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Midwest Finesse Fishing: December 2021

Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, with one of the largemouth bass that he caught on Dec. 8

Dec. 2

Ned Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Dec. 2 outing with his cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, at one of northeastern Kansas' community reservoirs.

Here is an edited version of his log.

The National Weather Service reported it was 49 degrees at 7:53 a.m. and 71 degrees at 2:53 p.m. From 12:53 p.m. to 2:53 p.m., the wind was calm, and at other times, it angled out of the west, southwest, south, and southeast at 3 to 10 mph. The sky was fair. The barometric pressure was 29.94 at 12:53 a.m., 29.95 at 5:53 a.m., 29.98 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.96 at 2:53 p.m.

The water level was a few inches above normal. The surface temperature ranged from 46 to 49 degrees. The Secchi stick indicated that the water exhibited about five to six feet of visibility.

Regrettably, this reservoir's managers have removed vast numbers of its once flourishing patches of coontail by using aquatic herbicides and stocking grass carp. Across many years of fishing, we have found that if the flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas are devoid of significant patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, such as coontail, it is usually a difficult chore for Midwest finesse anglers and power anglers to locate and catch substantial numbers of largemouth bass when the water temperature drops into the 40s and 30s.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would take place from 7:56 a.m. to 9:56 a.m., 8:24 p.m. to 10:24 p.m., and 1:42 a.m. to 3:42 a.m.

We made our first casts at 10:00 a.m.

We were hoping that the largemouth bass fishing would be as fruitful as it was on Nov. 30, when Bob Gum of Kansas City, Kansas, and I caught 72 largemouth bass at a nearby community reservoir that is graced with numerous patches of coontail. But on this Dec. 2 outing, it wasn't until 2:01 p.m. that Rick and I caught largemouth bass number 20, and after we caught it, we went home in a state of piscatorial despair.

One of the 20 largemouth bass that Rick and I caught was inveigled on a Z-Man's PB&J TRD HogZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. Four largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. And a Z-Man's Canada-craw TRD HogZ affixed to a blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead caught 15 largemouth bass.

Along the shoreline of the dam, we caught three largemouth bass. It has about a 60-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders, which are endowed with some meager patches of coontail. The water's edge is lined with patches of winter-dead American water willows, a concrete water-outlet tower, and some piles of brush. The three largemouth bass were caught on the Canada-craw TRD HogZ rig with an extremely-slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation around some scanty patches of coontail in five to seven feet of water.

Four largemouth bass were caught along about a 100-yard stretch of a main-lake shoreline in the middle section of the reservoir. This shoreline has a 25- to 45-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders, which are laced with a few scrimpy patches of coontail. The water's edge is cluttered with 12 docks, a few patches of winter-dead American water willows, two overhanging trees, and some brush piles. The largemouth bass were caught on the Canada-craw TRD HogZ rig with a drag-and-shake presentation in eight to 13 feet of water. One of the four was caught adjacent to one of the docks.

We caught two largemouth bass along about a 150-yard stretch of a main-lake shoreline that is endowed with two points. This locale is in the middle section of the reservoir. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders, which are embellished with a few picayune patches of coontail. It possesses a 30- to 45-degree slope. The water's edge consists of some patches of winter-dead American water willows, several overhanging trees, and 14 docks. The two largemouth bass were caught on the Finesse TRD rig with a drag-and-shake presentation in six to eight feet of water.

Along about a 50-yard stretch of a shoreline and a main-lake point in the middle portions of the reservoir, we caught one largemouth bass. This shoreline has a 30- to 45-degree slope. The point has a 25-degree slope. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders, which are laced with a few puny patches of coontail. The water's edge is cluttered with five docks and many yards of rock and concrete retaining walls. This largemouth bass was caught on the Canada-craw TRD HogZ rig with a drag-and-shake presentation in about seven feet of water and adjacent to a rock retaining wall.

Nine largemouth bass were caught along about a 200-yard stretch of a shoreline in the upper half of this reservoir. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders, which are intertwined with a few meager patches of coontail. It has a 20- to 65-degree slope. The water's edge is comprised of winter-dead American water willows, overhanging trees, eight docks, several concrete retaining walls, a stone bridge, and an array of laydowns. Two of the nine largemouth bass were caught on the Finesse TRD rig, and seven were caught on the Canada-craw TRD HogZ rig. Three were caught adjacent to one of the concrete retaining walls. Two largemouth bass were caught adjacent to the edges of docks. The other four were caught around undescribable terrains.

Along about a 300-yard stretch of another main-lake shoreline in the upper half of this reservoir, we caught one largemouth bass. This shoreline has a 25- to 45-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders, which are embellished with some sorry and scanty patches of coontail. Its water's edge possesses 16 docks, a few patches of winter-dead American water willows, many concrete retaining walls, some piles of brush, and several overhanging trees. This largemouth bass was caught on the PB&J TRD HogZ with a drag-and-shake presentation in about seven feet of water adjacent to one of the docks.

We failed to garner a strike across three offshore humps and ledges.

In short, it was an excruciating and disappointing outing.

It is interesting to note that we crossed paths around 10:30 a.m. with a friend, who has become a Garmin Panoptix LiveScope devotee. He is also a talented power angler. Nowadays, he spends most of his hours afloat searching electronically for largemouth bass to catch. He reported that the largemouth bass fishing had been stellar at this reservoir during past seven days. But when we crossed paths with him again around 12:41 p.m., he said he was seeing on the LiveScope a number of largemouth bass abiding around schools of gizzard. However, he said it had been a chore for him to catch four largemouth bass in two hours of fishing. In an email, he reported that he fished until sundown and caught 10 largemouth bass. He also bemoaned the demise of the coontail patches.

Dec. 3

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Dec. 3 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log.

From 7:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., I conducted a solo foray at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' hill-land reservoir in north-central Texas. This outing was a trying one.

It was foggy and the sky was overcast when I launched the boat at 7:00 a.m. It became partly cloudy and sunny later in the morning. The morning low temperature was 57 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature peaked at 75 degrees. The wind quartered out of the southeast at 10 to 15 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.00 at 7:00 a.m. and 29.97 at noon.

The water level was 1.44 feet below its winter pool. The water displayed about 18 inches of visibility. The surface temperature was 59 degrees.

The vast majority of this reservoir's submerged terrain is composed of red clay, pea gravel, chunk rocks, and boulders. There is no aquatic vegetation, but there are a few remaining stumps and stickups in the shallow-water areas.

During these five hours, I concentrated my efforts on the lower end of this reservoir, and it was a grind to catch six spotted bass and four largemouth bass.

These few black bass that I encountered were abiding in three to five feet of water and within 10 to 15 feet of the water's edge around flat pea-gravel and chunk-rock secondary points in the lower sections of five feeder-creek arms.

I did not locate any black bass around seven large concrete support columns underneath a railroad trestle bridge, along two riprap-laden embankments on each end of the bridge, at seven main-lake points, and three main-lake flats.

Eight of these ten black bass were allured by a swim-glide-and-shake presentation with a Z-Man's perfect-perch Finesse TRD matched with a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. The other two were caught with a swimming retrieve with a Z-Man's pearl Baby Goat rigged on a black 3/32-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. I failed to entice any strikes with five other Midwest finesse rigs.

In short, the black bass and threadfin shad were few and far apart. I was unable to locate any threadfin shad or black bass in the middle and upper ends of the feeder-creek arms and around 13 main-lake locales.

Dec. 9

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

Here is an edited version of his brief.

I launched my boat around 7:30 a.m. and didn't see another boat till around noon. I fished until 2:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service in Olathe, Kansas, reported it was 42 degrees at 5:53 a.m. and 54 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The wind was angled out of the south, southwest, west, north, northeast, and east at 5 to 14 mph; some gusts howled from 18 to 21 mph from 9:53 a.m. to 12:53 p.m. The sky was fair. The barometric pressure was 29.63 at 12:53 a.m., 29.54 at 5:53 a.m., 29.66 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.69 at 2:53 p.m.

It was a very comfortable day to be on the water -- only requiring my hoody most of the day.

The water level was about normal. The surface temperature near the heart of the water-warm areas was 55 degrees. The water exhibited about 1 1/2 feet of visibility.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would take place from 2:56 a.m. to 4:56 a.m., 3:22 p.m. to 5:22 p.m., and 9:09 a.m. to 11:09 a.m.

I spent most of the outing thoroughly dissecting four main-lake bluffs. I did fish across about a two-hundred-yard stretch of a shallow-water flat adjacent to one of the bluffs.

The most effective rig was a slightly shortened Z-Man's pearl Hula StickZ affixed to a red 1/20-ounce mushroom-style jig. I also fished with a Z-Man's green-pumpkin TRD HogZ on a black 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig and a Z-Man's meat-dog TRD TicklerZ on a black 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig.

I typically would allow the Hula StickZ rig to fall to the bottom. Then, I would deadstick it and occasionally add some twitches. The best bluff was situated near the heart of the warm-water plume.

This reservoir used to be a great venue for Midwest finesse anglers from late November into the middle of April. But the combination of the largemouth bass virus and too many tournaments during the past decade has adversely affected the largemouth bass fishing nowadays. And it was a struggle for me on Dec. 9 to catch 16 largemouth bass, two channel catfish, one freshwater drum, and one white bass.

Dec. 9

Ned Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Dec. 9 outing at one of northeastern Kansas' state reservoirs.

Here is an edited version of his log.

The National Weather Service reported it was 39 degrees at 5:52 a.m. and 64 degrees at 2:52 p.m. The wind was calm at 2:52 p.m., and at other times, it angled out of the southeast, south, southwest, west, northwest, and north at 5 to 16 mph; around 1:52 a.m. there was a gust that reached 24 mph. The sky was fair. The barometric pressure was 29.60 at 12:52 a.m., 29.53 at 5:52 a.m., 29.64 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.66 at 2:52 p.m.

The water level was a few inches above normal. The surface temperature ranged from 45 to 46 degrees. The Secchi stick indicated that the water exhibited about five feet of visibility in the main-lake areas of the reservoir and about three feet of visibility inside several feeder-creek arms. To my surprise, I found one patch of American pondweeds on the surface, but all of the patches of American water willows were exhibiting their wintertime hiatus. The submerged patches of brittle naiad were severely wilting, and many of them have disappeared. The sago pondweed is diminishing.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would take place from 2:56 a.m. to 4:56 a.m., 3:22 p.m. to 5:22 p.m., and 9:09 a.m. to 11:09 a.m.

This was another one of my geriatric outings, which are usually 90- to 120-minute endeavors. I hadn't fished for six days. One day of those days was consumed in getting the wheel bearings packed and new grease seals on the boat trailer. Two days focused on repairs on the boat's tow vehicle. Mother Nature's windy ways kept me at bay on the other three days.

I made my first cast at 1:53 p.m., and I was hoping to catch at least 20 largemouth bass. I caught my first largemouth bass on the fifth cast. At 3:53 p.m., I made my last presentation and accidentally caught largemouth bass number 11, and this inadvertent catch occurred while I was employing a lackadaisical vertical presentation, talking with Patty Kehde, and telling her I was about to come home. Thus, it was a very disappointing 120 minutes.

Largemouth bass number one and number 11 were caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD affixed to a baby-blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. The other nine were caught on a Z-Man's Canada-craw TRD HogZ affixed to a baby-blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. I failed to land what felt like two hefty and surly fish that liberated themselves from the TRD HogZ rig. The TRD HogZ rig elicited three strikes that I failed to hook.

Across many late falls and winters, we have determined that our most fruitful largemouth bass fishing in the flatland reservoirs of northeastern Kansas occurs around patches of submerged aquatic vegetation that adorn the shallow-water flats and some shallow-water shorelines inside feeder-creek arms. During the cold-water months, this vegetation is usually coontail, curly-leaf pondweed, and Eurasian milfoil. Thus, I spent the entire 120 minutes of this outing searching for patches and dissecting patches of coontail that embellishes some of the shallow-water flats and shorelines of this reservoir.

Inside a small feeder-creek arm that is endowed with some magnificent patches of coontail, which traditionally yields six to as many as a dozen cold-water largemouth bass, I eked out two largemouth bass. One was caught on the Finesse TRD rig with a swim-glide-and-incessant-shake presentation near the inside edge of a significant patch of coontail in about four feet of water. The second one was caught on the TRD HogZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation shortly after the initial drop near the inside edge of another significant patch of coontail. During the next 20 minutes, I failed to garner another strike around other patches of coontail inside this feeder creek.

Across a massive shallow-water flat inside a large feeder-creek arm, I caught one largemouth bass around a patch of coontail and wilted brittle naiad. It was caught on the TRD HogZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation in about seven feet of water. About 300 yards from that locale, I temporally hooked a substantial fish around a patch of coontail and adjacent to a pile of brush in about five feet of water, and a few minutes later, I temporally hooked another hefty specimen around a patch of coontail in about four feet of water.

Inside a medium-size feeder-creek, I failed to elicit a strike while I employed the TRD HogZ rig and Finesse TRD rig around piles of brush and a few meager patches of coontail.

I spent the last 28 minutes fishing inside another large feeder-creek arm. I focused on the beginnings of a shallow-water flat that is adjacent to 10 to 15 feet of water. This flat is the size of about 10 football fields, and it is graced with untold numbers of coontail patches. I fished around several of these patches that adorn an area about the size of two tennis courts. On my first cast, I caught a largemouth bass on the TRD HogZ rig with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation along the outside edge of the coontail in about 10 feet of water. The TRD HogZ caught six more largemouth bass around the coontail patches. Two were caught on the initial drop of the rig in about six feet of water. One was caught while

I was strolling and employing a swim-glide-and-shake presentation in six to seven feet of water. The other three were caught as I was casting and employing a swim-glide-and-incessant-shake presentation around a substantial patch of coontail in six to seven feet of water. After I caught those seven largemouth bass, I accidentally caught bass number 11 with a vertical presentation of the Finesse TRD rig in about 10 feet of water near the outside edge of a coontail patch. Then, I put the boat on the trailer and drove home.

Dec. 13

Brandon Marlow of LaFollette, Tennessee, filed a brief log on the Finesse News Network about his Dec. 13 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log.

I fished in a major feeder-creek arm of a Tennessee Valley Authority highland reservoir in eastern Tennessee from 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The weather consisted of mostly sunny skies. There was a light breeze angling out of the west by southwest. The high temperature was 60 degrees.

We had a strong weather front move through this part of Tennessee two days ago. It dropped a couple of inches of rain and muddied up the feeder-creek arm where I fished today. This area usually has 10 to 12 feet of visibility during this time of year, but today it was less than two feet. The surface temperature was 57 degrees. The water level was about 15 feet below full pool.

I have always struggled in cold muddy and stained water, and today was no different. Ultimately, I managed to catch two largemouth bass and nine smallmouth bass in roughly 3 ½ hours.

I spent most of this short trip making multiple passes along a shoreline that is endowed with a submerged creek channel, which we describe as a channel-swing bank. It is located just outside the cove that houses the marina where I launched my boat. This shoreline consists mostly of large boulders, chunk rock, and scattered laydowns.

I used two Midwest finesse rigs. One was a 2 ½-inch Z-Man's dirt ZinkerZ affixed to a green-pumpkin 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. The second one was a shortened Z-Man's green-pumpkin-blue-flake FattyZ affixed to a green-pumpkin 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig.

Eight of the nine smallmouth bass were caught along the channel swing bank. Six were caught on the ZinkerZ rig. Two were caught on the FattyZ rig. Since the water visibility was minimal, I retrieved these rigs by slowly dragging them along the bottom trying to keep them in contact with the rocky bottom. In my opinion, the subtle sound of the jighead dragging against the rocks helped me get a few bites. All eight of these smallmouth bass were caught in 10 feet of water or less.

I finished this short trip fishing my way back to the boat ramp in the cove where I launched. Because I was running out of time, I had to fish this area faster than I would have liked. I focused mainly on laydowns by casting the FattyZ rig close to the base of a laydown or fallen tree. I would let it sink to the bottom, and then I gave it a few shakes with the rod tip and moved on to the next laydown. I managed to catch two largemouth bass and a smallmouth bass doing this.

I am hoping the numbers will pick up for me soon. The past few trips have been underwhelming to say the least.

I have attached a picture of the section of the FattyZ I used. The hook size determines where I cut the bait. I like for it to come out in the narrow part of the tail.

Dec. 13

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Dec. 13 outing.

Here is an edited version of his log.

I conducted a solo jaunt at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' hill-land reservoir in north-central Texas. This outing began at 11:00 a.m. and ended at 3:00 p.m.

Sunshine was plentiful, and the sky was clear. The morning low temperature was 43 degrees, and the afternoon high temperature reached 69 degrees. The wind quartered out of the southeast at 10 to 20 mph. The barometric pressure measured 30.25 at 11:00 a.m. and 30.13 at 3:00 p.m.

The water exhibited about 18 inches of visibility. The surface temperature was 57 degrees. The water level was 1.57 feet below its winter pool.

I targeted four feeder-creek arms in the lower end of the reservoir and fished in water as shallow as two feet and as deep as 26 feet. I utilized nine Midwest finesse rigs, but only one of them was effective.

During the first three hours and 38 minutes of this outing, I failed to elicit a single strike inside the first three feeder-creek arms. I was able to eke out one largemouth bass and three spotted bass inside the fourth feeder-creek arm during this outing's last 22 minutes.

These four black bass were abiding in three to eight feet of water and within five to 10 feet from the water's edge. The largemouth bass was caught from the end of a concrete boat ramp in the midsection of the creek arm. The three spotted bass were caught from a 25-yard section of a steep and rocky shoreline in the upper end of the creek arm. All four of them were beguiled by a Z-Man's green-pumpkin TRD TicklerZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead that was employed with a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.

In sum, the black bass fishing was wretched. I failed miserably to locate any black bass or threadfin shad around 13 rock- and boulder-laden secondary points, four pea-gravel and clay shorelines, one island, and five concrete boat ramps.

In the lower region of one of the creek arms, I located several large aggregations of shad with my sonar devices. They were relating to the bottom of the main creek channel in 19 to 26 feet of water. I spent about 30 minutes slowly strolling the green-pumpkin TRD TicklerZ rig across the bottom of the creek channel and through the large concentrations of shad, but I was unable to generate any strikes. I also used a drag-and-shake retrieve, hop-and-bounce retrieve, and a slow drag-and-deadstick presentation while wielding an 1/8-ounce Z-Man's green-pumpkin Micro Finesse Jig with a Z-Man's green-pumpkin TRD CrawZ attached as a trailer through the schools of shad on the bottom of the creek channel, but I was unable to provoke any strikes with it either.

It appears that our dreaded wintertime black-bass fishing has begun, and it will be a trying chore for us to catch any significant numbers of black bass for the next three months.

Dec. 13

Pat and Ned Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about their Dec.13 outing at one of northeastern Kansas' community reservoirs.

Here is an edited version of that log.

The National Weather Service reported it was 29 degrees at 6:53 a.m. and 58 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The wind was calm from 12:53 a.m. to 8:53 a.m., and then it angled out of the south and southeast at 5 to 12 mph. The sky was fair. The barometric pressure was 30.08 at 12:53 a.m., 30.08 at 5:53 a.m., 30.11 at 11:53 a.m., and 30.08 at 2:53 p.m.

The water level looked to be normal. The surface temperature ranged from 44 to 45 degrees. Our Secchi stick indicated that the water exhibited about six feet of visibility.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would take place from 5:56 a.m. to 7:56 a.m., 6:17 p.m. to 8:17 p.m., and 11:46 a.m. to 1:46 p.m.

We made our first casts at 12:30 p.m. and our last ones at 2:30 p.m.

We are celebrating Patty's 81st birthday this week. And this outing was part of that celebration. Many years ago, when we were in our late 60s and early 70s, we used to celebrate some of our birthdays on outings where we attempted to catch the number of largemouth bass that matched our age. We achieved that goal once, and it occurred when we were 72 years old by catching 72 largemouth bass in about three hours along a 350-yard stretch of a riprap shoreline of the dam at one of northeastern Kansas' state reservoirs.

Times, however, have changed. Nowadays, our reservoirs are not as bountiful as they used to be. What's more, we are considerably older, and our piscatorial talents and stamina have waned. Our conjugal outings are rarely more than 2 ½ hours. Consequently, on this birthday celebration, we did not catch 81 largemouth bass. Instead, we caught 26 largemouth bass, two wipers, one freshwater drum, and one white bass in two hours. To Patty's delight, she caught a wiper on her first cast, which immediately satisfied her innate affection for temperate bass, and before this outing ended, she tangled with two more.

Two of the 26 largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man's PB&J TRD HogZ affixed to a baby-blue 1/15-ounce Z-Man's NedlockZ Jighead. Seven were caught on a Z-Man's Canada-craw TRD BugZ affixed to a baby-blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. Seventeen were caught on a Z-Man's Canada-craw TRD HogZ affixed to a baby-blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead.

We spent about 90 minutes dissecting portions of a massive shoreline inside a major feeder-creek arm. This shoreline has a 25- to 80-degree slope. It is endowed with four secondary points and several tertiary points. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders, and several of the boulders are humongous. The water's edge is graced with patches of winter-dead American water willows, laydowns, stumps, overhanging trees, and piles of brush.

This shoreline yielded 19 largemouth bass.

Sixteen of the 19 largemouth bass were caught around a secondary point and its adjacent shorelines. This area is situated about a third of the way inside this feeder creek.

Two were caught around the secondary point on the Canada-craw TRD HogZ rig with a slow swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation in about six feet of water. This point has a 45-degree slope

Fourteen were caught on the Canada-craw TRD HogZ rig along two shorelines adjacent to that secondary point.

Two were caught on the initial drop of the rig in about five feet of water along a section of the shoreline that has about a 50- to 60-degree slope. Along that same slope and section, we caught six largemouth bass on a very slow swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation with the Canada-craw TRD HogZ rig in seven to 10 feet of water around rocks and boulders.

Five of the 14 were caught along a portion of the shoreline that has a 30- to 35-degree slope. They were caught on the Canada-craw TRD HogZ with a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation in four to five feet of water around rocks and boulders.

One of the 14 was caught along a portion of the shoreline that has a 40-degree slope. It was caught on the Canada-craw TRD HogZ with a swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation in four to five feet of water adjacent to an overhanging tree and around a series of rocks and boulders.

Three of the 19 were caught along a steep shoreline about three-quarters of the way inside this feeder-creek. One was caught on a drag-shake-and-pause presentation with the PB&J TRD HogZ rig in about six feet of water. One was caught on the TRD BugZ rig with a deadstick presentation in about five feet of water. The third one was caught on the TRD BugZ rig with a swim-glide-and-shake presentation in about five feet of water.

We spent approximately 30 minutes fishing along about a 50-yard section of one shoreline and a 30-yard section of another shoreline inside a small feeder-creek arm.

These shorelines yielded seven largemouth bass.

Their underwater terrains consist of gravel, rocks, and a few boulders. They possess a 30- to 35-degree slope. The water's edges are entirely lined with patches of winter-dead American water willows. There are also one major laydown and several minor ones and two overhanging trees and one dock adorning the water's edges. One of the seven largemouth bass was caught under one of the overhanging trees on the Canada-craw TRD HogZ rig with a drag-and-shake presentation in about six feet of water. The other six were caught on our TRD BugZ rigs with either a drag-shake-and-pause or a slow swim-glide-and-subtle-shake presentation in six to 10 feet of water.

Dec. 16

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Dec. 16 outing with John Thomas of Denton, Texas.

Here is an edited version of his log.

We fished at a state reservoir in rural north-central Texas. The last time I fished at this impoundment was on Nov. 22 with Bill Kenny of Denton, and the black-bass fishing was mediocre at best. During that Nov. 22 outing, the water displayed about two feet of visibility. The surface temperature ranged from 59 to 64 degrees. And we had difficulty locating and catching 14 largemouth bass and three spotted bass in five hours.

On Dec. 16, the water was murkier than it was on Nov. 22; it displayed about 14 to 18 inches of visibility. The water level was 3.21 feet below the winter pool. The surface temperature ranged from 57 to 60 degrees.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the black-bass fishing would be poor on Dec. 16. It also indicated that the best fishing would occur from 1:46 a.m. to 3:46 a.m., 7:57 a.m. to 9:57 a.m., and 8:20 p.m. to 10:20 p.m.

Weather-wise, it has been unseasonably mild for December in north-central Texas. Nighttime low temperatures have been in the upper-50s to mid-60s, and daytime highs have been peaking in the mid to upper 70s. Typically, the average low temperature for mid-December across north-central Texas is 37 degrees; the average high temperature is 56 degrees. Though the air temperatures have been surprisingly mild, robust winds have been plaguing us all month long and have kept us at bay for several days at a time.

On Dec. 16, the morning low temperature was 57 degrees. The afternoon high temperature reached 64 degrees. The wind was a bit problematic and blew incessantly out of the north and northwest at 15 to 20 mph. The barometric pressure measured 29.95 at 7:00 a.m. and 30.01 at noon. The sky was fair, and the sun was intensely bright.

We fished from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

We caught eight largemouth bass and one spotted bass inside a small bay that is situated in the lower end of the impoundment. It is endowed with several rocky secondary points, rock-laden shorelines, two coves, and a small marina.

On the east side of this bay, we caught six largemouth bass and one spotted bass along a shoreline inside one of the two coves. This shoreline has a 45- to 60-degree incline. Its submerged terrain is composed of red clay, pea gravel, and chunk rocks. These black bass were caught within 10 feet of the water's edge and in three to eight feet of water. The boat floated in 12 to 21 feet of water.

The shoreline at the entrance to the second cove relinquished one largemouth bass. This shoreline is located on the south side of the cove. It has about a 30-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of chunk rock and pea-gravel. This largemouth bass was caught in five feet of water and about 15 feet away from the water's edge. The boat was floating in eight to 14 feet of water.

A concrete retaining wall on the west side of this same cove yielded one largemouth bass. The shoreline has a 20- to a 30-degree incline. Its submerged terrain is composed of red clay and pea gravel. This largemouth bass was caught near the concrete retaining wall in three feet of water. The remainder of this cove was unproductive. The boat was positioned in eight to 10 feet of water.

In the middle section of this reservoir's east shoreline, we dissected a riprap-laden jetty and a rocky shoreline in the lower section of a minor bay. The riprap jetty forms the south entrance to the small bay.

The peppy wind and white-capped waves were pummeling the end and north side of the jetty. We caught one largemouth bass in three feet of water and near the riprap of the wind-blown north side of the jetty. The south side of the jetty, which was protected from the wind, was fruitless. We positioned the boat in 18 to 23 feet of water.

On the north side of this bay, and directly across from the riprap jetty, we fished a flat pea-gravel and red-clay shoreline, and we failed to generate any strikes while the boat floated in six to 10 feet of water.

On the north side of a third bay, which is located about a mile north of the second one that we fished, we targeted a rock bluff that is endowed with a series of stair-step ledges that descend into 30-plus feet of water. The boat floated in water as deep as 32 feet and as shallow as 18 feet. This locale was inhabited by a goodly number of threadfin shad, and we garnered only one strike from a ledge in 27 feet of water, but we failed to hook that fish.

In closing, the black-bass fishing was tough. It was a grind for us to locate and catch nine largemouth bass and one spotted bass in five hours.

We employed several Midwest finesse rigs. Four of these 10 black bass were allured by a Z-Man's perfect-perch Finesse TRD matched with a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. Four others were tempted by a shortened 4 1/2-inch black-red-flake finesse worm affixed to a red 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. Two were enticed by a Z-Man's Canada-craw TRD BugZ that was fastened to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead.

All of them were caught on a swim-glide-and-shake presentation. The one strike we missed was provoked while we were slowly strolling and slowly dragging the TRD BugZ rig across the top of a deep-water ledge near the base of a rock bluff.

Dec. 17

Ned Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Dec. 17 outing at one of northeastern Kansas' state reservoirs.

Here is an edited version of his log.

The National Weather Service reported it was 29 degrees at 3:52 a.m. and 46 degrees at 3:52 p.m. The wind angled out of the east, southeast, and northeast at 3 to 14 mph. The sky was fair from 12:52 a.m. to 8:52 a.m., and then it became overcast. The barometric pressure was 30.11 at 12:52 a.m., 30.04 at 5:52 a.m., 29.97 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.92 at 2:52 p.m.

The water level was about normal. The surface temperature ranged from 45 to 46 degrees. The Secchi stick indicated that the water exhibited five to six feet of visibility.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would take place from 8:29 a.m. to 10:29 a.m., 8:53 p.m. to 10:53 p.m., and 2:17 a.m. to 4:17 a.m.

When I made my first cast at 11:45 a.m., I accidentally caught a crappie. My last cast was executed at 1:49 p.m. when I caught largemouth bass number 20. Between my first cast and last one, I accidentally caught eight more crappie.

I spent the first 111 minutes of this outing dissecting many square yards of a massive shallow-water flat that is the size of about 10 football fields. It is situated in the back third of a large feeder-creek arm. It is adorned with untold numbers of coontail patches. There are wilted patches of brittle naiad and sago pondweed intertwined in and around the patches of coontail. The coontail patches are also exhibiting their wintertime decline, but it is not as dramatic as the decline that occurs with the brittle naiad and sago pondweed. This flat is also cluttered with scores of manmade piles of eastern red cedar trees, and some of these piles are cluttered with coontail.

Around a series of patches of coontail along about a 100-yard wide and 300-yard long stretch of this flat, I caught 17 largemouth bass and momentarily hooked three strikes. One was caught on a Z-Man's Canada-craw TRD HogZ affixed to a baby-blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. Two were caught on a Z-Man's Canada-craw TRD BugZ affixed to a baby-blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. A Z-Man's green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD attached to a baby-blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead inveigled 14 largemouth bass. The largemouth bass, as well as the crappie, were caught around the patches of coontail in seven to nine feet of water. Some of the patches are the size of a tennis court. They were caught as I employed a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation.

I spent the final nine minutes of this outing inside a small feeder-creek arm that is endowed with some magnificent patches of coontail. Around one of these patches, I caught three largemouth bass on the Finesse TRD rig with the swim-glide-and-shake presentation in about eight feet of water.

Dec. 24

It was the day before Christmas, and Pat and Ned Kehde were somewhat surprised to be afloat at one of northeastern Kansas community reservoirs for 150 minutes.

Here is an edited version of their brief log about this outing that they posted on the Finesse News Network.

This was the first time in our 81 years that we have fished on Dec. 24. And the National Weather Service reported that it was the warmest Dec. 24 in recorded history at many locales in northeastern Kansas. It was 37 degrees at 1:53 a.m. and 73 degrees at 1:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the south and southwest at 5 to 17 mph with gusts that howled from 21 to 25 mph. The sky was fair. The barometric pressure was 29.59 at 12:53 a.m., 29.44 at 5:53 a.m., 29.39 at 11:53 a.m., and 29:36 at 2:53 p.m.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would take place from 2:09 a.m. to 4:09 a.m., 2:32 p.m. to 4:32 p.m., and 8:20 a.m. to 10:20 p.m.

The water level looked to be normal. The surface temperature ranged from 43 to 45 degrees. Our Secchi stick indicated that the water exhibited more than six feet of visibility.

One of the 14 largemouth bass were caught on a three-inch green-pumpkin creature-style soft-plastic worm affixed to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead; this is a prototype that a friend has created. Three were caught on a Z-Man's Canada-craw TRD HogZ affixed to a baby-blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. Ten were caught on a Z-Man's Canada-craw TRD BugZ that was fastened to a chartreuse 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead.

We spent the entire outing hiding from the south wind. Our first casts were made at 11:20 a.m. and our last ones at 1:50 p.m.

Most of it was spent fishing along short portions of a massive shoreline inside a major feeder-creek arm. This shoreline has a 25- to 80-degree slope. It is endowed with four secondary points and several tertiary points. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders, and several of the boulders are humongous. The water's edge is graced with patches of winter-dead American water willows, laydowns, stumps, overhanging trees, and piles of brush. It yielded nine largemouth bass.

Five of the nine largemouth bass were caught around a secondary point that is located about a third of the way inside this feeder-creek. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders. A few of the boulders are quite large, and there is some submerged brush nearby. It has about a 45-degree slope. These largemouth bass were caught on the TRD BugZ rig with a drag-shake-and-pause presentation in about seven to 10 feet of water in the vicinity of the boulders and more than 20 feet from the water's edge.

Four of the nine largemouth bass were caught along a steep shoreline about three-quarters of the way inside this feeder creek. The water's edge is adorned with one major laydown, several small laydowns, and several overhanging trees. The underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders, which are enhanced with some minor piles of brush. One of the largemouth bass was caught on a deadstick presentation with the prototype rig in about eight feet of water and 20 feet from the water's edge and 15 feet from one side of the major laydown. One was caught on the initial drop of the TRD BugZ rig in the vicinity of a minor laydown in about six feet of water and 10 feet from the water's edge. The other two were caught on drag-shake-and-pause presentation with the TRD BugZ rig; one of them was caught about 10 feet from the side of the major laydown in about eight feet of water and 15 feet from the water's edge, and the second one was caught on the other side of the major laydown in about seven feet of water and 15 feet from the water's edge and 10 feet from the side of this laydown.

We spent approximately 35 minutes fishing around a main-lake point, along about a 50-yard section of one shoreline, a 50-yard section of another shoreline, a 20-yard section of another shoreline, and around a secondary point inside a small feeder-creek arm.

We caught five largemouth bass along one of the three shorelines. This shoreline possesses a 30- to 35-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders, which are adorned with a few minor piles of brush. The water's edge is lined with patches of winter-dead American water willows, one dock, and one overhanging tree. Two of the largemouth bass were caught on the Canada-craw TRD BugZ rig with a drag-and-shake presentation in about six feet of water and about 12 feet from the water's edge; one was caught in the vicinity of the dock about 40 percent of the way inside this feeder-creek arm. The other three were caught while we were strolling and employing a drag-and-shake presentation with the TRD HogZ rig in eight to 12 feet of water and 15 to nearly 20 feet from the water's edge. These three were caught about 55 percent of the way inside this feeder creek.

Dec. 24

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Dec. 16 outing with Billy Kenney of Denton, Texas.

Here is an edited version of his log.

Bill had back surgery on Dec. 6, and he has been recuperating from that surgery all month. On Dec. 24, he was feeling much better, so we took advantage of a mild winter's day to fish from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' hill-land reservoir in north-central Texas.

Our part of Texas has been experiencing the mildest air temperatures this December that I can remember. The morning's low temperature was 63 degrees. The afternoon high temperature peaked at 80 degrees. The sky was partly cloudy. The barometric pressure measured 29.83 at 10:00 a.m. and it fell to 29.75 by 1:00 p.m. The wind was brisk and quartered out of the south and southwest at 15 to 25 mph.

According to In-Fisherman's solunar table, the most productive fishing periods would occur from 2:14 a.m. to 4:14 a.m., 8:26 a.m. to 10:26 a.m., and 2:37 p.m. to 4:37 p.m. It also noted that the fishing would be poor.

We spent these three hours inside a minor feeder-creek arm on the north end of the reservoir. We had high hopes that the warmer water temperatures in the creek arm would make the black bass easier to locate and catch. Except for five bank anglers pursuing crappie, we had this creek arm to ourselves.

The submerged terrain inside this creek arm consists of clay and gravel. The creek's shorelines are steep and bluff-like in the upper reaches of the creek arm, and they become flatter in the middle and lower sections. Countless numbers of flooded bushes, submerged brush piles, partially-submerged laydowns, and submerged stumps adorn the shallows around the shorelines.

The water in the main-lake area outside of this creek arm was muddy with less than a foot of visibility. The surface temperature was 57.2 degrees. The water level was 1.61 feet below winter pool, which made it difficult for us to traverse a shallow mudflat and enter the mouth of the creek arm.

Inside the lower end of this creek arm, the water clarity exhibited 12 inches of visibility, and the surface temperature was 63 degrees. In the midsection of this creek arm, the water displayed 18 inches of visibility and the water temperature was 67.8 degrees.

During the first 90 minutes of this outing, we plied the lower section of the creek arm and the black bass bite was virtually nonexistent. We employed several Midwest finesse rigs and caught two largemouth bass and one crappie.

The midsection of the creek arm wasn't much better than the lower end, and it was a chore for us to catch three largemouth bass and one crappie.

We were unable to fish in the upper end of the creek arm because a large tree had fallen across the creek and prevented us from venturing any further.

These five largemouth bass and two crappie were abiding in three to five feet of water around the deep-water ends of laydowns that were situated on points close to the main creek channel that courses through the center of the creek arm.

A skirted 1/8-ounce black-blue finesse jig with a Z-Man's black-blue TRD CrawZ affixed as a trailer and employed with a slow hop-and-bounce presentation allured two largemouth bass. A slow hop-and-bounce retrieve with a skirted 1/8-ounce Z-Man's black-blue Micro Finesse Jig with a Z-Man's black-blue Baby Goat attached as a trailer allured one largemouth bass and two crappie. A slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve with a Z-Man's green-pumpkin TRD HogZ rigged on a chartreuse 1/20-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig enticed one largemouth bass. And one largemouth bass was caught on a deadstick presentation with a chartreuse 1/32-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead dressed with a 2 1/2-inch chartreuse-and-blue paddle-tail grub.

On our way home, Bill and I concluded that we may have to wait until the water level rises significantly before we return to this creek arm.

Dec. 27

Brandon and Jason Marlow of LaFollette, Tennessee, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about their Dec. 27 outing.

Here is an edited version of their log.

We fished the lower end of a Tennessee Valley Authority highland reservoir in eastern Tennessee from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

It was an unseasonably warm day. Area thermometers reached a high of 66 degrees. The sky was cloudy, and an occasional light shower erupted. There was also a steady breeze out of the south by southwest until around 1:00 p.m.

The surface temperature was 54 degrees. The water exhibited five to eight feet of visibility. The water level was 22 feet below its full pool.

We caught 32 smallmouth bass in five and a half hours. Thirty of them were caught in the first four hours. And when the wind died down, so did our abilities to catch the smallmouth bass. We were able to catch only two in the final hour and thirty minutes.

Jason worked with one rig during the entire outing. It was a Z-Man's PB&J Finesse TRD affixed to a 1/8-ounce PB&J skirted finesse jig.

I am still infatuated with the back half of the Z-Man's FattyZ affixed to a homemade Midwest-finesse-style jighead. I used three hues of the FattyZ: PB&J, Canada craw, and green pumpkin blue.

We fished six locales. They possess a 45-degree or greater slope. The shorelines and underwater terrains of these locales are ladened with rocks. We have discovered rock-laden areas have the most exposed crayfish, which results in the areas with the highest concentration of feeding smallmouth bass, and the steeper ones allow the smallmouth bass to change depths quickly without using a lot of energy. And these are two key factors in the wintertime at this reservoir. We fish these areas from transition to transition, meaning we start fishing where the terrain goes from clay to pea gravel to rocks, and we stop when it changes again. These areas can range in length from 100 yards to over half a mile.

Jason and I used the same presentation. The smallmouth bass did not want much movement in our rigs. Therefore, we employed a lot of deadsticking presentations, and occasionally, we used a slow dragging presentation. The smallmouth bass were caught in water as shallow as a couple of feet to as deep as 15 feet.

Jason's rig did not catch as many smallmouth bass as the FattyZ rig, but his were heftier ones.

I caught 25 of the 32, and they ranged in size from "how did it fit that in its mouth" up to around three pounds. I am not sure what was the most effective color of the FattyZ rigs. All three hues seemed to be equally alluring to smallmouth bass.

During the final hour and a half, our catch rate declined to two smallmouth bass, and they were caught on the green-pumpkin-blue FattyZ rig with a deadstick presentation in about 10 feet of water.

We did not catch a single smallmouth bass around a laydown or log or wood cover. I am not sure if this has ever happened before. We fished them like we always have fished them, but we failed to elicit a strike around them.

It is important to reiterate our observations about the importance of rocks and crayfish. All of the 32 smallmouth bass had visible antennas and/or pinchers protruding from their gullets. And they were caught around rocks.

Tomorrow will be more of the same, but we will be fishing in a major feeder-creek arm in the mid-section of the reservoir. We will ply the same type of terrains. There is supposed to be a decent amount of wind. If it blows all day and the water has decent clarity, I expect we will catch more than 32 smallmouth bass.

Dec. 28

Ned and Pat Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about their Dec. 28 outing at one of northeastern Kansas' state reservoirs.

Here is an edited version of their log.

The National Weather Service reported it was 42 degrees at 5:52 a.m. and 59 degrees at 1:52 p.m. The wind angled out of the east, southeast, south, west, and northwest at 3 to 17 mph, and some gusts ranged from 24 to 28 mph. It rained lightly from 2:52 a.m. to 7:52 a.m., and at other times the sky fluctuated from being cluttered with a few clouds to being mostly cloudy to fair. The barometric pressure was 29.66 at 12:52 a.m., 29.52 at 5:52 a.m., 29.44 at 11:52 a.m., and 29.51 at 2:52 p.m.

The water level was about normal. The surface temperature was 45 degrees. The Secchi stick indicated that the water exhibited four to six feet of visibility.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would take place from 5:10 a.m. to 7:10 a.m. and 5:34 p.m. to 7:34 p.m.

We made our first casts at 12:10 p.m. and accidentally caught a hefty crappie. By the time, we executed our last cast at 2:35 p.m., we had caught 36 largemouth bass and two more crappie, and one of those crappie was a hefty one, too.

We spent the first 130 minutes of this 145-minute outing dissecting many square yards of a massive shallow-water flat that is the size of several football fields. It is situated in the back third of a large feeder-creek arm. It is adorned with untold numbers of coontail patches, sago pondweed, and brittle naiad. The brittle naiad is significantly wilted, and the patches of coontail and sago pondweed are exhibiting their wintertime decline. This flat is also cluttered with scores of manmade piles of eastern red cedar trees, and some of these piles are intertwined with coontail.

While we were afloat, the wind changed directions from the south to the west and to the northwest, and it fluctuated from being partially calm to blowing at a very moderate pace. A calm to moderate wind is usually a godsend when we are trying to thoroughly dissect vast shallow-water flats that are embellished with patches of submerged aquatic vegetation.

Around a series of submerged patches of coontail, sago pondweed, brittle naiad, and manmade piles of submerged eastern red cedar trees, we caught 33 largemouth bass. They were caught along about a 150-yard wide and 400-yard long stretch of this flat. Three were caught on a Z-Man's meat-dog Finesse TRD affixed to a baby-blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. Four were caught on a Z-Man's Canada-craw TRD HogZ affixed to a baby-blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. A Z-Man's green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD attached to a baby-blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead inveigled 11 largemouth bass. Fifteen were caught on a Z-Man's Canada-craw TRD BugZ affixed to a baby-blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. Twenty-two of the 33 largemouth bass and the three crappie were caught during the first 60 minutes of this outing.

The largemouth bass and crappie were caught around the patches of submerged aquatic vegetation and piles of eastern red cedar in about five to nine feet of water. One largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of the BugZ rig. Three largemouth bass were caught on a deadstick presentation. The others were caught as we employed a swim-glide-and-shake presentation; in the deeper areas of this massive flat, most of those swim-glide-and-shake presentations were very slowly executed, and in the shallower sections, we executed that presentation at a slightly quicker pace. At times, we strolled across many yards of this massive shallow-water flat and used the swim-glide-and-shake presentation as we searched for patches of submerged vegetation and the largemouth bass that inhabited those patches.

We spent the final 15 minutes of this outing and caught three largemouth bass inside a small feeder-creek arm that is endowed with a few significant patches of coontail. The green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD rig inveigled one largemouth bass around a patch of coontail with a moderate-paced swim-glide-and-shake presentation in about five feet of water. This rig caught another largemouth bass with a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation in about nine feet of water around another patch of coontail. The initial drop of this rig in about six feet of water caught a largemouth bass around another patch of coontail.

Dec. 30

Steve Reideler of Denton, Texas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Dec. 30 outing with Norman Brown of Lewisville, Texas.

Here is an edited version of his log.

For our last outing of 2021, Norman Brown and I

retuned to the state reservoir in rural north-central Texas where John Thomas of Denton and I fished on Dec. 16.

On Dec. 16, it was sunny and windy. The water was murky and displayed about 14 to 18 inches of visibility. The water level was 3.21 feet its below winter pool. The surface temperature ranged from 57 to 60 degrees. The black-bass fishing was difficult, and we struggled to catch nine largemouth bass and one spotted bass in five hours.

The water was still stained on Dec. 30 and exhibited 18 inches of clarity. The water temperature ranged from 57 to 59 degrees. The water level was 3.38 feet below winter pool.

According to In-Fisherman's solunar calendar, the black-bass fishing would be poor on Dec. 30. It also indicated that the best fishing would occur from 12:43 a.m. to 2:43 a.m., 6:57 a.m. to 8:57 a.m., and 7:26 p.m. to 9:26 p.m.

We fished from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

It has remained unseasonably mild in north-central Texas this month, but that is about to change on Dec. 31, when a significant cold front is forecasted to arrive. We are anticipating much cooler air temperatures and gusty northern winds on Jan. 1, which will keep us at bay for the first few days of 2022.

On Dec. 30, the morning low temperature was 45 degrees. The afternoon high temperature reached 74 degrees. The wind was mild-mannered and quartered out of the southwest, west, and northwest at 5 to 10 mph. The barometric pressure measured 29.92 at 7:00 a.m. and 29.90 at noon. The sky conditions fluctuated from being partly cloudy to mostly cloudy to overcast.

During the five hours that we were afloat, we found the black-bass bite almost as trying as it was on Dec. 16; we caught 13 largemouth bass and two spotted bass. We also caught one white bass and one freshwater drum by accident.

We began this outing inside a small bay on the south end of the impoundment. On the south end of the bay, we fished about 250 yards of a rocky shoreline that possesses a 45- to 60-degree slope, and we caught seven largemouth bass and two spotted bass. This shoreline's submerged terrain consists of red clay, pea gravel, chunk rocks, and boulders. These black bass were abiding around clusters of submerged chuck rocks and boulders in three to eight feet of water. We failed to locate any black bass around several rocky secondary points, a flat and pea-gravel shoreline, a concrete retaining wall, a covered boat dock with 16 boat slips, and two shorelines that are covered with riprap.

In the middle section of this reservoir's east shoreline, we dissected a riprap-laden jetty at the mouth of a minor bay and the edges of a nearby creek channel that parallels the jetty. The creek channel is covered with 21 to 25 feet of water, and one side of it yielded one white bass and one largemouth bass. The white bass was suspended about five feet below the surface in 21 feet of water, and the largemouth bass was extracted from the bottom in 23 feet of water. The riprap-covered jetty was fruitless.

About two miles north of the riprap jetty, we dissected about 100 yards of a main-lake bluff, and we failed to generate any strikes around numerous large boulders and patches of chunk rocks.

Inside a major feeder-creek arm in the northwest region of the reservoir, we caught five largemouth bass.

Two largemouth bass were caught from a rocky secondary point in the lower end of the creek arm. Both sides of this secondary point are steep and bluff-like, and the end of the point is flat. One of the two largemouth bass was caught in eight to 10 feet of water around some submerged boulders. The other largemouth bass was caught in three feet of water from a cluster of chunk rocks at the tip of the point.

The other three largemouth bass were caught from a rock bluff in the upper end of the creek arm. They were suspended in open water about five feet below the surface in 17 to 21 feet of water and about 15 to 20 feet away from the water's edge.

As for lures and retrieves, we wielded 12 Midwest finesse rigs and five of them were effective. One of the 15 black bass was caught on a Z-Man's The Deal Finesse ShadZ rigged on a blue 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig and a slow swim-glide-and shake retrieve. Two were allured by a Z-Man's perfect-perch Finesse TRD matched with a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig and a slow swim-glide-and-shake presentation. Four were enticed by a Z-Man's Mudbug TRD TicklerZ affixed to a pearl 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig and a steady swimming retrieve. Four were attracted to either a steady swimming retrieve or a hop-and-bounce retrieve with a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse TRD fastened on a pearl 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig. The other four black bass were inveigled by a slow swim-glide-and-shake retrieve with a Z-Man's green-pumpkin Finesse TRD matched with a chartreuse 1/15-ounce Finesse ShroomZ jig.

In short, this outing was a lackluster finale to our 2021 fishing year.

Endnotes: Overall, 2021 was what we consider to be an above-average year of black-bass fishing in north-central Texas. My cohorts and I fished a total of 94 times for 488.5 hours, and we caught a total of 2,469 black bass. Of these 2,469 bass, 1,521 of them were largemouth bass, 701 were spotted bass, 233 were smallmouth bass, and 14 were hybrid Spotted Bass. Our catch rate tallied to five black bass per hour and 26 black bass per outing.

Dec. 30

Brandon and Jason Marlow of LaFollette, Tennessee, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about their Dec. 30 outing.

Here is an edited version of their log.

We fished a Tennessee Valley Authority highland reservoir in eastern Tennessee from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Because of the rain overnight, we decided to fish the southern or dam's end of the reservoir and avoid our usual spots, which will be muddy for the next several days.

The one thing we could not avoid today was the fog. To say it was dense is an understatement. It finally lifted a little before noon and gave way to clear skies. The temperature is still well above average with an overnight low of 56 degrees and a high of 65 degrees.

The water clarity in the vicinity of the dam was around 10 feet. The surface temperature was 55 degrees. The water level is 22 feet below full pool.

The fog kept us from fishing the areas we wanted to for most of this outing. We were forced to fish the main-lake or main-river area around the dam while we waited for the fog to dissipate. We managed to catch eight smallmouth bass, but it was a struggle. Jason caught three on a Z-Man's PB&J Finesse TRD affixed to a green-pumpkin 1/15-ounce Z-Man's Finesse ShroomZ jig. I caught five on a half of a Z-Man's PB&J ZinkerZ affixed to a 1/16-ounce green-pumpkin Midwest finesse style jighead. We caught them along a rock-laden and steep shoreline that is adorned with a large shelf or step, and that falls into deep water fast. We positioned our boat about 40 to 50 feet from the water's edge, and it was floating in 90 feet of water. Behind us, the submerged river channel lies in about 200 feet of water. I am used to fishing deep water, but this was intimidating. We would cast our rigs as shallow as we could and deadstick them or barely move them. Once we worked them out about 10 feet, they would fall into the abyss. We caught these fish on what I believe was the step or shelf before it drops off, I am uncertain of the depth, but I would guess it is around 20 feet. We never got a bite once the bait started its free fall.

We finally trolled in the fog far enough to get into more manageable depths. We worked our way up the old river or main-river section of the reservoir. At 10:30 a.m., it was still foggy, but it looked as if it could be clearing some. There was no wind, and we were fishing slowly. The strong front that came through last night seemed to have the smallmouth bass holding tight to cover. We fished the old river section to just before noon and caught six smallmouth bass, and I finally caught a largemouth bass. This rocky shoreline has a 45-degree slope, and we concentrated mostly on the laydowns and large isolated boulders. All these fish were pretty shallow and caught while were deadsticking our PB&J Finesse TRD and ZinkerZ rigs close to the boulders and laydowns.

The fog finally cleared enough to make the move to the area we wanted to fish. It is a large cove at the base of a major feeder-creek arm. During the final hour of our outing, we fished this section pretty fast. The underwater terrain consists of rocks and boulders that range in size of a basketball to as large as a car, and they were scattered rather far apart. Jason caught four smallmouth bass on his PB&J Finesse TRD rig and I caught two on my PB&J ZinkerZ rig. We worked the rigs around the scattered rocks and boulders by employing a dragging presentation. The shoreline in this cove is not steep. We caught the smallmouth bass in five to 10 feet of water.

We finished the day with a total of 20 smallmouth bass and one largemouth bass.

Endnotes: After getting home, I did a little research and found out that the deep area we fished at the beginning of this outing was part of the old quarry where they got the rocks to make the concrete for the construction of the dam. The dam is 1,860 feet wide and 265 feet high, and it took one million yards of concrete to build it.

Dec. 31

Ned Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas, posted a log on the Finesse News Network about his Dec. 31 outing at one of northeastern Kansas' community reservoirs.

Here is an edited version of his log.

The National Weather Service reported it was 34 degrees at 1:53 a.m. and 63 degrees at 2:53 p.m. The wind angled out of the southeast, south, southwest, and west at 3 to 17 mph. The sky fluctuated from being foggy and misty to cluttered with a few clouds to fair. The barometric pressure was 29.66 at 12:53 a.m., 29.56 at 5:53 a.m., 29.56 at 11:53 a.m., and 29.53 at 2:53 p.m. The NWS is predicting that Old Man Winter will arrive in northeastern Kansas this evening. At some locales, the temperature will be zero and below zero during the nighttime hours of Jan. 1 and 2. What's more, he will coat the landscape with rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow. It is also predicted that some thermometers might plummet to -5 degrees during the nighttime hours of Jan. 6 and Jan. 7.

In-Fisherman's solunar calendar noted that the best fishing would take place from 7:38 a.m. to 9:38 a.m., 8:09 p.m. to 10:09 p.m., and 1:23 a.m. to 3:23 a.m.

The water level was a few inches above normal. The surface temperature ranged from 43 to 44 degrees. A wintertime algal bloom has erupted, which affected the water clarity. The Secchi stick indicated that the water exhibited about three to 3½ feet of visibility.

There were nine other bass anglers afloat while I was fishing, and several of us shared the same locales. They were power anglers and wielding jerkbaits.

My cousin Rick Hebenstreit of Shawnee, Kansas, and I fished this reservoir on Dec. 2. In our log of that outing, we noted that this reservoir's managers have removed its once flourishing patches of coontail by using aquatic herbicides and stocking grass carp. Across our many years of fishing for largemouth bass, we have discovered that if the flatland reservoirs in northeastern Kansas are devoid of significant patches of submerged aquatic vegetation, such as coontail, it is usually a difficult chore for Midwest finesse anglers and power anglers to locate and catch substantial numbers of largemouth bass when the water temperature drops into the 40s and 30s.

Before the demise of the submerged aquatic vegetation, our wintertime pursuits of largemouth bass at this reservoir were often quite rewarding when we plied its shallow-water flats and shorelines that abounded with patches of coontail. And this reservoir's nearly total lack of submerged aquatic vegetation confounded Rick and me on Dec. 2; thus, we struggled to catch 20 largemouth bass in four hours and one minute. Once again, I struggled on Dec. 31 to catch 15 largemouth bass in three hours and 39 minutes, and on this outing, I failed to cross paths with even a meager stem of coontail.

Five of the 15 largemouth bass were caught on a Z-Man's Canada-craw TRD HogZ affixed to a baby-blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead. Ten of the 15 were caught on a Z-Man's green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD affixed to a baby-blue 1/16-ounce Z-Man's OG Mushroom Jighead.

I made my first cast at 10:40 a.m. along a main-lake shoreline in the middle portion of this reservoir. This shoreline possesses a 30- to 45-degree slope. The water's edge consists of some patches of winter-dead American water willows, several overhanging trees, and 20 docks. I caught one largemouth bass by strolling and employing a drag-and-shake presentation with a Z-Man's green-pumpkin-goby Finesse TRD rig around the outside corner of one of the docks in about 12 feet of water. I fished about 150 yards of this shoreline, and that was the only strike I elicited and fish that I caught.

Nine largemouth bass were caught along about a 100-yard stretch of a shoreline in the upper half of this reservoir. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders. It has a 20- to 60-degree slope. The water's edge is comprised of winter-dead American water willows, overhanging trees, four docks, one concrete retaining wall, a stone bridge, some minor piles of brush, and a few laydowns. Eight of the nine largemouth bass were caught on the Finesse TRD rig, and one was caught on the Canada-craw TRD HogZ rig. One of the largemouth bass was caught adjacent to the concrete retaining wall as I was strolling the Finesse TRD rig and working with a drag-and-shake presentation in about eight feet of water. Four largemouth bass were caught on a slow-swim-glide-and-shake presentation with the Finesse TRD rig near one of the docks in six to nine feet of water. Three of the nine were caught on the Finesse TRD rig while I was strolling and employing the drag-and-shake presentation in six to eight feet of water in the vicinity of some laydowns, boulders, and minor piles of brush. One of the nine largemouth bass was caught on the initial drop of the TRD HogZ rig near a laydown in about five feet of water.

I failed to elicit a strike along another 100-yard stretch of a shoreline in the upper half of this reservoir.

Two largemouth bass were caught in back-to-back casts along a flat and shallow-water shoreline in the upper half of this reservoir. This shoreline has a 25-degree slope. It used to be embellished with an array of coontail patches. Its water's edge is lined with concrete retaining walls and six docks. Both of the largemouth bass were caught around the outside corner of one of the docks with a drag-and-shake presentation in about five feet of water.

Two largemouth bass were caught along about a 100-yard stretch of a main-lake shoreline in the middle section of the reservoir. This shoreline has a 25- to 45-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders. The water's edge is cluttered with 12 docks, a few patches of winter-dead American water willows, two overhanging trees, and some brush piles. The largemouth bass were caught on the TRD HogZ rig with a drag-and-shake presentation in 10 to 14 feet of water and about 20 feet from the water's edge.

Along about a 40-yard stretch of the dam's shoreline, I caught one largemouth bass. The dam has about a 60-degree slope. Its underwater terrain consists of gravel, rocks, and boulders, which used to be graced with some patches of coontail. The water's edge is lined with patches of winter-dead American water willows. This largemouth bass was caught on the Finesse TRD HogZ while I was strolling and executing a drag-and-shake presentation in about eight feet of water.

Here are our year-end statistics: We fished 115 times for a total of 294 hours. We caught 2,962 black bass, 2,888 were largemouth bass, and 74 were smallmouth bass. Our catch rate is an average of 25.7 black bass an outing and 10.07 an hour. It is interesting to examine our records from a decade ago, and we fished 127 times for a total of 508 hours in 2011. We caught 4,566 black bass, which is an hourly average of 8.98 an hour and 35.9 per outing.

Back in 2011, some of our outings entailed long drives, ranging from 78 miles to 169 miles. Now that we are 81 years old, Patty's and my old-codger mentalities and demeanors make us reluctant to drive a long distance to launch our boat. Therefore, all but one of 115 outings were no farther than 38 miles from our front door, and some were as short as 9.6 miles. Three of the reservoirs were federal ones, three were state reservoirs, and five were community reservoirs. The farthest one was a federal reservoir, which was a 59.8-mile trip. What's more, we now prefer to fish smaller reservoirs than big ones; therefore, we ventured to federal reservoirs only five times.

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