June is traditionally a stellar month to wield Midwest finesse tactics for largemouth and smallmouth bass that abide in the small flatland reservoirs that we regularly fish along the suburban and exurban corridor that stretches from Kansas City to Topeka, Kansas.
For example, we caught 489 largemouth and smallmouth bass in 12 four-hour outings at these reservoirs in 2o1o. That equals 40.75 bass an outing and 10.11 bass an hour. In 2011, we caught 493 largemouth and smallmouth bass in 13 four-hour outings, which equates to 37.9 bass an outing and 9.47 bass an hour.
But something or somethings were askew in the world of the largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and Midwest finesse anglers during June of 2012. Perhaps it was the abnormal weather, and in our eyes, late June was more like July and early August than it was like Junes of years past. It also might have been the aftereffects of the largemouth bass virus that has afflicted several of the reservoirs that we regularly ply. Some anglers also suspect that the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass have witnessed our finesse presentations on such a regular basis during every month of the year for many years in a row that they have become leery and difficult for us to entice.
The fishing was so problematic that we could muster only 298 largemouth and smallmouth bass. What's more, the weather and several family obligations allowed us to fish only 10 times. Those 10 outings encompassed only 32 1/2 hours of fishing rather than 40 hours. In sum, we caught 29.8 bass per outing and 9.16 bass per hour.
Below are the 10 logs that describe how, when and where we fished. These logs are supplemented by reports from Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, Darryl Brown of Ontario, Canada, Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, Dwight Keefer of Pheonix, Arizona, Ethan Dhuyvetter of Manhattan, Kansas, and a few other observations by anglers who are members of the Finesse News Network. One of Brent Frazee's logs is an oddball one, featuring an antique rod, reel and lure outing rather than Midwest finesse tactics, but we thought another side of bass fishing should occasionally grace these long monthly discourses on finesse fishing.
Even though our outings weren't stellar this time around, we hope that some recreational largemouth and smallmouth bass anglers across the United States and Canada will give Midwest finesse tactics a whirl, and then send us reports on how these finesse tactics work in their waterways.
I made a solo outing to a 100-acre community reservoir and fished from noon to 3:00 p.m.
Northeastern Kansas was in the midst of a severe cold front. This morning the sky was cloudless, and area thermometers hovered around 42 degrees. By 1:00 p.m. the sky was mostly covered with clouds, and it drizzled occasionally. On May 31, the wind howled out of the north and northwest at 18 to 30 mph at times. But throughout this outing, the wind was subdued, angling out of the north and northwest at 3 to 7 mph. During the afternoon, area thermometers reached a high of only 67 degrees. The solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred from 7:59 a.m. to 9:59 p.m. (The solunar calendar usually notes the two best fishing times during each day of the month, and on these logs, we note the one that is nearest to the hours that we fished.)
The lake level looked to be normal. The surface temperature was 74 to 75 degrees. (It's interesting to point out that on June 1, 2010, our surface temperatures were 80 degrees at most of the northeastern Kansas reservoirs, and on June 3, 2008, the surface temperatures were 75 degrees. Our surface temperatures historically range from 69 to 80 degrees around the last of May and early June. ) The water around the dam was clear for a flatland reservoir in northeastern Kansas. It had a tannic hue in the upper half of the reservoir. The filamentous algae, which had been prolific at this reservoir for most of 2012, had diminished. In addition, much of the coontail had disappeared; this happened to the coontail at this reservoir in 2010, too. The American water willows were healthy and embellished with beautiful white blossoms.
On this outing, I didn't continue the methodical tests of Z-Man Fishing Product's green-pumpkin 3.75-inch StreakZ on a 3/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig versus Z-Man's green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a 3/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig and Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig and Gene Larew Lures' green-pumpkin HooDaddy on a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig that I did on May 29 and 30. Even though those were the only baits that I used on this outing, I didn't use them as methodically as I did on May 29 and 30.
Across the three hours that I fished today, I caught only 31 largemouth bass.
I used the Hula StickZ for about an hour and 15 minutes, and it caught 11 largemouth bass. I used the Finesse ShadZ for about 15 minutes, and it caught four largemouth bass. I used the StreakZ for about 35 minutes, and it caught eight largemouth bass. I used the HooDaddy for 25 minutes, and it caught nine largemouth bass. Four of the largemouth bass were 15-inchers, and they were caught on the StreakZ and Hula StickZ, and 24 of the 31 largemouth bass looked to be 13 to 14 inches long.
The StreakZ was fished across areas that I had previously fished with the other three baits, which in my eyes means that it has become a better bait for me than it used to be. I am getting to feel more comfortable with it. What's more, I am now trying to replicate the way Terry Bivins ofLebo,Kansas, used to use and retrieve Bass Assassin Lures' three-inch Shad Assassin and jig combo, which is similar to the StreakZ. But replicating Bivins, who was the finest jig fisherman that I ever witnessed, is an impossible chore for me. Nevertheless, trying to step into Bivins' shoes seemed to help make the StreakZ a tad more alluring in the eyes of the largemouth bass.
Paul Finn of Olathe, Kansas, submitted a brief report on the Finesse New Network. He wrote that he and his family have become devotees of Z-Man's 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ affixed to a homemade 1/16-ounce jig. They are especially fond of the PB&J ZinkerZ.
Finn said that they primarily fish ponds and strip pits between Olathe and Mound City, Kansas, and his son, Shaun, has used it at nearly every pond within a radius of 10 miles of their home.
He elaborated about a June 2 outing to a strip pit with his son and daughter, Nina. He noted that Nina isn't an ardent angler. In fact, she fishes only twice a year. On this particular outing, Nina was initially using a buzzbait. But after her father and brother caught four largemouth bass on four consecutive cast with a PB&J 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ, she decided to switch to the PB&J ZinkerZ, and she caught a 15 ½-inch largemouth on her first cast. By the time their short outing had ended, Nina had inveigled eight more largemouth bass and had become a convert to the 2 ½-inch PB&J ZinkerZ and jig.
Even though the 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce is not the kind of lure that professional tournament anglers will use to win tournaments or television shows will feature, this ZinkerZ tale that the Finn family tells proves once again that it possesses an almost magical quality that allows even extremely novice anglers to catch a few largemouth and smallmouth bass. And in the hands of a veteran Midwest finesse angler, it can inveigle incredible numbers of black bass. For more insights about the effectiveness of the ZinkerZ and two other ElaZtech baits made by Z-Man, please see the June 15, 16 and 30 logs that are posted below. Across the decades, veteran Midwest finesse anglers would never describe a particular bait as possessing a magic quotient, but since several of us began using Strike King Lure Company's 2 ½-inch Zero, which is made by Z-Man and is identical to the ZinkerZ, on Oct. 12, 2006, we have found it to be the most effective soft-plastic finesse bait that we have ever used. It is important to note that we are not sponsored by Z-Man nor do we work for them. But Z-Man and other bait companies have given me baits to use and photograph for In-Fisherman's blogs and stories.
Until this outing, I hadn't fished since June 1.
The past seven days have revolved around our tennis-playing and softball-playing grandchildren. We had hoped to squeeze in a few hours of fishing with at least one of them. But the tennis coaches had the kids extremely exhausted by the time their days on the court had ended. Then there were two afternoons or evenings of softball games and practices that kept us at bay. The tennis camps ended on June 7, which allowed me a bit more time to fish.
I fished from11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at a 100-acre community reservoir that lies in the southwest suburbs of Kansas City. This was the same reservoir that I fished on June 1.
On many outings since Dec. 1, 2011, this reservoir's largemouth bass has given us fits, and they did it again on this outing.
On June 8, 2011, a pair of us fished this reservoir. Then we caught 71 largemouth bass on a 2 ½-inch PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and four-inch purple-haze Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher. The surface temperature on June 8, 2011, was 80 to 82 degrees, the wind was brisk, angling out of the south at 15 to 25 mph, it was sunny and the air temperature hit a high of 96 degrees.
On this June 8, 2012, outing, the surface temperature ranged from 79 to 81 degrees. The wind angled out of the south at 5 to 20 mph. The barometric pressure at 11:00 a.m. was 30.07 and dropping. The sky exhibited a china-blue hue. Area thermometers registered a morning low of 55 degrees. The afternoon high temperature hit 87 degrees. The water level looked to be six or so inches below normal. The lower third of the reservoir was relatively clear, but it was afflicted with a minor algae bloom. The algae bloom was more apparent in the upper half of the reservoir. The filamentous algae, which had flourished on the surface and around the patches of coontail since the late fall of 2011, had diminished considerably.
The solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing times were from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. During the first hour and 10 minutes, I crossed paths with 15 largemouth bass. To my chagrin, however, my concentration was far from sharp. What's more, nothing that I did seemed to be correct and fluid — especially my retrieves. Then I struggled for two hours and 20 minutes, making scores of casts and retrieves without eliciting a strike. During those two hours and 20 minutes, I eked out only eight more largemouth bass. Thus, I caught a sorry total of 22 largemouth bass, which equals about six largemouth bass an hour.
Eight of the largemouth bass were caught along the dam, which was graced with boulders, American water willows and some patches of coontail.
I caught five largemouth bass and a saugeye on a main-lake hump that is embellished with a few boulders the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. I caught two largemouth bass on another main-lake hump, and one of these looked to weigh around three pounds; it was beat up, and those sores and scars were probably leftover from its spawning rituals.
Most of the largemouth bass were caught on either a green-pumpkin Baby HooDaddy on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a black-neon Baby HooDaddy on a 1/16-ounce red Gopher jig. A three-inch green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and a four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig allured a few of the largemouth bass.
I couldn't find an effective retrieve, and every retrieve that I tried seemed to be poorly executed, and I tried a lot of retrieves and variations of the five standard Midwest finesse retrieves. Therefore, the 22 largemouth bass that I caught were caught on a hodgepodge of different retrieves. Perhaps the largemouth bass were inactive or became extremely tentative after 12:10 p.m., but I suspected the real problem was that my sloppy retrieves failed to bewitch them. Then my inability to locate them was another problem that accentuated my sorry fishing on this outing. The inability to find the largemouth bass at this reservoir has been a constant problem for me and several Midwest finesse anglers who have plied this reservoir during the past six months. What's more, the inability to determine the best retrieve has plagued me and my colleagues on scores of outings in 2012 at this reservoir, as well as at a couple of other reservoirs that we have fished this year. Five years ago, the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the predominate retrieve, and it was effective about 90% of the time throughout the year. But after the arrival of the largemouth bass virus, the effectiveness of the swim, glide and shake began to wane.
Ethan Dhuyvetter on Manhattan, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network about his bank-walking endeavors at a 16,020-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir on June 8. He fished 3 ½ hours, plying primarily points that were graced with a bit of wind. His spinning outfit was rigged with his lure company's PB&J Stingray Grub, which was affixed to a 1/16-ounce Outkast Tackle Money Jig. He caught 15 smallmouth bass. Here's a link to a short video that features Dhuyvetter's outing:
Clyde Holscher, who is a multispecies guide from Topeka, Kansas, reported on the Finesse News Network about his outing at a 4,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir on June 8. His outing was about as trying as the one I experienced at the 100-acre community reservoir, but Holscher was temperate bass fishing rather than chasing largemouth bass.
He wrote: "Conditions were delightful. Too delightful I'm a thinking. Three of us used a spoon. Then we trolled intensely at the traditional haunts to no avail most of the morning. Ten other boats seemed to have the same negative results running here and there.
"We did salvage the morning as the wind came up and hit 12 mph around noon, and we quickly boated 25 white bass and a fine walleye before we called it a day." Dave Schmidtlein of Topeka responded with the following question and observation: "Clyde did you try real shallow? Some guys are still getting crappie and white bass in three feet of water. Some crappie are still spawning. Crazy spring."
For a variety of reasons, I have fewer hours to fish this summer than I have had during past summers. Therefore, our old game or mission of trying to catch 101 largemouth or smallmouth bass in four hours has gone to the wayside as of late. Since I had a limited time to be afloat on this outing, I went to a nearby 195-acre community reservoir with a mission to see if I could catch 26 bass in an hour.
This was the first time I had been to this reservoir since May 29 and May 30, which was when I was comparing the Hula StickZ to the StreakZ, Finesse ShadZ and Baby HooDaddy. On May 29, I caught 21 largemouth bass between 11:20 a.m. and 1:20 p.m., and I caught 25 largemouth bass from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on May 30.
On this outing, I started fishing at 11:30 a.m., and it took me one hour and 45 minutes to catch 26 largemouth bass.
I started fishing the dam with a 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ in the hue called California craw. It was affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and it bewitched five largemouth bass in 15 minutes.
At 11:50 p.m., I started working with a four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher, and it inveigled five largemouth bass by 12:15 p.m.
At 12:16 p.m., I began to use the prototype Hula StickZ on a 3/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher. I trimmed three-quarters of an inch off the head of the bait. The original color of this bait was watermelon with green flakes. I altered the color to a greenish-brown hue by using blue, red and brown permanent-ink markers. By 12:45 p.m., the 3 ¼-inch Hula StickZ caught 13 largemouth bass, including one that weighed three-pounds, three ounces and two more that looked to be 2 ½-pounders.
From 12:46 p.m. to 1:15 p.m., I quickly reworked the dam, as well as part of an adjacent shoreline and a nearby hump, with a green-pumpkin Baby HooDaddy on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, four-inch purple-haze Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, 2 ½-inch California craw ZinkerZ and three-inch Hula StickZ. The Finesse WormZ caught one largemouth bass, California craw ZinkerZ caught one, and at a nearby offshore rock hump, the Hula StickZ caught largemouth bass number 26 at 1:15 p.m. The Hula StickZ also caught one channel catfish.
A drag-and-shake retrieve was the most fruitful. A deadstick beguiled three largemouth bass. The bulk of the largemouth bass were caught in five to eight feet of water. In retrospect, I should have tested the other baits on a 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.
The water level looked to be a foot low. The water around the dam was seasonably clear, but an algae bloom has begun to stain it. The surface temperature was 79 to 80 degrees, which is the normal temperature for this time of the year.
Several minor thunderstorms rolled across these parts during the night and early in the morning. The wind was variable at 3 to 7 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.91 and rising. It was sunny. Area thermometers hit a morning low of 62 degrees and an afternoon high of 86 degrees. The normal low temperature for this time of the year is 62 degrees and normal high is 82 degrees. The solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing times were from 5:05 a.m. to 7:05 a.m.
It is interesting to note that on June 10, 2010, two of us caught 102 largemouth bass in four hours at this community reservoir. We caught them on a four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a Junebug 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The normal catch rate for four hours on June 10 and 11 is about 46 largemouth bass.
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, posted a report on the Finesse News Network about an evening outing on June 10 and a morning outing on June 11 at a 120-acre community reservoir in the northern suburbs of Kansas City.
He wrote: "I can't believe the difference a day can make.
"I took the winner of a United Way auction and her son out last evening and we caught 74 fish, consisting of five species -- bass, crappies, walleyes, green sunfish and some big bluegills. (I measured three of the biggest bluegills at nine inches.)
"They wanted to catch some fish for a fish fry. So we started out fishing for crappies. After we had about 20 crappies in the livewell, we started fishing for bass and did well there, too. The ZinkerZ was again the most productive bait, but the [Northland Fishing Tackle's Slurpies Swim 'n' Grub] caught a fair share. After sundown, we fished under the lights and caught two trout and 10 crappies.
"Then I took Bruce Janssen out this morning, and it was hard to believe it was the same lake. It was overcast right after a rain, and conditions looked great. But the bite was way off. I used every type of Z-Man bait I own --the ZinkerZs, Rain MinnowZs, Finesse ShadZs, everything. But we caught only 16 bass in five hours of fishing. I did catch a three-pound bass by the tubes, but that was the only keeper. It definitely wasn't hard to keep track of how many bass were caught today."
The midday largemouth bass bite was not very exuberant on this outing, and it has been that way for me for several weeks.
I played another one of the solo-outing games that I had been doing lately. On June 11, my task was to see how long it took me to catch 26 largemouth bass, and I caught 26 in one hour and 45 minutes.
I upped the task to 30 largemouth or smallmouth bass on this outing, but the bite was tougher than it was on June 11. Perhaps part of the problem might have stemmed from the fact that Ed Ames of Topeka, Kansas, and a friend had been afloat since first light. They spent the bulk of their time fishing this reservoir's south and southwest arms, and I plied the south arm, because I focused on the dam area on June 11, and I didn't want to bother those bass again.
At 11:45 a.m. I made my first cast on a main-lake rocky point that has a submerged creek channel nearby, and I probed the point and some of its adjacent shorelines and failed to elicit a bite while using a 3 ¼-inch greenish-brown Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. (This combo was the best one along the dam on June 11.) After about five minutes of not catching a bass, I headed to some submerged bridge pilings and ruins in the south arm. On the first cast with a 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ in the California craw hue affixed to a red 1/16-ounce, I hooked a small largemouth bass but failed to land it. Eventually I caught two little largemouth bass around the vicinity of the concrete residue of the submerged bridge, but nothing more. Then I fished some patches of milfoil near the submerged bridge without garnering a bite. (Ed Ames told me that he and his friend had focused on the milfoil all morning long, using primarily topwater baits. Ames said that they caught more than two dozen largemouth bass, but they didn't have an exact count. He also noted that all of the bass were healthy and chunky. He said that he loved the milfoil, and he was sorry to learn the reservoir's managers were going to kill it with a herbicide during the last week in June.)
Because Ames and his friend fished nearly every inch of the milfoil edges in this arm, I elected to focus on rocks. Thus I spent the next hour or so fishing the rocks along the west and east shorelines of this arm. I used the California craw ZinkerZ, greenish-brown Hula StickZ, black-neon Baby HooDaddy on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher. The Finesse WormZ combo was the only bait that bore fruit, and the fruit wasn't overflowing. After an hour and about 15 minutes had lapsed, I had caught only 16 largemouth bass.
After exhausting all of the rock terrain in the south arm, I spend the rest of the outing plying two mid-lake rocky shorelines. And it wasn't until 2:30 that I caughtbass number 30. Since I had caught largemouth bass No. 30 about 100 yards from the boat ramp, I decided to fish until I reached the ramp, which consumed 15 minutes, and I caught three more largemouth bass.
The exact total for the outing was 32 largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass, and it took three hours to accomplish. I also caught one small flathead catfish.
Three largemouth bass were caught on the black neon Baby HooDaddy, three largemouth bass were caught on the 2 ½-inch California craw ZinkerZ, one smallmouth bass and 26 largemouth bass were caught on the PB&J Finesse WormZ and blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
Two retrieves were effective: the drag and shake and the swim, glide and shake.
Some bass were caught in water as shallow as two feet. Some bass were caught in six to seven feet of water.
The surface temperature ranged from 79 to 80 degrees. The south arm was stained with an algae bloom. There was an algae bloom along the two mid-lake shorelines, but these areas weren't as stained with algae as the south arm. The lake looked to be a foot or so low. Some of the patches of American water willows are no longer in the water. I saw some curly-leaf pondweed along the west mid-lake shoreline, which is unusually for June 12. It is usually totally gone by the time the water temperature reaches the low 70s during the first week in June.
It was sunny, and the sky exhibited a china-blue hue. The wind angled out of the northeast at 7 mph. The morning low was 55 degrees; the afternoon high reached 84 degrees. The solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing times were from 5:47 a.m. to 5:47 a.m.
I kvetched on June 12 about the trying midday bass fishing that had tormented me recently. And this outing was the most agonizing that I have experienced this spring.
On June 12, my task was to see how long it took me to catch 30 largemouth and smallmouth bass. It took two hours and 45 minutes to do it. On June 13, my aim was to see how long it would take me to catch 35 largemouth and smallmouth bass. I attempted to accomplish this by venturing to a 416-acre community reservoir, and here the largemouth and smallmouth bass really snookered me. I caught only 18 largemouth and smallmouth bass and one channel catfish and two freshwater drum.
I made my first cast along the eastern section of a submerged rock wall at 11:05 a.m., and I made my last cast at a main-lake rocky point at 1:50 p.m. Two hours and 45 minutes of sorry bass fishing was all I could take. I fished points, bluffs, American water willows, milfoil, riprap, buoy cables and offshore lairs.
There was no pattern. On my June 11 outing, I often caught two or three bass at the same location, and after I caught those two or three bass, I would have to make what seemed like a hundred casts and retrieves before I inveigled two or three more. On this outing, it seemed as if I had to make 300 casts and retrieves before I caught one, and then 300 or more cast and retrieves before I caught one more.
For the past week, I haven't been able to determine what's going on with the largemouth and smallmouth bass. Some anglers suspected that a goodly number of the largemouth and smallmouth bass were suspended and in a pelagic state. But, of course, that was merely a guess, because none of the local Midwest finesse anglers have the state-of-the-art sonar devices and underwater cameras to make an accurate examination what's transpiring under the surface of our flatland reservoirs. Traditionally we catch largemouth and smallmouth bass along all kinds of rock-laden lairs in two to eight feet of water in June, and the fishing is usually very fruitful.
On this outing, the Baby HooDaddy, which was very effective in late May, garnered only three smallmouth bass. The PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught a dozen bass. The 3 ¼-inch greenish-brown Hula StickZ on a 3/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig caught three smallmouth bass, and one of those was caught accidentally while I was trying to extract the bait from a snag along the face of the dam. When that smallmouth bass engulfed the bait, my rod tip was only a foot above the bait.
When fishing is as trying it was on this outing, we usually spend most of our time dragging and deadsticking, and I did a lot of that throughout this outing, but it paid only miserly dividends.
The surface temperature ranged from 77 to 80 degrees. An algae bloom had the upper half of the reservoir stained. The northern or lower portions of the reservoir were relatively clear. The water level looked to be nearly two feet low. None of the American water willow patches on the dam were in the water.
The wind angled out of the southeast at 10 to 18 mph. Barometric pressure was 30.05 and falling at 11 a.m. It was sunny during the entire outing. The morning low temperature was 56 degrees, and the afternoon high reached 88 degrees. The Solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing time was from 6:26 a.m. to 8:26 a.m.
As I left the boat ramp, I told myself that I was not going fishing on June 14, and instead I would spend the day licking my wounds and pondering a piscatorial solution to the difficult bass fishing that has confounded me.
When I arrived at home, I talked to Ivan Martin of Afton, Oklahoma, who is a multispecies guide at Grand Lake. Martin reported that his largemouth bass fishing was about as sorry as the largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing that I have been enduring in northeastern Kansas. Martin said that largemouth bass normally abide on the rocks at Grand Lake this time of year, but not this year. He had been catching some largemouth bass early in the morning in a foot of water, using a weightless Gene Larew Salt Flick'R, and he also caught some around the corners of the boat docks, but it was a chore. He reported that this Ivan rig, which is a Salt Flick'R on a quarter-ounce A and M jig wasn't working. For more information about Martin, see his Web site at: https://www.in-fisherman.com/2012/06/20/ivan-martin-the-wizard-of-grand-lake-and-salt-flickr/.
Holden White of Lawrence, Kansas, informed us that a pair of finesse anglers caught and released 100 largemouth bass at the 195-acre community reservoir that I fished on June 12, but they were not fishing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
After Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, read about my sorry outing on June 13, he posted the following observations on the Finesse News Network on June 14:
"Ned, Sounds like the trip I described the other day out here. One observation: Lately, my best trips have been in the evening, not the morning. From 5:30 p.m. on, the bite has been pretty good. In the morning, the first hour and a half have been best for big fish, but even that seems to be dwindling. A friend I have converted to finesse fishing tried a half of an electric blue Senko the other day on a 1/16th-ounce head and caught two nice ones. I'm going to try that color the next time out. Brent"
I responded to Frazee this way:
"I have this odd mission to fish the midday hours only.
"Thus, I have to live vicariously through your FNN reports of your morning and evening endeavors.
"Some day soon, the midday hours will be fruitful once again.
"Keep sending the reports. Ned
"PS-- Back in 2005, we used a three-inch silver-blue Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits' Senko. It's only fault was that it took only one largemouth or smallmouth bass to tear the Senko smithereens. So, it was one bass per Senko."
Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, and I started fishing about an hour earlier on this outing than I started during the past several midday outings. We made our first casts today at 10:15 a.m., and we caught a two-pound largemouth bass on the first cast with a four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. This occurred on the east side of a major main-lake point that is situated in the middle portions of a 195-acre community reservoir.
It was an easy day to fish. The wind angled primarily out the southwest at 2 to 13 mph, but at times it was out of the north and every once in a while it was virtually calm. It looked as if it would rain at times, but only a few drops fell. The sky fluctuated from mostly cloudy to partly cloudy. The morning low air temperature was 68 degrees, and by 3 p.m. area, thermometers hit 82 degrees. The barometric pressure was 29.92 at 10 a.m. and rising very slowly. The solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing time was at 7:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.
The lake level, as measured on the stems of the American water willows, looked to be more than eight inches low. An algae bloom had the water stained; the stain was more intense in the upper sections of the reservoir than around the dam. I failed to turn on the sonar and temperature gauge today; so I failed to note the surface temperature.
During the first 110 minutes of this outing, the largemouth bass fishing was easy. We caught 48 largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass during that hour and 50 minutes. Then for the next 130 minutes, we eked out only 14 largemouth bass.
There was another pair of veteran Midwest finesse anglers afloat, they had been there about two hours before we arrived, and they caught 63 largemouth bass, including two four-pounders. In addition, Holden White of Lawrence, Kansas, was afloat wielding his finesse magic with a four-inch grub affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig. So a lot of the best finesse lairs had already been probed at this 195-acre impoundment. Claudell and I caught 62 largemouth and one smallmouth bass and two channel catfish. One of the largemouth bass looked as if it might be a three-pounder
The best bait was a four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on a 1/16-ounce red or chartreuse Gopher jig. The next best option was a four-inch PBJ Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We caught five largemouth bass on a four-inch grub affixed to a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We caught 10 largemouth on a 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ in either the PB&J hue or green-pumpkin/red hue rigged on a 1/16-ounce red Gopher jig. The last four largemouth bass were caught on a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. A green-pumpkin Baby HooDaddy on a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig caught one largemouth bass and the Hula StickZ on a 3/32-ounce Gopher jig caught one.
We caught five largemouth bass around patches of milfoil with the four-inch grub. The bulk of the bass were associated with rocks.
The best casts were made at a 45-degree angle behind the boat. The best retrieve was a drag that was punctuated occasionally with a deadstick motif. A swim-glide-and-shake wasn't very effective after the first hour of fishing.
The mid-lake rocky areas were the most fruitful.
It was good to have Terry Claudell in the boat to help employ a variety of retrieves, baits and colors.
In sum, the midday bite was still sour, but with Claudell's help, it wasn't as sour as it was for me on June 13, when I caught only 18 largemouth and smallmouth bass.
On June 15, we received an e-mail from Cory Schmidt, who is an In-Fisherman Field Editor from around Merrifield, Minnesota, that had some interesting observations about the effectiveness of Z-Man Fishing Products' Finesse WormZ.
Here's what Schmidt wrote:
"Hi Ned, Just wanted to drop you a note about this amazing bait -- the Z-Man Finesse Worm. I was in northeastern South Dakota, fishing a variety of glacial and pothole lakes last week. I decided to rig one of these baits in the PB&J pattern onto a 3/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig, while everyone else in our party was pitching jigs tipped with a half nightcrawler.
"As it turned out, I caught over 20 bass and perhaps a dozen walleyes on the very same worm. In fact, it would have likely continued to produce had a pike not finally eaten the whole package in one toothy gulp. Nobody in our party could believe how many fish could be taken on a single softbait.
"What really amazed me about the bait, though, is that the material seemed to form an almost slime-coat sort of effect as it remained in water; almost a gummy feel. I've never used a softbait that developed this sort of texture when wet. It really was quite remarkable. And the fish -- mostly smallmouth bass-- absolutely gobbled it.
"Have you ever noted this slimy/gummy effect on these baits? Or, what can you tell me about this phenomenon?
"Best presentation was a simple slow drag with an infrequent twitch maneuver, as the jig slid across old submerged roadbeds. I can't wait to become better acquainted with Z-Man baits as the season progresses.
"I'm finally starting to see what you've been trying to tell me about these baits for some time.
Footnote: Daniel Nussbaum and Glenn Powell of Z-Man Fishing Products said that the slime occurs when the impregnated salt within the ElaZtech material, which is used to form the Finesse WormZ, begins to dissolve. It is interesting to note that this slime phenomenon doesn't occur with other salt-impregnate soft-plastic baits that other manufacturers make with PVC, Plastisol, Phthalates or similar elements.
Dwight Keefer of Phoenix, Arizona, and one of the forefathers of Midwest finesse fishing, who has been featured in several blogs during the past year, sent the following report to the Finesse News Network.
"Ned, On Saturday, June 16, George Schaeffer and I made a return trip to Lake Saguaro, Arizona, after our successful outing in May.
"The water temp was 78-80 degrees. It was 70 degrees when we launched at 5:00 a.m., and eventually it reached 106 degrees. The water clarity was six feet. There was no wind.
"We started fishing main lake, probing the Salt River's ledges, humps and flats. George knows every hump, ridge and fish shelter in the lake.
"The second place we stopped was a main lake-hump about the size of a football field with eight to10 feet of water on top of it. It was embellished with six- to eight-inch hydrilla plants. The nearby drop-off plummeted into depths of 20 to 60 feet of water.
"I could see a dozen or so bass boats fishing within 400 yards from us, and one of the top guide service boats on the lake was fishing about 100 yards from us. The largemouth bass were chasing shad across the top of this hump.
"George was in the front of his boat throwing topwater baits, jerkbait and crankbaits. I started catching them on a green-pumpkin-blue-flake Z-Man Finesse Shad-Z with a 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. I had caught several largemouth bass from 1 ½ to three pounds when another guide boat pulled up about 50 yards away from us. This guide is currently leading the Bassmaster Central Open Division in points. I caught about 15 largemouth bass during the next hour, and six of them were in the two- to three-pound range.
"After an hour lapsed, two guide boats were within a long cast of George's boat. I watched each guide boat catch three smaller bass on topwater, jerkbaits, and Scrounger Heads dressed with small fluke-style baits. The guides weren't fishing as they were assisting their customers. George recommended we move to a new spot, and for the next two hours, we fished flats and deep flat points with hydrilla and mesquite stumps. To probe the mesquite and hydrilla, I dressed the Finesse ShadZ onto the weedless jig head that Dave Reeves of Lansing, Kansas, makes. Dave's jig comes through the hydrilla better than the Gopher jig, and I never lost a lure in the stumps. I continued to catch them and George caught a fat three-pounder on a crankbait.
"As the sun got high and it started to get hot, George moved us to deeper water in the 18-23 foot range on some main-lake ridges and humps. I put on a 3/16 oz. Gopher jig and the game was on. There were fish shelters and mesquite trees on these spots in 18-23 feet, and the two- to three-pounders were hungry.
"We fished until 10:30 a.m., and I caught about 25 largemouth bass during the entire outing and lost one small one at the boat. George power fished, caught seven and lost three.
"I fished the Shad-Z like a plastic worm with a lift and fall retrieve, and when a bass would hit the Shad-Z and I didn't hook him, I would aggressively jerk the Shad-Z, let it fall, and often a bass would hit it again.
"We were usually fishing in a crowd, and the Shad-Z was the most productive of all the other baits.
"I think the Shad-Z ranks in the top 10 bass baits ever produced.
"The Shad-Z, however, is difficult to cast. And it is a pure finesse presentation. Therefore, it is necessary to use the right equipment. I have tried over 20 different combinations of rods, reels and lines across the last 15 months, including stripping and customizing some very highly rated rods. After extensive equipment experimentation and alternations, I can throw the 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and Shad-Z about 40 yards and the 3/16-ounce combo about 60 yards. I believe the proper equipment plays a great part of the success in fishing open-water and offshore lairs with a Shad-Z at reservoirs like Saguaro. Dwight Keefer"
Terry Claudell of Overland Park posted a brief report on the Finesse News Network about his Father's Day outing at a 407-acre community reservoir that lies in the northwest suburbs of Kansas City. It was his first outing at this reservoir.
He began fishing at 9:30 a.m. and made his last cast a little after 1:30 p.m. According to the solunar calendar the best fishing time occurred from 9:09 a.m. to 11:09 a.m.
Area thermometers climbed into the mid-80s. At the beginning of the outing the sky was clear, but it eventually became partly cloudy.
The reservoir's surface temperature ranged from 80 to 81 degrees. The water was extremely clear for a northeastern Kansas reservoir.
He described the fishing as difficult. He eked out only 16 largemouth bass and seven smallmouth bass. The bulk of these bass preferred a Junebug Z-Man Fishing Products' Rain MinnowZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. He also worked with a tube and 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, which inveigled one bass. In addition, he also wielded a four-inch Finesse WormZ on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. He tested three different colors of the WormZ: green-pumpkin, Junebug and PB&J, and they failed to entice a largemouth bass and smallmouth bass.
June 18 and 19
The wind howled up to 35 mph out of the south on June 18 and 19, which kept me at bay, but Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, fished a 120-acre community reservoir that lies in the northern suburbs of Kansas City. And he posted this brief on the Finesse News Network:
"Ned, I've fished three times this week -- two morning trips, one evening.
"We had friends in to visit us from Illinois and he loves to fish. Because he's a farmer, I knew he wouldn't mind getting up early. We were on the water by 5:30 a.m. both Monday and Tuesday.
"The bite was anemic the first day. We ended up catching 27 bass, with four of them keepers. No giants. On Tuesday, though, we caught 41 bass in three hours of fishing. We had six keepers and some big girls on. I lost a big one at the tubes when it jumped and threw the jig and pig I was using. I also had a giant on when I was using a 2 ½-inch Junebug ZinkerZ, but it broke the line. Mike also lost a big one when it came up and hit the crawdad-colored Bandit crankbait he was retrieving over the weeds. We could see the fish rise and come down on the bait and bite the top of the crankbait instead of the bottom.
"Then Wednesday, I took Bob Roberts out in the evening and we caught 29 bass in three hours. Three were keepers. We also fished under the lights at night and caught 12 crappies (and some big ones) and one 2-pound rainbow trout.
"The water temp is up in the low 80s now and the water is ultra clear. The wind made things difficult all three days.
"This week was one of those junk fishing times. I threw every type of finesse bait I owned and I never found one the bass wanted more than the other. There also was no overwhelming pattern. The fish were scattered and there were long lulls between fish. But that's summertime fishing around here.
"Take care, Brent"
On June 19, Ivan Martin of Afton, Oklahoma, sent a brief report in an e-mail about his guiding endeavors at Grand Lake, Oklahoma.
"I have caught several on a weightless Salt Flick'R early in the morning in six inches of water, but it is slow bass fishing the rest of the day for everyone now. In fact, it is about as slow as I have ever seen it this time of year. We have caught some but not too many on anything later in the day."
I finally got afloat after three days of extremely stiff winds kept me at bay.
John Reese of Lawrence, Kansas, joined me on this outing at a 195-acre community reservoir from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
After we had endured hot and humid winds for three days, Reese and I found our 3 ½ hours of fishing to be delightful weatherwise.
A significant thunderstorm crisscrossed northeastern Kansas during the early morning hours. Initially the sky was partly cloudy, but it quickly exhibited a china-blue hue. The sun was bright but not scorching hot. The wind angled from the north to the northeast at 9 to 16 mph. Barometric pressure was 30.12 around 10 a.m., and it dropped to 30:08 by the time we made our last casts and retrieves at 2 p.m.
Area thermometers recorded a low of 67 degrees, and the afternoon high reached 86 degrees. The solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing time was 12:26 p.m. to 2:26 p.m.
Many areas of this reservoir were stained. Some spots were even murky. We deduced that it wasn't the early morning's rains that stained it. We decided that it was the aftereffects of the three days of incessant, gale-force winds that caused the water to have a murky hue at several locales. An algal bloom also had stained the upper portions of this reservoir. The water along the dam was the clearest. The dam lies on the north side of the lake; so it took the brunt of the wind and waves, but the rocks and riprap kept this area relatively clear.
The first hour and 30 minutes of fishing was extremely trying. During those agonizing and perplexing 90 minutes, we caught only six largemouth bass and failed to land four largemouth bass that jumped and liberated themselves from our barbless hooks.
Shortly after noon, the largemouth bass bite improved dramatically. By the time we made our last casts, our counter registered 48 largemouth bass and one channel catfish. The biggest largemouth bass looked to weigh around three pounds.
The rock terrain of the dam yielded most of the bass.
The best bait on the dam was a 3 ¼-inch green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. The best retrieve was a drag-and-shake one.
Elsewhere around this reservoir, a four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a 2 ½-inch black-and-blue laminated ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig allured the bulk of the bass around rocks, laydowns, American water willows and some patches of milfoil and coontail.
Last week the midday bite was horrid --especially after 11:30 a.m. Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, looked at the solunar calendar and predicted on the Finesse News Network that the midday bite would be better from June 18 to June 22., and on this outing, the bite was better after 11:45 a.m.
My cousin Rick Hebenstreit from Shawnee, Kansas, and I fished a 100-acre community reservoir that lies in the southwest suburbs of Kansas City. We were afloat from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
During the outing, we commented that the landscape exhibited the air of August in Kansas rather than the second day of summer. Too many rainless days in May and June, as well as three extremely windy days on June 18, 19 and 20, have quickly aged, browned and withered the vegetation, giving it an August look
To our delight, the wind was calm to variable. Area thermometers registered a morning low of 58 degrees and hit an afternoon high of 87 degrees. We rarely saw a cloud, and the few that existed never covered the sun. The barometric pressure was 30.09 around 10 a.m. and dropping. The solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred from 1:19 p.m. to 3:19 p.m.
The water level was nearly normal. The clarity was stained from a burgeoning algae bloom, and perhaps the residue of three days of heavy wind on June 18, 19 and 20 created some of the stain. The surface temperature hit a high of 85 degrees at 1:30 p.m.
To our disappointment, the largemouth bass fishing at this community reservoir was sorry again. And as we have lamented a number of times this year, it had been a trying reservoir for us since early December of 2011. In fact, only three outings at this reservoir during 2012 have been somewhat satisfactory. What's more, the bulk of 39 largemouth bass that Rick and I caught were thin and colorless. Whereas the bulk of the 48 largemouth bass that John Reese and I caught at a 195-acre community on June 21 were chunky, healthy and colorful.
(But things might change at the 195-acre community reservoir. Richard Sanders, who is the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism fisheries biologist in charge of that 195-acre reservoir, wrote in a June 22 e-mail that the herbicide that will be applied next week will kill all of the milfoil, coontail, curly-leaf pondweed and bushy pondweed. And many anglers suspect that all of that decaying vegetation will have an adverse effect on the entire environment. No one really knows what the long-term effect of the herbicide will be, but many anglers are worried that it won't be good. But as a footnote: it needs to be pointed out that those worries of despair and worry were unfounded. The herbicide and dead vegetation didn't adversely affect the bass fishing in July and into early August. But after the second application of herbicide on Aug. 7, the bass fishing did slow down a bit.)
The best bait on this outing for Rick and me was by far a 3 ¼-inch green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce or 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. The original size of the Hula StickZ isfour inches, and we trimmed off three-quarters of an inch off the head. We caught a few largemouth bass on a black-neon Baby HooDaddy on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, as well as a few on a green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ on a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig.
Twelve largemouth bass were caught on the dam, and 13 were caught on the long main-lake offshore hump on the east side of the lake. Two other main-lake humps yielded only one largemouth bass. We caught the rest along three channel swings that abutted up to three shorelines in the upper third of the lake.
For several months we have been saying that we were going to stop fishing this reservoir, which was hit by the largemouth virus in 2008-09. But despite the aftereffects of the virus, it was one our most fruitful reservoirs in 2011. In theory, it should slowly be getting better each year. Thus, we can't determine why it has become so trying this year and why the largemouth bass look so frail. When we continue to return to this reservoir, we do it with hopes the largemouth bass fishing will return to its 2011 stature. Another reason why we fish this trying reservoir is that the water level at a nearby 160-acre state reservoir has been too low for easy access, and that has left a major hole in our weekly and monthly angling calendar. Another problem was recently reported by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, and that report stated that the largemouth bass virus has whacked another nearby 416-acre community reservoir, making it the third one in our regular repertoire. For two years, we have suspected that the largemouth bass virus had hit this community reservoir, and the fishing can be so trying at this 416-acre reservoir that we don't want to fish it as regularly as we used to fish it. Now we fear that the largemouth bass virus will eventually strike the rest of our flatland reservoirs. In sum, we don't have a lot of choices to fish elsewhere unless we elect to drive more than 55 miles. So, those are a few of the reasons why we continue to return to this 100-acre community reservoir.
My cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I launched the boat today at a 160-acre state reservoir. And as we noted in the June 22 log, it takes some doing to launch a boat at this reservoir, and that's because the water level is more than six feet below normal and the ramp and nearby shoreline is surrounded with boulders. In fact, it would be a heck of a task on most days for a solo angler to get a boat afloat -- especially if there is any wind. Thus this was only the second time I have fished this reservoir in 2012.
The lower portions of the reservoir were clear. Some portions of the east arm were stained with an algae bloom, but the areas that were graced with significant patches of bushy pondweed and curly-leaf pondweed were clearer. (By the way, I have never seen big patches of curly-leaf pondweed in Kansas waterways this late in June.) The west arm was clearer than the east arm, and it was graced with more pondweed than the east arm. The surface temperature reached 85.4 degrees at 1:45 a.m.
The wind was variable, blowing no stronger than 7 mph. The sun was extremely bright and hot. Area thermometers ranged from a low of 71 degrees to a high 97 degrees. The barometric pressure was 29.91 and falling at 10 a.m. The solunar calendar indicated the best fishing time occurred from 3:55 p.m. to 5:55 p.m.
On June 22, Rick and I complained about the condition of the largemouth bass at the 100-acre community reservoir that we were fishing, noting that they were sorry looking. In contrast, largemouth bass at this 160-acre state were healthy looking, hard fighters and much bigger than the ones at the nearby 100-acre community reservoir.
At the 100-acre-community reservoir on June 22, Rick and I struggled to catch 39 largemouth bass from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Today, we fished from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and landed only 32 largemouth bass, but Rick and I thought the fishing was easier and more fruitful. One reason why was that we hooked a lot of bass that we failed to land, and several of those gave us a significant battle before they liberated themselves from the Gopher jig.
We hooked the bulk of the largemouth bass around shallow patches of bushy pondweeds in the northern portions of the reservoir's east and west arms. Most of these pondweed patches were in two to four feet of water. And these shallow-water largemouth bass did a lot of jumping, and eventually several of them tossed the barbless hooks on our Gopher jigs. We caught only seven largemouth along rocky lairs.
A green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on either a 1/32- or 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig was the most effective combo. A Junebug 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a green-pumpkin 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a four-inch green-pumpkin grub on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a green-pumpkin 3 1/4-inch Hula StickZ on a 3/32-ounce Gopher jig were fairly fruitful.
We employed a variety of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves and all of them elicited strikes.
Because the reservoir is six feet low, the old shoreline is becoming overgrown with hogweed, smartweed and other kinds of terrestrial vegetation. The American water willows, which are many feet out of the water, are still green, but they are short. We are looking forward to this reservoir's water levels returning to normal, but when we get a significant rain, it will be a flipper's nirvana and a finesse angler's nightmare.
In Rick and my eyes, this 160-acre state reservoir always has been our most enjoyable reservoir to fish. It has the best water clarity and best aquatic vegetation of all our reservoirs. Its rock humps are also interesting and frequently fruitful locales to ply.
Its major flaw is all of the shallow-water man-made brush piles that litter many of its rock piles and patches of aquatic vegetation. We can't figure out why these man-made piles were placed in these areas rather than at areas that are mud flats that are in need of some kind of habitat. What's more, the shallow-water brush piles are a significant eyesore, and they are always cluttered with lines, lures and bobbers.
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, sent a brief report to the Finesse News Network about his antique-lure outing at a 120-acre commodity reservoir that is situated in northern suburbs of Kansas City.
"Ned, Had a blast today. Went out with Warren Platt of Kansas City, and we fished antique topwater lures on vintage equipment.
"As usual, the old stuff performed very well. I caught a 4 1/2-pound largemouth bass on a Plunker. We had six other keepers (15 inches or bigger), and 9 smaller ones fishing from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.
"Warren and I have done much better in the past on numbers, but our ratio of quality fish was good today. Most of our fish were caught along rock--either riprap, the hole below the tubes or boulder banks.
"What's impressive is that keepers have been hard to come by lately. Maybe the bass like the oldies but goodies.
"Incidentally, that big bass I caught measured 21 inches, but was as skinny as all get-out. Brent"
Postscript June 25-26
Clyde Holscher, who is a multispecies guide from Topeka,Kansas, sent a report to the Finesse News Network about two outings at a 7,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir on June 25 and 26.
He noted that the water was extremely clear. After 8 a.m., he and his clients elicited most of their bites in five feet of water on main-lake and secondary points. Most of the fish were foraging upon young gizzard shad, but he and his clients couldn't garner bites on gizzard-shad-style or gizzard-shad-colored baits.
Instead they caught 83 smallmouth bass, three spotted bass and two largemouth bass by wielding a 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce jig. They worked with five colors of ZinkerZs: black-and-blue laminated, dirt, Junebug, new money and purple haze.
This midday bass fishing at this 416-acre community reservoir had three strikes against before I launched the boat.
One was the wind was brisk, angling out the southwest at 16 to 23 mph.
Second, it was unseasonably hot. When I made my first cast at 10:30, many area thermometers were registering 91 to 93 degrees. By the time I executed my last cast at 1:50 p.m. many area thermometers were sitting at 100 degrees and climbing; they eventually hit highs that ranged from 102 to 104 degrees.
The third strike revolved around the fact the largemouth bass in this reservoir are afflicted with the largemouth bass virus, and the largemouth bass fishing has been sorry for the past two years.
According to Finesse News Network angler and regular contributor Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, this midday outing was afflicted with another woe, and that was the solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing times occurred at 5:12 a.m. to 7:12 a.m. and 5:37 p.m. to 7:37 p.m. rather than midday.
The surface temperature hovered around 84 degrees for the entire outing. The water level looked to be two feet below normal. The water in this reservoir is used to water a golf course, and the golf course looked lush as I drove by it on the way to the boat ramp. In contrast, other grassy areas exhibited the brownish-withered look of August rather than the eighth day of summer.
I was able to eke out only 24 largemouth and smallmouth bass. Only one largemouth bass was a fair-sized one, looking as if it would weigh about three pounds. It was inveigled on a black-and-blue-laminated 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. This combo also caught the bulk of the bass.
A California craw 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught some. A green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught two, and a four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught only one. The Hula StickZ and Rain MinnowZ failed to elicit a bite.
Most of the strikes occurred as the bait dropped from the surface to the bottom.
Most of the bass were associated with rocks and American water willows. A few of the bass were around patches of milfoil. But I didn't focus on the shallow patches of milfoil on the flats as my cousin Rick Hebenstreit and I did on June 25 at a nearby160-acre state reservoir. Instead, I was hoping to find at least 30 smallmouth bass around the rocky lairs. In retrospect, I should have spent some time using a grub or a Finesse ShadZ on a 1/32-ounce Gopher around the milfoil flats.
Because of the weather and family obligations, I didn't fish the last three days on June. Here's the weather forecast for June 28 and 29:
Tonight: Clear, with a low around 75. South wind between 10 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.
Thursday: Sunny and hot, with a high near 104. Southwest wind between 10 and 15 mph.
Thursday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 77. South wind between 5 and 10 mph.
Friday: Sunny and hot, with a high near 103. South wind between 10 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.
Postscript from Canada
The weather on June 28-29 and the arrival of three grandsons and their parents on June 30 kept me at bay for the rest of the month. But I did receive two reports from Midwest finesse anglers who fish Canadian waterways, and their reports are a good way to end this months' addendum to the month-by-month-guide to Midwest Finesse.
Here are their reports:
Darryl Brown of Ontario, Canada, sent a report to the Finesse News Network about his first Midwest finesse endeavors with a Z-Man's Finesse ShadZ and Strike King Lure Company's 2 ½-inch Zero, which is identical to Z-Man's 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ.
Across three June outings that encompassed less than 12 hours of fishing, Brown caught 53 smallmouth bass, including one that weighed six pounds. Only two of them were dinks, and many of them were three-pounders.
All of these were caught on a green-pumpkin 2 ½-inch Zero affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig, which was retrieved with a drag and deadstick retrieve.
There were times when he was fishing in two to four feet of crystal clear water, and he could watch every move of the jig and Zero. He noticed that it didn't take many cranks of the reel handle or a significant lift of the rod to get the jig and Zero to rise above the bottom. After he witnessed that phenomenon, he slowed the speed of his presentation to a crawl, emulating the description of the retrieve that David Reeves of Lansing, Kansas, described in the blog entitled "Midwest finesse goes to Table Rock Lake" that was posted on May 10. According to Reeves, the key to properly retrieving a 2 1/2-inch Zero or ZinkerZ affixed to a jig is "keep it slow, keep it on or close to bottom, keep it simple, then slow it down some more."
Another Midwest finesse angler, who chases smallmouth bass in Canada and became a devotee of several Z-Man's soft-plastic baits in 2011, reported that he fished 25 times from May 18 to June 18. Each outing entailed about 6 ½ hours of fishing. Even though the weather was often problematic during this spell, he caught 1,520 smallmouth bass, which is an average of 60.8 smallmouth bass an outing. And when it is calculated on an hourly basis, he landed a smallmouth bass about every seven minutes. What's more, between those seven minutes, he also tangled with an occasional muskie, northern pike and walleye. He wrote in an e-mail: "It is beyond my imagination to comprehend fishing like that in such challenging weather" conditions. According to his logs, 95% of the smallmouth bass, as well as some of the other species, were inveigled by a 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ-and-jig combo. The colors of his 2 ½-inch ZinkerZs were California craw, dirt, green pumpkin, green pumpkin/red and new money. The other five percent of the fish were allured by a Finesse ShadZ, Hula StickZ and topwater baits, and one of the fish that the Hula StickZ bewitched was a 47 ½-inch muskie. Upon reflecting about his 67 outings in 2011 when he caught 2,353 smallmouth bass, of which 90% were caught on Z-Man's Finesse ShadZ, 3.75-inch StreakerZ, and 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ, and the 1,520 smallmouth bass that he had caught so far in 2012, he said the only element that has changed in his finesse tactics across the many years that he has utilized them is that he began using Z-Man's 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ and a few of its other soft-plastic finesse lures in 2011. According to his vast records that stretch across many years, the four Z-Man's finesse baits that he employs are the reason why he is catching significantly more smallmouth bass than he has caught in years past. He said that the ZinkerZ and Hula StickZ have outperformed other bass baits by a large margin. (For another insight about the effectiveness of Z-Man's soft-plastic baits, please see Cory Schmidt's comments in the June 15 log and Dwight Keefer's in the June 16 log. And it should be noted that none of these folks are sponsored by or work for Z-Man Fishing Products.)