July 23, 2015
This monthly guide to Midwest finesse fishing is filled with the insights and endeavors of Rick Allen of Dallas; Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas; Charlie Croom of Fayetteville, Arkansas; Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri; Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas; Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas; Dave Mull of Paw Paw, Michigan; Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia; Daniel Nussbaum of Ladson, South Carolina; Travis Perret of Overland Park, Kansas; Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina; Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas; Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas; Walt Tegtmeier of Lenexa, Kansas; Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana; Bill Ward of Warsaw, Missouri; and me.
As in May, Mother Nature confounded some of these anglers, such as Travis Myers and Steve Reideler, by flooding the waterways that they fish. In fact, many of the north-central Texas reservoirs that Reideler fishes were closed for the entire month. Therefore, he escaped from Texas for two weeks and chased the smallmouth bass that abound in the waterways around Door County, Wisconsin, and he stopped in northeastern Kansas for two days to chase some smallmouth bass in two of its reservoirs.
The best fishing of the month was enjoyed by Terry Claudell, Travis Perret, Drew Reese and Bill Ward, and they did it in Ontario, Canada.
Again this month, Reideler contributed the most logs. And as always, we are thankful that he proof read all of the 24,222 words of this month's guide. He makes our monthly guide more readable and understandable.
June 2 log
Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, has recently become bewitched with smallmouth-bass fever. And to subdue it, he and his wife, Nancy, left Texas on June 1 and headed north to Door County, Wisconsin, where they will spend two weeks and Steve will pursue smallmouth bass.
During their 1,150-mile journey northward, they stopped in Lawrence, Kansas, for a day on June 2, which allowed Steve to get about a six-hour taste of the smallmouth bass fishing that Midwest finesse anglers enjoy in northeastern Kansas.
We were hoping to chase the smallmouth bass that reside in a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir. But during the month of May, Mother Nature dumped as much as 15 inches of rain in the watershed of this reservoir, which riled it and made for some vexing smallmouth bass fishing. Therefore, we were relegated to making a 74-mile journey to a 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir that wasn't adversely affected by Mother Nature's rainy ways.
The National Weather Service reported that it was 56 degrees at 2:53 a.m. and 78 degrees at 3:53 p.m. Throughout the day, the sky fluctuated from being sunny, to being overcast, to being mostly cloudy, and to being embellished with a few clouds. The wind angled out of the east at 5 to 14 mph, out of the southeast at 6 to 15 mph, and out of the south at 3 to 16 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.02 at 12:53 a.m., 30.08 at 5:53 p.m., 30.03 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.95 at 3:53 p.m.
The water level was about a foot above normal. The surface temperature ranged from 69 to 71 degrees. The water exhibited two feet of clarity in some locales and as much as five feet in other locations. There are patches of American pondweed, curly-leaf pondweed, and bushy pondweed flourishing at a variety of locations around this reservoir.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing should transpire from 10:59 a.m. to 12:59 p.m., 4:46 a.m. to 6:46 a.m., and 5:13 p.m. to 7:13 p.m. We fished from 10:08 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
During this outing, we wielded eight Midwest finesse rigs.
A Z-Man's Fishing Products' Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head jig caught 36 smallmouth bass. Steve has become a devotee of Z-Man's Scented LeechZ, and we used a green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ on either a chartreuse or a red 1/16 Gopher jig, and the one affixed to the chartreuse Gopher jig caught 33 smallmouth bass, and the one on the red Gopher jig caught five smallmouth bass. We used these three baits the bulk of the time.
A Z-Man's California Craw Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught five smallmouth bass. A four-inch Z-Man's Junebug Finesse WormZ caught one smallmouth bass. A Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught one smallmouth bass. A Z-Man's PB&J Finesse T.R.D. on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught one smallmouth bass. A Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig caught one smallmouth bass.
The majority of the smallmouth bass were allured by a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. A few of them engulfed our baits on the initial drop. We also caught one by strolling the four-inch Z-Man's Junebug Finesse WormZ. One was caught by vertically shaking a Z-Man's Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. and red 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head jig in the vicinity of a donnybrook with another smallmouth bass. A couple were caught when we deadsticked a bait after we failed to hook a strike.
We fished nine areas. Five were situated in the lower portions of the reservoir. Four were located in the middle portions. Shallow and flat lairs were more fruitful than steep and deep ones. We caught the bulk of the smallmouth bass when the boat was floating inthree to 11 feet of water.
In the lower portion of the reservoir, we spent less than 10 minutes fruitlessly probing a short section of a submerged roadbed that is graced with bushy pondweed, gravel, rocks, and boulders. The boat floated in three to seven feet of water. And it was the only locale that failed to yield a smallmouth bass.
We spent about 15 minutes plying a flat, shallow point in the lower portions of the reservoir. It is endowed with gravel, bushy pondweed, and some boulders. The boat floated in six feet of water. This spot yielded five smallmouth bass, and all five of them were abiding in a 10-foot-square area.
We spent more than 1o minutes plying a large boulder and rock pile situated on a flat in the middle portion of the reservoir. The pile is covered with four to eight feet of water. The boat floated in three to 11 feet of water. It yielded two smallmouth bass.
We spent about 317 minutes fishing many miles of riprap shorelines. (Steve said it is the most riprap that he has ever seen at a reservoir.) Some of the riprap was enhanced by submerged roadbeds, humps, aquatic vegetation, and the concrete structure that comprises the dam's outlet.
These riprap shorelines yielded 76 smallmouth bass, and the shallower sections, where the boat floated in three to 11 feet of water, were considerably more productive than the deeper sections, where the boat floated in 12 to 25 feet of water.
In sum, we caught 83 smallmouth bass, which was an average of 14 an hour. We inadvertently caught one channel catfish, one freshwater drum, one white bass, one wiper, and one walleye, which was the first one that Steve had ever caught
June 2 log
Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, spends late spring and most of the summer catching smallmouth bass, as well as an occasional lake trout, muskie, northern pike, and walleye, that abide in a 1,679-square-mile lake in Ontario, Canada.
He arrived there on May 19, and he filed a report on the Finesse News Network on June 2 about is first five outings at this waterway.
Here is a condensed and edited version of his report:
We have had some warm days and some frigid rainy ones. The surface temperature has fluctuated from 49 degrees to 66 degrees.
I have seen some smallmouth bass spawning beds, but all the smallmouth bass that I am catching are pre-spawners. Some of them congregated in large groups, and when I find a group, it usually contains big and fat females. I have extracted as many as 20 smallmouth bass from one small lair.
There are, however, some dry spells and areas, and they can be very dry. At the same time, there are increasing numbers of smallmouth bass showing up along the boulder-strewn shorelines.
Unfortunately, the large groups of smallmouth bass are not on any pattern. So, I have to hunt for them. To compound the difficulty, I have found them in water as shallow as a foot and as deep as 28 feet.
After last year's record high water levels, the lake is as low as it has been since 1980. Navigating around the granite rock piles is more challenging.
All of this being said, the fishing has been spectacular. It seems to make no difference what the weather is doing. If you are man enough to be out there, the smallmouth are willing to play. I fished for smallmouth bass for five days last week, and on each of those outings, I was afloat for an average of 6 1/2 hours. And I caught 492 smallmouth bass. Last year I never had a day that I caught 100 smallmouth bass. Last week I did it three times.
I think a great deal of the success is due to having a better understanding of how to maximize Z-Man's selection of baits. An example is the Finesse T.R.D.-spin. Normally, mornings are tough this time of year, but for some reason they love the Finesse T.R.D.-spin until 10:00 or 11:00 a.m., and this added greatly to my daily catch total.
I caught my first two smallmouth bass yesterday that regurgitated crayfish. Knowing that the smallmouth bass have not been foraging on crayfish, I have used a minnow-colored bait with a swimming presentation. Z-Man's Mud Minnow Hula StickZ on a green-pumpkin 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig has been the dominate bait. I have thrown Z-Man's pearl Finesse ShadZ, but it is more effective on the 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig, which is difficult to cast and needs to be fished very slowly.
One thing I have learned is to use the anchor feature on my trolling motor. By using it when I find a concentration of fish, I can dissect the area with the Finesse T.R.D., Finesse ShadZ, Finesse T.R.D.-spin, 3 1/2-inch GrubZ grub, and Hula StickZ. I sometimes catch several additional fish after they quit hitting the original lure.
I am continually amazed at how much better Z-Man's ElaZtech baits are compared to the plasitsol ones that other companies make.
When the wind finally blew itself out after the cold front, I went lake trout fishing late one afternoon. I wanted to try to catch one on the Hula Stick. I used four-pound-test line and a pearl Hula StickZ on a 3/8-ounce jig, and I caught four lake trout in four casts. The smallest one was a 10-pounder, and the biggest weighed 23 1/2 pounds, which is the biggest lake trout that I have ever caught, and it beat my previous big one by 6 1/2 pounds. It took 40 minutes to land those four lake trout, and my arm is still sore.
I am celebrating my 50th anniversary of fishing in Canada. Three years ago I started using Z-Man's Hula StickZ, and it is responsible for catching the largest northern pike, lake trout, smallmouth bass, and muskie (a 47 1/2-incher) that I have caught across those 50 years. The Hula StickZ attracts big fish. For instance, the other day it caught two 12-pound, one 14-pound, and a 17 1/2-pound northern pike while I was fishing for smallmouth bass. I also caught the biggest bluegill of my life back home in Kansas this spring. Not only is this four-inch ElaZtech bait a superb big fish bait, it is a great bait for catching vast numbers of fish.
June 4 log
In our June 2 log, Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, and I bemoaned the ways Mother Nature had riled a 6,930-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir, where we were hoping to chase bevies of smallmouth bass. She had dumped as much as 15 inches of rain in the watershed of this reservoir. Therefore, we had to make a 74-mile journey to a 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir that wasn't adversely affected by Mother Nature's rainy ways, and the problem with this reservoir is that it is aesthetically unattractive, and if the wind exceeds 15 mph, which it often does, it is painful to fish.
Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, and I have a date to take a friend from South Carolina fishing on June 9, and I wanted to find somewhere else to take him. So, I made a quick examination of a 100-acre community reservoir on June 4 in hopes that it would be a fruitful venue to take our friend.
Traditionally, many of the small flatland reservoirs, which range in size from 50 to 400 acres, in northeastern Kansas will clear up in a week or so. And when I arrived at the boat ramp, the water was surprisingly clear, exhibiting four feet of visibility at several locales. The water level was about 18 inches above normal, and water was flowing rapidly across the dam's spillway. The surface temperature was 69 degrees.
The National Weather Service reported that it was 64 degrees at 5:53 a.m. and 79 degrees at 5:53 p.m. The wind was variable, angling out of the southeast at 5 mph, out of the south at 5 to 22 mph, out of the east at 5 to 8 mph, out of the northeast at 14 mph, and out of the northwest at 10 mph. The sky fluctuated from being fair to being partly cloudy to being mostly cloudy to being overcast, and a thunderstorm began to erupt around 10:53 p.m. The barometric pressure was 29.95 at 12:53 a.m., 29.93 at 5:53 a.m., 30.09 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.99 at 2:53 p.m.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing should transpire from 12:07 a.m. to 2:07 a.m., 12:34 p.m. to 2:34 p.m., and 6:21 a.m. to 8:21 a.m. I fished from 11:00 a.m. to 1:10 p.m.
The riprap shorelines of the dams at our small flatland reservoirs are usually very fruitful locations to dissect in early June. This dam used to be one of our most fruitful ones, but since the largemouth bass virus has had its way with this reservoir's denizens, the dam has been a lackluster venue. It was lackluster on this outing, yielding only three largemouth bass. One was allured by a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. One was allured by a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The third one was allured by a Z-Man's Junebug Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. They were extracted out of water as shallow as two feet and as deep as six feet, where I was employing a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Two were caught adjacent to patches of American water willows, which line the entire dam, and one was caught around a patch of coontail along the west end of the dam.
I fished several patches of American water willows that line the spillway. A brisk current was coursing through these patches and a few schools of fry were hovering in the current and around these patches. I caught one largemouth bass that engulfed a shortened four-inch Z-Man's Junebug Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig on the initial drop. It was abiding in about three feet of water.
The third spot was a main-lake point that is graced with a boat dock and large hump. The left side of the dock yielded three largemouth bass, and the hump yielded three largemouth bass. A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig allured all six of them, as did a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.
While I was fishing the hump, I noticed that the thrust of the trolling motor was diminishing.
I quickly fished another hump, two main-lake points, and two shorelines. Only one of the shorelines yielded a largemouth bass, and it was caught on the initial drop of the shortened four-inch Z-Man's Junebug Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
Then I put the boat on the trailer and headed to a battery shop, where I discovered that one of the trolling motor's batteries was a goner.
June 5 log
During the night of June 4 and 5, Mother Nature walloped northeastern Kansas with a whale of a storm, causing several of our nearby U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoirs to rise quickly significantly. And their water levels ranged from nine to 15 feet above normal. And our small reservoirs also became flooded and muddy.
I was still in my quest to find a convenient and fruitful spot where Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, and I could entertain our friend from South Carolina on June 9. What's more, I wanted to see if the new battery solved my trolling motor woes. So, I quickly examined a nearby 180-acre state reservoir.
The National Weather Service reported that it was 63 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 81 degrees at 2:52 p.m. The wind was variable, calm at times, and at other times, it angled out of the northwest at 10 mph, out of the south at 6 mph, out of the southeast at 12 mph, out of the southwest at 7 mph, out of the east at 3 mph, and out of the north at 8 mph. Rain and thunderstorms pummeled northeastern Kansas from 2:52 a.m. to 6:52 a.m., dropping from 1.38 inches to more than two inches of precipitation, which raised our yearly total to 16.01 inches of precipitation. At 7:52 a.m. the sky was embellished with a few clouds; it was fair from 9:52 a.m. to 1:52 p.m. The barometric pressure was 30.06 at 12:52 a.m., 30.11 at 5:52 a.m., 30.09 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.05 at 2:52 p.m.
The water clarity across 90 percent of this reservoir was murky. The surface was cluttered with oodles of flotsam. The riprap shoreline along the dam was the clearest water, but it was clutter with most of the flotsam. The water level looked to be more than three feet above normal. The surface temperature was a surprising 75 degrees.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing should transpire from 1:08 a.m. to 3:08 a.m., 1:36 p.m. to 3:36 p.m., and 7:22 a.m. to 9:22 a.m. I fished from 12:10 a.m. to 1:25 p.m.
I spent the entire 95 minutes that I was afloat probing the dam, which encompasses about 250 yards of riprap, as well as some patches of bushy pondweed, American water willows, and flotsam.
I caught 26 largemouth bass. Twenty-one were caught on a Z-Man's Junebug Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Three were caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man's Junebug Finesse WormZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. Two were caught on a Z-Man's black-and-blue 2 3/4-inch BatwingZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
Five of the largemouth bass engulf the bait on the initial drop. Twenty of them were allured by a swim-glide-and-shake presentation, and when I failed to hook a strike on the swim-glide and-shake retrieve, I immediately deadsticked it, which allowed me to catch four largemouth bass.
The most fruitful area was around the outlet, where the current was flowing vigorously and was graced by several schools of fry. This area yielded 12 largemouth bass.
The second most fruitful locale was associated with the biggest collection of flotsam, and it produced seven largemouth bass.
The other seven largemouth bass were scattered along the riprap shoreline and a goodly distance from each other.
Some were extracted out of water as shallow as two feet, and some were in water as deep as 10 feet, and others were somewhere between those two depths.
As I loaded the boat on the trailer, I concluded that this reservoir was not fit to entertain our friend from South Carolina. And I suspected that we would have to take him to the 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir, which is where Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, and I fished on June 2, and it is where Clyde Holscher has been guiding his many clients for weeks on end.
June 5 log
Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, is spending the spring and summer chasing smallmouth bass and several other species that abide in a 1,679-square-mile lake in Ontario, Canada. He filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his June 5 outing with Bill Ward of Warsaw, Missouri, who will fish with him for a week.
Here is a condensed and edited version of his brief:
Bill and I caught 171 smallmouth bass in seven hours of fishing, and the three biggest were 3 3/4-pounders.
Z-Man's Canada Craw Hula StickZ on a green-pumpkin 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig and Z-Man's Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. on a green-pumpkin 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig caught the bulk of the 171 smallmouth bass. But before noon, our best baits were the Z-Man's Mud Minnow Hula StickZ on a green-pumpkin 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig and a Z-Man's Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D.-spin on a green-pumpkin 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig.
The weather was sunny. The wind was relatively calm. It was a nice day to fish.
The surface temperature ranged from 59 to 64 degrees. We saw a few spawning beds, but most of the smallmouth bass are in their pre-spawn motif. So, we think that we will have a great week.
When Bill arrived yesterday, we met a couple of old friends of mine. They used to own a resort here, and they have fished the lake for 40 years. She loves to fish for lake trout, and I told them that we would show them a lake trout spot that I had found. And at 4:00 p.m., Bill and I took them to that spot, and we fished it until 5:00 p.m. During that hour, the four of us caught 31 lake trout that weighed from seven pounds to 15 pounds.
Bill and his father, Virgil, used to fish Great Slave and Bear lakes in the good old days, and he said these 60 minutes were the best lake trout fishing that he had ever experienced. Up until this 60-minute outing, the most lake trout that this couple had ever tangled with was 19, and it took them an entire morning to accomplish that feat.
All of the lake trout were caught in 35 to 45 feet of water. They were caught on a Z-Man's pearl Finesse ShadZ on an unpainted 3/8-ounce jig and a Z-Man's pearl Hula StickZ on an unpainted 3/8-ounce jig. This couple was blown away by the effectiveness of Z-Man's ElaZtech baits.
June 6 log
Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed this report on the Finesse News Network about his June 6 outing with two friends at a 2,600-acre power-plant reservoir.
The National Weather Service reported that it was 68 degrees at 3:53 a.m. and 84 degrees at 3:53 p.m. Thunderstorms and light rain coursed over some locales from 9:53 a.m. to 10:53 a.m., and the NWS described the sky as being fair from 10:53 a.m. to 3:53 p.m., and after that, a few clouds began to appear. The wind angled out of the southeast at 5 to 20 mph, out of the east at 5 to 10 mph, out of the north at 5 mph, and out of the south at 10 to 14 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.05 at 12:53 a.m., 30.03 at 5:53 a.m., 30.05 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.97 at 3:53 p.m.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing should transpire from 2:08 a.m. to 4:08 a.m., 2:35 p.m. to 4:35 p.m., and 8:22 a.m. to 10:22 a.m. They fished from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The water level was dropping, and Gum estimated that it was about six inches above normal. The water clarity exhibited about two feet of visibility along the dam, displaying more of a greenish hue than a brown one. The surface temperature was 81 degrees along the dam.
Initially, the bite was good along a riprap shoreline on the east side of the reservoir. They fished 50 yards of American water willows, where they failed to elicit a strike.
When the wind began to angle out of the north and storm clouds began to roll overhead, they fished around the marina until the storm clouds disappeared. Then they fished more riprap shorelines on the east side of the reservoir and along the dam. After 10:00 a.m., their catch rate deteriorated.
It was a multispecies outing. Besides largemouth bass, they caught channel catfish, crappie, flathead catfish, freshwater drum, green sunfish, white bass and wipers. The flathead catfish weighed 10 pounds, and one of the largemouth bass measured 19 inches.
Their two most productive baits were a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company's Bama Craw Zero on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company's Junebug Zero on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. They caught some on a four-inch Strike King's green-pumpkin Super Finesse Worm on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a four-inch Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits' brown Double Tail Hula Grub on a black 1/8-ounce Gopher jig, and a four-inch Strike King's Coppertreuse Super Finesse Worm on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
A swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was effective, and at times, strolling and dragging these baits behind the boat yielded several fish.
They spent some time dissecting a submerged roadbed and bridge with spoons, and they caught some channel catfish, one white bass, and several wipers.
June 7 log
Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his June 7 bank-walking endeavors on Lake Michigan and Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.
Here is an edited version of his brief:
It was 46 degrees this morning. It rained all morning and until about 1:00 p.m. After the rain cleared out, it became sunny and warmed up to 73 degrees, and the wind was brisk out of the west at 15 to 25 mph. I made it out for three hours from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. I didn't have the means to measure the water temperature, but it felt cold to the touch.
I fished a large sand and gravel flat and eight boat docks in Rowley Bay on the Lake Michigan side of the peninsula for two hours and didn't get a bite. I then fished Eagle Harbor on the east side of Sturgeon Bay and caught 20 smallmouths in about 45 minutes. I began fishing a large, shallow, rock, and sand flat without a bite. I then fished a small boat dock with a large boat tied to it. All 20 of the smallmouth bass were caught in 10 feet of water and in the shade of the boat. The shady area beside the boat was about eight feet wide and 15 feet long. If I fished in the open areas outside of this shady area, I didn't get a bite. Sixteen of these bass were caught on a Z-Man's Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a brown 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. I let the bait sink to the bottom and deadsticked it for 10 to 20 seconds, and a bass would suddenly swim off with the bait. I caught four on a Z-Man's Canada Craw Hula StickZ rigged on a brown 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and a slow twitch-and-pause retrieve.
I didn't get any bites on 3 1/2-inch GrubZs, and the prototype tube bait rigged with an internal 1/16-ounce jig failed to garner a strike. I must mention, however, that the areas I fished were crowded with bank-walking smallmouth bass anglers, and I was amazed to see that they were all throwing green-pumpkin tube baits. I didn't see anyone fishing any other type of bait. I think it is possible that the prototype tube may not be as effective as it would be elsewhere because the smallmouth bass are being constantly bombarded with green-pumpkin tube baits day after day.
June 8 log
John Reese is 80 years old and Glen Hildebrand is 87. Both of them live in Lawrence, Kansas. When we fish together, I am the youngster -- at the age of 75 -- of this trio.
On June 8, they climbed into my boat for a short but hair-raising outing at a 195-acre reservoir.
It began, however, rather placidly and fruitfully at 10:15 a.m., when we had our sights set on fishing to 1:15 p.m. During the first 45 minutes, we caught 15 largemouth bass.
Our abilities to locate and catch the largemouth bass petered out during the next 105 minutes. During that spell, we wielded hundreds of casts and retrieves and caught only 11 largemouth bass.
Then to our horror, John said at 12:45 p.m.that he was feeling ill and he had to go home, and as soon as he uttered those words, he tumbled to the floor of the boat. We wanted to call an ambulance, but John, who is a retired surgeon, urged us not to call for medical assistance. We honored his request and load the boat on the trailer and pulled it to the public works' garage adjacent to the ramp, where we asked two of the employees if we could use their ladder, and we also asked them if they could help us get John out of the boat. They gratefully helped us, and we drove him home, and we helped him into his house, where he took his blood pressure and heart rate, and they were fine. He also noted that he wasn't exhibiting any symptoms of a heart attack. He deduced that he was suffering from a combination of dehydration and minor heat stroke.
He took a nap, and when he awoke at 3:45 p.m., he felt fine and said he was eager to join Glen and me on another outing in the near future.
Here are a few piscatorial details about our June 8 outing:
The National Weather Service reported that it was 64 degrees at 5:52 a.m. and 87 degrees at 2:52 p.m. The wind angled out of the north at 7 mph, out of the northwest at 3 to 10 mph, and out of the west at 8 to 10 mph. The sun was shining intensely. The barometric pressure was 29.85 at 12:52 a.m., 29.90 at 5:52 a.m., 29.94 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.91 at 1:52 p.m.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing should transpire from 4:08 a.m. to 6:08 a.m., 4:34 p.m. to 6:34 p.m., and 10:21 a.m. to 12:21 a.m. We fished from 10:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
From May 2 to June 7, the NWS in Lawrence, Kansas, has recorded 11.17 inches of rain. Other locales in northeastern Kansas have received more than 15 inches of rain during this period. Consequently, the water levels at our flatland reservoirs are above normal, and the water clarity ranges from being stained to muddy. At this 194-acre reservoir, the water level looked to be two feet above normal, and water was coursing down the spillway. All the patches of American water willows were covered with water. Several weeks ago much of the submerged aquatic vegetation had been treated with a herbicide, and it was diminishing. The water was stained to the point that I could not see the propeller on the transom-mounted electric trolling motor. The surface temperature ranged from 76 to 79 degrees.
The 15 largemouth bass that we caught along the rock-laden dam were inveigled by a Z-Man's Junebug Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a black-and-blue 2 3/4-inch tube affixed to a 1/16-ounce inserted jig, and a green-pumpkin-candy 2 3/4-inch tube affixed to a 1/16-ounce inserted jig.
He fished two main-lake points and shorelines, which are rock- and gravel-laden, as well as graced with many healthy patches of American water willows, and we failed to catch a fish at these locations.
We fished two shorelines inside a feeder-creek arm, which are rocky and embellished with stumps, laydowns, a beaver hut, and American water willows. The Hula StickZ rig caught one largemouth bass along one of the shorelines. Along the other shoreline, nine largemouth bass were caught on the Hula StickZ rig and both tubes.
The most effective retrieve was the swim-glide-and-shake presentation. Some of the largemouth bass were caught in water as shallow as three feet, and some were caught in water as deep as seven to eight feet of water. The bulk was in about five feet of water.
June 9 log
Mother Nature's rainy ways around Paw Paw, West Virginia, have foiled Travis Myers' ability to launch his kayak and fish.
He filed this brief on the Finesse News Network, which has been edited and condensed:
I took a break from stacking wood in the 90-degree heat this afternoon, and I drove to the gate to get the mail.
Because of the floods, I haven't been on the water. The river by the back of our house is still very high, but it is clearing up. Other larger rivers in the area are worse off. I am hoping that it will be fishable by Friday and I will be launching the kayak.
To get to our mailbox, I have to crossover our development's bridge. When the water is as high as it is, fish of all species congregate behind this bridge's pilings.
I, of course, had to get the Z-Man's baby tube that I have been customizing wet. I wanted to play with retrieves and see what it actually looked like in the water.
I fished 45 minutes. I brought to my hand 11 very large bluegill, three largemouth bass and eight smallmouth bass from what is essentially a 50-foot stretch of fish-holding water. The depth drops from three feet to more than 10 feet in a scoured out hole. I saw all I needed to in 45 minutes.
I didn't get to experiment much with the retrieves because the fish kept interrupting my efforts.
Every fish completely ate the baby tube. It was rigged both internally and externally, and I toyed with drop rates. It was lathered with Pro Cure's Garlic Crawfish Super Gel.
June 9 log
In 2013, we published a story in our Midwest Finesse column entitled "Z-Man Goes to Canada." It featured Daniel Nussbaum's narrative about the three days he spent fishing with Drew Reese at the Lake of the Woods in Ontario, Canada, in late August of 2013.
Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, is one of the pioneers of Midwest finesse fishing, and he spends his summers at the Lake of the Woods. In fact, he is currently celebrating his 50th summer of chasing smallmouth bass in Canada. Reese is also a contributor to the Finesse News Network.
Daniel Nussbaum of Ladson, South Carolina, is the executive vice president of Z-Man Fishing Products and a member of the Finesse News Network.
On June 9, Z-Man, via Daniel, came to Kansas for a short spell. Daniel's piscatorial venture into Kansas occurred after he flew into Kansas City, Missouri, on the evening of June 7 and spent June 8 working for Z-Man in southern Missouri, and before he flew back to South Carolina on June 9.
Nussbaum knew that Kansas City had been the epicenter of Midwest finesse fishing since the 1950s and 1960s, and those early days Midwest finesse revolved around the methods and innovations of Chuck Woods and Ray Fincke, who Reese fished with and worked for. Several weeks ago, Daniel asked Clyde Holscher of Topeka, Kansas, and me if we could spend a few hours showing him where and how we employ some of the Midwest finesse tactics that we inherited from Woods and Fincke.
We were hoping to take him to one of the community reservoirs in the Kansas City suburbs, but Mother Nature's nearly incessant rains in May and early June had those waterways and the largemouth bass that reside in those waters in a state of disarray. So, we asked him if he would like to chase the smallmouth bass that abide in a 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir that Hoslcher has been guiding at for weeks on end. Nussbaum said he would like to catch some of those Kansas smallmouth bass. As we were driving to this reservoir, we told him this June outing wouldn't measure up to what he enjoyed with Reese at the Lake of the Woods or to what Reese has been enjoying at the Lake of the Woods since he arrived there on May 19. (For details about Reese's recent catches, see his June 2 and June 5 FNN reports above.)
The National Weather Service reported that it was 65 degrees at 3:53 a.m. and 91 degrees at 1:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the southwest at 3 to 7 mph. The sun was shining everywhere, and there was rarely a cloud in sight. The barometric pressure was 29.94 at 12:53 a.m., 29.93 at 5:53 a.m., 29.91 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.88 at 1:53 p.m.
The water level was several inches above normal. The water clarity exhibited less than three feet of visibility at some locales and more than five feet of visibility at other areas. The surface temperature ranged from 80 degrees outside of the warm-water plume to 90 degrees inside the warm-water plume. (When Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, and I fished this reservoir on June 2, the surface temperature outside the plume ranged from 69 to 71 degrees. We caught 83 smallmouth bass on that outing.) Massive patches of American pondweed and bushy pondweed embellish most of the areas that we fished on June 9. Clyde informed us that his clients' catch rates had declined radically during the past six days, and he normally would be fishing other northeastern Kansas reservoirs this time of the year, but the water was too riled at those reservoirs to fish them on June 9 or anytime soon.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing should transpire from 5:18 a.m. to 4:18 a.m., 5:44 p.m. to 7:44 p.m., and 11:07 a.m. to 1:07 a.m. We fished from 9:15 a.m. to 12:50 p.m.
Throughout the outing, our spinning rods sported the following rigs: Z-Man's Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. on either a red 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig or a reddish-silver-flake 1/16-ounce round jig, a Z-Man's Canada Craw Hula StickZ on either a red 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig or a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man's New Money Finesse T.R.D. on a reddish-silver-flake 3/32-ounce mushroom-style jig, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Dirt ZinkerZ on a reddish-silver-flake 3/32-ounce mushroom-style jig, and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Sprayed Grass ZinkerZ on a reddish-silver-flake 1/16-ounce round jig.
The Canada Craw Hula StickZ rigs inveigled 18 smallmouth bass. The Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. rigs caught five smallmouth bass. The New Money Finesse T.R.D. rig caught three smallmouth bass. The green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ caught three smallmouth bass. The 2 1/2-inch Dirt ZinkerZ rig caught two smallmouth bass. The 2 1/2-inch Sprayed Grass ZinkerZ rig caught two smallmouth bass. We elicited about two dozen strikes that we failed to hook, and 12 smallmouth bass liberated themselves before we could lift them over the gunnels of the boat.
Our most effective presentation was a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and during this retrieve, we allowed our baits to travel about six inches above the bottom. At times we executed a long pause in the presentation — especially when we elicited a strike that we failed to hook, and sometimes that pause generated another strike. We caught a few smallmouth bass by strolling one of our rigs behind the boat, and applying some shakes and some occasional pauses as we strolled.
We fished 10 spots.
At our first stop was a steep ledge adjacent to an island and a shallow, flat, boulder-laden point at one of the ends of the island. A submerged creek channel meandered nearby. Patches of pondweed graced parts of the ledge and much of the point. Along the ledge the boat floated in 10 to 14 feet of water. The boat floated in three feet of water on the point. The ledge yielded one smallmouth bass. We caught two smallmouth bass on the point.
The second stop was a riprap shoreline that is graced with patches of bushy pondweed. The shallower portions of this shoreline, where the boat floated in four to eight feet of water, were the most fruitful. We caught seven smallmouth bass and failed to land three along this shoreline.
The third area that we fished was a shallow gravel and rocky flat that is embellished with scores of patches of bushy pondweed, as well as some emerging American pondweed. The boat floated in three to seven feet of water. We failed to catch a smallmouth bass, but we did tangle with seven white bass.
Our fourth stop was a boulder-, gravel-, and rock-laden submerged roadbed and a flat point. It was laced with patches of American pondweed and bushy pondweed. The boat floated in three to six of water. Here we inveigled two smallmouth bass and failed to land two smallmouth bass.
The fifth stop was a nearby rock ridge on a flat that is encompassed with bushy pondweed. The boat floated in four to eight feet of water. This area yielded five smallmouth bass, and two smallmouth bass jumped off before we could lift them into the boat.
Our sixth stop was a shallow submerged roadbed on a flat that is surrounded with bushy pondweed. The roadbed is covered with gravel and rock, as well as some boulders. We caught five smallmouth bass and lost two before we could put a thumb into their mouths.
The seventh stop was some riprap and concrete features at the dam. The boat floated in four to eight feet of water. We caught three smallmouth bass.
The first seven spots we fished are situated in the lower portions of the reservoir. The eighth, ninth, and tenth spots that we fished are in its middle portion.
Our eighth spot consisted of three relatively short stretches of an enormous riprap shoreline. Some of it is graced with patches of bushy pondweed. Along one stretch, the boat floated in six to eight feet of water, and it yielded two smallmouth bass, and two smallmouth bass liberated themselves. At another stretch, the boat floated in 10 to 15 feet of water, and it yielded three smallmouth bass. At the third stretch, the boat floated in five to eight feet of water, and it yielded one smallmouth bass.
The ninth stop was a large pile of boulders on a massive gravel flat. Some of the boulders are covered with four feet of water. The boat floated in six to 14 feet of water. We failed to catch a smallmouth bass, but we advertently caught a wiper.
Our final spot was at a long riprap shoreline, and we quickly fished about 75 yards of it. It is graced with bushy pondweed. We caught two smallmouth bass and lost one.
In sum, it was not the Lake of the Woods. But the smallmouth bass that reside in northeastern Kansas' reservoirs suffer a lot more angler predation than do their brethren in the Lake of the Woods. For example, a half dozen of the smallmouth bass that we caught on June 9 had suffered significant damaged to their jaws that other anglers had given to them. Because of the extensive angling pressure, it can be a chore on some outings to catch an average of 10 smallmouth bass an hour, and we failed to reach that mark on this outing. We fished three hours and 40 minutes. We landed 33 smallmouth bass, seven white bass, two channel catfish, one freshwater drum, and one wiper. Twelve smallmouth bass liberated themselves. So, if we count every fish that we tangled with, we battled 14 fish an hour. And Daniel politely said that he was pleased with the catch, and he also courteously said it was interesting to see how and where we catch the fish that we catch.
June 9 log
Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed this report from Door County, Wisconsin.
Here is an edited version of his log:
The weather was pleasant and sunny with partly cloudy skies. The morning low was 57 degrees and the high was 81 degrees. The wind was out of the west at 5 to 10 mph, and the barometric pressure was 29.64.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing should occur from 4:33 a.m. to 6:33 a.m., 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and 10:47 a.m. to 12:47 p.m. I fished from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
I fished a boulder-laden jetty in Egg Harbor and caught 30 smallmouth bass and two rock bass. The water is clear with at least 15 feet of clarity, and a passing boat angler informed me that the water temperature was 60 degrees. I saw a bunch of smallmouths fanning nests on the shallower boulders by the jetty, and several bank anglers were bed fishing. Sadly, some of the larger two and 2 1/2-pounders were caught by some bank anglers and placed in ice chests instead of being released for spawning.
Twenty-one of these bass and the two rock bass were caught in five to seven feet of water. Nine others were caught in 20 feet of water where the jetty ends and the boulders drop into deep water.
Twenty smallmouths were caught on a Z-Man's California Craw Hula StickZ on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, which was retrieved with a drag-and-shake presentation. Six smallmouths and two rock bass were caught on a customized 2 1/4-inch Z-Man's Sprayed Grass FattyZ tail section rigged on a purple 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Four smallmouths were caught on a Z-Man's Blue Steel Finesse ShadZ on a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and swim-glide-shake retrieve.
I spent the last 1 1/2-hours fishing a flooded rock quarry along the southeastern shore of Sturgeon Bay. It lies about 10 miles south of Egg Harbor. I plied a large rocky flat covered with four to eight feet of water and caught three smallmouth bass. I inadvertently caught a 10-pound, 5-ounce northern pike. Two of these smallmouths and the northern pike were caught in about seven feet of water on a Z-Man's Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and presented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. I fished a small cove inside this quarry that is littered with large boulders and rocks, and I caught four smallmouths in about eight feet of water on the Z-Man Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. and swim-glide-shake presentation.
All totaled, I caught 37 smallmouth bass, as well as two rock bass and one northern pike. Twenty smallmouths were caught on the Z-Man California Craw Hula StickZ and drag-and-shake retrieve. Seven smallmouths and one northern pike were caught on the Z-Man Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. and swim-glide-and-shake presentation. Six smallmouths and two rock bass were caught on the customized 2 1/4-inch Z-Man's Sprayed Grass FattyZ tail and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Four smallmouth bass were caught on the Z-Man Blue Steel Finesse ShadZ and swim-glide-and-shake technique.
June 10 log
Charlie Croom of Fayetteville, Arkansas, telephoned a report to the Finesse News Network about his June 10 outing with his wife on a southwest Missouri river.
Croom described the weather as hot and sunny. A weather archives indicated that the temperature ranged from 63 degrees to 91 degrees. The mean wind velocity was 9 mph. The mean barometric pressure was 29.89.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicted that the best fishing might take place from 5:49 a.m. to 7:49 a.m., 6:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., and 11:36 a.m. to 1:36 p.m. They launched their canoe at 10:00 a.m., and ended the outing at 5:00 p.m.
This was their first Ozark river outing of 2015, because this river was muddy and in flood stage for the entire month of May. On June 10, it was flowing at a moderate pace. Throughout the day, the United States Geological Survey's gauge indicated that the water level dropped from 4.98 feet to 4.81 feet. Croom said the water exhibited seven feet of visibility.
Their spinning outfits were spooled with eight-pound-test Yo-zuri hybrid line. They used four Midwest finesse baits: a Z-Man's Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D., a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Canada Craw ZinkerZ, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin-orange ZinkerZ, and a 2 1/2-inch green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ. These baits were super glued onto either a 1/16- or 1/8-ounce unpainted Prescription Plastic's Ozark Finesse Head jig.
In fast current situations, when they wanted the bait to fall quickly, they used the 1/8-ounce jig affixed to the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ with a narrow or pointed tail.
When they needed a slower fall, they used the 1/16-ounce jig affixed to the Finesse T.R.D.
They caught 52 smallmouth bass, and to allure them, the Crooms employed two retrieves. One presentation was created by dragging and strolling the baits behind the canoe, and this tactic inveigled 22 smallmouth bass. They caught another 30 smallmouth bass by executing a deadstick presentation. Most of the bass were eight to 10 inches long, but some of them were 17-inchers.
They did not ply any of the river's long and deep pools that are adjacent to bluffs, which are often described as wintertime holes.
Instead, they focused on runs that were three to six feet deep, and most of the fish were caught in three feet of water. And all of the fish were in the current, but they were sheltered from it by an obstacle that broke the current or formed an eddy.
Some of the fish on these runs were associated with boulders and rocks, which is where they executed their dragging and strolling presentations.
Some of the fish were clustered around root wads and trunks of trees, where the current scoured out a hole that was about eight feet deep and ranged in size from as small as a free-throw lane on a basketball court to as large as a half of a basketball court. And they employed the deadstick presentation around these sunken tree lairs. Occasionally, when they were engaged with a donnybrook with a smallmouth bass, several other smallmouth bass would follow the hooked smallmouth bass around. When the Crooms saw those followers, they fished that area thoroughly, and they caught those smallmouth bass on consecutive casts.
A significant number of the fish were associated with shade that was created by overhanging terrestrial vegetation, and a significant flow of current coursed under the overhanging vegetation.
The Crooms' presentations were always aimed at what they called the bubble trail, which is a massive series of bubbles that gather on the surface and followed the heart of the current. The bubble trail always follows the thalweg, and it defines the deepest point along the channel. If they got away from the current and the bubble trail, they failed to elicit any strikes. This probing of the bubble trail has proven effective year after year.
If they found an area that was graced with shade, current, and eddies, they always found and caught smallmouth bass.
June 11 log
Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, and his wife, Nancy, are vacationing in Door County, Wisconsin. He filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his June 11 bank-walking endeavors.
Here is a condensed edition of his log:
For the past week, I have been hoping that either a grub or jerkbait bite would turn on so I could cover more water and increase my catch rates as I walk the shorelines. But the smallmouth bass that reside in Sturgeon Bay are beginning their annual spawning rituals, and they have been in no mood to chase any of my grub and jerkbait presentations. Therefore, I have been relegated to using other techniques in order to generate strikes.
It rained continuously from about 10:30 a.m. and throughout the remainder of the day. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 51 degrees and the high for the day reached 66 degrees before temperatures fell back to 55 degrees by mid-afternoon. The barometric pressure varied from 29.98 to 30.05. The wind was calm during the entire time I was fishing. Severe thunderstorms and possible flash flooding are forecast for the evening hours of June 11 and into the morning hours of June 12.
I was afoot from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. According to the In-Fisherman solunar calendar, the optimum fishing periods would take place from 6:10 a.m. to 8:10 a.m., 6:37 p.m. to 8:37 p.m., and a minor period would occur between 11:57 a.m. to 1:57 p.m.
I began the outing at a flooded rock quarry located along the southeastern shoreline of Sturgeon Bay. When I arrived, I observed several bank anglers already plying some of the more promising lairs. I watched one angler catch a couple of large freshwater drum on live bait. Another angler caught a smallmouth bass on a green-pumpkin tube.
I began dissecting a portion of a large rocky flat that is covered with large boulders and basketball-size rocks.
The water was as smooth as glass. It exhibited about 15 feet of visibility. A nearby boat angler informed me that the water temperature was 61 degrees, and the area I was fishing was as shallow as eight feet and as deep as 19 feet.
I wielded a gold-black-back suspending jerkbait, a five-inch Kalin's chartreuse-black-flake Lunker Grub rigged on a chartreuse 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, a Z-Man's Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
This large flat surrendered one 2 1/2-pound smallmouth bass that was attracted to the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. A 10-pound freshwater drum engulfed the five-inch Kalin's Linker grub retrieved with a steady swimming action. Both of these fish were abiding in about 10 feet of water and about 50 feet out from the water's edge.
I then probed a small cove inside the rock quarry. Large coffee-table-size boulders cover the cove's terrian. A floating walkway parallels a concrete seawall that is located along the southeast shoreline of the cove, and this walkway floats in 20 feet of water. I caught four smallmouth bass that were about four feet deep and were lolly-gagging underneath this walkway. All four of these bass engulfed the Finesse ShadZ as it was swimming, gliding, and shaking along the side of the floating walkway. The Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. and the suspending jerkbait failed to garner any strikes.
I made the 10-mile drive to Egg Harbor, which lies along the eastern shoreline of Sturgeon Bay, where I fished a rock jetty that extends about 75 yards from the east shoreline of the bay. The south side of the jetty yielded 19 smallmouth bass and five rock bass. Seventeen of these bass and all five of the rock bass were dwelling in the larger openings between the boulders in about eight to 15 feet of water. Two smallmouths were caught from 15 feet of water along the west end of the jetty, where a line of large boulders drops into 19 feet of water. I was unable to fish the north side of the jetty.
Eleven smallmouths and four rock bass were enticed into striking a customized 2 1/4-inch Z-Man's California Craw FattyZ tail on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Five smallmouths and one rock bass were caught on a shortened Z-Man's California Craw Hula StickZ on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig as I dragged and shaked it along the boulders. Three smallmouths were tricked into striking a Z-Man's EZ TubeZ threaded on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig, and it was also presented in a drag-and-shake presentation along the boulders.
In sum, I inveigled 24 smallmouth bass, five rock bass, and one freshwater drum. The most fruitful lure was the customized 2 1/4-inch Z-Man California Craw FattyZ tail and swim-glide-and shake retrieve, which beguiled eleven smallmouths and four rock bass. Five smallmouths and one rock bass were fooled by the shortened Z-Man's California Craw Hula StickZ and drag-and-shake presentation. Five smallmouths were coaxed into striking a Z-Man's green pumpkin Finesse ShadZ and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Three smallmouths were allured by the Z-Man EZ TubeZ utilized with a slow drag-and-shake presentation. The five-inch Kalin's chartreuse-black-flake Lunker Grub caught one large freshwater drum. The suspending jerkbait and Z-Man's Canada Craw Finesse T.R.D. failed to entice a strike.
It appears that the grub bite and jerkbait bite I have been hoping for may not materialize before I have to leave and return to Texas.
June 12 log
The National Weather Service predicted that it would rain in northeastern Kansas on June 12. They also predicted that there is a 60 to 70 percent chance that thunderstorms would pummel northeastern Kansas on June 13, 14, 15, and 16. What's more, they indicated that there is a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms on June 17.
At 8:00 a.m. the NWS's radar revealed that it was raining 30 or so miles southwest of Lawrence, Kansas, and it was moving our way. I didn't want to get wet. Therefore I almost didn't go fishing. But when it wasn't raining at 9:30 a.m., I decided to go.
After I hitched up the boat trailer and as I was driving to a 180-acre state reservoir, it began to sprinkle, which almost provoked me to turn around and go home. But I didn't.
While I was afloat, it drizzled periodically, and I wore a rain suit for 45 minutes.
According to the local NWS, it was 67 degrees at 8:52 a.m. and 75 degrees at 3:52 p.m. The sky was overcast. (The local NWS didn't receive a drop of rain on June 12, but it did commence to fall significantly at 2:52 a.m. on June 13.) The wind angled out of the north at 3 to 8 mph, out of the northwest at 7 to 15 mph, and out of the west at 5 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.97 at 12:52 a.m., 29.86 at 5:52 a.m., 29.86 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.89 at 1:52 p.m.
The water level looked to be six inches above normal. The surface temperature ranged from 77 to 78 degrees. The water exhibited two to four feet of visibility.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated the best fishing should take place from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., 7:56 p.m. to 9:56 p.m., and 1:16 a.m. to 3:16 a.m. I fished from 10:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
As I noted in the June 4 log, riprap shorelines of the dams at the small flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas are usually very fruitful areas to fish in early June. But to my dismay, they have not yielded an impressive array of largemouth and smallmouth bass this June. Nevertheless, I spent the entire outing plying the riprap of the dam at this reservoir, as well as the riprap of the dam's spillway and two adjacent jetties. This entire stretch of water contains many yards of riprap. Parts of it are also adorned with patches of American pondweed, American water willows, and bushy pondweed. The inside and outside edges of these patches yielded several largemouth bass.
I spent the bulk of the outing working with a shortened four-inch Strike King Lure Company's green-pumpkin-red-flake Super Finesse Worm on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. It was presented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The shake was extreme at times, which was executed by creating radical S-curves that incessantly radiated down the line from the tip of the rod to the point of where the line hit the surface of the water. This combo allured 57 largemouth bass, which were abiding in three to eight feet of water. (Across the years, this rig and retrieve has paid many dividends in May and June.)
The second most effective bait was a slightly shortened Z-Man's watermelon-red Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, which was retrieved with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. It inveigled 15 largemouth bass, which were residing in three to eight feet of water.
Two largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. One largemouth bass was caught on a slightly shortened Z-Man's Junebug Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.
In sum, I caught 75 largemouth bass and inadvertently caught one channel catfish and one crappie in three hours. And the dam lived up to its traditional billing for this time of the year.
June 12 log
Here is a condensed and edited version of a report that Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, filed on the Finesse News Network on June 12.
Our fishing here in the Piedmont section of North Carolina has been sporadic throughout May and June.
But my son-in-law, Preston Parks of Pittsboro, North Carolina, traveled to a 1,102-acre water-supply reservoir on May 21 and caught 33 largemouth bass on a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company's PB&J Zero affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. One of them weighed eight pounds. He was fishing around the dam, which is the trolling-motor-only section of the reservoir. And he caught them in two to four feet of water. He fished six hours from mid-morning to the middle of the afternoon.
After Preston's May 21 outing, he fished that 1,102-acre reservoir one more time, and it yielded 22 largemouth bass.
Our nearby community reservoir has been a challenge. At full pool, the fish have a ton of shallow cover to roam through. We prefer it to be at least two feet low, which prevents the vegetation from being a factor. My father and I fished it on June 10 from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. We caught eight of the tiniest ones I have ever landed. Our combined 110 years of experience at this reservoir failed us on this outing.
And what we did catch were on wacky-rigged stickbaits: Zeros and Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits' Senkos. I had changed the tape on my Midwest finesse-rig rod reel seat and left it at home. Not sure if that mattered. The deeper spots were as poor as the shallow areas where we caught the babies.
A trip to this same community reservoir from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on June 10 by Preston Parks and his friend Mike McPherson of Silver City, North Carolina, yielded 27 largemouth bass. Preston caught seven of them on a 2 1/2-inch Strike King's PB&J Zero affixed to a 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig. Twenty were caught on square-bill crankbaits. The biggest weighed 6 3/4 pounds. Shallow laydowns produced most of the bites, and some were caught along riprap shorelines. They caught these a few miles from where dad and I were getting kayoed, and of course, those youngsters ribbed us oldsters a touch afterwards.
My personal best finesse fishing since Memorial Day has been with a 1/16-ounce Gopher Jig affixed to Gary Yamamoto's Blue Pearl Silver Flake Shad Shape Worm. It has worked really well on occasions — especially along riprap shorelines. This same pattern was good last year in June as well. As we all know, the weakness of the Shad Shape Worm is its durability. For example, I recently used a whole pack in one lap around my pond.
The Shad Shape Worm led a host of baits on the weekend of June 6 and 7. We landed 104 largemouth bass across 12 hours of fishing. Besides catching them on the Shad Shape Worm, we caught them on a Rebel Lures' bone P70 Pop-R, a Z-Man's white Chatterbait, and a Strike King's Black Back/Chartreuse KVD HC Square Bill Silent Crankbait. We caught them around shallow rocks and wood. One was a five pounder, and most were two-pounders. None of them were abiding in water deeper than four feet. Both days were sunny, and area thermometers climbed into the upper 80s.
June 12 log
Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, posted the following report on the Finesse News Network about the river outing that he and his wife enjoyed on June 12.
Here is a condensed and edited version of the report:
It was 74 degrees as my wife and I awoke at 6:00 a.m. We launched our kayak at 8:30 a.m. and made our first casts at 9:10 a.m. At that time, it was a muggy 82 degrees and climbing.
This is the best I have seen our local rivers look all season. My fishing has been more sporadic than I would have liked recently. Waiting for the flood stages to recede has been like watching paint dry. But recently, the temperatures have climbed into the low and mid-90s, which has helped the high water to recede and the water visibility to improve.
The weatherman was predicting an afternoon thunderstorm, which is often the case in June and July. Sometimes they are correct, but more often than not, they are wrong. Being miles from civilization on a remote waterway, however, one needs to know that such a threat is possible.
We fished a spawning-staging area that is just up river from a very deep wintering hole. Fish gather here when the spawn has concluded, including the bigger fish in this system. A couple of weeks back I had mentioned that we had seen some large smallmouth bass exhibiting spawning behavior. On this outing, we saw some, but they were much smaller specimens. In these West Virginia river systems, the largest smallmouth bass spawn first, and they do it on what we call the prime real estate.
The smallmouth bass spawn is nearing completion. Because of all the high-water conditions this spring, it is difficult to determine how successful it was.
My wife and I caught 28 smallmouth bass. We caught 13 of them on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Dirt ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. We caught 15 of them on a heavily customized two-inch Z-Man's EZ TubeZ suffixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. (I have been energetically customizing and shortening these EZ TubeZs after work in preparation for this weekend's fishing.) Both rigs were liberally covered with Pro Cure's Garlic Crawfish Super Gel. A swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was employed throughout the outing. All of the smallmouth bass were taken from four to five feet of water along distinct-shade lines around large boulders. The largest one was a 17-incher, and it tried to consume the customized EZ TubeZ rig.
We caught three largemouth bass on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Dirt ZinkerZ rig, five largemouth on the baby tube, and three more on a Z-Man's green pumpkin Scented LeechZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.
We also caught 26 big bluegills. The 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Dirt ZinkerZ rig caught 13 of them, and 13 were caught on the customized EZ TubeZ rig.
Seven rock bass were caught on the EZ TubeZ rig.
We fished a total of 3 hours and 47 minutes under a scorching sun with a heat index of nearly 100 degrees.
My wife and I stopped at another location on the way back to the house. I fish this area a lot in the summer months and know it intimately. I had not fished it yet this year and wanted to just look at the water clarity and see whether it is ready, and it is. We hope to fish it during the early morning hours of June 13.
June 13 log
Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, posted the following report on the Finesse News Network about the river outing that he and his wife enjoyed on June 13, when they used a tactic that Australian bream anglers employ.
Here is a condensed and edited version of the report:
From the time that my wife and I woke this morning at 6:00 a.m., it was readily apparent that the weather forecasters had missed the mark. They predicted the sky would be clear until 2:00 p.m., when thunderstorms would erupt hereabouts. But it was threatening to lightening, thunder, and rain when we awoke.
We were hoping to wade a five-mile stretch of the river where we always do well after the smallmouth spawn concludes. This stretch is a perfect place to employ a tube, and we were looking forward to using the heavily customized two-inch Z-Man's EZ TubeZ suffixed to a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.
When my wife walked into the garage prior to us leaving , she saw that I had switched spools on our Shimano Stradic CI4 Microline spinning reels from the ones with five-pound-test PowerPro braided line to the ones with three-pound-test PowerPro braid, which I keep on some of our spare spools for just such an occasion.
My reason for this change revolved around the time constraints that the ominous weather had created, and I wanted us to catch as many fish as we could.
The other reason for the light line was that we were going to use very small and light lures, copying the way that Australia's bream anglers fish. The only rods that we use are the G. Loomis Trout Series Spinning Rods 791 GLX, and they excel at throwing everything that we use when we simply increase or reduce the size of the line. Therefore, we have spare spools at the ready at all times. The different line sizes help our casting, as well as the speed that our baits plummet to the bottom.
We used two baits on this outing. One was the Z-Man's watermelon-red-flake CrusteaZ affixed to a TT Lures' 1/40-ounce Hidden Weight System jig. The second was a two-inch Z-Man's Bloodworm GrubZ affixed to TT Lures' 1/40-ounce Hidden Weight System jig. The TT Lures' jigs absolutely excel with these two offerings. This jig allows our baits to settle to the bottom extremely slowly. Since it prevents the bait from dropping nose down, it prevents the bait from becoming wedged between all of the rocks and boulders that we fish around. It is also perfectly proportioned to fit the CrusteaZ and two-inch GrubZ. In essence, I took a chance that what works for Australian light-line bream fishermen might work here, and it does. Now I hope that they will become readily available in the United States.
Since the weather proscribed our ability to wade the river, we decided to fish the same water in our kayak; it would allow us to get back down river as fast as possible should the weather worsen. That thinking paid off.
We went up river from where we had launched. When we arrived at a 75-yard stretch of a long flat that smallmouth bass spread out on after spawning, we dropped the chain anchor on our Jackson Big Tuna Kayak and proceeded to wade. It is only a few feet deep and strewn with boulders. Along the strong current side of the river, the depth of the water is three to 3 1/2 feet deep, and it is graced with many overhanging willows.
My wife and I brought to hand 17 smallmouth bass, two big bluegills, and eight rock bass in the first hour of fishing. We proceeded to take 12 more smallmouth bass in the next 45 minutes. I had one smallmouth bass, which looked to be an 18-incher, throw the CrusteaZ rig on its initial jump. It was a beauty.
All of the bluegills and rock bass were caught on the CrusteaZ, as were 19 of the smallmouth bass. The rest of the smallmouth bass were inveigled by the GrubZ.
These baits were presented by casting down and across the river, and then we executed a very slow retrieve with the rod tip slightly submerged, which kept these light offerings swimming just above the boulders.
We were catching them at a quick pace when we heard the first crack of thunder, which provoked us to wade to the kayak and paddle quickly to the truck. The lightening erupted as we finished loading our tackle and kayak in the truck.
Even though we were able to dissect that entire 75-yard stretch of the river, we made the best of a strange weather day. It was a fun numbers day on baits that we don't normally use. In fact, I had not thrown the CrusteaZ since the first week of April, when the weather and water conditions were much different.
We were catching them at such a rapid pace that I have no doubt that we could have brought 75 smallmouth bass to hand today had the weather cooperated. What's more, the bigger specimens are starting to appear.
June 14 log
Walt Tegtmeier of Lenexa, Kansas, filed a brief about his June 14 outing with two friends at a 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir.
The nearest National Weather Service's office reported that it was 69 degrees at 5:57 a.m. and 78 degrees at 12:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the south at 6 to 25 mph and out of the southeast at 7 to 12 mph. It was mostly cloudy and overcast from 1:53 a.m.to 6:53 a.m. It rained lightly from 7:53 a.m. to 9:53 a.m. It became mostly cloudy and overcast for a few hours. Several thunderstorms erupted from 1:53 p.m. to 3:53 p.m. The barometric pressure was 29.89 at 12:53 a.m., 29.88 at 5:53 a.m., 29.93 at 11:57 a.m., and 29.90 at 3:53 p.m. Tegtmeier noted that while they were afloat that it was mostly cloudy, but occasionally the sun shined, and there was one brief thunderstorm, which was not severe enough to chase them off the water.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 9:21 a.m. to 11:21 a.m., 9:48 p.m. to 11:48 p.m., and 3:07 a.m. to 5:07 a.m. They were afloat from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
The water level was normal. The water was clear. The surface temperature ranged from the mid-70s to the mid-80s.
Here is an edited version of Tegtmeier's report:
It has been a long time since my last report. I have had very few chances to get out since the end of April, and June 14 was the first opportunity for a serious outing that wasn't washed out. Three of us elected to chase smallmouth bass, and we also had hopes of tangling with some incidental catfish.
We fished predominantly three baits. One was a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Canada Craw ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The second one was a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Junebug ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The third one was a shortened four-inch Z-Man's Purple Haze Finesse WormZ on a 1/16-ounce fluorescent-orange Gopher jig. We used, but to little or no avail, a shortened Z-Man's green-pumpkin FattyZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened green pumpkin FattyZ and a Z-Man's watermelon-red Hula StickZ on red 1/16-ounce Gopher jigs.
We fished the dam, which is primarily riprap, several flats that are adorned with bushy pondweed and American pondweed, and riprap jetties. All these areas yielded smallmouth bass. The riprap was best, and the best riprap had vegetation around it. The lower portion of the lake was better than the middle portion, but not much better. All in all it was a barely above average trip. We did not keep an accurate count of our catch, but it is safe to say three of us combined for more than 100 smallmouth bass, and about half of them were 10 inches or less. I have never seen so many young smallmouth bass at this reservoir. Yet, there were plenty of nice-sized ones, and many of them had hook wounds. We also caught two monster drum and two small channel catfish. I would say at least 25 smallmouth bass, including three large ones of unknown species, liberated themselves from our jigs before we could haul them over the gunnels of the boat.
We got the boat trailered just in time before a sizable squall hit the area. It would have been a real soaker.
June 14 log
Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, and his wife, Nancy, are vacationing in Door County, Wisconsin. He filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his June 14 bank-walking endeavors.
He wrote: "For my last day of vacation in Door County, Wisconsin, I fished six locations around the Sturgeon Bay peninsula. It turned out to be a very pleasant and fruitful one in my eyes, as I was able to allure 40 smallmouth bass and one rock bass.
"The weather started off cloudy with thick fog, but by 9:30 a.m., the clouds and fog burned away, and a bright sun shined everywhere in the cobalt-blue sky. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low at 57 degrees and the afternoon high reached 86 degrees. A light breeze blew out of the north at 5 to 10 mph. The barometric pressure ranged from 30.08 to 30.16.
"I began my bank-walking at about 9:30 a.m. and finished at about 4:30 p.m., but after deducting my travel time from one location to the next, I only fished about six of these seven hours. The In-Fisherman solunar calendar listed the best fishing periods occurring from 8:33 a.m. to 10:33 a.m., 9:01 p.m. to 11:01 p.m., and 2:20 a.m. to 4:20 a.m.
The first location I fished was the North Bay on the Lake Michigan side of the peninsula. The water was clear, and as I stood looking out into the bay from a concrete pier, I could easily see down into 15 feet of water. I visually searched the bay for smallmouth bass, but the only fish I could see were large schools of alewives that were searching for spawning sites and an occasional large carp or two gliding along on the white-sand bottom.
"My next location was Bailey's Harbor, which is about five miles south of North Bay, and it is also located on the Lake Michigan side of the peninsula. I observed more small schools of alewives cruising around patches of submerged vegetation in about five feet of water, but I saw no smallmouth bass inside the harbor. I half-heartedly fished several small boat slips inside a small marina positioned on the west side of the bay, hoping a smallmouth would be hiding in one of the shady areas or along the riprap covered jetty that forms the eastern and northern border of the marina. But the only bite I could entice was a small Gobi on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Hula StickZ rigged on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. I examined the Gobi and discovered that a shortened Z-Man's Mud Minnow Hula StickZ closely matched the coloration and size of the Gobi that I had caught. I switched to the Mud Minnow Hula StickZ and rigged it on a black 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, but I failed to cross paths with any smallmouth bass in this bay.
"I then drove about 10 miles to Egg Harbor, which is located on the east side of Sturgeon Bay. The harbor was busy with boat traffic and bank anglers of all ages. I concentrated my efforts on the south side of the 75-yard long boulder-laden jetty that is situated on the east side of the bay. This portion of the jetty was getting the least amount of angler pressure, and I felt it was my best shot at catching a few smallmouths. Zebra mussels were a nuisance, and they sliced through my eight-pound fluorocarbon leader on several occasions.
"I fished this part of the jetty with two baits: a Z-Man's Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a shortened Z-Man's Mud Minnow Hula StickZ threaded on a black 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The Finesse T.R.D. rig was retrieved with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation, and it enticed one strike, but I failed to connect on the hook set. The Mud Minnow Hula StickZ combo was retrieved with a slow drag-shake-and-deadstick presentation, and it garnered 16 smallmouth bass and one rock bass. All of these fish were abiding in seven to 19 feet of water next to the jetty.
"After I finished fishing the jetty in Egg Harbor, I drove 20 minutes to a flooded rock quarry on the southeast end of Sturgeon Bay. When I arrived, I wasn't too surprised to see that the shorelines along this quarry were crowded with bank anglers. I probed a small portion of a rocky flat that is covered with eight to 19 feet of water, and I caught one smallmouth bass in 10 feet of water on the Mud Minnow Hula StickZ rig. The Mud Minnow Hula StickZ rig was presented with a slow drag-and-shake retrieve and then deadsticked for five to 10 seconds. The Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. rig and a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve failed to attract any strikes. The only other area at this location that was not being plied by other anglers was a floating walkway next to a concrete seawall located in a small cove in the quarry. The walkway floats in 20 feet of water, and it surrendered five smallmouth bass. All five of these bass were relating to the bottom of the cove in 20 feet of water, and were coaxed into striking the Mud Minnow Hula StickZ and the drag-shake-and-deadstick presentation.
"Next, I fished a marina in Fish Creek Harbor. I concentrated on the shady sides of large boats and floating walkways, and these areas yielded 14 smallmouth bass. All 14 smallmouths were relating to the sand and rock bottom in eight to 15 feet of water, and they were attracted to the Mud Minnow Hula StickZ and drag-shake-and-deadstick presentation. I also saw small pods of fry swimming along the docks, but I was unable to identify what species of fish they were.
"After that, I made a 25-minute drive north to Eagle Harbor, which lies on the east side of Sturgeon Bay. This area was also quite busy with boat traffic, pedestrian traffic, and bank-walking anglers. I focused my attention on a small marina that had several large boats tied up to the docks. I fished the shady side of the boats in five to 10 feet of water and caught four smallmouth bass on the Mud Minnow Hula StickZ rig and drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve.
"My overall total for this Door County venture added up to 188 smallmouths, six rock bass, a 10-pound northern pike, and a 10-pound freshwater drum in 26 hours of bank fishing. The bass were not very active, and the vast majority of the bites were detected by just a light twitch of the line followed by a slightly heavier feel to the lure. The Z-Man Mud Minnow, California Craw, and Canada Craw Hula StickZs were by far the most productive baits, and the drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve was the most fruitful presentation.
"Nancy and I found Door County a delight with many hidden gems to explore. The peninsula is beautiful this time of year. The daytime temperatures reminded us of late February and early March in north-central Texas, and we were able to enjoy the cooler springtime weather for a couple of more weeks.
June 14 log
Charlie Croom of Fayetteville, Arkansas, telephoned a report to the Finesse News Network about his June 14 outing on a northwest Arkansas river.
The National Weather Service noted that it was 71 degrees at 2:57 a.m. and 83 degrees at 1:57 p.m. The wind angled out of the south at 7 mph, out of the southeast at 6 to 22 mph, out of the southwest at 9 mph, and out of the west at 6 mph. It alternated from being partly cloudy to mostly cloudy to overcast, and it rained lightly for a spell. The barometric pressure was 29.90 at 12:57 a.m., 29.98 at 5:57 a.m., 30.02 at 12:57 p.m., and 29.99 at 7:57 p.m. Croom described it as a hot and muggy day, and he feared that a thunderstorm might erupt. The thunderstorm threat caused him to adjust his game plan and float downstream just one-mile and then paddle back up to his truck.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing might occur from 9:01 a.m. to 11:01 a.m., 9:28 p.m. to 11:28 p.m., and 2:47 a.m. to 4:47 a.m. He launched his kayak at 4:00 p.m. and took it out of the water at 7:30 p.m.
The United States Geological Survey noted that at one of its sites that the river was flowing from 700 to 750 cubic feet per second. One of the USGS gauges indicated that the height ranged from 3.80 feet to 3.95 feet. Croom described the flow as average, and the water was stained, exhibiting about 3 1/2 feet of visibility.
He caught 33 meanmouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass. The biggest bass was a 16 1/2-incher, and there were several 12- to 14-inchers in the lot, too.
They were caught on either a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin-orange ZinkerZ or a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ. They were affixed to an unpainted 1/8-ounce Prescription Plastic's Ozark Finesse Head jig. He opted for the 1/8-ounce jig because he was employing a swimming retrieve, and the 1/8-ounce jig allowed his 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ rigs to run as straight as an arrow. He said the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ would twist and turn if he used a lighter jig, and all of that twisting and turning would cause his eight-pound-test Yo-zuri hybrid line to become twisted and kinky.
Seventy-five percent of the bass were caught while he was executing a swim presentation. And 100 percent of them were associated with the current, and he pinpointed the best current lairs by following the bubble trail that adorned the surface of the river.
One of the most fruitful locales was a one-mile-long pool that is graced with a bluff and scores of submerged root wads and tree trunks that are situated a goodly distance from the water's edge. The water was six to 12 feet deep, and most of the bass were situated three to five feet under the surface and abiding under the trunks of the trees. To allure them, he would cast one of his ZinkerZ rigs past the submerged trees and heavy current, and once it hit the water, he retrieved it quickly across the surface. As soon as he had retrieved it to the edge of the submerged trees, he stopped the retrieve and allowed it to pendulum towards the kayak for about three to five seconds. After that five second pause, he began to turn the handle on his spinning reel and slowly swim the ZinkerZ rig back to the kayak. Occasionally a bass would follow it all the way to the kayak before it tried to engulf the ZinkerZ, and the biggest smallmouth bass of the outing was caught next to the kayak on one of those long swimming retrieves. But most of the time, they engulfed the ZinkerZ rig as it crossed over the trunk.
As he executed the swimming retrieve around some of the submerged trees and root wads, a pack of smallmouth bass would occasional dart out from the labyrinth of limbs and roots in pursuit of the ZinkerZ rig. The lead smallmouth bass would strike the ZinkerZ rig with a vengeance, and then the others would try to steal it from him. When that phenomenon occurred, Croom would linger around that lair for a spell and catch a few of the other ones in that pack. Croom described the strikes as jolting, and he said it felt as if they were trying to rip the rod and reel out of his hands.
Across the past 15 years, Croom has observed that cloudy and rainy days during the late spring and throughout the summer are perfect for swimming the ZinkerZ rig -- as long as the river isn't too muddy or too swift. Unfortunately, there are not too many days like this in a year. Therefore, he says it is essential to soak up all of these small windows of opportunity that occasionally unfold on the Ozark rivers that he floats and wades.
He noted that some of the meanmouth bass, smallmouth bass and spotted bass were still spawning, and Croom suspected that all of the high-water and mud that flowed down that Ozark rivers and streams in May had adversely affected and delayed the spawn. He also noticed that some bluegill, sunfish, and various minnows were spawning along the flatter gravel areas around patches of American water willows. The patches of water willows provide shelter for a variety of invertebrates and baitfish. He also saw a hefty channel catfish foraging in one patch of American water willows.
June 15 log
Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, filed the following brief on the Finesse News Network about the seven days that he and Bill Ward pursued smallmouth bass and several other species that abide in a 1,679-square-mile lake in Ontario, Canada, where Reese spends his summers.
Here is an edited rendition of his brief:
Bill Ward fished with me from June 4 to June 10. I am sorry to not report sooner, but the keyboard on my laptop died. Therefore, I had to wait until Bill left to make the 100-mile round trip to get a new one and to be able to write and file this report about our smallmouth bass fishing. Some notes about our multispecies catches are attached to the end of this report.
We fished 5 1/2 days. We were blessed with moderate winds, which allowed us to fish a lot of areas thoroughly. Unfortunately, there was a lot of cloud cover, which always hampers the fishing up here. Nevertheless, we caught 674 smallmouths, which included a lot of nice-sized ones that weighed from four pounds to four pounds, six ounces, as well as scores of three-pounders, and very few of them weighed less than a pound. It was a ball.
Z-Man's Finesse T.R.D.-spin was good in the mornings. Then Z-Man's Hula StickZ and Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a 1/10-ounce Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShroomZ jig became the dominate rigs. The green-pumpkin Hula StickZ and Finesse T.R.D. were a slight bit more effective on the heavily overcast days than the other colors we traditionally use, and the Canada Craw hue was best when the sun was shining. The New Money and green-pumpkin-red hues were also effective on sunny outings. The Coppertreuse hue was good last year, but it has not been effective this year. The PB&J hue never has been a good one up here. Until Bill's arrival, the Mud Minnow was the best color, but the smallmouth bass are foraging on bugs and crayfish now, and when that occurs, it is not effective.
We saw very few spawning beds, and judging from the looks of the smallmouth bass that we caught, most of them were fat and not torn up from their spawning ordeals. So, they must be waiting for a little sun to procreate in.
The most amazing thing is this terrific fishery is less than 100 miles from the U.S. border, and we never see another bass fisherman this time of year. It is crazy.
So far this year, we have caught 65 lake trout, and the average weight is slightly more than 10 pounds. Two of them were caught on a Z-Man's Finesse T.R.D., a few were caught on a Z-Man's Finesse ShadZ, and the vast majority was caught on Z-Man's pearl Hula StickZ.
I also caught an 11-pound, five-ounce walleye, which I caught on the same day that I singlehandedly caught 174 smallmouth bass in about seven hours of fishing. I have also caught way too many large northern pike for my taste as an angler.
In sum, Midwest finesse tactics are exceptionally effective for catching a variety of species — especially in Canadian waterways. Perhaps In-Fisherman's Midwest Finesse column can focus on this phenomenon in the future; it would be a great help to the multispecies anglers in Canada and the northern states.
June 15 log
Terry Claudell of Overland Park, Kansas, filed a brief about his 4 1/2 days of chasing smallmouth bass in Ontario, Canada.
Here is an edited and condensed version of his brief:
The weather was wonderful. The temperature ranged from the mid-50s to 79 degrees. I was in shorts by the early part of the day, every day, with short sleeve shirts, and I did not don any rain gear, once. The wind was even mild-mannered all but one day.
The fishing was consistent, and we found a few new lakes to fish. The water was extremely clear, which allowed us to spot scores of spawning beds. We figured that we arrived at the peak of the spawn. The fishing was better that it was in June of 2014. We caught 474 smallmouth bass and about 30 northern pike.
The best lures were a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. and a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Hula StickZ. They were affixed to either a 1/32- or 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. The other three colors of the Finesse T.R.D. and Hula StickZ that worked were pearl, Canada Craw, and Mud Minnow.
June 16 log
Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about a multi species outing with a friend on June 16 at a 1.679-square-mile lake Ontario, Canada, where Reese spends his summers.
Here is an edited version of his brief:
My duck-hunting buddy is up and he is not a great fisherman. The wind angled out of the southwest at 15 mph. We fished 6 1/2 hours and caught 118 smallmouth bass, 31 walleye, and more than 10 northern pike. The smallmouth bass were nice ones.
I used the new Z-Man's black-and-blue Hula StickZ. My friend used a Z-Man's 3 1/2-inch GrubZ; at times he used the green-pumpkin one, and at other times, he used the Blue Glimmer Sparkle. These three baits were rigged 1/10-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig.
June 17 log
Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his wading outing at a nearby river.
Here's an edited and condensed version of his report:
Upon returning home from work on June 16, I took a look at the river. It was clearer than it had been all season; it exhibited six feet of visibility, and it is clearing rapidly. In addition, the water level had declined considerably since June 13, when my wife and I fished it and a thunderstorm interrupted our fun.
When I awoke at 6:00 a.m., an extremely thick fog blanketed the mountains, and the air temperature was 66 degrees.
After I attended to some household duties, I got ready. It was predicted that Mother Nature would wallop us with another series of thunderstorms, which would shorten this solo outing. Therefore, I packed just the essentials: drinking water, lunch, a bottle of Pro Cure's Garlic Crawfish Super Gel, pliers, cutters, a bag of 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Dirt ZinkerZs, and another bag of customized two-inch Z-Man green-pumpkin EZ TubeZs with California Craw tentacles. I grabbed one of our G. Loomis Trout Series Spinning Rods 791 GLX that is spooled with three-pound-test PowerPro braid and my wading shoes, which have many years of service on them and more miles on them than my truck tires.
I drove out of our driveway at 7:22 a.m. After a 35-minute walk up the river, I arrived at my intended fishing area at 8:02 a.m.
I had not fished this stretch of the river this year. My wife and I attempted to fish it on June 13, but as a thunderstorm approached, we climbed into our kayak and raced Mother Nature back to our truck.
Straightway on this June 17 outing, I proceeded to catch fish, and during the next three hours and 37 minutes, I caught 57 smallmouth bass, 24 hefty bluegill, and 13 rock bass.
The water level in this stretch averages only a few feet deep. Along the extreme-strong-current side of the river and adjacent to the shoreline, the depth is 3 1/2 feet. The bottom is littered with boulders.
I started the outing with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Dirt ZinkerZ on a red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, employing what I call a straight-across-the-river retrieve with the rod tip held high, which allows the ZinkerZ rig to flow just above the boulders. In the lingo of finesse anglers, this tactic is called sweeping the rocks or boulders, and anglers call it polishing the rocks. It inveigled 43 smallmouth bass and all of the bluegill and rock bass.
When I arrived at the top of this long run, I heard thunder rumbling in the distance, and I noticed that the clear sky was cloud covered. At that moment, I quickly switched to a EZ TubeZ, which had a green-pumpkin body and California Craw tentacles. It is two-inches long, and I affixed it to the same red 1/32-ounce Gopher jig I used with the ZinkerZ. Because of the approaching storm, I had to fish much faster than I would have liked to have fished as I waded downstream and re-fished the areas where the ZinkerZ rig had caught 43 smallmouth bass. Nevertheless, the EZ TubeZ rig caught 14 smallmouth bass. It was fished with a low rod tip, as I executed a slow swim-pause-and-shake retrieve that allowed the EZ TubeZ to travel a few inches above the bottom.
By the time, I had returned to where I had started this outing, I knew it was time to get to the truck, and as I type this, it is lightening and raining steadily and is 81 degrees.
I have been smallmouth bass fishing for a good many years, and I fished with untold numbers of tubes. But I have never experienced anything like what I can do with the customized two-inch EZ TubeZ. For instance, if I come across a stretch of river that has a bit more depth and/or current, and I want to increase the speed of the drop, I simply rig an EZ TubeZ with an exposed jig head. Then as I venture a few more yards up or down river, the depth might be shallower, and I will want to employ a slower drop speed, and to do that I simply pull the same jig head inside the tube. Thus, I don't have to re-rig and retie it. The days of threading an internal jig into a tube and tying it to my leader, and doing it several times on each outing, are over for me. In short, the EZ TubeZ and 1/32-ounce Gopher jig is an extremely versatile bait.
June 20 log
Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, filed the following log on the Finesse News Network about his bank-walking endeavors on June 20.
He wrote: Mother Nature has waylaid north-central Texas this spring with one wave of thunderstorms after another, which included a slew of tornados. And on top of that, a hurricane pummeled this area on June 14 and 15. Consequentially, all of our large U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoirs are 15 to 30 feet above normal pool now, and they have been closed since May 12. And anglers hereabouts have few fishing options left. For instance, I am relegated to bank-fishing several smaller community ponds and reservoirs that I normally ply during the winter months.
Thus on June 20, I conducted a solo bank-fishing foray at a 12-acre community reservoir that lies in a suburb north of Dallas.
The water was muddy, exhibiting about six inches of visibility. The water level was slightly high. I was unable to measure the water's temperature.
The day was mostly cloudy and humid. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 75 degrees and the afternoon high reached 93 degrees with a heat index of 100 degrees. The wind quartered out of the southwest at 8 to 15 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.06 at 11:30 a.m.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar listed the best fishing phases occurring from 2:08 a.m. to 4:08 a.m. and 2:31 p.m. to 4:31 p.m. A minor period occurred from 8:20 a.m. to 10:20 p.m. I was afoot from about noon to about 4:30 p.m.
The fishing was slow and tedious, and I struggled to catch 17 largemouth bass, two large bluegills, one green sunfish, and one catfish.
I used three spinning outfits. One of my three spinning rods sported a Z-Man's Christmas-hue Scented LeechZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. The second rod donned a shortened Z-Man's Junebug Hula StickZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. The third rod was rigged with a customized 2 1/4-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin-orange FattyZ tail section threaded on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. I also experimented with a Z-Man's pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ rigged on a brown 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.
I caught two largemouth bass and one green sunfish along the south shoreline. These fish were abiding in four feet of water along the deep-water edge of a sand and gravel ledge that extends about five feet out from the water's edge.
Next, I dissected two coves along the east side of the reservoir that are divided by a long sand and gravel point.
The southeastern cove consists of steep clay shorelines that are enhanced with fist-sized rocks. A creek channel courses its way through the center of the cove from the northeast corner to the mid-section of the south shoreline. A broad clay and gravel point extends northward from the south shoreline toward deeper water and forms the mouth to this cove. I caught two largemouth bass from three to five feet of water along the east side of the creek channel in the northeast corner of the cove. Three largemouth bass were extracted from five feet of water along the south end of the creek channel. The top of the mud point that forms the mouth to this cove relinquished two largemouth bass that were extracted from three feet of water.
The long sand and gravel point that separates the northeast cove from the southeast cove relinquished three largemouth bass. These largemouth bass were scattered along the south side of the point in five to seven feet of water, and they were associated with a sandy ledge that parallels the water's edge and drops into seven feet of water. The north side of the point yielded one catfish that was inadvertently caught from three feet of water.
The northeast cove encompasses a large mud flat with a small ditch that winds across the middle of the cove from the east shoreline toward the west shoreline. The northeast end of the ditch yielded one largemouth bass that was abiding in about five feet of water. Two large bluegills were inadvertently caught along the south side of this cove, and they were scattered along the bank in about three to five feet of water.
After that, I fished the north shoreline area, which yielded only one largemouth bass. This shoreline is endowed with a three-foot clay and gravel ledge that extends outward from the water's edge and drops into five feet of water. This largemouth bass was relating to the deep-water side of the ledge in about five feet of water.
I finished this afternoon's outing plying the west shoreline, which is comprised of sand, gravel, a few scattered fist-sized rocks, and a three-foot ledge that extends outward from the water's edge into three to five feet of water. This shoreline relinquished three largemouth bass that were scattered along the deep-water side of the ledge in about five feet of water.
Eleven largemouth bass and one green sunfish were caught on the Z-Man's Christmas-hue Scented LeechZ, which was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Four largemouth bass, two large bluegills, and one catfish were beguiled by the shortened Junebug Hula StickZ and swim-glide-and-shake presentation. One largemouth bass was tricked by the Z-Man's pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and one bass engulfed the customized 2 1/4-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin-orange FattyZ tail as it was retrieved in a swim-glide-and-shake manner.
June 21 log
Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed the following edited and condensed report on the Finesse News Network about his June 21 outing with his wife, Yan, at a 160-acre state reservoir.
The National Weather Service reported that it was 75 degrees at 5:52 a.m. and 90 degrees at 3:52 p.m. The wind alternated from being calm to angling out of the south at 3 to 20 mph, out of the southwest at 3 to 14 mph, and out of the west at 10 mph. The sky fluctuated from being cloudless to being mostly cloudy to being overcast to being cluttered with a few clouds. The barometric pressure was 29.85 at 12:52 a.m., 29.90 at 5:52 a.m., 29.92 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.88 at 3:52 a.m.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 2:53 a.m. to 4:53 a.m., 3:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., and 9:04 a.m. to 11:04 a.m.
The water level was normal. The water clarity exhibit four feet of visibility. The surface temperature hit a high of 82 degrees.
We initially planned to fish a 121-acre community reservoir, but when we arrived there, the gates were closed. The park rangers who were manning the entrance told us that there was a triathlon taking place, and we would not be able to launch until noon. So we traveled west several miles to the 160-acre state reservoir.
We began fishing at 7:30 a.m., and we could see that it was raining and we could hear it thundering in the vicinity of the 121-acre community reservoir. Thus, it seemed to be a blessing that the triathlon prevented us from fishing that waterway. On this reservoir, there were a lot of boats afloat when we started.
We began fishing at the boat ramp, focusing on the rocky shoreline and several offshore humps. Straightaway, we caught several largemouth bass. It is interesting to note that we fished the humps with a Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits' dark-brown Double Tail Hula Grub on a black 1/8-ounce Gopher jig and caught one largemouth bass. Then we immediately fished it again with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and caught five largemouth bass.
Most of the other anglers were fishing the patches of American water willows that line most of this reservoir's shorelines. Therefore, we avoided that crowded venue, and we spent our time dissecting some of the patches of submerged aquatic vegetation that are flourishing in this reservoir's two feeder-creek arms. Most of this vegetation is coontail, and the outside edges of some of the patches were sitting adjacent to 10 feet of water.
We kept the boat in 10 feet of water. Our casts would land on top of the patches, and then we would drag our baits through the coontail and down the outside edges of it. As we dragged our baits, we occasionally administered some shakes and twitches
It started raining around 12:30 p.m., and we heard some rumbles of thunder in the distance, so we quickly loaded the boat onto the trailer and headed home.
In sum, we caught 48 largemouth bass and one channel catfish in five hours. One largemouth bass was an 18-incher, and two of them were 17-inchers. Most of them were caught on either a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's PB&J or California Craw ZinkerZ that were rigged on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. We caught a few of them on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Most of the largemouth bass were caught in four to six feet of water.
June 23 log
For a variety of reasons, I have not been able to get afloat regularly in June and fish with any intensity. For instance, on June 23, I was able to squeeze in only 160 minutes to pursue the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass that inhabit a 416-acre community reservoir in northeastern Kansas. To compound my time-deficit woes, I have struggled on several June outings to locate and catch a significant number of largemouth bass and smallmouth bass.
The National Weather Service reported that it was 70 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 79 degrees at 10:53 a.m. The sky varied from being overcast to being mostly cloudy to being cloudless and to being cluttered with a few clouds. A thunderstorm coursed across some parts of northeastern Kansas from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The wind angled out of the north at 3 to 10 mph, out of the northeast at 8 to 10 mph, and out of the east at 12 to 16 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.03 at 1:53 a.m., 30.08 at 5:53 a.m., 30.14 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.16 at 1:53 p.m.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing might occur from 4:27 a.m. to 6:27 a.m., 4:49 p.m. to 6:49 p.m., and 10:38 a.m. to 12:38 p.m. I was afloat from 10:45 a.m.to 1:30 p.m.
The water level looked to be an inch or two above normal. The surface temperature ranged from 79 to 80 degrees. The water clarity exhibited six feet of visibility. The American water willows, which grace most of this reservoir's shorelines, were blooming and all of the patches were in the water. Besides the American water willows, many locales were embellished with submerged aquatic vegetation, such as American pondweed, bushy pondweed, coontail, and Eurasian milfoil. Some lairs were coated with a significant amount of filamentous algae.
My first stop of the outing was a steep shoreline inside a feeder-creek arm, which is graced with American water willows, bushy pondweed, rocks, a ledge, a stump, and two laydowns. The boat floated in 15 to 20 feet of water. I fished it with a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a shortened four-inch Strike King Lure Company's green-pumpkin-red-flake Super Finesse Worm on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig. I failed to garner a strike.
At my second stop, I fished a submerged rock fence that was embellished with patches of bushy pondweed. I employed a shortened four-inch Strike King Lure Company's green-pumpkin-red-flake Super Finesse Worm on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and a shortened Z-Man's Canada Craw Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. I inadvertently caught a seven-pound channel catfish on the worm rig.
The third spot that I fished was a main-lake point and shoreline, which were lined with American water willows, bushy pondweed, Eurasian milfoil, rocks, gravel, boulders, three laydowns, and several minor ledges. The boat floated in 10 to 12 feet of water. A smallmouth bass engulfed the shortened four-inch Strike King Lure Company's green-pumpkin-red-flake Super Finesse Worm affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig on the initial drop along the outside edge of a patch of American water willows and along the inside edge of a patch of bushy pondweed.
My fourth stop consisted of a steep main-lake shoreline and three main-lake points. This shoreline is about 200 yards long. The boat floated in water as shallow as 10 feet and as deep as 25 feet. The shoreline and points are graced with numerous patches of American water willows, bushy pondweed, rocks, gravel, boulders, and ledges. The shortened Z-Man's Canada Craw Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve inveigled two largemouth bass and seven smallmouth bass.
The fifth spot that I fished was the riprap shoreline of the dam. Besides the riprap, the dam is adorned with bushy pondweed, Eurasian milfoil, and a few scant patches of American water willows. The shortened Z-Man's Canada Craw Hula StickZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. on a brown 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve caught nine smallmouth bass and accidentally caught two freshwater drum.
My final stop of the outing was along a rocky- and boulder-laden shoreline near the mouth of a feeder-creek arm. The Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. on a brown 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve caught one smallmouth bass.
In sum, I caught 18 smallmouth bass and two largemouth bass.
June 23 log
Steve Reideler's fishing has been confounded by extremely high- and stained-water conditions this spring, and the early days of summer look to be equally confounding and problematic.
Here's an edited version of his log:
I made a 38-mile drive to a 250-acre Trinity River Water District reservoir. It is the only reservoir in this area that has an open boat ramp. I fished this reservoir on May 20 with Norman Brown of Lewisville, and during that 5 1/2-hour endeavor, we struggled to catch 15 largemouth bass and two spotted bass.
It was another hot and humid day in north-central Texas. The sun was shining through a partly cloudy sky while the wind blew out of the south at 8 to 12 mph. The National Weather Service recorded the morning low temperature at 75 degrees and the afternoon high reached 93 degrees. The average low for this time of June is 73 degrees, and the average high is 93 degrees. The barometric pressure measured 30.06 at about 9:00 a.m.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar listed the optimum fishing periods taking place from 2:02 a.m. to 4:02 a.m., 8:12 a.m. to 10:12 a.m., and 2:31 p.m. to 4:31 p.m. I fished from about 10:00 a.m. to about 2:00 p.m.
The water clarity in this reservoir usually varies from four to six feet of visibility. But after the remnants of the hurricane that flooded these parts on June 13 and 14, it left this waterway muddy, and the water's clarity was reduced to less than a foot of visibility. The water's surface temperature was 82 degrees, and the water level appeared to be about two feet high.
I started this solo undertaking on the east side of the reservoir along a wind-swept main-lake point covered with tall cattails and an adjacent 150-yard stretch of main-lake shoreline that is enhanced with six large patches of American water willows, four tall and thick stands of cattails, two submerged rock piles, a floating boat dock, and a floating swim dock. The boat floated in water as shallow as five feet and as deep as 10 feet. The cattail-laden point failed to yield any strikes. The 150-yard section of shoreline surrendered eight largemouth bass that were scattered in four to six feet of water along a rocky portion of the 150-yard portion of the main-lake shoreline. These largemouths were about 20 to 25 feet from the water's edge. They struck a Z-Man's four-inch black-blue Finesse WormZ rigged on a blue 1/32-ounce Gopher jig and presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. I also wielded a Z-Man's Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a shortened Z-Man's Junebug Hula StickZ attached to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and a Z-Man's black-gold-flake Scented LeechZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce gopher jig along the deep-water edges of the American water willows and the thick stands of cattails, but I did not cross paths with any bass relating to the vegetation.
My second spot was a broad and flat main-lake point that is enhanced with three dilapidated boat ramps, three patches of American water willows, and a submerged roadbed. The boat floated in five to nine feet of water. This point yielded one largemouth bass that was relating to one of the dilapidated concrete boat ramps in two feet of water. This largemouth was coaxed into striking the Z-Man's black-gold-flake Scented LeechZ and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The other two boat ramps, the patches of American water willows, and the submerged roadbed failed to relinquish any other bass.
The third area I checked was a cove on the north end of the reservoir. The shorelines in this cove are flat and covered with sand, gravel, fist-size rocks, a few patches of pondweed, and two laydowns. This cove yielded two largemouth bass, and both of these bass were located just inside the mouth of the cove. One largemouth bass was residing in about three feet of water along the west-side bank, and it was attracted to the Junebug Hula StickZ rig implemented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The other largemouth was caught from the east-side of the cove, and it was abiding along the deep-water edge of a patch of American water willows. This largemouth engulfed the black-gold-flake Scented LeechZ presented with a swim-glide-and-shake action. The remainder of this cove seemed bereft of bass.
Next, I targeted two rocky main-lake points that lie along the west side of the reservoir. The boat floated in four to six feet of water. One point surrendered one largemouth bass, and it was lured from three feet of water along the tip of one of the two points by the Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. and a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. The other point failed to yield any bass.
After that, I fished the first third of a cove that is situated along the northwest end of the reservoir. This cove is lined with American water willows, several patches of duckweed, three laydowns, some submerged stumps, and a boat dock. The boat floated in five to seven feet of water. The north shoreline relinquished one largemouth bass that was relating to a submerged stump in four feet of water, and it engulfed the four-inch black-blue Finesse WormZ that was manipulated with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. The south shoreline also surrendered one largemouth bass, and it was extracted from four feet of water along the outside edge of a patch of pondweed. This largemouth bass engulfed the Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. that was presented in a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.
My sixth spot was a cove in the southwest section of the reservoir. This cove is adorned with softball- and baseball-sized rocks, one boat ramp, one beaver hut, nine laydowns, and ringed with a thick wall of American water willows and tall stands of cattails. A creek channel closely parallels a 50-yard section of the northern shoreline. The boat floated in seven to 15 feet of water. I did not encounter any bass in this cove.
I finished this outing along the riprap-covered dam that forms the southern boundary of the reservoir. The dam is about 200 yards long, and the boat floated in nine to 23 feet of water. I caught two largemouth bass and inadvertently caught one green sunfish. These three fish were scattered along the face of the dam in three to six feet of water. The Z-Man's black-gold-flake Scented LeechZ and swim-glide-shake retrieve snookered the two largemouth bass and the Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. and swim-glide-and-shake presentation enticed the green sunfish.
All told, I worked hard to catch 16 largemouth bass and one green sunfish. Wind-swept shorelines were more productive than wind-protected ones, but I was unable to locate any large aggregations of largemouth bass or spotted bass.
Nine largemouth bass were allured by the four-inch Z-Man's black-blue Finesse WormZ. Four largemouths were enticed into striking the Z-Man's black-gold-flake Scented LeechZ. The Z-Man's Coppertreuse Finesse T.R.D. tricked two largemouth bass and one green sunfish. The Z-Man's Junebug Hula StickZ tempted one.
I experimented with several of the standard Midwest finesse presentations, but the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the only productive one.
June 23 log
Brent Frazee of Parkville, Missouri, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about the sorry largemouth bass fishing that he experienced on June 23 at a 120-acre community reservoir.
He wrote: "For some unexplained reason, the bass have gone on a hunger strike. We went out from 5:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., hoping that an early-morning bite would materialize.
"No such luck. We struggled to catch 12 bass, and those were mostly on big baits. The Z-Man finesse baits have been unproductive the last two times out.
"I did catch one keeper-size largemouth bass on a green-pumpkin tube and another on a spinnerbait. And I caught a 21-inch walleye on a spinnerbait. But I fished the Z-Man's PB&J Finesse T.R.D. and my friend threw a Z-man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ for long periods of time without so much as a touch."
June 25 log
Mother Nature's rainy ways have flummoxed Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, and his Midwest finesse colleagues by flooding and riling up most of the reservoirs that they fish in north-central Texas. He says that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoirs in north-central Texas are closed and will remain closed for quite a while. Thus, he and Rick Allen of Dallas sought refuge in south-central Oklahoma on June 25, when they made a 76-mile sojourn to an 8,000-acre Civilian Conservation Corps hill-land reservoir.
Here's a slightly edited version of the report that he filed on the Finesse News Network:
I fished this reservoir for three days on May 5 through May 8. During those three days, I endured 20- to 30-mph winds, dodged several waves of thunderstorms, and caught 19 smallmouth bass, four largemouth bass, and one spotted bass.
The weather was much more pleasant on our June 25 excursion, with an abundance of bright sunshine in a partly clouded sky. The National Weather Service registered the morning low temperature at 72 degrees and the afternoon high reached 92 degrees. A mild-mannered breeze meandered out of the south and southwest at 3 to 8 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.04 at 10:00 a.m.
During my May outings, the water at this reservoir was clear and displayed a beautiful emerald-green hue. The water's clarity was about four feet. The water's temperature ranged from 67 degrees to 69 degrees, and the water level was about eight feet low. But on our June 25 outing, the water was heavily stained with a reddish-brown tint, and the water's clarity was about two feet. The water's temperature ranged from 82 degrees to 85 degrees, and the water level had risen 10 feet and is now two feet above normal.
According to In-Fisherman's solunar calendar, the best fishing should take place from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., 11:49 a.m. to 1:49 p.m., and 6:21 p.m. to 8:21 p.m. Rick and I were afloat from about 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The fishing was awful and perplexing, and across the span of these five hours, we could scrounge up only four smallmouth bass, one largemouth bass, one freshwater drum, and three green sunfish. We were unable to locate any significant concentrations of smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, or spotted bass, and we were unable to determine a dominant fish location pattern or a dominant lure.
We inadvertently caught three green sunfish that were relating to a wind-swept main-lake bluff in the southwest region of the reservoir. This bluff was steep and rocky, and the boat floated in water as shallow as 17 feet on its western side, and as deep as 43 feet adjacent to its eastern side. These three fish were attracted to a Z-Man's Junebug Finesse T.R.D. rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a swim-glide-and- shake retrieve.
One smallmouth bass was caught in four feet of water off a shallow mud and gravel flat that was enhanced with flooded terrestrial vegetation. The boat floated in six to eight feet of water. This bass was enticed into striking a 3 1/2-inch Z-Man's Chartreuse Sparkle GrubZ affixed on a black 3/32-ounce Gopher jig and a steady swim retrieve.
We probed a boulder-laden main-lake point just north of the bluff, but it failed to yield any bass.
We dissected a 200-yard section of a flat and rocky main-lake shoreline located in the midsection of the west tributary arm, and this shoreline slowly tapered off into 45 feet of water. The boat floated in seven to 13 feet of water. This shoreline surrendered only one largemouth bass, but it was a large one that tipped our scale at six pounds, one ounce. This largemouth was extracted from seven feet of water, and it struck a Z-Man's Junebug Finesse ShadZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and swim-glide-and-shake presentation. The remainder of this shoreline failed to surrender any other bass.
We checked a rocky shoreline at the mouth of a cove on the west side of the impoundment, and it failed to surrender any bass.
We caught one freshwater drum in eleven feet of water off the side of a riprap-covered secondary point with a line of large boulders that extended from the point out into 25 feet of water. The boat floated in water as shallow as 13 feet and as deep as 25 feet. This drum engulfed the 3 1/2-inch Z-Man's Chartreuse Sparkle GrubZ presented with a slow hop-and bounce action down the side of the line of boulders.
We also plied two secondary points and a 50-yard section of shoreline covered with basketball-size rocks. These areas lie just inside the mouth of the same cove and a short distance from the boulder-laden point where we caught the freshwater drum. These three areas failed to relinquish a strike.
We fished two main-lake points along the east side of the reservoir. Two smallmouth bass were lured from a patch of large boulders lying in seven to 11 feet of water along the west side of one of the two points. One smallmouth was bewitched by the Z-Man's Junebug Finesse ShadZ and chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and the second smallmouth was caught on a shortened Z-Man's Junebug Hula StickZ attached to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Both of these baits were implemented with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.
The second main-lake point failed to yield a strike.
We strolled the Z-Man's Junebug Finesse ShadZ rig and shortened Z-Man's Junebug Hula StickZ rig across the top of a submerged levee embellished with basketball-size rocks and large boulders. This levee courses across the middle of a cove on the east side of the reservoir. The top of the levee is covered with four to 13 feet of water, and it is surrounded by water as deep as 25 feet, but it failed to surrender any strikes.
We plied two offshore main-lake humps. One hump is located at the mouth of a cove on the east side of the reservoir and is covered with eight feet of water and drops into 30 feet of water, and this hump failed to surrender any bass. The second hump is situated offshore in the southwest end of the reservoir. It is covered with four feet of water and drops into 20 feet of water. This hump relinquished one smallmouth bass that was relating to the north end of the hump in seven feet of water. This smallmouth was attracted to the Z-Man's Junebug Finesse ShadZ rig and slow, swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.
In sum, it was a trying and disappointing outing. A Z-Man's Junebug Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig enticed two smallmouth bass and a six-pound largemouth bass. The 3 1/2-inch Z-Man's Chartreuse Sparkle GrubZ and black 3/32-ounce Gopher jig caught one smallmouth bass and one freshwater drum. A shortened Z-Man's Junebug Hula StickZ and chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig inveigled one smallmouth bass. A Z-Man's Junebug Finesse T.R.D. and chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig allured three green sunfish.
June 25 log
Between the largemouth bass virus and Mother Nature's stormy ways, I have been struggling to find a fruitful reservoir to fish. The weather forecasters predicted that parts of northeastern Kansas would be walloped with thunderstorms, hail, and damaging winds on June 25. That forecast motivated me to fish close to home at a 194-acre community reservoir that is struggling to recover from the largemouth bass virus.
Shortly after I launched my boat and before I made my first cast, I crossed paths with Dick and Gail Bessey of Lawrence, Kansas, who had been afloat since 6:00 a.m., and we chatted for a long spell about the decline of the largemouth bass fishing in northeastern Kansas since 2011. The Besseys are veteran and highly accomplished Midwest finesse anglers, and they said that their catch rates at this reservoir and several other ones decreased more than 50 percent in 2014 and 2015 compared to the halcyon days before the advent of the largemouth bass virus.
The National Weather Service reported that it was 79 degrees at 4:52 a.m. and 95 degrees at 1:52 p.m. The wind angled out of the southwest at 9 to 22 mph, out of the west at 10 to 18 mph, and out of the south at 17 mph. The sun was shining intensely everywhere. The barometric pressure was 29.95 at 12:52 a.m., 29.96 at 5:52 a.m., 29.96 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.93 at 1:52 p.m.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing should occur at 5:52 a.m. to 7:52 a.m., 6:14 p.m. to 8:14 p.m., and 11:41 a.m. to 1:41 p.m. I fished from 9:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., and I fished nearly every inch of water that Dick and Gail Bessey fished during their 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. outing.
The water level was normal. In the back of two of this reservoir's four feeder-creek arms, the water clarity exhibited only six inches of visibility, and along the dam, there was 18 to 20 inches of visibility. The surface temperature ranged from 79 to 83 degrees. Much of the shoreline is lined with patches of American water willows, and there are two thick patches of cattails. In May, a herbicide was used to kill the curly-leaf pondweed and Eurasian milfoil. It looks as if some of the milfoil died, but there are still significant patches of milfoil flourishing in a variety of areas. The curly-leaf pondweed dies naturally in June when the water temperature climbs into the 70s, and it sprouts again in November and December, when it becomes a wonderful wintertime haven for largemouth bass, and we are hoping that it will sprout and flourish throughout the winter of 2015-16.
I spent nearly three of the four hours that I was afloat fishing inside two feeder-creek arms, where I primarily focused on the outside edges of the patches of American water willows and pockets in the patches of milfoil.
In these two feeder-creek arms, I caught 19 largemouth bass around the American water willows and milfoil, and I caught one on a submerged roadbed and the residue of a bridge.
Thirteen largemouth bass were caught in one of the feeder-creek arms, and they were caught from near the mouth to about three-quarters of the way inside it. Six were caught in the other feeder-creek arm, and they were caught about three-quarters of the way inside it.
One of the largemouth bass was caught on a 3 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin GrubZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig and a swimming retrieve. Three were caught on a Z-Man's Junebug Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. F0ur were caught on a shortened four-inch Strike King Lure Company's green-pumpkin-red Super Finesse Worm affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Eleven were caught on a slightly shortened Z-Man's Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; four of the largemouth bass engulfed the Hula StickZ on the initial drop, and seven of them were allured by the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. These largemouth bass were extracted out of water that was as shallow as two feet and as deep as eight feet, and the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was executed so that these baits traveled a couple inches above the bottom.
I spent the final hour of the outing fishing three main-lake points, two main-lake shorelines, and three-quarters of the dam. The shorelines and points are rock- and boulder-laden, and parts of them are adorned with American water willows, as well as a few patches of milfoil. The dam, which was constructed in the 1930s, is lined with the Civilian Conservation Corps' version of riprap, and it is lined with some shallow patches of American water willows.
Fourteen largemouth bass were caught from these locales. One was caught on 2 3/4-inch green-pumpkin-candy tube affixed to a brown 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Thirteen were caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. They were extracted out of water that was as shallow as three feet and no deeper than nine feet.
Eight of the 14 were caught along the dam. Three were caught on one of the main-lake points. One main-lake shoreline yielded two largemouth bass, and the other shoreline yielded one.
A significant number of the largemouth bass that I caught had hook scars on their mouths.
In sum, I caught 33 largemouth bass and inadvertently caught two channel catfish and three mega bluegills. I elicited scores of strikes that I failed to hook, and I assumed that most of them were bluegill, which seemed to spawning. The channel catfish acted as if they were spawning, too, which is about 2 1/2 weeks later than normal.
I am not a big bass aficionado. In fact, I prefer garnering a lot of strikes and catching scores and scores of 10- to 14-inch largemouth bass rather than catching only five or six hefty largemouth bass during a four-hour outing. But I must note for historical reasons that on this outing I caught the biggest largemouth bass that I have caught at this reservoir in several years. Because of the heat at 12:15 p.m., which is when I caught it, I didn't weigh or measure it. I merely put my left thumb and index finger around its bottom lip, kept its torso and gill plates in the water, removed the Z-Man's Junebug Finesse ShadZ and chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig from its mouth, and then I let it swim away. It looked as if it would weigh somewhere between 4 1/2 and six pounds.
The thunderstorm, hail, and damaging winds didn't erupt until 1:00 a.m. on June 26, and in that affair, Mother Nature put a significant maple tree limb upon our roof and deposited an ash tree limb in our driveway. She didn't hail upon our gardens, but the gardens did get about an inch of rain, and more is predicted to come.
June 25 log
Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, noted that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoirs in Indiana were on the rise and likely to keep rising. He said that the Wabash River reservoirs in the northeast corner of the state caught the brunt of the early June rainfalls, and their levels are anywhere from 20 to nearly 50 feet above their normal summer pools. Lately, the southern and central parts of the state have been catching major amounts of rain, and that has the reservoirs in those locales on the rise. Central Indiana lakes like Raccoon and Cataract are likely to go much higher after receiving nearly three inches of rain on June 24 and June 25. With all the flooding statewide, most of the reservoirs aren't releasing water. Therefore, water levels are likely to stay high through at least the early part of the summer.
But many of the smaller reservoirs near me have overflow structures as opposed to actual dams with flood gates. Consequently, they fall about as fast as they rise, and flooding is usually not an issue, though muddy water certainly can be.
I have been getting out pretty regularly, but trips have tended to be very short in nature, and many of them have been bank-walking affairs. The bite, however, has been pretty good for a variety of species. I recently got the chance to try some new (to me) Midwest Finesse tackle out. Here are a few quick thoughts:
Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig: The hook is larger than what we are traditionally used to using with Midwest Finesse tactics, but not terribly so. The little keeper barb does a superb job of holding on a variety of plastics, including Z-Man's ElaZtech baits. I was able to get my hands on some of the chartreuse 1/15-ounce heads, and overall I have been pretty happy with them. I did have the welded barb or bait keeper break off one of the jig heads already, which was a little disappointing. I compared them for actual weight and balance to a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig and found them to be almost comparable.
Z-Man's Finesse T.R.D.: I picked up a pack of green-pumpkin Finesse T.R.D.s. They simply catch fish at what seems to be about the same rate as a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's ZinkerZ, which is a lot. It doesn't seem to matter which way (or end) you rig the bait onto the jig, though I have found that I am inclined to start with the segmented end, which is opposite the knobby end, on most days. They tend to keep their bulk through repeated use, which is likely due to the lower salt content compared to the ZinkerZ, and therefore, they maintain very good castability. While they are soft, they don't get as soft and wiggly as a well-worn ZinkerZ, and as such, they don't have the subtle quivering that the ZinkerZ does. However, I haven't been able to prove to myself that this lack of subtle motion has made any difference in my catches. One thing I have noted though is the annoying habit of a Finesse T.R.D. to get pushed up the shank of the Finesse ShroomZ jig and get caught a second time by the little barb or bait keeper, thereby rendering the bait kinked and/or cock-eyed. This almost always results in having to rip the bait off the jig and rethreading it as opposed to simply pulling, straightening, or unhinging the snagged portion of the bait. It doesn't happen with every fish I catch, but not too far from it, and as mentioned, it is very annoying. As a comparison, I can't ever recall noticing a Z-Man's Scented LeechZ doing the same thing even once or the other baits I have thrown on this jig.
Z-Man's Scented LeechZ: As just mentioned, I finally got around to throwing a Scented LeechZ during the past couple weeks. My first cast with it resulted in a 13-inch crappie; so that was a very positive result that kept my enthusiasm high for this bait. Come to find out, at least on my waters, I have caught a surprising number of crappie on this particular bait/shape. I have also caught quite a few bass on it, though not near as many as a 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ or Finesse T.R.D. It is a much lighter bait than the 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ and Finesse T.R.D., and that seems to be good in dead-calm-water situations, where I want a very subtle and slow presentation. I figured I might catch a walleye or two on it because of these traits, but so far no luck in that regard. Interestingly, it seems to fish very well on even a plain shank jig head with no keeper or lead barb, which is a bonus.
I have caught four fish that were worthy of submitting for Indiana fish-of-the-year consideration to date. Two of those were identical smallmouth bass caught over two months apart. One smallmouth bs was caught on a Finesse T.R.D. and one was caught on a 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ. The other two fish were a channel catfish and a hybrid striped bass.
June 27 log
Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his solo outing to a 121-acre community reservoir in northeastern Kansas.
The National Weather Service recorded that it was 63 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 82 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the northeast at 3 to 7 mph, out of the north at 5 to 18 mph, and it was variable and calm at times. The NWS described the sky as being fair, partly cloudy, and cluttered with a few clouds. The barometric pressure was 30.05 at 12:53 a.m., 30.06 at 5:53 a.m., 30.11 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.08 at 2:53 p.m.
In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing could take place at 7:11 a.m. to 9:11 a.m., 7:35 p.m.to 9:35 p.m., and 12:59 a.m. to 2:59 a.m. He was afloat from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
The water along the dam exhibited about 2 1/2 feet of visibility. The water level was nearly normal, and there was a little bit of water cascading over the spillway. The surface temperature reached a high of 82 degrees.
He put his trolling motor down at the boat ramp, and he moved around the reservoir in a clockwise fashion. He fished the shorelines, and spent a lot of time dissecting three main-lake points. He did not venture very far inside the reservoir's coves. The most productive areas were gradually sloping shorelines that were graced with some rock. He failed to catch any fish along the outside edges of the patches of American water willows.
He caught 19 fish. Two-thirds of them were largemouth bass, and the rest were either bluegill or green sunfish. The biggest fish by far was a 22-inch largemouth bass that he caught along the west side of the marina. He noted that this largemouth bass looked strikingly similar to the one that he caught and released on May 25. He had a photograph of the one he caught on May 25, and when he compared it to the one he caught and photographed on June 27, it was indeed the same largemouth bass. It possessed that same hazy left eye and the markings along the lateral line were identical. On May 25, he caught it about 200 yards to the west of where he caught it on June 27.
All of these fish were caught on a 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. He worked with three ZinkerZ colors: California Craw, Purple Haze, and Junebug. He presented his ZinkerZ rigs by slowly swimming, gliding, and occasionally shaking it along the bottom. He made contact with the bottom often.
June 27 log
Travis Perret of Overland Park, Kansas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about the first of his seven days of employing Midwest finesse tactics in northwest Ontario, which commenced on June 27 and ended on July 3. His father joined him on these outings.
Here is a condensed and edited version of his report about their June 27 outing:
Last year I won the end-of-the-year-drawing at the annual Leavenworth, Kansas, Bass Club banquet, which garnered me a buy-one-get-one-free trip to Big Canon Lake Lodge in Northwest Ontario. The lodge is run by Sam Guse of Leavenworth.
It is a fly-in camp that is about four hours northwest of the United States and Canada border. We drove 14 hours from Kansas City to Vermillion Bay, Ontario.
We spent the night at Vermillion Bay on Friday. We woke up bright and early. We climbed into the float plane at 6:30 am. This put us at the lodge by 7:00 a.m.
The lodge is situated on a 5,600-acre crystal-clear lake. When it was sunny, the water clarity exhibited 12 feet of visibility.
Big Canon Lake Lodge also has access to the Wabigoon River. The river is not clear. It only has about a foot of clarity. The lodge supplies boats on the lake, on the river, and smaller boats on two portage lakes. You let them know where you want to fish the next day, and they will have a boat ready for you.
Upon arriving at the lodge, we quickly unpacked, grabbed a bite to eat and then headed to the river with a guide who showed us how it's done. I am not much of a walleye fisherman and my dad, who likes to fish but only gets out about once a year, is not the greatest fisherman in the world so we thought it best to have someone show us how and where to do it.
The first thing the guide told us was we needed to catch some smaller or pan-size walleye for lunch. He showed us how to rig the leech to the jig head and then told us to just drop the bait at the side of the boat and let it fall to the bottom. Right away we started catching fish. Nothing big, but the guide was happy because within an hour and a half we had eight fryer- size walleye. The guide was a local guy, and he was great. He has worked at the lodge since the early 1980s. Since it was our first time to fish in Canada, my dad and I riddled him with questions, and he patiently answered all of them. During our conversations, I told him that I really wanted to be sure and catch some smallmouth bass. He chuckled and pretty much said don't worry you will.
After we caught our pan-size walleye, he took us to a place to catch smallmouth bass. He said that a couple weeks ago they were really hitting a spinnerbait. I happened to bring one, and so, I heeded his advice and threw it. Within a couple casts, I hooked a nice-size smallmouth bass that looked to be a 16- or 17-incher, but right at the boat my line snapped, and it got away with my only spinnerbait.
Luckily, I had my Midwest finesse rig with me and tied on, and losing that spinnerbait was probably a good thing. It gave me a reason to throw what I wanted and not worry about what he thought I should throw. I didn't want to disrespect him on the first day.
Before we left for Canada, I made sure to have a full supply of Z-Man's baits. When I mentioned to Joey Prochazka at Z-Man Fishing Products that I was headed to Canada, he sent me a new Finesse T.R.D. and Hula StickZ color, which is called The Deal.
After my spinnerbait snapped off, I started throwing the Z-Man's The Deal Finesse T.R.D. on a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, and I never put it down during the remaining five hours on the water. I was catching smallmouth, walleye, northern pike, and perch. After about a half hour of catching fish after fish, my dad, who was using a different color FinesseT.R.D., made me give him one. Then after an hour of both of us catching fish, the guide started to get curious about what we were using. I told him the history of it and all the details. By this time he wasn't doing much fishing and only controlling the boat for us. He showed us some great spots that we could come back to when we were fishing by ourselves the next day.
Before we ate lunch, we had caught 30 smallmouth bass and four of them were 18 inches long, and all of them were decent size. We did not catch any dinks or really small fish.
Before we ate lunch, we had caught 30 smallmouth bass and four of them were 18 inches long, and all of them were decent size. We did not catch any dinks or really small fish.
At our shore lunch, the guide started a wood fire and cooked some beans and potatoes and fried the walleye that we had caught earlier. It was a neat experience to eat what you just caught and sit and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
The weather had been cloudy all day, and a few times we had to put on our rain suits, but nothing really materialized till after lunch. We saw it coming in the distance, and we headed towards the boat dock. We made a quick stop at a rock outcropping about a quarter mile from the dock, and the guide said sometimes the big ones move up to feed. We could tell we only had about 20 minutes before the biggest rain cloud of the day was upon us.
When the guide said that we should make one more cast and head to the dock before the storm walloped us, and on that last cast with my Z-Man's The Deal Finesse T.R.D. rig, I caught the biggest walleye of the day. The guide netted it, measured it, and threw it back in while it was starting to pour. It measured 24 inches and at that point was the biggest walleye I had ever caught. As soon as he started the motor, the wind came up and it started to hail. I couldn't see a thing, and we were getting pelted by small bits of hail that felt like someone was shooting paint balls at us. Luckily the guide knew where we were going. We docked the boat and called it a day.
So that was our first day in Canada. We still had six more days of fishing. But let me tell you the Z-Man's The Deal Finesse T.R.D. rig was the deal. That bait caught so many fish throughout the week that I lost count.