The Little Varmint, part 2

One of the many Table Rock Lake smallmouth Bass the Little Varmint caught on June 11.

Dave Reeves of Lansing, Kansas, posted a brief log on the Finesse News Network on June 11 about his Little Varmint outing with his son at Table Rock Lake, Missouri.

Because it adds some on-the-water insights to our June 17 Midwest Finesse column that focused on the history of the Little Varmint at Table Rock, in which Reeves has played a significant role, we thought we should include his log as an update.

So, here are a few details about his outing with his son and the Little Varmint:

The National Weather Service at the Springfield-Branson National Airport noted that it was 63 degrees at 4:52 a.m. and 75 degrees at 2:52 p.m. The wind angled out of the west and northwest at 6 to 10 mph from 4:52 a.m. to 2:52 p.m. The barometric pressure was 29.81 at 4:52 a.m. and 29.86 at 2:52 p.m. The sky was overcast from 4:52 a.m. to 12:52 p.m.; partly cloudy at 1:52 p.m., and mostly cloudy at 2:52 p.m.

During the first 10 days of June, a significant amount of rain fell on Table Rock Lake's watershed, causing the water level to be about two feet above the reservoir's top power pool level on June 11. Reeves said it was slightly stained at some locations, but it was clearing. The surface temperature ranged from 74 to 76 degrees.

Reeves noted that many of the reservoir's denizens were foraging on tiny crayfish that were one to two inches long, and they were so immature that their claws were not fully developed. He saw very few threadfin shad and gizzard shad.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted the best fishing occurred from 9:12 a.m. to 11:12A, a.m. and 9:40 p.m. to 11:40 p.m. There was a minor period from 2:58 a.m. to 4:58 a.m.

The Reeves fished from 5:00 a.m. to around 3:00 p.m., and they caught 60 largemouth bass, meanmouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass. All of them were inveigled by either a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's PB&J ZinkerZ or green-pumpkin/orange ZinkerZ. They were affixed to Reeves' handcrafted green-pumpkin 1/8-ounce button-head jigs, and they are endowed with a wire hook guard.

They caught the bulk of them around boat docks and an occasional brush pile that were situated on gravel and rocky terrains inside tertiary feeder-creek arms. At one brush pile, they caught a Table Rock grand slam, which consist of a largemouth bass, meanmouth bass, smallmouth bass and spotted bass. Reeves said, "A lot of the bass we are catching look thin and hungry and acting like they have just hunkered down after coming off fry duty."

One of the Table Rock Lake largemouth bass that the Reeves' Little Varmint inveigled on June 11.

One of the largemouth bass that the Reeves caught with the Little Varmint on June 11

When Reeves and his son plied main-lake lairs, they caught bass, but the main-lake bass were smaller than the ones they caught back in the feeder-creek arms. Reeves also observed that a lot of his fellow black bass anglers were fishing in too deep of water.

Across the years, scores of Midwest finesse anglers have discovered that one of the virtues of the Little Varmint is that it has an uncanny ability to inveigle black bass in relatively shallow water even at reservoirs where the bulk of the black bass tend to inhabit deep-water lairs.


1. Sometime in 2014, we hope to publish another edition of "Midwest finesse goes to Table Rock Lake, according to David Reeves," which he wrote about his Little Varmint endeavors during April of 2012 at Table Rock. Here is the link to those insights:

2. Anglers can also see Reeves' contributions to the Table Rock Lake forum at

3. It is interesting to note that Reeves and several other Little Varmint devotees at Table Rock Lake have been using an 1/8-ounce jig this spring. In contrast, Midwest finesse anglers who ply the flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri prefer to use 1/32- and 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jigs, as they attempt to execute what they call a no-feel retrieve. These small and lightweight jigs allow the Little Varmint and other Midwest finesse baits to be relatively buoyant, and even when these baits are bounced, hopped, and dragged on the bottom during the retrieve, anglers can rarely feel them, which is why it is call a no-feel retrieve.

In a June 15 e-mail, Reeves said: "Every little-rig [Little Varmint] fish we have caught this trip has been on the 1/8 ounce combo --except for a few off the dock or bank while relaxing during the evenings. We are catching a few swimming it, but not enough to warrant the 1/16-ounce jig. The largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass are still pretty tight to the bottom, and they are still focused on crayfish first, baitfish second. We are just now starting to catch a few spotted bass that are eating shad or small baitfish. I do not have a 1/16-ounce or smaller jig rigged in the boat.

"Normally we fish a little shallower in the summer and target gravel terrains with shad on them, but that is a tough option now. When that is the going deal, the 1/16-ounce jig will take the bigger head's lunch money. I am a little concerned that quite a few folks are going to get tunnel vision about the bigger head because it has been so good this spring, and they don't realize that it has been a bit of an anomaly. To me, the 1/16-ounce jig is the cornerstone, and the 1/8-ouncer is normally the situational size."

Here are two links to articles that describe the traditional Midwest finesse retrieves:, and

The Reeves' Little Varmint bewitch a goodly number Table Rock Lake's bluegill, too.

Another Table Rock Lake smallmouth bass that the Reeves caught by wielding the Little Varmint.

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