July 07, 2012
By Ned Kehde
This blog chronicles many of the details about our 16 outings in April. It explains how, when and where we caught 640 bass in 64 hours by employing Midwest finesse tactics at several small flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas.
It also includes the Finesse News Network reports and observations from Bob Gum of Kansas City, Casey Kidder of Topeka, Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, Dave Schmidtlein of Topeka, Dwight Keefer of Phoenix, Arizona, Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, and Clyde Holscher of Topeka. It needs be noted, however, that Frazee and Kidder's endeavors included a few power fishing tactics.
Before anglers plow into these 10,889 words, it is important to note that our waterways and their denizens underwent a bizarre phenomenon this spring. It revolved around the water temperature. On April 3, the surface temperature at our reservoirs hit 70 degrees, and, of course, the water was even warmer at eastern Kansas' two power-plant reservoirs. By April 19, however, the surface temperature had dropped to 64 degrees, and it didn't reach 70 degrees again until May 3. During this odd spell, we tangled with very few lunker-size bass. But we fished more than we have in April's past, and in my boat we caught 37 more largemouth and smallmouth bass than we caught in April of 2010 and 53 more than we caught in April of 2011.
Here's how April unfolded:
Bob Gum of Kansas City sent a report to the Finesse News Network about his outing with a friend at a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir on April l.
The surface temperature was amazingly warm for April 1, reaching a high of 75 degrees along the dam, which lies more than a mile south of where the warm water flows out of the power plant and into the reservoir.
On Mar. 31, there was a 19-boat bass tournament, and it was reported that these anglers beat up the largemouth bass pretty significantly. What's more, the Flint Hills Bass Club from Topeka,Kansas, was staging a tournament at this reservoir on April 1. Thus, the parking lot at the ramp was chockfull of trailers and tow vehicles, and when Gum and his friend were fishing the riprap of the dam, they were accompanied by seven other bass boats.
Throughout their outing, they focused primarily on riprap, as well as one offshore rock hump. The hump was cluttered with spawning crappie, but no largemouth bass.
Despite all of the pressure from other anglers Gum and his partner managed to catch and release 26 largemouth bass. Two were 19-inchers and another was 18 inches in length. Their bass were allured on Z-Man Fishing Products' 2 ½-inch ZinkerZ, Rain MinnowZ and Finesse WormZ. The color of these baits was PB&J. They were affixed to a 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Original Mushroom Head Jig.
Casey Kidder of Topeka competed in the Flint Hills Bass Club tourney. He reported that the fishing for big bass was difficult, but he and his partner caught scores of crappie and small bass. Despite the trying fishing for big bass, Kidder finished in second place on the individual side of the event, but because his partner failed to catch a keeper-sized largemouth bass, they did not fare well on the team side of the tournament, finishing in sixth place.
Kidder began the day working a bluff with a crankbait, where he caught several small largemouth bass. To his dismay, one of the hooks of the crankbait penetrated well past the barb into his left thumb as he was unhooking a small largemouth bass. It tore the flesh on his thumb to the point that he couldn't cast the crankbait on his baitcasting outfit for the rest of the day. Instead, he wielded a spinning outfit that sported a 2½-inch ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce jig, and at times, he managed to execute some delicate pitches with a casting outfit that was adorned with a Texas-rigged Zoom Bait Company Speed Craw.
By the way, this was the fifth year in a row that Kidder placed in the top four at the Flint Hills Bass Club tournament on this reservoir by working with a 2½-inch ZinkerZ or Zero attached to a 1/16-ounce jig. He also placed second using the ZinkerZ in 2010. He won it using a 2½-inch Zero in 2009 and 2007, and he was fishing in the back of the boat at those events. In 2008, he wielded a 2½ inch Zero and three-inch YUM Dinger on a wacky jig, which put his name in third place on the leader board.
Rodney Hatridge of Shawnee, Kansas, and I traipsed back to the 100-acre community reservoir in suburban Kansas City that had treated us poorly since Dec. 1, 2011. Some folks would proclaim that we are gluttons for punishment, and this reservoir's largemouth bass punished us again.
We fished from 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
The lower 40% of the lake was clear. The surface temperature was 69 degrees. The morning low air temperature was 70 degrees. The afternoon high hit 88 degrees.
It was sunny, and the wind blew out of the south at 14 to 24 mph. We used a drift sock a lot.
We started fishing the east shoreline that is graced with a bridge that leads into a nearby slough. It's also enhanced with a creek channel edge. This shoreline yielded the bulk of the 50 largemouth bass Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, and I caught on March 29. But it yielded only four largemouth bass for Hatridge and me. This shoreline is also embellished with rocks, a few boulders, coontail, filamentous algae and American water willows
After we caught only four largemouth bass along the east shoreline, we crossed to the other side of the reservoir and fished the west shoreline which is bedecked with a submerged creek channel, coontail, some American water willows, a lot of filamentous algae and boat docks. Here we eked out only three largemouth bass.
This reservoir is lined with hundreds of boat docks, but both power and finesse anglers complain that they rarely catch significant numbers of bass associated with the docks.
After that we fished a short span of a northern shoreline that exhibited similar features to the east and west shorelines that surrendered only seven largemouth bass in more than an hour of exacting finesse fishing. But this area quickly relinquished six largemouth bass.
We were heartened by catching six largemouth bass at such a quick pace. But we were dispirited again when we failed to garner another strike while we fished another nearby bluff and creek channel bend, as well as a big spawning bay that was adorned with many patches of coontail, rock piles and a rock-laden shoreline.
After that discouraging 45 minutes of not eliciting a strike, we were ready to surrender and head home. But before we arrived at the boat ramp, we decided to try one spot on the lower portion of the lake. It is important to note that the lower portions of this reservoir had been a virtual dead zone for catching largemouth since November. We began fishing the last 250 yards of the west shoreline south of the dam and spent the rest of the outing here. To our surprise, we eked out 22 bass.
By the time we made our last cast, we had caught 35 largemouth bass, six crappie and two saugeyes, which was far from a stellar outing
Most of the fish were caught on a Z-Man four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher. But when Terry Claudell and I fished this reservoir on Mar. 29, a 2½-inch green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce jig was the best combo, but today it enticed only a couple largemouth bass. A swim-glide-and-shake retrieve caught the bulk of the fish.
For the past several outings, the small bass at this 195-acre community reservoir were incredibly easy to catch. For example, I fished it for nine hours last week, and it yielded 234 largemouth bass.
But on April 3, I fished from 11:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. and caught only 36 largemouth bass.
Last week, 98% of them were caught on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher and a four-inch Junebug Finesse WormsZ, which was retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.
On April 3, the 36 largemouth bass were caught on a variety of baits: a 2½-inch pearl Z-Man GrubZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a four-inch purple-haze Finesse WormZ on a 1/16-ounce Zappu Inchi Wacky Jig Head, a 3.75-inch green-pumpkin StreakZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Zoom Mini Lizard on a 1/16-ounce red Gopher jig.
It was impossible to determine what bait the largemouth bass preferred and what retrieve was the most alluring.
Some of the bass were caught on the initial drop. Some were caught on the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Some were caught on a drag and shake. Some were caught on a drag and deadstick. Some were caught on a do-nothing swim. Some were caught on a swim and shake and pause.
Some of the largemouth bass were shallow and others were in eight feet of water.
In sum, there was no pattern. It was helter-skelter fishing.
Last week we inadvertently caught a number of crappie on rocky shorelines. On this outing, all of the crappie were caught on the outside edge of the patches of curly-leaf pondweed. (There were crappie on the outside edge of the pondweed last week, too, but there were more on the rocks than on the pondweed edge).
None of the bass or crappie were good ones.
Most of the bass were associated with rocks.
The surface temperature was 70 degrees. The water level was normal, and it was clear.
The morning low air temperature was 57 degrees. The afternoon high hit 69. A thunder and hail storm hit Lawrencebut not the reservoir. The skies were partly cloudy and the wind angled out of the north at about 6 mph.
On this outing, I decided that I should be using the Mini Lizard more. Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, got me using it last May. It has been one of his favorite spawning season finesse baits for a number of years, and it enticed a lot of bass for me during the 2011 spawning season. (Here is an interesting footnote about the Mini Lizard: The Mini Lizard wasn't as effective during the spawning periods of 2012 as it was in 2011. Anglers suspect that one of the problems that confounded the effectiveness of the Mini Lizard in April and May of 2012 was that the weather was odd, which seemed to affect the way the prespawn, spawn and post-spawn periods evolved and the way the largemouth bass in the reservoirs around northeastern Kansas reacted to the Mini Lizard.)
I made a quick return trip to the 100-acre community reservoir that I fished on April 2, and the fishing was a tad easier than it was then. Nevertheless I had a difficult time landing a lot of largemouth bass.
I was greeted at the ramp by the first loon of 2012. Also the American water willows were sending up green leaves.
It was cloudy until about 2:30. The wind was mild-mannered and angled from the northeast at 7 to 9 mph. The lower two-thirds of the lake was relatively clear. Surface temperature was 66 to 67 degrees. The morning low air temp was 44 degrees and afternoon high was 63 degrees.
I caught the largemouth bass on a green-pumpkin lizard on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher, green-pumpkin four-inch Finesse WormZ on a 1/16-ounce Zappu Inchi Wacky Jig, Junebug four-inch Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher, green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher and Junebug 2½-inch ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher. The wacky jig was the most fruitful of the five baits.
Most of the bass were relating to water willows and filamentous algae. The lower third of the lake was the most fruitful, but the dam yielded only six bass.
By the time I executed my last cast and retrieve, my fish counter indicated that I caught 50 largemouth bass; I didn't keep track of how many I failed to haul over the gunnels of the boat.
I failed to catch a crappie today, which is the first time in several weeks that has occurred, but I didn't use the Junebug WormZ much today, and that has been the bass bait that has enticed the crappie.
Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, fished the same 100-acre community reservoir on April 6 that I fished on April 5, and he too found that the wacky jig and worm was the most fruitful.
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, reported on the Finesse News Network that had a solo outing at a 120-acre suburban Kansas City, Missouri, reservoir on April 6.
He fished 3½ hours, and found the most productive area to be a massive patch of coontail in the upper portions of the reservoir.
His most fruitful spinning outfit sported a smoke-glitter three-inch Swimming Minnow affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig, which he retrieved at a slow pace so that it ticked the tops of the coontail stems.
Across the entire 3½-hours, he caught 31 largemouth bass and 27 crappie. He wrote: "The crappies were so aggressive that a couple times I just dangled the lure about two feet under the surface while I talked on my cell phone and I watched crappies come up and grab it."
Some of the largemouth bass were exceedingly aggressive. That was reflected in this tale: "I hooked a small bass at the tubes and was fighting it when I watched a big bass come up and inhale it. I had it on for a second. In fact, I had that bigger bass up to the surface before he finally realized he wasn't hooked. He just opened his mouth and out popped the smaller bass. I won't make up things and tell you it was a 10-pound bass. It looked to be about five pounds. But it certainly was aggressive to go for a 'bait' that big."
Besides the Swimming Minnow, Frazee used a four-inch Finesse WormZ, 2½-inch ZinkerZ and Rain Minnow with only limited success. He caught five largemouth that measured 15-inches or more on a black-and-blue jig and trailer along a stretch of riprap. But none of them were huge.
He concluded his report by stating: "The bass fishing has been good in this warm weather, but the bass four pounds and over have been scarce. I'm wondering if this rapid warm up has the fish totally disoriented. The bass and crappies I caught were in 10 feet of water, and it looked like the crappies were staging to spawn. Yet, I didn't see a single dark male and the females looked like they were aways from spawning."
I was hoping to fish with our oldest grandson, Gabe Bonanno of Brooklyn, but he and his sister had some other post-Easter family affairs to attend. Therefore, I made a 2 ½-hour journey to a nearby 195-acre community reservoir, hoping to establish an easy pattern for Gabe on April 10. I also wanted to find a pod of good-sized largemouth bass for him to tangle with.
I fished from 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. The wind was extremely mild-mannered, angling at times from the east, then from the north, switching to the south for a spell and back to the east; it never exceeded 6 mph. Morning low air temperature was 37 degree; afternoon high reached 73 degrees.
The lake level was normal. The water was relatively clear, and the surface temperature ranged from 66 to 67 degrees. The curly-leaf pondweed and milfoil was quite mature. The length of some strands of the pondweed was four feet, reaching within inches of the surface.
I used only four spinning rods. One sported a green-pumpkin Zoom Mini-Lizard on a 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig. The second had a four-inch green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ on a 1/16-ounce Zappu Inchi Wacky Jig. The third had the green-pumpkin Z-Man prototype on a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher Jig, and the prototype was rigged with the four tentacles attached to the collar of the jig. The fourth had a four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on a 1/16-ounce blue Gopher jig. All four outfits allured an equal number of fish, which totaled 41 largemouth bass, two smallmouth bass and two crappie. Only four fish were associated with the aquatic vegetation. Forty-one of them were caught along rocky shorelines, which were occasionally graced with some areas of filamentous algae and a bit of pondweed. A swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the most effective, and it was best to have the jig combos to be swimming and gliding about six inches above the bottom.
To my chagrin, I failed to tangle with any good-sized bass, which has been the case for all of 2012. Thus, I concluded that Gabe and I would make a longer drive and venture to either a 140-acre state fishing reservoir or a 55-acre community reservoir.
In a selfish way I was somewhat pleased to read about Brent Frazee's big-bass woes, because I was suffering the same woes. What's odd about this phenomenon was that I normally don't pay any attention to the size of bass that we catch as long as we catch a bunch of them. And normally when we catch a bunch, it is interlaced with a few big ones. But this spring and late winter, it is all dinks. But we are catching a lot, averaging during the past three weeks about 17 bass an hour.
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, sent the following report on April 9:
"I am more convinced than ever that the strange spring we're having has affected the fishing, especially for big bass.
"By this time last year, eight bass weighing more than five pounds had come out of my boat, even though the water temperatures were much cooler. In fact, my biggest of the year -- one that weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces -- came on April 2 last year.
"So far this year, there have only been two -- the one that you caught, and another that I took. For a while, I and someone I was taking out were at least catching a fair number of keepers â€“ perhaps six to eight an outing.
"But today, Bruce Janssen and I went out for four hours and we never caught anything close to a keeper. Plus, the crappies that had been in pre-spawn mode last week and were so easy to catch, have just disappeared.
"We did catch about 35 small bass, five small walleyes and a handful of crappies, most of them on a smoke-glitter Swimming Minnow and a black Beetle Spin. But all in all, it was a discouraging day.
"I think I'll take a normal spring, where the water temps steadily climb. I was surprised to see that despite this cold front, we've only lost three degrees in water temperature, though. It's still 67, which surprised me. That should be warm enough to get a bass or crappie to bite. But not today."
Frazee mentioned that his crappie had disappeared. Here are some interesting observations from Dave Schmidtlein of Topeka,Kansas, about an outing he had with his father on a 11,200-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineer reservoir on April 10:
"Regarding the crappie disappearing, yesterday Dad and I [were afloat] for a few hours. It didn't take long to find the crappie have left the banks. As late as over the Easter weekend, fishers were taking them as shallow as 18", but yesterday the shallows yielded very few fish. Noticing the water temperature has dropped in one week from the upper 60s to upper 50s we suspected they had moved deeper, but we would never have guessed so deep. We had to go 17-20 feet deep to get them, most were females.
"The shad have moved deeper as well. The white bass were mixed with the deep crappie.
"These depths are quite odd, as we caught crappie all winter, in water as cool as 35 degrees, usually in10-15 feet deep, but seldom deeper than 18 feet deep."
Clyde Holscher of Topeka also noted that he guided an angler at a 5090-acre power-plant reservoir of April 9, and they fished from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and caught 60 smallmouth bass, but they didn't catch a single crappie.
Our grandson Gabe and I made the 50-mile drive to 55-acre community reservoir. In short, we spent too much time driving rather than fishing.
Because of various family plans, we had a limited time to fish. Therefore, we could fish only two hours and 15 minutes.
We were hoping to tangle with some bigger specimens that I had been able to catch at the reservoirs nearer to home. We also thought that we could catch at least 15 largemouth bass an hour. On average the largemouth bass were bigger than the ones we had been catching at reservoirs closer to Lawrence, but we landed only 15 of them. We failed to land six. None of them, however, looked to be bigger than 2 3/4-pounds.
Gabe lives in Brooklyn and works inManhattan, and we haven't fished together since 1999. In fact, this was his first outing since 1999, and he was a tad rusty for the first 45 minutes. We were hoping that the drag-and-deadstick retrieve would work for him, but it didn't. The few bass that we could allure wanted a lot of shaking, and the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve enticed all but four of our 21 largemouth bass bites. Ultimately he perfected the correct rhythm of the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, but it was a chore for a spell.
The most alluring bait was a 1/16-ounce Zappu Inchi Wacky Jig and four-inch green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ. The 2 1/2-inch Junebug ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher bewitched a few largemouth bass.
We caught five largemouth bass in the first 10 minutes, and then our fishing became extremely trying.
Steep and rocky shorelines were better than flatter shoreline graced with American water willows.
A few bass were caught on the initial drop. Most were caught from eight to 15 swim-glides-and shakes from the shoreline.
For the first time in a numerous outings, we failed to catch some accidental crappie.
On April 11, Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, who has been featured in several blogs, sent the following report:
"Enjoyed your post about the Mini Lizard. I wanted to hit the lake this evening, but after searching in vain on my wall of baits for a package of them, I found the closest thing that seemed similar, a package of Zoom Tiny Brush Hogs in green pumpkin. After spending just less than 80 minutes casting from the bank this evening, they accounted for 18 bass and 3 crappie, for a catch rate of 13.5 bass per hour. One of the bass was well into the four-pound range, though the scales were at home in the boat. I was very impressed with the size/bulk in relation to the 1/16-oz. mushroom heads, and they certainly didn't overpower the little head by any means. Durability is pretty darn good, and their appearance in the water is pretty alluring."
Waldman observations were on the mark. Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, who is a veteran Midwest finesse angler, has often used Zoom Bait Company's Tiny Brush Hog rather than their Mini Lizard during the spawning season.
After some problematic largemouth bass fishing on April 10, grandson Gabe and I spent two hours and 40 minutes at a nearby 195-acre community reservoir on April 13.
The wind angled from the south at 13 to 21 mph. Initially, the sky was mostly cloudy, and it gradually became partly cloudy. It was the warmest day of the week, ranging from a morning low of 55 degrees to an afternoon high of 75 degrees.
The surface temperature at several spots when launched at 12:30 p.m. was 63 degrees. It hit 65 by the time we were leaving. (The surface temperature was 70 on April 3.)
The water was stained in the reservoir's southern arm and what we call Kansas clear at the dam.
Gabe's four spinning outfits sported a four-inch watermelon-red-flake grub on a 1/16-ounce red Gopher jig, a split-shot rig adorned with a Junebug four-inch Finesse WormZ, a 1/16-ounce Zappu Inchi Wacky Jig affixed to a four-inch green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ and a four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 3/32-ounce Gopher jig.
My four spinning outfits were rigged with a green-pumpkin Zoom Mini-Lizard on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, 2 1/2-inch Junebug ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, green-pumpkin four-inch Finesse WormZ on a 1/16-ounce Zappu Inchi Wacky Jig and four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
The Junebug four-inch Finesse WormZs on the blue Gopher jigs were our most fruitful combos.
We landed 50 largemouth bass, and we failed to land a dozen more. None of them were big, but they were slightly larger than I have been catching during the past three weeks at this 195-acre reservoir.
The average size of largemouth bass that Gabe and I caught on April 10 was significantly bigger than the ones we caught today.
During this busy week of family get-togethers surrounding Easter, Gabe and I managed to squeeze in five hours of finesse fishing, and after a trying start, we landed 65 largemouth bass and failed to land 17.
Next year Easter will be a week earlier, and Gabe and I are hoping to spend some hours during the week after Easter on the water finesse fishing for bass.
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, e-mailed me a report about a small tournament that he won on April 14 at the 120-acre community reservoir that he regularly fishes.
He wrote: "We had a bass tournament a today. As expected, it was a tough bite. I did catch a six-pounder, which was big bass in the tournament, and my partner and I had several other big ones on, but they got off. On a couple occasions, I set the hook, the fish made a run and then just got off. That seemed like a fish protecting a bed and just having ahold of the trailer on a bass jig.
"One thing that has been discouraging is that the fish are still scattered and there is no reliable pattern. Today, I went through every type of Z-Man bait I own and caught very few fish, even shorts. I thought I could eke out a couple keepers on the finesse baits when the fishing was tough, but not even that worked.
"Our water temperature was down to 63 degrees today, 7 degrees cooler than it was in the midst of that warm spell."
I spent 2 1/2 midday hours at a 100-acre community reservoir that lie in the southwest suburbs of Kansas City.
After the horrendous winds that reached 47 mph at times on April 15, which were coupled with a massive cold front and a sky-rocketing barometer, I thought that it wouldn't be wise to ask another angler to accompany me, fearing that the largemouth bass in this reservoir would administered another one of the their masterful comeuppances, which they had accomplished with astonishing regularity throughout the winter of 2011-12. And that was my only correct thought and action of the day.
I had seven spinning rods rigged with different finesse baits. The only two that allured the largemouth bass was a 1/16-ounce blue Gopher jig decked out with a four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ and a 1/16-ounce Zappu Inchi Wacky Jig sporting a wacky rigged four-inch green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ. The Junebug combo was the better of those two.
The surface temperature was 62 degrees for most of the outing, but it hit 63 degrees at several spots. The wind had caused most of the reservoir to be stained, but the water around the dam was clearer than the water elsewhere.
The American water willows were green and growing.
It was sunny, and the heavy early morning wind diminished shortly after I launched the boat. During the outing, it angled from the north at 10 mph and then it switched to the west at 12 mph. The early morning low temperature was 37 degrees, and it warmed up to 65 degrees around 2:30 p.m. The barometric pressure was 30.09 and climbing.
The bass bite improved during the last 40 minutes, allowing me to eventually catch 25 largemouth bass. None were big. The biggest of the lot looked to weigh 2 3/4-pounds.
A drag-and-shake retrieve was the best. Occasionally a short deadstick would bewitch a largemouth bass.
The dam paid the best bass dividends, yielding 15 of the 25 largemouth bass.
As I was leaving I talked to Jeff Mangels of Overland Park, as he was preparing to launch his boat. He is a veteran power angler and used to fish with Brent Chapman when they were young. He also used to fish the Central Pro Am and Heartland circuits. He said that this 100-acre community reservoir had been trying for him this year, too. In fact, he had caught only four largemouth bass here in 2012. But last year, he caught an eight-pounder here on a Heddon Zara Spook. He primarily uses a Smithwick Suspending Rattlin' Rogue, Heddon Zara Spook, Storm Chug Bug, Rebel Lures' Pop-R and a four-inch Senko-style bait or tube, and he works them around the patches of coontail.
Mangels fishes the Lake of the Ozarks a lot, which is cluttered with thousands of docks. Consequently, he likes to fish around docks, which provoked us to wonder why so few of the largemouth bass are caught around docks at this 100-acre community reservoir that is stippled with hundreds of docks. Of the hundreds of bass that we have caught at this reservoir across the years, I suspect that only five percent of them have been caught around or under a dock.
From 11:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., I had a solo outing on a 416-acre community reservoir.
I cross paths with Ed Ames of Topeka at the south boat ramp, and he reported that he and Gary Day of Topeka have still been tangling with a few trout even though the surface temperature was hovering around the mid-60s. At the same time, he said that their power-fishing endeavors for largemouth bass at several of the small community reservoirs across northeastern Kansas had been trying this spring.
This outing wasn't a suitable one for making a television show or winning a bass tournament, but it was what I would call an enjoyable potpourri day. I tangled with 52 largemouth and smallmouth bass, six freshwater drum, five green sunfish, two bluegill, one channel catfish, and one crappie. (I failed to tangle with any white bass or wipers, but Ames said he and Day have been accidentally catching some.) Most of the bass were caught on a four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ, which had about three-quarters of inch trimmed off its head before it was affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. A few were caught on a PB&J Rain MinnowZ on a red Gopher jig, and several were caught on a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
A drag-and-shake retrieve was the best of the three retrieves that I tested. A few bass were bewitched by the initial fall, but most of the bass were caught from the third to the eighth drag and shake.
The west shorelines were more productive than the east ones. The bass preferred rock over milfoil and American water willows. (The American water willows are green and growing. The wild honeysuckle was blooming too. It is early in the year for that to occur.)
It was sunny for the entire outing. The morning low 41 degrees; afternoon high was 73 degrees. The barometric pressure was 30.28 and falling. The wind was out of the south at 10 to 18 mph.
The water was clear around the dam, and it was a tad stained in the upper third of the reservoir. The surface temperature was 65 degrees
In sum, it was the best bass fishing that I have had at this reservoir in several years. None of the bass were bigger than 2 1/2-pounds, but many of them -- especially the smallmouth -- were bigger than they have been for a long, long time.
Clyde Holscher of Topeka reported that he and two of his clients battled 30-mph winds that angled out of the south at a 5020-acre power-plant reservoir, and those winds kept them sequestered to the southern regions of the reservoir, where they used 2½-inch ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce jig. Before noon, they caught 31 smallmouth bass, 12 crappie, three freshwater drum, one flathead catfish, and an 18-pound buffalo. The most productive colors of the ZinkerZ was PB&J and purple haze. At noon they eat lunch. Then after lunch, they tangled with 15 white bass, six walleye and a blue catfish. He concluded his report by saying: "The wind is my friend."
After I read Clyde Holscher's report about his guiding endeavors in the wind, in which he proclaimed the wind is his friend, I challenged that premise on April 19, when the wind blew out of the south and southwest at 15 to 44 mph.
I went to a 100-acre community reservoir instead of the 5090-acre power-plant reservoir that Holscher fished on April 18. This reservoir doesn't allure me as it used to when I was infatuated with catching smallmouth bass. And it is especially unalluring when the wind blows as much as 44 mph. I think Holscher is the only angler the power-plant authorities allow to be afloat when the wind howls.
Despite the vigorous wind, I found several fishable locations. One of the great virtues of this small reservoir is that possesses a number of spots to hide from the wind.
On this outing, the easiest spot to fish was between a series of eight boat docks along the west shoreline. This area yielded 12 of the 39 largemouth bass that I caught, and those 12 were caught on a four-inch watermelon/red Finesse WormZ on a 1/16-ounce Zappu Inchi Wacky Jig.
I battled the wind along the eastern two-thirds of the dam and caught 10 largemouth on a Junebug four-inch Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
I caught six largemouth bass on the wacky worm and jig along the south shoreline of a large cove, which was sheltered from the wind. I also caught the biggest fish of the outing in that cove, which was a channel catfish that looked to weigh about six-pounds.
I caught five largemouth bass along the east shoreline of the upper portions of the reservoir; this shoreline also is graced by a stone bridge that leads to a slough, and the largemouth bass often abide around this bridge. A long stretch of the shoreline adjacent to the bridge is embellished with patches of coontail, American water willows, laydowns and a nearby submerged creek channel.
The rest of the bass were scattered here and there.
The best retrieve was the drag and shake, and a little deadsticking was occasionally effective.
It was another solo outing. The third of the week.
When the wind blows as wildly as it did, it would have been difficult for two anglers to find a spot to cast and then execute an alluring retrieve. I used the drift sock at most spots, but the wind was swirling so much that I often allowed the boat to twist and turn rather than battle it to keep it on a straight course, and when the boat was extremely twisted, I would walk to the back of the boat to make a cast and retrieve, and when the wind straighten the boat up, I walked to the front. At one area I walked from the front to the back and from the back to the front a half dozen times.
In addition to the pesky wind, the sky altered from being cloudy with a few sprinkles to partly sunny. The morning low was 58 degrees; the afternoon high hit 78 degrees. The water clarity around the dam was Kansas clear; the upper half of the lake was stained. Surface temperature was 64 to 65 degrees.
In sum, I didn't find the wind as fun and friendly as Holscher reported that he found it on April 18, but it was manageable. Even though I didn't tangle with any big bass, the average size of the bass were bigger than ones that we have been catching at four of the other small flatland reservoirs that we have been frequenting this year.
Postscript April 19
After Holscher and my wind report circulated around the Finesse News Network, a veteran Midwest finesse angler sent an e-mail me entitled "Just some random observations."
He wrote: "Throughout my fishing lifetime I have loved the wind. I fish the nastiest banks with the wind pounding them. Then jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and crankbaits rule rather than finesse. I cover lots of water, looking for active fish. It is the best time to tangle with a giant. Bass, northern pike, walleye and muskies are predators and a strong wind pounding a bank puts their food at a disadvantage.
"A lot of anglers think a bass won't swim across a lake. But if you spend enough time watching bass cruise about, you will see that they can swim as fast or faster than most of us old men can walk. They swim as fast as we walk, and I regularly walk a mile in 15 minutes. In short, it is a relatively east task for a large bass to cruise a lake to find easy feeding opportunities. Since I finally got my mind to quit saying the bass wouldn't move that far, my results have surprised me.
"Even when the wind doesn't blow, the bass and their forage move. For example, at a tournament that we fished last year, the bait fish that we were fishing around on the first day disappeared on the second day. Over the course of two hours on the second day, we moved over a mile before we found the bait fish, and after 2 hours of being skunked, we were culling bass in 15 minutes. These were dead-calm conditions and bluebird skies. It just proved to me once again that bass will move a long distance when they are foraging on bait fish.
"My point is you may still catch some small fish on calm areas in a big wind, but I think the big boys move to the best feeding areas, which are the wind blown areas. But the wind does prohibit most anglers using finesse tactics."
For another insight about wind and bass fishing see the comments by Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, at the end of the April 21 log.
On April 21, Casey Kidder of Topeka and Ethan Dhuyvetter of Manhattan, Kansas, teamed up to compete at 32-team bass tournament at a 7,000-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir.
The surface temperature ranged from 62 to 64 degrees, and it was a chilly day.
Via the Finesse News Network, Kidder reported that they spent half of the tournament searching for largemouth bass and caught only one little one. At 11:30 a.m., they began focusing on smallmouth bass, aiming to catch four smallmouth bass that were 15 inches and one 18-inch smallmouth bass. Ultimately they caught 30 smallmouth bass, and a goodly number of them were 15 inches and bigger, but they failed to tangle with an 18-incher. So they were able to weigh four smallmouth bass, which tipped the scale at eight pounds, two ounces.
The best bait was the 3½-inch Grim Reaper that Dhuyvetter hand pours and sells on his website (http://www.hookupsfishing.com/#!grim-reaper). The Reaper was affixed to a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. A pumpkin/chartreuse laminated 2½-inch ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig was the second best combo. A Texas-rigged Zoom Bait Company Speed Craw in a green-pumpkin hue allured several smallmouth bass that were less than 15 inches in length.
Dave Schmidtlein of Topeka responded to Kidder's Finesse News Network report. His reply had some interesting observations about the goings on of other species and water temperatures.
"The big bass seem to be hard to come by on the federal reservoirs.
"I haven't heard how the Bait Hut crappie tourney went, but it was a tough bite for us on April 21. We had reliable info the walleye had moved onto the flats the week of the April 9. So, we started out pulling jig/crawler combos on floaters for walleye, but didn't hook up with any walleye and had maybe one walleye bite. The other boats in our vicinity suffered the same results. In fact we did not see a single walleye landed. I'm told by an acquaintance that stayed on the main point for four hours that he saw a few whites and wipers being landed, but only one small walleye. Usually, we haven't done well on walleye when white bass are around. We did not try trolling cranks. I'd rather watch the opera, ballet or paint dry.
"We decided to check out the crappie in two to six feet of water. Nada. Eventually we ventured out into 13 to 22 feet of water and began to get some action, but it was only one nice fish per brush pile along with two to six dinks. The two of us fished about two dozen brush piles and eventually caught 18 keeper-size crappie. Nine of them measured from 12 1/2 to 14¾ inches in length, and 17 of them were females and full of eggs. We also encountered a large school of white bass and wipers along creek-channel edge in 18 feet of water, but they didn't stick around long.
"The surface temperatures have cooled to 60-62 degrees. Three weeks ago, they were nearly 70 degrees and the fish were in 18 inches of water along with the walleye, largemouth and smallmouth bass. Water clarity now is about a foot in the main lake, whereas three weeks ago the clarity exceeded two feet."
Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, made a brief report on the Finesse News Network about his April 21 outing.
He wrote that his turkey hunting pursuits had kept him off the water for nearly a month, but a windy and rainy morning throttled his turkey hunting desires. Therefore, he decided to spend the afternoon on the water.
He said that his father had fished twice during the week and enjoyed some nice catches of largemouth bass by using a Zoom Bait Company Fluke and a wacky-rigged Senko-style bait. He was working those baits around pods of skittish largemouth bass fry that were being guarded and eaten by their larger relatives.
On April 21, Poe worked with a green-pumpkin/red glitter 2½-inch ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Whenever he spied a pod of fry, he would execute a skip with the ZinkerZ in the vicinity of the fry.
There was a spell when he made four skip casts and caught four largemouth bass. Around one pod of fry, he inveigled two three-pound largemouth bass.
Even though it was raining and the wind was blowing, he couldn't garner a bite on a spinnerbait or chatterbait. Instead he plied the calmest areas and the edges of creeping water primrose and American water willows
He fished three hours and caught 14 largemouth bass, including one lunker.
He concluded: "If only the turkeys were so easy. I need a turkey call as effective as the ZinkerZ."
Steve Desch of Topeka and I fished a 416-acre community reservoir from 10:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
The cold weather that had been pummeling us for a week or more was replaced by a virtual heat wave today. Some area thermometers climbed from a morning low of 41 degrees to an afternoon high of 89 degrees. The sun shone brightly in the china blue sky. The wind angled out of the south by southwest at 10 to 18 mph.
The lower half of the reservoir was surprisingly clear. The water level looked to be six inches below normal. The American water willows were growing and so was the milfoil. The surface temperature ranged from 63 to 65 degrees.
It was a potpourri day. We caught 52 smallmouth and largemouth bass. (About 40 were smallmouth bass; we failed to keep an exact count). We also caught eight male crappie and seven big bluegills, and a few other species.
The gizzard shad seemed to be spawning.
Our most fruitful area stretched for about 500 continuous yards along the northern end of the reservoir. It began at the reservoir's outlet, stretched across the dam, and eventually ended along a 100-yard stretch of the northern shoreline in a secondary feeder cove.
The second most productive spot was a long offshore rock pile. It yielded six largemouth and smallmouth bass, including the two of the biggest smallmouth bass.
The biggest largemouth bass looked as if it would weigh three pounds, and it was caught on a green-pumpkin Zoom Bait Company Mini Lizard affixed to a 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig. This largemouth bass was caught along a flat shoreline that was graced with American water willows on the south shoreline of a small cove.
The best three baits were a four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, 2 1/2-inch green-pumpkin ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and four-inch green-pumpkin/red WormZ on a1/16-ounce Zappu Inchi Wacky Jig.
A drag and shake seemed to allure the bulk of the bass. A few bass engulfed the bait on the initial drop, but some others weren't enticed until after the 10 shakes and drags had been executed.
On April 17, I caught and released 52 bass at this reservoir. Thus, during the past seven days, it has yielded 104 bass in about 10 hours of fishing. That is the best bass fishing than I enjoyed at this waterway for several years.
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, sent a report to the Finesse News Network as soon as he got off of the water from his April 24 outing on a 120-acres reservoir that lies in the northern suburbs on Kansas City.
It was the first time he had been on the water for about a week. He reported that the largemouth bass fishing had improved slightly. Also the size of the largemouth bass that he caught was measurably better than it had been throughout this spring, but from his many experiences at this reservoir, the fishing was still more trying than it should have been.
What's more, it was one of those days when Midwest finesse tactics weren't as effective as big black-and-blue skirted jig and Net Bait's four-inch Baby Paca Craw. Frazee is a tad more versatile than I am; he usually has a few power-fishing options at the ready. He is especially fond of a shirted jig adorned with a soft-plastic trailer.
All of the largemouth bass were relating to rocky terrains.
Seven of the largemouth bass were bigger than 15 inches, and he weighed several of them that hovered around the three-pound mark. He also failed to land a very big largemouth bass that jumped spit out the jig-and-craw combo.
He eked out a few crappie by wielding a three-inch Swimming Minnow on a 1/16-ounce jig. A 2½-inch PB&J ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce jig inveigled only a few tiny largemouth bass.
He reported that water was stained, which was unexplainable because it had not rained for a considerable spell. He suspected the stained-water conditions might have adversely affected the effectiveness of his finesse presentations.
The surface temperature was 64 degrees. The wind was at moderate pace, and caught the bulk of the largemouth bass along rocky shorelines that were windblown.
My wife, Patty, and I took our youngest granddaughter, Emily, age 11, to a 195-acre community reservoir. It was a quick trip, and it was an after-school outing. Thus, we didn't arrive at the lake until 4 p.m. Area thermometers hovered at 94 degrees.
Emily and Patty's spinning outfits sported a 1/16-ounce red Gopher jig and a four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ. An inch was trimmed off the head of each the Finesse WormZs.
They landed 15 largemouth bass in 40 minutes, and they failed to land 10 largemouth bass. It was the first time Emily had fished with us since last August in Minnesota, and to our delight her casts were pretty much on the mark. She was snagged only once in a patch of American water willows. She hooked two of the biggest bass (they looked to be two-pounders), but they liberated themselves with some acrobatic jumps before she could get them into the boat.
Emily even took a quick swim, and there were five other folks swimming. That has to be a record for April 25 in northeastern Kansas, where the water temperatures are typically 56 degrees rather than 68 degrees.
This is an appropriate spot to note that my wife thinks these logs are encumbered with too many details. From her perspective, Midwest finesse anglers need to take more time smelling the roses and enjoying Mother Nature's many manifestations rather than spending so much time dealing with our tedious fascination with minutiae. She would be interested to read the opinions of anglers who have waded this far into this maze of details.
On April 26, 2011, Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Steve Desch of Topeka and I fished a secondary feeder creek arm at a 11,600-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir. The surface temperature was 56 degrees. We caught 23 largemouth bass, 17 white bass, 14 crappie and three smallmouth bass. The biggest bass weighed five-pounds. We caught the fish on a white 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ and a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ. Those baits were affixed to a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
On April 26, 2012, Terry Claudell of Overland Park,Kansas, and I fished a 100-acre community reservoir that lies in the southwestern suburbs of Kansas City. The surface temperature fluctuated between 68 and 69 degrees or 13 degrees warmer than it was a year ago. The lower two-thirds of the lake was quite clear. And to our surprise, Claudell and I saw four schools of this year's gizzard shad hatch milling about on the surface, and we witnessed a fish foraging on them.
We fished from 11:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
We caught 75 largemouth bass, three saugeye, one crappie and one channel catfish, as well as a goodly number of bluegill, green sunfish and warmouth. None were lunkers. One largemouth had eggs protruding out of its duct. But that was the only pre-spawn and spawning activity that we encountered.
Our best or most fruitful area was a post-spawn offshore hump. In fact, we fished two of the reservoir's five offshore humps, and we caught bass on both. In hindsight we should have fished all five of them. These humps are embellished with massive boulders.
The best bait was a four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on either a red or blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We did catch some largemouth bass on a green-pumpkin four-inch Finesse WormZ affixed to a 1/16-ounce red Gopher jig and a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig. We caught one 2 1/2-pound largemouth on a purple haze 2½-inch ZinkerZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, but that was the only bass on the ZinkerZ. (It is interesting to note that Clyde Holscher has been guiding a lot at a 5090-acre power-plant reservoir, and he and his clients have been catching vast numbers of smallmouth bass on a 2½-inch ZinkerZ, and I have been struggling to catch largemouth bass on it for several weeks.) Claudell and I caught a few bass on a four-inch Finesse WormZ affixed to a 1/16-ounce jig wacky style.
We did a lot deadsticking that was coupled with a lot of dragging and shaking.
There is a lot of filamentous algae cluttering the surface and clinging on to the coontail and American water willows. That has been the case for several months.
Initially it was sunny. Then it became mostly cloudy and occasionally partly cloudy. The wind angled out of the northeast and east at 10 to 12 mph. The morning low was 54 degrees and the afternoon high hit 80 degrees. It was an easy day to fish.
I made a rare Saturday outing, fishing from 11:10 am to 3:10 p.m. at a 140-acre state fishing reservoir.
The surface temperature was 65 degrees for the entire four hours. The upper two-thirds of the lake was stained. The lake level looked to be normal.
The morning low air temperature was 49 degrees; the afternoon high reached 68 degrees. It was sunny for a spell. Then it became mostly cloudy to partly cloudy.
I caught and released 48 largemouth bass on a four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. This was the same Finesse WormZ and Gopher jig that I used on April 26, and about three-quarters of an inch was clipped off the head of this WormZ.
A 3¾-inch green-pumpkin StreakZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher inveigled three largemouth bass.
All the bass, but one, were small. The one big one weighed four pounds, five ounces. To the eye, it looked to be considerably bigger than a four-pounder. It was caught on the Junebug Finesse WormZ. (It is a rare feat to catch a four-pounder at this reservoir. We rarely catch more than three four-pounders there each year. It is, however, a good numbers venue, providing us with two to three 101 bass outings each year.)
The bulk of the bass that I caught seemed to exhibit a preference for rocks; such as the riprap of the dam and several of the manmade rocky jetties. I caught 16 largemouth bass on the dam. I caught 35 on the west shoreline of the west arm; a few were associated with the American water willows, which were covered with a lot of filamentous algae. Several of the smallest largemouth bass were caught from around a few patches of emerging bushy pondweed, and some of the bushy pondweed was unusually thick for this time of year. Steep shorelines weren't as fruitful as flat ones. It was best to have the boat floating in eight feet of water and less.
A drag-and-shake retrieve was best. Throughout the outing, I found myself wondering when the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve would become effective again. When the swim-slide and glide is the dominate retrieve, we have a better chance of catching 101 bass in four hours. But it hasn't been effective lately. But the deadstick, thankfully, wasn't needed today. The bite petered out around 2 p.m.; until then I thought that I might be able to catch more than 75 largemouth bass. One of the problems with Saturday fishing at these small public reservoirs is that most of the rocky jetties are filled with bank anglers, and if the bass prefer to inhabit rocky lairs, there aren't as many rocky lairs to fish on Saturdays as there are of weekdays.
Dwight Keefer's days as a Midwest finesse aficionado dates back to the 1960s when he lived in the western suburbs of Kansas City and fished with the late Chuck Woods. Nowadays, he resides in Phoenix.
On April 28, he sent a report about his Arizona finesse endeavors on April 26 and 28.
He wrote: "I made a special trip to a city park on Thursday [April 26]. It was raining and cloudy all day and I wanted to try some new rods, umbrella rigs, topwater baits and crankbaits that I had custom made or altered. But I couldn't catch a fish until I went to the green- pumpkin-blue Finesse ShadZ on a 1/16-ounce unpainted Gopher jig with a Gamakatsu No. 1 hook. On that combo, I caught nine largemouth bass â€¦, and four of them were about four-pounds each. I never lost a fish."
Then, he elaborated about his outing with George Schaffer of Phoenix to Saguaro Lake, Arizona, which is a heavily fished 1,264-acre reservoir that is also cluttered with many houseboats and recreational boaters. They fished from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Here's Keefer's description of this outing: "George and I caught somewhere between 50-60 largemouth bass, and the majority of them weighed between three and six pounds. Almost all of the bigger fish were caught on the same green-pumpkin-blue ShadZ rig I had used at the city park lake. George did catch some fish on a jerkbait and a drop-shot worm, but the Shad-Z was clearly the best lure. George knows nearly every rock, ditch and milfoil patch in Saguaro. At the first three points we fished, I caught four largemouth bass on the ShadZ and all were three- to four-pounders. George knew exactly where to go. We found three basic patterns: (1) Points near deep water and where the boat floated above 20 feet of water. (2) Bays with hydrilla stubble in five to nine feet of water. (3) Long flat points in four to 12 feet of water near deep water. I switch to a 3/32â€“ounce drop-shot rig with the ShadZ in the hydrilla. When the wind came up, I switched from the 1/16-ounce Gopher jig to a 3/32-ounce one. I caught fish in two to nine feet of water. I used the drag-and-shake retrieve most of the time. Some of the fish were spawning, and the water was clear, which forced me to make 20- to 40-yard casts with the ShadZ.
"As we were on our way back to the boat ramp, George said he wanted to fish one more long point and predicted that we would catch four fish off of it. I immediately caught a four-pounder on the ShadZ, and he caught a three-pounder on a jerkbait. Then I gave him my new ShadZZ spinning outfit and told him to make some casts with it, and on the first cast, he caught a four-pounder. After a few more casts, we caught the fourth bass, which was another four-pounder, and called it a day.
"Wow, what a day. I caught two largemouth bass that weighed over five-pounds. George lost a brute that became entangled in the prop of the outboard; it looked as if it would weigh around six to seven pounds. I broke off two largemouth bass while I was experimenting with my drop-shot knots. Only one fish threw the hook. I also had several strikes and when I set the hook I would get a fish scale back pinned to the tip of my hook. I can't recall a fishing trip that we caught so many numbers and quality of largemouth bass finesse fishing.
"The weather was sunny, the temperature ranged from 60 to 90 degrees. The wind was from the southeast, blowing at 10- to 20-mph. The water temp was 69 degrees and the lake was very crowded with fisherman and outdoor sports enthusiasts."
For a number of years, we have entertained ourselves by attempting to catch 101 largemouth and smallmouth bass in four hours. Of course, we rarely can meet that lofty goal at the small and rather heavily fished urban, suburban and exurban reservoirs that we fish. It is especially difficult to catch 101 on solo outings, and for the past 14 months, I have fished a lot more solo outing than I used to fish.
So, nowadays I occasionally entertain myself by playing other games while I am afloat. Back in March, I started one that focused on how many bass can a Z-Man Finesse WormZ catch before it disintegrates.
I began that game again on April 28, and I used a well-used four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ that was affixed to a well-used 1/16-ounce blue Gopher, and it caught 51 largemouth bass at 140-acre state reservoir.
Then, after the morning and early-afternoon rains stopped on April 29, I decided to go to a 195-acre community reservoir, and see how many more largemouth bass this old Finesse WormZ could catch.
I fished from 3:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., and it caught 53 largemouth bass. Thus, that same Junebug Finesse WormZ and blue Gopher 1/16-ounce jig tangled with 104 largemouth bass on across six hours of fishing on April 28 and April 29. That same Finesse WormZ and blue Gopher 1/16-jig also inveigled 30 largemouth on April 26 at a 100-acre community reservoir. So, across 10 hours of fishing, during three outings, it enticed 134 bass, as well as an assortment of bluegill, crappie, channel catfish, saugeye and green sunfish, proving once again that the Finesse WormZ is a super worm.
On this outing, I spent the entire two hours on the dam and the west shoreline adjacent to the dam. The water was Kansas clear. Surface temperature was 65 degrees. It was cloudy and occasionally it drizzled and rained hard once. The wind was nil.
The largemouth bass wanted the bait swimming and gliding and a lot of shaking. In fact, I have never spent as much time shaking my rod as I did today. During those two hours, I might have equaled the great shaker, Shin Fukae of Osaka, Japan andPalestine,Texas. Fukae is a professional tournament angler and a magnificent finesse angler, and may of his finesse presentation incorporate a variety of shakes.
Across three outings, which encompassed 10 hours and 15 minutes of fishing, this Junebug Finesse WormZ and 1/16-ounce blue Gopher jig I caught 134 bass.
Ultimately the allure of the Finesse WormZ will fade, and then one of the other 10 finesse bait that we use throughout a calendar year will become the alluring one, and its merits will be recorded in my logs, on the Finesse News Networks and in future blogs.
It is important to close this April 29 log with this observation: Several northeastern Kansas finesse anglers have been a big bass slump for weeks on end, and I am one of them. I did catch a four-pound, five-ounce largemouth bass on April 28, but on April 29, the biggest largemouth bass weighed only two pounds, 14 ounces.
We are not big bass anglers, but normally we inadvertently catch several more big largemouth and smallmouth bass than we have been able to catch so far in 2012.
This was the fourth day of testing the wherewithal of the four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ and a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and I spent it at 55-acre community reservoir, fishing from 11:20 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
It was a great day to be afloat. Area thermometers recorded a morning low of 55 degrees and an afternoon high of 64 degrees. Not an iota of wind wrinkled the lake's surface. It was cloudy until 1:45 p.m. Then once the sun began to shine, the largemouth bass bite tamed down.
Yesterday's rains didn't affect the water clarity or water level. It was relatively clear, and the water level looked to be about a half foot low. Surface temperature fluctuated from 66 to 67 degrees.
The shoreline was graced with scores of sandpipers, orioles and four blue herons. A loon and many coots entertained each other in the middle of the reservoir's south arm
Until 2:30, I used only the four-inch Junebug Finesse WormZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher. It is the identical jig and worm (but more tattered and torn) that I started using on April 26.
On this outing, it caught 44 largemouth bass, which made a total of 178 largemouth bass that it caught. Even thought it was about to disintegrate, I entertained hopes that it had the wherewithal to tangle with another 22 largemouth bass. I had developed an affection for this plastic creature, and I didn't want to see its demise. When the bass bite began to peter out around 1:45 p.m., I finally put it down for the first time in many hours, which made me feel a touch strange, and I began working with a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The ShadZ eked out four more largemouth bass for a total of 48 largemouth bass. None of the largemouth bass were bigger than 2¾ pounds, but the average size of the 48 bass was the best that I had experienced in 2012.
These largemouth bass wanted a lot of shaking of the worm and jig during the presentation, and that was the case on April 28.
Rocks are the primary feature at this reservoir, and that was where most of the bass were caught. But a few were caught along the edges of the American water willows.
The filamentous algae was thick, and when the largemouth bass bite tamed down, I stopped shaking and moving the bait and did a lot of dragging, which resulted in a lot of filamentous algae becoming attached to the jig. The dragging, however, allured only a few largemouth bass.
We have noted a number of times in articles and blogs about our Midwest finesse fishing endeavors that except for one 120-acre reservoir in the northern suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri, all the reservoirs are public reservoirs. Most of them lie along a 50-mile-wide area that we call the Interstate 70 corridor. This corridor stretches from Kansas City to Topeka, Kansas. The census records indicate that more than a million people live within this corridor or closely adjacent to it. Consequently, these reservoirs â€“ even the one that isn't open to the public â€“ are heavily fished.
What's more, several of the reservoirs have been whacked by the largemouth bass virus during the past four years, which has adversely affected the numbers and size of the largemouth bass that we have been able to catch.
Most of the largemouth and smallmouth bass we catch are small, and this year, we are catching fewer big ones than we have in years past. Some of us are attributing this decline to the largemouth bass virus and a significant fish kill that hit a 195-acre community reservoir last summer when it was unseasonably hot and the water was afflicted with a terrible algae bloom.
Nevertheless, we are still able to catch and release an average of nine largemouth and smallmouth bass an hour while plying these flatland reservoirs. Thus, they are still entertaining venues for recreational bass anglers to ply throughout the year.
In a few weeks we will post our comments and observations about what occurred in May, when we fished 16 times and caught 697 largemouth and smallmouth bass or 10.8 bass per hour.