Category: Fishing Reports

Friday Flashback – August 11, 2003

The dog days of summer can present a challenge when trying to find some cooperative bass, particularly for a guy who has a tendency to stay shallow. In addition, I’ve long been addicted to warm weather topwater presentations so I often get stuck in that rut as well.

So, the following excerpt from a report submitted back on August 21, 2003 should serve as a lesson that I need to try a little something different every now and then.

August 11 – Dad and I fished at Little John from 6:00-9:30am and only boated four bass. Our only “keepers” were a pair of bass that weighed a total of 7-2. I posted a 4-13 while Dad caught a 2-5. My fish came on a jig (brown/orange glimmer) with a split double tail trailer (black) as I worked it through a saddle (a slight depression between a pair of points that run towards each other). Following a light tap, my line went a bit slack and I reeled the line up tight and felt the fish swimming towards me. Setting the hook, I knew I had a decent fish although I didn’t envision a near five-pounder. Dad did an expert job on the dipnet as he nabbed the fish in mid-air following a spectacular jump at boatside. This bass made my personal Top 10 as the ninth largest bass I’ve ever caught. Dad caught his 2-5 on a Mann’s 4- (red shiner) as he worked a trough between a mid-lake hump and a narrow finger.

Hey, what do you know? A change in my approach actually worked, should try that more often, right? Well, still chucking buzzbaits longer than I should, seeking that one bite that will make your day, similar to today’s flashback fish. Too much of a creature of habit in fishing and life and find myself more and more in the mindset of being “too old to change.” Maybe next year, but probably said that fifteen years ago too. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – July 28

Revisited some old stomping grounds with an approach I call “bike and hike” which dates back several decades. Still going almost as strong in my fifties with the scoop on the trip below.

Folks, I ain’t exercising so this is pretty much all fishing related data, kinda dumb for seven bass but you never know and I still keep pulling this stunt a few times a year.

Stats

Date: July 28, 2018
Location: Knox County strip mines (5 lakes)
Time: 6:15am-11:20am (3.0 hours fishing, the rest bike and hike)
Weather: Sunny to partly cloudy/calm to breezy
Air Temp: 56-79F
Totals: 7 bass
Lures
Senko wacky rig (pumpkin/black flake) – 5 bass
Booyah Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 1 bass
Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-4 Red Eye Shad
Top 5 Weight (only 3 at 12” or better): 3-5 (1-4,1-1,1-0)

6:24am First Bass 13.5″ 1-1 Buzzbait, it was a long time and several miles until Second Bass showed up

Notes and Nonsense

Saturated – While the height of the weeds at this location was more navigable than another spot that I visit, they were still tall enough to exceed the tops of my boots. As a result, I was soaked to the middle of my thighs after wading in only a few yards. Throw in the fact that the Shoe Goo used this winter to repair several holes in my boots had succumbed to many miles of less than friendly terrain and I was in for several hours and several miles in soggy socks. Yes, not unexpected, I know the routine.

Ok, so this pic is actually from 2012 as I forgot to shoot a shot of the bike this time around.  I no longer look like I’m in the same shape as this photo.  But wait until next year…

Two Wheeling – Julie got my bicycle tuned up for my birthday last year as it was looking and sounding a little rough after many years of strip pit off roading. Twelve months later, I figured it was high time to drag it up from the basement where it was attached to a stationary frame that Julie got me last Christmas that I have also failed to put to use. Once I got it out on the strip mines, however, it was just like (you guessed it) riding a bike. It is a nice time saver that cuts down the walking as I ride the roads into proximity of a fishing hole and then park it for the walk through the deeper weeds. Had a laugh on one spot this time around as I forgot where I parked my bike and wandered about like a shopping center parking lot. Found it about a hundred yards away.

My nemesis is alive and well in Knox County, watch where you tread.

Hiker Beware – Definitely not my favorite member of the vegetative community but no doubt the most important one to recognize. Me and poison ivy have had a rocky relationship for as long as I can remember, including shots, prednisone prescriptions, medicated baths and plenty of calamine. I couldn’t pass up the shot above of some serious specimens, dang near poison ivy “trees” that lay just off the beaten path, makes me itch just looking at the pics.

Water conditions just haven’t been right this summer, taking a toll on at least one bass angler and providing an excuse for futility.

Oh Bad Water – I don’t know what it’s been with the summer weather conditions but nearly all of my strip mine waters just look nasty. Normally clean or green waters now have a brownish tint and the surface vegetation just doesn’t look healthy, far from a vibrant green, either a nasty yellow or dying brown. I realize summer can be tough but I believe that these conditions have the bass in a funk and I’m right there with ‘em.

11:07am Top Bass 13″ 1-4 Red Eye Shad

Another less than impressive haul, kind of like a broken record for 2018. It is what it is and I pull no punches, you get a write up no matter the results. It’s a pact I made with myself when I started doing this thing many years ago. Just tell it like it happened and leave it up to you on what to do with the mouse, touchpad or touch screen.

Did a piece for my birthday last month entitled “Thoughts at 51.”  Well, the video below is an addendum to that post as I ponder how much I’ve got left in the tank for these adventures.

 

August is typically a rough month for fishing and writing with school and the related activities kicking into gear so may be a little lean. Still got a few things up my sleeve though and hey, more than enough archive posts for anyone to revisit as the website approaches 300 submissions. Talk to you later. Troy

Lost Grove Lake Report – July 25

For quite a few years, I used to work in a fishing trip on my birthday. But as birthdays often become just another day consumed by work and responsibilities, the fishing trips seem to be postponed or fall by the wayside altogether. This evening outing a couple days post birthday number 51 was as close as I was going to get.

And as it turned out, I wound up about as close to getting shut out as you can get. Still can manage a “fishing report” though, despite it not being much of a “catching report.”

Stats

Date: July 25, 2018
Location: Lost Grove Lake, IA
Time: 6:20pm-8:35pm
Weather: Partly cloudy/breezy
Air Temp: 81-77F
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 1 bass
Lures: Booyah Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-0

Notes & Nonsense

Close Call – I caught my lone bass at 8:12pm which meant that I was indeed getting a little nervous about posting my first goose egg of 2018. My buzzbait had just ticked off of some weeds on the way to a strip of open water in the midst of a big batch of duckweed and it was on, as shown in the GoPro video below.

Originally I was kind of bummed as I had a corrupt video that I was pretty certain was the lone catch. Fortunately, I was mistaken and got my bass on “film.” No trophy but I continue to get a kick out of this fun bit of technology, kind of cool to see the duckweed holes fill back in after the battle as well.

The Soundtrack OR when you don’t really have quality fish to blog about…

I don’t know about anybody else, but when I’m flying solo on the drive and on the water, tunes are a big part of my distraction and daydream. Generally it is a rather crazy soundtrack featuring an eclectic mix of cuts that either stopped me on the radio or came to mind based on some observance on the water. And while maybe not necessarily worthy of a “Top Trip Tunes” post, I do dig talking tunes.

Party in the USA (Miley Cyrus – 2009) – Okay, let’s get this one out of the way first. I heard this Miley Cyrus tune while driving and actually let it play for a while.  Bad idea but you’ve gotta admit, it’s got a catchy hook.  Hence, the song was running through my head most of the evening, especially when I was rowing the boat like yeah, casting my lure like yeah or I would see some “butterflies fly away.” Kinda rough, but, “you know I’m gonna be okay.”

Angeline (Allman Brothers Band – 1980) – There’s a station that I get up here, 107.7FM out of Polo, IL that is frequently the winner for best song on the dial when surfing through the presets. Interesting and unusual cuts abound, and even more so recently as I believe it has changed hands, or at least format. Didn’t know this cut, but sure knew who was performing it.

Forever Autumn (Justin Hayward – 1978) –Same as the above tune, it’s always a treat to hear something I’ve never heard before but recognize in some fashion. Swore this one was The Moody Blues but not too far off as simply their lead singer instead.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Warrant, 1991) – Darn near a full moon caught my eye during the trip, indeed it was quite hard to miss. Of course, the moon is a popular subject for more than a few song lyrics and the scene brought to mind, “Where the full moon shines through the rooftop cracks.” Got a million of ‘em upstairs, something for every occasion.

Fun snapshot from some GoPro footage with moon, reflection and buzzbait (right of reflection)

Okay, back to the fishing part of the report with a GoPro blooper finale.

This one will go on the 2018 blooper reel as it was a swing and miss but the brain said “pull the trigger” and I was indeed a little desperate to end the shutout.

This mishap from the outing pretty much sums up my last several months on the water.

Better luck next time, I guess, as 2018 fishing continues to be a little rough on me. Talk to you later. Troy

Lost Grove Lake Report – July 18

With my boys away at my folks and the girls busy with some summer practice activities, I had the evening to myself once I got off of work. While I was kind of tired, I figured that I’d be a fool to not take advantage of the opportunity to head across the river to my Iowa stomping grounds.

Stats

Date: July 18, 2018
Location: Lost Grove Lake, IA
Time: 6:35pm-8:35pm
Weather: Partly cloudy/windy
Air Temp: 77F
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 3 bass
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (pumpkin with black flake) – 2 bass, Strike King KVD 2.5 crankbait (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-6 (only 2 bass over12”)
Top Weight (2bass): 2-8 (1-6,1-2)

6:41pm First bass 13″ 1-2 Crankbait

Notes & Nonsense

Water Conditions – Back on Memorial Day I paid my first visit of 2018 to Lost Grove only to find my regular fishing area to be a real mess of scattered, floating vegetation. As a result, I put in elsewhere which is okay for some exploring but sure wished I could’ve fished my intended spots. I didn’t know what to expect this time around but the vegetation had subsided to a fishable state and water clarity was a stained normal so I was good to go.

Company – Usually there’s not much traffic on the section of the lake I frequent, as it takes a little work for the folks in the big boats. However, on this occasion I shared water with four bass boats, one of whom seemed a little frustrated with my presence. We met up near a point, headed in opposite directions. The fellow ceded the rest of the bank, which I didn’t want to fish anyway and I rowed back to fish the same stretch of bank I had just visited for a second lap. About 30 minutes later, the fellow came back for another look only to find me in essentially the same spot and did a donut in the water as he headed out. Not a real bad move, don’t know his intent, but for a guy in an eight foot johnboat it had me rocking for a bit.

7:48pm Top Bass 13.5″ 1-6 Senko

Close Quarters – The pair of bass that fell to the Senko wacky rig both hit with just a few yards of line out and rather tight to the riprap lining the bank. Certainly wished they would have been bigger and sure would have been a handful trying to land a quality fish with 10-pound test on a short line (video of these two catches below).

 

One That Got Away – Lost Grove is good spot for a quick jaunt on evenings such as this occasion but I’ve had some difficulty finding quality bass. I have witnessed a four plus caught and observed a handful of others in that range swimming around but as far as my personal best it stands at 2-3. Had one on this trip that would have given that “PB” a run for its money but wasn’t meant to be as it threw my buzzbait on a leap. Angler error was a major factor in this case as a loose drag meant less than ideal impact on pair of hooksets. Felt the line give both times, knew I was in trouble and sure didn’t take long to confirm. Such is fishing and got some decent GoPro footage to relive my mistake (video below).

 

And below is a slow motion portion of the above clip that is also zoomed in on the bass spitting the lure, pretty cool even though I lost the fish.

 

Overall, a fun evening getaway as the water looked decent, found a few cooperative fish and two of them were “keepers.” After limited summer opportunities and a bit of a 2018 fishing funk it felt good to feel good and have my focus back in being able to truly escape from my responsibilities for a couple hours.

Top 5 Update delayed until Tuesday this week to make way for one more July birthday post. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – July 17

Exactly one month from my last outing (Father’s Day), I was back on the water with some high hopes of a significant boost to my Top 5. Been a tough start to the year for me so anything over two pounds would provide a cull. Not too tall of an order on a couple of my best spots, right? Not so fast, as the “dog days” got the best of me.

Stats
Date: July 17, 2018
Location: Knox County strip mines (2 lakes)
Time: 6:35am-9:15am
Weather: Sunny/calm to breezy
Air Temp: 63-74F
Totals: 4 bass
Lures:
Booyah Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 2 bass
Senko wacky rig (pumpkin/black flake) – 1 bass
Mann’s Baby 1- (red craw) – 1 bass
Top Bass: none 12” or better
Top 5 Weight: not applicable


7:06am First bass and unfortunately the rest didn’t get any bigger.

Notes and Nonsense

Top 5 – I’ve been sitting on 12-2 since reeling in my Top Bass at 3-0 back on April 22. Five trips in the books since then, including this one, and nothing to add to my total. Just looking for anything in the two to three pound slot for a bump in weight but unable to get it done.

Not Alone – I do take comfort in knowing that another of our Top 5 anglers has admitted that he too is struggling with the summer bite in limited opportunities to get on the water as well. In fact, John Kirkemo’s latest submission for the weigh-in consisted of a trophy bundle of cardboard that was headed for the recycling bin. Appreciate the sense of humor during the dog days of summer where the bite and the heat can pose some challenges and perhaps even make an angler a little delirious.

Thanks for a smile in the face of some fishing adversity.  By the way, our Top 5 is still in search of a 2018 five-pounder…

Excuses – I was kind of bummed upon arriving at my first fishing hole to find the water with a brownish tint. Been there before and don’t ever recall those conditions resulting in much of a bite, let alone anything to brag about. Right on the money and after just over an hour and four short bass it was on to a second spot. And…same state of water clarity but even worse results. In fact, no bass in the boat at all. Had one on a Senko about 10 minutes into my 75 minutes on the water but it was my only bite and threw the worm on the way in.

Recap – I had the GoPro along as I usually do these days and captured all four catches “on tape” (just like to put it that way although I am aware it’s the digital age). For better or worse, I’ve included the montage below. Even though there aren’t any catches that remotely resemble “keepers”, I think it’s still a cool bit of technology that I never envisioned back when I was a kid. Pretty fun to fool around with making your own fishin’ show, just like Bill Dance, Hank Parker, Virgil Ward, Jimmy Houston and Jerry McKinnis. Well, sorta…

 

Hey, I gave it another go a couple days later so back to back fishing reports this weekend. Hope you’ll tune back in tomorrow. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – July 24-25, 2013

This week’s walk down Memory Lane comes from a 2013 trip where my wife, Julie, and I got to ditch the kids for a grand total of 55 hours. Our getaway featured generous lodging at a spot called “The Doghouse” courtesy of a fellow that I became acquainted with via a former blogging gig and with whom I found to share a couple old friends.

Believe it or not, there was some fishing on the agenda with The Emiquon Preserve a forty minute drive away, Jim Edgar Panther Creek just down the road and a fishing hole known as The Virginia City Reservoir in the neighborhood.

Below are some totals and excerpts from the original fishing report postings as well as brief note regarding the look back.

Virginia City Reservoir

Date: July 24, 2013
Location: Virginia City Reservoir
Time: 4:45pm-8:00pm
Totals: 21 bass, 1 bluegill
Weight (4 bass at 12” or better): 3 lbs. 0 oz. (0-13, 0-12, 0-12, 0-11)

Crowd – My gut feeling was that I would have the lake to myself so I was a bit surprised to encounter a few other anglers. When I arrived there was a couple fishing from a beached pontoon and a couple hours later another pair of anglers arrived in a bass boat to try their luck. We all gave each other a wave at some point from a distance but even on a rather small lake there was still plenty of room for everyone.
(Note: turns out that the lake had actually become private property despite a few remaining IDNR sign near the ramp. Been a few times in the past that I was “unsure” whether I was trespassing or not but this time around I was honestly clueless.)

Emiquon Preserve

Date: July 25, 2013
Location: Emiquon Preserve
Time: 6:30am-9:30am
Totals: 4 bass
Weight (4 bass at 12” or better): 5 lbs. 12 oz. (1-10, 1-9, 1-5, 1-4)

Same Place, Different Day – On July 8, Dad and I were able to fool 30 bass in five and a half hours on Emiquon. The water was clean, as clear as I’d ever seen it, there were dead carp floating everywhere and we got soaked by recurring rain showers. On July 25, the water was quite murky, there was a fair amount of floating debris, live carp were steadily thrashing about in the abundant surface vegetation and the weather was sunny with little wind, the latter being an Emiquon rarity. The first day we found them, the second day I didn’t.
(Note: These were the last four bass that I caught on the legendary fishing hole and five years later, I guess the place is really a mess, perhaps on its last leg as a bass fishery. May be the last bass I ever land down there as a result.)

Jim Edgar Panther Creek – Drake Lake

Date: July 25, 2013
Location: Drake Lake-Jim Edgar Panther Creek
Time: 3:00pm-5:30pm
Totals: 9 bass, 1 bluegill (with partner)
Weight (1 bass 12” or better): 0-11

Crankbait Girl – I make a fair amount of mental blog notes about my trips but this time I made sure to write down a favorite on the water quip. In assessing her fishing style between casts, Julie stated, “I’m a crankbait girl and you can quote that.” So I did.

Perspective – While the lake harbors an abundance of small bass, the flipside is a reported quality bluegill/redear population. Such were the quarry of an angler launching as we were loading our boat in the truck. The knowledgeable fisherman described the management plan that in his estimation was working well to feed his panfish pursuit. He asked if we’d caught any panfish to which I replied, “We got one on accident.” His matter of fact response was, “I catch bass on accident.” To each their own in our shared fish chasing hobby.
(Note: it’s fun to play fishing guide when it works out and you find some cooperative fish even if they aren’t much to brag about. Besides, I guess after 11 years of marriage at the time, I must have been a “keeper” for more than my fishing/guiding skills.)

Believe it or not, that’s the abridged version of the collection of stats, notes and nonsense originally submitted during the summer of 2013. As always, fun to look back at the write ups and remember what I’d forgotten. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – July 8, 2013

Today’s Flashback features an original blog posting in its entirety that was submitted on a previous blogging gig on July 12, 2013. The report gives the lowdown on a trip that Dad and I took to The Emiquon Preserve, a Fulton County, IL fishing hole that was the most amazing public fishery I have ever fished. The place was full of hard fighting, quality bass and always made for some sort of interesting fish story.

Five years later, it sounds like all of that has changed as those charged with the care of the fishery have elected to destroy it. Funny, in a not so funny way, that the first two lines in the old report below take on a whole different meaning nowadays.

6:29am First Bass 14.5” 1-6 Red Eye Shad (sexy shad)

The not so old destination has a whole new look.

Emiquon has changed.

I’d been wondering how my first trip to the fishing hole would shake out in light of the wet spring and the pictures on the internet showing several streams of floodwater flowing over the levees. Well, there was definitely more water, some puzzling stuff with the residents, an irritating (although relatively minor) bit of technical difficulty and a welcome new look in the johnboat.

6:31am Dad First Bass 1-6 Strike King Square Bill Crankbait (sexy shad)

Stats
Date: July 8, 2013
Location: Emiquon
Time: 6:10am-11:40am
Weather: Overcast with rain/windy (south)
Air Temp: 77-80F
Water Temp: 74F
Totals: 30 bass (combined total with partner)
Lures: Booyah/Strike King spinnerbait (white or salt & pepper) – 10 bass, Senko/Stik-O wacky rig (watermelon with black flake or candy corn) – 9 bass, Yum Crawdad/BPS River Bug – 5 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 4 bass, Strike King Square Bill crankbait (sexy shad) – 1 bass, Mann’s baby 1- crankbait – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-6 (two bass) Yum Crawdad and Booyah Spinnerbait
Top 5 Weight: 11 lbs 6 oz (2-6,2-6,2-5,2-4,2-1)

Original log entry from the outing

Notes & Nonsense

Tag Team – Up until this trip my entire twenty five hours of bass fishing this year were flying solo. Thus it was a welcome change of pace to have Dad decide to team up for another Emiquon adventure. Life gets pretty hectic with my four kids and he and Mom spending time with eight grandkids so it wasn’t overly surprising (although unfortunate) that we’d not had the opportunity to fish together yet this year. He’s been my top fishing partner over the years and it’s always good to have another angler along for ideas, conversation, picture taking and another lure in the water. It doesn’t hurt when that fellow angler also has a nicer truck, a Bass Tracker (outlawed on Emiquon due to a gas motor), is often good for a soda and some chips on the way home and has a friend who lends us an “Emiquon boat.” I got it made.

9:09am Dad 1-8 Strike King Spinnerbait (white)

Running Blind – The high water had many of my landmarks submerged making the vast expanse of water all look pretty much the same. Not having a portable depthfinder also made for some head scratching and relatively aimless casting with a few random bass to start our day. However, we do know a thing or two about the area after thirteen visits and several hundred bass beginning back on April 23, 2009. We do alright but it sure got me wishing that I’d picked up the portable depthfinder I’d checked out in Peoria the previous week. Instead, I decided to feed the family for a few days rather than drop the $120 but maybe next time, the kids all look pretty healthy anyway.

8:46am Top Bass (tie) 16.5 ” 2-6 Booyah Counterstrike Spinnerbait (salt & pepper)

Carp Flotilla – The lake was literally littered with carp carcasses in varying stages of decay. Everywhere you looked there were bloated floating brown and white fish of the common carp variety. For my money, any dead carp is a good carp on this relatively new restoration project so I can’t say it hurt my feelings. Unfortunately, the frequent splashing and thrashing meant that there were still plenty more of the lake wreckers still swimming. I will say that I do enjoy catching and fighting carp but overall they are just bad news in terms of lake health. Luckily there was some wind and the temperature was not typical July as I’m sure the place would have been really ripe. I’m not sure what to make of the whole situation but it was certainly a new look.

8:48am 15.5” 2-1 Booyah Counterstrike Spinnerbait (salt & pepper)

Hungry Bass – Good things can happen for an angler whose lure encounters a hungry bass. But some of those we found looked like they were downright starving. Now I realize that 30 bass is not much for a sample size but there was a noticeable difference in the length to weight ratio in this year’s catch. This is also a new look as the bulk of the hundreds of bass we’ve previously fooled down there set a new standard for quality compared to anywhere else we have ever fished. I will give them credit for fight though as several had me fooled into thinking they were larger than the result. The initial Emiquon seemed to be chock full of stout bass but I now wonder if they have begun to eat themselves out of house and home. Who knows, just an amateur observation.

9:47am Gaunt Bass 16” 1-14 (should’ve weighed a lot more at Emiquon)

Weather – One thing that wasn’t too different was the wind, even in July. We did have a brief calm spot or two but those were typically around one of the half dozen rain showers that greeted us. Luckily there was no lightning so we rode it out and with temps in the upper 70’s it wasn’t particularly uncomfortable. It also didn’t take too long to dry out, usually right before it rained again.

9:47am Top Bass (tie) 17” 2-6 Yum Crawdad

Guesstimation – My old trusty scale was dying during my 7/4 outing so I grabbed a new one at a local store. Being on the water without a scale for a meticulous data collector is akin to losing my favorite crankbait and not having a backup. Frustratingly, the new model weighed only a handful of our Emiquon bass while going haywire. Therefore, several of the weights noted with this report are best guesses from me and Dad. The way I look at it though is that we’ve seen enough bass over the years that we’re just as calibrated as the devices that claim accuracy within an ounce or two.

10:28am Dad wielding an entertaining and effective Stik-O color, Candy Corn

Yet again, Emiquon provided plenty to ramble about, wouldn’t have figured it any other way. I’ve probably written more about that four year old fishing hole than I have about places I’ve fished for twenty five or thirty years, it’s just that kind of place. It’s been a boon to the record book and the photo album as well. And how much better does it get than being able to create those memories with your dad?

Those were the days but we may only have the old stories as it seems headed towards a ruined mud hole with no new fish stories to tell. Such a shame as the management direction makes no sense to me. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – July 1, 2013

How’s that for a first bass of the morning?  Read on for the backstory and recap.

Okay, so this week’s flashback draws upon a couple posts from late spring/early summer of 2013. First up, this blurb regarding a buzzbait blast from June 7, 2013:

The One That Got Away – Sometimes you see them, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you hook them, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes they break you off, sometimes they simply let go and sometimes they just plain swing and miss. And when that swing and miss is on a buzzbait it can sure leave you lamenting what might have been. That was the lingering thought after a huge explosion on my buzzer as it blazed the edge between a drop and an extended shallow point. Now, I’ve been doing this long enough to know that you can’t always judge a fish by the strike but I’m pretty sure that this one was something special. Such is the quest, but knowing that this fish is not entirely above a moment of weakness I’ll definitely visit that spot again with an undeniable extra dose of anticipation accompanying each cast.

Part II of the fishing log shows it was a pretty solid morning.

Flash forward for today’s trip back in time to my fishing report from July 1, 2013:

Slow Start – I like to be on the water at daybreak in the summer if I can swing it looking for an early bite in the typical dog days. I was a bit late upon missing my 4:04am alarm and not actually waking up until 5:05am as all these kids just flat wear out parents. The extra hour of sleep was just fine though since I was flying solo. Even late, however, it still seems like I wake up before the bass many times and this trip was no exception. Therefore, it was forty minutes before I got any action, but it was worth the wait.

7:01am – Same bass as my June encounter?  Will never know, but sounds like a good story and I’m all about those.

Second Chance? – Those forty minutes evaporated when a bass smoked my buzzbait with its tail thrashing the surface leaving no doubt it was a good one. Fortune smiled on me this time as I lipped the 22” fish that weighed 5-10 and then wondered if it was perhaps the second chance I referenced in today’s intro. The bass hit the same bait about fifty yards and one extended point away from the June miss so you just never know. I was so pumped that my hands were shaking as I weighed, measured and photographed the bass before letting it swim away to grow up. That sort of stuff never gets old.

10:10 am – A nice runner-up for the day but just a bit lighter than the Top Bass.

No Sweat – 2013 continues to be an odd weather year as I started the day with a sweatshirt over my t-shirt and never changed despite rowing and working the anchor the old fashioned way. It was truly hard to grasp that it was July 1 and I only ditched the sweatshirt at high noon while loading the boat in the back of the truck. Mind you, this is not a complaint as I increasingly enjoy the milder temps as I put a few more years behind me.

11:29am – Gotta give the little ones a photo op from time to time and this was a trophy small bass.

What a difference five years makes. Scorcher this year and haven’t been able to fish since Father’s Day and likely off the water for a bit longer, just too much going on. But no fishing obviously doesn’t mean no writing as I’ve got plenty to pass along. Another Top 5 Update on the way (Tuesday this week instead of Monday), a baseball/fishing combo project in the works and a change of blog scenery on the horizon. Hope you’ll continue to take a peek. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – June 30, 2003

For this week we take a look back at an outing that featured a personal best from a small West Central Illinois fishing hole, Gladstone Lake. The following is an excerpt from the original June 30, 2003 report shared with family and friends.

June 30, 2003 – new lake record 3-8 on buzzbait

Today I decided to give the bass one more shot for the month of June and they didn’t let me down. The lake of choice was Gladstone Lake in Henderson County, located, oddly enough, just west of Gladstone. In the past, this lake has produced large quantities of bass although the quality leaves much to be desired. Fishing with Tim (former brother in law) or Geek (aka Mark Junk) on a few occasions has resulted in sixty to seventy bass days. Dad and I have hit the lake a couple times in recent years with much less success. Therefore, I left him home today and went by myself (actually he had a golf outing). My records indicate only 9 of 137 bass I’ve recorded at Gladstone from 1997-2003 were 12″ or longer. Of the 128 fish less than 12″, 87 were clustered between 9-10″. Much of the same today with two notable exceptions.

Original log entry from this outing

The less impressive exception was a 6 1/2″ bass that was barely longer than the lure I caught it on. When I catch one of these, I pass them off as “Pygmy Bass” in an effort to hide my embarrassment when I haul it into the boat. You see, “Pygmy Bass” usually run in the 4-5″ range so this was actually what could be considered a trophy specimen. I’ve yet to weigh one of these fish and I speculate that my scale may not even register a weight unless there is a stiff wind. Actually, catching one of these tiny bass is all right every once in a while. It speaks volumes for the aggressive nature of a hungry largemouth bass and they are kind of cool, miniature versions of their grownup brothers and sisters.

Former Gladstone Lake personal best of 2-4 from October 2, 2001 on a Blue Glimmer spinnerbait

The other exception was a 19 1/2″, 3-8 bass that nailed my buzzbait around 6:00 am as I retrieved it across a weedy point. This is the largest bass to come out of Gladstone Lake, besting a 2-4 from October 2, 2001. It also turned out to be Big Bass of the Month (barring any last-minute reports). Grand total for the day was thirteen bass in around four hours of fishing from 5:30 am-9:30 am. Ten bass fell to a buzzbait (blue glimmer), two to a Mann’s 4- crankbait (red shiner) and one on the latest rage, the Rebel Ghost Minnow, which barely drew attention unlike last week’s Little John adventures. Prime spots were the series of mid-lake humps that dot the lake. Final weight of all bass over 12″ was 4-2 from two fish.

Second shot of the top catch

A solid outing and admittedly a much larger bass than I really anticipated catching, a pleasant surprise. Shows that you just never know what might turn up when you hit the water. As always, fun to reminisce and definitely an instance where a fish story brings several other fish stories to mind. In the case of Gladstone Lake, there’s a job offer, cheap beer, Mr. Harvey, a long walk, DOC work, Keith Whitley, a muskie at Hardee’s, Bo and Sonny, lizards, and a flat tire. Stories for another time, got hundreds of ‘em.

Not sure what became of Gladstone Lake after some Mississippi RIver flooding, effect shown in my May 2010 photos above

And then there was a Mississippi River flood. Not sure what the story was on that one though as the last time I drove through the area the lake was off limits. Of course, that was back in 2010 so unsure on what the IDNR elected to do with the lake. Should anyone out there have any input drop me a line. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – June 16, 2008

I’m going to push my luck with today’s Flashback as even the abridged version of this posting from 2008 remains a little lengthy. But a great day on the water just makes it tough to pare it down so here we go.

Dad and I hit Lake Bracken on June 16th, the day after Father’s Day, for our first fishing trip together of 2008. The weather had been fairly stable and the bass were through spawning so I figured that I might as well compile another “Day on the Lake” feature. As a refresher, our DOTL adventures involve photographing each bass that we land along with recording time, length, lure and weight (if applicable). The article then consists of a chronological account of our day, statistics and anecdotes concerning what actually goes on when we share several hours on the water. So, everyone hop aboard for a belated Father’s Day version of “Day on the Lake with the Dads.”

5:27 am – Armed with over a dozen poles, a hefty amount of tackle, a digital camera, a fishing log and several new weapons courtesy of Father’s Day, we launch the boat.


Bass #1 – 5:39am leaves room for improvement (details below, same for the pics and times that follow)

5:39 am – Dad lands our first bass, an 8” on a Bomber Flat A crankbait along Ramp Road. The once reliable area fails to produce another bite so we elect to motor up lake.


Bass #8 – 7:45am 2-13 Senko

7:45 am – Dad tops off a string of four straight with a hefty 2-13 on his Senko wacky rig in Shed Cove. It’s his fifth Senko bass of the morning and it seems that I might have done well with my selection of Baitmate Max Fish Attractant in the garlic and salt flavor for his Father’s Day gift. He’s begun coating the lure with the attractant and it sure seems to be working. Our three fish weight now stands at 4-11.


Bass #9 – 7:48am 2-0 Baby Brush Hog

7:48 am – I follow suit by asking for a shot of the juice on my Baby Brush Hog (Alabama craw). My next cast to a fallen tree results in a 2-0, bumping our make believe tourney totals to four bass weighing 6-11.


Bass #11  – 8:00am 3-5 Senko

8:00 am – We’re still on a roll, still in the cove and rapidly buying into the spray on fish attractant thing as Dad lands a 3-5. Once again the Senko does the trick and establishes a new Top Bass for 2008. The fish fills our six bass tourney limit and pushes our weight to 10-15. Were we truly fishing a tournament, it would be a great relief to have our limit by 8:00 am so we could begin to work on weeding out the smaller fish and increasing our weight.


Bass #28 (along with short Bass #27) – 10:00am 2-9 Baby Brush Hog

10:00 am – My 2-9 from some trees on Sunset View Point replaces a 0-15 and bumps our weight up to 13-9. The fish comes on a Texas rigged Zoom Baby Brush Hog (Alabama craw).


Bass #35 (and a couple companions) – 11:21am 3-7 Senko

11:21 am – Following a pair of fourteen ounce bass that no longer meet the minimum for our six fish limit, Dad bests the 2008 Top Bass for the second time today with a 3-7. After a well-placed cast near a crumbling dock on Brock’s Point, Dad actually witnesses the bass engulfing his bait. His latest lunker bumps out a 1-14 bringing our weight to 15-15.


Bass #38  11:37am the last of a stellar day

11:37 am – Our final catch of the day is a short fish by Dad on the Senko, of course. This completes a string of six straight bass putting an exclamation point on an outstanding day as he easily doubles my catch.

Statistics
Location: Lake Bracken
Time: 5:30 am-12:00pm
Totals: 38 bass (Dad-26 Troy-12) and 4 bluegill
Bass under 12” – 21
Bass 12” or above – 17
Lures: Senko – 24 Baby Brush Hog – 7 Dropshot rig – 4 Baby 1- 1 Bomber Flat A – 1 Zara Spook – 1
Streaks: Dad 6 straight bass 11:06am-11:37am
Troy 2 straight (twice)
Droughts: Dad – 48 minutes 6:19am-7:07am
Troy – 62 minutes 6:04am-7:06am
Record Book Entries: Dad (3-7, 3-5, 2-13, 1-14)
Troy (2-9, 2-0, 1-13)
Total Weight (top six bass): 15-15


Entire original log entry from the outing

Notes

Hotspots – Shed Cove is a small pocket that features a fallen tree on the west point, a pair of stumps along the eastern bank (if you know where to look) and a sharp dropoff on the west point; plenty of appeal, and on this date, plenty of bass. From 7:31am until 8:00am, we hauled in five bass (Dad caught four of these) with all coming in at 12” or greater and a combined weight of 9-15 (0-14, 2-13, 2-0, 0-15 and 3-5 in chronological order). A couple trees on Sunset View Point also produced well as we landed six bass between 9:47 am and 10:00 am including a 2-9. Only one came on the Senko as this turned out to be the only spot on the lake where it was out produced as the Baby Brush Hog or dropshot rig were the lures of choice.

I’m A Believer – As noted previously, part of the Father’s Day gift pack for Dad was a bottle of Baitmate Max Fish Attractant. Its appeal turned out to be one of the top stories of the day, perhaps even adding to the already impressive production of the Senko wacky rig. Dad employed the spray frequently and was rewarded with a hefty creel, both in quantity and quality. I was convinced of the juice’s effectiveness as well by an incident in Shed Cove. Upon observing Dad’s success with the liquid, I asked for a dose on my Baby Brush Hog stating, “I haven’t had a bite on this lure yet.” After firing a cast to a fallen tree, my next words were, “You’ve got to be kidding” as I set the hook on what turned out to be a 2-0 bass. I have yet to pick up a bottle for myself but as a reminder my birthday is July 23rd.

Taking a pic of every bass leads to a little goofing off to provide something extra for the run of the mill fish.  This is what I call a “Magazine Pic” where you hold the catch as far as your arm can reach towards the camera. (Note: not a fan, this is truly a tongue in cheek shot enhanced by the grin on the guy holding the fish)

That wasn’t so bad now was it? As my blogging approach has evolved over the years I have tried to pare my postings down or break up what used to be one posting into a series of submissions. Not only do I feel that it helps me to maintain a steady stream of posts but I also feel that it is not quite as daunting to any readers who tune in as the human attention span just ain’t what it used to be.

And with that, I’m gone. Talk to you later (with some tunes). Troy