Tail TrailerZ combos caught one largemouth bass apiece during the few casts that they were used.

May 24 log

For about a year several northeastern Kansas Midwest finesse anglers have been puzzled about the difficult outings that they have experienced at a community reservoir that used to be the most rewarding reservoir for pursuing largemouth bass.

Throughout 2015, some of these anglers expressed their concerns to Richard Sanders of Lawrence, Kansas, who is the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism’s fisheries biologist who oversees this reservoir and a number of other northeastern flatland reservoirs.  These anglers suspected that the largemouth bass population had declined dramatically, and they thought the creel limit should be more restrictive.

On May 24, Sanders invited me to join him and his crew at this reservoir during their yearly electrofishing survey, which would allow me to examine the way he measures the state of this reservoir’s largemouth bass population.

From 9:03 a.m. to 11: 15 a.m., they conducted six 10-minute surveys. Their surveys encompassed two main-lake points, portions of three main-lake shorelines, and segments of five shorelines inside three feeder-creek arms.

Their first survey focused on a main-lake point, and its adjacent shorelines. One shoreline lies inside a small feeder-creek arm, and the other one lies on the main-lake side of the point. The terrain of this locale is rocky and relatively steep.  Some of the water’s edge is adorned with patches of American water willows. In 10 minutes, they collected 70 largemouth bass.

The second survey occurred along a shoreline that lies more than halfway inside a feeder-creek arm. The terrain along one section of this shoreline is flat and shallow.  It is cluttered with stumps, patches of American water willows, silt, and bogs of filamentous alga. The other portion of this shoreline is rocky and a tad steeper; it is embellished with a nearby submerged creek channel, some stumps, brush piles, a few laydowns, and a beaver hut.   In 10 minutes, they collected 52 largemouth bass.

The third survey took place along a section of a shoreline inside a feeder-creek arm, a main-lake point, and a section of a main-lake shoreline. The terrain is rock- and boulder-laden, and endowed with patches of American water willows. Some portions of the shorelines are flat, and others are relatively steep. In 10 minutes, they collected 65 largemouth bass, including a 4.25-pounder, which was the largest one that they were able to get into a net.

Their fourth survey was conducted along a rocky main-lake shoreline near the dam. Some it is flat, and some of  it is steep. The water’s edge is graced with some patches of American water willows.  In 10 minutes, they collected 60 largemouth bass.

The fifth survey occurred along a shoreline inside a feeder-creek arm. They began shocking at the mouth of this feeder-creek arm and ended more than halfway inside it. This shoreline is relatively steep. It is lined with patches of American water willows. It is laden with ledges, boulders, rocks, gravel, stumps, and a few brush piles. In 10 minutes, they collected 52 largmeouth bass and crossed paths with a humongous aggregation of largemouth bass fry.

Their sixth survey was conducted inside the same feeder-creek arm as the fifth survey. This shoreline was flat and shallow. Its underwater terrain was graced with gravel, rocks, boulders, silt, and a few stumps.  Some of the water’s edge is lined with patches of American water willows.  Many clumps of filamentous alga cluttered the surface.  The alga also clung to the rocks and stems of the American water willows. In 10 minutes, they collected 47 largemouth bass.

In total, their electrofishing survey collected 346 largemouth bass in an hour, which is a whale of a collection. These largemouth bass were extracted out of two to six feet of water.   Sanders and his crew were impressed, and I was impressed, too. And it quickly checkmated the contention that this reservoir’s largemouth bass population has waned.

After Sanders and his crew left, I stayed afloat and fished for three hours and 15 minutes.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 60 degrees at 3:52 a.m. and 80 degrees at 4:52 p.m. From 12:52 a.m. to 10:52 a.m., it was partly cloudy, mostly cloudy, and overcast, and at times the clouds created light rain and heavy thunderstorms, depositing 0.34 inches of precipitation. After 11:52 a.m., it became sunny. The wind angled from the east by southeast, southeast, east, west, west by northwest, northwest, southwest, and south at 3 to 15 mph.  The barometric pressure was 29.88 at 12:52 a.m., 29.93 at 5:52 a.m., 29.94 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.86 at 2:52 p.m.

The water level was normal. The water was stained in the backs of the feeder-creek arms, exhibiting 1 1/2 to three feet of visibility. Sanders and his crew took a secchi disk reading in the lower portions of the reservoir, and the visibility was six feet. The surface temperature ranged from 68 degrees to 70 degrees.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 12:42 a.m. to 2:42 a.m., 1:07 p.m. to 3:07 p.m. and 6:55 a.m. to 8:55 a.m. I fished from 11:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

I fished the same kind of shorelines and points that Sanders and his crew electrofished.  In fact, I quickly fished a portion of the first spot that Sanders and his crew collected 70 largemouth bass.  I failed to elicit a strike, and I suspect that the reason why it was fruitless revolves around the fact that many of the largemouth bass at this locale were shocked, collected, and transferred to another spot. And the ones that they failed to net were traumatized, and they had not recovered from the shock.

After that failure, I dissected shorelines and points that they did not electroshock.  I fished two main-lake points, four shorelines inside three feeder-creek arms, one main-lake shoreline, and a portion of the rock-laden dam.

Ultimately, I caught 36 largemouth bass. The main-lake points were not fruitful. The dam yielded two largemouth bass. The main-lake shoreline yielded three largemouth bass.  The four shorelines inside the three feeder-creek arms yielded 31 largemouth bass.

They were caught in water as shallow as three feet and no deeper than five feet.  The bulk of the largemouth bass were caught around patches of American water willows. Two largemouth bass were caught around a laydown.

The two most effective baits were a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. A shortened four-inch Z-Man’s purple-haze Finesse WormZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught four largemouth bass. A shortened four-inch Strike King Lure Company’s green-pumpkin-red Super Finesse Worm affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught four largemouth bass.

Most of the largemouth bass were caught while I was employing a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. A few were caught on the initial drop.

Even though the electofishing survey revealed that this reservoir is still blessed with a bountiful population of largemouth bass, they are more difficult to catch than they used to be.  Some of the problems that we have been experiencing might stem from the fact that these largemouth bass have seen untold numbers of Midwest finesse rigs and presentations for years on end.  Another element might stem from the fact that this reservoir’s managers have for a number of years applied vast quantities of herbicide in an attempt to kill the patches of curly-leaf and Eurasian milfoil. And they did it again a couple of weeks ago. When they do this, it has adversely affected the fishing. Because of the radical changes the herbicides create, the underwater environment seems to be in disarray for months on end, and from our perspectives that has affected the behavior of the largemouth bass and our abilities to find them and catch them.

May 25-26 log

In April of 2015, Larry Vannorthwick of Junction City, Oregon, Jay Vannorthwick of Havensville, Kansas, and Seward Horner of Garnett, Kansas, made arrangements to fish with me on May 27 at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir in northeastern Kansas. They wanted to learn how to use Midwest finesse tactics to catch smallmouth bass.

But to their disappointment, Mother Nature tossed a monkey wrench into their plans by dropping many inches of rain upon the watershed of this reservoir from May 13 to May 25, and its water level was so high on May 27 that it was unfishable.

So instead of pursuing smallmouth bass, we used a variety of Midwest finesse tactics for largemouth bass at a state reservoir. This reservoir was not quite as riled up as the Corps of Engineers’ reservoir. But it was fouled enough that we struggled to catch 30 largemouth bass, and it was not an eye-opening experience for these three anglers.

After that disappointing 2015 endeavor, we made plans to pursue the smallmouth bass at the Corps of Engineers’ reservoir with Midwest finesse tactics in May of 2016 when Larry Vannorthwick would be visiting Seward and brother Jay.  Ultimately, we made arrangements to fish together on May 25 and 26.

On April 26 and 27, Mother Nature’s rainy ways made another mess at the Corps of Engineers’ reservoir, and on our May 25 and 26 outings, the water level was still 1.30 feet above normal and murky. The water clarity ranged from six inches to about 18 inches, which many anglers had found to be problematic throughout much of the month of May.

What’s more, the National Weather Service was predicting that northeastern Kansas would be waylaid by rain, severe thunderstorms, hail, damaging wind, flash floods, and even tornadoes on May 24, 25, and 26. Those predictions were on the mark, and by the morning of May 27, the Corps of Engineers reported that the water level was 4.39 feet above normal and still rising.  But it did not impede Larry, Jay, and Seward’s quest to learn how and where to catch smallmouth bass with Midwest finesse tactics.  To our delight, we ended the outing on May 26 about an hour and a half before the most significant onslaught of rain, wind, lightning, and hail began.

During these two outings, I did not take elaborate notes about where and how we employed the Midwest finesse tactics. So, this log is based on my memory, and I must readily confess that my 76-year-old brain is not up to snuff; therefore, my memory has some holes and flaws that will adversely affect this log.

On May 25, the Weather Underground reported that it was 62 degrees at 3:11 a.m. and 80 degrees at 6:53 p.m. From midnight until 4:53 a.m. it rained and thunderstorms erupted, and from 5:53 a.m. to 4:53 p.m., the sky fluctuated from being clear, partly cloudy, mostly cloudy, and overcast. While we were afloat, the wind angled out of the south and south by southeast at 11 to 24 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.91 at 12:20 a.m., 29.78 at 5:53 a.m., 29.86 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.83 at 3:53 p.m.

On May 26, the Weather Underground reported that it was 72 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 82 degrees at 12:53 p.m. When we were afloat from 9:15 a.m. to 3:03 p.m., the sky fluctuated from being mostly cloudy to partly cloudy, and around 7:30 a.m. some locales about 20 miles north of the reservoir received a massive amount of rain. During the final hour of the outing, we could hear an occasional rumble of thunder. While we fished, the wind angled out of the south and southeast at 11 to 29 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.86 at 12:38 a.m., 29.82 at 5:53 a.m., 29.78 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.75 at 3:03 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing on May 25 might transpire from 1:39 a.m. to 3:39 a.m., 2:04 p.m. to 4:04 p.m., and 7:51 a.m. to 9:51 a.m. We fished from 10:55 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

On May 26, the best fishing should occur from 2:35 a.m. to 4:35 a.m., 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and 8:48 a.m. to 10:48 a.m. We fished from 9:15 a.m. to 3:03 p.m.

We began the May 25 outing in the back of a tertiary feeder-creek arm that is situated about 2 1/2 miles above the dam. We spent the entire outing on the south side of the reservoir trying to hide from the south wind, and when we were exposed to it, we used a drift sock. We ended the outing in a tertiary feeder-creek arm about a quarter of a mile from the dam. The surface temperature fluctuated from 67 to 70 degrees.

Throughout the five hours and 20 minutes that we were afloat, we fished inside four tertiary feeder-creek arms, where we dissected 10 secondary points, portions of six shorelines, and two offshore rock piles. We fished seven main-lake points and segments of three main-lake shorelines. We fished one main-lake hump and two riprap jetties. We caught smallmouth bass at all of those locales, but one offshore rock pile and three of the shorelines inside two of the tertiary feeder-creek arms were the most fruitful.

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Jay Vannorthwick with the first smallmouth bass of the two-day outing. It was caught on his third cast of the day.

All of the areas we fished are shallow. Their underwater terrains consist of gravel, rocks, and boulders. Some areas are extremely flat, and the boat floated in three to four feet of water. At the slightly deeper and flatter locales, the boat floated in six to 12 feet of water.  Some of the smallmouth bass were abiding in two feet of water or less. Some were caught in eight to nine feet of water. And some were caught in 2 1/2 to seven feet of water.  A few were caught at the water’s edge. A few were caught nearly under the boat. Most were caught between the water’s edge and the boat.

In total, we caught 79 smallmouth bass, and we inadvertently caught one largemouth bass, three channel catfish, three white bass, four walleye, and nine crappie.

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Jay Vannorthwick with one of the many smallmouth bass that were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig on May 25.

The most effective Midwest finesse rig was a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed to either a red or an orange 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. A Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-goby Finesse T.R.D. on either a chartreuse or a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig was the second most effective rig. The third most effective one was a shortened Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.  A Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught three smallmouth bass.  A Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-orange Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a black 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig caught one smallmouth bass. A Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse T.R.D. on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig failed to engender a strike.

The smallmouth bass that we caught near the water’s edge engulfed our baits on the initial drop of our rigs. The other ones were caught while we employed  four different retrieves: a slow-swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation, a drag-and-no-shake presentation,  a drag-and-deadstick presentation, and a strolling presentation.

On May 26, we began the outing at the same locale that we began our May 25 one, which was in the back of a tertiary feeder-creek arm that is situated about 2 1/2 miles above the dam. For five hours and 47 minutes, we fished on the south side of the reservoir, plying lairs from the dam to three miles above the dam. We spent the entire outing trying to hide from the south wind, and when we were exposed to it, we used a drift sock. The surface temperature at 9:15 a.m. was 67 degrees.

We fished inside four tertiary feeder-creek arms, where we probed five secondary points, seven shorelines, and one offshore rock pile. We fished 10 main-lake points and portions of six main-lake shorelines, as well as two small main-lake coves. We fished one small rock jetty and a short portion of the dam.

We caught 20 smallmouth bass in the first 40 minutes. But as we fished five main-lake points, two small main-lake coves, one secondary point, and a portion of a shoreline inside a tertiary feeder-creek arm, our catch rate declined dramatically. It took us more than an hour to fish that half-mile stretch of water, and it yielded only nine smallmouth bass. The water clarity in this stretch was murkier than the areas that we fished on May 25.

After we fished a main-lake point that lies about three miles above the dam, we decided to head towards the dam and fish some areas where the water was not as murky.

We spent more time traveling and searching on May 26 than we did on May 25.  We also had three equipment woes that took us about 15 minutes to resolve.

Overall, the fishing was not as fruitful on May 26 as it was on May 25. Four main-lake points failed to yield a strike, as did one shoreline inside a tertiary feeder-creek arm. And we fished several locales that yielded only one smallmouth bass. For instance, the short segment of the dam that we probed yielded only one. But the small rocky jetty yielded eight.

Ultimately, we caught 73 smallmouth bass, and we accidentally caught six white bass, three walleye, three crappie, and two channel catfish. The first 40 minutes and the final 40 minutes were the most fruitful ones of the day.

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Larry Vannorthwick with one of the 72 smallmouth bass that were caught on May 26.

As it was on May 25, all of the areas where we caught smallmouth bass were shallow. Some were extremely flat, and the boat floated in three to five feet of water. At the slightly deeper and flatter locales, the boat floated in six to 14 feet of water.  Some of the smallmouth bass were aiding in about 1 1/2 feet of water. Some were caught in eight to 10 feet of water. And some were caught in two to seven feet of water.  A few were caught at the water’s edge. A couple of the smallmouth bass were caught near and almost under the boat.  Most were caught between the water’s edge and the boat.

The wind was also more bothersome on May 26 than it was on May 25, and at several locales it seemed to adversely affect our casts and presentations.  As our day wore on, the drag-and-a-minor-deadstick retrieve and the strolling presentation was more productive than the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve and the initial-drop presentation.

A Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-goby Finesse T.R.D. affixed to an orange 1/16-ounce Gopher jig was by far the most effective rig. The second most effective one was a shortened Z-Man’s black-blue-flake Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

As we were making our final casts and retrieves of the day, the rumbles of the thunder were getting louder, but Larry Vannorthwick was reluctant to see the outing end, saying he always hates the last cast of the day. So as we were putting the boat on the trailer, he was on the boat dock making casts and retrieves along the edges of the boat ramp and the rocky terrain adjacent to it. As we engaged in our goodbyes, the three of them called it a fruitful and joyful time.  What’s more, Larry said from now on he will be employing Midwest finesse tactics on the smallmouth bass that abide in the rivers that he fishes in Oregon.

May 24 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his May 24 outing. Here is an edited version of his report:

I joined Rick Allen of Dallas for a five-hour smallmouth bass excursion at a Civilian Conservation Corps’ hill-land reservoir in south-central Oklahoma.

The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 69 degrees and the afternoon high was 82 degrees. The sky conditions changed from overcast to partly cloudy. A robust wind angled out of the southeast at 15 to 25 mph.  The barometric pressure measured 29.89 at 10:00 a.m. and 29.84 at 4:00 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would most likely occur between 12:50 a.m. to 2:50 a.m., 7:02 a.m. to 9:02 a.m., and 1:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. Rick and I fished from about 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The water was clear and displayed about six feet of visibility. The water level was about two feet high. The water temperature ranged from 69 degrees to 72 degrees.

We began the outing at a wind-blown main-lake hump that lies in the mid-section of the resevoir’s west tributary arm. Throughout the outing, we were able to neutralize the effects of the brisk wind by utilizing a spot-lock feature on the trolling motor that uses GPS technology to hold the boat in place without the use of an anchor or drift sock. We employed a Z-Man’s Space Guppy Slim SwimZ rigged on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s gold flake Slim SwimZ affixed on a black 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-goby Scented LeechZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s EZ Money Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man’s pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.  We failed to elicit a strike at this hump.

Our second locale was in the northwest region of the reservoir. It consisted of a flat main-lake point at the entrance to a feeder-creek arm and a 100-yard stretch of a main-lake shoreline adjacent to the point. The point and shoreline are adorned with large patches of flooded terrestrial vegetation, fist-size rocks, and a few scattered coffee-table size boulders. The point failed to yield any strikes. We allowed the boat to drift with the wind along the shoreline, and we caught three smallmouth bass and one white bass that were abiding in nine to 13 feet of water. These fish were scattered many yards apart.  The three smallmouth bass were caught on the four-inch EZ Money Finesse WormZ rig that was dragged and deadsticked along the bottom while the boat drifted with the wind in 12 to 15 feet of water. The white bass was caught on a Z-Man’s coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was also dragged along the bottom. We failed to elicit any strikes with the Finesse ShadZ, Scented LeechZ, four-inch Finesse WormZ, gold-flake Slim SwimZ and Space Guppy Slim SwimZ combos.

After we fished the main-lake point and its adjacent main-lake shoreline, we  moved inside a feeder-creek arm just south and west of the main-lake point and main-lake shoreline that we just fished. We probed two secondary points and one cove on the north side of the feeder-creek, and two secondary points along the south side of the feeder-creek arm. The first point on the north side of the feeder-creek arm surrendered three smallmouth bass. The second point yielded three smallmouth bass and one white bass. The cove yielded one smallmouth bass, one largemouth bass, and one large bluegill. The two points on the south side of the feeder creek arm relinquished one smallmouth bass, two largemouth bass, and one spotted bass. All of these fish were caught on a 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. These fish were relating to large submerged boulders in eight to ten feet of water along the wind-swept ends and sides of the secondary points and along the east-side shoreline of the cove. The boat was positioned in 12 to 22 feet of water on the secondary points, and it floated in eight to 13 feet of water inside the cove. We were unable to entice any strikes with the pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ, four-inch EZ Money Finesse WormZ, and  green-pumpkin-goby Scented LeechZ rigs.

Our next spot was a rock- and boulder-strewn main-lake point and main-lake cove situated in the mid-section of the east tributary arm of the reservoir. At the main-lake point, we positioned the boat in 10 to 18 feet of water as we wielded the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rigs. We caught five smallmouth bass, one freshwater drum, and one white bass that were abiding in five to eight feet of water on the wind-blown side of the point. The wind-protected side of the point yielded only one smallmouth bass that was also abiding in five feet of water, and it was attracted to the same 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. We failed to generate any strikes with the pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ, green-pumpkin-goby Scented LeechZ, and four-inch EZ Money Finesse WormZ rigs.

Inside the cove, we fished a submerged roadbed that stretches across the mid-section of the cove. The sides of the roadbed drop off into 38 feet of water, and the top of the roadbed is covered with three to 17 of water. Fist-size rocks and several large boulders line both sides of the roadbed. The boat floated in water as shallow as seven feet and as deep as 35 feet. We continued to wield the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ and pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ rigs on top of the roadbed and along its sides, and we caught one smallmouth bass from eight feet of water from the top of the roadbed with the 2 1/2-inch  ZinkerZ.

Our last spot was a long and steep bluffy shoreline and a flat that is covered with riprap.  They are located inside a feeder-creek arm in the southeast end of the reservoir. We dissected about 200 yards of the bluffy shoreline first, and we caught nine smallmouth bass, one spotted bass, one large green sunfish, and one bluegill that were suspended about eight to 12 feet deep in 21 to 37 feet of water.  Two more smallmouths were caught along the riprap flat in about five to eight feet of water. All of these fish were caught on the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ combo that was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Along the bluff, we swam-glided-and-shook our ZinkerZ rigs in eight to 12 feet of water, which was 13 to 29 feet above the bottom.  On the riprap flat, our ZinkerZ rigs were retrieved near the bottom.

All totaled, we caught 28 smallmouth bass, three largemouth bass, two spotted bass, and we inadvertently caught three large white bass, two bluegills, one freshwater drum, and one green sunfish.

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Rick Allen with one of the 28 smallmouth bass that they caught.

The most fruitful lure was the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which beguiled 28 of the 33 black bass that we caught. The most effective retrieve was the swim-glide-and shake presentation.

May 30 log

Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his Memorial Day endeavors. Here is an edited and condensed version of his brief:

I listened to a weather forecast too closely. Therefore, I slept in on May 30, and the forecast of many inches of rain from tropical storm Bonnie never came.

Consequently, I did not get to the lake until 11:30 a.m. It was 70 degrees and very cloudy, which made for very low-light conditions.

Along the first stretch of a shoreline I fished, I crossed paths with a number of small pods of fry. And quick change of lures lead to steady and predictable action for about an hour and a half with a Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits’ pearl Shad Shape Worm affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. And when I would cast it around any fry activity, I would catch a largemouth bass. Ultimately, this tactic yielded 10 largemouth bass.

After the fry activity ended, I began what I call blind-casting this combo around ultra-shallow objects such as laydowns, scattered pieces of wood, and water primroses. And I caught 10 more largemouth bass.

Plying deeper waters was useless as was my old standby of a wacky-rigged Gary Yamamoto’s Senko. But I did catch two largemouth bass along fences while working with a Reaction Innovations’ Penetration Skinny Dipper affixed Texas-style to a 3/8-ounce slip-sinker rig.

The water clarity was good for this lake; it measured almost 18 inches.  The American water willows and water primroses look to be fully grown.

This was my first trip to this lake since March 19.  I fished six hours. I caught 22 largemouth bass, and none of them weighed more than three pounds.

I suspected I would have caught a lot more if I had been afloat around dawn. Across the years that I have fished this community reservoir, I have never had a fruitful midday outing. For some unknown reason, the largemouth bass in this reservoir are more active and easier to catch during low-light conditions than they are during the middle of the day.

The largemouth bass were extremely shallow, and the 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and Shad Shape Worm was ideal.  I cannot think of any rig that would have caught them better. And when I could execute a skip cast, it was even better.  When the fry were active, a good cast would result in a catch. Aside from being on the James River and catching smallmouth bass that were foraging on dragonflies, this was the most productive outing percentage-wise per cast that I have ever had.

 

 

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