Midwest Finesse Fishing: July 2018

Midwest Finesse Fishing: July 2018

Our July guide to Midwest finesse fishing contains 19 logs and 16,484 words that explain how, when, and where Midwest finesse anglers fished. It features the endeavors and insights of Abe Abernathy of Greensboro, North Carolina; Rick Allen of Dallas; Tom Bett of Oshkosh, Wisconsin; Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas; Eric Gilgenback of Winneconne, Wisconsin; Roger Farish of Highland Village, Texas; Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas; Bob Hardy of St. Paul, Minnesota; Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas; Ned Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas; Stacey King of Reeds Spring, Missouri; Travis Perret of Overland Park, Kansas; Dave Petro of Lecompton, Kansas; Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina; John Redding of Lawrence, Kansas; Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas; John Thomas of Denton, Texas; Carl Thomason of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Ethan Turner of Springfield, Missouri.

Because of a devilish heat wave in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas, it was a chore for many Midwest finesse anglers to get afloat. And when they did, it was a chore for them to catch vast numbers of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass. What's more, some locales were waylaid by heavy rains. For instance, Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, who used to be a regular contributor to the Finesse News Network, has struggled to get afloat throughout 2018 because the rivers that he fishes have been in or near flood stage, and in an email, he wrote that he was experiencing the highest water levels that he has ever seen during the summer. In Aug 1 email, Myers noted that his favorite stream was in flood stage again.

We are thankful that Steve Reideler edited every word. He made them more readable and understandable.

July 2

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his July 2 outing.

Here is a slightly edited version of his report:

John Thomas of Denton, Texas, Rick Allen of Dallas, and I elected to fish at a state reservoir that lies northwest of the Ft. Worth metropolitan area. Like me, many anglers in these parts ignore this reservoir. I fished this reservoir once 31 years ago. I did not return to it again until May 13, 2017, when Norman Brown of Lewisville and I fished it for 4 1/2 hours, and we caught 1o largemouth bass and seven spotted bass. And as we were driving home, we both agreed that we would give this reservoir a second chance.

July 2 was blazing hot. The sky was overcast until about 9:30 a.m., then it became partly cloudy, and the sun shone everywhere for the remainder of the day. The morning low temperature was 75 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 103 degrees. The wind angled out of the south by southwest at 8 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure was steady at 29.94.

In-Fisherman's solunar table indicated that the best fishing would occur between 2:19 a.m. and 4:19 a.m., 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and 2:41 p.m. to 4:41 p.m. John Thomas, Rick Allen, and I fished from about 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

This reservoir's submerged terrain consists of mostly rocks and boulders. It has a few sparse colonies of floating pondweed.

Nowadays, it has a poor reputation as a black bass venue and is known more for its white bass and wiper fishing.

We were not expecting much during this outing, and it became a trying task for us to catch seven largemouth bass, four spotted bass and one smallmouth bass in five hours. We also accidentally caught six green sunfish, two freshwater drum, two channel catfish, two large bluegills, and one white bass.

We split our time between the south end and middle section of the reservoir.

The water clarity varied from two to five feet of visibility. The water temperature ranged from 83 to 85 degrees. The water level was 2.24 feet below normal pool.

We started the outing fishing along the south, east and north shorelines of a main-lake island. The southern and eastern sections of the island' shorelines are steep and rocky with 20-plus feet of water nearby. The island's northern shoreline is comprised of a shallow mud flat that is covered with patches of flooded buck brush and standing timber. The steeper and rockier southern and eastern shorelines were fruitless. Almost all of the shallow mud flat on the north side of the island was devoid of bass, but we did manage to catch one spotted bass in three feet of water along the west side of the mud flat. It was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man Fishing Products' pearl Slim SwimZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig. It was retrieved with a steady swimming presentation along the edge of the mud flat.

Our next spot was another main-lake island about a hundred yards north of the first one that we fished. This island is smaller than the first one, and its entire perimeter is steeply sloped and boulder- and rock-laden. This island surrendered two spotted bass and one largemouth bass. The two spotted bass were fooled by a Z-Man's pumpkin-green-flake Finesse ShadZ attached to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig, and it was presented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The largemouth bass was tempted by a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. The two spotted bass were associated with a large group of submerged boulders in about four to six feet of water. The largemouth bass was relating to a patch of pondweed in three feet of water and engulfed the ZinkerZ rig on the initial drop. We also caught one white bass and one freshwater drum along the east side of this island on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin TRD HogZ fastened on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

From the second main-lake island, we moved to a causeway on the west side of the reservoir. It is adorned with boulders, rocks, overhanging trees, and a couple of laydowns. It failed to yield any black bass, but it did surrender six green sunfish and one large bluegill. They were caught on the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's prototype Canada craw TRD CrawZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig. A slow hop-and-bounce retrieve was the only effective presentation.

After we failed to locate any black bass along the causeway, we moved to the east side of the reservoir and fished the two entrance points and about 30 yards of two shorelines inside a small channel that leads to a concrete spillway. The channel is about 75 feet wide and about halfway back inside the channel, a line of warning buoys prevented us from venturing back to the spillway.

We dissected the boulders and rocks that cover both of the channel's shorelines and entry points. One shoreline and entry point was wind-blown, and it yielded four largemouth bass and one large bluegill. They were caught in three to seven feet of water near the submerged boulders and rocks on the 2 1/2-inch pearl Slim SwimZ. Three were caught with a steady swimming retrieve, and the other one engulfed the Slim SwimZ rig as it was allowed to fall to the bottom around the submerged boulders and rocks. We hooked another largemouth bass, but it was able to jettison the Slim SwimZ rig from its jaw when it leapt out of the water.

The shoreline that was sheltered from the wind and the other entry point to this channel were unproductive.

We finished the outing fishing inside a large cove. This cove is endowed with steep shorelines that are lined with submerged boulders, rocks, boat houses, two concrete boat ramps, a shallow rock ledge, and a boulder-and rock-laden dam.

One of the entry points to the cove is adorned with basketball-size rocks, and it was fruitless. We did not have enough time to fish at the other entry point.

We also failed to catch a largemouth bass, spotted bass, or smallmouth bass from the sides or underneath any of the boat houses.

Rick caught a three-pound, eight-ounce smallmouth bass in eight feet of water from a small portion of shoreline that is littered with coffee-table size boulders. It was caught on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ rig as it was hopped and bounced around the submerged boulders.

Rick Allen with a north-central Texas smallmouth bass.

The submerged rocks and boulders that cover the dam relinquished three largemouth bass, one spotted bass, two channel catfish, and one freshwater drum. They were caught on either the 2 1/2-inch pumpkin-chartreuse ZinkerZ or 2 1/2-inch pearl Slim SwimZ rigs that were hopped and bounced down the slope of the dam in four to 12 feet of water.

We failed to provoke any strikes along the shallow rock ledge that is situated on the south side of the dam.

In closing, we consider catching 12 black bass in five hours a below-average outing in our neck of the woods. But this outing was a tad bit better than the recent ones we have endured at several other U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoirs in north-central Texas this summer. And we are considering making it a regular venue for us in the weeks and months to come.

July 3

Tom Bett of Oshkosk, Wisconsin, posted a report on the Finesse News Network abou his July 3 outing.

Here is an edited version of his report:

The weather in east-central Wisconsin has been on average perfect. Of course, that takes into account the many below normal cool spells, some episodes of record heat, and enough storms to make residents wonder if summer would ever arrive this year. However, many Winnebago Pool fishermen remain undaunted. On July 3, I decided to test some of my favorite sections in what we call "The Mother Lake" or Lake Winnebago, and hunt for the smallmouth bass that live on offshore reefs and rock piles during this time of the year.

Water conditions still resembled spring levels and flows. The pool level is averaging 0.25 feet above the summer target level. Inflows are very spring like, and about 6,500 cubic feet of water per second is flowing into Lake Winnebago. A blue-green algae bloom has erupted. All the windy and turbulent weather has thoroughly mixed the algae bloom throughout the pool; so, the water clarity ranged from 4.7 to 6.5 feet of visibility. The surface temperature ranged from 75 to 77 degrees.

The sky was clear. The morning low temperature was in the 60s, and the afternoon high temperature climbed into the upper 80s. A light breeze angled out of the southeast; thus the lake's surface was pleasantly active; not too slick, but no huge rollers to fight.

The types of locations that I plied are easily noted on any bathymetric image of Lake Winnebago. The northwest quadrant of the lake provides a massive array of submerged rock reefs and gravel flats, and many smallmouth bass are known to lurk around those structures.

I fished five hours. It began around 6:00 a.m.

My first stop was a reef system, which features a reef of boulders that is surrounded by a gravel flat, and the water is as shallow as four feet on top of the boulders and drops into nine feet of water as the boulders merge with the gravel flat. I expected the fish to be somewhat active, given the time of day and generally favorable weather conditions. I wielded a Z-Man's The Deal Finesse TRD rigged to a 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig with a swim-and-glide retrieve parallel to the reef's break line. It caught two smallmouth bass, one walleye, and a large rock bass.

The next stop was at an area we call the "Winnebago Classic," which has been in my families' playbook for over 60 years. This is a boulder rib or reef sitting on top of an offshore gravel flat. The top of the reef or rib is covered with 6.5 feet of water, and the surrounding gravel flat is covered with about 10 feet of water. I seriously considered picking up a rod rigged with a 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig affixed to a Z-Man's Finesse ShadZ, but I decided to bang away with the Z-Man's The Deal Finesse TRD rig with a drag-and-shake presentation. And it caught one large smallmouth, one walleye and a yellow bullhead.

From there I decided to go for a boat ride and survey a number of spots that I had not been to this season. While this cut down my actual casting time, I thought I needed to appreciate the nice lake conditions, without the pounding and continuously breathing spray from the waves.

So, for the next few hours, I sampled a mix of spots, ranging from boulder-laden shorelines to deep cups on the outer most reefs that are situated more than a mile from the shore.

At these locales I caught most of the fish in seven to 8.5 feet of water adjacent to large boulders along the rock ribs or reefs. I also learned to slow down my retrieve, and the drag-pause-shake-and-drag presentation became the most potent way to elicit a strike. During this time, I once again witnessed the power or effectiveness of a Z-Man's coppertreuse Finesse TRD in algae-stained water.

One of the eleven smallmouth bass that Tom Bett caught.

In sum, my desire to go for a boat ride ultimately penalized my catch rate. I caught 11 smallmouth bass, six freshwater drum, five walleye, one rock bass, and one largemouth bass. The smallmouth bass ranged in length from 9.8 to 18.2 inches. The largemouth bass measured 15.8 inches. Four of the smallmouth exceeded 17 inches.

July 4 photo

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his July 4 outing at one of northeastern Kansas' community reservoirs.

Here is an edited version of his brief:

The Weather Underground reported that it was 75 degrees at 5:53 a.m. and 92 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the south by southeast, south, and southeast at 3 to 13 mph. The sky alternated from being cloudy, clear, and partly cloudy. The barometric pressure was 29.0 at 12:53 a.m., 29.0 at 5:53 a.m., 29.1 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.0 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 3:45 a.m. to 5:45 a.m., 4:07 p.m. to 6:07 p.m., and 9:56 a.m. to 11:56 a.m. I was afloat from about 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and I heard the first fireworks of the day at 7:30 a.m.

The water level was normal. The water clarity exhibited five feet of visibility in the vicinity of the dam. The surface temperature was 85 degrees.

I fished several main-lake points, some main-lake shorelines, some secondary points and a shoreline inside a feeder-creek arm, and portions of the dam.

Bob Gum with one of the 32 largemouth bass that he caught on July 4.

I caught 32 largemouth bass, three smallmouth bass, one freshwater drum, and one bluegull.

My most effective rig was a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's coppertreuse ZinkerZ affixed to either a red or a black 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. Three of the 32 largemouth bass were caught on a Rebel Pop-R.

July 6

Tom Bett of Oshkosk, Wisconsin, posted a report on the Finesse News Network about his July 6 outing.

Here is an edited version of his report:

As the boat slid off the trailer around 5:30 a.m., I knew my first task would be locating a long-sleeve shirt to firm up the selection of summer clothing I had donned for the day. The weather in east-central Wisconsin had changed drastically following the arrival of a cold front. July 6 dawned bright, totally clear, and cool as a Canadian high-pressure dome entered Wisconsin. This reduced temperatures and dew points significantly. The high temperature climbed into lower 70s, and the dew points were in the lower 40, which resembles the weather of late summer and early autumn. The perfectly clear sky was accompanied by light north winds until about 9:00 a.m. Thereafter, it angled out of the east at 8 to 15 mph.

Water conditions still were not quite summerlike. Pool level is averaging 0.20 feet above summer target. Inflows are spring like, and are running about 5,000 cubic feet per second into Lake Winnebago. However, the summer blue-green-algae bloom has erupted on all the lakes in this reservoir system. The water clarity ranged from 2.7 to 3.5 feet of visibility. The surface temperature ranged from 77 to 79 degrees.

The types of locations targeted for this trip are summer habitats for largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. At this point in the season, they inhabit areas that are graced with a mix of aquatic vegetation that is adjacent to a hard bottom and current. They forage upon gizzard shad, minnows, insects, and crustaceans.

I fished for five hours on this trip, making my first cast around 5:40 a.m. and my last one before recreational water traffic became unbearable.

My first stop was the mouth of a small feeder stream that has had a recent history of producing results early in the morning. The location is shallow. A sand bottom is covered with two to three feet of water, and it is endowed with a submerged stretch of riprap that forms a current break, which stabilize the benthic sediments, and thereby enables clumps of pondweeds to growth in proximity to the riprap. This spot did not disappoint me; it yielded two smallmouth bass and nine largemouth bass in 25 minutes. They were caught on either a Z-Man's Finesse TRD or a Z-Man's Finesse ShadZ affixed to a black 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig. The most effective colors were either coppertreuse or mud minnow. Green pumpkin was not effective. The black bass seemed to be foraging on shiners near the surface between patches of pondweeds.

My next two stops were not productive. A large rock pile in the center of a shallow bay generated only a few tentative bumps, but no hook sets. And I got the same treatment at a nice shallow rocky point that is swept by river current.

Stop number four added more ink to the log sheet. Five largemouth bass and two smallmouth bass found a coppertreuse Finesse TRD on a black 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig irresistible. This spot is located adjacent to the main river channel, which drops into 15 feet of water. I made casts onto the pile of rocks, and then I dragged the rig down the slope and occasionally pausing and shaking it.

For the next two hours, I worked lines of riprap and jetty points, picking up a fish or two here and there, generally off the tips of the structures where the deeper washout holes provide them secure depth and efficient foraging options. The Z-Man's coppertreuse Finesse TRD proved to be the most effective lure. This was not a day for the green-pumpkin hues, and the effectiveness of The Deal and mud minnow hues faded as the sunlight became more intense.

As I worked the last couple of pre-planned structures, I noticed some very good looking black shade beneath some clumps of shoreline willow trees. During July, on bright days with warm water, the black- shade option has been known to create bad cases of bass thumb for those who can skip a lure into the jungle. However, these sites are usually snag havens; they are littered submerged brush, weeds, rocks and everything else that can entangle any lure with an exposed hook. So, for the next hour I let the Midwest finesse rigs rest and elected to go into the jungle.

For this task I selected a six-foot, six-inch and fast-action rod with a 3000 spinning reel and 10-pound-test copolymer. I worked with a Zoom Bait Company's watermelon-candy Baby Brush Hog, and three-eighths of an inch of its swimmers were dipped into yellow Spike-It. It was rigged on a 1/8-ounce Rock Crawler. The first clump of overhang trees produced one largemouth and a couple of missed strikes. The second clump, a hundred yards down the shoreline from the first, produced a couple nippers, which were probably rock bass. The third clump of overhangs gave me the pod I was seeking, and on the next 30 casts, it produced 16 largemouth bass and a few missed strikes.

In sum, the day was very much what one could expect on the Winnebago system during the core of the summer calendar period for black bass. First, there often can be a good early morning bite, provided you locate good habitat accompanied by forage. Second, one cannot expect all of the spots to generate results; this is not a peak-bite window. However, with diligence, any objective angler can figure something out if they systematically test an array of options.

My log sheet showed a final tally of 40 fish in five hours. The breakdown listed 33 largemouth bass, six smallmouth, and one freshwater drum. The 39 black bass generated a catch rate of seven an hour, which is not stellar, but is better than average for most of us on this reservoir system.

While the Midwest finesse methods are certainly the most productive and versatile of tools in my fishing kit, I do diverge to appreciate other things that are available during this calendar period. This includes things like frogs in the slop, swim jigs on the sand bars, flipping wood, and crankbaits on the rocks. They all have their moments. However, if you want dynamite for the bite, use a Midwest finesse rig -- everything eats it.

July 8

Bob Hardy of St. Paul, Minnesota, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about is July 8 outing.

Here is an edited version of his report:

My son Matt, my daughter-in-lawBecky and I fished a smaller mesotrophic seepage lake in northwest Wisconsin on July 8 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The wind angled out of the south at 10 to 15 mph.

The major solunar periods occurred from 7:03 a.m. to 9:03 a.m. and 7:38 p.m. to 9:38 p.m.

The surface temperature was 74 degrees. The water exhibited eight feet of visibility. The underwater terrain consists of sand that is mixed with gravel. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reported that this lake has a large population of largemouth bass, but 89 percent of them range in size from eight to 15 inches, and in order to help the size of the largemouth bass to increase, the DNR is encouraging anglers to extract five largemouth bass under 14 inches on every outing.

The aquatic vegetation is not significant. There are some lily pads. There are some bulrushes along most of the sand points and flats. The most prevalent vegetation is a thin-string-like vegetation that I am unable to identify. The vegetation grows into five to eight feet of water.

We used spinning rods with 10-pound-test braided line with a six-foot eight-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. Matt and Becky worked with a Z-Man's green-pumpkin TRD TubeZ. I used a Z-Man's black Scented LeechZ for about 30 minutes, and then I switched to a Z-Man's new money Finesse TRD. Our soft-plastic baits were affixed to either a chartreuse or a green-pumpkin 1/20-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig.

We started fishing in the north bay by the boat ramp, and we caught a 12-inch largemouth bass, a 13-inch largemouth bass, and a decent bluegill.

Then, we used our bow-mounted electric trolling motor to maneuver the boat about halfway around the lake as we plied the patches of aquatic vegetation that lined the edges of the drop offs. Most of the patches of vegetation are narrow, and that is because within 20 feet of the water's edge along the shallow-water flats, where vegetation flourishes, it drops into the lake's basin.

Most of the largemouth bass were caught in four to eight feet of water where the aquatic vegetation ended.

The largemouth bass preferred a deadstick presentation.

In 2 1/2 hours we caught 20 largemouth bass that ranged in size from eight to 15 inches. Becky caught the biggest one. We also caught five bluegill and one crappie.

The fishing, though fun, was not as active as many of our May and June outings this year. We suspect the clear water, bright sun, and limited aquatic vegetation adversely affected our abilities to catch more than eight largemouth bass an hour. Perhaps, if we had fished around sun up or sun down, our catch rate would have been more fruitful.

July 9

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his July 9 outing.

Here is a slightly edited version of his report:

Rick Allen of Dallas and I drove 1 1/2 hours to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir that is more widely known for its superb striped bass fishing than its black bass fishing. We have not visited this reservoir since October of 2017.

When we arrived at the boat ramp at about 9:45 a.m., it was 82 degrees and the wind was light and variable. The sky was a mixture of sun and clouds. As the day unfolded, we spent part of our time ducking and dodging several rain storms that erupted over different sections of the reservoir. As we were trailering the boat at 4:45 p.m. it was 89 degrees and sunny. Between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., the barometric pressure fell slightly from 30.14 to 30.08.

According to In-Fisherman's solunar calendar, the most productive fishing periods would occur from 1:26 a.m. to 3:26 a.m., 7:40 a.m. to 9:40 a.m., and 8:07 p.m. to 10:07 p.m. Rick and I fished from about 10:00 a.m. to 4:20 p.m. To our dismay, we discovered that the black bass fishing was as sorry at this reservoir as it has been at several other Corps' reservoirs in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan areas. It took us about 2 1/2 hours to catch our first largemouth bass. Fortunately, we were delighted to enjoy some of the splendid striper fishing during the last two hours of this excursion.

The water clarity varied from five feet of visibility inside a feeder-creek arm on the south end of the reservoir to 1 1/2 feet of clarity along a couple of clay and gravel shorelines in the upper end of the east tributary arm. The water level was 1.06 feet above its normal level. The surface temperature ranged from 85 to 87 degrees.

In the east tributary arm, we investigated a large mud flat, two gravel and clay main-lake shorelines, several concrete support columns under a long railroad trestle bridge, the riprap-laden causeway on the west end of the railroad bridge, and a rocky point on the east side of the bridge.

We caught three largemouth bass, two spotted bass, and one smallmouth bass in this tributary arm.

One largemouth bass was caught from one of the two clay and gravel main-lake shorelines. It was abiding in five feet of water next to a submerged boulder. It was caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ wacky rigged on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig and a hop-and-bounce retrieve.

The other main-lake shoreline and the large main-lake mud flat were fruitless.

We caught two largemouth bass and two spotted bass next to several of the concrete support columns underneath the railroad trestle bridge. They were suspended about eight feet below the surface in water that was 57 feet deep. They were caught on either a Z-Man's white lightning Finesse TRD rigged on a black 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig or a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's white lightning ZinkerZ attached to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. Both of these rigs were implemented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

The riprap on the causeway on the west end of the railroad bridge yielded one smallmouth bass. It was caught on the wacky-rigged green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ rig and a hop-and-bounce retrieve.

We failed to generate any strikes along the rocky point on the east end of the bridge.

In the south end of the reservoir, we fished a submerged rock ledge inside one main-lake feeder-creek arm, nine main-lake points, about 200 yards of a steeply-sloped rocky main-lake shoreline, and the riprap along the dam.

The riprap on the dam yielded two green sunfish that were caught in four to six feet of water. One was caught on the 2 1/2-inch white lightning ZinkerZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. The other one was caught on the four-inch wacky-rigged green-pumpkin Finesse WormZ and a hop-and-bounce presentation.

We failed to locate any black bass at the rock ledge in the lower section of the feeder-creek arm. The top of this ledge is covered with five feet of water and it rapidly descends into 42 feet of water.

We elicited several subtle strikes with a shortened Z-Man's mud minnow Hula StickZ rigged on a black 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig from two main-lake points that are situated just east of the feeder-creek arm, but we were unable to hook those fish.

We dissected about 200 yards of a main-lake shoreline. This shoreline encompasses seven main-lake points and it was the most bountiful area. This shoreline and its points have a 45- to 60-degree slope and are covered with basketball-size rocks and large boulders. We also found massive aggregations of 1/2-inch threadfin shad meandering around the larger submerged rocks and boulders in six to 12 feet of water. We caught one smallmouth bass, two spotted bass, one green sunfish, and 65 striped bass around these large schools of shad.

All of these fish except one striped bass were caught on a 2 1/2-inch

Z-Man's pearl Slim SwimZ fastened to a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig. One striped bass was caught on a three-inch Z-Man's pearl Slim SwimZ on a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig. Both of these rigs were employed with a steady swimming retrieve.

In total, we caught four spotted bass, three largemouth bass, two smallmouth bass, 65 striped bass, and three green sunfish in six hours and 20 minutes.

A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's pearl Slim SwimZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig, which we utilized with a steady swimming retrieve has traditionally been a summertime mainstay for us in north-central Texas. And it proved to be our most effective rig again this time.

July 12

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his July 12 outing.

Here is a slightly edited version of his report:

From 8:00 a.m. to noon, Roger Farish of Highland Village, Texas, joined me for a morning outing at a challenging U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' hill-land reservoir in north-central Texas.

July 12 was a typical summer's day with plenty of bright sunshine in a partly-clouded sky. The wind quartered out of the southeast at 3 to 8 mph; and at times it was calm. The morning low temperature was 78 degrees and the afternoon high was 96 degrees. The barometric pressure was steady at 30.02.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur between the hours of 4:09 a.m. and 6:09 a.m., 10:25 a.m. and 12:25 p.m., and 10:57 p.m. and 12:57 a.m.

We dissected two main-lake shorelines, seven main-lake points, two riprap embankments on opposite ends of a bridge, 27 concrete support columns underneath a bridge, three small secondary points inside a feeder-creek arm, two rocky shorelines inside a feeder-creek arm, and four offshore humps. All of these areas are situated in the southwest region of the reservoir.

Overall, the fishing was average. We covered a lot of water and dissected a wide variety of black –bass lairs in order to catch seven largemouth bass, seven spotted bass, and three white bass in four hours.

We caught one spotted bass from one of the seven main-lake points. Three of these points are flat and four are steep. Their underwater terrains consist of gravel, red clay, and a few scattered submerged boulders. This spotted bass was abiding next to a submerged boulder on one of the flat points in four feet of water. The other six main-lake points were fruitless.

Inside the feeder-creek arm, we caught four largemouth bass. One was caught in five feet of water on the end of a secondary point that is embellished with a concrete pipe, some thin patches of flooded stickups, and several submerged boulders. The second largemouth bass was caught in three feet of water along a steep and rocky shoreline that is about 30 yards long and lies on the east side of the creek arm. The third largemouth was caught along another rocky shoreline on the west side of the creek arm in five feet of water. The fourth largemouth bass was extracted from a small patch of shade on one side of a small dock that floats in 10 feet of water next to a boat ramp. This bass was suspended about three feet below the surface and close to the side of the dock. This dock is situated on the east shoreline and about halfway back in the creek arm.

Roger Farish with one of the largemouth bass that they caught.

We caught four spotted bass and one largemouth bass along a 75-yard section of a main-lake shoreline. The geology of this shoreline in comprised of gravel, clay, and several clusters of submerged boulders. These five black bass were relating to several submerged boulders that lie in three to five feet of water.

Along another main-lake shoreline, we caught two spotted bass and two white bass. This main-lake shoreline lies about two miles west of the first one, and its underwater terrain is similar to the first one.The spotted bass were caught around a small patch of submerged boulders in three to five feet of water. The two white bass were caught in 12 feet of water and many yards away from the two spotted bass.

We failed to generate any strikes from the two riprap-laden embankments that are located on the opposite ends of a large bridge. But we did manage to catch two largemouth bass from two of the 27 concrete support columns that we probed under the bridge. These columns are surrounded by 27 to 43 feet of water and positioned close to the main river channel that courses underneath the bridge. Both of these black bass were suspended about 10 to 12 feet below the surface and were in close proximity to the sides of the columns.

We used our sonar and Rapala No.7 Helsinki Shad Glass Shad Raps to search for black bass, temperate bass, and threadfin shad along the tops and sides of four submerged main-lake humps. These humps are located about half a mile offshore and are situated next to the main river channel. The tops of these humps are covered with 13 to 18 feet of water and their sides quickly plunge into 35 to 42 feet of water. They are comprised of clay and gravel with no other outstanding features. We found a few small pods of threadfin shad relating to the tops and sides of all four humps, but we failed to cross paths with any largemouth bass or spotted bass. We caught one white bass from the top of one of the humps. The other three failed to yield a strike or a fish.

In sum, we failed to locate any large concentrations of threadfin shad, black bass, or temperate bass. A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's pearl Slim SwimZ affixed to either a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig or a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, which were implemented with a steady swimming retrieve, beguiled 13 of the 14 black bass and two of the three white bass. A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's white lightning ZinkerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig and a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation caught one largemouth bass. A Rapala No. 7 Helsinki Shad Glass Shad Rap crankbait caught one white bass.

We also experimented with an array of Z-Man's Finesse WormZs, TRD HogZs, Finesse ShadZs, Hula StickZs, and 2 1/2-inch TRD CrawZ, but we failed to provoke any strikes while we wielded them.

July 13

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his July 13 outing.

Here is a slightly edited version of his report:

John Thomas of Denton, Texas, and I had a hankering to chase striped bass on July 13. So, we drove 78 miles to the same U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir that Rick Allen of Dallas and I fished on July 9 and caught 65 striped bass. This reservoir is a popular striped bass venue, and it would give John a good chance to tangle with his first striper.

According to In-Fisherman's solunar calendar, the best fishing would take place from 5:10 a.m. to 7:10 a.m., 5:41 p.m. to 7:41 p.m., and 11:57 p.m. to 1:57 a.m. John and I fished from 8:40 a.m. to 1:47 p.m.

The sky varied from being partly cloudy to mostly cloudy to overcast. Several thunderstorms accompanied by lightning erupted during the early afternoon hours, which put an end to our outing sooner than we had planned. The morning low temperature was 76 degrees and the afternoon high temperature was 96 degrees. While we were afloat, the barometric pressure fell slightly from 29.96 to 29.94. The wind quartered out of the east and southeast at 6 to 12 mph.

The water exhibited about five feet of visibility. The water level was 1.06 feet above normal. The surface temperature was 85 degrees.

We concentrated our efforts in the south end of the reservoir, and we plied seven main-lake points and three main-lake shorelines.

The three main-lake shorelines and seven points have a 45- to 60-degree slope and are laden with basketball-size rocks and humongous boulders. The submerged rocks and boulders are covered with two to six feet of water, and large concentrations of threadfin shad milled about these boulders.

By the end of this five-hour-and-seven-minute endeavor, we were delighted to catch 47 striped bass, eight smallmouth bass, four largemouth bass, one spotted bass, and one channel catfish. None of them were lunkers, but their antics kept us entertained throughout the outing.

Steve Reideler with one of the 47 stripped bass that they caught.

All of these fish were extracted from water as shallow as four feet and as deep as 12 feet and around the large aggregations of threadfin shad. We failed to elicit any strikes from areas that were bereft of shad. As we were forced to leave and seek shelter from the thunderstorms and lightning in a nearby marina, we observed a large school of stripers beginning to forage on the shad along the surface.

We caught them on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's pearl Slim SwimZ attached on a chartreuse 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig with a slow and steady do-nothing swimming retrieve, and the strikes were quite vicious.

July 14-15
Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, posted a brief on the Finesse News Network about his outings on July 14 and 15.
Here is an edited version of his brief:
Until Poe recently crossed paths with a Z-Man's blue-craw ZinkerZ, he had been searching in vain for a replacement for a five-inch black-grape soft-plastic worm with a pearl-grape tail that he had been wielding for years on end this time of the year.

The Z-Man's blue-craw ZinkerZ before Mike Poe cut it in half and made it 2 1/2 inches long.

On July 14, he and Carl Thomason of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, affixed a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's blue-craw ZinkerZ to a blood-red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. Thompson caught a largemouth bass on his third cast. For a while, Poe worked rather fruitlessly with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin ZinkerZ affixed to a blood-red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. Ultimately, they caught 45 largemouth bass on the blue-craw ZinkerZ rig and hooked many more that jettisoned the rig before they could lift the largemouth bass across their boat's gunnels.
On July 15, Poe fished by himself. Until he switched to the blue-craw ZinkerZ rig late in the outing, he struggled. Once he switched, he caught more than 20 largemouth bass in a short time.
He confessed that he is on the verge of becoming a total Midwest finesse devotee, saying it is an easier and more relaxing way to fish, and it is also quite fruitful.
July 16 Tom Bett of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, posted a report of the Finesse News Network about his July 16 outing.Here is an edited version of that report:It has been 10 days since my last trip on the Winnebago system. So, I am glad to get back to finessing for bass on my home lake.I find this a very productive and satisfying way to fish versus some of the other targets I choose to fish for.Summer in eastern Wisconsin continues to be a battle between heat and humidity from the plains and clear, cool, and dry air from the Canadian provinces.As I launched the boat on July 16, I sensed I would observe another of those transitions while afloat.Even though the frontal passage had started with the wind shift occurring just after midnight, the early morning weather began with overcast skies, a warm temperature, and high humidity. It was 75 degrees. Thus, I had westerly winds of 8 to 12 mph from 6:00 a.m. until about 7:00 a.m. Then there was a significant shift to the north at 10 to 15 mph. The humidity dropped. Around 9:00 a.m., the clouds disappeared, and the wind howled at 15 to 25 mph from the northwest for the remainder of the morning and afternoon. Even though the humidity dropped, area thermometers climbed to around 85 degrees.The water conditions were very summerlike. The surface temperatures ranged from 81 to 85 degrees. The clarity was affected by a heavy bloom of blue-green algae; therewas two to 2 1/2 feet of visibility. The water level was normal. Therewas about 3,500 cubic feet per second flowing into Lake Winnebago.I was afloat for six hours.My first stop was the mouth of a small tributary, which has been productive of late. I was curious to see if anything was left in the area. It is a well-known black bass habitat, and several competitors in a large bass tournament reportedly scoured the area. To my dismay, the wind and waves had stacked the algae bloom in this area, making water clarity very low. I fished my key holding areas, and I encountered only three strikes and caught one largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass. I employed a black 1/10-ounce mushroom-style jig affixed to a Z Man's The Deal Finesse TRD with a slow swim and glide retrieve.I decided to find some clearer water. So, I moved a mile or so across the lake to the mouth of a large tributary river. The water here was stained, but the visibility was not totally occluded by the algae. I fished one rock point, which was enhanced by wind, and I also fished a 250-yard stretch of a break wall that is enhanced by a channel swing. This generated five smallmouth bass, one freshwater drum, one rock bass, and one white bass. They were caught on the same rig and retrieve that I used at the first area.As the wind became problematic for boat control, I decided to shift to the upwind side of the lake and ply a series of rock jetties and points. The next six locations revealed that the day would be productive, but not spectacular. Two of those locations failed to produce any fish, and the other four produced either largemouth bass or smallmouth bass, but no more than two fish from each locale. They were caught on a black 1/15-ounce mushroom-style jig affixed to either a Z-Man's The Deal Finesse ShadZ or a Z-Man's coppertreuse Finesse WormZ with a drag-pause-shake retrieve.I was somewhat dismayed by the trying fishing at the previous locales. So, my next two stops were submerged offshore rock piles. Again, I could garner no more than two fish per location, which consisted of a mix of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and freshwater drum. They were caught on a green-pumpkin 1/10-ounce mushroom-style jig affixed to either a Z-Man's coppertreuse Finesse TRD or a Z-Man's The Deal Finesse TRD. The drag-pause-and-shake retrieve and the drag-and-hop retrieve were the most effective. I opted for the 1/10-ounce jig to help counteract the effects of the wind.For the conclusion of this trip, I elected to run a few miles upstream into another large pool of the reservoir system in hopes of locating some smallmouth bass residing on shallow rock piles or shoals. My first rock pile, about one-half mile offshore produced two nice smallmouth bass and a few missed strikes. I used the Finesse TRD on a green-pumpkin 1/10-ounce mushroom jig with a drag-hop-and-pause retrieve. The first smallmouth bass was caught on the The Deal Finesse TRD, and after a few missed nips, I switched to the coppertreuse Finesse TRD and boated the second smallmouth bass.My next stop was an extensive break-water system at the entrance to a harbor. This was a productive site for me. It yielded 5 smallmouth bass, three largemouth bass, and two freshwater drum, which were scattered hither and yon along the rocks. I primarily fished parallel to the rock walls using the Z-Man's The Deal Finesse TRD on a green-pumpkin 1/10-ounce mushroom-style jig with a swim-and-glide retrieve and occasionally killing the retrieve as the rig cleared the edge of the wall. It appeared the fish were foraging on minnows, and they would strike the lure with some aggression as it cleared the rocks and descended into their strike zone.In sum, the trip produced 34 fish. The log sheet indicated that the mix consisted of 17 smallmouth bass, 11 largemouth bass, four freshwater drum, one rock bass, and one white bass. The smallest fish boated was the rock bass at 5.5 inches, while the largest was a freshwater drum at 21.1 inches. The 28 black bass ranged from 9.5 inches, which was a largemouth bass, to 17.2 inches, which was a smallmouth bass. Eleven of the black bass exceeded the legal length of 14.0 inches. The black-bass catch rate averaged five an hour making it about an average rate on this system. July 17The Weather Underground reported that it was 74 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 83 degrees at 2:52 p.m. The sky alternated from being partly cloudy to being fair to being cloudy to being mostly cloudy to lightly raining. The wind angled out of the southeast, east by northeast, east, southeast, south by southwest, and north at 3 to 8 mph; and it was calm at times. The barometric pressure was 29.1 at 12:52 a.m., 29.1 at 5:52 a.m., 29.2 at 11: 52 a.m., and 29.2 at 2:52 p.m.In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 8:26 a.m. to 10:26 a.m., 8:51 p.m. to 10:51 p.m., and 2:14 a.m. to 4:14 a.m. I was afloat at one of northeastern Kansas' many state reservoirs. I made my first cast at 12:30 p.m. I fished until I caught 30 largemouth bass, and I caught it at 3:13 p.m. I accidentally caught one channel catfish, one redear sunfish, two black crappie, four bluegill, and eight green sunfish.Northeastern Kansas is in the midst of a drought. As of July 16, we have received 11.65 inches of precipitation in 2018; we normally receive 21.88 inches by July 16. The drought has affected this reservoir's water level; it looked to be about two feet below normal. The water exhibited four to six feet of visibility. The surface temperature was 86 degrees.For several reasons, my 78-year-old body, mind, and soul have not been able to contend with the various vicissitudes of life that erupted in June and July. Because life's twists and turns are becoming more and more difficult for me to negotiate, I have rarely been afloat since May 30, and I was hoping to be afloat on this outing for two hours rather two hours and 43 minutes. But at 1:30 p.m., I had caught 22 largemouth bass rather than 30, and it took me 43 minutes to catch eight more.

I caught one largemouth bass in about six feet of water at the end of a riprap jetty. It was caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man's purple-haze Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig as I was strolling and employing a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

I caught one largemouth bass that was suspended around a partially submerged cedar tree. It is situated in 11 feet of water and 30 yards from the shoreline. It was caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's sprayed-grass ZinkerZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

Along the shoreline of the reservoir's spillway, I caught six largemouth bass. This shoreline possesses a 30- to 45-degrees slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. Some of its water's edge is embellished with patches of American pondweeds, bushy pondweed, and one partially submerged cedar tree. These largemouth bass were caught on the purple-haze Finesse WormZ rig. Two of the largemouth bass were caught around the rocks in four to six feet of water with a drag-and-shake presentation. Four of the largemouth bass were caught around the patches of American pondweed in three to four feet of water on either the initial drop of the rig or when I was employing a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

Four largemouth bass were caught along the dam. It possesses a 40- to 60-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of riprap. One largemouth bass was caught in about six feet of water while I was strolling the purple-haze Finesse WormZ rig with a drag-and-shake presentation. Three largemouth bass were caught in three to four feet of water on the initial drop of the sprayed-grass ZinkerZ rig.

Around a main-lake point and one of its adjacent shorelines, I caught three largemouth bass. This area possesses a 30-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of clay and gravel. Patches of bushy pondweed and coontail also grace the underwater terrain. One largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of the purple-haze Finesse WormZ rig in about five feet of water adjacent to a patch of bushy pondweed. Two largemouth bass were caught on the sprayed-grass ZinkerZ rig while I was strolling it and employing a swim-glide-and-shake presentation adjacent to a patch of bushy pondweed in about five feet of water.

I caught 10 largemouth bass around another main-lake point and along one of its adjacent shorelines. This area has a 25-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of clay, gravel, and some rocks. The water's edge is graced with some patches of American pondweeds, and the slightly deeper areas are embellished with patches of bushy pondweed. Occasionally, some of the patches of bushy pondweed are interlaced with the outside edges of some of the American pondweed patches. The 10 largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. Four of the largemouth bass were caught on the initial drop of the rig in about three feet of water along the outside edges of the American pondweed patches. Four of them were caught on a swim-glide-and-shake presentation in three to four feet of water around the American pondweed patches and bushy pondweed patches. Two were caught on a drag-and-deadstick presentation in about four feet of water around the patches of bushy pondweed.

Around a secondary point and its adjacent shoreline, I caught two largemouth bass. This area possesses a 20- to 45-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of clay, gravel, and rocks. The water's edge is lined with occasional patches of American pondweeds, American water willows, some laydowns, and a few stumps. There are patches of bushy pondweed growing in four to six feet of water. One largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of the purple-haze Finesse WormZ rig around a patch of bushy pondweed in four feet of water. The other largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rig in about four feet of water around a laydown.

Two largemouth bass were caught around a partially submerged cedar tree on a massive shallow-water flat. Patches of bushy pondweed and coontail enhance this flat. The largemouth bass were caught on the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rig with a swim-glide-shake presentation in about five feet of water adjacent to the cedar tree.

Largemouth bass No. 30 was caught around another secondary point. This point has a 25-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of clay and gravel. Its water's edge is lined with some skimpy patches of American pondweeds, and its slightly deeper areas are adorned with patches of bushy pondweed. This bass was caught on the initial drop of the Finesse ShadZ rig in three to four feet of water.

In sum, the Finesse ShadZ rig caught 14 of the 30 largemouth bass. The purple-haze Finesse WormZ rig caught 10 largemouth bass. And the sprayed-grass ZinkerZ rig caught six largemouth bass. The initial drop and swim-glide-and-shake retrieve were the most effective presentations. I caught an average of almost 11 largemouth bass an hour

July 18

The Weather Underground reported on July 18 that it was 69 degrees at 7:53 a.m. and 77 degrees at 1:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the east by northeast, east, northeast, and southeast at 3 to 8 mph. The sky alternated from being cloudy to raining heavily to raining lightly to being cloudy. The barometric pressure was 28.9 at 12:53 a.m., 28.9 at 5:53 a.m., 28.9 at 11:53 a.m., and 28.9 at 1:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 4:15 a.m. to 6:15 a.m., 4:40 p.m. to 6:40 p.m., and 10:27 a.m. to 12:27 p.m. My cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I fished at one of northeastern Kansas' community reservoirs from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The water level looked to be about a foot below normal. The surface temperature ranged from 85 to 86 degrees. The water exhibited four to six feet of visibility.

Because Rick and I had not fished together since June 25, we ventured to this reservoir because we were possessed with the desire to garner a lot of strikes, and this reservoir traditionally is an easy waterway to obtain a lot of strikes. But to our disappointment, we failed to elicit as many strikes as we were hoping to elicit. During the four hours that we were afloat, we caught 44 largemouth bass and five smallmouth bass, and there were no rhymes and reasons to where and how we caught them. In fact, when we caught one, it often seemed as if it caught us rather than us catching it.

We caught one largemouth bass along a flat shoreline in the back of a small feeder-creek arm. This shoreline possesses a 25- to 30-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of clay, gravel, and rocks. The water's edge is adorned with a few shallow-water patches of American water willows. There are also patches of submerged bushy pondweed and coontail embellishing this area in four to seven feet of water. This largemouth bass was caught in about four feet of water along the inside edge of a patch of submerged vegetation on the initial drop of a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig.

Around two main-lake points and along a main-lake shoreline, we caught eight largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass. This area possesses a 20- to 50-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and some humongous boulders. The water's edge is adorned with some patches of American water willows, a few patches of American pondweeds, some overhanging trees, and several laydowns. Submerged patches of bushy pondweed and coontail grace the underwater terrain of portions of these points and shoreline. The smallmouth bass was caught on a Z-Man's Canada craw TRD CrawZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, and three largemouth bass were caught on this rig, too. One largemouth bass was caught on the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rig. A shortened four-inch Z-Man's PB&J Finesse WormZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce mushroom-style jig caught three largemouth bass. Two largemouth bass were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's PB&J ZinkerZ affixed to a blue 1/20-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig. We caught these black bass in two to seven feet of water. Some were caught on the initial drop of our rigs. Some were caught while we were strolling and employing a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. Some were caught while we were casting and employing a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. Some were caught around the rocks and boulders. Some were caught around the patches of American water willows. Some were caught around the patches of submerged bushy pondweed and coontail.

Along another main-lake shoreline and around its main-lake point, we caught five largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass. This area has a 25- to 50-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders. Much of the water's edge is lined with patches of American water willows. Submerged patches of bushy pondweed and coontail enhance portions of the shoreline and point. Three of the largemouth bass were caught on the TRD CrawZ rig with a swim-glide-and shake retrieve around the patches of submerged aquatic vegetation in about six feet of water. One largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of the PB&J Finesse WormZ rig in about three feet of water adjacent to a patch of American water willows. One largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of the TRD CrawZ in 2 1/2 feet of water around a patch of American water willows. The smallmouth bass was caught in about seven feet of water on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's sprayed-grass ZinkerZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig that was strolled with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation around a patch of submerged aquatic vegetation.

We caught 10 largemouth bass along the dam. The underwater terrain consists of rocks and boulders. It possesses a 30- to 45-degree slope. It is littered with a few manmade brush piles. There are some meager patches of American water willows, and numerous patches of submerged bushy pondweed and coontail. Three of the largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man's Junebug Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. Three were caught on the TRD CrawZ rig. Four were caught on the PB&J Finesse WormZ rig. They were caught in three to six feet of water. Some were caught on the initial drop of our rigs. Some were caught while we were strolling and employing either a swim-glide-and-shake presentation or a drag-and-deadstick presentation. Two were caught in the vicinity of a manmade brushpile. The other eight were caught around either the rocks or submerged patches of aquatic vegetation.

Three largemouth bass were caught around a secondary point. It possesses a 30-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and some humongous boulders. Submerged patches of bushy pondweed and coontail are situated in four to seven feet of water. Two largemouth bass were caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man's purple-haze Finesse WormZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve around the patches of submerged vegetation. The initial drop of the TRD CrawZ rig caught one largemouth bass around the patches of submerged aquatic vegetation.

Along a main-lake shoreline, we caught six largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass. This shoreline possesses a 30- to 50-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of clay, gravel, rocks, and boulders. The water's edge is adorned with a few patches of American pondweed, a few patches of American water willows, some laydowns, and several overhanging trees. Occasionally, we crossed paths with some submerged patches of bushy pondweed and coontail. The smallmouth bass was caught on the initial drop of the Junebug Finesse ShadZ rig in about four feet of water. That Finesse ShadZ rig caught four largemouth bass, and the PB&J Finesse WormZ rig caught two largemouth bass. The largemouth bass were caught in three to seven feet of water on either the initial drop of our rigs or while we were employing a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

We caught five largemouth bass around one main-lake point and along a portion of its main-lake shoreline. This area has a 20- to 40-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of clay, gravel, rocks, and boulders. The water's edge is adorned with a few patches of American water willows, some patches of American pondweeds, and scores of overhanging trees and laydowns. There are numerous patches of submerged bushy pondweed and coontail. The PB&J Finesse WormZ rig caught three of the largemouth bass; two were caught in five feet of water around the submerged vegetation with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation; the other one was caught in about two feet of water around a laydown with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. The initial drop of the Z-Man's purple-haze Finesse WormZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig caught one of the largemouth bass in about four feet of water around a laydown. A 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's Canada craw ZinkerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve caught one largemouth bass in four feet of water around some submerged aquatic vegetation.

Along a main-lake shoreline in the upper reaches of the reservoir, we caught two smallmouth bass and four largemouth bass. This shoreline has a 20- to 45-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of clay, gravel, rocks, and boulders. The water's edge is lined with occasional patches of American water willows, a few patches of American pondweeds, many laydowns, and some overhanging trees and terrestrial vegetation. Many yards of the flatter terrains are adorned with submerged patches of bushy pondweed and coontail. Three of the largemouth bass were caught in three to five feet of water on the PB&J Finesse WormZ rig with a swim-glide-shake retrieve; two of the three were caught around patches of submerged vegetation; one was caught around a gravel- and rock-laden terrain. One largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of the TRD CrawZ rig in three to four feet of water around some boulders and rocks. The two smallmouth bass were caught on the TRD CrawZ rig; one was caught adjacent to an overhanging tree in about four feet of water with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve; the second one was caught around a laydown in about three feet of water with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

In the back end of a large feeder-creek arm, we caught two largemouth bass along a shoreline that possesses a 50- to 80-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and several gargantuan boulders. The water's edge is adorned with a few patches of American pondweed and American water willows. One was caught on the initial drop of the Junebug Finesse ShadZ rig in about four feet of water in front of a patch of American water willows. The second one was caught on the Junebug Finesse ShadZ rig near the same patch of American water willows with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

In sum, we caught an average of 12.25 black bass an hour, and we caught them every which way, which was quite confusing. And around many of the locales that we fished, we failed to elicit a strike.

July 15-20

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed a brief on the Finesse News Network about his week of fishing in Ontario, Canada, with the Canoe Canada Outfitters.

Here is an edited version of his brief:

I was based in a fly-in camp on Lake Irene. I also had access to Doan Lake, which required a paddle trip up a creek channel and a short portage.

Lake Irene is around 5,000 acres with a clarity of around 12 feet and a depth of 200 feet or more. Doan is around 2,000 acres with a clarity of six feet, possessing a slight tea stain to the water.

I kept things very simple during the week by using three rods.

On one rod I used a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's ZinkerZ. I employed three colors: coopertreuse, green-pumpkin-orange, and PB&J. They were affixed to either a black or a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig.

On the second rod, I worked with a Z-Man's The Deal Finesse ShadZ affixed to a white 1/8-ounce mushroom-style jig.

On the third rod, I used topwater baits, such as Heddon's Baby Torpedo, Rebel's Pop-R, and a 1/8-ounnce buzzbait.

I spent most of the time back trolling into the breeze for better boat control. So I did a lot of strolling and keeping the rod tip down. Most of the smallmouth bass were in five to 20 feet of water. The walleye were abiding in 20 to 25 feet of water.

Throughout the week, I caught most of the fish around deep-water lairs on the Finesse ShadZ rig. Most smallmouth bass were regurgitating small white fish when hooked. So the ShadZ seemed a good match for them.

Bob Gun with one of the many smallmouth bass that he caught on his Finesse ShadZ rig.

But I did enjoy a bountiful hour of shallow-water fishing with the Finesse ShadZ rig at Doan Lake, which was reminiscent of some of the best white bass fishing that I have ever experienced. It occurred along a 100-yard-long mid-lake ridge that is covered with seven feet of water, and it eventually plummets into 40 feet of water. The wind had picked up at this time, and it was creating a pretty good chop on the water. Schools of two- and three-pound smallmouth bass where foraging on baitfish all around me. I caught them on the Finesse ShadZ rig, but instead of allowing the rig to plummet to the bottom, I had my best luck simply slow swimming it back to the boat two to four feet below the surface. It didn't matter what depth the boat was in as long as I was in the general vicinity of the surface-foraging smallmouth bass. During those 60 minutes, I spent most of my time battling smallmouth bass and less time actually fishing. My catch rate here was dependent on how quickly I could land the smallmouth bass.

July 24

Dave Petro of Lecompton, Kansas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his July 24 outing.

Here is a condensed and edited version of his report:

We finally caught a break from the oppressively hot weather that northeast Kansans have had to endure this summer. What's more, the realities of life that have conspired with the weather have kept us on dry land for most of the month.

Thus, John Redding and I headed out to a northeastern Kansas' community reservoir on July 24. The day promised to be nearly perfect, dawning with a mostly clear and bright blue sky and a morning low temperature of 67 degrees. A cool and blessedly dry breeze angled from the north to northwest from 6 to 10 mph. While we were afloat, the wind did blow strong enough to raise some small whitecaps, and we deployed the drift sock to help slow things down as we fished. However, with an afternoon high of 88 degrees, we welcomed the breeze as it always seemed cooler when it blew.

The surface temperature of the water was 85.5 degrees. It exhibited a distinct green hue that is indicative of an algae bloom. But, we found the visibility to be 18 -24 inches; so, the algae bloom was fairly moderate. The water level was about one foot below normal.

We made our first casts at 9:10 a.m. We fished a 100-yard section of rocky shoreline adjacent to the boat ramp. The water was four to seven feet deep, and it was graced with submerged beds of bushy pondweed that seemed to be dying and thinning out. This provided for some very thick patches and other areas that had only a few plants, which allowed us to swim our finesse rigs over and through them with minimal hang-ups. This area produced the first two largemouth bass of the day. They were fooled by a shortened four-inch Z-Man's Finesse WormZ mounted on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and they were relating to patches of submerged aquatic vegetation that are several yards away from the shoreline.

A short time later, we caught two more largemouth bass on a shallow and flat main-lake point. These bass were abiding in two feet of water and both struck the Junebug Finesse WormZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

We fished a long stretch of shallow main-lake shoreline. The boat floated in two to five feet of water. The shoreline was adorned with patches of American water willows, American pondweed, and quite a bit of filamentous algae clung to the edge of the water. We were disappointed that this area did not produce a single strike.

Finally, we came to an area where the water depth became deeper and the shoreline became steep and rocky. On this short section of a main-lake shoreline, we caught one largemouth on a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve with our Junebug Finesse WormZ rig. This bass measured exactly 18 inches and was our big fish of the day. We fished a rocky and deep main-lake point adjacent to this shoreline and did not receive any strikes.

However, after rounding that main-lake point and entering into a large feeder-creek arm, we found ourselves in much more productive territory. But we did not receive any strikes as we plied the shoreline until we were about halfway back in the feeder-creek arm. The depth of the water in this area became shallower, ranging in depth from two to seven feet. The flat at the back of this arm was adorned with scattered patches of bushy pondweed. As we worked our way from the shoreline into the middle of the flat, we caught nine largemouth bass. Some of them were caught on the Junebug Finesse WormZ rig and some were enticed by a Z-Man's Junebug Finesse ShadZ mounted on a black 1/10-ounce Bass Pro Shops' weedless Shroom jig. As we strolled around this massive flat, some of the black bass were caught on a swim-glide-and-shake presentation, some were caught on a drag-and-shake presentation, and a couple were caught on a deadstick presentation. Seven of the largemouth bass were relating to patches of aquatic vegetation and were many yards from the shoreline, and two were caught along the shoreline.

At a main-lake point at the mouth of another large feeder-creek arm, we caught five largemouth bass. The water was four to 14 feet deep. Three were caught on the Junebug Finesse WormZ rig, and two were caught on the Junebug ShadZ rig, which we used with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

Along a long section of shoreline inside the feeder-creek arm, we caught eleven largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass. This section of shoreline is steep and deep. The boat floated in water as shallow as four feet and as deep as 24 feet. The underwater terrain consists of rocks and boulders. The water's edge is graced with laydowns and overhanging trees, and the branches of the overhanging trees provided many patches of shade. The shoreline was broken up with several small cuts that formed pairs of secondary points. Some of these black bass were caught on the Finesse ShadZ rig, and others were caught on the Finesse WormZ rig. One largemouth bass was caught along a laydown, which lies perpendicular to the shoreline, and it was caught on the Finesse WormZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation parallel to the laydown. The smallmouth bass was caught on the Finesse WormZ with a deadstick retrieve almost directly under the boat in the middle of one of the small cuts. It was abiding in about seven feet of water. The majority of the other largemouth bass were caught on a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve along the shoreline, but some were caught in deeper water as we were strolling with our rigs.

We fished for nearly four hour and took an hour-long lunch break.

After lunch, we plied another main-lake point and caught one largemouth bass and one smallmouth bass on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin-blue Finesse ShadZ on a red 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig in about 12 feet of water.

Along a 200-yard stretch of deep and rocky main-lake shoreline, we caught two largemouth bass on a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. One of them was caught on the Junebug Finesse ShadZ rig, and the other one was caught on the green-pumpkin-blue Finesse ShadZ rig.

Around another main-lake point, we caught two largemouth bass on the green-pumpkin-blue Finesse ShadZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. These fish were abiding in about seven feet of water.

Along a steep and rocky shoreline inside another feeder-creek arm, we caught six largemouth bass and three smallmouth bass. Some of them were caught on the Junebug ShadZ rig, and some were caught on the green-pumpkin-blue Finesse ShadZ rig. One was caught on a shortened and customized Z-Man's Junebug BoarhogZ mounted on a hand-painted chartreuse 1/16-ounce River Rock Custom Baits' Tactical Finesse Jig. Along this shoreline, the boat floated in seven to 18 feet of water. The shoreline is adorned with many rocks and boulders. The water's edge is graced with laydowns and numerous patches of bushy pondweed. Three of the black bass were caught with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve adjacent to laydowns, and two of them were extracted from the same laydown. One smallmouth bass was caught on the initial drop of the green-pumpkin-blue Finesse ShadZ in a shallow-water lair that was in the shade. The rest of the black bass were caught along the shoreline as we were employing swim-glide-and-shake retrieves.

On another main-lake point, we caught three largemouth bass around patches of submerged bushy pondweed. Two of them were caught on the green-pumpkin-blue Finesse ShadZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve, and one was caught on the Junebug Finesse ShadZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve. As John fought one of the largemouth bass to the boat, it was harassed by two smallmouth bass, and to our great disappointment, we were unable to elicit a strike from these smallmouth bass on a number of subsequent casts and retrieves.

On an offshore and shallow-water flat inside another feeder-creek arm, we caught one largemouth. This flat is covered with two to five feet of water, and it is adorned with many patches of bushy pondweed. This bass was caught on the green-pumpkin-blue Finesse ShadZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

We fished about 150 yards of the riprap of the dam. We caught two largemouth bass on the green-pumpkin-blue Finesse ShadZ rig by strolling and employing a shake-and-glide presentation in about seven feet of water and several yards away from the water's edge.

We made our last casts and retrieves at 4:10 p.m.

In all, we fished for six hours and caught 48 largemouth bass, five smallmouths, three bluegill, and two green sunfish.

The swim-glide-and-shake retrieve was the most effective one.

The green-pumpkin-blue Finesse ShadZ rig caught a few more black bass than the Junebug Finesse ShadZ rig and Junebug Finesse WormZ rig. Two of our stabdard Midwest finesse rigs failed to elicit a strike.

July 25

The Weather Underground reported that it was 65 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 84 degrees at 1:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the northeast, east, east by southeast, southeast, south by southeast, and south by southwest at 3 to 10 mph, and occasionally, it was calm. The sky was primarily clear until around 12:30 p.m., which was when it became partly cloudy. The barometric pressure was 29.0 at 12:53 a.m., 28.9 at 5:53 a.m., 29.0 at 11:53 a.m., and 28.9 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would transpire from 9:08 a.m. to 11:08 a.m., 9:33 p.m. to 11:33 p.m., and 2:56 a.m. to 4:56 a.m. My cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I fished at one of northeastern Kansas' community reservoirs from 9:33 a.m. to 1:38 p.m., and we caught 43 largemouth bass.

The surface temperature ranged from 82 to 83 degrees. The water clarity was affected by an algal bloom, and the visibility ranged from 10 to 15 inches. The water level looked to be slightly more than a foot below normal.

Ten largemouth bass were caught along the dam. It possesses a 45- to 50-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. The water's edge is graced with some patches of American water willows, and wads of filamentous algae clings to some of those patches. Along some portions of the dam, there are patches of submerged and mostly submerged bushy pondweed and coontail, and some of the coontail patches are cluttered with wads of filamentous algae. (This filamentous algae phenomenon affects the entire reservoir.) Nine of the 10 largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man's Junebug Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. One was caught on a Z-Man's Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. Four were caught on the initial drop of our rigs in three to four feet of water. Six were caught on a swim-glide-and-shake presentation in four to about seven feet of water.

We caught one largemouth bass along an offshore, main-lake ridge. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders. This is a flat area with about a 20-degree slope, and at the ledge, the slope is radical. The largemouth bass was caught on a Z-Man's Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig with a drag-and-shake presentation in about five feet of water and about 40 feet from the water's edge.

One largemouth bass was caught along a main-lake point. This point has a 25- to 35-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders. The water's edge is lined with rock and concrete retaining walls, and it is also graced with a few patches of American water willows and a dock. The largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of the Z-Man's Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig in about three feet of water along the front edge of a patch of American water willows.

These three locales are situated in the lower third of this reservoir. We spent the rest of the outing in the reservoir's upper half.

Along one main-lake shoreline and point, we caught four largemouth bass. This area has a 30- to 45-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. The water's edge is adorned with patches of American water willows, four docks, and one overhanging tree. Submerged and partially submerged patches of bushy pondweed and coontail grace portions of the underwater terrain. Wads of filamentous algae clutter much of the surface around some of the coontail patches. One largemouth bass was caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig near a patch of coontail in four to five feet of water with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. One was caught on a Junebug Finesse ShadZ rig, and two were caught on a shortened four-inch Z-Man's Junebug Finesse WormZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. These three largemouth bass were caught in four to six feet of water on a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

We caught two largemouth bass along another main-lake shoreline and point. This shoreline possesses a 25- to 50-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. Much of the water's edge is lined with a concrete retaining wall. There are also five docks and several meager patches of American water willows. One of the largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of the Junebug Finesse ShadZ rig in about four feet of water in front of a patch of American water willows. The second largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of a Z-Man's green-pumpkin-orange Finesse TRD affixed to a black 1/15-ounce TT Lures' NedlockZ jig in about three feet of water around a patch of American water willows.

Along a massive main-lake shoreline, we caught 11 largemouth bass. The slope of this shoreline ranges from 25 to 45 degrees. The underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. Some of the water's edge is lined with concrete and rock retaining walls. There are also patches of American water willows, several overhanging trees, some laydowns, a few stumps, and eight docks. Many of the shallow-water areas are graced with patches of coontail and bushy pondweed. Wads of filamentous algae litter the surface around the coontail patches. These largemouth bass were caught on our Junebug Finesse ShadZ rigs. Some were caught on the initial drop. Some were caught while we were employing a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. A few were caught as we were strolling and using a drag-and-shake retrieve. Most were caught within five feet of the water's edge. Three were caught about 30 feet from the water's edge around offshore patches of coontail.

A dozen largemouth bass were caught along another massive main-lake shoreline and one main-lake point. This shoreline and point possesses a 20- to 50-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and a few boulders. Much of the water's edge is lined with concrete and rock retaining walls. There are 22 docks cluttering the section of the shoreline that we fished. There are a few overhanging trees, several patches of American water willows, and some laydowns. Many of the shallow-water areas are embellished with patches of coontail and a few patches of bushy pondweed. One of the largemouth bass was caught on the green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ rig in about six feet of water around a patch of coontail as we were strolling and using a drag-and-shake presentation. Ten of the largemouth bass were caught on our Junebug Finesse ShadZ rigs, and they were caught in four to seven feet of water. A few of those 10 were caught on the initial drop of our rigs. Some were caught while we employed a drag-and-shake presentation. Some were caught on a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. We caught them within a few feet of the water's edge, and a few others were caught as far as 20 feet from the water's edge. Some were caught around patches of coontail. Some were caught around gravel and rocks. Some were caught near patches of American water willows. One was caught adjacent to a laydown.

We caught one largemouth bass along another main-lake shoreline. It possesses a 25- to 45-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and a few boulders. It is cluttered with 10 docks. The water's edge is adorned with a few patches of American water willows and concrete and rock retaining walls. This largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of the Junebug Finesse ShadZ in about three feet of water in front of a patch of American water willows.

In sum, steeper areas were more fruitful than flatter ones. The Junebug Finesse ShadZ rig was our most effective rig. It is interesting to note that Junebug is often an effective color for alluring the largemouth bass that abide in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas – especially when the water clarity is affected by an algal bloom.

July 27

Tom Bett of Oshkosk, Wisconsin, posted a report on the Finesse News Network about his July 27 outing.

Here is an edited version of his report:

The recent thunderstorms in eastern Wisconsin have allowed river levels to rise, causing moderate filling of backwater sloughs and oxbows. Those conditions caused me to halt my finesse endeavors, and I either followed the largemouth bass into the duckweed, where I employed frogging tactics, or I toss swim jigs on sandbars for riverine smallmouth bass.

On July 27, however, Eric Gilgenbach of Winneconne, Wisconsin, and I attempt to become reacquainted with the black bass that reside in the Upper Pool lakes of the Winnebago system.

As a stiff cold front sliced through Wisconsin, the day dawned cloudy, windy, and cool. Before this front arrived, we were in the midst of a midsummer heat wave. Air temperatures on July 27 ranged from a low of 60 degrees to a high of 73 degrees. A northwest wind at 10 to 20 mph generated a very active chop on the water. The water clarity is adversely affected by a vigorous algal bloom, and a secchi-disk reading revealed that the visibility ranged from 1 1/2 to two feet. The surface temperature has declined more than 10 degrees during the past week, dropping to 72 and 74 degrees. Pool level was at its target level. The inflows were enhanced by the brisk northwesterly breezes, and the rate of the inflow was 7,500 cubic feet per second.

We fished for seven hours.

After a seven mile run straight into the teeth of the wind, we arrived at the mouth of a major tributary river and located a rock line bordering the edge of the main channel. We began casting Z-Man's Finesse TRDs rigged on black 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jigs into current and dragging them back down to the boat. The drag-and-pause retrieve proved productive, yielding 12 very nice smallmouth bass, one largemouth bass, and a massive freshwater drum. The green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD produced the majority of the strikes, but The Deal Finesse TRD and Drew's craw Finesse TRD generated some additional action.

Noting the persistence of the northwest wind, we then decided to plow back down the lake a couple miles to a series of shallow-water points that were being swept by the wind-generated currents. The water clarity may have been adversely affected by the strong wave action occurring there, and we were only able to allure three smallmouth bass by using the same rigs and presentations that we used at the first locale.

We then decided to travel across the lake to a large point that was somewhat sheltered from the wind and waves. This proved to be a good move. We fished a series of riprap areas and points, which yielded five largemouth bass and 12 smallmouth bass. The green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD was the most productive combo. These black bass were not aggressive, and we caught them by employing a drag-and-pause routine, and the strikes would occur during the pause.

After taking a short lunch break, we decided to explore another pool in the reservoir system. We probed a series of submerged rock lines and isolated rock piles that reside on shallow flats and are located a short distance from the main river channel. Either the bite was substantially waning by this point in the day or it was a poor decision on our part. Consequently, at the next six sites, we struggled to catch four smallmouth bass, one largemouth and a freshwater drum.

ErciGilgenbach with one of the 25 smallmouth bass that they caught.

In sum, we fished a total of 12 areas and caught 25 smallmouth bass, seven largemouth bass, and three freshwater drum. A dozen of the black bass were 14 inches and longer, and they were tagged and immediately released in support of the Winnebago Pool Black Bass Pilot Study. The biggest one was a 19.6-inch smallmouth bass. The smallest was 7 1/2 inches. Even though our catch rate per hour was well below the average catch rate for this system, we were grateful to reconnect with some nice specimens from our local waters – especially given the weather conditions and our recent absence from these habitats.

July 27

Travis Perret of Overland Park, Kansas, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his July 27 outing.

Here is an edited version of his report:

I was doing a book-signing event for my "Pain Free Life" book in Springfield, Missouri, on the night of July 26, and I wanted to fish at Table Rock Lake, Missouri, on July 27.

Luckily, Stacey King of Reeds Spring, Missouri, was available, and he was gracious enough to take me and my cousin's son, Ethan Turner of Springfield, fishing. (By the way, Stacey is currently in first place in the FLW's Costa Series angler-of-the-year contest.)

Ethan is 13 years old, and he is a pretty good fisherman. He went to fourth grade at the Bass Pro Shops' school. It is called The Wolf School, and it was established by John L. Morris (Johnny), who is the founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops. It is located at the Bass Pro Shops' headquarters in Springfield.

The curriculum is centered on the outdoors. Ethan loved it, and it really got him hooked on hunting and fishing. So, I try to take him as often as I can. When he comes to the Kansas City area for baseball tournaments, we will go fishing before or after the tournaments. And when I am in Springfield, I will try to get on the water with him.

Stacey had been on the water several days that week for a tournament and guide trips. Therefore, he had a pretty good handle on what was happening. We fished the Cape Fair area.

We got on the water about 10:30 a.m. He said the morning bite had been terrible. So, there was no need in starting early. Even though we do not mind getting up early to fish, it was nice not to have to get up too early.

Across the years, I have occasionally worked with Stacey to help him conquer some of the pains that have afflicted various parts of his body. And his wife, Peggy, has become interested in my exercise therapy routines. So, before we fished, I did a little evaluation with her.

When we were afloat, it was a good learning experience in seeing how Stacey looks for fish electronically. We looked at a number of spots; some we fished; some we did not. Even though there was a lot of history to his spots, we would idle over them to see if we could mark fish. If we saw a group of fish on the fish finder, we would give it a try, and we usually caught a few black bass right away. We probably looked at 15 spots and five or six of them we actually fished.

I got to see what he was looking for and how he drives the boat to use his fish finders most efficiently. In most cases, we were looking at fish in 20 to 30 feet of water.

Several times we would fish a long tapering point. And I mean long. We would be in the middle of a cove, and Stacey would point at the bank 75 to 100 yards away and explain what was going on underwater. He would point to an object on the bank and say make a cast as far as you can to that tree or that area. It was pretty cool.

We started out using drop shots and big shaky-head rigs. Then we would pull up to a spot, and Stacey would say they bite the Ned Rig here, and we would throw it.

On that rig, we used a 1/8-ounce round or ball jig with a small fiber weed guard. These jigs are specially made for him. To these jigs, we affixed either a Z-Man's green-pumpkin or PB&J Big TRD.

We did not keep a very good record of how many fish we caught, but I would say by 2:00 p.m. we had 20 black bass. Most of them were caught on either a drop-shot rig or a shaky-head rig.

Around 2:00 p.m., we stopped at the Cape Fair Marina. They sell our Trophy Bass Company jigs, and I wanted to take a look and say hello. Stacey knew them and wanted to say hello as well.

While we were there, he purchased a pack of the Big TRD in The Deal hue. And at the next stop, and literally on the first cast he made with it, he caught one. Then he caught several others. So, we all put one on and the fishing turned excellent. We probably caught 20 more black bass during the next two hours with it.

At one spot, we were sitting on a channel swing adjacent to a long, tapering underwater point. When we saw some black bass busting shad on the surface in 40 feet of water, we caught a couple of them. We also caught them on the tapering point.

It was a good time and a lot of fun.

July 28

Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, filed a report on the Finesse News Network about his July 28 outing.

Here is an edited version of his report:

July 28 found me on the water at a community reservoir with Abe Abernathy of Greensboro, North Carolina.

Abe has collected more tournament wins in central North Carolina than any fisherman living or passed. But his expertise and preferred method is structure fishing – not Midwest finesse fishing.

He is as responsible for developing the offshore tactics used and popularized by the Blake Honeycutts of Hickory, North Carolina, and David Fritts of Lexington, North Carolina. Abe taught them that they better get offshore with him if they ever wanted to collect his tournament money.

It is a blessing to share the boat with him.

That being said, when he goes with me, he understands that he will be tight to the shore a lot even in July.

We started at daylight intending to fish until noon.

It was humid and partly cloudy. Area thermometers were in the mid-80s.

We had a full moon on July 26, and that made me hopeful that our fishing would be fruitful.

The water level was about two feet below normal, but it had risen about a foot during the week.

Our most fruitful areas were steep shorelines inside two feeder-creek arms.

I worked with a Z-Man 's black-blue-flake Turbo Crawz, which I shortened to make it three inches long rather than four inches. I affixed it to a weedless black 1/10-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig.

Abe fished with a wacky rigged Zoom Bait Company's green-pumpkin Fluke Stick.

Mike Poe with one of the 30 largemouth bass that they caught.

By 10:00 a.m. we had landed about 15 largemouth bass in one to three feet of water. Abe caught one that weighed nine pounds, three ounces.

After 10:00 a.m., we did better around flat and rocky or hard-bottom points.

At 1:00 p.m., I caught a nice one on my new favorite rig: a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's blue-claw ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig.

Around these points, Abe used a Texas-rigged Zoom's black-sapphire Ultra Vibe Speed Worm.

Because the fishing was so fruitful, we fished longer than normal. We were also more comfortable because we had new seats in the boat. Many reservoirs around central North Carolina have severe boat restrictions, which forbid trailered boats. My son-in-law noticed that all the old men (his term for us wise anglers) at Cane Creek Reservoir used Millennium boat seats in their rigs. We made the change as well and I strongly recommend them to any old men or anyone else who is seeking comfort).

Abe Abernathy's nine-pound, three-ounce largemouth bass.

We ended up catching 30 or so with the size being outstanding for July. Our biggest four would have pushed 26 pounds. Abe allowed that it was not too bad of a catch for the skinny-water fishing. Understand, he has done that well in July for decades by fishing structure. But bank beaters like me are not so fruitful normally. Dark and rising water levels helped. I always seem to do better size-wise on or around the full moon, which is one of my biases, but I play it when I can.

July 30

Errata: For a variety of reasons, we have not fished often this summer, and that seems to have adversely affected my abilities to compose an error-free log. For instance, in our July 25 log, we wrote that we fished from 9:33 a.m. to 4:08 p.m. That was wrong. Instead, we fished for four hours and eight minutes. Therefore, we fished from 9:33 a.m. to 1:41 p.m. and we caught 43 largemouth bass.

On July 30, I ventured to the same community reservoir that Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I fished on July 25. I wanted to fish until I caught 30 largemouth bass, and I could not fish for more than three hours. I failed to catch 30 largemouth bass. Instead, I fished from 11:16 a.m. to 2:16 p.m., and caught 26 largemouth bass.

The Weather Underground reported that it was 63 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 74 degrees at 3:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the east by northeast, east, north by northeast, and north at 3 to 12 mph. The sky fluctuated from being fair to being partly cloudy to being mostly cloudy. The barometric pressure was 28.9 at 12:53 a.m., 28.9 at 5:53 a.m., 28.9 at 11:53 a.m., and 28.9 at 3:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 12:43 a.m. to 2:43 a.m., 1:05 p.m. to 3:05 p.m., and 6:54 a.m. to 8:54 p.m.

The water level looked to be slightly more than a foot below normal. The surface temperature ranged from 80 to 81 degrees. The water clarity exhibited 15 to 30 inches of visibility. This reservoir's patches of coontail are greener and more abundant than they were on July 25, and its patches of bushy pondweed are not as abundant.

I caught 10 largemouth bass along the dam. It possesses a 45- to 50-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. The water's edge is graced with some patches of American water willows, and wads of filamentous algae cling to some of those patches. Along some portions of the dam, there are patches of submerged and mostly submerged bushy pondweed and coontail, and some of the coontail patches are cluttered with wads of filamentous algae. The wads of filamentous algae are not as pervasive as they were on July 27. Four largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man's Junebug Finesse ShadZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. A 2 1/2-inch customized Z-Man's green-pumpkin FattyZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig inveigled four largemouth bass. A Z-Man's green-pumpkin-orange Finesse TRD affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce jig caught two largemouth bass. These largemouth bass were caught in four to seven feet of water. Two were caught on the initial drop. The others were caught on a swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

Along a main-lake shoreline in the upper half of this reservoir, I caught eight largemouth bass. The slope of this shoreline ranges from 35 to 45 degrees. The underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. Some of the water's edge is lined with concrete walls. There are also patches of American water willows, several overhanging trees, some laydowns, a few stumps, and two docks. One largemouth bass was caught on the Finesse ShadZ rig, three of them were caught on the FattyZ rig, and four of them were caught on the Finesse TRD rig. Two were caught on the initial drop. Two were caught on a drag-and-shake presentation. Four were caught on a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. They were extracted from three to six feet of water.

On a shallow-water flat that is adorned with patches of coontail, I caught one largemouth bass on the initial drop of the Finesse TRD rig in about four feet of water.

These 19 largemouth bass were caught in one hour and 27 minutes. During the next hour and 33 minutes, I struggled to catch seven largemouth bass.

I caught six largemouth bass along another shoreline in the upper half of the reservoir. This shoreline possesses a 20- to 50-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and a few boulders. Much of the water's edge is lined with concrete and rock retaining walls. There are 17 docks cluttering the section of the shoreline that I fished. There are a few overhanging trees, several patches of American water willows, and some laydowns. Many of the shallow-water areas are embellished with patches of coontail and a few patches of bushy pondweed. One of the largemouth bass was caught on the FattyZ rig. Two of them were caught on the Finesse TRD rig. Three largemouth bass were caught on the Finesse ShadZ rig. They were caught in three of six feet of water. One was caught on the initial drop of the Finesse ShadZ. The others were caught on either the swim-glide-and-shake presentation or a drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve.

One largemouth bass was caught along another shoreline in the upper half of this reservoir. This area has a 30- to 45-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. The water's edge is adorned with patches of American water willows, four docks, and one overhanging tree. Submerged and partially submerged patches of coontail grace portions of the underwater terrain. Wads of filamentous algae clutter some of the coontail patches. This largemouth bass was caught on a three-inch customized Z-Man's California craw Mag FattyZ affixed on a red 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation in about six feet of water.

At 2:13 p.m., I caught one largemouth bass along another main-lake shoreline in the upper half of the reservoir. It possesses a 25- to 45-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and a few boulders. It is cluttered with 10 docks. The water's edge is adorned with concrete and rock retaining walls and a few patches of American water willows. This largemouth bass was caught on a Z-Man's Canada craw TRD MinnowZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig in about five feet of water around a patch of coontail with a swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

In sum, I failed to establish a location pattern, a lure pattern, and a presentation pattern. I worked with nine Midwest finesse rigs, employed a variety of retrieves, and plied a hodgepodge of lairs. Since I have made very few casts and retrieves during the past 60 days, my rhythm, focus, concentration, and confidence are askew. Consequently, it has been a chore to catch significant numbers of largemouth bass.





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