Author: Troy Jackson

Say Cheese

“So won’t you smile for the camera
I know they’re gonna love it”
Peg – Steely Dan (1977)

Today’s blog entry arose from a comment on one of my Facebook posts last September by a family friend (and fellow blogger), Deb McGrath.

Smile (verb)form one’s features into a pleased, kind, or amused expression, typically with the corners of the mouth turned up and the front teeth exposed.

Physiologically, I don’t think bass are able to smile based on the definition above as their mouth is built in a frown. I also suspect that they are not amused by a hook in the lip as they shake their head during the fight to rid themselves of the annoying lure. Bass do have teeth though as evidenced by a welcome fishing affliction known as “bass thumb” that results from the scraping of sandpaper-like teeth on an angler’s thumb.

Yes, bass do have teeth

While I would say that bass don’t smile, they sure put a happy face on the anglers (as do bluegill and crappie in the slideshow below).


And, just for fun, to get in my music fix, here are my Top 10 Smile/Smiling songs.

10. Keep On Smiling – Wet Willie (1974)

9. You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile – Annie (1977)

8. Smile a Little Smile for Me – The Flying Machine (1969)

7. Smiling Faces Sometimes – The Undisputed Truth (1971)

6. I Can’t Smile Without You – Barry Manilow (1977)

5. Smile – Uncle Kracker (2009)

4. Make Me Smile – Chicago (1970)

3. Your Smiling Face – James Taylor (1977)

2. Illegal Smile – John Prine (1971)

1. Sara Smile – Hall & Oates (1975)

Here’s to more smiles in 2023 as spring is upon us which means that the bass bite should be kicking into gear. Talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report – March 5

Well, I am on the board with my first bass of 2023 after a recent outing courtesy of early open water. In fact, in terms of open water, I was able to make some casts in February which is unusual in my neck of the woods. However, three and a half hours of chasing those February bass resulted in zero bites. But that’s all water under the bridge as I post my first fishing report of 2023.

Date: March 5
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 4:00pm-5:30pm
Totals: 1 bass
Weather: Partly cloudy/very windy
Lures: Strike King Red Eye Shad (red craw) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-0

Winning Lure

Notes and Nonsense

Bike Over Boat – While I had my boat on the water once in February, the conditions for this March trip were more conducive to bank fishing (high winds and limited time). As such, I aired up my bike tires, repaired my kickstand, drove to a stretch of The Canal that is conducive to bank fishing, and pedaled to a productive area. About twenty minutes into casting, I had my first bass of 2023. After another hour or so of fishing, it remains my only bass of 2023 as I could fool no others.

GoPro No Go – Earlier this year, I was able to obtain a replacement GoPro as my Hero9 Black model had ceased functioning. Unfortunately, the replacement device that was provided had issues of its own, shutting down repeatedly while recording. A resolution is in the works and hopefully I will be back on track for video once the bass bite and the weather begin to pick up.

The best I could muster with a faulty GoPro


Weedless – Prior to this outing, the earliest that I had ever fished The Canal was April 15 last year. The entire Canal is quite shallow, and many stretches become choked with surface vegetation by summertime. Of course, the fish don’t go anywhere but the vegetation gives them more places to hide and can make for some challenges with lure presentations. In contrast, early March finds The Canal waters wide open and quite appealing. Better weather will certainly change those conditions but will also see an uptick in bass activity. Such are some of the many variables that come into play in chasing these green fish.

It’s great to be on the board and a couple weeks ahead of the 2022 results as my first bass last year didn’t show up until March 20. Only 553 bass to go to top the 2022 results. That’s a tall order, and probably not realistic as 2023 may see some changes in time and approach. As always, stay tuned for the results. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Jim Junk is back with another impressive catch that leaves him one bass shy of having his initial Top 5 completed. Quite a start as we aren’t even to mid-March. Read on for the details on his latest submission.

Weight: 4-5
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: March 11
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Lipless crankbait
Angler Comments: You could probably subtract twelve ounces and copy and paste the details from last week. Lipless crankbait on the second cast at the same spot and no other bites the rest of the time throwing various lures and presentations.
Top 5 Weight: 16-0 (5-1,4-5,3-9,3-1)

(NOTE: Our all-time Top 5 Bass total now stands at 973 as we push towards Bass #1000)

Well done, Jim, and here’s to that next submission being a four-pounder to push your initial Top 5 to the twenty-pound limit.

On a side note, the Top 5 Update will be moving to Fridays soon instead of the usual Monday post. This is to accommodate a new series that I hope to kick off this month. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Another pair of bass joined the Top 5 this past weekend with a real heavyweight from Fulton County and a first bass of the year from The Canal. Read on for the scoop.

Weight: 5-1
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: March 5
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Lipless Crankbait
Structure: Flat
Angler Comments: This fish came on the second cast of the day throwing a lipless crankbait over a flat. Was really just starting to gauge the weed depth. Felt the lure pull off a weed and then she hit pretty hard. Landed and released with no issues.
Top 5 Weight: 11-11 (5-1,3-9,3-1)

Weight: 1-0 (13.5″)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: March 5
Weather: Partly cloudy/very windy
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: Strike King Red Eye Shad (red craw)
Structure: Riprap
Angler Comments: Always exciting to get my first bass of the year and even better when it makes the grade to kick off my Top 5. Gotta start somewhere and sure happy to be on the board in 2023.
Top 5 Weight: 1-0 (1-0)

(NOTE: Our all-time Top 5 Bass total now stands at 972 as we push towards Bass #1000.)

Way to go, Jim, in adding our new Top Bass for 2023. And fun for me to land one over two weeks ahead of my first bass of 2022 (March 20). Hope to get my first 2023 fishing report out on the blog sometime this week and pondering another weekly blogging project, so stay tuned. Talk to you later. Troy

2022 Top 5 Hennepin Canal Bass

I am still trying to get the 2022 recaps posted as 2023 is already featuring open water. A handful of casts on The Canal have come up empty this month but sooner or later, I expect to find that first cooperative bass. In the meantime, let’s take a look back at the Top 5 bass landed last year on The Hennepin Canal. Check out the YouTube video below and read on for some stats and a comparison to my 2021 Canal Top 5.

2022 not only marked my first full year of fishing The Hennepin Canal but also saw me launch a boat on the waterway for the first time. Not surprisingly, my Top 5 for 2022 eclipsed my Top 5 from 2021 but not by much as 2021 featured some solid catches from the bank in roughly five months of fishing.

2022 Hennepin Canal
Top 5 Weight: 15-15

2021 Hennepin Canal
Top 5 Weight: 15-6

Who knows what The Canal holds in store for 2023 but I plan to find out. In addition, I have a few new goals and destinations in mind as I “Prowl the Canal” for another year. Talk to you later. Troy

Sledding Silliness

Zac and I kept up our annual tradition of a visit to the local sledding hill after a recent snowstorm. A GoPro in tow just adds to the fun as evidenced by the YouTube video below. While we had a good time, here’s hoping that the snow is over, and we can move on to some fishing videos instead.

Fingers crossed and talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Year number ten of the Top 5 project is off and running with a pair of early season bass. Fittingly, Jim Junk, our two-time defending Top 5 Champ, kicks off 2023. Read on for the details.

Weight: 3-9
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: February 19
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Lipless crankbait

Weight: 3-1
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: February 19
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Lipless crankbait
Angler Comments: Made it out to Banner for a couple hours this afternoon and managed these two healthy Fulton County bass.
Top 5 Weight: 6-10 (3-9,3-1)

Well done, Jim, and here’s to another productive year of Top 5 fishing. It is worth noting that Jim’s catches bring our all-time Top 5 total to 970 bass, leaving only thirty to go to hit the 1,000 bass mark. Good luck to all and talk to you later. Troy

15 Bass on The Hennepin Canal-Part I

Most folks my age and beyond likely recall singing along to an old ditty relating to navigating “Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal.” Such a place was far, far away to this midwestern grade schooler in the 1970s, and geographically it still is a ways away all of these years later. However, I do have a contemporary of the Erie Canal in my neck of the woods that I have been exploring since June of 2021. I’ll save the history and comparisons for another time, as what we are exploring today are some fishing highlights from last year.

I give you Part I of “Fifteen Bass on The Hennepin Canal”, a series of clips featuring catches from the historic waterway. My 2022 fishing on The Canal covered fifteen stretches of water as I divide The Canal into sections using roadways, tubes, locks, siphons, aqueducts, and bridges as dividers. This allows me to document my catches more precisely. More on all that some other time, as well.

For now, have a look at the first of two YouTube clips featuring video of one catch from each of the fifteen locations. Some stretches I fished only once, some several times, and some many times. The catches in the clips do not feature the largest bass from each section as the Top 5 Canal Bass deserve a post and video of their own.

Stay tuned for Part II featuring eight more catches from eight more stretches. Talk to you later. Troy

No Dice On The Ice

My son, Jayce, mentioned going ice fishing several years ago. As no one in my family had ice fished for many years, any gear we used to have had long been passed on to someone who could use it. Therefore, I purchased an auger, four ice fishing poles, and a batch of jigs a few years ago. Last year, I even rigged the poles in preparation but the ice deteriorated before we got our shot. This year, we missed the first batch of ice, but Mother Nature came through with a second cold wave to refreeze local waters to my liking. The return of safe ice coincided with a Saturday and forty-degree air temperatures, so it was game on.

Our deluxe ice fishing bucket

We spent roughly an hour on the ice as sunset approached and could not muster a single bite. I do not profess to be a prolific ice fishing angler, but I still figured that I could put Jayce on at least a few fish. Even without any bites, we had a good time learning about testing the ice, drilling holes, rigging lures, presentation, and engaged in the regular goofing off.

Goofing off for a pic (above), YouTube video from the outing (below)

It was an evening custom-made for ice fishing in my book. Nearly fifty degrees, roughly half a foot of ice, and winds blocked by the treeline are what I call optimum conditions. I never even put on my gloves the entire time. While no fish showed up, we did see a dozen turkeys, an osprey, and one deer that ran across the road in front of the truck as we headed home.

Who needs a billboard or bumper stickers?

Good father-son time, fresh air, and some new fishing skills added to the repertoire. With warming temperatures and some rain in the forecast, it looks like those skills will be put on hold until next ice fishing season. Not a problem, as we accomplished our mission of getting out on the hard water. Now we’re ready for some lures to make a splash. I suspect that we still have a substantial wait, but come on, open water. Talk to you later. Troy