Several weeks ago, Dave Schmidtlein of Topeka, Kansas, and I were working on a blog about wintertime crappie fishing, and for a spell, we talked about the importance of keeping a log that tallies our many angling endeavors.
Dave and I concluded that because we have fished for decades on end, and in recent years I have fished as many as 127 times a year, a log is the only way that we can accurately review and remember what has transpired, revealing all that has changed and when it changed, as well as what has remained the same.
Across the years, both of us have kept a variety of logs.
For several years, Dave maintained an elaborate log based on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Nowadays, his is a hand-written ledger, consisting mainly of shorthand-type of notes.
My logs are a series of sentences and incomplete sentences that describe each outing. And after each outing, the log is sent to the members of the Finesse News Network. These FNN logs are invariably rank with typographical and grammatical errors, and when I reread them in order to use them for an article or a blog, I am humbled by how poorly written they are, and I wonder what the anglers on the Finesse News Network think when they attempt to translate some of the gobbledygook that I have sent them.
Despite the imperfection of my logs, I think that they have helped me to become a more knowledgeable angler (and perhaps a better one) than I was years ago. Even though my logs are littered with rather boring factual repetitions, which makes them tedious to read, they have helped me to be a better journalist about angling. Therefore I concur with C.S. Lewis' comments about the diary that he kept from 1922 to 1927; he wrote: "I think the day to day continuity [of a diary] helps one to see the larger movement and pay less attention each damned day itself." Keeping a diary or log is what the late and noted wordsmith John B. Bremner called "the thrill of monotony." Bremner also said that appreciating the "thrill of monotony" is a critical part of success. Likewise, "the 10,000-hour rule" that Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in his book entitled "Outliers: the Story of Success" highlights the importance of repetitive endeavors. It also should be noted that boring repetition is one of the quintessential parts of science.
After we posted the blogs entitled "A Month-by-Month Guide to Midwest Finesse" and "A review of our 2011 finesse endeavors," which were based on our logs, some anglers thought that we should post a sample of our logs for others to see.
We thought that was a good idea. So below we have posted the 10 logs that describe all of our December 2011 outings. To make them more readable, we edited them with the help of Casey Kidder of Topeka, Kansas.
Here's hoping readers of this blog will send us their opinions about the value of blogs, as well as suggestions on how we can improve them.
Log 1: On Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011, Rodney Hatridge of Shawnee, Kansas, and I fished a 100-acre community reservoir from 10:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This reservoir is recovering from a bout with the largemouth bass virus. Thus, bass fishing can be problematic at times. This outing, however, was a rather bountiful one.
As we drove to the reservoir, we noticed that most of the small lakes and shallow waterways were partially covered with a thin sheet of ice, which was a daunting sight. Nonetheless, it was a relatively warm day to be afloat until the wind switched at 1:30 p.m. from the south to the north.
Area thermometers hit a low of 27 degrees in the early morning hours and a high of 49 degrees at high noon. The wind was mild-mannered out of the south at 5 mph; when it switched to the north, its pace picked up to about 10 mph. When the wind shifted, the sunny sky became partly cloudy.
The lake's level was normal.
The water was reasonably clear, and in the nomenclature of area anglers, the clarity is called "Kansas clear," which means anglers in the Ozarks would call it stained. The upper end of the lake was afflicted with a minor algal bloom, which discolored the hull of Rodney's white boat just a touch. It was the clearest this lake has been in several months, which provoked both of us to remark several times that it was delightful to fish a lake that was devoid of a major algae bloom.
The surface temperature was 45 degrees.
We fished only the upper portions of the lake, plying depths of two to 10 feet of water.
One largemouth bass was caught on a purple-haze Z-Man 2 1/2" ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce red Gopher Tackle Original Mushroom Jig Head. Sixty-eight largemouth bass were caught on either a pearl or green-pumpkin Z-Man Rain MinnowZ. The pearl Rain MinnowZ was attached to a red Gopher jig. The green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ was affixed to a chartreuse Gopher jig. We used a 1/16-ounce Gopher jig in the deeper areas and when the 10-mph north wind was affecting our presentation. The 1/32-ounce Gopher jig, which caught the bulk of the bass, was used in the shallower and calmer locales.
We primarily used the drag-and shake-retrieve, but occasionally we employed the drag and deadstick presentation. Around one partially submerged brush pile, we used the shake-swim-and- glide retrieve with incessant shakes.
The biggest bass weighed three pounds. The majority of the bass inhabited patches of coontail that were mixed with some filamentous algae in two to five feet of water. A dozen were caught along a rocky shoreline where the creek channel buffets it, and here we caught a few bass in 10 feet of water. We fished another channel bank on the other side of the lake and caught only two bass.
The size of the coontail patches had diminished in size since late October. But as we have discovered during our cold-water outings in years past, shallow-water aquatic vegetation usually attracts largemouth bass, and often these bass are relatively easy to catch with our 1/32-ounce Gopher jigs and small soft-plastic baits.
As we drove home, we were delighted to see that the ice on the small lakes and shallow waterways had melted.
Log 2: On Friday Dec. 2, 2011, my cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I fished a 140-acre reservoir from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and the bass gave us a significant comeuppance.
What's more, it was our first ice-on-the-guides day since the winter of 2010-11.
The best part of the day was that the algal bloom, which had plagued this lake for months on end, had virtually disappeared. Thus the water was Kansas clear. The surface temperature ranged from a low of 39 degrees in the north end of the west arm to a high of 43 at the dam.
The lake looked to be about two feet low.
It was partly sunny for an hour or so; then it became cloudy for the rest of the outing.
Area thermometers ranged from a low of 21 degrees to a high of 42 degrees. The wind angled out of the southeast at 3 to 10 mph.
We found only one concentration of largemouth bass, and it was a relatively small one. These bass were along a shallow bluff in the north end of the west arm, where the surface temperature was 41 degrees. We caught 19 bass from a 75-yard stretch of this bluff, and the bass were in three to eight feet of water. Most of these bass were abiding along a rocky and stump-laden terrain.
We caught one bass in three feet of water in the back end of the west arm, where the surface temp was 39 degrees.
We caught only five bass adjacent to the dead patches of American water willows, and none around the patches of wilting bushy pondweed.
We couldn't find any coontail, which was disappointing because we had caught 31 bass around patches of coontail at another reservoir that we fished on November 30, 2011 and about 50 of the 69 bass that we caught on December 1 were associated with patches of coontail.
All but five largemouth bass were caught around rocky lairs. The biggest rocky terrain is the dam, and it yielded only four bass. Only four of the lakes many rock jetties yielded a bass or two.
In total we could muster only 34 largemouth bass, one wiper and two crappie. Until we found the concentration of 19 bass on the north bluff, we feared that we would be fortunate to catch 15 largemouth bass.
We were surprised that the surface temperature had dropped below 45 degrees. This reservoir has always been a trying cold-water venue for us. Anytime its surface temperature plummets below 40 degrees, this reservoir becomes an exceedingly demanding venue, as it was today. It will likely get more trying as winter unfolds.
Perhaps if we had three anglers in the boat with all of us wielding jerkbaits, we might have been able to locate two offshore concentrations of bass. And once we found two concentrations with the jerkbaits, we could have mined these offshore locales with our finesse rigs.
To elicit strikes, which were very tentative, we had to drag and subtly shake our baits, and every once in a while we would deadstick them. The drag-and-shake retrieve has been our most effective retrieve as the temperatures of our algal-stained waters began to drop significantly in November. Today, when we saw that the algal bloom had waned and the water was clear, we mistakenly thought that the shake-swim-and-glide retrieve would finally replace the drag-and-shake retrieve. (On every four-hour outing we attempt to tangle with 101 bass, but we have found that it is difficult to achieve that benchmark when the bass can't be allured by the shake-swim-and-glide retrieve. It should be noted that the more active the bass are and the better they are biting the more we shake our baits.)
The few bass that we caught were bewitched by a 2 1/2" white ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig, a white Rain MinnowZ on a red 1/32- and 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ on a chartreuse 1/32- and 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
Log 3: Monday, December 5, 2011, was a major ice-in-the-guides day. The ice began to form after the second cast and continued to the last one.
Area thermometers hit an early morning low of 21 degrees and reached a high of 30 degrees at noon. When I launched the boat at 12:15 a.m., however, the temperature had dropped to 28 degrees. A brisk wind angled out of the northwest at 18 to 25 mph.
The sky was mostly cloudy.
The surface temperature on this 195-acre reservoir ranged from 41 to 43 degrees. The water clarity was still affected by an algal bloom. The bloom has been so intense for weeks on end, making the water unseasonably stained, that the bass weren't dressed in their distinct and handsome winter colors that occurs when the water is clear and cold; instead they exhibited a yellowish hue as if they were abiding in muddy water. At three other area reservoirs where the algal blooms have finally died, the color and markings of the bass have finally reached their traditional wintertime tones.
The lake level was up slightly, which must have been the result of the one inch or more of rain that fell on Saturday, December 3. Nevertheless, the lake was two feet low. It has been low since summer's massive heat wave and drought.
The bass were much tougher to allure at this reservoir than they were at the two reservoirs that we fished on December 1 and 2. Besides being whacked by a whale of an algal bloom and a sizeable mid-summer fish kill, it's in the midst of recovering from the largemouth bass virus, which hit it a couple of summers ago.
I fished seven wind sheltered areas, and caught only 13 bass. Only four of the seven spots were fruitful.
Nine bass were caught along a 75-yard area, which was a mud flat with a ledge nearby. These bass were about one-third of the way inside a major cove. Some of the bass were caught around three boat docks. I also suspected that some of the bass were relating to patches of emerging curly-leaf pondweed. The boat floated in seven to 10 feet of water, and the bass were caught in four to seven feet of water.
About a quarter of the way inside another major cove, I caught a bass on a rock pile, which was in five feet of water. This bass weighed 4 pounds, seven ounce; it had recently consumed a large gizzard shad, and the tail of the shad was protruding from its stomach. This bass was caught on a green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ and a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
The other three bass were caught more than half way inside the cove that yielded the four-pounder.
Eight of the 13 bass were caught on a pearl Rain MinnowZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig; seven bass were caught on the green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ on a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig. I made about 20 fruitless casts with a jerkbait.
The only retrieve that I tested was the drag and shake, and there was more dragging than shaking.
I caught the four-pounder on the last cast. After I quickly weighed and released it, my hands were too cold to make another cast.
The wintry weather on Dec. 6-7 kept me at bay.
Log 4: On Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011, there was no ice on the guides, but the bass fishing was still trying.
Rodney and I fished a 100-acre community reservoir from 11:45 to 3:30. We fished this lake on December 1.
Initially it was sunny, but it gradually became cloudy; snow was in the forecast. Area thermometers hit a low of 17 degrees in the early morning hours, climbing to a high of 40 degrees at 3:30. The wind was negligible, angling out of the northeast at 3 to 5 mph.
The upper portions of the lake were covered with ice. Surface temperatures ranged from 39 degrees around the ice to 41.5 degrees at the dam.
Water was relatively clear. The lake level was a few inches above normal.
To our dismay, we eked out only 15 largemouth bass. Two of them were three-pounders, and another two looked to weigh 2 ¾ pounds.
We caught one bass on a purple-haze 2 1/2" ZinkerZ on a red 3/32-ounce Gopher jig. One of the three-pounders hit a jerkbait; we made fewer than 30 casts with the jerkbait, and it was the second time that we used it this winter. The rest of the bass were caught on a green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ on either a 1/32- or a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig. The bass were caught in three to seven feet of water.
Two bass were caught along the riprap of the dam. One bass was caught on a shallow coontail-laden secondary point. The rest of the bass were caught in the back of the reservoir's main arm. In this arm, we started fishing where the ice began, and 12 of the 15 bass were caught from about 20 to 250 yards away from the ice and were associated with small patches of coontail and filamentous algae.
Throughout the entire outing, we couldn't tell if the bass weren't biting, or if we couldn't pinpoint where the bulk of them were congregated, or if we were using the wrong baits and presentations. Initially, it looked as if it would be an easy outing to catch 30 or more bass. In fact, we caught a bass on the first cast, and caught the second bass on the fifth cast; after that it was struggle to garner a strike.
A drag-and-shake retrieve that was punctuated with an occasional deadstick accounted for the strikes with the ZinkerZ and Rain MinnowZ. The only jerkbait strike came during an eight second pause after a double-twitch.
Log 5: The bass fishing on Monday, Dec. 12, 2011, was a struggle for me at a 195-acre reservoir that has been ravaged by major algal blooms for months on end and a substantial fish kill in August. This lake is also in the throes of recovering from the largemouth bass virus. This was the same lake I fished on December 5.
I fished from 12 to 3 pm.
The wind angled out of the south and southwest at 10 to18 mph. Throughout the day, area thermometers ranged from 41 to 48 degrees. I noticed as I drove to the lake that there was no ice on any of the shallow waterways.
It was heartening to see that the algal blooms were diminishing, but there were still millions of planktonic elements suspended in the water. At some areas of the lake, the alga was so intense that the trolling motor couldn't be seen with human eyes -- especially in the lake's southwest and south arms. The dam area, however, wasn't as affected with the alga as much as the rest of the lake was.
The lake was two feet low.
The surface temperature was 40 degrees lake wide. Most of the milfoil and coontail patches had wilted. Throughout the fall, we suspected that the algal blooms were affecting the health and density of the patches of the coontail and milfoil. Some new patches of curly-leaf pondweed were emerging, and a few bass seemed to be relating to those new patches. But I couldn't find any significant concentrations of bass. During the late falls and winters of past years before the advent of the largemouth bass virus, we used to find significant concentrations of largemouth bass in two to eight feet water associated with patches of coontail and emerging curly-leaf pondweed. What's more, the coontail patches haven't been as bountiful as they were several years ago.
On the last two outings at this lake, I have even been doing a little bit of exploring with a jerkbait. This is the third time during this cold-water season that I have used it, which reveals how difficult our finesse fishing has been.
I eked out only 11 largemouth bass.
Three bass were caught on a Table Rock Shad hue jerkbait, with a five-second pause between twitches.
The rest were caught on either a green-pumpkin Z-Man Finesse ShadZ on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a three-inch pearl Z-Man Rain MinnowZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
Two bass were associated with rock piles in five feet of water; the rest were around emerging patches of curly-leaf pondweed on mud and gravel flats in three to five feet of water. All the jig bass were caught on a drag and shake retrieve, but I caught so few of them that I could not establish a significant presentation and location pattern.
I talked to a crappie fisherman who said that he had two bass break his four-pound test line around brush piles in 15 to 20 feet of water.
We never fish for the deep-water bass. In years past, there were scores of shallow-water bass at this reservoir. Thus, we never had to think about fishing for bass in water much deeper than eight feet. But we might have do some deep-water finesse fishing this winter at several of our reservoirs — especially those that have been whacked by the largemouth bass virus and are devoid of aquatic vegetation. The problem with deep-water fishing is that it eats up the minutes, and when we fish only three to four hours per outing, it limits the number of bass that we can catch; unless we find several mother lodes of bass.
Log 6: On Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011, Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, and I made the relatively long trip to one our power-plan lakes.
We fished for 4 1/2 hours midday hours.
It was a two-rain suit day. A cold rain fell for three hours. The wind angled from the south and southeast at nine to 13 mph. The high temperature for the day was 42 degrees.
Like most our reservoirs, this one was afflicted with an algal bloom, which stained the water. This algal bloom phenomenon has been a protracted affair, reaching back to May.
The water level was up about a foot since our last outing on November 28.
The surface temperature at the dam was 46 degrees. Along the east riprap of the hot-water outlet channel, it was 50 degrees. At bluffs No. 1 and No. 2, it was 60 degrees. At bluffs No. 3 and No. 4, it ranged from 59 to 62 degrees.
We caught three largemouth bass along the riprap of the dam. Two of these bass were caught on a green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ on a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig, and one was caught on a 2 1/2" watermelon/red Z-Man ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
We caught only one largemouth bass on bluff No.2, and it hit the watermelon/red ZinkerZ. We failed to catch a bass on the east riprap and bluff No. 1.
On bluffs No. 3 and No. 4, we caught 65 largemouth bass. Forty-four of them were caught on a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on either a red or a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Three were caught on a white ShadZ on a 1/32-ounce red Gopher jig. One largemouth bass was caught on a pearl Rain MinnowZ affixed to a 1/16-ounce red Gopher jig. The rest of the bass were caught on either a 2 ½-inch watermelon/red ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig or a green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.
At times the best presentation was to cast to the shoreline at a 45-degree angle behind the boat and drag and shake the bait. If bass didn't hit it after a combination of 12 drag and shakes, we made another cast. We caught a few bass on the shake-swim-and-glide retrieve.
The bite was excellent for about two hours; then it became trying.
We ended the day with 69 largemouth bass, four white bass, three crappie, one wiper, one drum and one big buffalo. We failed to catch any lunker-size bass; four of the bass were in the three-pound class. But on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011, Bob Gum caught a five-pounder at this reservoir, and he failed to land one that looked to weigh six pounds. Those two bass hit the Finesse ShadZ on a red1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
We talked to two anglers who were wielding Heddon Zara Spooks along the north end of bluff No.4 who had caught one 4-pound, 12-ounce largemouth bass. (It is interesting to note that when the two Zara Spook anglers asked us if we were catching any fish, we said that we had caught 44, and they said that was a whale of a lot of crappie)
Log 7: On Dec. 15, 2011, I fished a 416 acre reservoir from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
We regularly fish 13 public reservoirs across northeasternKansas, and this one was cursed with the worst algal bloom of them all in 2011. What's more, the bass fishing has been so lackluster here for the past 15 months or more that several Midwest finesse anglers fear and speculate this reservoir has been hit by the largemouth bass virus, but our suspicions have not been confirmed by the fisheries biologists at the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
Today, the shallower and upper reaches of the lake were still afflicted with a minor algal bloom, but the water was clear enough that the largemouth bass exhibited their dazzling winter colors and markings.
The wind was brisk, blowing from the northwest at 12 mph and gusting to 20 mph, which prevented me from fishing several traditional cold-water lairs. The surface temperature was 40 to 41 degrees. The sun was blindingly bright. Area thermometers hit a morning low of 32 degrees and an afternoon high of 43 degrees.
On this outing, I was doing what Steve Desch of Topeka and I call bass fishing for rainbow trout. Every October and February this reservoir is stocked with rainbow trout. Consequently, we inadvertently catch trout while finesse fishing for bass. In fact, there have been some three-hour outings when we have tangled with as many as 24 largemouth bass and 12 trout, and there have been outings when we have caught nearly 40 pounds of trout.
This time, however, I failed to elicit a trout bite. What's more, I caught only five largemouth bass, and all of them were caught of a 2 ½-inch laminated pumpkin/chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.
This was probably the last time that I will fish this reservoir until April or perhaps late March, which is when its smallmouth bass fishing usually becomes productive.
Log 8: On Dec. 17, 2011, I made a rare Saturday outing to the same 100-acre lake that Rodney Hatridge and I fished on Dec. 1 and 8.
I fished two midday hours, focusing only on the upper end of the south arm of the lake, where the surface temperature ranged from 41 to 43 degrees, which was two degrees warmer than it was nine days ago.
I was able to eke out only 14 largemouth bass. The biggest weighed 3 pounds, 2 ounces. Three other bass were longer than 15 inches. I caught all of the bass on two baits: a 2 ½ laminated pumpkin/chartreuse ZinkerZ on a 1/16-ounce red Gopher jig and a green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ on a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher.
A drag-and-shake and drag-and-deadstick retrieves are what inveigled them.
I failed to garner a strike on a jerkbait or any other bait. I didn't have a lot of time to test many other baits or retrieves, which is the disadvantage of not having a companion to test other presentations.
None of the bass were associated with a creek channel or even near a creek channel. I caught four bass in three feet of water on a silt and gravel flat that was graced with some patches of coontail on the east side of the lake. Ten of the bass were on the west side of the lake in two to six feet of water, and most were around patches of coontail and filamentous alga; some were relating to boat docks.
The filamentous alga has grown significantly since December 8, and the coontail patches have been diminished.
The lake was the clearest that I have seen for many months.
On this balmy Saturday, I was the only angler afloat, which must be a sign of the season. The wind was mild-mannered out of the west by northwest at 5 to 9 mph; the sun shone as bright as a new dime, heating area thermometers up to 55 degrees from a morning low of 21 degrees.
I was disappointed that I was able to catch only an average of seven bass an hour.
Log 9: Dec. 21, 2011, was a rare first day of winter, which was marked by some of our lakes rising two or more feet and the water clarity becoming stained and even muddy after the rains of Dec. 19 and 20. A touch of snow fell last night.
Pok-Chi Lau of Lawrence and I fished one of our power-plant lakes today from 11 am to 3 pm. This is the same reservoir that Bob Gum and I fished on Dec. 13.
The water at bluff No. 5 almost had the hue of chocolate milk. The water clarity from the marina to bluff No. 4 was stained to murky. The clearest water was along the east riprap. We didn't check the dam or power-plant riprap, which in retrospect was a mistake.
There were six boats afloat at 11 a.m. By 3 pm, there was one boat afloat, which was a reflection of how trying the bite and weather was today.
Surface temperature at the ramp was 47 degrees; it was 51 degrees along the east riprap; it was 62 degrees along bluff No. 3.
The south point of bluff No.3 entertained the only concentration of largemouth bass that we could locate. We caught a dozen of them, but none of them were big ones.
We fished a third of bluff No. 4 and caught only one bass.
We fished 200 yards of the east riprap and caught only one bass.
We fished bluff No. 1 and caught two bass and two channel catfish, and we failed to land a good-sized bass.
The flat between bluffs No. 1 and No.2 was unproductive.
We fished 200 feet of bluff No. 2, where the water was extremely murky, and we failed to garner a bite.
Then we fished the flat and the creek channel bends between the second boat ramp and the south point of bluff No. 3 without a getting a bite. The water on this flat was very murky.
We fished the outlet and points to the northeast of the outlet, where we caught six bass, but the wind and waves made it difficult to fish.
We could muster only 28 largemouth bass, five white bass, two channel catfish and one crappie. All of the bass were small. We suspected the rising and murky water had something to do with our inabilities to locate at least three significant concentrations of decent-sized bass.
We experimented with a variety of baits and retrieves, and we never could determine which was the most effective.
The few bass that we caught were inveigled on the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig, a white Rain MinnowZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig, a laminated pumpkin/chartreuse 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig and a green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ on a 1/32-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig.
In addition to the murky water, it was what many anglers call a bluebird day. The sun was bright. Area thermometer ranged from a low of 28 degrees to a high 48 degrees. There was a tad too much wind, angling out of the south and southwest at 13 mph, to allow us to properly fish some locales.
Throughout the entire outing we felt out of sorts with the bass, water and weather. In sum, it was a sorry outing.
Log 10: On Dec. 28, 2011, Rick Hebenstreit and I struggled at the same power-plant lake that Pok-Chi Lau and I struggled at on Dec. 21.
Traditionally, in late December we tangle with a goodly number of four- to eight-pound largemouth bass at this reservoir, but the bass checkmated us this time around.
Except for a brisk southwest by west wind, which hit 16 mph, and a sorry bass bite, it was an excellent day to be afloat: no gloves and no stocking caps.
As we drove to this reservoir, all of the lakes and shallow waterways were covered with ice, but as the bright sun warmed the midday air to 52 degrees, these waters were ice free when we drove home.
We fished from 10:45 a.m. to 2: 45 p.m.
The surface temperature in the areas we fished ranged from 50 degrees to 62 degrees.
We did fish two wind-blown areas on the east side of the lake, where the surface temperature was 50 degrees, and we caught only one largemouth and hooked and lost one channel catfish.
We spent the rest of the time fishing the wind-sheltered areas on the west side of the lake, plying all of the bluffs and some of the flats that are enhanced with ledges and creek channels.
One of the flats entertained a small concentration of largemouth bass, and we caught 18 of them. Other than that spot, it was an impossible task to find the right lure, correct retrieve and actively feeding bass.
We crossed paths with a power angler who complained that he was struggling, too. He had caught 10 bass, and he was about to call it day.
By the end our outing, we had caught 44 largemouth, three white bass and one crappie, and all of the fish were small.
The biggest looked to weigh about three pounds, and it was the last bass of the day and year. It was caught dragging and deadsticking a green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a 1/16-ounce chartreuse Gopher jig on a rock slide along a bluff.
A 2 1/2" PB&J ZinkerZ on a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig inveigled the bulk of the bass. A laminated pumpkin/chartreuse 2 1/2" ZinkerZ caught a few, as did the green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ.
It was a sorry way to end the year.
(Now that you have slogged through all these repetitive words and descriptions, we are interested in reading your opinions and criticisms about the value of fishing logs. So, please post them in the comment section below.)