Author: Troy Jackson

Top 5 All-Time Stats

2023 marked the tenth year of the Top 5 project. Eighty-eight more bass joined the ledger including Bass #1000 from our crew, fittingly caught by Jim Junk, our three-time defending champ. In addition to the 2023 final stats that were posted last month, I also like to provide an annual update of the all-time numbers. So, here we go.
(Note: the stats for this post only include bass submissions, not additional species).

Jim Junk with Top 5 Bass entry #1000 caught on April 9, 2023

Group Totals = 1056 bass
2014 = 154
2015 = 106
2016 = 136
2017 = 79
2018 = 116
2019 = 95
2020 = 90
2021 = 92
2022 = 100
2023 = 88

Submissions by month (2014-2023)
250 April (43/33/31/11/12/14/25/14/35/32)
176 May (27/23/19/13/24/12/18/13/7/20)
140 June (34/14/15/1/10/14/17/10/16/9)
121 March (13/11/34/10/0/8/4/19/15/7)
101 July (18/11/8/11/8/11/10/12/2/10)
71 September (6/4/6/6/16/9/6/10/5/3)
67 October (4/5/4/8/24/8/2/3/6/3)
40 August (1/3/1/4/4/7/3/4/11/2)
36 November (6/0/4/0/8/9/4/2/3/0)
33 February (2/2/7/13/5/0/0/2/0/2)
13 December (0/0/7/1/0/2/3/0/0)
8 January (0/0/0/1/5/1/1/0/0/0)

Top 10 Top 5 Monthly Weights (group total)
37-9 May 2014
29-8 June 2014
29-7 March 2016
29-2 April 2014
28-10 April 2022
28-9 October 2018
28-7 December 2016
27-14 April 2015
27-12 March 2015
27-11 July 2014

Top 5 Weights by Month (group total)
January (2018) = 13-5 (3-15, 2-7, 2-6, 2-6, 2-3)
February (2016) = 22-9 (6-7,4-15,4-10,4-1,2-8)
March (2016) = 29-7 (6-5,6-1,5-14,5-10,5-9)
April (2014) = 29-2 (8-0, 5-11, 5-10, 4-15. 4-14)
May (2014) = 37-9 (9-4, 8-10, 8-8, 6-1, 5-2)
June (2014) = 29-8 (6-11, 6-4, 5-10, 5-8, 5-7)
July (2014) = 27-11 (6-6, 6-0, 5-5, 5-0, 5-0)
August (2019) = 19-4 (4-14,4-10,4-6,2-14,2-8)
September (2019) = 24-5 (5-3,5-0,5-0,4-12,4-6)
October (2018) = 28-9 (6-3,5-14,5-10,5-10,5-4)
November (2018) = 26-1 (7-2,6-12,4-3,4-0,4-0)
December (2016) = 28-7 (7-7,6-5,5-13,4-11,4-3)

Monthly Top Bass
3-15 Mark Balbinot 1/27/18 Crankbait
6-7 Mike Overturf 2/27/16 Plastic Worm
7-0 Randy Sampson Sr. 3/22/15 Jig
8-0 Kamryn Kaesebier 4/13/14 Crankbait
9-4 Jake Bresson 5/23/14 Jig
6-11 Ty Hartlipp 6/11/14 Topwater Frog
6-6 Jake Bresson 7/11/14 Plastic Worm
6-8 Gary Le 8/16/14 Swimbait
6-0 Austin Chapman 9/19/15 Jig
7-4 Mark Balbinot 10/29/17 Jig
7-2 Mark Balbinot 11/23/18 Underspin
7-7 Mark Balbinot 12/11/16 Underspin

Public vs. Private Water (2014-2023)
Public = 774 bass (92/52/95/42/92/68/63/87/98/85)

Public Top 5 Weight (2014-2023)
32-2,31-7,30-5,27-7,24-5,25-4,25-13,26-4,28-10,26-8 (2023)

Private = 265 bass (53/48/39/37/24/27/27/5/2/3)

Private Top 5 Weight (2014-2023)
8-10,30-0,32-13,33-14,31-9,24-3,30-5,13-3,2-7,8-4 (2023)

Undisclosed = 17 bass (9/6/2/0/0/0/0/0/0/0)

Boat vs. Bank (2014-2023)
Boat = 556 bass (90/63/103/68/55/33/26/28/55/35)

Boat Top 5 Weight (2014-2023)
30-7,31-7,32-13,33-14,31-9,25-4,21-4,18-6,17-9,21-14 (2023)

Bank = 494 bass (64/43/27/11/61/62/64/64/45/53)

Bank Top 5 Weight (2014-2023)
40-14,27-6,27-12,20-14,24-2,25-7,30-6,26-4,28-10,26-0 (2023)

Undisclosed = 6 bass

The Baits (44 undisclosed)
291 Plastic Worms (Top Bass 6-8 Mark Balbinot 11/20/16)
118 Spinnerbaits (6-14 Chris Schwarz 3/25/20)
120 Lipless Crankbaits (6-3 Mark Balbinot 10/20/18) – moved up
86 Crankbaits (8-0 Kamryn Kaesebier 4/13/14)
79 Chatterbaits (5-15 Jim Junk 6/22/20)
66 Jigs (9-4 Jake Bresson 5/23/14)
37 Jerkbaits (5-10 Ty Hartlipp 6/5/14)
34 Buzzbaits (5-9 Troy Jackson 4/25/17)
33 Swimbaits (8-10 Gary Le 5/4/14)
30 Creature Baits (6-15 Mark Balbinot 5/13/17) -moved u
29 Swim Jigs (6-13 Jake Bresson 4/9/15)
14 Underspins (Top Bass 7-7 Mark Balbinot 12/11/16)
14 Topwater Frogs (6-11 Ty Hartlipp 6/11/14)
12 Tubes (Top Bass 5-0 Jake Bresson 4/28/15)
10 Grubs (Top Bass 7-0 Chris Schwarz 11/28/20)
9 Propbaits (6-2 Jake Bresson 5/1/15)
8 Livebait (5-14 Jim Junk 7/4/14)
8 Poppers (3-1 Troy Jackson 9/25/01)
6 Stickbaits (6-6 Mark Balbinot 8/27/17)
5 Ultralights (3-1 Paul Kessler 10/12/17)
2 Inline Spinners (5-2 Jake Bresson 9/17/17)
1 Blade Baits (5-3 Mark Balbinot 11/16/19)

Top 10 Top 5 Bass
9-4 Jake Bresson 5/23/14 Jig
8-10 Gary Le 5/4/14 Swimbait
8-8 Jake Bresson 5/23/14 Jig
8-0 Kamryn Kaesebier 4/13/14 Crankbait
7-7 Mark Balbinot 12/11/16 Underspin
7-4 Mark Balbinot 10/29/17 Jig
7-2 Mark Balbinot 11/23/18 Underspin
7-0 Randy Sampson Sr. 3/22/15 Jig
7-0 Chris Schwarz 11/28/20 Grub
6-15 Mark Balbinot 5/13/17 Creature Bait

The 20-Pound Club * = 2023 entry
33-14 Mark Balbinot 2017 (7-4,6-15,6-13,6-8,6-6)
32-13 Jake Bresson 2014 (9-4, 8-8, 6-6, 4-10, 4-1)
32-13 Mark Balbinot 2016 (7-7,6-8,6-5,6-5,6-4)
32-0 Gary Le 2014 (8-10,6-8,5-12,5-10, 5-8)
31-9 Mark Balbinot 2018 (7-2,6-12,6-3,5-14,5-10)
30-5 Chris Schwarz (7-0,6-14,5-12,5-7,5-4)
29-7 Austin Chapman 2015 (6-4,6-2,6-0,5-14,5-3)
27-13 Jim Junk 2022 (6-9,6-0,5-12,5-1,4-7)
27-12 Jake Bresson 2015 (6-13,6-2,5-5,5-0,4-8)
27-6 Randy Sampson Sr 2015 (7-0,6-1,4-13,4-12,4-12)
27-6 Jake Bresson 2016 (6-3,5-13,5-4,5-2,5-0)
26-13 Troy Jackson 2017 (6-2,5-11,5-9,5-0,4-7)
26-4 Austin Chapman 2016 (5-14,5-10,5-2,4-14,4-12)
26-1 Brice Wangler 2014 (5-11, 5-5, 5-2, 5-0, 4-15)
26-0 Jim Junk 2021 (6-0,5-5,5-3,5-2,4-6)
25-13 Jim Junk 2020 (5-15,5-5,4-15,4-14,4-12)
*25-9 Jim Junk 2023 (5-9,5-5,5-1,4-14,4-12)
25-8 Brice Wangler 2015 (5-7,5-4,5-2,4-14,4-13)
25-4 Mark Balbinot 2019 (5-5,5-3,5-1,4-14,4-13)
24-14 Ty Hartlipp 2014 (6-11, 5-10, 5-5, 4-0, 3-4)
24-14 Jim Junk 2019 (5-3,5-1,5-0,4-14,4-12)
24-9 Terry Isbell 2014 (5-8,5-4,5-2,4-8,4-3)
23-12 Jake Bresson 2017 (5-4,5-2,5-2,4-3,4-1)
23-11 Randy Sampson Sr. 2017 (6-0,4-14,4-12,4-11,3-6)
23-8 Jim Junk 2018 (5-4,5-2,4-9,4-5,4-4)
22-15 Adam Bean 2015 (5-13,4-9,4-6,4-2,4-1)
22-13 Mike Mooney 2014 (6-4, 5-7, 4-3, 3-9, 3-6)
22-12 Troy Jackson 2015 (5-13,4-13,4-10,3-12,3-12)
21-8 Randy Sampson Sr. 2016 (5-12,5-8,4-11,3-1,2-8)
*21-10 Troy Jackson (5-3,4-10,4-2,4-1,3-10)
21-7 Brice Wangler 2016 (4-8,4-7,4-4,4-2,4-2)
21-3 Troy Jackson 2016 (5-9,5-4,3-9,3-7,3-6)
20-15 Chris Schwarz 2018 (4-11,4-11,4-8,4-0,3-1)
20-14 Troy Jackson 2014 (4-13, 4-6, 4-2, 4-1, 3-8)
20-12 Chris Schwarz 2019 (5-3,5-0,3-11,3-10,3-4)
20-9 Austin Chapman 2014 (4-15, 4-4,4-0,3-13,3-9)
20-1 Bruce Zilkowski 2014 (4-11,4-3,4-0,3-12,3-7)
20-0 Troy Jackson 2021 (4-10,4-4,4-3,3-9,3-6)

And just for fun…
All-Time Weights (30-pound minimum “career” mark)
(Note: not all anglers have participated each year)
200-6 Troy Jackson
194-12 Jim Junk
123-8 Mark Balbinot
150-8 Brent Jackson
111-11 Jake Bresson
76-4 Austin Chapman
73-0 Brice Wangler
72-15 Bruce Zilkowski
72-10 Randy Sampson, Sr.
72-0 Chris Schwarz
66-12 Paul Kessler
45-11 Mike Mooney
44-6 John Kirkemo

I have been slacking on the blog for various reasons during the “off season” but intend to be back with more stats from 2023 as well as our first Top 5 entry for 2024. Stay tuned as we head into a new year on the water and revisit the highlights of the previous year. Talk to you later. Troy

2023 Top 5 Results


Jim Junk makes it three years in a row as Top 5 Champ, claiming the 2023 title with a weight of 25-9. Jim established an early lead in racking up a twenty-pound limit by late March and maintained that lead wire to wire. Overall, this year, eleven anglers pitched in to submit eighty-eight bass and a channel catfish. Read on for the final stats from our tenth year of the Top 5 project.

Bass Stats
2023 Totals (no submissions for Jan, Nov, Dec)
February = 2 bass
March = 7 bass
April = 32 bass
May = 20 bass
June = 9 bass
July = 10 bass
August = 2 bass
September = 3 bass
October = 3 bass

Top 5 Weight by Month
February = 6-10 (3-9,3-1)
March = 19-8 (5-1,4-5,4-4,3-5,2-9)
April = 24-0 (5-5,5-3,4-12,4-8,4-4)
May = 24-11 (5-9,5-6,4-14,4-10,4-4)
June = 11-6 (3-2,2-13,2-4,2-0,1-3)
July = 16-10 (4-1,3-5,3-3,3-1,3-0)
August = 7-5 (3-11,3-10)
September = 10-6 (4-4,3-2,3-0)
October = 11-3 (4-7,3-10,3-2)

Boat vs. Bank
Boat = 35 bass
Bank = 53 bass

Boat vs. Bank Weight
Boat = 21-14 (5-6,4-7,4-4,4-2,3-11)
Bank = 26-0 (5-9,5-5,5-3,5-1,4-14)

Public vs. Private
Public = 85 bass
Private = 3 bass

Public vs. Private Top 5 Weight
Public = 26-8 (5-9,5-6,5-5,5-3,5-1)
Private = 8-4 (3-9,2-11,2-0)

The Baits
Lipless Crankbait = 24 bass (Top Bass 5-6 Natalee Townsend)
Plastic Worm = 23 bass (Top Bass 3-9 Troy Jackson)
Spinnerbait = 9 bass (Top Bass 4-7 Brent Jackson)
Chatterbait = 7 bass (Top Bass 5-9 Jim Junk)
Popper = 6 bass (Top Bass 3-11 Brent Jackson)
Grub = 5 bass (Top Bass 5-3 Troy Jackson)
Jerkbait = 4 bass (Top Bass 2-13 Brent Jackson)
Propbait = 3 bass (Top Bass 4-10 Troy Jackson)
Buzzbait = 2 bass (Top Bass 3-8 Brent Jackson)
Frog = 2 bass (Top Bass 4-1 Troy Jackson)
Swimbait = 2 bass (Top Bass 4-4 Jim Junk)
Jig = 1 bass (Top Bass 2-13 Brent Jackson)

Monthly Top Bass
3-9 Jim Junk
5-1 Jim Junk
5-5 Jim Junk
5-9 Jim Junk
3-2 Troy Jackson
4-1 Troy Jackson
3-11 Brent Jackson
4-4 Troy Jackson
4-7 Brent Jackson

2023 Top 10 Bass
5-9 Jim Junk 5/2
5-6 Natalee Townsend 5/26
5-5 Jim Junk 4/23
5-3 Troy Jackson 4/7
5-1 Jim Junk 3/5
4-14 Jim Junk 5/5
4-12 Jim Junk 4/9
4-10 Troy Jackson 5/6
4-8 Jim Junk 4/1
4-7 Brent Jackson 10/22

Angler Weights
Jim Junk 25-9 (5-9,5-5,5-1,4-14,4-12)
Troy Jackson 21-10 (5-3,4-10,4-2,4-1,3-10)
Brent Jackson 19-3 (4-7,4-4,3-11,3-8,3-5)
Natalee Townsend 7-9 (5-6,2-3)
John Kirkemo 7-2 (2-4,1-15,1-3,0-14,0-14)
Carly Jackson 3-10 (2-13,0-13)
Landon Hannam 3-8 (3-8)
Terry Jackson 2-11 (2-11)
Jayce Jackson 1-3 (1-3)
Julia Jackson 0-14 (0-14)
Zac Jackson 0-11 (0-11)

Other Species – Channel Catfish
2-3 John Kirkemo July 6 – Lake Storey

Well done, Jim, and thanks to all for participating for another year. And with the New Year upon us, let’s do it all again for an eleventh year. Send your 2024 catches my way at and stay tuned for a look at the all-time Top 5 stats covering 2014-2023. Talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report – November 18

One annual goal is to end the year with a November bass. While the weather has been very favorable, time has been lacking. The time change means it is dark when I get off work on weekdays and the weekends have been busy with family activities. But with one more Saturday in the fifties, I sacrificed a couple hours of yard work in favor of a trip to The Canal.

2:20pm- November Bass at 2-2 (17.5″) on a spinnerbait

Date: November 18
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 2:00pm-4:15pm
Totals: 2 bass
Weather: Sunny/windy, 52F
Lures: War Eagle Spinnerbait (chartreuse/white) with Bass Pro Shops Twin Tail trailer (Houdini) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 2-2 Spinnerbait
Top 2 Weight (only two at 12” or better): 3-7 (2-2,1-5)

Winning Lure

Notes and Nonsense

One Bite Days – This late in the year with cold water conditions, and typically brief outings, my approach is what I call a “one bite day.” I am looking for one bite and anything else is a bonus. I also chose my destination to optimize crossing paths with a bass. On this day, it took me forty minutes of casting to some solid targets without a bite before I reached my specific confidence area. It then took three casts along a stretch of riprap and concrete slab bank with a steep drop, but it worked. Even better was that the “one bite” was a quality fish. Admittedly, it doesn’t always work out but it sure is cool when a plan comes together.

No Deer Repeat – Last month, I caught a bass off a dead deer that was floating at the end of an open water area bordered by riprap at the bank and lilypads along the channel. Well, the deer was still there on this outing, but a bass was not. Worth a try every time though, as it makes for a fun fish story when it works out.

3:35pm – Last Bass at 1-5 (14″) on a spinnerbait

Last Bass – After landing the targeted November bass, the pressure was off, and any other catches represented icing on the cake. Now don’t think that I became complacent or anything. I was still dialed in and working my spots, it was just a bit more of a relaxed vibe. The second and final bass of the afternoon also hit a spinnerbait and like the first catch it took several casts to an appealing spot. In this case, it was a small bankside catalpa with a mix of shoreline riprap and a batch of slender, scattered laydowns that was a winner.


Mission accomplished on the November bass, and I was torn on whether to extend my fishing another day with a pleasant Sunday to follow. While I profess that “the best time to go fishing is any time you can”, I opted to invest my Sunday in some chores and errands. It’s been a very good year and if these are the last two catches, I’m good with the finale. Plenty to write about to recap the year so stay tuned over the “off season” for those stats and rambles. Talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report – October 22

I was able to hit The Canal for the third day in a row and selected another stretch that was lacking an initial Top 5 Weight. My only prior visit to the area was on May 25 of this year when I logged  four bass in two and a half hours of exploring. Only three of the bass were keepers with a combined weight of 5-2 (3-2,1-1,0-15). My aim on this outing was to fool two more keepers to fill the Top 5 for the pool and then see if I could bump the weight with a few more. Read on for the results.

12:43pm – Second “keeper” at 1-0 (12.5″ to fill out an initial Top 5 for this stretch of The Canal

Date: October 22
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 12:00pm-3:15pm
Totals: 11 bass
Weather: Sunny/breezy, 50-58F
Lures: Z-Man Chatterbait (sexy shad) with BPS Speed Shad trailer (pro blue) – 9 bass, War Eagle Spinnerbait (chartreuse/white) with Bass Pro Shops Twin Tail trailer (Houdini) – 1 bass, Strike King Squarebill Crankbait (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-9 Spinnerbait
Top 4 Weight (only four at 12” or better: 4-14 (1-9,1-8,1-0,0-13)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

The Pool – This particular stretch of The Canal covers two miles of water between a pair of culverts. During my only other visit back on May 25, I fished the eastern half of the stretch prior to turning around to fish back to the truck before it got dark. Wouldn’t you know that I caught all four of my bass in a forty-minute time frame near where I decided to turn around. This left me wondering what lay beyond, and on this outing, I was committed to finding out.

Catch Chronology
12:30pm – 12.5” (0-13) Chatterbait
12:43pm – 12.5” (1-0) Chatterbait
12:56pm – 11.5” Chatterbait
1:09pm – 11” Crankbait
1:15pm – 11.5” Chatterbait
1:21pm – 9.5” Chatterbait
1:26pm – 11” Chatterbait
1:47pm – 11.5” Chatterbait
2:04pm – 14.5” (1-8) Chatterbait
2:41pm – 11.5” Chatterbait
2:48pm – 14.5” (1-9) Spinnerbait

2:48pm – Top Bass of the Day and my final catch at 1-9 (14.5″) on a spinnerbait

Top 5 Established – My first two catches were “keepers” and took the pressure off having to find the fish needed to establish the initial Top 5 for this pool. As the day ended, I did manage to fool two larger “keepers’ to boost the overall weight. With these results, my Top 5 for this stretch currently sits at 8-3 (3-2,1-9,1-8,1-0,0-13). Ultimately, I would like to boost the total into double digits, but that will be a task for another year.


New Stuff – I’m always enthused to see new sections or new parts of stretches that I haven’t fully explored. Granted, a lot of The Canal looks the same and, in many instances, rather bland when viewing from the towpath. However, there are many details that come to light when able to get on the water in a boat or kayak. This stretch was no exception as I found one of the few beaver lodges that I have observed, several nice piles of riprap, and many logs/fallen trees that looked like a good hiding place for a bass. This time around, some held a fish, some didn’t but all had potential for some future casts.

Is this so long to The Canal for 2023? It’s been another good year of exploring.

Responsibilities and shorter days have kept me away from the water with this outing being my last opportunity to chase bass. My annual goal is a November bass, but it may be extra challenging this year. I have my sights set on a future date with The Canal, but time will tell if it works out or if I can outsmart that final fish. It’s been a very good year though, no matter how it all winds up. Talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report – October 21

Fresh off the previous day’s trip where I had to work for ten bass in five and a half hours, I was eager to get back on the water. I had achieved my goal of 443 bass to make one thousand over the last two years, but I still had other Canal goals to work on before I put the gear away.

Picked a tough spot for these conditions but was on a mission

Date: October 21
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 10:30am-12:30pm
Totals: 1 bass
Weather: Sunny/very windy, 60-65F
Lures: Z-Man Chatterbait (sexy shad) with BPS Speed Shad trailer (pro blue) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-12 Chatterbait
Top 1 Weight (only one at 12” or better: 2-12 (2-12)

Winning Lure

Notes and Nonsense

Destination – I had two late morning hours to fish before readying and heading to a high school band competition in Macomb, Illinois. I selected a stretch of water that I had only fished once before, back in May. The aim was to catch at least one “keeper” as my spring visit had left me one bass shy of a Top 5 limit. Establishing a Top 5 on the pool is part of the larger Canal Top 5 Project which aims to post a Top 5 on every stretch of The Canal from the Feeder Basin to the west (including the Milan section). I intend to explain this project in more detail with a series of blog posts over the winter.

Doesn’t really do justice to how ugly the wind was on this stretch

Rowing and Blowing – My choice of destinations was unwise due to heavy winds from the northwest. The combination of the orientation of this stretch, its broad width, and a less than ideal northern windbreak resulted in whitecaps. Shortly after launching the boat, I pondered packing up for another spot as fighting the twenty-plus mile per hour wind made for tough boat control and lure presentation. Instead, I opted to row all the way to the west end of the pool and let the wind blow me back in the general direction of my truck. Along the way, this resulted in periodically crashing into the willow lined bank.

Got the bite I was seeking and it was larger than I expected

One Winner in the Wind – The water that I was fishing looked good with abundant riprap, overhanging willows, and scattered wood. Being pounded by the wind added to the appeal but that wind also made lure presentation and thorough coverage difficult. It all boiled down to firing away as rapidly as possible to cover water before blowing right over the top of my targets. One such cast proved to be a winner with a 2-12 on a chatterbait. The fish was the “keeper” that I was looking for to complete a Top 5 for the stretch of The Canal and even better it established a new Top Bass for the spot. The former Top Bass mark was a 1-10 from May 29 and the latest catch pushed the Top 5 mark to 7-10.


A short, tough day of battling the wind and only one bass but mission accomplished in getting the bite that I needed to complete a Top 5 for this pool of The Canal. I’ll take it. One more report to come as I hit another spot the following day in search of two more keepers to establish a Top 5. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report – October 20

I headed out to The Canal on October 20 in search of nine bass to meet my goal of 447 bass for 2023. The mark would give me 1,000 bass over the last two years after a new personal record of 553 bass in 2022. After a tough bite to start the day, the bass came through as detailed below.

Chose this pump at a gas station along the way for good luck 

Date: October 20
Location: Hennepin Canal (three pools)
Time: 10:40am-5:35pm (5.50 hours fishing)
Totals: 10 bass
Weather: Sunny/breezy, 54-60F
Lures: War Eagle Spinnerbait (chartreuse/white) with Bass Pro Shops Twin Tail trailer (Houdini) – 6 bass, Z-Man Chatterbait (sexy shad) with BPS Speed Shad trailer (pro blue) – 3 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- Crankbait (red craw) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 3-10 Chatterbait
Top 5 Weight (three pools combined): 8-6 (3-10,1-12,1-1,1-1,0-14)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

Slow Start – Arriving at my first destination, I was greeted by another angler who had just launched. We had a brief conversation to compare some notes and I elected to head for an alternate location to stay out of his way. The second location was new water, and the bass were not as welcoming as I had hoped. It took me forty-five minutes to get my first and only bite. I hung around for a total of two hours and gave it a good effort before heading for an area I had only seen from the bank on a family outing this summer.

1:41pm – New Top Bass record for me on The Canal at 3-10

New Top Bass – Fully aware that there are no guarantees in fishing, I opted to gamble on another stretch of unfamiliar water rather than any regular stomping grounds as I searched for eight more bass. I had previously seen about fifty yards of this area from the bank and that was while playing fishing guide for Julie and the kids in June. Two more hours of rowing and casting was much more successful with six bass, but I was still two bass shy of my goal. The highlight of the stretch, however, was a 3-10 bass that set a new Top Bass mark for me on The Canal, topping a pair at 3-6.

4:34pm – Bass #1000 as described below

Bass #1000 – Stop number three was a spot that I had fished twice before with the last visit being a week prior. That trip had produced a solid bite with fifteen bass landed. And with recent decent weather, I was hoping for a repeat performance. An hour and a half only produced three bass but that was one more than I needed. At 4:34pm, a chatterbait fooled a 12” bass that weighed in at 0-13 for Bass #1000. No matter that it was not a trophy in terms of size, it made the mark.

4:44pm – A new trick with a bass caught on an unusual piece of structure, a dead deer

Deer Bass – Having Bass #1000 in the log made my day but I still had some daylight left and some distance remaining to row back to the truck. The next hour only produced one more bass, but Bass #1001 turned out to be a memorable catch as well. I had fished the spot where it was landed a week earlier and thought that it set up perfectly. The shoreline featured a stretch of chunky riprap at and below the water level. This rocky run served as one edge of an open water trough that was lined with lilypads on the channel side. I had worked it over on the previous visit without a bite but figured that it was worth another look. As I approached, I observed what I thought was a log at the leading edge of the channel side of the trough. As I got closer, I realized that the log was actually a dead deer. It turns out that the added “cover” was just what the spot needed to produce a bite as a chatterbait duped a 12.5” (0-14) bass. It made for a good fish story (and video for a future post), and that’s what it’s all about.


It’s all icing on the cake from this trip forward as my days on the water are numbered with October drawing to a close. My annual aim is to finish the year with a November bass and the new month only lies a few days away. But I am getting ahead of myself as there are still a couple more October outings to report. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

It has been a little lean on Top 5 Updates this fall. Quality fish have been caught but it gets tough to give a solid limit a boost as it takes a really good fish. Well, Brent got one of those this past weekend. Not only did it set a new mark for his Top Bass of 2023, it also breaks the mark for the largest bass from the public strip pit where it was landed (beating his 4-4 from last month). He got another solid bass that fell just short of upgrading his weight but warranted inclusion in today’s update. Similarly, I fooled one that didn’t increase my weight but set a new mark for the body of water where it was landed.

Weight: 4-7
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: October 22
Location: Public strip pit
Lure: Spinnerbait

Weight: 3-2
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: October 22
Location: Public strip pit
Lure: Spinnerbait
Top 5 Weight: 19-3 (4-7,4-4,3-11,3-8,3-5) culls 3-3

Weight: 3-10 (19″)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: October 20
Weather: Sunny/windy, 60F air temp
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: War Eagle Spinnerbait (chartreuse/white) with BPS twin tail trailer (Houdini)
Structure: Fallen trees
Angler Comments: Although it does not give my Top 5 a boost, this fish ties for my fifth largest bass of the year. Better yet, it establishes my new Top Bass for the Hennepin Canal beating a pair at 3-6.
Top 5 Weight: 21-10 (5-3,4-10,4-2,4-1,3-10)

There you go, don’t put those poles away quite yet. Hoping to take at least one more shot before it is all said and done as I always shoot for a November bass. Not sure if Brent is done either, so stay tuned. Talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report-October 14 & 15

I hit The Canal last weekend lacking twenty-six bass for my 2023 goal of 447 bass. Saturday evening consisted of a bike ride while Sunday found me dragging the boat along. Read on for the report and status on reaching my target.

October 14 – Top Bass at 1-1 (13″) on a squarebill crankbait

Date: October 14-15
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 4:05pm-6:05pm, 2:15pm-5:00pm
Totals:2 bass, 15 bass
Weather: Partly cloudy/windy, 55F
Lures: Z-Man Chatterbait (sexy shad) – 7 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- Crankbait (red craw) – 4 bass, War Eagle Spinnerbait (chartreuse/white) with Bass Pro Shops Twin Tail trailer (Houdini) – 4 bass, Strike King Rattling Squarebill (sexy shad) – 1 bass, Yum Wooly Bug (green pumpkin) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-2 Chatterbait
Top 5 Weight (combined trips): 8-5 (2-2,1-14,1-13,1-7,1-1)

Winning Lures – October 14 (left) and October 15 (right)

Notes and Nonsense

Two Bass on Two Wheels – With only a couple hours to get away and windy conditions (yes, even on The Canal), I opted for bike over boat. I chose a mid-distance destination (less than 25-minute drive) with the days getting shorter and a late afternoon departure. The stretch features solid bank access and is home to several quality catches over the last two-plus years. With all of that said, it didn’t really work out as well as I’d hoped with two bass in the pound range and a similar fish that got away. All three catches were within a fifty-yard stretch although I did cover several miles on the bike.

October 15 at 2:36pm- Top Bass Runner-Up 1-14 (16.5″) on a spinnerbait

Sunday Gamble – Saturday’s struggle left me needing twenty-four bass to meet my goal and Sunday didn’t get off to such a hot start in terms of weather. Originally, I intended a late morning trip but waited out some unappealing weather and hit the water mid-afternoon instead. With a larger window of several hours to fish, I opted to drive a bit farther than normal to a section of The Canal that I had only visited twice. Those outings had resulted in ten bass in just over three hours of fishing from a boat. Beyond those results, I just had a good feeling about the spot.

October 15 at 4:13pm – Top Bass 2-2 (17″) on a chatterbait

Sunday Success – My gamble paid off to the tune of fifteen bass from 2:15pm to 5:00pm. I will admit that I did waver a bit upon arrival as the water was rather murky. The alternative would have wasted twenty minutes of fishing time while driving and instinct held that my first choice was still the best choice. My second cast with a Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait provided all the feedback that I needed, and it was game on. Along with the Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait, I mixed in a War Eagle Spinnerbait, and a Z-Man Chatterbait enroute to a solid day. Top Bass for the day came in at 2-2 and hit a chatterbait along a mix of riprap, sparse weeds and a ledge, a classic combination on The Canal. In fact, I found bass in all the right places as this stretch features an appealing mix of rock, weeds, wood, depth, and manmade structure.


Thanks to the successful Sunday, I am now only nine bass from my goal. With the weather and water still maintaining temperatures on The Canal to keep the bass active and feeding, I make as many casts as I can as tight to structure as I can and hold on. Hopefully, the activity level remains on the upside through the weekend, and I can get one more shot before I may have alter some presentations. Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Report – October 12

I was able to visit Lake Storey twice in September for my annual shot at the fall drawdown (one solo trip and one with Brent). All told, we had landed twenty-six bass in thirteen and a half hours on the water. Nearly two bass per hour isn’t bad for Lake Storey but I still felt that we didn’t meet our expectations. There was only one way to fix that, head back for round three.

10:30am – First bass at 1-0 (12.5″) and only five minutes into casting

Date: October 12
Location: Lake Storey, Knox County, IL
Time: 10:25am-4:10pm
Totals: 17 bass
Weather: Sunny to partly cloudy/breezy to windy, 63-75F
Water temperature: 60-63F
Lures: Z-Man Chatterbait (sexy shad) – 13 bass, War Eagle spinnerbait (chartreuse/white) – 2 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 2-8 Chatterbait
Top 5 Weight: 9-3 (2-8,1-15,1-12,1-8,1-8)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

Compliments to the Chef – A shout out to fellow angler and storyteller, Chef Todd Kent, as I finally decided to buy into the Lake Storey chatterbait bite. Chef Todd has long endorsed chatterbaits and shared some solid catches on the lure from Lake Storey over the years. I’ve never been a chatterbait fan, just catching a few here or there on the strip mine ledges and flats. But on this day, I opted to start with a chatterbait on one rod and never took it off as the bass provided plenty of positive feedback.

2:38pm – Top Bass at 2-8 (18.5″) on a chatterbait

Juiced – When I head to Lake Storey, I plan to make a full day out of the trip. Typically, I don’t have a set time when I need to be home, so it comes down to what runs out of juice first, me or the boat batteries. The east wind took a toll on the front mount trolling motor battery as I fished my way down the lake taking a direct hit. While the wind was favorable pushing me back to the ramp, I effectively had no boat control after about five and a half hours on the water. It was disappointing to have to call it a day as I’d hoped to get in seven or eight hours of fishing, but it was comforting that the body was still going strong.

One That Got Away – I have noted before that my goals on each trip are as follows: Don’t get shut out, catch a Top 5 (five bass at 12” or longer) and post a Top 5 Weight of ten pounds or better. The latter item came up short, but I believe that I had the fish on that would have given my weight the necessary boost. Shortly before ending the day, I had one on the way to the boat, but it somehow let go of a chatterbait. Initially, I thought that I gave a little slack as I prepared to reach behind me for the dipnet. However, the video clip below does not seem to back up such a mistake. Instant replay is fun that way if you don’t mind having to relive the one the got away. If it had tipped the scales at 2-5 or better, I would have hit the ten-pound weight goal. I did get a look at the fish, and I am certain it would have made the mark. As I often say, “That’s fishing.”


As the Old Saying Goes – Adages are a fun part of language as their expression of conventional wisdom can talk out of both sides of the mouth, so to speak. For example, “birds of a feather flock together”, yet “opposites attract.” And so it was with this fishing trip as the forecast correctly indicated that I would be greeted with an east wind. Anglers who have been around for a while know that “wind from the east, fish bite the least”, supposedly. But I had vacation day from work and the air temperatures were supposed to hit seventy, so it was all systems go regardless of the wind. Instead of fretting about the wind from the east, I subscribed to another of my favorite fishing sayings. “The best time to go fishing is anytime you can.” And it all turned out just fine.


Seventeen bass on a Lake Storey outing is a rousing success for my level of fishing. When adding them to my database it pushed my 2023 total to 421 bass. As noted in the previous post, I am shooting for 447 bass this year. When coupled with last year’s personal best yearly total of 553 bass, it would give me a grand total of 1,000 bass over the last two years. Thanks to The Canal this past weekend, I’ve already chipped away at the 26 bass that were lacking.

In addition to The Canal report, I have a follow-up Lake Storey post in the works as it is hard to say it all in just one submission. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – October 8

Access is drawing to a close on the Knox County public strip mines, so Snakeden Hollow was the choice for a getaway last Sunday. My goals were twofold. First, I wanted to land six bass to reach four hundred for the year. Secondly, I intended to bike and hike to a few remote spots to learn new stuff on an area that I have fished for over thirty years. Both missions were a success with further details below.

1:03pm – Top Bass at 1-6 (14″), which also happened to be Bass #400 of the year

Date: October 8
Location: Knox County strip mines (9 lakes)
Time: 10:40am-2:40pm (2.25 hours fishing, the rest hiking/biking)
Totals: 10 bass
Weather: Partly cloudy/breezy
Lures: Mann’s Baby 1- Crankbait (grey ghost) – 8 bass, 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (peanut butter and jelly) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 1-6 Mann’s Baby 1- Crankbait
Top 5 Weight: 6-1 (1-6,1-5,1-4,1-2,1-0)

Notes and Nonsense

The Mission – I packed along my bicycle to cut down on travel time to the far reaches of Snakeden Hollow. From there, I switched to foot travel across weedy stretches unfit for pedaling. For even after thirty-four years of exploring, there were still a few places out there where I had never set foot. Several bodies of water did not even exist when I first stepped into Snakeden Hollow back in 1990 while others have undergone significant changes over the years. And one I had not seen since 1990 as a worker at the site. Lots of stories. Perhaps another day.

That’s the sign post up ahead, and it means you have gone off the beaten (although nicely mowed) path

The Results – All told, I made casts in nine different lakes. Six were “known” lakes where I had varying degrees of experience and catch data. The only surprise was a fifteen-minute stop that produced a fourteen-inch bass, the largest of a handful of bass landed from the lake over the years. Therefore, it made my list for some more casts in the future. Three other bodies of water were previously unexplored, and none produced a bass in fifteen to thirty minutes of casting on each. Bank access was limited and while not a thorough test of potential, my first impressions were not positive. One was very weedy and tough to fish, one showed signs of life only in the form of tiny bluegill, and the other showed no signs of life at all.


Grey Ghost – The Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait in the grey ghost pattern was a winner on this trip landing eight of my ten bass. I’ve got a story about this lure. Actually, after forty plus years of chasing bass, I’ve got a story about most everything. Anyway, close to thirty years ago, Brent and I got stuck listening to a batch of fish stories at the Spring Lake tackle trailer over near Manito. The proprietor related how he and his son bought every Mann’s Baby 1- in the grey ghost color in the Peoria area to keep them out of the hands of rival anglers. True story? Not sure. Effective color? Not noticeably for me as I like the red craw color better. But on this trip, the old grey ghost came through. You know, I have another story about how I met the Mann’s Baby 1-. Perhaps another day.

Winning Lures

Oh yeah, there’s also a new story about the Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait from this trip as it landed Bass #400. Check out the catch video below.


Now that I have Bass #400 in the log, I have my sights set on reaching 447 bass. Combined with the 2022 total of 553, that would give me 1,000 bass over the last two years. After this trip, I stood at 404, leaving a ways to go and a short time to get there.

So long to Snakeden for 2023 but still more fishing left before I put the poles away.

A Lake Storey report is in the works as a cooperative batch of bass earlier this week knocked out a chunk of those forty-three bass that I am seeking. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy