A month-by-month guide to Midwest finesse: April 2013
May 09, 2013
On April 1, 2012, the surface temperature at many of the flatland reservoirs across northeastern Kansas was hovering around 69 degrees. By April 30, 2012, the surface temperature at these same reservoirs ranged from 66 to 67 degrees. On April 1, 2007, the surface temperatures were 58 degrees, and these temperatures gradually climbed to 64 degrees on April 30, 2007.
This time around Old Man Winter was relentless. For example, around 7:30 a.m. on April 23 sleet began to cover the countryside, and area thermometers hovered between 32 to 34 degrees. Then it snowed hard from 8:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m., and several roadways had to be plowed and covered with salt and sand. The high temperature on April 23 was 39 degrees, which was 28 degrees below normal. After that onslaught of sleet and snow, the morning low on April 24 plummeted to 26 degrees, which was 19 degrees below normal, setting an all-time low temperature for that date.
Because of the unseasonably cold weather, the surface temperatures at several of the small flatland reservoirs on April 1 ranged from 48 to 50 degrees. On April 19, the surface temperature at a 419-acre community reservoir was 48 to 49 degrees. On the last day of the month, the surface temperatures were ranging from 56 degrees to 58 degrees.
Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, who is one of the forefathers of Midwest finesse fishing, noted in an e-mail on April 20 that "water temperature does matter. My pond was showing the water temperature to be 60 degrees six days ago, and I caught 48 largemouth bass and scores of green sunfish. Today, it was 54 to 56 degrees and I caught only six bass and no sunfish. I never get depressed, but if the weather doesn't change soon, I may have to consider the possibility.
Weather woes walloped scores of Midwest finesse anglers in locales other than Kansas. Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, was one of them. On April 22, he reported on the Finesse News Network that "central Indiana received well above normal rainfall amounts in my area of the state this past week, getting six inches in a little over 72 hours. Lakes and rivers rose perilously high, and the water has turned the color of chocolate milk on most all lakes. Visibility at the closest reservoir to me was one to three inches, and the bite has soured for the moment. The good news to report though is that prior to the rains, things were picking up. Our white bass began their annual run up the river as I intercepted 45 fish in 45 minutes (42 white bass, two crappie, and one largemouth) at the start of the week. I had also been throwing the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ from the shore for about an hour after work and been scoring between five and a dozen largemouth bass a trip with it. I imagine as soon as our waters clear somewhat, things will pick back up in a hurry. Surface temps are running 55-56 degrees. So there is a lot of pent up fish activity waiting to blossom with some warmer, drier weather."
Spring finally arrived on April 28. Area thermometers recorded a high temperature of 76 degrees, which was seven degrees above normal. Cherry trees, redbud trees and plum thickets began to bloom. Then by April 30, the leaves on some of the hardwood trees were a tad bigger than a squirrel's ear, and Baltimore orioles were fluttering about. But to the dismay of northeastern Kansas anglers, the National Weather Service was predicting that there was an 80 percent chance for rain, snow, and sleet on May 2 with area thermometers diving to 32 degrees during the night of May 2 and morning of May 3.
Throughout the month of April, the water levels at most of northeastern Kansas' flatland reservoirs were several feet below normal, but a couple of the small community reservoirs around the western suburbs of Kansas City were brimming with water.
This month's guide is the longest one that we have posted. It encompasses 16,725 words about alluring largemouth and smallmouth bass with Midwest finesse tactics. But several of these logs recount how these tactics can inadvertently allure other species, too. In short, it is an effective multispecies tactic -- especially in April. The April 3, 19, 27 and 30 logs have a few details about the other species that this method inveigles.
Midwest finesse tactics aren't infallible. There are times when they fail, and there are waterways where they don't work. Across the past year or so, Chris Rohr of Overland Park, Kansas, has found those times and waterways, and on April 19 and 20, Rohr found another one of those times and waterways. Details about his endeavors are revealed in his April 20 log below. Brian Waldman's April 26, 27 and 28 logs aren't about Midwest finesse tactics, but they are included in this month's guide because of his insights about weather and water conditions.
Besides Rohr and Waldman's logs, there are logs by Terry Bivins of Lebo, Kansas, Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, Paul Finn of Olathe, Kansas, Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, Bob Gum of Kansas City, Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, Walt Tegtmeier of Kansas City, and Dave Weroha of Kansas City.
There are also 13 logs that describe when, how and where my partners and I fished in northeastern Kansas. Nine of those outings were solo endeavors. The 13 outings encompassed about 46 hour of largemouth and smallmouth fishing with Midwest finesse tactics. During those hours, 616 largemouth bass and 11 smallmouth bass were caught, as well as potpourri of other species.
We are especially grateful for Dave Weroha's help in assembling this blog.
Our grandson, Gabe Bonanno of Brooklyn, and I waited until area thermometers climbed to 49 degrees before we made a quick trip 195-acre community reservoir. Therefore, we didn't execute our first casts until12:15 p.m. Our last casts occurred at 2:30 p.m.
Area thermometers registered a morning low temperature of 28 degrees, which was nine degrees below normal, and the afternoon high temperature hit 52 degrees, which was eight degrees below normal. The wind angled out of the northeast at 10 mph, and slowly it became variable at 6 mph. The sun was bright in a China-blue sky. The barometric pressure was 30.53 and falling 1 p.m.
The last four days of March were warmer than normal, causing the surface temperature of this reservoir climbed out of the low 40s, and on this outing, the surface temperature ranged from 48 degrees in the lower 10 percent of the reservoir to 52 degrees in the upper third of the reservoir. The water level looked to be about 2 ½ feet below normal. The water was clear enough that we could see the propeller of our electric trolling motor. We use the trolling motor's propeller as our Secchi disk, and when we can see it, we call the water clarity Kansas clear.
In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred 5:01 p.m. to 7:01 p.m.
We spent the bulk of the 2 hours and 15 minutes that we were afloat plying the north shoreline of one of the reservoir's eastern feeder-creek arms. This area is embellished with massive boulders, chunk rocks, gravel, stumps, brush piles, curly-leaf pondweed, milfoil, and a ledge that plummets into 12 to 20 feet of water. We plied 150 yards of his shoreline, and we extracted 35 largemouth bass. Most of them were associated with patches of curly-leaf pondweed.
We also fished 40 yards of the eastern shoreline and 60 yards of the western shoreline in the south feeder-creek arm, where we caught only two largemouth bass and one black crappie.
We used three baits: A Z-Man Fishing Products' green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig, a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and the 2 ½-inch tail section of a Z-Man's green-pumpkin FattyZ adorned on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
The Finesse ShadZ combo caught 26 largemouth bass, the Rain MinnowZ combo caught 11 largemouth bass and one crappie, and the FattyZ failed to elicit a strike.
The best retrieve was the drag-and-shake motif. We caught three largemouth bass while deadsticking the drag-and-shake retrieve, and four largemouth bass inhaled the Finesse ShadZ on its initial drop to the bottom. The bass were caught in water as shallow as three feet and as deep as 11 feet.
After we wielded our last casts, we glanced at our fish counter, and it revealed that we had caught an average of 15.7 largemouth bass an hour, which pleased Gabe, and he was eager to spend several more hours afloat before he and his sister return to New York on April 6.
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, filed this report with the Finesse News Network about his April 2 outing at a 120-acre community reservoir in the northern suburbs of Kansas City
"The Dead Sea has returned to life. I went out for a solo run from about noon to 4 p.m. today ..., and I had one of my best numbers days in some time.
"I caught 61 bass, four trout and two big crappies. That's the good news. Only four of the bass were keepers, and the biggest was probably just short of three pounds.
"I started with a Megabass jerkbait, hoping to catch a giant. No luck.
"But when I got down to the grass flat along the highway, I ran into a huge school of bass. I started catching small ones on the stickbait, including two on the same cast. Once I realized there were few decent-sized bass in the school, I went to finesse baits so that I didn't have to mess with the treble hooks of the jerkbait.
"Game on. I started with the PB&J ZinkerZ and caught them like crazy. Then I switched to the Dirt color and did just as well or better. It seemed that the fish were just moving up. As the water temp rose from 44 to 46, the bite intensified.
"I was retrieving the bait with a couple of slight shakes, then I would let it settle into the weeds. When I would go to shake it again, there was just weight on the end of the line. I caught 55 of the 61 bass in a 30-yard stretch. That school had to be huge.
"Too bad there weren't more keepers mixed in, but it was still fun getting some steady action."
From 11 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. Travis Perret of Overland Park, Kansas, who's the head of Exercise Therapy of Kansas City, led Brent Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kansas, and me through a long and demanding series of Egoscue exercises. Perret called it exercising with the pro.
Our stretching and exercise session was followed by three hours and 20 minutes of fishing on Lake Quivira, which Perret called fishing with the pro.
As of Mar. 21, Chapman, who is 40 years old, has fished the Bassmaster circuits since 1994, competed in 205 of their tournaments, garnered four first-place finishes, placed in the top-ten 30 times, earned $1,531,583 in prize money, and won 2012 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year.
In early August of 2011 into early February of 2012, Chapman began working with Chapman two to three times a week for an hour at each session. They focused on a number of rigorous exercises aimed at preventing fatigue and pain from confounding Chapman during the extremely demanding hours he has to endure when he is competing in a bass tournament. And Chapman says his work with Perret played an instrumental role in his 2012 tournament achievements, which included one win at the Bassmaster Elite Series event at Toledo Bend Reservoir, Texas, and another win at the Bassmaster Bass Pro Shops Central Open tourney at Lewisville Lake, Texas. (For more information about Chapman and Perret see https://www.in-fisherman.com/2012/02/14/brent-chapman-and-travis-perret-team-up/; https://www.in-fisherman.com/2012/02/14/brent-chapman-and-travis-perret-team-up/; https://www.in-fisherman.com/2012/06/13/more-on-brent-chapman-and-travis-perret/; https://www.in-fisherman.com/2012/11/14/egocuse-perret-and-me-an-update/
Although Chapman was born, raised and still lives in the suburbs of Kansas City, where Midwest finesse fishing was developed in the 1950s and '60s by Chuck Woods, Ray Fincke and a handful of other talented recreational largemouth bass and multispecies anglers, Chapman has been a diehard power angler and never embraced finesse tactics. But in January as Chapman was working out with Perret, he started asking Perret, who is a Midwest finesse aficionado, questions about Midwest finesse tactics. And since then, Chapman has been seen at times wielding a spinning rod that was adorned with a traditional Midwest finesse bait.
On this April 3 outing, Chapman wanted to see how effective Midwest finesse tactics were compared to his power techniques. We fished from 12:15 p.m. to 3: 35 p.m. Chapman was in the bow of the boat, manipulating the trolling motor and wielding his power tools: a variety of jerkbaits and an Alabama rig. But Chapman did make several dozen casts with a spinning rod that was adorned with a Neko rigged Tightlines Ultimate Vision's four-inch green worm. (It is essential to note that the Neko rig is not part of the repertoire of Midwest finesse anglers.) Perret was in the middle of the boat, and he primarily used a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. I was in the back of the boat, and I mostly used a green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
We fished the northern half of this 225-acre community reservoir. And we began fishing along the eastern shoreline, plying scores of docks, some patches of winter-dead American water willows, gravel and rocky areas, brush piles, and one offshore brush pile. Then we fished the riprap of the dam and its concrete spillway. After we fished dam, we probed half of the western shoreline, which is embellished with two coves, docks, patches of American water willows, gravel, and rocks.
During our three hours and 20 minutes afloat, we caught 75 largemouth bass, 15 crappie, two rainbow trout, one walleye, and failed to land seven largemouth bass. We did not tabulate which of the four baits caught the most fish. But the Finesse ShadZ caught the biggest largemouth bass, a four-pound, four-ounce walleye, and a three-pound, one-ounce crappie. The Rain MinnowZ caught the second biggest bass. The two rainbow trout were caught by the Finesse ShadZ and Rain MinnowZ. The Rain MinnowZ caught the bulk of the crappie. The Alabama Rig caught six largemouth bass. The Neko rig caught one largemouth bass. The jerkbait caught most of the largemouth bass along the dam. As we reflected up our total catch of largemouth bass at the end of the outing, we concluded that the two finesse baits allured a few more bass than the jerkbaits and Alabama rig.
The most effective finesse retrieve for the Finesse ShadZ and Rain MinnowZ was the drag-and-slight-shake method, but a half dozen were caught on the initial drop, and several were caught with the deadstick motif.
One largemouth bass was caught on the Rain MinnowZ near an offshore brush pile in 13 feet of water, but the bulk of the bass were caught in three to nine feet of water. About half of the largemouth bass that we caught were associated with the docks.
The water level was slightly above normal; a minor trickle of water was coursing over the top of the concrete spillway. The water exhibited a slight greenish hue, and Chapman described it as clear. The surface temperature was 48 degrees.
Area thermometers indicated that the morning low temperature was 34 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature was 53 degrees. Around noon, the barometric pressure was 30.36 and dropping. The sun was covered by clouds, and the wind angled out of the east and northeast at 9 mph.
In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred from 5:58 p.m. to 7:58 p.m.
After Perret and I departed, Chapman's son, Mason, and his father, Ron, fished the southern portions of the reservoir. They didn't keep an accurate account of the fish they inveigled, but Chapman reported they caught about 25 largemouth bass and one rainbow trout. In sum, Chapman with his various partners tangled with more than 100 largemouth bass and other species.
This April 5 outing at a 195-acre community reservoir with our grandson Gabe Bonanno of Brooklyn and Tyler Sova of Queens proved once again Midwest finesse tactics are a dandy way for novice anglers to have an enjoyable time and catch an impressive array of fish.
This was the first time that Sova, who is 26 years old, had fished. Bonanno is 24, and he fishes only two to three times a year, which is when he visits Lawrence, Kansas, during Easter.
Sova's first cast with a spinning rod that sported a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig was surprisingly accurate, and on his fourth cast, he caught the first largemouth bass of the outing, which commenced 11:45 a.m. and ended at 3:45 p.m. Across those four hours, we caught 64 largemouth bass, five crappie and one big bluegill.
The best bait was a heavily customized 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ in the California Craw hue on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. To our chagrin, we had only three of these specially customized ZinkerZs, and by 1:05 p.m., those three baits were no more. The occasional errant casts and retrieves of novice and first-time anglers can be hard on lures — even lures as durable as a ZinkerZ. After the demise of the heavily customized ZinkerZ combo, the standard 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ in the California Craw hue on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher Jig and the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig became our best two options. We caught a few largemouth bass on a green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
Bonanno and Sova retrieved the heavily customized 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ with a slow swimming retrieve, and occasionally they would pause it and give it a slight shake as they began to swim it again. The best retrieve for the standard 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ rig and Finesse ShadZ was a drag-and-subtle-shake one with an occasional three-to-four-second deadstick pause.
We caught seven largemouth bass along the dam. We caught 34 largemouth bass along a 175-yard stretch of the north shoreline in one of the reservoir's east feeder creek arms and along a 75-yard stretch of its south shoreline. We caught 24 largemouth bass along the northwest shoreline of the reservoir's southwest feeder creek arm, and we fished more than 200 yards of this shoreline.
Except on the rocks of the dam and some rocky and gravel areas in the two feeder creek arms, the bulk of the largemouth bass that we caught were associated with patches of curly-leaf pondweed. The bass were caught in water as shallow as three feet and as deep as nine feet.
The water along the dam and in the east feeder creek arm was the clearest that I have seen it this year. The water clarity, however, in the southwest feeder creek arm was stained, and the clarity diminished dramatically as we moved towards the back of this arm. The surface temperature ranged from 54 to 57 degrees. We estimated the water level to be two to 2 ½-feet below normal.
Spring has had a hard time budding in these parts, and this was the warmest day that we had during the first five days of April. Area thermometers indicated that the morning low temperature hovered around 29 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature hit 71 degrees. The sky was hazy, but the sun was bright enough that Bonanno and Sova's noses and cheeks became sunburned. Initially the wind was mild mannered, but eventually it began to roar out of the south at 20 mph and continued to roar through the night, and by midday on April 6, the wind was literally howling at 32 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.14 around 11 a.m. and dropping. In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred at 7:12 a.m. to 9:12 p.m.
On our way home, Sova, who is our granddaughter Bea Bonanno's fiancé, said that he was afflicted with what we diagnosed as fishing fever. And as we were preparing to take them to the airport for their return to trip to New York on April 6, Savo said he was eagerly awaiting our next largemouth bass outing. But to his dismay, that probably won't occur during their next Easter visit in 2014.
Dave Weroha of Kansas City filed this report on the Finesse News Network about his outing with Bob Gum of Kansas City to some strip pits near Hume, Missouri, on April 6.
They landed 43 largemouth bass. The biggest four were 16 inches, 17 inches, 18 inches, and 19 inches. In addition, they failed to land 10 largemouth bass, and one of those looked as if it might have been an eight-pounder. Weroha noted that big largemouth bass inhaled a 2 1/2-inch purple-haze ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. He said that it " struck in textbook fashion," and he described it this way: "Waves were pounding the north shoreline , and along that shoreline, there was a large partially submerged tree stump. The west side of the stump was being pummeled with waves, and its east side was calm. Bob casted into the west side of the stump and dragged the ZinkerZ over to the east, calm side where the lunker was waiting. At first Bob and I thought he was a snag. After about three seconds of jerking his rod to liberate a perceived snag, it moved and the fight was on. Because Bob thought it was a snag, he did not initially set the hook firmly. Before it liberated itself, I got a good look at it near the boat and its length was impressive."
They fished from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., but two of those hours were spent taking a break and venturing by foot to investigate other pits.
Area thermometers registered 50 degrees when their outing commenced, and the temperature was 71 degrees when their outing ended. Throughout the outing, the sky was partly cloudy to mostly cloudy. A south-by-southwest wind howled at 20-25 mph, making boat control was an issue with Gum's 1970's model 10-pound-thrust trolling motor. The water clarity was variable, depending on the pit they were fishing: one pit exhibited two to three feet of clarity, and at another the clarity was less than a foot. They didn't have a thermometer to measure the surface temperature, but they estimated that it was in the low 40s. The barometric pressure around 8 a.m. was 29.74 degrees. In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred from 7:36 a.m. to 9:36 a.m.
Gum's spinning rods were decked out with a 2 1/2-inch purple-haze ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce red Gopher jig. He retrieved these baits by holding his rod in the 5 o'clock position and hopping and occasionally deadsticking them
Weroha rods sported a 2 1/2-inch purple-haze ZinkerZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, 2 1/2-inch pumpkin/chartreuse ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig, green- pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a black 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, mud-minnow Hula StickZ on a brown 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a brown 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
Weroha retrieved his baits with a glide-and-twitch motif, and he held his rod tip in the 5 o'clock position.
Ninety percent of their strikes occurred within five to eight feet from the water's edge. Several times as they plied a shoreline, Weroha would cast to the opposite shoreline and retrieve the bait across the middle of the pit, but he never garnered a strike once his bait was a significant distance from the shoreline .
Paul Finn of Olathe, Kansas filed a brief report and photograph on the Finesse News Network about the outing he and his son enjoyed at a 195-acre community reservoir on April 6, when the morning low temperature was 57 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature in some locals hit 77 degrees. It was sunny, and the wind angled briskly out of the south and southwest at 18 to 33 mph. Around 11 a.m. the barometric pressure was 29.71 and dropping.
"We fished from 11:15 to 3 pm and caught a total of 30 largemouth, one smallmouth, and two nice wipers. Most of the fish came on either a 2 1/2-inch PB&J or green-pumpkin-and -orange ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse homemade 1/16-ounce jig. The wind howled, which forced us to occasionally use a juice-colored Smithwick Perfect 10 Rogue and a No. 8 Rapala Shad Rap in a silver-fluorescent-chartreuse hue. I caught the largest largemouth bass that I have ever caught in Kansas, it was 20 inches long with a girth of 18 1/2 inches. I would estimate that it weighed at least seven pounds. I caught it on the California craw ZinkerZ along the south shoreline on one of the eastern feeder creek arms; it was in about two feet of water and three feet from the water's edge. I wish my son would have caught it instead of me."
Walt Tegtmeier of Kansas City filed this brief report on the Finesse News Network about his outing at some strip pits in Bourbon County, Kansas, noting straight away that his strip-pit report wasn't as good as Dave Weroha's.
"I fished just less than two hours. The 25-acre pit was slightly clearer than four weeks ago, but not much. Therefore, I started off power fishing with a tandem-Colorado spinnerbait, missing one bite I think. I also threw a black/blue Eakins jig with a blue Strike King chunk to no avail. I caught one good crappie and missed one bite on a green-pumpkin Z-Man's FattyZ and 1/16 red Gopher head. With about 45 minutes left, I went to the 4-acre pit and caught 8 largemouth, on the same head with a PB&J, green-pumpkin-red-flake and green-pumpkin ZinkerZ. I lost all three rigs. So much brush on and offshore, it's almost impossible to free a snag unless you are in the boat.
It may be that the big pit turns out to be good summer water, but right now I don't think they can see or feel finesse presentations, and the water's too cold for them to chase power baits. Just my uneducated guess. Based on my early winter outings, I know they're in there."
Chris Rohr of Overland Park, Kansas filed report on the Finesse News Network about his strip pit outing on April 6.
"A neighbor and I fished two strip pits near Amsterdam, Missouri, on Saturday. With the wind howling from south at 20 to 25 mph, boat navigation was a challenge; so we switched to walking the shorelines. Water temperature ranged from 49 degrees on the main body to 53 degrees in the shallow ends. Water clarify was four to six feet, which we called gin clear and required long casts as the fish could see us as well as we saw them. We caught 30 bass in just under three hours. Finesse baits only yielded one largemouth bass and one crappie. The remainder of the fish aggressively nailed ¾-ounce, double-willow-leaf-blade spinnerbaits in a white-and-chartreuse hue. All fish were caught on the north and northwest ends, which were wind swept. All fish were caught within two to three feet of the shoreline. Our top four bass weighed just over 16 pounds.
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, filed a brief report on the Finesse News Network about an outing that he and Bruce Jansen of Kansas City had on April 7 at a 120-acre community reservoir in the northern suburbs of Kansas City, when area thermometers recorded the morning low temperature at 39 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature peaked at 72 degrees. The barometric pressure at 8 a.m. was 29.86 and falling. It was sunny until around 11 a.m., and then it turned hazy and became increasingly cloudy. The wind was from the south, southwest and southeast at 3 to 12 mph.
Frazee reported that "the fishing was much tougher than it was a few days earlier when I went out and caught 61 bass on my own. We only managed 43 bass, 7 crappies and two trout.
"That's still not bad, but only two of the bass were keepers. And again, no giants.
For some reason, the bass are not hitting a jerkbait this year. Finesse baits have been the best producers -- Dirt ZinkerZs, to be specific. I tried many other colors and there was a clear difference.
"Water temperature was a surprising 52 degrees. The water was a coke-bottle green, as Bruce put it, but still very clear.
"The best action came in eight to 10 feet of water over weed stubble. Rocky points and banks just aren't producing yet. I tried a black and blue jig and pig and didn't catch a fish on it.
Frustrating, but still fun."
He concluded his report by noting that this lake has become a challenging lake during the past three year, but in his mind "it has enough big fish in it to keep you going. Some days you win, other days the lake wins. I think this trip was a slight win for the lake."
This was the fourth day in the row that area thermometers climbed into the 70s. Consequently, our plum trees, magnolia trees and forsythia hedges are in bloom. It is interesting to note that the average bloom date for forsythia is Mar. 23.
Some weather forecasters were predicting that northeastern Kansas would be walloped with some severe weather on April 9 and 10. Then during the night of April 10, thermometers are going to plummet into low 30s and some snow might fall.
After working in several of our gardens this morning, I decided to make a solo trip to a 100-acre community reservoir that lies in the southwestern suburbs of Kansas City. While I was nursing my broken forearm, wrist and hand in November and early December, a pair of ardent and talented Midwest finesse anglers caught an impressive array of largemouth bass at this reservoir, and I was hoping that I could find one of the mother lodes that those two anglers found in November and early December. Traditionally November and early December are the two most fruitful times for catching largemouth bass at this reservoir, and after that it normally becomes a very trying reservoir during the winter and early days of spring. For example, it vexed me on Feb. 11, when I caught only 11 largemouth bass, and it proved to be very trying on this April 8 outing
I fished from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For the first 25 minutes, I probed the riprap, dead American water willows and scanty patched of coontail along the dam, where I caught only two tiny largemouth bass on a heavily customized 2 ½-inch California-Craw-hue ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
For the rest of this outing, I quickly plied the about 25% of the reservoir's eastern shoreline and 15% of its western shoreline, as well as some scattered coontail patches in the middle of a mud flat in the upper quarter of the reservoir. These shorelines are graced with a bridge, docks, rocks, riprap, concrete walls, rock walls, dead American water willows, some scrawny coontail patches, a few laydowns, a beaver den, and some man-made brush piles. The shorelines were also embellished with several points and small coves. Along these shorelines, I eked out only 39 largemouth bass, and the bulk of them were caught on a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Three largemouth bass were caught on the radically customized ZinkerZ, five largemouth bass were caught on a green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ affixed to a 1/16-ounce chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, four largemouth bass were inveigled on a shortened Z-Man's green-pumpkin four-inch Finesse WormZ on a 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. These were the first largemouth bass that I have caught on a Finesse WormZ combo in 2013.
I fought a very large carp or flathead catfish for 10 minutes. When I decided that this donnybrook was eating significantly into my four hours of largemouth bass fishing, and it seemed as if it might eat another 10 to 15 minutes of my largemouth bass pursuits, I elected to break the line and tie on another green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ and chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. In addition to that 10-minute battle, I caught one black crappie and one white crappie on the Finesse ShadZ combo.
I experimented with a variety of retrieves, and I could not determine which on the five retrieve styles that the largemouth bass preferred. Twenty-one of the largemouth bass were caught within two to three feet of the water's edge, and a goodly number of them were nearly flush to the concrete and rock walls.
The water level was slightly above normal, and a small stream of water coursed across the dam's outlet. The surface temperature ranged from 53 to 57 degrees. The water clarity was relatively clear. Some of the rocks, all of the dock pilings and all of the dead patches of American water willows were coated with filamentous algae.
The sky was mostly cloudy. The morning low temperature was 54 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature was 72 degrees. The normal low temperature is 39 degrees, and the normal high is 69 degrees. The wind angled out of the south at 3 to 14 mph. The barometric pressure around 11 a.m. was 29.71 and rising.
In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred from 9:20 a.m. to 11: 20 a.m. I caught an average of 10.25 largemouth bass an hour, and the majority of the 41 largemouth bass that I caught were caught between 12:20 p.m. and 1: 40 p.m.
Even though it drizzled for a spell from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., it was another delightful spring day in northeastern Kansas. Vast numbers of captivating blossoms erupted overnight as area thermometers hovered around 64 degrees. And acres and acres of henbit colored the countryside with marvelous lavender hue. It was a glorious sight.
The weather forecasters reported that significant storm was in the offing, and they said by April 11 the midday highs would be only in the mid-40s and nighttime lows might plummet to 27 degrees. I wasn't planning on fishing on April 9, but since the weather might keep me at bay on April 10 and 11, I decided to make a quick journey to our nearby 195-acre community reservoir, where I fished from 12:20 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
I spent one hour and 35 minutes, plying the dam and a short segment of a main-lake shoreline, where I caught 19 largemouth bass.
During the next hour, I focused on some patches of curly-leaf pondweed in the southwest feeder creek arm and in the back of one the eastern feeder creek arms, and I eked out only seven largemouth bass from the confines of the curly-leaf pondweed. There were two other boats of bass anglers afloat, and they had already fished those two feeder creeks. Perhaps that's why I could inveigle only seven largemouth bass from those locales.
I worked with four spinning rods. One rod was dressed with a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The second outfit sported a trimmed green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ouince Gopher jig. The third rod had a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig affixed to a radically customized 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ in a California-Craw hue. A shortened four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig adorned the fourth rod.
The Finesse ShadZ caught 15 largemouth bass, two crappie and one white bass. The radically customized ZinkerZ combo caught six largemouth bass and five crappie. The Rain-MinnowZ caught three largemouth bass. The PB&J Finesse WormZ caught one largemouth bass.
I retrieved the customized ZinkerZ with a swimming retrieve that was punctuated with some shakes and pauses. The pace of this retrieve was slow, which allowed the ZinkerZ to snake through the patches of the curly-lead pondweed. This ZinkerZ provoked about a dozen strikes that I failed to hook.
The other three baits were retrieved with either a swim, glide, and shake or a drag with a lot of shakes and a few pauses. The drag-and-shake motif elicited most of the strikes — especially along the dam.
The sun shined for that last 30 minutes of the outing, but for the first two hours, it was cloudy. The morning low temperature was 64 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature peaked at 76 degrees. The barometric pressure was 29.76 and dropping around noon. The wind angled out of the southeast at 9 to 14 mph.
In-Fisherman's calendar stated that the best fishing times occurred from 10:04 a.m. to 12:04 p.m.
The surface temperature ranged from 55 to 57 degrees. The water was relatively clear around the dam and along the main-lake shoreline that I fished, but it was stained in the southwest feeder creek arm, and it was slightly stained in the eastern feeder creek arm that I fished.
Chris Rohr of Overland Park, Kansas, reported to the Finesse News Network that he shoreline fished a feeder creek of a 4,580-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's reservoir from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. The feeder creek was 20 feet wide with an average depth of three feet. The water temperature was 55 degrees.
He wrote: "I started fishing at the first set of riffles and worked my way downstream about 100 yards. In this stretch I caught 25 white bass, 1 crappie, and 4 largemouth on a 2 ½-inch watermelon-and-white ZinkerZ on an unpainted jig. Because this creek is cluttered with a lot of fallen and submerged trees, I used a nine-foot fly rod with a Shimano spinning reel spooled with 14-pound-test monofilament to save breaking off too much. The fly rod allowed me to vertically present the bait around fallen timber and rock ledges. I talked to two other anglers who indicated that they have been taking 15-20 white bass over a five-hour period each evening for the past week on Road Runners and small jigs."
Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, posted a report on the Finesse News Network about his outing, including a note about his father and son-in-law's outing
"It was nice, warm and sunny April day, and the high temperature reached into the 70s. After fishing throught0ut the late winter and early spring without capturing any small largemouth bass, I was finally able to allure a rare miniature specimen on my last trip.
" Like his 12 bigger relatives that I caught, this one bit a red 1/16th Gopher jig dressed with a 2 1/2-inch green-pumpkin-and-red-flake Strike King Lure Company's Zero.
"I caught these largemouth bass in two locations. Both locations were along windblown banks that were cluttered with some willow trees, and I caught these largemouth bass along the outside edge of the willows, and they engulfed the Zero combo on the initial fall.
"I fished from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and eked only 13 largemouth bass, but my father and son-in-law fished for eight hours with their more traditional baits, such as a wacky rigged Senko, and they caught only eight largemouth bass. Neither of us caught any larger than four-pounds, and most of them were in the 14-inch range.
"Fishing in North Carolina has really been outstanding the last two weeks with Falls Reservoir producing numerous nine-pounders in a tournament and Badin Lake yielded a 37-pound bag of five bass at a tournament tourney. It is prespawn at its best, but our turkey season is upon us, so I will be done fishing for awhile."
Bob Gum of Kansas City reported on the Finesse News Network about his April 13 outing to a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir. He fished from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Even though there was a tournament on this reservoir, he didn't cross paths with many of the competitors. He suspected that they were plying the upper end of the reservoir, while he fished the lower third portions of the reservoir, focusing on four areas: (1) the riprap along the eastern shoreline, (2) a rock pile, roadbed and a mud flat on the west side of the reservoir, (3) a shallow cove in the reservoir's eastern arm, and (4) most of the riprap of the dam.
The water clarity at the dam was about 3 ½ feet. The surface temperature was 55 degrees at dam and 54 degrees along the riprap of the eastern shoreline. The water level was slightly above normal.
The morning low temperature was 32 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature climbed to 63 degrees. Until after 9 p.m. the wind was calm, and then it angled out of the southeast at 5 to 12 mph. At times it was sunny, and at other times it was partly cloudy to mostly cloudy. The barometric pressure at 9 a.m. was 30.05 and dropping.
In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred from 1:23 p.m. to 3:23 p.m.
His four spinning rods sported a Pointer 78 SP in whitish-and-greenish hue, watermelon red Finesse ShadZ 0n a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, 2 ½-inch coppertreuse ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a pearl Rain MinnowZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
He caught 19 largemouth bass. Half of them were caught on the Pointer, including a two 19-inchers and two 20-inchers, and the biggest of the lot weighed five pounds. The 2 ½-inch coppertreuse was his second most effective bait. The third most effective bait was the Finesse ShadZ, but he said he had a difficult time executing long casts with it, and long casts seems an essential ingredient in his presentation. For instance, along the dam, his boat floated in eight feet of water, and he made long casts that were parallel to the shoreline of the dam. He said: " I think some of the fish were attacking the Pointer in a defensive mode. Several times my Pointer was getting bumped on the pause, but I was unable to hook them, and my final keeper was snagged just beneath the gill plate."
Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, reported to the Finesse News Network at he ventured to a 101-acre community reservoir in the southwestern suburbs of Kansas City on April 13, and he fished from 3:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.
The morning low temperature was 32 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature climbed to 63 degrees. The wind angled out of the southeast at 12 to 15 mph. At times it was sunny, and at other times it was partly cloudy to mostly cloudy. The barometric pressure around 4 a.m. was 29.93 and dropping.
In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred from 1:23 p.m. to 3:23 p.m.
The surface temperature ranged from 50 to 52 degrees. The water level was slight above normal. The water clarity was murky.
His spinning rods sported a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ and a 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ in the California hue. At times, these two baits were affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and other times they were affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
He caught 20 largemouth bass. Five of them ranged in size from 14 to 15 inches, and the rest were much smaller. He said that the strikes were rather tentative, and he had a difficult time hooking them. In fact, he failed to land nearly dozen largemouth bass of the extremely tentative strikers. Some of them would chase the Finesse ShadZ and never try to engulf it.
The best location was a shallow mud flat, which was embellished with some patches of aquatic vegetation, in the upper section of the reservoir. His boat was floating in four feet of water. His casts were directed to the shoreline and two feet of water.
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, reported on the Finesse News Network about his April 13 outing to a 120-acre community reservoir that lies in the northern suburbs of Kansas City.
"We finally caught a decent fish at today. I had one that weighed 4 1/2 pounds on a black-and-blue skirted jig and trailer. Interestingly, I had taken another keeper, about two pounds, in the same area two casts earlier.
But that was it for keepers. Even the small fish were hard to come by. Two of us caught only 14 largemouth bass in three hours of fishing. I tried every color of ZinkerZ that I have, and also tried the Finesse ShadZ and Rain MinnowZ.
The Z Man products did attract a variety of fish. In fact, I caught at least one of every type of fish: bass, crappie, bluegill, channel catfish and trout (two big ones). But the bass bite was off.
Part of it may have due to the drop in water temperature. It was about 53 degrees the last time I went out. After the cold spell, it dropped to 50 degrees today."
The normal high temperature for April 15 in this part of northeastern Kansas is 64 degrees, and the normal low is 42 degrees. Our morning low surpassed the normal low by three degrees, but by the time that I had finished my 2 ½ hours at a nearby 195-acre commuity reservoir, the high temperature peaked at only 50 degrees. (It is interesting to note that Steve Quinn of Brainerd, Minnesota, wrote in an e-mail this morning: "Winter remains here. I do not know how late ice-out has been on Gull and other lakes, but I suspect ice will remain, at least on some areas on Walleye-Pike Opener May 11.")
I fished from 10:25 a.m. to 12:55 p.m. The sky was overcast the entire time, and it rained during the wee hours of the morning. While I was afloat, the wind angled out of the north at 8 to 10 mph. The barometric pressure around 10 a.m. was 29.88 and rising.
In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred at 3:10 p.m. to 5:10 p.m.
The water around the dam was clear enough that I could easily see the propeller on my transom-mounted trolling motor. The surface temperature was 52 degrees. I estimated the lake level to be slightly more than two feet below normal.
Throughout this 2 ½-hour outing, I worked with a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 ½-inch California-craw ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a trimmed four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a radically customized 2 ½-inch California-craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig
During the first hour and 30 minutes, I fished the dam and several hundred feet of a rock shoreline of the west side of the dam. I caught 26 largemouth bass in the first hour. By the time the first 90 minutes had lapsed, I had caught 42 largemouth bass. I caught the first three largemouth bass on the PB&J Finesse WormZ combo. I caught the next 20 on the Finesse ShadZ, and the next 19 were caught on the 2 ½-inch California-Craw ZinkerZ.
Then I spent the next 40 minutes fishing the north side of the southwest feeder-creek arm. This area is graced with a dozen docks, a little bit of rocky shorelines, a few rock piles, some manmade brushpiles, patches of curly-leaf pondweeds, and three mud flats that are the size of a basketball court. Here I caught eight largemouth bass: seven of them were caught on the radically customized ZinkerZ rig and one was caught on the Finesse ShadZ. The rocky areas were more fruitful than the mud flats and curly-leaf pondweed areas.
For the next 15 minutes, I fished a main-lake point at the mouth of one of the eastern feeder-creek arms and 100 feet of the inside portion of the point. This spot was slightly wind blown, and it was rocky. I caught five largemouth bass, and they were inveigled on the 2 ½-inch California-craw ZinkerZ, and I caught a crappie of it, too, at this spot.
For the last five minutes, I fished a very short section of the north shoreline of this eastern feeder creek arm, and I failed to garner a bite.
In sum, the largemouth bass are beginning to exhibit a preference for rocky lairs, which is a normal phenomenon for this time of the year. At 12:55 p.m., the fish counter indicated that I had caught 55 largemouth bass, which is a very respectable 22 largemouth bass an hour. In retrospect, I shouldn't have spent 40 minutes plying the mud flats and curly-lead pondweed patches.
Last week I thought that winter was over. So I took all my gloves out of the boat, but from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., I was occasionally wishing that I had a pair as I fished a nearby195-acre community reservoir for the second day in a row.
Because it was unseasonably chilly and the National Weather Service predicted that it might rain, I wasn't going to fish. But I eventually talked myself into going in order to test Z-Man's coppertreuse Finesse WormZ. The reason why I wanted to test it was that two of the anglers who competed at the Walmart FLW tournament at Beaver Lake last week said that they inveigled a goodly number of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass coppertreuse ElaZtech baits
Area thermometers registered a morning low temperature of 40 degrees, which was two degrees below normal. The afternoon high temperature hit only 48 degrees, was 16 degrees below normal. The humidity reached 68 percent, and the air felt damp, causing the unseasonably cold air to penetrate to my bones. It was cloudy the entire outing, and that enhance the cold factor, too. The barometric pressure was around 30.13 and dropping around 1 p.m. The wind angled out of the north-by-northeast at 9 to 23 mph, and that breeze also enhanced the chill. That wind also hit several rocky shorelines that I fished at the wrong angle, which made it rather difficult for me to execute seductive retrieves.
The surface temperature was 51 degrees, which a degree cooler than it was on April 15. The water level is inching higher, but it still looked to be about 2 ½ feet below normal. The water was clear for a flatland reservoir in northeastern Kansas.
In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred at 4:01 p.m. to 6:01 p.m.
Across the 2 ½ hours that I was afloat, I caught 25 fewer largemouth bass than I caught during my 2 ½-hour outing on April 15. I spent two hours and 10 minutes fishing more than 500 yards rock-laden lairs and rocky points and shorelines on the east side of the reservoir. For 15 minutes a plied a short segment of the dam and a portion of the northern shoreline in one of the eastern feeder creek arms.
The bulk of largemouth bass that I caught exhibited a hankering for a 2 ½-inch California craw ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; it allured 25 largemouth bass around the rocky lairs. I caught only one largemouth bass on the coppertreuse Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. I caught one largemouth bass on a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and I caught three on a radically customized California craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Most of the largemouth bass were caught when I executed a drag-and-shake retrieve, and a half dozen engulf the bait on its initial drop. The three largemouth bass that engulfed the customize ZinkerZ did it while I was employing a straight and slow swimming retrieve around some patches of curly-leaf pondweed.
According the National Weather Service, I might be at bay until April 19. Here's the forecast for the next two days:
"Wednesday: Showers and thunderstorms. High near 58. East wind 10 to 15 mph becoming south in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 80%.
"Wednesday Night: Showers and thunderstorms before 1am, then showers and possibly a thunderstorm after 1am. Low around 41. North wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%.
"Thursday: Showers likely, mainly before 1pm. Cloudy, with a high near 47. Breezy, with a northwest wind 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
"Thursday Night: A chance of rain and snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 33. Chance of precipitation is 30%."
On April 16, the National Weather Service said that Old Man Winter might whack us with some snow during the night of April 18. To our delight, that did not occur, but at 7:30 a.m. on April 19, we had a skim of ice on our bird bath, and the thermometer at the National Weather Service site at the Lawrence, Kansas, Municipal Airport registered 32 degrees, which was the low temperature for the day, but it might have been colder in our garden than 32 degrees to cause ice to form on the water in the bird bath. By 3 p.m. the high temperature hit 52 degrees. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a chilly wind angled out of the west and northwest at 17 to 26 mph. The barometric pressure around 10 a.m. was 30.01 and rising. For the first hour or so it was sunny, and then it became partly cloudy.
I fished from 10:05 a.m. to 2:05 p.m. It was cold enough that I wore gloves for the first 30 minutes, and my bald head was crowned with a stocking cap for the entire four hours of this outing to a 216-acre community reservoir. Besides gloves and a stocking cap, I wore most of my basic winter wardrobe the entire time, and it felt good to be dressed that way.
The surface temperature ranged from 48 to 49 degrees. I could clearly see the propeller on the trolling motor, which indicated that water clarity was what we call Kansas clear. I spent several minutes using a ruler to measure the water level, and I determined that it was 31 inches below normal.
The In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that best fishing occurred from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.
Because the wind was howling out of the west, I spent the entire four hours plying the west side of this reservoir. I focused on one cove, two rocky main-lake shorelines, two long main-lake bluffs, several main-lake points, and 200 feet of the west end of the dam.
I had six spinning rods rigged, but I used only three of them. I made about two dozen casts and retrieves with a radically customized California craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which failed to elicit a strike. The combo that I used the most was a 2 ½-inch California craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and it caught 44 of the largemouth bass, three of the rainbow trout and the only smallmouth bass. A green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught 12 largemouth bass and two rainbow trout.
For most of the winter and the first two weeks or so of spring the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ was my most fruitful bait. The green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ was the second most fruitful. But recently the 2 ½-inch California craw ZinkerZ has become the most productive bait, and, in fact, during the past three outings on April 15, 16, and 19, it has inveigled 99 largemouth bass, three rainbow trout and one smallmouth bass. (We need to emphasize that the same ZinkerZ caught those 103 fish, and after the April 19 outing, it looked a little tattered, but it looks that it has the wherewithal to catch many more fish before it becomes too tattered to keep affixed to the Gopher jig, and needs to be noted that it has not been attached to the jig with glue or a bait-keeper devices.)
I caught 17 largemouth bass along one of the rocky shorelines in the upper third of the reservoir. I caught 13 largemouth bass and three of the rainbow trout along one of the main-lake bluffs in the upper quarter of the reservoir. I caught seven of the largemouth bass in the one cove that I fished. I caught eight largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass along one of the main-lake bluffs in the lower third of the reservoir. Along a rocky shoreline line near the dam and the west end of the dam, I caught 11 largemouth bass and two rainbow trout.
All of the largemouth bass were small. The rainbow trout were fairly nice ones, ranging in size from two to four pounds. Across my many decades of bass fishing, I have never possessed the ability to catch lunker-sized largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. In sum, I am a numbers angler rather than a lunker angler. But on this outing at 12:30 p.m., I caught a humongous smallmouth bass. It was the biggest smallmouth bass that I have ever seen and touched, and before I released it, I carefully weighed it with my Rapala scale, which indicated that it weighed six pounds, 10 ounces. This was a solo outing, and I didn't have a camera to document it, but its image will remain indelibly in my mind's eye forevermore. It was an amazing sight. It was the fattest smallmouth I had ever seen, looking even fatter and more handsome than of some of the great photographs of giant-sized Lake Erie smallmouth bass that I have seen. In retrospect, I wish that I would have measured its girth and length, but at the time, I was eager to get back into the reservoir after I have carefully weighed it.
It had to be near the end of its life, and in all likelihood it would die this summer. But it was so rotund and healthy -- such an incredible beast -- that I wanted it to spawn one more time, hoping that it would pass its Goliath genes to another generation smallmouth bass that reside in this 416-acre reservoir. Therefore, I handled it as careful as I could before I released it.
Since catching and weighing that smallmouth bass, I have calibrated the Rapala scale, and it indicated that a seven-pound piece of lead weighed six-pounds, 15-ounces. On the water, the Rapala scale initially indicated that the smallmouth bass weighed six pounds, 13 pounds, but then I checked it two more times, and both times, it registered six pounds, 10 ounces. The state record smallmouth bass is 6.88 pounds; so it didn't measure up to the record.
About 15 of the largemouth bass engulfed the ZinkerZ and Finesse ShadZ on the initial drop. The rest of the fish were allured by two retrieve styles: the swim, glide and shake and the drag and shake. The fish were caught in two to eight feet of water. The big smallmouth was caught in six to eight feet on a slow drag-and-shake retrieve while the boat was floating in 15 feet of water.
After doing battle with a feisty four-pound rainbow trout at 11:55 a.m., which was a donnybrook indeed, I initially thought that this big smallmouth was just a big drum. Then when I saw it, I was astonished, and as it approached the boat, it fought more vigorously than it did when it was on and near the bottom, but it didn't equal the spunk of that four-pound rainbow trout.
It was nice, as well as amazing, to catch that big smallmouth bass. Yet I must readily admit that it was an accident or an inadvertent catch because I was trying to catch 25 bass an hour and not thinking about tangling with a big one. That was the 48th fish of the outing, and shortly before I caught it at 12:30 p.m., I was wondering where the smallmouth bass were, and I am still wondering. After catching that brute, I spent the next hour and a half fishing a tad deeper and slower in hopes of crossing paths with some more smallmouth bass, but I caught only 14 small largemouth bass.
Even after enjoying that encounter with that phenomenal smallmouth bass, I still prefer catching 100 bass to catching a lunker. Now I want to relish a half dozen outings when I catch 101 largemouth bass in four hours, and perhaps every once in a great while, I can do battle with a four- to five-pound largemouth bass.
Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, posted a report on the Finesse News Network about his April 19 outing to a nearby watershed pond, where he walked the banks.
He said that it was four feet below normal. The water was clear, but there was an abundance of filamentous algae gracing the dam area.
He plied the entire dam with 2 1/2-inch watermelon-white ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. And he caught seven nice-sized largemouth bass on his first seven casts.
He fished for two hours and caught 70 largemouth bass, 30 crappie and one big bluegill.
He caught the crappie 10 to 12 feet of water, using a 1/8-ounce red-green-chartreuse Road Runner and executing a long cast and counting to eight before he began to slow retrieve the Road Runner slowly turning the reel handle and holding the rod at the five o'clock position.
Clyde Holscher reported on the Finesse News Network that he and Dalton Brewer of Topeka, Kansas, fished the same watershed pond that he fished on April 19
The morning low temperature was 25 degrees, which was 20 degrees below normal. The afternoon high temperature was 58 degrees, and that was eight degrees below normal. While Holscher and Brewer were fishing from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., the barometric pressure ranged from 30:19 to 30:14. They fished under a brilliant azure sky. The wind blew out of the east and southeast at 10 to 14 mph.
The water level was more than four feet below normal, which allowed them to easily walk along the face of the dam from which they caught a 100 crappie and largemouth bass.
Brewer's spinning rod sported an 1/8-ounce jig and 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ. Holscher used a1/16-ounce jig affixed 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ. The watermelon-white ZinkerZ was the most fruitful color, but the pumpkin-chartreuse hue allured some, too.
The crappie were in eight feet of water and were abiding about 30 feet from the shoreline.
The largemouth bass were in five feet of water adjacent to the rocky-laden shoreline of the dam.
Dave Weroha of Kansas City filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his strip-pit outing with Joe Heckelbeck of Kansas City.
The strip pits were located around Hume, Missouri. They fished from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., taking an hour and a half break for lunch and to investigate other strip pits.
They caught 71 largemouth bass, and one 14-inch crappie. The largest bass weighed three pounds, 14 ounces.
Heckelbeck is a power angler, and he used a pearl Gary Yamamoto Bait Company six-inch Senko, which was rigged Texas-style on a wide-gap worm hook. He also worked with a square-bill Luck E Strike crankbait in a crawfish-orange hue. He caught the biggest bass, which weighed three pounds, 14 ounces.
Weroha caught his largemouth bass or different finesse combos: a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, a mud-minnow-hue Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a 2 1/2-inch coppertreuse Strike King Lure Company Zero on a chartreuse 1/32-oounce Gopher jig.
The most effective retrieve for these four finesse combos was to allow the lure to glide near the bottom, as I would slowly lift the rod tip to the one o'clock position. The glide was occasional punctuated with a shake.
It was partly cloudy. The wind angled out of the east at 10 mph at 9 a.m., and by 5 p.m., it was blowing out of the southeast at 12 mph. The morning low temperature was 41 degrees, and afternoon high temperature was 58 degrees.
The water clarity was about two feet. The surface temperature of the strip pits ranged from 51 to 53 degrees.
Chris Rohr of Overland Park, Kansas, filed this report on the Finesse News Network about his endeavors at a 55,600-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir in Missouri on April 19 and 20.
"I fished with about 30 other fisherman in a true 'buddy' tournament. It was purely for fun and bragging rights.
"On Friday, there were 16 fishermen in our group and all of the boats launched at the marina, which unfortunately was downwind of a strong northwest wind, ranging from 25 to 30 mph. There were two to three-foot waves pounding the marina and that entire arm of the lake. The surface temperatures ranged from 49 to 53 degrees, with the water clarity only about six to 10 inches. The water level were up about four from the rains that hit eastern Kansas and western Missouri about 10 days ago. Very few boats could handle the waves. Thus most anglers fished in the cove south of the marina because it was a little more protected, but they were still plagued with troublesome winds. On Friday, my partner and I fished from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. We threw everything but the kitchen sink including finesse baits for a combined five hours between the two of us and the results were pathetic. We only managed one strike and one fish on a spinnerbait. There were only six fish caught the entire day on Friday among all of the fishermen in our group and all were caught on spinnerbaits or jig-and-pig combos. Even the numerous crappie fisherman who were using minnows were not having any luck. We talked two nearly a dozen different boats and none had even caught a crappie on Friday.
"Saturday morning we woke up to a heavy frost and water as smooth as glass. When we launched at 7 a.m., the air temperature was 31 degrees. By 9 a.m. the air temp was 47 degrees with just a light southerly breeze at 5 to 8 mph. When we quit at 3:30 it was 64 degrees with winds blowing a about 10 mph. The surface temperature was 49 degrees early in the morning, and 58 degrees when we loaded up the boat. Water clarity was eight to 10 inches. Unfortunately, the fishing was even worse. We had 30 fishermen on Saturday, and there was a total of five bass caught, and I had three of them. The five ranged in size from 1.4 to 3.4 pounds. All were caught on spinnerbaits. I fished every cove and every bit of shoreline in the marina arm and out to the main lake, and again I threw numerous Z-Man finesse baits (predominantly 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ ) in every color possible. I failed to get a single hit in nearly four hours of fishing with finesse baits.
"There was a crappie tournament going on and with the exception of two teams we talked two, none of the boats even garnered a hit. The positive to the high water levels is that when the lake was down last year, and there was a lot of weeds and tree growth along the shorelines which is now flooded and should provide excellent cover for fry of all species as long as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers doesn't drop the lake. Most of the weeds were sticking out of the water, and the water was three to four feet deep in those areas. We should hopefully see great crappie and bass fishing in a couple of years as a result of the protection afforded to the fry."
Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and I were afloat from 10:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Lake Shawnee.
The National Weather Service predicted that we would be sprinkled upon, and we were. Moreover, the sky was cloudy from our first casts to our last. The morning low temperature was 44 degrees, which was one degree below normal. The afternoon high temperature was 66 degrees, and that was one degree below normal. The wind angled out of the south and southeast at 9 to 16 mph. While we fished, the barometric pressure dropped from 30.09 to 29.27.
In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred from 8:06 a.m. to 10:06 a.m.
The water level looked to be about 2 ½ below normal. Some areas were stained, while most locales were what we call Kansas clear. The surface temperature ranged from 49 degrees to 51 degrees; a year ago the surface temperatures at various reservoirs across northeastern Kansas were in the high 60s. In 2010, the surface temperature at this 416-acre community reservoir was 62 degrees, and it was 58 degrees in 2011.
On the west side of the reservoir, we fished four main-lake points, some of the shorelines in two coves, about 150 yards of a main-lake bluff, and about a total of 100 hundred yards of three main-lake rocky shorelines.
On the east side, we fished a submerged rock wall, five main-lake points, a few short segments of the shorelines in three coves, and more than 200 yards of main-lake shorelines (some of those main-lake shorelines were flat, some had a 45-degree slope and one was had a 60-degeee and greater slope.)
In total we caught 49 largemouth bass, 12 rainbow trout, four freshwater drum, two smallmouth bass, one walleye and one white bass
The submerged rock wall and main-lake shorelines on the east side of the reservoir were the most fruitless areas. The rock wall yielded only one walleye, and the eastern shorelines produced only a half dozen largemouth bass, five rainbow trout and three drum.
The most productive location was on the west side of the reservoir, which consisted of a main-lake point and a main-lake bluff. These were situated in the upper quarter of the reservoir.
Desch's three spinning rods sported a 2 ½-inch green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom jig, a 2 3/4-inch green-pumpkin tube on a 1/16-ounce jig, and a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom jig.
My three spinning rods were affixed to a 2 ½-inch California-craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and radically customize 2 ½-inch California-craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
The radically customized 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ garnered one strike. The 2 3/4-inch green-pumpkin tube inveigled the walleye, but nothing more. The 2 ½-inch green-pumpkin ZinkerZ combo and 2 ½-inch California-craw ZinkerZ combo allured the bulk of our catch. The green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ entices approximately 20 percent of the catch.
We did a lot of dragging, which allured nearly 60 percent of the fish. Some of the drags were enhanced with some shakes. About 15 percent were caught on the initial drop of the bait. A few fish were enticed by the deadstick motif. The rest of the fish were inveigled by either the traditional swim-glide-and-shake retrieve or the hop-and-bounce retrieve.
One of the most delightful sights of the outing occurred when we watched an osprey fish and catch what looked like a catch 10-inch smallmouth bass. In addition, we also crossed paths with a pair of loons, and it was nice to hear their insane cry, which reminded me of my Minnesota days. We watched a goose rearrange the eggs in its nest, and we saw a pair wood ducks frolicking near their nesting site.
Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his April 22 outing at a 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir with Dennis and Kelly Horner of Lenexa, Kansas.
They fished from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and eked out 44 fish, and 25 of them were smallmouth bass.
The power plant was running at a 100 percent for the first time in months. The surface temperature at the boat ramp was 58 degrees, dropping to 49 degrees around the dam and other lairs in the lower portions of the reservoir. Within the confines of the warm-water outlet, the surface temperature was 70 degrees.
The water level looked to be about two feet below normal. The water was extremely clear.
The spinning outfits sported 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZs, 1/16-ounce jigs, and eight-pound-test line. The head of the jigs were painted either orange or chartreuse. They worked with black-and-blue, California-craw, PB&J, and watermelon-white ZinkerZs.
The plied countless yards of riprap of the dykes and dam that grace the lower sections of the reservoir, where they caught some crappie, freshwater drum, smallmouth bass and walleye.
They spent the last 45 minutes of the outing probing the riprap inside the warm-water outlet, where they inveigled two largemouth bass and some white bass, as well as a four-pound channel catfish.
After Old Man Winter tossed several more monkey wrenches in our way on April 23, flummoxing us with some snow and causing area thermometers to plummeted to 26 degrees at 6:52 a.m. on April 24. It was cold enough that a thin skim of ice formed on the water in the some of ditches adjacent to the roadways that I traversed on my way to a nearby 195-acre community reservoir.
I fished from 10:10 a.m. to 1: 40 p.m. The water was clearer than what call Kansas clear, which is when we can see the propeller on our electric trolling motor. Initially the surface temperature was 49 degrees, but by 1:30 p.m., it reached 52 degrees. The water level looked to be about two feet below normal, and slowly rising.
Even though area thermometers climbed from 26 degrees to 55 degrees, I wore a wool stocking cap the entire outing, and during the first half hour, it was chilly enough that I thought about putting on a pair of gloves. The sun was extremely bright. The wind angled out of the west and northwest at 8 mph, and at times, it was calm. While I was afloat, the barometric pressure was 30.25 and steady.
In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred at 9:33 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
It was a trying outing. Some observers might blame it on what is commonly called post-cold-front conditions. But I never can determine why I catch or do not catch largemouth bass. All I know is on some outings it is not a struggle, and on some outings it is a struggle. On this outing I struggled to catch 32 largemouth bass and two smallmouth bass.
I worked with three spinning rods. One outfit was dressed with a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The second rod donned a 2 ½-inch California-craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The third one sported a shortened four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on a blue 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. The Finesse ShadZ allured the bulk of the largemouth bass and both of the smallmouth bass. The ZinkerZ inveigled 10 of the largemouth bass. The Finesse WormZ, which I used sparingly to probe deeper lairs, failed to elicit a strike.
Around 11 a.m., 13 of the largemouth bass were quickly extracted from the outside edge of a patch of curly-leaf pondweed in a flat pocket along the south shoreline of one of the reservoir's eastern feeder creek arm. These largemouth bass were abiding in about six feet of water.
The two smallmouth bass were caught on a main-lake rocky ridge that lies on the east side of the reservoir, and four largemouth bass were allured from that ridge, too. Those six bass were hooked in six to eight feet of water.
The rest of the largemouth bass that I caught were scattered far and wide. One was taken on a main-lake point. Two were caught along a short main-lake bluff, and two more were extracted from a bluff inside the eastern feeder creek arm. The other dozen were caught along several rocky shorelines.
There was another pair of veteran and talented Midwest finesse anglers afloat, and they spent a lot of time probing the dam, which has been the most fruitful locale at this reservoir for largemouth bass since April 9. The dam usually is the most fruitful locale from early April until mid-June.
I didn't fish dam, and that might be the reason why I could muster only nine bass an hour on this outing, and the post-cold-front conditions had nothing to do with my paltry catch.
Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, posted the following report on the Finesse News Network on April 24 about the fishing conditions in central Indiana.
"After the six inches of rain fell, our lakes became high and muddy. The bass bite has shut down to about 2.5 fish per hour, and it exists only in select areas. Much of the water is too muddy to even get bit in. In fact, there is nothing happening in the deeper water, by which I mean depths of three to six feet and deeper. Everything is along the bank and shallow. As expected, the white bass run shut down temporarily, too. More rain arrived on Thursday (April 18), and these storms dropped more than four inches of rain. I checked the river briefly on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings; there was nothing going. Then on Monday, conditions finally improved, and the white bass again made their forays into the river. This time I was able to catch 70 fish in 65 minutes (44 white bass, 23 crappie, three largemouth bass) for a catch rate of 64.6 fish per hour, not too shabby).
"Of course, the storm system that just walloped Kansas made its way over to Indiana late yesterday and again has temporarily flummoxed our efforts by raising water levels and bringing more mud back into the system. Another wait of several days is probably in order before we can hope to catch these fish one more time. The bait of choice has been a 1/16-ounce VMC Neon Moon Eye jighead with a two-inch Bass Pro Shops' Tournament Series Squirmin Squirt in some form of chartreuse attached. I tried Road Runners and inline spinners in the muddier water to no avail."
On April 19, when I tangled with a humongous smallmouth bass, I confessed that lunker-bass fishing is not my forte, nor my passion. In fact, when I do tangle with a lunker, it is an inadvertent encounter. As I noted last week, my passion is tangling with vast numbers of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass, and on this outing to a nearby 180-acre state reservoir, my passion was gratified.
I fished from 9:50 a.m. to 1:20 p.m. In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred from 10:27 a.m. to 12:27 p.m.
By 10:50 a.m., I had caught and released 36 largemouth bass. By 11: 20 a.m., I had caught and released 56 largemouth bass. Around 12: 20 p.m., I had caught 75 largemouth bass. When I executed my last cast and retrieve at 1:20 p.m., my fish counter indicated that I had caught and released 104 largemouth bass. And that three hours and 30 minutes of catching 104 largemouth bass (and there wasn't a lunker in the bunch) was more exhilarating and satisfying than the three minutes or so it took me to catch that humungous smallmouth bass.
On April 24, I noted that I didn't fish the riprap of the dam at the 195-acre community lake where I was fishing because another pair of veteran and talented Midwest finesse anglers was fishing it. Traditionally, riprap dams that are on the north end of our small flatland reservoir reservoirs are extremely fruitful areas to fish for largemouth bass in April, May and early June So, on this April 25 outing, I wanted to see how many largemouth bass that I could catch on the riprap of the dam.
And 102 of the 104 largemouth bass were caught on the riprap. Sixty-six of them were caught on a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Thirty-three largemouth bass were caught on a 2 ½-inch California-craw hue ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Three largemouth bass were caught on a shortened four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
Two largemouth bass were caught on flat adjacent to the dam. This flat is graced with some bushy pondweed and coontail. Those two largemouth bass were inveigled on a heavily customized 2 ½-inch California-craw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
Eight of the largemouth bass inhaled the Finesse ShadZ and standard 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ on the initial fall. The bulk of them were caught on the late Charlie Brewer's do-nothing retrieve. This was accomplished by holding the rod at the four o'clock position and turning the reel handle slowly. This retrieve was also punctuated with pauses, which allowed either the Finesse ShadZ or 2 ½-inch standard ZinkerZ to slowly glide to the bottom, and as soon as the bait reached the bottom, which consisted of riprap, the reel handle began to slowly turn again. Some of the largemouth bass engulfed the bait on the glide, and equal number of them engulfed the bait during the swimming portion of the retrieve.
Compared to April 23 and 24, the weather was delightful. But the early morning temperatures were still way below normal, as many area thermometers registered a low of 29 degrees, which was 16 degrees below normal. The afternoon high reached 70 degrees, which was four degrees above normal. While I was afloat, the wind angled out of the south and southeast 6 mph. The sun shone brightly in a China-blue sky for most of the outing, but around 1 p.m. some cirrus clouds appeared.
The water level looked to be about two feet below normal. The water was clearer than what we describe as Kansas clear. The barometric pressure around 10 a.m. was 30.31 and dropping. The surface temperature ranged from 51 degrees to 54 degrees, while I was fishing.
It was 71 degrees in Minneapolis on April 27, and many baseball fans at the Minnesota Twins' game were dressed in T-shirts and shorts. But B0b Gum of Kansas was dressed in some of his winter wear when he and Dave Weroha of Kansas City fished a 5,080-acre power-plant reservoir in eastern Kansas from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 27.
According to the report that Weroha filed on the Finesse News Network, area thermometers record a morning low of 48 degrees and an afternoon high of 56 degrees. The relative humidity ranged from 75 to 89 percent. Initially the wind angled out of the east and northeast at 12 to 15 mph, diminishing to 8 mph around 4 p.m. The sky was overcast for their entire outing. Around 8 p.m. the barometric pressure was 30.15 and falling.
According to the In-Fisherman's calendar, the best fishing times occurred 12:28 p.m. to 2:28 p.m.
They plied the lower half of the reservoir, focusing primarily on wind-sheltered riprap shorelines, and the shorelines are graced with miles of riprap. The surface temperature was 51 degrees. The water clarity was about three feet. The water level was about 18 inches below normal and slowly rising
Gum's spinning rods were dressed with a 2 ½-inch pearl ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 ½-inch green pumpkin-red ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-oz Gopher jig, a pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-oz Gopher jig, and a suspending jerkbait. His most effective finesse retrieve was to hop the lure across the bottom, and the hop was punctuated with a pause when the bait touched the bottom.
Weroha worked with a customized Z-Man's ToobZ in a pearl hue, which was trimmed to be three inches long, and affixed to a white 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 ½-inch mud- minnow Hula StickZ on a brown 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 ½-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 3/32-oounce Gopher jig, and a suspending Rapala Shad Rap. His most effective finesse retrieve was the glide-and-shake motif, and he never employed a pause or a deadstick maneuver with his retrieves. When he was plying windless areas, he held his rod at the one o'clock position, and at windblown locales, his rod was held at the three o'clock position.
Weroha called a multispecies bonanza. They caught 67 crappie, 27 smallmouth bass, 11 white bass, three walleye, two largemouth bass and one freshwater drum. The crappie were extracted from depths of eight to 14 feet. The walleye were caught in eight to 12 feet of water. The freshwater drum, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and white bass were allured in one to 10 feet of water.
Clyde Holscher, who is a multispecies guide from Topeka, Kansas, fished with a party of three anglers at the same reservoir that Gum and Weroha fished. Holscher's trio fished from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and they caught 45 white bass and two walleye while trolling pearl crankbaits. And when they were casting and retrieving 2 ½-inch ZinkerZs affixed to 1/16-ounce jigs, they inveigled 32 smallmouth bass, 27 crappie and one freshwater drum. Holscher said that the watermelon-white ZinkerZ and green-pumpkin ZinkerZ were two most productive colors.
Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network about his outing his son Eric at a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir of April 28.
The fished from 1:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. It was a delightful spring day with the plum thickets and redbud trees beginning to bloom, and the limbs of many of the hardwoods exhibited a greenish hue. The morning low temperature was 36 degrees, which was 12 degrees below the normal low temperature, but eventually some area thermometers reached 76 degrees, which was seven degrees above normal. The wind was calm for a spell, and then it blew at mild manner out of the south at about 10 mph. The barometric pressure around noon was 29.95 and falling.
In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that the best fishing occurred at 1:34 p.m. to 3:34 p.m.
The water level was slightly above normal. The water clarity ranged from two to three feet. The surface temperature was 65 to 68 degree along the southern edge of the warm-water plume, and it was 58 degrees at the dam.
Since early February, the largemouth bass fishing at this reservoir has been trying, and the Claudells found it to be trying again. They caught only 10 largemouth bass, five wipers, and one channel catfish. But one of the largemouth bass was a huge one, weighing 7.9 pounds. Terry Claudell inveigled it on the second cast of the day, using a pearl Finesse ShadZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. It was caught and released along one of the riprap shorelines on the east side of the reservoir. Eric Claudell's biggest fish was a hefty four-pounder wiper.
When the water temperature is in the high 50s and low 60s, the riprap along the dam traditionally yields a goodly number of largemouth bass — and several of them are lunkers -- in April. But the Claudells failed to catch a largemouth bass along the dam.
The Claudells reported that the largemouth bass were widely scattered along the hundreds of yards of riprap that graces the eastern shorelines of the reservoir. The 16 fish that they caught were five to 10 feet from the water's edge, abiding in depths of eight to 10 feet. All of them were caught of the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.
Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, posted a report about his April 26, 27, and 28 outings on the Finesse News Network. He didn't employ Midwest finesse tactics for largemouth bass during these three outings, but Midwest finesse anglers will find his insights about weather and water conditions enlightening.
Waldman wrote: "On Friday, April 26, I again went chasing after the white bass. While the rain has been frustrating, it has created some great spring white bass runs this year, much different than the past couple dry springs. You simply have to exercise patience while the high muddy water settles out. Conditions were near perfect that evening, and I was able to tangle with 110 fish in one hour and 44 minutes. The majority was white bass, but I also had several largemouth bass and crappie in the mix. All fish were caught on 1/16-ounce jigs dressed with Bass Pro Shops' Tournament Series Squirmin' Squirts, which are tubes, in bright chartreuse color pattern.
"The next day (Saturday, April 27) I launched the boat on the reservoir to chase after largemouth bass. The water was close to normal level, but still had a good stain from all the rain. Visibility was approx. 12 inches, and I couldn't quite make out my trolling motor prop. Due to the stain, I made a couple assumptions. The first was that most fish would be shallow and along the banks. The other was that power techniques should work as well or better than finesse, and would allow me to cover more water. My initial bait of choice was a black/blue Chatterbait with a green-pumpkin trailer, and I caught a solid pound and three-quarter bass within the first five minutes, buoying my spirits that I made the right call. I simply put the trolling motor down and covered a lot of water at a medium pace, trying to make more or less parallel casts along the bank when possible, fishing a mix of riprap and boat docks. When the trip ended after less than four hours, I had finagled 69 largemouth bass into hitting my bait. The largest bass was an 18-incher, and a large majority was in the 12- to 15-inch range.
"Sunday (April 28th) found me making a short evening trip to the river for white bass. A light misty rain fell all day, which made the water just slightly more off-colored than it was on April 26, but the water level was the same as it was on my last outing. It seemed to have a little more current than before, which definitely helps keep the white bass run going. Experience has shown that once the water coming over/through these lowhead dam areas settles down to a trickle, the fish population becomes much sparser. This evening trip lasted for about an hour and 20 minutes, and in that time I was able to tangle with another 72 fish, again mostly white bass but with two nice bluegill, five largemouth bass and a half dozen crappies thrown in.
"While things have presently dried up in the way of rain since then, hence, I fear the white bass bite will have diminished. Now I am awaiting our next good chance for accumulating showers, and one to two inches is anticipated to fall at the end of this week. Unfortunately, this same system is said to have the potential to drop over a foot of snow in Iowa, eastern Kansas and northern Missouri. So I wish for the sake of the anglers in those three states that the worst of it avoids them and their lakes. It has certainly been a rather different and even difficult spring weather pattern to deal with."
In the April 25 log, I noted that riprap dams that are situated on the north end of the small flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas are extremely fruitful areas to fish for largemouth bass in April. For example, I spent nearly 3 ½ hours plying the riprap of the dam at a 180-acre state reservoir on April 25, and I caught 102 largemouth bass.
That dam theory, however, didn't materialize for Steven Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and me on April 29 when fished a 416-acre community reservoir. In fact, not only did we struggle to catch largemouth bass and smallmouth bass along the dam, we labored to catch this reservoir's denizens at scores of its traditional and nontraditional late April lairs.
We fished from 10:10 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. It was the warmest outing that we had fished in 2013. Desch fished in a T-shirt the entire outing. Area thermometers recorded the morning low temperature at 50 degrees, which was two degrees above normal, and the afternoon high temperature peaked at 84 degrees, which was 15 degrees above normal. While we were afloat, the wind angled out of the south at 5 to 14 mph, and it was our first drift-sock outing in 2013. The sun was bright and hot enough to burn the back of my neck.
The barometric pressure at 10 a.m. was 29.76 and dropping.
In-Fisherman's calendar indicated the best fishing occurred from 2:42 p.m. to 4:42 p.m.
At most locales, the water was better than Kansas clear, but there were a few wind-blown areas that were stained, and in the back of one small feeder-creek cove, the water was a touch stained. The water level looked to be more than two feet below its normal level. The surface temperature at 10:10 a.m. was 54 degrees, warming to 56 degrees around 2 p.m.
We caught only 38 largemouth bass, seven rainbow trout, six smallmouth bass, six crappie, three freshwater drum, three warmouth, and one white bass. The biggest specimen was a rainbow trout that looked as if might have weighed five pounds.
Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, noted in his April 28 log about an outing at a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir that the largemouth bass that he and his son caught were five to 10 feet off the shorelines, abiding in eight to 10 feet of water, and they were very tentative. Desch and I found that the bulk of the fish we allured on our outing were more than 10 feet off the shorelines and inhabiting depths of six to 12 feet of water, and the largemouth and smallmouth bass were extremely tentative.
Our most effective tactic to allure the largemouth and smallmouth bass was to stroll and drag a 2 ½-inch green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig along the bottom. We also employed a do-nothing retrieve that allowed a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig to slowly swim across the bottom, allowing it to occasionally ricochet off the rock-laden bottom. A shortened four-inch green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig allured only two largemouth bass. We didn't work with any other baits, but experimented with a variety of retrieves.
We garnered a significant number of half-hearted bites that failed to hook. Even many of the bites that we hooked felt as if the head of the jig was grazing across a rock rather than a fish inhaling and swimming away with the ZinkerZ or Finesse ShadZ or Finesse WormZ.
During the first 35 minutes of our outing, a long bluff in the upper quarter of the reservoir yielded 12 largemouth bass, one smallmouth bass, one crappie, and one trout, and after tangling with those 15 fish, we struggled the rest of the outing. The dam, for instance, yielded only two largemouth bass, two smallmouth bass, one freshwater drum, and one white bass.
Initially, we anticipated that we would be able to tangle with at least 15 largemouth and smallmouth bass an hour. But by 11:15 a.m. Desch and I were extremely confounded by what was transpiring in the world below our boat. Then by the time we executed our final casts and retrieves at 2:20 p.m., we were still puzzled, as well as discouraged at our inabilities to decipher the goings on of this reservoir's largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri , filed this report about his April 29 outing at a 120-acre community reservoir in the northern suburbs of Kansas City.
He wrote :
"I experienced similar frustration on my outing.
"I initially went out in search of crappies, thinking they would be moving toward the spawning banks with the water temps up in the mid to high 50s. Wrong. I only caught two.
"The bass were more cooperative, but not much. I caught 28 bass in three hours, including one that weighed just under four pounds and another that was three pounds. Both of the big ones came on Eakins jigs with plastic trailers in the Missouri Craw hue. I also had three rainbow trout.
"The fishing, as a whole, was tough. When I would go long spells without getting a hit on the jig, I would go to the 2 1/2-inch California-craw ZinkerZ. I caught fish, but it was nowhere near as effective as it has been in recent trips.
"There was no real pattern to the bass. I caught the biggest fish right on the bank of a rocky point. But others were caught in as much as 15 feet of water.
"I really think this weather has the bass confused. I'm going out tomorrow and I'm going to try throwing a spinnerbait and square-bill crankbait. We'll see."
Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, fished a 25-acre community reservoir on April 29, and reported that it "was the worst I have ever seen. I probably didn't fish deep enough. I caught one three-pound bass and an 18-inch crappie."
On April 29 Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and I kvetched throughout most of our outing about how difficult it was for us to locate and catch the largemouth and smallmouth bass that abide in the 416-acre community reservoir that we were fishing.
But in due course, we were somewhat heartened to learn that Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, and Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, endured the same sort of sorry fishing that we did. Frazee fished a 120-acre community reservoir in the northern suburbs of Kansas City, and Reese plied a 25-acre community reservoir in eastern Kansas. Reese suspected that he wasn't fishing deep enough, but Desch and I did a lot of strolling and dragging into eight to 12 feet of water without discovering any significant patterns.
In our April 29 log, it was also noted that Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, suffered a similar fate at a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir on April 28. (Claudell's log for April 28 is posted above.)
Thus, on April 30, I was eager to see if the trying fishing would extend to a third day. To determine that I ventured to a 100-acre community reservoir that lies in the southwest suburbs of Kansas City, and I fished from 10:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.
In sum, the fishing was trying.
What's more, it was extremely windy. The wind howled out of the south and southwest at 17 to 33 mph, and for the seconding outing in a row, a drift sock was an all-important tool. The morning low temperature was 67 degrees; the afternoon high temperature was 84 degrees. Occasionally a few layers of very thin cirrus clouds passed overhead, but the sun was bright and hot. Around 10 a.m. the barometric pressure was 29.73 and slowly rising.
In-Fisherman's calendar indicated that the best fishing time occurred from 3:47 p.m. to 5:47 p.m.
The surface temperature was 57 degrees. The water level was a few inches above normal. The water was stained to the point that I had a difficult time seeing the propeller on the electric trolling motor. The rocks, American water willow stems, boat docks, laydowns, coontail patches, brush piles, and all kinds of objects that were under the water were coated with filamentous algae, which often fouled my presentations.
I rigged seven spinning rods, and used five of them. The best of the lot was the rod that sported a 2 ½-inch green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The second best combo was a 2 ½-inch California-craw ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The third most productive combo was a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. A customized Junebug Finesse WormZ on a blue 3/32-ounce Gopher jig caught one largemouth bass, while the other three combos eked out 23 largemouth bass and three crappie. I wielded several different colors of three- and four-inch grubs on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig without eliciting at strike.
I caught only 6.8 largemouth bass an hour, and our catch rate in 2012 was 10.2 largemouth and smallmouth bass per hour. On April 29, Desch and I caught 10 largemouth and smallmouth bass an hour, and we were complaining. He was fortunate that he didn't join me on this extremely sorry outing
Again the dam theory that I compounded on April 25 failed to bear fruit. In fact, I caught only two tiny largemouth bass on the riprap of the dam, and it was the first locale that I fished, and it was the last. The dam theory is: riprap dams that are situated on the north end of the small flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas are extremely fruitful areas to fish for largemouth bass in April. It is interesting to note that the dam at this reservoir has been sour for months on end, extending back to the spring of 2011.
Twenty-one of the largemouth bass were caught in the upper quarter of this reservoir, and the bulk of them were abiding around rocks or adjacent to concrete walls. But there were many concrete walls and rocky terrains that failed to yield a largemouth bass. In sum, I would just haphazardly crossed paths with a largemouth bass, and than many casts and retrieves around similar rock or concrete terrains failed to garner another largemouth bass, and eventually I would wander into another one. I failed to catch a largemouth bass associated with the American water willows, which were still in their winter motif, and patches of coontail.
I am eager to see how May unfolds. The National Weather Services says the first four days of May will be unseasonably cold.
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his outing with Bruce Janssen of Kansas City at a 120-acre community reservoir in the northern suburbs of Kansas City.
"Well, things are getting better. Bruce Janssen and I went out for three hours and we caught 41 total fish -- a little more than half of them bass, the rest crappies that came from one spot.
"I caught one largemouth bass that looked to be just under five pounds (no scale or camera), another that looked to be between three and four pounds. The big one came on a black-and-blue jig and trailer. The other came on a white and chartreuse spinnerbait.
"A good portion of the fish came on my oldie but goodie, the Northland Fishing Tackle's Slurpie Swim'n Grub. The 2 ½-inch California-craw ZinkerZ also produced fairly well.
"We had our best success in the back of coves and along rocky banks in coves. Water temperature was up to 60 degrees in the coves. Now we'll get a cold blast and it will go down again."
Terry Bivins of Lebo, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network that he and his wife, Claudia, battled the wind at a 135-acre state reservoir for seven hours. They caught 95 largemouth bass, 15 crappie and four bluegills by plying wind-blown lairs. Terry used a three-inch head section of a Bass Assassin Lures' seven-inch Rail Worm in the redbug hue. After the head was amputated from the seven-inch Rail Worm, it was affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig. It's Bivins' version of a ZinkerZ. Claudia Bivins wielded a chartreuse spinnerbait. The surface temperature was 56 degrees, and the water was clear.