February 03, 2012
By Ned Kehde
Yesterday we posted a blog about how Caitlin Young's science project has spawned a renewed interest in blue baits among some anglers.
It was noted that several practitioners of Midwest finesse tactics have joined this contagion. These finesse anglers want to see if Young's conclusions about the effectiveness of blue baits for alluring channel catfish apply to black bass.
Thus from Groundhog Day until New Year's Eve, these anglers will use a variety of blue finesse baits as they pursue largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass that inhabit some of the small flatland reservoirs that grace northeastern Kansas.
I am part of this group of blue-finesse-bait testers. Yesterday, I was afloat from 10:15 a.m to 2:45 p.m., working with several combinations of blue baits at a 195-acre flatland reservoir in northeastern Kansas. It was an auspicious start.
For about 40 minutes of this outing, I worked with an underwater camera, searching patches of emerging curly-leaf pondweed and other types of aquatic vegetation. So, I fished for about three hours and 50 minutes.
About 52% of the casts and retrieves were made with five baits that exhibited various hues of blue. Four of them were soft-plastic baits affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Original Mushroom Jig Head. One bait was a blue-gray-and-chrome jerkbait.
For 48% of the time, I used three lures that weren't blue. Two of those were green-pumpkin soft-plastic baits affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and one was a watermelon-red-flake soft-plastic bait on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.
By the time I made my last cast and retrieve at 2:45 p.m., I had landed 51 largemouth bass and one channel catfish. I failed to land eight largemouth bass. I garnered 14 strikes that didn't hook a fish.
Most of the fish were small, but one largemouth bass weighed four pounds, nine ounces. That lunker was allured by a green-pumpkin Z-Man Finesse ShadZ on a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig, and that bait also inveigled the channel catfish.
Thirty-three of the bass were caught on blue baits, and 28 of those 33 bass were caught on a purple-haze 2 1/2" Z-Man ZinkerZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher. That same ZinkerZ also accounted for 15 of the 22 missed strikes and lost bass that I encountered. The ZinkerZ and jig that caught those 28 bass is featured in the photograph below.
The jerkbait failed to elicit a strike.
The surface temperature ranged from 40 degrees to 42 degrees. All of the bass and channel catfish were inhabiting a mud flat in the back of a cove. This flat was bespangled with patches of emerging curly-leaf pondweed. For about an hour, a significant number of gizzard shad dimpled the surface of this mud flat. All of the bass, as well as the channel catfish, were caught in four to five feet of water.