Category: Fishing Holes

2022 Top 5 Hennepin Canal Bass

I am still trying to get the 2022 recaps posted as 2023 is already featuring open water. A handful of casts on The Canal have come up empty this month but sooner or later, I expect to find that first cooperative bass. In the meantime, let’s take a look back at the Top 5 bass landed last year on The Hennepin Canal. Check out the YouTube video below and read on for some stats and a comparison to my 2021 Canal Top 5.

2022 not only marked my first full year of fishing The Hennepin Canal but also saw me launch a boat on the waterway for the first time. Not surprisingly, my Top 5 for 2022 eclipsed my Top 5 from 2021 but not by much as 2021 featured some solid catches from the bank in roughly five months of fishing.

2022 Hennepin Canal
Top 5 Weight: 15-15

2021 Hennepin Canal
Top 5 Weight: 15-6

Who knows what The Canal holds in store for 2023 but I plan to find out. In addition, I have a few new goals and destinations in mind as I “Prowl the Canal” for another year. Talk to you later. Troy

15 Bass on The Hennepin Canal-Part I

Most folks my age and beyond likely recall singing along to an old ditty relating to navigating “Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal.” Such a place was far, far away to this midwestern grade schooler in the 1970s, and geographically it still is a ways away all of these years later. However, I do have a contemporary of the Erie Canal in my neck of the woods that I have been exploring since June of 2021. I’ll save the history and comparisons for another time, as what we are exploring today are some fishing highlights from last year.

I give you Part I of “Fifteen Bass on The Hennepin Canal”, a series of clips featuring catches from the historic waterway. My 2022 fishing on The Canal covered fifteen stretches of water as I divide The Canal into sections using roadways, tubes, locks, siphons, aqueducts, and bridges as dividers. This allows me to document my catches more precisely. More on all that some other time, as well.

For now, have a look at the first of two YouTube clips featuring video of one catch from each of the fifteen locations. Some stretches I fished only once, some several times, and some many times. The catches in the clips do not feature the largest bass from each section as the Top 5 Canal Bass deserve a post and video of their own.

Stay tuned for Part II featuring eight more catches from eight more stretches. Talk to you later. Troy

2022 Fishing Recap – Locations

Today’s recap post covers the locations that produced my best year of bass.

Grand Totals
Bass = 553
Outings = 56 (ranging from 0.75 hour to 7.75-hour trips)
Bodies of water = 47
Bass Fishing Hours = 187.00
Bass/hour = 2.96
Comments: Citing forty-seven bodies of water makes it seem like I fish all over the place which is not the case as the list primarily covers three counties (Knox, Henry, and Bureau). Knox County featured twenty-seven strip pits and Lake Storey. Henry and Bureau County contributed seventeen pools on The Hennepin Canal. The two remaining spots were a Peoria County private lake and a Johnson County public water. This batch of fishing holes combined for a new personal record of 553 bass landed with a further breakdown of the locations to come later in this post.

Bank Bass (Northerner boots and hiking) = 123 bass
Little Boat Bass (over 40-year-old 8’ johnboat) = 362 bass
Big Boat Bass (1987 Bass Tracker Pro 17) = 68 bass
Comments: Another year of racking up more miles on a pair of boots and a set of oars than I have ever racked up on trolling motors or outboards. I am curious how many miles I walked and rowed on my adventures in 2022 (perhaps another winter project to see if I can get an estimate). While my strip mine trips were limited and only included one boat trip, The Canal was an eye opener upon accessing with a boat for the first time. Much of The Canal is accessible with a portable watercraft and it was well worth the effort of lifting, dragging, and rowing.

Public vs. Private
Public Water = 528 bass
Top Public Water Bass = 3-10 Knox County strip pit 9/4
Top 5 Public Weight = 16-10 (3-10,3-5,3-5,3-4,3-2)
Private Water Bass = 25 bass
Top Private Water Bass = 1-7 The Rock 9/17
Top 5 Private Weight = 6-0 (1-7,1-4,1-3,1-1,1-1)
Comments: While I have access to a batch of quality private fishing holes at Little John Conservation Club, I never made a cast there in 2022. It was only the second time in thirty-five years that I did not land a bass as Little John. Instead, I invested the bulk of my time fishing closer to home on The Canal. The lone private water bass were from an impressive Peoria County fishing hole known as “The Rock.” Private honey holes are always exciting, but I get more satisfaction out of catching them where everybody can fish.

The Waters (from least to most caught)

Dutchman Lake – Johnson County, IL
(1 visit – June 23)
2 bass
0.75 hours
2.67 bass/hour
Top Bass: 11.5” Special K Buzzbait
Top 5 Weight: none at 12” or better
Comments: On the way back home from a roundtrip work drive to Dyer, TN, I decided to visit a fishing hole a short distance from Interstate 24 just north of Vienna, IL. It’s always nice to break up the drive for my “lunch hour” to see if I can fool a bass on waters I’ve never seen beyond an internet search. I was quite pleased to fool two bass in the near ninety-degree mid-afternoon heat and sunny skies. Another treat was a conversation with a local kayaker at the primitive boat launch. He even offered me one of his Twisted Teas to cool off but with a six-hour drive ahead I had to pass.

The Rock
(1 visit, 9/17)
25 bass
5.00 hours
5.00 bass/hour
Top Bass: 1-7 (15”) Senko wacky rig
Top 5 Weight: 6-0 (1-7,1-4,1-3,1-1,1-1)
Comments: A group outing on a prime private water was a highlight of the year. I had not fished The Rock for two years and my fellow anglers (Brent, Jayce, and John Kirkemo) had never visited the Peoria County water. The lake is still bouncing back from a major fish kill several years ago so big bites did not materialize. However, quantity was more than enough to make for a successful day. More to come on the outing in the “Partners” post of the 2022 recap and a big “Thank you” to owner, Chris Rock, for allowing us to come out and try our luck.

Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
(4 visits – 5/15 through 11/2)
43 Bass (35 bass in 2021)
28.25 hours (37.75 hours in 2021)
1.52 bass/hour (0.93 bass/hour in 2021)
Top Bass: 2-12 (18.5”) Topwater Frog on 9/18 (2-14 Top Bass in 2021)
Top 5 Weight: 10-15 (2-12,2-9,2-3,1-15,1-8) Top 5 in 2021 was 12-2
Comments: I always look forward to fishing the Lake Storey fall drawdown in September and October. This year I also expanded my visits to include a May outing as well as a rare November trip to the old lake. The bass were stubborn at times, but overall, I was pleased with the results in terms of quantity and a few solid fish. I also had a heartbreaking muskie miss at boatside, a story that may find its way into another recap post.

Knox County, IL Public Strip Mines
(7 visits, 27 lakes – 3/20 through 9/19)
124 bass (183 bass in 2021)
31.00 hours (42.00 in 2021)
4.00 bass/hour (4.36 bass/hour)
Top Bass: 3-10 (18.5”) Senko on 9/4
Top 5 Weight: 14-9 (3-10,2-14,2-12,2-11,2-10)
Comments: I scaled back on my strip mine drives with the rise in gas prices but still managed half a dozen visits. My largest bass of the year came from a reliable spot and the rest of my Top 5 featured a quartet of nearly identical upper two-pound fish.

Hennepin Canal – Henry and Bureau County
(43 visits, 17 pools – 4/15 through 12/11)
359 bass (61 bass in 2021)
122.00 hours (31.00 in 2021)
2.94 bass/hour (1.97 bass/hour in 2021)
Top Bass: 3-5 (18” and 19.5”) Spinnerbait 4/23 and Buzzbait 8/21
Top 5 Weight: 15-15 (3-5,3-5,3-4,3-2,2-15) 15-6 in 2021
Comments: I concluded my comments for The Canal in the 2021 Fishing Recap as follows, “Glad I gave it a go and plan to be back for more in 2022, perhaps with a boat in tow.” Well, that is indeed what I did, and boy did it pay off. All but three of my 2022 Canal bass were caught while rowing around on various pools in the old eight-foot johnboat. I plan to be back for plenty more in 2023 and hope to find an elusive four-pounder or two out there on one of those narrow fishing holes. More to come in an exclusive Hennepin Canal recap posting when time permits.

The recaps continue with posts on the way covering lures and partners. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Record Book Roundup – Lake Storey

One of my projects for blogging in 2022 was to look inside the fishing record book. I did a decent job on that goal as the year progressed but have yet to relate the records for an old favorite fishing hole, Lake Storey. That missing piece will be resolved with today’s post in advance of hitting the lake one more time this year. The primary focus of this record book update is largemouth bass but if you make it through that portion of the post there’s also a couple impressive bonus species as well.

Spring 1986 – Dad with the initial bass record at 4-6

Lake Storey (1970s-present)
Top Bass: 4-11 Brent Jackson 10/19/18 Spinnerbait
Best Top 5 Day: 14-5 (4-8,3-11,2-7,2-1,1-10) 9/20/07
All-Time Top 5 Weight: 22-0 (4-11,4-8,4-7,4-6,4-0)

October 19, 2018 – Brent with a 4-11, the current Lake Storey Top Bass


Fall Top 5 Daily Weight Data by month
9/30/07 14-5
9/25/07 11-7 with Dad
9/19/21 10-10 with Brent
9/29/10 10-3
9/15/19 9-5 with Brent
9/18/22 9-4
9/27/21 8-13 with Brent
9/19/21 8-10
9/21/09 8-7
9/25/07 8-5
9/8/19 8-2 with Brent

10/19/18 13-9 with Brent
10/12/20 9-0
10/2/08 8-13
10/13/08 8-3 with Dad
10/21/20 7-15 with Dad
10/14/21 7-5
10/19/19 7-4

11/1/08 7-13

October 21, 2010 – Top Walleye at 10-2 (29″)

September 16, 2012 – Top Muskie at 19-8 (43″)

Lake Storey has been good to us over the years, and I always look forward to wetting a line on my “home lake.” Plenty of stories to tell but I’ll leave it as simply another Record Book Roundup for today. It’s a tall order to top any of these catches but stay tuned as record breakers or not, I’ll be back on the lake one more time before the month ends. Talk to you later. Troy

Prowl the Canal – August Stats

Another month of prowling is in the log, and it turned out to be a rewarding mix of familiar spots and extended exploring.

August 2022 Top Bass at 3-5, one ounce shy of tying my all-time Top Canal Bass

2022 August Totals
Six outings covering six different pools
67 bass in 22.00 hours (3.04 bass/hour)
Top Bass: 3-5 August 21 Buzzbait
2022 August Top 5: 13-14 (3-5,3-4,2-10,2-7,2-4)
2022 Best August Top 5 Day: 10-6 (3-4,2-10,2-3,1-3,1-2) – August 13
Top 5 All-Time August Bass Weight: 14-14 (3-5,3-4,3-4,2-10,2-7)

Miles and miles to explore 

New Spots – With most of my prior trips taking place in what would geographically register as Colona and Geneseo (per my weather app), I decided to expand my prowls in August. On two occasions, I ventured to pools in the vicinity of Anawan and Mineral. Every pool is different but still have similarities. It is always fun to get a look at new water and I also take advantage of extensive drive by scouting on the way home. Looks like there’s still plenty of new water to explore. Whether that exploration takes place this fall or waits until next year remains to be seen.

Casualties of The Canal

Damage Report – The August bass were tough on a couple lures as they destroyed the skirts on both my Special K spinnerbait and Booyah Buzzbait. I also busted an eye off my Lightning Rod casting rod that I have had since the 1990s. It was my spinnerbait go to rod on The Canal. Old school and only six foot, I could pitch those lures within a hair of my targeted landing spot. Looks like an off-season project at this point to get it repaired.

New Lure – The damaged buzzbait prompted me to try an alternative to fishing with a skirt as suggested by a friend. While his recommendation was a Strike King Rage Bug to replace the skirt, I could not find any locally and had to order online. Instead, I invested in a Strike King Toad Buzz, and it came through with a 2-7 on its first outing for positive feedback.

Every lure that landed an August bass

2022 Overall Canal Stats
267 bass in 89.00 hours (3.00 bass/hour)
Top Bass: 3-5 (tie) 4/23 Spinnerbait 8/21 Buzzbait
Best Top 5 Day: 11-3 (2-15,2-10,2-3,2-1,1-6) 6/24/22
NEW AUGUST TOP 5 ADDITIONS: 3-4 (8/8) and 3-5 (8/21)
2022 Top 5 Canal Weight: 15-15 (3-5,3-5,3-4,3-2,2-15) culls 2-12 (x2)
2021 Top 5 Canal Weight: 15-6 (3-6,3-4,3-1,2-14,2-13)


The Canal continues to come through even though August is typically my least favorite open water month of the year to fish. The unique waterway doesn’t offer the sort of deep-water sanctuaries that a lake provides and plays right into my hand as a shallow water angler. Basically, the bass have nowhere to go, so if you can find any open water “edges” or dial in your frog presentation (not my thing), there are bites to be found. Here’s to more of those bites in September as the weather cools, the weeds begin to dissipate, and the bass look to feed. Two September outings are already in the books so stay tuned for the upcoming reports featuring a new “weapon” in my bass fishing arsenal. Talk to you later. Troy

Prowl the Canal – July Notes

Here are a few more items to wrap up the July outings on The Canal.

Lost and Found  (see pic above) – No matter how good of a caster you are, if you are fishing from the bank, you are going to lose a few lures. Along The Canal, baits and bobbers decorate the trees from time to time and are often easy pickings from a boat. No return address on the lures, so I guess that makes it “finders, keepers”.

Winning July Lures on The Canal

Backup Bait – The YouTube clip below is a fun trick when fishing a topwater and encountering a strike where the bass has bad aim. Step one is to always have a Senko wacky rig tied onto another pole when you are casting a topwater lure. Step two, after the missed strike, is to cast the Senko into the boil that was created and many times you can get that fish.

Gar Log – Dad used to pull our legs with tales of hippos formerly calling West Central Illinois home or by pointing out the backs of “alligators” protruding from the water in local creeks and ponds. Thus, I couldn’t resist snapping a pic of this large “alligator gar” that I spotted on The Canal.

“It was just my imagination, runnin’ away with me…”

I have one successful trip to The Canal in August so stay tuned for a report when time permits. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – July 6, 2012

With four kids from ages one to eight back in the summer of 2012, there wasn’t a whole lot of date nights. However, Julie and I did manage a fishing date as described below in excerpts from the original July 10, 2012 blog entry.

As the saying goes, “Beggars can’t be choosers.” So, despite the recent run of 100 degree plus temperatures it was an opportunity to fish, and I wasn’t about to pass it up due to something called a “heat advisory.” To be honest, I’m always more concerned about the wind when planning a trip to Emiquon. All was well and I was happy to have the company of a fellow fishing fool. Here’s the first of a two-part fishing report detailing how it all worked out.

6:13am Julie on the board with our first catch

Date: July 6, 2012
Location: The Emiquon Preserve
Time: 6:10am-12:25 pm
Weather: Sunny/calm
Air Temp: 80-100F
Water Temp: 90F
Totals: 40 bass (Troy – 26 Julie – 14)
Lures: Booyah Counter Strike Spinnerbait (snow white) – 15 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (copper shad) – 12 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 10 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (red crawfish) – 2 bass, 5” Yamasenko weighted wacky rig (rainbow trout) – 1 bass
Top Bass: Troy 2-5 Booyah Counter Strike Spinnerbait (snow white)
Weight (Top 5): 10-9 (2-5, 2-2, 2-2, 2-0, 2-0)


Notes & Nonsense

“Helter Skelter in a summer swelter” (quick, name the tune and artist) – I’ve written in the past about Emiquon’s propensity for giving up numbers in the right place at the right time. We hit those windows/spots a pair of times as follows: 6:13am-8:01am produced 23 of our bass and 10:46am-12:22pm produced another 15 bass. That left two bass landed in the gap in these times as we explored a stretch that had produced just a month earlier. Despite similar structure, schools of baitfish and a variety of presentations, the bass just wouldn’t cooperate. Eventually, we wound up back near where we had started in time for the bass in the area to turn on once again.

Hot Seats and More – The calm and balmy conditions made any exposed surfaces of the boat painful to touch. Boat cushions were a must and we even had to put on gloves to load the boat into the back of the truck. Our granola bars were a mess and once the water bottles came out of the cooler, they were nearly instantaneously lukewarm. The truck read 109 when we got in and went as high as 112 before gradually decreasing during the ride. The bank in Lewistown read 108 and while probably a bit of a stretch, does pinpoint accuracy really matter when it’s just plain hot?

100 Degree Bass – A little after noon I told Julie that we needed one more bass just to say we caught one in hundred-degree weather. At 12:22pm I reeled in the fish pictured above to get my wish and then we called it quits a few casts later. My original plan was to fish until 1:00pm but I was satisfied with our effort and results a half hour short of the target. Apparently, Julie was as well for she did not debate the decision and after the work of loading our gear we were even more convinced that we’d done the right thing.

As always with an Emiquon trip, I could go on and on…

And I will go on and on, with a bonus Flashback Saturday post featuring some more notes from this outing. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – July 7, 1987

Well, here we are at the mid-point of the final year of “Friday Flashback”. Week twenty-one of the forty-one week stroll down Memory Lane. Lots of fish and favorite fishing holes, fishing partners and fishing lures have found their way into the project over the years and today’s post covers all the above.

The spot was affectionately known as “The Ponderosa” and was the site of several fishing trips with my three amigos back between 1987 and 1989. As best I can recall, my buddy, Matt Reynolds, was the ringleader in gaining access to Ponder’s Pond, outside of Knoxville, Illinois. Along with Matt, the Junk brothers, John and Mark, also joined forces in pursuit of some solid bass. The pond was just the right size for a couple hours to get away and the Ponder family had a johnboat along the shore for use. Of course, before launching, it was wise to give it a shake while upside down to rid it of any snakes that took a liking to the cover it provided. However, I seem to remember a mouse going for a ride with us at one point.

The crew circa 1991 – Mark Junk, John Junk, Troy Jackson and Matt Reynolds

Winning Ponder’s lures – Sidewinder Worm, Triple Ripple Worm, Spinnerbait and Zara Spook

Beyond the Who’s Who of anglers, an old school collection of lures proved to be successful on the pond. As noted in the log entry for the July 7, 1987 trip, winners were the Bass Pro Shops Triple Ripple Worm and a classic white tandem spinnerbait. A look at the record book below also shows that the Zara Spook was quite effective in fooling some good bass. The natural frog pattern brings back memories as it became nicknamed “The Pickle” upon endearing itself with its effectiveness. I still have a “Pickle” in my tacklebox, but the original was accidentally launched into a cornfield near the southeast corner or Ponder’s Pond, never to be found.

Zara Spook in the natural frog pattern, aka “The Pickle”

The pond seemed to have a feast or famine personality in terms of landing quality fish. If the first few bass you landed were small ones, it often set the tone for the rest of the trip. In contrast, if you caught a large bass early in an outing, you likely would see some more before the trip was over.

Ponder’s Pond Top 10 Bass list

Only a handful of pictures of those bass reside in my photo album but a picture of the pond remains fresh in my mind. A branch breaking the surface along the dam just out from the “ramp” could hold a good fish when bumping around with a Sidewinder worm. Didn’t matter what color as long as it was black or purple. Some evening shade from overhanging trees along the west bank and a laydown were ideal for a white spinnerbait. A shallow finger to the southwest with a tree was a prime spot for “The Pickle” as was the southeast point. The east bank dotted with lilypads also set up well for various presentations as you finished your initial lap and “pondered” making a second pass.

One of my favorites from a series of action shots snapped by an old friend, Matt Reynolds

Great times with great friends and some darn good fish in those early days of trying to be bassmasters. Often, the trip was wrapped up at a couple other watering holes, The East End and The Green Diamond taverns as they were kind of on the way home. Some of those memories are a little fuzzy. Talk to you later. Troy

Prowl the Canal Lessons-Points

My third point drawn from fishing The Canal revolves around just that, Points. The illustration below is a prime example of a prime spot and the accompanying video provides proof that these structures produce. Per the available data while prowling the internet, The Canal averages five feet in depth and roughly ninety feet in width throughout most of its linear run. Therefore, any change in either aspect makes for an area to explore. Today, that exploration focuses on Points.


No matter where you fish, points are always worth a look, but these structural features are even more important on The Canal. By its nature and construction, most of The Canal is a linear trough that has filled in at varying degrees throughout its length. However, there are several spots that I call “bays” where The Canal widens on one side. As a result, you get a rare pair of points on each side of these bays. Often, these points feature a pronounced dropoff, an oddity along most of The Canal and they are worth working over with multiple presentations to get some bites.

This concludes our three-part ”Prowl the Canal – Lessons” feature for my June wrap-up. However, the video clips have included catches from April through July, proving that these structural elements produce throughout the year on this dynamic fishing hole. And you can bet that there will be plenty more prowling during the open water portion of the calendar as I look to learn some more lessons. Talk to you later. Troy