July 21, 2014
The genesis and heart of Midwest finesse angling lies in northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri.
But in recent years, it has become a tactic that a few anglers in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania employ. But until Steve Reideler of Lewisville, Texas, and Rick Allen of Dallas became devotees in mid-August of 2013, there haven't been any ardent and fulltime Midwest finesse devotees in Texas.
That is not to say that there aren't some serious and talented bass anglers in Texas who occasionally use a Midwest finesse tactic or two. For instance, we know that Tommy Martin of Hemphill, Texas, has occasionally wielded a 2 1/2-inch Strike King Lure Company's Zero on a small jig.
But as soon as Reideler became a regular contributor to the Finesse News Network, members of this network quickly realized that there is something different (and some Midwest finesse anglers contend that askew is a better description than different) going on in the bass-fishing world of north-central Texas. The first thing that struck us was how paltry Allen and Reideler's catch rates are compared to the catch rates that Midwest finesse anglers enjoy in Kansas, Missouri, and Indiana, where anglers attempt to catch 25 largemouth bass an hour, and they occasionally achieve that lofty goal.
Before we began reading Reideler's FNN reports, many of us were under the false impression that Texas' waterways were brimming with largemouth bass. We attained this false idea from reading the endless number of words about Texas bass tournaments in Bassmaster, FLW, and other publications, as well as seeing countless minutes of television shows that featured Texas bass anglers and bass tournaments. In retrospect, we must have been hoodwinked by the subtle bits of braggadocio that occasionally appeared in some of those accounts, which hinted that largemouth bass fishing is better and bigger in Texas than it is elsewhere. Some of the better-and-bigger bravado emanates from the much lauded Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's ShareLunker Program, which some reporters say is aimed at creating a world-record largemouth bass. And all of this grandiosity provoked one outdoor journalist to recently write: "Big bass come a dime a dozen in Texas these days." According to a number of sources, the big-bass frenzy began in the early 1970s, when the TPWD began stocking Florida-strain largemouth bass throughout the state. Once these stockings commenced, another outdoor journalist proclaimed that the "fishing changed forever in the Lone Star State." And since 1980, more than 500 largemouth bass that weighed more than 10 pounds have been caught. The biggest of that lot weighed 18.18 pounds.
But through Reideler's contributions to FNN, we have learned that the quest to create a world-record largemouth bass and dime-a-dozen lunkers seems to have had a detrimental effect on the numbers of largemouth bass that anglers can catch in the north-central Texas reservoirs that Reideler regularly fishes — especially during the cold-water months. Now we know that talented and ardent recreational anglers who enjoy tangling with scores of black bass on each outing throughout a calendar year can't achieve that goal in north-central Texas. What is more disheartening is it is also a trying task to teach youngsters and novices how to catch largemouth bass in north-central Texas. The fishing is so lackluster that even talented professional anglers of the stature of Kevin Van Dam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Bassmaster fame struggle to catch largemouth at one of the reservoirs that Reideler occasionally fishes. For instance, Van Dam fished Ray Roberts Lake, Texas, on Oct. 26, 2013, and caught only three largemouth bass.
On June 11, Reideler filed a summary on the FNN regarding his catch rates from 2008 to June 11, 2014, and they reveal that his conversion to Midwest finesse fishing has yielded some significant dividends despite the troubled and sorry waters that he fishes.
He wrote; "I checked my fishing logs for the past seven years, dating back to 2008. My records go back to 1992, but from 1992 through 2007, I mostly employed power tactics, and those results were so paltry (less than 30 bass per month) that I no longer consider them for comparison purposes.
"From January of 2008 to mid-August of 2013, I used Charlie Brewer's Slider tactics, and my results improved substantially over my power-fishing tactics. I began using Midwest Finesse tactics in mid- August of 2013, and my numbers increased even more.
"My catch of 175 bass in May of 2014, using Midwest Finesse tactics, is the most I have ever caught during the month of May. But I fished more hours this May than I did in the previous six Mays. The average number of bass I caught per hour in May of 2014 equaled or exceeded all but May of 2010, when I caught 3.8 bass per hour, but the 51 bass caught in 2010 are far fewer than the 175 bass I caught this year in May using Midwest Finesse tactics.
"What shocked me is the number of bass that were caught from Jan. 1, 2013 to June 11, 2013, which was 164, compared to the 924 that have been caught from Jan. 1, 2014 to June 11, 2014, which sets a new yearly numbers record for me. My old yearly record was 844 bass, which was set last year, and over half of that total came after Rick Allen and I switched to Midwest finesse tactics in mid-August."
Here are Reideler's tabulations for the past seven Mays:
May 2008: 106 bass were caught in 30.5 hours = 3.4 bass/hour.
May 2009: 55 bass were caught in 32 hours = 1.7 bass/hour.
May 2010: 57 bass were caught in 15 hours = 3.8 bass/hour.
May 2011: 82 bass were caught in 32.5 hours = 2.5 bass/hour.
May 2012: 51 bass were caught in 21.5 hours = 2.3 bass/hour.
May 2013: 39 bass were caught in 15 hours = 2.6 bass/hour.
May 2014 (Midwest Finesse Tactics): 175 bass were caught in 51.3 hours = 3.4 bass/hour.
Here are his tabulations for the past seven Junes:
June 2008: 66 bass were caught in 25 hours = 4.3 bass/ hour.
June 2009: 26 bass were caught in 12 hours = 2.64 bass/hour.
June 2010: 51 bass were caught in 48 hours = 1.06 bass/hour.
June 2011: 91 bass were caught in 35.5 hours = 2.56 bass/hour.
June 2012: 58 bass were caught in 25.5 hours = 2.27 bass/hour.
June 2013: 21 bass were caught in 13 hours = 1.61 bass/hour.
June 2014 194 bass were caught in 40.5 hours = 4.79 bass/hour.
In sum, Midwest finesse tactics have helped Reideler catch more black bass than he used to catch in north-central Texas. But after examining his statistics, many of us are thankful that we don't have to spend our days afloat on the trying waterways that he has to ply. Moreover, despite all of the highfalutin rhetoric about the bountiful results of TPWD's ShareLunker Program, he says it is a difficult endeavor for him to catch one of those so called dime-a-dozen Florida-strain and lunker-size largemouth bass. However, Reideler's logs also revealed that Midwest Finesse tactics have increased his lunker-size largemouth bass catch rates as well.
(1) Reideler joined me for a few hours on June 17 at a 55-acre community reservoir in northeastern Kansas. And straightaway he exhibited that he possessed the talent to catch scores of northeastern Kansas largemouth bass. And if the reservoirs that he fished in north-central Texas possessed the largemouth and smallmouth bass populations that the flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas possess, he would have no trouble averaging 10 or more bass an hour.
(2) To read Reideler's logs about the difficult largemouth bass and spotted bass fishing in north-central Texas, please examine the following monthly guides to Midwest finesse:
(3) For another perspective about the largemouth bass fishing in Texas, please see the story entitled "The Life and Times of Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend Reservoirs and one of their finest bass anglers." This is the link to that story: http://www.in-fisherman.com/2012/11/04/the-life-and-times-of-sam-rayburn-and-toledo-bend-reservoirs-and-one-of-their-finest-bass-anglers/ .