Midwest Finesse Fishing: December 2017

These largemouth bass were caught on the ZinkerZ rig with a drag-and-subtle-shake retrieve in about five feet of water within a few feet of the outside edge of the winter-dead American water willows. Three largemouth bass were caught along another main-lake shoreline. One of the largemouth bass was caught around one of the laydowns in about three feet of water on the ZinkerZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Along the south end of the shoreline, we fished behind another angler and caught four largemouth bass. I caught 10 largemouth bass along this shoreline. During my Dec. 5 outing, I fished for three hours and caught 39 largemouth bass. All of them were caught in eight feet of water or less. For instance, we caught three largemouth bass on Dec. 11, 2005; 12 largemouth bass on Dec. 13, 2006; 13 largemouth bass on Dec. 14, 2007; five largemouth bass on Dec. 15, 2011; 11 on Dec. 15, 2014; and 15 on Dec. 18, 2015. We caught 41 largemouth bass on Dec. 11, 2006; 38 largemouth bass on Dec. 9, 2010; 49 largemouth bass on Dec. 12, 2016; and 34 largemouth bass on Dec. 12, 2017. I caught three largemouth bass along the outside edge of one of the coontail patches in about nine feet of water.

This guide to Midwest finesse fishing contains 17 logs and 17,788 words that explain how, when, and where Midwest finesse anglers fished during December.

It features the piscatorial endeavors of Rick Allen of Dallas; Lou Clewell of Roselyn, Pennsylvania; Roger Farrish of Highland Village, Texas; Merit Goodman of Eudora, Kansas; Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas; David Harrison of Lawrence, Kansas; Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas; as well as my northeastern Kansas logs.

December can be a devilish time to catch largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass in north-central Texas and northeastern Kansas. As these eight anglers dealt with the vicissitudes that unfolded during these trying days, they fished about 68 hours and caught 411 black bass or one every 10 minutes. And after Dec. 21, none of us had the wherewithal to be afloat in pursuit of black bass.

We are delighted that Steve Reideler proof read every word and made them more readable and understandable.

Dec. 1 log

The Weather Underground reported that it was 23 degrees at 5:52 a.m. and 60 degrees at 1:52 p.m. The sky was clear. The wind was calm from 12:52 a.m. to 7:52 a.m., and then it angled out of the east, southeast, south by southeast and south at 5 to 16 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.25 at 12:52 a.m., 30.25 at 5:52 a.m., 30.16 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.04 at 3:52 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would take place from 7:46 a.m. to 9:46 a.m., 8:13 p.m. to 10:13 p.m., and 1:33 a.m. to 3:33 a.m. I fished at one of northeastern Kansas’ state reservoirs from 11:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

The water level looked to be slightly above normal. The surface temperature ranged from 47 to 48 degrees. The water exhibited three to five feet of visibility. This reservoir is affected by a planktonic algae bloom. There are algae particles suspended at various depths. Some areas have a thicker and deeper algae bloom than other areas, and it affects the water clarity. Most of the shorelines and points are embellished with thick patches of winter-dead American water willows. This reservoir possesses the finest patches of American water willows in northeastern Kansas. Many of its shallow-water flats are adorned with massive patches of coontail, which are in the midst of their winter doldrums, and the size and intensity of these patches are diminishing. In the near future, the coontail patches will be encompassed by patches of curly-leaf pondweed, which are beginning to sprout, and I crossed paths with several curly-leaf pondweed sprouts on this outing. Eventually, a significant number of largemouth bass will be abiding in and around the patches of curly-leaf pondweed.

DSCN1765
The first curly-leaf pondweed that we have crossed paths with during the cold-water season of 2017-18.

As the way a crow flies, this reservoir is situated within 18 miles of the community reservoir that Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, Jim Stegeman of Olathe, Kansas, and I fished on Nov. 29. It possesses many of the same ecological characteristics of that community reservoir. But Gum, Stegeman, and I caught 105 largemouth bass and five smallmouth bass on Nov. 29 at the nearby community reservoir, and I struggled to catch 34 largemouth bass on this Dec. 1 outing at the state reservoir.

My Dec. 1 outing was a hodgepodge endeavor, which means that I caught the largemouth bass on a variety of Midwest finesse lures and retrieves at a variety of locations.

I fished around 10 main-lake points, and four of them were fruitless.

At one main-lake point, I caught one largemouth bass on a Z-Man’s Fishing Product’s green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ affixed to a hand-painted red 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve in six feet of water. The water’s edge of this point is lined with winter-dead patches of American water willows, flooded terrestrial vegetation, and a few laydowns. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders. It possesses a 45- to 50-degree slope. This largemouth bass was abiding near a minor laydown and along the outside edge of a patch of American water willows.

Around another main-lake point, I caught three largemouth bass on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle’s Mushroom Head jig in about 4 1/2 feet of water. The water’s edge of this point is lined with winter-dead patches of American water willows and flooded terrestrial vegetation. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. It has a 40-degree slope. It was somewhat wind-blown. One of the largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of the ZinkerZ rig. One largemouth bass was caught while I was employing a drag-and-subtle-shake presentation. One was caught on a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. They were abiding along the outside edges of the flooded terrestrial vegetation, which many anglers call stickups.

I caught two largemouth bass around another main-lake point. The water’s edge of this point is lined with winter-dead patches of American water willows that are intertwined with some coontail, a minor patch of flooded terrestrial vegetation, and two minor laydowns. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and some minor boulders. It has a 35-degree slope. One largemouth bass was caught on the green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation in about five feet of water about six feet from the outside edge of a patch of winter-dead American water willows. The other one was caught on the initial drop of a Z-Man’s Junebug Rain MinnowZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig in about four feet of water along the outside edge of a patch of winter-dead American water willows.

One largemouth bass was caught around another main-lake point that is adorned with a significant stretch of flooded terrestrial vegetation that was somewhat wind-blown. Behind the terrestrial vegetation, there are patches of winter-dead American water willows. This point possesses a 25-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. This largemouth bass was caught as I was strolling into the wind and employing a drag-and-shake presentation with the Junebug Rain MinnowZ rig in about four feet of water.

I caught three largemouth bass around another main-lake point. Its water’s edge is graced with a significant patch of American water willows and some pieces of flooded terrestrial vegetation. It has a 35- to 40-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders. These largemouth bass were caught on the ZinkerZ rig with a drag-and-subtle-shake retrieve in about five feet of water within a few feet of the outside edge of the winter-dead American water willows.

At another main-lake point, I caught one largemouth bass. The water’s edge is festooned with a massive patch of winter-dead American water willows. It possesses a 30-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. This largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of the ZinkerZ rig in about three feet of water.

I fished short portions of five main-lake shorelines and three shorelines inside two small feeder-creek arms.

Two of the shorelines inside the two feeder-creek arms were fruitless. And along one of the shorelines, I caught a largemouth bass by strolling the ZinkerZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. This shoreline possesses a 35-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. Its water’s edge is endowed with patches of winter-dead American water willows and a major laydown. The largemouth bass was caught in the vicinity of the outside edge of the major laydown, and I suspect it was abiding in six feet of water.

I failed to elicit a strike along one of the main-lake shorelines.

I caught four largemouth bass along a section of a steep main-lake shoreline, which was somewhat wind-blown. It possesses a 75- to 85-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and some humongous boulders. The water’s edge is lined with thick patches of winter-dead American water willows, several small laydowns, and some patches of flooded terrestrial vegetation. These four largemouth bass were caught in six to eight feet of water on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin TRD HogZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig while I was strolling and employing a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation. Two of the four were caught near one of the laydowns. The other two were caught within five feet of the outside edge of the winter-dead American water willows.

Three largemouth bass were caught along another main-lake shoreline. This shoreline has a 50- to 75-grade slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders; a few of the boulders are quite large. The water’s edge is lined with a few patches of winter-dead American water willows, several laydowns, some manmade brush piles, and several stretches of flooded terrestrial vegetation. These three largemouth bass were caught on a pile of rocks in about eight feet of water while I was executing a drag-and-shake retrieve with the Junebug Rain MinnowZ rig.

Along a 150-yard stretch of another main-lake shoreline, I caught four largemouth bass. This shoreline possesses a 25- to 30-degree slope. Its water’s edge is graced with some patches of winter-dead American water willows, flooded terrestrial vegetation, some overhanging trees, and a number of laydowns that are intertwined with some coontail and young sprouts of curly-leaf pondweed. The underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. One of the largemouth bass was caught around one of the laydowns in about three feet of water on the ZinkerZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The other three were caught along the outside edges of the patches of winter-dead American water willow patches in three feet of water. One of them was caught on the ZinkerZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. Two of them were caught on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

Four largemouth bass were caught along a 75-yard stretch of another main-lake shoreline. This shoreline possesses a 35- to 50-degree slope and a tertiary point. It is lined with thick patches of winter-dead American water willows, some coontail patches, a few overhanging trees, several laydowns, and flooded terrestrial vegetation. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders. Two of the largemouth bass were caught on the ZinkerZ rig in four to six feet of water with swim-glide-and-shake retrieves that were parallel to the patches of American water willows. The other two were caught on the initial drop of the ZinkerZ in four feet of water along the outside edge of one of the patches of American water willows.

I quickly and haphazardly fished portions of the massive shallow-water flats in the backs of two major feeder-creek arms and two shallow-water flats inside two tiny feeder-creek arms. These flats are adorned with patches of coontail, sprouts of curly-leaf pondweed, and an array of flooded terrestrial vegetation. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and silt.

One of the flats inside one of the tiny feeder-creek arms was fruitless.

On the initial drop of my first casts at one of the massive shallow-water flats in the back of one of the major feeder-creek arms, I caught a largemouth bass in five feet of water on the Finesse ShadZ rig around a patch of coontail, and on the next casts and retrieves, I accidentally caught a crappie. I elicited two strikes that I failed to firmly hook.

Around some terrestrial vegetation that is intertwined with coontail and curly-leaf pondweed at another massive shallow-water flat in the back of another feeder-creek arm, I caught two largemouth bass in four feet of water on the Finesse ShadZ rig with a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve. Along another portion of this flat, I caught two largemouth bass around some coontail and flooded terrestrial vegetation in four feet of water on the Finesse ShadZ rig while I was strolling and employing a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation.

On a coontail-laden shallow-water flat inside one of the tiny feeder-creek arms, I caught two largemouth bass. One was caught on the initial drop of the ZinkerZ rig in about five feet of water. The second one was caught in about three feet of water while I strolling the ZinkerZ rig with a swim-glide-and-no-shake presentation.

In sum, the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ rig caught 16 largemouth bass. The green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rig caught seven largemouth bass. The Junebug Rain MinnowZ rig caught five largemouth bass. The green-pumpkin TRD HogZ rig caught four largemouth bass. The green-pumpkin Rain MinnowZ rig caught two largemouth bass.

Dec. 4 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Dec. 4 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

On Dec. 2, Roger Farish of Highland Village, Texas, and I fished at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir for 4 1/2 hours. The fishing was horrible, and we struggled to eke out four largemouth bass and two spotted bass.

A robust wind was howling out of the south at 17 to 21 mph on Dec. 4, and I did not have the gumption to fight the wind and waves in my boat at any of the Corps’ reservoirs. Therefore, I grabbed three of my spinning outfits and spent the afternoon meandering along the shorelines of two small community reservoirs that lie in the suburbs northwest of Dallas. I fished the first reservoir from about 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Rick Allen of Dallas, Texas, joined me at the second reservoir from about 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The Weather Underground noted that the morning low temperature was 52 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 79 degrees. The barometric pressure measured 29.84 at noon and 29.79 at 4:00 p.m. The sky conditions changed from overcast to mostly cloudy to partly cloudy.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the most fruitful fishing periods would occur from 4:21 a.m. to 6:21 a.m., 10:42 a.m. to 12:42 p.m., and 4:58 p.m. to 6:58 p.m.

The first reservoir I visited is about 12 acres in size. It was one of our more fruitful venues during the winter of 2014-2015. But it was inundated by the heavy rains during the spring of 2015, which washed vast amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides into the water and turned it a sickly chartreuse hue that lasted throughout 2016. The bountiful black bass fishing at this reservoir also evaporated in 2015.

When I first arrived, I was delighted to see that the water conditions had returned to normal. The water displayed a pea-green tint with about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The water level was normal. The water temperature was 63 degrees.

This reservoir’s north shoreline is steep and straight. There are two coves on the east side of the impoundment that are separated by a long and prominent point. A ditch courses through the center of both of these coves. The west and south shorelines are flatter than the north one. There are some shallow sand and gravel ledges that parallel a goodly portion of the shorelines. The reservoir’s underwater terrain consists of sand, gravel, and a few fist-size rocks.

To my dismay, however, the water conditions may have improved, but the fishing has not. I struggle to catch four small largemouth bass inside the southeast cove. They were caught near the south side of the cove along the west side of the ditch in four to six feet of water. They were allured by a slow hop-and-bounce presentation with a Z-Man’s black-blue-flake TRD TubeZ rigged on a custom-painted blue 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig.

I then ventured to the second reservoir, where I joined Rick Allen. The fishing at this reservoir wasn’t much better than it was at the first one.

The water in the second reservoir exhibited about 1 1/2 feet of visibility. The water temperature was 64 degrees. The water level was normal.

We began fishing from the fishing pier on the west side of the reservoir. We shared the pier with another angler. The fishing pier is positioned along the middle section of the shoreline. The shoreline adjacent to the fishing pier is steep. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel and sand. Underneath the fishing pier is a thin patch of hydrilla that is about 25 feet long and about five feet wide. It lies in about eight feet of water. A gravel and sand tertiary point lies about 50 feet south of the fishing pier. Two more tertiary points lie about 30 yards north of the pier. A small concrete culvert and a shallow ditch adorn the northern end of this shoreline. The ditch courses its way across a large mud flat on the north end of the reservoir.

We failed to catch a largemouth bass from the submerged patch of hydrilla, or from the area around the concrete culvert, or next to the steep sections of this shoreline. We elicited one tentative strike along the south side of the fishing pier with a Z-Man’s California craw TRD HogZ attached to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig, but we were unable to hook the fish.

Along the south end of the shoreline, we fished behind another angler and caught four largemouth bass. These largemouth bass were abiding in five to seven feet of water. Two were caught on the California craw TRD HogZ rig. One was caught on a shortened Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. One was caught with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig.

Three largemouth bass were caught with a slow and subtle hop-and-bounce retrieve. One was caught with a slow drag-shake-and-deadstick presentation. We failed to elicit any strikes with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

We did not fish the large mud flat on the north end of the west shoreline. It was occupied by several people feeding pieces of bread to a few colorful mallard ducks, several black coots, and a large white swan.

We fished our way eastward along the smooth concrete dam, which forms the southern boundary of the impoundment. The west end of the dam was fruitless. We caught one largemouth bass from the east end of the dam. It was extracted from a mud flat that lies adjacent to the face of the concrete dam in about five feet of water. This largemouth bass was caught on the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ combo and a slow hop-and-bounce presentation.

We did not get a chance to fish the center section of the dam. It was occupied by another angler who spent a couple of hours plying that portion of the dam.

After that, we fished our way northward along the east shoreline behind two other anglers. This shoreline is curved with a steep slope. A long point, which consists of clay and gravel, protrudes from the north end of this shoreline and extends westward toward the center of the reservoir. A broad sand and gravel point is situated in the middle section of this shoreline.

This shoreline surrendered four largemouth bass that were dwelling in five to seven feet of water along the side of a shallow sand and gravel ledge just south of the broad point. They were beguiled by our 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rigs with either a slow hop-and-bounce retrieve or a 15- to 20-second-deadstick presentation after our rigs touched the bottom on the initial drop.

We failed to elicit any strikes from the large point in the midsection of the shoreline or the smaller clay and gravel point on the north end of the shoreline.

Our last spot was a small feeder creek on the north end of the reservoir. The bottom of the creek is rock-laden and one side of the creek is lined with tall stands of cattails. Thick stands of cattails border both sides of the lower section of the creek. We could not detect any current flowing through the creek; its surface was cluttered with willow tree leaves. We half-heartedly dissected the deepest pool in this creek with a few casts, but we failed to provoke any strikes.

In sum, it was a difficult task for us to inveigle a total of 13 largemouth bass: four at the first reservoir and nine at the second one. And we elicited one strike that we failed to hook.

The other power anglers that were fishing around us at the second reservoir were also having a tough time. One angler caught two largemouth bass, another caught two, and the third angler caught one.

A cold front accompanied by rain storms are expected to arrive in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan area during the late evening hours of Dec. 4. It appears that our dreaded wintertime fishing has begun a couple of weeks early this year.

Dec. 5 log

The wind has been wild and relentless in northeastern Kansas for several days. On Dec. 4, it reached 43 mph, and it hit 35 mph on Dec. 3. It was not as ferocious on Dec. 5, but it still howled and reached 29 mph.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 27 degrees at 5:53 a.m. and 46 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the northwest and west at 4 to 29 mph. The sky was clear, and the sun was bright. The barometric pressure was 30.12 at 12:53 a.m., 30.24 at 5:53 a.m., 30.27 at 11:53 p.m., and 30.20 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would take place from 11:09 a.m. to 1:09 p.m., 11:40 p.m. to 1:40 a.m., and 5:25 a.m. to 7:25 a.m. I fished at a northeastern Kansas community reservoir from 11:37 a.m. to 2:37 p.m.

The water level was normal. The surface temperature was 48 degrees. The water exhibited two to four feet of visibility. The wind and white caps adversely affected the water clarity at some locales.

I spent one hour and 55 minutes hiding from the wind along a 350-yard stretch of a shoreline in the upper half of this reservoir. It is cluttered with more than two dozen docks. It possesses a 25- to 70-degree slope. Its water’s edge is lined with either concrete or rock retaining walls. There are some patches of winter-dead American water willows, some overhanging trees, a few laydowns, and several brush piles. The flat terrains are endowed with patches of coontail, which are exhibiting their wintertime decline or wilt. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and some boulders.

This shoreline yielded 29 largemouth bass. Sixteen of them were caught on a Z-Man’s Junebug Rain MinnowZ affixed to a charteuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Ten were caught on a shortened Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Three were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Gopher jig.

Seven of the 29 largemouth bass were caught along the steeper section of this shoreline in six to 11 feet of water while I was employing either a drag-and-subtle shake presentation or a drag-and-short-deadstick presentation. They were caught from eight to 15 feet from the water’s edge. Three were caught around some of the docks.

Twenty-two of the 29 largemouth bass were caught along the flatter section of this shoreline in four to seven feet of water. Except for three largemouth bass that were caught adjacent to some of the docks, the other 19 largemouth bass seemed to be abiding around the winter-wilted coontail patches. Several were caught as far as 20 to 25 feet from the water’s edge. Two of the largemouth bass were caught on the initial drop. One was caught on a protracted deadstick presentation. Some were caught while I was strolling and using either a drag-and-subtle-shake presentation or a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation. The others were caught while I was casting and employing a drag-and-subtle-shake presentation, a drag-and-short-deadstick retrieve, and a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve.

I spent an hour and five minutes plying about 250-yards of a slightly wind-blown shoreline in the upper half of this reservoir. It possesses a 20- to 45-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, some silt, and a few boulders. The water’s edge is embellished with patches of winter-dead American water willows, a tiny bridge, several concrete and rock retaining walls, six docks, several overhanging trees, some laydowns, a few tertiary points, and one boulder-laden point. Some of the flat areas are graced with patches of winter-wilted coontail.

I caught 10 largemouth bass along this shoreline.

Along one of the flat areas, I caught six of the 10 largemouth bass. They were caught around patches of winter-wilted coontail in four to six feet of water while I was strolling into the wind and employing a swim-glide-and-shake presentation with the Junebug Rain MinnowZ rig. And I elicited several strikes that I failed to catch.

I caught four largemouth bass along a steep section of this shoreline on the Junebug Rain MinnowZ rig. One was caught on the initial drop in about four feet of water. The other three were caught in five to seven feet of water during the glide segment of the swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

In sum, the Junebug Rain MinnowZ rig caught 26 largemouth bass, the Junebug Hula StickZ rig caught 10 largemouth bass, and the green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ rig caught three largemouth bass. Twenty-eight of the largemouth bass were caught along the flat locales that are bedecked with patches of winter-wilted coontail. Eleven of the largemouth bass were caught along steep shorelines that are devoid of coontail. Several of the largemouth bass had the tails of gizzard shad protruding from their gullets, and I did not notice any crayfish antennae protruding from the gullets of the largemouth bass. Some of the largemouth bass were small and some of them were big.

Dec. 6 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Dec. 6 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

I conducted a solo outing at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hill-land reservoir in north-central Texas.

It was a gloomy and overcast day, and I did not feel very motivated to get on the water. The wind quartered out of the northwest at 5 to 10 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.38 at noon and dropped to 30.30 by 4:00 p.m. It was 42 degrees at 5:57 a.m., 47 degrees as I launched my boat at 11:43 a.m., and 54 degrees at 3:00 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the most productive fishing would occur from 12:26 a.m. to 2:26 a.m., 6:42 a.m. to 8:42 a.m., and 12:57 p.m. to 2:57 p.m. I fished from noon to 4:00 p.m.

The water level was about four feet low. The water clarity exhibited about two feet of visibility. The surface temperature ranged from 57 degrees on the main lake to 59 degrees inside one of the feeder-creek arms.

I searched for largemouth bass and spotted bass inside three major feeder-creek arms, around five main-lake points, along three main-lake shorelines, around 15 concrete bridge support columns, along two adjacent riprap-laden embankments of a large bridge, and at a submerged rock ledge on the south side of a main-lake island. All of these locales are situated in the south end of the reservoir.

In my eyes, the underwater terrains in all of these areas look alike. They are composed of red clay, rocks, gravel, and boulders. Some of the shorelines are steep with 30- to 60-degree slopes with water as deep as 12 to 35 feet nearby. Others are flat and covered with three to seven feet of water. There are a few patches of flooded terrestrial vegetation or stickups embellishing some of the main-lake shorelines, several secondary points, some of the shorelines inside the three feeder-creek arms, along the water’s edge at a couple of the main-lake points, and along the top shelf of the submerged rock ledge on the south end of the main-lake island.

Across the span of four hours, I caught 15 largemouth bass and three spotted bass. All but two of them weighed between 1 3/4 and 2 1/4 pounds. The other two were smaller specimens that were about 12 to 13 inches long.

I failed to catch any largemouth bass or spotted bass around four of the five main-lake points, along the three main-lake shorelines, and at the submerged rock ledge near the main-lake island. I caught one largemouth bass and one spotted bass from the fifth main-lake point. This point is flat and rocky, and they were abiding in four to six feet of water, near the tip of the point, and about 25 feet from the water’s edge.

Underneath a large bridge, I fished around 15 concrete support columns. I caught one largemouth bass next to one of the support columns near the north end of the bridge. This largemouth bass was suspended about 10 to 12 feet below the surface in 34 feet of water. I failed to elicit any strikes from the other 14 columns.

The riprap embankments on each end of the bridge were fruitless.

Inside one of the three feeder-creek arms, I caught four largemouth bass. They were extracted from three to six feet of water from the sides of several submerged boulders that lie along a 50-yard stretch of a flat shoreline on the northeast end of the creek arm. I failed to locate any black bass around six rocky secondary points, two small mud flats, four steep shorelines, and two concrete boat ramps in the upper and middle sections of this feeder creek.

The second feeder creek was not as fruitful as the first one. It yielded one largemouth bass. It was caught in four feet of water from a patch of flooded terrestrial vegetation stems that border a shallow ditch along the northwest shoreline. I plied several other secondary points and a flat shoreline inside this creek arm, but I failed to generate a strike.

The third feeder-creek arm was the most productive area. It surrendered eight largemouth bass and two spotted bass. They were caught in the lower and middle sections of this creek arm in three to six feet of water. Two of them were caught at a concrete boat ramp on the west shoreline in less than five feet of water. The other nine were scattered hither and yon along several secondary points, three flat shorelines, and two steep shorelines.

In sum, I caught three of the 18 black bass from main-lake lairs. The other 15 bass were caught in the lower and midsections of the three feeder-creek arms.

Sixteen of the black bass were beguiled by a shortened Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ attached to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. One was caught on a Z-Man’s white lightning Finesse TRD affixed to a custom-painted chartreuse 1/20-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. The other one was caught on a Z-Man’s coppertreuse Finesse TRD rigged on a custom-painted chartreuse 1/20-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig.

Fourteen of them were caught with a slow swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve. Four were caught with a hop-and-bounce retrieve. I failed to provoke any strikes with a drag-and-deadstick retrieve, drag-and-shake retrieve, or a steady swimming retrieve.

As I was loading the boat on the trailer, I concluded that it was worth the effort to get out on the water after all.

Dec. 8 log

As David Harrison of Lawrence, Kansas, and I drove to one of northeastern Kansas’ community reservoirs around 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 8, we noticed that some of the small ponds that stipple the countryside were covered with a skim of ice. It was our first sighting of ice since the winter of 2016-17.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 12 degrees at 3:53 a.m. and 39 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The sky was clear except for a short spell before 9:53 a.m. and after 10:53 a.m., which is when it fluctuated from being scattered with clouds to being overcast. The wind angled out of the southwest, south by southwest, west by southwest, and west at 3 to 11 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.24 at 12:53 a.m., 30.14 at 5:53 a.m., 30.05 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.03 at 3:25 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 2:29 a.m. to 4:29 a.m., 2:56 p.m. to 4:56 p.m., and 8:43 a.m. to 10:43 a.m. David and I fished from 11:06 a.m. to 2:07 p.m.

The surface temperature ranged from 43 to 44 degrees. The water level was normal. In the upper portions of this reservoir, the water exhibited about 2 1/2 feet of visibility, and in its lower half, the water exhibited four to five feet of visibility. This reservoir is affected by a minor planktonic algae bloom.

Our primary focus was aimed at dissecting the shallow-water coontail patches in the upper half of the reservoir. But we did probe two relatively steep shorelines that are basically devoid of coontail. All of the coontail patches are in the midst of their wintertime decline or wilt, and some patches, in fact, have declined so dramatically that they are nearly nonexistent.

I rarely fish the same reservoir more than once a week. But I fished this one on Dec. 5 in order to deal with the howling and incessant winds that have been pummeling northeastern Kansas. Some weather forecasts indicated the wind would be problematic for northeastern Kansas’ anglers on Dec. 8. Therefore, we elected to fish this reservoir again. The howling wind, however, never materialized. During my Dec. 5 outing, I fished for three hours and caught 39 largemouth bass. David and I fished for three hours on Dec. 8 and struggled to catch 22 largemouth bass.

We spent 77 minutes fishing several portions of a 400-yard stretch of a main-lake shoreline in the upper half of this reservoir. This shoreline is cluttered with about three dozen docks. It possesses a 25- to 70-degree slope. Most of the water’s edge is lined with either concrete or rock retaining walls. Adorning the portions of the water’s edge, there are some patches of winter-dead American water willows, some overhanging trees, a few laydowns, and several brush piles. Some of the flat terrains are endowed with patches of winter-wilted coontail. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, silt, and some boulders.

Along the various portions of this 400-yard stretch of shoreline, we caught six largemouth bass. One was caught on the initial drop of a Z-Man’s blue steel Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig in about five feet of water and about 10 feet from a concrete retaining wall. One was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a drag-and-subtle-shake retrieve in about seven feet of water. One was caught on a Z-Man’s Junebug Rain MinnowZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig with a drag-and-shake presentation in about 10 feet of water in the vicinity of a dock. We caught three largemouth bass in three to four feet of water on our Junebug Rain MinnowZ rigs with a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake retrieve around winter-wilted patches of coontail.

We quickly fished around three main-lake points and failed to elicit a strike.

On a shallow-water flat inside a small feeder-creek arm, we caught one largemouth bass in about five feet of water by dragging-and-deadsticking a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Gopher jig under a pontoon boat that was tied up to a dock. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and silt.

We caught one largemouth bass along a short main-lake shoreline in the upper half of this reservoir. This shoreline possesses a 30-degree slope. Its water’s edge is lined with winter-dead patches of American water willows, a few patches of winter-wilted coontail, one overhanging tree, and three docks. The underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. This largemouth bass was caught while we were strolling a Junebug Rain MinnowZ rig with a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation in eight feet of water.

Along a 250-yard stretch of another main-lake shoreline in the upper half of this reservoir, we caught 14 largemouth bass.

This shoreline possesses a 20- to 45-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, some silt, and a few boulders. The water’s edge is embellished with patches of winter-dead American water willows, a tiny bridge, several concrete and rock retaining walls, six docks, several overhanging trees, some laydowns, and a few tertiary points. Some of the flat areas are graced with patches of winter-wilted coontail.

IMG_4130
One of the largemouth bass that we caught on the Z-Man’s Junebug Rain MinnowZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

Around several patches of winter-wilted coontail that embellishes one of this shoreline’s flat terrains, we caught seven largemouth bass on our Junebug Rain MinnowZ rigs while we were either strolling it with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation or casting it and executing a swim-glide-and-shake presentation in six to nine feet of water. And we caught one on the initial drop of the Junebug Rain MinnowZ rig in about six feet of water.

In the vicinity of one of the docks along this 250-yard shoreline, we caught a largemouth bass while we were strolling and dragging the blue steel Finesse ShadZ rig in about five feet of water.

Along some patches of winter-dead American water willows that are intertwined with patches of winter-wilted coontail patches that bordered a concrete and rock retaining wall, we caught two largemouth bass on a shortened Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to either a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig or a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Gopher jig. Both of the largemouth bass were caught while we employed a drag-and-shake presentation in about five feet of water. We probed the winter-wilted coontail patches on the shallow-water flat near and adjacent to the concrete and rock retaining walls, and we failed to elicit a strike.

We caught three largemouth bass along the portion of this 250-yard shoreline that has a 45-degree slope. This shoreline is adorned with a few winter-dead patches of American water willows, some minor laydowns, several piles of rocks and minor boulders, and occasional patches of winter-wilted coontail. Two of the largemouth bass were caught in six feet of water on the Junebug Rain MinnowZ rig with a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation while we were strolling. One largemouth bass was caught in five to six feet of water on a four-inch Z-Man’s Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Gopher jig in six feet of water while we were strolling and employing a drag-and-shake presentation.

In sum, the green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ rig caught one largemouth bass, the Junebug Finesse WormZ rig caught one largemouth bass, the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rig caught one largemouth bass, the Junebug Hula StickZ rig caught two largemouth bass, the blue steel Finesse ShadZ rig caught two largemouth bass, and the Junebug Rain MinnowZ rig caught 15 largemouth bass.

In regard to our presentation styles, two of the largemouth bass were caught on the initial drop of our rigs, two were caught while we employed a drag-and-deadstick presentation, five were caught as we worked with a drag-and-shake retrieve, and 13 were caught with slight variations or modifications of the swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

This lackluster outing reinforced our predilections for not fishing the same northeastern Kansas’ reservoir more than once a week.

Dec. 10 log

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his Dec. 10 outing with Merit Goodman of Eudora, Kansas, at one of northeastern Kansas’ power-plant reservoirs.

Here is an edited version of his brief:

The Weather Underground reported that it was 26 degrees at 12:53 a.m. and 55 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The sky was clear. From 7:53 a.m. to 3:53 p.m., the wind angled out of the northwest, west by northwest, and west at 10 to 21 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.17 at 12:53 a.m., 30.10 at 5:53 a.m., 30.15 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.12 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated the best fishing would take place from 4:19 a.m. to 6:19 a.m., 4:43 p.m. to 6:43 p.m., and 10:31 a.m. to 12:31 p.m. We fished from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

We spent the entire outing in the warm-water plume, hiding from the wind by methodically dissecting four steep shorelines several times. The warmest surface temperature that we found was 58 degrees. The water exhibited 1 1/2 to two feet of visibility. The water level looked to be normal.

We caught 32 largemouth bass and one freshwater drum along these steep or bluff-like shorelines in water as shallow as two feet and as deep as six feet. Our most effective rigs were a Z-Man’s California Craw TRD TubeZ and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ, which we affixed to either a black or a red 1/32- or 1/16-ounce Gopher jig.

IMG_2797
Merit Goodman with one of the 32 largemouth bass that they caught.

Along two of these steep shorelines, we had to deal with the wind, which forced us to make short casts, keep our rods pointed down, stroll with our Midwest finesse baits, and employ a do-nothing retrieve that allowed the rig to glide or swing back to the boat. In the wind-sheltered areas, our rods were elevated, and we worked with a do-nothing retrieve that allowed the rig to swim and glide back to the boat. Occasionally we would add a twitch or two to the rig as it glided back to the boat. During the retrieve, it glided and swung a few inches above the bottom.

Dec. 11 log

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Dec. 11 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log:

As the water temperature has fallen into the mid-50s, the Florida-strain largemouth bass that reside in all of the U.S. Army Corps’ of Engineers’ reservoirs in north-central Texas have become very lethargic and difficult to catch. And when the water temperatures drop below 50 degrees, they will become virtually comatose. But a few largemouth bass and spotted bass at one Corps’ reservoir have remained more active than the ones in the other reservoirs.

On Dec. 11, I joined Rick Allen of Dallas, Texas, at that one Corps’ reservoir where the bass fishing is still somewhat productive. It is the same reservoir that I fished on Dec. 6 when I caught 18 largemouth bass and spotted bass in four hours.

A south-by-southwest wind blew at 10 to 15 mph during our Dec. 11 excursion. It was 41 degrees at 7:00 a.m. and 78 degrees at 3:00 p.m. The average low temperature for Dec. 11 in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan area is 36 degrees and the average high is 57 degrees. The barometric pressure measured 29.90 at 11:00 a.m. and fell to 29.78 by 5:00 p.m.

According to In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar, the most lucrative fishing periods would take place from 5:14 a.m. to 7:14 a.m., 11:02 a.m. to 1:02 p.m., and 5:37 p.m. to 7:37 p.m. Rick and I fished from about 11:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

The surface temperature was 59 degrees on Dec. 6 and 54 degrees on Dec. 11. The water level was still four feet below normal. The water clarity exhibited about 1 1/2 feet of visibility.

We concentrated our efforts inside three major feeder-creek arms, and four main-lake points in this reservoir’s southwest tributary arm.

The shorelines and points at these locales are either flat and shallow or steep with deep water close to the water’s edge. The underwater terrain is comprised of red clay, gravel, rocks, and boulders. There is no aquatic vegetation in this reservoir.

We began the outing inside one of the three feeder-creeks, which contains a large marina and is located on the south side of the tributary arm. We focused our attentions on two concrete boat ramps, three rocky and steep shorelines, and five secondary points. Two largemouth bass were caught from three to five feet of water along a clay and gravel shoreline along the northwest end of the feeder creek. One largemouth bass and one spotted bass were caught from one of the two boat ramps and a short 20-yard section of shoreline just south of the boat ramp in three to six feet of water along the west side of the feeder creek. One spotted bass and one channel catfish were extracted from three to five feet of water along a steeply-sloped and rock-laden shoreline along the south end of the creek arm. One largemouth bass was caught from a 50-yard stretch of shoreline along the northeast end of the creek arm in four feet of water. We failed to elicit any strikes from any of…

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