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An addendum to the Month-by-Month-Guide to Midwest Finesse: March part 2

An addendum to the Month-by-Month-Guide to Midwest Finesse: March part 2

This is the fourth installment of the 2012 Month-by-Month Guide to Midwest Finesse Fishing.

On May 1, we posted the details about our piscatorial endeavors during the first 19 days of March.

This blog features our quests during the first 12 days of spring or the last 12 days of March.

Throughout this period, we fished eight times, which encompassed 33 hours of casting and retrieving finesse baits.  We tangled with 434 largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass.  How, when and where we fished during those eight outings are chronicled in the text below.

Intertwined with the description of these eight outings are several e-mails from four members of the Finesse News Network.  These e-mails are included because at times they do a better job of highlighting and humanizing our successes and failures as anglers than the mundane words that are transcribed almost verbatim from our daily logs and dairies.

The reason we began posting these chronicles is that we received several petitions from anglers from various locales across the nation imploring us to post our logs or chronicles or reports as archival reference points for other anglers to follow in the future. According to the rationalizations of these petitioners, these chronicles will allow veteran finesse anglers to stay on the appropriate path year after year, and in addition, they will help newcomers to the finesse world to more quickly negotiate the different twists and turns that Midwest finesse anglers make throughout a year. If these petitioners are correct about the historical importance of these records, it is essential at this point to note that this spring's unseasonably warm air, ground, and water temperatures created some oddities that might never appear again. Therefore, when anglers examine and attempt to follow these accounts in the future, they might be wise to pay heed to the reservoirs' surface temperatures rather than the calendar dates. For instance, the average surface temperature at the flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas that we fished during the last 12 days of March in 2008 through 2011 was 48.6 degrees. In 2012, the average surface temperature for the last 12 days of March was 61.3 degrees.

It needs to be noted that 2012 is a leap year.  Therefore, the vernal equinox appeared on Mar. 20 this time around rather than Mar. 21.

For archival reasons, I have found that it is handy at times to preserve the National Weather Services' weather forecasts in my records. Because our weather was so unusual this spring, I though that the forecast for the first six days of the spring of 2012 should appear at the beginning of this chronicle.  Here's the forecast that was issued by the National Weather Service's Weather Forecast Office in Topeka, Kansas, on Mar. 20:

March  20; the vernal equinox

"Late Afternoon: Showers. High near 61. Breezy, with a south wind around 20 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%.

Tonight: Showers before 7pm, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms between 7pm and 1am, then a chance of showers after 1am. Low around 52. Breezy, with a southeast wind 15 to 20 mph decreasing to between 5 and 10 mph. Winds could gust as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

Wednesday: Showers likely, with thunderstorms also possible after 1pm. Cloudy, with a high near 61. South wind between 5 and 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.


Wednesday Night: Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Cloudy, with a low around 48. Calm wind becoming southwest around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.

Thursday: A chance of showers, with thunderstorms also possible after 1pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 64. South wind between 5 and 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

Thursday Night: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 48. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

Friday: A chance of showers, with thunderstorms also possible after 1pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 64. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Friday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 45.

Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 70.

Saturday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 48.

Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 74.

Sunday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 52.

Monday: Sunny, with a high near 80.

Monday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 59."

March 21

Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, is an active member of the Finesse News Network, and during the last week of winter, I exchanged several e-mails. Most of  the messages described what was taking place with the largemouth bass in the waterways of North Carolina and northeastern Kansas, and how we were pursuing them.  In one of his e-mails, Poe proclaimed that he was dismayed that the 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ on a 1/32- and 1/16-ounce jig failed to entice the spawning bass that he and two companions were targeting on Mar. 15.  We continued our discourse into the first week of spring.   Here are the two e-mails that I sent to Poe that describe my Mar. 21 outing to a 195-acre community reservoir and to  a 416-acre community reservoir on Mar. 22:

"Dear Mike,

As of today, our largemouth  bass seemed to be getting into a mood similar to the one that the largemouth bass in North Carolina exhibited last weekend, which means that they are beginning to ignore the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ and the prototype. The prototype is a thin four-inch ZinkerZ with four tentacles.

I fished from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and it drizzled and sprinkled nearly the entire time.

After three days of light rain, the reservoir looks to be a foot high.  The water is surprisingly clear; I could see the trolling motor prop. The reservoir's surface temperature was 58 degrees.

The wind was light and angling from the east for a spell and then from the north for the last two hours.

Besides exhibiting a reluctance to strike the ZinkerZ and prototype, they were also gravitating to rocky shorelines and lairs, leaving the milfoil, filamentous algae and curly-leaf pondweed.

I landed 52 largemouth bass, and they were all small.  The biggest might have weighed two pounds. But as you know, our aim is to catch a lot of bass, and if we get enough bites, we periodically cross paths with a big one, as we did on Mar. 9, when we landed one that weighed five pounds, 14 ounces.

Today, the best bait was a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig.  Second best bait was a Junebug four-inch Finesse WormZ, which had three-quarters of an inch trimmed off its head, and it was attached to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

The best retrieve was a swim-glide-and-shake one.

Keep in touch. I am eager to read more of your North Carolina finesse tales.

Best wishes, Ned"

March 22 

"Dear Mike:

Thanks for your e-mail.

I tried to return to the 195-acre community reservoir that I fished yesterday in hopes of finding some bigger bass. Yesterday's catch was dink after dink after dink.

But when I arrived at the reservoir, it was up a foot. Two of the feeder arms were murky to muddy. What's more, there were already three bass anglers, including Holden White of Lawrence, Kansas, afloat, and two of them were plying the only clear water at this reservoir.

As I drove across the dam, I stopped and talked to White, who was casting and slowly retrieving a four-inch grub affixed to a 1/16-ounce unpainted jig. I regularly call him our resident grub master. He had been afloat for an hour and said that he had caught seven small largemouth bass. He also said he was as puzzled as I have been about the whereabouts of the bigger bass. As we parted company, he said he wished he had gone to another reservoir, and that comment provoked me to go elsewhere.

Therefore, I spent three hours bass fishing for trout at a nearby 416-acre community reservoir.

Its water level was about six inches above its normal level, and at more than 80% of this reservoir was clear, and the stained sections were not hevaily stained.

I rigged seven spinning rods. Three rods sported the 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ. The fourth rod donned the prototype. The fifth rod was tricked out with a PB&J Rain MinnowZ. The sixth rod featured a shorten four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ. The seventh rod garnished a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ. I wanted to quickly test a variety baits and presentations. The short WormZ and ShadZ were attached to red 1/32-ounce Gopher jigs. These two were the most effective baits.  The Rain MinnowZ was the third most effective. It was rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The ZinkerZs and prototype failed to elicit a strike.

I caught 10 trout; nine of them looked to weigh from two to four pounds. I caught 21 dinky largemouth bass, one dinky smallmouth and one nice-sized black crappie. I missed a medium-sized walleye.

The swim-glide-and-shake retrieve elicited the most interest from the fish.

It rained a bit. The wind was out of the south and southeast at 10 to 22 mph. Surface temp was 57 to 58 degrees. Air temperature ranged from a morning low of 44 degrees to an afternoon high of 66 degrees.

It has been raining here of and on since Monday, and it is raining now as write this e-mail. All of our reservoirs could be getting muddy.

I am looking forward to reading more reports about your North Carolina endeavors.

Best wishes, Ned"

Clyde Holscher of Topeka caught this smallmouth bass on Mar. 23  while he and two other anglers were bass fishing for trout at 416-acre community reservoir. This outing was featured in the sports section of the Wichita (Kansas) Eagle.

March 23

Three days of rain had at least one of our many reservoirs murky and high on Mar. 22.  Thus, many of us feared that most of our reservoirs would be muddy by Mar. 23. Therefore, I opted to try a 140-acre state reservoir, which rarely gets muddy. And to my delight, it wasn't muddy.  In fact, it was clearer today than it was on Feb. 27, when my cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I fished it.

On Feb. 27, the surface temperature was 42-44 degrees. On this outing it was 58-59 degrees. The water level was slightly above normal.  In February, it was more than a foot below normal.

Throughout this outing, the sky was cloud covered, and it sprinkled twice. The wind angled out of the north by northeast at about 7 to 10 mph. The morning low was 46 degree and afternoon high was 66.

I fished from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

As I was ending my outing, Holden White of  Lawrence, Kansas, arrived and reported that he had spent the morning fishing a 25-acre community reservoir that lies about 60 miles south of here. That reservoir was muddy, and he caught only four largemouth bass. He said that he caught 44 largemouth bass yesterday at the 195-acre that was quickly rising and becoming muddy. I told him that I had driven over one of the primary feeder creeks that feeds that 195-acre reservoir, and that creek was high and muddy this morning at 9:30. He said all of the creeks south of Lawrence were high and muddy, too.

On Feb. 27, my cousin and I caught only seven largemouth bass. Today I caught 56 largemouth bass and failed to land another 18.  None of them were big, and in fact, the big bass have eluded White and me on every outing this week.   We don't focus on catching big bass, but we usually catch a few. For instance, we caught one that weighed 5 pounds, 14 ounces last week, as well as some three-pounders. But on most outing this year, the big ones have been far and few between. We are puzzled about their whereabouts.

The best bait today was a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig affixed to a short (it was trimmed to be about 3 ¾-inches long) Junebug Finesse WormZ. A 2 1/2-inch Junebug ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig accounted for about 35% on the 56 bass.

A swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the most effective of the three that I worked with.

About half of the bass were abiding around rocks, and the other half were relating to the patches of dead American water willows and cattails.

On the way home, I drove by the 194-acre reservoir that was rising and becoming muddy on Mar. 22. In addition, one of its feeder creeks was high muddy this morning when I drove across it.  To my amazement, however, as I drove around the southwest and western portions of this reservoir at 3:20 p.m., I noticed that it was clearing up, and it looked as if it would be fishable within 24 hours. I have never seen a flatland reservoir in northeastern Kansas clear up as quickly this one did. And that was another strange environmental phenomenon that occurred in 2012.

March 24

On this Saturday outing, our grandson Brady, who is 11 years old, and I fished a 180-acre state reservoir today from noon to 1:30 p.m.

We have found across the years of raising four children and fishing with them and our 10 grandchildren and our children and grandchildren's young friends that most 11-year-olds can rarely fish more than an hour and a half. Of course, some children have the wherewithal and attention span to endure more than three hours and some can withstand only 45 minutes. Therefore, our typical outings with our grandchildren are normally short affair, pivoting around their endurance, and we find that it is best not to over test their patience and tolerance. In fact, we have concluded that it is best to stop fishing before their enthusiasm begins to wane. We are fortunate to have two small public reservoirs, which are brimming with largemouth bass, that lie within a 20-minute drive from the front door of our home. Thus, these two reservoirs give us a quick  and easy venue for introducing youngsters to the art of bass fishing with finesse tactics. And by using finesse tactics, these young anglers can catch a potpourri of other species, too.

Throughout this outing with Brady, the reservoir's surface temperature was 60 degrees. The water was what we often describe as Kansas clear; thus, Ozark anglers would call it stained or perhaps slightly stained. The water level was a few inches below normal.

The wind angled out of the northwest at 10 mph. It was sunny. The morning's low air temperature was 44.  The afternoon high reached 78 degrees. Both Brady and I donned hooded sweat shirts.

Straightaway we crossed paths with Holden White of Lawrence, who informed us that the largemouth bass bite had been lackluster for him.  He had caught only 18 by wielding his favorite four-inch smoke-pepper single-tail grub on a 1/16-ounce jig.

After we talked to White, Brady and I began fishing the riprap of the dam. Brady had two spinning outfits. One was rigged with a shortened four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a 1/16-ounce red Gopher Jig. The second sported a 2 ½-inch Junebug ZinkerZ attached to a 1/16-ounce red Gopher jig.

He presented these baits by making a cast that landed about a foot from the water's edge.  Then he merely dragged the bait along the rocks.  As soon as the bait was 12 to 15 feet off the shoreline, he would quickly retrieve the bait, but as it approached the boat, he abruptly stopped the retrieved, and during the pause, if  a bass was chasing it, it would usually engulf it.  (By the way, we have found that this pause-at-the-boat tactic is occasionally a good one for finesse anglers to use when they are in pursuit of smallmouth bass.)  Once the retrieve was finished, he would execute another cast and drag routine.

It took him exactly an hour and a half to probe the entire dam. During this spell, he eked out 21 small largemouth bass.

March 24 and March 26

Dave Petro of Lawrence, Kansas, is a recent convert to Midwest finesse fishing.  Via an e-mail, he sent me an description of his Mar. 24 outing at a 7,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir. He wrote:

"Ned,  I fished from 10:00 to 2:30.  I found the water level to be very high (about 3 feet from the top of the break water at the marina) and slightly cloudy with sediment.  You could see your lure about a foot deep.  The wind was non-existent, but lots of boat traffic kept the wakes rolling most of the time.  The fishing was slow, I caught only 7 fish.  What was interesting is what I caught.  The take was one channel cat, one smallmouth bass, one drum, one crappie, one largemouth bass, one bluegill, and one white bass.  The largemouth was caught on a Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/32 Gopher jig.  The bluegill and crappie were caught on a gold  1/16-ounce jig dressed with a gold beetle spin-type blade and a 1 1/2" piece of a Junebug Finesse WormZ.  The rest of the fish were caught on a 1/6 ounce lipless crankbait in a fire-tiger pattern.  The largemouth and the bluegill were caught on the north shore west of the marina, and the rest were caught on the riprap on the dam.  While I did not catch a lot, the crappie fishermen were out in abundance.  The ones I talked to said they were biting good, especially early.  It was such a beautiful day, I can't help thinking that my luck would have been better had there been some breeze to ripple the water.

I sure could use another lesson on the use of the Z-Man baits.  I hope we can find a day to get out together this spring.  If I can find some time during the week, I will let you know.  Please stay in touch.  Dave"

In an e-mail, I  responded to Petro's e-mail with the following report on my Mar. 26 outing:

"Dear Dave,

Thanks for the details about your outing at our local Corps of Engineers' reservoir.  It's a difficult venue anytime of the year, which is why we rarely go there even though its nearest boat ramp is only 15 minutes from our house. We are hoping, however, that its burgeoning smallmouth bass population will make it a place where we can eventually catch at least eight smallmouth bass an hour, which would make it an ideal place to wile away an hour or two with our grand children.

Today I fished three hours at the nearby 195-acre community reservoir.  The water was clear in the main body.  It was slightly stained in the south arm. The surface temperature was 61 degrees. In some spots, the curly-leaf pondweed was six inches from reaching the surface.

I fished the most of the east side of the south arm, focusing a stump field that graces a mud flat and a mile of  the east shoreline that consists of rock and gravel, as well as an occasional patch of dead American water willows.  Then I fished a flat that is embellished with the remnants of a concrete bridge and a half mile of the west shoreline, which consists of gravel, silt, curly-leaf pondweed, dead American water willows, filamentous algae and rocks.

I used three baits: a Junebug four-inch Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a green-pumpkin ShadZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, and a Junebug Rain MinnowZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

I caught 69 largemouth and six crappie. The male crappie were exhibiting their reproductive hues. Fifty-four bass were caught on the WormZ that was retrieved primarily with the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. But I did inveigled a few largemouth with an occasional deadstick.

The bulk of the fish were caught along the shorelines, and they were caught from three to 10 feet  from the water's edge. Sixty percent were associated with rocks. The rest were around dead American water willows and filamentous algae.

There was not a big bass in the lot. Two of the crappie were very big. We are in a big bass slump.  Usually this time of the year, we inadvertently cross paths with several big ones while we are catching scores of small bass.

As ever, Ned"

Also on Mar. 26, I received an e-mail from Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri.  Here's his e-mail description of  his outing at a 120-acre community reservoir that lies in suburban Kansas City:

"Ned, I finally got back on [the lake] today after an absence of about a week and a half. In fact, the last time I fished it was with you.

There were a lot of similarities in the two trips. Like that day I fished with you, the action was almost non-existent for the first hour.

But it picked up quickly. Fishing solo, I ended up catching 43 bass, seven of them keepers, in 4 1/2 hours. Nothing huge; the biggest weighed three pounds, four  ounces. But I had several others that were pushing three pounds.

All of the keepers came on a black-and-blue jig and pig fished on rock. The riprap along Highway 45 was the most productive, especially in the transition area from big rock to small rock.

As in our trip, I was able to pad my numbers when I ran into a huge school of pigmy bass. They were in a cove, but not the one where we caught our numbers.

My favorite bait, the PB&J Zinker Z that you and Clyde [Hoslcher of Topeka, Kansas] got me hooked on, had an off day. For some reason, the bass weren't hitting it. When I went to a silver-flecked Rain MinnowZ, my luck instantly changed. I caught a bass on my first cast with that Rain MinnowZ and the action remained steady.

Another adjustment that paid off was switching the kind of trailer I used on my jig. I started off with a Paca Craw but I was getting a lot of short hits. I went to a Zoom chunk, which has a smaller profile, and I started catching fish.

It was great getting out again, enjoying beautiful weather, the blooming redbud trees and active wildlife. The deer were especially active today  Brent."

I responded with the following e-mail:

"Dear Brent:

Thanks for the report and Rain MinnowZ details.

The ZinkerZ does have some fallow times. And we are in one now.  In fact, we are catching  many of our bass on a Junebug Finesse WormZ that we have cut about an inch off of the head before we attach it to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

Best wishes,   Ned"

March 27

On the afternoon of Mar. 27, I began fishing where I left off on Mar. 26.  I was afloat from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., using a well-used-and-virtually-worn-out Z-Man four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

Yesterday this identical combo caught 54 of the 69 bass that I caught.  Today it was the only rig that I used.

I didn't start the outboard until 3 p.m. I caught a bass on the first cast at the boat ramp. From that first cast and during the next an hour and a half, I plied only rocky liars and shorelines.  The last half hour was spent fishing milfoil, curly-leaf pondweed and filamentous algae.

I landed 48 bass, a giant bluegill, and three black crappie.

So across a course of five hours on fishing on Mar. 26 and Mar 27 that Junebug WormZ caught 102 largemouth bass. Shortly after I landed bass No. 102, another fish pulled the WormZ off the jig.

Before yesterday's outing that worm had also tangled with a goodly number of bass. So, I suspect it tangled with more than 150 bass before it was liberated from the jig.

The last bass that it inveigled was the biggest of the past two days.  It weighed three pounds, 10 ounces.

Surface temp was 63.6 degrees. A slight wind angled out of the west by southwest. It was cloudy. We had a big thunderstorm roll across the area from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. today, but it didn't produce a lot of rain.  The reservoir was clear.

March 28

On Mar. 29, I received an e-mail report from Brent Frazee about his evening outing on Mar. 28 at an 120-acre community reservoir that lies north of Kansas City.

This is a copy of Frazee's e-mail:

"Ned,  Well, you have put me onto a new lure. I tried the Finesse WormZ after reading your report yesterday, and it was very effective.

I brought my daughter's boyfriend out and I started him out with a PB&J ZinkerZ, while I started with a purple-haze Finesse WormZ. It became obvious from the start what the fish wanted.

After I caught several fish, I switched Adam to a Finesse WormZ and we both were catching fish. We had several doubles, and the action was steady.

We were only out from 5:15 p.m. to 8 p.m., but we ended up with 37 bass, four walleyes and three crappies. Lots of peewees but also six keepers. No giants, though. Biggest was about three pounds. That 5-pound, 4-ouncer you caught when you were here is the biggest bass I've seen this spring. The bigger ones really aren't hitting yet.

But I'm not complaining. There has been lots of action and more two-pound fish than we've seen in some time, which is a good sign.

I'm going out again tomorrow and I'll file another report.  Brent"

March 29

Here's Frazee's e-mail report about his Mar. 29 outing:

"Ned,  Just when you think you figure out the bass  . . . .

After a heavy rain and some lightning last night, the fishing €¦ was much tougher today than it was last evening. Two of us still managed about 35 bass, four walleyes and five crappies, but they were hard-earned. The purple-haze Finesse WormZ was still the most productive lure, but it wasn't nearly as effective as it was last night.

The north end of the lake continues to produce the best fishing. The water temperature there is 64 degrees.

Ordinarily, that's when the bass would be coming in to spawn, but at least at [this lake], they seem to be scattered. We'll catch one shallow, then one in 12 feet of water. It seems that the bass are as confused by this weather as we are.

One bright spot today: I caught a 5-pound, 3-ounce bass on a black and blue jig and pig, fishing the riprap along Highway 45.  Brent"

This is my e-mail response to Frazee, which includes details about  my Mar. 29 outing with Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas:

" Dear Brent,

Thanks for your report. I was pleased to read about your five-pound, three-ounce largemouth bass. But I was sorry to read that your fishing turned trying.

Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, and I fish together today for the first time. Initially we were planning to fish the 2,600-acre power-plant lake south of Kansas City, but the weather looked to be problematic. Therefore we fished a 100-acre community reservoir in the southwestern suburbs of Kansas City, hoping to decipher the whereabouts of its largemouth bass, which have eluded me since Dec. 3, 2011.

Here's an interesting comparison between Mar. 28, 2011, when I fished this 100-acre reservoir, and Mar. 29, 2012:   Today the surface temperature was 66 degrees.  It is interesting to note that on Mar. 28, 2011, its surface temperature ranged from 46 to 49 degrees. On the morning of Mar. 28, 2011, the low temperature was 33 degrees and the afternoon high was 45 degrees. Today's low was 61 degrees, and the high hit 82 degrees.  The wind last year on Mar. 28 was out of the east and southeast at 10 to 15 mph, and today it was out of the south and southeast 16 to 28 mph, making it a major wind-sock day.  The water today was relatively clear at the dam and stained in the upper end. Last year the upper end was not stained. On Mar. 28, 2011, I caught 54 largemouth bass and two walleye in about three hours, using a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce and chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and today I caught one warmouth on that combination.

We found our fishing to be as hard-earned today as you did at your lake, and to our chagrin, we didn't catch a five-pound, three-ounce largemouth bass. Today we struggled to catch 50 largemouth, failed to land six largemouth, landed three crappie, two walleye, and a mega carp.

The Junebug Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig wasn't very effective today. Instead, a green-pumpkin 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce jig was the best combo.

Steep rocky shorelines were the most fruitful. But we did catch some largemouth bass associated with patches of coontail along three flat areas.

Like your bass, some of our bass were relatively shallow and others weren't.  We couldn't determine what retrieve style was the best one. So we used a variety of retrieves.

In some ways, I was pleased to read that you struggled, too, because throughout the day, I thought that Terry and I were doing something wrong. But now I am thinking the trying fishing might have been the aftereffects of last night's storms that coursed across the Kansas City area. But I hate to blame sorry fishing on storms. In essence, we caught more bass today at this reservoir than I have caught all year, but it was still a subpar outing.

This reservoir was one of our most fruitful ones throughout 2011.  Here's hoping that it will become more productive soon.

Best wishes, Ned"

 March 30

After Terry Claudell and I struggled to catch 50 largemouth bass on Mar. 29 at one our most productive community reservoirs, it dampened my thoughts about testing the smallmouth bass and that reside in a nearby 7,000 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir.

Instead John Reese of Lawrence, Kansas, and I chased largemouth bass from 10:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. on Mar. 30 at a 195-acre community reservoir.  And what a day it was.

It was extremely sunny and hundreds of turtles were sunning themselves on laydowns, as well as were three bikini-clad coeds at the swimming-beach dock.

The surface temperature hit 67 degrees.

The water clarity was better than what we call Kansas clear, reaching more than six feet of clarity at spots. The water level looked to be almost normal, but water was still running into the reservoir at several spots, and the reservoir's caretakers had the valve at the dam open, allowing the water to flow out of the reservoir. But it was flowing at slower pace than it was flowing last week.

The wind was mild mannered out of the northwest at 3 to 7 mph. The morning low was 53 degrees. The afternoon high was 78 degrees.

We primarily used a shortened four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher, working it with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

We started fishing at the west ramp and fished 200 yards of the west shore. Then we fished 80% of the north shore. Then we fished 70% of the east shore. We ended the outing in the reservoir's southern arm and fished 50% of the east side of it and 40% of its west side.

We ended the day with 117 largemouth bass and approximately 25 crappie. We caught about a dozen crappie on the WormZ, and then during the last 20 minutes, I rigged a Z-Man 2 ½-inch pearl GrubZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and it caught another dozen  crappie, as well as eight largemouth bass.

Clyde Holscher and Steven Desch had been using an XPS four-inch pearl-smoke grub that they trimmed down for catching crappie and white bass at one of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoirs. That was  what provoked me to use the GrubZ around two of the crappie lairs. It was the first time that I have used it, and I was impressed with the action and feel. Last winter I used Z-Man's five-inch GrubZ, which I trimmed an inch or more off the head, but the tail was a little too wide for my taste. I think that the 2 1/2-inch GrubZ will work for us in white bass situations and when our largemouth and smallmouth chase small gizzard shad in the summer and early fall. It is also extremely durable. What's more, I relish its swimming action.

Reese and I didn't catch any big bass, but we crossed paths with an old friend who is a diehard power angler, who caught 15 largemouth bass.  and two of the 15 were lunkers, weighing four and five pounds. He caught them ripping a Rapala's XRap Xtreme Action Slashbait on the outside edge of the curly-leaf pondweed. Those are nice bass, but he fished as many hours as we did and caught only 15. As you now, I will take 101 dinks any day over catching just 15 bass -- even if two of them are lunkers.

Numberwise it was a fruitful week.  During this last week of March, we caught and released 284 largemouth bass in 14 hours of fishing. Our catch of  117 largemouth bass on Mar. 30 was a delightful way to end the month of March.


In the near future, we will post the details about our 16 outings in April, explaining how, when and where we caught 640 bass in 64 hours by employing Midwest finesse tactics.  For a precursor to the April blog, it is interesting to note that the surface temperature at our reservoirs hit 70 degrees on April 3. By April 19, it had dropped to 64 degrees, and it didn't  reach 70 degrees again until May 3.

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