Midwest Finesse Fishing; September 2018

Midwest Finesse Fishing; September 2018
In the annals of Midwest finesse fishing, September of 2018 was a sorry time. In fact, for a variety of reasons, and for some unknown ones, the summer of 2018, was a sorry season. What’s more, no Midwest finesse anglers, as of Sept. 30, have achieved their coveted goal of catching and releasing 101 black bass in four hours in 2018. In short, it has been a bewildering nine months.

Many of us did not have the physical and psychological wherewithal to tangle with the ways of the piscatorial world. Therefore, our guide to September contains only 12,374 words and 14 logs, which features the insights and ways of Rick Allen of Dallas; Tom Bett of Oshkosh, Wisconsin; Lou Clewell of Roslyn, Pennsylvania; Roger Farish of Highland Villiage, Texas; Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas; Ned Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas; Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas; Gene Post of Wadsworth, Ohio; Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas; and John Thomas of Denton, Texas.

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

Sept. 4 

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Sept. 4 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

Rick Allen of Dallas and I conducted an afternoon outing at one of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hill-land reservoirs in north-central Texas. I last fished this reservoir on Aug. 16, and it was a struggle for me to catch seven black bass in 3 1/2 hours.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the optimum fishing periods would occur from 12:02 a.m. to 2:02 a.m., 6:17 a.m. to 8:17 a.m., and 6:47 p.m. to 8:47 p.m. Rick and I were afloat from about noon to 4:00 p.m.

The barometric pressure on Sept. 4 was 29.98 at noon and dropped to 29.94 by 4:00 p.m. The sky fluctuated from mostly cloudy to partly cloudy and it was sunny. The wind quartered out of the east by southeast at 10 to 15 mph.

The water level was 3.26 feet below normal, and it has remained at this level for the past month. Also, the water temperature has been in the mid to high 80s for the past month, and it was 85 degrees on Sept. 4. The water clarity varied from 14 to 18 inches.

We have had a trying time locating significant aggregations of threadfin shad and black bass in our Corps’ reservoirs this year. We have noticed that the threadfin shad have been scattered in the main-lake areas, and we have occasionally found a few small schools in the mouths and midsections of the feeder-creek arms in the lower sections of this reservoir.

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The black bass have also been scattered in the lower main-lake areas, and we have to cover a lot of water in order to catch a bass or two. There is no location pattern. The middle and upper sections of this reservoir have not been very fruitful for black bass, so we rarely fish in these two areas. This reservoir’s midsection has yielded a few white bass this summer, but hardly any largemouth or spotted bass.

On this outing, we stayed in the lower end of the reservoir and fished inside three main-lake coves, 11 concrete bridge support columns underneath a train-trestle bridge, two main-lake points, and portions of a feeder-creek arm. Inside two of the main-lake coves, there is a marina.

We were delighted to catch 14 largemouth bass, 6 spotted bass, and six white bass from these six locations in four hours, and this is the first outing where we have caught 20 or more black bass in an outing since June 11.

We caught one spotted bass and two largemouth bass from one shoreline inside the first cove that contained a marina. This shoreline is located about halfway back in the cove and on the east side of the marina. This spotted bass was caught in five feet of water from a steep clay and gravel secondary point that is embellished with a few wood piers and several large tractor tires tied to the side of the piers. The other two largemouth bass were caught along a steeply-sloped gravel and clay shoreline just north of the secondary point where we caught the spotted bass. These two bass were abiding in four to six feet of water.

Near the mouth of the second main-lake cove and behind a row of covered boat docks on the east side of its marina, we caught one spotted bass in six feet of water. It was caught from the end of a small rock, gravel, and clay secondary point that was adorned with a couple of flooded stickups.

The third cove was more fruitful than the first two coves, and it surrendered four largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and two white bass. Four of these black bass were caught from the end and one side of a long and submerged rocky point that extends many yards out from the middle of the cove’s south shoreline. One largemouth bass was caught from a large patch of flooded stickups on the west end of the south shoreline. All of these fish were caught in two to four feet of water.

Underneath the train-trestle bridge, we caught four largemouth bass and one spotted bass. These five bass were caught in eight to 10 feet of water next to the sides of five of the 11 support columns that are surrounded by 12 to 41 feet of water.

Our sonar units detected many fish suspended in deep water around the concrete columns. These fish were about 10 to 15 feet above the bottom in 32 to 41 feet of water, but we were unable to provoke any of them to strike a vertical pause-and-shake presentation with a Z-Man’s white lightning Finesse TRD attached to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig and a Z-Man’s coppertreuse Trick ShotZ fastened on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig.

We finished the outing fishing the two main-lake entry points to a feeder-creek arm, and portions of two shorelines inside the feeder creek.

The east entry point to the creek arm was fruitless.

We caught one largemouth bass and three white bass along a boulder- and rock-laden shoreline just inside and along the east side of the creek arm. The largemouth bass was caught in four feet of water next to a large submerged boulder. The three white bass were caught in 10 to 12 feet of water and about 20 yards away from the shoreline as they were foraging on small threadfin shad on the surface of the water.

The west entry point yielded one spotted bass and one white bass. They were caught along the end of the entry point in six to 12 feet of water.

The adjacent west shoreline just inside the mouth of the creek arm surrendered four largemouth and spotted bass. This shoreline is not as steep as the east shoreline, and it is adorned with rocks, boulders, and a large laydown. Two bass were caught from the side of the laydown in two feet of water. The other two bass were caught around a couple of submerged boulders in four to six feet of water. We did not have enough time to fish the midsection and upper reaches of this creek arm.

Our most productive lure was a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man Fishing Products’ pearl Slim SwimZ fastened on a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. This rig was employed with a steady swimming retrieve, and it inveigled 11 black bass and five white bass. We also experimented with several of the new Z-Man’s TRD MinnowZs for the first time. A smelt-hue TRD MinnowZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig, a green-pumpkin TRD MinnowZ attached to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig, and The Deal TRD MinnowZ affixed on a custom-painted blue 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig caught a mix of nine largemouth bass and spotted bass, and one white bass. These TRD MinnowZ rigs were employed with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

We also utilized a 3 1/2-inch coppertreuse Trick ShotZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig, and a Z-Man’s white lightning Finesse TRD mounted on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig at several of these areas, but we failed to generate any strikes with these two rigs.

A cold front is expected to push across north-central Texas in about a week. Local meteorologists are forecasting daytime air temperatures will drop into the mid- to upper-80s. We are also hoping that it will begin to drop the water temperatures down from the mid-80s into the mid-70s, which is when we typically begin to see the black bass transitioning from their summertime main-lake lairs to their annual fall migration routines in the feeder-creek arms and large coves. They also become easier for us to locate and catch.

Sept. 6

Gene Post of Wadsworth, Ohio, posted his first Midwest finesse log on the Finesse News Network. It focused on his Sept. 6 outing at a 444-acre reservoir in northeastern Ohio.

Here is an edited version of his log:

This reservoir was formerly owned by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. It is now managed by the Ohio Department of Resources. Goodyear’s blimps and hangers are adjacent to the reservoir, and I was fortunate to see a blimp docked on this day.

This reservoir has a ten-horsepower restriction. I decided to fish out of my kayak and targeted largemouth bass. It is endowed with multiple small islands, laydowns, stick ups, and lily pads.

The hot weather coupled with the lack of rain in northeastern Ohio has this reservoir's water level reduced by one to two feet. This was my first trip to this reservoir and I had not heard any reports on this lake.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best times to fish were 8:05 a.m. to 10:05 a.m., 8:35 p.m. to 10:35 p.m. and 1:50 a.m. to 3:50 a.m. I fished from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
 
I woke up to a nasty thunderstorm. The heavy rain stopped at 9:45 a.m. and just sprinkled on and off the rest of the day. The Weather Underground reported the air temperature was 71 degrees at 10:00 a.m. and 77 degrees at 3:00 p.m. The barometric pressure was 28.9 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The wind speed was 7 mph from the north at 10:00 a.m. and 7 mph from the north at 3:00 p.m.

The water clarity was on the dark side with about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The surface temperature was 82 degrees. There was a considerable amount of aquatic vegetation scattered throughout the reservoir and very large patches of lily pads in bloom at several spots along the north and west shorelines. I did not have my depth finder on my kayak for this trip, but the Ohio Department of Resources’ map shows the deepest area to be 15 feet.

I began the outing fishing in and around a large patch of lily pads with a Heddon Lures’ Tiny Torpedo and a Gary Yamamoto Bait Company’s Senko, which was rigged weightless and weedless. They failed to elicit a strike.

At 11:30 a.m. I switched to a Midwest finesse rig, which consisted of a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s watermelon ZinkerZ affixed to a black 1/10-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig.
The ZinkerZ rig caught 16 largemouth bass and two channel catfish. All of my fish were caught around the islands. Most of the largemouth bass were in the 8-12 inch range, and a couple of them were 14-inchers. My best retrieve was the swim-and-glide presentation, and a straight-swim presentation caught two of them.

I am planning to return to this reservoir this coming week and try new spots. On this outing, I failed to paddle around the entire reservoir. I spent too much time exploring the lily pads on this trip, which was fruitless, but it was difficult for me to resist fishing them.

Sept. 10 
 
Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Sept. 10 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

It has been raining in north-central Texas since Sept. 7, and I have not been able to fish since Sept. 4. It was overcast on Sept. 10, the rain had stopped, and there was the first hint of fall in the air. The morning low temperature was a delightful 63 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 80 degrees. The barometric pressure varied from 29.97 at noon to 29.90 at 4:00 p.m. The wind quartered out of the east by northeast at 5 to 10 mph.

Lou Clewell of Roslyn, Pennsylvania, is visiting Denton, and we enjoy getting together for an outing or two while he is here. This time, Lou joined me for an afternoon excursion at one of several U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoirs in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan areas.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 5:29 a.m. to 7:29 a.m., 11:16 a.m. to 1:16 p.m., and 11:42 p.m. to 1:42 a.m. Lou and I were afloat from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The surface temperature was 85 degrees. The runoff from the rains caused the water level to rise a tad, but it was still 2.97 feet below normal. The water clarity varied from 14 to 18 inches.

This reservoir’s underwater terrain consists of clay, gravel, submerged boulders, a few patches of flooded stickups, and some decaying stumps that are situated here and there. There is no aquatic vegetation.

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We began this outing on the north end of the reservoir. We targeted a series of nine main-lake points, five flat main-lake shorelines, and a rock bluff on the north side of the reservoir, and we could barely muster eight largemouth bass, two spotted bass, 13 white bass, and one channel catfish.

The eight largemouth bass and 13 white bass were caught along the five clay and gravel main-lake shorelines that are adorned with patches of flooded stickups and clusters of submerged boulders. A couple of the largemouth bass were associated with a large patch of flooded stickups, but the others were relating to submerged boulders in three to five feet of water. The white bass were foraging on small threadfin shad on the surface of the water in 13 to 23 feet of water and about 20 to 25 yards from the water’s edge.

The two spotted bass and the channel catfish were caught around some large submerged boulders along the rock bluff just inside the mouth of a large feeder-creek arm in four to seven feet of water.

We failed to garner any strikes around the nine main-lake points.

In the lower section of the reservoir, we probed two main-lake points, a large gravel and clay flat, and a ditch that parallels one side of the flat, but we were unable to generate any strikes from these areas.

A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s Space Guppy Slim SwimZ fastened on a black 1/10-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig and implemented with a steady swimming retrieve allured all 10 black bass, the 13 white bass, and the one channel catfish. We experimented with a variety of other Z-Man’s Midwest finesse baits such as the Finesse ShadZ, 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ, shortened four-inch Finesse WormZ, shortened Hula StickZ, and the TRD MinnowZ. They were affixed on an array of Z-Man’s 1/20- and 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jigs, and employed with all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves, but we were unable to generate any strikes with these rigs.

Overall, the black bass in this reservoir were scattered and difficult for us to locate and catch. We caught all of these fish in the first 2 1/2 hours of this outing; we did not generate a single strike during the last 1 1/2 hours. We were able to establish a meager Slim SwimZ bite along several clay and gravel main-lake shorelines, but none of these shorelines produced more than one or two largemouth or spotted bass. Most of the locales we fished were fruitless.

The two highlights of this outing were Lou catching a largemouth bass that weighed three pounds and one ounce, which is the largest black bass that he has ever caught. The other highlight was Lou catching his first white bass.

Sept. 11

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Sept. 11 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

Since the black bass fishing in north-central Texas has been so lousy for months on end, Rick Allen of Dallas and I thought we would try something different. And we drove 75 miles to a Civilian Conservation Corps’ hill-land reservoir in south-central Oklahoma to pursue smallmouth bass. I have not fished at this reservoir since November 11, 2017, when I joined Finesse News Network member and contributor Nathan Parker of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Nathan was spending a couple of days camping and fishing at this reservoir, and during that Nov. 11 outing, we struggled to catch a combination of 18 smallmouth bass and largemouth bass in 6 1/2 hours.

The weather on Sept. 11 was mostly overcast with a brief spell of sunshine in the afternoon. The morning low temperature was 66 degrees and the afternoon high temperature reached 78 degrees. When we arrived at the boat ramp, the wind was angling out of the east at 12 to 15 mph, and later in the afternoon, it quartered out of the southeast at 10 mph to 12 mph. The barometric pressure dropped from 30.04 at 10:00 a.m. to 29.98 by 3:00 p.m.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the optimum fishing periods would occur from 12:12 a.m. to 2:12 a.m., 6:25 a.m. to 8:25 a.m., and 12:37 p.m. to 2:37 p.m. Rick and I fished from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The water clarity was murkier than normal and displayed three feet of visibility. Normally, the water clarity ranges from five to seven feet of visibility. The water temperature ranged from 79 to 80 degrees. In our eyes, the water level appeared to be about four to five feet low.

We began the day inside a large feeder-creek arm in the southeast region of the reservoir. Along the south side of this creek arm, we started fishing in the back end and slowly worked our way along the creek arm to a long rock- and boulder-laden bluff shoreline that leads to the main-lake area.

The upper reaches of this creek arm is flat and its underwater terrain is comprised of sand, rocks, and gravel. There are remnants of several flooded trees standing in five to seven feet of water, and a few thick patches of American water willows and cattails that line portions of the shallow-water areas of the shoreline and are still exhibiting their lush-green summertime hues.

The outing started off on a promising note. On our first cast we caught a freshwater drum from the side of one of the flooded trees in five feet of water. It was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s coppertreuse ZinkerZ attached to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. A few minutes later, we caught three largemouth bass and one green sunfish in quick succession. These four fish were caught in less than five feet of water and were relating to the outside edges of two patches of American water willows. Two of the largemouth bass and the green sunfish were caught on the 2 1/2-inch coppertreuse ZinkerZ rig and a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The other largemouth was caught on a Z-Man’s mudbug TRD CrawZ mounted on a green-pumpkin 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig as it was employed with a slow hop-and-bounce retrieve.

We then slowly probed the long and steep rock bluff and the bite slowed considerably. For the next couple of hours, we meticulously worked our way along the bluff, and our best efforts produced three smallmouth bass, a freshwater drum, another green sunfish, and one large bluegill.

These smallmouth bass were suspended about 10 to 12 feet below the surface in 20 to 32 feet of water and were about 10 to 15 feet away from the water’s edge. Two were tempted by a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation with the 2 1/2-inch coppertreuse ZinkerZ rig, and the other one engulfed a shortened Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

We also plied a large riprap-covered flat that lies adjacent to the west end of the bluff. This flat is covered with three to 12 feet of water and is adorned with several laydowns. We failed to elicit a strike from this area.

After that, we moved to the north side of the creek arm and quickly fished a 100-yard section of flat rocky shoreline near the mouth of the creek arm, and we failed to elicit a single strike from this area.

After we finished fishing inside the southeast feeder-creek arm, we moved to the midsection of the reservoir’s east tributary arm and dissected five main-lake points and the top and sides of a submerged hump.

The main-lake hump is offshore and is situated at the mouth of a main-lake cove. The top of the hump is covered with three to six feet of water, and its sides quickly descend into 20-plus feet of water. We caught one green sunfish from the top of the hump in five feet of water on the 2 1/2-inch coppertreuse ZinkerZ rig, but we failed to entice any strikes from a smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, or spotted bass.

From the main-lake hump, we traveled northward to another feeder-creek arm. We fished a relatively flat and rocky main-lake shoreline adjacent to the mouth of the creek arm and caught one smallmouth bass. This smallmouth bass was caught in five feet of water on a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve with a shortened Z-Man’s coppertreuse Hula StickZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig.

We caught one smallmouth bass from the east side of the south entry point of the creek arm. This entry point is covered with large boulders, and this smallmouth was abiding in six feet of water around one of the large submerged boulders. It was beguiled by a Z-Man’s coppertreuse Finesse TRD that was fastened to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. This combo was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

We failed to garner any strikes from the other four main-lake points.

About halfway back inside the second feeder-creek arm, we fished along the sides and top of a submerged roadbed. This roadbed is lined with large rocks and boulders and is surrounded by 10 to 27 feet of water. The top of the roadbed is covered with three to 10 feet of water. We spent about an hour fishing this locale, and we caught one smallmouth bass from the top of the roadbed in 10 feet of water. It engulfed the shortened coppertreuse Hula StickZ rig that was retrieved with a slow hop-and-bounce presentation across the top of the roadbed.

We finished the outing at two main-lake shorelines in the reservoir’s west tributary arm. These two shorelines are fairly steep with about a 30-to 35-degree slope. They are graced with large rocks and boulders. We caught three smallmouth bass, three largemouth bass, and one freshwater drum from the first shoreline, and five smallmouth bass from the second one. All 11 of these smallmouth and largemouth bass were caught in three to seven feet of water around submerged boulders. They were caught on either the coppertreuse Finesse TRD or shortened coppertreuse Hula StickZ combos which were employed with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation. Two of the smallmouth bass and one of the largemouth bass were caught on back-to-back casts on the coppertreuse Finesse TRD rig.

By the end of this five-hour outing, our counter revealed that we had caught a mixed bag of 14 smallmouth bass and six largemouth bass. We also caught three freshwater drum, two green sunfish, and one large bluegill. We did not cross paths with any spotted bass.

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Nine of the black bass were bewitched by the Z-Man’s coppertreuse Finesse TRD that was attached to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. Five were caught on the shortened Z-Man’s coppertreuse Hula StickZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. Another four were bewitched by a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s coppertreuse ZinkerZ fastened on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. A Z-Man’s mudbug TRD CrawZ mounted on a green-pumpkin 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig, and a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig dressed with a shortened Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Hula StickZ enticed the other two black bass.

Eighteen smallmouth and largemouth bass were attracted to the slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Two preferred the hop-and-bounce presentation.

We slowly strolled a four-inch Z-Man’s coppertreuse Finesse WormZ rigged on a black 1/10-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig about 60 feet behind the boat in 18 to 30 feet of water, which elicited one strike that we failed to hook.

We also wielded an assortment of Z-Man’s 2 1/2- and three-inch Slim SwimZs, TRD MinnowZs, four-inch Finesse WormZs, Finesse ShadZs, 3 1/2-inch Trick ShotZs, 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZs, and Finesse TRDs, but we were unable to provoke any strikes with these offerings.

To summarize this outing, the three rocky main-lake shorelines were the most fruitful areas and yielded 12 of the 20 black bass. Six of the black bass were caught in one of the two feeder-creek arms, and one was caught in the other creek arm. One smallmouth was caught from one of the five main-lake points. We failed to catch a smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, or spotted bass from an offshore main-lake hump and a flat shoreline inside one of the feeder-creek arms.


Sept. 12

Gene Post of Wadsworth, Ohio, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his Sept. 12 outing.

Here is a condensed and edited version of his report:

I fished at a reservoir that was formerly owned by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, which is now managed by the Ohio Department of Resources. This was my second trip to this reservoir.

I fished in my kayak and targeted largemouth bass, which are the only black bass that abide in this reservoir.
In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best fishing would occur from 1:06 a.m. to 3:06 a.m., 1:31 p.m. to 3:31 p.m., and 7:19 a.m. to 9:19 a.m.

The Weather Underground reported the air temperature was 62 degrees at 8:30 a.m. and 67 degrees at 12:30 p.m. It was cloudy. The barometric pressure was 28.6 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The wind speed was 12 mph from the south by southwest at 8:30 a.m. and 12 mph from the west by southwest at 12:30 p.m.

The rainy weather that has passed through Ohio during the last five days has this reservoir back to normal pool. The water clarity was on the dark side, exhibiting about six to 12 inches of visibility. The surface temperature was 78 degrees.

This reservoir is endowed with a considerable amount of aquatic vegetation, such as vast patches of water lilies. It is graced with several small islands, as well as an array of laydowns and stick ups. Its underwater terrain consists of a soft bottom, and its shorelines are not cluttered with a lot of rocks.

According to the Ohio Department of Resources’ map, the deepest spot is 15 feet.

I started my fishing around a small island using a black 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig affixed to a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s watermelon ZinkerZ that was coated with Pro-Cure’s nightcrawler Super Gel.

After I fished around this small island for 45 minutes with no success, I decided to make a 15-minute paddle across the reservoir to the south shoreline to setup my second line of attack.

I fished the south shoreline for about 1 ½ hours and landed two small largemouth bass and a large channel catfish. All of them were caught on the ZinkerZ rig. Then I decided to work my way to the reservoir’s east side, where there are two more islands. I fished the two islands for about two more hours alternating from the ZinkerZ rig to a Finesse TRD rig to a Hula StickZ rig and to a Blakemore’s white Road Runner.

In conclusion, the ZinkerZ rig caught three largemouth bass and one channel catfish. The Hula StickZ rig caught one largemouth bass, and the Road Runner caught one. All of them were caught around the islands. My best retrieve was a hop-and-stop presentation.

Looking back on this trip, I think I should have switched up my jig weight and tried both heavier and lighter ones. This was a very slow outing.

Sept. 15

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

Here is an edited version of his log:

John Thomas of Denton, Texas, and I journeyed to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hill-land reservoir in north-central Texas.

A local TV meteorologist reported that it was 71 degrees at 6:00 a.m. and 92 degrees at 4:00 p.m. The wind angled out of the northeast at 6 to 12 mph. The morning hours were mostly cloudy and it was sunny and partly cloudy during the afternoon. The barometric pressure was 30.04 at 11:00 a.m. and 29.96 at 3:00 p.m.

According to the Texas Water Development Board, the water level at this impoundment has been 1 1/2 to two feet below normal pool over the past month. As we launched the boat at 10:45 a.m., the surface temperature was 80 degrees. The surface temperature was 83 degrees when we put the boat on the trailer at 3:45 p.m. The water exhibited about three feet of visibility.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 3:51 a.m. to 5:51 a.m., 10:03 a.m. to 12:03 p.m., and 4:16 p.m. to 6:16 p.m. John and I made our first casts at 11:02 a.m. and our last one at 3:32 p.m.

We fished a 3 1/2-mile stretch in the lower end of the reservoir’s east tributary arm, concentrating on three rocky main-lake points and short sections of their adjoining shorelines, sections of two large feeder-creek arms, the middle section of the dam, the concrete walls of a large concrete water-outlet tower, and a portion of a shoreline inside a main-lake cove.

We began this outing at a nearby main-lake point and its adjacent shoreline. On our third cast, we caught a spotted bass from the end of a partially-submerged laydown in five feet of water. It engulfed a Z-Man’s smelt TRD MinnowZ affixed on a black 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig, which was implemented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation along the sides and end of the laydown.

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The main-lake shoreline next to this point yielded five largemouth and spotted bass. Three were caught on the smelt-hue TRD MinnowZ rig and two were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pearl Slim SwimZ attached on a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. The TRD MinnowZ rig was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The 2 1/2-inch pearl Slim SwimZ was retrieved with a steady swimming retrieve.

Inside the first feeder-creek arm, which is located a short distance south of the main-lake point and shoreline that we just fished, we caught one largemouth bass and two freshwater drum. They were caught in the midsection of the creek arm in three to five feet of water along a flat and rocky shoreline on the north side of this creek arm. These three fish engulfed the 2 1/2-inch pearl Slim SwimZ rig as it was steadily swimming about a foot below the surface of the water. We failed to locate any largemouth bass or spotted bass in the upper reaches of this creek arm, inside a small cove on the north shoreline, and around the east and south sides of an island in the lower end of the creek arm.

After we finished fishing inside the first feeder-creek arm, we moved to another main-lake point and its adjoining shoreline, which lies just to the south of the feeder-creek. This point and shoreline are steep and are covered with many large boulders and rocks. They both possess a 45- to 60-degree slope. This area relinquished two largemouth bass and one spotted bass. They were suspended seven to 10 feet below the surface in water that was 27 feet deep and in open water many feet away from the submerged boulders and rocks. Two of the bass engulfed a shortened Z-Man's mud minnow Hula StickZ rigged on a green-pumpkin 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig and the other one was attracted to the smelt TRD MinnowZ rig. Both of these rigs were presented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

From this main-lake point and shoreline, we moved to the dam and used our sonar devices to locate some scattered schools of threadfin shad that were abiding in 12 feet of water near the middle section of the dam. This dam is covered with riprap and can be quite fruitful at times, but we were unable to generate any strikes from it this time.

We then targeted a large concrete water-outlet tower that is positioned near the center portion of the dam and surrounded by 32 to 47 feet of water. We wielded the smelt TRD MinnowZ and the mud minnow Hula StickZ rigs that were employed with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, but we could only muster three largemouth bass. These three largemouth bass were suspended about five feet below the surface in 42 to 47 feet of water, and they were within a foot or two of the west- and north-side walls of the tower. We were unable to provoke any strikes from the east and south walls.

After that, we ventured northward to another large main-lake point, a main-lake shoreline, and a large cove on the west end of the main-lake shoreline. These areas are located on the west side of the east tributary arm and about 1 1/2 miles north of the dam. They are adorned with flooded patches of stickups, rocks, boulders and standing timber. But to our chagrin, none of them relinquished a largemouth bass, spotted bass, or a strike.

We finished the outing in the lower section of the second feeder-creek arm. It was our most fruitful locale, and it yielded 12 largemouth and spotted bass. Four of them were caught in four to seven feet of water around some large submerged boulders that grace the south entry point to this creek arm. Three were caught on a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve with the smelt TRD MinnowZ combo, and one was caught while steadily swimming the 2 1/2-inch pearl Slim SwimZ around and over the top of the submerged boulders.

As we fished our way along the south shoreline leading into the lower section of this creek arm, we caught another eight spotted bass and largemouth bass from a shallow rock ledge in five to 11 feet of water. They were tempted by a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve that was utilized with either the smelt TRD MinnowZ or the mud minnow Hula StickZ rigs.

In closing, we were delighted to tangle with a mix of 25 largemouth bass and spotted bass. We also caught three freshwater drum, which kept us entertained during a couple of slow spells between black bass strikes.

A 2 1/2-inch pearl Slim SwimZ attached to a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig and implemented with a steady swimming action has been one of our most productive lures this summer, and this combo beguiled four black bass and three freshwater drum during this outing.

A shortened mud minnow Hula StickZ rigged on a black or green-pumpkin 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig or other 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jigs has been a mainstay for us during summers past, but for some reason unknown to us, it has not been as effective this summer. But it did attract seven black bass as we implemented it with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve during this foray, so we are hopeful that it will be more effective this fall.

Our most effective rig was a Z-Man’s smelt TRD MinnowZ fastened on a black 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. This rig combined with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation allured 14 of the 25 largemouth and spotted bass that we caught.


Sept. 20

At 10:53 a.m., the Weather Underground reported that the wind was howling out of the south by southwest at 20 to 31 mph, and by 1:35 p.m., gusts reached 33 mph. Normally, my cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I do not fish when the wind howls across the plains of northeastern Kansas. But our abilities to fish this summer have been proscribed by several important family obligations. Thus, we elected to battle the wind and waves from 9:55 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Sept. 20 at one of northeastern Kansas’ community reservoirs.

It was 73 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 93 degrees at 1:53 p.m. The sun shined intensely except when it was dimmed for a minute or two by a minor cirrus cloud that was moving as rapidly as the wind. From 12:53 a.m. to 12:53 p.m., the barometric pressure was 28.8, and it dropped to 28.7 at 1:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 7:36 a.m. to 9:36 a.m., 7:59 p.m. to 9:59 p.m., and 1:24 a.m. to 3:24 a.m.

The water level at this reservoir looked to be about two feet below its normal level. The surface temperature ranged from 80 to 81 degrees. The water exhibited two feet of visibility in the back of one feeder-creek arm and eight to nine feet of visibility at other locales. This reservoir is graced with many patches of coontail, and some of those patches are intertwined with chara and bushy pondweed. Some of the coontail patches are expansive – especially the ones that grace this reservoir’s shallow-water flats. Portions of most of its points and shorelines are adorned with occasional patches of coontail. There are a few patches of American pondweed, American water willows, and water lilies adorning some of the shorelines.

The wind prevented us from keeping exact notes about where, how, and when we caught four smallmouth bass and 37 largemouth bass during the four hours and five minutes that we fished. Therefore, this Midwest finesse log is devoid of details.

In short, we fished around seven main-lake points, along six main-lake shorelines, along five secondary shorelines inside three feeder-creek arms, around seven secondary points, around four tertiary points, across three shallow-water and coontail-laden flats in the backs of three feeder-creek arms, and along about 175-yards of the dam.

We failed to elicit a strike along the dam. Three main-lake points were fruitless, as were one main-lake shoreline, four secondary points, and one shallow-water and coontail-laden flat in the back of one of the feeder-creek arms. And many yards of the main-lake shorelines and secondary shorelines were fruitless, too.

The bulk of the largemouth bass were caught around and in patches of coontail. But we made hundreds of casts and retrieves around and in patches of coontail that were unrewarding.

None of the black bass were caught near the water’s edge. Some were 10 feet from the water’s edge, some were 15 to 20 feet from the water’s edge, and some were 30 to 130 feet from the water’s edge. They were caught in five to 12 feet of water.

In the back of one feeder-creek arm, we fished around three docks. One dock was fruitless, and the other two docks yielded a largemouth bass.

Our most effective Midwest finesse rig was a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. A few of the black bass were caught on a four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce jig, a three-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Mag FattyZ affixed to a red 3/32-ounce mushroom-style jig, and a Z-Man’s PB&J Hula StickZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig.

The most effective retrieve was the swim-glide-and-shake presentation. Some were caught on the initial drop of our rigs. One was caught with a deadstick presentation. A few were caught while we were strolling with a drag-and-shake presentation.

We will close by noting that a drift sock was often a key tool.

Sept. 20 
 
Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Sept. 20 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

Roger Farish of Highland Village, Texas, and I ventured to one of several U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hill-land reservoirs in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan areas.

It was mostly sunny during the morning hours and mostly cloudy during the afternoon hours. The morning low temperature was 73 degrees and the afternoon high temperature reached 95 degrees. The barometric pressure measured 29.94 at 9:00 a.m. and dropped slightly to 29.91 by 3:00 p.m. The wind quartered out of the south by southeast at 8 to 18 mph.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the fishing would be at its best from 1:33 a.m. to 3:33 a.m., 7:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., and 8:09 p.m. to 10:09 p.m. Roger and I fished from 9:26 a.m. to 2:26 p.m.

The water level was 2.76 feet below normal. The water temperature ranged from 80 to 86 degrees. The water clarity varied from 12 inches to 2 1/2 feet.

The last time I fished this reservoir was with Rick Allen of Dallas on Sept. 4, when we tangled with 14 largemouth bass, six spotted bass, and six white bass in four hours. We caught all of these fish in the lower portion of the reservoir.

On this outing, I had set a goal of catching another 20 black bass, and to put the odds of accomplishing this challenging task in our favor, we concentrated our efforts in the lower end of the reservoir. A couple of the areas we fished were the same ones I fished with Rick Allen on Sept. 4, but I have not plied the other ones in several weeks.

We fished inside two main-lake feeder-creek arms, a total of 21 concrete bridge support columns under two bridges, five main-lake points, a 75-yard segment of a main-lake shoreline, and two-thirds of the dam.

We began inside a feeder-creek arm on the north side of the southwest tributary arm. The water inside this creek arm exhibited 12 inches of visibility. The surface temperature was 85 degrees. We observed some minor aggregations of threadfin shad meandering along the shallow-water areas of the secondary points and other shorelines, and we located a few other small schools of shad in the main-creek channel, but we failed to locate any largemouth bass or spotted bass in this creek arm.

Inside the second feeder-creek arm, which is located about a mile east of the first one, we caught two spotted bass. The water in this creek arm exhibited 1 1/2 feet of clarity. The surface temperature was 86 degrees. The first spotted bass was caught from the side of a large submerged slab of concrete that lies on top of a shallow roadbed in the lower section of the creek arm. The other spotted bass was caught from the end of a concrete boat ramp positioned on the side of a secondary point about halfway back in this creek arm. Both of them were abiding in less than five feet of water. We failed to garner any strikes around an old sunken boat, two rocky shorelines, and another secondary point.

We failed to generate any strikes from the five main-lake points and the 75-yard section of main-lake shoreline.

Underneath the two bridges that span the main-river channel in the reservoir’s southwest tributary arm, we caught eight largemouth bass and one spotted bass. They were caught in eight to 10 feet of water around seven of the 21 support columns that are encircled by water as shallow as 12 feet and as deep as 41 feet. There were also significant numbers of threadfin shad relating to many of the support columns that we targeted. Here, the surface temperature was 83 degrees and the water clarity was 14 inches.

We fished the east end and middle portion of the dam. This dam forms the southern perimeter of this reservoir and is covered with riprap. The surface temperature was 80 degrees. The water clarity was 2 1/2 feet. We caught three largemouth bass from the east section and five largemouth bass and one spotted bass from the middle portion. We did not have time to fish the west end of the dam. These bass were caught in close proximity to the riprap in water as deep as 12 feet and as shallow as six feet.

In sum, we fulfilled our goal of catching 20 black bass, but it took us five hours to accomplish that task. Sixteen of them were largemouth bass and four were spotted bass. We also caught three freshwater drum and one white bass.

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We rotated through our assortment of Z-Man’s Midwest finesse baits and Finesse ShroomZ jigs. Our most productive lure was a shortened Z-Man’s mud minnow Hula StickZ attached to a green-pumpkin 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. It allured a combination of 16 largemouth and spotted bass and three freshwater drum. A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pearl Slim SwimZ fastened to a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig attracted the other four black bass and the one white bass.

The 2 1/2-inch pearl Slim SwimZ rig was presented with a steady swimming retrieve. The shortened mud minnow Hula StickZ combo was employed with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

Sept. 24

The Weather Underground reported that it was 57 degrees at 2:52 a.m. and 80 degrees at 2:52 p.m. The wind angled out of the east by southeast, east, south, south by southeast, and south by southwest at 3 to 10 mph. The sky fluctuated from being fair, mostly cloudy, and cloudy, and it was calm for six hours. The barometric pressure was 29.1 at 12:52 a.m., 29.1 at 5:52 a.m., 29.1 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.0 at 2:52 p.m.
In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would transpire from 10:24 a.m. to 12:24 p.m., 10:46 p.m. to 12:46 a.m., and 4:13 a.m. to 6:13 a.m. Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, and I were afloat at one of northeastern Kansas’ state reservoirs from 10:43 a.m. to 2:43 p.m.

The water level looked to be almost three feet below normal. The surface temperature was 75 degrees. The water clarity ranged from three to about six feet of visibility. Many of this reservoir’s shorelines are embellished with magnificent patches of American pondweeds. Its shallow-water flats are graced with patches of bushy pondweed and coontail. Some of the outside edges of the patches of American pondweed are interlaced with patches of bushy pondweed and coontail. This reservoir is littered with scores and scores of manmade brush piles, which we traditionally do not like to ply, but plied scores of them during this outing.

We fished along the entire dam, along portions of five shorelines, around three main-lake points, around two riprap jetties, and across portions of four shallow-water flats. During our four hours of fishing, we caught 46 largemouth bass, and we inadvertently caught 24 green sunfish, five crappie, three channel catfish, two warmouth, and two hybrid bluegill-green sunfish.

We caught 10 largemouth bass along the dam. It possesses a 25- to 45-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of rocks and gravel, and this terrain is occasionally adorned with patches of bushy pondweed. These largemouth bass were caught in three to 10 feet of water. We caught them on a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 3/32-ounce mushroom-style jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s California Craw ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, and a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. Two were caught on a deadstick presentation. Two were caught on the initial drop of our rigs. Six were caught while we were employing a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

Across and around one massive shallow-water flat, we caught 19 largemouth bass in three to six feet of water. It possesses a 10- to 20-degree slope. The underwater terrain is clay and gravel. Most of these largemouth bass were abiding around patches of bushy pondweed, and some of them were caught around a few of the manmade brush piles that embellish the patches of bushy pondweed. The bulk of the largemouth bass were caught on either our green-pumpkin or Junebug Finesse ShadZ rigs, and three were caught on the California craw ZinkerZ rig. Some were caught on the initial drop of our rigs. Some were caught as we were strolling and dragging and shaking our rigs through, around, and over patches of bushy pondweed. A few of the largemouth bass were caught while we were employing a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. Two were caught on the initial drop of our rigs next to the brush piles.

Along one shoreline, we caught three largemouth bass. This shoreline possesses a 25- to 30-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of clay and gravel, as well as a few rocks. It is graced with patches of American pondweed, bushy pondweed, and coontail, and these patches are littered with an occasional brush pile and a stump or two. Two of the largemouth bass were caught on the Junebug Finesse ShadZ rig while we were strolling and employing a drag-and-shake presentation, and one was caught on the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

Across another massive shallow-water flat, we caught five largemouth bass in three to five feet of water. The underwater terrain of this flat consists primarily of clay, and it is endowed with oodles of patches of coontail, which is highlighted with a goodly number of manmade brush piles. It has a 10- to 20-degree slope. A submerged creek channel meanders across this flat, and it possesses an edge that ultimately drops from four feet of water into 10 to 12 feet of water. One of the largemouth bass was caught adjacent to a brush pile. The others were associated with patches of coontail. Another largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s sprayed-grass ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig . Two largemouth bass were caught on the California craw ZinkerZ rig while we were strolling and employing a drag-and-shake presentation. Two of them were caught on the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. These five largemouth bass were adjacent or near the edge of the submerged creek channel.

Across another massive shallow-water flat, we caught four largemouth bass in four to six feet of water. The underwater terrain of this flat consists primarily of clay, and it is endowed with patches of bushy pondweed, as well as a dozen or so manmade brush piles. It has a 10- to 20-degree slope. A submerged creek channel meanders across this flat, and it possesses an edge that ultimately drops into five to eight feet of water. Two of the largemouth bass were caught on the California craw ZinkerZ rig, and one was caught on the initial drop in the vicinity of the submerged creek channel, and the other one was caught on the initial drop around a brush pile. One largemouth bass was caught on the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rig as it was strolled with a drag-and-shake presentation around patches of bushy pondweed. The fourth one was caught on the initial drop of the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ adjacent to a brush pile.

Across another massive shallow-water flat, we caught five largemouth bass in three to five feet of water. The underwater terrain of this flat consists primarily of clay, and it is endowed with patches of bushy pondweed and coontail. It is also cluttered with several manmade brush piles. It has a 10- to 15-degree slope. A submerged creek channel meanders across this flat, and it possesses an edge that drops into five to 10 feet of water. Two of the largemouth bass were caught on the California craw ZinkerZ rig and three were caught on the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rig. Two of them were caught on the initial drop of our rigs next to a manmade brush pile. One largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of the Finesse ShadZ rig along the edge of a patch of bushy pondweed. Two largemouth bass were caught as we executed a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

We failed to elicit any strikes along four of the five shorelines that we fished, around the three main-lake points, and around the two riprap jetties. Thirty-three of the 46 largemouth bass were caught across the four shallow-water flats that we fished. Our Finesse ShadZ rigs were our most effective rigs, and the California craw ZinkerZ rig was the second most effective rig.
Sept. 24

Tom Bett of Oshkosk, Wisconsin, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Sept. 24 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

The autumn equinox is generally anticipated with delight by black bass anglers in eastern Wisconsin, including those who ply the expansive waters of the Winnebago Pool system. Many of us call this time “the heart of fall transition”, where things in the aquatic world go through the preliminary preparations for their forthcoming long winter nap. Typically, as this transition unfolds, we experience the cooling water temperatures, declining lake levels, improving water clarity, and the senescence of many species of submerged aquatic vegetation.

Those changes cause many black bass to shift from their summer haunts in soft-cover areas to sites providing hard cover, where they forage with abandon on similarly concentrated aggregations of baitfish, young game fish, and just about anything else they can put into their mouths.
While most of 2018 has provided numerous environmental challenges, this day dawned mostly clear and reasonably cool and pleasant. Air temperatures ranged from the upper 50s to the low 70s. The sky was mostly clear. The wind was moderate and steady, averaging around 12 mph from the southeast.
The surface temperature averaged 64 degrees. The water clarity varied tremendously, depending upon location within the Upper Pool lakes and lower reaches of the main tributary rivers. Turbidity was very high in most of the lakes, exhibiting a foot or less of visibility; the tributary flows showed reasonable clarity with tannic stain with three feet of visibility; the back waters inside protective weed lines were clear, averaging around six feet of visibility. The river inflows and lake levels remain very high because of excessive precipitation events.

While I have been on the water and handled a good number of black bass, I had not been finessing, nor had I visited any of these particular sites for more than 30 days.
On this trip I fished for a total of four hours, starting early, yet in full light, and terminating in time for lunch. I sampled a total of 12 sites, and put fish into the boat at eight of them, generating a 67-percent hit rate.

My first stop was at the mouth of a small tributary. This is a shallow-water site with a sand bottom and dense edges of pondweeds. The ditch or main channel is only about 3 feet deep and maybe 30 to 40 feet wide, and it is bordered by broad flats on both sides extending well over 100 feet to either bank. As I approached and lowered the trolling motor, I noticed many small gizzard shad bubbling on the surface. Occasionally some would erupt, and that can only mean predators were lurking below.

Because of the dismal water color and clarity, I employed a Z-Man’s coppertruese Finesse TRD rigged on a black 1/10-ounce mushroom-style jig along the edge of the weed line that bordered the channel with a smooth swim-and-glide presentation. And within 20 minutes, I caught 8 largemouth bass and three smallmouth bass.

From there, I decided to motor a couple miles to the mouth of a major tributary. Upon noticing a significant change in the water clarity, I used a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD rigged on a black 1/10-ounce mushroom-style jig across and around a shallow-water and rock-laden point. Only one smallmouth bass entertained me at this site.
My next stop was a 200-yard stretch of riprap adjacent to a channel swing. I caught three smallmouth bass on the green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD rig with a drag-and-pause presentation in four to six feet of water along the deepest edge of the riprap.

My next two stops were up in the river, where the current was fast. Some of the largemouth bass were abiding in the cover adjacent to the current, and when I tossed the green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD rig to the fringe of the aquatic vegetation, which consists of lotus and pondweeds, and let the rig to free fall to the bottom, I caught four largemouth bass.
At this point of the outing, I was starting to think maybe I had something going, which, as usual, proved to be a dangerous thought. Thus, I ran a couple miles into the mouth of another major tributary river only to find the water was a pathetic chalky brown.

The next four sites were all nice-looking rock-laden points and jetty tips that historically hold fish at this period of the year. Yet, despite my best efforts, I landed only one largemouth and lost what looked to be a nice walleye at the side of the boat.

After that debacle, I decided clearer-water environs might be better. So, I ventured back into a major backwater bay to determine if any largemouth were pulling out to the cuts, which are formed by water currents flowing into and out of the backwaters during heavy wind events. The one selected for this probe provides a maximum depth of six feet, and it lies in about a hundred-acre backwater area that has an average depth of two to three feet of water. I did find a small concentration of largemouth bass in this area. While they were not aggressive, I did catch six of them on the green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD rig with a drag-pause-and-shake presentation.

From that backwater cut, I reentered the lower section of the main tributary and its dingy water. Around two rock-laden points, I caught two smallmouth bass on the Z-Man’s coppertruese Finesse TRD rig with the drag-pause-and-shake retrieve.

In sum, the daily data sheet indicated that I caught 19 largemouth bass and nine smallmouth bass. This outing showed me that the fall transition is underway, but some of the water conditions need to improve to provide a more abundant bite. My black bass catch rate averaged seven an hour, which is in the-good-bite range on this system.

Sept. 24
Gene Post of Wadsworth, Ohio, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his Sept. 24 outing.

Here is a condensed and edited version of his report to a northeastern Ohio reservoir:

On Sept. 24, I ventured to an 1100-acre reservoir with 26 miles of shoreline. It was constructed in 1939 as a water supply and flood-control impoundment. Outboard motors are prohibited.

It was my first trip to this reservoir, and I fished in my kayak.
By word of mouth, I have heard for years that its population of largemouth bass is above average.

It is, however, quite a challenge for a kayaker. It will take me probably five or six trips to see all of it, and I will need to use all of its launching ramps to help cut down on the amount of paddling.

On this outing, I elected to explore its western portions, which possesses the deepest water.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 10:52 p.m. to 12:52 a.m., and 4:19 a.m. to 6:19 a.m.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 58 degrees at 9:45 a.m. and 67 degrees at 2:45 p.m. The barometric pressure was 29.1 at 9:45 a.m. and 29.0 at 2:45 p.m. The wind direction was variable at 10 mph with occasional strong gusts that caused me to employ my drift sock to slow down the kayak during most of the outing. I spent the last hour and a half in a light rain.

The water clarity exhibited about one foot of visibility; it was affected by an algal bloom. The surface temperature ranged from 69 to 71 degrees. There is a considerable amount of submerged aquatic vegetation, and some of it is in 10 feet of water.

I used either a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s watermelon ZinkerZ affixed to a black 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig or a Z-Man’s watermelon Hula StickZ affixed to a light-green 1/32-ounce mushroom-style jig.

My goal was to keep my kayak in 12 feet of water and work towards the structures and pockets. I tried multiple retrieves. I caught six largemouth bass, two channel catfish, and one crappie. Five of the six largemouth bass were caught on the ZinkerZ rig. Three of the largemouth bass were caught on the initial drop of my rig; the others were caught on the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The most productive area was a concrete bridge abutment.

In conclusion, I think I need to work on understanding the retrieves better. I am also using the swim and glide too much of the time, and I am going to work on varying my retrieves on my next outing.

Sept. 26

The Weather underground reported that it was 49 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 64 degrees at 2:53 p.m. It was cloudy. The wind angled out of the north, north by northwest, northwest, and west by northwest at 3 to 10 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.0 at 12:53 a.m., 29.1 at 5:53 a.m., 29.1 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.0 at 3:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 11:53 p.m. to 1:53 a.m., and 5:42 a.m. to 7:42 a.m. My cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I fished at one of northeastern Kansas’ community reservoirs from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and we caught 54 largemouth bass.

The water level was normal. The water clarity ranged from four feet in the lower end of the reservoir to about two feet in the upper end. The surface temperature was 73 degrees. Water primroses and American water willows adorn the water’s edge along some of this reservoir’s shorelines. There are a substantial number of patches of coontail, which are occasionally intertwined with a few patches of bushy pondweed, and there are vast wads of filamentous algae floating upon the surface and tangled with the patches of American water willows, water primrose, and coontail.

We spent the first 45 minutes of this outing plying the water’s edges along the entire dam and one of its adjacent shorelines. Along this 500-yard expanse of the reservoir’s lower end, we caught nine largemouth bass in four to five feet of water. All of them were caught around patches of coontail, and two of the nine were caught along the outside edge of wads of filamentous algae. These fruitful areas possess a 25- to 35-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. Four of the largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. Three of them were caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. Two were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s sprayed-grass ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. Two were caught on the initial drop of our rigs. Two were caught on a straight swimming presentation. Five were caught on a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

We spent three hours and 15 minutes fishing along portions of three shorelines and around three main-lake points in the upper reaches of this reservoir.

We failed to elicit a strike on the main-lake points.
But along the three shorelines, which encompasses about 1,200-yards, we caught 45 largemouth bass. The bulk of these largemouth bass were caught around patches of coontail in four to five feet of water situated along flat shorelines with about a 25-degree slope.

A few were caught along the outside edges of wads of filamentous algae in about two to three feet of water. Some were caught in five to seven feet of water along rock-laden shorelines with a 35- to 45-degree slope.

A dozen of the 45 largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. Ten were caught on a Z-Man’s Canada craw TRD MinnowZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. Nine were caught on a three-inch segment of a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Mag FattyZ affixed to a red 3/32-ounce mushroom-style jig. Seven were caught on a Z-Man’s meat-dog TRD MinnowZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. Five were caught on a Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. Two were caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig.

We caught several on the initial drop of our rigs. Some were caught while we were executing a drag-and-shake retrieve. Others were caught while we employed a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. A few were caught while we were strolling and dragging our rigs across, around, and over patches of coontail.

Along the 1,200 yards of shorelines that we plied, we made scores and scores of casts and retrieves without eliciting a strike. And when we caught one, we could rarely determine the reason why we caught it. There were several times when we thought that a largemouth bass caught us rather than the other way around. In fact, one largemouth bass jumped before we realized it had engulfed our Finesse ShadZ rig.

Something has been askew with the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass in northeastern Kansas this year. To our amazement and chagrin, we have yet to catch 101 black bass in four hours or 25.25 black bass per hour. On this Sept. 26 outing, we worked hard and methodically to catch 13.5 per hour.

Sept. 26

Tom Bett of Oshkosk, Wisconsin, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Sept. 26 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

From the onset of dawn, a cold front swept through eastern Wisconsin. The low dew point made the 55-degree air feel chilly, and that effect was enhanced by a stiff westerly wind that blew at 10 to 15 mph with gusts peaking at 22 and 25 mph. The blue sky was decorated with cumulus clouds, giving a scenic look across the many miles of open water that form the main pool of the Winnebago system.

Given these conditions, I determined my fishing should be confined to sites not more than one mile from the western shoreline. The surface temperature was running between 63 and 65 degrees. The water clarity was variable, ranging from less than one foot to 4 1/2 feet. An algae bloom was affecting the clarity at some of the locales.

On this trip I fished for three hours before conceding to the strong winds.

My first stop was along the tip of a major point where a shallow rib of boulders in 4 1/2 feet of water runs offshore and is surrounded by a deeper and smooth rock and gravel flat in six to eight feet of water. This spot historically has been productive for me. Smallmouth bass forage amongst the boulders, and the largemouth bass arrive here when the patches of aquatic vegetation wilt. The current created by the wind often enhances the foraging behavior of the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass.

I began by wielding a Z-Man’s coppertruese Finesse TRD rigged on a chartreuse 1/8-ounce VMC’s Mooneye jig with a drag-and-pause retrieve. On the fourth cast, the line tightened and the first largemouth bass of the day was pulled from the edge of the boulder rib. I tested a swim-and-glide retrieve and a steady swim retrieve without success. I was shocked not to catch a smallmouth bass at this spot, and I added one more largemouth bass to the log sheet before moving down the shoreline about 50 yards.

At the next location, the bottom falls off into eight feet of water, and there is the residue of a patch of aquatic vegetation that borders the shoreline’s lip and terminates in four to five feet of water. As I slowly worked around this segment, I caught nine largemouth bass and a northern pike on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD mounted on a black 1/10-ounce black mushroom-style jig, and retained the drag-and-pause retrieve. These fish were not aggressive, but occasionally they would react to the drag-and-pause retrieve and inhaled the rig during the pause phase.

My next stop was about a mile down the shoreline. It consisted of a submerged jetty that is very shallow lying in 2 1/2 feet of water, but it has a deep washout hole off its tip that is covered with eight feet of water. I worked with the green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD rig by hopping and dropping it down and along the boulders, which beguiled one largemouth bass.
Feeling somewhat desperate to catch a smallmouth bass, I selected an offshore reef for my next effort.

This spot has a very narrow rib of boulders in 5 1/2 feet of water surrounded on both sides by deep and gravel flats in 10 feet of water. It has been a good producer of smallmouth bass from spring through fall for many years. The green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD worked well enough in the 20 mph wind, and I used it with a drag-pause-and-shake retrieve, and it caught four large walleye off the end of the rib. And to my dismay, I failed to catch a smallmouth bass.

Then I ran the boat a couple miles further down the lake to a large point swept by wind, hoping the current aligned with a steep break line would concentrate a few smallmouths. After 20 minutes of dissecting the ledge along this point, I had caught only one smallmouth bass and a freshwater drum on the green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD with a drag-and-pause retrieve.

My next stop was back to the shoreline features, and I was glad for a brief time out from the wind. This point encloses a shallow and sand bottom bay that is generally well endowed by pondweeds. The point often holds largemouth bass and smallmouth bass as they shift from their summertime haunts to their fall locations. On this outing, all I could garner was a single smallmouth bass, which was caught on the green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD with a drag-and-pause retrieve.
My last stop was the inside edge of an offshore reef that sits about one mile offshore. This location offers a shallow top covered with pondweeds in three to four feet of water, and it is graced with a small cup that falls rapidly down to a gravel bottom in eight feet of water. Historically, this has been a great summer-fall location for pods of smallmouth bass. However, on this day, I was skunked even though baitfish appeared fairly abundant on the sonar screen.

In sum, the smallmouth bass befuddled me on this day. The log sheet showed a total of 12 largemouth, four walleye, three smallmouth bass, one northern pike, and one freshwater drum. The 15 black bass provided an average catch rate of five an hour. Thus, this outing could be described as being within the average range for action on this system. But the lack of smallmouth bass will perplex me for quite some time.

Sept. 27

Gene Post of Wadsworth, Ohio, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his Sept. 27 outing at a northeastern Ohio reservoir.

Here is a condensed and edited version of his report:

The Weather Underground reported it was 54 degrees at 7:51 a.m. and 62 degrees at 11:51 a.m. The barometric pressure was 28.8 at 7:51 a.m. and 28.8 at 11:51 a.m. The wind angled out of the northeast, east by northeast, east and east by southeast at speeds up to 8 mph.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 12:27 a.m. to 2:27a.m., 12:50 p.m. to 2:50 p.m. and 6:39 a.m. to 8:39 a.m. I fished in my kayak from 8:09 a.m. to 12:09 p.m.

The surface temperature was 68 degrees. There is an algal bloom, and the heavy rains that have recently endured have made our waterways ugly. The water exhibited six-inches of visibility.

This reservoir is graced with a considerable number of patches of coontail, which ends in about 10 feet of water.

I fished seven different locations, and three of them were fruitful. In total, I caught 10 largemouth bass in three to six feet of water. These three spots were endowed with patches of coontail.

Productive spot number one was a 100-yard stretch of a shoreline around an island. I caught two largemouth bass on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s watermelon ZinkerZ affixed to a black 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig on the initial drop.

Productive spot number two was a 50-yard stretch of a shoreline around another island. I caught one largemouth bass on the watermelon ZinkerZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

Productive spot number three was a main-lake point and 1,500-yard stretch of its adjacent shoreline. It lies in the middle portions of this reservoir. I caught seven largemouth bass in 30 minutes on the initial drop of a Z-Man’s new money Finesse TRD attached to a pearl 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig.

Unproductive spot number one was a 500-yard stretch of a concrete bridge abutment. It possesses a 20-degree slope, and there was some current running next to it. There was 12 feet of water nearby.

Unproductive spot number two was about a 100-yard stretch of water lilies with patches of coontail intertwined. The terrain was flat and covered with three to four feet of water.

Unproductive spot number three was a 500-yard stretch of a shoreline that is graced with patches of coontail and a few laydowns. It has a 10-degree slope and covered with three to 10 feet of water.

Unproductive spot number four was an open-water flat. This 500-yard area in covered with five to 12 feet of water with a 10-degree slope. It is devoid of coontail.

The lessons that I learned from this outing were: The initial drop was the most effective presentation, and I was slow to recognize that. I spent too much time working with the watermelon ZinkerZ, and my catch rate did not improve until switched to the Z-Man’s new money Finesse TRD rig. I need to be more methodical on switching weights and colors of my Midwest finesse rigs.
Sept. 29

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Sept. 29 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

Roger Farish of Highland Village, Texas, joined me at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hill-land reservoir in north-central Texas where John Thomas of Denton and I caught a mix of 25 largemouth bass and spotted bass on Sept. 15.

The Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan areas were recently lambasted with more than nine inches of rain, and it raised the water level at this reservoir from 2.97 feet below normal on Sept. 15 to 3.75 feet above normal, and the Corps was releasing water at a brisk pace. The surface temperature has also dropped from 80 degrees on Sept. 15 to 76 degrees. The water was more stained than usual and exhibited 12 inches of visibility in the lower section and 18 inches in the middle section. We did not venture into the northern end or upper section.

It was overcast throughout the day, and it rained on us a couple of times. The morning low temperature was 71 degrees and the afternoon high was a pleasant 75 degrees. The wind quartered out of the southeast at 8 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.13 at 11:00 a.m., and 30.06 at 3:00 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the fishing would be at its best from 2:16 a.m. to 4:16 a.m., 8:29 a.m. to 10:29 a.m., and 2:42 p.m. to 4:42 p.m. Roger and I fished from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

We targeted three feeder-creek arms and one main-lake cove in the reservoir’s east tributary arm, and we were pleasantly surprised to catch 34 largemouth bass, six spotted bass, and two white bass in four hours.

We began the outing in the lower end of the reservoir where we fished inside a main-lake cove and a major feeder-creek arm.

Inside the main-lake cove, we fished from its upper end to its mouth. First, we dissected many yards of a flat shoreline on the south side of the cove, which was mostly fruitless. This shoreline is comprised of clay and gravel and adorned with newly flooded terrestrial vegetation and a concrete retaining wall. We caught one spotted bass and two largemouth bass in three to five feet of water from a 25-yard section of shoreline around the retaining wall. One largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pearl Slim SwimZ attached to a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. The other largemouth and the spotted bass were caught on a Z-Man’s coppertreuse Finesse TRD fastened on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. This combo was employed with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

A riprap jetty forms the north side of this cove, and it surrendered one spotted bass that was abiding in seven feet of water and about 15 feet away from the water’s edge. It was caught on the coppertreuse Finesse TRD rig and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

From that main-lake cove, we moved southward to the first feeder-creek arm. It consists of several large coves and an island. We failed to catch any largemouth bass or spotted bass inside three secondary coves, around the perimeter of the island, and along a rocky shoreline on the south side of the creek arm.

The second feeder-creek arm is located on the east side of the reservoir’s middle section and about 1 1/2 miles north of the first creek arm that we fished. It encompasses several small coves and rocky secondary points that are graced with stands of flooded timber, stickups, and terrestrial vegetation. One shoreline inside one of the secondary coves on the south side of the creek arm relinquished two largemouth bass. One was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s space guppy Slim SwimZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig that was implemented with a steady swimming retrieve about a foot below the surface of the water. The other largemouth bass was caught on the coppertreuse Finesse TRD rig and a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Both of these largemouth bass were extracted from three to five feet of water and were relating to the outside edges of two large patches of flooded terrestrial vegetation. We did not cross paths with any other largemouth bass or spotted bass in this creek arm.

From the second creek arm, we moved about two miles west, where we finished the outing inside the third feeder-creek arm. This creek arm is also located in the midsection of the east tributary.

In the lower end of this creek arm, we caught four largemouth bass and two white bass from a shallow rock ledge that is covered with five feet of water. These fish were abiding along the deep-water side of the ledge in eight to ten feet of water. They were attracted to the 2 1/2-inch space guppy Slim SwimZ rig as it was swimming steadily about a foot beneath the surface of the water.

Along a 50-yard stretch of flat shoreline on the north side of this creek arm, we caught three largemouth bass on back-to-back casts with the 2 12-inch space guppy Slim SwimZ and steady swim retrieve.

The most fruitful locale was a 20-yard section of shoreline at the entrance to a small cove on the north side of the creek arm. This section of shoreline is flat and graced with rocks, flooded terrestrial vegetation, and stickups. This short stretch of shoreline yielded 27 largemouth and spotted bass. All of them were caught in three to five feet of water on the 2 1/2-inch space guppy Slim SwimZ as it was steadily retrieved around the outside edges of the flooded terrestrial vegetation and stickups.

In short, the most effective lure by far was the 2 1/2-inch space guppy Slim SwimZ dressed on a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. The most effective presentation was a steady swimming action about a foot below the water’s surface. This lure and retrieve combination allured 36 of the 40 largemouth bass and spotted bass and the two white bass that we caught.  
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