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Z-Man Goes to Canada: an Update

Z-Man Goes to Canada: an Update

In 2006, Drew Reese of Rantoul, Kansas, and Sioux Narrows, Ontario, Canada, fished 106 times and caught 1,721 largemouth bass and 2357 smallmouth bass, which is an impressive number indeed. On Aug. 2, he sent an email to the Finesse News Network, saying that he had surpassed that 4078 number by a significant margin, and he accomplished that feat in 75 outings, and some of those 75 outings constituted only two hours of fishing.

Here is an edited and condensed version of Reese's account of how and why this impressive catch unfolded:

I turned 68 this year, and it marks my 50th year of fishing in Canada. The last few years have been extremely enjoyable, and it began on an outing with Ned Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas, on April 1, 2011, at a 50-acre community reservoir in northeastern Kansas when the snow was melting. I could not get a strike on my beloved green-pumpkin tube, but in short order he caught seven largemouth bass and missed six other strikes by using Z-Man Fishing Products' green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ on a 1/32-ounce mushroom-style jig, green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ on a 1/32-ounce mushroom-style jig, and a 2 1/2-inch ZinkerZ on a 1/32-ounce mushroom-style jig. I can be hard headed, but I try not to be stupid. Once I started to use the Z-Man's baits, we caught a total of 32 largemouth bass and one walleye in three hours. Since then, I have become a Z-Man fanatic.

During the past three years, I have had the pleasure of working with Daniel Nussbaum of Ladson, South Carolina, who is the General Manager and Executive Vice President of Z-Man, and we have created the Finesse ShroomZ jig, Finesse T.R.D., Hula StickZ, 3 1/2-inch GrubZ , and some new colors. And it has let me relive one of the favorite times of my life, when I worked with Bill Ward at Bass Buster Lure Company in Amsterdam, Missouri, which was when the Beetle Spin became a legend, and it was very heady stuff for a 21-year-old kid that loved to fish. Since those days in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I have not seen a product since then that caught so many fish until I crossed paths with Z-Man's ElaZtech baits.

I sincerely believe Z-Man's baits will become even a bigger deal than the Beetle Spin. The ElaZtech material that Z-Man uses to create its baits allows them to form unique designs. Furthermore, when these baits are rigged on a Finesse ShroomZ jig, their life-like texture creates a totally natural look and feel.

When Z-Man introduced several new finesse baits in 2014, I felt that I had every tool I needed to try to break my previous record of 4078 largemouth bass and smallmouth bass that I caught in 2006, when I fished 106 times and caught 1721 largemouth and 2357 smallmouth bass. Back then, my average fishing day was at least two hours longer than my typical day at this stage of my life. The only real concern I had was whether my aging body would allow me perform this quest.

I had no idea how easy this would end up being. In fact, I was visiting last night with several friends who are also Z-Man devotees. And all of us are amazed at how easy it is for two anglers to catch more than 100 smallmouth bass in a day by employing Z-Man's finesse baits on the Lake of the Woods, Ontario, Canada.

The good news is I passed my personal best record at the end of July by catching 4269 largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. I accomplished that goal in 75 days.

Thirty-one of those outings were in southwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas this spring, where I caught 1042 largemouth bass, which is an average of 33.61 per outing. And many of those outings consisted of me climbing in my float tube and fishing a small lake for a couple of hours.

A Z-Man's Canada Craw Hula StickZ on a black 1/10-ounce Z-Man 's Finesse ShroomZ jig is at the top of this photograph. A Z-Man's California Craw Finesse T.R.D. affixed to a black 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig is on the bottom.

The exciting part is the smallmouth bass numbers; I caught 3227 of them in 44 outings at the Lake of the Woods, which is an unbelievable average of 73.34 smallmouth bass an outing. During those outings, I was afloat for six to seven hours spread over 44 days. The Hula StickZ has been the biggest producer, which is followed by the 3 1/2-inch GrubZ. The Finesse T.R.D., Finesse ShadZ and 3.75-inch StreakZ have also been major contributors. In addition, I have had a few good days with a Heddon Lures' Zara Spook.

Z-Man Pearl 3.75-inch StreakZ on a black 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig is at the top of this photograph. A Z-Man's Blue Glimmer Sparkle 3 1/2-inch GrubZ affixed to a black 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig is on the bottom.


Z-Man's pearl Finesse ShadZ on a Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig is Reese's multi-species bait. Not only does it inveigle smallmouth bass when they are foraging upon shiners and smelt, it is his most effective combo for alluring lake trout and walleye.


(1) For more information about Drew Reese and his angling history and prowess, please examine the stories at the following links: . (Drew Reese is not named in this story, but it is about him.) (Drew Reese is not named in this story, but he was the host for this adventure and one of Daniel Nussbaum's guides.)

Reese's insights are occasionally featured in the monthly guides to Midwest finesse fishing, such as the one at this link:

(2) On Aug. 2, Drew Reese posted a brief on the Finesse News Network about the Bronzeback Classic tournament  at the Lake of the Woods, Ontario, on July 25 and 26.

This smallmouth bass tournament consisted of 100 teams, and it is designed to pair a talented angler with family members, such as a son, daughter, wife, husband, brother, sister, grandchild, or grandparent. During this year's tournament, there were 48 adult/youth teams and 52 male/female teams. The entry fee was $400 per team, which had to be delivered to JB Bait & Tackle in Keewatin, Ontario, on Mar. 1, and within two hours, 100 teams had paid their entry fees.

Reese noted that three of his friends fished this event, and since 2011 and 2012, they have become Z-Man aficionados. They are Ken McGhie of McCromick, South Carolina, and his daughter Jenny Bauer; Al Kobylka of Kenora, Ontario, and his 12-year-old grandson, Owen Stebnitsky; and Bill McGhie of Bradenton, Florida; and his daughter Michelle Pugh. And all of them wielded Z-Man's Hula StickZs affixed to Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jigs.

Ken McGhie, who is 73 years old, and Jenny Bauer caught 10 smallmouth bass that weighed 31.85 pounds and they garnered second-place honors. Al Kobylka and Owen Stebnitsky caught 30.23 pounds of smallmouth bass, and their names graced the seventh place on the leaderboard. Bill McGhie and Michelle Pugh caught five smallmouth bass that weighed 15.16 pounds on July 25, which put them in 11th place, but they had to withdraw on the second day because Bill was ill.

Not only did these teams catch more than 15 pounds of smallmouth bass a day to bring to the tournament scales, their Hula StickZ rigs inveigled more than 100 smallmouth bass on the first day of the tournament, which is a whale of a testimony to the effectiveness of the Hula StickZ.

Jenny Bauer culling the smallmouth bass she and her father caught before they head to the weigh-in site of the Bronzeback Classic tournament.

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