Month: July 2021

Friday Flashback – August 3, 1991

There’s a spot at Snakeden Hollow called “Bearclaw Lake” that was a popular stop for me during the early years after the site opened to the public back in 1990. The trio of Bearclaw bass below come from thirty years ago, and while not trophies, I still consider any bass at two pounds or better to be “a good one.” Each of these three fish made that mark and totaled just over seven pounds.

Bearclaw Lake at 2-12 in the days before “selfies”

Bearclaw Lake at 2-6, not really a keen idea for a photo

Bearclaw Lake at 2-4, my apologies to the bass, I’ve learned a thing or two over the years

According to the back of the pics, they were all fooled by a lure called the “Dying Flutter”, something that I classify as a propbait. These wooden lures were somewhat of the predecessor to today’s popular Whopper Plopper. The Dying Flutter was crafted by Heddon Lures and featured props fore and aft on the lure body. From a brief internet search, it appears that these baits are no longer in production. Strange thing is, I also cannot find any in my tackle collection. Instead, I have several other 80s propbaits called the “Devil’s Horse” that are still made by the Smithwick lure company. Perhaps I made an error in identifying the lure on the picture backs all those years ago. And that’s more or less the last time I threw these particular lures.

I suppose these Devil’s Horse baits from the 80s may be considered antiques by now

Now, there’s nothing wrong with these baits and I had a blast fishing them once upon a time as topwater strikes are about as exciting as it gets. But, like many lures and trends, I shift gears and a presentation gets left behind in one of the multitudes of utility boxes in the garage. Thinking back on my experiences with the Dying Flutter/Devil’s Horse, there’s a tale or two to tell, but those are for another day to keep this post concise.

Just as lure trends change, so has the landscape of Snakeden Hollow. Over the last 30-plus years, Bearclaw Lake has seen significant changes in terms of bank accessibility. A lake that once presented ample bank access to hit all the “good spots” has now become quite a challenge for a bank angler due to vegetation, both terrestrial and aquatic. I have hit it a few times in the last five years along with my brother on at least one occasion. While we’ve posted solid numbers, the quality bass of yesteryear have been lacking. Maybe they’re gone, maybe they’re wiser, tough to say. Perhaps some more sampling is needed.

Bearclaw Lake Top Bass at 3-15 from 20 years ago, better job on the photo, too

I’ll close with the pic above of the Bearclaw Lake Top Bass, landed 20 years ago on August 14, 2001. It was also a topwater catch, coming on the legendary Zara Spook. Good times on a good lake and those topwater strikes sure leave a lasting impression. Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Report – July 25

My family made a trip back “home” to Galesburg last Saturday for a birthday party that included an overnight for me and my boys. While they slept in and later hung out with their cousins, me and Dad launched his boat at daybreak on the old stomping grounds.

6:13am – Dad with our first bass at 12″ and 0-14 on a crankbait

Date: July 25, 2021
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Time: 5:40am-10:55am
Weather: Sunny/calm to light breeze
Air Temp: 73-88F
Water Temp: 83-84F
Totals: 7 bass (Dad = 5, Troy = 2)
Lures: Strike King Rattling Squarebill Crankbait (sexy ghost minnow or natural pumpkinseed) – 3 bass, 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (green pumpkin) – 2 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (orange craw) – 1 bass, Vicious Muskrat creature bait (green pumpkin) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-2 Dad Senko
Top 5 Weight (only 3 at 12” or better): 2-12 (1-2,0-14,0-12)

Winning Lures

Part of the reason I got outfished by Dad? This stuff may be older than some of his grandkids.

Notes and Nonsense

Back-to-Back Bass – Less than a half hour into our casting, Dad had already lured several strikes, but the bass had shaken off before reaching the boat. Things were looking pretty good in terms of action and proceeded to get better when he landed our first two bass on back-to-back casts. I was busy doing my logging of the first fish when I realized bass number two was on the line. Pretty cool to have it on video as shown below.


One That Got Away – As it sometimes happens on a fishing trip, there was “one that got away.” Shortly after 7:00am, Dad set the hooks on a bite that he indicated felt like a good one only to have it somehow come unbuttoned without a glimpse. It was one of several that got loose on crankbaits, and we still marvel at how those bass can avoid the treble hooks. It leaves you scratching your head sometimes considering the ability of those hooks to find purchase in your tacklebags, boat carpet, life jackets, shirts, and so on.

6:31am – Dad with Top Bass at 13″ and 1-2 on a Senko

Big Birds – Over the course of the morning, we spotted several of the larger birds in our area that have an affinity for water. These included a bald eagle, a cormorant, and a blue heron (as well as its smaller cousin a green heron). However, missing on this day was an osprey, a unique bird that we frequently see fishing alongside us at Lake Storey.

The New Armada – We were the first watercraft to arrive at the ramp but were joined by several others before we called it a day. The final tally showed a 2 to 1 ratio of kayaks to boats (10 to 5). Recent years have seen quite the kayak explosion as they are a regular sight on the water or being transported around town awaiting their next dip.

9:02am – The best I could fool but just shy of 12″, not a “keeper”

Nothing stellar on this trip and no problem getting easily outfished by Dad. The dog days of summer are always a challenge and Lake Storey can be a tough one no matter the season. After many years of casting together, the catches can just be icing on the cake. In between bites, there were plenty of what I call “Remember That One Time” tales. Dad told of slaying the crappies with Uncle Bill in a rowboat well over 50 years ago, landing a muskie off Dump Point, losing a Wyoming Cowboys baseball cap in the lake, catching bass off a picnic table, catching a bass from the top of a stump sticking out of the water…

Don’t get us started. Talk to you later. Troy

Prowl The Canal – July 23

I was able to take birthday number 54 off from work to make for a three-day weekend and spent the first half of the day fishing and exploring on the Hennepin Canal. While the bite was tough during the hot, muggy morning and early afternoon, I learned plenty.

Not the only one to “Prowl the Canal”

Date: July 23, 2021
Location: Hennepin Canal – Henry/Bureau County, IL
Time: 6:15am-2:15pm (4.25 hours fishing, the rest exploring)
Weather: Sunny/calm and reaching the upper 80s
Totals: 4 bass
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (pumpkin with black flake) – 3 bass, Strike King Squarebill crankbait (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-9 (Senko)
Top 5 Weight (only one bass at 12” or better): 1-9

11:53am – Little bass but good to get one on a new stretch of the canal

Trip Lyric
“How you feeling? Hot, hot, hot.” – Hot, Hot, Hot – Buster Poindexter (1987)

Notes and Nonsense

Gut Feelings – As noted in the last “Prowl the Canal” report, I struggled during the start of an evening outing. However, despite forty minutes without a bite, I just had this feeling the something good was going to happen. Right on the money, as the bite kicked in and I posted my new Top Bass from the canal along with my heaviest limit (all released). In contrast, on this outing, my confidence was lacking. I was hot, fatigued and just didn’t have that same vibe. Similarly, my feeling was right on target as I just couldn’t get anything going in terms of a solid bite.

An entertaining catch on a tough day, I’ll take whatever I can get to bring a smile

Senko on the Half Shell – When you can’t fool the fish, the mind wanders, and you may find yourself seeking anything that can salvage the day and provide something of interest. On this day it was a clam shell that I snagged with my Senko. I was so desperate to catch something that I was secretly urging the shell to stay hooked as I hoisted it up to my perch on a lock wall high above the water. I know that I have seen a clam shell catch but I believe that this is the first time I have personally achieved such a feat.

1:26pm – Top Bass on a Senko at 1-9

Top Bass – While not a trophy at 1-9, the day’s Top Bass was an entertaining catch. The fish hit a crankbait and a spinnerbait several times right in front of me without getting hooked. This prompted me to reach for my Senko as it is a bit less of a mouthful and I figured that it would improve the odds of getting a hook into a lip. Sure enough, the bass was still hanging out and interested in an offering that often proves too hard to resist.


As always, my “Prowl the Canal” features include some bits of information and observation gleaned from my time on the waterway.

1. Fishing or not, the historic corridor is cool piece of engineering at over 100 years old. There’s plenty to see at the multitude of access points along the way.

2. If your normal stomping grounds aren’t cooperating, it doesn’t hurt to explore in hopes of finding some new spots.

End of the prowl…

When it was all said and done, I wandered quite a ways from home for a mere four bass. However, a tough day fishing beats a day at work, and I am confident that my legwork will pay some dividends as my prowls continue. Talk to you later. Troy

Prowl the Canal – July 4, 18 & 21

Just getting around to posting the report covering a batch of trips to the Hennepin Canal earlier this month.

Date: July 4, 18, 21, 2021
Location: Hennepin Canal – Henry County, IL
Time: Evenings (4.25 hours total)
Totals: 14 bass (5 bass 7/4, 5 bass 7/18, 4 bass 7/21)
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (various colors) – 7 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- Crankbait (red craw or rainbow) – 3 bass, Whopper Plopper (I Know It) – 3 bass, Strike King Squarebill crankbait (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 3-6 (Senko on 7/21)
Top 5 Weight 10-11 (3-6,2-10,2-0,1-7,1-4)


Notes and Nonsense

July 4 – Two spots and an hour and fifteen minutes of fishing up until sunset produced five bass with a Top Bass at 1-7 on a Senko wacky rig. Two other “keepers” (12” or better and always released), one on a Senko and the other on a Strike King Squarebill crankbait. A decent, abbreviated evening for me with plenty of action and plenty of mosquitoes.

July 18 – Two spots again on this evening with a slightly earlier start to give me an hour and forty-five minutes of casting. Five more bass with four “keepers” although the largest was only one pound even. A fair bite from the bass while the mosquito bite was over the top. Spoke to a fellow canal angler on this evening who was employing a Thermacell Mosquito Repellent device. He provided a rave review and I have since purchased one as a birthday gift to myself, but I have yet to put it to use.

New Top Bass from the Canal, a slim 3-6 at 20″ could have weighed considerably more

July 21 – I committed to one stretch of water on this evening from 6:25pm to 8:40pm. It was an odd night as the first forty minutes failed to produce a bite. However, I just had a feeling that things were going to turn out well in the end (even made such a prediction on my GoPro video to be released one of these days). As it turned out, I caught my Top Bass from the canal at 3-6. At 20”, it was a slim specimen and likely would have weighed near four pounds if filled out. In addition, a 2-10, 2-0 and 1-4 joined the log for my heaviest daily total despite being one bass shy of my five bass target limit (always catch and release).


As a part of each “Prowl the Canal” report, I intend to pass on some lessons learned along the way, regardless of the results of the outing. The concept of this feature is to reinforce that you should learn something new each time you hit the water.

1. Packing a dipnet along on a canal prowl can be beneficial as you encounter some interesting bank access. The lengthening of your “arm” can save the day.

2. Dipping bass caught on lures sporting treble hooks can make for a tangled mess. The pic below is the result of having to snip a Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait out of the dipnet.

3. You should have spare treble hooks amongst your terminal tackle.

A couple days after the July 21 trip, I was back on the canal to celebrate my birthday. Stay tuned for that report along with a Lake Storey report featuring a special guest. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

This past week, I had a couple opportunities to “Prowl the Canal” and one of those outings produced my new Top Bass for the historic waterway.

Weight: 3-6 (20″, long but scrawny)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: July 21
Weather: Overcast/calm
Location: Hennepin Canal – Henry County, IL
Lure: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (pumpkin with black flake)
Structure: Open water
Angler Comments: Despite an uncharacteristic 40 minutes without a bite to start my evening, I felt something good was going to happen (even said so on my GoPro video). Sure enough, I landed a 2-10 and then this 3-6 in about a 20-minute span.
Top 5 Weight: 18-13 (4-10,4-3,3-9,3-6,3-1) culls a 2-14

Today’s submission was one of several quality bass landed on the canal this month. Stay tuned for the full report. Talk to you later. Troy

Thoughts at 54

My birthday was yesterday, and typically, my thoughts go on a bit of a random ramble for this annual post. However, things have gotten kind of weird since my last birthday or two and some of those sorts of rambles can either get a guy in trouble or cause some unnecessary unrest these days. In the words of Queen, one mission of my blog is to provide the occasional “escape from reality” that I figure we all can use.

Therefore, just a few pics and words to celebrate another trip around the sun.

In pondering age 54, it came to mind that 54 = 18 x 3. Thus, I am three times as old as I was in the summer of 1985, just after graduating high school. In terms of blogging, I thought it would be fun to grab a fishing picture from each of those eighteen years to see just how things change as the years roll by.

July 1, 1985

August 6, 2003

July 23, 2021

Enough said. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – July 26, 2011

When packing for a wade in the creek, there’s more to it than just some poles and some dew worms.

Gotta have a good pair of “crick” shoes.

Socks are a good idea as a barrier from debris.

Dad prefers a vest to haul tackle and bait while I go for a tacklebag. Both work fine, your choice.

Hats are good, especially if your hairdo has come to resemble the guys on this fishing trip.

You definitely need some pliers as those drum swallow the hook every time. Dad is always armed with his pair in a holster on his hip.

An extra set of clothes is always a good idea as well for a change at the end of the walk back to the truck.

Water and a sandwich are advised, the latter tastes just fine after a morning creek workout; mud, fish slime, worm dirt and all.

And don’t forget your camera to preserve memories such as those in the slideshow below from 10 years ago this week.


Oh yeah, make sure to clip your fingernails before you go. You can thank me when your day on the creek is done. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

As reported in the most recent blog post, work took me to Western New York last week and I was able to pack along a batch of fishing gear for some evening getaways. One such getaway produced the catch below, which is currently my Top Bass of 2021.

Weight: 4-10
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: July 11
Weather: Overcast/rain/breezy
Water Temp: Not available
Location: Sprague Brook Park – Glenwood, NY
Lure: War Eagle Spinnerbait (chartreuse/white)
Structure: Weed edge
Angler Comments: Armed with a $28 non-resident NY fishing permit, a War Eagle spinnerbait, and a rainsuit a couple sizes too big, I took my shot at some water found during an internet search prior to my trip. My second catch of the evening turned out to be a winner and I couldn’t help but laugh at my good fortune.
Top 5 Weight: 18-5 (4-10,4-3,3-9.3-1,2-14) culls 2-13

If you have a lure in the water, anything can happen and this catch was certainly a treat, and honestly, a surprise. Sure, I have high hopes whenever I hit the water, but sight unseen and 676 miles from home made this one extra special. Talk to you later. Troy

New York Report – July 11 to July 14

The Permit

Work took me to the Buffalo, NY area this week and as I needed to haul a batch of IT equipment, I drove. Fortunately, there was some extra room in the vehicle, so I packed along some fishing gear as well. With a little internet research and a NY non-resident permit, I was off at 5:00am Sunday morning with hopes of some evening casts and beyond.

The Plan


Date: July 11-14, 2021
Location: Buffalo, NY area (3 locations)
Time: Evenings (6.00 total hours)
Weather: Everything
Air Temp: 80s
Water Temp: No reading
Totals: 7 bass
Lures: War Eagle Spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) – 5 bass, 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (pumpkin with black flake) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 4-10 (Spinnerbait)
Top 5 Weight (only 3 at 12” or better): 7-0 (4-11,1-7,0-14)

Trip Lyric
“Back in the New York Groove”– New York Groove, Ace Frehley (1978)

July 11 – Sprague Brook Park, first bass, 6:40pm on a spinnerbait

July 11 – Sprague Brook Park 6:51pm, Top Bass at 20″ and 4-10 on a spinnerbait

Notes and Nonsense

July 11 – Sprague Brook Park (near Glenwood, NY) – 2 bass
Located about 40 minutes south of my work destination made this spot a good start on the Sunday drive. After a handful of casts with a Strike King Red Eye Shad lipless crankbait came up empty, I decided to switch to a War Eagle spinnerbait. Immediately, I was rewarded with my first catch, mission accomplished. It took another 55 minutes to get another bite but what a bite it was as the spinnerbait produced my Top Bass of 2021 at 4-10.

July 12 – Walton Woods Park Top Bass at 0-14 on a spinnerbait

July 12 – Walton Woods Park (two ponds in Amherst, NY) – 3 bass
For Monday, I had to stick close to my work destination to make the most of a short evening after a near 10-hour workday. The first pond, a nicely manicured fishing hole produced one small bass on a Senko. Next up was a walk into the woods to a slightly larger and more appealing looking spot. During my 45 minutes of casting, it gave up a pair of bass roughly three minutes apart with my Top Bass of the evening coming in at 13” and 0-14.

July 13 – Endicott Creek Park Top Bass at 1-7 on a spinnerbait

July 13 – Endicott Creek Park (Tonawanda, NY) – 1 bass
Once again proximity was key after a long day and this spot was barely five minutes from work. Unfortunately, about 25 minutes were spent in the vehicle as a nasty, windy thunderstorm raged in from the northwest. Luckily, it passed and allowed me about an hour to fish before dark. The creek portion of the area looked great but failed to produce a bite. However, a backwater pond gave up my lone catch at 1-7 on the spinnerbait with about 20 minutes to spare before quitting time.

July 14 – Sprague Brook Park (two lakes near Glenwood, NY) – 1 bass
My final day of work ended around 5:00pm and I headed back to the site of my Top Bass catch. First, I hit a pond I had not tried on my earlier visit. It gave up a short bass on the Senko to ensure that I would have a skunk free week. With that monkey off my back, I went back for another shot at a big bass but came up empty. I did see a likely four-pounder swim up near me, but I could not entice a bite with Senko.

July 14 – Sprague Brook Park, final bass at 7:05pm on a Senko

While I am not a huge travel fan, being able to pack my poles along makes for a nice way to finish lengthy workdays. Summer sunset times are also beneficial as a late evening start still allows for a fair amount of casting. Overall, I was quite pleased with the haul on a set of sites unseen. Thanks also to the internet for an assist in formulating what was a successful gameplan. More to come from the trip as there was more to experience and observe than reeling in a handful of bass. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – July 1996

Once upon a time, I lived at Lake Bracken, a country club located south of Galesburg, IL. It was quite the luxury to have a 170-ish acre lake literally in my backyard and The Spillway just a few minutes’ drive down the road.

In the case of today’s flashback, I actually took my shot at both the lake and The Spillway on the same day.

July 1996 – Lake Bracken 3-8 bass on Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait

For the lake portion of the trip, Dad brought out the Bass Tracker to chase some bass. This trip took place during that unexplained period where I seem to have failed to keep a log. Therefore, the only documentation from the outing is the picture above. Apparently, we only landed one quality bass worth a picture although I suspect we caught some other fish. I still hold out hope that there is a missing fishing log tucked away somewhere but the odds are slim.

July 1996 – Lake Bracken Spillway 5-12 Carp

The latter portion of the day consisted of a visit to The Spillway, a location that has already appeared in several Friday Flashbacks. Once again, no log means that the only evidence is a pair of carp pics. I cannot recall who I was fishing with that afternoon, but it seems that my photographer got shut out.

July 1996 – Lake Bracken Spillway 6-9 Carp

In terms of the photos, these were taken with the old Minolta Disk camera meaning there were no do overs. An unfortunate aspect in retrospect. For one, the lighting on the carp shots leave much to be desired, certainly worth a re-shoot in today’s world of instant digital feedback. Regarding the bass photo, perhaps I would’ve considered putting on a shirt for a better shot. Much younger and a less self-conscious back in those days, I guess. While I did slim down a couple years ago, I think my topless pics are a thing of the past. Especially after this whole pandemic thing got me rather lazy and as a result, rather large around the mid-section.

Need to work on that. Perhaps an uptick in strip mine walks and canal bike rides could kill two birds with one stone. Talk to you later. Troy