February 28, 2018
By Ned Kehde
Since 2012, we have published 117,041 words about how, where, and when Midwest finesse anglers fished in March. These words originate from anglers in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.
Midwest finesse anglers who ply the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas and many other waterways across the nation can be bedeviled by Mother Nature's windy and wintry ways in March.
What's more, our abilities to find and catch significant numbers of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass during March can be a chore.
When our black bass fishing becomes problematic in March, we suspect that these bass are in transition from their winter haunts and ways to their springtime haunts and ways. And when they are in this transition phase, they seem to be so widely scattered that it is difficult for us to cross paths with them. But, of course, this is pure intuition and speculation rather than science. To definitively prove the causality of the goings on of the largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass is beyond our abilities as anglers, and it is even beyond the abilities of aquatic biologists.
When anglers examine our accounts in hopes of replicating or not replicating how, when, and where we caught or failed to catch our quarries, it might be wise for them to pay heed to the reservoirs' surface temperatures rather than the calendar dates of our outings.
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 March of 2011 was 48.6 degrees. Then in 2012, the average surface temperature for the last 12 days of March was 61.3 degrees. In essence, March of 2012 was nirvana. I was afloat 14 times, and my partners and I tangled with 630 largemouth bass, which is an average of 45 largemouth bass an outing and 11.25 largemouth bass an hour. Of those 630 largemouth bass, 117 of them were caught on Mar. 30, 2012, when John Reese of Lawrence, Kansas, and I fished a heavily fished exurban community reservoir in northeastern Kansas.
The weather and fishing was dramatically different in March of 2013. In many Midwest finesse anglers' eyes it was hell rather than nirvana in northeastern Kansas. That winter was relentless. We were pummeled with more than five inches of snow on Mar. 23, which was Palm Sunday. Winter's blustery ways allowed me to fish only six times for a total of 17 1/2 hours, and 4 1/2 of those hours were at a northeastern Kansas' power-plant reservoir. During those six outings my partners and I caught only 103 largemouth bass, which was a piddling average of 17 largemouth bass an outing and 5.8 largemouth bass an hour. The surface temperature was 40 degrees on Mar. 7, 2013; 42 degrees on Mar. 19; 43 to 45 degrees on Mar. 20; 43 degrees on Mar. 28; and 43 to 46 degrees on Mar. 29. (After those 31 horrendous days in March, 2013 became a bountiful year, which allowed my partners and me to catch an average of 39 black bass an outing and an average of 11.6 per hour.)
In March of 2014, I fished nine times, and the surface temperature ranged from 38 to 47 degrees on Mar. 11; 43 to 47 degrees on Mar. 13; 42 to 44 degrees on Mar. 14; 44 to 46 degrees on Mar. 17; 43 to 45 degrees on Mar. 18; 43 to 48 degrees on Mar. 19; 46 degrees on Mar. 20; 45 to 48 degrees on Mar. 25; and 43 to 45 degrees on Mar. 28.
In March of 2015, I fished seven times. Ice covered 50 percent of the surface of the reservoir that I attempted to fish on Mar. 8, but on Mar. 9 most of the ice was gone, and the surface temperature ranged from 40 to 42 degrees. It was 44 to 47 degrees on Mar. 16; 47 to 53 degrees on Mar. 20; 47 to 50 degrees on Mar. 24; 47 to 52 degrees on Mar. 27; and 50 to 52 degrees on Mar. 30.
In March of 2016, I fished seven times, and the surface temperature was 44 to 45 degrees on Mar. 3; 46 degrees on Mar. 4; 50 to 53 degrees on Mar. 9; 49 to 52 degrees on Mar. 21; 49 to 52 degrees on Mar. 22; 50 to 52 degrees on Mar. 29; and 53 to 54 degrees on Mar. 31. Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I caught 94 largemouth bass on that warm Mar. 31 outing.
In March of 2017, I fished 10 times, which encompassed 42 hours of fishing. At a northeastern Kansas' community reservoir on Mar. 3, the surface temperature was 46 to 49 degrees. At that same reservoir, the surface temperature was 44 to 48 degrees on Mar. 16. At another community reservoir, it was 52 to 55 degrees on Mar. 20. Then on Mar. 31, it was 50 to 52 degrees at another northeastern Kansas' community reservoir. This was an exceptional March. Here are a few details about what transpired: Five of the10 outings were solo endeavors. During the other five, I was joined by one or two Midwest finesse practitioners. We caught 486 largemouth bass and five smallmouth bass, which is an average of 11.8 largemouth bass an hour. The most fruitful outing occurred on Mar. 18, when Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, Merit Goodman of Eudora, Kansas, and I caught 110 largemouth bass.
Even when Old Man Winter or Mother Nature's windy ways are not a thorn in our sides, March traditionally can present Midwest finesse anglers with 31 days of problematic largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass fishing in northeastern Kansas. For instance, during the past 13 Marches, commencing with March of 2005, the weather woes allowed me to fish only 120 times during those 403 days. And when I could fish, my partners and I struggled to catch 3,307 largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, or 27 black bass an outing and an average of 6.8 black bass an hour.
Our average catch per each four-hour outing during March is lower than our annual one. For example, we caught an average of 30.4 black bass an outing and 7.6 per hour during the calendar year of 2008. We caught an average of 35 black bass per outing in 2009 and an average of 8.8 per hour. We caught 43.8 per outing in 2010 and 10.9 per hour. We caught 35.9 per outing in 2011 and 9.01 per hour. We caught an average of 36 per hour in 2012 and 10.2 per hour. We caught 39.1 per outing in 2013 and 11.6 per hour. We caught 31.5 per outing in 2014 and 7.5 per hour.
There are some outings in northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri when Midwest finesse anglers partake in an endeavor that we describe as bass fishing for trout. These outings occur when we fish reservoirs that are stocked with trout, and we inadvertently catch some trout with our Midwest finesse rigs. We usually catch more largemouth bass, but Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, and I fished a heavily fished community reservoir on Mar. 11, 2014, and we caught 48 rainbow trout and seven largemouth bass. Steve Desch and I caught 29 rainbow trout and 26 largemouth bass on Mar. 9, 2016. Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence, Kansas, and I caught 59 trout and 33 largemouth bass on Mar. 22, 2016, at the same northeastern Kansas' community reservoir.
Here are three samples of when we caught more largemouth bass than trout: On Mar. 25, 2015, Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, and I caught 75 largemouth bass and 25 rainbow trout at a community reservoir in the northern suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri, but Frazee and I fished the same community reservoir on Mar. 28, 2014, and we caught 101 largemouth bass and no rainbow trout. Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, Merit Goodman of Eudora, Kansas, and I caught 110 largemouth bass and 21 rainbow trout on Mar. 18, 2017, at another community reservoir in suburban Kansas City.
Listed below are 10 links to the 117,041 words that we have published about Midwest finesse fishing in March.
(1) This is the link to the Mar. 1 to Mar. 19, 2012 guide: http://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/an-addendum-to-the-month-by-month-guide-to-midwest-finesse-part-3/.
(2) This is the link to the Mar. 20 to Mar. 31, 2012 guide: http://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/an-addendum-to-the-month-by-month-guide-to-midwest-finesse-part-4.
(3) This is the link to the March 2013 guide: http://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/month-by-month-guide-to-midwest-finesse-march-2013-2/.
(4) This is the link to the March 2014 guide: http://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/midwest-finesse-fishing-march-2014/.
(5) This is the link to the March 2015 guide: http://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/midwest-finesse-fishing-march-2015/.
(6) This is the link to the March 2016 guide: http://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/midwest-finesse-fishing-march-2016/.
(7) This is the link to the March 2017 guide http://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/midwest-finesse-fishing-march-2017/.
(8) This is the link to "A Month-by-Month Guide to Midwest Finesse for Bass": http://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/a-month-by-month-guide-to-midwest-finesse-for-bass/. It possesses a 609-word synopsis of how, when, and where we have employed Midwest finesse tactics to catch largemouth bass in March.
(9) This is the link to the 2016 edition of our Marches of the past column: http://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/marches-of-the-past.
(10) This is the link to the 2017 edition of our Marches of the past column: http://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/marches-of-the-past-2/#ixzz56r2QPBz9.
Here are some photograph from Marches of the past: