Month: April 2021

Friday Flashback -April 27-28, 2006

April is a great time for a range of outdoor pursuits. Spring turkey season is on, morel mushrooms begin to appear, and the crappie bite kicks into full gear. Well, for today’s flashback, I guess two out of three ain’t bad as we head back 15 years with a couple special guests.

Both excerpts below come from an original post simply entitled “Outdoor Update” submitted on May 3, 2006.

April 27 – Dad called to say that he’d bagged his turkey this morning and wanted to show it off. I was more than happy to oblige although Helena wasn’t quite sure what to make of “the birdie.” I guess the real thing is a bit more intimidating than what she eats on a sandwich.

April 28 – I spent two hours mushroom hunting at Little John and found thirteen which is about normal as I must count individuals, not pounds. Julie and Helena came out for a picnic at suppertime, and we played on the swings and merry-go-round. One of us also got rather filthy in the sand. Of course, it was Helena as Julie’s not much on getting on the ground these days, as she might not be able to get back up being rather pregnant. As close as I got to playing in the sand was catching one of my two short bass off the beach at Club Lake.

Short and sweet today, just like that little girl on her way to the “terrible twos.” Luckily, that phase didn’t really materialize as best I recall and suddenly, she’s driving a car and approaching her final year of high school. Time indeed flies. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – April 24

Last weekend, things finally aligned to get some of the kids out for a fishing trip. Initially, the only taker was my older son, Jayce, when I inquired on Friday night. However, the following morning, my younger boy, Zac, surprised me with “When are we going fishing?” Turns out that his decision to join the crew likely made it a more successful outing as we fished and explored for nearly three hours. I believe that having a brother along made it more fun that just hanging out with Dad. And that’s just fine as I got a kick out of the pair wandering the bank with a GoPro in tow as I leisurely reeled in a batch of bluegill. Read on for the results and some observations.

Top Bass on a Senko wacky rig


Date: April 24, 2021
Location: Knox County, IL public strip mine
Time: 3:35pm-6:35pm
Weather: Partly cloudy/windy
Air Temp: 64F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 42 bluegill, 3 bass, 1 crappie
Lures: Waxworms on a jighead hung from a slip bobber, Senko wacky rig
Top Bass: Jayce at 1-3

Bonus Stats
Drinks: 3 Mountain Dews, 2 Unsweetened Teas, 1 Dr. Pepper, 2 bottled waters
Grub: 2 Andy Capp Hot Fries, 2 orders of Buffalo Chicken strips, 2 orders of cheese curds, 1 shrimp basket, 1 order of onion rings, 1 pack of M&Ms


Notes and Nonsense

Antics and Chatter – Leading a pair of young boys on a fishing trip is, well, a trip. I observed a rendition of a portion of a Napoleon Dynamite dance as Zac apparently thought his boots were comparable to the movie character’s. I caught bits and pieces of a discussion on the outcome of a Spawn vs. Ghost Rider battle. We stumbled upon what were termed “polders”, a portmanteau of “pole” and “holders” that were actually crawdad holes. We dealt as best as we could with some funk in the cab of the truck as boots and shoes were ditched from achy feet. There were also a couple instances reminiscent of the Blazing Saddles campfire scene.

First known shot of a “polder”

We’ll Be Back – The boys had watched the original Terminator movie in the morning before we took off to the fishing hole. As a result, we were keeping our eyes open and evading the Schwarzenegger character on our adventure. First up, was a suspicious fellow on a motorcycle at the bait shop in Carbon Cliff. Various other cyclists crossed our path along with several fuel tankers and we also observed a pair of countryside fires that we suspected were his handiwork. Fortunately, we all came through unscathed. In reviewing the boys’ GoPro footage, I also became aware that Bigfoot was stalking us at some point. I guess what you don’t know can’t hurt you.


And the Winner is… – Zac was the bluegill champ and requested that I text Mom to “tell her that I caught two more bluegill than you.” Well, I eventually did convey that tidbit and now I share it with those who are reading along. A good boost of fishing confidence for the young fellow; bluegills are great for just such a thing.

Regardless of who caught the most fish, we were all winners on this trip. I was pleased with the boys’ effort in tackling a fifteen-minute walk to our fishing hole as well as their continued interest in getting some fresh air. In fact, they were all set to take another adventure lap around the lake before I informed them that it was best that we grab some supper and visit Grandma and Papa. Even fishing took a backseat to the latter prospect as the last year has been tough on all of us. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Another angler joins the quest with a bass from a weekend strip mine hike.

Weight: 1-3
Angler: Jayce Jackson
Date: April 24
Weather: Partly cloudy/windy
Location: Knox County, IL public strip pit
Lure: Senko wacky rig (white)
Angler Comments:
Top 5 Weight: 1-3 (1-3)

Since I was kind of playing fishing guide on this outing, I will look to post a full report soon. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – April 23, 2011

Today’s flashback reinforces that this writing/blogging hobby has been a worthwhile undertaking. Sure, I remember this fishing trip but only in a general sense. I know we caught a handful of bass, I’m sure there were some fish stories told and I suspect that there were also a few laughs along the way. However, by putting it down in a log and a blog, I can revisit some of the otherwise forgotten details.

Originally posted as “Tagging Along” on April 25, 2011

This time it was the “grown up” taken on a fishing trip by the youngster.

While I’m technically an adult, I sure felt like a kid all day as I waited for 3:00 pm to roll around so I could finish my work and move on to play as my friends the Junk family (more specifically twelve-year-old Brady) had invited me out to the local fishing hole. Brady and I would spend around an hour and a half chasing bass from boat rather than bank with hopes riding high since we could reach all those formerly inaccessible places. A late bite saved the day, but we were unable to fool any of the lunkers that call the pond home. However, it was still an enjoyable evening of fish stories, tall tales, and tips as I tuned into my young guide.

Date: April 23, 2011
Location: Junk’s Pond
Time: 5:45pm-7:15pm
Weather: Overcast/windy
Air Temp: 55F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 8 bass (Troy – 5, Brady – 3)
Lures: Strike King Red Eye Shad (orange craw) – 4 bass, Rat L Trap (red crawfish) – 1 bass, Storm Wildeye Swim Shad (firetiger) – 1 bass, shallow crankbait (green) – 1 bass, 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (natural shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-9 (Troy)

Notes & Nonsense

Quality – Our trip reinforced much of what I’ve learned about this hobby in the 30 plus years since I was Brady’s age. Sure, it’s good to land a trophy or two but I enjoyed the conversation as much as anything. It was fun to discuss lures, techniques, memorable catches and so on as we picked each other’s brains. That’s not to say that there isn’t good conversation with my usual fishing partners (my dad or brother) it’s just that we’ve covered a lot of this ground beginning long before Brady’s parents even met.

Squappie – Among the tales was one involving an odd creature that Brady and his fishing buddy, Michael, described to me. According to these young anglers it is part squirrel/part crappie and has been spotted running around the bank before plunging into the pond and disappearing below the surface. The tables were indeed turned as in my experience it has always been the adults filling up the kids with such strange stories. I won’t commit on the mystery either way beyond saying that I pointed out a muskrat at one point and the boys were unimpressed.

Royal Treatment – It’s tough to beat a fishing trip where your hosts provide you with a check along with steak, baked potato and more for supper. There’s actually a little more to the story but the above sentence makes me sound important, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Paying My Dues – The fish didn’t cooperate as much as we’d hoped, and the big ones stayed in hiding. I’ll blame it on the crazy weather, but I suppose it’s only fitting that the pond did not give up too much to a newcomer. I just feel bad that my guide had to pay the price with me; you’d think the bass would’ve showed off in some sort of home lake advantage.

Parting Shot – As I pulled out around 9:00 pm to head home, Brady and Michael came running after the truck hollering something regarding what I thought was a “reel.” I slowed and rolled down my window thinking that perhaps I’d left something behind. Instead, one or both boys were taunting me by yelling, “Bigfoot isn’t real!” Too funny, as they have evidently been informed of my fascination with the hairy giant dating back to the mid-70’s. 

I had a great time and look forward to tagging along again. I spent the drive home daydreaming in the dark pondering just how to turn eight smallish bass into a blog posting. But you know, the beauty of this whole writing thing is that the fish are sometimes not the most important part of the fish story.

And plenty of fish stories over the years with Brady’s family. Starting back in the 80s, I fished with his dad and one of his uncles. In the 90s, I also fished with his mom. In fact, once upon a time she was out with me in my little boat when she was about eight months pregnant with Brady’s younger sister. And these days, another of Brady’s uncles is the top contributor to the Top 5 project. Good people and good times. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 10 Trip Tunes April – Part II

And the Top 5 goes a little something like this…

5. Wango Tango – Ted Nugent (1980)
Whether or not you like “Uncle Ted” and his views or his willingness to expound on them, you’ve got to admit that he produces some fun rock and roll. Apparently, he has a soft spot for dance tunes in the case of this cut. Motor City Madman indeed, raw as heck and wandering off into stream of consciousness rambles as he lays it down.

4. Just The Same Way – Journey (1979)
I like what I call “middle Journey” (1977-1981) more than the bookends of their lengthy career. Several songs during that span feature shared vocal duties between Steve Perry and Greg Rolie. This tune is one such cut, and I’ve always enjoyed the mix of the two singers interspersed with the blend of instruments each shining at various points during the song. Just a cool tune overall with a band hitting on all cylinders on a tune that wasn’t a chart “hit.”

3. You’re My Best Friend – Queen (1976)
Queen is one of my favorite bands of all-time and this song serves as a perfect example of what I dig about their sound. Now, I don’t know a darn thing about notes, scales, chords, harmonies, measures, time signatures or any other technical stuff, I just know it sounds good. Each member gets to strut his stuff with instrument and/or voice and with a little help from their standard vocal multi-tracking, this one soars. One final aspect that I find interesting is that the song was composed by bassist, John Deacon. Often overlooked, his contributions could pack a punch (see also “Another One Bites the Dust”).

2. Ain’t Even Done with The Night – John Cougar (1981)
Before he really hit it big and was able to add his given last name to his stage name, John Cougar released a trio of Top 40 hits that rank among my favorites from his catalog. Along with “I Need A Lover” and “This Time”, this 1981 cut was an introduction to a career that would soar to the next level the next year. Numerous Top 10 hits and a Billboard chart topper would come his way but to me there’s something special about this song from the early years.

1. Dance the Night Away – Van Halen (1979)
From the opening cowbell, this one is a winner. Classic Van Halen, rocking, fun, one for the ladies, the occasional lead vocal histrionics and the always enjoyable background vocals. Probably my favorite Van Halen song, always have to turn it up and try to sing along. The only thing missing for me is a third verse as this three-minute ride always ends too soon.

And the blogging beat goes on tomorrow with the weekly Friday Flashback. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 10 Trip Tunes April – Part I

With three fishing trips under my belt, I’ve spent a fair amount of time surfing the airwaves on the way to the fishing holes. Thus, it is time for an overdue batch of Trip Tunes collected on the ride.

10. Forever Young – Alphaville (1984)
I honestly don’t recall this tune from it’s original release as it did not make much of a splash on the Billboard Hot 100 and did not crack the Top 40 (peaked at #65). However, fast forward to 2004, when a movie entitled Napoleon Dynamite put this tune on my radar. If you haven’t seen the flick, it’s an odd one, but a hit around our house and brings plenty of laughs for all. As far as this soundtrack cut, it is certainly a nostalgic piece of the 80s and approaching 40 years old. Time flies.

9. Too Shy – Kajagoogoo (1983)
I couldn’t help but stop the dial on this one hit wonder and MTV staple from my sophomore year of high school. All these years later, I still don’t know all the words but that doesn’t hinder singing along as I roll down the highway in my truck. That whole “hush, hush, eye to eye” bit is still a catchy, winning hook that will never get old. It is fun though to discover something new about the tune nearly 40 years later. I find it fun to find the funk in what was a new wave, synth-pop hit. I guess the television speakers just didn’t do the tune justice back in the day.

8. You Can’t Change That – Raydio (1979)
Several years before he was lyrically asking, “Who you gonna call?”, Ray Parker, Jr. was fronting a band called Raydio. Among the group’s handful of chart hits, I would select this one as my favorite.

7. Whatcha Gonna Do – Pablo Cruise (1977)
Always dug this tune that offered quite a range of grooves from pop to rock to soul to light jazz to a little bit of funk. Takes me back to Steele Middle School, WLS, and a few awkward laps around the local roller rink. Coming in at #16 on the Billboard year end chart and #65 on the WLS Big 89 for 1977, those charts featured a quite a range of tunes. From pop to rock to soul to disco to soundtrack cuts to singing actors, what a great time to be a kid with a transistor radio.

6. Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon (1978)
What can you say about a quirky song that references beef chow mein, pina colada, names Lon Chaney and Lon Chaney, Jr., and includes the word “mutilated”? Not to mention, the lead character being a werewolf. However, the lyrical coup de grace is Zevon using the odd word “amok” in a song. An interesting stroll around London town from the mind of a musical marvel.

Top 5 up next…Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Jim Junk and my brother, Brent, come through again with another batch of quality bass for today’s update. A couple of the fish are a bit belated as travel got in the way of an update last week. But better late than never.

Weight: 5-2
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 6
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Chatterbait (white)
Structure: Submerged weed flat
Angler Comments: Lots of stops and presentations with very little success. Had a couple short strikes on white chatterbait and maybe a bump on a lipless crank. Ended up with three dink bass and one real nice one. The 5-2 was the first to come off a submerged weed flat on a white chatterbait.

Weight: 5-3
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 8
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Chatterbait (bluegill)
Structure: Weedline
Angler Comments: Numbers have decreased since last week’s barrage, but quality is great! Couple hours fishing late morning/early afternoon, one bite and one more quality bass. 5-3 hammered a bluegill chatterbait approaching a weedline.
Top 5 Weight: 23-15 (5-5,5-3,5-2,4-3,4-2) culls 4-2 and 4-2

Weight: 2-3
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: April 12
Location: Knox County, IL public strip pits
Lure: Spinnerbait

Weight: 2-3
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: April 12
Location: Knox County, IL public strip pits
Lure: Spinnerbait

Weight: 4-0
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: April 12
Location: Knox County, IL public strip pits
Lure: Spinnerbait
Angler Comments: I fished from about 9:30 – noon. I think the wind got stronger and colder the whole time. It was pretty close to white caps on one of the lakes on the way back. I probably could have used another layer of clothing. As far as fishing it turned out pretty good. Almost all of the fish I caught had a fat belly like they had been eating good.
Top 5 Weight: 14-2 (4-0,4-0,2-3,2-3,1-12) culls 1-10,1-10,1-5

Also had the bonus April 13 submission above from Jim that he suspected may have added some weight to his 2021 total. Tough break though as he noted “the battery in my scale went dead.” I suspect that Jim will find some more bites (and batteries) to make up for it before all is said and done. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – April 5

Life has been busy, leaving little time to blog despite plenty of potential content. One such bit of content is the latest fishing report which comes along nearly two weeks after the fact. This trip took place on an extended Easter weekend Monday as I took a day off and hoped for results like a successful Good Friday outing. Turned out to be Decent Monday in terms of numbers but just couldn’t find any quality bites. Such is fishing.

Placed my Boga Grip on a hole which was somebody’s home

Date: April 5, 2021
Location: Knox County, IL public strip mines (13 lakes)
Time: 10:50am-6:30pm (6.00 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny/very windy
Air Temp: 70-77F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 34 bass
Lures: Rapala Shad Rap (shad) – 15 bass, Excalibur XR50 lipless crankbait (chicken pox) – 10 bass, Bomber Flat A crankbait (baby bass) – 7 bass Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 1 bass, Chatterbait (bluegill) with Zako trailer (chartreuse shad laminate) – 1 bass
Top 5 Weight: no bass at 12” or better

Lots of bass like this one, no “keepers”

Notes and Nonsense

Tough Trick – Thirty-four bass sounds like a rather good day on the water and truly that is a darn good number of bass. The crazy thing is that not even one was a “keeper” (12” or better although all get released to fight again). Except for one lake full of small bass, all the waters that I fished can produce plenty of bass that make the grade. Therefore, it was quite odd that all my catches ranged between eight and eleven and a half inches. Now I don’t claim to be any sort of Bassmaster but the lack of a decent fish among nearly three dozen in the log still leaves me scratching my head. Such is fishing.

Windows – Adding to the odd results were the highs and lows of the bite during the day. The first few hours of hiking and casting saw a solid bite and produced seventeen bass. However, the next two hours of roaming saw the bite shut down completely as I couldn’t even find a bass in one of my best spots. The last few hours saw the bite resume as I landed another seventeen bass. Simply weird, such is fishing.

Everything out of the water falls prey to a sooty covering

Soot – Much of the area that I fished has recently undergone a controlled burn, leaving the landscape charred and bare. This makes for easy walking and bank access and is always a welcome development. It also makes for sooty gear, hands, and clothing but by far a fair trade for the benefits. My utility boxes and backpack end up with a fair collection of ash by the end of the day and my hands are dirty enough that I usually rinse them in a lake before eating my sandwich. I do find it cool that my fishing log bears the sooty reminder of a day spent traipsing the burnt terrain. Folks have asked my why I don’t use one of the many fishing apps that are available and the ashy pages in the log are part of the reason. For me, the handwritten entries enhanced with soot, dirt, blood, rain spots and bleeding ink make it much more of a living log than some words and numbers on a device. Such are my fishing habits.

While there were no quality catches to report, there’s always something to write about when it comes to a day on the water. And that’s what I do, no matter the results. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – April 15-16, 2006

Fulton County, IL has a wealth of strip mine fishing holes, but for most of them, you’ve got to have some connections. Once upon a time, I had such good fortune as my aunt and uncle on my wife’s side were caretakers at what we called “The Guesthouse” on the Buckheart strip mines. Several Easter weekends were spent down there packed with family, food, and just a little fishing. Below are a pair of excerpts from the original 2006 fishing reports along with some pics and log entries.

April 15 – Day One of the Easter weekend fishing trip to Buckheart produced thirty bass, along with my first ever northern pike and a crappie. My biggest bass came in at 3-4 on a 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (watermelon) and the northern pike hit a Smithwick Suspending Rogue jerkbait (copper). My collection of fish came on a Mann’s 4- crankbait (blue/chartreuse), a jerkbait (red/yellow), a #5 Mepps (rainbow/white) and a 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (watermelon). The rest of the crew also boated a batch of bass, a handful of northerns and got into a good crappie bite on one of the lakes during about seven hours on the water. I fished in a boat with Uncle Fred (his bass included a 2-12 and a 2-13) while my brother-in-law, David, paired with his son, Dylan and Uncle Donnie shared a boat with his friend Rick and Uncle Ted at various times. Of course, we took a break for an excellent lunch with Aunt Phyllis in charge of the kitchen.


April 16 – Day Two consisted of just under four hours of bank fishing for me, David, and Dylan. Uncle Fred and Aunt Laurie had gotten up a bit earlier, so they got in a little more fishing. It paid off as Laurie landed a 5-4 walleye on her first cast. I ended up with eighteen more bass (heaviest was 2-7) and three more northerns. Top lures for me were the Mepps and a buzzbait (blue glimmer). David caught a pair of bass in the five-pound range on a Zara Spook but didn’t get official weights. Most everybody else is normal and just fishes for fun although Fred did play along as I recorded our fish and snapped a few photos while we shared a boat. I had a great time, enjoyed the company, and hope to do it again in the future.

Certainly, one of those fish stories that begs the saying, “those were the days.” Fishing access dried up over the years, but the fond memories are what “Friday Flashback” is all about. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – April 13, 2011

Originally posted 4-21-11 as “That’s Our Boy”

While I‘m no blogging expert, I’d say you can’t go wrong with a post about taking a kid fishing.

Although I hadn’t anticipated getting on the water for a while, I managed to get in a bonus trip when Dad called one day last week to invite me and my son, Jayce, to visit a Warren County farm pond. It was a perfect opportunity for three generations of Jackson boys to spend some time together outdoors and for Julie to get some peace and quiet since the girls were at school.

We spent a little over an hour at the pond where I was able to shoot some video and fire off a handful of pictures. As a parent it’s tough to weed out the “bad” photos of your kid so I’ve included more than a few to accompany the words.

Jayce was quite excited to simply splash around with a film canister clamped over the lure on one of Papa’s poles catching what we’ve always referred to as “moss bass.”
When a real fish came along, he was more than eager to help by placing bluegills in our bucket.

Bass were released to fight again provided they recovered from a crash-landing courtesy of an almost two-year old’s less than gentle technique. At least he hit the water though as he’s got a pretty decent arm. Jayce did experience a bit of technical difficulty as he occasionally held his spinning rig upside down. We’ve always laughed at actors doing this in a television show or a movie, so the boy still needs some more work.

Our boy holds his rod and reel correctly these days, plenty of learning in the last 10 years

We watched a snake swim across the pond and the little guy got to experience his first tick. I found the nasty critter crawling up the back of Jayce’s neck as he sat with me on the ground fishing. I later found another one on the front of my sweatshirt prompting a rash of phantom ticks for Dad and me the rest of the trip while Jayce was none the worse for wear.

Papa also took Jayce for a hike showing him how to recognize a good spot to catch a coon in a 220 boxset. Upon returning, Jayce informed me that he’d seen a “toon”, but I suspected that he was just telling stories.

Further story telling was done to a herd of cows well beyond earshot as Jayce rambled on in that wonderful little kid version of English that occasionally uses a recognizable word. He also gave his sisters an earful after school that was at least descriptive enough to make them a bit jealous.


Oh yeah, since it was a “fishing” trip I suppose I should include the side note that a handful of bluegill and small bass were caught on light jigheads with twister tails (smoke or chartreuse) and tube jigs (pink/white); simply icing on the cake. Talk to you later. Troy