Skip to main content

Midwest Finesse Fishing: February 2020

Midwest Finesse Fishing: February 2020
One of the 24 largemouth bass that Rick Hebenstreit and Ned Kehde caught on Feb. 27

This February guide to Midwest finesse fishing contains nine logs and 8,038 words that describe how, when, and where Midwest finesse anglers fished. It features the undertakings of Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas; Lou Clewell of Roslyn, Pennsylvania; Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas; Ned Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas; Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas; and John Thomas of Denton, Texas.

In short, Mother Nature’s icy, snowy, wet, and windy ways and some of life’s necessities and obligations prevented us from getting afloat on many of February’s 29 days.

And when we did get afloat in northeastern Kansas, the lack of submerged aquatic vegetation adversely affected our abilities to find and catch largemouth bass.

Beside the weather woes, our brethren in north-central Texas had to deal with Florida-strain largemouth bass. For some insane reasoning, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s fisheries biologists regularly stock north Texas’ reservoirs with Florida-strain largemouth bass, which are very difficult to catch in November, December, January, February, and March when the water temperature drops into the 50s. And it drops into the 50s quite regularly in north-central Texas.


In our minds, it would have been much wiser for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to cultivate patches of emergent and submerged aquatic vegetation for the northern-strain largemouth bass to abide in rather than regularly stock Florida-strain largemouth bass.


In fact, we think that the largemouth bass fishing in all of the reservoirs across the nation’s heartland would be more fruitful if the biologists worked on cultivating aquatic vegetation.

We are grateful that Steve Reideler proofread every word and made every log more readable and understandable.

Feb. 1

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 1 outing.

Here is a slightly edited version of his log.


After several chilly, windy, and wet days, the weather began to improve on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Feb.1 was the warmest and the least windy of these two days, so I elected to venture to a nearby U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir on Feb. 1 instead of fishing on Jan. 31.

In-Fisherman’s solunar table noted that the best fishing periods would occur from 3:50 a.m. to 5:50 a.m., 10:01 a.m. to 12:01 p.m., and 4:12 p.m. to 6:12 p.m.

It was sunny. The morning low temperature was 27 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature was 64 degrees. The wind was light and quartered out of the northwest at 4 to 8 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.24 at noon and fell to 30.17 by 4:00 p.m.


I fished inside a minor feeder-creek arm on the north end of the reservoir from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. This is the same reservoir and creek arm that John Thomas of Denton and I fished on Jan. 14, when we caught three largemouth bass and 36 white bass.

When I arrived at the entrance to this feeder creek, I was surprised to find that this creek arm was already crowded with boat anglers, kayak anglers, and shoreline anglers. And this was the most angler predation I have seen in this creek arm in two years.

The water was muddy from the recent rains, exhibiting less than a foot of visibility. The surface temperature ranged from 56 degrees at the creek’s mouth to 60 degrees in its upper end. The water level was 1.12 feet high.

The submerged terrain inside this creek arm consists of clay and gravel. Scores and scores of submerged brush piles, laydowns, flooded bushes, and submerged stumps festoon the shallow-water areas around the shorelines. The creek’s shorelines are relatively flat in the middle and lower sections of the creek, and they become steeper and bluff-like in its upper reaches.

The fishing was tough. There were boats already positioned on the most promising spots, and I was relegated to fishing behind several others and around less desirable areas. By the end of these three hours, I had struggled to catch only three largemouth bass and six white bass.

These fish were abiding in seven to nine feet of water and were close to the edge of the main channel in the center of the creek.

A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man Fishing Products’ pearl Slim SwimZ matched to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig that was employed with a slow swimming retrieve caught two largemouth bass and the six white bass. A slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve with a Z-Man’s white lightning Finesse TRD rigged on a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig allured one largemouth bass.

I failed to garner any strikes with several other Z-Man Midwest finesse rigs while utilizing all six of the standard Midwest finesse presentations.

Feb. 3

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 3 outing.

Here is a slightly edited version of his log.

We have been enjoying a nice warming trend in north-central Texas since Jan. 25. But to our dismay, another cold front, accompanied by some winter precipitation, is forecast to arrive in north-central Texas during the late-afternoon hours of Feb. 3. This downturn in our weather is expected to last for several days.

An annoying wind blew incessantly out of the south at 18 to 25 mph. The sky conditions changed from partly cloudy to mostly cloudy to overcast, and then it began to lightly rain off and on. The morning low temperature was 54 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature reached 71 degrees. The barometric pressure measured 29.74 at 11:00 a.m. and 29.66 at 3:00 p.m.

I elected to fish at a nearby community reservoir instead of fighting the blustery wind and white-capping waves at an U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir.

Rick Allen of Dallas and I fished at this same community reservoir on Jan. 25, and the bass bite was tough. During the 3 1/2 hours that we fished that day, we could muster only five largemouth bass, and three of those were caught in the last 20 minutes of the outing.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the best fishing on Feb. 3 would occur from 5:17 a.m. to 7:17 a.m., 11:05 a.m. to 1:05 p.m., and 5:41 p.m. to 7:41 p.m.

The water was warmer than it was on Jan. 25. In the main-lake area, its temperature ranged between 53 and 55 degrees. The water exhibited about 14 inches of clarity. The water level was normal. Inside a small feeder-creek arm on the northeast end of the reservoir, the water temperature was 57 degrees.

I fished from 11:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. The fishing was almost as awful as it was on Jan. 25, and I had a difficult time locating and catching seven largemouth bass. I also caught one large bluegill by accident.

I failed to garner any strikes along a concrete-slab dam on the south end of the reservoir.

Along the east shoreline, I dissected the most promising areas, which included a steep and broad sand-and-gravel point, a ditch, the sides of a long clay and gravel point, and a fairly long and shallow sand-and-gravel ledge close to the water’s edge. But I failed to generate any strikes from these areas.

On the north end of the impoundment, I targeted a relatively large pool in the upper end of a small feeder-creek. This feeder-creek is situated along the east end of the north shoreline. This pool is the largest one in this creek, and it is about 30 feet long and 15 feet wide. The lower and middle sections of its shorelines are lined with tall stands of cattails. Its underwater terrain consists of mostly clay, gravel, and softball-size rocks. There was a light current flowing through this creek.

This pool relinquished six largemouth bass and one large bluegill. These fish were extracted from two patches of rocks that lie near the east and west shorelines of the creek in about three feet of water. Four of the largemouth bass engulfed a Z-Man’s Canada craw TRD CrawZ that was threaded on a custom-painted chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. The other two largemouth bass and the large bluegill were caught on a Z-Man’s Drew’s craw TRD CrawZ that was rigged on a custom-painted chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. Both of these rigs were dragged and deadsticked around and through the two patches of rocks.

Along the west shoreline, I caught one largemouth bass. It was allured by an 1/8-ounce drop-shot rig that was dressed with a wacky-rigged four-inch Z-Man’s PB&J Finesse WormZ. This bass was caught in five feet of water next to a steep section of a sand-and-gravel shoreline that is situated along the midsection of the shoreline. This rig was employed with a slow drag-shake-and-deadstick presentation. I was unable to entice any other strikes from a ditch, two tertiary points, and the area around a fishing pier in the midsection of this shoreline.

And as I was finishing up, the more intense rain arrived earlier than I expected, so I called it a day.

Feb. 8

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 8 outing.

Here is a slightly edited version of his log.

Lou Clewell of Roslyn, Pennsylvania, is spending a week in Denton and wanted to spend an afternoon fishing if the opportunity presented itself. He has become a Midwest finesse devotee since we began fishing together during his visits to Denton during the past couple of years.

The weather in north-central Texas has been cold and wet for the pastfour days, but it was delightfully picturesque on Feb. 8. The sun shone radiantly in a partly cloudy and powder-blue sky until 4:00 p.m., then it became grey and overcast. The morning low temperature was 36 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature reached 61 degrees. The average low temperature for Feb. 8 in north-central Texas is 38 degrees and the average high temperature is 58 degrees. The wind quartered out of the southeast at 8 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.23 at noon and fell to 30.09 by 4:00 p.m.

Lou and I took advantage of this brief spell of mild weather and fished from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at an U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hill-land reservoir. This impoundment is located in a suburban area north of the Dallas/Ft. Worth metropolitan areas.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar table, the most productive fishing periods would occur from 3:17 a.m. to 5:17 a.m., 9:32 a.m. to 11:32 a.m., and 10:02 p.m. to 12:02 a.m.

We spent the four hours that we were afloat plying the lower and midsections of a feeder-creek arm on the north end of the reservoir. But when we arrived at the entrance to the creek arm, we were a bit surprised to discover that we had to share this creek arm with 20 other anglers in 10 boats. We were relegated to fishing behind and around several of them throughout this outing.

The water in the main-lake area outside of this creek arm was muddy with less than a foot of visibility. The surface temperature was 49 degrees. The water level was 0.19 of a foot high. The water conditions improved to some degree as we slowly moved into the mouth of the feeder creek. The water clarity improved to 14 inches of visibility, and in the midsection of this creek arm, it exhibited two feet of clarity. The surface temperature inside the creek arm ranged from 55 to 59 degrees.

This creek’s lower and midsection areas are endowed with long stretches of flooded stickups, submerged brush piles, partially submerged laydowns, and submerged stumps. The underwater terrain is comprised of mostly clay and gravel.

Overall, the black bass fishing in north-central Texas remains horrendous. In total, we caught four largemouth bass, 20 white bass, and one scrappy carp. We did not cross paths with any spotted bass, crappie, or other sunfish that usually inhabit this creek arm during this time of year.

All of these fish were scattered around the outside edges of the flooded stickups in three to five feet of water and within five feet of the water’s edge. None of them were associated with any of the laydowns, submerged stumps, and submerged brush piles.

As the afternoon unfolded, we found that a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pearl Slim SwimZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig was the only combo that could generate strikes, and it allured all 25 of these fish. It was employed with a slow-paced swimming retrieve.

The weather forecast calls for more rain and colder temperatures beginning Feb. 9, and these dreary wintertime conditions will keep us at bay for the next six days.

Feb. 15

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 15 outing.

Here is a slightly edited version of his log.

For the past two days, north-central Texas has enjoyed a short reprieve from Mother Nature’s winter-like grip. It was sunny and a few wispy clouds covered about 20 percent of the sky on Feb. 15. Area thermometers revealed that the morning low temperature was 36 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 62 degrees. The wind was bothersome as it angled out of the south at 15 to 17 mph. The barometric pressure ranged from 30.17 at noon to 30.04 at 4:00 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 3:49 a.m. to 5:49 a.m., 10:03 a.m. to 12:03 p.m., and 4:16 p.m. to 6:16 p.m.

From 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., I enjoyed a sunny winter afternoon bank-walking along the shorelines of four community reservoirs that lie in two suburbs south of Denton. I have not fished at any of these four community reservoirs this year.

I spent the afternoon experimenting with a drop-shot rig.

I haven’t found drop-shot rigs to be very effective in north-central Texas. I used one several times during the summer months of 2019 to see if I could establish a deep-water black-bass bite at several U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoirs in north-central Texas. And I failed to catch a single black bass with it.

Now that it is winter, I wanted to see if I could allure a significant number of largemouth bass with it in these cold-water conditions. Rick Allen of Dallas employed a drop-shot rig during our Jan. 25 outing at a north-central Texas’ community reservoir, and he caught two largemouth bass with it. I utilized this rig during a Feb. 3 outing at the same community reservoir that Rick and I fished on Jan. 25, and I caught one largemouth bass with it.

Here is how this outing unfolded:

At the first reservoir I fished, the water was muddy and displayed about four inches of visibility. The water temperature was 46 degrees. The water level was about a foot high. The submerged terrain is composed of mostly clay and gravel. I concentrated on the most high-percentage spots, such as steep shorelines, points, and ledges, but I failed to generate a single strike.

The water conditions at the second reservoir mirrored those of the first one. The water level was also about a foot high. The water exhibited less than six inches of clarity. The water temperature was 47 degrees. The submerged terrain is comprised of gravel and clay. And I also failed to elicit any strikes at this impoundment.

The third reservoir that I fished was also muddy, but its water level was at its normal level. The water temperature was 47 degrees, and I failed to entice a single strike here.

The last community reservoir that I plied was not quite as muddy as the other three and the water temperature was warmer. The water exhibited about a foot of clarity. The water temperature was 50 degrees. The water level was slightly high.

The south end of this reservoir is formed by a decorative concrete and stone dam that is about eight feet high. The bottom area around the dam is covered with softball-size rocks.

The east shoreline is steeply-sloped, curved, and adorned with the remnants of several stands of winter-dead cattails and a few submerged tree limbs.

The north shoreline is straight and is comprised of a shallow mud flat. A small creek enters the reservoir from the west end of the north shoreline. A large patch of winter-dead lily pads adorns most of this shoreline.

The west shoreline is shallower than the east one, and it is embellished with three patches of winter-dead lily pads.

I slowly dissected this reservoir for about 90 minutes, and I eked out one largemouth bass. It was caught in about four feet of water and within five feet of the water’s edge along a steep section of the east shoreline. It was caught on a four-inch Z-Man’s black neon Finesse WormZ rigged wacky-style on a 1/8-ounce drop-shot rig. This combo was employed with a slow and subtle drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve.

Overall, it is a very difficult task for us to catch significant numbers of smallmouth bass, spotted bass, and Florida-strain largemouth bass in north-central Texas when the water temperature is colder than 55 degrees. I employed the drop-shot rig throughout this Feb. 15 outing, and I found it mostly ineffective again this time, too.

Feb. 17

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 17 outing.

Here is a slightly edited version of his log.

The weather was warm and delightful on Feb. 17. The sky conditions varied from partly cloudy to overcast. The morning low temperature was 49 degrees. The afternoon high temperature peaked at 77 degrees. The barometric pressure fell from 29.78 at noon to 29.73 by 4:00 p.m.

From 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., John Thomas of Denton and I fished at a north-central Texas’ U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hill-land reservoir.

In-Fisherman’s solunar table indicated that the most lucrative fishing would occur from 5:33 a.m. to 7:33 a.m., 11:19 a.m. to 1:19 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Upon our arrival at the boat ramp, we discovered that the water was muddy, exhibiting less than six inches of visibility. The surface temperature was 50 degrees. The water level has been rising from recent rains, and it was 1.63 feet above normal.

We decided that our only reasonable chance of catching any largemouth bass, spotted bass, or white bass would be inside the same feeder-creek arm that Lou Clewell of Roslyn, Pennsylvania, and I fished on a Feb. 8 outing at this same reservoir. This creek arm is located on the north end of the reservoir.

Inside the feeder-creek, the water clarity ranged from less than a foot at its mouth to 1 1/4 feet in its middle section. The surface temperature ranged from 60 to 63 degrees. We noticed that the further back we travelled in this creek arm, the water temperature became cooler.

This creek’s submerged terrain consists primarily of gravel and clay. The shorelines where we fished are adorned with numerous submerged brush piles, partially-submerged laydowns, submerged stumps, and flooded stickups.

We spent our time in the lower and midsection of the creek where the water temperature was 60 to 63 degrees. We were surprised that the black bass bite was almost nonexistent. We caught one largemouth bass in five hours. Fortunately, the white bass were more cooperative, and we caught 27 of them, which helped to keep us entertained throughout the afternoon. We also caught one freshwater drum.

All of these fish were scattered in three to five feet of water. A few of them were associated with laydowns and a couple of others were relating to shallow submerged brush piles. But the bulk of them were caught near clay-and-gravel ledges within 10 feet of the water’s edge.

A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pearl Slim SwimZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig has been our most effective lure in this creek all winter, and it was the most effective lure this time, too. It bewitched one largemouth bass and 24 of the 27 white bass that we caught. It was employed with a slow swimming retrieve.

We failed to entice any largemouth or spotted bass with a Z-Man’s white lightning Finesse TRD rigged on a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. But we did manage to coax two white bass into striking this rig as we were swimming, gliding, and shaking it along one of the clay-and-gravel ledges that is littered with a few brush piles, laydowns, and stumps.

One white bass and one freshwater drum engulfed a Z-Man’s The Deal TRD TubeZ that was matched with a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. This rig was also employed with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve along the deep-water side of one of the clay-and-gravel ledges.

We were not the only ones having a difficult time. We crossed paths with six anglers in three boats, two kayak anglers, and one bank angler. Of these nine anglers, two reported that they had caught two largemouth bass and one white bass. The others had failed to elicit a single strike.

Feb. 18

Ned Kehde posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 18 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log.

During the night of Feb. 17 and 18, the ice melted off many of the community and state reservoirs that stipple the countryside that parallels Interstate 70 from Kansas City to Topeka, Kansas.

Thus, I fished for the first time since Jan. 8.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 29 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 45 degrees at 2:52 p.m. The sky fluctuated from being overcast to mostly cloudy to partly cloudy to fair. The wind angled from the north at 9 to 30 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.13 at 12:52 p.m., 30.23 at 5:52 a.m., 30.37 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.36 at 3:52 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would take place from 6:15 a.m. to 8:15 a.m., 6:42 p.m. to 8:42 p.m., and 12:02 a.m. to 2:02 a.m.

I was afloat at one of northeastern Kansas’ community reservoirs from 11:22 a.m. to 3:16 p.m.

Until the public works department and fisheries biologists who manage this reservoir poisoned all of its submerged aquatic vegetation, which consisted of bushy pondweed, coontail, curly-leaf pondweed, and Eurasian milfoil, this reservoir used to be a very fruitful one for inveigling significant numbers of largemouth bass immediately after the ice disappeared. For example, the most fruitful outing occurred on Feb. 9, 2012, when my cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I caught 118 largemouth bass in four hours around shallow-water patches of curly-leaf pondweed.

On Feb. 18, 2020, I failed to cross paths with one twig of submerged aquatic vegetation. Consequently, I struggled to catch 13 largemouth bass in 234 minutes.

The surface temperature was 39 degrees at 11:22 a.m. and 41 degrees at 3:16 p.m. In the back of one large feeder-creek arm, there was an area about the size of three football fields that was covered with ice, and about 125 Canada geese were lollygagging on the ice. Ice also covered a portion of a steep shoreline inside another feeder-creek arm. The water exhibited almost six feet of Secchi-stick visibility in theblower portions of the reservoir. In the back ends of two large feeder-creek arms, the visibility diminished to 1 ½ to 2 ½ feet of visibility. The water level was normal.

Traditionally, the most fruitful locales to ply at this reservoir after the ice melts are on the shallow-water flats that are adorned with an array of submerged aquatic vegetation in the backs of the large feeder-creek arms.

I hurriedly dissected nine locales inside three large feeder-creek arms. One was a boulder- and rock-laden hump. Two were relatively steep shorelines that are graced with laydowns, stumps, boulderal, rocks, and manmade brush piles. The other six were shallow-water flats and flat shorelines.

As I dissected these locales, I did a lot of strolling, and as I strolled, I employed either a drag-and-shake presentation or a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

During the first 10 minutes of this outing, I caught one largemouth bass. It was caught along a shallow-water shoreline in the back of one of the large feeder-creek arms. The water exhibited about two feet of visibility. The surface temperature was 39 degrees. The underwater terrain consists of silt, gravel, and rocks. Along this shoreline, there are three docks and some occasional patches of submerged tree limbs. (Before the massive doses of herbicides were unwisely spread across this reservoir, this shallow-water shoreline and its adjacent flat were graced with a bounty of submerged vegetation and largemouth bass.) This largemouth bass was caught in about five feet of water and 25 feet from the water’s edge on a Z-Man’s Junebug TRD TicklerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig while I was strolling and employing a drag-and-shake presentation.

During the next 190 minutes, I probed seven other locales and failed to elicit a strike.

At 2:45 p.m., I returned to the shallow-water shoreline that yielded the first and only largemouth bass of the outing, and during the next 31 minutes, I eked out 12 more largemouth bass along about a 160-foot stretch of this shoreline. Two of them were caught on a Z-Man’s black-blue TRD HogZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. Ten were caught on the Junebug TRD TicklerZ rig. Three of the 12 were caught while I was working with a drag-and-shake presentation. One was caught on a deadstick presentation after I failed to hook a strike while I was using a slow and subtle swim-glide-and-shake presentation. Four were caught on the initial drop. Four were caught on a slow and subtle swim-glide-and-shake presentation. These 12 largemouth bass were caught in four to five feet of water and from eight to 20 feet from the water’s edge.

In sum, it was great to be afloat again. But the demise of the aquatic vegetation at this reservoir is disheartening. Midwest finesse anglers need to begin a crusade to convince fisheries biologists and lake managers to actively cultivate aquatic vegetation in our reservoirs and not to kill it.

Feb. 19

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 19 outing.

Here is a slightly edited version of his log.

Another cold front, accompanied by more rain storms, is forecasted to arrive in north-central Texas during the late-afternoon hours of Feb. 19. So, I opted to fish at a north-central Texas’ community reservoir before the weather turned for the worse.

The sky conditions changed from mostly cloudy to overcast. Around 12:30 p.m., it began to lightly rain off and on. The wind blew steadily out of the east and northeast at 10 to 15 mph. The morning low temperature was 41 degrees and the afternoon high temperature struggled to reach 53 degrees at 2:00 p.m., and it fell back to 47 degrees by 3:30 p.m. The barometric pressure was 29.98 at 11:00 a.m. and 29.87 at 4:00 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing on Feb. 19 would occur from 4:53 a.m. to 6:53 a.m., 5:20 a.m. to 7:20 a.m., and 11:33 p.m. to 1:33 a.m. I fished from 11:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

The last time I fished at this community reservoir was on Feb. 3, and I fished for 3 1/2 hours. It was overcast and raining off and during that outing, too, and I labored to catch seven largemouth bass and one large bluegill.

This impoundment is the only community reservoir that I have found during the past couple of weeks that has not been negatively affected by recent rains. Its water level was normal. The water exhibited about 1 1/2 feet of clarity. In the main-lake area, the water temperature was 51 degrees. Inside a small feeder-creek arm on the northeast end of the reservoir, the water temperature was 55 degrees.

I began fishing at the north end of the reservoir. This area encompasses a large flat with a small ditch that courses its way along the south end of the flat. A small feeder-creek enters the reservoir from the east end of the north shoreline. This shoreline is also lined with thick stands of winter-dead cattails. I failed to locate any largemouth bass on the south end of the flat, around the ditch, or around the stands of cattails.

Inside the feeder-creek arm, I focused on the largest pool, which is about 15 feet wide and 30 feet long. Its underwater terrain consists primarily of gravel, softball-size rocks, and clay. There was a visible current flowing through this creek.

This pool yielded three largemouth bass. They were associated with a cluster of rocks on the outside edge of the current flow in three feet of water. They were enticed by a slow drag-shake-and-deadstick presentation with a Z-Man’s molting craw TRD CrawZ that was affixed on chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig.

From the north shoreline, I moved to the west side of the reservoir. Along the west shoreline, I caught two largemouth bass. This shoreline is flat on its north and south ends, but its midsection is steeper, possessing about a 30-degree slope. The underwater terrain along this portion of the reservoir is comprised of sand and gravel. This shoreline features a minor point on its northern end and another minor point near its southern end. A fishing pier is situated in the middle section where the shoreline is the steepest.

The first of these two largemouth bass was caught about 30 feet away from the end of the north point in about eight to ten feet of water. It was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkinseed Slim SwimZ fastened on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig that was slowly and steadily dragged across the bottom. The other largemouth bass was caught in about 10 feet of water and about 45 feet from the water’s edge on the north side of the fishing pier. It engulfed a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig that was sporting a Z-Man’s Junebug TRD TicklerZ. This rig was employed with a slow drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve. The remainder of this shoreline was fruitless.

I then slowly dissected the area around a concrete-slab dam on the south end of the reservoir, but I failed to generate any strikes there.

Along the east shoreline, I caught two largemouth bass. The most promising features on this shoreline are a steep and broad sand-and-gravel point, a shallow ditch, a long clay and gravel point, and a fairly long and shallow sand-and-gravel ledge close to the water’s edge.

Both of these largemouth bass were caught in five to seven feet of water. They were abiding along the south end of this shoreline and about 25 to 30 feet away from the water’s edge. Both of these largemouth bass were caught on a drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve with the Z-Man’s molting craw TRD CrawZ rig.

In closing, the fishing was as slow and difficult as it was on Feb. 3, and it was a chore to catch seven largemouth bass. But in the overall scheme of things, catching seven largemouth bass in four hours during this time of year is what we would consider a fairly decent outing. Normally, most black-bass anglers in these parts elicit one or two strikes per outing, and that paltry average is what we have been experiencing during most of our outings this winter.

The most effective lure was the Z-Man’s molting craw TRD CrawZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig, which allured five of the seven largemouth bass.

The most effective retrieve was a slow drag-shake-and-deadstick presentation. The deadstick portion of this retrieve lasted about five seconds.

Feb. 27

Ned Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas, filed a log about his Feb. 27 outing with his cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, on the Finesse News Network.

Here is an edited version of his log.

During the past three months, it has been a whale of a chore for us old codgers to get afloat. In fact, Rick hasn’t been afloat since Dec. 13, and I have fished just four times since Jan. 1. One of the obstacles that prevented me from getting afloat revolved around the fact that my nearly 80-year-old hands are unable nowadays to tolerate Old Man Winter’s frosty ways.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 22 degrees at 4:53 a.m. and 47 degrees at 3:53 p.m. The sky fluctuated from being fair to partly cloudy to being mostly cloudy to being overcast to being cluttered with a few clouds. The wind angled out of the south, southwest, west, and northwest at 3 to 23 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.24 at 12:53 a.m., 30.15 at 5:53 a.m., 30.13 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.08 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 12:43 a.m. to 2:43 a.m., 1:03 p.m. to 3:03 p.m., and 6:53 a.m. to 8:53 a.m.

Rick and I ventured to one northeastern Kansas’ community reservoir, and we fished from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The surface temperature ranged from 39 to 41 degrees. The water level was several inches about normal. The water exhibited three to about five feet of visibility.

For Midwest finesse anglers to enjoy bountiful catches of largemouth bass when the water temperature is in the lower forties and upper thirties, it is necessary for us to find patches of coontail in three to eight feet of water. Shallow-water patches of curly-leaf pondweed and Eurasian milfoil are also wonderful locales for Midwest finesse anglers to find and catch a bounty of largemouth bass in cold water. But to our chagrin, lake managers and most of the folks who use these reservoirs do not like aquatic vegetation, and they cut it, rake it, and poison it. At the reservoir that Rick and I fished on Feb. 27, a goodly number of the coontail patches have been raked, poisoned, and eaten by grass carp. Thus, our ability to locate and catch the wintertime largemouth bass in this reservoir was dramatically hampered on this outing.

We spent all but about 20 minutes of the 240 minutes that we were afloat searching for patches of coontail on shallow-water flats and along flat and shallow-water shorelines in the upper half of this reservoir’s primary feeder-creek arm. During those 20 minutes, we quickly fished portions of two steep shorelines.

We caught 24 largemouth bass. One was caught along one of the relatively steep shorelines. The others were caught on either shallow-water flats or along flat and shallow-water shorelines.

A Z-Man’s coppertreuse TRD TicklerZ affixed to a red 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig caught one largemouth bass. A Z-Man’s pearl Slim SwimZ affixed to a blue 1/15-ounce TT Lures’ NedlockZ jig caught two largemouth bass. A Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse TRD rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig caught four largemouth bass. A Z-Man’s green-pumpkin TRD TicklerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig caught five largemouth bass. And a Z-Man’s Junebug TRD TicklerZ affixed to either a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig or a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig caught 12 largemouth bass.

The most bountiful locale was about a 150-yard stretch of a combination of a shallow-water flat and a shallow-water shoreline. There are two docks bedecking this shoreline. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, silt, and a few rocks. Parts of this stretch are graced with patches of coontail that lie in four to five feet of water. There are also significant globs of filamentous algae cluttering the underwater terrain. One largemouth bass was caught on the Finesse TRD rig while it was being strolled with a drag-and-shake presentation in about six feet of water. Four largemouth bass were caught on our Junebug TRD TicklerZ rigs with a drag-and-shake presentation in four to six feet of water. Four largemouth bass were caught on the green-pumpkin TRD TicklerZ rig in four to six feet of water, and three were caught as were employing a drag-and-shake presentation, and one was caught on the initial drop of the rig.

Along a massive shallow-water shoreline we caught five largemouth bass on our Junebug TRD TicklerZ rigs as we strolled them with a drag-and-shake presentation, and they were caught from 30 to 40 feet from the water’s edge in six to 10 feet of water This shoreline is littered with scores of docks. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and silt. Parts of this stretch are graced with patches of coontail that lie in four to five feet of water. There are also significant globs of filamentous algae cluttering some of the underwater terrain.

Across a massive shallow-water flat that is the size of four or five football fields, we caught four largemouth bass in an area that is about the size of a tennis court. The underwater terrain consists primarily of silt, and a lot of it is cluttered with wads of filamentous algae. Two largemouth bass were caught on our Junebug TRD TicklerZ rigs with a drag-and-shake presentation in about five to six feet of water. The other two were caught on the Slim SwimZ rig with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation in about five feet of water.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/infisherman/content/photos/Midwest-Finesse-Fishig-Feb-20.jpg

Along about a 100-yard stretch of a very flat and shallow-water shoreline and its adjacent shallow-water flat, we caught five largemouth bass. The underwater terrain of this locale consists of silt and gravel. It is graced with occasional patches of coontail and wads of filamentous algae. Three of the five largemouth bass were caught on the Finesse TRD rig. One was caught on the Z-Man’s Junebug TRD TicklerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. The green-pumpkin TRD TicklerZ rig caught one largemouth bass. All four were caught while we were employing a drag-and-shake presentation in four to five feet of water, and two of the four were caught while we were strolling with the drag-and-shake presentation.

One largemouth bass was caught along a relatively steep shoreline. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. It is endowed with a few minor laydowns. Globs of filamentous algae are scattered here and there along this shoreline. The largemouth bass was caught on the coppertreuse TRD TicklerZ rig in about seven feet of water as we were strolling and employing a drag-and-shake presentation.

We have noticed that our abilities to find and catch vast numbers of shallow-water largemouth bass has declined significantly during the past several winters. And to our chagrin, it is unlikely that we will ever catch and release 101 largemouth bass in four hours during the winter ever again. From our perspectives, this decline revolves around the increase in angler predation on our reservoirs. The dastardly effects of the largemouth bass virus at several of the reservoirs has also contributed to this decline. But in our eyes, the most significant problem is centered on the addiction Americans have with herbicides to make our landscapes look like a golf course and our waterways to look like a swimming pool. We are hoping that anglers will start talking to the reservoir managers and fisheries biologists and politely pleading with them to start cultivating aquatic and terrestrial vegetation. To prevent the vegetation from overwhelming these waterways, the anglers should ask the managers and biologists to occasionally cut it manually rather than using herbicides.

Feb. 27

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Feb. 27 outing.

Here is a slightly edited version of his log.

Norman Brown of Lewisville and I have been suffering from a mild case of cabin fever, so we ventured to an U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hill-land reservoir in north-central Texas.

In-Fisherman’s solunar table noted that the best fishing would occur from 12:52 p.m. to 2:52 p.m., 7:02 a.m. to 9:02 a.m., and 1:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Norman and I fished from 11:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

It was a mild winter day. The radiant sun illuminated a cloudless sky. The morning low temperature was 27 degrees. The afternoon high temperature was 66 degrees. The barometric pressure measured 30.36 at noon. It was 30.22 at 4:00 p.m. The wind quartered out of the south and southwest at 8 to 14 mph.

We spent four hours on the north end of the reservoir inside a minor feeder-creek arm. It is the same one that I have fished three previous times this month. Except for two other anglers in a boat and one bank angler, we had this creek arm to ourselves.

We focus on this feeder-creek during the winter months for three reasons. The first is that the water conditions in this creek arm are the most favorable in this reservoir. The second is that this creek arm contains an abundance of black-bass lairs. And third, if the black-bass bite is tough, we can turn our attention to pursuing white bass and catch a fairly decent number of them in this creek arm during the winter months. And at times, we can catch some large crappie, too.

This feeder-creek’s shorelines are flat in the middle and lower sections. They become steeper and bluff-like in its upper end. A myriad of submerged brush piles, flooded bushes, laydowns, and submerged stumps clutter the shallows around the shorelines. The submerged terrain consists primarily of gravel and clay.

The surface temperature of the water in the main-lake area outside of this creek arm was 50 degrees. It was also muddy with less than a foot of visibility. The water level was 0.46 of a foot high.

Inside the feeder-creek arm, the water was muddy at its mouth and exhibited less than 12 inches of clarity. The surface temperature was 53 degrees. As we slowly worked our way into the midsection of the creek arm, the surface temperature climbed to 59 degrees. The water’s clarity increased to 3 1/2 feet of visibility. We did not fish in the upper end of the creek.

The black bass bite was tough, and we had to work hard to catch two largemouth bass. And though we failed to locate any significant numbers of black bass, we did manage to keep our boredom at bay by catching 18 white bass and one large black crappie. We failed to cross paths with any spotted bass. Both of the largemouth bass were caught in three to five feet of water from two different flat shorelines that were many yards apart from each other. Both of them were relating to submerged brush piles. Most of the white bass were caught along steeper shorelines in five to 11 feet of water and in close proximity to partially-submerged laydowns and brush piles. The crappie was caught from the side of a brush pile in five feet of water.

All of these fish were allured by either a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pearl Slim SwimZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig or a three-inch Z-Man’s pearl Slim SwimZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. Both of these rigs were employed with a slow swimming retrieve.

We spoke briefly with the two boat anglers and the shoreline angler. The two boat anglers were leaving, and they reported that they did not elicit a single strike. The bank angler said he was struggling and caught only two largemouth bass.

March is just around the corner, and in a couple of weeks, we anticipate warmer weather, improved water conditions, and hopefully, more fruitful fishing.

Feb. 28

Ned Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas, filed a log about his Feb. 28 outing with his cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, on the Finesse News Network.

Here is an edited version of his log.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 22 degrees at 3:52 a.m. and 57 degrees at 3:53 p.m. The sky fluctuated from being foggy to being fair to partly cloudy to being mostly cloudy to being overcast. The wind angled out of the west and northwest at 3 to 25 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.20 at 12:52 a.m., 30.15 at 5:52 a.m., 30.19 at 10:52 a.m., and 30.13 at 3:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 1:31 a.m. to 3:31 a.m., 1:51 p.m. to 3:51 p.m., and 7:41 a.m. to 9:41 a.m.

Rick and I ventured to one northeastern Kansas’ state reservoir, and we fished from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

This was another late-winter outing when Rick and I struggled to find patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, such as coontail and curly-leaf pondweed, growing on the shallow-water flats inside primary and secondary feeder-creek arms. When this happens, we struggle to find and catch the largemouth bass that abide in our flatland reservoirs.

During this outing, we methodically fished around and across three shallow-water flats. One was a massive shallow-water flat in the back of a major feeder-creek arm. The second one was a tiny shallow-water flat inside a secondary feeder-creek arm. The third one was a massive shallow-water flat in the back of another major feeder-creek arm.

In winters past at this reservoir, we used to see scores of stems of curly-leaf pondweeds floating on or a few inches below the surface that the beaver, muskrats, and waterfowl had uprooted. On this outing we saw four meager stems of curly-leaf pondweed, and we failed to find any underwater patches of it.

We did cross paths with several globs of filamentous algae, and much of it was clinging to submerged piles of brush.

We found two meager patches of coontail and a tad of very winter-wilted stems of bushy pondweed and brittle naiad on one of the massive shallow-water flats.

For 3 ½ hours, we struggle to catch 12 largemouth bass.

Five of them were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse TRD affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. Four were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD affixed to a red 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. One was caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin TRD TubeZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce TT Lures’ NedlockZ jig. One was caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin TRD TicklerZ affixed to a red 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig.

The first largemouth bass was caught around a meager patch of coontail and winter-dead brittle naiad in about six feet of water on a massive shallow-water flat in the back of one of the major feeder-creek arms. It was caught on the TRD TicklerZ rig with a slow drag-and-shake presentation. That was the only strike that we elicited on this flat, which is the size of about five football fields.

We failed to garner a strike on the flat inside the secondary feeder-creek arm, and we failed to find any submerged vegetation.

We caught 11 largemouth bass on the massive flat inside the other major feeder-creek arm. Ten of those eleven were caught in an area that is about the size of a tennis court. One was caught about 100 feet south of that tennis-court-size spot. Five were caught on the green-pumpkin Finesse TRD rig, four were caught on the green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD rigs, and one was caught on the TRD TubeZ rig. All of them were caught in seven to 10 feet of water while we were employing a drag-and-shake presentation, and one of them was caught while we were strolling and employing the drag-and-shake presentation. We garnered three strikes that we failed to hook. This massive flat is about the size of six football fields. The tennis-court-size spot and the spot 100 feet to its south were the only places where we elicited a strike, and we could not detect if this spot was graced with patches of coontail or curly-leaf pondweed, but we did find some patches of filamentous algae, and we occasionally felt something that felt like submerged aquatic vegetation. At no other place on this massive flat did we encounter any vegetation.

In conclusion, it was another sorry winter outing on the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas. And in our eyes and minds, it reinforced our observations and piscatorial experiences that the fisheries biologists and lake managers in northeastern Kansas need to work on improving the underwater habitats of our flatland reservoirs by cultivating submerged aquatic vegetation.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Lake Superior Whitefish on Ice

Lake Superior Whitefish on Ice

Doug Stange joins Capt. Aron Kastern on Lake Superior near Ashland, Wisconsin where they go after whitefish on ice.

Drop-Shotting For Smallies

Drop-Shotting For Smallies

The In-Fisherman crew head to Lake Erie to catch smallmouth bass.

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction.

Channel Cats on Ice

Channel Cats on Ice

The In-Fisherman staff reveals some of the hottest action of the winter season, as they show how to ice 20-pound channel catfish.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The big discussion is over the legality for the public to wade in or walk alongside rivers.Understanding Riverine Rights Today Catfish

Understanding Riverine Rights Today

Dan Anderson - October 28, 2020

The big discussion is over the legality for the public to wade in or walk alongside rivers.

You're going to love this Beer-Battered Fish Fingers Recipe! These deep-fried walleye strips are tasty and dress up nicely when served in a basket or on a plate with fresh fruit such as grapes and strawberries.Beer-Battered Fish Fingers Recipe Fish Recipes

Beer-Battered Fish Fingers Recipe

In-Fisherman

You're going to love this Beer-Battered Fish Fingers Recipe! These deep-fried walleye strips...

Introduced species often directly or indirectly adversely affect native species.Questioning Fish Introductions Other Fish

Questioning Fish Introductions

Dr. Hal Schramm - July 06, 2020

Introduced species often directly or indirectly adversely affect native species.

A bumping rod is the unicorn of fishing rods because building the right rod for bumping feels impossible at times.Selecting a Bumping Rod and Reel for Catfish Catfish

Selecting a Bumping Rod and Reel for Catfish

David Harrison - October 28, 2020

A bumping rod is the unicorn of fishing rods because building the right rod for bumping feels...

See More Trending Articles

More Midwest Finesse

Its soft-plastic body and tail are phthalate-free.Storm Lures' 360GT Searchbait Midwest Finesse

Storm Lures' 360GT Searchbait

Ned Kehde - August 31, 2020

Its soft-plastic body and tail are phthalate-free.

September 2020 fishing was fruitful.Midwest Finesse Fishing: September 2020 Midwest Finesse

Midwest Finesse Fishing: September 2020

Ned Kehde - October 05, 2020

September 2020 fishing was fruitful.

Its chelipads feature six holes, creating a bubble trail underwater for fish to hone in on.Big Bite Baits 3-inch Kamikaze Craw Midwest Finesse

Big Bite Baits 3-inch Kamikaze Craw

Ned Kehde - October 15, 2020

Its chelipads feature six holes, creating a bubble trail underwater for fish to hone in on.

This August guide to Midwest finesse fishing contains 22 logs.Midwest Finesse Fishing: August 2020 Midwest Finesse

Midwest Finesse Fishing: August 2020

Ned Kehde - September 08, 2020

This August guide to Midwest finesse fishing contains 22 logs.

See More Midwest Finesse

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the In-Fisherman App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now