Month: July 2018

New Look

Figured it was time for a little change of scenery just for a new look. I originally had a revamp slated for May 1, 2018 to mark the one year anniversary of the website but just got too carried away with all of the other stuff.

So, as August can be a slow outdoor month for me and my family as back to school approaches, it seemed like the timing for the re-design was a winner.

Beyond color scheme, I have updated the scrolling banner so that it now contains a series of images from May 1, 2017 through April 30, 2018 to celebrate some outdoor fun within the first 365 days of the website launch.

Of course, every pic in the new banner has an accompanying tale, most of which have been told along the way. As far as the old banner, all of those tales were related in a series of posts back in February with the 28 stories in 28 days.

The “About” page has also been updated to reflect some current numbers along with a new batch of photos.

The general layout remains the same beyond some font alterations as I have passed on adding a couple new features for the time being, maybe at the two-year anniversary next May.

Got a boatload of items as always in terms of projects for posts, often boils down to a matter of time to get them put together. I’ve long considered my backlog of “brilliant ideas” to be my insurance policy against Writer’s Block and Cabin Fever.

Actually have a real life firsthand fishing report coming up tomorrow. Truly my favorite sort of post as it means I really got to go fishing. Doesn’t always mean I was catching but I’ve come to appreciate that such is not the sole means of evaluating a day on the water.

Thanks to those who tune in to these rambles, hope you will continue to do so, and talk to you later. Troy

Lost Grove Lake Report – July 25

For quite a few years, I used to work in a fishing trip on my birthday. But as birthdays often become just another day consumed by work and responsibilities, the fishing trips seem to be postponed or fall by the wayside altogether. This evening outing a couple days post birthday number 51 was as close as I was going to get.

And as it turned out, I wound up about as close to getting shut out as you can get. Still can manage a “fishing report” though, despite it not being much of a “catching report.”


Date: July 25, 2018
Location: Lost Grove Lake, IA
Time: 6:20pm-8:35pm
Weather: Partly cloudy/breezy
Air Temp: 81-77F
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 1 bass
Lures: Booyah Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-0

Notes & Nonsense

Close Call – I caught my lone bass at 8:12pm which meant that I was indeed getting a little nervous about posting my first goose egg of 2018. My buzzbait had just ticked off of some weeds on the way to a strip of open water in the midst of a big batch of duckweed and it was on, as shown in the GoPro video below.

Originally I was kind of bummed as I had a corrupt video that I was pretty certain was the lone catch. Fortunately, I was mistaken and got my bass on “film.” No trophy but I continue to get a kick out of this fun bit of technology, kind of cool to see the duckweed holes fill back in after the battle as well.

The Soundtrack OR when you don’t really have quality fish to blog about…

I don’t know about anybody else, but when I’m flying solo on the drive and on the water, tunes are a big part of my distraction and daydream. Generally it is a rather crazy soundtrack featuring an eclectic mix of cuts that either stopped me on the radio or came to mind based on some observance on the water. And while maybe not necessarily worthy of a “Top Trip Tunes” post, I do dig talking tunes.

Party in the USA (Miley Cyrus – 2009) – Okay, let’s get this one out of the way first. I heard this Miley Cyrus tune while driving and actually let it play for a while.  Bad idea but you’ve gotta admit, it’s got a catchy hook.  Hence, the song was running through my head most of the evening, especially when I was rowing the boat like yeah, casting my lure like yeah or I would see some “butterflies fly away.” Kinda rough, but, “you know I’m gonna be okay.”

Angeline (Allman Brothers Band – 1980) – There’s a station that I get up here, 107.7FM out of Polo, IL that is frequently the winner for best song on the dial when surfing through the presets. Interesting and unusual cuts abound, and even more so recently as I believe it has changed hands, or at least format. Didn’t know this cut, but sure knew who was performing it.

Forever Autumn (Justin Hayward – 1978) –Same as the above tune, it’s always a treat to hear something I’ve never heard before but recognize in some fashion. Swore this one was The Moody Blues but not too far off as simply their lead singer instead.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Warrant, 1991) – Darn near a full moon caught my eye during the trip, indeed it was quite hard to miss. Of course, the moon is a popular subject for more than a few song lyrics and the scene brought to mind, “Where the full moon shines through the rooftop cracks.” Got a million of ‘em upstairs, something for every occasion.

Fun snapshot from some GoPro footage with moon, reflection and buzzbait (right of reflection)

Okay, back to the fishing part of the report with a GoPro blooper finale.

This one will go on the 2018 blooper reel as it was a swing and miss but the brain said “pull the trigger” and I was indeed a little desperate to end the shutout.

This mishap from the outing pretty much sums up my last several months on the water.

Better luck next time, I guess, as 2018 fishing continues to be a little rough on me. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – July 1998

Once upon a time, we had access to a place we called “Pat’s Creek.”

The Henderson County, IL fishing hole was the site of many adventures. Among the activities at the location was bankpole fishing which is featured in today’s flashback from July of 1998. Heavy on pictures for this one and a little lighter than normal on words for a change of pace.

A substantial walk through the corn was required as the creek resides at the treeline in the background. Left to right are Dad, Tim Townsend and Brent Jackson.

Dad and Tim baiting up with minnows, also used crawdads, bluegill, green sunfish and corn over the years.

Another bankpole ready for action and these armpit deep ones were always a little exciting to run as you and your catch are pretty much face to face.

Crazy to look back at the depth of the creek as wading into the same holes in later years wouldn’t even get deep enough to make you breathe funny (if you’ve waded a creek you know the water level I’m talking about).

Success and rebaiting for round two.

And it ain’t all fish folks.

The penchant for data kicks in and perhaps I should’ve stayed on the other side of the camera…or at least worn a shirt.

Time to pack it up for another time and was always a treat to let the current push you through some of the deep holes.

A triumphant return from the creek bottom after another old fashioned adventure in an old pair of “creek shoes.”

Don’t get much better than wading the creek, fond memories that never fail to bring a smile.

More creek fishing up next month in another Friday Flashback post. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

And now, ladies and gentlemen, an update worth waiting that extra day…

We have the first 20-pound creel of 2018 courtesy of the pair of bass below.

Weight: 4-0
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: July 19
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Senko
Angler Comments: Not much fishing for this week and thought I might get skunked. Went Tuesday and not even a bite. Went back today and only had about an hour of daylight left. Time was running out and I landed a skinny one that was just under 2 pounds. Next couple casts produced this nice 4-0.

Weight: 3-13
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: July 22
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Senko
Angler Comments: Hit just as my Senko made it to the edge of weed bed. Thought I had just hooked weeds until he started running.
Top 5 Weight: 20-1 (4-5,4-1,4-0,3-14,3-13) culls 3-10 and 3-11

With the submission of the latter of the above bass, Jim added in his text that “I think that’s just enough.” Indeed it is, as our latest correspondences had also referenced the 20-pound mark that was within ounces as we entered July. It becomes a taller order to cull once you get into that neighborhood and here’s to Jim for consistently whittling away with quality catches. I, for one, also appreciate the fact that he is reeling ‘em in from the bank on public water. Keep up the good work, you’re keeping the Top 5 alive. Talk to you later. Troy

Thoughts at 51

We’ve had a parade of birthdays this July here on the website with three of the kids and the way it shakes out, we save the oldest for last.

Happy Birthday to me.

Got a year under my belt with this 50-year old thing so ready to take on “51” with a traditional offering that dates back to “Thoughts at 44” that I submitted at a former blogging gig on July 23, 2011.

As always, I try to stay on the outdoor path with my postings but sometimes gotta stretch it a bit in passing along whatever comes to mind.

And that brings us to my first thought on the number 51 as it is indeed the integer that would represent “one card shy of a full deck.”

And away we go…

Area 51 – Not sure what to make of this locale of conjecture but will admit to being guilty of fishing an area that we called “The Forbidden Zone” on a few occasions. I actually have a Friday Flashback post coming next month with more details concerning the 1988 catch pictured below.

Baseball 51 – Willie “E.T.” McGee famously sported this number back in the 80s and 90s, most notably for the archrivals of this Cubs fan. Did you know that McGee hit for the cycle on June 23, 1984 in a classic Cubs-Cards matchup that is known as “The Sandberg Game” as Ryne Sandberg wound up stealing the show?

Fishing 51 – The pic below represents Bass #51 (tie) on my personal list of all-time best bass. April 21, 1999 from Lake Bracken during a day when I caught a pair in the four-pound class. This one tipped the scale at 4-0 while Top Bass for the day was a 4-10.

Football 51 – While I took a liking to the Dallas Cowboys, I did grow up in a Chicago Bears household and Dick Butkus was the man on some less than impressive squads. The guy was an absolute animal on the field and definitely worth an internet search for some highlights. A great deal of which would now get him fined or suspended and several which would probably get him arrested. A different era on the gridiron.

(Note: this 1973 Topps Butkus card is just flat out cool, landscape and action at its finest, not looking good for somebody in the backfield)

Image 51 – What is fish picture number 51 on your phone? Send it my way if you wish, could be another supplemental birthday spinoff post or perhaps a recurring series. What? Some of you don’t have more than 50 fish pictures on your device? Okay, pull them from the cloud instead.  Mine comes from April 21, 2018 and features my brother, Brent, with a solid Knox County, IL strip mine bass.

Numerical 51 – As 51 = 3 X 17, I will conclude this post with a trio of fishing pics that break my existence up into three seventeen year periods.

2018 – 51 years old (rounded up as this was shot last month) on the Knox County, IL strip mines

2001 – 34 years old and fishing the creek in Henderson County, IL

1984 – actually on my 17th birthday at Lake Bracken in Knox County, IL

Okay, enough for now. Belated Top 5 Update headed your way tomorrow. Talk to you later. Troy


Lost Grove Lake Report – July 18

With my boys away at my folks and the girls busy with some summer practice activities, I had the evening to myself once I got off of work. While I was kind of tired, I figured that I’d be a fool to not take advantage of the opportunity to head across the river to my Iowa stomping grounds.


Date: July 18, 2018
Location: Lost Grove Lake, IA
Time: 6:35pm-8:35pm
Weather: Partly cloudy/windy
Air Temp: 77F
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 3 bass
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (pumpkin with black flake) – 2 bass, Strike King KVD 2.5 crankbait (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-6 (only 2 bass over12”)
Top Weight (2bass): 2-8 (1-6,1-2)

6:41pm First bass 13″ 1-2 Crankbait

Notes & Nonsense

Water Conditions – Back on Memorial Day I paid my first visit of 2018 to Lost Grove only to find my regular fishing area to be a real mess of scattered, floating vegetation. As a result, I put in elsewhere which is okay for some exploring but sure wished I could’ve fished my intended spots. I didn’t know what to expect this time around but the vegetation had subsided to a fishable state and water clarity was a stained normal so I was good to go.

Company – Usually there’s not much traffic on the section of the lake I frequent, as it takes a little work for the folks in the big boats. However, on this occasion I shared water with four bass boats, one of whom seemed a little frustrated with my presence. We met up near a point, headed in opposite directions. The fellow ceded the rest of the bank, which I didn’t want to fish anyway and I rowed back to fish the same stretch of bank I had just visited for a second lap. About 30 minutes later, the fellow came back for another look only to find me in essentially the same spot and did a donut in the water as he headed out. Not a real bad move, don’t know his intent, but for a guy in an eight foot johnboat it had me rocking for a bit.

7:48pm Top Bass 13.5″ 1-6 Senko

Close Quarters – The pair of bass that fell to the Senko wacky rig both hit with just a few yards of line out and rather tight to the riprap lining the bank. Certainly wished they would have been bigger and sure would have been a handful trying to land a quality fish with 10-pound test on a short line (video of these two catches below).


One That Got Away – Lost Grove is good spot for a quick jaunt on evenings such as this occasion but I’ve had some difficulty finding quality bass. I have witnessed a four plus caught and observed a handful of others in that range swimming around but as far as my personal best it stands at 2-3. Had one on this trip that would have given that “PB” a run for its money but wasn’t meant to be as it threw my buzzbait on a leap. Angler error was a major factor in this case as a loose drag meant less than ideal impact on pair of hooksets. Felt the line give both times, knew I was in trouble and sure didn’t take long to confirm. Such is fishing and got some decent GoPro footage to relive my mistake (video below).


And below is a slow motion portion of the above clip that is also zoomed in on the bass spitting the lure, pretty cool even though I lost the fish.


Overall, a fun evening getaway as the water looked decent, found a few cooperative fish and two of them were “keepers.” After limited summer opportunities and a bit of a 2018 fishing funk it felt good to feel good and have my focus back in being able to truly escape from my responsibilities for a couple hours.

Top 5 Update delayed until Tuesday this week to make way for one more July birthday post. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – July 17

Exactly one month from my last outing (Father’s Day), I was back on the water with some high hopes of a significant boost to my Top 5. Been a tough start to the year for me so anything over two pounds would provide a cull. Not too tall of an order on a couple of my best spots, right? Not so fast, as the “dog days” got the best of me.

Date: July 17, 2018
Location: Knox County strip mines (2 lakes)
Time: 6:35am-9:15am
Weather: Sunny/calm to breezy
Air Temp: 63-74F
Totals: 4 bass
Booyah Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 2 bass
Senko wacky rig (pumpkin/black flake) – 1 bass
Mann’s Baby 1- (red craw) – 1 bass
Top Bass: none 12” or better
Top 5 Weight: not applicable

7:06am First bass and unfortunately the rest didn’t get any bigger.

Notes and Nonsense

Top 5 – I’ve been sitting on 12-2 since reeling in my Top Bass at 3-0 back on April 22. Five trips in the books since then, including this one, and nothing to add to my total. Just looking for anything in the two to three pound slot for a bump in weight but unable to get it done.

Not Alone – I do take comfort in knowing that another of our Top 5 anglers has admitted that he too is struggling with the summer bite in limited opportunities to get on the water as well. In fact, John Kirkemo’s latest submission for the weigh-in consisted of a trophy bundle of cardboard that was headed for the recycling bin. Appreciate the sense of humor during the dog days of summer where the bite and the heat can pose some challenges and perhaps even make an angler a little delirious.

Thanks for a smile in the face of some fishing adversity.  By the way, our Top 5 is still in search of a 2018 five-pounder…

Excuses – I was kind of bummed upon arriving at my first fishing hole to find the water with a brownish tint. Been there before and don’t ever recall those conditions resulting in much of a bite, let alone anything to brag about. Right on the money and after just over an hour and four short bass it was on to a second spot. And…same state of water clarity but even worse results. In fact, no bass in the boat at all. Had one on a Senko about 10 minutes into my 75 minutes on the water but it was my only bite and threw the worm on the way in.

Recap – I had the GoPro along as I usually do these days and captured all four catches “on tape” (just like to put it that way although I am aware it’s the digital age). For better or worse, I’ve included the montage below. Even though there aren’t any catches that remotely resemble “keepers”, I think it’s still a cool bit of technology that I never envisioned back when I was a kid. Pretty fun to fool around with making your own fishin’ show, just like Bill Dance, Hank Parker, Virgil Ward, Jimmy Houston and Jerry McKinnis. Well, sorta…


Hey, I gave it another go a couple days later so back to back fishing reports this weekend. Hope you’ll tune back in tomorrow. Talk to you later. Troy

Happy Birthday, Zac

The July birthday parade edges closer to its conclusion with birthday wishes to our little man, Zac, who turns 7 today.

Sharp as a tack, very entertaining and a perfect fit for the youngest of the bunch.

And…he certainly knows how to play that card.

Good looking fella, too, really knows how to sport a fishing hat. Could make a guy who’s just a bit older version of that kid a little envious. But hey, I look at it as being at least partly responsible for his rugged good looks.

Also thought about blanking out the bottom part of his shirt in this photo and letting his siblings post what they think would fit in place of “Champ” in “Mommy’s Little Champ.”  But, I want to keep it family friendly and a friendly family so will just leave it to the imagination.

Happy Birthday, Little Z, and love you. Talk to you later. Dad

Friday Flashback – July 24-25, 2013

This week’s walk down Memory Lane comes from a 2013 trip where my wife, Julie, and I got to ditch the kids for a grand total of 55 hours. Our getaway featured generous lodging at a spot called “The Doghouse” courtesy of a fellow that I became acquainted with via a former blogging gig and with whom I found to share a couple old friends.

Believe it or not, there was some fishing on the agenda with The Emiquon Preserve a forty minute drive away, Jim Edgar Panther Creek just down the road and a fishing hole known as The Virginia City Reservoir in the neighborhood.

Below are some totals and excerpts from the original fishing report postings as well as brief note regarding the look back.

Virginia City Reservoir

Date: July 24, 2013
Location: Virginia City Reservoir
Time: 4:45pm-8:00pm
Totals: 21 bass, 1 bluegill
Weight (4 bass at 12” or better): 3 lbs. 0 oz. (0-13, 0-12, 0-12, 0-11)

Crowd – My gut feeling was that I would have the lake to myself so I was a bit surprised to encounter a few other anglers. When I arrived there was a couple fishing from a beached pontoon and a couple hours later another pair of anglers arrived in a bass boat to try their luck. We all gave each other a wave at some point from a distance but even on a rather small lake there was still plenty of room for everyone.
(Note: turns out that the lake had actually become private property despite a few remaining IDNR sign near the ramp. Been a few times in the past that I was “unsure” whether I was trespassing or not but this time around I was honestly clueless.)

Emiquon Preserve

Date: July 25, 2013
Location: Emiquon Preserve
Time: 6:30am-9:30am
Totals: 4 bass
Weight (4 bass at 12” or better): 5 lbs. 12 oz. (1-10, 1-9, 1-5, 1-4)

Same Place, Different Day – On July 8, Dad and I were able to fool 30 bass in five and a half hours on Emiquon. The water was clean, as clear as I’d ever seen it, there were dead carp floating everywhere and we got soaked by recurring rain showers. On July 25, the water was quite murky, there was a fair amount of floating debris, live carp were steadily thrashing about in the abundant surface vegetation and the weather was sunny with little wind, the latter being an Emiquon rarity. The first day we found them, the second day I didn’t.
(Note: These were the last four bass that I caught on the legendary fishing hole and five years later, I guess the place is really a mess, perhaps on its last leg as a bass fishery. May be the last bass I ever land down there as a result.)

Jim Edgar Panther Creek – Drake Lake

Date: July 25, 2013
Location: Drake Lake-Jim Edgar Panther Creek
Time: 3:00pm-5:30pm
Totals: 9 bass, 1 bluegill (with partner)
Weight (1 bass 12” or better): 0-11

Crankbait Girl – I make a fair amount of mental blog notes about my trips but this time I made sure to write down a favorite on the water quip. In assessing her fishing style between casts, Julie stated, “I’m a crankbait girl and you can quote that.” So I did.

Perspective – While the lake harbors an abundance of small bass, the flipside is a reported quality bluegill/redear population. Such were the quarry of an angler launching as we were loading our boat in the truck. The knowledgeable fisherman described the management plan that in his estimation was working well to feed his panfish pursuit. He asked if we’d caught any panfish to which I replied, “We got one on accident.” His matter of fact response was, “I catch bass on accident.” To each their own in our shared fish chasing hobby.
(Note: it’s fun to play fishing guide when it works out and you find some cooperative fish even if they aren’t much to brag about. Besides, I guess after 11 years of marriage at the time, I must have been a “keeper” for more than my fishing/guiding skills.)

Believe it or not, that’s the abridged version of the collection of stats, notes and nonsense originally submitted during the summer of 2013. As always, fun to look back at the write ups and remember what I’d forgotten. Talk to you later. Troy

MLB Fishing All Stars – Battery

The lineup needs a trio to share mound duty and a reliable, tough receiver who is willing to don gear referred to as “the tools of ignorance” as he takes his spot behind the plate. Well, you’ve come to the right place for that MLB Fishing All-Star battery.

Right Handed Pitcher – Dock Ellis

MLB Notes: A quality pitcher, most notably with the Pirates, Ellis had his share of demons as his interesting bio includes trying to hit every batter in the Reds lineup (got the first three, walked the fourth and pulled after a pair of pitches at Johnny Bench’s head), getting maced at the ballpark and alleging that he was under the influence of LSD when he pitched a no-hitter on June 12, 1970. How about those 60s and 70s, folks? No mention of how many one-hitters for Ellis though…
Fishing Notes: Indeed his given name is “Dock” so he qualifies for the squad. Shady cover on the lake often littered with a brushpile or two can be winners. Used to get run off of one at Lake Bracken by a homeowner back in the day. Don’t recall it being especially productive, just fished it more for the adrenaline rush and potential debate. Much younger in those days.
Topps Notes: I, for one, dig those old drab colored, perhaps even ugly, uniforms as that’s a part of my childhood. Back in the days when uniforms were, well, rather uniform and not particularly flashy, simply the work wear of my heroes. But what’s up with the glove on Dock’s throwing hand in the 75 card (on right above)?

Left Handed Pitcher – Steve Trout

MLB Notes: Southpaw pitchers can just be a different sort and Steve “Rainbow” Trout fit the bill but I suppose that’s to be expected when folks called your major league pitching father “Dizzy.” His contribution to the 1984 Cubs club that was so close to the elusive World Series appearance solidified the hurler as an endeared member of those who wore the Cubbie blue.
Fishing Notes: Never caught one, but a no-brainer for our squad, with the added allure of his species specific nickname. Maybe have to do another one of these pieces someday as there’s a darn good namesake tearing up the American League these days.
Topps Notes: Trout took the mound for both clubs in The Windy City with his stint on the South Side in the midst of some interesting uniform styles.  He was a couple years late for the odd Chisox shorts experiment of 1976 but was on the roster for another strange bit of baseball history, Disco Demolition Night on July 12, 1979 (Google that one sometime as well as Cleveland’s Ten Cent Beer Night).

Relief Pitcher – Lindy McDaniel

MLB Notes: McDaniel was one of those guys at the end of a lengthy career just as I was getting into all things baseball. As such, I didn’t appreciate him and the likes of Claude Osteen, Vada Pinson, Rico Carty and others being more in tune with the stars of the day. Kind of fun to look back at the achievements of those who were old-timers over 40 years ago.
Fishing Notes: In terms of legendary lures, the Lindy Rig certainly deserves consideration for the All-Star list. The setup that took the walleye world by storm in the late 60s is still a mainstay among anglers to this day.
Topps Notes: The 1971 card on left above is an outstanding game shot with McDaniel poised on the mound, getting the sign in advance of the delivery with old Yankee Stadium full of fans looming in the background. Flat out cool.  The 1974 (on right above) and 1976 sets also featured a supplemental series documenting noteworthy late season trades.  

C – Milt May

MLB Notes: May was a reliable backstop for a number of clubs and a World Series winner with the 1971 Pirates. I also learned while researching this post that May has the distinction of driving in run number 1,000,000 in MLB history via a 3-run homer on May 4, 1975 that plated Bob Watson with the milestone run.
Fishing Notes: Every once in a while I get to put my biology degree to work and today is one of those days. In order to produce new fish, roe (fish eggs) are fertilized with milt and give you fry (that was one of our coaches, remember).
Topps Notes: Gotta dig the catcher pose as the bookends of the cards above (1973 on left and 1978 on right). Elected not to go for the squatting sweep by including the 1975 batting pose in the middle which was nearly the same as found on May’s 1976 card.

With these fellas toeing the rubber and their counterpart behind the dish, I have completed my MLB Fishing All Star squad. I certainly had a good time and no doubt left many players off of the roster. In fact, I just turned up a few more when poring over some of the handful of pre-1970s cards in the collection including the 1953 card pictured below in my sort of MLB Fishing All Star parting shot.

MLB Fisheries Biology 101.

Talk to you later. Troy