More Lake Storey Stuff

I try not to get too carried away in my fishing reports in order to keep the length of the posts fairly readable. Sometimes I succeed but most times they are still probably too long for current attention spans. Such was my dilemma with the latest Lake Storey trip so I figured it was best to split it up. Part II to follow after an important correction in the interest of literary accuracy.

Correction – I strive to get my facts straight in my posts but sometimes my useless knowledge gets a bit cloudy. Therefore, I would like to point out that my reference in a social media post direct from Lake Storey stating “Ever read that Winnie the Pooh ‘Blustery Day’ book?” was an error. There is indeed no “Blustery Day” book as it was actually “a 1968 animated featurette based on the third, fifth, ninth, and tenth chapters of Winnie-the-Pooh and the second, eighth, and ninth chapters from The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne” per Wikipedia. Admittedly, never much of a Pooh fan anyway so not entirely disappointed in my misstatement but felt that it was important to clarify after some post trip research proved me wrong.

Additional Notes and Nonsense

Lucky Hat – I’ve had some hat trouble this year causing a late season scramble for another lucky fishing lid. While the whole hat fiasco is a concept for a future post, this time I left the floppy hat on the bench. The wind was just too much for the model I’d recently brought out of retirement and the lack of a chinstrap was also a concern. Instead, I went with the baseball cap of my favorite squad hoping it would bring me some luck. As it turned out, me and some decent bass were on the same page. In contrast, the guys who get paid to wear the Cubs cap are sure missing something regarding that factor called “chemistry.” Something just isn’t right on the North Side and it goes deeper than the strange, abbreviated 2020 campaign.

Bought this one recently with a Lake Storey plan

“I love it when a plan comes together” – Col. John “Hannibal” Smith

Woke – In the initial report, I mentioned picking up a new Strike King Wake Bait for several specific Lake Storey areas. The lure above was a winner with a couple bass on a couple of those precise spots.

Devoured – My Top Bass of the trip left no doubt that it was intent on a meal as my crankbait wobbled past. The pictures above show that the lure was completely engulfed to the point of not being visible in profile. This was a cause for concern in extracting the bait but fortunately the trebles were not embedded in anything vital. In fact, there was no bleeding and the bass looked to be in good shape as it swam back into the depths (see clip below).

Lakeside Chat – I had texted my friend and fellow Lake Storey angler, John Kirkemo, shortly after I got on the water and he mentioned that he may stop by later for a visit. John dropped in mid-afternoon and we had good chat on a stretch of dry exposed lakebed. We text or email fairly frequently so it was good to have an in person (socially distant) chat. Turns out the timing was kind of cool too as I managed to hook my Top Bass after our visit while John was still within sight. He even shot a few pics of my fish from his vantage point which I have included in a post catch slideshow below.


Time will tell if this is the final first hand fishing report for 2020. I do have a couple more vacation days that I have to use and I aim for catching at least one November bass so we’ll see. Got some other stuff to keep the blog rolling though so hope you’ll continue to stop in for a look. Talk to you later. Troy

Happy Birthday, Bigfoot

October ends with a nod to the spooky, strange and mysterious with the annual Halloween celebration. However, I also like to reflect on another earlier October observation that I recognize as “Bigfoot’s Birthday”. Of course, no one really knows when Bigfoot was born or if such a creature even exists but bear with me here as we stray a little off the beaten path.

While the legend of the wildman in various cultures dates back for centuries, I view Bigfoot’s Birthday as October 20, 1967. For it was on that date that Bigfoot strode out of the fringes of human habitation and into the collective imagination. All courtesy of a video known as the Patterson-Gimlin film. Just under sixty seconds of footage of a large, hairy, bipedal creature sauntering along the bank of Bluff Creek in Northern California.

And the rest of this strange bit of footage is history and mystery.

I was introduced to that intriguing and controversial clip in 1976 as a wide-eyed kid watching the hulking creature stride across the big screen in Galesburg’s West Cinema. The feature was a documentary entitled The Mysterious Monsters. It startled from the start as Peter Graves of Mission Impossible fame stated, “The facts that will be presented are true. This may be the most startling film you’ll ever see.” Throw in some ominous music, campy reenactments and Frame 352 where Bigfoot turned to look right at me and I was hooked. I was also in for a few restless nights on our dead end street bordering Cedar Fork on the west edge of Galesburg.

My fascination with the prospect of such a creature wandering the woods and eluding capture was further fueled at Steele Middle School. For better or worse, the Weekly Reader book order listings and traveling RIF (Reading is Fundamental) book giveaways were rife with offerings on the subject. Over the years, I amassed a fair collection of books on the Bigfoot mystery and various other phenomena often classified as pseudoscience.

The 70s were the heyday of Bigfoot including a prior big screen appearance in the 1972 documentary style film, The Legend of Boggy Creek. On the small screen, Bigfoot tangled with Steve Austin, aka “The Six Million Dollar Man”. And, when it gets right down to it, Chewbacca is pretty much an intergalactic Bigfoot who developed a partnership with humans long ago in a galaxy far, far away. Bigfoot later peddled Pizza Hut pizza and these days Sasquatch sells beef jerky. I sure hope that he is getting a cut from the latter product as it can get a bit pricey.

And lest you think that a Bigfoot encounter is something that only occurs far, far away from Illinois, you might want to have a look at the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) database. Yep, there’s Illinois in the list of state by state reports with 297 entries. Among the counties included are Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Knox, McDonough and Tazewell. The list of communities near which these encounters took place consists of Altona, Canton, East Peoria, Gulfport, Hamilton, Kewanee, Lewistown, Pekin, Vermont, Victoria and Warsaw. However, my favorite report comes from a spot called Rozetta in Henderson County. For years, my family roamed a remote section of timber while camping, hunting, trapping and fishing right in proximity to the May 2008 Report #23949 on the BFRO website. Kind of makes the hair on the back of the neck stand up when reading a report from an area I’ve visited since the early 1970s.

Then there’s something called “The Cole Hollow Road Monster”. This purported hairy creature prompted several hundred calls to various Tazewell County law enforcement bodies during the spring and summer of 1972. During those wild few months there was the prospect of administering lie detector tests to witnesses, an accidental shooting amongst a posse of searchers, a creature spotted swimming in the Illinois River and a report of strange lights descending in the vicinity on a night in late July.

Admittedly, I am a bit more skeptical these days than the nine year old kid sitting in the dark with a soda and popcorn at the West Cinema. However, just as I am about to give up, something pulls me back in. In the end, it’s kind of fun and a little spooky pondering whether something has been out there watching me over the years as I trekked through the woods. The prospect brings back some welcome childhood naiveté and gives the imagination a bit of exercise as you look back over your shoulder, sensing something is following you out there in the woods (also see Frame 352 of the Patterson-Gimlin film).

So, Happy Birthday dear Bigfoot and may I suggest you celebrate with an evening hike through the woods and some beef jerky. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Looks like it has been nearly a month since the last Top 5 Update but not for lack of fishing from a personal standpoint. During the Top 5 absence I logged four trips, 18 hours and 60 bass before I found one that could boost my total.

Weight: 3-9
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: October 12
Weather: Sunny/very windy, 67F
Water Temp: 66F
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Lure: Strike King Squarebill crankbait (natural pumpkinseed)
Structure: Riprap/drop
Angler Comments: After being battered by the winds all morning, I found a slightly protected stretch of bank to end my day. Also found this solid bite about 50 minutes before I called it a day. Proof that you need to hang in there and keep on casting as your best bites may be later in the day, especially during the fall.
Top 5 Weight: 18-12 (4-12,4-0,3-11,3-9,2-12) culls a 2-8

It appears that my 20-pound mark may elude me again unless I happen onto an even four pounder. The plan is always to take a shot at a November bass before I call it a year so we’ll see if an outing materializes and what shows up. Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Report – October 12

As my fishing year winds down, I always try to get in a shot or two at Lake Storey during the fall drawdown. Kind of one of those “tradition” or “for old time’s sake” deals. My brother, Brent, and I had a tough day in September before the drawdown hit full swing so I was eager to get another shot. In this case, I was flying solo on a pretty nasty morning with the lake dropped as far as I have ever seen (made the ramp a little sketchy).


Date: October 12, 2020
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Time: 9:35am-3:35pm
Weather: Overcast to sunny/very windy with a light early rain
Air Temp: 55-67F
Water Temp: 64-65F
Totals: 8 bass
Lures: Strike King KVD 2.5 Rattling Squarebill Crankbait (natural pumpkinseed) – 3 bass, Strike King Wake Bait (natural shad) – 2 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 1 bass, Chatterbait (bluegill) with Zako trailer (green pumpkinseed with white) – 1 bass, Jig and Craw (green pumpkin) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 3-9 (KVD Squarebill)
Top 5 Weight: 9-0 (3-9,2-3,1-4,1-0,1-0)


Notes and Nonsense

Shiver to Sweat – I left the Quad Cities around 8:30am where the temperature was 67F. When I launched the boat just north of Galesburg, roughly 45 miles from home, it was 55F. Not only was it cool but there were gale force winds and I later got rained on for maybe 10 minutes. While the wind got worse, the temperature did climb to the upper 60s by the time I was loading the boat to head for home. In the span of six hours, I had went from some achy, cold knuckles to ditching my sweatshirt after trailering the boat. Fall fishing at its finest, comes with the territory. And worth the occasional struggles.

10:17am – Newly purchased wake bait comes through as planned

Waking ‘Em Up – Several days prior to this outing I had made a trip over the river to Iowa to pick up some new wheels for my johnboat transporting dolly. While in the neighborhood, I dropped into the Field & Stream location in Davenport for some late season tackle stocking. A Strike King Wake Bait caught my eye as I had several perfect spots at Lake Storey for such a presentation. I had my sights set on three extensive, shallow stretches that feature scattered patches of rocky debris. Two out of three came through with a bass, nice when they make you feel smart every once in a while.

Stuck – The wind was terrible and, of course, blew directly against me when headed back to the ramp. I run a bow mounted, foot controlled trolling motor for working over my spots and hop to the rear trolling motor for runs between spots. As I began to head back I fell prey to the wind and the limited turn radius of the rear motor, winding up blowing onto a flat with both motors stuck in the mud. It took several minutes to dislodge the motors and truly had me worried. I was at the point of deciding whether to keep my shoes on or take them off figuring that I may have to go overboard. Fortunately, continued work with the emergency oar got me floating again and I was once again fighting the direct wind and whitecaps from near 30 mph gusts. All told, I probably wasted 40 minutes of fishing time before I found an area that allowed for casting and boat control.

2:40pm – Top Bass at 19″ and 3-9 on a crankbait

Reward – After nearly five hours of fighting the wind and maintaining my balance, I got back within sight of the ramp and found a bit of a windbreak. Half a dozen bass in the log with a 2-3 Top Bass was already a pretty solid Lake Storey day for me, particularly with the less than desirable conditions. However, the best was yet to come, courtesy of a healthy 3-9 on a Strike King Squarebill crankbait. I added one final bass along the home stretch at 1-4 which gave me a rewarding finish and filled out my Top 5 among the eight bass day.

Headed home from a the old “home” lake after a productive and tiring day

I left the lake happy and tired following yet another fall drawdown visit with an old favorite fishing hole. The Lake Storey challenge may not be everyone’s cup of tea as other area fishing holes may offer the shot at more and bigger bass. But I wouldn’t trade my traditional fall finale for a trip to any exotic destination. For my money, there’s no place like “home.” Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – Oct. 21 & 22, 2010

I’ve long been a fan of the fall drawdown at Lake Storey just north of Galesburg, Illinois. From a fishery management standpoint, I support the practice 100%. Part of the concept is to leave the shoreline cover high and dry which diminishes the hiding places for smaller prey fish. This gives the predators a much better shot at a meal and helps to promote a healthier overall population structure. And sometimes those larger predator fish let their guard down. Dad and I found a handful of such quality fish including one that was something extra during a couple trips in October of 2010.

Originally Posted 10-22-10 as part of “There’s No Fish in Lake Storey”

Such is the mantra I’ve heard from frustrated local anglers for as long as I can recall. I’ve been there too. But over the years I’ve come to learn a thing or two about one of my regular fishing holes. Good things can happen when you put the odds in your favor as evidenced by the 10 pound 2 ounce walleye pictured below. This trophy decided to stick up for Lake Storey when it nabbed my Bomber Flat A crankbait (baby bass) as I cranked and bounced it off the bottom in about six feet of water.

October 21, 2010 at 12:29pm – a 10 pound 2 ounce Lake Storey walleye

Now I won’t pretend that I’m a walleye fisherman as Dad and I were actually pursuing bass but there’s something to be said for being in the right place at the right time. Stable weather, the fall drawdown, a windblown point, relatively deep water nearby, early afternoon, direct sunlight, stained water and a few scattered rocks littering the area were an appealing, and in this case, successful combination. Throw in the fact that I’ve always viewed Lake Storey as a “crankbait lake” with a nod towards black and orange color combinations on whatever you’re throwing and it can certainly add some confidence to casting. Of course, maybe I’m overanalyzing but that is one of the extremes we anglers sometimes find ourselves dealing with during the highs and lows on the water.

October 21, 2010 at 1:34pm – Dad with a 1-7 on a spinnerbait

Originally Posted 10-23-10 as part of “Lake Storey Report”

With Snakeden closed to anglers and limited time to spend on the water, Dad and I chose Lake Storey for our destination on October 21. True to form, the trip reinforced much of what I detailed in my September series on fall fishing. Here’s a look at our day on the lake.

New Walleye Record – If you saw yesterday’s entry you know that being in the right place at the right time put a 29” ten pound walleye in the boat. The running dialogue kind of went like this, “I’ve got a good one, I’m not really sure what it is, oh man, that’s a walleye, do you think it will go ten, I think it will go ten, that is a brute.” The fish eclipses my old personal best, a 7-14 from Lake Storey on 10/2/08.

Okay, what the heck, a second picture of the 10-pound walleye

Top Bass – We did manage to add another bass in the three pound range to the record book. The fish hit on a textbook spot as I reeled my spinnerbait up to and over a partially submerged tree before letting it fall on the other side. It’s great when it works like that though I will admit that we also tried this approach on several other pieces of structure where we came up empty.

October 21, 2010 – Top Bass at 3-4 on a spinnerbait

Yet another rewarding fall trip as we try and squeeze in those last few bass before putting away the gear for the year. You can’t beat the icing on the cake when it’s a ten pound walleye but I guess I shouldn’t be overly surprised. For as Dad made his way across the parking lot after launching the boat, I saw him stoop down to pick something up. It was a penny, heads up. He commented on the fact that he hadn’t found one for a long time and speculated that we would indeed be in for some good luck. And while I wouldn’t argue against anyone describing the walleye as a lucky catch, they all count in my book.

Posted 10-24-10 as part of “Lake Storey Report Two”

Initially, I’d planned a trip to Emiquon but reconsidered after the forecast called for winds in excess of fifteen miles per hour. I just don’t have access to a boat (minus an outboard) that can hold up in those conditions. Besides I could only manage a half day trip and it’s not worth the drive. Instead we stayed closer to home risking going to the well once too often by hitting Lake Storey again. Things weren’t quite as successful the second time around but we did manage to add another good fish to the record book.

October 22, 2010 at 3:18pm – Top Bass at 3-11 on a spinnerbait

Top Bass – My 3-11 came off of some brush sticking above the surface in less than two feet of water. The previous day I’d had a fish nip the trailer of my spinnerbait as it approached the structure. Then seconds later as I came through some branches I saw a flash near my bait. At that point, I made the mistake of setting the hook too soon, pulling the lure away from the fish and sending my spinnerbait flying out of the shallow water. I should know better but sometimes the excitement gets the best of you. Anyway, I figured the spot was worth a return visit the next day and as the above photo shows, we were not disappointed.

October 22, 2010 at 4:31pm – Dad with a 1-7 on a spinnerbait

Dates: October 21 &22, 2010
Location: Lake Storey with Dad
Time: 9 hours fishing
Totals: 11 bass, 1 walleye
Lures: Quad Shad or tandem spinnerbaits (white or white/red) – 7 bass, Bomber Flat A (baby bass) – 2 bass & 1 walleye, Vicious Fishing Muskrat (green pumpkin) – 1 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- (unknown) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 3-11 (Troy – Quad Shad spinnerbait)
Top 5 Weight: 11-3 (3-11,3-4,1-7,1-7,1-6)

Bomber Flat A crankbaits (baby bass pattern) – my favorite walleye lures when I go bass fishing 

As always, our bass fishing trip was strictly catch and release, walleye included. Fooling that toothy critter with Dad on board was pretty cool. We’ve got quite a collection of fishing memories but that catch ranks among my favorites. All of these years later, I wonder if that fish ever got fooled again and made someone’s day. While not what I was targeting, a walleye that size in Illinois is pretty special. If it wasn’t the Lake Storey record at the time, it had to be darn close. We’ll never know, but since I’m the guy telling this fish story…Talk to you later. Troy

Snakeden Hollow Report – October 11

In celebration of “Snakeden at 30” I wanted one last shot at the walk-in portion as a sort of 2020 grand finale for the site. Well, I got my shot but the bass were not in a partying sort of mood.

Date: October 11, 2020
Location: Snakeden Hollow (2 lakes), Little John (1 lake)
Time: 8:05am-1:40pm (4.25 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny/breezy
Air Temp: 60-77F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 6 bass
Lures: Chatterbait (bluegill) with Zako trailer (smoke or green pumpkin/white) – 6 bass
Top Bass: 1-3 (Chatterbait)
Top 5 Weight (only two at or 12” or >): 2-5

10:29am – Top Bass at 13.5″ and 1-3

Notes and Nonsense

Confusion – I was looking to get in a final shot at the Snakeden bass before the annual shutdown to anglers went into effect. Typically, the shutdown date is two weeks prior to the Central Illinois Goose Season opener (October 24) which would mean an October 10 closure. However, a social media post from an angler who had visited Snakeden during the first week of October indicated the site was already closed on October 8. I was fishing nearby on October 8 so did a drive by and all indications showed the site to still be open. A pair of fellow anglers then noted that they were onsite on October 10 and there were no signs of a shutdown. Finally, I called the site office to find a recording stating that the site would close to anglers on October 13. So, I went with that and no one showed up to run me off. As of this post though, I do believe the site is closed until sometime in January 2021. But don’t quote me on it.

Winning bait on the day as the chatterbait landed all of my bass

Quick Release – As if it wasn’t rough enough that I could only get half a dozen bass in the log, I lost just as many as they threw the lure on the way to the boat. While I do come up short when it comes to hook sharpening, I’m not really sure that was the issue. Instead, the bite was real funny, not very aggressive, just heavy or something odd with the action of the bait. In addition, nearly every bass seemed to be coming at me on the strike. As a result, my hooksets may have not produced full impact and there was a momentary period of catch up in reeling while the bass were moving full speed ahead towards the boat. Overall, just a weird feel as me and the bass were not in synch.

10:51am – Top Bass Runner-up at 13.5″ and 1-2

The Plan – I had three, possibly four lakes in mind for my visit. Lake one was a disappointment with zero bites in 90 minutes of fishing. My second stop lifted my spirits a bit with six bass in the next 90 minutes. After a decent walk back to the truck I headed for Lake three only to find a couple other anglers had beaten me to it. In addition, I was feeling a little beat from the energy exertion required and being out of shape again. As a result, I took the easy way out with a drive to some private water where I could back the truck right up to the water. A decision which earned me zero bass in an hour as a two-pounder tossed my chatterbait during a leap. Just was not my day despite some pretty spectacular fall weather.

Trip Lyric:
“I ain’t as good as I once was,
My how the years have flown,
But there was a time,
Back in my prime…”
As Good As I Once Was, Toby Keith (2005)
Well, when the Snakeden Hollow site opened back in 1990, I was 23 years old. Some days that is more apparent than others. There are a couple more lines that sum up my decision to keep plugging away at this type of stunt as Keith sings:
“Now my body says ‘Oh, You can’t do this boy’,
But my pride says ‘Oh yes you can.’”
The off season has a way of recharging that spirit so we’ll see if “I’m feeling bulletproof” in 2021.


Fortunately, I did not have to wait long to get another shot at some bass with a Lake Storey trip lined up for the following morning. Although the weather was less than appealing, the bass thing worked out considerably better. But that’s another story. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – October 8

With three fishing trips in five days, it’s hard to keep up with the fishing reports here on the blog. Today, we have Part II of the fishing report from last week’s outing with Dad/Papa and my boy, Jayce. While Part I focused largely on the peripherals, Part II resembles more of my standard report.

2:47pm – Top Bass (yes, I used this pic in a previous post but it’s a darn good shot)

Date: October 8, 2020
Location: Knox County, IL strip mines (2 lakes)
Time: 3:30pm-6:45pm (3 hours fishing)
Weather: Partly cloudy to sunny/breezy
Air Temp: 70F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 8 bass (everybody got at least one)
Lures: Senko wacky rig (various) – 8 bass
Top Bass: 1-3 (Senko)
Weight (all bass): 4-10

3:18pm – Top Bass Runner-Up

Notes and Nonsense

Guesstimation – I’ve touched on this contest before, most recently on a Lake McMaster outing with my brother, Brent. For this trip, Papa read my mind and had each of us make a guess regarding our success as we drove to the fishing hole. The pic below is the official document and reading from top to bottom each angler predicted our total number of bass, a species count, a Top Bass weight and Total Weight for all of our bass combined. For this outing we opted to weigh every bass instead of only recording the Top 5 meeting the 12” minimum length criteria.

The official “Guess Sheet”

5:10pm – we weighed them all and this one registered at five ounces

And The Winner Is – I guess that I would have to go with Papa for the victory as his weight prediction was only a mere ounce from our actual total. The rest of our estimates really didn’t pan out as our two fishing holes proved to be a bit finicky. I did toss around a Gulp minnow on a jighead hung from a bobber but found no takers among the panfish. Top Bass also fell well shy of our hopes which was also unfortunate as it is extra cool to get a nice fish with a young angler onboard.

I enjoy that Jayce enjoys handling the release duties on everyone’s catches

I guess you’d call this a handheld livewell as Jayce gives a catch a delayed release

The Extras – I’m not sure on the ratio, but me and Papa made substantially more casts than our young angler. On the flipside though, we spent a lot less time dunking the dipnet, examining/releasing our catches and collecting aquatic vegetation. It’s all part of the “make your own adventure” aspect of a fishing trip or an outdoor outing in general. You just can’t beat it when your boy says, “This is fun” during a fishing trip at a point when he hasn’t even made a cast for probably fifteen minutes. And even better as he honestly wasn’t missing much in terms of catching.

Found this unintended casualty of random dipnetting after we got the boat back in the garage

A most excellent adventure with quality time for three generations on what Jayce described as “the longest fishing trip I’ve ever been on.” Indeed, at roughly three hours on the water, I believe we set a new record (and that does not include the roughly two and a half hour combined truck time). Later that evening, I was further rewarded as I overheard Jayce telling his sisters about the day on the water. Mission accomplished. Talk to you later. Troy

Much More Than Fishing

At some point, most folks come to realize that a fishing trip ain’t just about the catch. I’ve always enjoyed the peripherals of outdoor adventures over the years whether fishing or trapping. Things like observing nature, shooting the breeze on the ride, razzing each other over breakfast, stopping for a treat on the way home and so on. Of course, as I have put a few more years behind me and added a wife and family to the equation, the outdoor perspective has continued to evolve. Earlier this week, the stars were aligned allowing for me, my son Jayce and Papa to get outdoors for some quality time. Here are some tunes, tales and treats with a handful of bass for icing on the cake.

I like my tunes on the ride and Jayce is developing a pretty solid appreciation and recognition of my 70s and 80s musical stomping grounds. Our mission during the commute time was to select the favorite jam that we heard while surfing the FM dial.

Top Tunes
Jayce – “Smooth Criminal”, Michael Jackson (1988)
Dad – “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, Alice Cooper (1973)
Papa – no selection as we were too busy telling stories for the radio

I call this “Pass the bass” but, of course, it’s a lot more than that

Old Tales
Having fished together for so many years, me and Dad naturally have quite a collection of stories. Throw in a couple lifetimes in Knox County and, well, Jayce got an earful.

Muskie Mania
So, Jayce mentioned wanting to muskie fish…
Me: “One time me and Papa fished Lake Storey and I fished for muskie while he fished for bass.”
Papa: “Tell Jayce how that turned out.”
Me: “I caught nothing, never even saw a muskie while Papa caught 25 bass.”
Papa: “Best Lake Storey bass fishing day ever.”

Missing Metropolis
Me: “There used to be a town here. It was called Appleton.”

Papa (east of Appleton): “Me and my dad used to coon hunt over there, drove that lane back into the timber.”
Papa: (east of Victoria): “Used to coonhunt over that way with a guy named ‘Stew’, think he had a relative who lived there.”

Old Fish Story
Me: “Papa caught a good one right here one time.”
Papa: “That’s the one that swam under the boat and jumped out of the water behind us.”

Older Fish Stories
Papa: “I saw Uncle Frank hook a northern here at Little John a long time ago.
Me: “I saw Uncle Brent catch one in the 80s, last one I’ve seen out here.”

One of the new tales related below

New Tales
Of course, new stories arise from every trip and we certainly managed a few on our outing. I can imagine Jayce telling his siblings on our next visit to Little John and who knows, maybe one day relating the adventures to his kids, nephews or nieces.
Each tale could begin something like this:
“One time, me, Dad and Papa were out here fishing…”
“We caught a praying mantis out of the water in a dipnet.”
“I first learned how to drive a foot controlled trolling motor.”
“I got a bass stuck in the dipnet, he was hanging by his lip and Papa had to get him out.”
“I got to ride in the boat or stand in the back of the truck as we drove through Little John.”
“Every time I went to grab the gate key from Papa he would drop it before I could grab it.”
“If you look real hard you can see a Senko worm up there about twenty feet high in that tree.”

Oh yeah, we also caught some bass but I’ll save that for Part II of the report.

In closing, I would also like to thank our “Sponsors” on this trip.
HyVee Gas, Mountain Dew, Little Debbie, Oreos, Taco Bell, Culver’s, Yamamoto Lures and Bass Tracker (circa 1987) – sure would be nice if they actually gave us free stuff.

Almost home and too big to carry into the house these days.

Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – October 8, 2010

Today’s flashback revisits a crazy place called Emiquon. My rough draft of this post began as an essay on how the elements of a fairytale pertained to that old fishing hole. You know, occurs in the past, an enchanted place, heroes and villains, make believe (or actually believe it or not in this case) and so on. However, I put that one on the shelf as it was worthy of some more work and research. Instead, I am going with the original report from a trip that took place a long time ago on a fishing hole far, far away…

Originally posted 10-10-10

Last Friday offered up an ideal day to pay an overdue visit to The Emiquon Preserve with unseasonably warm temperatures and winds forecast in the single digits. Launching and parking were a bit less spacious but with an October crowd of half a dozen and dry conditions all was just fine. Here’s a look at how we fared.

Date: October 8, 2010
Time: 11:05am-6:05pm
Location: The Emiquon Preserve
Weather: Sunny/windy
Air Temp: 65-75F
H20 Temp: Not available
Results: 23 bass, (Dad – 12 bass, Troy – 11 bass)
Lures: Vicious Fishing Muskrat (watermelon seed or green pumpkin) – 16 bass, Strike King Pro Series Model 5 crankbait (sexy shad) – 3 bass, Yum Wooly Curltail (green pumpkin) – 3 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (chartreuse sexy shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass – Troy 1-15 Yum Wooly Curltail (our first bass of the day)
Top Five Weight: 9-4 (1-15, 1-14, 1-14, 1-14, 1-11)

11:41am – First bass and Top Bass at 15″ and 1-15 

Notes and Nonsense
Guessing Game – The temporary ramp is about a mile south of the former access so it ruled out a lengthy run north to our normal stomping grounds. On the bright side it kind of forced our hand in regards to exploring some new water. One drawback is not having a true depthfinder. But we spent many years using an oar, the anchor or a lure so we weren’t exactly in unfamiliar territory.

Pattern – Our best results came while casting Muskrats tight to weed edges near, but not on, ditch edges. The key was having room to crawl the baits out of the weeds and along the short four to six foot deep ledges before hitting the twelve to fifteen foot deep ditches. If the border of the weed edges sat right on the dropoff it was no good.

12:45pm – Dad on the board via a Muskrat as included in pic

Observing Others – Another pair of anglers appeared to be having some success running lipless crankbaits through the scattered weeds as we witnessed several catches from fairly close. About fifty feet close, in fact. We were once again left perplexed as the boat came from about half a mile away to fish right where we’d been anchored during their entire approach. On the other hand, we had the decency to keep our distance from another boat that was nailing some fish with an undetermined lure (I need to start packing some binoculars) about a quarter mile away. However, you can bet that we will be all over that spot if it is vacant on a return trip.

Lost Fish – Dad got me by one bass although it would have been no contest were it not for some hook problems. For whatever reason he was having difficulty keeping fish on as he lost roughly half dozen at boatside that just let go. I only lost one fish as I busted off my last Wooly Curltail on a short hookset.

2:09pm – Dad’s Top Bass at 1-11

Lost Lure – I also lost a Strike King Pro Series Model 6 crankbait to a bush although I gave it a valiant rescue effort with my lure retriever. I can’t recall the last time the retriever let me down but the line appeared to be wrapped in some branches above the lure preventing me from knocking it free. Unfortunately, I did not have a replacement for the crankbait which had caught three bass off the spot in the previous ten minutes.

Bad Timing – My Bass Pro Shops order showed up at home while we were on the water. Therefore, I had only one Wooly Curltail and it landed three of my first six bass before busting off as noted above. I also had a few new “secret weapons” in the order that will now have to wait for another day. But I only have myself to blame as the order was placed using a gift card received from my wife for my birthday on July 23. I can’t wait for the East Peoria store which also reminds me that I need to start saving some money (yeah right).

2:24pm – Top Bass Runner-up at 15″ and 1-14 on a Muskrat

Overall, I’d have to say that the day was pretty much what I’d expected. Twenty three bass with nearly all between thirteen and fifteen inches, a lot of time spent trolling on the expanse of water and no mistakes by any lunkers seems to be par for the course these days. What a difference a year makes as 366 days prior, my brother, Brent, and I reeled in 154 bass. It’s got me wondering if you can actually refer to something that happened only a year ago as “the good old days.”

Ten years of water have passed under the bridge, so to speak. And the water has changed dramatically at Emiquon rendering it a mere shell of its former self. Perhaps that is a topic for another day. For today, it is simply time to remember what certainly qualifies as the good old days on a fishing hole that was like no other. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – September 28

Some of my public strip mine fishing holes have a limited window of opportunity. In this case, access ended on September 28 so I invested a vacation day for the 2020 farewell visit. I was hoping for a good parting shot but I had concerns that a significant cold front might have the bass in a less than cooperative mood. Read on for the outcome.

Date: September 28, 2020
Location: Knox County, IL public strip mines (6 lakes)
Time: 10:35am-4:55pm (4.75 hours fishing)
Weather: Partly cloudy to overcast/breezy to windy/brief rain
Air Temp: 54-57F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 43 bass
Lures: Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 25 bass, War Eagle Spinnerbait (Never Fail) – 8 bass, Chatterbait (bluegill) with Zako trailer (smoke) – 7 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (parakeet) – 3 bass
Top 5 Weight: 8-5 (2-12,1-7,1-7,1-6,1-5)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

Cold Front/Crunch Time – As noted in the intro, this was the final day for fishing on the site and I always like to get one last chance at the bass. Of course, you can’t control the weather and I highly prize my vacation days so it was do or die regardless of the prevailing weather conditions. The area offers plenty of smallish bodies of water that make for a fun approach of spot hopping. If they aren’t biting in one spot it ain’t far to new water for another try.

10:36am – First cast, first bass

First Cast Bass – It sure didn’t take long to get some feedback from the bass as my first two casts resulted in catches. I was certainly pleased but admittedly a bit surprised although the narrow cut I chose for my initial casts has the “like shooting fish in a barrel” potential. It features a trough where the bass pretty much have to stack up as the remainder of the lake is quite shallow. I call the spot “Beamon Lake” in honor of the longtime world record long jumper, Bob Beamon. In low water years, the spot is so narrow that he could probably clear it in a leap.

50 Bass Day? – After two bass on my first two casts, my outlook on the day improved considerably almost to the point of getting a little cocky. While only two casts into my day, I was pretty certain that I had lucked into my goal of finding my fall feeding frenzy bite. Two bass in two minutes and roughly six more hours to roam had me shooting for a 50 bass day. Although I ultimately fell short of that number, no complaints. I definitely could have lingered on a couple spots that were cranking out some 10-12” fish but opted for a shot at some larger bass and eventually found a few.

My ancient floppy hat nearly met an untimely demise

Close Call – Near the end of my day, I ditched my hat on a particularly long stretch of walking between fishing holes as I started to work up a sweat. Instead of on my head, I put my hat in my hand along with my collection of half a dozen rods and reels. After a few casts at my destination, I figured that I’d better put my hat back on as I’m a little lacking on hair up top. However, my old floppy hat was not among my rods and backpack in the shoreline weeds. Nope, it was somewhere in the waist high grass over the last quarter mile or so of hiked ground. Fortunately, after only a few minutes of backtracking I found my lucky lid. I was quite grateful as not only did it save me some sunburnt scalp but it will also allow me to give the old cap a more fitting farewell someday.

2:38pm – Top Bass (tie) at 16″ and 2-1 on a chatterbait with a tip of the cap to some serious wind

Top Bass – The top three fish on the day came from my next to last stop on the hike. Historically, this spot has been my best producer of quality bass. I call it “2×4 Lake” in honor of a pair of four pounders caught back in 2013 on my first ever visit to the lake. The following spring I fooled another four-pounder from the spot but elected to stick with my original name as what sense does “3×4 Lake” make?


The epitome of a grand finale as the gates closed on this batch of fishing holes. It takes some work putting in four miles of hiking but I truly enjoy this type of fishing as much as any other approach. This makes eight years of exploring and I still learn something new every time out. The ups and downs, surprises and disappointments, small bites and big bites always keep me looking forward to the next chance to visit. Only 179 days until the April 2, 2021 opening day. Got it marked on my calendar but plenty of other fishing holes out there in the meantime. Talk to you later. Troy