Midwest Finesse: A month-by-month fishing guide: May 2013
June 07, 2013
Traditionally, May is a grand month for Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas.
For instance, I and an occasional colleague fished 15 times in May of 2012 and tangled with 610 largemouth and smallmouth bass. Then during May 0f 2011, I fished 12 times and caught 654 largemouth and smallmouth bass. This time around, however, several important family obligations kept me off the water for 10 days, as did the three-day Memorial Day Weekend and a siege of stormy and windy weather during the last days of the month. During the final six days of May, 4 ½-inch of rain fell upon our gardens and yard, and even more significant deluges walloped other parts of northeastern Kansas, such as the 4.19 inches of rain that pummeled nearby Olathe, Kansas, on May 31. Therefore, I was able to fish only seven times, which encompassed only 24 hours of fishing. But during those 24 hours, I, along with an occasional partner, landed 501 largemouth and smallmouth bass, which was an average of 20.8 largemouth and smallmouth bass an hour.
To take up my slack, eleven ardent and savvy Midwest finesse anglers contributed 31 logs that described their fruitful outings. Therefore, I and all of the readers of this monthly guide are forever thankful for the work of Terry Bivins of Lebo, Kansas, Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, Bob Gum of Kansas City, Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, Dwight Keefer of Phoenix, Casey Kidder of Topeka, Kansas, Travis Perret of Overland Park, Kansas, Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, Chris Rohr of Overland Park, Kansas, and Dave Weroha of Kansas City. What's more, Keefer and Poe's logs reveal that Midwest tactics work as far west as Arizona and as far east as North Carolina.
In addition to being a grand month for catching scores and scores of largemouth and smallmouth bass, May is often called the potpourri month by the Midwest finesse anglers who ply the flatland reservoirs that stipple the countryside of northeastern Kansas. The reason for this is that on some May outings we can tangle with as many as 13 species of fish, and most of those are caught on our standard-bearer bait, which is the 2 ½-inch Z-Man Fishing Products' ZinkerZ and 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig.
As we have confessed in past blogs, Midwest finesse tactics sometimes fail. And in this month's guide, Mike Poe and Chris Rohr noted that it failed on a couple of their outings; consequently, they had to use power tactics to allure the largemouth bass. Terry Bivins and Brent Frazee also wielded a few power tactics at times to inveigle some of the largemouth bass that they caught.
Here are 13,356 words describing how, when and where 13 Midwest finesse anglers caught largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass and array of other species in May of 2013. And I am thankful for Dave Weroha's assistance in editing all of those words.
Overnight the surface temperatures climbed significantly at some of the flatland reservoirs that grace the countryside of northeastern Kansas. When I made my first cast at a 180-acre state reservoir at 10:30 a.m. on May 1, I was astonished to see the thermometer registering 63 degrees, and when I made my last cast at 2 p.m., it had risen to 64 degrees. The surface temperature was 57 degrees at the 100-acre community reservoir that I fished on April 30, and as the proverbial crow flies only about 20 miles of exurbia separates that reservoir from the 180-acre state reservoir that I fished on May 1.
Besides the dramatic rise in the water temperature, the leaves on the hardwood trees grew dramatically. At the same time, scores of crappie ventured to their spawning sites, and I watched a trio of anglers from Gardner, Kansas, catch nearly a hundred of them in about an hour along the riprap that lines the dam.
After two dam failures on April 29 and 30, I decided to return to the dam site where I caught 102 largemouth bass in 3 ½ hours on April 25.
For those who are who are wondering about the term dam failure, here is an explanation: In the April 25 log, I postulated what I called the dam theory by stating that the riprap along dams that lie on the north end of the small flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas are traditionally fruitful areas to fish for largemouth bass in April, May and early June. But that theory totally failed on April 29 and April 30 at two reservoirs that have been severely afflicted with the virus. Before the virus whacked those two reservoirs the dam theory seemed to work. The dam theory, however, worked at one virus-inflamed reservoir that I fished on April 15. So in sum, some riprap-lined are fruitful and some are not. Perhaps, the moral of this story is that it's not wise to propound piscatorial theories. What's more, a wise angler once told me to fish more and write less, and he also suggested that anglers should rely on their intuitions more and think less. But to my chagrin, I have had a difficult time following this sage's stellar advice.
On this May 1 outing, the water level was about two feet below normal. The water was clear enough that I could see a hooked bass five feet under the surface, and I could easily see the propeller on my transom-mounted trolling motor, which sits deeper in the water than my bow-mounted one. We use the trolling motor propeller as our Secchi disk, and when we can see it we describe the clarity as Kansas clear. Kansas clear, however, isn't as clear as the water at Bull Shoals Lake on the Missouri and Arkansas border.
In-Fisherman's calendar noted that the best fishing times occurred at 4:47 p.m. to 6:47 p.m.
The weather was on the verge of making a radical change from a balmy spring day to a wintry one. For a spell the wind was light and variable, then it angled mild-mannerly out of the southeast, and eventually it turned and blew from the northwest at a brisk pace.
The morning low temperature was 59 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature peaked at 78 degrees before it began to plummet into the 40s after the sun set. The normal low temperature for May 1 is 49 degrees, and the normal high temperature is 70 degree. The barometric pressure was 29.99 and rising when I began this outing. Initially, it was sunny and gradually it became partly cloudy.
I spent 45 minutes fishing several massive spawning flats, where I caught six largemouth bass on a shortened Z-Man Fishing Products' Finesse WormZ in a pumpkin hue affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig and three largemouth bass on a four-inch green-pumpkin-and-orange-flake grub affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. During that spell on the flats, I probed one deep-water brush pile adjacent to one of the flats, and extracted one largemouth bass, using a vertical presentation with the Finesse WormZ combo and two more on a Z-Man's 2 ½-inch green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Nowadays I rarely fish brush piles; the reasons for that are they aren't productive enough, it takes too much time to properly fish them, and they are fished by nearly every bass angler that is afloat.
After fishing the flats and the one brush pile, I spent the rest of the outing plying the riprap of the dam, where the trio of crappie anglers was also fishing. Here the pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig allured 66 largemouth bass. Most of these bass were abiding in about six feet of water.
The most effective retrieve was to slowly hop and bouncing the baits along the riprap. A few of the largemouth bass engulfed the bait on the initial fall, and several were allured by a slow do-nothing or strait-swimming retrieve. Every successful retrieve was devoid of shakes, which is an unusual experience for me.
In total, I caught 78 largemouth and three crappie in 3 ½ hours.
Terry Bivins of Lebo, Kansas, and his wife, Claudia, fished a 416-acre community reservoir on May 1, but as they were taking the boat off the trailer, the wind shifted to the north, and it got colder. They were afloat from 9:20 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. During the first hour and an half, they caught 16 largemouth bass and one rainbow trout in 1 ½ hours. After that they failed to catch another fish. The surface temperature ranged from 58 to 60 degrees. The most effective bait was the three-inch head section of a Bass Assassin Lures' mango-colored 7 1/2-inch worm. After the head was amputated from the worm, it was affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig.
Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, and his uncle fished a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 1
The surface temperature was 62 degrees at the dam. Inside the warm-water plume, the surface temperature was 75 degrees. At other locales, the temperature ranged from 62 to 65 degrees. The lake level was normal. The clarity was ranged from two to three feet.
The wind was variable at times, but then it blew out of the southeast at five to 15 mph. Most of the time it sunny, but later in the day it became mostly cloudy. Area thermometers recorded an afternoon high temperature 91 degrees.
But it was a struggle to catch fish, and they caught only 17 largemouth bass, two crappie and two channel catfish, as well an assortment of bluegill, freshwater drum, green sunfish and warmouth. They failed to land seven largemouth bass. One of the channel catfish weighed 14 pounds. One of the largemouth bass weighed 6.1 pounds, and another largemouth bass weighed 5.5 pounds. Besides those two lunkers, six largemouth bass were 15 to 17 inches long. Several of the largemouth bass exhibited spawning scars on their tails, fins and orifices.
Their best bait was a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The second best bait was a 2 ½-inch green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
They retrieved these baits by slowly dragging them along the bottom. At times they employed the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.
They caught all of their fish along the riprap that borders much of the eastern side of the reservoir and along the riprap of the dam. The western section of the dam was the most fruitful, yielding five largemouth bass during the last 45 minutes of their outing.
Chris Rohr of Overland Park, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network about his strip-pit outing on May 1.
He wrote: "I fished a series of strip pits from shoreline near La Cygne, Kansas, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The air temperature was 72 degrees, the water temperature was 62 degrees, and the water clarity was about 3 feet. I landed 27 largemouth bass during this time. The first pit yielded 10 largemouth bass on a 2 1/2-inch PB&J ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce round jig. All fish ranged from 14 to 18 inches in length.
"The most interesting catch was by hand. I noticed a large crappie thrashing around in the shallows struggling to stay upright. Upon closer examination, I grabbed it because of what I had in its mouth. It was a large sunfish. The crappie measured 15.5 inches. I removed the sunfish and it measured 5.5 inches. The sunfish swam off, but the crappie struggled and was fighting to stay alive. I suspect it probably became food for a raccoon or other predator overnight.
"The second pit had similar conditions. This pit failed to yield any hits on a variety of finesse baits. Thus I switched to a large spinnerbait, which quickly yielded 17 largemouth bass, including a 7 1/2-pound female that was clearly in spawning mode with a battered anal fin."
Northeastern Kansas was whacked rain, sleet, and snow on May 2, and locales in western Missouri were hit with several inches of snow. This was only the third time in recorded history that snow had fallen in northeastern Kansas during May. A north wind howled as much as 32 mph, and area thermometer plummeted into the low 30s. And the weather was unseasonably cold until May 6.
While Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas and central Missouri were enduring another bout with Old Man Winter, it was a delightful spring day in the Appalachians Mountains of West Virginia. And Burton Bosley of Sutton, West Virginia, posted a report on the Finesse News Network about his May 2 outing at a 1,400-acre reservoir in West Virginia.
He fished from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. The morning low temperature was 45 degrees, climbing into the 80s during the afternoon hours. The wind angled out of every direction, which is a usual phenomenon on the reservoirs in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, and he said it blew at six to 10 knots. In his eyes, "It was a beautiful Appalachian spring day with a mix of pre- and post-spawn fish activity."
The surface temperature was 64 to 68 degrees. Where de launched his boats in the reservoir's headwaters, the water was clear enough that Bosley could read a newspaper if it was covered with 10 feet of water.
He described the reservoir as being rocky and steep-sided with lots of lay-down trees that provided cover.
His first cast of the outing was off target, and it landed in a treetop, but as the bait dangled from the tree, it allured a bass. From that cast to his last cast, Bosley wielded a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig dressed with a 2 ½-inch PB&J ZinkerZ, and he employed a rod-lift-and-glide retrieve.
He wrote: "I didn't focus on the best areas. Instead, I just started down a bank and stayed with it, enduring bad spots along with more fishy ones in an attempt to research 'nothing-looking' banks."
He caught 20 black bass, three rock bass, and two big bluegill. Most of the bass were small spotted bass, but one post-spawn largemouth weighed 3 ½ pounds.
He wrote: " I knew I could have improved my catch rate by running around, but since trading in my fast boat for a slow one, I run and gun much less. A friend came by and he was power fishing. He reported that he had caught more than 30 fish. Other anglers reported catching upwards of 100 fish, but I was content with my experiment and testing my new finesse outfit.
"In years past I fished short spinning rods, like Ray Fincke's stingers, on this reservoir. I've always been a proponent of casting accuracy being more important than distance, which still holds true, but in clear water situations, being able to cast long distances accurately has no drawbacks. Hence my new outfit is an eight-foot light-action Temple Fork outfitters rod, which casts your rig nearly to Kansas. It was great for my lift-and-glide retrieve. I would throw it into inches of water and glide the bait out and down into more than 20 feet of water. The fish came from all depths. The largest bass came from "nothing-looking" banks, and the big bluegill were spawning in eight feet of water."
Casey Kidder of Topeka, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network that he fished a 11,600-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir on May 5 for three hours. The water was murky, and the surface temperature was 51 degrees. He failed to tangle with a largemouth or smallmouth bass, and caught only four freshwater drum. He noted that "cold, murky water is always a struggle" in northeastern Kansas' flatland reservoirs.
Chris Rohr of Overland Park, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network about his May 5 outing with Doug Herman of Topeka, Kansas, at the strip pits near La Cygne, Kansas.
He wrote: "The heavy rains on May 3 and 4 changed conditions that I experienced just a few days before at the same pits. What's more, the extremely muddy roads limited our ability to find water that didn't resemble the color of coffee. The sky was overcast. Air temperatures were in the mid 50s most of the day. The water temperatures had dropped significantly since May 1; the warmest water we could find was 52, which was a 10-degree drop. We fished from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and we landed more than 90 largemouth bass. The majority of the fish were caught on spinnerbaits. Three-inch tube baits and a Texas-rigged chartreuse-pumpkin ZinkerZ accounted for about 35 largemouth bass. The biggest bass weighed 5 3/4-pounds, and it was caught on a spinnerbait. But most of the other largemouth bass were 1o to 15-inchers, which was quite disappointing because these pits have consistently yielded fish in 15- to 18-inch range during the past several years. I suspect that the rollercoaster weather we have experienced has the fish confused and as frustrated as those of us pursuing them.
"Finally, I have switched all my reels except one, exclusively to P-Line's 30-pound-test braid, which has a diameter of eight-pound-test monofilament. Even in the strip pits, where the water clarity is often in excess of six feet, there has been no noticeable decline in catch rates between rigs with the braid versus the rigs with eight-pound-test fluorocarbon line. I was concerned that the braid would negatively impact yields, but thus far that hasn't happened. The braid has helped with feeling bites especially on windier excursions when 1/16-ounce jigs are used. I will continue to note catch rates in future reports."
This is tennis season in our household, and many hours of this week will be focused on our 16-year-old grandson and 13-grandaughter's endeavors on the tennis court. Since our afternoon and evening hours pivoted around the tennis courts, I had time to fish only from 10:10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at a nearby 195-acre community reservoir on May 6.
The rain and snow that whacked northeastern Kansas on May 2 and 3 kept us at bay and raised the water level at this reservoir, and it looked to be only a foot below normal. For a flatland reservoir in northeastern Kansas, it was exceptionally clear and devoid of the filamentous algae that was blooming during the last week of April. The surface temperature was 53 to 54 degrees, which was a significant drop from five days ago when the surface temperature was 64 degrees at nearby 180-acre state reservoir.
Area thermometers registered a morning low of 51 degrees, which was a degree above the normal low temperature. At 2 p.m. these thermometers climbed to 60 degrees, and later in the afternoon they peaked at 68 degrees, which was three degrees below the normal high temperature. It was cloudy until 2 p.m., and then the sun began to shine. The barometric pressure was 30.13 and steady. The wind was mild-mannered at 8 mph and angling out of the north and northwest.
In-Fisherman's calendar indicated the best fishing times occurred from 8:12 a.m. to 10:12 a.m.
I made my first cast along a steep rocky shoreline adjacent to the dam, using a slightly shortened Z-Man's four-inch pumpkin Finesse WormZ attached to an orange 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and I used it on that shoreline and along the riprap of the dam until it caught 25 largemouth bass. I caught the 25th largemouth bass at 11:01 a.m.
Then I began using a Z-Man's three-inch green-pumpkin Hula StickZ (an inch was trimmed off the head of the Hula StickZ) along the rest of the dam, along a rocky shoreline immediately east of the dam, a rocky and main-lake point on the east side of the reservoir, and a rocky and boulder-laden main-lake shoreline along the east side of the reservoir. And I used it until I caught 25 largemouth bass, which occurred at 11:45 a.m.
Upon inveigling the 50th largemouth bass, I began wielding a PB&J Hula StickZ on an orange 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. This four-inch Hula StickZ was rigged on the jig so that its four tentacles were on the collar of the jig. I continued fishing along the rocky and boulder-laden main-lake shoreline, as well as two main-lake points on the east side of this reservoir. Then I switched to a rocky and gravel western shoreline in the reservoir's south feeder creek arm. I fished it until I caught 25 largemouth bass at 12:50 p.m. This rigged also caught five crappie.
I fished for 10 more minutes with a 2 ½-inch green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and it caught six largemouth bass. Then I had to call it a day, and I got set for our tennis sessions, which took place from 3:45 p.m. into the evening hours.
In sum, I fished for two hours and 50 minutes, and caught 81 largemouth bass. The best retrieve was a slow do-nothing retrieve in which I held the rod a the three o'clock position and slowly turned the reel handle allowing the four baits to swim and glide close to the bottom.
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, reported on the Finesse News Network about his brief May 6 outing with Rick Dykstra of Junction City, Kansas, at a 16,020-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir, where the surface temperature was only 51 degrees.
Dykstra used a green-pumpkin tube, and Frazee worked with a 2 ½-inch California craw ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce jig. They fished one rocky shoreline and extracted 10 smallmouth bass and four crappie.
The older I get the shorter my outings become. During the past year or two, my hours afloat have become so brief that a lot of younger anglers don't want accompany me. But Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, joined me on May 7 for an outing at a 55-acre community reservoir. And as we were driving to the boat ramp, Reese said, "Since I hit my mid-60s, I have begun to like short outings, too." Thus, we fished from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
To our chagrin, however, the largemouth bass fishing on this outing was a struggle --especially during the first hour that we were afloat. In fact we didn't catch largemouth bass during our first 35 minutes of plying the east shoreline of the reservoir's south arm. For a spell, we feared that we wouldn't catch a fish across our four hours of wielding finesse tactics. But during the next 45 minutes, we were able to eke out nine largemouth bass, one sauger and one crappie.
Around noon while we were plying the west shoreline of the reservoir's south arm, a light breeze erupted from the south, some insect hatches erupted, an aggregation of brook silversides began milling about on the surface at a main-lake point, about a dozen bluegill were cruising around in the back of a small cove, and we began to garner more strikes and catch more largemouth bass. Until that time, this reservoir exhibited the proverbial demeanor of a dead sea. Then from noon until 2 p.m., we caught 34 largemouth bass, as we fished the entire west shoreline of the south arm, the dam, the north shoreline of the reservoir's east arm, and about 40 yards of the south shoreline of that east arm.
In total we caught 43 largemouth bass, six crappie, one sauger and one walleye.
Our spinning rods were dressed with a slightly shortened four-inch pumpkin Finesse WormZ attached to an orange 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a California craw Hula StickZ affixed to a homemade 1/15-ounce mushroom-style jig, a 2 ½-inch California craw ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a three-inch green-pumpkin Hula StickZ affixed to a 1/15-ounce homemade mushroom-style jig, a PB&J Hula StickZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher, and two radically customized California craw Hula StickZs on a 1/15-ounce homemade mushroom-style jigs.
The pumpkin Finesse WormZ, California craw Hula StickZ, and California craw ZinkerZ were the most effective baits.
We fished about 80 percent of the reservoir's shoreline, which is lined with rocks, as well as some sections of gravel, a few patches of American water willows, several laydowns and some brush piles. The bulk of the largemouth bass that we caught were extracted from rocky lairs.
We caught them on a variety of retrieves and various depths and distances from the water's edge. Many anglers would describe it as a patternless outing. Others would describe it as hodgepodge fishing. In short, it made for a puzzling four hours of fishing. Even as our catch rate improved during the last two hours of the outing, it seemed as if it was merely happenstance when we caught a largemouth bass. We had heard for a pair of veteran Midwest finesse anglers that the largemouth bass fishing at this reservoir has been lackluster this spring, and we concur.
It was a beautiful spring day, making it the second one in a row. The first hours of daylight were graced with fog and haze. The sky was clear until around 1 p.m., and then it became partly cloudy. Area thermometers indicated that the early morning low temperature was 42 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature was 75 degrees. For the first hour the wind was dead still, and then it angled out of the southeast and south at about 6 mph. When we made our first casts, the barometric pressure was 30.10 and dropping.
In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred from 8:52 a.m. to 10:52 a.m., but Reese and I didn't reap many dividends from 10 a.m. to 10:52 a.m.
The water was extremely clear for a flatland reservoir in Kansas. The surface temperature was 58 degrees. The water level was several inches above normal.
After this outing, Reese started packing for his annual smallmouth bass foray at the Lake of the Woods, Ontario, where he chases them from mid-May until mid-September. Upon his return to Kansas, he spends the fall and winter months in duck blinds in Missouri and Kansas. Therefore, we wouldn't fish together again in northeastern Kansas until the late winter of 2013-14.
Clyde Holscher is a multispecies guide from Topeka, Kansas. He posted a report on the Finesse News Network about an outing at 6,930-power-plant reservoir that he had with two clients from Wichita, Kansas.
He noted that the surface temperature within the reservoir's warm-water plume was 70 degrees, and they caught a few white bass by trolling crankbaits across the flats in this plume. Then they moved southward and trolled crankbaits across the flats that grace the west side of the reservoirs, where the surface temperature was in the mid-50s. And they inveigled a few crappie, walleye and white bass.
Eventually they got tired of contending with the brisk wind that angled out of the southeast, and they began plying riprap shorelines and few other lairs that were somewhat protected from the wind. At these locales, they wielded 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZs affixed to orange 1/16-ounce jigs on their spinning outfits. The three best colors of their ZinkerZs were California craw, green pumpkin and pumpkin chartreuse.
As their outing came to a close, they trolled cranking along two submerged roadbeds, where they caught some nice-sized walleye, and one of them was a 27-incher.
By the end of the outing, Holscher's fish counter tallied that his clients caught 50 smallmouth bass, 48 crappie, 15 white bass, and seven walleye. Many of the crappie measured 13 inches and longer, and they were inhabiting their traditional spawning sites.
A series of significant thunderstorm pummeled some locales in northeastern Kansas last night and early this morning, but we received only .80 of an inch of rain around Lawrence, Kansas. Then around 9 a.m. a delightful spring day began to unfold, as Canadian geese and bald eagles were guarding their nests, the orioles were singing and frolicking in the trees, fields were stippled with the brilliant purple blossoms of phloxes and the yellow hues of the blooming common winter cress, and scores of largemouth bass were milling about in two to six feet of water along gravel and rocky shorelines.
Area thermometers registered a morning low temperature of 56 degrees, which was five degrees above normal, and the afternoon high temperature reached 73 degrees, which was two degrees above normal. Around 10 a.m., the barometric pressure was 30.00 and slowly dropping. The wind was mild mannered angling out of the west and southwest around 10 mph, but at times it was a tad gusty and at other times it was virtually calm.
The In-Fisherman calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred 10:22 a.m. to 12:20 p.m., and I was afloat from 10:35 a.m. to 2:10 p.m.
I made a solo outing to a nearby 195-acre community reservoir, where the surface temperature ranged from 62 to 64 degrees. The lake level looked to be about one foot below its normal level. The water clarity was exceptionally clear for a flatland reservoir in northeastern Kansas. In fact, I crossed paths with Eric Fortner of Gardner, Kansas, he was sight fishing, which is a rare feat in these parts. On two of the shallow mud flats in the south feeder creek arm, the curly-leaf pondweed was cluttering the surface, and along a main-lake shoreline on the west side of the reservoir, some patches of the curly-leaf pondweed were about six inches from the surface. And the bushy pondweed was beginning to emerge.
I began the outing by fishing along a rocky shoreline on the west side of the reservoir and adjacent to the dam. I executed my first cast with a shortened four-inch pumpkin Finesse WormZ affixed to an orange 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and I used this combo until I caught 25 largemouth bass. I caught the 25th one at 11:11 a.m., and at that point, I was about halfway across the dam.
Then I switched rods and began wielding a pumpkin Hula StickZ that was rigged so its tentacles were on the collar of an orange 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and I used it until I caught another 25 largemouth bass, which I did at 11:56 a.m. By that time I was plying a rocky main-lake shoreline on the east side of the reservoir.
The dam and the short stretches of rocky shorelines on the western and eastern ends of the dam yielded 40 largemouth bass.
Upon catching the 50th largemouth bass, I switched rods and began using a three-inch green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and I continued to fish the rocky shoreline along the eastern side of the reservoir, two main-lake points, and the shorelines of a small feeder creek arm. At 12:39 p.m. while I was plying the south shoreline of the small feeder creek arm, I inveigled largemouth bass number 75.
Then I switched rods and began using a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and I fished the rest of the south shoreline of the small feeder creek arm, a main-lake point, about 200 yards of the main-lake shoreline on the east side of the reservoir, and another main-lake point. At 1:16 p.m., I caught largemouth bass number 100.
After catching largemouth bass number 100, I picked up another rod and began working with the Bivins' Mango Bug on a purple 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Terry Bivins of Lebo, Kansas, makes this Mango Bug by cutting three inches off of the head of a Bass Assassin Lures' 7 ½-inch mango-colored worm, and he attaches the head to a 1/16-ounce jig. I fished the Bivins' Mango Bug on two main-lake points, along the shorelines of a small cove on the east side of the reservoir, and along about 250 yards of a rocky shoreline on the west side of the reservoir. The Bivins' Mango Bug caught largemouth bass 125 at 2:10 p.m.
The best retrieve was the swim-glide-and-shake motif, and the shakes were slight and subtle. But at times, the standard Charlie Brewer do-nothing retrieve allured a significant number of largemouth bass -- essentially it is slow or methodical swimming retrieve.
In sum, I fished three hours and 35 minutes, and those five lures caught 125 largemouth bass. They also allured a few crappie, bluegill, green sunfish, and redear sunfish.
None of these fish were big. In fact, some of them were tiny, but since I relish catching vast numbers of largemouth and smallmouth bass on every outing, this was an excellent outing in my eyes.
Eric Fortner, however, is a power angler, and he focuses on catching lunker-size largemouth bass, and around 1:30 p.m., when we crossed paths, he said that he had caught and released a three-pound and six-pound largemouth bass, and he was pleased.
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, reported on the Finesse News Network about his May 9 outing at a 120-acre community reservoir in the northern suburbs of Kansas City.
He wrote: "Before we went out, I jokingly told a last-minute fishing partner that we were going to have a 100-fish day. But we hit that total plus two in four hours of fishing today.
"The crappie fishing was on fire. Everywhere we went, the fish were just off the banks and grouped up.
"The bass weren't that active, but we did catch 38 and had five keepers, including one that would have been close to five pounds. We caught most of the fish on finesse baits, but sorry to say, not Z-Man products.
"The Swimming Minnow and Northland Fishing Tackle's Slurpies Swim'n Grub were by far the most productive. The keeper bass came on an Eakins jig and a chartreuse and white spinnerbait. For some reason, the bass weren't hitting the ZinkerZ today.
'The crappies were nice size. Most of the fish I measured were 11-12 inches. No giants, but a lot of solid fish. Most of the action came in the coves, where the water temp was 63 degrees.
The action was best in the coves where the wind was blowing in.
Lots of action. Hope it continues."
Terry Bivins of Lebo, Kansas, report about his May 10 outing on the Finesse News Network. He wrote: "The north wind was blowing briskly; so I went to a 135-acre state reservoir, which was somewhat sheltered from the north wind. I had an excellent day, catching 104 largemouth bass, 14 crappie and one huge bluegill. I caught 10 largemouth bass on a spinnerbait, 15 largemouth bass on a chugger-style topwater bait. All the rest were caught on a three-inch Mango Bug affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig. The Mango Bug is made by cutting three inches off of the head of a Bass Assassin Lures' 7 ½-inch mango-colored worm, and the head is attached to the jig. The surface temperature was 62 degrees. All the fish were in two to three feet of water. I retrieved the Mango Bug by slowly turning the reel handle on my spinning reel, and every now and then, I stopped turning the reel handle, which allowed the Mango Bug to drop to the bottom. I was fast twitching the chugger across the surface."
Dave Weroha posted a report on the Finesse News Network regarding his outing with Joe Heckelbeck of Kansas City on May 11 to a 85-acre community reservoir and a 35-acre one in northwestern Missouri.
Weroha said that they fished 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., but this outing ended prematurely becasue of outboard motor and trolling motor woes. They caught 42 largemouth bass. The largrest weighed 2 1/2 pounds and was 16 inches long.
He said that the north wind howled, and it adversely affected their presentations along several shorelines at both reservoirs. Area thermometers recorded the high temperature as 66 degrees, and the low temperature was 42 degrees. It was sunny.
In-Fisherman's fishing calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred at 11:58 a.m. to 1:58 p.m.
The water level at 85-acre reservoir was 15 feet below normal during the drought of 2012, but it was back to normal on this outing. The surface temperature was 61 degrees. And it was muddy. They fished this reservoir for three hours, and they caught only three tiny largemouth bass, which were allured by a Z-Man's green-pumpkin ToobZ affixed to a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, and it was retrieved with a slow glide-presentation in two to five feet of water. Heckelbeck threw crankbaits and spinnerbaits, and he got a few strikes on them, but he was unable to hook a fish. They attempted to fish the dam, which was located on the south end of the reservoir and was pummeled by ranks of waves, but they couldn't control the boat.
They took an hour off for lunch. Then they launched the boat at the 35-acre community reservoir, and over the course of the next three hours, they caught 39 largemouth bass.
The water clarity at this reservoir ranged from two to three feet. The surface temperature was 61 degrees.
Weroha used two Midwest finesse rigs: a green-pumpkin ToobZ affixed to a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a customized green-pumpki Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. He employed a glide-and-shake retrieve to inveigled 24 of the 39 largemouth bass. Heckelbeck's crankbaits caught 15 largemouth bass.
My wife, Patty, and I took a quick Mother's Day outing to a nearby 180-acre state reservoir, where we fished the riprap that lines the dam from 5:10 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
This spring's sour weather patterns had kept her at bay. So, this was her first outing in 2013, and this one wasn't exactly a balmy one; therefore, we donned several layers of clothes in order to keep our 73-year-old bones and joints warm.
The wind was angling out of the south at 7 mph. It was partly cloudy to mostly cloudy and unseasonably cool. Some area thermometers recorded the morning low at 32 degrees, which was a record low temperature for this date, and it was 21 degrees below the normal low temperature. The previous low temperature was 36 degrees, and that was recorded in 2008. The afternoon high temperature was 68 degrees, which was five degrees below the normal high temperature. While we were afloat, the barometric pressure was 30.20 and falling.
In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred at 12:50p.m. to 2:50 p.m.
The surface temperature ranged from 64 to 65 degrees. The water along the dam was exceptionably clear. The water level looked to be slightly more than a foot below normal.
We worked with three spinning outfits. One outfit was dressed with a shortened Z-Man's four-inch pumpkin Z-Man's Finesse WormZ affixed to an orange 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Another outfit sported a Z-Man's PB&J Rain MinnowZ on an orange 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The third rod and reel was fitted with what we call a three-inch Bivins' Mango Bug on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. (For more information about Terry Bivins' Mango Bug, please the logs for May 1, 9, and 10.)
We retrieved these three finesse baits from the water's edge and into water as deep as 12 feet. We employed three Midwest finesse retrieve styles: (1) The hop-and-bounce retrieve, which is achieved by dropping the rod to the five-o'clock position after the cast and holding it there during the entire retrieve. After the cast, we shake the rod as the jig combo falls to the bottom. Once it bounces on the bottom, we hop it off the bottom by moderately rotating the reel handle twice and then pause. As it falls back to the bottom during the pause, we shake the rod. We continue this reel-pause-and-shake motif for the duration of the retrieve. (2) The drag-and-dead-stick presentation, which is normally performed by the angler in the back of the boat. She casts the jig combo towards the shoreline and allows it to fall to the bottom as she shakes his rod. Her rod is held at the three- to four-o'clock position, and she merely drags the jig combo slowly across the bottom as the boat moves along the shoreline. The angler often drags the jig combo until it is behind the boat. As she drags it, she occasionally shakes the rod, and periodically she takes some line off the reel, creating several feet of slack line, which allows the jig combo to lie dead still on the bottom for five seconds. This is our deepest presentation; at times it plummets into 12 feet of water or deeper. (3) The straight-swim retrieve, which is similar to the classic Charlie Brewer do-nothing retrieve, and that means we slowly swim the bait by rotating the reel handle. We do not shake the rod, but we occasionally stop rotating the reel handle, which allows the bait to glide slowly towards the bottom.
But the time we executed our last casts and retrieves, our fish countered revealed that we had caught 43 largemouth bass, three crappie, three green sunfish and one bluegill in one hour and 20 minutes. None of the largemouth bass were big, but we weren't competing in a bass tournament. We were merely trying to catch 25 largemouth bass an hour, which we did. We are purely recreational anglers and catching a lot of largemouth bass of various sizes is what we call fun.
Dave Weroha of Kansas City reported on the Finesse News Network about his family's Mother's Day outing at 160-acre state reservoir, where the water level was more than seven feet below normal.
He wrote: "My wife, daughter and I fished five hours, and to our delight caught, we 44 largemouth bass, one walleye and sauger. We plied the dam, the northwest feeder creek arm, main lake points, and several deeper structures in the middle of the lake. The wind was negligible and at times nil. It was mostly sunny. The surface temperature was 62 degrees. The water clarity was clear at about six feet with a slight algae bloom. There were huge matted walls of curly-leaf pondweed in the upper reaches of both northeast and northwest arms. When we were in eight feet of water and the pondweed nearly hit the trolling motor blades.
"Most fish were caught in two to eight feet of water. Two retrieves were effective: the straight-swim and the glide and shake. And the rod tip was held in the 12 o'clock position. Because of the clear water and sunny conditions, we opted for a watermelon-white customized ZinkerZ on a white 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and that combo caught a good number of fish. I also caught a good number of fish on a customized green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a charteruese 1/16-ounce jig. The customized green pumpkin ToobZ on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, which was gliding and sliding along the bottom, was fruitful, too. For a spell I threw a crayfish-hue SR07 Rapala Shad Rap, and it caught a few largemouth bass, but on this bluebird-and-negligible-wind outing, they were not in the mood to chase it.
Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, returned on May 11 from more than a month of chasing a multitude of saltwater, freshwater and brackish-water species in Florida and Georgia. Then on May 13 we were afloat for about an hour of trying fishing at a 7,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir. We fished from 9:45 a.m. to 10:55 a.m. The surface temperature ranged from 58 to 60 degrees. The water level was 3.47 feet below normal. The water was stained. We were hoping to have a multispecies outing, catching crappie, smallmouth bass and wipers. But during the hour and five minutes that we were afloat, we were able to tangle with only six crappie, five freshwater drum, and two dinky smallmouth bass. What's more, we had to maneuver around a myriad of crappie anglers. In our eyes, it was unfolding as if it would be a wretch outing. Thus, we decided to sashay over to a nearby 195-acre community reservoir, where we fished for largemouth bass from 11:30 a.m. to 1:40 p.m.
When we arrived at the second reservoir, the wind was blowing from the southeast at 9 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.10 and falling. It was sunny.
The morning low temperature was 43 degree, and the afternoon high temperature hit 80 degrees.
The water was clear enough in the lower half of the reservoir that we could easily see the propeller on the trolling motor, but it was stained in the south feeder creek arm. The surface temperature fluctuated from 64 to 65 degrees. The water level looked to be about a foot below normal.
In-Fisherman's calendar noted that the best fishing times occurred from 1:43 p.m. to 3:43 p.m. Even though we didn't fish during two-hour spell, we caught 63 largemouth bass, seven crappie, and failed to land another dozen largemouth bass during the two hours and 10 minutes we were afloat.
We caught 32 largemouth bass along the dam, using a shortened four-inch pumpkin Finesse WormZ on an orange 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and a pumpkin Hula StickZ rigged backwards on a 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.
We spent the last hour and 10 minutes, plying parts of the reservoir's eastern shoreline and two coves, where we caught 31 largemouth bass around rocky lairs. The bulk of these were inveigled on a 2 ½-inch California-craw hue ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
The best retrieve was a slow hop-and-bounce one that was occasionally punctuated with some drags and deadstick routines.
Nowadays, Lau fishes around the world. We have fished together in northeastern Kansas for many years, and as this outing was drawing to a close, he note that there are not many places in the world where two anglers can tangle with more than 63 fish in two hours and 10 minutes. Yet, he admitted that he has become a touch bored with the largemouth fishing in northeastern Kansas. In his eyes, it is devoid of adventure, surprises, his beloved snakehead fish and other exotic species. However, he still relishes northeastern temperate bass fishing in October and November.
Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network that he and his pastor fished on May 13 from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at a 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir.
The wind was from the southeast at 5 to10 mph, and at times it was variable. The air temperature reached into the high 70's. The water was very clear, and the surface temperature in the southern reaches of the reservoir fluctuated from 58 degrees in the morning to 64 degrees in the afternoon.
They caught 35 smallmouth bass, 15 white bass and one walleye. Most were caught on 2 ½-inch ZinkerZs affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The three best colors were green-pumpkin, watermelon-chartreuse, and green-pumpkin/orange
Some of the fish were caught near the water's edge, and some were 15 feet off the shorelines.
Many of the strikes were tentative, He said: "We described it as I think I have a fish on, or it felt like dead weight. The white bass hit the hardest with a initial thump, but sometimes took three tries to get them hooked."
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, reported on the Finesse News Network about his May 14 outings on a 120-acre community reservoir in the northern suburbs of Kansas City.
He wrote: "Well, it is back to being the Dead Sea. After a spell of excellent fishing, the last two days have been trying. Today was the worst. Even the small bass were hard to come by. I caught two keepers on a black-and-blue jig and pig, but about the only finesse bait they will hit is a Northland Fishing Tackle's Slurpie.
"The water is very stained, which is unusual. Have you ever heard of a spring turnover? That's what some of the guys out here are wondering about.
"What is disheartening is that I had made some calls to people who had won raffles to fish with me and told them to come over. The fishing last week was so good, especially for crappies, that all you had to do in some places is get your lure in the water. Now I'm having to call them back to reschedule."
Terry Bivins of Lebo, Kansas, filed four brief reports about his outings on May 13, 14, 15, and 16.
He stated that he and his wife fished a 135-acre state reservoir on May 13. They inveigled 93 largemouth bass, and the bulk of them were allured by his three-inch Mango Bug affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig. The Mango Bug is made by cutting three inches off of the head of a Bass Assassin Lures' 7 ½-inch mango-colored worm, and the head is attached to the jig.
On May 14, he fished a 4,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir, where he worked with a 1/8-ounce gray Leroy Spellman's marabou tail and yarn-body jig and caught 50 crappie and three smallmouth bass.
On May 15, Bivins fished at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir. He wrote: "I had the best smallmouth fishing today I've ever has as far as size goes. I've caught more but never anywhere as big as the ones I caught today.
"I caught 43 smallmouth bass, two 19-inchers, two 18-inchers, six 17- inchers. Three were less than 10 inches long, but the rest were between 15 and 16 inches long. I caught six largemouth bass: one 18-incher and one19-incher and none were less than 15 inches long. I caught one 18-inch sauger and two drum. So not to harm these bass, I wasn't placing them on the ruler just holding them up beside it. What a beautiful bunch of fish. I was using a six-foot medium-action spinning rod and eight-pound-test monofilament line. Five of the largemouth bass were caught on a black jig and pig, and the rest of the fish were caught on the three-inch Mango Bug and 1/16-ounce jig.
"I put in at the marina and never started the big motor. Water was extremely clear. The surface temperature was 63 degrees. The fish were about five feet deep. I won't forget today's fishing for a long, long time."
On May 16, Bivins returned to the same 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir that he fished on May 15, but he fished different areas of this reservoir. He described it as "a strange day," but despite the strangeness, he caught 41 smallmouth bass and 17 white bass.
When it became cloudy, he worked with a chugger-style topwater bait that bewitched 13 white bass and 20 smallmouth bass, and it allured the biggest smallmouth bass: two 18-inchers, three 17-inchers, and 15 smallmouth bass that measured from 15 to 16 inches in length. About half of the smallmouth were less than 13 inches long, and they were caught on the three-inch Mango Bug and 1/16-ounce jig combo. He noted that "the big fish were in 12 inches or less water, and I had to use the chugger in that shallow water. I have no idea what they were doing that close to the bank."
On May 17 Clyde Holscher, who is a multispecies guide from Topeka, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network about his three guide trips on May 13, 15 and 17 at a 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir.
He described it as "an utterly delightful week. The weather was stellar and as was the fishing."
His May 13 clients possessed what he described as "fair fishing skills" They fished from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and they wielded dark colored 2 ½-inch ZinkerZs on 1/16-ounce jigs along riprap shorelines. They also trolled with pearl-colored crankbaits. The caught 84 fish of which 80 percent were smallmouth bass and the rest were crappie, walleye and white bass.
His May 15 clients possessed what he called "good fishing skills." They fished from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The trolled dark-colored crankbaits and inveigled 95 crappie, walleye and white bass.
According to Holscher, his May 17 clients exhibited "excellent fishing skills." They fished from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The caught 146 fish, which included 110 smallmouth bass, which were allured by a various colors of ZinkerZs affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig, and a few of the smallmouth bass were in the three-pound range. He noted that it was initially foggy and the wind was calm, which seemed to enhanced the walleye bite. Besides tangling with 110 smallmouth bass, they caught 36 crappie, walleye and white bass by trolling dark-crayfish hue crankbaits.
The bulk of the fish that Holscher and his clients caught were foraging upon insect larvae and other invertebrates. Three fish that they boated regurgitated walleye fingerlings. They found that dark-colored baits were more effective than light-colored ones.
The water clarity was the clearest that he has seen in his more than 50 years of fishing Kansas waterways. In fact, he could clearly see the sinker on his buoy markers in the depths greater than eight feet of water. When he and his clients were working with the 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ on 1/16-ounce jigs, the water was clear enough that they could see this combo during the entire retrieve, and when they couldn't see, it was in the mouth of a smallmouth bass, which provoked them to gently set the hook. He noted that one client was able to see the smallmouth bass execute short strikes by clenching a part of the ZinkerZ in their mouths and then stretching it. Holscher also noted that he was battling a two-pound smallmouth bass, and when he got the smallmouth bass near the boat, the smallmouth bass jumped and tossed the ZinkerZ and jig, and once that smallmouth was free, it made an 180-degree turn and engulfed the ZinkerZ, and Holscher boated it and quickly released it.
Bob Gum of Kansas City reported on the Finesse News Network about his May 18 outing with his wife at a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir, where the surface temperature was 74 degrees along a massive stretch of riprap shoreline along the reservoir's eastern shoreline, and it was 72 degrees along the riprap shoreline of the dam.
He wrote: "the largemouth bass were not at all active. We fished the east riprap, the entire dam, a short stretch of riprap around the power plant, and a rock pile south of the marina -- where we didn't get a strike there. As time passed without much action, we started working more slowly and out a little deeper, often making contact with the rocks. We caught more freshwater drum and channel catfish than largemouth bass. In total we caught 34 fish, and the biggest largemouth bass was an 18-incher. And most of the fish were caught on a 2 ½-inch coppertruce ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
"We crossed paths with Dave Weroha and Duc Pham, who were having a trying day. We probably won't fish this reservoir again for at least a couple weeks."
Chris Rohr of Overland Park, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network about an outing at a 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir.
He wrote: "A neighbor and I fished from 6:50 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The surface temperature ranged from 64 to 68 degrees. The water clarity in the vicinity of the dam was nearly eight feet.
"We were the third boat on the water, and at that time, the wind was angling out of the south-by-southeast at 12 mph, and it increased to 20 mph by the time we stopped fishing. Heavy, hazy clouds covered the sky for the entire morning.
"We caught two channel catfish, three white bass, three crappie, three largemouth bass, and 34 smallmouth bass.
"The most effective bait was a 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ in two colors: black-blue and pumpkin-chartreuse hues. The pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ accounted for 25 of the fish.
"My partner fished with a dark-green 1/16-ounce jig. I used a tandem rig with a chartreuse 1/16-ounce jig on top, and about 24 inches above it, I attached a red 1/16-ounce jig. I switched the ZinkerZ colors between the two jigs. The pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rigged on the red and chartreuse jig caught an equal number of fish. I did have one cast that yielded two smallmouth bass at the same time. Biggest smallmouth was a 14 incher. The biggest largemouth bass as a 16-incher. Both channel catfish were three-pounders. Two of the crappie measured 11 ¾-inches and the third one measured 12 ½-inches. All of the white bass were 15-inchers.
"Most fish were caught in 4 to 8 feet water, but some were caught in 12 to 16 feet of water. We fished entire length of the dam, one of the islands, and both sides of a massive rock jetty. Only two fish were caught in the hot water outlet.
"We missed more than 40 strikes. I tried shortening the ZinkerZ to about 1 ½ inches to avoid short strikes, but the shorter ZinkerZ only elicited a couple of hits. We noticed that a large number of smallmouth bass would follow the bait all the way to the boat before they would turn away. A swim-and-glide retrieve was most the effective one.
"All fish were caught on spinning reels spooled with braid line without leaders. We did talk to several power fishermen who reported very limited action on larger baits."
Travis Perret of Overland Park, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network that he fished from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at a 100-acre community reservoir that lies in the southwest suburbs of Kansas City
The morning low temperature was 58 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature was 75 degrees. At times the sky was partly cloudy, and at other times it was mostly cloudy. The wind angled out of the southwest and west at 12 to 24 mph. Around 3 p.m. the barometric pressure was 29.75 and falling.
In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The surface temperature was 72 degrees in most areas. The water clarity was surprisingly clear for a northeastern Kansas reservoir, reaching a clarity of five feet at some locales.
Perret stated that he caught 32 largemouth bass and too many bluegills, green sunfish and warmouth to count.
He wrote: "In the past I've had success with the 2 ½-inch Junebug ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig at this reservoir; so I started with that. I was catching them pretty good at first and then it slowed down. Then I switched to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ and started catching them again.
"The best area was a steep shoreline in on the east side of the reservoir, and this shoreline lies in the upper third of the reservoir.
"Most of the largemouth bass were small, but I had four or five that were a pound and a half or so. I don't think this reserv0ir has a whole lot of big largemouth bass in it. Last year I caught a three- pounder, and that is the biggest I've ever caught. But it is loaded with fish."
Terry Bivins of Lebo, Kansas, filed a short report about his May 21 outing at a 6,930-acre power-plant outing, where he wield only one bait. It was a four-inch Bass Assassin Lures' Walleye Turbo Shad affixed to a quarter-ounce jig. He worked with two colors of the Turbo Shad: the pumpkin-seed/chartruese-tail one and the black shad one.
He worked this combo on a 6 ½-foot spinning rod and 10-pound-test monofilament.
He spent the entire outing, which encompassed six hours, probing and dissecting a large and flat, main-lake point on the west side of the resevoir.
The surface temperature was 67 degrees.This reservoir's water level was brimfull.
He found the fish in five to seven feet of water. He caught 48 white bass, 31 walleye. 26 crappie, five smallmouth bass, two channel catfish, and two large freshwater drum. The biggest walleye weighed three pounds, four ounces. His biggest crappie weighed one pound, 13 ounces.
Terry Claudell of Overland,Kansas, posted this report about his May 21 outing with his son and uncle at a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir. They were afloat from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and they took a 40-minute lunch break.
He said that the watershed of this reservoir had recently been hit with two inches of rain. Consequently the water level was the highest that he had seen it for a long time.
He also noted that the water clarity was what he called "a tad stained" along the riprap that lines the much of this reservoir's eastern shoreline, and "it was a tad clearer along the dam."
The surface temperature at the dam ranged from 70 to 73 degrees. It was 72 degrees along the eastern shoreline, and 75 degrees at the warm-water outlet
At 9 a.m. area thermometer indicated that the temperature was in the low 60s, reaching into the mid-70s around 4 p.m. Initially the wind angled out of the northwest and eventually switched to the southwest at 10 mph. Claudell described the weather as ideal.
This trio tangled with 20 freshwater drum, and four of them weighed more than five pounds. Claudell said the drum were a joy to catch. They caught 12 largemouth bass, and they were big, measuring in length from 18 to 21 inches. They also failed to land four big largemouth bass. They caught 10 big crappie and five catfish, and one of the catfish was a 16-pound flathead catfish, and they failed to landed another big ctafish. What's more, they caught a plethora of bluegill and green sunfish.
Their most effective bait was a 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The two most fruitful colors of the ZinkerZ were watermelon red and green pumpkin. Two of the big catfish that they tangled with were caught on a green sunfish.
Claudell categorized the bite as very aggressive, noting that the drum and catfish thumbed the ZinkerZ with a lot of gusto. He was also surprised at the size of the post-spawn largemouth bass that they caught.
He concluded that it was a "pleasant day afloat with family, with lots of laughs and fun."
Travis Perret of Overland Park, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network about his May 23 at a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir with Casey Scanlon of Lenexa, Kansas, who competes on the Bassmaster Elite Series.
Perret wrote: "Our main goal was to take photographs and do some on-the-water video. Casey is pretty familiar with this reservoir. So we fished his areas and very few of the areas I normally fish. He said last year at this time he had success in the coves leading to the main-feeder creek and up the main feeder-creek arm near the bridge. I actually fished very little as I was taking photographs and doing some interviewing.
"After about three hours of only catching two small largemouth bass on a Carolina rig, I decided it was time to help him out. I pulled out a 2 ½-inch watermelon ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and I proceeded to catch fish. We needed to be back at the ramp at 12:00 due to other obligations. So, I only fished about an hour with the ZinkerZ.
"When Casey was finished fishing the east shoreline, which was scattered with a series of boulders, I asked him motor over to the dam near the water outlet area. On my third cast I caught a three-pounder. As we worked our way down the dam, for the next hour, I caught 10 bass. He decided to downgrade to a watermelon-colored centipede, and he ended up catching three largemouth bass and one catfish.
"Once I started catching fish, he asked all sorts of questions about the technique. I think we might have another convert on the Elite Series."
Until this outing with Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, I hadn't fished since May 13, when Lau and I fished a 7,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir and a 195-acre community reservoir, where we caught 63 largemouth bass, 13 crappie, five freshwater drum, two smallmouth bass, and failed to land another dozen largemouth bass.
On this May 24 endeavor, Lau joined me as we made the 25-mile journey to a 416-acre community reservoir that lies in the eastern suburbs of Topeka, Kansas. Since I hadn't fished for 10 days and because the following three days would have our reservoirs filled with Memorial Day weekend celebrators, we elected to stretch this outing to five hours, and we fished from 10:25 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. This extra hour allowed us to catch a few more fish than we normally catch during our usual three- to four-hour Midwest finesse endeavors at this reservoir.
It was unseasonably cool. Some area thermometers registered the morning low temperature at 46 degrees, which was nine degrees below the normal low temperature. The afternoon high temperature hit 76 degrees, which was one degree below normal. A chilly wind angled out of the east and southeast at 16 to 24 mph. Initially the sky was sunny, and it slowly became partly to mostly cloudy. The barometric pressure around 10: 30 a.m. was 30.28 and dropping.
In-Fisherman's calendar stated that the best fishing times occurred from 10:06 a.m. to 12:06 p.m.
The water level looked to be about 2 ½ feet below normal. The surface temperature ranged from 68 to 70 degrees. The water clarity varied from locale to locale: Along main-lake shorelines, points and offshore lairs in the lower third portions of the reservoir, we could easily see the propeller on the electric trolling motor, but in one of the eastern feeder creek arms and in the upper half of the main body of this reservoir, the water clarity was stained to the point that it was a tad difficult to see the propeller.
To our surprise, we saw several intrepid swimmers and one water skier, who were getting a jump on the Memorial Day weekend. But as can be seen in the four photographs, the water and weather was too cool for our old bones, and thus Lau and I were dressed warmly for this time of the year. To our delight, the water skier made only a few turns around the lake before he called it quits. And what's more, we were pleased not to cross paths with the incessant din and wakes of jet skiers that frequently enjoy this urban waterway from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Because the wind blew briskly at several locales, we often employed a drift sock, which allowed us to move slowly with the wind. And that tactic also allowed to keep the wind from creating bows in our line and to make better casts and to execute our retrieves with an air of subtleness and exactness.
It was a multispecies adventure. We caught 48 largemouth bass, 26 smallmouth bass, six freshwater drum, three crappie, three walleye, one white bass, one bluegill and a plethora of warmouth and green sunfish.
Lau was hoping to tangle with a rainbow trout, but apparently they were abiding deeper environs than we were probing. For instance, a Midwest finesse caught a 27-inch rainbow trout in 30 feet of water with a vertical presentation of a 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ and jig combo on May 20. The deepest water that Lau and I plied was no more than 12 feet.
Our six most effective baits were a 2 ½-inch green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ on an orange 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 ½-inch California craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a pumpkin Hula StickZ on an orange 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Gene Larew Lures' watermelon-pepper Baby Hoodaddy on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a green-pumpkin Baby Hoodaddy on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The Hula StickZ was rigged with its tentacle positioned around the collar of the 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.
We employed a variety of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves. But the hop-and-bounce retrieve and the drag-and-deadstick presentation were the most fruitful ones. Some of the fish engulfed our baits on the initial drop. Others were allured after the bait was retrieved for 20 feet. Of course, others were inveigled somewhere between the initial drop and 20 feet of hops and bounces or drags and deadsticks. Lau also allured several fish by dragging and deadsticking a bait at a 45-degree behind the boat, which is a tactic that some anglers call strolling.
The most productive lairs were five main-lake points, two long offshore rocky reefs, and a short bluff inside one of the eastern feeder creek arms. One main-lake bluff on the east side of the reservoir yielded only four largemouth bass, two smallmouth bass and a five-pound walleye, and one long main-lake bluff on the west side of the reservoir yielded only three largemouth bass and two smallmouth bass. All of these spots were situated in the lower third portions of the reservoir. Similar locales in the upper portions of the reservoir yielded a total of just four largemouth bass.
Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, filed a brief report on the Finesse News Network about his May 24 outing to a 100-acre community that lies in the southwestern suburbs of Kansas City. Another angler, who had never employed Midwest finesse tactics, joined Claudell, and they fished from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
He noted that the surface temperature ranged from 69 to 71 degrees. The water was stained in the upper portions of this reservoir, but it was relatively clear in its lower half. The sky was partly clouding, and area thermometers hit a high of 70 degrees. The wind angled out of the southeaster at 10 to 15 mph.
They caught 35 largemouth and scores of green sunfish. They fished the dam and the reservoir's entire eastern shoreline, and the bulk of the fish were caught in the lower half of the reservoir. All of the fish were allured by either a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a 2 1/2-inch green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
Travis Perret reported on the Finesse News Network about his May 25 outing to a 172-acre community reservoir in the southwestern suburbs of Kansas City, where he fished from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. It was his first outing on this reservoir.
Area thermometers registered the morning low temperature at 60 degrees. By the time Perret was afloat, it was 80 degrees, which was the high temperature of the day. The wind angled out of the south at 16 to 28 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.09 and falling around 5 p.m. The moon was full, and according to In-Fisherman's calendar, the best fishing time occurred from 11:07 a.m. to 107 p.m.
He noted: "The reservoir has a lot of American water willows, which were just starting to turn green and grow, and the shorelines are rocky. I was impressed with it. It has a couple different types of fish habitats: such as deep bluff and shallow water willows. The fishing pressure, however, was heavy, but it didn't seem to affect my fishing. Most people were fishing from the shore, which did not allow me to fish some areas I think would have been good.
"I caught 26 largemouth bass, 11 green sunfish and two three-pound catfish. The 2 1/2-inch watermelon ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught the bulk of the fish
"A green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ and a 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ caught only a few fish."
Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network about his outing with two young boys at a 55-acre state reservoir in Buchanan County, Missouri, on May 25. To Claudell's dismay, the Missouri Department of Conservation had killed all of the patches of aquatic vegetation, and on this outing, he and the kids had to battle the massive globs of filamentous algae that replaced that dead vegetation. They wielded a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and they eked out only 15 largemouth bass. They fished from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, reported to the Finesse News Network about his May 25 and May 27 outings with Mike McPherson of Siler City to a 350-acre community reservoir.
He wrote: "It was nice to be fishing again after a few weeks off chasing turkeys instead of largemouth bass. I was obviously very out of tune with the sport as my friend Mike McPherson out caught me 38 to seven.
"It was a terrible day for fishing weather wise. We set record low temperature, as area thermometers hovered in the low 40s. A stiff breeze angled out of the northeast. There was noty a cloud in the sky.
"Our weather woes didn't faze Mike as he caught them well all morning. His only lure was a 3/8-ounce white-bladed, white-skirted Z-Man's Chatterbait. His catch included a great eight-pounder.
"The reservoir we fished is normally kept at 2 ½ feet below its maximum level during the summer, but on this outing it was completely full, flooding the shoreline vegetation, which was harboring the biting bass.
"We fished from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
"My preconceived notions of a subtle finesses-type presentation were completely off the mark. The only action on my Gopher jig rigged with a 2 ½-invh Strike King Lure Company Zero were spawning bream that were taking advantage of a full moon. I caught zero bass on the Zero, and I fished it a lot. A wacky rigged Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits' Senko caught the ones I did catch. I could not duplicate Mike's success even when I did throw a Chatterbait.
"Except for the eight-pounder, our largemouth bass ranged in size from 10 inches to three pounds.
"We went back on May 27, fishing from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the fish still would not bite the 2 ½-inch Zero for me. Conditions were better temperature wise, and there was no wind.
"I used a compact and heavy War Eagle double-willow-leaf spinnerbait, which I fished very quickly, while Mike used his Chatterbait again. My spinnerbait had a clear and green skirt, which was designed to be used in clear water, but it looked like a baitfish in our moderately clear water to me. We landed 19 largemouth bass, comprising of a couple three-pounders and run-of-the-mill 12- to 14-inchers, and we failed to land what looked to be a five-pounder. The largemouth bass were caught around stumps or laydowns.
"I am at a loss about the lack of action on the Gopher jig and 2 ½-inch Zero. The only positive on the finesse side is that I am spooling my reel with Berkley's Nanofil line. That is some good stuff. If they ever do bite my Gopher jig combo again, I will be ready."
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, and an outdoor editor of the Kansas City Star posted the following report about his May 26 outing at a 120-acre community reservoir in the northern suburbs of Kansas City.
He wrote: "I took an auction winner and his son out today and we had a pretty good day. We caught 62 bass and eight of them were keepers (15 inches or longer) in six hours of fishing. No giants, but did catch three that were just over three pounds (I brought my scale with me).
"You aren't going to like this, but this is the first time I can remember that I didn't use Z-Man's baits. My best producers were a Northland Fishing Tackle's two-inch Slurpies Swim'n Grub, a Zoom Bait Company's Baby Brush Hog and a black-and-blue Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits' three-inch Slim Senko fished on a 1/16-ounce jig. Most of the fish were relating to rock.
"The water temp was 73 and a 15 mph wind (with gusts I would estimate at 25 mph) made things difficult. But the fish were in the wind, so I had to battle it. Wind-blown points were especially productive.
"I think our project to take bass under 12 inches out of the lake is paying off. We're seeing many more 14-15-inch largemouths than we have for some time. We have hired a management company to oversee our fisheries program and they came out and shocked the lake last week. They came in with bass up to 23 inches. And some of the biggest ones came out of Cemetery Cove, which never seems to be that productive when we're fishing. Go figure.
"I'll get back on the Z-Man's baits, I promise. It's just that lately other baits have been more productive.
"Hey, put the alert out to your chat room. If anyone knows where I can buy some two-inch Slurpie Swim'n Grubs in an emerald armyworm color, I would love to know. As you know, they discontinued that bait last year, and I am relying on the last of my packages.
"Why do they always discontinue the lures and color patterns that I like?"
Dave Weroha of Kansas City filed a short report about his outing with his wife and their young daughter at a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir, where they fished and battled the wind from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The morning low temperature was 64 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature was 85 degrees. Around 3 p.m. the barometric pressure was 30.08 and falling. While they were fishing, the wind angled out of the south and southwest at 17 to 28 mph.
In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that the best fishing time happened from 12:12 p.m. to 2:12 p.m.
They wanted to fish the riprap shorelines along the east side of the reservoir, but the wind proscribed that plan. Therefore, they fished two bluffs on the west side of the reservoir, which lie inside the warm-water plum, where the surface temperature was 84 degrees. They also ventured up the reservoir's main feeder-creek arm about 150 yards. Along the wind-blown shorelines and lairs, the water clarity was stained to the point that the visibility ranged from one to two feet.
They caught 29 largemouth bass, which were caught on a 2 ½-inch green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig with a straight-swim retrieve and a 2 3/4-inch Rapala Shad Rap RS in a crayfish hue. And when Weroha hooked a largemouth bass, he handed his spinning outfit to his daughter and she landed it. He described it as a delightful family and recreational outing.
Bob Gum of Kansas City reported on the Finesse News Network about his outing with two friends at a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir. They battled a horrendous wind, while wielding a three-inch blue-and-white Kalin's grub on an 1/8-ounce jig and a 2 ½-inch coppertreuse ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce red Gopher jig. They caught 45 fish, and it was a potpourri of species outing: they caught largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, crappie, freshwater drum, sauger, walleye and white bass.
Dwight Keefer of Phoenix, Arizona, posted the following report and observations:
"For almost three years you and I have had numerous discussions concerning suspended bass. I originally told you that I believed that there were thousands of bass and big ones that we weren't catching simply because we weren't fishing for them or we weren't using the right techniques. In December 2011 Paul Elias used the A-Rig on suspended Bass at an FLW event on Lake Guntersville, and we all know the rest of the story.
"Last year I read a Michigan DNR report in which they tagged about 20 smallmouth bass with electronic transmitters near Manitou Island in Upper Lake Michigan. Many of those smallmouth bass stayed within 500 yards of their initial tagging location, but some of them were found 30-40 miles northeast of where they were originally tagged. I was intrigued by this article for the information as well as the fact that shortly after I went to work for Shakespeare in 1970 I guided several executives from General Motors and Delco Remy on Lake Manitou island and we all had a great time catching smallmouth bass, including my personal best 6 ½-pounder.
"In the 1970s and 1980s we could always catch some suspended bass at Table Rock Lake, Missouri, using topwater baits during the post-spawn period on long points or timber covered points. We could also catch them during the same period on similar spots on Lake Ouachita, Arkansas, using spooks and Mann's Stingray Grubs.
"In April of last year I was fishing with George "Big Fish" Shaffer on Lake Saguaro, Arizona, and a friend of his took us to the marina area and showed us some concrete two-foot truss supports in 30 to40 feet of water that big bass were spawning on top of. His friend had caught an eight-pounder that morning off one of those trusses.
"Recently, I have been scouting largemouth bass by looking for abandoned nests and fishing the nearest cover or structure. I concentrated on the suspended largemouth bass first before I went deeper. I had been throwing a custom molded bluegill-colored swimbait and some topwater baits. Although I was catching some nice fish on the swimbait, including having an eight-pounder break me off last week, I felt that I wasn't really quite on them. Most of these fish were suspended over the structure or cover and about 50 yards from where I broke off the eight-pounder. I saw a 10-pounder bull rush a bluegill right out in the middle of the lake. I could also catch some smaller fish on the Finesse Shad-Z and customized Fatty-Z on a drop-shot rig drop. The drop shot was necessary as the snot moss (filamentous algae) is starting to grow.
"Yesterday (May 28) I went back to that City Park Lake and initially used the swimbait and drop-shot rig, but I didn't feel I was really on them. I had rigged up some 2 ½-inch California Craw ZinkerZs on a 1/16-ounce Gopher-style jig with a No. 2 604 Gamakatsu hook that Dave Reeves of Lansing, Kansas, makes. I had also had a custom ZinkerZ and jig spinning rod made to throw them on.
"After about an hour I started throwing the ZinkerZ combo and I was catching them on almost every other cast in certain areas. Near the spot I had broken off the eight-pounder last week I caught five suspended largemouth on five casts, and what looked to be that eight-pounder fish was trying to get the bait out of the mouth of a three-pounder I was fighting. Many times the ZinkerZ combo never got to the bottom and a lot of these fish were suspended in three to four feet of water over 15-20 to feet of water. I would also fish the ZinkerZ comb by dragging it and dead sticking it on the structure nearest to where they were suspended. I had to trim the plastic at a 45-degree angle near the jig head to keep the snot moss off the jig head. Finally, I would drop shot the customized Fatty-Z on the same structure and caught some nice three-pounders."
Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his evening outing to a 350-acre community reservoir, where he fished from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred from 3:28 p.m. to 5:28 p.m., and he noted that there was a slight breeze angling out of the north. It was sunny and area thermometers hovered around 88 degrees.
He wrote: "Going solo I had no one to help or hinder my catch. I could have used a lot of help.
"The first two hours were biteless. I was focusing on shady and shallow willows and willow grass. Typically these areas work well during the post-spawn on this small reservoir. The Gopher and 2 ½-inch Zero and 1/16-ounce Gopher jig went untouched, as did a wacky Senko, as did a spinnerbait in the grass, and as did the Rapala DT06, which I fished around some rocky points.
"Finally during the last hour, I caught seven largemouth bass, three crappie, one green sunfish and a five-pound channel cat. All of these fish were caught around a bridge. The largemouth bass were caught around the pilings and along the riprap in a couple feet of water. All were caught on a 2 ½-inch green-pumpkin-red-flake Zero affixed to a 1/16-ounce blood-red Gopher jig.
"Two of the bass looked to be three-pounders, and the rest were merely 12-inchers. One of the crappie would have outweighed all but the largest two bass.
"Once again I had left my slimmer profile Z-Man baits at home. I must get Z-Man's Finesse WormZ into play. The Zero faded during this period last year, and the Finesse WormZ became effective.
"I talked to another angler who had fished all day, and he caught only four largemouth bass. In short, the bite was really off."
Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his guide trip with two clients to a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir on May 29.
He noted that he and his client initially wanted to fish a 5,090 power-plant reservoir, but they were unable to launch because of an extremely brisk south wind. Therefore, they spent their outing trying to hide from the wind along the south side of the 6,930-acre Corps of Engineers' reservoir.
The water was relatively clear around areas that weren't wind blown, and the water was stained in the vicinity of wind-blown points. The water level was about three feet below normal.
They fished from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and they primarily worked with 2 ½-inch ZinkerZs affixed to 1/16-ounce jigs. The two most effective colors were PB&J and pumpkin chartreuse.
They caught 79 smallmouth bass, 16 white bass, seven crappie, three freshwater drum, and one channel catfish. They extracted the bulk of this potpourri of fish from rocky points.
On the first day of May, the water levels of several of the flatland reservoirs that we fished in northeastern Kansas were below normal. For instance, a 11,600-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir was 1.34 feet below normal of May 1, but by June 1, it was 5.75 feet above normal. But Terry Bivins of Lebo, Kansas, said the heavy rains that pummeled some spots in northeastern Kansas with more than four inches of rain in a few hours didn't fall around Lebo. Therefore, the water levels at a few of the reservoirs that he fishes, such as the 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir, remained below normal for the entire month. But all of the community and state reservoirs that we normally fish were brimful by June 1.