Tenth Anniversary of the Zero: an Update

Tenth Anniversary of the Zero: an Update

A number of anglers and readers wondered how we celebrated the tenth anniversary on Oct. 12 of our discovery of the manifold virtues of Strike King Lure Company's 2 1/2-inch Zero.


In short, we celebrated for two days. On Oct. 12, I was joined by Dave Mull of Paw Paw, Michigan.  And on Oct. 13, I was joined by Dave Mull and Jerry Benjamin of Lawrence, Kansas. On these outings, we used the Zero's sibling, which is the Z-Man Fishing Products' ZinkerZ, as well as an array of other baits that the Zero and ZinkerZ have spawned during the past 10 years.

We decided that the best way to describe our two-day celebration is to publish our Finesse News Network logs, which will also appear in our October guide to Midwest finesse fishing.


But before we introduce readers to these two logs, it is interesting to note that a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head jig and a ZinkerZ's offspring, which is Z-Man's Junebug Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig , were our two most effective rigs.


Here are the logs:

Oct. 12 log

Dave Mull of Paw Paw, Michigan, and I celebrated the tenth anniversary of the  discovery of the manifold virtues of the  2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company's  Zero affixed to a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. And we celebrated this anniversary at the same northeastern Kansas community reservoir that a friend and I used the 2 1/2-inch Strike-King's green-pumpkin Zero affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig to catch 109 largemouth bass, two wipers, one channel catfish and one walleye on Oct. 12, 2006.

Mull is a freelance journalist who writes for a variety of fishing venues, such as "Bassmaster Magazine" and "Great Lakes Angler Magazine." He is also a member of the Finesse News Network and Midwest finesse devotee, and he was in northeastern Kansas working on an article about Midwest finesse fishing.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 62 degrees at 1:53 a.m. and 48 degrees at 12:20 p.m. Rain and thunderstorms meandered across parts of northeastern Kansas during the early morning hours. The thunderstorms and significant rain petered out around 6:53 a.m.  After that it rained only lightly at some locales. Most of the time, the sky was overcast, but there were short spells when it was partly cloudy.  From 4:15 a.m. to 2:25 p.m. the wind angled out of the northwest, west by northwest, and north at 8 to 28 mph.  The barometric pressure was 29.91 at 12:53 a.m., 30.05 at 5:53 a.m., 30.19 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.19 at 2:53 p.m.

The water level looked to be about two feet above normal. The surface temperature ranged from 61 to 64 degrees.  The water clarity exhibited three feet of visibility with a tea-like hue. Many yards of this reservoir's shorelines and points are adorned with patches of American water willows. Its underwater terrain is rock laden.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would transpire from 7:40 a.m. to 9:40 a.m., 8:06 p.m. to 10:06 p.m., and 1:26 a.m. to 3:26 a.m. We were afloat from 9:40 a.m. to 2:25 p.m. Some of this time was spent photographing different aspects of our Midwest finesse tactics. The most productive fishing occurred during the first 80 minutes that we were afloat.

We fished portions of the dam and its spillway. We also fished 11 points, and portions of nine shorelines.

We were unable to repeat the catch of 109 largemouth bass that was accomplished 10 years ago.

Instead, we eked out 38 largemouth bass, and we accidentally caught four channel catfish and five green sunfish. The largemouth bass were abiding in three to six feet of water, and the bulk of them were in the vicinity of the patches of American water willows.

David Mull with a largemouth bass that he caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin T.R.D. TubeZ affixed to a green-pumpkin 1/20-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ.

The dam was fruitless. The spillway yielded one largemouth bass. We failed to elicit a strike along four shorelines.  Five points did not yield a largemouth bass.

We caught one largemouth bass on a slightly shortened Gene Larew Lure's Company green-pumpkin Inch Worm affixed to a green-sparkle 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.  We caught two largemouth bass on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Goher jig. We caught two largemouth bass on a shortened four-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We caught two largemouth bass on a Z-Man's mudbug T.R.D. TubeZ affixed to a green-pumpkin 1/20-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig.  We caught four largemouth bass on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's sprayed-grass ZinkerZ affixed to a green-sparkle 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We caught nine largemouth bass on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ affixed to either a green-sparkle or a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Eighteen largemouth bass were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

One of the largemouth bass that we caught on a 2 1/2-inch Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

We caught the preponderance of the largemouth bass by executing a drag-and-deadstick presentation. Some were caught on the initial drop of our rigs. A few were caught on either a swim-glide-and-no-shake retrieve or a straight swimming presentation.

Dave Mull with a largemouth bass that he caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ affixed to a green-sparkle 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

Oct. 13 log

Dave Mull of Paw Paw, Michigan, and I fished with Jerry Benjamin of Lawrence, Kansas, at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir in northeastern Kansas on Oct. 13.

For the past month, the smallmouth bass fishing at this reservoir has been very trying. In fact, Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, said it disgusted him.  Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, reported that he had been confounded by it several times since Sept. 13.  Jerry Benjamin's son, Jason, found it to be abysmal on Oct. 8.  Other anglers have uttered similar laments.

Mull, who is a member of the Finesse News Network and a Midwest finesse devotee, was here to work on a feature article about Midwest finesse fishing for "Bassmaster Magazine," and he began that task on Oct. 12 when he and I fished a northeastern Kansas community reservoir.

Benjamin was practicing for a black bass tournament that would occur on Oct.15.  For years on end, he has been a dyed-in-the-wool power angler, but when he fishes this reservoir, he usually wields some Midwest finesse tactics.  And on this outing, we were astonished to see that he employed Midwest finesse tactics from his first cast to his last one.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 36 degrees at 7:53 a.m. and 57 degrees at 1:53 p.m.  The wind angled out of the north by northeast, northeast, north, east, east by northeast, and east by southeast at 4 to 12 mph.  The sky fluctuated from being clear to partly cloudy. The barometric pressure was 30.32 at 12:53 a.m., 30.33 at 5:53 a.m., 30.31 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.27 at 1:53 p.m.

The surface temperature was 66 degrees.  The water was stained, exhibiting 12 to about 18 inches of visibility. The Corps of Engineers reported that the water level was 1.44 feet above normal. Twenty cubic feet per second was being released from the dam. Some of the reservoir's  flat shorelines and points are embellished with flooded terrestrial vegetation, such as buttonbushes, willow tree saplings, cottonwood tree saplings, and sycamore tree saplings, and the depth of the water along the outside edges of this vegetation was 18 inches or less.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would transpire from 8:41 a.m. to 10:41 a.m., 9:08 p.m. to 11:08 p.m., and 2:28 a.m. to 4:28 a.m. We were afloat from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

We spent the entire 5 1/2 hours in the lower portions of the reservoir, and we fished eight areas.

We probed about a third of a mile of a main-lake shoreline that is graced with two main-lake points.  Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks and boulders.  Along this stretch of water, there are a series of massive piles of rocks and boulders, as well as a shallow-water rock- and boulder-laden hump that parallels a section of the shoreline, and it lies about 120 feet from the water's edge. A tiny segment of the shoreline contained some flooded terrestrial vegetation. This area lies about three-quarters of a mile from the dam.

We fished about a quarter of a mile of a flat shoreline and a secondary point inside a tertiary feeder-creek arm.  Its underwater terrain is embellished with gravel, rocks, and boulders.  Many of the piles of rocks and boulders lie many yards from the water's edge. Some portions of the shoreline were endowed with some flooded terrestrial vegetation. We fished from the main-lake point to the back end of this arm.

We fished a secondary point inside a secondary feeder-creek arm, as well as 75 yards of one of its adjacent shorelines and about a third of a mile of the other adjacent shoreline. The underwater terrain contains gravel, rocks and boulders.  Along the flatter sections of the point and its shorelines, there is a lot of flooded terrestrial vegetation. This area is about 2 1/4 miles from the dam.

We fished about a 100-yard segment of a shoreline adjacent to a flat main-lake point. This shoreline is flat, and its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and a few boulders. About 75 yards from the tip of the main-lake point, there is a tertiary point that is littered with boulders and a minor ledge. The water's edge is adorned with flooded terrestrial vegetation. This shoreline and tertiary point lie about two miles from the dam.

We fished a half mile of a shoreline and two secondary points in the back of a secondary feeder-creek arm. A 50-yard section of this shoreline is steep and laden with big rocks and massive boulders. The other sections were relatively flat, and they were graced with flooded terrestrial vegetation and scores of laydowns. Much of the underwater terrain consists of gravel and rock, and a section of it consists of clay and silt, as well as some gravel and a few rocks. This locale is about 2 1/2 miles from the dam.  On the other side of this secondary feeder-creek arm, we fished another flat secondary point and some of its adjacent shorelines. The underwater terrain contains clay, gravel, rock, and boulders, as well as a submerged rock fence that is covered with about four feet of water.  Portions of this area had some flooded terrestrial vegetation.

About 1 1/2 miles from the dam, we fished a flat secondary point and about 100 yards of its adjacent shorelines. The water's edge is lined with a massive amount of flooded terrestrial vegetation. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and some boulders.

We fished about a 100 yards of a steep shoreline inside a tertiary feeder-creek arm. Its underwater terrain is rock-and boulder-laden, and it is devoid of flooded terrestrial vegetation.  We also fished the transitional or flatter and gravel-laden areas on each side of this steep shoreline. The gravel and flat areas were endowed with flooded terrestrial vegetation. This area lies about a mile from the dam.

We fished about a half of a mile of a shoreline, two secondary points, and one tertiary point inside a secondary feeder-creek arm.  About 75 yards of the shoreline is steep.  It is rock- and boulder-laden, and some of the boulders create significant ledges. The bulk of this shoreline and its points are flat.  They consist of gravel, rocks, and boulders, and there are many yards of flooded terrestrial vegetation.  One of the points is graced with a series of rock piles. This long shoreline and its points lie from 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 miles from the dam.

Benjamin, Mull, and I caught 53 smallmouth bass and five largemouth bass, and we inadvertently caught eight freshwater drum, eight white bass, and seven green sunfish.

Dave Mull with one of the 53 smallmouth bass that we caught.

Our two most effective rigs were a Z-Man's Junebug Finesse T.R.D affixed to a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

We also caught them on a hodgepodge of other rigs: a Z-Man's black-blue-laminated EZ TubeZ  affixed to  a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's watermelon ZinkerZ (which was customized to sport four-long tentacles) affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man's mudbug T.R.D. TubeZ affixed to either a green-pumpkin 1/20-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig or a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man's green-pumpkin-blue Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ affixed to either a green-sparkle 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man's Junebug Rain MinnowZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man's black-blue-flake Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig, and a Z-Man's bubblegum  Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a tail spinner and a chartreuse 1/6-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig.

Some of the black bass were caught on the initial drop of our rigs. The bulk of them, however, were caught while we employed a straight drag presentation or a drag-and-slight-deadstick presentation. A few of them were caught while we employed a straight swimming presentation — especially with the Z-Man's bubblegum Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a tail spinner and a chartreuse 1/6-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig.

The vast majority of the black bass were caught in one to three feet of water. The flatter shorelines and points were significantly more fruitful than the steeper ones. Offshore rock piles and humps were not productive, but a couple of flat points that are graced with shallow rock piles and ridges yield a few smallmouth bass that were a goodly distance from the water's edge. A significant number of the black bass were abiding around or near flooded terrestrial vegetation.  Throughout the outing, Benjamin noted that we did not have a significant location pattern, and to catch them we had to make a lot of fruitless casts and retrieves around a lot of points and along many shorelines, and every once in a while, we would eke out a black bass or two.

Endnotes

Jerry Benjamin was hoping that the catch rate of 10.5 black bass per hour that we enjoyed during our celebration on Oct.13 would be repeated during the black bass tournament on Oct. 15.  To his chagrin, however, the fishing was worse than horrendous during the tournament.

He suspected that much of the problem that confounded him and his fellow competitors revolved around the wind, which howled out of the south and south by southeast at 16 to 36 mph, and it created ranks of white caps coursing across the surface of nearly every inch of this flatland reservoir.

There is an 18-inch length limit at this reservoir.  But competitors can purchase a Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism's Tournament Black Bass Pass, which allows them to weigh two black bass that are at least 15 inches long and three that are at least 18 inches long.

They fished from 6:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Only four black bass were weighed.

Jerry's son, Jason Benjamin of Lawrence, Kansas, won the event by catching two that weighed four pound, six ounce.  He caught them on a spinnerbait.

Jerry caught the other two, which weighed three pounds, six ounces. He caught a two-pound, eight-ounce smallmouth bass on a Z-Man's Junebug Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Z-Man's  Finesse ShroomZ jig, and  it garnered him the big-bass award. The other smallmouth bass that he weighed was caught on a topwater lure.  Throughout the 8 1/2-hour  event, he caught 12 smallmouth bass that were less than 15 inches long.

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