Midwest Finesse Fishing: May 2015

Midwest Finesse Fishing: May 2015

Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, with one of the many smallmouth bass that Midwest finesse anglers caught in May.

This monthly guide includes the piscatorial insights and endeavors of Rick Allen of Dallas; Burton Bosley of Sutton, West Virginia; Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas; Ace Croucher of Quenemo, Kansas; Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas; Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri; Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas; Greg Monahan of Lee's Summit, Missouri; Dave Mull of Paw Paw, Michigan; Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia; Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas; Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas; Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana; and me.

Mother Nature confounded some of these anglers, such as Travis Myers and Steve Reideler, at times by flooding the waterways that they fish. And elsewhere, she behaved coldly and doused many of us with too many inches of rain, which riled many of our reservoirs and kept us at bay. By May 24, several of the flatland reservoirs across northeastern Kansas were four to nine feet above their normal levels, extremely murky, and the fishing became extremely trying.


Again this month, Reideler contributed the most logs. And as always, we are thankful that he proof read all of the 21,582 words of this month's guide. He makes our monthly guide more readable and understandable.


May 1 log

Ace Croucher of Quenemo, Kansas, invited Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and me to spend a few hours on May Day with him in pursuit of smallmouth bass in an area at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir that he calls "blue cat country."

The National Weather Service reported that it was 45 degrees at 6:53 a.m., and it was 76 degrees at 3:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the south and southeast at 3 to 13 mph, and occasionally it was calm. It was sunny until 5:53 p.m., when it quickly became mostly cloudy. The barometric pressure was 30.05 at 12:53 a.m., 30.09 at 5:53 a.m., 30.13 at 11:53 a.m. and 30.10 at 1:53 p.m.

The water level was 1.89 feet below normal. Twenty cubic feet of water per second was flowing out of the dam. The water exhibited a slight milky hue, which reduced the visibility to about three feet at most locales. The surface temperature ranged from 60 to 64 degrees. There is a massive amount of bushy pondweed flourishing from almost one end of this reservoir to the other end and in the back of nearly every cove. We even saw one stalk of curly-leaf pondweed floating on the surface in the back portions of a tertiary feeder-creek arm. The advent of aquatic vegetation might spark a largemouth bass renaissance in this reservoir, which the fishery biologists have been trying to establish by stocking five- to six-month old and older largemouth bass.

The full moon would occur on May 3, and there were hundreds of crappie anglers afloat who had high hopes of finding oodles of shallow-water crappie that were engaging in their reproductive rites, and there were several shoreline walkers pursuing spawning crappie and white bass. Thus, we shared a few of the shorelines and points with crappie anglers. Another sign of the times occurred when we crossed paths with the first jet-skier of 2015.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing should occur from 9:04 a.m. to 11:04 a.m. and 9:25 p.m. to 11:25 p.m. And there was a minor period from 2:53 a.m. to 4:53 a.m. Ace and Steve began fishing around 8:00 a.m., and I hopped in to Ace's boat and began fishing at 9:20 a.m. We fished until 1:40 p.m.

Ace recently retired from a 40-year career in the heavy-construction trade as an operation engineer. And his first job was building the dam for the reservoir that we were fishing on May 1, 2015, and for a number of years, he was Steve's boss. Ace is a recent convert to Midwest finesse fishing, and it was Steve who introduced him to the many joys and rewards of this method.

Before I joined them, Ace and Steve tangled with 16 smallmouth bass and four largemouth bass, which they caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man Fishing Products' PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig and 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. The smallmouth bass were caught about 5 3/4 miles above the dam, which is the area Ace calls blue-cat country because this is where catfish anglers dissect the massive mud flats, as well as the submerged humps, channels, and ditches for blue catfish. Traditionally, this area has not been a rewarding locale for smallmouth bass anglers to ply. The 16 smallmouth bass were abiding on a main-lake point and a short stretch of its adjacent shorelines. Along the rock-and-gravel laden point and shorelines, the boat floated in five to eight feet of water. Some of these smallmouth bass engulfed the ZinkerZ rigs on the initial drop. Others were allured by either a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve or a drag-and-shake one. These smallmouth bass were abiding in two to four feet of water.

Ace and Steve tangled with the four largemouth bass in the back of a tertiary feeder-creek arm about 2 1/2 miles from the dam. The boat floated in four to six feet of water. These four largemouth bass were inhabiting a rocky shoreline, which was endowed with a few laydowns, and they were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig with a drag-and-shake retrieve.

Ace, Steve, and I began our joint endeavors about a mile from the dam, where we dissected two main-lake points and the adjacent shorelines of these points, as well as some stretches of a shoreline, some secondary and tertiary points, some rock and boulder piles inside a cove, and we tangled with 16 smallmouth bass. The terrain of the points and shorelines consist of boulders, rocks, and gravel. The boat floated in water as shallow as three feet and as deep as nine feet. (As our outing unfolded, we noticed that steeper shorelines, where the boat floated in five to eight feet of water yielded more largemouth and smallmouth bass than flatter shorelines, where the boat floated in three to five feet of water.) The 16 smallmouth bass were caught on a Strike King Lure Company's green-pumpkin Bitsy Tube affixed to a 1/16-ounce inserted jig, Z-Man's PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, a Z-Man's 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, a Z-Man's California Craw Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Jig, and a customized 2 1/4-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin-orange FattyZ tube on a black 1/16-ounce Gopher Jig. Some of the smallmouth bass engulfed the baits on the initial drop. Others were allured by either a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve or a drag-and-shake one.

Ace Croucher holds one of the 62 smallmouth bass that we tangled with  on May 1.

Our second stop was inside a tertiary feeder-creek arm about 1 1/2 miles from the dam. We dissected about a quarter of a mile of the shoreline in the back half of this arm. This shoreline is embellished with boulders, gravel, and rocks, as well as two secondary points, a beaver hut, some submerged rock and boulder piles, a submerged farm-pond dam, and many burgeoning patches of bushy pondweed. We tangled with nine largemouth bass and 17 smallmouth bass, and the bulk of these specimens were caught about half of the way inside this arm. They were caught on a Z-Man's PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, a Z-Man's 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, and a customized 2 3/4-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin-orange FattyZ tail on a black 1/16-ounce Gopher Jig. The swim-glide-and-shake retrieve and drag-and-shake one were the most effective presentations.

The third area that we fished was about 2 1/4 miles from the dam. It was along a flat, rocky, and gravel shoreline about two-thirds of the way inside a tertiary feeder-creek arm, which was embellished with patches of bushy pondweed. The boat floated in three to five feet of water. And after fishing 75 yards of this shoreline without eliciting a strike, we moved 4 1/2 miles above the dam to a cove that is the size of about two football fields. We thoroughly dissected about 125 yards of one its shorelines, two secondary points, and a main-lake point. The boat floated in five to 10 feet of water, as we probed gravel, rocks, boulders, subtle ledges, and some patches of bushy pondweed. Along a 25-yard section of this shoreline and about 60 percent of the way inside the cove, we tangled with six largemouth bass and four smallmouth bass. We caught three smallmouth bass on one of the secondary points and three smallmouth bass on the main-lake point. They were caught on a Z-Man's PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, a Z-Man's 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, and a customized 2 3/4-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin-orange FattyZ tail on a black 1/16-ounce Gopher Jig. The swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the most effective presentation.

Ace Croucher holds another smallmouth bass that he caught.

The last area that we fished was the first one that Ace and Steve fished before I joined them. On the second visit, we fished many more yards of the main-lake shoreline than they fished between 8:00 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. When they fished it in the morning, they caught the bulk of the smallmouth bass along the shoreline inside the cove, but it failed to yield a smallmouth bass to us when we fished it around 1:00 p.m. The main-lake point and shoreline, which is gravel, rock, and boulder laden, yielded 18 smallmouth bass. They were caught on a Z-Man's PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, a Z-Man's 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, and a customized 2 3/4-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin-orange FattyZ tail on a black 1/16-ounce Gopher Jig. The swim-glide-and-shake retrieve and the drag-and-shake retrieve elicited most of the strikes.

Including the 16 smallmouth bass and four largemouth bass that Ace and Steve had before I joined them, we tangled with 62 smallmouth bass and 15 largemouth bass. We also inadvertently caught nine white bass, four crappie, and two freshwater drum.

Steve Desch holds one of the smallmouth bass that he caught on May 1.

May 2 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his May 2 outing with Rick Allen of Dallas to a 30-acre municipal reservoir.

He wrote: "Rick and I elected to fish this reservoir after we discovered that the water in a nearby 24,471-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir that we had originally planned to fish was high, muddy, and littered with surface debris. And we have found that these water conditions have confounded our black bass fishing endeavors in the larger reservoirs for the past several weeks.

"I last fished this 30-acre reservoir with Norman Brown of Lewisville on March 21, and we could only eke out eight largemouth bass during that five hour undertaking. To our chagrin, Rick and I found the fishing to be as awful on this outing.

"It was, however, a sunny and pleasant day. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 58 degrees and the afternoon high temperature climbed to 85 degrees. The wind blew out of the south at 5 to 13 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.03.

"We were afloat from about 2:30 p.m. to about 5:00 p.m. In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted the best fishing periods would occur from 9:47 a.m. to 11:47 a.m. and 10:09 p.m. to 12:09 a.m. A minor period occurred from 3:36 a.m. to 5:36 a.m.

"A decorative stone retaining wall forms the vast majority of this impoundment's shoreline. A smooth concrete spillway occupies a portion of the north shoreline and a large concrete culvert forms part of the southern shoreline. Large concrete bricks reinforce the base of the entire retaining wall, and these bricks extend about five feet out from the base of the retaining wall and are covered with three to five feet of water. There is one cove in this reservoir, and it is situated along the middle of the west shoreline. It is slightly larger than a football field and is graced with numerous 12-foot concrete pillars that stand in eight to 10 feet of water. A large brush pile lies between several of the concrete pilings along the northern shoreline of the cove in about six feet of water.

The water was stained with about two feet of visibility. The water's temperature was 74 degrees, and the water level appeared to be about a foot above normal.

"Rick and I began the afternoon by probing the submerged brush piles, tree limbs, and concrete culvert along the south shoreline. The boat floated in nine to 12 feet of water. We employed a Z-Man's pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man's Mud Minnow Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a black 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Both of these baits were presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation. The Finesse ShadZ enticed one largemouth bass that was relating to a submerged tree limb lying next to the retaining wall in about three feet of water, but the Finesse T.R.D. failed to induce any strikes.

"We made our way northward along the east shoreline. The water depth next to the decorative stone retaining wall in this area is five feet deep, and the boat floated in 12 to 21 feet of water. We observed several pods of small fry and bunches of two- to three-inch baitfish cruising along the retaining wall in three feet of water. We plied this shoreline with a Z-Man's Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Smoke Hologram Slim SwimZ rigged on a black 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a four-inch Z-Man's Red Bug Finesse WormZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. The Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. and slow swim-glide-shake retrieve fooled one largemouth bass from the mid-section of this shoreline, and it was milling about in seven feet of water and about 10 feet out from the water's edge. The remainder of this shoreline failed to relinquish any other bass.

"Next, we probed the concrete spillway and north shoreline, which is adorned with several submerged brush piles and partially submerged tree limbs. The brush piles and tree limbs failed to yield any bass, but we caught two largemouth bass from about five feet of water along the face of the concrete spillway. These two bass attacked a customized 2 3/4-inch Z-Man's watermelon-red FattyZ tail rigged on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig while it was being retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake action.

"Rick and I continued to work our way southward along the northwest end of the reservoir. This area is also enhanced with submerged tree limbs and brush piles. We wielded the Finesse ShadZs, customized 2 3/4-inch Z-Man's watermelon-red FattyZ tail and Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. We caught two largemouth bass that were relating to the retaining wall in about four feet of water. One largemouth bass was caught on the Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. The second one engulfed the customized 2 3/4-inch watermelon-red FattyZ tail. Both of these baits were presented in a slow swim-glide-and shake manner.

"After that, we slowly fished our way into the west side cove. We probed the many rows of concrete pillars and the large brush pile along the north side of this cove in eight to 10 feet of water. We caught one largemouth bass on the customized 2 3/4-inch FattyZ tail that was worked in a slow swim-glide-shake fashion. This bass was hovering underneath several overhanging tree limbs next to the retaining wall in five feet of water. The rest of this cove failed to yield any other strikes.

"We did not fish the south end of the west shoreline.

Rick Allen with one of the seven largemouth bass that he and Steve Reideler caught.

"In conclusion, the fishing was baffling and tedious, with long spells between bites. We could only muster seven largemouth bass during 2 1/2 hours of fishing. The largest bass weighed three pounds, eight ounces. The smallest weighed about 1 1/2 pounds."

"The customized 2 3/4-inch Z-Man's watermelon-red FattyZ tail allured four of the seven largemouth bass. The Z-Man's Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. fooled two. The pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ bewitched one largemouth bass. The Z-Man's 2 1/2-inch Smoke Hologram Slim SwimZ, four-inch Red Bug Finesse WormZ, and Mud Minnow Finesse T.R.D. failed to render any strikes. The swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the only fruitful presentation.

May 4 log

Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and I pursued the smallmouth bass that abide in a 416-acre community reservoir on May 4.

Nowadays chilly weather seems to penetrate my 75-year-old bones more readily than it used to a decade or two ago, and May 4 was the first time in 2015 that I began an outing without wearing a hooded sweatshirt and long underwear. As Desch and I prepared to launch the boat, we were hoping that the warmer weather, the warming water temperature, and the full moon would make the smallmouth bass easier to locate and allure than they have been for months on end at this reservoir.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 63 degrees at 7:53 a.m. and 85 degrees at 4:53 p.m. While we were afloat the wind angled out of the south at 8 mph, out of the southeast at 12 mph, out of the southwest at 7 to 10 mph, and occasionally it was variable at 5 mph. After we were off the water, it picked up speed and angled out of the south at 10 to 24 mph. Before and after we were afloat, it rained a tad. The barometric pressure was 29.89 at 12:53 a.m., 29.96 at 5:53 a.m., 30.04 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.01 at 1:53 p.m.

The water level looked to be about two feet below normal. The surface temperature ranged from 65 to 68 degrees. The water exhibited 10 and more feet of clarity. Desch and I have never seen a flatland reservoir in northeastern Kansas this clear. It allowed us to sight fish at several locales, which we have rarely done, and we saw what looked like spawning beds, which we have never seen in northeastern Kansas. Nearly all of the flat shorelines and flat terrains were littered and coated with extensive and thick patches of filamentous algae, which impeded our abilities to ply these locales.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing should occur from 11:02 a.m. to 1:02 p.m. and 11:26 p.m. to 1:26 a.m. There was a minor period from 5:14 a.m. to 7:14 a.m. We fished from 9:45 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and across the four hours and 15 minutes that we were afloat, we made a lot of casts and retrieves without engendering a strike from a smallmouth bass.

We examined 11 locations. Four of them were too cluttered with filamentous algae for us to spend a lot of time trying to dissect them. Only three of them were somewhat fruitful.

The most fruitful one of the three locations was a submerged rock fence, which is similar to a rock reef. It is an offshore lair, which encompasses a massive flat, and this flat is bordered by the rock fence and a steep drop off. The boat floated in water as shallow as four feet and as deep as 20 or more feet. We probed this area for 65 minutes, and we caught nine smallmouth bass, three largemouth bass, and seven white bass. These fish were caught on a hodgepodge of baits: a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin-orange ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, a four-inch Z-Man's pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Split-Tail TrailerZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man's PB&J Finesse T.R.D on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Because much of this area was cluttered with filamentous algae, we employed a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve that allowed our baits to swim a foot or so above the bottom and the patches of filamentous algae.

The second most fruitful locale was a steep main-lake point and shoreline, where the boat floated in eight to 17 feet of water. We caught five smallmouth bass and two largemouth bass on a slightly customized Z-Man's California Craw Hula StickZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. These six black bass engulfed our baits on the initial drop.

We caught four smallmouth bass and one largemouth bass along a shoreline inside a feeder-creek arm. This shoreline has 25-degree to 30-degree slope, and it is littered with filamentous algae. The boat floated in six to 12 feet of water. A Z-Man's green-pumpkin Split-Tail TrailerZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, and a Z-Man's PB&J Finesse T.R.D on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig caught these five black bass. We retrieved these baits with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve that allowed the baits to swim above the patches of filamentous algae.

One of the smallmouth bass that Steve Desch and I caught. This one was caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopgher jig.

We fished three relatively steep main-lake shorelines, which are rock-and-boulder laden and graced with laydowns, secondary and tertiary points, patches of bushy pondweed, patches of curly-leaf pondweed, patches of filamentous algae, and three main-lake points. We made hundreds of casts and retrieves along these shorelines and points, and we were able to eke out only two largemouth bass and five smallmouth bass. They were caught on a slightly customized Z-Man's California Craw Hula StickZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. Three of these black bass engulfed our baits on the initial drop, and four of them were caught on the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

On our way to the boat ramp, we stopped on a main-lake point and made a half-dozen fruitless casts and retrieves.

The fact that we worked with eight different baits during 255 minutes of fishing was a reflection of how difficult and perplexing the fishing was. We elected to use the Z-Man's green-pumpkin Split-Tail TrailerZ and Z-Man's green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ because they are salt-free and very buoyant, which makes them easier to keep out of the filamentous algae. The 1/32-ounce Gopher jig also helped to keep our baits algae-free.

This smallmouth bass was caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Split-TrailerZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

In total, we caught 23 smallmouth bass and seven largemouth bass, and we inadvertently caught 10 white bass, three bluegill, two crappie, and one green sunfish.

Endnotes to our May 4 log:

We circulated a question on the Finesse News Network on May 3 from Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia. Travis wanted to know if any anglers on the network used rods similar to the classic finesse rods that Charlie Brewer of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, used to use. Brewer's rods have a Tennessee handle. They are four feet, three inches long, four feet, eight inches long, five feet long, and five feet, two inches long. I used to use rods similar to Charlie Brewer's and the ones that Billy Westmoreland used, but after using them for more than 15 years , I gave them away. Travis Myers' note spawned some fond memories, and in honor of those old rods, I used two five-foot, six-inch All Star Target rods on May 4. These are light power rods with a fast action that are similar to Brewer's old-time rods, but they don't have the classic Tennessee handle. I think these All Star Target rods are a prototype panfish rod, and they are not on the market. All of the line guides on these rods are tiny. I used them with two classical ABU Garcia Cardinal Three spinning reels, which Zebco used to distribute. These reels have a customized manual bail. The reels were spooled with six-pound-test braided line and five feet of six-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. I am not a rod and reel connoisseur, and from my pedestrian perspective, they worked as well as any of the rods and reels that I have used for employing Midwest finesse tactics. I opted for the six-pound-test fluorocarbon leader because the water was extremely clear, but it didn't pay any significant dividends.

May 5 log

Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his May 5 kayak-outing for smallmouth bass on a mountain river.

The National Weather Service in Winchester, Virginia, which is 46 miles southeast of Paw Paw, West Virginia, indicated that it was 59 degrees at 5:55 a.m. and 81 degrees at 12:35 p.m. The wind was mild-mannered and angling out of the west at 3 to 5 mph, out of the south at 3 to 5 mph, out of the east at 5 mph, out of the southeast at 3 to 6 mph, and it was calm at times. The sky alternated from being overcast to being mostly cloudy to being partly cloudy to being fair and to raining with thunderstorms. The barometric pressure was 30.20 at 12:55 a.m., 30.22 at 5:55 a.m., 30.28 at 11:55 a.m., and 30.22 at 2:55 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would take place from 11:36 a.m. to 1:36 p.m. and 12:01 p.m. to 2:01 p.m. There would be a minor period from 5:48 a.m. to 7:48 a.m. He launched his kayak at 8:15 a.m. and got off the water at 11:35 a.m., when there was thunder in the distance.

Here is an edited and condensed version of his log:

I worked with five rods because I didn't know what to expect. We have some fish still in their wintering holes, which are littered with timber. There are some smallmouth bass that are hankering to spawn on what we call the weak side of the river. Others are inhabiting what I call winter-exodus spots, and I also call these fish in-between or transitional fish, and they abide by any available large obstruction, such as a boulder or laydown, that creates a current break.

My five rods were rigged with the following baits: a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Dirt ZinkerZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, which I always have rigged; a 2 1/2 — inch Z-Man's Canada Craw Hula StickZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; a 3 1/2-inch Z-Man's pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig; a Z-Man's watermelon-red Slim SwimZ on a yellow 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; and my heavily modified two-inch baby craw, which is crafted from a two-inch section of a Z-Man's Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. body with the shortened claws and head from a Z-Man's watermelon-red CrawdadZ and affixed to either an orange 1/32-ounce or an orange 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

I started the morning with the kayak's paddle, paddling upstream, and I got to my favorite wintering hole in 35 minutes. I have not been here this spring. Above this hole is a half mile of what I call nothing water. It is entirely void of fish, cover or structure, and its average depth is a couple of feet. But it eventually drops abruptly into 19 feet of water, and this hole is adorned with timber and massive boulders. It is a wintering hole for the smallmouth bass.

I started fishing the face or lip of this wintering hole with hopes of finding some big smallmouth bass that might be getting ready to move toward their traditional springtime haunts.

And to my delight, they were here in numbers. I brought 18 to hand in just over an hour and 20 minutes from the lip of this hole. During a five-minute spell, I hooked two smallmouth bass, which I almost had in my hands before they liberated themselves, that were easily the two biggest smallmouth bass that I have tangled with this spring. They looked to be identical twins, measuring at least 21 inches long.

All of these smallmouth bass were caught on my heavily modified two-inch baby craw affixed to an orange 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was retrieved with an extremely slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation that was just a few inches off the bottom. If this bait was more than eight inches off the bottom, it failed to elicit a strike.

After I failed to get those two smallmouth bass into my hands, I became a tad befuddled. When I came out of that haze, I decided I would leave these fish and move on. I was happy to have found such a congregation of smallmouth bass in these difficult conditions, and just getting a glimpse at those two beautiful fish made for a great day.

I went to the weak side of the river for a couple of hours and enjoyed a long float back to my truck. There were spots that I would paddle back up stream and float down numerous times. I primarily used the Slim SwimZ combo, and almost immediately, I began tangling with big bluegill (one was a 13-incher) and rock bass from three feet of water. I also caught three largemouth bass, which were interspersed with the bluegill, and the biggest largemouth bass was a 16-incher. When I decided to call it a day on this side of the river, 19 bluegill and eight rock bass had joined the day's tally.

As the river level continues to drop, I would expect the bluegill to be on their spawning beds here very soon.

I will be seeing those two large smallmouth bass in my sleep tonight and maybe longer.

May 5-7 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network.

He wrote: "My wife, Nancy, and I made a three-day excursion to a picturesque 5,700-acre Civilian Conservation Corps hill-land reservoir in south-central Oklahoma, where I focused my attention on pursuing its smallmouth bass from May 5 to May 7.

"It was our first time to visit this reservoir, and unfortunately, the weather turned for the worse once we arrived, and we were plagued with severe thunderstorms and high winds during most of our stay. We saw sunshine just once, and that was on May 6, and it only lasted for about 20 minutes before it was covered with thick and dark clouds. The morning low temperatures ranged from 60 degrees to 68 degrees. The afternoon highs varied from 78 degrees to 80 degrees The wind howled from 20 to 30 mph, and it blew incessantly out of the east-by-southeast. The barometric pressure ranged from 29.90 to 29.99.

"The weather made fishing trying and perplexing. I spent a significant amount of time ducking and dodging severe thunderstorms. When the rain wasn't a problem, the high winds were, and I was quickly reminded of the many virtues of a drift sock, and I needed to deploy one for almost the entire time I was afloat.

"The water was clear and displayed a beautiful emerald-green hue. The water's clarity was about four feet. The water's temperature ranged from 67 degrees to 69 degrees, and the water level was about eight feet low.

"In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 11:44 a.m. to 1:44 p.m., 12:09 p.m. to 2:09 p.m., and 5:57 a.m. to 7:57 a.m. on May 5. The best times on May 6 would occur from 12:39 a.m. to 2:30 a.m., 1:05 p.m. to 3:05 p.m., and 6:52 a.m. to 8:52 a.m. On May 7, the best times would occur from 1:36 a.m. to 3:36 a.m., 2:03 p.m. to 4:03 p.m., and 7:49 a.m. to 9:49 a.m.

"Between the thunderstorms and high winds, I managed to eke out eight total hours of fishing. And across the span of those eight hours, I felt fortunate to tangle with 19 smallmouth bass, five largemouth bass, and one spotted bass. But I was befuddled at how one bait could entice smallmouths on one day, but how they could completely ignored the same bait the next day. I was also bewildered at how an area could be productive one day, but be completely barren of fish the next. Consequently, I was unable to determine a dominant fish location pattern or a dominant lure. The only thing I was able to figure out was the most productive presentation, which was a slow, swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

"During the afternoon of May 5, I fished from about 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., and during those two hours, I caught only one largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass before I was forced off the water by an approaching thunderstorm and 30-mph winds.

"On May 6, I could sneak in just two hours of fishing from about 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. before another round of thunderstorms and high winds swept in, but I managed to catch seven smallmouth bass and three largemouth bass.

"May 7 was not as rainy as the first two days, and it was the most fruitful of the lot. I was able to fish for four hours from about 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. before another round of thunderstorms forced me off the reservoir, and I caught 11 smallmouth bass, one largemouth bass, and one spotted bass.

"One largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass were caught along a 75-yard section of wind-swept shoreline about halfway inside a large spawning cove in the southeast portion of the reservoir. This section of shoreline was flatter than the steeper terrain that surrounded much of this shoreline, and it was endowed with gravel, fist-size rocks, and about three dozen submerged stumps. Both of these bass were caught from five feet of water on a Z-Man's Mud Minnow Finesse T.R.D. on a black 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and presented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. I also tried a Z-Man's pearl Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a 3 1/2-inch Z-Man's Smoke Hologram GrubZ rigged on a black 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, but neither one was able to generate any strikes.

"I made three drifts down a 200-yard section of a flat and rocky main-lake shoreline located in the middle section of the reservoir's west tributary arm, and this shoreline slowly tapered off into 45 feet of water. It was also pummeled with continuous ranks of white caps. It yielded one smallmouth bass on the first drift, and nothing on the other two drifts. That smallmouth bass was caught on a Z-Man's Mud Minnow Finesse T.R.D. and black 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was worked in as close to a swim-glide-and-shake manner as the wind would allow. And it was relating to some shallow fist-size rocks in three feet of water and about five feet from the water's edge. I also wielded a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 3 1/2-inch Z-Man's Chartreuse Sparkle GrubZ on a black 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened four-inch Z-Man's PB&J Finesse WormZ rigged on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man's Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, but these other baits failed to entice any more strikes from this stretch of shoreline.

"I found some relief from the high winds along the south shoreline of a west-side cove on the west side of the impoundment. I caught two smallmouth bass in five feet of water off the tip of a short rock-laden jetty. Both of these smallmouths engulfed the Z-Man's Mud Minnow Finesse T.R.D. presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. About 30 yards west of this small jetty, I probed a riprap-covered secondary point with a line of large boulders that extended from the point out into 25 feet of water. The riprap along the secondary point yielded one smallmouth bass, one largemouth bass, and one spotted bass. All three of these bass were extracted out of 11 feet of water and engulfed a Z-Man's Canada Craw Hula StickZ rigged on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and presented with a hop-and-bounce retrieve. An adjacent line of boulders extending out from this secondary point relinquished four smallmouth bass and three largemouth bass. All four of the smallmouth bass and one of the three largemouth bass were extracted from the top of the line of boulders in about five to seven feet of water.

The other two largemouth bass were caught off the bottom along the base of the boulders in 25 feet of water. All seven of these bass were caught on the four-inch Z-Man's Coppertreuse Finesse WormZ threaded on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Two smallmouth bass and one largemouth bass engulfed the worm as it fell on the initial cast. The other two smallmouth bass and two largemouth bass engulfed the worm as it was retrieved with a slow hop-and-bounce presentation.

"One smallmouth bass was lured from a patch of large rocks in three feet of water along the west side of a submerged levee that extends across the middle of a cove on the east side of the reservoir, and another smallmouth bass was caught in five feet of water along the west side of a secondary point that lies about 100 yards west of the submerged levee. Both of these bass were caught on a Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation. I also used a Pradco Bait Company's Bomber clown-colored Pro Model A suspending jerkbait with an erratic twitch-and-pause retrieve, but it failed to entice any strikes.

"I caught one smallmouth bass that was relating to the north side of an offshore rocky main-lake hump in eight feet of water. This hump lies at the mouth of a small main-lake cove on the east side of the impoundment. It is covered with four feet of water and surrounded by 35 feet of water. This smallmouth was caught on the Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

"I probed a long rock-laden main-lake point just south of the main-lake hump, and this point leads into a large main-lake cove. It surrendered three smallmouth bass that were scattered in seven feet of water along its north side, and they were caught on a Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. I also wielded a Z-Man's Canada Craw Hula StickZ rigged on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and the Bomber clown-colored Pro Model A suspending jerkbait, but these two baits failed to generate any strikes.

"I dissected five rocky secondary points inside a large cove on the west side of the reservoir. Three of the five points surrendered five smallmouth bass, and they were all abiding in five to seven feet of water along the wind-protected west side of these points. These smallmouths were caught on a Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

"I also plied the back and mid-sections of a small marina cove; one sheer rock bluff that dropped into 57 feet of water; and three main-lake points, but I failed to generate any strikes from these five areas.

"In sum, I caught 19 smallmouth bass, five largemouth bass, and one spotted bass across 8 hours of fishing. The Z-Man's Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. and swim-glide-and shake presentation allured 11 smallmouth bass. Z-Man's four-inch Coppertreuse Finesse WormZ and hop and bounce retrieve caught four smallmouth bass and three largemouth bass. Four smallmouth bass and one largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man's Mud Minnow Finesse T.R.D. and swim-glide-shake retrieve. The Z-Man's Canada Craw Hula StickZ and hop-and-bounce technique enticed one smallmouth bass, one spotted bass, and one largemouth bass. The 3 1/2-inch GrubZs, four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ, green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ, pearl Finesse ShadZ, and Bomber suspending jerkbait failed to entice any strikes."

Steve Reideler with one of the smallmouth bass that he caught in Oklahoma.

May 8 log

The last 10 days have been a touch discombobulating for me at times. On April 28, the wheel bearings in the right hub of the boat trailer went awry as I was returning home from a few hours of chasing smallmouth bass at a nearby U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir. Then, I spent most of April 29 and 30 getting two new hubs and installing them and a new axel. (During all of this hubbub, I didn't take the time to compile a log about how, when, and where I caught 11 smallmouth bass during that outing.)

For years on end, many of our days in May are spent enjoying the various goings on of our 10 grandchildren, which proscribes the hours that I can get afloat. I did, however, try to get afloat on May 7, but after I launched the boat at a 100-acre community reservoir, I spent an hour and 45 minutes sitting at a picnic table under a gazebo, taking shelter from hail, lightening, and heavy rain, and eventually, I put the boat back on the trailer and headed home.

I did get afloat on May 8 at a 149-acre state reservoir, but as soon as I made my first cast, I felt a touch nauseated and bothered with lightheadedness, and after struggling with these two sensations for 65 minutes, I put the boat back on the trailer and headed home and climbed into bed, where I rested for 16 hours, and while I was in bed, I also missed one of our granddaughter's performances.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 60 degrees at 7:52 a.m. and 69 degrees at 1:52 p.m. Light rain fell during the early morning hours, and during the rest of the day, the sky alternated from being overcast to mostly cloudy to partly cloudy to foggy and misty. The wind was calm for a few hours, and it also angled out of the east at 5 mph, out of the south at 7 mph, out of the southeast at 3 mph, out of the north at 3 to 9 mph, out of the northwest at 3 to 12 mph, and out of the north at 7 to 9 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.91 at 12:52a.m., 29.95 at 5:52 a.m., 30.01 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.99 at 1:52 p.m.

When I fished this reservoir on April 16, the water level looked to be two feet below normal. On May 8, the water level was normal.

The water was stained to the point that the visibility ranged from 18 inches to 2 1/2 feet. The surface temperature was 67 degrees.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would take place from 2:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. and 2:56 p.m. to 4:56 p.m. And there would be a minor period from 8:43 a.m. to 10:43 a.m. I was afloat from 10:30 a.m. to 11:35 a.m.

I spent this short spell somewhat half-heartedly dissecting one shoreline. Its terrain is rocky and relatively flat. The boat floated in four to eight feet of water. It is endowed with nearly endless patches of American water willows, and the winter-dead stems are slowly becoming overtaken by green ones. This shoreline is bestudded with a number of significant laydowns, a few man-made brushpiles, and several rock-and-boulder-laden jetties. There were also about a dozen patches of curly-leaf pondweed gracing this shoreline, which I did not dissect.

After I read on May 5 a Finesse News Network brief that Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, wrote about the manifold merits of a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Dirt ZinkerZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, I affixed a well-used Z-Man's dirty-hued Rain MinnowZ to a black 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Back in 2011, we used dark permanent-ink markers to create what we called a dirty-hued Rain MinnowZ. It is not as dirty as the ZinkerZ that Myers employs, but in our eyes and our quarries' eyes, it seems to be dirty enough. The Rain MinnowZ is one of my favorite Midwest finesse baits, but Z-Man stopped making it a few years ago. Fortunately, they are the most durable soft-plastic baits known to mankind, and I hope that I have enough of them to last until I make my last cast. What's more, I suspect that the Rain MinnowZ that I used on May 8 has beguiled at least 200 largemouth bass, and it looks as if it can tangle with 200 more.

After I read an email on May 7 from David Reeves of Lansing, Kansas, about how unfruitful the Z-Man's Finesse ShadZ is for him at Table Rock Lake, Missouri, I affixed a well-used green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. I suspected that this particular Finesse ShadZ has inveigled more than 80 largemouth bass. (Day in, day out in northeastern Kansas, the Finesse ShadZ on either a 1/32-ounce or 1/16-ounce Gopher jig is the most fruitful rig that I have ever employed.)

During the 65 minutes that I fished, I made nearly an equal number of casts and retrieves with both baits. By the time I executed my last retrieve, my fish counter revealed that I had caught 26 largemouth bass. Thirteen were caught on the Rain MinnowZ rig and 13 were caught on the Finesse ShadZ rig. The bulk of them were caught on the initial drop of the baits along the outside edges of the patches of American water willows. The others were caught on a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve several feet from the outside edges of the American willow patches.

DSCN0752-001

May 9 log

Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his float-tube outing on May 9.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 60 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 75 degrees at 1:52 p.m. Occasionally the wind was calm, but at other times it angled out of the east at 8 to 23 mph, out of the north at six mph, and out of the northeast at 9 to 12 mph. Clouds littered the sky most of the day, and the NWS described it as partly cloudy, overcast, mostly cloudy, foggy and misty, and light rain. The barometric pressure was 30.01 at 12:52 a.m., 30.00 at 5:52 a.m., 29.98 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.88 at 3:52 p.m.

Here is an edited version of his report:

I fished my lakes for a couple of hours Saturday. The big lake is a foot high, and the small lake is full for the first time in several years.

I had an exciting day, as I caught a three-pound, eight-ounce largemouth bass, four-pound, two-ounce largemouth bass, and a spawned-out five-pound, six-ounce largemouth bass. The interesting thing is I fished the flooded grass and shallow stuff with spinnerbaits, Chatterbaits and a topwater frog, trying to catch some big largemouth bass, and all I caught were little one. Then I fished the deeper dam area for about 45 minutes with Z-Man's California Craw Hula StickZ on an unpainted 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ, and I caught the three big fish.

I think it might be spawn related, but it sure is late for the spawn. The five-pound, six-ounce largemouth bass had a bloody tail; it was thick across the back but skinny and beat-up across its belly.

I am heading to Canada for the summer on May 18. So my springtime largemouth mission is completed. Across 33 days of fishing and averaging about three hours per trip, I caught 1010 largemouth bass and 11 smallmouth bass, which is an average of 31 black bass per outing. I fished 10 different lakes, and considering how whacky this spring's weather has been weather wise, I am surprised by the results. The numbers work out to a bass about every six minutes. During those minutes, I also tangled with bluegill, crappie, walleye, freshwater drum, catfish, and carp , which interfered with my largemouth bass fishing.

Taking care of the farm and getting ready for Canada consumes most of my springs. So traditionally, I do not fish a lot in northeastern Kansas during the spring. But this year, I wanted to see if the Z-Man's Hula StickZ and Z-Man's Finesse TRD are as effective here as they are in Canada. The results proved to me that they are just as effective with northeastern Kansas' largemouth bass as they are with Canada's smallmouth bass. I must confess, however, I have missed those smallmouth bass, and now I am eager to get to Canada and start chasing them.

 May 9 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about the outing he and his wife had on May 9 at a 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 60 degrees at 4:53 a.m. and 75 degrees at 11:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the east at 6 to 23 mph, out of the northeast at 6 to 9 mph, and out of the southeast at 15 to 24 mph. Clouds littered the sky most of the day, and the NWS described it as partly cloudy, overcast, mostly cloudy, foggy and misty, and light rain. The barometric pressure was 29.99 at 12:53 a.m., 29.97 at 5:53 a.m., 29.95 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.86 at 3:53 p.m. By 2:00 p.m., some of the wind gusts hit 25 mph, and when that occurred, all of the anglers that were afloat were required to get off of the reservoir.

The surface temperature was 67 degrees from the boat ramp to the dam. The water level was normal. The water clarity exhibited six to seven feet of visibility.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would transpire from 3:31 a.m. to 5:31 a.m., 3:58 p.m. to 5:58 p.m., and 9:44 a.m. to 11:44 a.m.

They fished from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and caught 41 smallmouth bass, three wipers, three freshwater drum, two channel catfish, and one blue catfish. The bulk of these fish were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin/red ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

These fish were caught on a flat and rocky point on the west side of the reservoir, on portions of two massive riprap jetties on the east side of the reservoir, on a large rocky flat on the east side of the reservoir that is endowed with a series of rock and boulder piles, ledges, and patches of submerged vegetation, and on the eastern portions of the dam. Because the wind was howling, they employed a drift sock at a couple of these locales.

They caught the smallmouth bass in water as shallow as one foot and as deep as eight feet. The most effective presentation was the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, but there were spells when the wind made it difficult for them to execute the proper cadence of this retrieve.

One of the smallmouth bass that Bob Gum and his wife caught on May 9.

May 11 log

Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, filed this brief on the Finesse News Network about his short river outing on May 11.

The National Weather Service in Winchester, Virginia, reported that it was 63 degrees at 5:35 a.m. and 86 degrees at 3:15 p.m. The wind was variable and mild-mannered, angling out of the south at 3 to 6 mph, out of the southeast at 5 to 10 mph, out of the west at 3 mph, out of the east at 3 to 7 mph, and it was nil periodically between 2:55 a.m. and 9:35 a.m. At times, it was partly cloudy, hazy, foggy, and sunny. The barometric pressure was 30.12 at 12:15 a.m., 30.09 at 5:15 a.m., 30.10 at 11:15 a.m., and 30.01 at 3:15 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar reported that the best fishing would occur at 5:35 a.m. to 7:35 a.m., 6:02 p.m. to 8:02 p.m., and 11:25 a.m. to 1:25 p.m.

Here is an edited and condensed version of his report:

I had spent 40 hours across the past three days at work, and I was dragging mightily when I arrived home from work yesterday evening. And when I arrived, there was still enough sunlight for me to see what I call my river estimator, which is a huge boulder. By looking at that boulder, I know where on the river I should fish. And I needed a few hours on the water to recuperate from the trials and tribulations of my work-a-day world.

For the past month, more than a foot of water had been coursing across the top of the boulder. But during the recent spell of warm weather, the water level has dropped to the point that I could see the middle portions of the boulder.

Even after a good night's sleep and doing a variety of early morning household chores, I didn't feel like loading the Jackson Tuna kayak and wielding its paddle. From seeing where the water was at on the boulder, I decided to go simpler, and into the garage's cupboard I went for my old trusty Simms Wet Wade Boots that have been with me since we moved here from New York eight years ago. They hadn't been moved since last September.

I drove ten minutes to the river. When I arrived there at 6:47 a.m., the sun was breaking through the fog, and I stood up in the bed of my truck. The water was clear, and I could see bluegills on their spawning beds on the weak side of the river. It was time to usher in another year of small-river fishing.

I carried two G. Loomis Trout Spinning Rods and an assortment of Z-Man's Hula StickZs, Z-Man's ZinkerZs and radically customized renditions of Z-Man's baits, as well as a CamelBak with water and lunch of pickled eggs and fish. One rod sported a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Dirt ZinkerZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. A shortened Z-Man's Mud Minnow Hula StickZ and a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig was affixed to the other rod.

When the bluegills are spawning, we have found that all of the river's denizens seem to be foraging. So, I started the morning by wading and fishing around the spawning bluegill that I had looked down on from my truck. Interspersed with the bluegill were largemouth bass, and as I waded a 75-yard stretch of the weak side of the river, I caught 16 largemouth bass and 23 bluegill in two hours. All of them were caught on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Dirt ZinkerZ and red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

I arrived home at 9:30 a.m. and began running the Weed Eater and thinking about floating the river with my wife on May 12.

May 12 log

A week from today, Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, will be at the Lake of the Woods, Ontario, Canada, where he and his wife will spend the summer. On most of those days to come they will be catching smallmouth bass on a Z-Man's Canada Craw Hula StickZ and several other Midwest finesse baits that Z-Man manufactures. There will also be spells when they will be tangling with scores of walleye and lake trout by wielding a Z-Man's pearl Finesse ShadZ affixed to a Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig.

Before he headed north, he wanted to get his boat off his trailer so that he could make a minor repair to the trailer. He also wanted to test an underwater camera. He asked me to join him on this endeavor, saying that we could also give chase to some smallmouth bass for about four hours on a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 40 degrees at 5:53 a.m. and 68 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The wind was mild mannered and variable, angling out of the north at 5 to 7 mph, out of the northwest at 5 mph, out of the west at 3 to 5 mph, and out of the southeast at three to 9 mph. The sun was shining everywhere, and the indigo-blue sky was laced with cirrus clouds. The barometric pressure was 30.25 at 12:53 a.m., 30.26 at 5:53 a.m., 30.35 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.22 at 1:53 p.m.

The water level was about three-quarters of a foot below normal. The water clarity was stained, exhibiting less than three feet of visibility at most locales. Twenty cubic feet of water per second was being released from the dam. The surface temperature ranged from 66 degrees at 10:00 a.m. to 71 degrees at 1:00 p.m. We found many patches of bushy pondweed and several patches of curly-leaf pondweed.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would transpire from 6:16 a.m. to 8:16 a.m. and 6:42 p.m. to 8:42 p.m. There would be a minor period from 12:02 a.m. to 2:02 a.m. We fished from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Drew is the creator of Z-Man's Hula StickZ, and he has been wielding it since the spring of 2012. Across the past three years, he has found that it is the most fruitful Midwest finesse bait that he has ever used, and that is quite a feat, because he has been employing Midwest finesse baits since the 1960s. On this outing, we used a Z-Man's California Craw Hula StickZ on an unpainted 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig, Z-Man's PB&J Hula StickZ on a purple 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a prototype four-inch Z-Man Canada Craw tube on an inserted 1/16-ounce jig, and a 2 3/4-inch customized Z-Man's green-pumpkin/orange FattyZ tail on a green-pumpkin 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig. And the Hula StickZ rigs were the most productive ones of the lot.

We fished from 2 1/2 miles to 4 1/4 miles above the dam. We focused primarily on main-lake shorelines and points. But we also spent some time quickly probing three shorelines and three secondary points inside two small feeder-creek arms. The geological makeup of the shorelines and points is boulder-, gravel- and rock-laden. Some of these areas are endowed with aquatic vegetation, some piles of rocks and boulders, and a few stumps and logs. Flat points and shorelines were slightly more fruitful than the steeper ones, and main-lake areas were more rewarding than the ones inside the small feeder-creek arms. Points were more fruitful than shorelines, and major main-lake points yielded fewer smallmouth bass than the minor main-lake points yielded. Shorelines adjacent to the points yielded more smallmouth bass than shorelines that were a goodly distance from the points. Terrains consisting of rocks and boulders yielded many more smallmouth bass than gravel-laden terrains.

The fishing from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. was more bountiful than the fishing from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. And it needs to be noted that we spent a lot of time probing points and shorelines inside feeder-creek arms from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

We caught 57 smallmouth bass, three largemouth bass, and one channel catfish. One smallmouth bass was caught on the prototype four-inch Z-Man Canada Craw tube on an inserted 1/16-ounce jig. One smallmouth bass was caught on the Z-Man's green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Six smallmouth bass were caught on the 2 3/4-inch customized Z-Man's green-pumpkin orange FattyZ tail on a green-pumpkin 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig. The three largemouth bass were caught on the Z-Man's PB&J Hula StickZ on a purple 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Forty-nine smallmouth bass were caught on either the Z-Man's California Craw Hula StickZ on an unpainted 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig or the Z-Man's PB&J Hula StickZ on a purple 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

One of the 57 smallmouth bass that we caught.

A significant number of our strikes occurred on the initial drop. If we didn't elicit a strike on the initial drop, we elicited strikes by executing either a swim-glide-and-shake presentation or a drag-and-shake one. If we garnered a strike but failed to hook the striker, we immediately executed a deadstick routine, which occasionally was fruitful. Four smallmouth bass were inveigled by the strolling presentation.

We caught these fish in water as shallow as two feet and as deep as eight feet, and the bulk of them were abiding in three to six feet of water.

As we were driving home, we talked about how his creation, the Hula StickZ, is on the verge of becoming the hallmark bait for Midwest finesse anglers. Drew said it has become the dominant smallmouth bait for Midwest finesse anglers at the Lake of the Woods. He also noted that our mutual friend Bill Ward of Warsaw, Missouri, has recently become a Hula StickZ convert, and Ward's conversion transpired after he caught 32 largemouth bass at Truman Lake, Missouri, on a green-pumpkin Hula StickZ affixed to a homemade 1/32-ounce jig. Then on the next day, he caught 32 largemouth bass on the same Hula StickZ rig, and a catch of 64 largemouth bass at Truman Lake is a whale of a feat.

One of the three largemouth bass that we caught.

May 13 log

Burton Bosley of Sutton, West Virginia, filed a report of the Finesse News Network about his May 13 outing to a 1,400-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir.

Here's an edited and condensed version of his report:

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would transpire from 7:03 a.m. to 9:03 a.m., 7:29 p.m. to 9:29 p.m., and 12:50 a.m. to 2:50 a.m. I was on the water from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Area thermometers climbed only into the 60s, and it was sunny and breezy. It was a classic post-cold front (bluebird sky) situation, which can be very trying on these West Virginia waters.

I fished about a mile of shoreline on an outside river bend, which is a steep bluff that is adorned with many laydowns.

I had planned to topwater fish, which is my passion, but I turned to finesse almost immediately, using a 30-year old, six-foot, medium-light action Fenwick spinning rod and a Z-Man's California Craw Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. This rig caught two spotted bass before I lost it on a sunken tree.

After I lost the Finesse T.R.D. rig, I began wielding a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a green-pumpkin 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig. I avoided the laydowns and sunken trees, which are the traditional hot spots on this lake, but they are impossible to get an open or exposed hook lure through. I diligently fished all the open water on this stretch and caught 14 spotted bass, two rock bass, and one largemouth bass. The boat was floating in 20 to 30 feet of water, and I made short casts to the water's edge adjacent to the steep walls of the bluff. A few of these fish engulfed the Hula StickZ rig as soon as it hit the water, but the bulk of them engulfed it when it was near or on the bottom in 10 to 20 feet of water. The more I fish this lure in this lake the more I deadstick. In fact, I caught several fish while I let it set on the bottom for several seconds as I munched on a cookie.

My biggest spotted bass was a 16-incher. A good-sized one jumped off at the boat, and it appeared to be a three-pounder, which is a huge spotted bass in these waters.

The more I fish the Hula StickZ, the more I am appreciating its subtleties. Having the patience to deadstick it was the key on this outing. It is easily one of the best deadsticking baits I possess.

Another aside on tackle: I fish hair jigs often, especially in cold water. My spinning rods for fishing them are fast and sensitive, and I use REC's Recoil Tip Guides to improve the sensitivity. For using Midwest finesse soft-plastic baits on a 1/16-ounce jig, I have found a 30-year-old medium-light-action, six-foot, Fenwick spinning rod, which is limber and not particularly sensitive, to be my best choice. The only upgrade I have made to this old rod is to wrap it with MicroWave Guides, which makes for better line management. I felt very few of the bites on this outing, but I am an inveterate line watcher, and I would often see the line move or otherwise behave differently when a fish engulfed the Hula StickZ. But there were times when I was unaware that a fish had engulfed it until I lifted the rod and felt the fish.

When I am aware that a fish has engulfed the bait, I reel up the line until I feel resistance, and then I gently lift the rod, which allows the bend of the rod to drive the little hook into the flesh of the fish's mouth. When I was fishing the float-and-fly rig this winter with my power-fishing friend, I was somewhat surprised at his violent yanks and subsequent line breakage. I had to give him a short lesson on hook setting with finesse baits. The little hooks on these Midwest finesse jigs cannot be yanked into a fish's mouth. That's why, for me, limber rods are much better tools for this kind of fishing. I merely tighten the line on the fish and let the bend in the rod do the rest. Stiff rods and hard jerks with small sharp hooks profit an angler nothing. This is even truer with the use of the new super lines that have little or no stretch. I think fly fishing is a good school for learning how to set small sharp hooks into the flesh of a fish's mouth, because even when I tangle with a 12-pound bonefish, I merely lift the rod and let it and the fish do the hook setting. Ray Fincke of Overland Park, Kansas, taught me this back in the 1960s. Thus, it has worked for me for quite a few years.

The real beauty of this most recent evolution of Midwest finesse is that it has maintained the original simplicity, but the ElaZtech baits are an improvement over the old soft-plastic ones. It is a system that can be honed finer, but it does not need to be over thought.

By concentrating on one shoreline on this outing and just tossing the Hula StickZ out and taking my time getting it back to the boat, I had a far better than average day on this tough little reservoir.

May 14 log

When Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas and elsewhere across the nation become glum about a sorry outing or two, they might spend a few moments being thankful that they do not have to fish the difficult waterways that Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas; Ralph Manns of Rockwall, Texas; Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas; and Rick Allen of Dallas have to fish day after day. Reideler filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his May 14 outing.

He wrote: "North-central Texas has been enduring an unusually wet spring, and during the past several weeks, we have been waylaid with one deluge after another. Some locales received as much as 13 inches of precipitation in one week. Consequentially, the water levels in our larger reservoirs are now extremely high, and they are muddy, and littered with surface debris. On May 12, my wife, Nancy, and I drove around several of the local reservoirs, and we were amazed to see that the water levels had ascended to the point where the boat ramps, parking lots, and picnic tables are now completely covered with several feet of water. And much to my dismay, the large reservoirs that are located around the vicinity of Lewisville and those that lie northward up to the Texas-Oklahoma state line are now closed indefinitely due to the flood conditions.

"Since the larger local reservoirs are currently inaccessible, I made a short excursion to a 20-acre community reservoir located in a suburb northwest of Dallas.

"It was mostly cloudy and windy, and more thunderstorms were forecast for the next four days. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 69 degrees, and the afternoon high temperatuure warmed to 89 degrees. The wind blew out of the south and southwest at 10 to 20 mph. The barometric pressure was low at 29.52.

"According to In-Fisherman's solunar calendar, the best fishing periods would occur from 7:55 a.m. to 9:55 a.m. and 8:22 p.m. to 10:22 p.m. A minor period would take place from 1:42 a.m. to 3:42 a.m. I walked the shorelines of this 20-acre reservoir from about noon to 3:30 p.m.

"The water was stained with about 2 1/2 feet of visibility and the water level appeared to be slightly high. I did not have the means to measure the water's temperature.

"I used four baits: a Z-Man's watermelon-red Slim SwimZ grub affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Canada Craw ZinkerZ rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; a shortened Z-Man's California Craw Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; and a shortened Z-Man's green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

"The Slim SwimZ grub was retrieved with a slow and steady swim retrieve. The 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The shortened Hula StickZs were retrieved with a drag-and-shake presentation, a hop-and- bounce presentation, and a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

"The fishing was tedious, and I scrounged up only eight largemouth bass and one crappie during this 3 1/2-hour endeavor. These eight bass weighed between 1 1/2 pounds and 3 pounds,13 ounces.

"I began this outing by dissecting a steep, sand, and gravel shoreline situated along the mid-section of the west shoreline. I caught two largemouth bass that were relating to a patch of hydrilla in about five feet of water. Both of these bass vigorously struck the Slim SwimZ grub. I fished my way southward along the west shoreline to the dam, but I failed to generate another strike.

"As I began to work my way eastward along the west end of the smooth slab-concrete dam, I was able to entice two largemouth bass into striking the Slim SwimZ grub and one largemouth bass engulfed the 2 1/2-inch Canada Craw ZinkerZ. These three bass were about 20 feet out from the face of the dam in about four feet of water. I caught another largemouth bass and one 13-inch crappie from along the mid-section of the dam in about five feet of water, and they were both attracted to the Slim SwimZ grub.

"The east shoreline relinquished two largemouth bass. One bass was caught on the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ, and the other bass engulfed the Slim SwimZ. One bass was caught in five feet of water along the south end of the east shoreline, and it was relating to the deep-water side of a sand and gravel ledge that extends about three feet out from the water's edge. The second bass was caught in three feet of water off the top of a submerged clay and gravel point that extends from the northern portion of the mid-section of the east shoreline. I fished the remainder of the east shoreline, which included another point and one small brush pile, but I failed to generate any other bites.

"I finished the outing by fishing a portion of a large mud flat just south of a protected migratory waterfowl nesting area, but I was unable to induce any other strikes along the deep-water edge of this flat.

"In sum, the Z-Man's watermelon-red Slim SwimZ and steady swim retrieve allured six of the eight largemouth bass and one crappie. The 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Canada Craw ZinkerZ and swim-glide-and-shake presentation beguiled the other two bass. The shortened Z-Man's California Craw Hula StickZ and Z-Man's green pumpkin Hula StickZ implemented with the drag-and-shake retrieve, hop-and-bounce retrieve, and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve failed to render any strikes."

May 15 log

Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and I spent 225 minutes on May 15 at a 416-acre community reservoir in pursuit of smallmouth bass, which have confounded us a number of times during the past several years.

On this outing, we crossed paths with Richard Sanders of Lawrence, Kansas, who is a Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism's district fisheries biologist. Sanders manages this reservoir, and he and his crew were manning their electrofishing boat and conducting their spring survey of this reservoir's largemouth bass and smallmouth bass populations. When we talked to them around 10:05 a.m., Sanders said they were about halfway through their survey, and he described their catch as disappointing. He wondered if the extremely clear water has forced the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass to abide around lairs that are deeper than the shock-boat can effectively bring them to the surface. He also noted that part of the problem might revolve around the lingering effects of the largemouth bass virus that wacked this reservoir several years ago.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 59 degrees at 3:53 a.m. and 76 degrees at 1:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the east at 3 to 5 mph, out of the south at 8 to 15 mph, out of the southeast at 8 mph, and it was calm during the early morning hours and for a spell around noon. Some nearby areas were pummeled by midday thunderstorms, but those storms bypassed this reservoir. The NWS noted that throughout the day it was foggy and misty, partly cloudy, mostly cloudy, and overcast. The barometric pressure was 29.96 at 12:53 a.m., 29.93 at 5:53 a.m., 29.90 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.98 at 1:53 p.m.

The water level looked to be nearly normal. The surface temperature ranged from 66 to 68 degrees. The water was exceedingly clear for a flatland reservoir in northeastern Kansas, exhibiting more than nine feet of visibility in some locales. The plague of filamentous algae that has been bothersome for weeks on end at scores of reservoirs across northeastern Kansas has begun to abate. All of this reservoir's patches of American water willow are flourishing. Significant wads of bushy pondweed floated on the surface, and many shallow-water lairs were adorned with mature patches of curly-leaf pondweed, which will wilt in mid-June and not sprout again until late fall.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would take place from 8:37 a.m. to 10:37 a.m., 9:04 p.m. to 11:04 p.m., and 2:24 a.m. to 4:24 a.m. We fished from 10:15 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and we caught 21 smallmouth bass, four largemouth bass, two rainbow trout, and one channel catfish, which is a lackluster mid-May outing hereabouts. In sum, our catch somewhat paralleled the catch that Richard Sanders and his electro-shocking crew mustered.

Our most fruitful area was a hump that paralleled the shoreline about 40 percent of the way inside a feeder-creek arm. The boat floated in 11 feet of water, and we were situated from 70 to 90 feet from the water's edge. Our casts landed about 25 feet from the water's edge. This hump is covered with four to seven feet of water, and it is about 40 feet long and 20 feet wide. This hump and two nearby lairs yielded seven smallmouth bass, which were caught on either a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's PB&J ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig or a Z-Man's PB&J Rain MinnowZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Some of these smallmouth bass engulfed our baits on the initial drop, and others engulfed them as we executed a drag-shake-and-deadstick presentation.

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Our second most productive spot yielded five smallmouth bass and two largemouth bass, which were abiding in four to six feet of water along a submerged rock fence, which is similar to a rock reef. This is an offshore lair. It encompasses a massive flat that is bordered by the rock fence and a steep drop off. These black bass were caught on a shortened Z-Man's PB&J Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's PB&J ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, a Z-Man's PB&J Rain MinnowZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. The boat floated in water as shallow as four feet and as deep as 20 or more feet. To allure these black bass, we employed a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

Six smallmouth bass were caught on five main-lake points in water as shallow as five feet and as deep as 10 feet. Three smallmouth bass and two largemouth bass were caught along one main-lake shoreline in the upper reaches of this reservoir, where the water was as shallow as three feet and no deeper than six feet. These black bass were caught on a Z-Man's California Craw Hula StickZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's PB&J ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, a Z-Man's PB&J Rain MinnowZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, and a Z-Man's purple Split-Tail TrailerZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Some of these black bass were caught on a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and some were caught on a drag-shake-and-deadstick presentation.

Steve Desch wit one of the 21 smallmouth bass that we caught.

Because of the extremely clear water, we spent some time fishing deeper than we used to fish this reservoir and the other flatland reservoirs that we regularly fish in northeastern Kansas. Some of the smallmouth bass we caught were extracted out of depths that were a tad deeper than we normally fish, but we didn't discover a consistent deep-water pattern. If the water remains this clear in the months to come, we will continue to search for deeper lairs.

In sum, we made an untold number of casts and retrieves that failed to inveigle a smallmouth bass or a largemouth bass, and this same phenomenon has occurred many times since mid-2014. Because the black bass fishing has become so trying, we don't fish this reservoir as often as we used to fish it. In fact, we have fished it only five times in 2015, and on those five outings, we have tangled with only 67 smallmouth bass and 27 largemouth bass, which is a measly catch rate of 4.9 black bass an hour. Across the past seven years, we have enjoyed 805 black bass outings at various flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas, and during those outings, we caught an average of 9.46 black bass an hour. Until mid-2014, this reservoir was often one of the most fruitful of the lot.

This smallmouth bass tried to engulf a shortened four-inch Z-Man's PB&J Finesse WormZ.

  May 16 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, posted this log about his fruitful bank-walking endeavors on May 16.

He wrote: "I conducted a solo 4 1/2-hour bank-walking foray at a 12-acre community reservoir located in a suburb north of Dallas.

"In-Fisherman's solunar calendar listed the prime fishing phases occurring from 9:31 a.m. to 11:31 a.m., 9:59 p.m. to 11:59 p.m., and 3:17 a.m. to 5:17 a.m. I fished from about 11:30 a.m. to about 4:00 p.m.

"It was mostly cloudy and windy. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 70 degrees and the afternoon high temperature reached 87 degrees. An irksome wind blew out of the south at 18 to 30 mph, and it continuously hindered my ability to execute accurate casts and retrieves. The barometric pressure was low at 29.49.

"The water was stained and exhibited about two feet of visibility. The water level was normal. I did not have the means to measure the water's temperature.

"The fishing was marvelous and the best I have experienced since March 24, when I caught and released 62 largemouth bass from this reservoir. During this May 16 outing, I was surprised and elated to catch 48 largemouth bass and 11 green sunfish.

"I used two lures: a Z-Man's dark-melon-red Scented LeechZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man's watermelon-red Slim SwimZ grub rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

"I began fishing my way northward along the west shoreline, which is comprised of sand, gravel, a few scattered fist-sized rocks, and a three-foot ledge that extends outward from the water's edge into three to five feet of water. This shoreline yielded nine largemouth bass and four large green sunfish that were scattered along the deep-water side of the ledge in about five feet of water.

"I then fished the wind-swept north shoreline, which is similar to the west bank. It is also enhanced with a three-foot mud and gravel ledge that extends outward from the water's edge and drops off into five feet of water. This shoreline relinquished eight largemouth bass and one green sunfish that were also relating to the deep-water side of the ledge in about five feet of water.

"Then I fished the east side of the reservoir. This section of the reservoir is endowed with two coves that are divided by a long sand and gravel point. The northeastern cove is comprised of a large mud flat with a small ditch that cuts across the middle of the cove from the east shoreline toward the west shoreline. The northeast end of the ditch yielded one largemouth bass and one green sunfish that were relating to the north-side edge of the ditch in about five feet of water.

"I then probed the long sand and gravel point that separates the northeast cove from the southeast cove. The wind-protected north side of the point surrendered six largemouth bass and one green sunfish. All seven of these fish were abiding in five to seven feet of water near the west end or tip of the point. The windswept south side of the point yielded nine largemouth bass and one green sunfish. These 10 fish were scattered along the shoreline in about five feet of water.

"I then worked my way eastward into the southeastern cove. Its terrain consists of steep clay shorelines that are enhanced with fist-sized rocks. A creek channel winds its way through the middle of the cove from the northeast corner to the mid-section of the south shoreline. A short but broad mud and gravel point courses outward toward deeper water from the south shoreline and forms the mouth to the cove. I caught nine largemouth bass and three large green sunfish from about five to seven feet of water along both sides of the creek channel in the northeast corner of the cove. Three largemouth bass were extracted from five feet of water along the south end of the creek channel. Three more largemouth bass were caught in four feet of water from the top of the mud point that forms the mouth to this cove.

"I finished the outing by fishing the south shoreline of the reservoir. This area encompasses a large mud and gravel spawning flat. I dissected the spawning flat and deep-water side of the spawning flat, which lies about 35 feet out from the water's edge and is covered with three to five feet of water. I enticed one strike from this area, but I missed the fish on the hook set.

"Overall, it was a very gratifying afternoon. Thirty-six largemouth bass and six green sunfish were allured by the Z-Man's Dark Melon-Red Scented LeechZ implemented with a slow, swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The other 12 bass and five green sunfish were bewitched by the Z-Man's watermelon-red Slim SwimZ grub and a steady-swim retrieve. I hooked five other largemouth bass during the course of the afternoon, but they were able to liberate themselves before I could land them."

May 17 log

Dave Mull of Paw Paw, Michigan, filed this brief on the Finesse News Network about his May 17 outing.

He wrote: "I am behind in my reporting and this one might not be worth sharing, but I actually had some success Texas-rigging a Z-man's Mud Minnow Finesse T.R.D. on a 1/0 Trokar hook. During an afternoon photo shoot with a young, up-and-coming bass pro, and somewhat to this power-lure-chunking angler's chagrin, it caught our only two keeper-size largemouth bass, which must be 14 inches long in Michigan. These largemouth bass were in well-established lily pads. I used it with a 3/16-ounce Top Brass tungsten sinker pegged to the nose of the Finesse T.R.D. with a Top Brass Peg-It. I caught five largemouth bass on the set-up along with a healthy warmouth. I stopped using it because the Trokar was big enough to reverse hook a couple of the smaller fish in the eye socket, and it has a serious barb. It is a great hook when you want to make sure the fish gets in the boat I guess. Overall, we fished two small Michigan lakes. The surface temperature was 68 degrees. We saw lots of spawning beds. The Z-Man's Mud Minnow Finesse T.R.D. on a green-pumpkin 1/15-ounce Z-Man's ShroomZ jig accounted for 15 other largemouth. I am still having some issues with fish coming unpinned and lost about eight. I also caught one small walleye on it."

 May 19 log

Mother Nature inundated northeastern Kansas on May 16 and 17. The National Weather Service in Lawrence, Kansas, reported on May 19 that they had received 4.70 inches of rain during the first 19 days of the month, which was 1.75 inches above normal for the month, and more than two inches of the 4.70 inches fell during the nighttime hours of May 16 and 17.

Consequently, the water levels at our flatland reservoirs climbed above their normal levels, ranging from a few feet to as much as 6 1/2 feet above normal. Moreover, the water clarity declined dramatically, diminishing from more than six feet of visibility to less than six inches of visibility. Then on May 18 and 19, Mother Nature whacked us with unseasonably cool temperatures.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 45 degrees at 5:52 a.m. and 58 degrees at 12:52 p.m. on May 19. The average low temperature for his date is 56 degrees and the average high temperature is 68 degrees. Until noon, the sun was shining everywhere, and then layers of stratus and stratocumulus clouds began to block the sun's rays, and the NWS predicted more rain would fall during the evening hours of May 19 and morning hours of May 20. The wind angled out of the north at 5 to 12 mph and out of the northeast at 5 to 20 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.31 at 12:52 a.m., 30.33 at 5:52 a.m., 30.28 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.23 at 2:52 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing should occur from 11:42 a.m. to 1:42 p.m., 12:09 p.m. to 2:09 p.m., and 5:56 a.m. to 7:56 a.m. I fished a 180-acre state reservoir from 11:20 a.m. to 1:20 p.m. and a 195-acre community reservoir from 2:13 p.m. to 3:13 p.m.

The water level at the 180-acre reservoir appeared to be about two feet above normal. A great volume of water was flowing -- and roaring as it flowed -- over the dam's outlet. The surface temperature ranged from 66 to 67 degrees. I could see a Z-Man's Junebug Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig 12 inches under the surface. The water level at the 195-acre reservoir was about two feet above normal. A significant volume of water was flowing out of this reservoir. The surface temperature was 66 degrees. I could barely see a Z-Man's Junebug Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig six inches under the surface. Flotsam cluttered the shorelines at both reservoirs.

In order to ply the clearest water and the shorelines that were not overly littered with flotsam, I spent the entire two hours at the 180-acre reservoir and the hour at the 195-acre reservoir dissecting their rock-laden dams. Traditionally, these two dams are fruitful locales to ply during the late-spawn and post-spawn periods.

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The dam at the 180-acre reservoir is twice as long as the one at the 195 acre reservoir, which is why it took me two hours to fish it. And it took me only one hour to fish the dam at the 195 acre reservoir. The dam at the 180-acre reservoir is littered with riprap and graced with a few patches of bushy pondweed and three minor patches of American water willows. On this outing, it was also cluttered with a half of a dozen piles of fresh flotsam. It is not as steep as the dam at the 195-acre reservoir.

Along both dams, I employed three baits: a Z-Man's Junebug Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man's Junebug Finesse T.R.D. on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a shortened four-inch Z-Man's Junebug Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

Before I executed my first cast, I thought that it would be a remarkable outing if I could average five largemouth bass an hour. But along the dam at the 180-acre reservoir, I tangled with 28 largemouth bass, which was a pleasant surprise indeed. Five were caught on the Hula StickZ rig. Eight were caught on the Finesse WormZ rig. Fifteen were caught on the Finesse T.R.D. rig. Sixteen of these largemouth bass engulfed these baits on the initial drop. The other dozen were caught when I was employing either a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve or a drag-and-deadstick presentation. They were extracted out of water as shallow as 2 1/2 feet and as deep as six feet.

The rock-laden dam at the 195-acre reservoir is not riprap. It was constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps by using layers of rectangular-shaped limestone rocks, which look to be four feet long and two feet wide and two feet thick. Across the past 80 years, some of these rectangular rocks have broken into numerous pieces and look like riprap. The dam is also endowed with many patches of American water willows, and there were three minor patches of flotsam. During the hour that I fished this dam, I eked out seven largemouth bass. All of them were caught on the shortened four-inch Z-Man's Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Four of them engulfed it on the initial drop, and the other three were caught when I employed the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. All seven were caught in two to four feet of water.

One of the 15 largemouth bass that was inveigled by a shortened four-inch Z-Man's Junebug Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

In sum, I caught 35 largemouth bass in three hours. Fifteen were caught on the Z-Man's Junebug Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Fifteen were caught on the Z-Man's Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Five were caught on the Z-Man's Junebug Hula StickZ suffixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

May 20 log

Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network.

He wrote: "The large reservoirs in north-central Texas have been closed since May 12 after a series of severe thunderstorms inundated them. Therefore, Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas, and I had to make a 38-mile journey to a 250-acre reservoir, where we could launch our boat. The last time we fished this reservoir was on April 10, and during that enjoyable five hour excursion, we caught 31 largemouth bass and four spotted bass.

"During our May 20 outing, Norman conducted an experiment, which focused on comparing the effectiveness of 10-pound-test dark-green braided line without a leader and 10-pound-test high-visibility yellow braided line with a five-foot eight-pound-test fluorocarbon leader.

"The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 59 degrees and the afternoon high climbed to 89 degrees. For most of the day the wind blew out of the south at 8 to 12 mph, but it turned and blew out of the north-by-northwest at 12 to 15 mph later in the afternoon. We employed a drift sock for the vast majority of the outing. During the morning hours, it was cloudy and humid. It rained lightly from about 11:45 a.m. to about noon. By 2:15 p.m., the sun was shining through a partly cloudy sky, which made it feel even more humid. The barometric pressure measured 29.98. A local TV meteorologist forecasted more severe thunderstorms for the next seven days. He also reported that Mother Nature had pounded these parts with 10 tornados during the evening hours of May 19, and a total of 42 tornadoes had pummeled this area since the first of May.

"In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated the best fishing periods would take place from 12:49 a.m. to 2:49 a.m., 1:16 p.m. to 3:16 p.m., and 7:02 p.m. to 9:02 p.m.

"The water clarity in this reservoir usually varies from four to six feet of visibility. But after the severe thunderstorms during the late nighttime hours of May 19 and into the early morning hours of May 20, the water clarity was only 1 1/2 feet. The water's surface temperature was 74 degrees, and the water level appeared to be about two feet high.

"Norman and I started our endeavors along a wind-swept main-lake point covered with a stand of tall cattails and an adjacent 75-yard stretch of main-lake shoreline that is enhance with three patches of American water willows, two stands of cattails, and two submerged rock piles. The boat floated in water as shallow as five feet and as deep as 10 feet. The cattail-laden point failed to yield any strikes. We caught one largemouth bass and one large green sunfish from three feet of water along a rocky portion of the 75-yard section of the main-lake shoreline. The largemouth bass struck a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The green sunfish attacked a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Both of these lures were retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. We also tried a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's watermelon-red Slim SwimZ grub on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was presented with a steady swimming retrieve, but it failed to elicit any strikes.

"The second spot we fished was the riprap-covered dam that forms the southern boundary of the reservoir. The boat floated in nine to 15 feet of water. We inveigled three largemouth bass, three blue catfish, and one green sunfish that were scattered along the face of the dam in three to six feet of water. A Z-Man's Dark Melon-Red Scented LeechZ rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig attracted all three of the largemouth bass and one catfish. The 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig enticed two catfish, and the Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig allured one green sunfish. These three baits were retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake action. We also used an array of four-inch Z-Man Finesse WormZs and 3 1/2-inch Z-Man GrubZs, but they failed to induce any strikes.

"The next spot was the north shoreline in a cove in the southwest section of the reservoir. This shoreline is enhanced with softball and baseball-sized rocks, one boat ramp, one beaver hut, nine laydowns, a thick wall of American water willows, and tall stands of cattails. A creek channel closely parallels a 50-yard section of the shoreline. The boat floated in seven to 15 feet of water. This shoreline yielded three largemouth bass, one white bass, and one green sunfish. Two largemouth bass, one white bass, and one green sunfish were scattered along the shoreline in three to five feet of water and about 10 to 15 feet out from the edge of the American water willows. One largemouth bass was caught off the end of one of the laydowns in three feet of water. All of these fish were coaxed into striking the Z-Man's Dark Melon-Red Scented LeechZ rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. We also hooked three largemouth bass that were able to liberate themselves before we could land them. We fished a portion of this cove's south shoreline, but it failed to surrender any bass.

"We then targeted three rocky main-lake points along the west side of the reservoir.

"One point surrendered two largemouth bass, and they were both lured from six feet of water along the tip of the point by the Z-Man's Dark Melon-Red Scented LeechZ rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

"The second rocky main-lake point surrendered three largemouth bass and one spotted bass that were relating to both sides of the point in three to six feet of water. Two of the largemouth bass engulfed the Z-Man's Dark Melon-Red Scented LeechZ rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and swim-glide-shake retrieve. One largemouth bass and one spotted bass engulfed a Z-Man's Black-Gold-Flake Scented LeechZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and swim-glide-and-shake technique.

"The third main-lake point is broad and flat. It is enhanced with three dilapidated boat ramps, three patches of American water willows, and a submerged roadbed. The boat floated in five to nine feet of water. This point yielded one spotted bass and one largemouth bass. The spotted bass was relating to one of the dilapidated concrete boat ramps in three feet of water. The largemouth bass was relating to the submerged roadbed in five feet of water. Both of these bass were hooked on the Z-Man's Black-Gold-Flake Scented LeechZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and swim-glide-and-shake retreive.

"We finished this outing by plying the cattail-laden point and the adjacent main-lake shoreline where we began the day. The boat floated in five to 10 feet of water. This time around, the 75-yard section of shoreline relinquished two largemouth bass and one large bluegill. One bass was caught from six feet of water on the Z-Man's Dark Melon-Red Scented LeechZ rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig as it was allowed to drift behind the boat while we were adjusting the straps on the drift sock. The other bass and large bluegill were caught in four feet of water on the Z-Man's Black-Gold-Flake Scented LeechZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig that was retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

"In sum, we struggled to catch 15 largemouth bass and two spotted bass. We inadvertently caught three catfish, three green sunfish, one white bass, and one large bluegill. We hooked three other bass that were able to pull free before we could land them.

"Eleven largemouth bass, one catfish, one white bass, and one green sunfish were allured by the Z-Man's Dark Melon-Red Scented LeechZ rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Three largemouth bass, two spotted bass, and one large bluegill were enticed into striking the Z-Man's Black-Gold-Flake Scented LeechZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught one largemouth bass and one green sunfish. The 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig attracted two catfish and one green sunfish. Z-Man's  2 1/2-inch Slim SwimZ, 3 1/2-inch GrubZ, and an array of four-inch Finesse WormZs failed to elicit any strikes.

"The swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the only productive retrieve.

"Norman's braided line versus braided line with a fluorocarbon leader experiment revealed a significant difference in catch rates. Though his experiment was not based on any proper scientific procedure, 15 of these 17 black bass were caught on lures tied to the braided line with a fluorocarbon leader. Only two largemouth bass and one white bass were caught on lures tied directly to the braided line."

May 21 log

After my wife, Patty, and I enjoyed our granddaughter's graduation ceremony, I went to see what four inches of rain had done to a 416-acre community reservoir.

On May 21, 2014, Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and I fished this 416-acre community reservoir, and we caught 81 largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, six walleye, three crappie, three channel catfish, three freshwater drum, one rainbow trout, and a score or more of bluegill, green sunfish, and warmouth. Our mechanical fish counter did not distinguish largemouth bass from smallmouth bass, but we estimated that we caught 45 smallmouth bass and 36 largemouth bass. (To our chagrin and bewilderment, our abilities to catch largemouth bass and smallmouth bass at this reservoir has pummeled drastically since that May 21, 2014, outing. This year our catch rate is a measly five black bass an hour at this reservoir. Across the past seven years, we have enjoyed 805 black bass outings at various flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas, and during those outings, we caught an average of 9.46 black bass an hour. During many of those years, this reservoir was often one of the most fruitful of the lot.)

My catch rate was paltry again on this solo outing, and this time around it might have been affected by some significant cold-front conditions, as well as the aftereffects of substantial changes in water levels and clarity.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 44 degrees at 5:52 a.m. and 69 degrees at 5:52 p.m. The normal low temperature for May 21 is 56 degrees, and the normal high temperature is 77 degrees. It was overcast from 12:52 a.m. to 4:52 a.m., sunny from 5:52 a.m. to 11:52 a.m., and a few clouds cluttered the sky from 12:52 p.m. to 4:52 p.m. The wind was mild mannered, and even calm at times, and when it did stir, it was either variable or angling out of the north and northwest at 5 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.25 at 12:52 a.m., 30.28 at 5:52 a.m., 30.28 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.24 at 3:52 p.m.

Six days ago the water level at this reservoir was normal, but because of the recent and incessant onslaughts of rain, the water level was more than two feet above normal. The water clarity changed from nine feet of visibility on May 16 to less than four feet on this outing, and at several locales, the visibility was two feet. (It was, however, much clearer than I thought it would be. Some of our reservoirs are extremely muddy, exhibiting less than six inches of visibility.) The surface temperature ranged from 66 to 69 degrees. This reservoir's shorelines are graced with magnificent patches of American water willows, but on this outing, they were completely covered with water. A lot of this reservoir's offshore lairs are graced with burgeoning patches of bushy pondweed, which is a new phenomenon.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing should occur from 1:42 a.m. to 3:42 a.m., 2:08 p.m. to 4:08 p.m., and 7:55 a.m. to 9:55 a.m. I fished from noon to 4:00 p.m., and I caught 17 smallmouth bass and four largemouth bass, and I inadvertently caught two freshwater drum and two white bass. Ten of the smallmouth bass were caught between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Traditionally, riprap and rock-laden dams are the most fruitful locales to ply at the flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas during the late-spawn and post-spawn periods. But I didn't fish this reservoir's dam until 3:00 p.m., and during the last 60 minutes that I was afloat, the riprap along this dam yielded nine smallmouth bass. As I fished it, the boat floated in 10 to 15 feet of water. I made casts with either a shortened Z-Man's California Craw Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Split-Tail TrailerZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig that landed about four feet from the water's edge, and if a smallmouth bass didn't inhale these baits on the initial drop, I retrieved them with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve into seven to 10 feet of water. The nine smallmouth bass were caught in 3 1/2 to 7 1/2 feet of water. The Hula StickZ rig caught eight of them, and the Split-Tail TrailerZ rig caught one of them.

Besides the dam, I dissected portions of two shorelines inside two large feeder-creek arms and a segment of one shoreline inside a small feeder-creek arm. I thought that with all of the freshwater that recently gushed into this reservoir that it would have attracted significant numbers of largemouth bass into these feeder-creek arms, but if they were there, I didn't possess the wherewithal to catch them. Each of these shorelines yielded a smallmouth bass. All three of these shorelines are rock and boulder laden, and they are embellished with bushy pondweed, American water willow, and several laydowns. One smallmouth bass was caught on a Z-Man's PB&J Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve in about six feet of water. Two smallmouth bass were caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Split-Tail TrailerZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve in about three feet of water.

I fished two main-lake shorelines in the upper third portions of the reservoir. These rocky shorelines are graced with several kinds of aquatic submerged and emergent vegetation, some stumps, laydowns, boulders, ledges, steel and PVC pipes, and tertiary points. Along these shorelines, I caught two largemouth bass and three smallmouth bass. Three of them were caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Split-Tail TrailerZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Two of them were caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/16 ounce Gopher jig. These fish were extracted out of three to five feet of water. One of them engulfed the bait on this initial drop, and four of them were caught on the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

I fished two rocky and steep main-lake points, and one of those points yielded a smallmouth bass that engulfed the Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig during its initial drop in three feet of water.

I caught one smallmouth bass along a submerged rock fence that was covered with five to seven feet of water. This smallmouth bass was caught on the Z-Man's PB&J Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. I caught two largemouth bass on a shallower and flatter portion of the rock fence, and those two largemouth bass tried to inhale a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig as I was executing a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve in three to four feet of water.

In sum, this was the sixth time that I fished this reservoir in 2015, and so far it has yielded only 84 smallmouth bass and 31 largemouth bass. Some area anglers are heartened that the average size of the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass has increased. But I would rather catch 25 little black bass an hour than just a few big ones across four hours of fishing. Of course, I wouldn't mind catching 25 big ones an hour, which I have never done, and it is unlikely that I ever will.

May 22 log

Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, filed a report on May 22 about what Mother Nature rendered when she thumped northwestern Missouri.

He wrote: "The heavy rains that fell during the night of May 16 and morning of May 17 definitely changed things. We received 3 1/2 inches of rain, and that left our 120-acre lake the murkiest and highest I've seen it. A friend said, 'It will take us most of the summer for the water to clear up.' I said, 'It will take four days.' I guess I should have placed a bet on that one. This lake just doesn't get the heavy inflow to stay muddy for long.

"The good news about the high water is that it has flooded a lot of the big rocks and brush that were along the shorelines. The bad news is that a lot of that is under low-hanging tree branches and it takes some adept casting to reach those areas.

"I am afraid I need to work on my flipping and pitching. There are largemouth bass using that newly flooded cover. I have caught two fish five-pounds or bigger in recent trips and a couple more that would weigh three pounds. But I also end up in trees a lot. Maybe you heard me cursing up there in Lawrence, Kansas.

"Sad to say, I am using mostly power baits right now: spinnerbaits with shad hologram blades, as well as a big skirted jig with a trailer. I also tried fluke-styled baits on the last trip and caught a couple of keepers on that.

"That, of course, has kept my catch rate down. On solo trips this week, I caught 16 bass one day and 12 the next. Both trips were for three hours. I did go finesse fishing the first day and used Joe Bragg's hand-tied marabou jigs in a white-shad pattern. They worked. I caught six of bass on that jig. I tried a chartreuse-and-black jig to start off with, but didn't get many bites. Then I switched to the shad color and they immediately jumped on it. Yes, color does make a difference but just on certain days. Black and chartreuse usually is a killer color at this lake.

"My big question: Where have the crappies gone? Now that the spawn is over, they have disappeared.

"It has been a very strange fishing season, with the up and down weather. But it still beats last year, when I was in the hospital at this time with a burst appendix. Besides, I like experimenting around when the fish are tight-lipped."

May 22 log

Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, filed the following report on the Finesse News Network on May 22 about his conversion to a Z-Man's Finesse ShadZ.

He wrote: "I have not checked in for a while, but I finally have something worth reporting. As one of the few anglers who is on the short list of those who either don't care for or haven't been able to get Z-Man's Finesse ShadZ to work, I am proud to report that you can now remove my name from that list. It began early this week after I read a few more reports on the Finesse News Network of guys catching some of their fish on the bait, primarily with the 1/32-ounce head. I had a situation where some patches of aquatic vegetation are starting to show up on some shallow flats at the corner of a riprap causeway. During this evening outing, we had post-front conditions and absolutely no wind. I thought what the heck, and I put on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin-blue Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and went to giving it one more try. It seems like most reports from this setup use the lighter head and fish shallower water and/or weeds. Initially I worked on getting a feel for the bait, examining how it moves and falls. And during the short hour I spent fishing, I managed to catch 17 largemouth bass, five crappie and an oversized bluegill. Needless to say I was both surprised and impressed that I finally might have found a window where the bait will work on my local flatland reservoirs.

"Fast forward a few days later, where I made a 40-minute drive over to a small 100-acre public reservoir. I usually fish this lake about once a year, and I fish it almost always during major holiday weekends, which is because our other lakes are overcrowded with recreational boats, and this one is limited to trolling motors only.

"I passed through the gates at 2:13 p.m. When I first arrived I was shocked to see water clarity of between six to eight feet of visibility. That is crazy clear by most standards at the reservoirs I fish. After launching and getting a couple rods set up, I noticed a small keeper bass hanging out by a little rock point right at the ramp. I still had the same Z-Man's Finesse ShadZ setup on my rod from earlier in the week. So, I pitched it over by him and promptly watched him suck the bait in immediately. I had my first bass before ever untying the boat from the dock.

"I proceeded to follow along the shoreline for the next four hours, hitting a variety of patches of aquatic vegetation, stretches of riprap, a couple docks, shallow flats, vacated bluegill bedding areas and scattered wood. The first 40 bass came to hand in about two hours, and all of them were caught on the Z-Man's green-pumpkin-blue Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. I finally decided to try and rework some of the shorelines a little further out using an army-green 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a different bait. I was able to catch just three largemouth bass on a four-inch Z-Man's Dirt Finesse WormZ , which I really thought would work better. Next, I put on a Z-Man's pumpkin — green-flake Finesse ShadZ on the army-green 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and I never got a strike. I finally figured out I could catch a few on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's California Craw ZinkerZ on the army-green 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The bites seemed very slow in coming with this test, so I went back to the Z-Man's green-pumpkin-blue Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and I proceeded to catch fish at a rapid pace again. When my four hours were up, the clicker indicated that I had caught 80 largemouth bass, and 69 of them were caught on the Z-Man's green-pumpkin-blue Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. I usually find it hard to believe when people mention having to use certain baits or certain colors to get bites. However, today was one of the most dominant performances I have seen where a particular setup and bait was simply the absolute correct presentation for the conditions faced. Never would I have believed it if I hadn't experienced it personally. Needless to say, I must swallow my pride and admit my previous omission of this bait from my repertoire during the past several years. It has now earned a permanent spot in my Midwest finesse box."

May 22 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed this log on the Finesse News Network about his May 22 outing with Andrew Trembath of Kansas City, Kansas, at a 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 45 degrees at 3:53 a.m. and 63 degrees at 12:53 p.m. During the early morning hours the wind was calm, and then it angled out of the northeast at 3 mph and switched to the south at 5 to 14 mph and southeast at 5 to 22 mph. The sky was relatively cloud-free from 12:53 a.m. to 7:53 a.m., and around 8:53 a.m. clouds began to appear, and it rained lightly at 11:53 a.m., and it was overcast for the rest of the day. The barometric pressure was 30.23 at 12:53 a.m., 30.20 at 5:53 a.m., 30.21 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.19 at 3:53 p.m.

Many nearby reservoirs were heavily stained and several feet above their normal levels, but Gum said this one was only a few inches higher than it was when he and his wife fished it on May 9. The water clarity exhibited six to seven feet of visibility along the dam. The surface temperature was 67 degrees, and it was 67 degrees on May 9.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 2:41 a.m. to 4:41 a.m., 3:06 p.m. to 5:06 p.m., and 8:54 a.m. to  10:54 a.m. They fished from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Gum wrote: "What stood out most about the day was you couldn't fish too shallow. With the boat sitting in only three feet of water, you could cast practically on to the shore and still catch fish. We also caught more freshwater drum than I have ever seen, and several of them were humungous and healthy specimens."

They began their outing by fishing a flat and rocky point along the west side of the reservoir, where they tangled with several freshwater drum and smallmouth bass.

Then on the east side of the reservoir, they probed a rocky and gravel flat and an adjacent riprap dike, where they caught a variety of species.

The third spot they fished was a short section along another riprap dike on the east side of the reservoir, where they caught a few smallmouth bass.

Their fourth stop of the outing was a mid-lake hump, which was adorned with several large patches of curly-leaf pondweed. Traditionally, this hump yields a lot of walleye in May, but on this outing, smallmouth bass inhabited it, which Gum and Trembath caught by employing a black 1/8-ounce Gopher jig affixed to a  three-inch Kalin's pumpkin-chartreuse Triple Threat Grub. They failed to catch a walleye.

The fifth spot they fished was along the dam, where they caught a variety of fish.

The last spot they fished was another rocky and gravel flat on the eastside of the reservoir. This locale also yielded a variety of species.

From these six locales, they caught 102 fish: one blue catfish, one white bass, one largemouth bass, two wipers, three channel catfish, four crappie, and 90 smallmouth bass.

Andrew Trembath with one of the 90 smallmouth bass that he and Bob Gum caught.

They caught the bulk of these fish on four hues of a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's ZinkerZ: Bama Craw, green pumpkin red, Junebug, and purple haze. These four hues were affixed to either a blood-red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a chartreuse-black 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. All of the colors were equally effective.

The fish were extracted out of water as shallow as a foot and as deep as eight feet. They were allured by a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

Bob Gum holds a hefty largemouth bass.

May 25 log

Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, filed a brief about his river outing with his wife on Memorial Day.

He noted that it was hot, muggy, and sunny. Area thermometers climbed to 92 degrees. The National Weather Service in Winchester, Virginia, reported that it was 61 degrees at 4:35 a.m. and 86 degrees at 1:55 p.m. The wind angled out of the southwest at 5 to 20 mph and out of the south at 5 to 21 mph. The sun was shining everywhere. The barometric pressure was 30.25 at 12:15 a.m., 30.22 at 5:15 a.m., 30.25 at 11:15 a.m., and 30.25 at 2:15 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing should occur from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., 5:22 p.m. to 7:22 p.m., and 11:11 p.m. to 1:11 a.m. They were afloat from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Myers wrote: "Memorial Day weekend brings a lot of city people to our waterways, as does the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends. As my wife witnessed the mass exodus this morning, we knew we would be able to visit our beloved fish in solitude on the river that flows behind our house.

"Because of the onslaught of city folks and two heavy rainstorms that muddied our waterways and raised them more than a foot, May 25 was the first time in the past week that we were able to fish. The dry and hot weather of the past several days allowed the river behind our house to drop dramatically and clear up considerably. But we quickly discovered that the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishing was trying. Ultimately, we caught 17 smallmouth bass, six large bluegill, and 11 rock bass.

"Our G. Loomis Trout Spinning Rods were spooled with four-pound-test PowerPro Microline.

"My wife wielded a three-inch Z-Man's mud minnow Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

"I used my customized 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's baby-craw-creature concoction affixed to an orange 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. This bait is assembled by gluing the dirt-colored body of a ZinkerZ to the tentacles of a green pumpkin Hula  StickZ and to the shortened claws and mid-body legs portion of a watermelon-red CrawdadZ.

"I also used a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Dirt ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

"All of our baits were liberally coated with Pro-Cure's Garlic Crawfish Super Gel.

"My wife caught seven smallmouth bass and nine rock bass on her Hula StickZ rig. My baby-craw-creature concoction caught 10 smallmouth bass, six bluegill, and two rock bass.

"All of our fish were caught on a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve that traveled about two feet under the surface around boulders in four feet of water along a distinctive shade line.

"I hooked three fish that were quite large. Two of which I am sure were largemouth. One was easily a 20-inch smallmouth that jumped nicely. I was pleased that they were enticed in mid-day during a 90-plus-degree swelter.

"I am fishing solo tomorrow, and I will be fishing water that I haven't visited yet this year. It will be a six-mile float to get to where I want to fish, and then a six-mile paddle back up the river before afternoon storms hit."

May 25 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed the following brief on the Finesse News Network about his Memorial Day outing at a 121-acre community reservoir, which has a trolling-motor-only regulation.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 60 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 79 degrees at 3:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the southwest at 3 to 7 mph and out of the south at 6 to 28 mph. The NWS said it fluctuated from being overcast to mostly cloudy to fair to a few clouds, and scattered spells of light rain fell from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. The barometric pressure was 29.83 at 12:53 a.m., 29.88 at 5:53 a.m., 29.82 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.88 at 2:53 p.m.

The water level was above normal and flowing over the spillway. The surface temperature was 67 degrees. The water was stained, exhibiting 18 inches of visibility along the dam.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing should occur from 5:06 a.m. to 7:06 a.m., 5:28 p.m. to 7:28 p.m., and 11:17 p.m. to 1:17 a.m. Gum was afloat from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and by the time he ended this outing, there was a score or more of kayaks, canoes, paddle boats and sailboats afloat. When it was raining from 7:30 a.m. to 8:10 a.m., he enjoyed the best fishing of this outing.

This was the first time Gum had fished this reservoir since the 1980s, which was when grass carp were stocked. Subsequently, all of the aquatic vegetation disappeared, and the largemouth bass fishing became problematic.

On this Memorial Day outing, he made his first cast adjacent to the boat ramp and moved around the reservoir in a counterclockwise fashion. At what he deemed to be the most fruitful-looking shorelines, he executed numerous casts and retrieves and dissected these lairs with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Bama Craw ZinkerZ affixed to a blood-red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The shakes were subtle and occasional.

Along areas that appeared to be marginal, Gum strolled his 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ rig.

He caught 17 largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass. He inadvertently caught one channel catfish, one bluegill, and two green sunfish. One of the largemouth bass was a 22-incher.  All but one of these fish were caught on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Bama Craw ZinkerZ affixed to a blood-red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. One was caught on a four-inch Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits' watermelon-pepper Hula Grub affixed to a black 1/8-ounce Gopher jig. A floating-worm presentation failed to garner a strike, as did a four-inch Z-Man's Coppertreuse Finesse WormZ on a blood-red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

He caught these fish in water as shallow as two feet and no deeper than eight feet of water. He found one short section of a shoreline that yielded several largemouth bass. Both ends of the dam were somewhat fruitful, as were three main-lake points. The patches of American water willows inside the coves were lackluster.

May 26 log

Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, filed this report on the Finesse News Network about his arduous kayak-river outing on May 26.

Here is an edited and condensed version of his log:

The weatherman was calling for afternoon thunder and lightning at 3:00 p.m., which it is doing at this moment as I type this log.

The National Weather Service in Winchester, Virginia, reported that it was 64 degrees at 3:15 a.m. and 86 degrees at 3:55 p.m. The wind angled out of the southwest at 3 to 9 mph, out of the south at 3 to 5 mph, and out of the southeast at 5 to 6 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.19 at 12:15 a.m., 30.19 at 5:15 a.m., 30.22 at 11:15 a.m., and 30.20 at 2:15 p.m. The thunderstorms that walloped Paw Paw, West Virginia, at 2:30 p.m. did not reach Winchester, Virginia, until 7:00 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing should occur from 5:43 a.m. to 7:43 a.m., 6:04 p.m. to 8:04 p.m., and 11:32 a.m. to 1:32 p.m.

The Memorial Day weekend is behind us, and our beloved river was once again in complete solitude. I decided yesterday to go to a remote stretch of river that I had floated over four years ago. I kept this spot in my mental bank as a possible great pre-spawn location. It is devoid of much current. Very large boulders are strewn across the bottom. It is 75- yards long with an average depth of four feet. Very steep cliffs adorn both sides of the river. But to get to it takes a lot of energy because it lies six miles below our property, which means six miles of being on the paddles coming back.

My goal for the day was to get to this one particular stretch and fish it hard while the weather allowed and to get home safe as this was a solo run through a lot of narrow canyons. This is by no means a beginner's kayak run. Once you are in it there is no way out except up or down river. As always, I had my river first-aid kit stowed.

I launched our Jackson Big Tuna at 5:57 a.m. I was on the paddle, heading down river until I reached my destination which was at 7:51 a.m., and I did not pick up a rod until then.

The water clarity is at six feet and getting better daily. It was 71 degrees at the time of my launch and a thick fog blanketed the steep canyons that skirt the river. By the time I got to my faraway spot the temperature was a muggy 80 degrees, and the sun was beating down. While I paddled I saw numerous large deer, hawks, and an eagle. I heard turkeys gobbling atop the cliffs, which echoed beautifully across the river.

I worked with three rods. One sported a Z-Man's green pumpkin Scented LeechZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32 — ounce Gopher jig. The second one sported a three-inch section of a Z-Man's EZ Money Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. The third rod sported a Z-Man's green pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. All of these rigs had been marinating in Pro Cure's Garlic Crawfish Super Gel during the past winter.

I connected with a smallmouth bass on my second cast with the Finesse ShadZ rig. Throughout this outing, every smallmouth bass was caught on a swim-glide-and-shake presentation that coursed about six inches above the large bottom boulders.

By the time I was halfway through this run, I had caught 21 smallmouth on the Finesse ShadZ rig. I then picked up the Scented LeechZ rig, and I brought eight smallmouth bass to hand before the end of the run.

I paddled back up to where I started and picked up the three-inch Finesse WormZ rig, and I caught six smallmouth bass in relatively short order.

About a quarter of the way into my second pass, I picked up the Scented LeechZ rig again and proceeded to tangle with 12 more smallmouth bass.

I made a third and final pass, and I floated on the extreme weak side of the river in order not to float over any smallmouth bass.

On this third pass, I used what may very well be my all-time favorite river smallmouth offering, which is a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Dirt ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

I fished the ZinkerZ rig the entire third pass and a goodly number of the smallmouth bass along this stretch had already seen my other three presentations. But the ZinkerZ rig was alluring enough to inveigle 17 more smallmouth bass.

In sum, I fished less than three hours. I caught 64 smallmouth bass, which is a significant number to catch from such a small stretch of the river. None were huge; the biggest four were 17-inchers.

By the end of the third run, I knew I had a long journey back up river and that I had better get to it.

It took me 2 1/2 hours to get back to the truck. By the time I arrived, I could hear thunder in the distance.

Things are only getting better from here on out and I am expecting to start getting into numbers of big fish very soon.

I will sleep well tonight.

May 30 log

Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his May 30 river outing with his wife.

This is an edited and condensed version of his brief:

Because the weather forecasters said thunderstorms would arrive around noon, we opted to fish a stretch of river near our house.

We launched the kayak at 9:00 a.m., when it was cloudy, and our thermometer registered 74 degrees. At noon, is was muggy, and our thermometer registered 90 degrees.

The water clarity has been improving daily, and on this outing, it exhibited eight feet of visibility.

As we paddled our way up river we saw many birds of prey, heard turkeys gobbling, and enjoyed seeing our first bear of the season crossing the river.

At about 9:30 a.m. we made our first casts, and the thunderstorm arrived as the weather forecasters predicted, which allowed us to fish 2 1/2 hours. In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing might take place from 8:20 a.m. to 10:20 a.m., 8:43 p.m. to 10:43 p.m., and 2:08 a.m. to 4:08 a.m.

Our rods were rigged with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a well-used three-inch Z-Man's Mud Minnow Hula StickZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

We retrieved these baits so that they would slowly swim and glide over the rocks, and executed what Charlie Brewer of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, used to call "polishing the rocks."

Several weeks ago, the three-inch Z-Man's Mud Minnow Hula StickZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig inveigled a 20-pound carp that was abiding in a deep wintertime smallmouth bass hole. On our May 30 outing, a channel catfish engulfed that same rig. And since we affixed that Hula StickZ to that red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, it has caught more than 140 fish, which is a great level of measure of how durable it is.

In sum, we caught 19 smallmouth bass, 11 rock bass, three big bluegill, and three channel catfish. Ten of the smallmouth bass were caught on the Finesse ShadZ rig, two of the smallmouth bass were caught on the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ rig, and all of the other fish were caught on the Hula StickZ rig. The shortened Hula StickZ rig is becoming our favorite Midwest finesse rig.

We saw three very large smallmouth bass getting ready to spawn. We watched for a bit and paddled on.

May 31 log

Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, filed an extremely brief log on the Finesse News Network about his May 31 river outing with his wife.

Here is an edited version of his log:

My wife and I launched our kayak at 9:30 a.m. with a slight air of trepidation. The reason for our concern revolved around the fact that the big largemouth bass and smallmouth bass in our rivers are spawning, and when they are spawning, we do not target them.

When we launched,  it was a muggy 78 degrees. The weatherman was calling for thunder and lightning at noon, which it is doing as I type this report, and it is a sultry 92 degrees.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing might take place from 9:24 a.m. to 11:24 a.m., 9:48 p.m. to 11:48 p.m., and 3:12 a.m. to 5:12 a.m. It was a brief outing because of the incoming weather, and it was a tough one to boot. We were afloat for only two hours.

Initially, our six-foot, seven-inch, ultra-light-power, fact-action G. Loomis Trout Series Spinning Rods were rigged with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Dirt ZinkerZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, a three-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on an orange 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man's Bad Mood Slim SwimZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. But all of  the fish we caught were inveigled on either a three-inch Z-Man's Mud Minnow ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig or a three-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. These two rigs caught seven rock bass, eight hefty bluegill, and 12 smallmouth bass, which were small males.

In some anglers' eyes, this report might not be worth reading, but I have been a longtime proponent of knowing every aspect of a waterway and learning from failures by recording them in my logbook.

Now we know that it is time to let the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass finish their spawning activities. Therefore, I will have to spend my time on a utility task vehicle and fishing some farm ponds up in the nearby hills for big crappie and largemouth bass that rarely see another angler but me.

IMG_0048

This is a photograph of the tail-out section of the long pool that we fished on our May 31 outing. Once we float over that lip, it is 19 river miles to the nearest takeout. We will be making that float once the spawn subsides, and we suspect it will the best fishing of the year.

 

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