September 04, 2018
This August guide to Midwest finesse fishing contains 17 logs and 13,033 words that describe how, when, and where Midwest finesse anglers fished. It features the piscatorial endeavors and insights of Rick Allen of Dallas; Tom Bett of Oshkosh, Wisconsin; Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas; Bob Hardy of St. Paul, Minnesota; Wade Harness of San Diego, California; David Harrison of Lawrence, Kansas; Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas; Ned Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas; Dave Mull of Paw Paw, Michigan; Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas; and John Thomas of Denton, Texas.
Several of life's manifold woes and complications have prevented several of us from fishing and composing as many logs as we normally do. We are hoping that will change as 2018 wears on.
As always, we are thankful that Steve Reideler proofread all of the logs. He made them more readable and understandable.
Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 2 outing.
Here is a slightly edited version of his log:
My wife, Nancy, joined me for a three-hour excursion at a problematic U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir that lies on the northern fringes of the Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan areas. Nancy is not an angler, but she enjoys getting out in the boat now and then and takes a few photographs of the landscape and wildlife when she is not paddle-boarding while I am fishing.
The afternoon high temperature was 96 degrees. The morning low temperature was 70 degrees. The wind quartered out of the east by southeast at 5 to 10 mph. The barometric pressure measured 29.93 at 8:00 a.m. and 29.91 at 11:00 a.m.
According to In-Fisherman's solunar table, the best fishing would take place from 3:18 a.m. to 5:18 a.m., 9:29 a.m. to 11:29 a.m., and 3:40 p.m. to 5:40 p.m. Nancy and I were afloat from 8:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
The water exhibited about 1 1/4 feet of visibility. The surface temperature was 84 degrees. The water level was 3.07 feet below its normal pool.
I plied seven main-lake points and two main-lake shorelines in the northern region of the impoundment. Along its southern end, I dissected two main-lake points, a floating tractor-tire reef near the mouth of a feeder-creek arm, and about two-thirds of the dam.
Some of the main-lake points that I fished are steep, and their underwater terrains consist of sandstone, rocks, and boulders. The other ones are relatively flat, and their underwater terrains consist of mostly clay and gravel.
I began the outing on the north side of the reservoir. The seven main-lake points that I dissected in this section of the reservoir yielded three largemouth bass and one white bass. They were caught from two flat points in water as shallow as three feet and as deep as seven feet. They were relating to a couple of small clusters of submerged rocks and boulders.
I failed to garner any strikes from the two main-lake shorelines. They are adorned with submerged boulders, rocks, and a few patches of flooded stickups.
After I finished fishing the north end of the reservoir, I ventured to its southern region.
One of the two main-lake points that I investigated along the southern shoreline relinquished four largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and three white bass. These fish were foraging on small threadfin shad along the surface in five feet of water.
The second main-lake point surrendered one spotted bass. It was caught around a large submerged boulder in four feet of water.
From these two main-lake points, I moved eastward toward the dam and probed a floating tractor-tire reef that is situated near the mouth of a feeder-creek arm and forms the entrance to a marina. Typically, we start catching black bass consistently around floating-tire reefs from mid-September to the last of November, and I thought I would check this one earlier than usual.
Nancy and I were amazed to see large aggregations of small 1/2-inch threadfin shad that were slowly swimming within a foot of the surface and cruising around the sides and through the openings between the floating tractor tires. I fished around this floating tire reef for about 45 minutes and caught 13 white bass. I was surprised that I did not find any black bass inhabiting this tire reef.
I spent the last 90 minutes of this outing dissecting the submerged riprap along the dam. Occasionally, a small school of white bass would begin foraging on the surface here and there, but they would only feed for a brief moment then disappear before I could get within casting range of them. But the black bass were nowhere to be found along the dam, and I failed to elicit a single strike.
In total, I caught nine largemouth bass, two spotted bass and 17 white bass in three hours. The largest black bass was a largemouth, and it weighed 3 1/2-pounds.
Of all the Midwest finesse lures and presentations that I employed during this outing, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man Fishing Products' pearl Slim SwimZ attached on a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig, which was presented with a moderately-fast-paced and a steady retrieve, bewitched three of the 11 black bass and 15 of the 17 white bass. A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's white lightning ZinkerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig and a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve enticed the other eight black bass and two white bass.
ZinkerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig and a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve enticed the other eight black bass and two white bass.
Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 2 outing with Rick Allen of Dallas.
Steve and Rick live around and fish on some of the most challenging black bass waterways in the nation.
They are also stellar Midwest finesse anglers who have introduced the art of Midwest finesse fishing to scores of anglers.
It is important to note, Rick introduced the smallmouth bass that reside in Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, to the Z-Man's Hula StickZ and a Finesse TRD, which were rigged on a 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. He also taught one of the guides on Mille Lacs how to use those baits. He also introduced the black bass that reside in Lake Hubert, Minnesota, to Midwest finesse tactics.
And Steve introduced the black bass that reside in Pokegama Lake, Minnesota, the Mississippi River near Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and Sturgeon Bay of Lake Michigan in Door County,Wisconsin, to several of the standard Midwest finesse rigs.
They have been major contributors to the Finesse News Network for many years, and Steve has been its copy editor for many of those years.
Here is a slightly edited version of his log:
From about 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Rick Allen of Dallas, Texas, joined me for an afternoon excursion at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' hill-land reservoir that lies a few miles north of the Dallas metropolitan area.
According to In-Fisherman's solunar calendar, the most lucrative fishing periods would occur between the hours of 2:57 a.m. and 4:57 a.m., 9:13 a.m. and 11:13 a.m., and 9:44 p.m. and 11:44 p.m.
The weather on August 9 was unsettled. It rained off and on with about 1 1/2 hours of sunshine around noon. The wind quartered out of the east by northeast at 5 to 10 mph, and when one thunderstorm erupted over the reservoir at about 3:15 p.m., the wind reached gusts of 40 mph. The morning low temperature was 71 degrees and the afternoon high was 91 degrees. While we were afloat, the barometric pressure fell from 29.99 to 29.89.
We spent three hours searching for largemouth bass and spotted bass in the southern region of this reservoir.
The water exhibited between two and 2 1/2 feet of visibility. The water temperature was 87 degrees. The water level was 3.51 feet below normal.
We investigated one rock ledge close to the boat ramp with our sonar devices. This ledge is situated in the middle of a creek arm and about 30 yards from the water's edge. It is covered with 14 feet of water but it was barren of any fish activity.
We then moved to a main-lake hump that is covered with 18 feet of water and surrounded by 30 or more feet of water, and it was also fruitless.
After that, we probed eight concrete bridge support columns underneath a railroad trestle bridge. These bridge columns stand in water as shallow as 12 feet and as deep as 38 feet. These eight columns relinquished seven largemouth bass.
Four were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man Fishing Products' white lightning ZinkerZ rigged on a Z-Man's chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. Three were caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ rigged weedless on a black 1/16-ounce Charlie Brewer's Slider Company's Spider jig. Both of these rigs were employed with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.
All of these largemouth bass were suspended about eight to 10 feet below the surface and were in close proximity to the sides of the columns.
We also dissected a couple of dozen concrete support columns underneath two other bridges, portions of two riprap embankments on opposite ends of those two bridges, two sections of riprap on the dam, some patches of flooded stickups that line the edge of a ditch that cuts across a main-lake flat, and some covered boat docks inside two marinas.
We failed to elicit any strikes from any of the bridge support columns under the other two bridges and along the two riprap-laden embankments at the ends of those two bridges.
We caught one channel catfish along the riprap along the dam on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's white lightning ZinkerZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, but we failed to elicit any strikes from a largemouth bass or spotted bass.
A three-inch Z-Man's pearl Slim SwimZ attached to a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig allured one white bass from the outside edge of a patch of flooded stickups that borders one side of the ditch that courses across a main-lake flat. And we failed to cross paths with any spotted or largemouth bass at this locale.
We finished the outing probing some covered boat docks inside two marinas. We observed a few pods of small threadfin shad meandering around several of the covered boat slips. We hooked one largemouth bass from underneath one of the boat slips on the shortened four-inch green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ rig, but it was able to liberate itself before we could hoist it into the boat. We were unable to generate any other strikes from the other boat docks.
In sum, the black bass fishing has been wretched this year. We investigated a wide variety of black bass lairs, including several deep-water haunts, but our best efforts could garner only seven largemouth bass, one channel catfish, and one white bass in three hours.
The number of black bass that we have caught in 2018 is less than half of what we caught in 2017, and we are having trouble getting motivated to fish in the miserable summer heat for less than a dozen strikes per outing.
David Mull of Paw Paw, Michigan, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 9 outing.
Here is a slightly edited version of his report:
I want to tell you about a recent discovery that works with the Z-Man's Finesse TRD and Hula StickZ. It is a circle hook with a tungsten spike instead of a jig. I tongue-in-cheek called it a D'Meko Rig as it uses some components of the popular Neko Rig and, more importantly, has my initials.
Here is a link to my initial story about this rig:
The tungsten-spike set-up works pretty well, when the fish want something settling into their strike zone, and they will hit it when retrieved with various retrieves. It, however, is more of a power technique than a Midwest finesse one; I cast and retrieve it like I do a jerkbait.
This week I was informed that a plain circle hook without weight works great with a Finesse TRD. A fellow named James Ball tracked me down somehow, either through MidWest Outdoors or my newspaper column, and said he started using a No. 1 circle hook with a Finesse TRD to sneak the lure above and through vegetation. He said he got the idea from saltwater flats guides who put a circle hook in the nose of soft plastics for their various quarries. And Ball has caught all kinds of fish on it. After my D'Meko experience, I instantly believed him and wanted to try it.
So, on Aug. 9, I took a buddy and his three kids fishing in my Mirrocraft, and after a couple hours of riding herd and making sure the 5, 8 and 12-year-old were with the bluegill program, I gave the Circle/TRD (if I win a multi-million lotto, I'm going to buy a ranch just so I can name it that) a try. I had only 2/0 Mustad circle hooks from some long-ago press junket, but they seemed very small, more like No. 2 than 2/0 hooks. They also have a slight offset. And the simple set-up worked great. I did not have a counter along, and really did not need one. I caught six bass in less than an hour, and eventually changed the bait to a Hula StickZ, and that worked great, too. When 8-year-old Nolan asked if he could try my spinning outfit instead of his push-button Zebco, I was happy to teach him and pretty soon he was flinging the Hula StickZ with aplomb. As dusk arrived and we readied to leave, he caught two 11-inch bass, and I could tell the fever had set in. On our first trip a few years ago, he could not wait to get out of the boat, but after catching the bass, he asked more than once when we were going fishing again.
Anyway, I related the story back to Jim Ball, and he said that when he has offset circle hooks, he bends the offset straight, which results in few gut hooks. I did have one of the small bass with the hook well back in its throat but was able to remove it without bloodshed. He also said if a Finesse TRD loses its salt and starts to float, he adds a swivel a few feet ahead of the lure, which provides just enough weight to keep the lure from floating. I think something like that will work with a StreakZ and other unsalted lures. I threw a 3.75-inch StreakZ for a while, and with the circle, it is basically a surface lure.
I have more experimenting to do, but the circle seems in line with the philosophy of not feeling your lure and not really knowing where it is in the water column, although it can easily be used just subsurface over weeds and in shallow water. What is nice is, you do not have to feel the strike, you just keep reeling and the rod loads up and the fish is on. It is a great way to help kids catch bass for sure.
Bob Hardy of St. Paul, Minnesota, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 11 outing.
Here is an edited version of his brief:
I had the pleasure of fishing in northwestern Wisconsin with two of my sons, Michael Hardy of Tucson, Arizona, and Matt Hardy of Richville, Minnesota, and my grandson Calvin Hardy of Tucson.
I fished this lake three other times this year, and it was fruitful.
It exhibits eight to 10 feet of visibility. Its underwater terrain consists mostly of sand and gravel. The black bass tend to be near the shoreline and abiding near laydowns, aquatic vegetation, docks, and pontoons. The surface temperature was 79.5 degrees.
The air temperature was in the mid-80s. The humidity was high. The wind was mild-mannered and angling out of the northwest.
A major solunar period occurred from 10:52 a.m. to 12:52 p.m.
The fishing activity was slower than on our earlier trips to this lake in the spring, but it was consistent enough to keep us alert.
We probed edges of visible aquatic vegetation and shoreline structure in eight to10 feet of water. Most of the black bass were caught in two to six feet of water, but a few of the larger specimens were residing in eight to 10 feet of water. I was fortunate to land an 18-inch smallmouth bass, and I lost another one of similar size in the same area. An 18-incher is a very respectable smallmouth bass in this part of the world.
All told we landed 10 smallmouth bass, 33 largemouth bass, and eight panfish.
We all used either a red 1/32-ounce River Rock Custom Baits' Tactical Finesse Jig or a black or green-pumpkin 1/20-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig. To these jigs, we affixed a Z-Man's green-pumpkin or Canada craw TRD TubeZ and a Z-Man's Canada Craw Finesse TRD.
In sum, it was a very fun outing, and it was surprising to catch so many black bass in less than four feet of water.
Bob Hardy of St. Paul, Minnesota, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 12 outing.
Here is an edited version of his brief:
Michael Hardy of Tucson, Arizona, Matt Hardy of Richville, Minnesota, Calvin Hardy of Tucson, and I pursued largemouth bass in a northwestern Wisconsin lake. I fished it in late May and enjoyed some stellar largemouth bass fishing.
The solunar calendar indicated that there was a major feeding period from 12:52 p.m. to 2:52 p.m. We were afloat from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
The air temperature was 85 degrees. It was hazy and muggy . A light wind angled out of the southwest.
The water exhibited eight to 10 feet of visibility. The surface temperature was 81 degrees. The submerged vegetation is well established, and the outside edges are in eight feet of water and slightly deeper in some locales.
We fished exclusively with Z-Man's TRD TubeZs and Finesse TRDs in these hues: green pumpkin, new money, and Canada craw. They were affixed to either a 1/32-ounce River Rock Custom Baits' Tactical Finesse Jig or a 1/20-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig; the colors of these jigs were either red or green pumpkin.
Most of the fish were caught in two to six feet of water, and some of the bigger largemouth bass were caught in eight to 10 feet of water.
We would let our rigs sink on a slack line. We waited several seconds before we moved them, and many of the strikes occurred when we made the first move. When a largemouth bass inhaled one of our rigs during the deadstick portion of our presentation, our line never moved. If we failed to elicit a strike on the initial drop and deadstick presentation, we would slowly retrieve our rigs with a lift-drop-and-swim retrieve to the boat. It continues to amaze me how softly black bass strike these rigs, and even when they swallowed our rigs deeply there is no indication of a bite.
In total, we had another amazing finesse day. We caught 113 largemouth bass, three northern pike, seven rock bass, and one yellow perch. The largest largemouth bass was 16 ¼ inches, and the others ranged from nine to 13 inches.
Bob Hardy of St. Paul, Minnesota, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 13 outing.
Here is an edited version of his brief:
Michael Hardy of Tucson, Arizona, Calvin Hardy of Tucson, and I pursued largemouth bass in a northwestern Wisconsin lake on Aug. 13.
I fished this small natural lake one time in late May. It has substantial population of largemouth bass, but they are stunted, and most of them are shorter than 14 inches. In order to improve the stature of this lake's largemouth bass, there is no minimum length limit. We were, however, fishing for fun, and we released all of the largemouth bass that we caught on this outing.
The solunar calendar indicated that there was a major feeding period from 12:52 p.m. to 2:52 p.m.
We fished from 10:30 a.m. until 2:40 p.m.
The surface temperature ranged from 80.5 at 10:30 a.m. to 82.5 degrees at 2:40 p.m. The water exhibited two to three feet of visibility. There is a well-defined weed line that surrounds the lake, but it ends in five to six feet of water. The underwater terrain consists mostly of sand and gravel with some areas of muck. There are many docks and boat lifts around the entire shoreline.
We used the bow-mounted trolling motor to propeller us around the lake's entire shoreline, and we made casts and retrieves to all of the likely fish-holding locales.
We caught fish in one to 10 feet of water. Most of them, including the biggest largemouth bass, were residing in six to eight feet of water. The largest one was a 15-incher, but most were less than 13 inches.
The bite was steady throughout the outing. We caught 101 largemouth bass, 24 panfish, and one northern pike. They were caught on either a red 1/32-ounce River Rock Custom Baits' Tactical Finesse Jig or a green-pumpkin 1/20-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig. These jigs were affixed to a Z-Man's TRD TubeZ and Z-Man's Finesse TRD.
During our panfish outing on Aug. 10 and our three black-bass outings on Aug. 11, 12, and 13, we caught 70 panfish and 258 black bass.
Midwest finesse rigs are amazing tools for catching largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. Since May, I have fished 24 times, and during six of those outings, 100 or more black bass were caught.
This is our first year of fishing Midwest finesse rigs, and we continue to be amazed at their abilities to catch black bass throughout the spring and summer. I have not given up on other tactics and presentations, but it will be tough for me to tie on anything else unless I fail one day to elicit a strike with these finesse rigs.
I should also mention that my son and grandson from Arizona have fished before, but they had never used finesse techniques. They were landing black bass within five minutes of explaining how to fish these Midwest finesse rigs. There are very few techniques that can be taught this successfully to neophyte anglers.
Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 15 outing.
Here is a slightly edited version of his log:
North-central Texas has been in a drought this summer, but the past seven days have been unusually wet ones and have kept me and many other anglers in my neck of the woods at bay. From Aug. 7 through Aug. 14, we received over seven inches of much needed rain, and it put a significant dent in our drought conditions. Unfortunately, almost all of our U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoirs are still a couple of feet below their normal pool levels. So in my eyes, we could use another few inches of rain to bring those water levels back to normal.
I also have had several obligations that have taken up a considerable amount of my time lately, but I did manage to sneak in a three-hour bank-walking excursion at one of the many smaller community reservoirs in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan area on Aug. 15. Traditionally, I and several of my fishing companions ply this particular community reservoir from mid- November through mid-April, but I thought I would see if the black bass fishing was any better here than at the larger Corps' reservoirs.
In-Fisherman's solunar table noted that the best fishing would take place from 2:39 a.m. to 4:39 a.m., 8:51 a.m. to 10:51 a.m., and 3:04 p.m. to 5:04 p.m. I fished from 12:51 p.m. to 3:51 p.m.
It was a typical August day in north-central Texas: sunny, hot, and a touch humid. The sky was partly cloudy. The Weather Underground reported that the morning low temperature was 79 degrees and the afternoon high was 96 degrees. While I was afoot, the barometric pressure fluctuated from 29.97 to 29.91. A pesky wind angled out of the south by southwest at 15 to 20 mph.
The water was stained with about 1 1/4 feet of visibility. The water level was slightly high. The water temperature was 83 degrees.
I was surprised to find small patches of submerged hydrilla scattered throughout this reservoir, and large globs of filamentous algae adorned most of its shorelines.
I began the outing fishing the north end of the reservoir. This area encompasses a large mud flat. Its shoreline is also lined with tall stands of cattails. A shallow ditch courses across the middle of the flat. A small feeder-creek enters the reservoir on the east end of this shoreline.
I caught one largemouth bass in three feet of water along the east end of the shallow ditch. A slow swimming retrieve coaxed it into striking a three-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin Slim SwimZ, which was attached to a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig. The remainder of this mud flat was fruitless.
From the north shoreline, I moved to the east side of the reservoir and worked my way southward from the mud flat. The east shoreline is steep and curved. On its northern end, a long and shallow clay and gravel point extends westward toward the middle of the reservoir. About 30 yards south of this point, a broad and steep sand and gravel point forms the middle section of this shoreline. The lower section of this shoreline is relatively flat, and a shallow sand ledge extends about five feet out from the water's edge.
Two largemouth bass were caught in five feet of water from a patch of submerged hydrilla on the south side of the clay and gravel point. One was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. It was employed with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve across the top of the hydrilla patch. The other one was attracted to a Z-Man's California craw TRD CrawZ mounted on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. It engulfed the TRD CrawZ as it settled to the bottom on the initial drop along one side of the same patch of hydrilla.
One large green sunfish was caught on the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ and swim-glide-and-shake presentation from the tip of the broad point in the middle of this shoreline, but I was unable to garner any strikes from a largemouth bass around this point.
I failed to entice any strikes from the sandy ledge on the southern end of this shoreline.
After that, I plied the dam. The dam is constructed of smooth concrete slabs, and it forms the southern perimeter of the reservoir. It yielded one largemouth bass. This largemouth was caught in five feet of water and within 10 feet of the water's edge. It was beguiled by a Z-Man's bubble gum Finesse TRD that was attached to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. This rig was implemented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation. I failed to generate any strikes from the east and west ends of the dam.
From the dam, I slowly fished northward along the west shoreline. This shoreline is steep and its underwater terrain consists of mostly sand and gravel. A fishing pier is positioned along its midsection. Two tertiary points are located about 20 yards north of the pier, and another gravel and sand tertiary point lies about 50 feet south of the fishing pier.
The gravel and sand tertiary point south of the fishing pier surrendered one largemouth bass. It was relating to the end of the point in five feet of water and within 15 feet of the water's edge. It was enticed by the Z-Man's bubble gum Finesse TRD rig and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.
At the fishing pier, I failed to elicit any strikes from the metal support posts and shaded areas underneath the fishing pier. I also failed to garner any strikes from the two tertiary points north of the fishing pier and the northern end of this shoreline.
In conclusion, it was another lackluster outing. I barely managed to eke out five largemouth bass and one large green sunfish in three hours, but they were all decent ones that weighed between 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 pounds.
As this outing unfolded, I found myself experimenting with an array of Z-Man's Midwest finesse baits rigged on a variety of Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jigs. I presented them with several of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves. I was unable to establish a dominate lure combo, but I was able to determine that the most productive presentation was a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.
I was hoping that switching from the larger Corps' reservoirs to a smaller community waterway would make a significant change in my catch rates, but that did not happen.
Wade Harness of San Diego, California, sent a brief to the Finesse News Network about his saltwater endeavors with Midwest finesse rigs.
He is a licensed and bonded fishing guide, and here is a link to his website:http://www.captainwade.com.
Here is an edited version of his brief:
I have been following your writings and fishing your finesse system for a decade now with unmatched success across the board inshore here in San Diego. I wanted to personally thank you for your unique approach and style of fishing that has changed the way I fish completely and the way I teach anglers now.
Previously, seasoned San Diego veteran anglers fishing with their swimbaits and power-fishing methods, or even finesse dropshot rigs would achieve typically a 20-40 saltwater bass day with a couple of kicker toads thrown in the mix.
But by employing your Midwest finesse techniques, I can easily achieve 100+ days with guaranteed limits on our extremely pressured fisheries. Our spotted bay bass feed heavily on razor clams, crustaceans, and invertebrates. So a fin-style bait is a secondary forage for them, which makes my Midwest finesse rigs work in any conditions. Attached is a photograph from an Aug. 15 outing with the new Z-Man's TRD CrawZ in action.
The Weather Underground reported that it was 69 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 88 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The sky conditions varied from mostly cloudy to fair to patches of fog to partly cloudy to cloudy. The wind was calm at times, and at other times, it angled from the west by northwest, west, northwest, south by southwest, west by southwest, and west at 5 to 7 mph. The barometric pressure was 28.8 at 12:53 a.m., 28.8 at 5:53 a.m., 28.9 at 11:53 a.m., and 28.9 at 3:53 p.m.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 3:24 a.m. to 5:24 a.m., 3:48 p.m. to 5:48 p.m., and 9:36 a.m. to 11:36 a.m.
Since May, I have not been able to fish with any regularity, and in fact, this was my first serious outing in August. (I did, however, take several of our grandchildren largemouth bass fishing for a few hours, and I rarely made a casts on those outings.) I have been told by several Finesse News Network members that the black bass fishing in northeastern Kansas has been devilishly difficult, and the only stellar fishing that I have missed is the temperate bass fishing at one of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoirs.
Elsewhere around the nation, some Finesse News Network members have reported that Mother Nature's rainy ways have kept them at bay. For instance, Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, reported that the waterways in his neck of the woods are muddy and in flood stage. Moreover, the smallmouth bass rivers and streams in northeastern West Virginia have been in flood stage for days on end, which has allowed Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, to fish only four times in 2018, and he normally fishes two to three times a week in the spring, summer, and fall.
In north-central Texas, Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, Ralph Manns of Rowlett, Texas, and Rick Allen of Dallas have endured some the most trying fishing in their lives.
Because of the scores of reports about the gruesome state of the black bass fishing, I opted to fish at one of northeastern Kansas' most fruitful community reservoirs. I was afloat from 10:34 a.m. to 2:33 p.m.
The water level looked to be about 18 inches below its normal level, which adversely affected the depth of water around the patches of American water willows that adorn some of this reservoir's shorelines, and in fact, some of them were completely out of the water. The surface temperature was 82 degrees at 10:33 a.m. and 84 degrees at 2:33 p.m. The water clarity in the lower half of the reservoir exhibited about eight feet of visibility, and around some of its upper reaches, the visibility ranged from three to four feet. This reservoir is also graced with numerous patches of submerged coontail, bushy pondweed, and occasional patches of chara.
The fishing was far from fruitful. At the boat ramp, I talked to a finesse angler who had fished from 7:00 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. and caught three largemouth bass.
During my four hours, I worked hard to eke out 26 largemouth bass and four smallmouth bass.
Five largemouth bass were caught in the back half of a minor feeder-creek arm. The shoreline of this arm possesses a 25-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. There are significant patches of submerged coontail with some occasional patches of submerged bushy pondweed and submerged chara gracing the underwater terrain in four to nine feet of water. The water's edge is adorned with minor patches of American water willows, a few patches of American pondweeds, and one dinky, but beautiful, patch of water lilies. The five largemouth bass were caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man's purple-haze Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. One was caught on the initial drop of the rig in the vicinity of the water willows in about three feet of water. The other four were caught while I was strolling and employing a swim-glide-and-shake presentation in about five feet of water.
Around a flat main-lake point, I caught four largemouth bass. This point possesses a 20- to 25-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel and some rocks. It is endowed with patches of coontail in four to 1o feet of water. Three of the largemouth bass were caught on the Finesse WormZ rig as I was strolling it and employing a swim-glide-and-shake presentation in six to 10 feet of water. One was caught on a swim-glide-and-shake presentation in about six feet of water on a Z-Man's The Deal TRD TubeZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig..
Along a relatively steep main-lake shoreline, I caught two largemouth bass. This shoreline possesses a 35- to 75-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and numerous boulders, and some of the boulders are humongous. The water's edge is endowed with patches of American water willows, overhanging trees, and laydowns. There are occasi0nal patches of coontail in four to 10 feet of water. The two largemouth bass were caught on back-to-back casts and retrieves, and they were caught in about 10 feet of water as I was strolling the Finesse WormZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.
I caught three largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass along a main-lake point and one of its adjacent shorelines. This area possesses a 30- to 45-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders. The water's edge is endowed with a massive patch of American water willows. The underwater terrain is occasionally graced with patches of coontail. The smallmouth bass was caught on a Z-Man's California craw TRD CrawZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig in about seven feet of water as I was strolling and employing a swim-glide-and-shake presentation around some coontail. One largemouth bass was caught on the TRD CrawZ rig as I was strolling around some rocks and boulders in 10 feet of water and employing a drag-and-shake presentation. Two largemouth bass were on the TRD CrawZ rig as I was strolling and using a swim-glide-and-shake presentation around patches of coontail in five to seven feet of water.
The Finesse WormZ rig caught two largemouth bass along a submerged patch of coontail along a shoreline inside a minor feeder-creek arm. This shoreline possesses a 25- to 35-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. Its shoreline is graced with a massive patch of American water willows. This stretch of water is endowed with several manmade brush piles intertwined with patches of coontail, which are in four to 10 feet of water. The two largemouth bass were caught while I was strolling and employing a drag-and-shake presentation in the coontail patches in about six to seven feet of water.
I failed to catch a largemouth bass along a short stretch of the dam, but I did accidentally catch a walleye on the TRD CrawZ rig.
Around two main-lake points and along a massive main-lake shoreline between those two points, I caught six largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass. This area possesses a 25- to 60-degree shoreline. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and numerous boulders, and some the boulders are about half of the size of a 16-foot boat. The water's edge is a littered with a few laydowns, some overhanging tree, scattered patches of American water willows, and four patches of American pondweeds. There are also numerous patches of coontail in four to 10 feet of water. The smallmouth bass was caught on the initial drop of the TRD CrawZ around some boulders and American pondweeds in four feet of water. One largemouth bass was caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig while I was strolling and employing a swim-glide-and-shake presentation around a patch of coontail. Five largemouth bass were caught on the Finesse WormZ rig in four to eight feet of water as I was strolling and executing a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.
These seven locales are situated in the lower half of the reservoir.
Around two main-lake points and along a massive main-lake shoreline between those two points, I caught two largemouth bass and two smallmouth bass. This area is in the upper half of the reservoir. This area possesses a 20- to 50-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders. The water's edge is adorned with numerous overhanging trees and laydown. One point is graced with American water willows. There some patches of submerged coontail embellishing this terrain. The two largemouth bass were caught on the TRD CrawZ with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation adjacent to laydowns and overhanging trees in about four feet of water. The two smallmouth bass were caught on back-to-back casts under an overhanging tree with the Finesse WormZ rig. One smallmouth bass was caught on the initial drop in about three feet of water. The other smallmouth bass was caught on a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve in about six feet of water, and before I hooked it, I elicited a strike that I failed to hook.
Two largemouth bass were caught along another main-lake shoreline. This shoreline is located in the upper half of the reservoir. This shoreline possesses a 20- to 45-degree slope. Its water's edge is littered with overhanging trees and laydowns, and there are a few patches of American water willows and American pondweed scattered along its water's edge. There are also many submerged patches of coontail in four to eight feet of water. One largemouth bass was caught in about three feet of water on the TRD CrawZ rig as I was strolling with a swim-and-shake presentation through a thick patch of coontail. The other largemouth bass was caught in about three feet of water next to an overhanging tree on the initial drop of the Finesse WormZ rig.
In sum, the shortened four-inch Z-Man's purple-haze Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig was the most effective rig. Strolling with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation was the most effective retrieve.
Peacemaker Myoung of Boston, Massachusetts, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his eight outings with his brothers.
Here is an edited version of his brief:
We are originally from Korea. My family moved to Fayetteville, North Carolina, for about a decade. We were in East Africa for 10 years prior to that. My brother Love currently attends high school in Fayetteville. My brother Joshua is in middle school. I have been working in Boston for two years.
This is nowhere near as detailed as the reports you and many other Finesse News Network members have been diligently publishing across the years. We are novices at best, but we are excited that the Midwest finesse technique works well up here in the urban waters of Boston.
I do not get to fish as much as I would like, and whenever I get a few hours, I want to catch as many bass as I can.
Until recently, the Charles River and the Mystic River were very polluted for decades, and it still surprised me whenever I caught more than two dinky black bass an hour. You can imagine how surprised I am now by catching four to five an hour with many of them weighing more than two pounds. It is also weird fishing the waters around Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology and listening to the angry honking of Bostonian drivers and the restless hustle of the big city.
When my brothers were here, we had a lot of rainy days up here in Boston. And besides the rain, we had several other summertime activities to enjoy; therefore we only managed about eight or so outings.
Unfortunately, I was too busy having fun and learning to fish from beyond the shore for the first time, and so, I failed to keep meticulous notes.
Only twice did we average 10 black bass an hour, but we caught a lot more fish than is normal for these waters.
Our most effective Midwest finesse rig was a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Junebug ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce jig. A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce jig was effective at times. But the largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and other panfish seemed to prefer the Junebug hue.
We fished lightly to heavily stained water. The aquatic vegetation made things particularly difficult with our exposed hooks; so, we did our best to avoid making our casts into heart of the vegetation. Your advice on moving onto the next spot after two or three casts did us well. The temptation to stay at the good looking spots was strong, but if there any catchable black bass residing at those locales, they seemed to always bite within the first three casts. In other words, good spots almost always produced instantly.
The biggest largemouth bass of the summer was a five-pounder that my younger brother, Love, caught on a plain looking shoreline littered with small rocks. It is really tough to catch anything over four pounds in the waters close to Boston. Quite frankly, I was shocked my brother caught his five-pounder on a Midwest finesse rig.
The few anglers we bumped into during each trip either said they failed to catch anything or managed two or three, and all of them weighed less than two pounds. Most of these anglers were using wacky rigs or large swimbaits.
One of the funnier episodes happened while we were fishing the lower Charles close to MIT. A gentleman was sweeping a small canal clean using a wacky-rigged Senko, and we fished right behind him and caught eight. We felt a little bad after he told us he had been working the area methodically for a good portion of the afternoon with nothing to show for it.
For now, it is back to work for me and back to school for my brothers.
I think I mentioned this before, but some mischievous largemouth bass escaped some of the Korean game ponds a dozen years ago, and now they occupy the farmland rivers in the southernmost part of the country, which is where my parents grew up. Despite the government's best efforts and much to the delight of Korean anglers, the largemouth bass seem to have become permanent residents now, just like my family has in the U.S.
I hope I take what I learned about Midwest finesse fishing to Korea in the near future.
Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 17 outing.
Here is a slightly edited version of his log:
I opted to return to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir that I fished on Aug. 2. During that three-hour excursion with my wife, Nancy, I caught 11 black bass and 17 white bass. This reservoir is situated north of Dallas.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would take place between 4:25 a.m. and 6:25 a.m., 10:36 a.m. and 12:36 p.m., and 4:48 p.m. and 6:48 p.m. I was afloat from 8:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
The morning of Aug. 17 was overcast, but it did not rain. The morning low temperature was 80 degrees. The afternoon high was 99 degrees. The wind quartered out of the southeast, south, and southwest at 8 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.01 at 8:00 a.m. and 30.02 at noon.
The water exhibited about 1 1/4 feet of visibility. The surface temperature ranged from 81 to 84 degrees. The water level was 2.78 feet low. It was 3.07 feet below normal and 84 degrees on Aug. 2.
In the areas where I fished, the underwater terrains varied between red clay and gravel to sand and gravel. There was also an abundance of sandstone boulders, basketball-size rocks, and many patches of flooded stickups.
I began the outing in the south portion of the reservoir. I dissected three main-lake points, a main-lake flat, and a floating tractor-tire reef near the mouth of a feeder-creek arm.
I caught one largemouth bass and two white bass from the three main-lake points. They were abiding in six to 10 feet of water and were relating to several submerged boulders. They were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's pearl Slim SwimZ that was rigged on a Z-Man's chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. This rig was presented with a moderately-paced swimming retrieve just below the surface of the water.
At a sand and gravel main-lake flat, I caught one largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and one white bass. This flat is littered with patches of submerged rocks and flooded stickups. The largemouth bass and white bass were caught in less than three feet of water and within five feet of the water's edge on the 2 1/2-inch pearl Slim SwimZ rig and a steady swimming retrieve. The spotted bass was caught near the deep-water edge of the flat in 10 feet of water and about 30 yards from the water's edge. It was caught on a Z-Man's white lightning Finesse TRD that was attached to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. This combo was employed with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.
The floating tractor-tire reef inside the mouth of a feeder-creek arm was not as fruitful as it was on Aug. 2, when it was entertaining large concentrations of small threadfin shad and surrendered 17 white bass. This tire reef floats in 27 feet of water and is many yards from the water's edge. This time, I did not see nearly as many shad inhabiting the openings in the tires, and it yielded one largemouth bass. This largemouth bass was suspended about eight feet deep and was next to the outside edge of the tire reef. It was allured by a shortened Z-Man's mud minnow Hula StickZ fastened onto a black 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig.
I spent about 30 minutes slowly idling around the middle and upper reaches of the feeder-creek arm in search of large concentrations of shad, but I could not find any signs of shad activity in these areas of the feeder- creek arm.
I then meandered to the upper end of the reservoir, where I dissected five main-lake points and two small main-lake coves.
Four of the five main-lake points relinquished a total of four largemouth bass. These bass were abiding in eight to 12 feet of water around the ends of the points. Two were beguiled by the 2 1/2-inch pearl Slim SwimZ and a steady swimming retrieve. A Z-Man's chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig dressed with a Z-Man's bubble gum Finesse TRD allured the other two largemouth bass.
I failed to generate any strikes from inside the two main-lake coves. The shorelines inside these coves are flat and rocky, and some sections are adorned with patches of flooded stickups. I was unable to locate any significant concentrations of threadfin shad in these coves.
In closing, I have endured three sorry outings in three consecutive days at three different reservoirs. During this Aug. 17 outing, my best efforts produced a measly total of seven largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and three white bass in 3 1/2 hours. And I am concerned that this awful black bass fishing has now become the norm instead of the exception.
Tom Bett of Oshkosh,Wisconsin, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his Aug.17 outing.
Here is an edited version of his report:
The summer's heat and the lack of precipitation have allowed lake levels to decline during the past two weeks in eastern Wisconsin. The stable conditions have enticed me to fish, but other priorities have prevented me from exploring the black bass fishing opportunities during this time.
But on August 17, Eric Gilgenbach of Winneconne attempted to correct my priorities and reacquaint me with the black bass residing in the Upper Pool lakes of the Winnebago system.
The day dawned cloudy, and light winds from the north allowed lake fog to form across the larger areas of the basins. The air temperatures ranged from 62 degrees at the onset to a daytime high of 82 degrees. The winds remained light during the day, running about 5 mph, but continuously shifted direction. The north wind at dawn shifted to the northeast by 9:00 a.m., then east by 11:00 a.m., and ultimately settled southeast for the afternoon. Only a light ripple textured the surface of the water.
Water clarity remains affected by a vigorous algal bloom, limiting the visibility to six inches to 18 inches. The surface temperatures averaged around 80 degrees at all of the locations that we fished. The water level was at its target level, and inflows into Lake Winnebago were about 3,000 cubic feet per second.
We fished for six hours and 30 minutes and visited 10 different locations that have produced black bass for us at this time of the year. As this is the period of peak biomass (submerged aquatic vegetation) within these lakes, the locations we favor are usually edge habitats that offer a combination of pondweeds and rocks or pondweeds and a depth change. The key feature is openings in the beds of aquatic vegetation. Some fish are always shallow. The target depths for these structures range from as little as one foot to not more than five feet of water.
Our first stop was a rock line bordering the edge of a deep river channel. We began casting Z Man's green-pumpkin-goby and Drew's craw Finesse TRDs across the current and drifting and dragging them back to the boat. Although the current velocity has attenuated of late,we found the 1/8-ounce VMC Neon Mooneye jig to provide the best balance of depth control and snag resistance. The drag-and-pause retrieve proved productive, beguiling nine smallmouth bass, four largemouth bass, and one walleye. The green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD elicited the majority of the strikes when rigged on a chartreuse-color jig head.
The next three stops did not prove nearly as productive. Our circuit took us a couple miles down the lake to a series of shallow points that feature subtle washout holes (slightly deeper cups off the tips of the structures). One point yielded one smallmouth bass, the next provided one freshwater drum, and the third did not offer us a solid strike. Again, these fish preferred the drag-and-pause retrieve. The green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD remained the most productive rig, but the lack of current enabled the use of 1/15-ounce mushroom-style jigs, which provided better snag resistance in the shallow rocks.
We then resolved to explore some slightly deeper structures and crossed the lake to a large point. The fishing was not much better there, and a series of two channel cuts and three rock points added only two smallmouth bass and three largemouth bass to the daily log. The green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD rigged on a chartreuse 1/8-ounce Mooneye jig was the most productive rig. The fish appeared to be very lethargic, and it required us to employ a drag-and-pause presentation along the bottom.
We surmised that more isolated habitat might be productive. So, we explored a series of three offshore rock piles located on large and shallow flats. This did not prove to be a good decision, as these sites added only one smallmouth bass and one freshwater drum to the log sheet.
Our next stop was a return to the concept of deep water with current. And we targeted a deep river channel swing adjacent to a rock point, and while the recipe looked good, we put nothing in the boat for our efforts.
From there we decided to use our remaining time just fishing. So, we selected the last few stops based upon our experiences and instincts on this waterway. Although the algal bloom and residual floating weed mats looked bad (and smelled even worse), we pulled up to a small jetty point offering a deeper washout hole near its tip. This proved to be productive, and a total of five largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass were added to the log sheet. Again, they wanted the green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD on a chartreuse jig deployed with a drag-and-pause retrieve.
Based upon the recipe for the previous site, we decided to run a couple miles across the lake to a similar location. As we approached our target destination, we observed a tournament-caliber bass boat located atop the structure. At that point, we turned the boat around and enjoyed a cool breeze all the way back to the landing.
In sum, we fished a total of 10 structures and logged 29 fish. The daily data sheet indicated the final mix consisted of 14 smallmouth bass, 12 largemouth bass, two freshwater drum, and one walleye. The day proved to be a struggle, and we did not find the pod we were seeking. Our black bass catch rate averaged only two bass per angler per hour, ranking it in the slow bite range for action on this system. Eighty-five percent of the fish were caught on the green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD rig. One was caught on a 3.8-inch Keitech AYU Swing Impact FAT swimbait, and the others were caught on a Z-Man's Drew's craw Finesse TRD.
Overall, this net result is quite typical for us at this time of the season. We think that the water quality, water temperature, thick aquatic vegetation, and lack of concentrated forage forces fisherman to explore just about all possible patterns. Thus, the versatility of the Ned Rig helps us sustain the fight and be somewhat productive. Within a few weeks, as the weather cools and the underwater jungle becomes thinner, we expect the black bass to aggregate in numbers that will permit our productivity to climb back into a zone of much higher satisfaction.
Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed a brief about his Aug. 18 outing at one of northeastern Kansas' community reservoirs.
Here is an edited version of his brief:
The Weather Underground reported that it was 67 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 82 degrees at 10:53 a.m. The sky was fair. The wind angled out of the north, northeast, north by northeast, and west by southwest at 5 to 8 mph. And for about two hours, the wind was calm. The barometric pressure was 29.0 at 12:53 a.m., 29.0 at 5:53 a.m., and 29.0 at 11:53 a.m.
The surface temperature was 83 degrees. The water exhibited about four feet of visibility. The water level looked to be about 18 inches below normal.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 5:03 a.m. to 7:03 a.m., 5:27 p.m. to 7:27 p.m., and 11:15 p.m. to 1:15: a.m.
I was afloat from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. I caught 23 largemouth bass, six smallmouth bass, and one rock bass. I failed to elicit a strike from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
The two most effective rigs were a five-inch Z-Man's coppertreuse Finesse WormZ affixed to a black 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig and a Z-Man's green-pumpkin TRD HogZ affixed to a black 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig.
I fished main-lake points and steep main-lake shorelines. Along the shorelines, my boat floated in 15 to 20 feet of water, and I caught the black bass in five to 20 feet of water. The most effective presentation was implmented by keeping the rod tip up and allowing the bait to glide near the bottom, and occasionally I made twitches and allowed the bait to make contact with the bottom.
Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 20 outing.
Here is a slightly edited version of his log:
John Thomas of Denton, Texas, joined me for a four-hour excursion to one of several U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' hill-land reservoirs in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan area.
I fished this same reservoir for 3 1/2 hours on August 17, and it was a trying task to catch seven largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and three white bass.
During this August 20 excursion, the sky conditions varied from overcast to partly cloudy to clear. The wind angled out of the west and northwest at 12 to 15 mph. The barometric pressure measured 29.93 at 8:00 a.m. and 29.97 at noon. The morning low temperature was 73 degrees and the afternoon high climbed to 92 degrees.
According to In-Fisherman's solunar calendar, the most lucrative fishing periods would occur from 12:31 a.m. to 2:31 a.m., 6:43 a.m. to 8:43 a.m., and 7:08 p.m. to 9:08 p.m. John and I fished from 8:20 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
The water level was 2.83 feet below normal pool. The water exhibited 12 to 14 inches of visibility. The surface temperature was 85 degrees. The water in the main-lake areas was covered with endless ranks of white caps.
We fished 12 locations. One area is located in the lower half of the reservoir and the other 11 are situated in its upper end.
In the lower half of the reservoir, we fished a main-lake point at the mouth of a feeder-creek arm, an adjacent main-lake flat, and two secondary points inside the feeder-creek arm. These three points possess a 30- to 40-degree slope, and this area provided us with some relief from the irksome west wind. The underwater terrain in this area is comprised of red clay, gravel, and softball-size rocks.
We failed to garner any strikes from the clay and gravel flat. We caught one spotted bass from the main-lake point. We caught two largemouth bass from one of the two secondary points just inside the mouth of the creek arm. The other secondary point was fruitless.
These three black bass were milling about the ends of the points in three to five feet of water. They were caught on a steady swimming retrieve with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's pearl Slim SwimZ fastened on a Z-Man's chartreuse 1/10-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. We failed to entice any strikes with a Z-Man's white lightning Finesse TRD rigged on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig and a shortened Z-Man's coppertreuse Finesse WormZ mounted on a custom-painted blue 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig.
As we were completing our final casts along the secondary points inside the feeder-creek arm, the 15 mph wind shifted from the west to the northwest and it made boat control a bit challenging. So, we decided to seek relief from the northwest wind and travelled to the upper end of the reservoir. In this section, we concentrated our efforts on a series of 10 rock- and boulder-covered main-lake points and one rocky bluff at the mouth of another feeder-creek arm.
We caught nine largemouth bass and three spotted bass from the 10 main-lake points. Three other largemouth bass were able to liberate themselves before we could hoist them into the boat.
These main-lake points are steep and possess a 35- to 45-degree slope. The underwater terrain around these points are similar and consist of mostly gravel, red clay, and sandstone boulders that are the size of a coffee table . There is deeper water (20-plus feet of water) in close proximity to all of these points. These points were entertaining significant numbers of small threadfin shad. They also provided us with significant protection from the brisk northwest wind.
These 12 black bass were abiding in four to seven feet of water and were caught around the submerged boulders. Seven of them were caught on a steady swimming retrieve with the 2 1/2-inch pearl Slim SwimZ rig. Five were caught on a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve with a Z-Man's bubble gum Finesse TRD affixed to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. We failed to generate any strikes with the four-inch coppertreuse Fineese WormZ or a Z-Man's mud minnow Finesse TRD attached to a black 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig.
We failed to locate any black bass along the shoreline of the bluff inside the mouth of the feeder-creek arm.
In sum, it was what we would normally consider an average outing. But because the black bass fishing is in such a sorry state in north-central Texas, it felt more bountiful than it was. We caught 11 largemouth bass, four spotted bass, and inadvertently caught six white bass in four hours.
Our most effective rig was the 2 1/2-inch pearl Slim SwimZ on a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. Our most effective presentation was a steady swimming retrieve.
The white bass were caught on the 2 1/2-inch pearl Slim SwimZ rig and a steady swimming presentation.
Back in 2011, I wrote: "Across northeastern Kansas, the notion that the dog days of August aren't a fruitful time to be afloat in pursuit of largemouth and smallmouth bass is a piscatorial myth."
I also noted that the "midday temperatures can surpass 100 degrees, and the lakes' surface temperatures can hover in the high 80s. Despite the heat, August is one of our most bountiful months for catching a lot of bass during the midday hours. Many of the bass we catch are small, but we do occasionally tangle with some four- to six-pounders. For example, we fished 12 times in August of 2010 and caught an average of 49.7 bass on each of our four-hour midday trips, and on August 29, 2008, we caught 112 bass in four hours."
During August of 2018, however, it is no longer a piscatorial myth. In fact, the black bass fishing in northeastern Kansas has been horrendous this August. To make matters worse, our fishing has fluctuated from being horrendous to being lackluster for the past 233 days of 2018. We have yet to catch 101 black bass in four hours this year.
This spell of dreadful black bass fishing manifested itself again on Aug. 21 at one of northeastern Kansas' community reservoirs.
The Weather Underground reported that it was 64 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 82 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The sky fluctuated from being cloudy to mostly cloudy to partly cloudy to fair. The wind angled from the northwest, north by northwest, west by northwest, and west at 3 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.0 at 12:53 a.m., 29.1 at 5:53 a.m., 29.2 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.2 at 2.53 p.m.
The surface temperature was 79 degrees. The water level looked to be about 2 1/2 feet below normal. The water exhibited about 18 inches of visibility in the upper reaches of this reservoir and 3 1/2 to four feet in the lower reaches.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 7:22 a.m. to 9:22 a.m., 7:46 p.m. to 9:46 p.m., and 1:09 a.m. to 3:09 a.m. I was afloat from 12:07 p.m. to 2:37 p.m., and I caught six largemouth bass, four smallmouth bass, two freshwater drum, and a channel catfish.
One largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass were caught along the dam. The dam possesses a 40- to 55-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of rocks. The largemouth bass was caught in about four feet of water on the initial drop of a three-inch segment of the tail of a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Mag FattyZ affixed onto a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. The smallmouth bass was caught in about eight feet of water on the Mag FattyZ rig while I was strolling and employing a drag-and-shake presentation.
Around a flat main-lake point and along a submerged rock fence adjacent to the point, I caught three smallmouth bass and two largemouth bass. The rock fence is an offshore lair, and it is perpendicular to the point. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders. The shoreline has a 25-degree slope, but there is a significant ledge and drop-off parallel to the submerged fence. The point is graced with patches of bushy pondweed. One of the largemouth bass was caught in about five feet of water on the initial drop of a Z-Man's California craw TRD CrawZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. The second largemouth bass was caught in about four feet of water on the Mag FattyZ rig while I was employing a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation along the submerged fence. Two of the smallmouth bass were caught in about four feet of water on the Mag FattyZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation around the patches of bushy pondweed. The third smallmouth bass was caught in about five feet of water on the initial drop of the Mag FattyZ rig along the submerged fence.
Along another submerged rock fence, I caught two largemouth bass. Except for the patches of bushy pondweed and a main-lake point, this area possesses the same slope and underwater terrain as the other submerged rock fence. One largemouth bass was caught on the TRD CrawZ rig with a drag-and-deadstick presentation in about five feet of water. The other largemouth bass was caught in about five feet of water on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin-goby Scented LeechZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig with a drag-and-deadstick presentation.
I failed to elicit a strike along a secondary point and its adjacent shoreline inside a feeder-creek arm. I failed to elicit a strike along a flat main-lake shoreline adjacent to the dam. I failed to elicit a strike along a main-lake point and a short portion of its adjacent main-lake shoreline. And I failed to elicit a strike along a 50-yard section of a shoreline and around a secondary point inside another feeder-creek arm.
Before I made my first cast, I crossed paths with two veteran and serious black bass anglers. I talked to one of them, who said that he had been afloat for more than four hours and had caught two largemouth bass and a channel catfish. This angler also noted that he had found the black bass fishing to be horrific all over northeastern Kansas in 2018. The other one reported with his fingers that he had caught two largemouth bass, and he yelled that he was going home. And my catch was so minimal there is no need for a synopsis.
I have not been able to fish as often as I used to fish in years past, and I am now thinking that it might be a godsend.
David Harrison of Lawrence, Kansas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his Aug. 24 outing at a northeastern Kansas' community reservoir.
Here is an edited version of his report:
The Weather Underground reported that the low temperature was 71 degrees and the high temperature was 94 degrees. The sky was mostly sunny. The wind angled out the south and southeast at 9 to 15 mph. The barometric pressure started at 28.9 and was steady.
According to In-Fisherman's solunar calendar, the best fishing would occur from 9:31 a.m. to 11:31 a.m., 9:55 p.m. to 11:55 p.m., and 3:19 a.m. to 5:19 a.m. I was afloat on this heavily fished reservoir from 6:43 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
The water level looked to be a foot below normal. The water exhibited more than two feet of visibility. The surface temperature was 77 degrees.
I caught 15 black bass, seven white bass, five freshwater drum, four bluegills, and one wiper.
This was the first time that I had been on this water in my boat and the third time overall. The first two times were with Ned Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas.
I had the full day to fish. In order to compare early morning hours to the standard Midwest finesse outings that normally begin at 10:00 a.m. and end at 2:00 p.m., I split my black bass endeavors into two time periods, which encompassed five hours of Midwest finesse fishing.
So, I started my Midwest finesse time counter at 7:18 a.m. I employed three rods with three different Z-Man lures as well as a fourth rod with a Texas-rigged Gene Larew Biffle Bug. My fifth cast along the dam was accepted by a healthy smallmouth bass about two turns into a drag and deadstick retrieve. The lure was a four-inch Z-Man Junebug Finesse WormZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounceVMC Moon Eye Jig.
The dam has a steep slope with a small shelf in nine to 10 feet of water and eventually drops into 35 feet of water. Its underwater terrain is rock and gravel, and it is different than the mega-riprap terrains of the nearby U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoirs. As I proceeded along the dam, I felt multiple small sunfish pecking at the lure and did manage to land a couple of the larger bluegills. I also landed a second smallmouth bass, which barely measured four inches. But, we are not interested in size in this forum; so, it counts as much as a larger one.
At the end of the dam, the shoreline transitions to a section of American water willows and then a rocky area. The rocky area was buffeted by the wind, and it yielded two smallmouth bass. They were caught on a shortened Z-Man's Canada Craw Hula StickZ and a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig.
Around a rocky secondary point inside a feeder-creek arm, I caught two largemouth bass on the Hula StickZ rig. Adjacent to a dock along a shoreline inside this feeder creek, I caught a smallmouth bass on a River2Sea's bone-hue Whopper Plopper 90.
From there my favorite section of this reservoir held two additional smallmouth bass. This section has a rocky shoreline and overhanging cedar trees. I motored further into the cove and fished a rocky dike that is surrounded by relatively shallow water. This section also had decaying bushy pondweed in the area. I landed the ninth black bass of the morning and stopped my finesse timer at two hours. At this time of the morning, it was starting to be hot and I wanted to explore the reservoir.
My friend and guide Will Dykstra from Colorado recently sold me his used Humminbird Onix 10 fish finder, and I wanted to see how it worked. So, I spent from 9:18 a.m. to noon exploring offshore areas and deep-water haunts where some black bass might be residing.
The black bass fishing at this reservoir has been troublesome throughout the recent spring and during this summer. (For instance, I struggled to catch nine black bass in two hours this morning, which is a very lackluster Midwest finesse catch rate.)
Some anglers suspect that their quarries are feeding during the night.
Some anglers think the population has declined.
Since the reservoir's managers eradicated the Eurasian milfoil, some anglers think the black bass have become suspended and pelagic. But I did not see any large schools of suspended gizzard shad or other fish during my search with the Humminbird Onix 10 fish finder.
But in the lower section of the reservoir, I did see a group of fish on my side-scanning sonar near a main-lake point that is rimmed by a dock, some bushy pondweed near the water's edge, a brushpile in 10 feet of water, and an underwater cable connected to the dock. I probed this area for 25 minutes with a Texas-rigged Biffle Bug and an 1/8-ounce slip sinker and caught one largemouth bass.
As I explored a multitude of points and submerged creek channel edges in the middle portions of the reservoir, I came to a wind-blown point that is situated well off of the shoreline that was entertaining some temperate bass. And I quickly caught four white bass and an eight-pound, 27-inch wiper on a 3.5-inch Berkley's glow/chartreuse Ripple Shad on a 3/8-ounce ball-head jig. After the wiper encounter, I caught two white bass on a one-ounce Hopkins spoon.
At noon, I started my second Midwest finesse period of the day. The air temperature was nearing 90 degrees and the wind was variable. Along the eastside of the reservoir, I fished along a main-lake shoreline that is adorned with a cement pier, rocks, laydowns, and bushy pondweed, and I caught one largemouth bass on the Junebug Finesse WormZ rig.
I moved to the main-lake shoreline along the eastside of the reservoir, where I caught one largemouth bass on the Canada Craw Hula StickZ rig. It was caught near a main-lake point where the patches of American water willows ended and the rocks began.
I continued fishing along the east main-lake shoreline, and I caught another largemouth bass around the intersection of a patch of American water willows and rock. This largemouth bass was caught on a deadstick presentation with the Hula StickZ rig.
During the next hour, I continued to fish along the shoreline, and then I fished a short portion of a shoreline inside a small feeder-creek arm on the west side of the reservoir. Much of this terrain was embellished with bushy pondweed, which failed to yield a black bass
Then, I fished a half-mile section of a main-lake shoreline that did not have a steep slope, but it eventually dropped down into deep water. It yielded a couple bluegill.
I then proceeded to repeat the morning's fishing on the dam and other shorelines. I caught one smallmouth bass along the dam on a shortened Berkley's Powerbait green-pumpkin-party MaxScent The General. Along these areas, I failed to elicit a strike on a Z-Man's pearl Finesse ShadZ, a four-inch Z-Man's pumpkin Finesse WormZ, and a Berkley's green-pumpkin MaxScent The General. At 3:00 p.m., on my last cast of the day, I caught a 25-inch freshwater drum on the shortened Berkley's Powerbait green-pumpkin-party MaxScent The General.
I had planned to fish until 4:00 p.m., but the heat and the pitiful black bass fishing (nine in the morning, five in the afternoon, and one bass between 9:15 a.m. and noon) left me with no choice but to pack up and leave an hour early.
Since I moved to northeastern Kansas two years ago, this was the first Midwest finesse outing where I turned off my electronics. I used the sonar while I was searching the reservoir from 9:15 a.m. to noon, but I have found that by having a sonar on while I am fishing along a shoreline adversely affects my focus. I have learned that four hours of true Midwest finesse fishing requires complete attention or you will not be able to simultaneously attend to your current cast and retrieve, while also lining up your next cast and retrieve, and employing the electric trolling motor. I have found that with the sonar on I will spend five or more seconds each cast looking at the depth rather than focusing on my retrieve.
The Weather Underground reported that it was 59 degrees at 7:52 a.m. and 79 degrees at 4:52 p.m. The sky fluctuated from being cloudy to raining lightly to being mostly cloudy to being partly cloudy. The wind angled out of the north by northwest, north, north by northeast, east by northeast, and east at 5 to 13 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.1 at 12:52 a.m., 29.1 at 5:52 a.m., 29.2 at 11:52 a.m. and 29.2 at 2:52 p.m.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 12:57 a.m. to 2:57 a.m., 1:19 p.m. to 3:19 p.m., and 7:08 a.m. to 9:08 a.m. My wife, Patty, and I fished from 12:45 p.m. to 2:50 p.m. at one of the many northeastern Kansas' community reservoirs.
The water level looked to be 2 3/4 feet below normal. The water clarity in the lower section of this reservoir exhibited almost four feet of visibility, and it declined to 15 to 18 inches in its upper reaches. The surface temperature was 79 degrees.
Except for a few shallow-water patches of American water willows, there is no emergent aquatic vegetation in the water. We failed to cross paths with any patches of submerged aquatic vegetation. Along two of the shorelines, the water's edge is graced with a few stumps and laydowns, and one of these shorelines is beset with two large docks.
I do not have the wherewithal to write a traditional Midwest finesse log. So, here is a brief description of what transpired:
We quickly fished seven areas, and in two hours and five minutes, we caught 22 largemouth bass and inadvertently caught 11 green sunfish.
They were caught in two to seven feet of water. The underwater terrain around these locales consists of gravel and rocks with some occasional boulders. Three of the largemouth bass were caught in the vicinity of the outside edges of some of the shallow-water patches of American water willows.
One largemouth bass was caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin TRD CrawZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Jade's Jigs' mushroom-style jig. Ten largemouth bass were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's sprayed-grass ZinkerZ affixed on a blue 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. A dozen largemouth bass were caught on a three-inch tail section of a Z-Man's California craw Mag FattyZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Jade's Jigs' mushroom-style jig.
Some were caught on the initial drop of ours rigs. Some were caught while we were strolling and employing a drag-and-brief-deadstick presentation. Some were caught as we were employing a drag-and-shake-retrieve. Some were caught on a straight swimming presentation. Some were caught on the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.
We caught three largemouth bass around a steep main-lake point in the lower half of the reservoir.
Around a flat main-lake point in the upper half of the reservoir, we caught three largemouth bass.
Along about a 450-yard stretch of a shoreline inside a feeder-creek arm, we caught nine largemouth bass. And on a shallow-water flat inside this feeder-creek arm, we caught one largemouth bass around the submerged residue of a concrete bridge and a submerged creek-channel edge.
Four largemouth bass were caught along a 175-yard stretch of a shoreline inside another feeder-creek arm.
Along a 50-yard stretch of a main-lake shoreline in the lower half of the reservoir, we caught one largemouth bass.
One largemouth bass was caught along a 30-yard stretch of a shoreline inside another feeder-creek arm.