It's lizard time for Midwest finesse anglers

This is a note to remind Midwest finesse anglers that lizard time is nearly upon us at many reservoirs across the Heartland. In fact, at several flatland reservoirs across northeastern Kansas, it's happening a month earlier than it did a year ago.

Until May 12, 2011, Zoom Bait Company's green-pumpkin four-inch Mini Lizard hadn't been part of our repertoire

Zoom's green-pumpkin Mini Lizard is at the top of this photograph. On the bottom left is a 1/32-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Jig Head. The other jig is a 1/16-ounce Gopher. We remove the barbs from the hooks before we use them. The lizard is always rigged with an exposed hook.

Our introduction to it occurred when Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, who was one of the primary forefathers of Midwest finesse tactics in the late 1960s, and I fished a 55-acre community reservoir that lies about 20 miles south of his home.  As we drove to the reservoir, Reese told me that for years on end this four-inch lizard had been one of his primary finesse baits for alluring largemouth bass during the spawning season.

On our 2011 outing, Reese and I used the Mini Lizard on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher Mushroom Jig Head. Several of our other spinning outfits sported a Junebug Z-Man Finesse WormZ, green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ and Junebug 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ. All of those baits were affixed to a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig in either a red or chartreuse hue.

The reservoir was about two feet above normal, flooding the tops of many of the American water willow patches that lined about 40 percent of the shoreline.

It was a cloudy day, and area thermometers ranged from a low of 62 degrees to a high of 72 degrees.

The water clarity in the upper third of the south arm was stained. The rest of the lake was relatively clear for a flatland Kansas reservoir. The surface temperature was 70 degrees, and the largemouth bass seemed to be in various stages of their reproductive rituals.

We fished for four midday hours and inveigled 55 largemouth bass. The vast majority of them were allured by the lizard.

After the 2011 spawning season concluded, I didn't wield lizard until April 3. The 2012 unveiling of the Mini Lizard occurred at a 190-acre community reservoir, where the surface temperature was unseasonably warm, registering 70 degrees at 1 p.m.

Before I decided to test the lizard, I had fished for about an hour and 35 minutes and struggled to catch 13 largemouth bass.

During the last week of March, however, I had fished this same reservoir for nine hours and caught and released 234 largemouth bass by using a four-inch Z-Man Junebug Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

Because the water temperature climbed from 60 degrees on Mar. 26 to 70 degrees on April 3, I suspected that the change in the behavior of the bass might have been created by the onset of some the bass' reproductive juices and chemistry. That notion provoked me to test the lizard. And on the first cast with it, I caught a largemouth bass. Then during the next hour and 25 minutes, the lizard helped me eke out 23 more largemouth bass.

A drag-and-shake retrieve elicited the bulk of the bites from the largemouth bass.

Thus, during the rest of this strange spring or until the largemouth bass' spawning season winds up, one of my spinning rods will don a Mini-Lizard affixed to either a 1/32- or 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We will report about its effectiveness in one of our future addendums to the Month-by-Month-Guide to Midwest finesse.

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