Top 5 Update

November has not been particularly kind to the region in terms of weather. Beyond one decent Saturday, the temps have been well below normal. Unfortunately, that has likely put an end to the casting for one blogging angler. But, a couple welcome texts from our Top 5 leader last week showed that some bass were still interested.

Weight: 1-14
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: November 5
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Rapala Clackin’ Rap
Structure: Remaining weeds

Weight: 2-12
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: November 5
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Rapala Clackin’ Rap
Structure: Remaining weeds
Angler Comments: Went after work for a little bit. On the board with two November bass. Both hit the Clackin’ Rap as it pulled from some remaining weeds.

Weight: 5-1
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: November 10
Location: Knox County private strip mine
Lure: Chatterbait
Angler Comments: Throw far, let it sink and retrieve as slow as I could…just fast enough to feel the blade moving. Picked off a couple in the pound range and was having fun. Few casts later, could tell that I set the hook on something pretty decent. As he got closer, I saw his mouth and thought real possibility of being 5-plus. Good fight and landed without much trouble.
Top 5 Weight: 24-14 (5-3,5-1,5-0,4-14,4-12) culls a 4-12

Way to go, Jim. Just when I wonder if we’ve seen the final boost to our leading creel, another outstanding catch comes our way. As I was corresponding with fellow Top 5 angler, John Kirkemo, yesterday I gave him a heads up that Jim had a special catch to bump up an already impressive stringer. John responded, “Unbelievable. That guy never quits!” Yep, what he said. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – November 8, 1999

As the Friday Flashback series winds down, here’s a unique Lake Storey memory with my brother from exactly 20 years ago.

What makes it unique you may ask? (or just play along if you aren’t asking)

Brent with a 1-14 bass, safe bet it was on a spinnerbait

Is it the fact that Brent is clad in only a light long sleeved shirt during the second week of November?

Good guess, certainly different than today as the mercury dips below the freezing level 20 years later. But that’s not it.

A bonus muskie “accident” is always exciting

How about a Lake Storey muskie catch as an oddity?

Nope. No guarantee of landing a toothy critter on these fall outings but no surprise to have one show up.

Top Bass of the day at 3-7

What about the location of that pair of decent bass?

Not really, as that spot has been pretty solid over the years. Please don’t tell anybody though if you recognize that background.

Is it strange that there are no pictures of my catches in the photo album?

Also no, as it is commonplace that I get outfished on these trips anyway. Besides, I have no idea what I caught, if anything.

The 1999 log ends with October 28 & 29 entries, no details on this November outing, only pictures

Therein lies the “unique” part of today’s tale. Beyond these pictures dated November 11, 1999 there is no other record of this fishing trip. Yep, no log entry and in pre-dating my 2002 writing habit, no submission for a blog entry either. Even my piscatorial photographic memory leaves me a little lost on this one and that, folks, is indeed downright bizarre.

Looked like a pretty good late season bonus day for Brent though and sure wish 2019 held some similar looking weather for one last shot at the bass. While that isn’t likely to happen, I do have one more shot at a Friday Flashback next week and possibly a wrap-up piece for the series as a finishing touch. In addition, we have a couple fish for one more Top 5 Update on Monday. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – October 26, 2014

Well, it sure hasn’t looked much like October the last couple days as several inches of snow have graced the West Central Illinois landscape. Not a fan, but hey, at least its Friday so time for another fish story.

Originally posted 11-6-14 with the tagline: “A couple good bites save the day.”

I always look forward to the annual fall drawdown on Knox County’s Lake Storey.  The Monday after Labor Day is marked on my mental calendar as that is customarily when the plug is pulled, dropping the lake several feet for fishery management purposes.  The body of water can be a tough nut to crack but I eagerly await the challenge each year.  My first visit with Dad back on September 27 was a rough day but didn’t deter Brent and me from giving it another shot nearly a month later; here’s how it went.

8:59am – Brent posts our first bass on what would be a lean day.

Stats

Date: October 26, 2014
Location: Lake Storey
Time: 7:15am-1:15pm
Weather: Sunny/windy
Air Temp:  40-65F
Water Temp: 55F
Totals: 4 bass, 1 muskie
Lures Troy: Xcalibur XR50 lipless crankbait (chicken pox) – 1bass, Strike King KVD Rattling Squarebill Crankbait (natural pumpkinseed) – 1 muskie
Lures Brent: Emiquon Special spinnerbait – 2 bass, Muskrat style creature bait – 1 bass
Top Bass: Brent 3-11 Emiquon Special

A look at several lures that got the job done

Notes & Nonsense

Crowd – I’m kind of a loner when on the water as I would prefer not having to share with too many other anglers.  I’m not entirely antisocial but like my personal space when chasing bass and that comfort zone could accurately be measured in acres.  However, on this day I was pretty impressed with the number of fellow anglers who were taking a shot at various species.  There were guys chunking monster muskie plugs, run and gun or flipping bass fishermen, drifting and casting panfishermen and at least one bankfishing catfisherman.  We all behaved, gave plenty of leeway and from observation and conversation all seemed to be having a tough day.

How’s this for an inexpensive muskie bait?

Price is Right – In a world of $20+ muskie lures I’ve found quite a bargain.  My go to muskie bait is a Strike King KVD Rattling Squarebill crankbait in the Natural Pumpkinseed pattern that carries a price tag of around six bucks.  It’s got me a pair of mid 30” muskies this year including the latest pictured below.  And if not for some hesitation at boatside two years ago that lead to a break off, I would have landed another that would have easily surpassed the twenty pound mark.  Including the “one that got away” with my crankbait in its jaw, I guess these “muskie” lures have actually cost about twelve bucks.  Still a drop in the bucket compared to the several hundred dollars’ worth of muskie stuff I have that I never use.   Of course, each of these fish were bass fishing “accidents” but they all count in my book.

8:35am – my first fish of the day was nearly my only fish of the day

Juice – Our gameplan changed about mid-morning when Brent reported that the bow mount foot controlled trolling motor was not responding well.  Therefore, we switched it over to what is the starting battery for our gas motor as you can’t use it on Lake Storey anyhow.  I also had the spare trolling motor on the back with a moderately fresh battery that we use for “long” runs between our targets.  For once the wind was actually pushing us back to the ramp which was a bonus (normally kind of a Murphy’s Law thing no matter where we fish).  Being worried about enough juice we wound up skipping several go-to spots and hitting a number of other less inspiring possibilities.  While somewhat disappointing, it probably wouldn’t have mattered as it just wasn’t our day to get the bass figured out.

10:13am – Top Bass 18.5″ 3-11 on the Emiquon Special

Saving the Day – About midway through our day Brent set the hook on the fish above which would be our lone quality bass bite of the whole trip.   His bass came from an area that features the combination of a fair sized tree paired with riprap that had been catching some morning sun.  The depth was only about 2-3’ and shows that you can still get your shallow bites late in the year if the conditions cooperate.  It also shows that his legendary Emiquon Special spinnerbait can produce quality bites no matter where it goes.

11:35am – narrowly avoiding a bass shutout…very narrowly

Two trips comprising twelve hours of bass fishing on Lake Storey this year produced the meager results of two decent muskies and eight bass including a 1-11 and a 3-11. Maybe not the idea of a good time (or a good day) for some but that’s life on Lake Storey as the bass just don’t jump into the boat on most days.  No doubt we could have fared better on some strip mine ground which was Plan B for this particular trip if the wind was too much to manage.  But conditions were reasonable and Lake Storey won out as our destination along with winning the battle between bass and fishermen. And I’m okay with that.

While it looks like the snow will leave us alone for the extended forecast, the temps don’t look real pleasant. Call me a fair weather fisherman but the whole November bass to end the season thing is looking rather bleak. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Shout out to a young angler this week for his contribution from a weekend outing under less than ideal weather conditions. Good job getting out there and well done in landing an impressive late season catch.

Weight: 4-3
Angler: Landon Hannam
Date: October 26
Location: Private Pond
Lure: Strike King Bitsy Bug Jig (Cajun Crawfish)
Angler Comments: About 20-30 minutes into the tournament I hadn’t had any bites and this big guy came around and munched it. Had another big one get off. I managed to win the big fish award by an ounce. Pretty good fish to end the fall tournaments.
Top 5 Weight: 10-1 (4-3,2-7,1-4,1-2,1-1) culls a 1-0

Landon landed his bass while fishing with the United Junior High School Fishing Club. His bass took top honors and through a connection I was able to obtain a couple photos of the well-deserved hardware. Pretty cool.

Top 5 contributor, Chris Schwarz, is the ringleader of the United Junior High School Fishing Club. I’d like to give a shout out to him, those who assist and the landowners for their efforts in putting together a program to get some kids outside chasing fish.

It looks like the weather is going to take a dip so time will tell if we are able to fool any more Top 5 fish. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a shot at a November bass but regardless of the outcome there will still be plenty of outdoor stuff here on the website. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – Fall 1988

Once upon a time, one of my buddies showed up late one fall night at Knox College with a fish story. Well, thirty one years later “Hack” is back as the first ever guest blogger here on the website. Enjoy.

A 1980s action shot of my longtime friend and fishing buddy, Hack.

Hack’s Big Bass Story

My name is Hack. I have a big bass story to tell.

I always think of myself as a BASS fisherman. Although I’ve been unofficially retired for more than 20 years, I believe I can still get right back into the game. I look forward to reading Troy’s fishing exploits and blog entries every week. The time is now 2019. I have now lived in South Carolina for more than 16 years. There is a huge man-made lake in my backyard where multiple BASS tournaments have taken place. I kick myself for not taking advantage of Lake Hartwell every day.

My name is Hack. I was born and raised in Knoxville, Illinois. I have been a buddy of Troy’s since the early 80’s. I’m a Knox County born guy who spent my youth running around the Illinois Midwest area chasing largemouth BASS. Together, we spent many days carrying fishing gear to the best fishing holes that showed promise to deliver the biggest lunker. Typical targets included Lake Storey, Emstrom’s Pond, The Ponderosa, Green Oaks, strip mines, and various other water holes.

My name is Hack. My story begins with a typical 1988 fall Tuesday night in Knoxville. I’m a recent graduate of Knox College. I have a friend that lives at Oak Run. Oak Run has a Tuesday night Bass tournament. My friend that lives at Oak Run invites me to be his partner in the tournament. I’m All In!

The timeframe is September 1988. I have to be at work at Gates Rubber Company at 11:00 pm. The tourney begins around 5 pm on a Tuesday night. I arrive at my buddy’s house and we take off to meet the fellow competitors at the main dock. It’s a typical night. All is going to plan. I’ll fish. Have a couple beers. Head to work.

The tournament begins. Like every tourney night, we fish the good spots; tossing spinner baits against the docks. We let them drop and gradually reel them in. Life is good! Life is normal.

My name is Hack. This night is different. My partner and I have caught a couple keepers. We are comfortable enough to enjoy a couple of white cans while we fish. It’s getting dark and we only have an hour to go in the tournament. I cast a long side armed cast with my spinning reel that hits the float of a pontoon in its dock. The spinner bait drops. I feel a tug. I set the hook. The fight is on!

I’m fighting a big one. We both know it. My rod is doubled over and as the fish approaches the boat, the drama begins. The fish is going directly under the boat. I cannot move quick enough to keep the line from being trapped under the boat near the motor. I quickly stick my rod into the water and try to move to the front end of the boat. SNAP! My pole breaks.

My name is Hack. I’m ticked off. I just lost a big one! I throw my rod down to the floor of the boat and say a couple of my favorite cuss words. The pessimist in me is obvious.

My partner is an optimist. Thank God! He grabs my line and begins pulling. The fish is still connected to the hook. My rod is just broke. WOW! He yells at me to pick up my reel and he’ll be the rod. Sure enough, we land the fish. It is Huge!

I can’t believe we just caught a big bass with a broken pole. Time now to celebrate with a couple white cans as we head back to the weigh in. I’m sure we are winning some money tonight.

As we approach the docks, some of the other fishermen ask what all of the hollering was about that they heard. It wasn’t us. (wink, wink)

My partner in crime on this night decided that we would not bring our fish to the weigh-in until all others were done. We acted like we hadn’t caught anything at all.

The time was now upon us to show out. The totals were in except for the missing partner. He states that he is coming to the scales. There is my big fish along with the few other keepers in the bag. The crowd knew something was up. We didn’t win the total weight for the evening but we did win the biggest fish. Total earnings for the big fish was $120. A great night!

Now comes the tradition of the winners of the tourney sharing their prosperity with the other anglers. The team that won the total weight overall buys a round of drinks for all of the competitors at the local watering hole. The team that won the biggest fish overall buys a round of drinks for all of the competitors at the local watering hole.

My name is Hack. This is where the story of my Big Bass begins to be legendary.

I keep the 6 pound 4 ounce bass on ice to keep and have mounted. The round of beer that I owed to all of the participants quickly wiped out the bulk of my winnings. I split the balance of the remaining amount with my partner since he provided the boat. Oh, Snap! I forgot that the fish broke my pole. That’s another $50 bucks. This fish is going to cost me money.

I haven’t mentioned the cost to have the fish mounted. Oh man! This big bass is killing me.

By the time we’re done celebrating with the fellow fisherman, I realize that I do not have enough time to make it to work on time. I call in sick!

I find my way back to my buddies at Knox College to share the events of the evening knowing that they will provide me a shelter to hide while I miss a night of work.

The story of the fish is told. I’m a hero only in my own mind.

Guilt killed me as I should not have called out of work. The fish stayed in a deep freeze cooler for years before my brother paid to have it mounted for me as a Christmas gift.

When I finally received the mounted fish, I displayed it with pride in a house at Lake Bracken. The fish now resides with the one person who may appreciate it more than me. The lure that tricked it to bite still hangs from its mouth.

Likely not the actual lure but similar style and vintage from the 1980s

Still dig that tale having heard and told it just a few times over the years and even better direct from the source all these years later. Well done, Hack, and thanks for the contribution.

That bass hung on the wall of my house at Lake Bracken through the 90s and later made the move to several of my other residences over the next couple decades. However, by the time we made our last move from Galesburg to the Quad Cities, the bass had deteriorated to the point that it was time to say “Farewell.” When recruiting Hack to share his tale I informed him that the mount was no more. He responded, “No issues here with the retirement of the bass. He led an interesting life.”

And as the subject of a fish story, that bass continues to live on with a tale that could end up who knows where via a medium that essentially did not exist back in the day. Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Report – October 19

A Lake Storey fishing report in the Inbox last Friday from my friend, John Kirkemo, and a reasonable Saturday forecast made for an impromptu trip back down to Knox County’s Lake Storey to chase those wily bass. Glad I could swing it as it’s always a treat to fish my “home lake.”

Stats

Date: October 19, 2019
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Time: 10:05am-3:35pm
Weather: Partly cloudy to overcast/breezy to calm
Air Temp: 54-60F
Water Temp: 55-56F
Totals: 10 bass
Lures: Strike King 2.5 Rattling Squarebill crankbait (sexy shad) – 6 bass
Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (red crawfish) – 3 bass
Booyah Blade Spinnerbait (bluegill) w/ twin tail trailer (smoke) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-11
Top 5 Weight: 7-4 (1-11,1-9,1-8,1-4,1-4)

10:18am First bass and Top Bass 16″ 1-11 Crankbait

Notes and Nonsense

Drawdown V2.0 – An abundance of September rain negated the annual post Labor Day drawdown of Lake Storey bringing the water level back to near normal pool. Interestingly, the city opted to pull the plug a second time resulting in the lake being back to nearly full draw for this outing. I found this to be an encouraging decision as I understand that the practice of lowering the lake level has been debated at times. Here’s hoping that the annual drop continues as a fishery management tool and does not get vetoed by those who find it aesthetically unpleasant. For me, it is quite an attractive bit of added contrast between the lake surface and the changing foliage lining the bank. In addition, I find it much more appealing than the extensive beds of aquatic vegetation that ring much of the lake beginning in mid-May. And it’s good for the fishing. What’s not to like?

10:35am 15″ 1-9 Crankbait

Lonely Lake – October is an interesting time to fish as many folks either put away their gear or have other things to do. I’m not much into college football anymore so on a Saturday like this day, well, I’m not missing a thing. On this pleasant mid-October morning I arrived to a deserted boat ramp and was joined as I launched by friend and Top 5 contributor, John Kirkemo, who arrived with his boat in tow. We essentially had the lake to ourselves as I observed one other boat of crappie anglers who had launched at the other end of the lake along with a kayak angler. Shortly before 3:00pm another boat showed up and we left the lake to that angler shortly thereafter.

11:39am 14″ 1-8 Spinnerbait

Rock, Sun, Wind, Depth – A riprap bank hit by direct sun and a fair wind with deep water in close proximity is a fall winner and it came through quite well on this trip. Five of my ten bass (and another lost at boatside) came during an early and late pass along this stretch. One other shallower area with a pile of cinder blocks did give up a pair of bass and is always an interesting spot. I caught one bass on the initial pass but always make a cast back to the debris after I have drifted past, and right on cue, the first cast got me a second bass from the structure.

12:33pm 14″ 1-4 Crankbait

Wood Not so Good – Unlike my last visit in mid-September where spinnerbaits dominated the haul, the bite was lean on this outing. While I felt the water temps still held promise for the lure, the low water just left too much wood exposed or too shallow for the lure to be effective on my regular spots. No problem though, as crankbaits came through just fine.

1:34pm 13.5″ 1-4 Crankbait

It looks like the weather is going to take a dip as one would expect so this will likely be my final shot at the Lake Storey drawdown. Once again, a good challenge and I feel we turned in a respectable showing over three visits. One thing lacking, however, were teeth as we failed to turn up the accidental muskie or walleye. Maybe next year.

Next up in the “Friday Flashback” series is an entertaining 80s tale that we’ll revisit with the help of an old friend as a guest blogger. Hope you’ll stop back by to check it out. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Four more October bass join the ledger as a fall feel has descended upon the region. But those shorter days, cool nights and changing colors can signify the potential for a solid fall bite if you can time it right. Read on for the scoop on the latest catches.

Weight: 2-9 (17.5″)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: October 14
Location: Knox County Private Strip Mine
Lure: Zoom Baby Brush Hog (watermelon seed)
Structure: Log
Angler Comments: The sluggish mood of the bass on a regular stop forced my hand and slowing down my presentations paid off.

Weight: 2-11 (18″)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: October 14
Location: Knox County Private Strip Mine
Lure: Booyah Blade Spinnerbait (snow white shad)
Structure: Stumps
Angler Comments: This one was cool as I actually saw the bass come after the bait as it landed among a couple partially shaded stumps. Always a tense split second waiting until you feel a strike to avoid jerking the lure away from an interested bass.
Top 5 Weight: 14-4 (3-14,2-11,2-10,2-9,2-8) culls a pair at 2-4

Weight: 4-12
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: October 16
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Lipless crankbait
Angler Comments: Was on a few different patterns. Actually think they were just hitting anything and anywhere. Spinnerbaits took the most fish but lipless crank took the big fish of the day.
Top 5 Weight: 24-9 (5-3,5-0,4-14,4-12,4-12) culls a 4-10

Weight: 1-3
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: October 18
Location: Lake Storey
Lure: Weighted weedless wacky worm
Structure: 5-7’ feet of water near a laydown
Angler Comments: Only fish caught in three hours of fishing. Water temperatures 53-56 degrees. Brisk breeze from south with partly cloudy skies.
Top 5 Weight: 6-14 (1-9,1-7,1-6,1-5,1-3)

Well done in keeping the Top 5 alive for another week and keep ‘em coming. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – October 14

I am definitely feeling the impending end of my fishing year as we head into the home stretch. My annual aim is to end with a November bass and folks, it ain’t that far away. In the meantime I was able to work out back to back mid-October days on the water. Day One was reported earlier this week and read on for my Day Two quest to beef up my Top 5 weight as it has been a tough year for me to find big bites.

11:07am First bass, on the board but hoping they get bigger

Stats
Date: October 14, 2019
Location: Knox Co. IL private strip mines (2 lakes)
Time: 10:50am-3:00pm (3.25 hours fishing, the rest relocating)
Weather: Sunny/calm to breezy
Air Temp: 48-52F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 8 bass, 1 crappie
Lures
Zoom Baby Brush Hog (watermelon seed) – 4 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (orange craw) – 2 bass, Booyah Blade spinnerbait (snow white shad) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 2-11 (Spinnerbait)
Top 5 Weight (only 4 at 12” or better): 8-8 (2-11,2-9,2-1,1-3)

11:53am 17.5″ 2-9 Zoom Baby Brush Hog

12:50pm 13.5″ 1-3 Zoom Baby Brush Hog

Notes and Nonsense

Accident – Every once in a while as a bass angler you happen into a bite from a different species. Prior to this trip, my lone “accident” was a stout bluegill that took a liking to one of my crankbaits. This time around it was a nice 12” crappie that grabbed my Baby Brush Hog as I jigged it around a downed tree. I’ve caught the occasional crappie on a crankbait, jerkbait or spinnerbait but I believe this is the first one on such a creature type bait.

An interesting accident

No need to pack a ton of tackle, even though I usually do

Arsenal – No surprises here with the trio of lures that fooled my fish. My hope was that I could get away with the rapid pace of a lipless crankbait or the moderate speed of a spinnerbait or crankbait but I just could not find a consistent bite in the regular right places on my first stop. Instead, it took some slowing down with a Texas rigged creature bait to fool some fish.

2:05pm 17″ 2-1 Spinnerbait

A Day (or two) Early – The old saying references being “a day late and a dollar short” but in this case it sounds as if I would have been better off delaying my Monday trip until Hump Day. Need proof? Well, my buddy, Jim Junk, reported in with a Wednesday afternoon/evening outing where he “recorded 10 bass over 2 pounds and landed over a dozen others…hitting spinnerbaits, chatterbaits and lipless cranks. Actually think they just attacking anything and anywhere.” Another flurry as daylight faded resulted in “5 more bass landed on a chatterbait in about a half hour.” Definitely what one would call a fall feeding frenzy and always cool when you are there when conditions are just right.

2:28pm Top Bass 18″ 2-11 Spinnerbait

For the Birds – Overall, I managed a reasonable haul and bumped up my Top 5 a few ounces but the outing just didn’t live up to my initial expectations. Once again, that darned sun got the best of me. I know a guy shouldn’t complain about a sunny day, especially in October, but sunny conditions just don’t lend themselves to a good bite on these fishing holes. And what really stinks is the fact that I am now locked out of roughly 50 public strip pits because of the dang geese. No offense to any waterfowlers but such closures have always been a thorn in my side.

“No bass for you!” as October 13 was actually the last day to fish Snakeden Hollow, game over for 2019.

Okay, I’ll shut this one down before I come off as a bit too whiny. In the end, I did have several good spots to fish and just couldn’t fool any big bites this time around…or for most of 2019 for that matter. I’m not done quite yet though as Lake Storey beckoned this weekend. Full report next week. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – October 18, 2014

Original log entry from a successful day on the water

Here’s a fish story from a pretty amazing Central Illinois fishing hole that I was fortunate enough to get a look at for the first time five years ago today.

Originally Posted 10-22-14

Is this there anything quite as exciting for an angler as new water?

It always gets me pretty fired up; even more so if it is a premier fishing hole with a reputation for some outstanding Illinois bass fishing. So when I got an invite this summer from a fellow named Chris Rock to wet a line in his lakes I was more than a little enthused. However, I was also more than a little bit busy and nearly missed my shot for 2014. A challenging weather day didn’t make it easy on us but it was sure worth an occasional numb digit and several layers of clothing.

Stats
Date: October 18, 2014
Location: Peoria County lakes
Time: 9:30am-4:45pm
Weather: Overcast/windy
Air Temp: 47-52F
Water Temp: 54-56F
Totals: pushing 100 bass (Troy – 46 bass, Chris – similar numbers)
Lures Troy: Booyah Counterstrike Spinnerbait (salt & pepper) – 18 bass, Xcalibur XR50 lipless crankbait (chicken pox) – 11 bass, Senko weighted wacky rig (baby bass or natural shad) – 8 bass, Jig & Pig (black/blue or watermelon/green/black) – 7 bass, Strike King KVD Rattling Squarebill Crankbait (natural pumpkinseed) – 2 bass
Lures Chris: primarily a jig along with a chatterbait and Strike King crankbait
Top Bass: Chris 5-10 Jig

 

As big as they got for me but quantity was real solid for a chilly October day

Notes & Nonsense

Backstory – Chris runs a truck route for one of my employer’s plants and apparently is one of the few people that I’m not related to who actually reads my blog postings. A co-worker mentioned that I should meet Chris and in that process I got an invite to fish. I was well aware of the lakes from the occasional appearance on a regional outdoor website and was real interested.

Fishing Fall – If pressed to select a favorite time period to chase bass, mid-September through October would quite likely be tops. However, during this time frame you just never know what hand Mother Nature will deal as the weather can be all over the place. Being a weekend angler with family obligations these days it narrows the window and keeps me honest when professing that “the best time to go fishing is anytime you can.” On this day the mercury hit the low 50’s but with a pretty steady north wind it sure never resembled what one would call warm. Despite reeling in more than a few bass neither Chris nor I worked up a sweat that necessitated removing any layers. In fact, we both went as far as stocking caps shortly into the trip and stayed that way all day. Luckily we never had to resort to gloves and a near 100 bass day does go a long way towards negating the occasional chill.

Had to shift gears from the tried and true black and blue to fool a few

A Pig of a Different Color – When it comes to jig fishing, I am true black and blue through and through. I’d bet that 90% of my jig bass have been fooled by some variety of this general color scheme. Therefore, it was a little unsettling when my old faithful bait just wasn’t getting the job done. Chris was knocking them pretty good on a brown variety so I decided that it was time to give the star performer a break and put it on the bench. It kind of felt like scratching a Cal Ripken off the lineup card and inserting a Mark Belanger but you gotta do what you gotta do. Don’t know if it was a good idea or not but the color combo pictured above did manage to produce several fish. Even so, it took some getting used to and I never really got used to it.

Speaking of Hogs – The bass pictured below claimed the Top Bass title for this trip and was a real interesting looking fish with a series of dark markings. Even though it’s a good photo it still doesn’t do justice to the splotches around the eye, on the gill plate, on both pectoral fins and near the tail; really cool stuff. And it was also really cool when Chris set the hook on one of those bites that looks and feels more than a little different than your run of the mill bass. He stated that it was a good one and the bend in his rod seconded that assessment. I got the honor of lipping the fish for him as he brought it boatside getting to hold a fish nearly a pound larger than what I’ve been able to muster on my own, good stuff.

Chris with a 5-10 Top Bass of the trip 

Good Company – As good as the fishing was, it was also enjoyable shooting the breeze on matters fishing and otherwise. I don’t really hang with any friends who fish so it’s always cool to talk fishing (ranks among my favorite topics along with my family, old school baseball and 70’s classic rock/pop music). It was extra cool having Chris provide a history on the area from rock quarry to fishing hole while relating epic catches, describing the lay of the land under the surface and pointing me in the right direction to catch some bass.

All in all, a great time on some cool water with a guy who knows how to get it done. It’s always interesting fishing with a new partner and I just do my thing and hope it leaves a favorable impression. I was encouraged near the end of our outing after needing Chris to troll in to rescue my jig for the only time all day. He offered that staying unstuck in such a jungle of trees showed that I knew what I was doing. I was even more enthused when he mentioned trying our luck again next year. 

Nothing close to a lunker for this guy but boy, what an interesting fishing hole.

I was able to fish the spot again in April of 2015 and March of 2016 but those are flashbacks for another time. Perhaps another time I may also be able to create some new fish stories at the fantastic fishing hole. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – October 13

Last Sunday marked the final day of 2019 access for anglers to Snakeden Hollow State Fish & Wildlife Area. The site shuts down for the waterfowl season so the birds win out over my bass (more on that some other time). Wanting one more shot, I decided to take a hike despite a recent cold front and the forecast of strong winds which can make it tough on an eight foot johnboat. The evening prior I put out a text to my brother, Brent, and he was game to give it a go as well. Read on for the results of our tag team outing.

Bundle up as this could be interesting

Stats

Date: October 13, 2019
Location: Snakeden Hollow, Knox Co. IL (4 lakes)
Time: 10:55am-5:25pm (5.25 hours fishing, the rest walking)
Weather: Sunny to overcast/very windy
Air Temp: 48-55F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 23 bass (Brent – 12, Troy – 11)
Lures
Troy: Strike King Red Eye Shad (orange craw) – 6 bass, Booyah Blade spinnerbait (snow white shad) – 2 bass, Zoom Baby Brush Hog (watermelon seed) – 2 bass, Chatterbait (bluegill) with Zako trailer (smoke) – 1 bass
Brent – Emiquon Special spinnerbait (brown/orange) 11 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (grey ghost) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 4-5 (Spinnerbait)
Top 5 Weight: 11-9 (4-5,2-1,1-15,1-10,1-10)

A few of the bass that were captured on GoPro

Notes and Nonsense

Weather – The temps were in the 30s when I left home with a high of 55 predicted along with winds gusting over 20 miles per hour. Well, it all played out as predicted but with the strong wind and afternoon cloud cover it actually felt colder even though it got warmer. Trust me, it makes perfect sense if you were out there roaming around for about seven hours.

11:08am First bass – spinnerbait

12:08pm my first bass took a while to find but was sure intent on getting the lure

First Bass – It only took about 10 minutes before Brent got us on the board with his old reliable spinnerbait. That spinnerbait would go on to land all but one of his bass with the lone exception falling to a Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait while we briefly ditched the boat in favor of the bank. A reliable stretch was getting pounded by the wind making boat control impossible so we gave the oars a break and landed three bass and missed another. One of the three was my first catch of the day at 12:08 pm, roughly 70 minutes after we started casting. My lame excuse was being the designated rower (voluntarily) but really I just wasn’t getting it done and still don’t have my own version of “The Emiquon Special” spinnerbait. My boy, Jayce, does courtesy of a gift from Uncle Brent though causing me to ponder the ethics of raiding someone else’s tacklebox.

1:58pm 1-10 spinnerbait

Reunion – Choosing your spots can be tough at Snakeden as there are over a couple dozen viable fishing holes on the site. I wavered on a visit to an old favorite pondering whether it still held enough potential to justify the hiking effort. The decision turned out to be one of those “since we’re this close…” types. An hour of casting gave us two of our eventual Top 5 but just as rewarding was reliving some old tales such as “the sumac forest” and “the biggest topwater explosion ever.” Folks, we’ve got just a few fish stories between us.

2:24pm 2-1 Zoom Baby Brush Hog

 

3:12pm 1-15 Spinnerbait

4:20pm 1-10 Chatterbait

4:35pm Top Bass 4-5 Spinnerbait

Top Bass – The first time Brent and I ever fished what would eventually become Snakeden Hollow was July 1, 1987. That was three years before the ground would be open to public access. We were fortunate to get an invite from a fellow willing to take a couple teenage wannabe bass fisherman along for a visit inside a locked gate. In the 32 years since, we’ve caught more than a few bass out there including several that exceed the weight of 4-5 on Brent’s latest catch. However, his fish is hands down the coolest looking Snakeden bass I’ve ever seen. An impressive catch and in this instance, I believe that the picture indeed does the fish justice as it could easily pass for a heavier bass. Whenever I get around to a post on my favorite bass pics of all-time, this one will certainly make the list.

Kind of blew it on my GoPro footage by accidentally turning off the camera mid-catch

Another good outing with my brother and we managed a respectable haul (and a brute) in some challenging conditions. Yet again reinforcing why you don’t put those poles away to early and that the best time to go fishing is anytime you can. Which brings me to the following day and another fishing report to compile. Talk to you later. Troy