Author: Troy Jackson

Friday Flashback – August 1993

“Woody” (read on for more details) posing with our bass fishing arsenal near one of his grandma’s ponds back in the early 90s.

Back in the 90s I had the good fortune of getting an opportunity to fish a handful of ponds at “Woody’s Grandma’s” down off the beaten path somewhere around the border of Illinois’ Hancock and Adams counties. More specifically, I guess, in the middle of nowhere amidst locales like Augusta, Bowen, LaPrairie and Golden. A place where grass grew in the middle of the two gravel tire tracks that were the road (technically probably a lane) and if it rained too much you were out of luck as the once dry creekbeds filled and flowed over the rural “highways.”

Got several tales from this area that likely will show up another day in a flashback so for today we’ll just take a look at who this “Woody” character is and how I wound up on the banks of his grandma’s fishing holes 25 years ago.

Scott “Woody” Woods and I would have first met sometime in the early 70s I suppose when our dads (Mike Woods and Terry Jackson) played more than a little fastpitch softball together. Under their influence, we each also took a liking to baseball and although we grew up playing ball in neighboring communities, our paths would cross again thanks to the sport.

1983 Galesburg Legion Post 285 – Woody on left, me on right, flanking Woody’s future Monmouth College teammate and one of my oldest buddies, Arnie Gonzalez.

Woody would star on some very successful Knoxville High School baseball teams in the early 80s while I was enjoying time covering various parts of the infield at Galesburg High School. Our local Legion Post 285 drew players from both schools so in 1983 Woody and I would have a chance to be teammates on the squad.

A fun clipping from 1986 of Woody and me in action as rivals at our shared position on the diamond.

Fast forward a few years later and we would find ourselves as dueling third baseman in the local college rivalry. Woody manned the hot corner for the Monmouth College Fighting Scots while I did the same for the Knox College Siwash. Definitely some heated competition as the teams have never really liked each other. Perhaps even worse than a Cubs-Cards feud, just on a smaller stage. Maybe more like the Hatfields and McCoys (a little less redneck though as that is where another division opponent, Illinois College, came into play, just kidding, sort of).

After putting our college baseball days behind us, Woody and I would wind up as co-workers for about ten years at a Galesburg, Illinois manufacturing plant, National Seal Company. And there it was, that Woody mentioned word of the good bass fishing at his grandma’s farm.

Oh yeah, a fish would be good for this post. August 1993 – Quality bass from one of “Woody’s Grandma’s Ponds” 

Fortunately, those Knox-Monmouth days were far enough behind us and I got a few invites to battle those bass.  And the one pictured above comes from 25 years ago this week, hard to believe how time flies.

Several others also grace the photo albums but those will have to be stories for another day, giving me yet another opportunity to take a walk down Memory Lane (in this case, grassy, only room for one truck and off the beaten path). Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

More Fulton County bass via a summertime favorite, the buzzbait. Always exciting and dangerously addictive when you land a couple of this caliber.

Weight: 2-12
Angler: Paul Kessler
Date: August 4
Location: Banner Marsh – Johnson Lake
Lure: Buzzbait with dark purple trailer

Weight: 3-10
Angler: Paul Kessler
Date: August 4
Location: Banner Marsh – Johnson Lake
Lure: Buzzbait with silver trailer
Angler Comments: I didn’t get on the water as early as I had planned so may have missed a couple of early daylight bites. Only had three bites on the day all on the buzzbaits.
Top 5 Weight: 11-13 (3-10,3-9,2-12,2-0)

A pair of solid additions to our project in spite of less than ideal conditions variously described by Paul as “very cloudy” to “pea green” to “muddy due to grass carp.” Kudos to getting out there and fooling some quality bass during what has been a challenging summer bite on a lot of area waters. Keep ‘em coming and best of luck. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – August 11, 2003

The dog days of summer can present a challenge when trying to find some cooperative bass, particularly for a guy who has a tendency to stay shallow. In addition, I’ve long been addicted to warm weather topwater presentations so I often get stuck in that rut as well.

So, the following excerpt from a report submitted back on August 21, 2003 should serve as a lesson that I need to try a little something different every now and then.

August 11 – Dad and I fished at Little John from 6:00-9:30am and only boated four bass. Our only “keepers” were a pair of bass that weighed a total of 7-2. I posted a 4-13 while Dad caught a 2-5. My fish came on a jig (brown/orange glimmer) with a split double tail trailer (black) as I worked it through a saddle (a slight depression between a pair of points that run towards each other). Following a light tap, my line went a bit slack and I reeled the line up tight and felt the fish swimming towards me. Setting the hook, I knew I had a decent fish although I didn’t envision a near five-pounder. Dad did an expert job on the dipnet as he nabbed the fish in mid-air following a spectacular jump at boatside. This bass made my personal Top 10 as the ninth largest bass I’ve ever caught. Dad caught his 2-5 on a Mann’s 4- (red shiner) as he worked a trough between a mid-lake hump and a narrow finger.

Hey, what do you know? A change in my approach actually worked, should try that more often, right? Well, still chucking buzzbaits longer than I should, seeking that one bite that will make your day, similar to today’s flashback fish. Too much of a creature of habit in fishing and life and find myself more and more in the mindset of being “too old to change.” Maybe next year, but probably said that fifteen years ago too. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Stats

Half a dozen more bass join our project since the July stat update and we get our first angler topping the 20-pound mark for 2018.

2018 Totals (* = new record)
*January = 5 bass (old record 1 in 2017)
February = 5 bass
March = 0 bass
April = 12 bass
May = 24 bass
June = 10 bass
July = 8 bass
August = 2 bass

Top 5 Weight by Month (* = new record)
*January = 13-5 (3-15, 2-7, 2-6, 2-6, 2-3) previous record 2-11 in 2017
February = 7-3 (2-6,1-7,1-5,1-2,0-15)
March = no submissions
April = 14-15 (4-0,3-0,2-12,2-10,2-9)
May = 19-5 (4-11,4-8,3-10,3-7,3-1)
June = 18-10 (4-5,4-1,3-9,3-7,3-4)
July = 18-13 (4-0,3-14,3-13,3-11,3-7)
August 5-0 (3-15,1-1)

Boat vs. Bank
Boat = 26 bass
Bank = 40 bass

Boat vs. Bank Weight (* = new record)
Boat = 17-0 (4-0,3-15,3-9,3-0,2-8)
Bank = 21-9 (4-11,4-8,4-5,4-1,4-0)

Public vs. Private
Public = 54 bass
Private = 12 bass

Public vs. Private Top 5 Weight
Public = 20-4 (4-5,4-1,4-0,3-15,3-15)
Private = 19-4 (4-11,4-8,4-0,3-1,3-0)

The Baits (* = new record)
Plastic Worms = 37 bass (Top Bass 4-5 Jim Junk)
Crankbaits = 13 bass (Top Bass 3-15 Mark Balbinot)
Chatterbait = 4 bass (Top Bass 4-11 Chris Schwarz)
Spinnerbaits = 4 bass (Top Bass 2-8 Chris Schwarz)
Creature Baits = 3 bass (Top Bass 3-9 Paul Kessler)
Jigs = 2 bass (Top Bass 2-12 Brent Jackson)
Lipless Crankbaits = 2 bass (Top Bass 1-13 Troy Jackson)
Topwater Frog = 1 bass (Top Bass 3-7 Nick Tiska)

Monthly Top Bass (* = new record)
3-15 Mark Balbinot (old record 2-11 Mark Balbinot 2016)
2-6 Troy Jackson
No submissions
4-0 Chris Schwarz
4-11 Chris Schwarz
4-5 Jim Junk
4-0 Jim Junk
3-15 Jim Junk

Top 10 Bass (* = new Top 10 all-time)
4-11 Chris Schwarz 5/26
4-8 Chris Schwarz 5/26
4-5 Jim Junk 6/27
4-1 Jim Junk 6/30
4-0 Chris Schwarz 4/28
4-0 Jim Junk 7/19
3-15 Mark Balbinot 1/27
3-15 Jim Junk 8/4
3-14 Jim Junk 7/4
3-13 Jim Junk 7/22

Angler Weights (* = new Top 5 record, old mark 32-13)
Jim Junk 20-3 (4-5,4-1,4-0,3-15,3-14)
Chris Schwarz 18-12 (4-11,4-8,4-0,3-1,2-8)
Mark Balbinot 13-5 (3-15, 2-7, 2-6, 2-6, 2-3)
Troy Jackson 12-2 (3-0,2-9,2-6,2-3,2-0)
Brent Jackson 8-13 (2-12,2-10,1-14,1-9)
John Kirkemo 8-3 (2-7,2-0,1-9,1-2,1-1)
Jayce Jackson 7-8 (2-5,1-13,1-5,1-4,0-13)
Paul Kessler 5-9 (3-9,2-0)
Nick Tiska 3-7 (3-7)

Other Species

Muskie Length Totals
70+” John Kirkemo (40”, 30+”)

Channel Catfish Totals
8-2 (25”) Chris Schwarz

Thanks all for the contributions and keep them coming as we’ve still got a ways to go for 2018. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

A couple more submissions and an interesting bonus bass pic from West Central Illinois as the dog days are back in full swing in that neck of the woods.

Weight: 1-1
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: August 3
Location: Snakeden Hollow
Lure: Wacky worm
Weather: Warm and humid with a good amount of sunshine
Water Temperature: 86 F
Angler Comments: It isn’t much but at least something. Caught four bass. This was the biggest. The other three were just under a pound. Fished from kayaks from 5:20 to 7:45pm.
Top 5 Weight: 8-3 (2-7,2-0,1-9.1-2,1-1) culls a 1-0

Weight: 3-15
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: August 4
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Senko
Angler Comments: Had a pretty good morning, 3-5, 3-9 and the last one was this 3-15.
Top 5 Weight: 20-3 (4-5,4-1,4-0,3-15,3-14) culls 3-13

August 1 bonus fish from Jim Junk below with the following comment:
“Nothing to cull but I did get one that confirmed my suspicion. Bass here are feasting on the abundance of small bluegill.”

Thanks guys and pretty cool on the bass breakfast pic. Always worth a peek into the mouth of the catch, especially those fat bellied bass for a clue as to what’s on the menu. I frequently see crawdad antennae as well and have witnessed bass coughing up a batch of tiny bluegill or minnows on the way to the boat. Tales abound of stuff showing up in the livewell and pics of frogs, snakes, birds or even rodents as bass meals pop up from time to time. Never personally seen any of that last bunch of forage but goes to show how these predators roll. And as tough as the bite can be sometimes it never fails to amaze at the gluttony exhibited on occasion by a bass with a full belly opting for yet another bite. Good stuff.

Got a round of updated stats on the way, hopefully mid-week. Talk to you later. Troy


I like milestones.

And certain numbers lend themselves to milestones. Being a sports fan, one such number is “300.”

So, for today’s entry we celebrate “Post #300” on the website. Not too bad for a blog that is on day number 461 of existence. Perhaps a little ridiculous but I can’t help it, just like to ramble and write.

Maybe a stretch but here’s a shout out to the number “300” with a meandering (used that as a blog name a few years ago) batch of milestones, trivia and my best shot at a fishing equivalent for each item.

300 Game

I always remember watching bowling on television back in the 70s with my grandma, a time when Chris Schenkel was on the microphone and Earl Anthony (pictured above) was the man. I also recall tuning in just long enough to see the bowler lose his 300 game and then moving on to whatever else a kid did. In terms of televised 300 games, the legendary Anthony never achieved the feat despite having over two dozen perfect games on his ledger.

Always thought this classic Zara Spook lure pattern kind of looked like a bowling pin.

300 Wins

One of the pair of Major League Baseball pitchers who ended his career on exactly 300 wins was the aptly named Early Wynn (the other was Lefty Grove). It took Wynn seven attempts over the course of the end of the 1962 season into the 1963 campaign to get his final victory, the longest span of the hurlers who have attained the mark.


300 Saves

Hall of Famer, Bruce Sutter, who played for both sides of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry ended his career with precisely 300 saves as he wrapped up his career with the Braves. Funny thing is, while I appreciated his work for my favorite squad, the Cubs, it was his role on the receiving end of a pair of Ryne Sandberg homers while pitching for the Cards that remains etched in my mind. Nationally televised on June 23, 1984, “The Sandberg Game” would make the Cubs second sacker a household name and both players would eventually go on to earn Hall of Fame inductions.


.300 Average

1960 Galesburg High School JV Squad with front row first from left being the son of baseball great, Enos Slaughter.  I just so happen to be the son of another hoopster in the front row sporting #21.

This baseball mark is generally accepted as the dividing line between good hitters and great hitters. And when taking in an entire career, I think it holds even more significance. Among those who finished their baseball days with an average right on the mark was Enos “Country” Slaughter, most notably with the Cardinals through the 1940s. And in an interesting piece of post career trivia, Slaughter resided in my old hometown of Galesburg for a number of years.

Topwater frog bass where my career hookup ratio on strikes probably hovers around the .300 mark as well. 


300 Movie

Okay, so not sports related and never seen this flick that sounds like it’s just one fight after another with more than a little gore. Not my thing, sure my boys would get a charge out of it but not gonna happen. We’ll stick to battling some bass instead.


Well, there you go as that’s the best I can come up with for my milestone celebration. Always fun to work in a few more of my favorite subjects disguised as an outdoor post. And I waste no time with post #301 hitting the blog tomorrow with our latest Top 5 Update. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – August 6, 2003

Many years ago, when I used to play a little baseball, we had a saying “Have a day” when a teammate was hitting on all cylinders. I guess it was the modern equivalent of “in the zone.” Well, August 6, 2003 could have qualified as I enjoyed a successful multi-species double header of sorts.

Original “boxscore” from a full day on the water.

The day started off with an early morning wade in the creek with Dad as detailed in the excerpt below. The report and pics were originally submitted to family and friends back on August 21, 2003.

August 6 (Pat’s Creek) As a break from the fast-paced world of bass fishing, Dad and I headed for Pat’s Creek armed with two dozen dew worms for some multi-species angling. Our efforts were rewarded with seventeen catfish, two carp, two freshwater drum and a turtle. Top catfish was my 2-3 and top carp was my 2-7. Dad somehow caught the turtle. We were standing above a deep hole when he jokingly said, “I’ve got a turtle” as he reeled in his bait. As I was downstream on his left, I jokingly said, “Don’t reel it by me.” Although neither one of us was serious, sure enough, here came a painted turtle past me as Dad reeled it in. I guess we should have tried joking about having a ten-pound catfish hooked. Overall, a very successful outing. Our worms lasted right up to the last hole, no busted shins, no falls and I didn’t get lost in the cornfield.

The nightcap of my split fishing double header involved bass chasing on an old favorite pond with my brother, Brent. Once again, an excerpt from the same report included below.

August 6 (Emstrom’s Pond) – Brent called me up to see about hitting Emstrom’s for a couple hours. Julie and I had no plans so I figured there’s no sense in passing up a second fishing trip. We fished from around 5:30-7:30 pm and caught two bass. They weighed a total of 5-1 and one only weighed 12 ounces. The other was a 4-5 that was actually skinny. Its mouth and head were very large and its length was 22″. Either sick or malnourished, the fish could have weighed considerably more, but I can’t complain. Despite the 82 degree water temperature, the bass was extremely energetic as it cleared the surface when it slammed my buzzbait (silver glimmer) and again during the fight. This bass is now the Top Buzzbait Bass, eclipsing Dad’s 3-15 from Emstrom’s Pond on 9/8/01. Dad’s 2-3 from August 5th lasted as Top Bass of August 2003 for approximately 36 hours. My 4-5 would relinquish Top Bass honors in less than a week. Thanks for the phone call, Brent.

A little tease there on the end of that submission. I’ll cover the details in next week’s flashback, as the summer of 2003 featured some real solid catches. Fun to look back for a glimpse at life before Julie and I started a family. It provides part of the answer to the old question, “What did we ever do before we had kids?” Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – July 28

Revisited some old stomping grounds with an approach I call “bike and hike” which dates back several decades. Still going almost as strong in my fifties with the scoop on the trip below.

Folks, I ain’t exercising so this is pretty much all fishing related data, kinda dumb for seven bass but you never know and I still keep pulling this stunt a few times a year.


Date: July 28, 2018
Location: Knox County strip mines (5 lakes)
Time: 6:15am-11:20am (3.0 hours fishing, the rest bike and hike)
Weather: Sunny to partly cloudy/calm to breezy
Air Temp: 56-79F
Totals: 7 bass
Senko wacky rig (pumpkin/black flake) – 5 bass
Booyah Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 1 bass
Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-4 Red Eye Shad
Top 5 Weight (only 3 at 12” or better): 3-5 (1-4,1-1,1-0)

6:24am First Bass 13.5″ 1-1 Buzzbait, it was a long time and several miles until Second Bass showed up

Notes and Nonsense

Saturated – While the height of the weeds at this location was more navigable than another spot that I visit, they were still tall enough to exceed the tops of my boots. As a result, I was soaked to the middle of my thighs after wading in only a few yards. Throw in the fact that the Shoe Goo used this winter to repair several holes in my boots had succumbed to many miles of less than friendly terrain and I was in for several hours and several miles in soggy socks. Yes, not unexpected, I know the routine.

Ok, so this pic is actually from 2012 as I forgot to shoot a shot of the bike this time around.  I no longer look like I’m in the same shape as this photo.  But wait until next year…

Two Wheeling – Julie got my bicycle tuned up for my birthday last year as it was looking and sounding a little rough after many years of strip pit off roading. Twelve months later, I figured it was high time to drag it up from the basement where it was attached to a stationary frame that Julie got me last Christmas that I have also failed to put to use. Once I got it out on the strip mines, however, it was just like (you guessed it) riding a bike. It is a nice time saver that cuts down the walking as I ride the roads into proximity of a fishing hole and then park it for the walk through the deeper weeds. Had a laugh on one spot this time around as I forgot where I parked my bike and wandered about like a shopping center parking lot. Found it about a hundred yards away.

My nemesis is alive and well in Knox County, watch where you tread.

Hiker Beware – Definitely not my favorite member of the vegetative community but no doubt the most important one to recognize. Me and poison ivy have had a rocky relationship for as long as I can remember, including shots, prednisone prescriptions, medicated baths and plenty of calamine. I couldn’t pass up the shot above of some serious specimens, dang near poison ivy “trees” that lay just off the beaten path, makes me itch just looking at the pics.

Water conditions just haven’t been right this summer, taking a toll on at least one bass angler and providing an excuse for futility.

Oh Bad Water – I don’t know what it’s been with the summer weather conditions but nearly all of my strip mine waters just look nasty. Normally clean or green waters now have a brownish tint and the surface vegetation just doesn’t look healthy, far from a vibrant green, either a nasty yellow or dying brown. I realize summer can be tough but I believe that these conditions have the bass in a funk and I’m right there with ‘em.

11:07am Top Bass 13″ 1-4 Red Eye Shad

Another less than impressive haul, kind of like a broken record for 2018. It is what it is and I pull no punches, you get a write up no matter the results. It’s a pact I made with myself when I started doing this thing many years ago. Just tell it like it happened and leave it up to you on what to do with the mouse, touchpad or touch screen.

Did a piece for my birthday last month entitled “Thoughts at 51.”  Well, the video below is an addendum to that post as I ponder how much I’ve got left in the tank for these adventures.


August is typically a rough month for fishing and writing with school and the related activities kicking into gear so may be a little lean. Still got a few things up my sleeve though and hey, more than enough archive posts for anyone to revisit as the website approaches 300 submissions. Talk to you later. Troy

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