This blog chronicles many of the details about our 15 outings in May. It explains how, when and where we caught 614 bass in 48 hours and 30 minutes by employing Midwest finesse tactics at several small flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas.
It also includes several Finesse News Network reports and observations from Bob Gum of Kansas City, Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, and Travis Perret of Overland Park, Kansas. It needs be noted that Frazee, Perret and Poe utilized some power tactics with their finesse endeavors at times.
In May, the length our midday outings ranged from as few as two hours to as many as 4 1/2 hours. At the behest of Mike Poe, we have recorded the best fishing times from the solunar calendar that relate to our 15 outings, and that will be recorded in all of the addendums in the future.
We also included some information that we gleaned from Richard Sanders, who is the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism fisheries biologist and manages three of the reservoirs that we fished in May.
Here are the 12,257 words that describe how we caught an average of 12.5 largemouth bass an hour in May in northeastern Kansas. Perhaps some of these details will help finesse anglers during the month of May for years to come.
Travis Perret of Overland Park, Kansas, joined me from 11:15 a.m. to 4:20 p.m. at a 100-acre community reservoir that lies in the southwestern suburbs of Kansas City.
Initially it wasn't windy, but by noon we were battling gusts that hit 25 mph. We had a short thunderstorm across the area around 10 a.m., and several early morning storms also whacked these parts.
Who knows if these storms affected the disposition of this reservoir's largemouth bass, but they weren't as active as they had been on April 26. On that outing, Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, and I caught 75 largemouth bass here. In sum, the largemouth bass fishing on May 1 was a lot more trying for Perret and me than it was for Claudell and me on April 26.
Many area thermometers hit a morning low of 58 degrees, and they climbed to an afternoon high of 81 degrees. The barometric pressure was 29,78 and slowly falling. Solunar table indicated the best fishing time was from 6:52 a.m. to 8:52 a.m. The sky was partly cloudy.
After several days of periodic rainstorms, the water level was up six inches or more. The water in the dam area was clear. The upper half of the reservoir was stained. The surface temperature ranged from 66 to 67 degrees.
The best fishing occurred in the lower half of the reservoir.
We saw two schools of fry in one of the major coves on the east side of the reservoir. That cove also yielded a number of largemouth bass, and that was the first time this cove had been bountiful in 2012.
When we started fishing, I was still on my mission to see how many bass a Z-Man Fishing Product's four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ and blue 1/16-ounce Gopher Mushroom Head Jig could catch before it disintegrated. And after catching two small largemouth bass at a massive rock hump on the east side of the reservoir, we quickly discovered that the Finesse WormZ can catch 182. The Gopher jig, by the way, hooked dozens more largemouth bass before it fell to the wayside in mid-May.
During the first two hours of this outing, we caught largemouth bass on a four-inch green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ rigged wacky style on a 1/16-ounce Zappu Inchy Wacky Jig, a Zoom Bait Company's green-pumpkin Mini Lizard on a 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig, a PB&J and a Junebug Rain MinnowZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher and a Junebug four-inch Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
Eventually Perret found that a Junebug 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher was the most effective combo. So, we ended the outing by primarily wielding the Junebug ZinkerZ.
Until this outing, the ZinkerZ had been not very fruitful for me. But on April 30 I noticed that the largemouth bass at a 55-acre community reservoir that lies about 58 miles southwest of this Kansas City suburban reservoir stopped being intrigued at 1:45 p.m.by the Finesse WormZ. Until this outing, the Junebug Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce blue Gopher jig had been the most effective combo in our Midwest finesse repertoire for several weeks.
One of the virtues of having another angler in the boat is that it significantly widens the bait horizon and ways of implementing our retrieves.
In regard to retrieves, a drag and slight shake was the best one. During the April 29 and 30 outings, the wind didn't blow, and the largemouth bass exhibited a hankering for the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and they wanted a lot of shaking. On this May 1 outing, the bulk of the largemouth bass failed to be allured by an aggressive swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. What's more, the fishing was much more difficult today than it was on April 26, 28, 29 and 30.
We had to fish more than five hours to catch 55 largemouth bass. One largemouth bass looked to weigh three pounds; four others weighed from two- to 2 3/4-pounders.
Until this outing, the largemouth bass had a hankering for rocks rather than coontail, water willows and filamentous algae. On this outing, more than half were caught around aquatic vegetation.
At the end of this outing, Perret and I wondered if the April habits, dispositions and locations of the largemouth bass were changing.
On May 1, Bob Gum of Kansas City reported that his outing at a 7,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir on April 30 was rattled for two hours by a heavy rainstorm. Consequently, he and two other anglers caught only seven smallmouth bass, one spotted bass and 24 white bass. These fish were allured on a Z-Man's pearl Rain MinnowZ, a four-inch PB&J Finesse WormZ and a white Kalin's three-inch Lunker Grub. The Rain MinnowZ and Finesse WormZ were rigged on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; the Kalin's grub was affixed to a 1/8-ounce jig. The surface temperature ranged from 63 to 65 degrees.
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, and two other anglers fished from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at a 120-acre community in the suburbs north of Kansas City.
Frazee is not a hundred percent dyed-in-the-wool finesse angler. Therefore, one of his rods is usually a power outfit that sports a big jig and chunk; recently he has been wielding a Tablerock Bait and Tackle Company's Chompers Skirted Football Jig in the Davenport Special hue, which has a brown and green flash skirt. He tips that jig with a green-pumpkin-red-flake Chompers Super Jig Trailer. But the majority of his casts and retrieves are executed with various finesse soft-plastic baits, such as a generic three-inch Swimming Minnow, Northland Fishing Tackle's Slurpies Swim'n Grub, Z-Man's Rain MinnowZ, Finesse WormZ and ZinkerZ. These baits are affixed to a black 1/16-ounce jig.
Brent Frazee and one of the big largemouth bass that he inveigled on May 2.
This threesome caught a lot of big bluegills, crappie and small largemouth bass along the edges of coontail, bushy pondweed and other types of submergent vegetation. The Slurpies Swim'n Grub and ZinkerZ were the two best finesse options. Frazee and his company caught 14 largemouth bass that exceeded 15 inches in length. Two of them were five-pounders and another was a six-pounder. What's more, he failed to land two other brutes. The bulk of the big largemouth bass were bewitched on the big Chompers jig and trailer, and these largemouth bass were abiding around rocky lairs. The big bass have eluded Frazee and most Midwest finesse anglers during the first four months of 2012. For Frazee, this was his best big bass outing so far in 2012.
Frazee said that this outing showed him that lure color can make a difference at times. He had been using a black-and-blue jig and chunk and not faring well. But once he switched to the Chompers Davenport Special jig and a green-pumpkin-red-flake Chompers Super Jig Trailer, a noticeable difference occurred in the number of strikes that he engendered.
After wielding a Junebug Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig almost incessantly for the past month, I didn't make a cast with one on my solo outing to a 195-acre community reservoir on May 3.
Travis Perret and I discovered during our May 1 outing that the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher was in the midst of a renaissance after going through a hiatus for about six weeks.
The four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ and blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig had been so productive for so many outings that I was virtually addicted to wielding it. And one of the missions of this outing was to subdue this addiction by seeing how quickly I could catch 40 largemouth bass on two other lures. Therefore, I worked with only two rods. One sported a 2 1/2-inch Junebug ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Another one donned a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher.
I also wanted to see if the full moon, which would occur on May 5, would make it easier to inveigle some of this reservoir's bigger bass. Twice this year, this reservoir yielded more than 100 largemouth bass within four hours. On Mar. 30, John Reese of Lawrence, Kansas, and I caught 117 largemouth bass, and on Feb. 18, Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I caught 118 largemouth bass. And on both of those outings and all of the other outings, the vast majority of the largemouth were quite small.
It took me less than an hour and a half to catch 43 largemouth. Some of the reservoir's maintenance workers had their boat trailer on the ramp. So, I fished a few minutes after I caught largemouth bass number 40, and while I waited for the maintenance workers to remove their trailer from the boat ramp, I caught three more largemouth bass.
Ten largemouth bass were caught on the ShadZ and 33 were caught on the ZinkerZ.
Most were caught on rocky terrains, but eight were caught adjacent to patches of American water willows, including one that weighed four pounds, one ounce.
The best retrieve was the swim-glide-and-shake one. Most of the bass were in two to three feet of water. Most of my presentations were parallel or nearly parallel to the water's edge.
The water clarity was a touch stained. The water level was a few inches above normal. The surface temperature hit 70 degrees. (By the way, it needs to be noted that the surface temperature was 70 degrees on April 3, and it dropped to 62 degrees on April 16.)
The wind angled out of the south by southeast at 14 mph. The morning low temperature was 70 degrees, and as I was leaving the lake, it hit 80 degrees. The barometer was 29.85 and falling. The sky was mostly cloudy.
The solunar table indicated that the best fishing time occurred between 8:21 a.m. and 10:21 p.m. I fished from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
From 10:30 am. to 2:40 p.m., Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and I fished a 416-acre community reservoir.
Both of us were astonished by the clarity of this reservoir, which had been plagued by horrible algal blooms during the past half dozen year. The water level looked to be normal. The surface temperature ranged from 70 to 76 degrees
The wind angled from the south at 9 to 14 mph. The morning low was 70 degree, and the afternoon high was 87 degrees. The sun shone brightly. The barometer was 29.86 and falling. The solunar table indicated that the best fishing time occurred between 9:10 a.m. and 11:10 a.m.
It was a potpourri day. We caught 38 smallmouth, 10 largemouth bass, six white bass, six crappie, three channel catfish and one wiper, as well as many green sunfish.
Steve Desch shows off the biggest smallmouth bass of the outing.
The biggest smallmouth bass looked to be a three pounder. It was caught at an offshore area that is graced with a submerged rock fence. This smallmouth bass was allured by a 2 1/2-inch Junebug ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher. That locale yielded another smallmouth bass on the same bait.
At another submerged rock fence, we tangled with seven smallmouth bass and one largemouth bass. The rest of the fish were located and caught along large expanses of rocky shorelines in the lower portions of the reservoir. Gradual slopping shorelines, which had a grade of less than 45 degrees, were more productive than ones that exhibited a 45-degree or greater grade.
The best lures were the 2 1/2-inch Junebug ZinkerZ, 2 ½-inch green-pumpkin ZinkerZ, 2 ½-inch pumpkin-chartreuse laminated ZinkerZ, green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ and PB&J Rain MinnowZ. All of these Z-Man baits were affixed to a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. In addition, we applied Pro-Cure's Super Gel nightcrawler scent to each of the baits. It needs to be noted that the pumpkin-chartreuse laminated ZinkerZ and blue Gopher jig become more and more effective when the green sunfish rummage around the shallow rocky shorelines and exhibit their spawning colors. As May unfolds, this color traditionally becomes one of our most alluring largemouth bass colors.
As for our retrieves, Desch did a lot of dragging. He did some deadsticking, too. I did a lot of swimming, gliding and shaking, which is my favorite motif. In addition, we experimented off and on with a variety of other retrieves during the four hours and 10 minutes that we were afloat. But we were unable to determine which one was the most effective.
Bob Gum of Kansas City ventured to a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir on this first Sunday in May, and he was waylaid for about an hour by a violent thunderstorm.
After the storm subsided around noon, he spent the entire outing plying an extremely long stretch of riprap on the east side of the reservoir, where the surface temperature was 83 degrees.
He wielded three finesse baits: a 2 ½-inch Strike King Bait Company PB&J Zero on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a green-pumpkin Strike King Bait Company Finesse Worm on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a greenish-and-red-flake Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits Double Tail Hula Grub on a red 1/8-ounce Gopher jig.
These three baits bewitched 24 largemouth bass, as well as several drum, crappie and an eight-pound flathead catfish. Five of the largemouth ranged in size from 18 to 20 inches in length.
Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and I returned to the 416-acre reservoir that we fished on May 4.
The water was still astonishingly clear. The surface temperature was 72 degrees. The water level looked to be a few inches low.
The milfoil was growing, and a few largemouth bass were relating to it. They were also hanging around the American water willows. Four days ago, the bass favored rocky lairs. On this outing, the riprap along the dam and submerged rock fences weren't very fruitful.
The wind angled out of the west at 6 to 18 mph. The sky alternated between being sunny and partly cloudy. Area thermometers reached a morning low of 48 degrees and an afternoon high of 74 degrees. The barometric pressure was 30.10 and falling. The solunar table indicated that the best fishing time occurred between 1:18 p.m. and 3:18 p.m.
We fished from 10:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., and we caught a bass on the first cast and last cast.
Our best bait was a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. The second best bait was a green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
As for retrieves, we caught them on the swim, glide and with a lot of shaking. Desch also did a considerable amount of dragging, and at times, he was dragging it 15 to 20 feet off the shoreline.
By the time we executed our last retrieves, our fish counter revealed that we had caught 52 largemouth and smallmouth bass, three channel catfish and three crappie. On our previous outing, we caught many more smallmouth than largemouth. This time we caught many more largemouth than smallmouth. We failed to land two nice-sized smallmouth that jumped and tossed the bait. The channel catfish were acting as if they are preparing for their spawning season.
For several seasons, this lake has been trying for us, but it has been more bountiful this spring than was in 2010 and 2011. We suspect that it has been waylaid by the largemouth bass virus, which in 2009 hit two of the small flatland reservoirs that we regularly fish in northeastern Kansas. Richard Sanders, who is the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism's fisheries biologist in charge of this 416-acre reservoir, reported that his electro-shocking survey revealed more bass this spring that it did last spring. Sanders also reported that he collected several largemouth bass so that they could be tested for the largemouth bass virus. Sanders suspected that the test results would be revealed in June.
My cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I fished a 140-acre state reservoir from 10:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
It was a drift-sock day from the get go. The wind angled out of the south at 13 to 23 mph. The brightness of the sun was intense. The color of the sky ranged from aquamarine to powder-blue, which would provoke some anglers to describe it as a typical post-cold-front kind of a day; some folks call it a bluebird day. And it was relatively cool; the morning low temperature was 46 degrees; the afternoon high hit 80 degrees. The barometric pressure was 29.96 and falling. The solunar table indicated that the best fishing time occurred between3:29 p.m. and 5:29 p.m.
The lake level was a few inches above normal. The water clarity ranged from slightly stained in the back of its four feeder arms to relatively clear at the dam. The surface temperature ranged from 72 to 74 degrees. We saw several significant patches of bushy pondweed, and three largemouth bass were extracted from them.
Our spinning rods sported the following baits: a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on either a 1/32-ounce or a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig, a Junebug four-inch Finesse WormZ on either a black or blue Gopher jig, a Junebug 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a green-pumpkin 3.75-inch StreakZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. At times, we tinkered with several other colors of the 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ.
We caught bass on all of the baits. But the most productive combo was the Junebug Finesse WormZ. The second most productive was the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ. Third most productive was the Junebug ZinkerZ.
We caught 55 percent of the largemouth bass around rocks. About 45 percent of them were relating to American water willows and submerged bushy pondweed.
We landed 78 largemouth bass. We failed to land approximately a dozen. All of the bass were small but one. That one weighed about three pounds.
The bass were inveigled by a variety of retrieves, and the briskness of the wind also prevented us from executing several subtle maneuvers and shakes to our retrieves.
It was a productive numbers day, but again we were disappointed by our inabilities to tangle with two or three big bass. On my last outing to this 140-acre reservoir, which occurred on April 28, I caught 51 largemouth bass, and only one of those was a lunker; it weighed four pounds, one ounce.
Upon arriving home, we read an e-mail note from Richard Sanders, who is the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism fisheries biologists in charge of this 140-acre reservoir. He reported that his electro-shocking survey revealed that it was the best of all of the small reservoirs that he manages for big largemouth bass and numbers of small and medium-sized largemouth bass. So, it looks as if we have been doing something wrong when we have been fishing this reservoir.
Since I had been making a lot more solo outings during the past year and a half, I began a new routine on May 3. Instead of focusing on catching 101 bass in four hours, which is a hard chore for a solo angler to achieve, I began seeing how quickly I could catch 40 largemouth and smallmouth bass. On May 3, I accomplished that feat in one hour and 30 minutes.
On this outing at a 195-acre community reservoir, my goal was to see how fast I could catch 50 bass. The fishing was considerably more trying than it was on May 3, and it took me three hours and 20 minutes to catch 40. Ultimately, I eked out 50 in three hours and 45 minutes. I fished from noon to 3:45 p.m.
Perhaps some of my problems revolved around the fishing pressure. For example, when I arrived at the lake, Rodney Hatridge of Shawnee, Kansas, was ending his morning's outing, and he reported that the largemouth bass bite had been quiet vigorous. He had begun fishing around 7 a.m., and he fished until noon. And he had fished most of the lake's best post-spawn lairs. What's more, there were three other bass boats afloat on this 195-acre reservoir. In sum, it was a tad crowded with bass fishermen.
My spinning rods sported a green-pumpkin Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a 2 ½-inch pumpkin-chartreuse laminated ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Junebug 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, two green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZs (one ShadZ on a 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig and the other on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig).
The Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig was the only bait that failed to allure a largemouth or smallmouth bass The most effective bait was the pumpkin-chartreuse laminated ZinkerZ; it also caught a largemouth bass that weighed four pounds, two ounce. The Junebug ZinkerZ caught a three-pounder, and the Junebug Finesse WormZ caught a three-pounder. The four-pounder had a spawning wound on its lower lip.
The total catch was 48 largemouth bass and two smallmouth bass.
There wasn't a dominant retrieve for the three hours and 45 minutes that I was afloat. I worked with a variety of retrieves and various improvisations on the five basic Midwest finesse retrieves. I always find it to be a touch disconcerting when I am unable to discover a primary retrieve. Not having a primary retrieve adversely affects my ability to establish a rhythm, and without that rhythm, I have hard time focusing and concentrating on every manipulation of the lure during each retrieve. I suspect that lack of concentration and focus interferes with my abilities to catch largemouth and smallmouth bass. This problem usually occurs when the largemouth and smallmouth bass bite becomes tenuous. When that woeful phenomenon occurs, often the best way to allure them is to implement a slow dragging retrieve that is punctuated with a lot of deadsticking. I half-heartedly tested the slow drag and deadstick only a couple times, but unless it's the only retrieve that the bass will react to I prefer not to use it. In fact, I was hoping throughout this entire outing that we were not entering a spell when the bass' preferred the drag-and-deadstick retrieve. It should be noted that Steve Desch successfully used the slow drag a number of times on our May 8 outing when we caught 52 largemouth and smallmouth bass, but I can't recall how often he employed the deadstick motif. During that outing on May 8 Desch and I talked about how we could be moving into a drag-and-deadstick phase.
The lake was clear, but a minor algae bloom was occurring. The curly-leaf pondweed was waning. The milfoil was expanding, and it was covered with filamentous algae. The lake level was normal. The surface temperature was 76 degrees, which is about 10 degrees above normal.
I saw a big congregation of bass fry, which is the first one I have seen in 2012
I caught two largemouth bass on the outside edge of a patch of milfoil. The bulk of the bass were caught around rocks, which is a normal phenomenon when the curly-leaf pondweed wilts.
Despite the tenuous midday bite, it was a delightful three hours and 45 minutes to be a float. The sky ranged from sunny to hazy to partly cloudy. The wind was slight to calm from the south; it rarely broached 6 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.05 and rising. The morning low temperature was 53 degrees, and the afternoon high was 79 degrees. The normal high temperature for this date is 81 degrees; the normal low is 45 degrees. The solunar table indicated that the best fishing time occurred between 4:01 a.m. and 6:01 a.m.
It is interesting to note that Richard Sanders, who is the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism's fisheries biologist in charge of this community reservoir, reported that his spring 2012 electro-shocking survey revealed that this 195-acre reservoir contains a lot of small bass, an okay population of big largemouth bass and a poor population of medium-sized bass.
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, report that he had a very rewarding day at a 120-acre community reservoir that lies in the northern suburbs of Kansas City. He fished with a 15-year-old girl who is afflicted with Cystic Fibrosis and her father.
Frazee explained: "The dad won an auction item to fish with me and I really wanted to show them a good time. The girl has been in and out of the hospital, and it's been hard on the parents, as you might expect.
Since I only had 3 1/2 hours to fish with them, I had to make a milk run to my favorite spots. I started off at one of my favorite crappie spots, and the fish were home. We ended up catching 18 crappies and six walleyes on Northland Fishing Tackle's Slurpies Swim'n Grub on a 1/16-ounc jig before I told them it was time to fish for bass.
We went to the big secondary point on the east side and the dad caught a bass that weighed about three pounds on a plastic worm. The story within a story is that the PB&J ZinkerZ produced for the first time in a couple weeks -- and in a big way.
I caught a bass that we estimated at five pounds, and the girl caught two keepers on it, which thrilled her. We caught 29 bass in the time we fished, and lost many others."
When the Kansas Department Wildlife, Parks and Tourism substantially dropped the water level to repair the dam at a nearby 160-acre state reservoir in the late fall of 2011, it made it impossible for us to launch our boats. This left a significant hole in our weekly and monthly fishing repertoire. And it wasn't until May 14 that I was able to make my maiden 2012 outing to this reservoir.
The water level was still down, looking as if it was about five feet low. Traditionally, it has been the clearest reservoir hereabouts, and it was exceptionally clear on this outing In fact, I did a little sight fishing. One could see a bass in seven feet of water.
The surface temperature was 76 degrees.
Patches of curly-leaf pondweed were found in 10 feet of water, and this vegetation is healthier than the curly pondweed that grows in several of our small flatland reservoirs. In my eyes, this is the most beautiful reservoir in these parts, and it is graced with a variety of aquatic vegetation. In fact, its aquatic vegetation is the best of all of the small flatland reservoirs that we fish in northeastern Kansas. But to my dismay, someone had cut down nearly a dozen mature sycamore trees along the east and north shorelines in the back of this reservoir's west arm. In the winter, these trees used to be absolutely charming pieces of Mother Nature's sculpture. They decorated and majestically enhanced the winter landscape. Now they merely clutter the shoreline, looking like skeletons, and once the water level rises, these trees will be festooned with line, lures and junk. They are an eyesore and will become worse eyesores as time goes on. Perhaps the benighted lumberjack thought he was creating fish habitats, but these trees fell into patches of American water willows and in areas that are graced with coontail, bushy pondweed and curly-leaf pondweed. Thus there was no need to cut these beautiful tree in order to make man-made habitats.
Despite witnessing the sorry sight of butchered sycamore trees, it was a delightful mid-May day. The wind was calm to variable. Barometric pressure at 11:52 a.m. was 30.18 and dropping.The solunar table indicated that the best fishing time occurred between 6:22 a.m. and 8:22 a.m. The morning low temperature was 47 degrees, and it reached a mid-afternoon high of 79 degrees. Initially it was sunny, and it gradually became cloudy. Hackberry butterflies covered the road to the lake at 11:30 a.m., which is always a delightful spring sight to see.
On this outing, my challenge was to see how quickly I could catch 45 largemouth bass. On May 11, my challenge at a nearby 195-acre community reservoir was 50 bass. Since this was the first time I had been on the reservoir since Nov. 17, 2011, I thought that it was best to reduce the challenge number a tad. It took me two hours and 10 minutes to catch 40, and I fished another 35 minutes and I caught five more. In total, I tangled with 45 largemouth bass and two channel catfish.
Two largemouth bass were caught on a 2 ½-inch pumpkin-chartreuse laminated ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The other 43 largemouth bass and two channel catfish were caught on a green-pumpkin blue-flake Finesse ShadZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
I caught some of the largemouth bass along the edges and in pockets and holes in the pondweed. These bass were allured on a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. A number of these fish engulfed the Finesse ShadZ on the initial drop. I saw two massive congregations of largemouth bass fry, and two largemouth bass circling under and around one of those congregations.
A significant number of bass were caught along rocky terrains. The largemouth bass along these rocky terrians were allured by a drag retrieve, as well as some swim-glide-and-shake retrieves and slight variations of that retrieve.
Weather-wise May 15 was another delightful day to be afloat. John Reeves of Lawrence and I were on the water at a 416-acre community reservoir from 10:30 a.m. to 2:25 p.m.
The sun was brighter than a newly minted dime, making our eyes squint throughout the entire outing. The wind angled from the southwest at 10 to 16 mph. The morning low temperature was a cool 49 degrees, and by mid-afternoon area thermometers hit 84 degrees. Around 11 a.m. the barometric air pressure was 30.08 and falling. The solunar table indicated that the best fishing time occurred between 7:01 a.m. and 9:01 a.m.
The lake level was a few inches low. The water was unusually clear. The surface temperature ranged from 73 degrees to 76 degrees. The milfoil patches were growing, and they exhibited a delightful viridescent hue. Unlike the milfoil at a nearby 195-acre community reservoir, it was not coated with gobs on filamentous algae. The outside edges of some of the American water willow patches sat in four feet of water. This reservoir is graced with the best American water willows in northeastern Kansas.
To our chagrin, however, the fishing was trying.
Even though the largemouth and smallmouth fishing has been a tad better at this reservoir this spring than it had been for the past several years, trying continues to be the nature of its largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing. After Steve Desch and I fished it on May 4 and 8 and caught a total of 100 largemouth and smallmouth bass, which was slightly more than 10 bass an hour, we thought that this reservoir might consistently produce a few more bass for us in 2012 than it yielded in 201o and 2011. But after this outing with Reese, in which we caught only 32 largemouth and smallmouth bass, it looked as if it will still be a difficult place to catch 10 black bass an hour on most outings. Moreover, on all of these outings, we have had to fish four hours or more to eke out those bass. By examining the logs of our recent outings at other small flatland reservoirs that we frequently fish in northeastern Kansas, it is obvious that this reservoir's bass fishing day in and day out is notably more trying than it is at our other reservoirs. For example, I enjoyed a solo outing when I caught 43 largemouth bass in one hour and 30 minutes on May 3; I caught 48 largemouth and two smallmouth bass in three hours and 45 minutes on May 11, and I caught 45 largemouth bass in two hours and 45 minutes on May 14. (There are more insights about the state of the bass fishing at this reservoir in the May 4 and May 8 logs above.)
As I mulled over this outing, I concluded that either Reese or I should have spent most our time dragging and deadsticking rather than casting and working with a variety of retrieves. In the past, we have found that the drag-and-deadstick motif pays the best dividends when the bite is slow. But during the past two outings, the bite had been rather vigorous, which made it difficult for us to slow down and work with a more tedious presentation such as dragging and deadsticking. Moreover, it is the retrieve of last resort for me. In fact, I always prefer my partner to use it and to convince me that both of us should be employing it.
Nearly 75 percent of the 32 black bass that Reese and I caught were smallmouth bass. The bulk of all of the fish were caught on a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig. A few were caught of a 2 1/2-inch PB&J ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce blue Gopher jig.
None of the black bass weighed more than two and a quarter pounds.
Besides the 32 black bass, we caught six white bass, four big bluegills, two channel catfish, two white crappie and untold numbers of green sunfish.
Rodney Hatridge of Shawnee, Kansas and I fished a 100-acre community reservoir from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the bass fishing was more trying than the fishing that John Reese and I experienced on May 15.
The weather during both of these outings was similar. On May 17, the morning low temperature was 50 degree, and the afternoon high hit 87 degrees. The sun was extremely bright. The wind blew from the southeast and south at 13 mph. The barometric air pressure at 10 a.m. was 30.02 and falling. The solunar table indicated that the best fishing time occurred between 8:15 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.
The lake level was normal. It was relatively clear in the lower third portions of the reservoir, and it was stained with a planktonic algal bloom in its upper half. Most of the shorelines were cluttered with extensive pods of floating filamentous algae, and it was also attached to many of the patches of coontail that reached the surface.
The surface temperature was 76 degrees, and that is something that needs to be addressed. In 2010, the surface temperature on May 17 was 61 degrees at a northeastern Kansas reservoir that we fished and caught 43 smallmouth bass and 10 largemouth bass. On May 17, 2011, the surface temperature at another area reservoir ranged from 60 to 63 degrees, and we caught 43 smallmouth bass and one spotted bass. On this May 17 outing, when the surface temperature was unseasonably warm, Hatridge and I struggled to catch 21 largemouth bass and two saugeyes.
This reservoir's offshore boulder humps, which had yielded some bass on April 19 and 26, were sour today; they yielded only two saugeyes. On April 26, when the surface temperature was 68 to 69 degrees, Travis Perret and I caught 75 largemouth and three saugeyes, and we caught a dozen largemouth bass on one of the humps. On April 19, when this reservoir's surface temperature was 64 degrees, two of the offshore boulder humps were inhabited by a substantial number of largemouth bass, and on that outing Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas and I eked out 39 largemouth bass.
Hatridge and I used a variety of retrieves and baits at a hodgepodge of different lairs. At one spot, we caught two largemouth bass, and at another we caught three largemouth bass, and the rest of the largemouth bass were caught almost randomly or devoid of a pattern. In fact, we used our entire repertoire of retrieves, as well as some improvisations to those five basic retrieves, which is a sure indication that the fishing was problematic
The best (which is not a suitable adjective) bait was a either a pumpkin-chartreuse laminated or Junebug 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. A green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig allured a few largemouth bass and the two saugeyes.
It was a discouraging four hours, and there have been several of those disappointments at this reservoir since Dec. 1, 2011. In 2009, it was discovered that this reservoir was afflicted by the largemouth bass virus, but in 2011, it was one of our most fruitful reservoirs.
None of us can determine what has happened to this reservoir's largemouth bass. Even though this reservoir's surface temperature was abnormally high during this outing, we couldn't determine its effect on its largemouth bass and other denizens.
In the angling world, most of our ideas and opinions about what is going on is based more on speculation than on tangible facts, and that is especially so in the murky world of the largemouth and smallmouth bass that abide in the stained waters of northeastern Kansas' flatland reservoirs.
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, reported that he and a friend fished a 120-acre community reservoir in the suburbs of north of Kansas City.
Frazee said that they struggled to catch 34 largemouth bass. But one was a brute, looking as if it would weigh five pounds, and it was caught on a Tablerock Bait and Tackle Company's Chompers Skirted Football Jig in the Davenport Special hue and green-pumpkin-red-flake Chompers Super Jig Trailer. Most of the largemouth bass were allured by three finesse presentations, which were implemented with a generic three-inch Swimming Minnow, Northland Fishing Tackle's Slurpies Swim'n Grub and PB&J 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ. All of those soft-plastic baits were affixed to 1/16-ounce jigs.
Frazee and his friend also caught 33 big bluegill, crappie and walleye on those three finesse baits. The crappie were in their post-spawn motif, inhabiting 15 to 20 feet water and suspended on the top of submergent vegetation.
Frazee pointed out that the lower portion of the lake was the most productive, noting the upper region had been virtually dormant for a few weeks. What's more, except for the five-pounder, the big bass have disappeared.
It is interesting to note that Vershun Tolliver of Lawrence, who likes to wield a big jig similar to the one that Frazee occasionally wields, reported that the largemouth bass bite at 11,600-acre U.S.Army Corps of Engineers reservoir was worse than the bite that befuddled Frazee, Hatridge and me. Tolliver failed to garner a bite.
Terry Claudell of Overland Park and a friend fished a 101-acre state reservoir for 4 ½ hours on May 17. Whereas Frazee, Tolliver, Hatridge and I struggled and moaned about our disappointing outings, Claudell and his friend enjoyed a heyday.
The surface temperature was 79 degrees. The water was stained a touch with a minor algae bloom. The wind angled out of the southeast at 10 to 12 mph.
Their spinning outfits were rigged with a pumpkin-chartreuse laminated ZinkerZ, green-pumpkin ZinkerZ and PB&J Rain MinnowZ. These Z-Man soft-plastic baits were affixed to 1/16-ounce jigs. The most effective of the three baits was the pumpkin-chartreuse laminated ZinkerZ.
By the time that they executed their last casts and retrieves. Claudell's counter revealed that they had caught 105 largemouth bass, and they failed to haul another 30 across the gunwales of their boat.
Most of the 135 largemouth bass that they tangled with were abiding around rock jetties.
Claudell and his friend employed a variety of Midwest finesse retrieves. But a goodly number of the largemouth bass inhaled the bait on the initial fall. A significant number engulfed their baits after it reached the bottom and after Claudell and his friend twitched their rod tips several times. Some of the largemouth bass were bewitched by the deadstick motif.
Allen Kehde of Sedalia, Missouri, and Bryon Roesselet of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, joined me today for a windy four hours and 15 minutes at the 416-acre community lake that confounded John Reese of Lawrence, Kansas, and me on May 15.
The wind howled out of the south at speeds of 14 to 38 mph. On the 25-mile drive to the boat ramp, I crossed paths with a minor thunderstorm that exhibited a lot lightning.
At the lake, however, the sky fluctuated from partly cloudy to totally sun-filled. The morning low temperature was 69 degrees; the late afternoon high hit 87 degrees. When we made our first casts at 9:40 a.m., the atmospheric pressure was 29.87 and slowly falling. The solunar table indicated that the best fishing time occurred between 9:36 a.m. and 11:36 a.m.
Ranks of white caps rolled across many sectors of the main lake, and when we plied main-lake areas, we employed a wind sock. Because of the wind and white caps, several of the reservoir's best smallmouth bass areas were inaccessible.
The water was relatively clear except in the upper reaches of the reservoir, which exhibited a slight algae bloom. Where the white caps were pummeling the shorelines on the northern sections of the reservoir, there were several mud lines along some shorelines The surface temperature was 76 degrees. The milfoil looked luscious, and it was harboring some bass.
Allen and Bryon work for Evergreene Architectural Arts of New York, New York, (http://evergreene.com/work/civic/), and they were in Topeka working on the Kansas State Capitol. Allen is my nephew, and this was only the second time that we have fished together since he graduated from college many years ago.
Because the wind was howling and because of the two irksome outings that I had this week with Rodney Hatridge on May 17, when we caught only 21 largemouth bass, and with John Reese on May 15, when we caught only 32 largemouth and smallmouth bass, I told Allen and Byron that we would be fortunate to catch 25 largemouth and smallmouth bass in four hours on this outing.
This was Bryon's maiden Midwest finesse endeavor. He is a Wisconsin walleye and muskie angler, and he had never encountered a piscatorial endeavor that is aimed at catching 101 largemouth and smallmouth bass in four hours. He said that he couldn't even conceive of us catching 25 largemouth or smallmouth bass in four hours. So, in his mind, a catch of 25 bass would have been a stellar affair.
We worked with seven spinning outfits. Three outfits sported a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Four had a 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We experimented with two ZinkerZ colors: PB&J and pumpkin-chartreuse laminated. The best of those two colors of ZinkerZs was the PB&J one on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher.
Basically, we fished sixty percent of the main-lake shorelines and points. We also fished several hundred yards of shorelines in four wind-sheltered coves.
To my surprise, we caught 36 smallmouth bass and 12 largemouth bass, including a four-pound, eight-ounce largemouth bass that Allen caught while dragging and deadsticking a 2 1/2-inch PB&J ZinkerZ on a chartreuse Gopher jig. He caught it around some boulders and American water willows on a main-lake point. Allen had never caught a smallmouth bass in Kansas until today. This was only the second time he had fished here since the 1980s, and that was before the smallmouth bass had made a significant appearance in these parts. Some of the smallmouth bass were nice-sized ones, but none were lunkers. Most of this reservoir's lunker-sized smallmouth bass disappeared in 2009. Several weeks ago, Steve Desch and I caught one that looked to be a 3 1/2-pounders, and that was the biggest one that we have crossed paths during the last three years. Allen's largemouth bass was the biggest one that we have caught at this reservoir in several years, but Dick Bessey of Lawrence, Kansas, caught an 8-pounder in November of 2010.
Allen Kehde and a hefty largemouth bass that he caught on a PB&J ZinkerZ and chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig
The ShadZ allured most of the bass, but its effectiveness began to wane around noon, and then the ZinkerZ became the preeminent bait. The largemouth bass favored the PB&J ZinkerZ, and the smallmouth bass exhibited a preference for the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ.
Other than a drag-style and strolling-style retrieve, which was punctuated with a few quick attempts at deadsticking, the wind and waves adversely affected the kind of retrieves we could use. At times it seemed as if the bass caught us rather than us catching them. Allen was in the back of the boat, which is the best place to drag and deadstick and stroll. But the wind was so fierce today that the deadstick motif was difficult to implement.
Forty-eight bass is a long way from 101 bass, but it was a much better catch than I anticipated. What's more, it is the most that Bryon, who is 52 years old, has ever seen or heard of being caught.
After the May 15 outing with John Reese, I was a touch disheartened by the state of this reservoir's largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing, but after this outing that gloom has lessened. That's not to say that its bass fishing is as fruitful as it was three years ago, but it is better than it was in 2010 and 2011. As we were launching the boat around 9:30 a.m., we talked to a power angler who was wielding a chartreuse spinnerbait around American water willow edges and on top of patches of milfoil, and he said that he had caught 15 bass. And that was an encouraging report, because for the past few years, it has been a struggle for power anglers to catch 15 bass here. Five years ago, Midwest finesse anglers could regularly catch 45 to 80 bass in four hours. Perhaps it is on the road to being a 45-to-80-bass-per-outing reservoir once again
Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, reported about one of his Midwest finesse endeavor on the Finesse News Network. Until this outing, he had been spending a lot of time turkey hunting.
He wrote: "I am running about one cycle behind you Kansas folks on lure selection. I see that the 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ is getting all the play now there rather the Finesse WormZ. I just got on the water with the Z-Man four-inch Finesse WormZ for the first time, and all I can say is the ZinkerZ may not get thrown for a while. A Junebug Finesse WormZ on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig was great. I fished from 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m., expecting the midday bite to be good with the moon being up, and it was.
My third cast with the Finesse WormZ landed a nice three-pounder that was caught with an errant cast. The weight of the Finesse WormZ is so much lighter than the ZinkerZ that it landed in about an inch of water behind the rock I was targeting.
After that confidence builder, I used it in shallow willow grass and willow trees and some rocks. The size of the bass was amazing: no small bass at all, and I actually lost count of how many I landed. I did catch four catfish and one bluegill.
The lake had risen about a foot recently but is still relatively clear with about a foot of visibility. It was very windy, angling out of the east.
The bass were in the shallow water. The short casts into the shallow cover was just a treat. I was by myself so I could fish without worrying about the boat positioning.
The highlight of the day was a two-pounder that attacked the bait on the surface as I was bringing it in, and I resisted the urge to jerk and caught him. That was a rush for sure.
I spent a little time with other tactics: I caught about a half dozen on heavy dragging worms, but my dark-water A-rig bombed.
I believe this year will be the year of the Finesse WormZ for me. I used the same Finesse WormZ all day; that's unbelievable. One bass bit when it was draped over a willow branch, and when I landed one bass, the worm was actually in a knot but it survived.
From 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Travis Perret of Overland Park and and Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, fished a 120-acre community reservoir in the northern suburbs of Kansas City
Perret reported that the wind howled out of the south until sundown, but it didn't adversely affect their angling abilities. They caught 40 largemouth bass and an untold number of crappie and bluegill. Four of the bass were longer than 15 inches; two of them were in the five-pound class. In addition they tangled with two lunkers that they failed to land.
Perret's spinning road was dressed with a 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Frazee's spinning rod sported a 1/16-ounce black jig affixed to a Northland Fishing Tackle's Slurpies Swim'n Grub. Frazee allured one of the big largemouth bass on a Tablerock Bait and Tackle Company's Chompers Skirted Football Jig in the Davenport Special hue and a Chompers green-pumpkin-red-flake Super Jig Trailer.
After dark, they fished under Frazee's night-light rig. Perret said it was intriguing to watch "the food chain line up under the lights. First the photoplankton, then the minnows and then the sunfish. We caught five or six trout and 8 or 10 crappie. We ended the night at 11:00 p.m."
This morning before my cousin Rick Heberstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I left for our outing at a 195-acre community reservoir, we received an e-mail from Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina. Poe reported that the four-inch Finesse WormZ and 1/16-ounce Gopher jig was the best finesse bait at his waterways this past weekend.
That particular combo has been out of favor with the bass at most of the small flatland reservoirs that dot the landscape of northeastern Kansas since Rick and I fished a 140-acre state reservoir on May 10. In fact, its effectiveness began to wane around May 3 at most of our venues. It is interesting how the effectiveness of these baits can quickly fluctuate from very fruitful for weeks on end to nearly fruitless for a month or more.
Today Rick and I fished from 10:20 a.m. to 2:20 p.m., and the four-inch Finesse WormZ eked out only one largemouth bass, and last week it failed to elicit a strike.
The weather today was delightful. The wind was extremely variable, and during our four hours of fishing, it blew from the north, northeast, southeast, northwest and west. It never surpassed 9 mph. The sky was powder blue. The morning low temperature was 50 degrees. The afternoon high hit 76 degrees. The barometric pressure was 30.29 and dropping at 10 a.m. This was the day of the new moon, and the solunar table didn't indicate the best a.m. time.
The surface temperature fluctuated from 73 to 74 degrees. The lower portions of the reservoir were what we often call Kansas clear. The upper 40 percent of the reservoir exhibited hints of an algal bloom, which stained it. The water level was normal.
We worked with nine spinning outfits. One sported a four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on a 1/16-ounce blue Gopher jig. Two rods sported a pumpkin-chartreuse laminated 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher. Another rod was dressed with a 2 1/2-inch Junebug ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher. Another rod sported a 2 1/2-inch PB&J ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Two rods sported a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZs on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. One rod sported a 3.75-inch StreakZ in the shiner hue on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Two rods were dressed with a green-pumpkin Gene Larew Lures' Baby HooDaddy on a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig.
Throughout our four hours of fishing, Rick and I often commented that we were making a lot of casts and retrieves without eliciting a strike. Then when we eventually caught a largemouth bass, we would catch from two to five largemouth bass within the next eight casts. By the time we made our last casts, we had landed 53 largemouth bass and failed to land 14 largemouth bass that jumped and tossed the jig-and-soft-plastic combo. So the fishing was actually better than it seemed.
As noted earlier, we caught only one largemouth bass on the Finesse WormZ that Mike Poe found to be so fruitful in North Carolina and which was red hot hereabouts for most of April.
We failed to catch one on the StreakZ and PB&J ZinkerZ. We caught two on the Junebug ZinkerZ. The Baby HooDaddy, Finesse ShadZ and pumpkin-chartreuse laminated ZinkerZ bewitched the bulk of the bass that we landed and failed to land.
This is one of the largemouth bass that engulfed the green-pumpkin Baby HooDaddy on a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig.
The dam and the shorelines adjacent to the dam were the most fruitful locales.
An offshore rock pile on the west side of the reservoir and a 100-yard stretch of a rocky shoreline along the east side were next best lairs.
The bulk of the strikes on the Baby HooDaddy occurred as the bait fell to the bottom immediately after it hit the surface of the water at the end of a cast. On the ShadZ and pumpkin-chartreuse-laminated ZinkerZ, many of the strikes occurred between the initial drop of the bait and before 15 swim-glides-and shakes had been executed. A few largemouth bass were caught on a drag-and-deadstick retrieve.
The HooDaddy caught the two biggest largemouth bass, which weighed three pounds, nine ounces and two pounds, eight ounces, and these two were caught around the rock pile.
Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, and I journeyed to a 140-acre state reservoir.
At the boat ramp, Richard Sanders and three other Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism employees were loading their boat with scores of cedar trees and constructing many brush piles at various locations around the reservoir. We chatted for a while about their electro-shocking surveys this spring. Sanders said that the electro-shocking survey at this reservoir turned up vast numbers of largemouth bass and an impressive array of good-sized ones.
Except for the wind, which angled out of the south to southeast at 9 to 22 mph, it was a pleasant day in May to be afloat. The barometric pressure at 11:00 a.m. registered 30.03, and it was falling. The solunar table indicated that the best fishing time occurred between 11:36 a.m. and 1:36 p.m. The morning low temperature was 48 degrees; area thermometers climbed to an afternoon high of 83 degrees. The sun was bright, and the sky exhibited a china-blue hue. Some anglers would call it a bluebird day, and in angling jargon that means a difficult fishing day.
The wind made us use a drift sock about 90% of the time, and the angle of the wind along the most fruitful area made it difficult to execute quality casts and alluring retrieves. In essence, it seemed as if the largemouth bass were catching us rather than us catching them. This phenomenon has occurred several times lately, and this happens when the wind blows in Kansas and the bass are reluctant to hit a swimming bait such as a grub.
We fished from 11:00 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.
The best area was the west shoreline of the reservoir's west arm. The dam was the second most productive area.
The best bait was a pumpkin-chartreuse laminated ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The second best combo was either a black-neon or green-pumpkin Gene Larew Baby HooDaddy; the black-neon one was rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and the green-pumpkin one was affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
A drag and shake with some deadsticks was the most alluring presentation, because of the wind, the angler in the back of the boat had the best position and angle to employ that retrieve.
We made scores of casts and retrieves without eliciting a bite, and by the time we executed our last casts and retrieves, we had eked out only 50 small largemouth bass. We failed to land 15 largemouth bass that jumped with an aerobatic flair and tossed the hook. We also caught a small walleye and one channel catfish. In sum, we didn't possess the wherewithal to catch any of the impressive bass that Richard Sanders and his crew electro-shocked earlier this spring.
This 195-acre community was extremely crowded with several serious bass anglers today.
One of them was Casey Scanlon of Lenexa, Kansas, who tours on the Bassmaster Elite Series and recently won the Bassmaster Central Open at Table Rock Lake. I saw him twice. The first time, he was fishing the back of a cove, which was embellished with milfoil, dying curly-leaf pondweeds and American water willows, and the second time he was fishing a main-lake point and channel edge, where he was many yards off the shoreline, and it looked as if he was working with a deep-diving crankbait.
Holden White of Lawrence was there, too, and he was finesse fishing with a grub and a jigworm.
Besides the crowd, it was rather windy, angling out of the south and southwest at 16 to 23 mph.
Area thermometers hit a morning low temperature of 74 degrees and an afternoon high of 86 degrees. At 11:00 a.m. the barometric pressure was 29.48 and rising. It was partly to mostly cloudy. The solunar table indicated that the best fishing time occurred between1:47 p.m. and 3:47 p.m.
The water level looked to be a few inches below normal. The wind had howled for three days in a row, which had some areas stained, and there is a slight algae bloom in the back of the reservoir's south arm. The surface temperature at 2 p.m. was 74 degrees.
I fished from 11:10 a.m. to 2:10 p.m.
All of the anglers were hiding from the wind; so I opted to fish in it.
I caught 26 largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass. Two of the largemouth bass were caught on a green-pumpkin Gene Larew Baby HooDaddy on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. One of the largemouth bass was caught on a black neon Baby Hoodaddy on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher. The rest of the bass were caught on the green-pumpkin prototype Hula StickZ affixed to a 3/32-ounce Gopher. (Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, who designed the Hula StickZ for Z-Man, has found that a heavier jig is better than the 1/32-ounce and 1/16-ounce jigs that I normally use; so I heeded his findings and began worked with a 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.)
I primarily fished rocky areas. I spent the bulk of the time fishing the dam, which was being battered by the brisk south wind. The heaviness of the Hula StickZ and 3/32-ounce Gopher jig performed well in the wind and waves.
The dam and several rocky areas are traditionally the best lairs to fish when the water temperature is in the low 70s at this reservoir in the spring. The reason for that is the curly-leaf pondweed is dying, and when that occurs, we have surmised that the bass leave the dying vegetation and inhabit the dam and other rocky lairs that are a good distance away from the dying vegetation.
The wind and waves reduced my abilities to use any sophisticated and subtle retrieves. I was dragging the Hula StickZ and bouncing it along the bottom. A number of strikes were on the initial drop.
I didn't catch any green sunfish, bluegill, crappie or channel catfish, which was unusual. I didn't catch any three- and four-pound largemouth bass, but the average size of the largemouth bass were the biggest that I had caught at this reservoir so far in 2012.
Another power angler, who likes to rip a jerkbait year-round the way Gary Dobyns of Yuba City, California, rips a jerkbait, said that he caught a four-pounder. He was ripping a Smithwick Rattlin' Rogue around the submergent vegetation and some rocks when we crossed paths on the east side of the reservoir.
Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, sent a report about his after work outing.
He wrote: "I fished three hours, and it started really well with the Junebug Finesse WormZ on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
The lake was at full pool; so there was a ton of shallow primrose, water willow and overhanging willows.
During the first hour, I tangled with nine largemouth bass. The first one was a real nice one. The areas around the shallow willows were the best. Here I skipped the WormZ under overhanging branches, and if the bass struck, it occurred on the initial fall. Seven of the nine largemouth bass weighed more than two pounds, but two of them were tiny.
During the last two hours, the bite slowed down, and I caught only seven on the Finesse WormZ.
Besides the Junebug Finesse WormZ, I worked with the pumpkin one, but it wasn't productive.
I also caught five largemouth bass on a small War Eagle spinnerbait around some deeper willows.
So, I caught 21 in three hours.
My dad and his regular partner had been on the lake since noon, and they fished until 6:30. They caught 19 on wacky-rigged stick baits. I am hoping to get him with me on Saturday to let him get some exposure to the Finesse WormZ. He has never embraced the 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ and Zero, but likes the look of the Finesse WormZ and he has done well with the wacky jig and the Jackal bait so he may do okay with the Finesse WormZ. We'll see.
Boat control with two anglers will be my biggest issue. It is just really nice to be able to fish with abandon on these shallow targets. Your accuracy is immensely improved. Putting the block on my father would be rather poor form."
Travis Perret of Overland Park, Kansas, sent a report about a long outing that he and friend had at the 100-acre community lake that has befuddled many Midwest finesse anglers since Dec. 1, 2011.
This twosome fished from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the wind howled the entire time.
Perret wrote: "We pretty much fished the whole lake. There were no other boats on the water.
We caught 74 largemouth bass, one walleye, one saugeye, one channel catfish and too many bluegill, green sunfish and warmouth to count. The bass were small; one 15-incher and maybe four that were 13- to 14-inchers
I used the Junebug ZinkerZ with a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher Mushroom Head Jig. My buddy used a small green-pumpkin with chartreuse tail YUM Dinger on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. He caught 28 of the bass and I caught the rest. We were having a little competition that's why we kept an individual count.
My catch rate was pretty consistent, but he would have flurries of catches. He would catch five in a row and then nothing for 20 to 30 minutes.
Our best areas were windy banks. But they were brutal to fish, because it was a battle to keep the boat in the proper position and control the bow that the wind created with braided line during the retrieve.
It was also interesting that he always had to deal with line twist with his monofilament. I never had an issue with the braid.
A drift sock would have been a tremendous asset. I am going to buy one."
Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, and I ventured to a 416-acre community reservoir.
If the wind blows, an east wind is the best of the lot for us when we ply this reservoir And it blew from the northeast, east and southeast at 17 to 26 mph. This allowed us to ply several of the reservoirs best smallmouth haunts without having to curse the wind incessantly and employ a drift sock
The barometric pressure was 29.93 and falling at 10 a.m. The solunar table indicated that the best fishing time occurred between 2:41 p.m. and 4:41 p.m.
Area thermometers registered a morning low temperature of 66 degrees and an afternoon high of 88 degrees.
It was mostly cloudy for the first two-thirds of the outing; then it became partly cloudy.
We fished from 10:20 a.m. to 3 p.m., and for the first 2 ½ hours, Claudell and I complained about the chill in the air, saying that we weren't properly dressed.
It rained nearly three-quarters of an inch in Lawrence, but the area around this reservoir looked extremely dry, and the lake level had dropped more than six inches since Allen Kehde, Bryon Roesselet and I fished it on May 19. Apparently the neighboring golf course had been pumping a lot of water from this reservoir to sprinkle the greens and fairways.
For a Kansas flatland reservoir, the water was exceptionally clear in some locales, but stained at other places. Perhaps the three days of heavy winds that whipped across northeastern Kansas caused this patchwork of stained-and-clear water. What's more, an eruption of planktonic algae was coating the surface along the eastern sections of the dam, and that caused a sense of dread to erupt periodically in our conversations about the water and fishing conditions.
Two of the offshore submerged rock walls that consist of massive boulders were coated with significant strands of filamentous algae, which coated our baits on several retrieves. Some of the rocks of the riprap along the dam were coated with filamentous algae, too.
The patches of milfoil in the lower sections of the reservoir were lush looking, but the milfoil in the southern sections of the lake near the golf course exhibit a brownish-yellow hue.
On May 19, the two best baits at this reservoir were a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a 2 ½-inch PB&J ZinkerZ on either a red or chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. On this outing the best bait was a green-pumpkin Gene Larew Baby HooDaddy on a 1/16-ounce chartreuse jig. A green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ, PB&J Rain MinnowZ and ZinkerZ, green-pumpkin Hula StickZ and green-pumpkin YUM two-inch Wooly Beavertail inveigled some of the largemouth and smallmouth bass.
This smallmouth bass has a green-pumpkin Baby HooDaddy and 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig in it is mouth.
On May 19, we caught 36 smallmouth and 12 largemouth bass in four hours, and the biggest of the lot was a four-pound, eight-ounce largemouth bass. On this outing, we fished slightly more than four hours and caught 43 largemouth and smallmouth bass. We failed to land 10 smallmouth and four largemouth. We did not keep a separate count of the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass that we landed, but we caught more largemouth bass than smallmouth bass. The biggest looked to be a smallmouth bass that might have weighed nearly three pounds.
The best spot was one of the submerged offshore rock walls on the east side of the main lake. The second best spot was a main-lake bluff on the west side of the reservoir; a brisk southeast wind buffeted this bluff.
On May 24, the green-pumpkin Hula StickZ and 3/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig allured 23 largemouth and one smallmouth bass at the 195-acre community reservoir that we fished, but on May 25, it allured only two smallmouth bass at this 416-acre community reservoir.
This smallmouth bass has a green-pumpkin Hula StickZ and chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig in its mouth. This is one of the two smallmouth bass that the Hula StickZ inveigled on this outing. It failed to allure any largemouth bass.
It is interesting to note that the size of the largemouth and smallmouth bass at this 416-acre community reservoir were significantly larger than the size of the 50 largemouth bass that Claudell and I caught on May 22 at a nearby 140-acre state reservoir, which yielded an impressive array of largemouth bass to Richard Sanders' spring electro-shocking survey. According to Sanders, who is the biologist that oversees both of these reservoirs, this reservoir's electro-shocking was lackluster, but it was better than it was in 2011, when it was one of the worst electro-shocking surveys that Sanders had ever administered in his long career.
It needs to be noted that there were a substantial number of schools of white bass foraging on the surface in the middle of one of the major coves when we launched our boat. Both times that we fished the submerged rock walls on this outing there were significant spells of surface foraging by the temperate bass. Until this May, we haven't seen this much surface action at this 416-acre reservoir since its wiper bonanza in about 2004. But we did have some surface feeding by its black bass in the summer of 2008. After witnessing this surface action, which is rare at all of the flatland reservoirs that we fish in northeastern Kansas, Claudell and I concluded that this reservoir must have had enjoyed a good gizzard shad spawn this spring.
It is also interesting to note that until last fall, we rarely caught more than three or four white bass at this reservoir on an outing. Now there have been outings when we have caught as many as 25 to 50 of them. On this May 25 outing, however, Claudell and I caught 43 largemouth and smallmouth bass, two freshwater drum, two crappie and one channel catfish, and only one white bass.
Today was a test day, in which I fished from 11:20 a.m. to 1:20 p.m. at a 195-acre community reservoir.
For the first hour, I used only a green-pumpkin 3.75-inch StreakZ on a 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. I fished about 100 yards of the west shoreline adjacent to the dam and about two-thirds of the dam. Then for the next hour, I worked with the green-pumpkin prototype Hula StickZ on a 3/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig, and I fished the same section of the dam and west shoreline again.
At one area along the dam, which is traditionally productive, the StreakZ and Hula StickZ failed to allure a largemouth bass. Therefore, I made about a dozen casts with a green-pumpkin Gene Larew Lures' Baby HooDaddy on a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig, and it allured one largemouth bass.
Weatherwise it was a delightful day. The wind angled out of the north at 7 to 10 mph; therefore the dam, which lies on the north side of this reservoir, and many yards of the west shoreline were slick-calm. The sun was bright, and the sky was sunny and hazeless. Area thermometers registered a morning low temperature of 53 degrees and an afternoon high of 86. The barometric pressure was 29.96 and dropping. The solunar table indicated that the best fishing time occurred between 5:38 a.m. and 7:38 a.m.
The surface temperature was 77 degrees. The water level looked to be six inches low. The water was clear around the dam, but there was a significant amount of filamentous algae floating on the surface along the western portions of the dam. Some planktonic algae was beginning to develop.
There were at least six schools of three- to four-inch gizzard shad coursing across the surface in the vicinity of the dam, but I didn't notice any predators foraging upon them. I did make a few casts around two of the schools, but I failed to elicit a strike.
By the time the two hours had elapsed, I had caught one largemouth bass on the HooDaddy, eight largemouth bass on the StreakZ and 12 largemouth bass on the Hula StickZ.
The largemouth bass were not as easy to catch as they have been in previous outings at this reservoir in April and May, but the 21 largemouth bass that I caught on this outing were on average bigger than the ones that I have caught during most of the previous outing. The biggest one looked as if it would weigh 2 ½ pounds, and there were a dozen that looked to weigh 1 ¾-pounds.
The drag-and-shake retrieve and hop-and-bounce retrieve were the best retrieves. But I had a difficult time finding an effective retrieve for the StreakZ. In short, even though our retrieves rarely emit or radiate a sense of feel, all five of the retrieves that I have tried with the StreakZ for the past eight months don't feel right. In past blogs and printed articles, we have written that one of the important essences of Midwest finesse fishing is that our baits do not radiate a feel. In fact, we often call it no-feel fishing, and that lack of feel is disconcerting to a lot of anglers. But I am used to the no-feel aspect of our finesse presentation. In fact, I relish it. So, when I say that the StreakZ doesn't feel right, I am referring to my intuitive sense of feel rather than my true sense of feel.
Today was another two-hour test day at a 195-acre community reservoir. It commenced at 11:30 a.m. and ended 1:30 p.m.
I used only three baits. One was a green-pumpkin 3.75-inch StreakZ on a 3/32-ounce Gopher jig for the first hour. I spent a few minutes working some milfoil patches to no avail and quickly switched to rock-laden shorelines and points. The second test bait was a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig, and it was used across the same locales as the StreakZ combo. I made a dozen casts with a green-pumpkin Gene Larew Lures' Baby HooDaddy on a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig.
The wind was out of the east at 10 to 22 mph. Barometric pressure was 29.97 and falling. Area thermometers reached a morning low temperature of 55 degrees and an afternoon high of 80 degrees. It was sunny, but some cirrus clouds began to appear around 1:15 p.m. It rained during the night, and the forecast predicted more rain after sundown. The solunar table indicated that the best fishing time occurred between 6:24 a.m. and 8:24 a.m.
The water clarity in the lower 20 percent of the lake was relatively clear for a Kansas impoundment. At the mouth of the southwest arm, an algae bloom had erupted, which had the water stained. The surface temperature was 77 degrees at 1:30 p.m.
I crossed paths with several schools of gizzard shad that were milling about on the surface.
I commented on May 29 that I had been unable to find an effective retrieve for the StreakZ , but on this outing I developed a better feel for it. Initially I spent a few minutes examining it in shallow water as I administered all five of the Midwest finesse retrieves. During this outing, however, I primarily focused on the drag-and-shake retrieve and hop-and-bounce retrieve. There was not enough time to work with all five retrieves. In the future, I will attempt to experiment with all five retrieves. It would be handy to have another two anglers in the boat, but I don't know any anglers who would be willing to do something as odd as fishing for just two hours and employ an exact set baits and retrieves. In fact, I do not know how much more of it I can take. But it has forced me to become more comfortable with the StreakZ.
The StreakZ caught 15 largemouth bass in an hour, the ShadZ caught eight largemouth bass and two smallmouth bass in slightly less than an hour and the HooDaddy caught one largemouth bass. The StreakZ's bass were significantly bigger than the ones allured by the ShadZ. But it must be noted that the ShadZ was plying well-used water.
After a thunderstorm passed across northeastern Kansas during the evening of May 30, a brisk north wind carried an intense cold front across northeastern Kansas. Throughout the day area thermometers fluctuated between 58 and 66 degrees. The north and northwest winds wailed from 18 to 30 mph. It kept me at bay, waiting to test the extreme post-cold front conditions on June 1.