July 31, 2016
On July 22, we reported in a brief Midwest Finesse column that Patty, my wife, was taking me fishing in the Northwoods of Minnesota during the last week of July.
It was the first time in scores of summers that we were not accompanied by several of our children and grandchildren in the Northwoods. Because of this void, I was not eager to make this 13-hour journey. So essentially, Patty took me.
Posted below are three photographs of some of the largemouth bass she caught, as well as a few details about how and where she caught them at a 415-acre natural lake in Itasca County, Minnesota.
Her outings were midday affairs, and they were never longer than an hour and 37 minutes.
The water clarity ranged from nine to 12 feet of visibility. The surface temperature ranged from 76 to 80 degrees. The water level was above normal. This lake is brimming with many varieties of submergent aquatic vegetation. There are patches of emergent aquatic vegetation along some of its shorelines and several other shallow-water areas, but for some unknown reason, some of its patches of wild rice and lily pads have slowly disappeared during the past 20 years.
She caught the largemouth bass by employing a Z-Man Fishing Products' green-pumpkin-goby Big T.R.D., which she shortened by removing about an inch from its head. And after she shortened it, she affixed it to a black 1/20-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig. (The Big T.R.D. was introduced to the angling world at the International Convention of Allied Sportsfishng Trades show on July 12-15 in Orlando, Florida. And we think these were the first largemouth bass to be caught on one in Minnesota.)
She wielded it on a spinning rod and executed a retrieve that she calls a slow-roll-and-deadstick presentation around laydowns, lily pads, and patches of wild rice, where the water was four to five feet deep.
She accomplished this task by making accurate casts to strategic spots along the edges and pockets of the laydowns and patches of lily pads and wild rice.
Once her Big T.R.D. rig reached the bottom, she employed a deadstick presentation for four to five seconds. Then she made three slow rotations of the reel handle. After the third rotation, she paused and allowed the Big T.R.D. rig to fall to the bottom, and she deadsticked it again for a few seconds. After the second deadstick presentation, she slowly rotated the reel handle, which allowed the Big T.R.D. to swim six to 10 inches above the bottom, and she did this until the rig was 10 to 15 feet from the spot where she placed her cast. There were also times when she employed the standard Midwest finesse drag-and-deadstick presentation.
Laydowns, lily pads and wild rice are thought to be the province of power anglers, but Midwest finesse anglers who make accurate and delicate casts and retrieves have found them to be bountiful and exhilarating spots to ply. On Patty's outings, she tangled with some hefty specimens around these snaggy thickets, and her 10-pound-test braided line and eight-pound-test fluorocarbon line was never broken. In fact, she used the same black 1/20-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig and shortened green-pumpkin-goby Big T.R.D. for the entire week. It even endured several entanglements with northern pike.