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Augusts of the Past

Augusts of the Past

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, with a northeastern Kansas smallmouth bass that he caught in August of 2014.

Since April 1, we have been publishing a column at the first of each month that features a short bibliography (with Internet links) to our monthly guides to Midwest finesse fishing.

We began this project at the behest of some members of the Finesse News Network who wanted to know if there have been any noticeable and noteworthy changes in the fishing that we write about in our monthly guides.

We published a Midwest Finesse column entitled "A Month-by-Month Guide to Midwest Finesse for Bass" on Jan. 11, 2012, which is essentially a history of how, when, and where we fished from May of 2003 until August of 2011. Some of the observations in that column stretch back several decades.

In the section about finesse fishing during the month of August in that column, the lead sentence exclaims: "Across northeastern Kansas, the notion that the dog days of August aren't a fruitful time to be afloat in pursuit of largemouth and smallmouth bass is a piscatorial myth."

We noted that the midday temperatures in August can surpass 100 degrees in northeastern Kansas, and the surface temperatures of flatland reservoirs can hover in the high 80s. Yet, despite the heat, August is one of our most bountiful months for catching a lot of bass during the midday hours. Many of the bass we catch are small, but we do occasionally tangle with some four- to six-pounders. For example, we fished 12 times in August of 2010 and caught an average of 49.7 bass on each of our four-hour midday trips, and on August 29, 2008, we caught 112 bass in four hours.

In northeastern Kansas, the wind is mild mannered in August, which makes fishing easier for us. It's the fourth rainiest month of the year, which puts a damper on some outings.

At our reservoirs that are endowed with bushy pondweed, American pondweed, and coontail significant concentrations of bass assemble on and around patches of these aquatic weeds in August.

The best patches of aquatic vegetation are often offshore ones. And during our most fruitful outings, we have caught 50 largemouth bass from a 50-yard patch of offshore bushy pondweed and coontail.

When we ply these patches of vegetation, we place our boat on the outside edges of the patches, floating on five to seven feet of water, and we cast our lures 35 or more feet into the heart of the patches. Typically we employ either a four-inch grub on a 1/16- or 3/32-ounce red Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head Jig or a slightly shortened four-inch Z-Man Fishing Products' Finesse WormZ on a 1/32-ounce red Gopher jig. We retrieve the worm with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. The grub is retrieved with a swimming presentation, and we often pause and shake the grub when it crosses the outside edge of the vegetation. We must note, however, that the effectiveness of a grub has waned dramatically since 2010.

A shortened four-inch Z-Man's Finesse WormZ and a 1/32-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig.

During some August outings of the past, the largemouth bass that abided along shorelines graced with water willows and rocks exhibited a preference for a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's ZinkerZ or a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company's Zero affixed to a 3/32-ounce jig that was presented with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve, and a minimal or minor shake is executed when we ended the deadstick phase of the retrieve. The hop-and-bounce retrieve was the second best presentation. When the largemouth bass exhibited hankerings for our baits being retrieved on the bottom, we had a difficult time alluring them to engulf our baits when we execute the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, which is retrieved six to 12 inches above the bottom.


Traditionally a 2 1/2-inch white Zero or ZinkerZ becomes effective in late August, and it remains effective well into the fall. Yet the green-pumpkin and Junebug hues also bewitch a goodly number of bass. Thus, during a typical August outing, we usually test our entire palette of colors.

At times in August, our angling efforts are overtaken by some family events, such as our annual vacation with some of our children and grandchildren to the Northwoods of Minnesota. And since 2011, the writing of the articles for this Midwest Finesse web page, which nowadays encompasses from 18,000 to nearly 30,000 words a month, has also encroached on the hours and days that we are afloat in August and the other 11 months of the year. Therefore, we are not catching as many fish as we did before 2011. Besides not being on the water as many times as we used to be, several of our flatland reservoirs have been plagued with the largemouth bass virus, which has adversely affected the number of largemouth bass that we can catch.

Some observers contend that the significant increase in the number of recreational anglers who have become converts to Midwest finesse tactics has adversely affected the catch rates at several of the smaller flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas. We do not have the tools to measure the validity of that notion. But we do know that northeastern Kansas is where Midwest finesse fishing originated in the 1950s and 1960s, and some of these reservoirs and their denizens have been pounded for decades by several Midwest finesse anglers, and the catch rates didn't decline until these reservoirs were affected by the largemouth bass virus. It is, however, interesting to note that the arrival of the virus corresponded with the increase of Midwest finesse converts.

In short, the three major changes that have transpired in northeastern Kansas since we began writing these monthly guides are the demise of the effectiveness of the four-inch grub, the advent of the largemouth bass virus, and we don't fish as much as we did before we began writing 18,000 to 30,000 words a month.

Not enough time has transpired since we began writing these monthly guides to merit writing a comprehensive and authoritative history of the changes that we have observed. Therefore, we opted to assemble a monthly bibliography, which allows anglers to have quick and easy access to what we have written about each month of the year. Some of the monthly guides contain more than 20,000 words that explain how, when, and where Midwest finesse anglers have caught largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, and a few incidental species. And as more and more anglers have become converts to Midwest finesse fishing, the geographical breadth of our monthly guides has expanded, and the number of words we publish has nearly doubled.

Below are a few words about -- as well as the links -- to three monthly guides that focus on August, and we hope these words will provide recreational anglers with some useful insights about employing Midwest finesse tactics during the heat of summer for years to come.

(1) In August of 2012, I fished 14 outings for a total of only 47 hours. During these 14 outings, I and several of my partners were able to inveigle 469 largemouth and smallmouth bass, and that equals an average of 33 largemouth and smallmouth bass an outing and 9.9 an hour. These figures do not include the hours we fished and the largemouth and smallmouth bass that we caught in Minnesota, but a description of those Minnesota days is the first log in this series. This guide contains 10,673 words, which also focus on the logs and observations of Bill Reichert of Lincolnshire, Illinois, Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, and Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas. This is the link to those logs:

(2) Even though we contend that the dog days of summer are not fruitless times to be afloat in chase of largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, August of 2013 was a trying and puzzling 31 days for the Midwest finesse anglers who plied the flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri for largemouth bass. Our laments and bewilderments are laced in several of the August of 2013 logs.

It is interesting to note that I caught 345 largem0uth in August of 2011 and 469 during August of 2012. Then in August of 2013, I fished 11 times for largemouth bass for a total of 30 hours and 30 minutes and caught only 261 of them. That was an average of 8.5 largemouth bass per hour. On one of those outings, my cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, helped me catch some of those largemouth bass.

But by Aug. 17, the smallmouth bass at two northeastern Kansas reservoirs became surprisingly easy to inveigle. For example, Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, and I caught 72 smallmouth bass on Aug. 27 in four hours. On two other outings, I caught eight smallmouth bass while pursuing largemouth bass. So, the total catch for August of 2013 was 341 largemouth and smallmouth bass, which was an average of 9.8 black bass per hour.

This guide contains 11,952 words, and here is the link to it:

(3) In August of 2014, my partners and I caught 114 largemouth bass, 67 smallmouth bass, and two spotted bass. They were caught across seven outings that encompassed 25 hours of fishing, which is an average of 25 bass an outing and 7.32 bass an hour.

This log contains 21,969 words. Beside my logs about Midwest fishing in north eastern Kansas, it features the logs and insights of Don Baldridge of Springfield, Missouri; Burton Bosley of Sutton, West Virginia; Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas; Paul Finn of Olathe, Kansas; Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri; Bob Gum of Kansas City; Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas; Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas; Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas; Ralph Manns of Rockwall, Texas; John McKean of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas. Here is the link to that guide:

(4) Here is the link to "A Month-by-Month Guide to Midwest Finesse for Bass:"

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