Midwest Finesse Fishing: January 2019
February 12, 2019
This guide to Midwest finesse fishing contains seven logs and 6,520 words that explain how, when, and where Midwest finesse anglers fished during January.
It features the piscatorial endeavors of Rick Allen of Dallas; Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas; Ned Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas; Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas; and John Thomas of Denton, Texas.
January is often an exasperating time for Midwest finesse anglers to catch largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass in north-central Texas, northeastern Kansas, and at many other locales across the United States. During January of 2019, our extremely sorry fishing was intertwined with wind, ice, snow, rain, frigid temperatures, and the residue from other weather-related woes.
For instance, Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, who is a talented Midwest finesse angler and a regular contributor to our monthly guides, was able to get afloat only once during January. On this outing, he ventured to one of northeastern Kansas’ power-plant reservoirs, but the fishing was so sorry that he did not have the wherewithal to compose a log about it.
The reservoir that Gum fished is one of several of our waterways where the black bass fishing has gone awry during this second decade of the 21st century. But before the doldrums arrived at this power-plant reservoir, it used to be one of our stellar wintertime haunts. It was where a pair of knowledgeable Midwest finesse anglers could regularly tangle with eight to 15 largemouth bass an hour, and a few of those specimens were big ones. Some Midwest finesse anglers suspect that one of the factors that has caused the woeful fishing to erupt at this reservoir stems from too much angler predation – especially from the scores and scores of largemouth bass tournaments that are staged at this reservoir. As the number of tournaments has escalated, Midwest finesse anglers have noticed that the largemouth bass fishing has become more and more onerous, and this downfall has become abundantly obvious since the end of the winter of 2013-14, which was our last fruitful winter.
(It is, however, interesting to note that for some bizarre and perhaps wrongheaded reasoning this reservoir was chosen as one of “Bassmaster’s 100 Best Bass Lakes” in 2018.)
To our chagrin, this is not the only reservoir in northeastern Kansas that has become trying. Thus, some elements of piscatorial despair have crept into the hearts, minds, and souls of Midwest finesse anglers hereabouts.
Throughout much of 2018, some of that despair has revolved around our suspicions that our waters are being revisited by the largemouth bass virus. Those thoughts were realized by an announcement on Feb. 1 by the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism that the largemouth bass virus has invaded one of northeastern Kansas’ U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoirs. Now some Midwest finesse anglers suspect that this virus has afflicted the smallmouth bass population in this reservoir. These anglers also fear that the virus is affecting the smallmouth bass and largemouth bass that abide in a power-plant reservoir that lies 22 miles south of the affected Corps of Engineers’ reservoir. Midwest finesse anglers found the smallmouth bass fishing at both of these reservoirs was very troublesome during 2018, and by the summer of 2018, the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishing was sorry at several other nearby reservoirs.
There have been debates about the likelihood of the largemouth bass virus affecting smallmouth bass. But in Michigan, it has been found that the largemouth bass virus has affected smallmouth bass, and this finding substantiates the thinking of some Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas who suspect that the virus has afflicted the smallmouth bass in some of Kansas’ reservoirs.
Thus we have begun to fear that 2019 will be as trying as 2018 was, and it was indeed a trying year.
We need to also note that two anglers on the Finesse News Network have reported that a similar phenomenon to what has happened at the power-plant reservoir in northeastern Kansas has occurred at a 41,779-acres reservoir in northeastern Oklahoma. These anglers contend that problem stems from extremely heavy angler predation and too many tournaments. One of these FFN members, who is a veteran and successful national tournament angler, says he never wants to fish at this reservoir again, but to his consternation, he is scheduled to compete in a Bassmaster’s tournament on this reservoir on Sept. 12, 13, and 14.
Despite our despair about the state of the black bass fishing in the various locales in the Midwest, we are eternally grateful that Steve Reideler proofread every word and made these logs more readable and understandable. And some of his angling woes are described below.
This was my first outing since Dec. 12. During the past 25 days, we were engaged in many delightful family celebrations. One of the continuous celebrations revolved around our oldest daughter’s return on Dec. 14 from spending three years in Tanzania. Her return was also highlighted by our celebration of Patty’s 78th birthday, Christmas, and our oldest granddaughter’s wedding on New Year’s Eve.
During these 25 days, our flatland reservoirs were covered with ice for a spell. And after the ice melted, it rained substantially, which affected the water levels and clarity. Then, these reservoirs became covered with ice again, and on Jan. 4 and 5, the ice melted again.
My cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I ventured to one of northeastern Kansas’ community reservoirs on Jan. 7.
I tried to fish this reservoir on Dec. 12 for 95 minutes. But 50 percent of it was covered with ice. Most of the traditional wintertime largemouth bass locales were covered with sheets of ice. I spent most of this outing breaking ice, and I struggled to catch one largemouth bass.
The Weather Underground on Jan. 7 reported that it was 56 degrees at 12:53 a.m. and 59 degrees at 11:53 a.m. The wind angled from the south, south by southwest, southwest, west by southwest, and west at seven to 31 mph. The sky fluctuated from being cloudy, mostly cloudy, and fair. The barometric pressure was 28.5 at 12:53 a.m., 28.5 at 5:53 a.m., 28.6 at 11:53 a.m., and 28.6 at 1:53 p.m.
The surface temperature fluctuated from 39 to 40 degrees. The water level was a few inches above normal. The water exhibited from 10 to 24 inches of visibility; when I fished this reservoir on Dec. 12, it exhibited more than six feet of visibility. In winters past, we have found that the largemouth bass fishing is often problematic when the water temperature is in the upper 30s and the clarity is less than three feet. For instance, the water clarity at this reservoir exhibited six feet of visibility and the surface temperature ranged from 37 to 39 degrees on Jan. 2, 2017, and we caught 19 largemouth bass in four hours.
In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 10:39 a.m. to 12:39 p.m., 11:07 p.m. to 1:07 a.m., and 4:55 a.m. to 6:55 a.m. Rick and I fished from 9:53 a.m. to 1:33 p.m.
We were hoping to focus our attentions on patches of submerged coontail that grace many of the reservoir's shallow-water flats and shorelines. Traditionally, those haunts are our most fruitful ones during the winter. But to our chagrin, the patches of coontail were either severely wilted or extinct.
We caught a largemouth bass on our third cast. It was caught on a shortened Z-Man Fishing Products’ Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig with a drag-and-shake presentation in about six feet of water and 25 feet from the water’s edge. This largemouth bass was abiding around a patch of coontail along a flat shoreline in the upper third of this reservoir’s primary feeder-creek arm.
We failed to engender another strike until 12:16 p.m., and this strike yielded a largemouth bass. It was caught on a Z-Man’s Junebug TRD MinnowZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig with a drag-and-shake presentation in five feet of water around a patch of coontail that embellishes a small offshore hump in the upper third of this reservoir’s primary feeder-creek arm.
We failed to elicit another strike until 1:10 p.m., and we failed to hook it. This fish folded the torso of the Hula StickZ rig over the point of the hook. This strike occurred about 20 feet from the water’s edge in about five feet of water on the initial drop of the rig in the vicinity of a patch of coontail along a flat shoreline in the upper third of this reservoir’s primary feeder-creek arm.
To compensate for the demise of the coontail lairs, we made numerous casts and retrieves along steeper and deeper locales, but they were fruitless, which they often are during our wintertime outings on northeastern Kansas’ flatland reservoirs.
In closing, we are sorry to note that 2018 was the worst year that we have ever experienced as dyed-in-the-wool Midwest finesse anglers, and 2019 began as dismally as 2018 ended.
Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Jan. 7 endeavors.
Here is a slightly edited version of his log:
The first three days of January 2019 started off wet and cold, and a few areas northwest of Ft. Worth received rain mixed with snow and ice. But the next four days warmed up nicely and folks in my neck of the woods have enjoyed several days of daytime temperatures that reached the upper 60s and lower 70s.
When the rain stopped and the weather began to improve on Jan. 4, I spent the afternoon driving around the Denton area inspecting three U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoirs and five smaller community reservoirs. The recent rain flooded three of our five smaller community reservoirs, and several of the feeder-creek arms that I inspected at the three Corps’ reservoirs were cold and muddy.
My truck, which was damaged in a motor vehicle accident on Dec. 17, 2018, is still in the repair shop and I currently do not have the means to tow my boat. Therefore, John Thomas of Denton and I elected to conduct our first outing of 2019 meandering along the shorelines of a heavily-fished community reservoir in a suburb northwest of Dallas.
It was warm and sunny on Jan. 7. We watched a few wispy clouds drifting slowly across a picturesque blue sky. The morning low temperature was 59 degrees and the afternoon high climbed to 73 degrees. The wind quartered out of the south and southwest at 10 to 15 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.0 at 11:00 a.m. and 29.97 at 3:00 p.m.
According to In-Fisherman’s solar calendar, the best fishing would take place from 5:03 a.m. to 7:03 a.m., 10:47 a.m. to 12:47 p.m., and 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. John and I fished from about 11:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.
The water displayed about 18 inches of visibility. The water temperature ranged from 52 degrees along the south portion of the west shoreline to 57 degrees along the north end of the east shoreline. The water level appeared normal.
We slowly and meticulously dissected the most promising features that this reservoir has to offer, and it was a grind to scrounge up five largemouth bass in three hours.
Four of these five largemouth bass were caught in the colder 52-degree water on the west side of the reservoir. The other largemouth bass was caught from the warmer 57-degree water on the reservoir’s east shoreline.
Three largemouth bass were caught in four to six feet of water from the end of a small tertiary point that is situated on the south end of the west shoreline.
One was caught from the remnants of a patch of winter-dead submerged aquatic vegetation near the west end of a concrete dam on the south end of the reservoir. This bass was abiding in eight feet of water and about 25 feet from the water’s edge.
The last largemouth was caught in three feet of water and within 10 feet the water’s edge from the side of a shallow clay and gravel point that protrudes from the north end of the east shoreline.
We failed to generate any strikes along several sections of two steeply-slopped sand and gravel shorelines, a couple of clay and gravel points, a long and shallow sand and gravel ledge, and the area around a ditch that cuts through a shallow mud flat.
Four largemouth bass were allured by a Z-Man’s Canada craw TRD CrawZ rigged on a custom-painted chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig that was employed with an extremely slow drag-shake-and-deadstick retrieve. The other largemouth bass preferred a custom-painted chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig dressed with a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin TRD TubeZ. This combo was utilized with a slow drag-no-shake-and-deadstick presentation.
We failed to elicit any strikes with a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig, a Z-Man’s PB&J TRD HogZ affixed on a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig, a Z-Man’s Canada craw TRD HogZ mounted on a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig, and a Z-Man’s 1/8-ounce green-pumpkin Micro Finesse jig with a 2.75-inch Z-Man’s green-pumpkin BatwingZ trailer.
In sum, our first January outing of this young new year was a big disappointment. We spoke with two other anglers who were also plying this reservoir, and they reported that they had failed to entice any strikes with their drop-shot rigs and suspending jerkbaits. Nonetheless, this lousy result is still better than the one or two strikes per day that most black bass anglers in north-central Texas garner during the cold-water months of January and February.
The Weather Underground reported that it was 41 degrees at 7:52 a.m. and 53 degrees at 2:52 p.m. The wind angled from the west by northwest, west, and northwest at 5 to 35 mph. The sky was fair. The barometric pressure was 29.0 at 12:52 a.m., 29.2 at 5:52 a.m., 29.4 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.4 at 2:52 p.m.
In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 12:29 a.m. to 2:21 a.m., 12:52 p.m. to 2:52 p.m., and 6:40 a.m. to 8:40 a.m. I fished from 11:45 a.m. to 2:19 p.m. at one of the many community reservoirs that stipple the rural and exurban landscapes of northeastern Kansas.
The surface temperature was 40 degrees. The water level was normal. The water was stained to the point that I could barely see my Junebug rigs in 12 inches of water and the pearl ones in 15 inches of water.
During the winter, it is always disheartening to arrive at the boat ramp and see that the water clarity is exhibiting less than three feet of visibility, and in contrast, it is often heartening when the water is exhibiting five to six feet of visibility. So, as I launched the boat, my examination of the water clarity tamed any sense of hope that this outing would be an easy one.
But it was a tad more rewarding than the one that my cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I endured on Jan. 7 at another community reservoir.
Besides the water clarity woes, the wind was an obstacle on Jan. 8. Therefore, I spent the entire two hours and 34 minutes hiding from it inside one of this reservoir’s large feeder-arms, and traditionally, this arm has been a very fruitful locale for catching scores and scores and scores of wintertime largemouth bass in years past with Midwest finesse tactics.
I spent the first 45 minutes about halfway inside this feeder creek, probing a medium-size shallow-water flat and a short portion of its adjacent shoreline. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and silt. It possesses a 25- to 30-degree slope. Patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, such as curly-leaf pondweed, adorn portions of this area. To my chagrin, I failed to elicit a strike from these patches of vegetation.
I spent the last 109 minutes of this outing probing portions of a massive flat in the backend of this creek arm. (There have been times in winters past when two of us have caught as many as 101 largemouth bass in four hours or less.) This area is the size of about six or seven football fields. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and lots of silt. It possesses a 15- to 20-degree slope. Portions of it are embellished with significant patches of curly-leaf pondweed and Eurasian milfoil. Ultimately, I found an area that is slightly larger than three tennis courts, which had a school or two of gizzard shad that were occasionally popping and tinkling the surface. There was also a minor insect hatch and a turtle sunning itself upon a laydown. Besides crossing paths with the gizzard shad, insects, and turtle, I somehow caught seven largemouth bass and one humongous white crappie.
Three of the largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man’s Junebug TRD MinnowZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig with a drag-and-shake presentation in four to five feet of water. Two of the largemouth bass and the crappie were caught on a three-inch Z-Man’s pearl Slim SwimZ affixed to a red 1/10-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig with a straight swimming retrieve in five feet of water. One largemouth bass was caught on a Z-Man’s pearl Finesse ShadZ affixed to a blue 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig that was strolled in six feet of water with a drag-and-shake presentation. One largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of a shortened Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig in five feet of water.
In conclusion, it was another difficult endeavor. We are coming to the conclusion that the effectiveness of our Midwest finesse tactics have waned perceptibly during the past year or two. We also must note that some of this decline might stem from the fact that my nearly 79-year-old mind and body does not possess the wherewithal that it once possessed.
Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his Jan. 10 endeavors.
Here is a slightly edited version of his log:
Another cold front and more cold rain is in the offing for Jan. 11. Therefore, I thought I would squeeze in one more afternoon bank-walking outing at a community reservoir that is located in a northwest Dallas’ suburb.
John Thomas of Denton and I fished this reservoir on Jan.7, and we had a difficult time catching five largemouth bass in three hours.
In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the most lucrative fishing periods would occur from 1:24 a.m. to 3:24 a.m., 7:35 a.m. to 9:35 a.m., and 1:47 p.m. to 3:47 p.m. I fished from 12:17 p.m. to 3:47 p.m.
The weather was beginning to worsen in north-central Texas on Jan. 10. The sky was grey and overcast, and it was getting colder. The morning low temperature was 36 degrees and the afternoon high reached 50 degrees before it began to drop again. The wind quartered out of the south by southeast at 8 to 12 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.36 at noon and dropped to 30.25 at 3:00 p.m.
The water exhibited about 1 1/4 feet of visibility. The water temperature in the main-lake area ranged from 52 to 57 degrees on Jan. 7, but it had cooled to 50 degrees this day. I found the warmest water in a feeder-creek arm on the northeast end of the reservoir, which was 53 degrees.
This reservoir’s submerged terrain consists of sand, clay, and gravel.
I started fishing at the north end of the west shoreline and worked my way southward. I failed to cross paths with any largemouth bass at a shallow ditch that winds its way across the south end of a large mud flat that forms the north end of the reservoir. I also failed to generate any strikes from two small points south of the ditch. The steep and middle section of this shoreline was also unproductive.
At 1:42 p.m., I caught my first largemouth bass of the outing near a small tertiary point on the south end of the west shoreline. This largemouth was abiding in six feet of water and about 25 feet off the end of the point. It was attracted to a slow drag-and-deadstick presentation with a Z-Man’s PB&J TRD HogZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. This same point relinquished three largemouth bass on Jan. 7.
After I finished dissecting the west shoreline, I focused my attention on a concrete-slab dam that forms the south perimeter of the reservoir. A small patch of submerged aquatic vegetation in five feet of water next to the west end of the dam surrendered one largemouth bass. It was enticed by the PB&J TRD HogZ rig as it was slowly dragged and deadsticked through the patch of submerged vegetation. The remainder of the dam was fruitless.
After I fished the dam, I worked my way northward along the east shoreline. This shoreline is flat and straight along its lower or south end, and a shallow ditch courses outward into the middle of the reservoir. Its middle section is curved and steeper than the rest of this shoreline, and it features a large point. The north end flattens out again and is endowed with a long submerged clay-and-gravel point. Most of this shoreline is adorned with a submerged sand-and-gravel ledge that parallels this shoreline. It is covered with about two feet of water and quickly descends into six to eight feet of water.
I caught one largemouth bass from this shoreline. It was extracted from the bottom of the ditch in seven feet of water along the lower or southern section of this shoreline. It engulfed the PB&J TRD HogZ combo as it settled to the bottom on its initial drop. I failed to generate any strikes from the steeper midsection and northern end of this shoreline.
The upper or northern end of this reservoir is difficult to fish. It encompasses a large and shallow mud flat, and the shoreline is festooned with tall and thick stands of cattails.
The most accessible area to fish along this section of the reservoir is a small feeder-creek that enters the reservoir on the east end of the shoreline. One side of this feeder-creek used to be lined with tall stands of cattails, but they were recently cut down. The bottom terrain of this creek is composed of mostly clay and is littered with fist-size rocks. The water in this creek exhibited about a foot of visibility. The water temperature was 53 degrees. A visible and light current was flowing through the creek. I caught three largemouth bass from three feet of water in a relatively deep pool in the upper end of this small creek. They were caught on the PB&J TRD HogZ rig and a do-nothing deadstick presentation.
Surprisingly, the only effective lure was a Z-Man’s PB&J TRD HogZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig. I failed to elicit any strikes with a Z-Man’s 1/8-ounce black-blue Micro Finesse jig with a 2.75-inch Z-Man’s black-blue BatwingZ trailer, a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ on a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig, a Z-Man’s PB&J Hula StickZ on a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig, a 3.5-inch Z-Man’s coppertreuse Trick ShotZ on a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig, and a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pumpkinseed Slim SwimZ on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig.
A painfully slow drag-and-deadstick retrieve caught three largemouth bass in the main-lake area, and a do-nothing deadstick presentation caught three largemouth bass in the small feeder-creek arm. I failed to provoke any strikes using a drag-and-shake retrieve, a slow and steady swimming retrieve, and a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation.
In closing, it was another tough and tedious day of fishing. I had hoped that the fishing would be more productive before the cold front and thunderstorms arrived on Jan. 11. Those hopes did not materialize, but I did manage to catch six largemouth bass which was an improvement over my horrible two-bass outing on Jan. 9.
The Weather Underground reported that it was 20 degrees at 3:52 a.m. and 42 degrees at 2:52 p.m. The wind was calm during the early morning hours, and then it angled out of the east, east by southeast, southeast, and south by southeast at 5 to 13 mph. The sky fluctuated from being cloudy, fair, and partly cloudy. The barometric pressure was 29.2 at 12:52 a.m., 29.4 at 5:52 a.m., 29.4 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.3 at 2:52 p.m.
In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 1:15 a.m. to 3:15 a.m., 1:37 p.m. to 3:37 p.m., and 7:26 a.m. to 9:26 a.m. I was afloat from 10:52 a.m. to 1:52 p.m. at one of northeastern Kansas’ many state reservoirs.
The surface temperature was 38 degrees, and thin sheets of ice covered some of the shallow-water portions of this reservoir. The water level looked to be about 18 inches above its normal level. The water exhibited 3 1/2 feet of visibility. Its patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, which are quite bountiful in the spring, summer, and fall, were very wilted and difficult to find.
The water clarity at most of the small flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas ranges from 12 inches to 18 inches, and when the water is that stained, our largemouth bass fishing is usually problematic in January. What’s more, this reservoir, for some unknown reason, has been a difficult wintertime venue for years on end, and because it is so difficult, I have not fished it for a goodly number of winters. But because it is clearer than the other nearby reservoirs, I faint-heartedly elected to fish it on this outing. And as I feared, this outing was another horrendous one.
I caught two largemouth bass during the first 10 minutes. They were abiding in about eight feet of water on a flat in the back half of a small feeder-creek arm. The underwater terrain consisted of gravel, clay, and silt. There are a few skimpy patches of wilted coontail around the spot where I caught the two largemouth bass on a Z-Man’s green-pumpkin TRD TicklerZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig with a drag-and-subtle-shake presentation.
In the vicinity of a major brush pile that is situated on a massive flat in the back half of a major feeder-creek arm, I caught one largemouth bass. The underwater terrain consists of clay and gravel, and I suspected that it is graced with wilted patches of submerged vegetation, but I failed to detect any of those patches. This largemouth bass was caught on a shortened Z-Man’s Junebug Hula StickZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig with a drag-and-subtle-shake presentation in about six feet of water.
I caught the third one about two hours after I caught the first two, and for the next 50 minutes, I failed to elicit a strike.
According to the weather forecasters, it is going to rain on Jan. 12, and the rain will turn into snow during the evening hours, and it will continue snowing on Jan. 13. This will force me to take a hiatus from the plague of sorry largemouth bass fishing that has been waylaying me and other anglers in northeastern Kansas throughout 2018 and during the first 10 days of 2019.
It has been a difficult task for Midwest finesse anglers in northeastern Kansas and elsewhere to get afloat this winter.
Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, is one of those anglers. He resides in an urban and exurban locale that is damned with some of the worst fishing in America. He is an extremely talented Midwest finesse angler. And a number of years ago, he discovered that if he does not employ Midwest finesse tactics, it would be a rare feat for him to elicit a strike from a largemouth bass in the heart of the winter. Some of his and his fellow anglers' wintertime woes – especially those who are power anglers -- are the result of the Texas fisheries folks stocking Florida-strain largemouth bass in the reservoirs that grace the urban and exurban landscapes of north-central Texas.
Here is the log that entails his most recent endeavor, and it is almost a miracle he eked out a few largemouth bass.
It has been cold and windy in north-central Texas since Jan. 11, but Jan. 18 provided a nice break from the winter doldrums of the past week. The morning hours of Jan. 18 were overcast and the morning low was 42 degrees at 7:00 a.m. By 4:00 p.m., it was 69 degrees and the sky was partly cloudy. A robust wind blew steadily out of the southeast, south, and southwest at 15 to 25 mph throughout the day.
I was delighted to pick up my truck from the collision-repair shop on Jan. 16. It was damaged in a motor vehicle accident on Dec. 17. And now that I have my truck back, I had hoped to venture out on a nearby U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ hill-land reservoir on Jan. 18, but to my dismay, it was too windy. Therefore, I conducted a solo 3 1/2-hour bank-walking foray at a smaller community reservoir that lies on the northwest side of the Dallas metropolitan area.
This small impoundment has been our most fruitful venue so far this winter, but the fishing here has begun to fizzle out as it usually does this time of year. Nonetheless, it still offered the best chance for me to garner more than one or two strikes during an afternoon outing. The fishing at the other three community reservoirs that I have plied during the past month has become virtually fruitless, and I am having a difficult time mustering the enthusiasm to fish them.
The water exhibited about 14 inches of clarity. The water temperature was 51 degrees in the main-lake area and 57 degrees in a small feeder-creek on the northeast end of the reservoir.
Along the east shoreline, I dissected the sides of a long clay and gravel point, a steep sand and gravel point, a ditch, and a fairly long and shallow sand and gravel ledge close to the water’s edge. But I failed to elicit any strikes.
I also failed to generate any strikes along a concrete-slab dam on the south end of the reservoir.
On the lower or south end of the west shoreline, I induced my first strike of the afternoon, and it produced a largemouth bass. It was caught from the remaining stubble of a patch of submerged winter-dead aquatic vegetation, which is situated about 25 feet from the water’s edge in five feet of water. This largemouth bass engulfed a four-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin Finesse WormZ rigged on a custom-painted chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig. This combo was employed with an extremely slow drag-and-deadstick presentation, and each cast and retrieve took three to four minutes to complete. I was unable to provoke any other strikes from two tertiary points, the area around a fishing pier in the midsection of this shoreline, another larger point, and a ditch at its upper end.
I spent the last 20 minutes of this outing dissecting a small feeder creek that flows into the reservoir from the east end of the north shoreline. Its underwater terrain consists of mostly clay, gravel, and fist-size rocks. Usually, there is a light current flowing through this creek, but I did not detect any current this time.
The only productive area in this creek was a relatively large pool on the north end of the creek, and it surrendered three largemouth bass and one large bluegill. This pool is the largest one in this creek, and it is about 15 feet wide and 30 feet long. These fish were extracted from a cluster of rocks in three feet of water that lie near the west shoreline of the creek. They were coaxed into striking a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ fastened on a custom-painted chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig as it was deadsticked for about 15 seconds around the cluster of rocks.
In conclusion, the fishing was slow and difficult. I did not elicit any strikes during the first couple of hours of this outing. But by the time this 3 1/2 hour endeavor came to an end, I had finally dredged up four largemouth bass and one large bluegill. Three of the four bass were caught during the last 20 minutes of the outing.
I employed a number of Z-Man’s Midwest finesse baits rigged on an array of Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jigs that were utilized with several of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves without any success.
I also failed to entice any strikes with a small Silver Buddy vibrating blade bait that I used with a slow six- to 10-inch lift-and-drop retrieve across the bottom. I have never caught any largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, or spotted bass with a blade bait in the stained waterways of north-central Texas and at another reservoir known for its smallmouth bass fishing in south-central Oklahoma, but I like to experiment with them every now and then and see if I can conjure up an additional strike or two.
One largemouth bass was caught on the four-inch Z-Man’s pumpkin Finesse WormZ rig and a slow drag-and-deadstick retrieve. Three largemouth bass and the large bluegill were caught on the 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s PB&J ZinkerZ combo and a slow deadstick presentation.
Mother Nature is sending north-central Texas another cold and blustery blast of winter weather on Jan. 19, and this drastic weather change will probably keep us at bay for the next several days.
The effectiveness of Midwest finesse fishing has come to a standstill at many locales in the United States, including northeastern Kansas and north-central Texas.
Unfortunately, despair rather than hope is plaguing many of our minds about how 2019 will unfold.
A variety of situations and circumstances have caused this phenomenon.
In this log, Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, delineates one of the many problems that plague the waterways that he and Rick Allen have to contend with around Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.
Rick Allen of Dallas and I ventured to a heavily-fished U.S. Army Corps’ of Engineers’ reservoir that lies in the northern suburbs of the Dallas metropolitan area. It was the first time I have fished this reservoir since Dec. 17, 2018. When I arrived at the Park Ranger booth at the entrance to the boat ramp area, the park ranger reported that the black bass fishing was horrendous and many black bass anglers were returning to the ramp empty handed.
We began the outing fishing inside a minor feeder-creek arm in this reservoir’s northern region for 2 1/2 hours, where we spent most of our time pursuing white bass. Then during the last 90 minutes of this outing, we moved to the south end of the reservoir and plied the riprap along the dam, a riprap-laden bridge embankment, a couple of concrete support columns underneath a bridge, and a rocky secondary point inside another feeder-creek arm in search of a few largemouth bass and spotted bass.
It was a clear and sunny winter day. The wind was light and variable. The morning low temperature was 31 degrees and the afternoon high was 56 degrees. The barometric pressure measured 30.20 at 11:19 a.m. and 30.10 at 4:19 p.m.
In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 3:05 a.m. to 5:05 a.m., 9:17 a.m. to 11:17 a.m., and 3:29 p.m. to 5:29 p.m. Rick and I fished from noon to 4:00 p.m.
The water in this reservoir has been muddy for weeks on end, but we were delighted to find that the water had cleared up significantly and displayed 1 1/2 feet of clarity, which is its normal clarity. The water level was 0.46 feet above normal. The surface temperature inside the feeder-creek arm in the upper end of the reservoir varied from 52 to 56 degrees. In the lower end of the reservoir, the water temperature varied from 46 to 50 degrees.
This reservoir is devoid of any aquatic vegetation. The underwater terrain consists of rocks, boulders, gravel, and red clay.
Inside the first feeder-creek arm on the north end of the reservoir, we caught five white bass. All five of them were caught in five to eight feet of water near the main-creek channel. Three were caught on a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man’s pearl Slim SwimZ rigged on either a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig or a chartreuse 3/32-ounce mushroom-style jig that was employed with a slow and steady retrieve. One was caught on a Z-Man’s coppertreuse Finesse TRD affixed on a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig and a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation. The other one was caught on a Z-Man’s black-blue TRD HogZ fastened on a blue 1/20-ounce Z-Man’s Finesse ShroomZ jig that was implemented with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.
We failed to locate any largemouth bass or spotted bass in this creek.
This feeder-creek arm used to be one of our most fruitful wintertime locales during the winters of 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. But it has been devoid of largemouth bass and spotted bass this winter. We also noticed that other species of fish that normally inhabit this creek arm, such as crappie and bluegill, have also been absent. We crossed paths with another bass angler who was fishing in this creek arm and spoke with him. He informed us that in Sept. 2018, a nearby sewer line had broken and large amounts of raw sewage had leaked into this creek arm. And since that awful event occurred, he has not caught a single black bass in this creek.
After we finished talking with the other angler, Rick and I continued to fish for white bass for a short period of time without success. We then decided to look for some black bass in the lower end of the reservoir.
We made a 15-minute run to the middle section of the dam, which forms the southern perimeter of the reservoir. We plied a 50-yard section of riprap that covers the dam. While we were fishing, we noticed that there were no large aggregations of threadfin shad around the dam, and we were unable to garner any strikes.