Month: August 2023

Strip Mine Notes – August 12 & 13

A recent look at my fishing logs and family record book prompted me to take an August hike. What I found within the data was a mere six bass from the area that I was considering as a target, caught on August 31, 2019. Among those six bass were four “keepers” with a combined weight of 7-14 (2-8,2-1,1-12,1-9). Not having an August Top 5 was the push that I needed to win the internal debate on whether the proposed hike was worth the effort.

And I wasn’t the only one, as my brother, Brent, also headed for the strip mines on back-to-back days with his kayak in tow.

What follows is proof that it was worth the effort to fight the weather, weeds, moisture, spiders, and ticks with our fifty-something aged bodies in search of our favorite fish.

It all started on Friday, August 18, as a plan was coming together.

Note: Some locations are redacted in the following text exchanges, not to be mistaken for profanity

Brent started off the weekend with 13 bass and a Top 5 of 11-10

Sunday began small for both of us but you’ve gotta start somewhere.

My luck on Maiden Lake took a positive turn with a topwater frog bite.

Brent was also getting some good bites.

Hoping cloud cover would materialize and turn on a quality bite.

Clouds picked up and so did the good bites.

It is exciting fishing your way in but you eventually realize that you have to hike back to the truck.

Well, those fish are out there whether it is April or August, you just have to take your shot. The goal was to beef up the August record book and I would have to say that our outings were a rousing success with a combined Top 5 of 14-8 and several new entries for various lakes. Those numbers will have to wait until after the year concludes as there is still plenty of fishing to do before the annual wrap-up posts. For now, these results have served as inspiration to find some further goals in terms of aspects that are lacking in the record book. Some may get a shot in 2023 while others are on an evolving target list for 2024. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – August 13

“I don’t always drive the minivan to the strip mines, but when I do, I guess the bass better watch out. Stay fishing, my friends.”

With my truck being out of commission, it meant that hauling the little johnboat to the fishing hole was out of the question. It was either setting out via bike or boots from the minivan and I chose the boots. For a destination, I chose some Knox County public strip pits that I usually avoid this time of the year as the terrestrial vegetation makes for tough walking. Turned out to be a good decision.

6:07am – First bass at 7″, don’t want to set the bar too high

Date: August 13
Location: Knox County strip mines
Time: 6:05am-1:30pm (6.50 hours fishing, the rest walking)
Totals: 37 bass
Weather: Partly cloudy to overcast/calm, 62-79F
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (smoke black/copper flake/lemon tip or natural shad) – 21 bass, Spro Flappin Frog 65 (natural red or killer gill) – 8 bass, Whopper Plopper 110 (bone) – 7 bass, 7.5” Yum Ribbontail Worm (plum) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 3-10 Frog
Top 5 Weight: 12-12 (3-10,2-6,2-5,2-4,2-3)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

The Mission – I’ve been logging my catches for a long time and find it fun to sort the database entries by various criteria. In looking over my data, I saw that my August totals for this batch of strip mines consisted of only six bass landed on August 31, 2019. Four of those bass were “keepers” making for a Top 4 of 7-4 (2-8,2-1,1-2,1-9). Along with those numbers, I had recently caught up on some data entry in the family record book to update the lake by lake Top 5 weight totals. Armed with all the above information, I had a goal to boost some numbers.

6:17am – New personal Maiden Lake Top Bass at 3-10 (20″) on a Spro Frog

Maiden Lake – The first lake that I ever fished in this area is what I named Maiden Lake. You know, kind of like a maiden voyage, since it was the site of my initial casts all those years ago. I never do worth a darn on the lake in terms of quality fish while Brent regularly lands some impressive bass including a 5-4 last year and a 4-0 in 2021. Those sort of catches get your attention and prompted me to take another shot at Maiden this morning. Fortune smiled on me with a 3-10 on a frog, smashing my previous best of 1-14 by nearly two pounds.

Keeping updated with Brent who was fishing several miles away, more details in a future post

Here Comes the Clouds – My mind has its own soundtrack featuring tunes that just kind of pop up based on circumstances. In the case of this fishing trip, the weather forecast included cloudy skies although the first few hours of sun had me wondering if those in the know had missed their prediction. But the tunes inside my head changed from a variation of The Supremes with “Where Did Our Clouds (Love) Go” to an altered Beatles cut “Here Comes the Clouds (Sun)” about 10:00am. And along with the increase in cloud cover came an increase in quality bites.

12:54pm – Island Lake Top Bass of the Day at 2-6 (17″) on a new Spro Frog

Island Lake – As none of these lakes have real names, we have made them up over the years. Island Lake has an island or two or three depending on the water level. Prior to this year, Brent had the lake record with a 2-3 landed in April 2021. Incredibly, that fish no longer makes the Island Lake Top 5 as 2023 has seen a big bass boom on the spot. And on this day, I landed a 2-6 and a 2-4, neither of which qualify for the current Top 5 either.


Senko Success – Twenty-one of the thirty-seven bass landed on this trip fell for the Senko wacky rig. Further proof of the effectiveness of the presentation as when it turns on, there is nothing better to have tied on when fishing these waters. In fact, I even moved away from using my favorite Senko colors to a mediocre pattern. When the bite gets going, it is more about the action of the lure than the hue, so I figured why risk my good colors getting destroyed.


My August mission in the minivan was a resounding success in terms of both numbers and a significant boost to the record book. In addition, Brent was fishing several miles away and having a good day as well. Stay tuned for an additional post and talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report – August 5

My first August trip was to a section of The Canal that I have always found appealing in terms of structural variety. In addition, it has produced three of my nine three-pound fish including my Top Canal Bass of 3-6. The water conditions looked great in terms of pool depth and clarity, I had my boat, and ample time to fish, so I was feeling good about my chances. Four and a half hours later, I was scratching my head as the trip was a struggle to find bites.

9:50am – Top Bass at 1-4 (14″) on a Senko wacky rig

Date: August 2
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 8:00am-12:25pm
Totals: 6 bass
Weather: Overcast to partly cloudy/breezy, 63-77F
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (natural shad) – 5 bass, Spro Flappin Frog 65 (natural red) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-4 Senko
Top 5 Weight: 5-3 (1-4,1-4,1-0,0-14,0-13)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

Boat vs. Bike/Bank – One observation from my years of experience when being a shore bound angler is the thought of “boy, I wish I could get over there.” Because you know, so many of those unreachable spots sure look like they would hold a bass. Well, when you get a boat on the water, all those spots are available for a cast or two and one would think that the catch results would be more favorable. Strangely, that is not always the case for various reasons that deserve a post of their own. For instance, I spent four and a half hours rowing around to anywhere I wanted on this trip and could only fool half a dozen bass. In comparison, one week earlier, I rode my bike along the same stretch and landed four bass in just over an hour, including a three-pounder. The grass isn’t always greener, even on the water.


Canal Conversation – As I finished my morning, I encountered a fellow Canal angler who was fishing from a canoe. After the obligatory “catching anything?” portion of the chat, we began to compare notes on lures, locations, and logs. Yes, this guy noted that he had taken to logging his catches for several years although not quite as far back as 1985. I informed him that I was still in search of my first four-pounder on The Canal and he confirmed that they existed along with noting that he’d pulled in a 5-13 within a mile or so of our location. It’s always fun to visit other Canal anglers, especially when they have considerably more experience than my two years. It was also entertaining that he complimented the old johnboat a couple times. I replied that a lot of fish have come aboard the little boat over the years, just not today.

Only one on a topwater frog but the lure has taken a beating over the summer

The Canal bass continue to get the best of me in 2023 after they were quite cooperative last year. Fortunately, I have plenty of other public waters to visit. For my next outing, it was off to the Knox County strip mines for a change of scenery. And a change of “luck.” Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

August can be a struggle as the dog days sometimes make for a tough bite. However, this past weekend was a far cry from a heatwave, and the bass were quite cooperative. Among the multitude of bass Brent and I fooled on separate trips were a couple personal lake records and Brent’s Top Bass of 2023.

Weight: 3-11
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: August 12
Location: Knox County public strip pit
Lure: Rapala Skitter Pop
Editor’s Note: This fish represents Brent’s Top Bass of 2023 and sets his new Top Bass mark for the lake, besting a 3-8 from 2021. With the 3-11 leading the way, Brent posted a daily Top 5 of 11-10 from the thirteen bass he landed in just under three hours of fishing.
Top 5 Weight: 16-12 (3-11,3-8,3-5,3-3,3-1) culls a 2-15

Weight: 3-10
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: August 13
Weather: Partly cloudy/calm, 65F
Location: Knox County public strip pit
Lure: Spro Flappin Frog 65 (natural red)
Structure: Weed bed
Angler Comments: While this catch only boosted my 2023 total by one ounce, it established a new personal best on the lake. Brent owns the lake record at 5-4 but I was elated to catch a quality fish as my previous best on the spot was only 1-14.
Top 5 Weight: 21-10 (5-3,4-10,4-2,4-1,3-10) culls a 3-9

Two more solid submissions from a productive weekend that found Brent and me fooling nearly one hundred bass combined. But those are fish stories for an upcoming post (I also owe a Canal report). Talk to you later. Troy

Prowl the Canal – July Notes

Each month, I try to go beyond the numbers with some further insights and observations from my time on The Canal. Such notes from July cover water conditions, Canal access, a nostalgic technique, and an out of the ordinary item from The Canal’s “Lost and Found.”

More water on this stretch of The Canal as last year the submerged rocks in this photo were high and dry

In contrast, the exposed bank on this stretch was under water last year

Water Levels – I have fished The Canal for just over two years and it has been interesting to explore the miles and miles of water. One observation that stands out for 2023 is the change in water levels on different stretches. I don’t know the rhyme or reason for the differing levels, but I have struggled to parlay these changes into a solid bite. On the pools that are deeper this year, I can’t find a consistent bite on the increased shoreline structure. On the low pools, I can’t find where they are hiding in the abundant vegetation. Just a strange year for me out there and beginning to think that The Canal spoiled me in previous years.

Old school pedal power as I go back to my Canal roots

Back on the Bike – My first experiences on The Canal beginning in June 2021 were either on bike or on foot. For July this year, six of my eight outings went back to my roots with pedal power. These trips were quick hits when I had less than two hours to cast. The approach was quite effective in landing two thirds of my July catches and all my July 2023 Top 5 bass.

The good, old Texas rigged plastic worm has been getting it done for a long time

Texas Time – On the previously mentioned bike rides, I invested a significant amount of time throwing a Texas rigged worm. This presentation goes back to my bass fishing roots in the early to mid-80s but has been neglected for a long time. New techniques, lures, and confidence baits have dominated my offerings instead. However, I found an area that featured a deep, clean channel and decided to break out the old setup. The bass in the area took a liking to the lure and included four over two pounds.

Instead of a lost lure, I found a prehistoric creature last month

Dimetrodon Discoveries – An occasional bonus from prowling The Canal is adding some tackle to the collection. This is particularly true when accessing the water by boat as you can pluck lost lures from trees that a bank angler cannot reach. 2023 has provided slim pickings though as shore bound anglers are either improving their casting or not fishing where I fish. My July discovery pictured above was made in a parking area rather than the trees. It was a plastic creature that I recognized as Dimetrodon from back when I was a kid and totally into dinosaurs. Upon doing a bit of research for this post though, I found that Dimetrodon was not a dinosaur but rather a “non-mammalian synapsid” that predated the dinosaurs by many millions of years. In fact, Dimetrodon became extinct roughly 40 million years before the dinosaurs roamed the earth. It was cool to discover some new information from my Canal discovery. And while it was rewarding to find that those in the know still called this creature Dimetrodon, the revelation that my childhood “dinosaur” collections weren’t quite paleontologically accurate was disappointing. Of course, some of the sets also included cavemen, which I already knew was wrong, just like Cha-Ka from the old “Land of the Lost” series.

And now, it is on to see what August holds in store as I continue to “Prowl the Canal.” Talk to you later. Troy

Prowl the Canal – July Stats

This marks the third year of chasing bass in July on The Canal. And now that we have reached August, it is time for a look at the July stats and running totals from the historic waterway.

July Breakdown
July 2023 Totals: 24 bass in 13.25 hours (1.81 bass/hour)
July 2022 Totals: 66 bass in 22.75 hours (2.90 bass/hour)
July 2021 Totals: 23 bass in 9.75 hours (2.36 bass/hour)

July 2023 Top Bass: 3-0 July 29 Senko
July 2022 Top Bass: 2-11 July 2 Spinnerbait
July 2021 Top Bass: 3-6 July 21 Senko

2023 Best July Top 4 Day: 7-2 (3-0,1-9,1-5,1-4) – July 28
2022 Best July Top 5 Day: 9-6 (2-11,1-13,1-11,1-10,1-9) July 2
2021 Best July Top 4 Day: 9-4 (3-6,2-10,2-0,1-4) – July 21

2023 July Top 5: 12-5 (3-0,2-8,2-5,2-5,2-3)
2022 July Top 5: 11-6 (2-11,2-6,2-4,2-3,1-14)
2021 July Top 5: 12-8 (3-6,2-13,2-10,2-0,1-11)

2023 July Lure Breakdown
Plastic Worms – 14 bass
Buzzbaits – 5 bass
Topwater Frogs – 4 bass

Top 5 All-Time July Bass Weight: 14-8 (3-6,3-0,2-13,2-11,2-10)

2023 Overall Canal Stats
100 bass in 64.50 hours (1.55 bass/hour)
Top Bass: 3-2 Buzzbait – May 25
Best Top 5 Day: 10-4 (3-2,2-6,1-10,1-10,1-8) – May 25

Yearly Top 5 Totals
2023 Top 5 Canal Weight: 14-0 (3-2,3-0,2-14,2-8,2-8)
2022 Top 5 Canal Weight: 15-15 (3-5,3-5,3-4,3-2,2-15)
2021 Top 5 Canal Weight: 15-6 (3-6,3-4,3-1,2-14,2-13)

The Canal bass continue to be tough to fool in 2023. It has taken some work, but investing just over sixty hours on the waterway pushed me exactly to the century mark as July ended. I’ve already hit The Canal once in August, but that report will wait until some notes from the July prowl are posted next week. Talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report – July 28 & 29

Here is a combined report that covers my final outings of July. Weather played a role in getting me on the water on both days as I originally did not have any fishing trips on my agenda. In one case, a heatwave got me moving and in the other case it was rain in St. Louis that got me on the water. Read on for further explanation and the results of my last-minute decisions to wet a line.

Missed a 100-degreee bass by one degree but as noted below the heat index was quite balmy

Date: July 28 & 29
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 3.00 hours total
Totals: 8 bass, 1 green sunfish
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (natural shad) – 5 bass, Spro Flappin Frog 65 (natural red) – 2 bass, 7.5” Yum Ribbontail Worm (plum) – 1 bass, 1 green sunfish
Top Bass: 3-0 Senko
Top 4 Weight (only 4 at 12” or better): 7-2 (3-0,1-9,1-5,1-4)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

July 28 Top Bass at 1-9 (15″) on a Texas rigged worm 

July 28 – Wise or not, I don’t get many chances to chase a triple-digit bass, so I had to take my shot. However, by the time I got to The Canal the temperature had dropped back into double digits and I had to settle for a pair of 99-degree bass to start the afternoon. I will admit that the heat had me a bit sluggish at the start, but the catches gave me a second wind and I stuck around for two more before heading home.

 July 29 Top Bass at 3-0 (19.5″) on a Senko

July 29 – I hadn’t planned on hitting the water as I had the radio dialed up for the 7:05pm first pitch of the Cubs-Cards game. Mother Nature had other ideas for the ballgame with what sounded like a lengthy rain delay, so I had to find something to kill the time. I packed up my bike and prowled The Canal from 7:00pm-8:15pm. Things worked out well to the tune of four bass including a Top Bass right at three pounds. I got back to the truck in the third inning of the ballgame to find the Cubs in the lead on the way to a victory.

Cubs are playing pretty well lately

I’ve long subscribed to the old fishing saying that “the best time to go fishing is anytime you can.” These two days were prime examples of that approach and demonstrate the good fortune of having quick access to The Canal. Depending on where I go and the mode I choose to fish (boots, boat, or bike), I can have a line in the water within a half hour of leaving home. And I’m looking to do some more prowling in August. Talk to you later. Troy