Midwest Finesse Fishing: February 2017

Midwest Finesse Fishing: February 2017

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, with one of the 28 largemouth bass that he and Rick Allen of Dallas caught on Feb. 24.

Our February guide to Midwest finesse fishing contains 28 logs and 16,861 words that explained how, when, and where Midwest finesse anglers fished in February.

 Much of February was unseasonably warm in northeastern Kansas, northwestern Missouri, and central Indiana, as well as several other locales across the nation. For instance, area thermometers climbed to 82 degrees around Lawrence, Kansas, on Feb. 22, and on that date, the surface temperature at one of northeastern Kansas' community reservoirs climbed to 50 degrees. (What's more, it was reported by Bill Babler of Blue Eye, Missouri, that the surface temperature at one of the areas that he fished at Table Rock Lake, Missouri, on Feb. 22 hit 60 degrees, and across his 40 years of fishing Table Rock, he has never seen 60-degree surface temperature in February.) Consequently, our traditional wintertime locales and methods bore little to no fruit, and in our eyes and minds, the largemouth bass were often so inscrutable that we struggled and struggled to find and catch a few of them.

 This guide features the wintertime endeavors of Rick Allen of Dallas; Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas; Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas; Paul Finn of Olathe, Kansas, Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri; Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas; Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas; Pat Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas; Casey Kidder of Topeka, Kansas; Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas; John Thomas of Denton, Texas; Brain Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, as well as my northeastern Kansas logs. 

 We are grateful, indeed, that Steve Reideler proof read each log and made them more readable and understandable.

Feb. 1 log

On Feb. 1, I fished one of the many community reservoirs that grace the urban landscapes of northeastern Kansas. And this one is the most heavily fished one of them all.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 34 degrees at 7:53 a.m. and 43 degrees at 12:53 p.m. The wind angled from the north, north by northeast, and northeast at 8 to 23 mph. It was sunny. The barometric pressure was 30.07 at 12:53 a.m., 30.14 at 5:53 a.m., 30.25 at 11:53, and 30.27 at 2:53 p.m.

The water level was several inches above normal.  The surface temperature ranged from 38 to 39 degrees. The water exhibited eight to 10 feet of visibility.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would transpire from to 1:42 a.m. to 3:42 a.m., 2:07 p.m. to 4:07 p.m., and 7:55 a.m. to 9:55 a.m.  I launched the boat at 10:47 a.m., and I was afloat for three hours and 53 minutes.

David Harrison of Lawrence, Kansas, and I spent 91 minutes fishing this reservoir on Jan. 27, and we failed to elicit a strike, which provoked us to leave and fish another community reservoir, where we eked out 27 largemouth bass  in 139 minutes. And on my Feb. 1 outing, I fished for 233 minutes without garnering a strike.  But during a 79-minute blitzkrieg, I caught 51 largemouth bass.

These largemouth bass were located in the back portions of a secondary feeder-creek arm. They were abiding in six to 10 feet of water along a 100-foot stretch of a shoreline that is adjacent to this feeder-creek arm's shallow-water and silt-laden flat. This shoreline possesses a 45-degree slope.  Portions of this flat and shoreline are embellished with a few scrawny and scattered patches of Eurasian milfoil and a few other kinds of submerged aquatic vegetation, which I could not identify when I examined this area with an underwater camera.  Before it becomes silt-laden, the underwater terrain of the shoreline consists of some rocks and boulders, and the water's edge is littered with several laydowns and some patches of winter-dead American water willows. Some of the laydowns stretch into 10 feet of water.

I caught one of the largemouth bass on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man Fishing Products' Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head jig.  I caught five of them on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. I caught 13 largemouth bass on a Z-Man's prototype green-pumpkin finesse creature bait that was affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. And I caught 39 largemouth bass on a slightly bigger Z-Man's prototype green-pumpkin finesse creature bait that was affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

These two prototypes are similar to Chuck Woods' great Puddle Jumper, which was made by Mar-Lynn Lure Company of Blue Springs, Missouri, and it used to be a staple for some Midwest finesse anglers in the 1970s.  They are also a miniaturized version of Z-Man's Boar HogZ.

I retrieved the ZinkerZ rigs and prototype rigs with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

Three of the 51 largemouth bass were caught adjacent to a laydown, but the other 48 were situated from 10 feet to 90 feet from a laydown.

On ten consecutive casts and retrieves, I caught a largemouth bass. There were spells when I caught two, then three, and then four largemouth bass in a row.  I have never in all of my 77 years witnessed such an onslaught.

I fished this 100-foot stretch of water twice. After the first session, I spent some time examining it with an underwater camera, and I saw several largemouth bass milling about, which was the first time that I had ever seen largemouth bass with an underwater camera in northeastern Kansas' flatland reservoirs.

After I examined it with the underwater camera, I searched in vain to find another bountiful largemouth bass lair in this feeder-creek.  I also failed to find one in the back portions of another secondary feeder-creek arm and a tertiary feeder-creek arm.

During my first go around, I fished this stretch of water for 34 minutes, and I caught 23 largemouth bass.  I fished it for 45 minutes the second time, and I caught 27 largemouth bass.

My daily piscatorial mission is to catch 25 largemouth bass or smallmouth bass an hour, and I do not care what size they are. I am as pleased to catch a 10-inch largemouth bass as I am to catch an 18-incher.  But I must confess that I was wowie-zowied by the size of many of the specimens that I caught along this 100-yard stretch of water. In fact, according to my best recollections, I have never caught so many 2 1/2- to nearly four-pounders in an outing.

It was just one of those serendipitous events that fell into my lap. I do not possess piscatorial savvy to create catches like that.  So, I readily admit that it would have been a totally bankrupt outing if I had not by happenstance somehow crossed paths with this massive aggregation of largemouth bass. And as I ponder about it, I have no idea how I happened to cross paths with them.  Across the decades that I have fished this reservoir and this particular 100-stretch of water, I suspect that until this bonanza that I had caught a total of about 25 largemouth bass. Thus, in my mind, it is normally a lackluster spot, and consequently, I do not fish it very often. But for some unknown reason, I fished it on Feb. 1, and it yielded a bonanza. It is another one of those mysteries of life.

Feb. 1 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 1 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

John Thomas of Denton and I fished at a heavily fished U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' hill-land reservoir in north-central Texas on Jan. 30. We spent four hours in a small feeder-creek arm located on the north end of the reservoir struggling to catch 12 black bass.

On Feb. 1, many of the waterways in north-central Texas were still muddy from a couple of mid-January thunderstorms.  Therefore, Rick Allen of Dallas and I decided to return to the one Corps' reservoir where the water conditions are improving. Our goal was to locate a large aggregation or two of black bass in the same small feeder creek that John Thomas and I fished on Jan. 30.

It was a delightful and picturesque day for February. The sun shone brightly in a powder-blue sky. The morning low temperature was 40 degrees and the afternoon high temperature reached 75 degrees. The average low temperature for Feb. 1 in north-central Texas is 33 degrees and the average high temperature is 54 degrees. The wind was mild-mannered out of the southwest and northwest at 5 to 7 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.90 at 11:53 a.m. and 29.87 at 3:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the most productive fishing periods would occur from 1:48 a.m. to 3:48 a.m., 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., and 2:13 p.m. to 4:13 p.m. Rick and I were afloat from about noon to 4:00 p.m.

We started fishing about 50 yards inside the mouth of the feeder creek and fished our way upstream. This endeavor encompassed about 1 1/2 miles and  ended where it became too shallow to traverse. The last half mile of this creek was new territory for us to explore and fish, and it was a challenge to maneuver the boat over and around many shallow-water obstacles such as gravel bars and large laydowns that were blocking our way.

The shorelines in the lower and middle sections of the creek are fairly flat, and they become steeper and bluff-like in the upper reaches. The underwater terrain changes from clay and gravel in the lower and middle sections to a hard rock bottom with submerged rock ledges in the upper end. Scores of flooded bushes, submerged brush piles, partially-submerged laydowns, and a few submerged stumps adorn a goodly amount of the shorelines.

The water in this creek has cleared significantly during the past couple of weeks. On this outing, it exhibited about 1 1/2 feet to three feet of visibility.  The surface temperature varied from 60 to 67 degrees. The surface temperature ranged between 53 and 64 degrees on Jan. 30. According to the Texas Water Development Board, the water level was 0.07 feet above normal pool.

In our eyes, it was an average outing. We caught a bass here and there, but we failed to locate any significant concentrations of black bass. In total, we caught 13 largemouth bass and three spotted bass in four hours. We accidentally caught one large bluegill.

Steve Reideler with one of the largemouth bass that they caught.

For a short spell, we searched for pre-spawn white bass in the deeper sections of the creek, but we hooked only one that was able to pull free before we could land it.

Most of the black bass were milling about in two to four feet of water and were abiding next to the deepest sides and ends of the larger partially-submerged laydowns. Four of the black bass were caught in the upper reaches of the creek in two to three feet of water, and they were in close proximity to the main creek channel or next to a laydown that was close to the main creek channel. We failed to locate any bass that were associated with any of the submerged stumps, flooded bushes, or submerged brush piles.

A Z-Man's 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught 11 largemouth bass, two spotted bass, and the large bluegill. A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's coppertreuse ZinkerZ on a weedless chartreuse 1/16-ounce  Bass Pro Shops ball-head jig caught two largemouth bass. One spotted bass was caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ attached to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

We experimented with all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves, but the only effective presentation was a slow swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve.

Rick and I were not the only ones having a difficult day. We spoke to several bass anglers and a crappie angler during our outing. Three bass anglers in one boat who were leaving told us they had caught three largemouth bass. Two other bass anglers in another boat reported that they had caught three small bass. One bass angler in a third boat said that he had enticed only one strike and failed to hook the fish.  A crappie angler was fishing from the shoreline and mentioned that he had caught one crappie.

We suspect that some of our fishing woes may revolve around the fact that there are no threadfin shad migrating  into any of the feeder creeks, and the presence of threadfin shad is a key element for us to locate and catch significant numbers of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, and white bass in these Corps' reservoirs.

Feb. 5 log

Casey Kidder of Topeka, Kansas, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 5 outing to one of northeastern Kansas' many community reservoirs.

Here is an edited version of his brief:

We found one short section of a shoreline in the back of a feeder-creek arm loaded with largemouth bass. They were suspended well above the bottom, and a jerkbait was more effective than our Midwest finesse rigs.

We caught 27 largemouth bass in about four hours. Twenty of them were caught on a  jerkbait.  Seven of them were caught on a Z-Man's The Deal Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a 1/16-ounce  North Metro Bass Academy mushroom-head jig,  a Z-Man's Canada Craw Hula StickZ affixed to a 1/16-ounce mushroom-head jig, and a 1/8-ounce Z-Man's  black/blue ShroomZ Micro  Finesse Jig with a black Z-Man's Scented LeechZ as a trailer. The majority of these largemouth bass were caught along the same shoreline.

We fished some other locales that are normally productive wintertime areas, and we elicited only a couple bites.

The surface temperature was 39 degrees. The water clarity was very good. I could see some winter-killed gizzard shad lying on the bottom in six feet of water at one of the areas that we fished.  The water was clear enough that we could see a goodly number of the strikes that we elicited on a jerkbait.

 Feb. 7 log

The National Weather Service predicted that area thermometers would climb to 62 degrees on Feb. 7, and Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I dressed according to that forecast when we ventured to one of the many community reservoirs that stipple the exurban landscapes of northeastern Kansas.   But to our chagrin, the NWS forecasters missed the mark by 16 degrees, and the chill of the wind penetrated into many of our aged bones. In short, it was not a delightful time to be afloat in northeastern Kansas, and we were the only anglers afloat.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 36 degrees at 3:52 a.m., 46 degrees at 11:52 a.m., and 44 degrees at 12:52 p.m.  The wind chill hovered around the mid-30s. The wind angled out of the west by southwest, northwest, west, west by northwest, and north at 8 to 26 mph. The sky fluctuated from being clear to mostly cloudy to partly cloudy to overcast. The barometric pressure was 29.50 at 12:52 a.m., 29.56 at 5:52 a.m., 29.72 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.75 at 2:52 p.m.

The water level was normal.  The surface temperature ranged from 39 degrees to 41 degrees.  The water clarity exhibited slightly more than five feet of visibility.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 7:01 a.m. to 9:01 a.m., 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and 12:47 a.m. to 2:47 a.m. We fished from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

We spent the entire outing hiding from the wind on a massive flat in the backend of one of this reservoir's feeder-creek arms. We searched for and focused on patches of curly-leaf pondweed that grace this flat. These patches are scattered across an area that is the size of about six football fields. And we confined our focus along an area the size of about three football fields.  We probed water as shallow as two feet and as deep as about eight feet.

Within the first two minutes, we caught one largemouth bass.  Then 23 minutes elapsed before we caught another one, and immediately after we caught that second largemouth bass, we caught three more in about six minutes. During the next 25 minutes, we struggled to catch two largemouth bass.

Around 11:20 a.m., we crossed paths with a significant mother lode of largemouth bass that were accompanied by some hefty black crappie. And off and on for the next 193 minutes, we dissected a series of patches of curly-leaf pondweed that encompassed this area that is about 12 yards wide and 60 yards long, and we dissected it from a variety of angles. The depth of the water ranged from three feet to 6 1/2 feet. It yielded 26 largemouth bass and eight crappie. Some of the largemouth bass were extracted out of three feet of water; some were extracted out of 6 1/2 feet of water; some the largemouth bass that we caught were abiding between the depths of three and 6 1/2 feet of water.

During those 193-minutes, we also fished many other yards of this massive flat that were fruitless. But one locale that was about 15 feet wide and 40 feet long yielded seven largemouth bass, but we had to dissect it four times to catch those seven. Another area yielded two largemouth bass. And we caught three largemouth bass that were scattered hither and yon across this vast expanse of water.

During the last two hours of this outing, Rick and I spent a lot of time fishing the way we fished back in the 1970s by wielding a Chuck Woods' classic three-inch root-beer-glitter Puddle Jumper.

In sum, we caught 46 largemouth bass and inadvertently caught eight crappie.  One largemouth bass was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's pearl ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. One largemouth bass was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.  One largemouth bass was caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Fifteen largemouth bass were caught on a three-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin prototype finesse-size creature bait affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Twenty-eight largemouth bass were caught on the three-inch root-beer-glitter Puddle Jumper affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

The Z-Man's prototype finesse-size creature bait and the Puddle Jumper are somewhat similar, which is why we opted to use the Puddle Jumper. We have only one prototype to work with, and we did not want to over use it and take a chance of losing it.

The Puddle Jumper is at the top of the photograph, and Z-Man's prototype finesse creature bait is at the bottom.

The most effective retrieve was a drag-and-deadstick presentation. Some of the deadsticking routines encompassed six to eight seconds. Three largemouth bass were caught on the initial drop. A few were caught when we employed a swim-glide-and'“subtle-shake retrieve.  The strikes were extremely subtle; in fact, it seemed as if many of the largemouth bass caught us rather than we catching them.

One of the 46 largemouth bass that we caught.

It was a chore finding the whereabouts of the largemouth bass as we made multiple crisscrosses of this massive flat dragging and strolling our Midwest finesse presentations. We had three 20-minute or more spells when we failed to elicit a strike, including the final 20 minutes that we were afloat.

Endnotes to this  Feb. 7 log

(1) For more information about Chuck Woods and the Puddle Jumper, please see the Midwest Finesse columns at these links: www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/the-puddle-jumper-by-chuck-woods/; www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/legends-of-the-heartland/; http://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/a-short-history-of-midwest-finesse-fishing-for-black-bass-1955-2013/.

(2) Here is a link to the Puddle Jumper's website: http://puddlejumperlures.com/product-category/traditional-puddle-jumpers/page/2/.

Feb. 7 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 7 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

From 12:40 p.m. to 4:35 p.m., Rick Allen of Dallas and I fished at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' hill-land reservoir in north-central Texas.

It was another delightful day to be on the water. The morning low temperature was a mild 60 degrees, and during the afternoon, it warmed up quickly to 79 degrees. The sun was radiant in the partly-clouded sky. At 12:02 p.m., the barometric pressure measured 30.01 and dropped to 29.94 by 4:02 p.m. The wind quartered out of the northwest at 10 to 15 mph.

Since January 15, the black bass fishing has been trying in north-central Texas. For instance, John Thomas of Denton and I spent four hours fishing at this reservoir on Feb. 1, and we could barely scrounge up 12 black bass. And on Feb. 6, I visited a community reservoir located in a suburb northwest of Dallas. The fishing was so slow and boring that I could tolerate it for only three hours. And after catching only eight largemouth bass during those three hours, I did not have the wherewithal to post a log about it on FNN. This Feb. 7 outing wasn't much of an improvement.

According to In-Fisherman's solunar calendar, the best fishing periods for Feb. 7 would take place from 12:54 a.m. to 2:54 a.m., 7:08 a.m. to 9:08 a.m., and 7:38 p.m. to 9:38 p.m.When we arrived at the boat ramp, we noticed that the water in the vicinity of the boat ramp was muddy with less than a foot of visibility. The water temperature was 54 degrees.

When we arrived at the boat ramp, we noticed that the water in the vicinity of the boat ramp was muddy with less than a foot of visibility. The water temperature was 54 degrees.

We ventured to a small and traditionally fruitful feeder-creek arm that lies along the north end of the reservoir. During the past three weeks, this feeder-creek has had the clearest and warmest water that we have found in any of the many waterways that stipple the north-central Texas countryside. Rick and I shared this creek with eight bass anglers in four boats and two bank anglers fishing for crappie. They reported that none of them had caught more than two black bass.

The water just inside this feeder creek was muddy and exhibited about six inches of visibility. The water temperature was 60 degrees. In the middle riverine section of this creek, the water temperature was 64 degrees and displayed about 1 1/2 feet of clarity. In the upper reaches of the creek, the water was stained with about 2 1/2 to three feet of visibility. The water temperature was 67 degrees.

This creek's underwater terrain is comprised of clay, gravel, and a few shallow rock ledges. The boat floated in four to 12 feet of water.

We spent the first three hours fishing in the middle of the riverine portion of the creek and we fished our way about a mile upstream. The fishing was as slow and difficult as it was on Feb. 1, and we struggled to catch seven largemouth bass and one spotted bass. We inadvertently caught four white crappie, and one large bluegill.

We decided to fish the last hour of this outing at the mouth of the creek, where we caught three largemouth bass. We were surprised to see a couple of largemouth bass foraging on small threadfin shad along the surface next to some partially-flooded terrestrial vegetation in less than three feet of water. This was the first surface-feeding activity that we have seen this year, and we caught one of those largemouth bass.

In sum, we had difficulty catching 11 black bass in three hours and 55 minutes. They were scattered about and many yards apart from each other. All of them were caught in four to six feet of water.

The most fruitful spots were partially-submerged laydowns that extended from the shoreline out toward the middle of the creek. The laydowns located on steeper shorelines were more fruitful than those situated on flat and shallow shorelines. We failed to catch a bass from any of the shallow rock ledges.

We caught six black bass on a Z-Man's 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rigged on either a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Bass Pro Shops weedless ball-head jig.  A brown 1/16-ounce Gopher jig dressed with a Z-Man's Space Guppy Slim SwimZ caught two bass. A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's watermelon-red ZinkerZ rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught two largemouth bass. A Z-Man's grudgeon CrusteaZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig caught one largemouth bass.

The ZinkerZ and CrusteaZ rigs were presented with a slow swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve. The Slim SwimZ combo was retrieved with a slow and steady swimming retrieve.

Our most bountiful winter outing in 2017 occurred at this Corps' reservoir on Jan. 8, when Rick and I caught 30 black bass in the riverine portions of this creek in three hours and 48 minutes. But since then, we have noticed a significant decline in our catch rates. We suspect that our declining catch rates in this feeder creek may be attributed to the increase in angler predation.

Feb. 10 log

Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, and I ventured on Feb. 10 to a northwestern Missouri community reservoir that lies in the northern suburbs of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 35 degrees at 12:54 a.m. and 69 degrees at 3:54 p.m. The wind angled out of the south, south by southwest, and southwest at 9 to 29 mph. It was sunny. The barometric pressure was 30.04 at 12:54 a.m., 29.88 at 5:54 a.m., 29.82 at 11:54 a.m., and 29.74 at 3:54 p.m.

The water level was normal.  The water exhibited more than six feet of visibility, but around the wind-blown areas, the visibility diminished to 24 inches. The surface temperature ranged from 37 to 38 degrees, and two small areas in the back portions of two  of the reservoir's feeder-creek arms were covered with a thin sheet of ice.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 9:35 a.m. to 11:35 a.m., 10:02 p.m. to 12:02 a.m., and 3:22 a.m. to 5:22 a.m. We fished from 10:16 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

While we were afloat, we had no idea that area thermometers were climbing into the high 60s. At times, the wind and cold water chilled us nearly to the bone. What's more, as we battled the cold wind, we struggled to catch 12 largemouth bass and two rainbow trout.

We attempted to dissect four main-lake areas, but the wind flummoxed those endeavors.  Therefore, we spent most of this five-hour-and-14-minute ordeal in the backs of seven wind-sheltered secondary and tertiary feeder-creek arms.

Inside the seven feeder-creek arms that we fished, we found one 150-foot area that yielded five largemouth bass and a 60-foot area that yielded two largemouth bass. The other five largemouth bass were caught hither and yon.

The area that garnered the five largemouth bass lies along a flat near the back of a secondary feeder-creek arm.  The boat floated in 10 to 12 feet of water. And we were casting and retrieving a Z-Man's California craw Hula StickZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's PB&J ZinkerZ affixed to a black 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig in four to seven feet of water. These five largemouth bass were caught while we were employing a drag-and-slight-deadstick retrieve.

Bob Gum with one of the largemouth bass that he caught on a Z-Man's California craw Hula StickZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

We caught two largemouth bass near the back of a tertiary feeder-creek arm. They were abiding in about five feet of water along a relatively flat shoreline. One was caught on the Z-Man's California craw Hula StickZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve. The second one was caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin prototype finesse creature bait affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a drag-and-subtle-shake retrieve.

The other five largemouth bass were caught along a hodgepodge of five rocky and boulder-laden shorelines inside five feeder-creek arms.  Three of them were caught in three to five feet of water on the Z-Man's California craw Hula StickZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig that was strolled behind the boat with a drag-and-deadstick presentation. Two were caught in about four feet of water on the Hula StickZ rig with a drag-and-deadstick presentation.

DSCN1490

This reservoir used to be graced with bountiful patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, but those patches disappeared several years ago, and since then the cold-water largemouth bass fishing has become problematic.

Across the many years that we have fished the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri, we have found that patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, such as coontail and curly-leaf pondweed, significantly enhance our abilities to find and catch largemouth bass in ice-cold water.  Without those patches of aquatic vegetation to focus upon and dissect, our wintertime fishing becomes a random endeavor, and that was what happened to us on this Feb. 10 affair. The three of us had not searched for the largemouth bass in this reservoir since most of the ice melted around the third weekend in January, and to find the largemouth bass' whereabouts, we suspect that it will take another outing or two that is not blemished with a brisk wind.  In short, the combination of wind and no submerged aquatic vegetation is the wintertime anathema for Midwest finesse anglers and their tactics.

Feb. 11 log

Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri have recently suffered through some woebegone days.

For instance, Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, tried to fish a state reservoir in northeastern Kansas on Feb. 11, but it was afflicted with a terrible euglena bloom, which is a protist, and it is similar to an algae bloom. The water clarity was less than 12 inches. After he fished a flat inside a tertiary feeder-creek with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a red  1/16-ounce  Gopher jig from  8:00 a.m. to 8:20 a.m. without eliciting a strike,  he dishearteningly put his boat on the trailer and made the long drive with two other anglers to one of northeastern Kansas' power-plant reservoirs. They fished from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Ultimately, Gum and his two partners tangled with a combination of 23 largemouth bass and smallmouth bass along the shorelines inside the warm-water outlet. This area was cluttered with scores of boats and anglers.  The surface temperature was 69 degrees. Gum and his partners caught these 23 black bass on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 1/2-inch white-blue-flake grub affixed to a 1/8-ounce jig.  These black bass were caught in one to four feet of water, and they engulfed the ZinkerZ rigs on the initial drop. The grub was presented with a swimming retrieve. They fished several locales outside of the warm-water area, where the surface temperature was 46 to 47 degrees, and they failed to elicit a strike.

Likewise, Paul Finn of Olathe, Kansas, reported that he and his son spent four hour fishing one northeastern Kansas' community reservoirs on Feb. 11, and it was affected with a similar affliction of euglena. Finn and his son had only one bite, and it was an eight-inch largemouth bass, which was caught by dragging a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. TubeZ along the dam.  He reported that we "fished all my prime spots and not another bite. We threw all kinds of colors of Z-Man's 2 1/2-inch  ZinkerZs,  four-inch Finesse WormZs,  and no other bites. I am beginning to think I have lost my touch." (Lucas Kowalewski is the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism's fisheries biologist who oversee this reservoir, and on Feb. 13 he examined the water and found no evidence of euglena.)

Moreover, Casey Kidder of Topeka, Kansas, fished one of northeastern Kansas' community reservoirs on Feb. 11. He reported that the surface temperature ranged from 36 to 38 degrees. The water clarity was excellent. But he never had a bite.  He concluded:  "We were a bit befuddled, to say the least. At least we have the snow moon and the comet to blame!"

Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, reported that he and his son fished a community reservoir that lies is the northern suburbs of the Kansas City metropolitan area on Feb. 11, and they struggled and struggled for hours on end to catch three largemouth bass.

Feb. 11 log

Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, filed a report about his Feb. 11 outing, which included  his observations about wintertime largemouth bass in central Indiana.

Here is an edited version of his report:

I have not had much chance to get out fishing this winter. Our weather has been cold and warm, creating multiple freeze-and-thaw cycles that have been tough to time on a working man's schedule.

In your Jan. 23 log, you wrote: "When the ice melted on Jan. 20, it was the second time that we have had an ice-off phenomenon this winter. And in winter's past, we have found for some unknown reason that multiple ice-offs are not as bountiful as single ice-offs for catching largemouth bass on the shallow flats in the backs of the feeder-creek arms. Perhaps that is why this outing was so lackluster."

I would concur with that observation, and it takes place in the flatland reservoirs in Indiana. The pre-ice bite is usually very good here, but once the reservoirs freeze solid for the first time, it seems to both move the fish into their wintering lairs, as well as change their nature to a more passive mood.

Additionally, your Feb. 10 log observation stated: "Across the many years that we have fished the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri, we have found that patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, such as coontail and curly-leaf pondweed, significantly enhance our abilities to find and catch largemouth bass in ice-cold water.  Without those patches of aquatic vegetation to focus upon and dissect, our wintertime fishing becomes a random endeavor, and that was what happened to us on this Feb. 10 affair. The three of us had not searched for the largemouth bass in this reservoir since most of the ice melted around the third weekend in January, and to find the largemouth bass' whereabouts, we suspect that it will take another outing or two that is not blemished with a brisk wind.  In short, the combination of wind and no submerged aquatic vegetation is the wintertime anathema for Midwest finesse anglers and their tactics."

Again, I would concur with this observation as the majority of our flatland impoundments in Indiana do not have submerged vegetation, and our wintertime largemouth bass fishing is always a more modest affair compared to the many logs you have posted with such stellar numbers of fish when you can thoroughly work the large patches of vegetation found in the back of your creek arms.

With all that said, I was able to get afloat on Feb. 11 from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. It was aimed more at running the boat so it does not sit idle for another month in the garage. But I also wanted to try and catch a few largemouth bass. In sum, I caught half a dozen largemouth bass on a black marabou jig in three to 10 feet of water.

Waldman's black marabou jig.

The surface temperature was 39 degrees, and our water exhibited a light stain with about two feet of visibility. Our extended forecast calls for a very nice weekend for mid-February.  So, I am hoping to sneak out for a few more hours on at least one of the days.

Feb. 13 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Nov. 13 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

Feb. 13 was a gray and overcast day. Scattered showers were erupting here and there across the northern sections of Denton.  Some meteorologists were forecasting colder temperatures and thunderstorms during the evening hours of Feb. 13, and the cold rain would continue throughout the day on Feb. 14 and into the early morning hours of Feb. 15.  I opted to conduct a solo afternoon bank-walking excursion at a community reservoir located in a northwest Dallas suburb. On Feb. 6, I fished this impoundment for three hours, and it yielded only four largemouth bass.

The morning low temperature on Feb. 13 was 44 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 61 degrees. The wind was steady at 14 mph out of the northeast. The barometric pressure was 30.24 at 11:00 a.m. and 30.08 at 4:00 p.m.

The water level was normal. The water was stained and exhibited about 1 1/2 to two feet of visibility. The water temperature was 60 degrees, and it was 55 degrees on Feb. 6.In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated the most fruitful fishing periods would occur between 6:10 a.m. and 8:10 a.m., 12:21 p.m. to 2:21 p.m., and 11:58 p.m. to 1:58 a.m. I fished from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated the most fruitful fishing periods would occur between 6:10 a.m. and 8:10 a.m., 12:21 p.m. to 2:21 p.m., and 11:58 p.m. to 1:58 a.m. I fished from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

I began by fishing the north end of the reservoir. This area encompasses a large mud flat that is festooned with tall stands of cattails. The east end of this flat is endowed with a small creek. The bottom of the creek is rock-laden and one side of the creek is lined with tall stands of cattails. I caught four largemouth bass around a shallow area of a relatively deep pool in the upper end of this small creek. They were caught in two feet of water on a modified 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Junebug FattyZ tube affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. It was retrieved with a slow drag-and-deadstick presentation.

After I fished the creek, I moved to the east shoreline and worked my way southward toward the dam. The east shoreline is steep and curved. A broad and steep sand and gravel point is situated in the mid-section of this shoreline. About 60 feet north of this point lies a long, clay and gravel point that extends westward toward the middle of the reservoir.

I caught three largemouth bass that were relating to the south side of the long clay and gravel point on the north end of the shoreline. These largemouth bass were abiding in four to six feet of water. They were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rigged on a brown 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

The broad middle point relinquished six largemouth bass. Five largemouth bass were caught on the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig and one was caught on the modified 2 1/2-inch Junebug FattyZ tube rig. The ZinkerZ rig was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and the FattyZ tube rig was retrieved with a slow hop-and-bounce presentation. These six bass were caught in five feet of water.

One largemouth bass was caught in five feet of water next to a sand and gravel ledge along the south end of this shoreline. It was caught on the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ combo with a swim-glide-and-shake action.

After I finished fishing the east shoreline, I plied the smooth concrete-slab dam that forms the southern perimeter of the reservoir, and I failed to elicit any strikes.

From the dam, I worked my way northward along the west side of the reservoir. The west shoreline is steep and its underwater terrain consists of sand and gravel.  A fishing pier is positioned along the middle section of this shoreline. A thin wall of hydrilla runs underneath the fishing pier. This wall of hydrilla is about five feet wide and 35 feet long, and it parallels the shoreline in about eight feet of water.  One gravel and sand tertiary point lies about 50 feet south of the fishing pier. Two other tertiary points are located about 30 yards north of the pier. A shallow ditch also adorns the northern end of this shoreline and cuts across the large mud flat on the north end of the reservoir.

The sandy tertiary point south of the fishing pier surrendered three largemouth bass.  Two were caught on the 2 1/2-inch Junebug FattyZ tube combo and hop-and-bounce presentation. One was caught on the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig and slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. These three bass were caught just off the tip of the point in five feet of water.

The steep sand and gravel shoreline adjacent to the fishing pier yielded three largemouth bass. They were relating to the submerged wall of hydrilla in about eight feet of water. They were caught on the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ, which was presented in a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

I caught one largemouth bass in five feet of water from the middle of the ditch on the northeast end of the reservoir. This largemouth was caught on the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ and swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

All told, the fishing at this impoundment had improved since Feb. 6.  I caught 21 largemouth bass in four hours. Three other bass were able to liberate themselves before they came to hand.

Fourteen largemouth bass were caught on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ combo and slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Seven largemouths were caught on the modified 2 1/2-inch Junebug fattyZ tube rig and hop-and-bounce presentation.

We are a bit concerned that the approaching cold rainstorms that are forecast to drench the Dallas and Ft. Worth metropolitan areas will have a negative effect on the water conditions and black bass fishing. Many of the reservoirs in north-central Texas have not yet returned to normal after several severe thunderstorms hit this part of Texas on Jan. 15.  The last thing these reservoirs need is more muddy runoff.

Feb. 14 log

On Feb. 11, it was noted in the brief reports by Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, Paul Finn of Olathe, Kansas, Casey Kidder of Topeka, Kansas, and Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, that the largemouth bass fishing has been woeful at several of the community and state reservoirs that grace northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri. And I endured some more manifestations of those woes during the three hours and 14 minutes that I fished at one of our community reservoirs in northeastern Kansas on St. Valentine's Day.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 29 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 55 degrees at 3:52 p.m. The wind angled out of the north, northwest, and west at 3 to 15 mph.  The sun shone through thin layers of clouds. The barometric pressure was 30.09 at 12:52 a.m., 30.06 at 5:52 a.m., 30.05 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.00 at 2:52 p.m.

The water level was normal.  The surface temperature ranged from 40 to 41 degrees.  The water exhibited four to nearly six feet of visibility.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would transpire from 12:43 a.m. to 2:43 a.m., 1:06 p.m. to 3:06 p.m., and 6:55 a.m. to 8:55 a.m. I fished from 11:30 a.m. to 2:44 p.m.

Traditionally, we can find and catch a significant number of largemouth bass milling about on the flats in three to seven feet of water in the back portions of this reservoir's feeder-creek arms. For instance, seven days ago Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I caught 46 largemouth bass in four hours on one of the flats in the back of one of this reservoir's feeder-creek arms. And on Feb. 14, 2014, I caught 4o largemouth bass on this flat in four hours and 10 minutes.

This time around, I spent the entire outing either strolling or employing a drag-and-deadstick presentation with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig,  a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse  1/32-ounce Gopher jig,  a three-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin prototype creature bait affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a three-inch root-beer-glitter Puddle Jumper affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

I used these baits and presentations along portions of the shorelines and across the flats inside two feeder-creek arms.  And to my disappointment, I struggled to catch six largemouth bass on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and two largemouth bass on a three-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin prototype creature bait affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

These largemouth bass were extracted out of five to seven feet of water. Two of them were caught on the drag-and-deadstick presentation, and six of them were caught while I was strolling. I failed to hook one strike with the three-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin prototype creature bait affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and I failed to land a largemouth bass that I hooked on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

I crossed paths with another bass angler who was employing a jerkbait and a skirted jig with a trailer.  He reported that he had caught one largemouth bass on his skirted jig and trailer.

Feb. 15 log

On my St.Valentine's Day outing at a northeastern Kansas community reservoir, I fished for three hours and 14 minutes, and I struggled horrendously to catch eight largemouth bass.

During my outing on Feb. 15 at another northeastern Kansas community reservoir, I caught 30 largemouth bass during the first 59 minutes that I was afloat, and five of those were caught in the first five minutes. But after tangling with that mother lode, I was afloat for another 121 minutes, and to my dismay, I caught only one largemouth bass.

The largemouth bass fishing in northeastern Kansas can be either feast or famine this time of the year.  On our wintertime outings, we search for groups of largemouth bass that abide upon the shallow-water flats in the backs of the feeder-creek arms. When we find a group, we can at times catch 25 or more of them in an hour.  We think that the largemouth bass that inhabit these shallow flats are pelagic. Some of these flats are the size of six or seven football fields, and as a group of largemouth bass meanders around a massive flat, there is no telling where it will be from day to day or even hour to hour.  We have found across the years that the best flats are endowed with submerged aquatic vegetation, such as coontail, curly-leaf pondweed, or Eurasian milfoil. Therefore, part of our searching focuses upon patches of vegetation, but there can be many square yards of vegetation to examine, and most of those patches are devoid of wintertime largemouth bass. (It is interesting to note that the 3o of the 31 largemouth bass that I caught on Feb. 15 were not relating to a patch of vegetation, but there were plenty of patches nearby.)

The Weather Underground reported that it was 28 degrees at 7:53 a.m. and 53 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the northwest, west, west by northwest, and south at 4 to 10 mph. The sky was cloudless. The barometric pressure was 30.08 at 12:53 a.m., 30.12 at 5:53 a.m., 30.15 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.07 at 2:53 p.m.

The water level looked to be normal.  The surface temperature ranged from 40 to 41 degrees. The water clarity exhibited more than eight feet of visibility at some locales.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 1:35 a.m. to 3:35 a.m., 1:57 p.m. to 3:57 p.m., and 7:46 a.m. to 9:46 a.m. I was afloat from noon to 3:00 p.m.

I fished portions of the shallow-water flats in the backs of three feeder-creek arms. In these arms, I also fished short sections of the shorelines adjacent to the flats. These shorelines are rock-laden, and they are also lined with some patches of winter-dead American water willows and submerged aquatic vegetation. There are patches of submerged aquatic vegetation gracing parts of these flats and its shorelines. Some of the shorelines are cluttered with laydowns and stumps, as well as a beaver hut.

I also fished a small segment of the flat in the back of the primary feeder-creek arm and a short segment of its shoreline. This shoreline is rock-laden and littered with stumps, laydowns, and patches of winter-dead American water willows.

I fished portions of two shorelines in the back of a tertiary feeder-creek arm. These shorelines are rock-and-boulder-laden, graced with a few laydowns, littered with an array of man-made brush piles, and adorned with patches of winter-dead American water willows.

I fished two main-lake points. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders. The water's edge at these points is lined with patches of winter-dead American water willows.

I caught 30 of the largemouth bass in an area that is about 85 percent of the way inside one of the feeder-creek arms. These largemouth bass were extracted out of four to nine feet of water, and they were moseying around in a space that was about 75 feet long and 30 feet wide.  I caught 24 of them on a three-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin prototype creature bait affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Six of them were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Some of the largemouth bass were caught on a drag-and-deadstick presentation. Some were caught on a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Some were caught on the initial drop.

After I caught largemouth bass number 30, I spent the rest of the outing searching for another mother lode of largemouth bass, which I failed to do.

Largemouth bass number 30. It took me 59 minutes to catch 30 of them.

During that next 121 minutes, I caught one largemouth bass. It was abiding on a shallow-water flat about half of the way inside a feeder-creek arm in about five feet of water and around patches of submerged aquatic vegetation. This fish was caught on the three-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin prototype creature bait affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

About half of the way inside another feeder-creek arm, I hooked but failed to land a fish that engulfed the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig as I was deadsticking it. This fish was abiding on a secondary point in about five feet of water.

I failed to elicit a strike at the other locales that I fished.

Feb. 16 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 16 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

Many of the waterways in north-central Texas remain muddy. Since Jan. 16, we have found only two small community reservoirs and portions of a heavily-fished feeder-creek arm at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir that are worth the effort to fish.

John Thomas of Denton and I decided to return to the  feeder-creek arm in the north end of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir on Feb. 16.  On Feb. 7, Rick Allen of Dallas and I fished this creek for three hours and 55 minutes, and we could only muster 11 black bass. This Feb. 16 endeavor mirrored that lackluster outing. We shared this creek with four other black bass anglers, who were in three boats,  and there were eight bank anglers. Two bass anglers who were wielding spinnerbaits and said they had caught several small bass. Another boat angler reported that he had not caught a fish, and we saw one bank angler catch a small crappie on a live minnow suspended below a bobber.

The sun was vibrant in a cloudless powder-blue sky. The wind angled out of the southwest at 8 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.10 around noon and 30.07 by 4:00 p.m. The morning low temperature was 36 degrees. The afternoon high temperature was 66 degrees.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing periods should take place between 2:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m., 8:41 a.m. and 10:41 a.m., and 2:52 p.m. and 4:52 p.m. John and I fished from noon to 4:00 p.m.

Most of the feeder creek was muddy, exhibiting less than a foot of visibility. The last quarter of a mile in the back of the creek was stained with about two feet of visibility. The water temperature ranged from 55 degrees to 64 degrees.

We caught a white bass on our first cast and two largemouth bass in the first five minutes of this outing, but the fishing slowed to a crawl after that. And during the next 235 minutes, we inveigled only nine largemouth bass, two white bass, and two large bluegills.

Five largemouth bass and one white bass were caught in the middle section of the creek, which was muddy. Six largemouth bass, two white bass, and two large bluegills were extracted from the stained water in the back end of the creek.

John Thomas with one of the 11 largemouth bass that they caught.

Seven largemouth bass were caught in close proximity to the water's edge and abiding in less than four feet of water. They were relating to the sides of a few partially-submerged laydowns that embellished the steep shorelines. Only seven of the scores of laydowns that we fished were fruitful, and each of them yielded one largemouth bass.

The other four largemouth bass were caught in the back of the creek next to a shallow gravel bar extending from the shoreline in less than three feet of water. This was the only locale that surrendered more than one bass.

The flooded patches of terrestrial vegetation, submerged stumps, and submerged brush piles that grace many yards of shoreline in this creek failed to yield any black bass.

A Z-Man's 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig enticed three largemouth bass and the two large bluegills. A shortened Z-Man's black-blue-flake Hula StickZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig allured eight largemouth bass and three white bass. We failed to elicit any strikes with a Z-Man's Junebug Finesse ShadZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man's Space Guppy Slim SwimZ rigged on a brown 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, or a Z-Man's chartreuse-sparkle GrubZ rigged on a brown 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.

We experimented with all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves, and a slow swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve was the only effective presentation.

Feb. 17 log

I, along with an array of other anglers, ventured to one of northeastern Kansas' many community reservoirs on Feb. 17.  And there is not much largemouth bass catching to write about.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 39 degrees at 7:52 a.m. and 75 degrees at 2:52 p.m., and that is a record high temperature for Feb. 16. We hit a record high of 75 degrees on Feb. 17, too.  It was sunny.  The wind angled out of the south by southwest, south, east by southeast, east, and southwest at 3 to 17 mph, and to tame the effects of the wind, I had to employ a drift sock often. The barometric pressure was 29.71 at 12:52 a.m., 29.73 at 5:52 a.m., 29.71 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.62 at 2:52 p.m.

The surface temperature ranged from 41 to 43 degrees. The water clarity ranged from two feet to four feet of visibility.  The water level looked to be normal.

In-Fisherman's solunar table indicated that the best fishing would occur from 3:10 a.m. to 5:10 a.m., 3:12 to 5:12 p.m., and 9:21 a.m. to 11:21 a.m.  I fished from noon to 2:34 p.m.

I quickly fished about a 250-yard stretch of a north shoreline inside one feeder-creek arm, and I failed to elicit a strike. But my 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig snagged a three-inch gizzard shad.

I quickly fished about a 100-yard stretch of a north shoreline and a portion of a small flat in the back of another feeder-creek arm, where I failed to garner a strike.

I quickly strolled over and around and across a massive flat in the back of another feeder-creek arm. This flat is embellished with a significant growth of curly-leaf pondweed. There were also several schools of gizzard shad milling about and dimpling the surface, and one massive congregation of gizzard shad was frolicking around on the surface in two feet of water in the very back end of this flat.   On this massive flat, I caught nine largemouth bass, and I failed to hook four strikes. One of the nine largemouth bass was a loner, and it was caught in five feet of water on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig that I was strolling along the bottom and amongst the curly-leaf pondweed.  I caught three largemouth bass by strolling a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig along the bottom in six feet of water amongst a congregation of gizzard shad and amongst some curly-leaf pondweed.  I caught five largemouth bass and garnered four strikes that I failed to hook while I was strolling a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man's green-pumpkin prototype finesse creature bait affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig along the bottom in about a 20-yard by 60-yard segment of this massive flat. Elsewhere on this massive flat, I failed to elicit a strike.

I quickly zigzagged across a massive flat two-thirds of the way inside another feeder-creek arm. This flat is graced with a significant growth of curly-leaf pondweed. And I caught one largemouth bass in about 3 1/2 feet of water while I was strolling a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig along the bottom, but that was the only strike that I had.

In short, I do not have a clue what is going on with the largemouth bass in northeastern Kansas' flatland reservoirs. Some folks call it the late-winter doldrums, which was a phenomenon that used to occur in March when the wintertime congregations of shallow-water largemouth bass disappeared.

All I know is that I am having an extremely difficult time finding and catching a respectable number of largemouth bass.

It is interesting to note that a similar phenomenon occurs with the white crappie populations in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas in late winter.  Many of the white crappie in these reservoirs -- especially the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoirs --begin to assemble in schools in the late fall, and they stay assembled through the middle of the winter.  Some of these schools can be quite large. They can be found along the edges of the submerged creek channels in water deeper than 25 feet and water shallower than 10 feet. Some of them can be found in the riverine sections of the primary feeder-creek arms.  They can also be found in eight to 25 feet of water on the flats adjacent to the submerged creek channels. Then in late winter, which used to be in March, when the water temperature starts climbing toward the middle 40s, these schools of crappie disappear. To locate and catch crappie during this spell is a trying ordeal, and most of them are caught scattered far and wide across the massive flats that constitute most of the acreage of our flatland reservoirs.

We suspect that the largemouth bass that abide in our flatland reservoirs behave similarly. And our crappie and largemouth bass fishing does not improve until they begin to roam and abide adjacent to the shorelines, which used to be in late March or early April. We are hoping it will be in March this time around.

Feb. 18 log

This is not a traditional Midwest finesse log. Instead, it is a short summary of what transpired while Patty and I combined our Audubon bird count endeavors with one hour and 54 minutes of fishing at one of northeastern Kansas' many state reservoirs on Feb. 18.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 36 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 73 degrees at 3:53 p.m. The sky was cloudless. The wind was calm with an occasional whisper out of the south at 3 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.74 at 12:53 a.m. and 29.78 at 12:53 p.m.

We were afloat from noon to 1:54 p.m.

Besides fishing, we spent some of the time using an underwater camera to search for aquatic vegetation, and we also spent some of that time with our binoculars looking at birds.   We failed to find any vegetation.

It is interesting to note, the surface temperature at one northeastern Kansas reservoir on Feb. 14 ranged from 40 to 41 degrees, and it ranged from 41 to 43 degrees on Feb. 17 at another northeastern Kansas reservoir.  To our surprise, this reservoir's surface temperature ranged from 47 to 50 degrees, which provoked us to make 99 percent of our casts and retrieves along portions of one shoreline. We were hoping that some of the vast numbers of largemouth bass that had spent many winter days offshore had begun to mosey along this shoreline.  Unfortunately, not many of them had made that move.  Ultimately, we eked out only nine largemouth bass that were scattered along this massive shoreline. We also failed to land three that liberated themselves. We elicited three strikes that we failed to hook.

Patty calls herself "a fair-weather angler." Therefore, on this fair-weather day, it was Patty's first outing in 2017, and it is the first time in all of our many years that we can remember that she has fished in February.

What's more, these were the first shoreline largemouth bass that we have caught in 2017.

This shoreline is about three-quarters of a mile long, and its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, boulders, and silt.  The water's edge is lined with patches of winter-dead American water willows, as well as several laydowns, manmade brush piles, and seven riprap jetties.

We caught the nine largemouth bass by casting and then strolling a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Canada craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig and a Z-Man's green-pumpkin prototype finesse creature bait affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. As we strolled, we employed a drag-and-deadstick presentation, and 12 of the 15 strikes that we elicited occurred when we were deadsticking.  These strikes occurred in water as shallow as three feet and as deep as nine feet.

Pat Kehde with her first largemouth bass of 2017, which she caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Canada craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig.

As we were making our final casts, Patty said she could not recall encountering such a tepid and trying bite as we faced on this outing. But she has never had to toil through this transition period as the largemouth bass are leaving their wintertime haunts and habits. And across the many years that Midwest finesse anglers have tried to locate them and catch them during this spell, we have struggle to catch an average of five largemouth bass an hour.

Feb. 18 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed a brief about his Feb. 18 outing at one of the many community reservoirs in northeastern Kansas.

Here is an edited version of his brief:

His dog, Josie, joined him on this outing, which commenced at 9:00 a.m. and ended around 2:30 p.m.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 37 degrees at 7:53 a.m. and 72 degrees at 3:53 p.m. It was sunny.  The wind angled out of the south, south by southwest, west by southwest, and southwest at 3 to 9 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.76 at 12:53 a.m., 29.79 at 5:53 a.m., 29.82 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.77 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would transpire from 3:56 a.m. to 5:56 a.m., 4:18 p.m. to 6:18 p.m., and 10:97 a.m. to 12:07 p.m.

The water exhibited less than a foot of visibility. The surface temperature was 46 degrees.

He caught four largemouth bass, four freshwater drum, and one crappie along a gradual sloping shoreline on the north side of the reservoir. They were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. He used three colors of the ZinkerZ: Bama craw, coppertreuse, and green pumpkin red. He used a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

Cedar Valley February 18, 2017 002-001

Since Feb. 7, it has been a struggle for Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri to find and catch largemouth bass, and Gum's outing was the archetype of these struggles.  Some of us even struggled in January a few days after the ice melted, which is usually a fruitful time for us to catch largemouth bass in our flatland reservoirs.

Feb. 18 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 18 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:It was such a pleasant and sunny day that I could not resist the temptation to venture to

For the past month, I have been kvetching about the muddy-water conditions that has plagued the waterways in  north-central Texas. But when I arrived at the boat ramp, I was delighted to find that the water conditions had returned to normal. The water was stained and exhibited about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The water level was about half of a foot high. The water temperature ranged from 55 to 57 degrees.

The sky was partly cloudy. The morning low temperature was 51 degrees and the afternoon high temperature climbed to 75 degrees. The wind was mild-mannered and angled out of the east at 3 mph, and at times, it was calm. The barometric pressure measured 29.97 at 12:46 p.m. and 29.94 at 4:46 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing periods would take place from 4:03 a.m. to 6:03 a.m., 10:14 a.m. to 12:14 p.m., and 4:25 p.m. to 6:25 p.m. I fished from about 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Since Dec. 26, 2016, a couple of companions and I have spent a goodly amount of time this winter plying a small feeder-creek on the north end of this reservoir. But on this outing, I elected to investigate another feeder-creek arm in the southwest tributary arm.

Most of this feeder-creek arm is endowed with steep clay and gravel shorelines. A marina occupies the first half of the creek arm. Parts of its shoreline are littered with submerged rocks and boulders. This creek arm is also enhanced with three boat ramps, two smaller creeks that enter the creek arm from its southeast and southwest shorelines, several steep clay and gravel secondary points, and several shallow mud flats.

I failed to cross paths with any largemouth bass or spotted bass along a 30-yard section of a flat and rocky shoreline along the east side of the mouth of the feeder creek.

A 20-yard portion of a steep clay and gravel shoreline near the mouth of the feeder creek yielded six largemouth bass. They were abiding in eight to 13 feet of water. Five largemouth bass were caught while I was slowly dragging, shaking, and deadsticking a shortened Z-Man's black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ rigged on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig down the slope of the shoreline. One largemouth bass was caught on a shortened Z-Man's black-blue-flake Hula StickZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. It was also presented with a slow drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve. I failed to generate any strikes with a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

Eight largemouth bass were caught in six to 12 feet of water off a steep clay and gravel secondary point that lies on the east shoreline about halfway inside the feeder-creek arm. Three of the largemouth bass were caught on the shortened four-inch black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ rig. Five of them were caught on the shortened black-blue-flake Hula StickZ combo. Both lures were retrieved with a slow drag-shake-and-deadstick presentation down the slope of the point. I failed to entice any strikes with the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ or the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ.

I failed to elicit any strikes around the three boat ramps, two shallow mud flats, a 30-yard stretch of a clay and gravel shoreline on the west side of the creek arm, or from several other secondary and tertiary points in the middle and back portions of the feeder-creek.

Overall, the fishing was slow. I eked out 14 largemouth bass in three hours, which was better than what I expected. And we are encouraged to see that the Corps' reservoirs are finally beginning to clear up.

Feb. 19 log

Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 19 outing.

Here is an edited version of his brief:

I managed to get out for 165 minutes to a small flatland impoundment.  Area thermometers climbed into the low 60s. The wind fluctuated from being calm to being light. The surface temperatures ranged from 45 to 47 degrees. The water has a slight stain to it with visibility of 18 to 24 inches. I fished from 2:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.

The first 45 minutes were spent throwing a jerkbait over main lake structure to see if a big bass might have moved up with the warming water. After trying several spots with no signs of life, I sat for another 20 minutes over two separate large schools of crappie trying to tempt them with a small soft plastic tube, but to no avail. At that point, I decided to ply the waters with Midwest finesse tactics for largemouth bass. In the remaining 100 minutes of time, I managed to land 10 largemouth bass using a 1/16-ounce marabou jig, and I caught two more largemouth bass on an 1/8-ounce bucktail jig. These fish were located in two to eight feet of water along steep dropping shorelines comprised of riprap and clay, which were adorned with an occasional boat dock or isolated piece of wood.

For the middle of February, it was a very pleasant outing considering our waters are normally frozen solid at this time of year.

Feb. 21 log

The Weather Underground reported that it was 39 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 70 degrees at 1:52 p.m. on Feb. 21.  The high temperature was 72 degrees, which is a record high temperature. The sky was cloudless. The wind angled out of the north, west by northwest, northwest, west, and west by southwest at 4 to 10 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.92 at 12:52 a.m., 29.96 at 5:52 a.m., 29.99 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.81 at 2:52 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 6:09 a.m. to 8:09 a.m., 6:33 p.m. to 8:33 p.m., and 11:56 a.m. to 1:56 p.m.  I was afloat from 11:00 a.m. to 2:48 p.m. at one of northeastern Kansas' many community reservoirs.

The water level looked to be about normal. The surface temperature ranged from 47 to 49 degrees.  The water exhibited five to seven feet of visibility.

I spent the first 39 minutes probing and dissecting patches of curly-leaf pondweed that grace a flat in the back of one of this reservoir's feeder-creek arms. This locale is a traditional wintertime haunt for the largemouth bass. I elicited one strike.

After that failure, I spent the rest of the outing plying five shorelines inside three feeder-creek arms.

I spent the next 51 minutes hopscotching along an extremely long shoreline on the north side of one of the feeder-creek arms.  I fished only about 225 yards of it; some of those yards were near its backend; some were near its middle; some were near to its mouth. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, boulders, and rocks.  Some of the water's edge is embellished with laydowns, patches of American water willows, and some boat docks.

As I maneuvered the boat along this shoreline, I strolled a lot and employed either a drag-and-deadstick presentation or a swim-glide-and-slight shake retrieve.

While I was employing a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, I caught two largemouth bass on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig along the inside edge of a boat dock in three feet of water. Along a concrete retaining wall, I caught one largemouth bass in about four feet of water on a three-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin prototype finesse creature bait affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve. At a tertiary point, I caught two largemouth bass in four to five feet of water on the three-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin prototype finesse creature bait affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a drag-and-shake retrieve.  On another tertiary point, I caught a largemouth bass in five feet of water on the prototype rig with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve.

During the next 90 minutes, I fished portions of the north and south shorelines inside another feeder-creek arm. The underwater terrains of these shorelines consist of gravel, rocks, and boulders.  Some of the boulders are humongous.  Portions of the water's edge are graced with patches of American water willows, and they are also adorned with some stumps, a few laydowns, and several manmade brush piles.I strolled about 75 yards of the south shoreline with a drag-and-deadstick presentation, and it failed to garner a strike. I made a few fruitless casts and swim-glide-and-shake presentations, too.

I fished about 200 yards of its north shoreline, and along a 50-yard section of this shoreline, I caught 19 largemouth bass they were caught in three to nine feet of water. Ten were caught on a Z-Man's California craw T.R.D. TubeZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Five were caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gpher jig. Four were caught on the prototype rig. Three were caught on the initial drop. The other 16 were caught while I was either strolling or casting and employing a drag-and-deadstick presentation. I caught seven of the 19 in the general vicinity of a congregation of gizzard shad that were dimpling the surface.  I did not notice any gizzard shad near where I caught the other 12 largemouth bass.

After I caught those 19 largemouth bass, I ventured inside another feeder-creek arm, where I fished portions of its west and east shorelines. The underwater terrains of these shorelines consist of gravel, rocks, and a few boulders. Some of the water's edge is lined with American water willows. There is one beaver hut, scores of laydowns, many stumps, and a few brush piles.

I failed to elicit a strike along the west shoreline. But while I was casting and employing a drag-and-shake retrieve along the east shoreline with the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, I caught five largemouth bass in three to six feet of water.

In total, I caught 30 largemouth bass along three of the shorelines. These shorelines have been devoid of largemouth bass for many wintertime weeks on end, and this appearance on Feb. 21 provoked me to assume that some of this reservoir's largemouth bass are in the process of making the move from their wintertime haunts to their springtime ones. But it took me three hours and 48 minutes to catch 30 of them, and that is, of course, 71 largemouth bass short of reaching our coveted goal of catching 101 in four hours.

Feb. 22 log

The Weather Underground reported that it was 35 degrees at 3:52 a.m. and 81 degrees at 3:52 p.m. on Feb. 22.  The high temperature was 82 degrees, which is a record high temperature. It was partly cloudy for a short spell, but it was sunny most of the time.  Throughout the day, the wind angled out of the east, northeast, east by southeast, southwest, south by southwest, and west by southwest at 3 to 24 mph.  The barometric pressure was 29.86 at 12:52 a.m., 29.81 at 5:52 a.m., 29.72 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.62 at 2:52 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would transpire from 6:53 a.m. to 8:53 a.m., 7:18 p.m. to 9:18 p.m., and 12:40 a.m. to 2:40 a.m. Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, and I fished from 10:47 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. at one of northeastern Kansas' many community reservoirs.

The water level was normal.  The water exhibited about two feet of visibility.  The surface temperature ranged from 48 to 51 degrees.

For 298 minutes, Bob and I slowly dissected three entire shorelines inside two feeder-creek arms, about a half of the dam and one of its adjacent shorelines, about 150 yards of another shoreline inside one of the feeder-creek arms, and a main-lake point.

For the first 97 minutes that we were afloat, the wind howled out of the southwest at 10 to 24 mph, and we battled it and kvetched about it as we plied a massive shoreline along the east side of one of this reservoir's feeder-creek arms. The underwater terrain consists of rocks and boulders and some gravel. Much of the shoreline is embellished with American water willows. There is also an array of laydowns and two docks and two boat ramps. At the end of our outing, we fished portions of this east shoreline again, and the wind was not as intense the second time around. We caught 18 largemouth bass the first time we fished this shoreline, and we caught four largemouth bass the second time.  Our most effective bait along this shoreline was a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.  Some of those 22 largemouth bass were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin-orange  ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a  three-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin prototype finesse creature bait affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We did a lot of strolling, and as we strolled, we utilized a drag-and-deadstick presentation. At times, we would cast and employ the drag-and-deadstick presentation or the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve or the drag-and-shake retrieve.

We failed to garner a strike around the main-lake point.

After we fished the main-lake point, we fished the south and north shorelines inside another feeder-creek arm.

The underwater terrain of the south shoreline consists of rocks and boulders. It is steep. There are a few laydowns and brush piles and one dock and some patches of American water willows.  We failed to elicit a strike along this shoreline.

The north shoreline is steep and somewhat bluff-like with some minor ledges. The underwater terrain consists of rocks and boulders. There are a  few minor patches of American water willows and one laydown. We caught nine largemouth bass along this shoreline. Seven of them were caught about half of the way inside this feeder-creek arm along the ledges of the bluff-like area in seven to 11 feet of water. The largemouth bass were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that we dragged and deadsticked from one ledge to another ledge. Two largemouth bass were caught near the back of the feeder-creek arm in about four feet of water on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a drag-and-deadstick presentation.

We failed to elicit a strike along the dam and its adjacent shoreline.

We caught two largemouth bass along a 150-yard section of west shoreline of a feeder-creek arm. The underwater terrain of this shoreline consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders. It is littered with numerous laydowns and some patches of American water willows.

One of the two largemouth bass was caught around a secondary point in about six feet of water on a Z-Man's California craw T.R.D. TubeZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce gopher jig that was retrieved with a drag-and-deadstick presentation.  The other largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of the three-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin prototype finesse creature bait affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig around a laydown in two to three feet of water.

One maverick largemouth bass was caught on a jerkbait adjacent to a catfish feeder that is situated on a flat in the back of one of the reservoir's feeder-creek arms.

Bob Gum with one of the 34 largemouth bass that we caught.

In sum, we caught 34 largemouth bass and inadvertently caught three channel catfish, one walleye, and one green sunfish, which equals an average of 6.8 largemouth bass an hour. It was a grueling and often wind-blown five hours.

Feb. 22 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 22 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

From about 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Norman Brown of Lewisville and I enjoyed a beautiful February afternoon fishing at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' hill-land reservoir in north-central Texas.

The sun was warm and bright as area thermometers quickly climbed from a morning low of 44 degrees to a high of 80 degrees. The barometric pressure measured 29.94 at noon and 29.78 at 4:00 p.m. The wind quartered out of the east by southeast at 3 to 11 mph.

According to In-Fisherman's solunar calendar, the prime fishing periods would occur from 12:48 a.m. to 2:48 a.m., 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., and 7:25 p.m. to 9:25 p.m.

Norman and I elected to return to a small and scenic feeder-creek arm on the north end of the reservoir. Unfortunately, the black bass fishing in this once bountiful creek arm has now become quite trying during the past three weeks. But Norman has never fished in this creek and was interested in seeing it, so we decided to see if the black bass and temperate bass fishing had improved.

This creek is about 1 1/2 miles long and about 20 yards wide. Its shorelines are enhanced with scores of submerged brush piles, stumps, partially-submerged laydowns, and flooded bushes. The main creek channel is covered with water as deep as 14 feet and as shallow as two feet. Its underwater terrain is comprised of clay, silt, gravel, and a few rock ledges.

We started this endeavor just inside the mouth of the creek and worked our way upstream. The water temperature in this lower section of the creek was 64 degrees. The water clarity was muddy with about a foot of visibility. We caught four largemouth bass, one white bass, one wiper, and one white crappie. The four largemouth bass and one white bass were caught on a shortened Z-Man's black-blue-flake Hula StickZ attached to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The white crappie and wiper were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Both of these lures were presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

The middle portion of the creek was stained with about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The water temperature varied from 64 to 66 degrees. We caught two largemouth bass, one white crappie, and one white bass in this section, and they were caught on a shortened black-blue-flake Hula StickZ rig with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

The water in the upper reaches of the creek was stained with three feet of clarity. The water temperature ranged between 66 and 69 degrees. The fishing remained slow and trying in this stretch of the creek as well, and our best efforts garnered only three largemouth bass, one black crappie, and one white bass. The three largemouth bass were beguiled by the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig. The black crappie and white bass engulfed a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that sported a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ. The only effective presentation was a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

All told, the weather was unseasonably warm and delightful for this time of year, but the fishing was horrid. To our dismay, we could scrounge up only nine largemouth bass, three white bass, three crappie, and one wiper in four hours. Six of the largemouth bass were caught in the first hour that we were afloat. Then we spent the next two hours and 15 minutes executing hundreds of casts and retrieves as we dissected numerous flooded bushes, submerged stumps, and submerged brush piles without a strike. And during the last 45 minutes, we caught three largemouth bass.

Norman Brown with one of the nine largemouth bass that they caught.

All of these fish were relating to the deeper ends of the larger and partially-submerged laydowns that were in close proximity to the main creek channel and lying in less than eight feet of water.

We also crossed paths with one crappie fisherman in a rubber raft and three anglers in a bass boat. The crappie angler told us that he had caught only two crappie all day, and the other three anglers in the bass boat reported that they had caught two white bass.

In closing, this once-fruitful creek kept us entertained during most of January and early February, but the fishing has now become too trying and boring for our tastes. Therefore, we will look elsewhere for larger aggregations of largemouth bass and spotted bass in this Corps' reservoir. And if the unseasonably warm weather continues through the end of February, we hope to stumble upon a bevy or two of pre-spawn largemouth bass sooner than we would normally expect.

Feb. 24 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 24 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

On Feb. 22, Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas, and I endured a miserable outing at one of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir in north-central Texas. We fished inside a narrow feeder-creek arm at the north end of this reservoir, and we struggled to inveigle nine largemouth bass in four hours. As I was driving home that afternoon, I realized that I needed to find more fruitful black bass lairs at this reservoir. And that can be a challenging and frustrating ordeal this time of year.

An early morning cold front had rolled across the Dallas and Ft. Worth metropolitan areas during the early morning hours of Feb. 24. It was a bluebird day. The powder-blue sky was cloudless, and the sun was shining brightly everywhere. The morning low temperature was 55 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 64 degrees. An irksome wind angled out of the northwest at 12 to 19 mph, which caused unending ranks of white caps to pummel many of the main-lake areas. The barometric pressure was steady at 29.84.

When Rick Allen of Dallas and I returned on Feb. 24 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir that snookered Norman Brown and me on Feb. 22, I had hopes of redeeming myself.

To accomplish this task, Rick and I decided to fish inside one feeder-creek arm and one large main-lake cove on the south end of the reservoir where we could find shelter from the wind.

In-Fisherman's solunar table noted that the most lucrative fishing periods would occur between 1:32 a.m. and 3:32 a.m., 7:45 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., and 8:10 p.m. and 10:10 p.m. Rick and I fished from 12:15 p.m. to 3:52 p.m.

Our first locale was a main-lake cove where we launched the boat. This cove encompasses a large marina and a small secondary cove. Its shorelines are mostly steep and comprised of clay, rocks, and gravel.

We began fishing inside the small secondary cove, which is located in the back of the marina. The water was stained and exhibited about a foot to 1 1/4 feet of visibility. The water temperature ranged from 57 degrees at the boat ramp to 59 degrees inside the small secondary cove.

We quickly caught two largemouth bass from a steep clay shoreline on the south side of the secondary cove. Both of these largemouth bass were caught in seven feet of water and about 10 to 15 feet from the water's edge. They were caught on a shortened Z-Man's black-blue Hula StickZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. This rig was employed with a slow drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve.

One largemouth bass was caught from underneath a covered boat slip of a long dock in seven feet of water. It was caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man's black-blue Finesse WormZ affixed on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was presented with a drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve. We slowly dissected several other covered boat slips, but we failed to elicit any other strikes.

Steve Reideler with one of the largemouth bass that they caught.

Seven largemouth bass were caught along the east shoreline. One was caught next to the remnants of a partially-flooded bush in three feet of water. The other six were scattered along the steep shoreline and were extracted from three to five feet of water. Two of the seven were caught with the shortened four-inch black-blue Finesse WormZ rig and a drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve. Five were caught on the shortened black-blue Hula StickZ combo and drag-shake-and-deadstick presentation.

We failed to garner any strikes from a rock-laden secondary point that lies on the east side of the marina and about halfway back inside the maincove. But we did cross paths with 11 largemouth bass that were abiding in 15 feet of water just off the end of that rocky secondary point and about 30 feet away from the water's edge. They were caught on the shortened black-blue Hula StickZ rigged on either a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a weedless finesse jig head.

After we finished fishing the main-lake cove, we ventured to a nearby feeder-creek arm that harbors another large marina. The shorelines in this feeder-creek arm are steep and gravel-laden. This arm has several steep clay and gravel secondary points, three boat ramps, and several shallow mud flats. It is also graced with two small creeks that enter it from its southwest and southeast shorelines.

We dissected a short 20-yard section of a steep clay and gravel shoreline along the northeast portion of the feeder creek,  and we caught two largemouth bass that were dwelling in nine to 13 feet of water and about 15 feet from the water's edge. One was caught on the black-blue Hula StickZ rig and the other one was caught on a Z-Man's molting craw Hula StickZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Both of these rigs were presented with a drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve. We failed to entice any strikes with the four-inch black-blue Finesse WormZ rig.

After that, we moved further inside the creek arm, and we caught three largemouth bass from another east-side shoreline and two largemouth bass from an adjacent secondary point. These bass were caught about 10 feet from the water's edge in eight to 13 feet of water. Four bass were beguiled by the black-blue-flake Hula StickZ and one engulfed the molting craw Hula StickZ. We continued to employ these lures with a drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve.

We failed to elicit any strikes from one of the shallow mud flats, the small southeast creek, another secondary point, and two short clay and gravel shorelines.

In sum, we enjoyed tangling with 28 largemouth bass in three hours and 37 minutes, which is a splendid February outing by north-central Texas standards. Most of these largemouth bass were caught in eight to 15 feet of water, and a few were caught in three to seven feet of water.

Twenty-three bass were caught on the shortened black-blue Hula StickZ and blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Three were caught on a shortened four-inch black-blue Finesse WormZ and blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. A shortened molting craw Hula StickZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig allured two.

A slow drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve was the only effective presentation.

In our eyes, it appears that the largemouth bass are beginning to make the transition from their wintertime doldrums and lairs to their pre-spawn routines and locales. We were a bit surprised that we did not encounter any spotted bass or any other species such as crappie, bluegill, or white bass.

Feb. 21-26 log

Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his outings at Amistad Reservoir, Texas.

Here is a condescended and edited version of his report.

From Feb. 21 to 25, the sky was cloudless and the sun was intense. Clouds appeared on Feb. 26, and it was our most fruitful day on the water.  On Feb. 21 to Feb. 23, area thermometers ranged from 70 degrees to 93 degrees, and the wind was mild mannered. On Feb. 24 and 25, it became windy and the high temperature reached 69 degrees. On Feb. 26, the high temperature was 74 degrees, the wind was light, which created a perfect chop on the surface of the reservoir, and the sky fluctuated from being mostly cloudy to partly cloudy.

On Feb. 21 to Feb. 23, area thermometers ranged from 70 degrees to 93 degrees, and the wind was mild mannered. On Feb. 24 and 25, it became windy and the high temperature reached 69 degrees. On Feb. 26, the high temperature was 74 degrees, the wind was light, which created a perfect chop on the surface of the reservoir, and the sky fluctuated from being mostly cloudy to partly cloudy.

The surface temperature was 56 degrees on Feb. 21, and on Feb. 23, it climbed to 73 degrees. It dropped to 64 degrees on Feb. 25 and Feb. 26.

The water clarity at various locales around the reservoir ranged from eight to 12 feet of visibility.

We had boat woes one day, and the wind stymied us on Feb. 25. In total, we caught 240 fish, which included largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white bass, wipers, channel catfish, crappie, bluegill, and gar. We caught 66 of those 240 fish on Feb. 26. About two-thirds of the 260 fish were largemouth bass, and the biggest largemouth bass weighed about six pounds.

Our most effective rig was a Z-Man's watermelon-red Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. We caught the fish in eight to 20 feet of water. We also caught fish on a Z-Man's pearl Finesse ShadZ on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's watermelon-red ZinkerZ on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig

Our most effective retrieves were executed slowly and along the bottom.

An Amistad Reservoir smallmouth bass.

Feb. 26 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, posted a brief and a photograph on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 26 outing at a northeastern Kansas power-plant reservoir, where the largemouth bass fishing has been dreadful since the winter of 2013-14. But according to the findings of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism ranks, it is the second best largemouth bass reservoir in Kansas.

Here is an edited version of his brief:

The Weather Underground reported that it was 30 degrees at 2:53 a.m. and 48 degrees at 3:53 p.m. The sky fluctuated from being clear to being mostly cloudy to being overcast to being partly cloudy. It snowed at some locales around northeastern Kansas. The wind angled out of the south, southwest, southeast, and south by southeast at 3 to 11 mph.  The barometric pressure was 30.02 at 12:53 a.m., 30.04 at 5:53 a.m., 30.03 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.96 at 2:53 p.m.

The water clarity was about 12 inches. The surface temperature in the heart of the warm-water plume was 58 degrees. The water level was normal.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 9:59 a.m. to 11:59 a.m., 10:24 p.m. to 12:24 a.m., and 3:46 a.m. to 5:56 a.m.  I was afloat from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

I spent the entire outing inside the warm-water plume, dissecting shorelines along some of the bluffs, submerged creek-channel edges on two flats, a 30-yard section of a riprap shoreline, and one flat and shallow point that is gravel- and rock-laden and embellished with a significant amount of current.

I struggled to catch 15 fish. One was a wiper, another was a carp, six were white bass, and seven were largemouth bass.

The largemouth bass were caught on 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 Bama Bug ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.  The largemouth bass were caught in two to six feet of water while I was executing a drag-and-shake retrieve. One of the largemouth bass weighed 7.25 pounds, and another largemouth bass weighed 5.5 pounds.

Two of the big largemouth bass that Bob Gum caught and released.

Feb. 27 log

The Weather Underground reported that it was 23 degrees at 4:53 a.m. and 64 degrees at 3:53 p.m. The wind was calm off and on before 7:00 a.m., and then it blew out of the south by southeast, east, east by northeast, and southeast at 3 to 31 mph.  There was light freezing fog during many of the early morning hours, and then the sky fluctuated from being overcast to being clear to being hazy to being mostly cloudy to being misty to being scattered with clouds to being partly cloudy. The barometric pressure was 30.03 at 12:53 a.m., 30.03 at 5:53 a.m., 29.97 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.80 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 10:23 a.m. to 12:23 p.m., 3:39 a.m. to 6:39 a.m., and 5:05 p.m. to 7:05 p.m. I fished from noon to 2:45 p.m. at one of northeastern Kansas' community reservoirs.

The surface temperature ranged from 46 to 49 degrees. The water level was normal.  The water exhibited about four feet of visibility.

I fished portions of four shorelines inside three feeder-creek arms.

I spent 82 minutes fishing a 175-yard stretch of the north shoreline inside one of the feeder-creek arms.

It is a relatively steep shoreline that is endowed with several underwater ledges. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and scores of massive boulders. The water's edge is embellished with patches of American water willows. This shoreline is also stippled with an array of underwater stumps, a few laydowns, some manmade brush piles, and some patches of submerged aquatic vegetation.

Along a 25-yard section of this shoreline, I caught 19 largemouth bass. They were abiding in four to 10 feet of water.  A dozen of them were caught on a three-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin prototype finesse creature bait affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Five were caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.  One was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's California Craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and another one was caught on a Z-Man's California craw T.R.D. TubeZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.  The bulk of them were caught while I was strolling and employing a drag-shake-and-deadstick presentation. One was caught on the initial drop. And a few were caught on a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve.

Along a 15-yard stretch of this north shoreline, I caught three largemouth bass while I was strolling the prototype creature rig with a drag-and-deadstick presentation in five to seven feet of water.

For about five minutes I allowed the wind to blow me along a segment of an east shoreline inside another feeder-creek arm. I failed to elicit a strike as I strolled the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's California Craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig in three to six feet of water with a drag-and-shake presentation.

I spent 35 minutes fishing a 75-yard section of a south shoreline inside another feeder-creek arm. This shoreline is flat, exhibiting a 30-degree slope. Some of the water's edge is lined with American water willows. It is also cluttered with several laydowns and two docks. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, silt, rocks, and some remnants from a concrete wall.  I caught  five largemouth bass adjacent to a laydown in three to six feet of water on the prototype finesse creature rig. One of them was caught on the initial drop of that rig, and four of them were caught on a drag-and-deadstick retrieve. I caught another largemouth bass in about four feet of water next to some of the remnants of concrete as I was strolling the prototype finesse creature rig with a drag-and-deadstick presentation.

Ultimately, I crossed over to the north shoreline in this feeder-creek arm, and for the next 43 minutes, I fished three portions of this shoreline. I caught four largemouth bass at one of its tertiary points. These largemouth bass were abiding in four to six feet of water on a rock- and boulder-laden terrain that is littered with remnants from several tattered-and-well-weathered laydowns. I caught these four largemouth bass on the prototype finesse creature rig, which I was strolling with a drag-and-deadstick presentation. I hooked another largemouth bass on the prototype rig around another tertiary point, but I failed to land that one.

To my chagrin, I lost the prototype finesse creature bait rig at the end of this outing when it became entangled with a manmade brush pile.  I started the month of February with two of them, and they were quite effective. And as I end the month, I have none.

In sum, I caught 32 largemouth bass. Twenty-five of them were caught on the prototype rig. Five were caught on the Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rig.  One was caught on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's California craw ZinkerZ rig. One was caught on the Z-Man's California craw T.R.D. TubeZ rig.

In my logs, I rarely comment about the size of the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass that my colleagues and I catch, but I must say that the largemouth bass that I caught on this outing were extraordinarily small. Nevertheless, I was grateful to garner 33 strikes in 165 minutes.  Of course, if I had my druthers, I would have preferred to have elicited an average of 25 strikes per hour.

Feb. 28 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 28 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

John Thomas of Denton, Texas, and I opted to close out February by fishing at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir in north-central Texas.

Spring is in the air. There are more warm days and mild nights than cold ones. Redbud, Bradford pear, elm, and dogwood trees are beginning to bloom.

The sky was overcast. The high temperature was 83 degrees and the low temperature was 68 degrees. A robust wind angled out of the south, southeast, and southwest at 15 to 25 mph. The barometric pressure measured 29.86 at noon and 29.75 at 5:00 p.m.

The blustery wind made the reservoir's main-lake areas too rough for us to traverse. Therefore, we were relegated to fishing three wind-protected coves. The water inside these coves was stained with about 1 1/4 feet of visibility. The surface temperature varied from 56 to 57 degrees. The water level was normal.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the most optimum fishing periods would occur from 5:49 a.m. to 7:49 a.m., 11:36 a.m. and 1:36 p.m., and 12:02 p.m. to 2:02 p.m. John and I were afloat from about 12:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.

In our eyes, all three of these coves are similar. Each one contains a marina. Their underwater terrains are comprised of gravel, clay, rocks and boulders. The majority of the shorelines are rock-laden and steep. A few patches of flooded terrestrial vegetation grace several small stretches of the shorelines. These coves are also endowed with many secondary points and tertiary points, a few shallow mud flats, four boat ramps, and scores of covered boat docks.

Our spinning outfits sported the following Z-Man's Midwest finesse baits: a shortened three-inch Z-Man's black-blue-flake Hula StickZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened four-inch Z-Man's black-blue-flake Finesse WormZ affixed on either a blue 1/32- or 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man's black Split-tail TrailerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man's Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

We spent our time navigating and fishing in the narrow passageways between the covered boat docks and shorelines. We caught 25 largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and inadvertently caught one large black crappie.

Nine largemouth bass and one spotted bass were caught from three rocky secondary points. They were abiding in water as shallow as eight feet and as deep as 16 feet. Other secondary points and smaller tertiary points were fruitless.

Sixteen largemouth bass were caught in three to ten feet of water along the steepest shorelines, and we failed to generate any strikes from any of the shallow and flat ones. We also failed to elicit any strikes from a couple of mud flats and from underneath several covered boat docks. We did not have time to dissect the four boat ramps.

All 26 of these black bass and the large black crappie were caught on the shortened black-blue Hula StickZ  and blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig combo.

A slow drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve caught 10 largemouth bass and one spotted bass. A slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation caught 14 largemouth bass. One largemouth bass engulfed the Hula StickZ rig on the initial drop.

Overall, it was an above average outing and a good ending to February. And now that it appears that winter is winding down, we are eager to see how March unfolds.

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