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Octobers of the Past

Octobers of the Past

Steve Desch of Topeka, Kansas, with a smallmouth bass that was caught on Oct. 6, 2014.

Since 2012, we have published 45,954 words in our Midwest finesse columns about how, when, and where we catch largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass throughout the month of October.

Across the years, we have noticed and occasionally highlighted that the weather and water change significantly in October. For instance, the normal low temperature in Lawrence, Kansas, on October 1 is 49 degrees, and the average high temperature is 75 degrees. On October 15, the average low temperature is 44 degrees, and the normal high temperature is 69 degrees. Then on Oct. 31, the average low temperature is 38 degrees, and the normal high temperature is 63 degrees.

The weather can be unstable: We can relish a balmy Indian summer day, and then the next one can be a miserably cold, windy, and snowy one. What's more, the wind often howls in October across northeastern Kansas, which can keep us at bay or dramatically confound our abilities to properly control our boats and to execute our Midwest finesse presentations. And there have been some Octobers, when we were waylaid by heavy rains, which caused the water levels in some of our reservoirs to become murky and rise precipitously.

The surface temperature on the flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas on Oct 1 range from 66 to 72 degrees. On Oct. 15, the surface temperature can range from 59 to 64 degrees. It ranges from 54 to 59 degrees on Oct 31.

Algae blooms often erupt as the water cools, and when that occurs, we often have a difficult time catching a significant number of largemouth bass and smallmouth bass in northeastern Kansas. Moreover, some of the submergent aquatic vegetation begins to wilt, and as it decays, we catch fewer bass around those locales than we do when those areas are graced with green and burgeoning patches of vegetation. This wilt-and-decay scenario tends to make rocky lairs more fruitful than the formerly weedy environs.

Until the demise of the white bass populations in Kansas and Missouri, we used to spend a lot of our October outings employing Midwest finesse tactics to catch scores and scores of white bass along wind-blown an rocky shorelines and points. It was not unusual to catch more than 100 white bass in four hours. Nowadays, even though the black bass fishing can be a struggle in October, it is nowhere near the sorry state that our temperate bass fishing has plummeted.

October is the last month of the year that Midwest finesse anglers can consistently catch shallow-water smallmouth bass in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas, and the major exception to that phenomenon occurs at a 5,090-acre power-plant reservoir, where we can tangle with some of them throughout the winter.

October is the time some Midwest finesse anglers celebrate the birthday of one of its standard-bearing lures: Z-Man Fishing Products' 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ and Strike King Lure Company's 2 1/2-inch Zero. The Zero and ZinkerZ are siblings, and the Zero is manufactured for Strike King by Z-Man. It was on Oct. 12, 2006, when a friend and I first employed the 2 1/2-inch green-pumpkin Zero on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head jig, and that combo helped us tangle with 109 largemouth bass in four hours at a 55-acre community reservoir. On that outing, northeastern Kansas was being waylaid by a significant cold front. The low temperature was 41 degrees, and the high temperature was 59 degrees. The sun was shining everywhere, and the wind was howling out of the northwest at 10 to 25 mph.

On Oct. 12, 2006, we cut a five-inch Strike King Lure Company's green-pumpkin Zero in half, and then a friend and I affixed each of them to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle's Mushroom Head jig. And after that, it became the standard-bearer in the repertoire of Midwest finesse anglers.

Below are the Internet links to the 45,954 words that we have written about how, when, and where Midwest finesse anglers catch and do not catch black bass during October in Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Ontario (Canada), North Carolina, and Texas.

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