Category: Family Outdoors

Lake Storey Report – June 12

Last weekend we took the summer (almost) Lake Storey challenge during a weekend family camping trip. My brother, Brent, and I hit the water at sunrise and my oldest boy, Jayce, joined us as we wrapped up our day. As expected, conditions were quite weedy, but I must say that the water clarity was as good as I can recall being a clear green rather than the normal murky green. And as crazy as it sounds, we were the only trailer in the lot the whole Saturday morning. Read on for the results.

6:30am Brent with our first bass of the day caught on a spinnerbait

Stats
Date: June 12, 2021
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Time: 5:20am-12:35pm
Weather: Sunny/calm to breezy
Air Temp: 72-90F
Water Temp: 83-85F
Totals: 10 bass (Brent = 8, Troy = 1, Jayce = 1), 6 bluegill
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig – 8 bass, Spinnerbait (white) – 2 bass, Waxworms on a 1/16oz. jighead hung from a slip bobber – 6 bluegill
Top Bass: 1-11 Brent Senko
Top 5 Weight: 5-15 (1-11,1-3,1-2,1-0,0-15)

Trip Lyric
“’Cause, Mama, I’m so hard to handle now.”
Hard to Handle – Black Crowes (1990)

Several fish were hard to handle as seen in this snip from some GoPro video

Notes and Nonsense

Hot Seat – While not technically summer, you sure couldn’t tell as it was flat out hot, reaching 90F during the latter portion of our day. If you left your seat for even a short stretch of time, it sure got your attention when you sat back down. Same for my phone as I had to hide it in order to prevent the “iPhone needs to cool down before you can use it” message. You certainly can’t be without a phone at the ready on a day when bites are tough as you don’t want to miss a scattered photo opportunity.

 

Slippery Fish – It seemed like the fish were extra slippery on this outing as several got loose in the boat and one unfortunately slipped from the grip while getting a rinse. The latter was Jayce’s lone bass that had swallowed the hook on his Senko pretty good. As a result, it was bleeding, so I decided to wash it off before taking a pic. Jayce stated that it was a bad idea and despite what I felt was a good grip on the lip, his bass gave a good shake and swam away. I’m sure the bass was happy, but we had a boat full of disappointed anglers and Jayce threatened to not go fishing we me again. Can’t really say that I blame him after my boneheaded move that prevented a pic with his catch. At least we had the catch (and unintentional release) on video that will be posted another day.

12:13pm my lone bass of the day

Secret Weapon – Many times over the years, we have joked about having a “secret weapon” in tow that we plan to unleash on the fish with stellar results. Sometimes it’s an unorthodox or forgotten lure or perhaps a spray bottle of some can’t miss scent. In the case of this outing, it was Jayce. During the hour and a half that he spent casting with us at the end of the seven-hour trip, we caught the majority of our fish. Too bad I didn’t rouse him from the tent at 4:45am. Maybe next time.

Jayce, our “Secret Weapon” of the day with my bass as I let his get away later before snapping a pic

12:28pm Brent with Top Bass of the day as is slips away

Uncle Brent put a whooping on me on this trip. My youngest boy, Zac, had tagged along for a bit of boat ride and he is all about inquiring who is the better angler, his dad, or his uncle. Zac was right on the money on this day with his vote for Uncle Brent. No argument from me although I need to teach Zac about the whole front versus back of the boat excuse. I don’t think it would have mattered on this day. Talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report – June 5

A weekend camping trip along the historic Hennepin Canal afforded the opportunity to make a few casts. The heat was on with a blast of summer weather a few weeks early, but a handful of fish made it worth our while.

Stats
Date: June 5, 2021
Location: Hennepin Canal – Henry County, IL
Time: scattered during afternoon
Weather: Sunny/breezy
Air Temp: 90F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 3 bass (Troy – 2, Jayce – 1), 2 bluegill, 1 pumpkinseed
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (various colors) – 3 bass, Waxworms on a 1/16 oz. jighead hung from a slip bobber – 2 bluegill, 1 pumpkinseed
Top 5 Weight: 2-11 (1-10,1-1)

No giant, but my first Hennepin Canal bass was still rewarding

Notes and Nonsense

Paddle Fishing – A midday canoe rental found me, Carly and Jayce paddling through the weed choked waters in the 90-degree heat. We had a goal to reach a nearby lock and an hour to make the round-trip. Reaching the lock, I figured that we had time for some casts in the open water of the deeper pool and the first cast was a winner for my boy, Jayce. A solid canal catch made for some smiles, some excitement, and a proud dad before we turned around for the return paddle to the launch.

Jayce actually claimed the first Hennepin Canal bass for our family

New Species – Later in the afternoon, I tried my luck from the bank armed with a Senko for bass and some waxworms for panfish. Along the mossy bank of the canal, I found a couple open spots with a batch of panfish on beds. While they weren’t very cooperative, I did manage to fool a few, including my first ever pumpkinseed. This attractive member of the sunfish family was a cool and unexpected catch.

Going to have to add a new column to my spreadsheets for a new species

Top Bass – As my limited casting time window was winding down, I spotted a decent sized drum cruising in and out of sight in front of me. I dropped the Senko and waxworm in its vicinity numerous times along with reeling a crankbait past but not even a glance from my quarry. With only a few minutes of fishing time remaining, however, my Senko got a thump and a decent bend in the rod when I set the hook. For a moment, I thought the fight is on with my sought-after drum, but the catch turned out to be a 1-10 bass instead. All good.

Top Bass at 1-10 and I know where some bigger ones live now after a little scouting

Overall, a fun hour or so fooling around on some new water. I also made a few discoveries along the way that may bring me back to the canal with a few poles in the future. Plenty more to the weekend family adventure but those are tales for another post or two. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – June 3-5, 2016

Today, I am taking the easy way out and letting the pictures do the talking. The slideshow below looks back at a June 2016 family camping/fishing trip to Little John Conservation Club. We’re hoping to do more of both activities this year as the last few years our outings have been a bit sparse. Stay tuned on that project but for now enjoy some fish, family, and fun from five years ago this week. Talk to you later. Troy

3 Generations Fishing Report – May 22

Prior to a family birthday party, me and the boys joined Papa at his spot to chase some panfish and we weren’t disappointed. Not all about the catch with this crowd as conveyed in today’s report.

Stats
Date: May 22, 2021
Location: Lake Storey
Time: 10:45am-12:00pm
Weather: Partly cloudy/breezy
Air Temp: 70F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: Roughly 40 bluegill, 2 golden shiners, 1 redear
Lures: Waxworms on a 1/16 oz. jighead hung from a slip bobber

Zac added a redear to his personal species list with his first catch of the morning

Trip Tune
“Who Can It Be Now” – Men at Work (1982)
My kids have a varied musical interest thanks to a little 70s and 80s brainwashing from yours truly. This tune is a favorite and ideal for a sing along on the ride to the fishing hole.

A golden shiner was a new species for me at Lake Storey although Dad has caught several in the last few years

The United States of Beef Jerky – We picked up breakfast on the way out of town consisting of spicy chips, Oreo bites, chocolate milk, Mountain Dew, unsweetened iced tea, and a couple bags of beef jerky (it was on sale). Zac grabbed a piece of jerky that he reckoned looked like North Dakota and it was on. A couple “states” in the video required some chewing while the rest were straight from the factory. Do we know how to have fun or what? Feel free to send me any additions that you may encounter in that next bag of beef.

 

Terms – I can’t recall the topic but somewhere along the ride my boys learned the saying, “Open a can of whoop@$$.” They found it rather amusing, and I asked Jayce to record it on the voice memos on my phone. He did so but wouldn’t use the “bad word” even though I told him it was fine. I also learned something new as Zac asked about a bug that had breezed by at one point. Jayce informed that it was a “three-horned monkey wasp.” As a guy with a biology degree and an entomological appreciation, I was impressed with his quick identification. Just wish we’d gotten a picture of this new species.

Croc Rescue– A highlight of the trip was watching one of Zac’s brand-new Crocs blow across the lake out of grasp and casting distance. Somehow, he managed to launch if off his foot and well beyond his reach. The wind rapidly pushed it past the depth of my knee boots and several casts failed to hook the floating footwear. Fortunately, the wind direction was perfect, and the croc wound up across the cove along a limited stretch of easily accessible bank. We all got a laugh and a “don’t tell Mom.” All’s well that ends well and Mom got wind of the story but just shook her head in what I interpreted as a “boys will be boys” statement.

 

Sponsor Quest – Unlike real bloggers and YouTubers, I have no sponsors. However, the boys talked me into supper, so Culver’s, if you are out there, this makes two stops in a row on the return home from a fishing trip. In addition, the Cubs broadcasts tout a product called “FunkAway.” Well, my boys are getting to the ages where it gets a little ripe in the cab of a truck after a full day outdoors. I suppose we might as well throw in a beef jerky sponsor along the way. Perhaps one day we will get a spot in a commercial with Sasquatch, a dream come true for this crew.

The boys usually ask on the ride what time we will get home and my 8:09pm guess was only off by 15 seconds as we reached the driveway at 8:08pm and waited for the display to change.

Sure, we caught some fish, too. But with Papa as our guide that was to be expected as there are just a few years of experience for that guy in the camping chair. Talk to you later. Troy

Boys’ Fishing Report – May 16

Me and my boys were looking to make some casts, but we did not have enough time on a Sunday afternoon/evening to make the drive to our regular stomping grounds. Instead, it provided an opportunity to look around at some local Quad City fishing holes, which is something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time. We took a shot at a pair of destinations, spending about a half hour at each spot to see what we could learn. We did our searching with a Senko wacky rig and waxworms hung from a slip bobber. Read on for the stats, a classic Trip Tune and the lessons learned.

Stats
Date: May 16, 2021
Location: Prospect Park and Hennepin Canal
Time: 3:30pm-6:00pm (one hour of fishing, see below)
Weather: Overcast/breezy
Air Temp: 68F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 6 bluegill
Lures: Waxworms on a 1/16 oz. jighead hung from a slip bobber

Trip Tune
“Sink the Bismarck” – Johnny Horton (1960)
My boys could actually care less on this tune as they were goofing off on the ride, but you can sure bet that I was singing along. I dig some Johnny Horton as it takes me back to my childhood and some old 45 records. My folks had “Sink the Bismarck” and my cousin Ronnie’s house had “The Battle of New Orleans”, absolute classics. Of course, I later discovered “North to Alaska”, “When It’s Springtime in Alaska” and more, awesome cuts.

Lessons
If you don’t learn something new from each fishing trip, you aren’t paying close enough attention. Here’s the list from our adventure.

Bait – We ran out of our old waxworms and the reliable Carbon Cliff baitshop was closed, prompting a search. The Shell station in Colona was a winner after the 7-Eleven came up empty although they did have a bait cooler with some dew worms.

Spoiled – Much of my time on the water is rather isolated and affords a measure of privacy when nature calls. To paraphrase Shakespeare, “All the world’s a bathroom” out there on the strip mines. The spots we fished on this outing, however, were crawling with people which posed a bit of an issue for the fifty-something boy on this trip. All’s well that ended well (barely) with a pit stop at home on the way to find more waxworms. However, the boys delighted in talking of flowing water, a big iced tea, and waterfalls during that leg of the journey. Good to know, that my boys will be boys.

Prospect Park – Little bluegills were the catch and I saw some bass in there that were as small as minnows at the local baitshop. First impression left much to be desired but perhaps the big ones were just smarter than us.

Hennepin Canal – We hit a spot in Colona that afforded a bit of space among several other anglers. It was our second choice as the first was quite crowded which did not surprise me in the least on a pleasant Sunday evening. The canal did produce a few decent bites and there are many more miles of water to explore on the historic corridor. A stretch to the east is on my radar and we are looking to explore in that direction later this spring.

Practice – There is only one way to get the hang of casting in close quarters and it’s called “practice.” One of the youngsters on this trip got in such practice. If you recognize any of the background scenery in some of the photos, there is a Senko for you up in a tree across the canal. I mean, way up in a tree. In addition, there were a few casts that I have no idea how the lure was rescued. That’s part of practice, too.

An entertaining afternoon/evening adventure with my boys that consisted more of just hanging out than actually fishing. All good, as it is always fun to break the kids up a bit to get some two on one time as a parent of four. I have a couple prospects on fishing before the end of May so here’s hoping that they pan out. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – April 24

Last weekend, things finally aligned to get some of the kids out for a fishing trip. Initially, the only taker was my older son, Jayce, when I inquired on Friday night. However, the following morning, my younger boy, Zac, surprised me with “When are we going fishing?” Turns out that his decision to join the crew likely made it a more successful outing as we fished and explored for nearly three hours. I believe that having a brother along made it more fun that just hanging out with Dad. And that’s just fine as I got a kick out of the pair wandering the bank with a GoPro in tow as I leisurely reeled in a batch of bluegill. Read on for the results and some observations.

Top Bass on a Senko wacky rig

Stats

Date: April 24, 2021
Location: Knox County, IL public strip mine
Time: 3:35pm-6:35pm
Weather: Partly cloudy/windy
Air Temp: 64F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 42 bluegill, 3 bass, 1 crappie
Lures: Waxworms on a jighead hung from a slip bobber, Senko wacky rig
Top Bass: Jayce at 1-3

Bonus Stats
Drinks: 3 Mountain Dews, 2 Unsweetened Teas, 1 Dr. Pepper, 2 bottled waters
Grub: 2 Andy Capp Hot Fries, 2 orders of Buffalo Chicken strips, 2 orders of cheese curds, 1 shrimp basket, 1 order of onion rings, 1 pack of M&Ms

 

Notes and Nonsense

Antics and Chatter – Leading a pair of young boys on a fishing trip is, well, a trip. I observed a rendition of a portion of a Napoleon Dynamite dance as Zac apparently thought his boots were comparable to the movie character’s. I caught bits and pieces of a discussion on the outcome of a Spawn vs. Ghost Rider battle. We stumbled upon what were termed “polders”, a portmanteau of “pole” and “holders” that were actually crawdad holes. We dealt as best as we could with some funk in the cab of the truck as boots and shoes were ditched from achy feet. There were also a couple instances reminiscent of the Blazing Saddles campfire scene.

First known shot of a “polder”

We’ll Be Back – The boys had watched the original Terminator movie in the morning before we took off to the fishing hole. As a result, we were keeping our eyes open and evading the Schwarzenegger character on our adventure. First up, was a suspicious fellow on a motorcycle at the bait shop in Carbon Cliff. Various other cyclists crossed our path along with several fuel tankers and we also observed a pair of countryside fires that we suspected were his handiwork. Fortunately, we all came through unscathed. In reviewing the boys’ GoPro footage, I also became aware that Bigfoot was stalking us at some point. I guess what you don’t know can’t hurt you.

 

And the Winner is… – Zac was the bluegill champ and requested that I text Mom to “tell her that I caught two more bluegill than you.” Well, I eventually did convey that tidbit and now I share it with those who are reading along. A good boost of fishing confidence for the young fellow; bluegills are great for just such a thing.

Regardless of who caught the most fish, we were all winners on this trip. I was pleased with the boys’ effort in tackling a fifteen-minute walk to our fishing hole as well as their continued interest in getting some fresh air. In fact, they were all set to take another adventure lap around the lake before I informed them that it was best that we grab some supper and visit Grandma and Papa. Even fishing took a backseat to the latter prospect as the last year has been tough on all of us. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – April 13, 2011

Originally posted 4-21-11 as “That’s Our Boy”

While I‘m no blogging expert, I’d say you can’t go wrong with a post about taking a kid fishing.

Although I hadn’t anticipated getting on the water for a while, I managed to get in a bonus trip when Dad called one day last week to invite me and my son, Jayce, to visit a Warren County farm pond. It was a perfect opportunity for three generations of Jackson boys to spend some time together outdoors and for Julie to get some peace and quiet since the girls were at school.

We spent a little over an hour at the pond where I was able to shoot some video and fire off a handful of pictures. As a parent it’s tough to weed out the “bad” photos of your kid so I’ve included more than a few to accompany the words.

Jayce was quite excited to simply splash around with a film canister clamped over the lure on one of Papa’s poles catching what we’ve always referred to as “moss bass.”
When a real fish came along, he was more than eager to help by placing bluegills in our bucket.

Bass were released to fight again provided they recovered from a crash-landing courtesy of an almost two-year old’s less than gentle technique. At least he hit the water though as he’s got a pretty decent arm. Jayce did experience a bit of technical difficulty as he occasionally held his spinning rig upside down. We’ve always laughed at actors doing this in a television show or a movie, so the boy still needs some more work.

Our boy holds his rod and reel correctly these days, plenty of learning in the last 10 years

We watched a snake swim across the pond and the little guy got to experience his first tick. I found the nasty critter crawling up the back of Jayce’s neck as he sat with me on the ground fishing. I later found another one on the front of my sweatshirt prompting a rash of phantom ticks for Dad and me the rest of the trip while Jayce was none the worse for wear.

Papa also took Jayce for a hike showing him how to recognize a good spot to catch a coon in a 220 boxset. Upon returning, Jayce informed me that he’d seen a “toon”, but I suspected that he was just telling stories.

Further story telling was done to a herd of cows well beyond earshot as Jayce rambled on in that wonderful little kid version of English that occasionally uses a recognizable word. He also gave his sisters an earful after school that was at least descriptive enough to make them a bit jealous.

 

Oh yeah, since it was a “fishing” trip I suppose I should include the side note that a handful of bluegill and small bass were caught on light jigheads with twister tails (smoke or chartreuse) and tube jigs (pink/white); simply icing on the cake. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – October 8

With three fishing trips in five days, it’s hard to keep up with the fishing reports here on the blog. Today, we have Part II of the fishing report from last week’s outing with Dad/Papa and my boy, Jayce. While Part I focused largely on the peripherals, Part II resembles more of my standard report.

2:47pm – Top Bass (yes, I used this pic in a previous post but it’s a darn good shot)

Stats
Date: October 8, 2020
Location: Knox County, IL strip mines (2 lakes)
Time: 3:30pm-6:45pm (3 hours fishing)
Weather: Partly cloudy to sunny/breezy
Air Temp: 70F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 8 bass (everybody got at least one)
Lures: Senko wacky rig (various) – 8 bass
Top Bass: 1-3 (Senko)
Weight (all bass): 4-10

3:18pm – Top Bass Runner-Up

Notes and Nonsense

Guesstimation – I’ve touched on this contest before, most recently on a Lake McMaster outing with my brother, Brent. For this trip, Papa read my mind and had each of us make a guess regarding our success as we drove to the fishing hole. The pic below is the official document and reading from top to bottom each angler predicted our total number of bass, a species count, a Top Bass weight and Total Weight for all of our bass combined. For this outing we opted to weigh every bass instead of only recording the Top 5 meeting the 12” minimum length criteria.

The official “Guess Sheet”

5:10pm – we weighed them all and this one registered at five ounces

And The Winner Is – I guess that I would have to go with Papa for the victory as his weight prediction was only a mere ounce from our actual total. The rest of our estimates really didn’t pan out as our two fishing holes proved to be a bit finicky. I did toss around a Gulp minnow on a jighead hung from a bobber but found no takers among the panfish. Top Bass also fell well shy of our hopes which was also unfortunate as it is extra cool to get a nice fish with a young angler onboard.

I enjoy that Jayce enjoys handling the release duties on everyone’s catches

I guess you’d call this a handheld livewell as Jayce gives a catch a delayed release

The Extras – I’m not sure on the ratio, but me and Papa made substantially more casts than our young angler. On the flipside though, we spent a lot less time dunking the dipnet, examining/releasing our catches and collecting aquatic vegetation. It’s all part of the “make your own adventure” aspect of a fishing trip or an outdoor outing in general. You just can’t beat it when your boy says, “This is fun” during a fishing trip at a point when he hasn’t even made a cast for probably fifteen minutes. And even better as he honestly wasn’t missing much in terms of catching.

Found this unintended casualty of random dipnetting after we got the boat back in the garage

A most excellent adventure with quality time for three generations on what Jayce described as “the longest fishing trip I’ve ever been on.” Indeed, at roughly three hours on the water, I believe we set a new record (and that does not include the roughly two and a half hour combined truck time). Later that evening, I was further rewarded as I overheard Jayce telling his sisters about the day on the water. Mission accomplished. Talk to you later. Troy

Much More Than Fishing

At some point, most folks come to realize that a fishing trip ain’t just about the catch. I’ve always enjoyed the peripherals of outdoor adventures over the years whether fishing or trapping. Things like observing nature, shooting the breeze on the ride, razzing each other over breakfast, stopping for a treat on the way home and so on. Of course, as I have put a few more years behind me and added a wife and family to the equation, the outdoor perspective has continued to evolve. Earlier this week, the stars were aligned allowing for me, my son Jayce and Papa to get outdoors for some quality time. Here are some tunes, tales and treats with a handful of bass for icing on the cake.

I like my tunes on the ride and Jayce is developing a pretty solid appreciation and recognition of my 70s and 80s musical stomping grounds. Our mission during the commute time was to select the favorite jam that we heard while surfing the FM dial.

Top Tunes
Jayce – “Smooth Criminal”, Michael Jackson (1988)
Dad – “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, Alice Cooper (1973)
Papa – no selection as we were too busy telling stories for the radio

I call this “Pass the bass” but, of course, it’s a lot more than that

Old Tales
Having fished together for so many years, me and Dad naturally have quite a collection of stories. Throw in a couple lifetimes in Knox County and, well, Jayce got an earful.

Muskie Mania
So, Jayce mentioned wanting to muskie fish…
Me: “One time me and Papa fished Lake Storey and I fished for muskie while he fished for bass.”
Papa: “Tell Jayce how that turned out.”
Me: “I caught nothing, never even saw a muskie while Papa caught 25 bass.”
Papa: “Best Lake Storey bass fishing day ever.”

Missing Metropolis
Me: “There used to be a town here. It was called Appleton.”

Coonhunting
Papa (east of Appleton): “Me and my dad used to coon hunt over there, drove that lane back into the timber.”
Papa: (east of Victoria): “Used to coonhunt over that way with a guy named ‘Stew’, think he had a relative who lived there.”

Old Fish Story
Me: “Papa caught a good one right here one time.”
Papa: “That’s the one that swam under the boat and jumped out of the water behind us.”

Older Fish Stories
Papa: “I saw Uncle Frank hook a northern here at Little John a long time ago.
Me: “I saw Uncle Brent catch one in the 80s, last one I’ve seen out here.”

One of the new tales related below

New Tales
Of course, new stories arise from every trip and we certainly managed a few on our outing. I can imagine Jayce telling his siblings on our next visit to Little John and who knows, maybe one day relating the adventures to his kids, nephews or nieces.
Each tale could begin something like this:
“One time, me, Dad and Papa were out here fishing…”
AND
“We caught a praying mantis out of the water in a dipnet.”
“I first learned how to drive a foot controlled trolling motor.”
“I got a bass stuck in the dipnet, he was hanging by his lip and Papa had to get him out.”
“I got to ride in the boat or stand in the back of the truck as we drove through Little John.”
“Every time I went to grab the gate key from Papa he would drop it before I could grab it.”
“If you look real hard you can see a Senko worm up there about twenty feet high in that tree.”

Oh yeah, we also caught some bass but I’ll save that for Part II of the report.

In closing, I would also like to thank our “Sponsors” on this trip.
HyVee Gas, Mountain Dew, Little Debbie, Oreos, Taco Bell, Culver’s, Yamamoto Lures and Bass Tracker (circa 1987) – sure would be nice if they actually gave us free stuff.

Almost home and too big to carry into the house these days.

Talk to you later. Troy

Camping – 27 Hours in 3 Minutes

Last weekend we got in our first camping trip of the year. Actually it was the first camping trip in three years. Obviously, 2020 has been quite strange. So strange that most folks couldn’t even go camping unless they had a secluded spot. And even that possibility for us had some limitations. But with an ease in opening up some amenities (read pit toilets), we were off and running as our weekends are quite free as of late.

Rather than a ramble, I’m opting for a video and slideshow recap of our chance to get away from home.

 

A good time was had by all. So much so that plans are in the works to do it again soon. Talk to you later. Troy