Having been dubbed a convert in the Sacred Halls of the Bill Binkelman School of Live Bait, I was convinced there is only one true fish-catching bait, that being the mighty nightcrawler.
Nightcrawlers were targeted by wildly hungry bluegills and other assorted pan fish. But eventually I learned that being so singular in my bait choices was very expensive, and not very smart in my approach to catching fish under a variety of circumstances.
I subsequently added minnows and leeches to the main menu, while nightcrawlers remained as an appetizer.
And then, about 25 years ago, I started using pre-rigged plastic worms, such as the Little Action Mac and some similarly branded squirmers as well, like plastic grubs and 1/32-ounce Mini-Mites.
My catch ratio took off like a rocket. And yet I still run in to die-hards who won't switch bait and lure tactics, and wind up complaining "they just ain't hittin' today."
But the fish are still there, and far too many fishermen just don't want to make the extra effort to open locked jaws when the bite is reluctant.
Ned Kehde, the Finesse Fishing guru frontman out of Kansas, has a tendency not to give up and will continue to ply the waters of the reservoirs that he and his pals hammer away almost weekly.
Here's a partial update from one of Ned's dispatches when he fished one particular reservoir.
"Blake Russell of Shawnee, Kansas, is working on a story for Bassmaster magazine about Midwest finesse fishing, and during one evening last month he and I fished a 100-acre community reservoir on the outskirts of Kansas City. After 35 minutes, Blake's wife, Mary, joined us. She is a professional photographer, and she took a series of photographs that focused on a couple of the largemouth bass we caught, the baits we used, and the way we presented our baits. The water level looked to be a few inches below full reservoir. The surface temperature fluctuated from 87 to 88 degrees. The water exhibited a greenish hue and about 2 feet of visibility."
Ned went on: "For years I have maintained that we could catch (if we used Midwest finesse tactics) as many largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and spotted bass by fishing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as we could catch during the lowlight periods of the day -- even in the heat of the summer. But since mid-June our midday black bass fishing has been rather sour, and this evening outing has caused me to rethink my midday contentions.
"We spent the bulk of the outing plying patches of coontail along the moderately flat shoreline that borders the west side of the reservoir. This west side area is also graced with scores of boat docks, several points, and one hump that is adjacent to the flat shoreline. This hump is endowed with some coontial patches, gravel, rocks, boulders, and a ledge that plummets into deep water.
"We spent a few minutes fishing concrete and rock retaining walls, as well as a few steep and rocky shorelines. During a portion of the photography session, we fished a main-lake hump on the east of the reservoir. It is littered with gravel, rocks and boulders the size of a 21-foot bass boat. It is devoid of coontail.
"During the last 15 minutes of our outing, we quickly fished a 125-yard stretch of the flat shoreline that lies on the east side of the upper -- third segment of this reservoir. This area is embellished with patches of coontail, seven boat docks and concrete.
"We caught 26 largemouth bass along the west shoreline. The bulk of them were extracted from the coontail patches in 4 to 6 feet of water. Of the scores of boat docks that we plied, only two of them yielded a largemouth bass. Another two of the 26 largemouth bass were caught from a group of surface-foraging fish at the west-side hump.
"Two patches of American water willows that were associated with some coontail yielded a largemouth bass, and both of these were on a point. In total, we caught 31 largemouth bass, and we failed to land a half dozen that unhooked during stages of our donnybrooks with them."
Ned noted the end result was just over 50 bass, something similar to the Spence Petros tallies on Lake Geneva.
Enough said, Ned.
Learn from his example, and if the fishing's slow, change lure or bait tactics.
• Contact Mike Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM.