Category: Family Outdoors

Hennepin Canal Family Fishing Report

A Father’s Day weekend camping trip along The Canal offered an opportunity to get the family out for a couple hikes on Friday and Saturday evenings in search of some bites. It turns out that we had such a good time that we went exploring one more time on Sunday evening after wrapping up our camping trip. Read on for the stats, notes, and video.

June 17 evening outing with the boys


Date: June 16-18
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 5.50 hours total
Totals: 13 bass, 24 panfish (22 bluegill, 1 pumpkinseed, 1 warmouth)
Weather: Sunny/breezy, 64-82F
Lures: Bass – Senko/Yum Dinger wacky rig, Panfish – waxworms on jighead and slip bobber
Top Bass: 2-13 Senko (Carly)
Top 5 Weight: 6-13 (2-13,1-3,1-2,0-14,0-13)

Waxworms on a slip bobber setup is a favorite panfish rig

Wacky rigged worms are a great fit for young (and not so young) anglers

Family Top 5 and totals from the weekend


Notes and Nonsense

Field Testing – If you are introducing kids to bass fishing, it is hard to beat a wacky rigged worm once the water warms up. It is easy to cast on a spinning setup, has only one hook, requires minimal retrieve action, and flat out catches fish. I favor the 5” Yamamoto Senko but also opted for some Yum Dingers for the kids as they are cheaper, and I anticipated a few presentations ending up in trees or not coming back from various underwater obstructions. The Yum Dingers did just fine.

June 17 family fishing evening


Restock – After a Saturday evening trip resulted in a couple lost Senko setups, I found that I needed to replenish my hooks. Prior to our Sunday evening trip, I grabbed another pack of fifteen hooks from a local fishing aisle. Well, by the end of our Sunday evening, many of those new hooks had also been “donated” to The Canal. A learning experience and good practice as prowling the banks of The Canal can present some casting and retrieving challenges.

Advanced “scouting” and playing fishing guide can be workout.

Exercise – As noted in the screenshot above, I got a workout on Sunday. Early morning was a solo walk on The Canal followed by more steps as we packed up at the campsite. Next was a walk through the local fishing aisle in search of more hooks and some Yum Dingers. Finally, I played fishing guide on our evening stop along The Canal. Those final couple hours featured numerous steps between the five anglers dishing out waxworms, assisting with an occasional cast or advice, retying after snags, logging catches, shooting pictures/video, and other associated tasks. I never reeled in a fish or even made a cast of my own and that was just fine.

Screenshot from Carly’s Top Bass catch (2-13). Negotiations are ongoing on whether she will let me post the full video…

Wrap-up – Everyone landed a handful of fish over the course of the weekend. Helena got us started with the first catches on both Saturday and Sunday. Carly was the Bassmaster on Saturday with five catches and Top Bass of the trip. Jayce posted a Top 5 bass among his catches. Zac also posted a Top 5 bass and tied Carly for the species title at three. Mom also posted a Top 5 catch along with several panfish while being part-time guide and pointing me to a couple bass that she saw or heard near her fishing spot.

June 18 family fishing evening


The Father’s Day weekend fishing adventure drew to a close as dusk approached on Sunday. But family time continued with a silly ride, Casey’s pizza pickup on the way home, and opening some gifts. It was a great weekend that kicked off with camping and some casting on Friday around 4:00pm and concluded with those final slices of pizza near 10:00pm on Sunday. And the cool thing was that everybody was still laughing and getting along after hanging out all weekend. As a dad, I couldn’t ask for more. Talk to you later. Troy

Sledding Silliness

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

Fingers crossed and talk to you later. Troy

No Dice On The Ice

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

Our deluxe ice fishing bucket

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

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

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

Who needs a billboard or bumper stickers?

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

Grandkids/Cousins Fishing Report

This summer, my folks have played fishing guides for their grandkids on several occasions. While the kids have fished to varying degrees over the years, the crew has really seemed to catch the bug this year. There’s no better evidence than the request, “Papa, when are we going fishing again?”

13 poles geared up for the crew and Dad reported not a single lure lost in a tree or to a snag, quite impressive

Well, Mom sent me a handful of pics from the latest outing and reported that all who took part landed some fish. Check out the slideshow as pictures speak louder than words.



Talk to you later. Troy

The Yurt Life


yurt (noun) – a circular tent of felt or skins on a collapsible framework, used by nomads in Mongolia, Siberia, and Turkey (or Geneseo)

As we await another summer reservation at “The Yurt,” let’s look back at last summer’s nomadic, family adventure. For a family that has spent all our camping trips in a tent or two, the prospect of “glamping” in a yurt seemed quite appealing. Even better, we didn’t have to travel to Mongolia. Instead, we trekked a whole 15.8 miles from the crib to the yurt. Now, that’s my kind of trip. Less time driving and more time living large like a spoiled Mongol (air conditioning, microwave, mini-fridge, bunkbeds…).


Not only was the yurt a hit (although the air conditioner gave out) but we kept plenty busy with outdoor activities. The list included a canoe ride, fishing, pedaling surrey carts, cooling off in a sprinkler pad, smores, burning stuff in a fire pit and hiking.

A fun time was had by all, including Daniel Tiger who was a stowaway. His presence made for an entertaining bit of hide and seek as each finder would stash him away in a new location.

The plan is to do it again this summer. Perhaps Daniel Tiger will tag along and maybe bring a friend or two.

Stay tuned as I intend to post the new adventure in a bit timelier fashion than a year later. Talk to you later. Troy

Panfish with Papa

Generally speaking, around Mother’s Day/mid-May is a good time to visit the fishing hole in pursuit of some panfish. Dad’s been doing that sort of thing for a long, long time on Galesburg’s Lake Storey. And for several years, kids and some grandkids have tagged along with some waxworms and bobbers of their own. This year, it was me and one of my boys, Jayce, who joined forces. While the weather conditions were quite pleasant, the water conditions were a mess after a storm the previous evening. The bite was not on fire, but we did find enough to keep us interested. Of course, we just have a good time hanging out, telling tales, talking trash, and goofing off.


A good time was had by all. Well, except for a batch of bluegill and golden shiners. Talk to you later. Troy

Sledding Highlight Video

As I’m not much of an icefisherman, blogging takes the place of my fishing fix during the hard water phase of the year. In terms of true outdoor activity, mine primarily consists of shoveling the driveway. However, this weekend my ten-year old boy convinced me that we should take advantage of the recent snow and visit the neighborhood sledding hill. We had a good time and came through unscathed despite a few wipeouts (some intentional, I believe). We packed along the GoPro to shoot some footage and wound up with the highlight reel below.


Next up, we crown the 2021 Top 5 Champ with a look at the final stats. A follow-up post will also look at the all-time Top 5 Stats covering eight years of fellow anglers sharing fish stories. Talk to you later. Troy

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

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.

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