Author: Troy Jackson

Blog Banner – Blue Glimmer

“Hello old friend, it’s really good to see you once again.”

Hello Old Friend – Eric Clapton (1976)

Lake Storey bass on a classic lure – October 2, 2017

Today’s pic features a lure whose given name is a 3/8 ounce Stanley Rainbow Glimmer Vibra Shaft Spinnerbait in the Blue Glimmer pattern. My nickname for it is simply “The Blue Glimmer.”

This one is certainly worthy of a nickname due to its ability to produce, kind of like how “Dr. J” or “Reggie” or “Pele” or “Cher” suffice. It doesn’t go quite as far back as those folks but it does have a storied history. I’ve told that history a couple times over the blogging years. Once in a series on “Legendary Lures” in a previous blogging life and also in a 2017 post that detailed its return after an extended absence. I’ve got it on the radar to revisit the “Legendary Lure” concept one of these off seasons and you can check out the 2017 post by clicking on “The Blue Glimmer Returns.”

As noted, the bass in today’s pic came from Lake Storey and was the result of breaking a blade off of a Terminator spinnerbait on the second bass of the morning. Enter an old fishing friend, The Blue Glimmer, and a half hour later I had the first catch on the bait in nearly ten years.

Why the lengthy hiatus? Not really sure but likely due to the fact that the model went out of production and I only had a couple spares.

And wouldn’t you know, the triumphant return was short lived. After a strong Lake Storey showing with seven bass I busted a blade off this one the very next outing.

Still got one spare remaining. Maybe 2019…

Talk to you later. Troy

Blog Banner – Just Like Virgil Ward

“Everybody’s a dreamer and everybody’s a star,

and everybody’s in movies,

it doesn’t matter who you are.”

Celluloid Heroes – The Kinks (1972)

Happy Birthday GoPro – July 2017

Who would have thought that when I caught this bass fishing bug back in the early 1980s that we’d one day be able to essentially make our own fishing show?

Fast forward to 2019 and indeed we can do just that with an investment of a couple hundred bucks (assuming you already have a home computer).

Lucky for me, Julie decided to make such an investment for me with the purchase of a GoPro camera for my birthday back in 2017. I’d always thought that the devices sounded pretty cool but could never commit to pulling the trigger. Glad that she did as the camera has been a steady companion ever since and has allowed me to capture some fun footage to save for posterity.

If you’ve tagged along here on the blog you’ve seen some of the “highlights.” Maybe one of these days I can step it up a notch with my own YouTube channel or something. Of course, then I’ll need a theme song.

Perhaps something like “From the pits of Western Illinois to the lakes of Iowa…”

C’mon, join right in if you were a fan of Virgil Ward’s “Championship Fishing” program back in the day as you know the rest. My apologies if you find his theme song running through your head for the rest of the day. A good theme song does that, and it could be worse, like “The Facts of Life” or something.

Oops, my bad.

Talk to you later. Troy

Blog Banner – One That Got Away

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose

and sometimes the blues get a hold of you,

oh just when you thought you had made it.”

Sweet Seasons – Carole King (1972)

Knox County strip mine – September 9, 2017

If you fish, you’re gonna lose a few along the way. It’s all just a classic part of the game, “the one that got away.”

I get it, but it still doesn’t make it any easier to take, especially when it’s something special. I eventually come to terms with such a lost fish but sometimes it takes a while. This was one of those cases as this dude was big. A large wake behind my buzzbait, an explosive and on target strike, a powerful run like a freight train and then a busted line.

All in maybe two seconds, yet one of those instances that strangely take place in slow motion. And thanks (I guess) to a GoPro I can actually watch it in true slow motion when I get the urge. Still heartbreaking, but casting emotions aside, a pretty darn cool shot.

Even though this unfortunate break took place nearly a year and a half ago it still bothers me on occasion. Probably will for as long as I fish. In fact, it is one of three examples of “one that got away” that continue to replay in my mind from time to time.

The other two are a Lake Bracken carp from about 1985 and a Lake Storey muskie from 2012. Both were essentially within arm’s reach and both were the biggest of their species that I have ever hooked. Boy, here I go again, probably another sleepless night on the horizon.

Okay, perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration but I would guess that plenty of fellow anglers can relate. A bit of exaggeration also comes into play as another standard aspect of “one that got away” tales. I don’t know if the fact that I did not get a look at the bass in today’s post is a blessing or a curse, tough call. I do know that it now falls into the category of “as big as you want it to be.”

Not going to offer up a guess though as some places you really don’t want to go. Talk to you later. Troy

Blog Banner – Nemesis

“You’re gonna need an ocean of calamine lotion.”

Poison Ivy – The Coasters (1959)

Toxicodendron radicans (Poison Ivy), Johnson-Sauk Trail Park – August 5, 2017

Me and this plant go way back and have had more than a few run-ins. Not the most eye-catching of our flora but certainly the most important one to identify in my book. And despite some effort, I don’t believe that any of my kids are still able to point it out. On our hikes I get a lot of “is that poison ivy” rather than “there’s poison ivy.”

I guess those youngsters just don’t have quite the intimate history with the plant like I do. And I do mean “intimate” as I’ve had it everywhere and I’ll leave it at that.

A few shots were in order as a kid and more than a few orasone or prednisone prescriptions have been issued in some of the classic battles over the years. Like today’s lyric, a collection of pink spots on the anatomy was not uncommon either via calamine or caladryl. Even had to resort to the wash thing a time or two in an effort to stop the itchy madness.

You’d think a guy with such a history would learn, but from time to time I still find myself in a risk versus reward quandary. It goes a little something like this.

Do I walk through that batch of poison ivy to get to that spot that looks like it could really be the ticket to some good bass?

Usually sounds like a good idea at the time. Over and over again…Talk to you later. Troy

Blog Banner – Fresh Air

“Ooo, have another hit…of fresh air.”

Fresh Air – Quicksilver Messenger Service (1970)

Phipps Prairie Park in Silvis, IL with Carly – April 29, 2018

It’s been a long winter and we’ve still got a ways to go. Already a heaping helping of all that the season has to offer with piles of snow, record low temps, ice storms and several cancelled school days. I’ve certainly had enough and eagerly await spring.

Today’s picture epitomizes that season. A little green starting to line the forest trail for hikers clad in comfy sweatshirts and old pairs of tennis shoes. And yes, one of these hikers is actually wearing two different shoes courtesy of a creek crossing that was only 50% successful. Fortunately, her sister was willing to part with a dry shoe in exchange for one that wasn’t.

In this shot, Carly and I are bringing up the rear of a family hike through a postage stamp sort of park mere minutes’ drive from home. The spot is called Phipps Prairie Park and it’s tucked into a corner between the hustle and bustle of Avenue of The Cities and Illinois Route 5 (before it turns into John Deere Road). A cool little parcel of green space featuring a picnic shelter, playground and hiking trails. An ideal spot to pack along your family, a picnic basket and your field guides for a bite to eat, a little exercise and some outdoor education.

In regards to the latter of those items, I need to break out some more of the field guides in 2019 for a Jackson family version of a Bio Blitz. Most of them have been tucked away for too long in a box in the basement, certainly the last place a field guide should reside. Really kind of shameful for a guy with a biology degree.

So here’s to some more family time outdoors in 2019 with field guides in hand. Time to get back to the days when a likely answer to the question “What is your favorite book?” would be the Peterson Field Guide to Wildflowers.

C’mon spring. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – February 1984











Folks, I said that I was going to take things up a notch for year two of the Friday Flashback series and here we go.

Nothing like kicking it off with Clark Griswold.

What in the heck does he have to do with an outdoor blog you might ask?

Well, I’m gonna tell you.

Today’s posts takes us back 35 years to a February icefishing outing in Warren County, Illinois. Somewhere out there between Berwick and Greenbush if you must know. An old farm pond that was a fishing and trapping destination for Dad and Uncle Dick for many years in the 70s and 80s. Many a muskrat, bluegill, crappie or bass were selectively harvested from its lilypad infested waters over the years. Only place I’ve ever seen an American Bittern too in regards to my birding life list.

Dad and Uncle Dick hauling them in on one of their old faithful fishing holes

On this outing Dad and Uncle Dick weren’t the only brothers enjoying the spot. This time around a couple high school kids got to tag along in me and my brother, Brent. Kind of cool that somebody packed a camera to shoot a few shots of these two pairs of brothers doing the outdoor thing.

Me and Brent (background) getting in on the action and a classic 1976 spring haul for Dad and Uncle Dick from the pond

The photos reveal the aforementioned lilypad growth in the background of a couple shots among other things. You see, this outing predates some of the high tech gear marketed to the icefishing crowd these days. No Vexilar electronics or shelters here folks. Just knowledgeable, experienced guides, a couple lawnchairs, five gallon buckets and even a step ladder for a seat. Cool to see the low tech, low budget roots that still guide my approach to this day.

Oh yeah, like most ponds, this one was named for the landowner/farmer.

A place called “Griswold’s Pond.”

And yep, the fellow’s name was Clark Griswold.

Talk to you later. Troy

Blog Banner – Angling Essentials

“I get up in the morning and it’s just another day,

pack up my belongings, I’ve got to get away.”

Movin’ On – Bad Company (1974)

Henry County pond near Coal Valley, IL – March 3, 2018 with my boys, Zac & Jayce

An important aspect of a fishing trip is checking and double checking your stuff in an effort to insure that you have everything you need before you hit the water.

Take today’s photo for instance.

Tacklebox, check! Spare poles in case of any issues, check! Waxworms, check!

That pretty much does it, all set to fish.

But wait, there’s the drive to the fishing hole to consider as you don’t want to end up parched or hungry. Kind of interferes with your concentration as you try to fool those wily panfish if you are not adequately hydrated and nourished. Thus a stop at the gas station is in order to get the rest of the essential supplies. Looks like a couple Grape Crush, some Hershey Drops and some Sour Patch Kids were the ticket. Pure sugar to keep my young fishermen on top of their game.

Not only part of a fishing outing but part of being a Dad. I can recall a few stops at a Mom & Pop shop called “The Trading Post” in Monmouth, IL while trapping or tagging along for bankpole or jug fishing when my brother, Brent, and I were kids. Dad would get us some sodas and a bag of Sterzing’s chips for the ride home.

I guess it’s what Dads do. And while the convenience of gas station fare is well, convenient, I sometimes long for the days when those places simply sold fuel for your vehicle not for your family. It all adds up and can get a little pricey with our crew in tow.

Just tough to say “No” when setting out on a big adventure such as the outing in today’s photo. Gotta tell you though, with a roughly twelve minute drive to this fishing hole it actually took longer to track down our treats than it did to reach our destination.

It makes for a classic pic, however, probably worth the $8-$10. Talk to you later. Troy

Blog Banner – Old School Scribe

“It’s a thousand pages give or take few, I’ll be writing more in a week or two.”

Paperback Writer – The Beatles (1966)

Let me tell you, that old clipboard was definitely on the “give” side over the “take” side of today’s lyric from The Fab Four. I made that thing in junior high shop class back around 1980 and then proceeded to lug it around wherever I called home for the next 38 years or so. Knox College, a place called 848 North Broad Street, Lake Bracken, the Quad Cities and more, I’ve known that thing longer than I’ve known most people that are not blood relatives.

For year’s it sat within arms reach on an end table, a headboard or a desk always ready for whatever form of composition arose. And when I took up writing in 2002, it became an even more invaluable companion in the process of transferring mental notes to somewhat legible scribbles.

It tagged along on road trips, fishing trips, camping trips and family trips. Always at the ready whether in a truck, a boat, a tent, a hotel room or a lawnchair pulled up to a campfire. Ultimately, a computer keyboard is where it all winds up in terms of input for blog posts but a clipboard has long been where the pen hits the paper.

I laid this old shop class creation to rest last year as the hardware had flat out worn out. It was a tough call but upon receiving a replacement as a gift it was time to start a new chapter.

A few paragraphs of which you have just read.

Twenty seven more Blog Banner posts to go as well as the weekly Friday Flashback. It says so right there on the blogging schedule on my clipboard. Talk to you later. Troy

Blog Banner – Long Time

“It’s been such a long time…I’ve got to keep on chasin’ a dream…”

Long Time – Boston (1976)

Knox County strip mine – March 4, 2017
(Note: this banner pic was shot just prior to launching my own website)

Since I kicked off my own blog on May 1, 2017 I had some catching up to do from fishing trips that had already taken place. All told, by that time I had four fishing trips and 42 bass in the log for 2017.

And the bass in today’s blog banner pic was the very first of that bunch.

It was a bass that I had been after since I was a teenager when I first caught this crazy bass fishing bug. For many years I’d chased a fish of the caliber that my fishing heroes triumphantly hoisted at arm’s length on TV shows, magazine covers and print ads. The stuff of a young angler’s dreams and still elusive as I became not as young.

When I landed the bass above I had well over thirty years of bass fishing under my belt. That’s a lot of casts and a lot of bass but never one that weighed six pounds. I nearly made it in February 2002 with a 5-15 and I’d actually surpassed it in September 2009 with my personal best of 7-3. The latter bas was pretty cool, an awesome bass, but still blanked for the six-pounder, hopped right over the mark with that one so it still left me wishing.

On March 4, 2017 I got my wish after a tap on my trusty black and blue jig and pig got my attention. A slight sideways movement of my line at the water’s surface got me to set the hook. And luck was on my side as despite a few rolls in an effort to shake the lure I got a bass that tipped the scales at 6-2.

This bass sure meant a lot to a guy who has more than a few in the ledger dating back to the early 80s. In the original write up here on the blog I noted that “I just sat for several minutes letting it sink in.” Turns out that I could’ve sat there for the rest of the day and wouldn’t have missed a thing. My six-pounder was the first and only bite I had all day and that first bass of 2017 would be the biggest bass that I caught all year.

Not a problem, it’d been a long wait for that one bite. Talk to you later. Troy

Blog Banner – Hello Hooray

“Hello, hooray, let the show begin.”

Hello Hooray – Alice Cooper (1971)

Hennepin Canal Parkway near Sheffield, IL – August 5, 2017
(Note: all banner pics come from March 2017 to August 2018)

Where to start when considering a batch of 30 posts?

I suppose a friendly, up close wave from yours truly and all the people I live with similarly greeting in the background.

This banner pic represents the most important things that Julie and I have going as well as some of the values we are looking to instill in those four kids.

First up is family. We’re a team, right? Not always a well-oiled machine but so far we’ve managed to get it done and generally get along. With four kids there are lots of different interests and even levels of interest within common pursuits. Throw in that those interests and the regular responsibilities of maintaining a family unit pull us in many directions and life gets a little wild.

That’s where getting out in the wild comes into play. Nothing like a good old family day trip for a bit of an escape. Sure, there’s still the customary, “Are we there yet?”, “Tell him to stop touching me!”, “The bugs are driving me crazy!”, “How long is this trail?”, “When can we go home”…If you’ve got kids you know the routine.

But what makes up for it are the comments that come once the dust settles and we have time to reflect on the adventure. Without fail, Julie and I also hear stuff like “Mom that was fun hiking through the forest”, “Dad do you remember when we saw that crawdad?”, “That was cool throwing walnuts off the bridge” and the clincher, “When can we go back?”

Yep, it’s rewarding to hear such positive feedback from our crew in a post trip assessment especially when it is a candid, unsolicited comment. It lets you know that something about the experience stuck and makes us parents walk a little taller with the feeling that we are doing something right.

Now more than ever the outdoors beckons for us more experienced folks to pass on its wonders to the kids of the sanitized, instant feedback, indoor computer age. Here’s to some quality time in the fresh air with dirt over hand sanitizer, field guides over phones, picnic baskets over drive thrus, ears over ear buds and forests over Fortnite.

At least for a while. Talk to you later. Troy