Category: Family Outdoors

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to my dad, Terry Jackson.

13 pictures today as that represents his number (and my favorite as well). This collection spanning the 70s to present conveys what an outdoor/fishing dad is all about. They leave little doubt as to why I kind of dig this fishing thing and go a long way to explaining why I’ve taken up this little corner of cyberspace. Just can’t beat “fish stories.”

1972 – Dad with Brent Jackson and a pair of quality farm pond bass

1980 – Camping and bankpoling with kids (left to right) Brenda Boyer-Cornell, Tara “Sis” Jackson (with Curious George), Thad “Bub” Jackson, Scott Boyer and grown ups (left to right) Kenny Boyer and Dad

1980s – Bankpole haul with Dad, Brent and Bub Jackson

1980s – Float trip catch with Brent Jackson and Dad

1980s – float trip catch with Dad and Brent Jackson

1994 – Bankpole catch from Pat’s Creek with Dad and Troy Jackson

2002 – Creek fishing at Pat’s Creek with Brent Jackson and Dad

2002 – Bankpole fishing at Pat’s Creek with Troy, Brent and Dad

2004 – Icefishing at Emstrom’s Pond with Troy Jackson, Tim Townsend and Dad

2010 – Lake Storey with Jayce Jackson (poor kid is wearing his sister’s or cousin’s life jacket), Troy Jackson and Dad

2012 – Lake Storey with Dad and Troy Jackson with a “double” emphasizing the “fun” and “foolishness” aspects that this website was founded upon


2013 – Lake Storey with Zac Jackson, Brent Jackson and Dad

2017 – Little John “Lake Lowdown” outing with Dad (click here for original posting)

Of course, this meager collection barely scratches the surface of the photo albums, tubs and baggies full of outdoor pics. And while I do believe that “a picture is worth a thousand words” I’ll just let the photos suffice for today.

Thanks, Dad, for getting me hooked. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – June 7, 2013

Today’s flashback takes a look at a family past time that we have yet to take a stab at this year. We had a camping/fishing trip in the works for last weekend but chickened out amidst the influx of gnats and mosquitoes to kick off summer break. In addition, there was a couple batches of thunderstorms poised to move through the area. Did that routine twice last year and not much fun for some folks who still subscribe to tent camping.

As it turned out, the storms never materialized last weekend although the bugs remained. At any rate, we kind of kicked ourselves for not giving it a shot. Still a batch of weekends to go before back to school but sure seems like it moves a lot faster than when I was a kid.

And by the way, here’s how this 2013 campout panned out via details from the original blog entry submitted at my former blogging outlet.

5:30pm – Me, Julie, Helena, Carly and Jayce arrive at Little John and get things set up along with starting a fire for hot dogs and s’mores. Our littlest family member, Zac, is to be delivered by my folks a bit later as it is near impossible to watch him and accomplish anything at the same time.
7:15pm – The soon to be two year old arrives with my parents. While not technically a “terrible two”, he is quite active.
10:15pm – Due to Jayce developing a nasty cough, we decide that it would be best for Julie to haul him home along with his little brother while I remain camping with the girls.
10:40pm – Helena says that she doesn’t feel well and she and Carly decide that they should go home. Rather than fight it and risk losing my temper, I calmly decide that we too should also depart.
11:20pm – The entire Jackson clan is home to sleep in their own beds following less than six hours in the wild (which is actually probably less wild than our home some days).

The pics included in this post were actually from the following day when we headed back to the campsite. We stayed long enough that afternoon/evening to fish, cook out and have some s’mores before tearing down the tent and heading home. Sounds like at least we were braver and more dedicated back then. And I must add, a lot less wore out. Talk to you later. Troy

Happy Birthday, Jayce

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Top 5 Update (will appear tomorrow) to wish one of my co-anglers a Happy Birthday.

(Note: also wish to give thanks to those we honor on this Memorial Day. Much debate over the state of our country these days but no place I would rather live. I found it a welcome sight when driving through a local main street yesterday as it was lined with flags and littered with the lawn chairs of folks reserving a spot for the upcoming parade. I leave the bickering for other social media spots and keep my website dialed into a positive vibe so I’ll just say that it made me feel good and I’ll leave it at that.)

Today marks birthday number 9 for our oldest boy, Jayce, and as always I can come up with an outdoor tale to pass along. In this case, I got a little help on what to post courtesy of a birthday gift that Jayce received from his Uncle Brent during a family celebration yesterday.

The spinnerbait pictured above is the latest version of something that I dubbed “The Emiquon Special” after watching Brent wield it en route to a 98 bass day on his first ever visit to The Emiquon Preserve back on October 7, 2009. While not all 98 of his bass fell to this legendary bait, it caught the vast majority and his final flourish in pursuit of the century mark had me setting down my rod and reel to simply watch the spectacle. Anyway, there’s actually a little more to the story as Brent’s use of this spinnerbait color scheme goes back to the mid-80s and over 30 years later he’ still fooling them on the latest version of the bait, pics and tales for another day.

Don’t know if Jayce realizes exactly what he’s got a hold of with this piece of family fishing history which was handcrafted by his Uncle Brent, the angler who made it famous. Pretty cool and will be fun to watch when we put the new weapon in his arsenal to use. Spinnerbaits have a little bit more of a learning curve than the baits Jayce has already put to work primarily in the aspect that you generally need to get the bait moving shortly after it hits the water. Simply another skill for our young angler to work on and once he gets the hang of it I suspect the Emiquon Special and the bass will take care of the rest.

So, while Jayce and I wait for a chance to get on the water together for some practice, I told him that I’d just keep the lure nice and safe in my tacklebox. For you see, Uncle Brent has never made one of these for his older brother.

Further fishing stuff for Jayce’s tacklebox courtesy of Papa

Happy Birthday to my fishing buddy Jayce.

Talk to you later. Dad

Am I A Bad Fisherman?

I had a shot at getting in a few hours on the water this morning and guess what I did?

Yep, I slept in, instead.

Turned out that conditions looked halfway decent though during one of the regular times I woke up. Around 6:00am there were overcast skies and a slight breeze on the heels of what looked to have been some showers. Now, as I put this post together, the sun has come on full force and the breeze has picked up with temperatures rising into the low 70s. Overall, a darn good morning to fish.

Thus, passing up my chance kind of has me wondering if I made a good decision. In addition, as I profess to be such a fan of this hobby, I started to ponder “Am I a Bad Fisherman?”

Nothing to do with skill set and bad habits, this question revolves solely around dedication.

May 23 – Helena “Night of the Stars” awards for 8th grade

Yesterday was just another of our crazy May days with the mind and body on full throttle from 6:00am until 10:00pm with a full slate of work and family activity. As a result, I had nothing prepared for an anticipated sunrise first cast and frankly, I was just plain wore out.

May 14 – Our oboist, Carly, recognized for a job well done in the Glenview Beginner Band

Now, May is among the lengthiest months at 31 days so there should be ample time to fit everything in right? Well, here’s my list of excuses leading up to fatigue winning over fishing with a list of all of our May commitments below (probably even forgot to include a few).

13 baseball practices or games (helping coach too)
7 Tae Kwon Do lessons
3 Graduation activities (ceremonies or parties)
3 Birthday activities
3 Oboe lessons
3 Color Guard practices
2 Musicals/plays
2 Band activities (concert and awards)
2 End of year school awards ceremonies
2 Tutoring sessions
2 Field trips
2 Kid fishing trips
1 JDRF walk
1 Kid fun run
1 Wedding
1 Bridal shower
1 Moving day assistance
1 Mother’s Day (Julie hasn’t been fishing for years so guess I’ve actually got it made)

Mother’s Day at Pizza Hut with all the folks who make Julie a Mom

Interspersed through today’s post I have included the reasons why it is okay to be a “bad” fisherman when it comes to skipping out on an opportunity. Better to invest your time in doing your best to be a good spouse, parent, family member, friend, employee and so on. I dig fishing and would love to do it anytime I could. Well, except for this morning and the rest of those items above result in being just flat out wore out come Friday night/Saturday morning.

May 21 – Jayce’s black belt now hangs in the studio as incentive to work hard for the next six months 

Oh yeah, I nearly forgot that there was also a Grandparents Day for the boys at school with my folks. Of course, I didn’t have to worry about anything associated with that gig but got me to thinking that I should ask my parents, “Why didn’t you warn me about what lie on the horizon?” Actually, they did, by example, you just roll with taking care of everybody. I was just too busy with my own activities to comprehend that their world also revolved around a total of four kids. Funny how this has all turned out.

May 1 – Silvis Cub, Zac (3B), reminiscent of Kris Bryant, Ron Santo or perhaps a Knox College Siwash fellow who manned the “hot corner” in the 80s.

Okay, time to end this well rested rant, feels good and kind of recharged for the home stretch of this wild month. Actually get an extended weekend as well, so perhaps I can make it up to the fish for leaving them hanging this morning. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – June 2, 2008


A whole different ballgame when kid fishing. Beginning in the late 2000’s it started kicking into full gear and it hasn’t stopped since. Just got a little more crowded on the bank or in the boat.


But for today’s flashback we head back to a time when there were only a pair of little girls armed with a Princess or Mickey Mouse pole, slip bobbers, 1/32 oz. jigheads and a couple dozen waxworms. This outing was part of a family camping trip to Little John Conservation Club as described below in the original posting that I submitted to family and friends back on June 15, 2008.

“My haul in the last month consists of three bluegill, one green sunfish and one small bass from Little John’s Well Lake. The bass hit on a Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait while the others bit on a waxworm and jighead hung from a slip bobber on either a Mickey Mouse or Disney Princess pole. Somehow I ended up with the kiddie poles during a fishing lesson for the girls while camping at Little John on June 2nd and 3rd. The girls were more content helping me cast out and then reeling in large masses of moss or leaves in addition to throwing rocks and sticks into the fishing hole. They also enjoyed playing with the waxworms instead of feeding them to the fish. Both did actually ‘pet’ our catch and Carly even tried to grab a hold of one of our bluegills in order to help turn him loose. Fishing, or whatever you would call what we did, was great. We spent a total of 15 hours camping, from 5:00pm on June 2nd until 8:00am on June 3rd when the impending thunderstorms sent us packing. However, in our meager time we were able to cram in playground activities, fishing, building a fire for hot dogs and s’mores, playing in the tent and even a few relaxing beverages for the parents. A good time was had by all despite not getting to follow through on the girls’ much anticipated visit to the swimming hole; maybe next time.”

And over the years, there have been plenty of “next times”; may even see one in a future Friday Flashback as we head into June. In addition, we have our sights set on creating a few more “next times” over summer break. Talk to you later. Troy

More Than the Catch

You know, I could probably write all day about the five hour trip I enjoyed with my boy, Jayce, back on Cinco de Mayo. Stats, pics and video of his catches have already graced the blog and the Troy Jackson Outdoors Facebook page. But those items only tell part of the story as a fishing trip is always about more than the fish.

Cloudy Imagination – As we made the ten minute stroll to the fishing hole, Jayce said, “Hey, Dad check out that cloud!” Well, there were plenty of scattered clouds so I told him that I wasn’t quite sure exactly where to look. So, he points and adds “that one over there that looks like a penguin with Mickey Mouse gloves and a mustache.” Oh, that one. Pretty obvious to one of us at least and I’ll leave it to you to let your imagination do its thing with the actual shot above.

Jimmy Who? – Jayce doesn’t have the slightest idea who Jimmy Houston is and for anyone else out there who is not familiar here’s a brief bio. Houston is a bass fishing legend and Fishing Hall of Famer who had a successful career as a tournament angler and parlayed that success into a long running outdoor television program. An entertaining and enthusiastic fellow, one of his trademarks was kissing bass. So, when Jayce pulled this stunt on our trip I had to laugh and applaud his appreciation of the catch. I think I’ll stick to a pic and standard release, however.


Gnats and Worms and Jayce, Oh My! – The video above demonstrates that Jayce still had plenty left in the tank for the three quarter mile walk back to the truck at the end of our day. His gyrations did have a purpose beyond being goofy as the gnats had gotten out of control. The bag he is wielding contained our bait (waxworms) so those larvae that eluded being fed to a fish sure wound up with a wild ride as evidenced by the pic below.

Favorite Quote – Although there were plenty of choices for this one, I’d have to say that, “Dad, I like your laugh” was the best of the bunch. It’s always interesting to relive an adventure via GoPro or iPhone video after returning home and it still kind of strikes me as a bit goofy when hearing/seeing yourself on audio/video. Completely unscripted, unlike the big boys in the world of media content creation, just a guy and his kid going fishing. So when your kid comments on the way you express your enjoyment of a shared adventure it’s priceless. I suppose someday, more than a few years from now, he will come to appreciate all that lies underneath that involuntary reaction to some quality father-son time.

Always entertaining, enlightening and unpredictable when you get kids out chasing some fish. Then again, that’s just plain fishing, big kid or little kid. And no better place than the outdoors for some bonding and a chance to leave the modern, technological world behind. Well, except for a cell phone and a GoPro. But those contradictions are fodder for another day. Talk to you later. Troy

2017 Wrap Up – Partners

Today we look back at who I spent time with in the boat or on the bank during 2017. And these days it’s not too surprising that I happened to be related to every one of them.

Now, when I initially thought back on 2017, I found myself thinking that I had been rather selfish in my fishing with nearly all of my fishing time spent flying solo chasing those darn bass. There’d been plenty of requests to tag along from the kids which didn’t materialize for various reasons, such as a reluctance to get out of bed at 4:30am. It is also a tough sell on a long day as I selfishly like to put in more than a few hours, particularly when hitting my old stomping grounds as they require about a two hour round trip.

Okay, enough of the excuses, gonna look to boost time on the water with some fishing partners as part of the Resolutions posted for 2018.

And, actually, when looking back there was a lot more of that quality family time than I initially thought, just look below.

May 27 and May 29
Got the kids out on these two occasions on a pothole of a pond near Coal Valley, IL. Aquatic weeds and limited bank and casting access provided some challenges but we reeled in a decent amount of fish.

June 2 and 3
A family camping trip to Little John produced the regular multi-species quest and our brood have taken to the hobby like a fish to water. A good bunch and fun to watch them practice and hone their skills. Next up, consistently baiting your own hook and talking off your own fish.

June 25
Went exploring with Carly and Jayce for a change of pace after our Coal Valley spot let us down. They were all about a change of scenery and we found some cool access and a handful of fish on the Hennepin Canal in Colona, IL.

July 8 (3.5 hours, 17 total bass, 5-0 and 3-5 Top Bass, 12-4 Top 5 Weight)
The lone trip with Dad for 2017 produced a decent quantity of bass and though it took a while we also posted two real solid catches. This outing was featured in a return to a retro fishing report entitled Lake Lowdown. Look for a revisit to this format at some point in 2018.

July 8
After the “serious” bass outing for me and Dad, we were joined by my boys, Jayce and Zac, for some panfishing amidst some goofing off. A great time with lots of good photos and some video footage that I hope those two youngsters will appreciate more and more as they get not so young.

July 15 (5.50 hours, 15 total bass, 7-3 Top 5 Weight, 1-6 Top Bass)
On the heels of the successful outing for me and Dad, I did the brother fishing trip with Brent to see if we could pull off another one. We struggled a bit as can happen during the “Dog Days” of summer, fishing longer but still coming up a bit short on quantity and a bit more short on quality.

September 17 (6.75 hours, 27 total bass, 8-3 Top 5 Weight, 2-9 Top Bass)
A very comfortable and successful fall drawdown day on the “home lake”, Lake Storey, with my brother, Brent. Even wound up with a toothy fish as can happen, just another reason that this is probably my favorite fishing hole. We even made a pact to split time in both ends of the boat so nobody could claim they got “front ended.” 27 total bass was a very good day and you’ll have to ask Brent who wound up on top despite equal time in the generally advantageous front of the boat position.

That does it for another look back at 2017 as I await my next shot in 2018. Plenty of fun with some fishing buddies but must say that a couple are missing on the list. Definitely need to get my wife, Julie, out there as well as our oldest daughter, Helena, who is content to observe her younger siblings getting it done. However, I got some inspiration from an NCAA football stunt last season to provide a little competitive incentive in 2018. Stay tuned for the reveal in a future posting once spring kicks into gear.

But wait, I am not yet finished with 2017, as once I get on a roll talking fishing…One final project headed your way. Talk to you later. Troy

Boys’ Afternoon Out

My boy, Jayce, has been itching to go fishing since last year but our latest plans have been foiled by the topsy turvy nature of Mother Nature. First up was a cancelled icefishing outing two weekends ago as the ice deteriorated to unsafe conditions. Then last weekend ended just a day before some balmy February temps rolled in.

Well, with one sister spending an overnight at Gramaw and Papa’s and the other sister on a shopping trip with Mom and a friend, it was on for some father-sons time. Today was forecast for 50 degrees and hit the mark late afternoon so me, Jayce and Zac decided to use our guy time to hit a local pond. Here’s some pics and notes on how it all went down.

Probably should know better, but these guys are pretty convincing

Preparations and Provisions – Before we hit the water we had to grab some waxworms and replenish the split shot that I could not find in our tackle. Oh yeah, that also turned into a couple grape sodas, a batch of Sour Patch Kids and a bag of Hershey’s Cookies and Cream Drops (some of both of these items later became fish food when tossed into the fishing hole). In addition, we spotted some discounted fishing shades on the rack so both of these guys now look like cooler fishermen.

“Wind from the east, fish bite the least” proved true on this day

Fishing Lessons – I got to impart some fishing knowledge as a dad is prone to do, actually expected to do.  We learned that the old adage “wind from the east, fish bite the least” was right on target for this outing.  I also pointed out what has long been a sound that is synonymous with fishing as we identified the call of the red-winged blackbird (boys also left them some Sour Patch morsels).  Not anything uncommon or generally worth even a passing glance to most but a very significant bird to me, my brother and Dad as an integral part of the soundtrack of strip mine and farm pond fishing.

Rockin’, rollin’ and fishin’

Trip Tunes – Of course, we had to jam to the radio on the ride and I had the boys singing the old Foghat tune “Slow Ride” to kick off the trip. Unfortunately, they later made me stop at that Chumbawamba piece entitled “Tubthumping” as we scanned the presets. I pondered if a drinking song was appropriate but then figured that they had no clue, anyway. And, after all, my Foghat cut ain’t exactly about a Sunday drive. Later, “Mr. Brownstone” (the clean version) by Guns N Roses and AC/DCs “Thunderstruck” graced the airwaves with a couple oblivious, smaller versions of me just rocking out, clueless of the lyrical content.

My fishing buddies


Jayce on our prospects in the cold murky water: “We’ll probably just catch moss and crap.”

Zac when messing with how much force he could exert on the digital scale: “Whoa, I pulled it to 9 pounds 19 ounces!”

With shade, wind and sunset moving in, I told the boys that my fingers were getting cold so time to pack it up. Jayce replied, “Yeah, I can’t feel mine either.” I was proud of the guys as they were too busy having fun to worry about numbness.

That first quote from Jayce pretty much summed it up and I can’t say that I was the least bit surprised. After all, it’s early March and the water had a murky off colored look, can’t imagine the fish were real fired up at this point. So, it was off on a run to the border for some takeout grub since we had no fish to fill our bellies.

Refueling after some fresh air with eight cheesy rollups, nacho fries and some kind of bowl

As you can see, even without a bite, these young boys and their not so young fishing guide always know how to have a good time. Talk to you later. Troy

Black Friday Outdoors – Quincy, IL

So, Black Friday found our family in Quincy, IL visiting with Julie’s mom. Never one for shopping on a regular day, let alone the biggest shopping day of the year, I was game for Julie’s suggestion that we get some fresh air along the mighty Mississippi River. Besides with lunchtime temperatures in the mid-70s, who in their right mind would want to be cooped up in a mall? An outstanding bit of nature, The River did not disappoint during the few hours we spent roaming and exploring.

First stop was a stretch of river walk just north of the Route 24 bridge between a couple dining establishments called The Pier and The Dock. This area featured several docks and a boat ramp. Along the way we skipped rocks, threw logs and found a pumpkin floating in the river. After fishing the pumpkin out of the water we had a great fun rolling it down the boat ramp back to its watery home.

Next up was Quinsippi Island which was accessible via a one lane bridge and featured a log cabin village, playground area and “secret trail” through the timber to the river’s edge. My boys called the river bank under the towering railroad bridge, “The Beach” and we enjoyed writing in the sand and discovering interesting animal tracks (some real and others imagined).

The road to Quinsippi Island

Toss in imagination…and some hot lava, or snake pit, or alligators…

And how about these raptor and T-Rex prints Zac “found”

Cool view of the “Mighty Mississippi”

Fun to watch the river do it’s thing

Zac points the way to some deer prints on “the beach”

The final bit of sightseeing was the Villa Katherine, a “Castle on the Mississippi” built in 1900. We were just in time to work in a tour of the site which proved to be quite interesting.  Further information on this landmark on the National Register of Historic Places can be found here.

Villa Katherine overlooks the Mississippi and is the current home of Quincy’s Tourist Information Center 

A look at the interior reflecting pool from the second floor balcony

Mississsippi River view from second floor of Villa Katherine

Quincy River Ramble Rating: 5.0 Marshmallows (scale 1-5 Marshmallows with 5 being tops, rating is average of six family member votes)

Location: Along the Mississippi River in Quincy. IL
Attractions: Bonansinga Drive River Walk, Quinsippi Island, Villa Katherine and “the beach” which was actually just a stretch of sandy bank exposed by low pool conditions.
Hiking/Trails: paved riverside trail off Bonansinga Drive, auto/pedestrian bridge to Quinsippi Island and unmarked river access on Quinsippi Island

Family Poll: What did you like most about Quincy’s Mississippi River stops?
Helena: “Walking on the dock, the pumpkin roll and Grammy showing me how to skip rocks.”
Carly: “The random pumpkin floating in the river and the log cabins.”
Zac: “The beach where we wrote our names and saw raptor and T-Rex prints.”
Mom: “The Quinsippi Island cabins, wish they were open for a better look.”
Dad: “The various river views and watching the kids simply enjoy some fresh air via a combination of random objects and imagination.”
Jayce: “I liked the beach and hated the part when we had to leave.”

Definitely a worthwhile bit of outdoor activity on an unseasonably warm Thanksgiving Friday. Much different than what thousands of others were up to as evidenced by encountering maybe ten people along the way. It was rewarding to hear my boy, Jayce, ask if we could come back after being told it was time to hike back to the vehicle from “the beach.” I told him that we have one of these, meaning a river, back home. Same mighty one, in fact. Talk to you later. Troy

Happy Birthday, Zac

Today our youngest hits 6 years old so a big “Happy Birthday” to Zac.  All boy, with a penchant for dirt, sand, water, fish slime, mud, ashes, basically anything that will eventually necessitate a bath or change of clothes.  Although, rather frequently he still doesn’t wear clothes…

Anyhow, the boy digs the outdoors and typically provides plenty of entertainment for the rest of us with more than a few head shaking moments mixed in.  Particularly “entertaining” was last weekend’s camping trip bathroom break as I told him to just go behind the tent.  I later discovered that he apparently found it “entertaining” to actually water the tent instead of the trees.  The shirt in one of the pics above mentions good, old “Mr. Potato Head.”  More apt would be an arrow pointing up to little “Mr. Knucklehead.”

I’ll finish with a snippet from the original posting entitled “An 8-12 Keeper” that I submitted as a blogger on the Prairie State Outdoors website announcing our new arrival.

“Zac has already got his first fishing pole courtesy of Papa.  In fact, he got a fishing pole before he ever got a name as we drug our feet on the latter task for about sixteen hours.  Going in, we didn’t know boy or girl and I never liked naming a kid until you’ve actually seen ‘em.  It just took a while to figure out what name he looked like.”


Love you, Z, and talk to you later.  Dad