Marches of the Past

Marches of the Past

Since 2012, we have published 131,750 words about how, where, and when Midwest finesse anglers fished in March. These words originated 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 difficult 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 goodly numbers of them. But this observation 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 logs and reports 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 were dramatically different in March of 2013. In many Midwest finesse anglers’ eyes, it was hell rather than nirvana in northeastern Kansas. The winter weather 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 struggled to catch 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. (But 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 the 10 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.

During March of 2018, I fished eight times. Those outings encompassed 31 hours and 45 minutes of fishing. Four outings were solo ones, and on the other four outings, I was accompanied by another angler. We caught 214 largemouth bass, nine smallmouth bass, and nine rainbow trout, which was an average of 27.8 per outing and 6.74 black bass per hour. On Mar. 1, the air temperature ranged from 32 to 53 degrees, the surface temperature at a northeastern Kansas’ community reservoir ranged from 42 to 45 degrees, and I caught 25 largemouth bass. At a different northeastern Kansas’ community reservoir on Mar. 8, the air temperature ranged from 19 degrees to 43 degrees, the surface temperature fluctuated from 41 to 44 degrees, and Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas and I caught 43 largemouth bass. The air temperature on Mar. 12 ranged from 32 to 54 degrees, the surface temperature at a state reservoir in northeastern Kansas ranged from 44 to 45 degrees, and I caught 19 largemouth bass. Dave Petro of Lecompton, Kansas, and I fished on Mar. 15 at a northeastern Kansas’ community reservoir, where the surface temperature ranged from 44 to 47 degrees, the air temperature ranged from 44 to 73 degrees, and we caught 63 largemouth bass and two rainbow trout. At another northeastern Kansas’ community reservoir the surface temperature on Mar. 20 ranged from 45 to 46 degrees, the air temperature ranged from 39 to 45 degrees, and I struggled to catch two largemouth bass and two rainbow trout in 2 1/4 hours. Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, and I on Mar. 21 eked out nine smallmouth bass and one largemouth bass at one of northeastern Kansas’ power-plant reservoirs, where the surface temperature ranged from 49 to 57 degrees and the air temperature ranged from a low of 39 degrees to a high of 45 degrees. Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, and I fished on Mar. 22 at a community reservoir in northwestern Missouri, where the surface temperature ranged from 45 to 46 degrees, the air temperature ranged from 39 to 46 degrees, and we caught one largemouth bass and three trout in four hours. On the final outing of the month, Rick Hebenstreit and I fished at a northeastern Kansas’ community reservoir, where the surface temperature ranged from 46 to 49 degrees, area air temperatures ranged from 46 to 49 degrees, and we caught 61 largemouth bass and three rainbow trout.


During the past 14 Marches, commencing with March of 2005, I was able to fish 128 of those 434 days. And when I could fish, my partners and I struggled to catch 3,530 largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, or 27.5 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 catch rate per outing. 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 an average of 43.8 black bass per outing in 2010 and 10.9 per hour. We caught 35.9 black bass per outing in 2011 and 9.01 per hour. We caught an average of 36 black bass per outing in 2012 and 10.2 per hour. We caught an average of 39.1 black bass per outing in 2013 and 11.6 per hour. We caught an average of 31.5 black bass per outing in 2014 and 7.5 per hour. (I am sorry to say that I have failed to tabulate the average catch rates for 2015, 2016, and 2017, but I resumed that task in 2018.) For a multitude of reasons, I was not able to fish in 2018 as often as I fished in years past. Throughout 2018, my occasional partners and I fished 62 times; we caught 1,541 black bass, which was an average of 24.8 per outing and 7.78 an hour, and that paltry catch rate accentuates the declining state of the black bass fishing in northeastern Kansas.

There are some March 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 nine links to the 131,750 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: https://www.in-fisherman.com/editorial/an-addendum-to-the-month-by-month-guide-to-midwest-finesse-part-3/156416.

(2) This is the link to the Mar. 20 to Mar. 31, 2012 guide: https://www.in-fisherman.com/editorial/an-addendum-to-the-month-by-month-guide-to-midwest-finesse-part-4/156394.

(3) This is the link to the March 2013 guide: https://www.in-fisherman.com/editorial/month-by-month-guide-to-midwest-finesse-march-2013-2/155449.

(4) This is the link to the March 2014 guide: https://www.in-fisherman.com/editorial/midwest-finesse-fishing-march-2014/154011.

(5) This is the link to the March 2015 guide: https://www.in-fisherman.com/editorial/midwest-finesse-fishing-march-2015/154123.

(6) This is the link to the March 2016 guide: https://www.in-fisherman.com/editorial/midwest-finesse-fishing-march-2016/154747.

(7) This is the link to the March 2017 guide: https://www.in-fisherman.com/editorial/midwest-finesse-fishing-march-2017/156070.

(8) This is the link to the March 2018 guide: https://www.in-fisherman.com/editorial/midwest-finesse-fishing-march-2018/154581.

(9) This is the link to “A Month-by-Month Guide to Midwest Finesse for Bass”: https://www.in-fisherman.com/editorial/a-month-by-month-guide-to-midwest-finesse-for-bass/156223. It possesses a 609-word synopsis of how, when, and where we have employed Midwest finesse tactics to catch largemouth bass in March.

Here are a few photographs from Marches of the past.

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//content.osgnetworks.tv/infisherman/content/photos/Copy-of-Coffey-County-17-008.jpg
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//content.osgnetworks.tv/infisherman/content/photos/Marches-of-the-past-largemouth.jpg
//content.osgnetworks.tv/infisherman/content/photos/brentbass.jpg
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