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Midwest Finesse Fishing: December 2020

Dec. 1

Ned and Pat Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas, posted a brief log on the Finesse News Network about their brief outing on Dec. 1 outing at one of northeastern Kansas' many community reservoirs.

Here is an edited version of their log.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 20 degrees at 2:53 a.m. and 50 degrees at 1:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the south, southeast, and east at 3 to 20 mph. The sky was fair. The barometric pressure was 30.11 at 12:53 a.m., 30.07 at 5:53 a.m., 30.04 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.01 at 1:53 p.m.

As we traveled to and from this community reservoir, we noticed several small farm ponds were covered with a skim of ice.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 10:35 a.m. to 12:35 p.m., 4:23 a.m. to 6:23 a.m., and 4:48 p.m. to 6:48 p.m.

It is predicted that Mother Nature's wintery ways will keep us at bay for a couple of days. Therefore, we decided to squeeze in a very short outing on a very busy first day of December. It is interesting to note that short outings are getting to be a regular feature of our angling ways, and it seems to please our geriatric demeanors. This one began at about 11:20 a.m. and concluded at 12:50 p.m.

Our Secchi stick indicated that there was more than six feet of visibility. The surface temperature fluctuated from 45 to 46 degrees. The water level was normal, and some water was flowing across the spillway.

We caught four largemouth bass along the dam, which has a 50- to 70-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders, and some of this terrain is embellished with patches of coontail and filamentous algae. Its water's edge is graced with patches of winter-dead American water willows. These largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man Fishing Products' Canada-craw TRD HogZ affixed to a light-blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. One was caught on the initial drop of the rig in about five feet of water adjacent to a patch of winter-dead American water willows. The other three were caught on a drag-shake-and-pause presentation in six to nine feet of water and about 12 to 18 feet from the water's edge.

Along about a 50-yard stretch of a main-lake shoreline that is adjacent to a main-lake point in the upper half of this reservoir, we caught three largemouth bass. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and some significant boulders, and portions of this terrain are adorned with patches of coontail. The shoreline has a 35- to 40- degree slope. The water's edge is graced with patches of winter-dead American water willows and five docks. One largemouth bass was caught on a Z-Man's bama-craw TRD BugZ affixed to a light-blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead with a drag-and-pause presentation in about seven feet of water in the vicinity of one of the docks, and the other two largemouth bass were caught at the same locale on the TRD HogZ rig with a drag-and-pause presentation in about seven feet of water.

We caught nine largemouth bass along a 100-yard stretch of a main-lake shoreline in the upper half of this reservoir. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. Portions of this terrain are adorned with patches of coontail, filamentous algae, and some manmade brush piles. The shoreline has a 35- to 40- degree slope. The water's edge consists of five docks and several rock and concrete retaining walls. These largemouth bass were caught on our TRD HogZ rigs. Two were caught adjacent to two of the docks on a drag-and-pause presentation in about six feet of water. Two were caught on the initial drop around patches of coontail in five to six feet of water. The other five were caught around patches of coontail with a drag-shake-and-pause presentation in four to seven feet of water.

In sum, we caught 16 largemouth bass in 90 minutes.

Dec. 4

Ned Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas, posted a brief log on the Finesse News Network about his Dec. 4 outing at one of northeastern Kansas' many community reservoirs.

Here is an edited version of his log.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 18 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 53 degrees at 2:52 p.m. The wind was calm from 12:52 a.m. to 7:52 a.m., and then it angled out of the northwest, north, and west at 3 to 12 mph. The sky was fair. The barometric pressure was 30.12 at 12:52 a.m., 30.06 at 5:52 a.m., 30.09 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.04 at 2:52 p.m.

It was predicted that northeastern Kansas would be walloped by Mother Nature's wintery ways on Dec. 2 and 3. These predictions provoked the public works department to coat many of our roadways with salt. But those predictions never materialized.

The water's surface temperature was 45 degrees. The water level looked to be about 12 inches below its normal level. This reservoir was afflicted with an algae bloom, and the Secchi stick revealed that there were about three feet of visibility. A series of algae blooms have plagued this reservoir since its managers used an aquatic herbicide to eradicate patches of Eurasian milfoil in early August. We are thankful to note that the December algae blooms are not as intense as they were in August, September, October, and November.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 1:01 a.m. to 3:01 a.m., 1:28 p.m. to 3:28 p.m., and 7:14 a.m. to 9:14 a.m.

I fished from 12:46 p.m. to 2:49 p.m., and it was a mighty struggle to catch 13 largemouth bass.

I spent most of the time methodically dissecting about 700-yards of a shoreline inside one of this reservoir's primary feeder-creek arms, which has traditionally been our most fruitful cold-water locale. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, boulders, and silt. Some of the underwater terrains were missed by the herbicide applications, and these locales are now endowed with some meager patches of Eurasian milfoil. Its water's edge is bedizened with occasional patches of American water willows, laydowns, brush piles, 20 docks, and several retaining walls. This shoreline has a 25- to 45-degree slope.

Only three small areas along this shoreline were somewhat fruitful. The rest of these 700 yards failed to yield a strike. These three areas were shallow-water flats adjacent to the shoreline. They were adorned with some meager patches of Eurasian milfoil. One of them was embellished with a massive pile of brush. A dock was adjacent to two of them.

One of these largemouth bass was caught in about four feet of water on the initial drop of a Z-Man's pearl Rain MinnowZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead.

Four largemouth bass were caught in a 30-foot by 30-foot area on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin-blue Finesse ShadZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. One was caught near the edge of a dock with a drag-shake-and-pause presentation in about five feet of water. Three were caught along the outside edge of the massive brush pile. One was caught on the initial drop, and two were caught on a swim-glide-and-minor-shake presentation.

Five largemouth bass were caught in about a 20-foot wide and 50-foot long area that is graced with a dock that is surrounded by some scanty patches of Eurasian milfoil. They were caught on the Finesse ShadZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation in five to seven feet of water.

I quickly examined and fished along short portions of two shorelines inside another primary feeder-creek arm, where I eked out three largemouth bass.

One was caught around a tertiary point on the initial drop of the Finesse ShadZ rig around a pile of boulders and rocks in about four feet of water. The other two were caught around another tertiary point in three to four feet of water. One was caught on the initial drop of the Finesse ShadZ rig, and the other one was caught on the initial drop of a Z-Man's green-pumpkin TRD HogZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead.

Endnotes

The largemouth bass and smallmouth bass fishing in all of our community and state reservoirs have been trying for Midwest finesse anglers and our power-fishing colleagues for the past two to three years. Many of these anglers are wondering what has caused these piscatorial frustrations.

Some of these anglers have concluded that the problem stems from the fact that our reservoirs have been waylaid by very intense fishing pressure, and a goodly number of these anglers are using Midwest finesse rigs, which causes the black bass to be wary and reluctant to engulf a Midwest finesse rig.

Some anglers note that the decline at several of the community reservoirs parallels the vast usage of aquatic herbicides.

Several other anglers point to the fact that the largemouth bass virus has been circulating around northeastern Kansas for the past 10 years. According to these anglers, the arise of heavy fishing pressure and the demise of submerged aquatic vegetation seems to have compounded the dastardly effects of the virus. Some of us are hoping that we can convince the managers of our reservoirs to cultivate submerged aquatic vegetation and maintain it manually than with herbicides.

It is, however, important to note that the black bass fishing in northeastern Kansas is not as dreadful as it is at other locales across the United States. For example, after Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, edited our Dec. 1 log, he reacted to our laments about the sorry fishing in northeastern Kansas by saying: "I wish we had a strain of largemouth bass that would readily bite in 45-degree water instead of these Florida-strain largemouth bass that become comatose in the winter. You won't see anyone down here catching 16 largemouth bass in 45- to 46-degree water in 10 hours -- not to mention in 90 minutes!"

Dec. 5

Ned and Pat Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about their Dec. 5 outing at one of northeastern Kansas' many state reservoirs.

Here is an edited version of their log.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 21 degrees at 3:53 a.m. and 53 degrees at 3:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the northwest and north at 3 to 13 mph. The sky was fair. The barometric pressure was 30.12 at 12:53 a.m., 30.13 at 5:53 a.m., 30.18 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.12 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 2:01 a.m. to 4:o1 a.m., 2:27 p.m. to 4:27 p.m., and 8:14 a.m. to 10:14 a.m.

Our Secchi stick indicated that there were more than seven feet of visibility, and the water was clear enough to see most of the intricate details of a dead largemouth bass that was lying in more than six feet of water on a flat in the back of a feeder-creek arm. The water level looked to be about 10 inches below its normal level. The surface temperature fluctuated from 42 to 43 degrees, which indicates that our water temperatures are descending to their wintertime levels.

The weather and the water clarity was delightful; it didn't look and feel like a typical December day in northeastern Kansas. We fished from 11:50 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. in hopes of catching at least 25 largemouth bass. To our chagrin, however, we were able to eke out just 18 largemouth bass and one white crappie.

We determined that our primary problem on this outing revolved around our inability to find any significant patches of submerged aquatic vegetation that embellished the shallow-water flats and flat shorelines inside this reservoir's feeder-creek arms.

For years on end as we have fished the flatland reservoirs that adorn the various countrysides of northeastern Kansas, we have discovered that submerged aquatic vegetation is a vital ingredient for locating and catching largemouth bass from shallow-water lairs in cold water. If the shallow-water flats and flat shorelines of a flatland reservoir are devoid of submerged aquatic vegetation, such as coontail, curly-leaf pondweed, or Eurasian milfoil, the largemouth bass seem to possess a pelagic nature, which makes them difficult to locate and catch.

On this trying outing, we caught 16 largemouth bass along about a 200-yard stretch of a shallow-water shoreline in the upper reaches of one of this reservoir's primary feeder-creek arms. This shoreline has a 25- to 35-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and some boulders. The water's edge is endowed with patches of winter-dead American water willows, some laydowns, a few overhanging trees, several stumps, and an occasional pile of brush. On occasions, we found a meager patch of brittle naiad, which failed to yield a largemouth bass.

Four of the 16 largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man The Deal Finesse TRD rigged on a light-blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. They were caught on a drag-and-shake-and-slight-pause presentation in five to about seven feet of water. Three of them were caught in the same area.

A dozen of the 16 were caught on a Z-Man's The Deal TRD HogZ affixed to a light-blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. Three were caught on the initial drop of this rig in five feet of water. The other nine were caught on a drag-shake-and-slight-pause presentation in five to about seven feet of water.

Five relatively small areas along this shoreline yielded 15 of the 16 largemouth bass. But we failed to determine why these five locales were fruitful and similar ones were not.

Inside another feeder-creek arm, we caught two largemouth bass. We caught them along a short portion of a flat shoreline. Its underwater terrain consists of silt, gravel, rocks, and some boulders. The water's edge is endowed with patches of winter-dead American water willows, a few laydowns, and a massive pile of brush. We encountered a tad of brittle naiad. One largemouth bass was caught on the Finesse TRD rig with a swim-and-glide presentation in about five feet of water. The other largemouth bass was caught on the TRD HogZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation, and it also caught the white crappie adjacent to the massive brush pile.

It is interesting to note that this reservoir used to have vast patches of coontail and brittle naiad clothing its shallow-water flats and flat shorelines, which allowed Midwest finesse anglers to relish a goodly number of outings when they tangled with 101 and more largemouth bass in four hours. But somehow these patches of vegetation have completely disappeared, and since then, Midwest finesse anglers and their power-fishing brethren have struggled to locate and catch the largemouth bass – especially when the water is cold.

Endnotes:

We examined our logs for the first five days of December from 2007 to 2020, and we discovered that these late-fall days can be very trying.

They also can be somewhat bountiful. Our most fruitful outing occurred on Dec. 1, 2011, at one of northeastern Kansas' community reservoirs that is endowed with many patches of coontail adorning its shallow-water flats and flat shorelines. The surface temperature was 45 degrees, and we caught and released 69 largemouth bass in four hours.

Then on Dec. 4, 2014, we struggled to catch six largemouth bass in four hours at this reservoir when the surface temperature ranged from 38 to 39 degrees.

Dec. 7

Ned and Pat Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas, posted a brief log on the Finesse News Network about their outing on Dec. 7 at one of northeastern Kansas' many community reservoirs.

Here is an edited version of their log.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 29 degrees at 7:53 a.m. and 54 degrees at 3:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the northwest, west, and southwest at 5 to 8 mph. The conditions of the sky varied from being foggy and misty, freezing fog, cluttered with a few clouds, and fair. The barometric pressure was 30.10 at 12:53 a.m., 30.12 at 5:53 a.m., 30.08 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.05 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 3:48 a.m. to 5:48 a.m., 4:13 p.m. to 6:13 p.m., and 10:01 a.m. to 12:01 p.m.

We fished from 12:07 p.m. to 2:37 p.m. Something seems to be awry with our abilities to catch largemouth bass, or it could be that something is askew with the largemouth bass populations in the small flatland reservoirs that we have been fishing during the past several weeks. Thus, on this outing, we struggled again to locate and catch a significant number of largemouth bass.

Our Secchi stick indicated that there were more than seven feet of visibility. The surface temperature was 45 degrees. The water level was normal, and some water was flowing over the spillway. This reservoir's patches of coontail, which embellish many of its shallow-water flats and flat shorelines, are wilting, and many of these patches are coated with burgeoning patches of filamentous algae, which readily adhered to our Midwest finesse rigs.

We caught one largemouth bass along the dam, which has a 50- to 70-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders, and some of this terrain is embellished with patches of coontail and filamentous algae. Its water's edge is graced with patches of winter-dead American water willows. This largemouth bass was caught on a 1/16-ounce silver-gray marabou jig with a hop-and-bounce presentation in about seven feet of water.

We caught 12 largemouth bass along about a 250-yard stretch of a main-lake shoreline in the upper half of this reservoir. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. Portions of this terrain are adorned with patches of coontail, filamentous algae, and some manmade brush piles. The shoreline has a 25- to 45- degree slope. The water's edge consists of a few patches of winter-dead American water willows, 21 docks, and several rock and concrete retaining walls.

Four of these 12 largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man's Canada-craw TRD MinnowZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. Two were caught adjacent to the edges of two docks with a drag-and-deadstick presentation in about six feet of water. The other two were caught on a drag-shake-and-pause presentation in five to seven feet of water.

Eight of the largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man's Canada-craw TRD HogZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. One was caught adjacent to the edge of one of the docks. One was caught on the initial drop near the outside edge of a patch of winter-dead American water willows and on a pile of rocks. Three were caught on a swim-glide-and-shake presentation around patches of coontail and filamentous algae in five to six feet of water. Three were caught on a drag-shake-and-pause presentation in six to eight feet of water.

Along a short segment of another shoreline in the upper half of this reservoir, we caught three largemouth bass. This shoreline has a 45-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and a few boulders, which are occasionally clothed with patches of coontail and filamentous algae. Its water's edge consists of patches of winter-dead American water willows, laydowns, and overhanging trees. Two of the three largemouth bass were caught on the TRD HogZ rig while we were strolling and employing a slow swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation in about six feet of water. The third largemouth bass was caught on the TRD HogZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation near the outside edge of a patch of winter-dead American willows in about five feet of water.

We made scores of casts and retrieves along two other shorelines and portions of a shallow-water flat in the upper half of the reservoir without eliciting a strike.

In sum, we struggled to catch 16 largemouth bass in 2 ½ hours.

Dec. 8

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Dec. 8 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log.

It's close to that time of year when the largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass bite in north-central Texas slows way down, and in another week or two, the bite will become virtually non-existent. Two examples of this annual phenomenon occurred on Nov. 30 and Dec. 5.

On Nov. 30, I fished for three hours at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' hill-land reservoir where the black bass fishing had been pretty decent earlier in the fall, and I caught only four largemouth bass.

The Dec. 5 foray was worse. Bill Kenny of Corinth, Texas, and I fished for 4 1/2 hours at the same Corps' reservoir that I fished on Nov 30. We thought we would ply a fruitful feeder-creek arm in the northwest portion of the reservoir, but the fishing was awful, and we could only muster two largemouth bass and one white bass.

After those two frustrating outings, I decided to travel to a different north-central Texas' Corps' reservoir on Dec. 8. I fished at this hill-land impoundment from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

I relished this gorgeous fall day. The sun was intensely bright, and there was not a cloud in sight for miles around. Area thermometers reported that it was 42 degrees at 5:00 a.m. and 69 degrees at 4:00 p.m. The wind was light and variable. The barometric pressure measured 30.24 at noon and 30.16 at 4:00 p.m.

According to In-Fisherman's solunar calendar, the most productive fishing periods would occur between 4:47 a.m. and 6:47 a.m., 10:59 a.m. to 12:59 p.m., and 9:22 p.m. to 11:22 p.m. The calendar also noted that the fishing would be poor.

The Corps is lowering this reservoir's water level to its winter level, and it appeared to be about three feet low on this day. The surface temperature ranged from 55 to 58 degrees. The water exhibited about 1 1/4 feet of visibility, but in several areas, a significant algae bloom was covering the surface of the water.

The black-bass bite was tough, and it was a grind to catch six largemouth bass and one spotted bass in three hours. I also caught two freshwater drum and one channel catfish.

I concentrated my efforts inside three feeder-creek arms, around two main-lake points in the midsection of the west tributary arm, and along a 50-yard stretch of riprap and a water-outlet tower at the center of the dam.

Three of the six largemouth bass were caught inside the first feeder-creek arm. They were caught in four to seven feet of water along two steep shorelines that are comprised of chunk rock mixed with pea gravel near the mouth of the creek arm. I failed to locate any threadfin shad or black bass in the middle and back end of this creek arm.

The second feeder-creek arm yielded one channel catfish. It was caught in six feet of water at a flat shoreline on the east side of the creek arm that also consists of chunk rock mixed with pea gravel. I was unable to generate any strikes from two rocky secondary points and two main-lake points at the entrance to this creek arm.

Inside the third feeder creek, I caught one spotted bass and one freshwater drum. They were caught in seven to 10 feet of water along the deep-water side of a shallow rock ledge that is situated along the south side of the lower portion of the creek arm. I also failed to locate any shad or black bass around two clay-and-gravel shorelines and a couple of rocky secondary points in the midsection of this creek arm.

In six to eight feet of water along a 50-yard section of riprap near the center of the dam, I caught one largemouth bass and one freshwater drum. And about 25-yards offshore from this section of the dam, I caught one largemouth bass that was suspended about 10 feet below the surface in 42 feet of water next to the west-side wall of a large concrete water-outlet tower.

All 10 of these fish were allured by a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve with a shortened Z-Man's mud-minnow Hula StickZ rigged on a black 1/16-ounce OG Mushroom Jighead. I was unable to garner any other strikes using a drag-and-deadstick retrieve, a hop-and-bounce retrieve, a drag-and-shake retrieve, and a slow steady swimming retrieve with several other Midwest finesse rigs. I also experimented with a suspending jerkbait that was employed with various cadences and combinations of jerks and pauses during the retrieve, but it was unproductive.

As an endnote, while I was driving home, I received a message from Bill Kenny that emphasized the tough fishing we have been experiencing. He was fishing at a small community reservoir in north-central Texas, where he had been having some success during the past few weeks, and he reported that he had caught only one largemouth bass this afternoon.

Dec 9 and 10

Here are two briefs from Ned and Pat Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas, about their discouraging outings on Dec. 9 and 10.

Here is an edited version of their briefs.

On Dec. 9, the National Weather Service reported that it was 29 degrees at 6:52 a.m. and 68 degrees at 2:52 p.m. The wind fluctuated from being calm to angling out of the northwest, west, and north at 3 to 9 mph. The sky was fair. The barometric pressure was 29.99 at 12:52 a.m., 29.97 at 5:52 a.m., 30.01 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.96 at 2:52 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 5:26 a.m. to 7:26 a.m., 5:51 p.m. to 7:51 p.m., and 11:14 a.m. to 1:14 p.m.

We fished at one of northeastern Kansas' state reservoirs from 11:20 a.m. to 1:40 p.m.

The surface temperature was 45 degrees. Our secchi stick indicated that there were more than eight feet of visibility. The water level looked to be about five feet below its normal level.

To no avail, we dissected an array of patches of curly-leaf pondweed and wilting patches of brittle naiad and coontail.

At four rock-laden lairs along three shorelines and around a secondary point, we somehow caught five largemouth bass.

Three were caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin-blue Finesse ShadZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead with a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation in four to six feet of water.

Two of the five were caught on a Z-Man's Canada-craw TRD MinnowZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. One was caught on a drag-and-deadstick presentation in about eight feet of water around a submerged rock fence. The second one was caught on a swim-glide-and-shake presentation in about four feet of water around a secondary point.

On Dec. 10, the National Weather Service reported that it was 26 degrees at 7:52 a.m. and 69 degrees at 2:52 p.m. The wind fluctuated from being calm to angling out of the southeast, northeast, east, and northwest at 3 to 9 mph. The sky was fair. The barometric pressure was 29.95 at 12:52 a.m., 29.90 at 5:52 a.m., 29.88 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.82 at 2:52 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 6:10 a.m. to 8:10 a.m., 6:35 p.m. to 8:35 p.m., and 11:57 a.m. to 1:57 p.m.

We fished from 11:10 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. at one of northeastern Kansas' many community reservoirs.

The surface temperature ranged from 45 to 46 degrees. Our secchi stick revealed that there were more than eight feet of visibility in the vicinity of the reservoir's dam. The water level looked to be nearly normal.

Ten years ago, on Dec. 9, 2010, I joined Stacey King of Reeds Spring, Missouri, at this reservoir to help him create some video footage for the Bass Pro Shops' "The Bass Pros" television show that focused on how and where to use Midwest finesse tactics. The surface temperature ranged from 38 to 40 degrees. A thin sheet of ice covered about five percent of the reservoir. King created enough footage in 3 ½ hours for the show by catching 38 largemouth bass. And it is interesting to note that he said it was the quickest that he had created that much footage.

But ten years and a day later, the first largemouth bass of the outing was caught on the first cast. But after that first cast, it was a horrendous task to catch 10 more largemouth bass during the next three hours and 58 minutes. What's more, none of those 11 largemouth bass would merit being included in a television show.

Three of the 11 were caught adjacent to the outside edge of patches of winter-dead American water willows and meager patches of coontail in four to eight feet of water along two shorelines in the upper half of the reservoir. Two were caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin-blue Finesse ShadZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead with a swim-and-glide presentation. One was caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin TRD TicklerZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead with a drag-and-shake presentation.

Eight largemouth bass were caught next to and relatively near six docks. These docks were situated along two shorelines in the upper half of this reservoir.

We fished around 16 docks along one of the shorelines, and four of these 16 docks yield the five largemouth bass. They were caught on a Z-Man's Canada-craw TRD HogZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. One was caught on a deadstick presentation in about seven feet of water. The other four were caught on a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation in six to 10 feet of water.

Along the second shoreline, we fished around nine docks, and three of the nine docks yielded a largemouth bass, which were caught on the TRD TicklerZ rig with a drag-and-shake presentation.

During our Dec. 9 and 10 outings, the other anglers that we crossed paths with complained about the sorry largemouth bass fishing.

Our angling records and memories reveal that the past six weeks of 2020 have provided us with the most perplexing and sorriest largemouth bass fishing of the past 10 years. We are now seriously thinking about not fishing for the final 20 days of the year, and Mother Nature might help motivate us to stay off the water.

Dec. 11 and 12

Travis Myers of Paw Paw, West Virginia, posted two logs on the Finesse News Network about his Dec. 11 and 12 outings.

Here are the edited versions of these logs.

I have been neglectful about submitting reports, but I have recently had some time in my schedule to do so.

I had been tracking the week's weather with a watchful eye, which I often do at this time of the year. A two-day and better yet a three-day warming trend is precisely what I target in my efforts to take advantage of wintering riverine smallmouth activity. It is even better if sunny weather is forecasted.

On Dec. 11, the daytime high was slated to reach 61 degrees. During the days prior to Dec. 11, air thermometers climbed to the high 30s.

The water temperature was 37 degrees. The river was flowing at 225 cubic feet per second.

I launched behind our home. I immediately got on the Jackson Big Tuna kayak's paddle and headed directly upriver in an effort to fish one of the areas where smallmouth bass spend the winter.

The spot is situated on the outside bend of the river. It is the size of two tennis courts. The slope of the bank is nearly vertical. The underwater terrain of this hole is littered with old red oaks and giant boulders. At the tail out of this hole, the depth is four feet, dropping into a 12- to 16-foot basin halfway to the top of the run.

As I entered from the bottom of the hole, I immediately dropped my new Power Pole and began making casts up and across the hole just off the sheer vertical bank.

Two casts into the outing, I was greeted with the first willing participant, which was a seven-pound channel catfish that intercepted my jig inches above some logs after I felt it pendulum through some branches.

On this outing, all of my willing takers intercepted my jigs after having counted them down in a no feel manner inches above the quagmire of substrate. This spot absolutely eats jigs if one is not cognizant of drop speed and current.

So, it went. I would cover a portion of the far side, hit the Power Pole and move up 10 feet, and repeat my casting grid.

I lipped 13 smallmouth bass and one channel catfish on a well-worn 2 3/8-inch Z-Man's The Dirt ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead.

I lipped 12 smallmouth bass on a highly modified Z-Man's mudbug TRD BugZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead.

I lipped eight smallmouth bass on a well-worn Z-Man's shiner Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. The Finesse ShadZ was decorated with a pair of eyes.

At the top of the hole, I lipped four smallmouth bass by employing down-and-across casts with a hop-and-bounce retrieve with the rod tip submerged. They were caught on a homemade black-and-olive hair jig (craft fur and black-bear hair) tied on a red 1/32-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. A shortened Z-Man's green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ was employed as a trailer.

My jigs' barbs were flattened. The rigs were coated with my customized Pro-Cure Super Gel scent.

I fished just shy of three hours and caught 37 smallmouth bass.

On Dec. 12, I couldn't discern any changes in the river. However, during the midday hours, the water temperature rose five degrees more than it did on Dec. 11.

I elected to use my UTV's winch to launch my Jackson Tuna down a sizable bank. I then headed less than 50 yards to the weak side of the river opposite a steep cliff. The steep cliff is on the strong side of the river, and it receives no sunlight at this time of year.

Consequentially, the water temperature remains much colder than it is on the weak side. The weak side has an average depth of four feet. During the winter, the steep cliff side harbors numbers of fish and big ones. But during the midday hours, the fish will move to the warmer water on the weak side of the river. And I took advantage of this phenomenon on Dec. 12.

During winters of the past, I have noticed that the first skims of ice usually form along the water's edge at the bases of these strong-side cliffs.

I began fishing on the weak side and there I remained.

The bottom consists of light-colored sand, which soaks up the sun's rays nicely.

I employed my Power Pole to anchor the kayak and make casts directly in front of it.

On three occasions, I witnessed two and as many as three fish following a hooked fish.

I executed a 10-15 second deadstick presentation with all of my offerings. I then moved my offering no more than six inches and repeated the deadstick motif.

I lipped 18 smallmouth bass on a heavily modified Z-Man's mudbug TRD BugZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead.

I lipped 15 smallmouth bass and two fall fish on a homemade black-and-olive hair jig (craft fur and black-bear hair) tied on a red 1/32-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. A shortened Z-Man's green-pumpkin Scented LeechZ was employed as a trailer.

My jigs' barbs were flattened. The rigs were coated with my customized Pro-Cure Super Gel scent.

I fished 2 1/2 hours and caught 33 smallmouth bass.

The weather forecast predicts that it will snow up to eight inches during the middle of next week, which will negate my use of a winch to launch the kayak in this area.

Dec. 18

Brandon Marlow of LaFollette, Tennessee, filed a log on the Finesse News Network about his outing on Dec 18.

Here is an edited version of his log.

I drove down to southeast Tennessee to fish with Billy Wheat of Dayton, Tennessee, on one of the reservoirs on the Tennessee River.

We fished from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

The National Weather Service reported that the low temperature was 21 degrees. The high temperature was 47 degrees. The wind fluctuated from being calm to angling out of the northeast and north at 3 to 8 mph. The sky fluctuated from being fair to being littered with a few clouds to being mostly cloudy. The barometric pressure was 30.04 at 12:53 a.m., 30.39 at 5:53 a.m., and 30.45 at 11:53 a.m.

The water level was 6 ½ feet below its full pool. The surface temperature was 47 degrees. The water exhibited three to four feet of visibility.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar reported that the best fishing would occur from 1:39 a.m. to 3:39 a.m., 2:05 p.m. to 4:05 p.m., and 7:52 a.m. to 9:52 a.m.

We caught 22 largemouth bass and one spotted bass.

Billy fished with the Z-Man's perfect-perch Finesse TRD on a green-pumpkin 1/5-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig. I used a Z-Man PB&J Finesse TRD on a green-pumpkin 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig with a number-two hook.

We began fishing inside the feeder-creek arm where we launched. We concentrated mostly on the creek channel's ledges. The black bass use these areas as highways, ambush points, and rest stops.

We caught 16 largemouth and one spotted bass in this creek arm. All were caught by casting up onto the flats and letting our rigs work down the ledges. Billy caught 10 on the perfect-perch Finesse TRD rig. I caught seven on the PB&J Finesse TRD rig. We caught these black bass by employing the drag-and-pause presentation, which allowed us to move our rigs just enough to allow them to work down the ledge.

Once we reached the mouth of the feeder-creek arm, we attempted to apply the same rigs and presentation on the ledges of the main river channel, but the current was too much for us to effectively present our rigs along those ledges.

Therefore, we made a short run-up the river to another creek arm. and we employed the same pattern.

The water inside this feeder-creek arm was muddy, exhibiting less than a foot of visibility. We caught two largemouth bass on the PB&J Finesse TRD rig and one on the perfect-perch Finesse TRD rig by using the drag-and-pause retrieve down the ledge.

Our final stop of the outing was a grass-lined ditch in a slough off of the main river channel. The perfect-perch Finesse TRD rig and its 1/5-ounce jig performed better in the grass than the PB&J Finesse TRD rig on a 1/16-ounce jig. Billy affixed his rig directly to his braided line rather than a leader, and it allowed him to rip the heavier rig through the grass similar to the way an angler would employ a Rat-L-Trap or similar types of lipless crankbaits. He caught our last three largemouth bass with this technique.

This was my first time with the Ned rig on a Tennessee River impoundment. I am looking forward to going back and expanding on what I learned this trip.

Dec. 19

Ned and Pat Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas, posted a log and several observations on the Finesse News Network about their outing on Dec. 19 at one of northeastern Kansas' community reservoirs.

Here is an edited version of their log.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 25 degrees at 4:52 a.m. and 43 degrees at 2:52 p.m. The wind angled out of the northwest, west, east, and southwest at 6 to 13 mph. The conditions of the sky varied from being foggy and misty to partly cloudy to fair. The barometric pressure was 30.07 at 12:52 a.m., 30.13 at 5:52 a.m., 30.13 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.08 at 2:52 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 2:17 a.m. to 4:17 a.m., 2:42 p.m. to 4:42 p.m., and 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

We were afloat from 12:25 p.m. to 2:50 p.m. and fished for about 130 of those 150 minutes.

The water's surface temperature was 41 degrees. The water level looked to be about 12 inches below its normal level. This reservoir was afflicted with an algae bloom, and the Secchi stick revealed that there were about two to three feet of visibility. A series of algae blooms have plagued this reservoir since its managers used an aquatic herbicide to eradicate patches of Eurasian milfoil in early August.

We are thankful to note that the December algae blooms are not as intense as they were in August, September, October, and November. Nevertheless, it is a rather disturbing sight to see and deal with an algae bloom in northeastern Kansas two days before the winter solstice.

For several years, we have been in constant hope that all of the managers of the flatland reservoirs and fisheries biologists in Kansas will learn how to cultivate and manually maintain all kinds of emergent and submerged aquatic vegetation. The only way that they have managed the vegetation in our reservoirs is to take the easy, but harmful, tactic of using herbicides.

And according to our experiences and observations, these tactics have adversely affected these reservoirs as places to fish.

For decades, we have been conjugal fishing partners, and since March, we have been COVID-19 fishing partners. In other words, we have fished with no one else for the past nine months. And during this strange and perplexing time, we have been frequently humbled and even embarrassed by our inabilities to catch significant numbers of largemouth bass.

And there have been several times this year when we have wondered if our 80-year-old bodies and minds have lost their abilities to locate and catch the vast numbers of largemouth bass that we used to catch. But according to the observations of a few of our younger colleagues from northeastern Kansas who are on the Finesse News Network, it might something more than the diminishing returns of old age that are affecting our inabilities. These younger anglers are telling us that their abilities to find and catch significant numbers of largemouth bass have diminished dramatically this year. They are guessing that there is something askew with several of our community and state reservoirs.

Until this Dec. 19 outing, we had not fished since Dec. 10. During this eight-day respite from fishing, which was provoked by the windy and cold-weather ways of Mother Nature, we were hoping that significant numbers of largemouth bass would begin to inhabit the shallow-water flats, shorelines, and humps inside the feeder-creek arms that they have traditionally inhabited at this community reservoir during the cold-water months, which is a phenomenon that we discovered many years ago.

One of the essential ingredients of this phenomenon is that these shallow-water areas need to be graced with significant patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, such as coontail, curly-leaf pondweed, or Eurasian milfoil.

To our chagrin, this phenomenon began petering out in 2018 at this community reservoir. The last time it materialized was on Dec. 19, 2017, when we caught 50 largemouth bass in four hours. As we have pondered about this demise, we have surmised that the decimation of the massive patches of vegetation has contributed to the sorry cold-water largemouth bass fishing. It has also adversely affected the fishing during the warm-water times of the year.

Consequently, our hopes of the largemouth bass inhabiting the shallow-water haunts that they used to roam failed to materialize on this Dec. 19 outing.

The largemouth bass fishing was so wretched for us 80-year-old anglers that we are having a difficult time composing a log about it.

In short, we fished inside a major feeder-creek arm and inside a small one.

We caught one largemouth bass on a shallow-water hump about 15 percent of the way inside the major feeder-creek arm. This hump seems to have a slight residue of Eurasian milfoil that the herbicide applications failed to kill. This largemouth bass was caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse ShadZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead in about six feet of water with a drag-and-shake presentation.

We caught four smallmouth bass along about a 200-yard stretch of a flat shoreline that is littered with 11 docks. Portions of this shoreline seem to have a touch of submerged aquatic vegetation gracing them. These largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin TRD HogZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead in four to nine feet of water with a drag-and-shake presentation. This shoreline is situated about 50 percent of the way inside this major feeder-creek arm.

Along a 100-yard stretch of a flat shoreline that lies about 75 percent of the way inside this major feeder-creek arm, we failed to garner a strike. Before 2018, this flat shoreline used to be graced with an array of submerged aquatic vegetation, and it was our most fruitful locale at this community reservoir when the surface temperature ranged from 38 to 42 degrees

After we dissected those three locales, we decided to probe a deep-water area inside this major feeder-creek arm. It is littered with scores of laydowns and stumps. It failed to provide us with a strike. But we did accidentally catch one largemouth bass along a short section of a rather flat and shallow-water shoreline adjacent to this deep-water spot. It was caught on the Finesse ShadZ rig with a drag-and-shake presentation in about seven feet of water.

We somehow eked out three largemouth bass about 40 percent of the way inside a small feeder-creek arm. They were caught along a shoreline that has about a 45-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel and rocks. Along some spots, some of our retrieves indicated that there might be some scattered patches of submerged aquatic vegetation gracing this terrain. These largemouth bass were caught on our TRD HogZ rigs with a drag-and-shake presentation in five to six feet of water.

Dec. 20

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, filed a brief about his Dec. 19 outing with Bret Freudenthal of Kansas City, Missouri, and Amy Whitaker of Kansas City, Missouri, at one of northeastern Kansas' power-plant reservoirs.

Here is an edited version of his brief.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 29 degrees at 7:53 a.m. and 53 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the south, southwest, west, and northwest at 3 to 17 mph. The sky was fair. The barometric pressure was 30.01 at 12:53 a.m., 29.95 at 5:53 a.m., 29.94 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.90 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 3:08 a.m. to 5:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and 9:19 a.m. to 11:19 a.m.

The surface temperature was 62 degrees near the heart of the warm-water plume, and it was 49 degrees about a mile down the reservoir from the plume. The water level looked to be about three feet below its normal level. The water was afflicted with an algae bloom, and it exhibited about 12 inches of visibility.

I began fishing around 7:15 a.m. Bret and Amy joined me around 10:00 a.m. We fished together until 2:00 p.m.

The most fruitful fishing occurred from about 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Then it became horrifically difficult. And we labored to catch 12 largem0uth bass and accidentally caught six white bass and one channel catfish.

The most effective rig was a Z-Man's Junebug Finesse ShadZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce mushroom-style jig with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation in two to six feet of water.

We fished a submerged roadbed that lies about a mile outside of the warm-water plume.

Inside the warm-water plume, we fished around a flat and shallow-water point inside the warm-water plume that is graced with a significant amount of current and along three steep shorelines inside the warm-water plume.

The most fruitful locales were two steep shorelines inside the warm-water plume.

Dec. 21

Ned and Pat Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas, posted a log and some observations about submerged aquatic vegetation on the Finesse News Network about their outing on Dec. 21 at one of northeastern Kansas' state reservoirs.

Here is an edited version of their log.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 29 degrees at 7:52 a.m. and 61 degrees at 1:52 p.m. The wind angled out of the west and northwest at 3 to 12 mph. The sky was fair. The barometric pressure was 29.84 at 12:52 a.m., 29.91 at 5:52 a.m., 30.07 at 11:52 a.m., and 30.06 at 2:52 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 3:55 a.m. to 5:55 a.m., 4:16 p.m. to 6:16 p.m., and 10:06 a.m. to 12:06 p.m.

The National Weather Service forecasted that the wind would howl with gusts reaching 30 to 40 mph on Dec. 21, 22, and 23. Therefore, we thought that Mother Nature was providing us with a respite from the abominable largemouth bass fishing that we have been enduring in December.

But the windy weather failed to materialize on Dec. 21. Therefore, we decided to venture to a state reservoir to spend about an hour and 30 minutes searching for patches of coontail on the shallow-water flats inside this reservoir's feeder-creek arms.

We were afloat from 1:25 p.m. to 3:08 p.m.

The water level looked to be about one foot below its normal level. Our Secchi stick revealed that the water exhibited more than seven feet of visibility. The surface temperature was 40 degrees.

We dissected the shallow-water shorelines and flats inside a small feeder-creek arm, where we failed to find any significant patches of coontail. And we eked out one largemouth bass. It was caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin TRD HogZ affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead with a deadstick presentation in about 10 feet of water.

We spent the next hour exploring the shallow-water shorelines and flats inside a large feeder-creek arm. This area is about the size of nine football fields. Near the back end of it, we finally found some significant patches of coontail. But because these patches were so wilted and tightly affixed to the bottom, we had to use our Secchi stick to rake the bottom of the shallow-water flat to discover the whereabouts of the coontail patches. Besides the patches of coontail, this area is adorned with an array of manmade brush piles, a beaver hut, laydowns, and a submerged creek channel.

In an area about the size of a half of a football field, we caught 11 largemouth bass in 4 1/2 to seven feet of water.

Three of the 11 were caught on a Z-Man's meat-dog TRD MinnowZ affixed to a blue 1/15-ounce TT Lures Nedlock jig with a drag-and-shake presentation.

Nine of the largemouth bass were caught on the TRD HogZ rig. One was caught on the initial drop of the rig. Eight were caught on a drag-and-shake presentation.

We quickly searched for patches of coontail with our secchi stick across a shallow flat in the back of another small feeder-creek arm. We failed to find any.

This flatland reservoir has six feeder-creek arms, and we didn't have time to examine the other three.

The National Weather Service is predicting that the wind will howl with gusts that will reach 30 to 40 mph on Dec. 22, 23, and 24. If that comes to pass, we will be at bay until at least Dec. 26.

Endnotes

For years on end, we have noted on the Finesse News Network the importance of our reservoirs to have significant patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, such as brittle naiad, coontail, curly-leaf pondweed, Eurasian milfoil, hydrilla, etc. Thus, some of us have been trying to convince our fisheries biologists and reservoir managers to cultivate and manually maintain (and not use herbicides) aquatic vegetation – even invasive species.

It is interesting to note that Steve Quinn wrote on page 53 in the December, January, and February issue of In-Fisherman magazine this observation about Lake Eufaula, Alabama:

"45,000-acre Eufaula has been producing excellent fishing for the last five or six years, a welcome change after its cyclical history. Hydrilla has boosted bass habitat, growing across middepth flats that used to feature only a few old stumps."

Hydrilla, like Eurasian milfoil, is castigated as being a deplorable invasive species. Consequently, fisheries biologists and reservoir managers apply aquatic herbicides to kill hydrilla and milfoil.

The spraying of Eurasian milfoil and other submerged aquatic vegetation in the flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas seems to have wreaked havoc with the abilities of members of the Finesse News Network to catch the bountiful numbers of largemouth bass and smallmouth bass that they used to catch.

In a Dec. 21 email, Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, reported that hydrilla is regularly sprayed in the waterways that he fishes. For example, he wrote that when he and Bill Kenny of Corinth, Texas, were recently fishing a community reservoir, "a private pond manager with a tank of herbicide began spraying the perimeter of the water with a blue-colored herbicide. We left at that point."

Here is hoping that Steve Quinn's insights and the experiences of various members of the Finesse News Network will eventually enlighten some of our fisheries biologists and reservoir managers about the virtues of hydrilla, Eurasian milfoil, and the dastardly effects of the aquatic herbicides.

To get an insight to the virtues of invasive species, all of us should read Fred Pearce's book entitled "The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature's Salvation."

Dec. 22

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Dec. 22 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log.

From 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., I fished at a small community reservoir where I targeted Florida-strain largemouth bass.

It was a pleasant December day. The sky was cloudless. The morning low temperature was 39 degrees. The daytime high was 69 degrees. The wind quartered out of the south and southeast at 15 to 20 mph. The barometric pressure ranged from 30.08 at 1:00 p.m. to 29.98 at 4:00 p.m.

According to In-Fisherman's solunar calendar, the optimum fishing periods would take place from 4:44 a.m. to 6:44 a.m., 10:54 a.m. to 12:54 p.m., and 5:04 p.m. to 7:04 p.m.

As I have lamented in several of my past wintertime logs, the months of December through February are the most trying fishing ones of the year in north-central Texas. During these months, the water temperatures at our reservoirs can fluctuate from the low 40s to the low 50s. Our community, federal, and state reservoirs are stocked with Florida-strain largemouth bass, and when the water temperature drops below 55 degrees, our fishing for largemouth bass peters out to the point that we are fishing for one or two strikes per outing. When the water temperature drops into the upper 40s, we are fishing for one bite. We stop fishing for largemouth bass when the water temperature drops into the mid- to low-40s, and we turn our attentions to white bass, wipers, and crappie.

Here is an example of this cold-water phenomenon: Bill Kenny of Corinth, Texas, and I fished at three community reservoirs in north-central Texas on Nov. 23. The water temperatures at these three impoundments varied from 58 to 63 degrees, and we caught and released 17 largemouth bass. But by Dec. 17, the water temperatures had radically dropped from the upper 50s and low 60s to 46 and 48 degrees. To my dismay, I failed to elicit a single strike in four hours of fishing.

The water at the small community reservoir that I fished on Dec. 22 was stained with about a foot of visibility. The water level was about a foot high. The water temperature was 52 degrees.

I started fishing the south end of the reservoir, which is comprised of a concrete and stone dam, two submerged rock piles, and a small brush pile. The bottom terrain along the base of the dam is covered with softball-size rocks. A steady stream of water was flowing over the spillway located at the middle of the dam. I failed to elicit any strikes from this area.

From the dam, I plied the west side of the reservoir. It has three thick patches of winter-dead lily pad stems that enhance three sections of this shoreline. I caught one large bluegill and one bullhead catfish from the first patch of lily pad stems, and one largemouth bass from the second patch. I failed to elicit any strikes from the third patch. The largemouth bass was abiding along the outside edges of the lily pad stems in about three feet of water.

I also failed to elicit any strikes from a shallow mud flat that occupies most of the northern shoreline and from a small feeder creek that enters the reservoir at the west end of this shoreline.

I caught one largemouth bass from the east shoreline. This shoreline is the steepest of the four shorelines. It is endowed with two primary points and three tertiary points. This largemouth was caught in five feet of water from the end of one of the tertiary points. I was unable to generate any strikes from the two primary points.

I wielded a variety of Z-Man's Midwest finesse baits affixed on an array of colors and sizes of Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jigheads. Both of the largemouth bass and the large bluegill were caught on a 2 3/4-inch Z-Man's black-blue TRD TubeZ rigged on a blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. The bullhead catfish engulfed an 1/8-ounce Z-Man's black-blue Micro Finesse Jig dressed with a Z-Man's black-blue TRD CrawZ as a trailer.

Both of these lures were presented with an extremely slow drag-and-deadstick retrieve. The deadstick portion of the retrieve lasted about 10 to 15 seconds, and all of the strikes occurred during the deadstick portion of the presentation. The strikes were nothing more than the fish suddenly being there. I failed to generate any strikes while employing a hop-and-bounce retrieve, a slow and steady swim retrieve, a drag-and-shake retrieve, and a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

In our eyes, catching two largemouth bass in three hours during late-December is considered an average outing by north-central Texas' standards. In contrast, many bass anglers in my neck of the woods will fish for six to eight hours with hopes that they can generate two or three strikes during that time.

Dec. 26

Ned and Pat Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about their outing on Dec. 26 at one of northeastern Kansas' community reservoirs. It also contains a synopsis of their Midwest finesse endeavors in 2020.

Here is an edited version of their log and synopsis.

Area weather forecasters told us that the weather on Dec. 27, 28, 29, 30, and 31 will be not delightful enough for this pair of old codgers to fish. Therefore, we decided on Dec. 26 to see how much ice was covering one of our community reservoirs that is traditionally the last one to become covered with ice. And as we made the 26-mile journey to the boat ramp at this reservoir, the dozens of waterways that we saw were completely covered with ice.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 23 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 59 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the south and southwest at 3 to 12 mph. The sky was fair. The barometric pressure was 29.98 at 12:53 a.m., 29.96 at 5:53 a.m., 29.91 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.82 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 7:05 a.m. to 9:05 a.m., 7:27 p.m. to 9:27 p.m., and 12:53 a.m. to 2:53 a.m.

As we approached the boat ramp, we were delighted to see that there was no ice covering the lower portions of this reservoir. At the ramp, we chatted for several minutes with a bass angler who had just put his boat on his trailer. He told us that he had fished for four hours, alternating from finesse tactics to power tactics, and he elicited one strike, which he failed to hook. He informed us that the upper portions of the reservoir were covered with ice.

The water level looked to be a tad below its normal level. We calculated that about 20 percent of the reservoir was ice-covered. The surface temperature in the ice-free locales was 38 degrees. Our secchi stick indicated that there were more than seven feet of visibility.

We were hoping to find significant patches of coontail, which we failed to find. And the patches that we did find were small, wilted, and covered with filamentous algae.

In winter's past in northeastern Kansas, we have found that the largemouth bass fishing becomes very exasperating when more than 10 percent of a reservoir is covered with ice.

The bulk of the winter-time largemouth bass that we catch are caught around patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, such as coontail, curly-leaf pondweed, or Eurasian milfoil, that adorn the shallow-water flats in the upper-reaches of our reservoirs' feeder-creek arms. Unfortunately, these areas are the first to become covered with ice.

And on this Dec. 26 outing, most of the patches of coontail that adorn the shallow-water flats in the upper reaches of this reservoir's primary feeder-creek arm were covered with ice. Therefore, during our final outing of 2020, it was a trial for us to catch three largemouth bass.

We fished from 12:45 p.m. to 2:50 p.m.

These three largemouth bass were caught in close proximity to the edge of the ice that covered this reservoir's massive shallow-water flat in the upper portions of its primary feeder-creek arm.

Two of them were caught along the western shoreline of this massive flat. They were caught adjacent to the outside edges of two docks, about 40 feet from the water's edge, and in about 10 feet of water. There might have been a tad of coontail around both of these docks. The two largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man's Canada-craw TRD HogZ affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead with a slow drag-and-shake presentation while we were strolling.

The third one was caught along the eastern shoreline of this massive flat. It was caught on a tiny hump, about 20 feet from the water's edge, in about seven feet of water, and around a tad of coontail. It was caught on the TRD HogZ rig with a slow drag-and-shake presentation.

We failed to elicit a strike along portions of the dam and along short portions of two shorelines in the middle section of this reservoir.

This little largemouth bass is number 1,958, and the last one that we caught in 2020.

We are ending this year with hopes that 2021 will yield more black bass than 2020 did. Our 2020 logs revealed that we fished 101 times, encompassing about 266 hours of casts and retrieves. We caught 1,958 largemouth bass, 72 smallmouth bass, 118 temperate bass, and nine rainbow trout. (We failed to calculate how many bluegill, crappie, freshwater drum, green sunfish, sauger, saugeye, walleye, and wipers that we accidentally caught while pursuing black bass.) Our hourly catch rate was 7.6 black bass an hour, which is 2 ½ fewer black bass than we normally catch per hour. We never came close to achieving our coveted goal of catching 101 black bass in four hours. In fact, we rarely fished four hours. Most of our outings were two to 2 3/4 hours long. We caught an average of 20 black bass per outing. Our most fruitful outing occurred on Mar. 13, when we did fish four hours and caught 61 largemouth bass. Most of our outings were two- to three-hour endeavors, which reveals that we have become members of the Geriatric Fishing Network.

We had two outings when we failed to catch a black bass. One occurred on Mar. 2. The second one happened on July 10. A zero outing is a rare phenomenon in northeastern Kansas. And by enduring two of them reveals the sorry state of the piscatorial affairs in northeastern Kansas in 2020.

What's more, the conditions of our smallmouth bass reservoirs were quite disheartening.

Dec. 27

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, posted a brief on the Finesse News Network about his disappointing outing on Dec. 27 to one of northeastern Kansas' power-plant reservoirs.

This reservoir used to be one of the premier power-plant reservoirs in the Midwest for largemouth bass anglers. But the largemouth bass virus and intense angler predation have taken their toll.

Here is an edited version of his brief.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 43 degrees at 7:53 a.m. and 55 degrees at 12:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the south, southwest, west, and northwest at 6 to 28 mph. The sky fluctuated from being fair to mostly cloudy to partly cloudy to overcast. The barometric pressure was 29.71 at 12:53 a.m., 29.66 at 5:53 a.m., 29.68 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.82 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would occur from 7:46 a.m. to 9:46 a.m., 8:10 p.m. to 10:27 p.m., and 1:34 a.m. to 3:34 a.m.

I wanted to fish one of northeastern Kansas' state reservoirs. But when I noticed that every farm pond was covered with ice, I feared that too much of this state would be covered with ice. So, I decided to give the power-plant reservoir another whirl.

When I arrived at the boat ramp, there was one tow vehicle and boat trailer in the parking lot, and I didn't see another boat for several hours. This reflects how sorry the fishing has been.

The water level continues to fall, which makes launching a boat a chore. What's more, the water clarity is plagued by a significant algae bloom, and the visibility was less than 12 inches. The surface temperature ranged from 59 degrees in the heart of the warm-water plume to 45 degrees a goodly distance outside of the plume.

I fished from about 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and struggled to catch 11 largemouth bass, two crappie, and one channel catfish. Four of these 14 fish were caught from 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and 10 of them were caught from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

They were caught on either a 2 ½-inch Z-Man's green-pumpkin-goby ZinkerZ affixed to a red 1/32-ounce mushroom-style jig or a Z-Man's Junebug TRD HogZ affixed to a black 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig.

All of the fish were caught along three steep shorelines inside the warm-water plume.

I failed to elicit a strike outside of the warm-water plume.

Dec. 28

Brandon Marlow of LaFollette, Tennessee, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his outing on Dec. 28 with Levi Queener of Andersonville, Tennessee, at a highland reservoir in northeastern Tennessee.

The National Weather Service forecasted a low temperature of 33 degrees and a high temperature of 51 degrees, with a mostly cloudy sky, and a light wind from the west.

The water level is 19.23 feet below full pool. The surface temperature was 52 degrees. The water exhibited eight to 10 feet of visibility.

According to In-Fisherman's solunar calendar, the best times to fish occurred from 8:48 a.m. to 10:48 a.m., 9:13 p.m. to 11:13 p.m., and 2:35 a.m. to 4:35 a.m.

We fished from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

We fished an area of the reservoir where a major feeder-creek arm and the main-river channel meet. We concentrated on rock shorelines with a slope of roughly 45 degrees and bluff walls.

Our first stop of the day was just around the corner from the ramp. We fished about 1,200 yards of a main-lake shoreline that consists of large boulders, a few laydowns, and bluff walls. The river channel swings into this section of the shoreline, and the underwater terrain has various drops and ledges that are similar to a staircase. I like concentrating on shorelines like this in the winter.

Levi and I used a Z-Man's PB&J Finesse TRD affixed to a green-pumpkin 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig with a number two hook. We caught 13 smallmouth bass, three largemouth bass, and two spotted bass along this stretch. We caught them in water as shallow as five feet and as deep as 30 feet. A deadstick presentation worked best in the shallow water, and along the ledges, the strikes occurred as our rigs fell from ledge to ledge.

Our next stop was a short run up the river arm to a 45-degree shoreline. Its underwater terrain consists mostly of clay with scattered boulders. We fished about 500-yards of this shoreline, and we caught seven smallmouth bass and one largemouth bass by slowly dragging our rigs.

Our third stop was a trip down the lake to a marina. We fished a short bluff wall behind several houseboats. Here we switched to an unpainted 1/16-ounce round jig with a number-one hook affixed to a Z-Man's white-lightning Trick ShotZ. The technique we used is very popular in the wintertime here in eastern Tennessee. It's called tightlining. Any small minnow-style bait will work. You let the rig fall like a pendulum back to the boat while making the rod tip quiver. The only time you use the reel is to keep up with the slack. We caught four smallmouth bass and one spotted bass using this technique behind the houseboats.

We finished the outing back where we started. Here we used a mix of Midwest finesse tactics and the tightlining presentation, and we caught several more smallmouth bass.

We managed to catch a total of 37 black bass, which is less than we caught at this time last year. I am hoping our catch rate improves as the water continues to get colder.

Dec. 29

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Dec. 29 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log.

Local TV meteorologists are forecasting a significant cold front that will be accompanied with rain on Dec. 30 and 31, so this was my final piscatorial endeavor for 2020.

Dec. 29 was a windy and overcast day. The morning low temperature was 50 degrees and the afternoon high temperature reached 67 degrees. The wind blew incessantly out of the southeast at 20 to 25 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.10 at 11:00 a.m. and 29.92 at 2:00 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar indicated that the best fishing would occur from 3:15 a.m. to 5:13 a.m., 9:28 a.m. to 11:28 a.m., and 9:54 p.m. to 11:54 p.m.

I fished at a community reservoir from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

The water level was normal. The water exhibited about 1 1/4 feet of clarity. In the main-lake area, the water temperature was 51 degrees. Inside a small feeder-creek arm on the northeast end of the reservoir, the water temperature was 55 degrees.

The last time I fished at this community reservoir was on Dec. 9, and tt was sunny and 76 degrees. I fished it for two hours and labored to catch one largemouth bass.

On my Dec. 29 outing, I began fishing at the north end of the reservoir. This area encompasses a large flat with a small ditch that courses its way along the south end of the flat. A small feeder-creek enters the reservoir from the east end of the north shoreline. This shoreline is also lined with thick stands of winter-dead cattails. I failed to locate any largemouth bass on the south end of the flat, around the ditch, or around the stands of cattails.

Inside the feeder-creek arm, I focused on the largest pool, which is about 30 feet long and 15 feet wide. Its underwater terrain consists primarily of clay, gravel, and softball-size rocks. There was a visible current flowing through this creek.

This pool yielded one largemouth bass, one large green sunfish, and one bluegill. They were associated with a patch of rocks that are situated in the center of the pool in about four feet of water. They were enticed by a slow drag-shake-and-deadstick presentation with a Z-Man's PB&J TRD TubeZ that was matched with a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead.

From the north shoreline, I moved to the west side of the reservoir. This shoreline is flat on its north and south ends, but its midsection is steeper, possessing about a 30-degree slope. The underwater terrain along this portion of the reservoir is comprised of sand and gravel. This shoreline features a minor point on its northern end and another minor point near its southern end. A fishing pier is situated in the middle section where the shoreline is the steepest. I failed to generate any strikes here.

I then slowly dissected the area around a concrete-slab dam that forms the southern boundary of the reservoir, and I failed to generate any strikes there, too.

Along the east shoreline, the most promising features on this shoreline are a steep and broad sand-and-gravel point, a shallow ditch, a long clay and gravel point, and a fairly long and shallow sand-and-gravel ledge close to the water's edge. But none of these areas were entertaining any largemouth bass.

In the overall scheme of things, most black-bass anglers in these parts work hard to elicit one or two strikes per outing during the winter months, and that paltry average is what we have been experiencing during most of our outings so far this winter. The fishing was as difficult as it was on Dec. 9, and it was a chore to catch one largemouth bass, one green sunfish, and one bluegill.

I employed a number of various Z-Man's Midwest finesse lures rigged on an array of Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jigheads, a drop-shot rig, and an 1/8-ounce Z-Man's black-blue Micro Finesse jig with a Z-Man's black-blue TRD CrawZ attached as a trailer.

The only effective lure was a Z-Man's PB&J TRD TubeZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig.

The only effective retrieve was a slow drag-shake-and-deadstick presentation. The deadstick portion of this retrieve lasted about five seconds.

Dec. 30

Brandon Marlow of LaFollette, Tennessee, posted a log about his outing on a Tennessee Valley Authority's impoundment on the upper end of one of the reservoirs on the Tennessee River.

The National Weather Service reported that it was 39 degrees at 3:53 a.m. and 60 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The sky fluctuated from being mostly cloudy to overcast. The wind angled out of the south and southeast at 8 to 23 mph. The barometric pressure was 30.32 at 12:53 a.m., 30.28 at 5:53 a.m., 30.27 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.16 at 2:53 p.m.

The water level was six feet below full pool. The surface temperature was 44 degrees. The water exhibited three to four feet of visibility.

According to In-Fisherman's solunar calendar, the best times to fish occurred from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 10:57 p.m. to 12:57 a.m., and 4:16 a.m. to 6:16 a.m.

I was afloat from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Finesse fishing these reservoirs on the Tennessee River has been a fun challenge and a great learning experience. These black bass relate to structure more than the ones I'm use to chasing in the highland reservoirs. The current and water-level fluctuations have a big effect on the black bass, too. What I have learned so far in regards to the wintertime is the best fishing occurs when the water level is at its lowest and there is good current flow. It makes the locations of the black bass more predictable, and this is because they position themselves along the edges of the creek and river channels. If the water rises, they will get up on the flats and scatter, which makes them harder to locate and catch.

I am basically learning as I go, and on this outing, I only caught 13.

Here is how this trip went.

Because of the wind, I stayed inside a feeder-creek arm almost the entire outing. This arm is three miles long, and I focused on the edge of the channel the whole time. I fished from its mouth to its back end.

I had to rely on my Garmin Panoptix LiveScope, not for finding fish, but to make sure I stayed in the creek channel and off of the ledge and drop-off.

I used my usual green-pumpkin 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig, and it was affixed to a Z-Man's perfect-perch Finesse TRD.

I was about halfway out of the feeder-creek arm before I caught my first largemouth bass. It was right where it was supposed to be, holding tight against the ledge and just off the bottom. The boat was sitting in the center of the channel in 10 to 15 feet of water and at least 30 feet from the ledge. My casts were made to the flat above the ledge and at a 45-degree angle in front of the boat, and I retrieved the rig down the ledge by using a drag-and-pause presentation. I caught four more largemouth bass as I worked my way out to the mouth of the creek.

I wanted to employ this pattern along the river's ledges. I tried it for about an hour, but the gusty winds and current made it difficult to keep the light jig head where it needed to be. Therefore, I headed back to the feeder-creek arm and fished back to the boat ramp. I caught eight more largemouth bass. Six of them were caught along the ledge on the Finesse TRD rig. Then on a flat, I crossed paths with some schoolers, and I caught two of them on a Z-Man's The Deal Slim SwimZ affixed to a pearl 1/5-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig.

I spent more time paying attention to where I caught the largemouth bass during the second time I was inside the feeder-creek arm, and I noticed if there was a stump on the ledge, it usually held a fish. If I could do it again, knowing what I know now, I would have slowly idled along the entire feeder-creek arm and marked stumps and any other type of current break I could find before I made a cast.

All in all, it wasn't a bad trip considering this body of water is totally different than what I am used to.

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