Top 5 Update

The weather in West Central Illinois has taken a dip in the cold direction and even featured a measurable snowfall last week. But a couple anglers have still managed to get out there and fool some fish, including the first pair that add another entry to our “Other Species” category (meaning something that’s not a bass).

Rainbow Trout
Length: Both 11”
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: November 5
Location: Lake Argyle – McDonough County, IL
Air Temp: mid 40sF
Water Temp: 53F
Lure: #2 Roy Self Spoon trolled behind ¼ oz. bead chain keel sinker
Structure: Open water 20’ deep
Angler Comments: Murky water, strong at time south wind, overcast with occasional very light rain
Trip Tune: “The Way It Is” – Bruce Hornsby & The Range
Top 5 Length: 22”

Weight: 3-10
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: November 5
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Lipless Crankbait
Angler Comments: Ended up with two bass on a lipless crank, big one was 3-10

Weight: 4-0
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: November 7
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Lipless Crankbait

Weight: 4-3
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: November 7
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Lipless Crankbait
Structure: Weeds
Angler Comments: Six more bass with a pair of 4-pounders. All on lipless crank. Pulling it through weeds, pretty classic, hits came right after pulling it through a weed.
Top 5 Weight: 23-8 (5-4,5-2,4-9,4-5,4-4)

Kudos for continuing to get out there and get it done. I’ll keep on posting them as long as you can keep catching and sending them. Thanks also to all for the late season contributions which have made for a strong finish to our 2018 Top 5. Been a fun year, will be interesting to see if we’re done quite yet. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – November 1, 2008

The Friday Flashback post possibilities get a little lean as we head into the next to last month of the year. But if the weather cooperates in a reasonable fashion and I can find time to get away, the annual goal is to put a November bass on the board. Ten years ago I was able to do just that. Below is the original post that was sent to a group of family and friends as my fishing finale from 2008.

11:01am – took an hour and a half of trying but got my November bass which also turned out to be Top Bass of the day at 17″ and 2-8 on a Zoom Baby Brush Hog

November Bassin’ – Always wanting to push the fishing year as late as possible, I’d held out hope that I could work in a November trip. Fate was on my side and I was able to spend one more day on Lake Storey. Just over six hours produced nine bass with a 2-8 taking Top Bass honors via a Zoom Baby Brush Hog. Two others gained entry into the record book at 1-13 and 1-10 with both falling to a Quad Blade spinnerbait (white). This bait was easily my top producer as it fooled seven bass and a Rapala DT6 (parrot) was responsible for one fish. While this trip failed to add any “accidents”, a nice muskie did take a couple swipes at the spinnerbait but failed to get hooked. It was likely in the mid 30 inch range and really got the adrenaline pumping with a near surface strike roughly ten feet from the boat.

Original log entry from this outing

1:16pm – 14.5″ and 1-10 on a spinnerbait

Date: November 1, 2008
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Time: 9:30am-4:00pm
Weather: Sunny/breezy
Air Temp: 55F
Water Temp: Forgot to check
Totals: 9 bass
Quad Shad Spinnerbait (white) – 7 bass
Rapala DT 6 (parrot) – 1 bass
Zoom Baby Brush Hog (green pumpkin green) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-8 Brush Hog
Top 5 Weight: 7-13 (2-8,1-13,1-10,0-15,0-15)

1:23pm – 15″ and 1-13 on a spinnerbait and did a little better with the lighting on at least one pic

One more Friday Flashback post to go for 2018 to wrap up of the series which kicked off back on March 16 and had a run of 35 consecutive weeks. In the meantime, the Top 5 Update streak continues on Monday with a multispecies flavor (a new species at that). Hope you’ll tune in and talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Stats

Ten months down for 2018 means it’s time for another stat update. Without further ado, here you go.

2018 Totals (* = new record)
*January = 5 bass (old record 1 in 2017)
February = 5 bass
March = 0 bass
April = 12 bass
May = 24 bass
June = 10 bass
July = 8 bass
August = 4 bass
*September = 16 bass (old record 6 in 2014,2015,2017)
*October = 22 bass (old record 8 in 2017)
November = 1 bass

Top 5 Weight by Month (* = new record)
*January = 13-5 (3-15, 2-7, 2-6, 2-6, 2-3) previous record 2-11 in 2017
February = 7-3 (2-6,1-7,1-5,1-2,0-15)
March = no submissions
April = 14-15 (4-0,3-0,2-12,2-10,2-9)
May = 19-5 (4-11,4-8,3-10,3-7,3-1)
June = 18-10 (4-5,4-1,3-9,3-7,3-4)
July = 18-13 (4-0,3-14,3-13,3-11,3-7)
August 11-6 (3-15,3-10,2-12,1-1)
*September = 23-8 (5-2,5-1,4-9,4-8,4-4) previous record 22-3 in 2014
*October = 27-15 (6-3,5-14,5-10,5-4,5-0) previous record 26-11 in 2017
November = 3-13 (3-13)

Boat vs. Bank
Boat = 51 bass
Bank = 56 bass

Boat vs. Bank Weight (* = new record)
Boat = 27-12 (6-3,5-14,5-10,5-1,5-0)
Bank = 24-2 (5-4,5-2,4-11,4-9,4-8)

Public vs. Private
Public = 87 bass
Private = 20 bass

Public vs. Private Top 5 Weight
Public = 24-5 (5-4,5-2,4-11,4-11,4-9)
Private = 27-12 (6-3,5-14,5-10,5-1,5-0)

The Baits (* = new record)
Plastic Worms = 56 bass (Top Bass 5-2 Jim Junk)
*Spinnerbaits = 16 bass (Top Bass 5-14 Mark Balbinot) beats 5-4 Terry Isbell 2014
Crankbaits = 14 bass (Top Bass 3-15 Mark Balbinot)
*Chatterbait = 5 bass (Top Bass 4-11 Chris Schwarz) beats 4-10 Mark Balbinot 2016
*Lipless Crankbaits = 5 bass (Top Bass 6-3 Mark Balbinot) beats 5-13 Troy Jackson 2015
Buzzbait = 3 bass (Top Bass 4-8 Troy Jackson)
Creature Baits = 3 bass (Top Bass 3-9 Paul Kessler)
Jigs = 2 bass (Top Bass 2-12 Brent Jackson)
Jerkbait = 1 bass (Top Bass 1-6 John Kirkemo)
Topwater Frog = 1 bass (Top Bass 3-7 Nick Tiska)
Undisclosed = 1 bass

Monthly Top Bass (* = new record)
3-15 Mark Balbinot (old record 2-11 Mark Balbinot 2016)
2-6 Troy Jackson
No submissions
4-0 Chris Schwarz
4-11 Chris Schwarz
4-5 Jim Junk
4-0 Jim Junk
3-15 Jim Junk
5-2 Jim Junk
6-3 Mark Balbinot
3-1 Jim Junk

Top 10 Bass (* = new Top 10 all-time)
6-3 Mark Balbinot 10/20
5-14 Mark Balbinot 10/20
5-10 Mark Balbinot 10/20
5-4 Jim Junk 10/26
5-2 Jim Junk 9/8
5-1 Brent Jackson 9/23
5-0 Mark Balbinot 10/20
4-14 Mark Balbinot 10/20
4-11 Chris Schwarz 5/26
4-11 Brent Jackson 10/19
4-11 Chris Schwarz 10/21

Angler Weights (* = new Top 5 record, old mark 32-13)
Mark Balbinot 27-9 (6-3,5-14,5-10,5-0,4-14)
Jim Junk 23-8 (5-4,5-2,4-9,4-5,4-4)
Chris Schwarz 20-15 (4-11,4-11,4-8,4-0,3-1)
Brent Jackson 19-2 (5-1,4-11,3-8,3-7,2-7)
Troy Jackson 15-9 (4-8,3-2,3-0,2-9,2-6)
Paul Kessler 14-10 (3-10,3-9,2-12,2-10,2-1)
John Kirkemo 10-8 (2-7,2-3,2-0,2-0,1-14)
Jayce Jackson 7-8 (2-5,1-13,1-5,1-4,0-13)
Nick Tiska 3-7 (3-7)
Patricia Kirkemo 2-15 (2-15)
Landon Hannam 1-5 (1-5)
Riley Danner 1-5 (1-5)
Teagan Mills 1-2 (1-2)

Other Species

Muskie Length Totals
70+” John Kirkemo (40”, 30+”)

Channel Catfish Totals
13-0 Teagan Mills
8-2 (25”) Chris Schwarz

Friday Flashback series continues later this week and yes, we do have a couple interesting additions to the Top 5 ready to go for Monday. Anybody else willing to brave the elements around West Central Illinois to add to the collection?

I dare you…

Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Monday updates live for another week as a couple anglers keep on casting as the days get shorter for 2018. Great to hear that these guys are still getting out there looking for one more bite, gives me something to write about that pretty much writes itself.

Weight: 2-10
Angler: Paul Kessler
Date: October 25
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Spinnerbait with dual blades (white)
Top 5 Weight: 14-10 (3-10-3-9,2-12,2-10,2-1)

Weight: 3-13
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: November 2
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Spinnerbait
Angler Comments: On the board with five solid November bass including big bass of 3-13.
Top 5 Weight: 23-8 (5-4,5-2,4-9,4-5,4-4)

Hard to believe that there are only 56 days (8 Mondays) remaining before we turn the page to 2019. I guess time flies when you are reeling in those fish. And thus far, our crew has reeled in 111 of them for the 2018 Top 5 Project. Well done, and time will tell if we add anymore to that total as it looks like it’s going to take some effort and dedication as the weather is forecast to take a turn in a colder direction. As we wait to see about any new additions, a new month means time for a Top 5 Stat Update later this week. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – October 29, 2013

We don’t travel too far back in time this week with a look at a 2013 visit to Eureka Lake in Woodford County, Illinois. I’d always wanted to give the 30-acre fishing hole a look but just couldn’t pull the trigger despite reading some high praise and seeing some solid fish pics over the years (including a double-digit bass). Well, leave it to a fall drawdown to push me to finally get it done as the secrets revealed when the fisheries managers pull the plug are too much to resist.

Here’s an excerpt from the original post submitted on my former blogging gig almost exactly five years ago today (11-1-13).

During my regular fishing related wandering around the internet a couple weeks ago I learned that Woodford County’s Eureka Lake was in the process of a fall drawdown. A report of a lowered lake is music to my ears and I started checking the calendar and the weather forecast for a chance to introduce myself to some bass I’ve never met. Earlier this week things worked out allowing me to meet a handful of the inhabitants and learn a few of Eureka’s normally hidden secrets.

Original log entry from the trip

Date: October 29, 2013
Location: Eureka Lake
Time: Noon-3:00pm
Weather: Overcast/windy (from southeast)
Air Temp: 45-57F
Water Temp: 48F
Totals: 3 bass
Lures: Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 2 bass, Yum Crawdad Texas rigged – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-3 tie (one on each of above lures)
Weight (2 bass at 12” or better): 2-6 (1-3, 1-3)

12:02pm – instant feedback but wouldn’t pan out to be a real hot bite on this cool day

Notes & Nonsense

The Launch – The lake has been lowered in order to facilitate ramp renovations so getting a boat launched required an alternate plan. I’d picnicked at the lake with Julie and whatever kids we had at the time several years ago but I really couldn’t recall what would work best for dragging in my eight foot johnboat. I wound up finding a spot near the dam that was suitable in terms of solid footing on the exposed lake bottom but it involved a 50-60 yard drag down and up a decent hill. It took three trips each way but I was able to haul in the boat, oars, a battery, trolling motor, anchor, too much tackle, life jacket, boat cushion, five rods, a tripod and a bottle of Gatorade. As I write this, my back still twinges when I bend a certain way but other than that it wasn’t too bad. I was the only boat on the lake which made me feel extra tough as well.

1:00pm – Top Bass (tie) at 13″ and 1-3 on a Yum Crawdad

The Plan – I like to fish fast if I can get away with it and knowing I only had three hours to explore the 30 acre lake had me hoping I could find some active bass in the 48 degree water.  Two minutes into casting I had some feedback on a Red Eye Shad and I was pretty much committed for the day, for better or worse.  I did slow down around some wood in a number of spots but it was largely a lipless crankbait, spinnerbait and crankbait attack.  If I had another shot and more time to invest on the water I would probably slow down more.  But I likely won’t get a revisit this year and for this trip I really couldn’t intricately pick apart pieces of the lake and still see all that I wanted to see.

Tough day when you have to post a pic of a dead one but sure would have liked to have found it during its better days (1/4 oz Red Eye Shad for comparison)

Ones That Got Away – About midway into the trip something real heavy stopped my Red Eye Shad dead and plowed towards deeper water. Several seconds later it just let go and left me kind of bummed thinking that I‘d missed my shot at a real good bass. However, twenty minutes later I was battling a similar strike that had me all around the boat before surfacing to reveal that it was a big old carp (maybe 12-14 pounds) that was snagged in the back. I had no dipnet and no idea how I would get the thing landed and really was just hoping that it wouldn’t bust my 12 pound test and take my lure. After a good battle the lure safely dislodged and I wasn’t particularly disappointed as it was great fight while it lasted and I still had my Red Eye Shad. A fellow was walking his dog on the shoreline and we had a laugh as he said he thought that fish was going to wind up pulling me all around the lake in that little boat. I had another similar brief lure stopping encounter later that I chalked up to the same species and it left me feeling a whole lot better about that first lost fish, thinking it wasn’t a lunker bass after all. I did lose a bass at boatside on the Yum Crawdad that would have been my Top Bass although at best it may have pushed two pounds.

Interestingly, Eureka Lake is in the midst of another drawdown five years later. This time around it is to deal with the overpopulation of those carp that I snagged into and also features a complete rehabilitation of the fishery. In layman’s terms that means a total fish kill or a do over as Illinois Department of Natural Resources knocked out the remaining fish population once the lake was drawn down to more of a puddle. It sounds like the plan is to reintroduce various species in 2019 followed by a catch and release phase before establishing size and creel limits. If you are in the neighborhood I would certainly recommend taking a peek at the exposed structure revealed by the substantial drawdown as that sort of thing doesn’t happen very often. There are some killer stumps out there that could pay dividends for you down the road. Send me some pics as I don’t figure that I’ll get down that way for a look of my own. Talk to you later. Troy

Rest of the Storey – October 19, 2018

That old saying of “saved the best for last” is certainly up for debate as we wrap up the mid-week revisit of an October Lake Storey outing. What isn’t debatable is that I saved the best catches for this final posting, one of which established a new lake record. That bass and more for the finale so here we go.

Lake Storey record chronology – 1988 (Dad 4-6), 1998 (Brent 4-7), 2007 (Troy 4-8) – looks like it’s about that time

Record Holders – Thinking back I wish I would’ve shot a little GoPro footage while Brent and I took shelter and ate our lunches in his truck (which Dad had driven out to the lake for a timely visit). After all, it’s not every day that you get three Lake Storey Top Bass record holders hanging out lakeside shooting the breeze about the longtime fishing hole. Then again, some of that discussion would reside in the “Top Secret” category so perhaps better to be off the record.


Pre-trip Facebook prognostication and on the water result

Channeling Nostradamus – Leading into this trip I took a look back through the Lake Storey record book to confirm some of the data on the family bass record from the spot. Turns out there is a general pattern that results in a new record about every ten years. Just for the fun of it I made a bit of a prediction in the Facebook post shown above shortly before heading out from home to try our luck. I’ve got to say that it was pretty cool for Brent and a bass to make the prediction a reality. Brent had no idea that I had made the predictive post and probably thought I was a little too excited as I awaited the weigh in saying, “Oh man, this is good, this is real good, gotta be 4-9, this could really be good…” Once it locked in at 4-11, I explained my crazed reaction and even made a Facebook update post from the water. Oh yeah, I guess Brent thought it was a pretty cool catch too.

2:52pm – a great way to call it a day as we put our poles away, making this catch the last cast

Last Cast Bass – As our day drew to a close and we neared the boat ramp, I glanced at my watch which read 2:48pm (yes, I still keep time with a watch and not a “phone” but I do take pics and video with a “phone”). I mentioned to Brent that I was good to call it a day if he was okay with trailering the boat a few minutes earlier than our original 3:00pm quitting time. Wisely, he opted to pay one more visit to a nearby laydown and at 2:52pm he reeled in our (actually his) second largest bass of the day at 3-8. Only then did he decide it was time to head for the ramp as what better way to end a stellar day than with a last cast, quality bass.

Was the new Lake Storey record actually foretold by Nostradamus? Read on and decide for yourself.

I’ll leave you with one odd, final note to close out this whole Lake Storey adventure. After my “prediction” came to fruition, I did a little research (or something like that) on some of good, old Nostradamus’ predictions which were typically written in a four line literary form referred to as a “quatrain.” Turns out that there’s a great deal more of those quatrains that have yet to find any sort of supposed tie to a historical event than those that purportedly do. And by some stroke of luck, while burning the midnight oil during my exhaustive search, I did find the following gem that someone attributed to the legendary soothsayer.

Decade by decade it increases,
Slightly as it goes,
Eclipsed by one who never ceases,
With spinnerbait he throws.

Pretty weird, huh?

Talk to you later. Troy

More of the Storey – October 19, 2018

A couple other highlights of our outing involved crossing paths with a pair of fellow anglers who have made more than a few casts at Lake Storey. The first one we met on the water (twice) and the second we met on the bank (twice).

Top 5 angler, John Kirkemo, in the background as noted by the arrows. The white cloud represents his reported misfire with the fire extinguisher in his boat which unfortunately was not caught on video.

Top 5 Trio – Brent and I ran into a fisherman on the water who stated, “I’m looking for the Jackson brothers” as we crossed paths. Now, what are the odds that three Top 5 anglers would find themselves chatting out in the middle of Lake Storey just a bit east of Freak’s Point on this morning? Actually, pretty good, as Brent and I were aware that fellow Top 5 angler, John Kirkemo, also had a trip planned. Dating back to 2014, the Top 5 project has resulted in a fun batch of fishing banter with more than a few fellow anglers. Add John, a Top 5 “rookie”, to the list for 2018 as we have shared a considerable amount of electronic fish stories, opinions and laughs over the course of the year. Sure was nice to share more of the same, not only in person, but also while floating on the surface of one of our most popular fishing topics.


John Kirkemo’s creations represent a perfect complement (and compliment) to whatever you call this writing thing I do as while I am certainly serious about fishing I don’t take it too seriously.

OSO Lures – In corresponding with John, he had mentioned a hobby he’d taken up to feed the fishing fix when off the water, crafting some lures. Earlier this year he’d passed along a few pics of the baits complete with his fun and unique take on product packaging and presentation. And now I am a fortunate fisherman to have a pair of his creations in my possession. A generous offering from a fellow fishing fool (take that how you may). Very cool and icing on the cake to the encouragement John has provided upon reading my rambles. Perhaps his creations can also provide a topic to delve into a bit further during the off the water portion of the calendar that looms on the horizon.

The figure in the background knows a thing or two about Lake Storey and apparently a thing or two about the guys using his boat as he showed up just in time to provide a reprieve from some rain.

MVP Race – While Brent wound up taking the unofficial title of “Most Valuable Participant” on this outing, another guy also received considerable consideration. We spotted Dad on the bank at a handy access point at a most fortuitous time although it turns out that he’d been stalking us from a distance for a while (actually said he saw us talking to “that John guy” about a half hour prior). As the rain that was not in the forecast began to pour we beached the boat, grabbed our lunch buckets and made a run for Brent’s truck that Dad was driving as Brent had driven Dad’s to the lake with boat in tow. As we enjoyed the lunch break, Dad (aka Papa to our kids) laughed and reminisced telling Brent and me about how his dad (our Papa) used to show up on the periphery of the trapline with some grub and conversation back in the day. However, Dad’s contributions did not end with providing a dry truck. As shown in the video clip below, he followed up with a run back home for some dry clothes as a couple of his boys didn’t pack so well. Fortunate to have dads who are good like that and ours saved the day as we were experiencing a few shivers in our rain dampened clothes.


A final note for today comes from our second on the water powwow with John after the rain had passed through and we met again not too far from Cannon Hill. He mentioned that he saw us disappear for a while during the twenty five minute or so rain delay. We related the tale of Dad’s timely arrival with a shelter vehicle as well as his run back home for a load of raingear, sweatshirts and towels. I believe the word that John then used to describe us was “pampered.” We had a laugh at that assessment. Right on the money too, considering Brent and I were conducting our second visit with John while sitting in the bass boat that Dad kind of, sort of, in a roundabout way, bought for us back around 1987. Yep, nothing wrong with a bit of good natured ribbing and all the better when you are warm and reeling in some bass on a challenging fishing hole.

One more look inside our outing coming your way tomorrow. Hope you’ll tune in for some forecasting, some fish and some flashbacks. Talk to you later. Troy

Additional Storey – October 19, 2018

My standard format for a fishing report consists of stats, notes and pics. Since launching my own blog I have also instituted an annual “Lake Lowdown” feature as a variation on that standard report. But usually there’s even more stuff that goes along with those outings that simply gets left out due to time, space and modern attention span constraints (also a little leery on occasion of sharing some of the secrets and silliness) . The October 19 outing to Lake Storey with Brent was such a trip and as I always enjoy talking about that fishing hole, well, I’m going to talk about it some more for the next few days. Sort of an extension on the “Notes and Nonsense” bit from the regular report.

Breakfast Burrito Banter – My typical source of nourishment for the drive to my fishing holes consists of a homemade breakfast burrito whose contents can vary based on whatever is in the fridge. However, the later start of a Friday morning Fall outing (to let things warm up and help get kids to school) combined with payday afforded a chance to splurge at the neighborhood Sonic. Folks, I give you the SuperSonic Burrito, complete with jalapenos to start your day right (video commentary below).

NOTE: I am aware that I spelled “Y’all” incorrectly but lack the time to edit, I try my best but oh well, is it even a real word anyway?

Designated Driver – It’s commonly accepted knowledge that the angler in the front of the boat has a bit of an advantage over the angler in the back. Often when Brent and I fish together in the “big boat” we’ll split the time doing the driving. However, on this occasion I was perfectly content to give up my shot. After a full day on the trolling motor the previous day, I was a little sore and with the windy conditions I truly didn’t feel much like battling the elements. Besides, I realized long ago that Brent doesn’t need to “front end” me to have the upper hand. I was perfectly content to relax in the back, go about my regular approach, enjoy the spinnerbait lesson, take some pictures of his quality catches and only get outfished 10 to 7.

Video below of Brent landing a 2-7 pertains to both the “Designated Driver” heading above and the “Spinnerbait Clinic” item that follows (and yes, some actual fishing footage as opposed to my behind the wheel rambles. On the water footage is a topic to be explored another day)


Spinnerbait Clinic – I had gone full in on a spinnerbait bite on my solo visit the previous day after nabbing a bass on the bait on my first cast. As this lure type is probably Brent’s top weapon, I was not surprised that it wound up landing all 10 of his bass on our trip together. It also spoke volumes to his skill in fooling bass with one that he didn’t miss a beat after his old faithful Emiquon Special bit the dust after his first catch, a solid 2-7. Having no spare Emiquon Special in tow, he opted for a good, old white spinnerbait and proceeded to end the day with a pair larger than that first bass including the new lake record of 4-11.

Remnants of The Emiquon Special and the Plan B spinnerbait that came through big time, dig those copper hammered blades.

Okay, I won’t keep you any longer today although I do have more to offer from this day on the water. Tune in tomorrow as we cross paths with a couple fellows who are also familiar with this fishing hole. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

An outstanding push by several bass anglers finds us topping the century mark for the bass category. Well done by a group that includes last year’s Top Bass champ making a stellar return after being off the radar since January, our resident bank fisherman upping his 2018 personal best and another young angler joining the quest. And away we go…

Weight: 4-14
Angler: Mark Balbinot
Date: October 20
Location: Fulton County, IL strip pit
Lure: Big Bladed Spinnerbait (white)
Structure: Laydowns and brush in 2-6’ of water

Weight: 5-0
Angler: Mark Balbinot
Date: October 20
Location: Fulton County, IL strip pit
Lure: Red Eye Shad (sexy shad)
Structure: Flat 1-5’ of water

Weight: 5-10
Angler: Mark Balbinot
Date: October 20
Location: Fulton County, IL strip pit
Lure: Red Eye Shad (sexy shad)
Structure: Flat 1-5’ of water

Weight: 5-14
Angler: Mark Balbinot
Date: October 20
Location: Fulton County, IL strip pit
Lure: Big Bladed Spinnerbait (white)
Structure: Laydowns and brush in 2-6’ of water

Weight: 6-3
Angler: Mark Balbinot
Date: October 20
Water Temp: High 50s F
Location: Fulton County, IL strip pit
Lure: Red Eye Shad (sexy shad)
Structure: Flat 1-5’ of water
Top 5 Weight: 27-9 (6-3,5-14,5-10,5-0,4-14) culls 3-15,2-7,2-6,2-6,2-3

Weight: 1-2
Angler: Teagan Mills
Date: October 21
Location: Lake Storey
Top 5 Weight: 1-2 (1-2)

Weight: 3-13
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: October 23
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Weedless Senko
Angler Comments: Really thought I was going to get shutout for the day as I was fishing for over an hour without even a bite. Redeemed myself as dusk was setting in with two small ones and this 3-13. All on a weedless senko.

Weight: 5-4
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: October 26
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Spinnerbait
Structure: Weed edge
Angler Comments: Had been fishing for a few hours and only managed one small fish. Was fishing a far corner of a lake and he slammed my spinnerbait just within a couple of reels of lifting it up and over the outside weed edge. Short fight ensued.
Top 5 Weight: 23-8 (5-4,5-2,4-9,4-5,4-4) culls 4-2

NOTE: Mark Balbinot also put together a cool data filled video of his batch of catches that I definitely recommend checking out on YouTube at the link below.

Now that’s quite an update, especially for the end of October as many have put away their fishing gear in favor of other pursuits. We made the goal of 100 bass but perhaps it’s not quite over yet. My annual aim is to land at least one November bass and here’s hoping a few others will continue to give it a shot as well. Lots more stuff headed your way as I’m hoping to complete a full week of posting. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report 10/22/18


Still trying to play catch up as it is often tough to keep the pace with the reports when I string together several fishing days in a short time frame. As such, I had originally planned on passing along some more Lake Storey notes, pics and video but have elected to shift gears. Instead, you get the last of three fishing reports from my fishing “vacation” with plenty more fishing posts next week. So, first things first.


Date: October 22, 2018
Location: Knox County, IL strip mines – private (2 lakes)
Time: 10:30am-2:15pm
Weather: Sunny/breezy to windy
Air Temp: 51-66F
Water Temp: no gauge
Totals: 4 bass
Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 4 bass
Top Bass: 1-1 Red Eye Shad
Top 5 Weight (only 2 at 12” or better): 2-1 (1-1,1-0)

12:59pm First bass and Top Bass 13.5″ 1-1 Red Eye Shad, only took 2.5 hours to find and fool this one

Notes and Nonsense

The Goal – After a pair of productive outings at Lake Storey to end the previous week I was faced with a dilemma. While Lake Storey was a blast, it typically is not my go to spot when looking for a Top 5 boost which was part of my aim on this day. However, Brent had landed three good fish at Lake Storey, all of which would have provided a bump for my rough Top 5 year. But, that’s Brent fishing and not me. I’d put my money on him for bigger fish out there as opposed to perhaps even money on the strip mines. So, off I headed for a pair of my Knox County strip mines that have solid potential for those sought after Top 5 culls.

I make a point to keep Julie up to speed, at least she knows I’m not lost or worse

The Results – It took me 2.5 hours and two lakes to even catch a bass and not even close to knocking anything out of my Top 5. On a positive note, it only took me five minutes to land my next bass but it was an ounce lighter than the previous non-Top 5 booster. But hey, at least I was perhaps onto something. I managed another pair of short fish on Stop Two before deciding that my finale should be a return to Stop One. Yes, that’s Stop One where I had been shutout to start my day. However, the lure of some large bass that live there brought me back for one more shot. And they all ignored me yet again, shutout on both ends of the Stop One doubleheader.

1:04pm 13″ 1-0 not as big as I was looking for but what I got as the bass come out on top

Top 5 Bass (sort of) – As soon as I arrived on Stop One, I spotted a fellow angler approaching the bank about 50 yards away. Two of his casts later, I heard him tell his wife, who was alongside him, that he had a fish and it was a good one. I proceeded to observe the battle and even from a distance it was indeed a nice bass. The angler asked if I had a scale and I then rowed over to assist with the weigh-in. Final result came in at 5-9, just what I was looking for and perhaps a good sign that some big ones would cooperate (not so much for me as it turned out). I congratulated the fellow on a good catch and, of course, gave a plug for a certain website that showcases the catches of fellow fish chasers. His wife even looked up the site on her phone as we all chatted for a bit, another cool example of how technology can actually be productive. I’ve yet to see the fish in the Inbox but time will tell.


No sense in stretching this one out anymore as it was just a tough day. I briefly thought that perhaps I should have went to the well one more time with a Lake Storey outing but in the end still felt that I made the right decision. I went all in for some big bass and gave it my best shot on some good water but this time around the bass simply won.

A Top 5 Update comes your way Monday that you definitely don’t want to miss followed up by a couple more posts of Lake Storey stuff and then the regular Friday Flashback. A busy week ahead here on the blog featuring some quality content. Hope you’ll tune in and talk to you later. Troy