Category: Fishing Reports

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

Strip Mine Report – May 23

It was good to get another shot at the strip mines with my brother, Brent, this past weekend. Weather was solid, the bite was solid, and a handful of the fish were solid. Read on for the scoop.

Stats
Date: May 23, 2021
Location: Knox County, IL public strip mines (7 lakes)
Time: 6:45am-11:25pm (4.00 hours fishing)
Weather: Overcast/breezy
Air Temp: 66-75F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 34 bass (Troy – 17, Brent – 17)
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (various colors) – 23 bass, Spinnerbait (white) – 8 bass, Bass Pro Shops Speed Shad (small mouth magic) with Berkley 3/0 weighted swimbait hook – 2 bass, Zara Spook (black shore minnow) – 1 bass
Top 5 Weight: 9-13 (2-5,2-0,2-0,1-13,1-11)

 

Notes and Nonsense

Condition Pros and Cons – The weather was about as good as it gets in my book for some strip mine fishing. Plenty of cloud cover and a little chop on the water is a winner on these clear waters. Water conditions, however, were a little tough. Shallow weeds have taken over nearly all the spots we fish making for a challenge in getting some lures to the fish and getting hooked fish to the bank. You rarely have it all in fishing, so you just take what Mother Nature gives you and find out what the bass want from your arsenal. Overall, we did a solid job but there were extended stretches without a bite and probably a 70/30 split in favor of “non-keeper” (under 12”) bass.

Odd Bass #1 – Several bass that I landed had some odd characteristics, one more odd than the others. First up, is what I call a “notched” bass. I have caught several from this location, but I believe that all prior catches have come from one, specific lake. The fish above right was caught on a different body of water from the others. I am not sure what causes such a feature, but it does not seem to have any effect on the observable health and fight in these fish.

 

Odd Bass #2 – The next odd-looking fish had damage to one corner of its mouth and a reddish hue to the upper lip on the same side. I suspect that the injury may have been the result of having been hooked before with the reddish hue being some sort of residual effect. I truly am not sure of the cause of the appearance, just speculation on my part. However, I have observed bass exhibiting red upper lips in colder water but the characteristic in those instances was spread across both sides of the upper lip. As with all things fishing, I am open to any input from readers.

Odd Bass #3 – The final specimen was the strangest of the bunch and the large red growth on the upper lip was something I have never previously seen. Even with some brief internet searching as I composed this post, I am none the wiser. I will say it was kind of gross and left me thinking, “Do I really want to lip this one” even though the natural handle on a bass is the lower lip. I can also tell you that the bass was still on my mind as I unwrapped and ate my sandwich on the way home.

 

We did the dual GoPro thing again on this trip, but I continue to have trouble finding time to invest in editing the footage for my YouTube channel. Perhaps one of these days but I expect that the fishing trips and footage will keep piling up in the meantime. No problem, I fished for many, many years never dreaming that I would even have the means to make my own “fishing show.” 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 – May 1

Hard for me to believe that it is May already and what better way to kick off the month than with a hike around the strip mines. I was able to hit the water last Saturday morning where I was greeted with some cool temperatures and ugly winds. But you get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit as you can’t control the weather. Read on for the scoop.

8:38am – first bass and first swimbait catch

Stats
Date: May 1, 2021
Location: Knox County, IL public strip mines (6 lakes)
Time: 8:00am-12:35pm (4.00 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny/very windy
Air Temp: 52-75F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 11 bass
Lures: Bass Pro Shops Speed Shad (small mouth magic) with Berkley 3/0 weighted swimbait hook – 5 bass, Senko weighted wacky rig (pumpkin/black/green flake) – 2 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 2 bass, Zara Spook (natural frog) – 1 bass, Rapala Shad Rap (shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-11 Zara Spook
Top 5 Weight (only 4 at 12” or better): 5-2 (1-11,1-3,1-3,1-1)

9:02am – Top Bass 1-11 on a Zara Spook

Notes and Nonsense

Blow Away – The wind was crazy on this outing at 8:00am when I started casting and got stronger as the day progressed. Wind can be your friend in helping to position some fish, but that aspect wasn’t particularly pronounced on this outing. Wind can also be a challenge in hindering casting and maintaining a feel for some presentations. Like any day on the water, there are numerous variables to take into consideration and adapt accordingly. Fittingly, I also heard George Harrison’s 1979 Top 20 hit “Blow Away” on the drive to the fishing hole.

Taking my shot and joining the swimbait craze

New Trick – I struggled for about the first 40 minutes of casting with nary a bite, cycling through several solid, proven lures in the process. The chatterbait, Red Eye Shad lipless crankbait, a jig and craw and a Shad Rap had all failed to produce, so what to do next? Over the winter, I had picked up some Bass Pro Shops Speed Shads while visiting the business’ East Peoria, IL location. Despite being a challenging presentation in the high winds, I tied one on with a Berkley Fusion 19 3/0 hook and tried my luck. Several minutes later, I had my first bass of the day and first ever on such a lure.

The arsenal mixed new with old and older

Old Trick – In contrast, I later threw a Zara Spook, a lure that I first fished nearly 35 years ago. I had packed a couple along on this trip after reading many reports of a topwater bite while perusing several regional fishing groups on the internet. However, the strong winds weren’t exactly ideal for such a presentation. But stubbornness, faith in my lure and a bit of desperation at my lack of bites led to me giving it a shot. While I only caught one bass on the lure, it wound up being my Top Bass of the day. It was caught as a result of plenty of years of practice as I tried to fool a semi-interested bass. I spotted the fish on a shallow flat and it took a look at my first pass without committing. Therefore, I elected to increase the speed and commotion of my retrieve on the next cast in hopes of provoking a reaction bite as the faster moving lure doesn’t give the fish the luxury of a lengthier analysis. Right on cue, the bass struck the lure but missed getting hooked. Bingo, I knew the fish would bite and hoped another pass would result in better aim. The rapid, loud retrieve did the trick on cast number three and those 35 years of Zara Spook fishing paid off with a solid and rewarding catch.

10:38am – Top Bass Runner-Up 1-3 on swimbait

Same Old, Same Old – I ended my day on a spot that I call Maiden Lake as it is the first lake that I ever fished on this batch of strip mine waters. My largest bass on the lake was the first fish I ever caught there and came in just shy of two pounds. In the years since, all I have been able to manage during my occasional stops has been an endless parade of 8-11” bass. However, witnessing my brother, Brent, reel in a four-pounder last month sure got my attention. His catch proved that there was at least one quality fish that called it home and hopefully more as there is plenty of water. I spent close to an hour on a few stretches of windblown bank and guess what? Three bass between 8-11”, surprise, surprise. However, one of these less windy days with a bit of cloud cover, I’m going to put the old Zara Spook to work on Maiden Lake and see if that approach can weed out the little ones and get me some quality bites.

Interesting day with big sun and big wind as I made my way around a half dozen of my target lakes. Due to time constraints, I skipped over one other spot but overall was pleased with my gameplan and decision making during a morning where I had a time limit due to real life responsibilities. My brother later reported a near four-pounder on that spot but apparently in spawn mode as no interest in biting. Those bass are out there, just boils down to outsmarting them. Definitely an important aspect of what this fishing hobby is all about but always fun to get out there and take your shot no matter the results. 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

Strip Mine Report – April 5

Life has been busy, leaving little time to blog despite plenty of potential content. One such bit of content is the latest fishing report which comes along nearly two weeks after the fact. This trip took place on an extended Easter weekend Monday as I took a day off and hoped for results like a successful Good Friday outing. Turned out to be Decent Monday in terms of numbers but just couldn’t find any quality bites. Such is fishing.

Placed my Boga Grip on a hole which was somebody’s home

Stats
Date: April 5, 2021
Location: Knox County, IL public strip mines (13 lakes)
Time: 10:50am-6:30pm (6.00 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny/very windy
Air Temp: 70-77F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 34 bass
Lures: Rapala Shad Rap (shad) – 15 bass, Excalibur XR50 lipless crankbait (chicken pox) – 10 bass, Bomber Flat A crankbait (baby bass) – 7 bass Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 1 bass, Chatterbait (bluegill) with Zako trailer (chartreuse shad laminate) – 1 bass
Top 5 Weight: no bass at 12” or better

Lots of bass like this one, no “keepers”

Notes and Nonsense

Tough Trick – Thirty-four bass sounds like a rather good day on the water and truly that is a darn good number of bass. The crazy thing is that not even one was a “keeper” (12” or better although all get released to fight again). Except for one lake full of small bass, all the waters that I fished can produce plenty of bass that make the grade. Therefore, it was quite odd that all my catches ranged between eight and eleven and a half inches. Now I don’t claim to be any sort of Bassmaster but the lack of a decent fish among nearly three dozen in the log still leaves me scratching my head. Such is fishing.

Windows – Adding to the odd results were the highs and lows of the bite during the day. The first few hours of hiking and casting saw a solid bite and produced seventeen bass. However, the next two hours of roaming saw the bite shut down completely as I couldn’t even find a bass in one of my best spots. The last few hours saw the bite resume as I landed another seventeen bass. Simply weird, such is fishing.

Everything out of the water falls prey to a sooty covering

Soot – Much of the area that I fished has recently undergone a controlled burn, leaving the landscape charred and bare. This makes for easy walking and bank access and is always a welcome development. It also makes for sooty gear, hands, and clothing but by far a fair trade for the benefits. My utility boxes and backpack end up with a fair collection of ash by the end of the day and my hands are dirty enough that I usually rinse them in a lake before eating my sandwich. I do find it cool that my fishing log bears the sooty reminder of a day spent traipsing the burnt terrain. Folks have asked my why I don’t use one of the many fishing apps that are available and the ashy pages in the log are part of the reason. For me, the handwritten entries enhanced with soot, dirt, blood, rain spots and bleeding ink make it much more of a living log than some words and numbers on a device. Such are my fishing habits.

While there were no quality catches to report, there’s always something to write about when it comes to a day on the water. And that’s what I do, no matter the results. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – April 2

Good Friday turned out to be a good day of fishing for the Brothers Jackson despite some less-than-optimal fishing conditions. The sunny skies were deceiving as air temps lingered in the 40s most of the day and strong winds made it feel even colder. Fortunately, the weather had more of an effect on the fishermen than the fish.

Top Bass was Brent’s 4-0 on a Bomber Flat A crankbait (read on for some cool release footage)

Stats
Date: April 2, 2021
Location: Knox County, IL public strip mines (7 lakes)
Time: 11:05am-3:50pm (4.75 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny/very windy
Air Temp: 41-52F (felt much colder)
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 20 bass
Lures: Rapala Shad Rap (shad) – 12 bass, Bomber Flat A crankbait – 4 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad – 2 bass, Jig & Plastic (black/blue) – 2 bass
Top 5 Weight: 12-4 (4-0,3-1,1-13,1-12,1-10) – see video below featuring the Top 5

 

Notes and Nonsense

Weather – It started out cold with wind chills in the 30s and I actually think it got colder at times even though the temperature went up if that makes sense. Numb fingers and runny noses were standard for most of the day although I did reach a point in the afternoon where I could feel all my digits.

Old School – Rapala Shad Rap (top) and Bomber Flat A (bottom)

Classic Cranks – With all the latest in lures gracing the shelves and cyber shops, you’d think we’d get with the program. Now, I do have plenty of newer lures but there is something to be said about old school, narrow/flat sided, unassuming crankbaits in cold water. For this trip, the Rapala Shad Rap and the Bomber Flat A were co-MVPs (most valuable presentations). I won’t pretend to know why but these toned-down offerings are preferred over louder cranks with a wider wobble when the water temps are low.

Last Cast – We’d planned on fishing until about 4:00pm since I had a football game to attend as my girls are in the color guard. So, at 3:47pm I am about 100 yards away from Brent when I hear him holler “I got a good one.” I quickly ditch my pole and head his direction as rapidly as a 50-something guy with a phone shooting video can move over strip mine bank terrain (kind of on autopilot upon seeing the bend in his pole). Upon arriving, I find that he has shattered the former lake record of 1-14. In fact, he more than doubled the mark with the 4-0. After weighing, photographing, and releasing the fish I offer up that I am done for the day, satisfied with that being an outstanding last cast. Brent agreed with that exclamation point to cap a solid day and we headed for our trucks.

 

Certainly, a successful day on the water, always enjoyable to get out for some fresh air and chase bass with a longtime fishing partner. Rewarding that a couple guys who started chasing those wily fish together as teenagers are still fooling them in their fifties. More to come from this outing and another fishing trip when time permits as my real job is taking me away from the blogging thing for a bit. Talk to you later. Troy

Snakeden Hollow Report – March 20

Reading on social media of the early season success of other anglers sure had me chomping at the bit to get on the water. Unfortunately, it took until the first day of spring to get an opportunity. The weather was pleasant and one of my brothers was free, so we had a mid-afternoon meet up at some old stomping grounds to bike and hike. We didn’t find many bass who were as enthused as us, but any day on the water is a good day.

A jig is a winner this time of year

Stats

Date: March 20, 2021
Location: Snakeden Hollow (4 lakes)
Time: 3:00pm-6:45pm (3.00 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny/windy
Air Temp: 56F
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 3 bass
Lures: Rapala Shad Rap (shad) – 2 bass, Googan Squad Gridiron Jig (PB&J) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-10 Shad Rap
Top 5 Weight (only 2 at 12” or better): 2-11 (1-10,1-1)

The winning Shad Rap from the “lost and found” as noted later in the report

Trip Lyric
“It’s kinda like a lost and found in a border town…” – Lost and Found, Brooks & Dunn (1991)

Notes and Nonsense

First Bass – Tops on my list for this trip was a revisit to a spot where I lost a good one last summer. It is a lake that I hadn’t fished much in recent years as I found it to be largely populated by small bass. But that one bite last year was an eye opener as at least one of the residents had grown up. Well, I didn’t find the one that got away and it took close to 40 minutes of casting but I did get my first bass of the year. Always good to get that first bite no matter the size and to get back on the board after 107 long days without a bass (12/3/20 at Lake Fork, TX).

On the board with the first bass of 2021

Recovered Rapala – I figured that at some point I would likely employ a Rapala Shad Rap to fool some cold-water bites. Instead of my customary blue pattern, however, I opted for a shad-colored bait. The lure was actually one that I had found tangled in a rocky bank last October on a family hike around Sylvan Island in the Quad Cities. I thought, wouldn’t it make a good fish story to catch some bass on a lure from the local “lost and found.” My first two bass turned that vision into a success story.

October 2020 – A Sylvan Island find (the bait, not the boy)

Close Shave – Earlier this month, I told Julie that I was waiting to shave my beard until I landed my first bass of the year. Let’s just say that she might have been more eager for me to get on the water than I was. So, after landing my first bass I sent her a pic to “brag”, completely forgetting my previous promise. In return, she responded with the pic below. And, yes, I did follow through in discarding most of the shaggy mess.

The Question – My youngest boy, Zac, likes to hit me up on occasion with a repeated fishing question. Offered up with a bit of a grin, it goes something like this, “Dad, who is a better fisherman, you or Uncle Brent?” I grin a bit too while seeking creative ways to avoid a definitive answer as it is indeed a complicated query. Kind of like when he asks the “Dad, who is your favorite kid” question. In the end, the best I can do is state that it depends on the day. Let’s just say that on this trip the bass took a bit more of a liking to Dad rather than Uncle Brent.

Bass number two with my fishing partner in the background, get ’em next time

Great to get on the board and enjoyable to wander some familiar turf with my brother. I hope to do it again as the year progresses as I tossed about some fishing adventure ideas that walk the fine line between epic and foolish. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy