Category: Fishing Reports

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

Strip Mine Report – Father’s Day

Snuck away from this bunch for an early morning outing but assisted later with a water balloon fight…after a nap.

Earlier this month, I wrote a piece that touched on what I considered to be a bit of a bass slump with two of three outings where I just couldn’t put much together. Many years prior, I wrote a piece called “Drag Bunts & Basics” which gave me an excuse to combine baseball and bass fishing. The slumpbuster in that case was to shift gears and go panfishing, my equivalent to the old drag bunt attempt to get on base and get back in the groove. Well, this time I elected to take the opposite approach and swing for the fences. Maybe not the best idea for a ballplayer but was slinging a buzzbait on a couple of my bests spots a winner for this angler?

6:05am First Bass and Top Bass 15″ 1-11 Senko

Stats
Date: June 17, 2018
Location: Little John Conservation Club (2 lakes)
Time: 5:35am-10:05am
Weather: Sunny/calm to breezy
Air Temp: 75-84F
Totals: 12 bass
Lures:
Senko wacky rig (pumpkin/black flake or purple with black flake) – 8 bass
Booyah Buzzbait (bleeding shad or snow white shad) – 4 bass
Top Bass: 1-11 Senko
Top 5 Weight (4 bass at 12” or better): 6-8 (1-11,1-10,1-2,1-1)

6:17am 15.5″ 1-10 Buzzbait

8:13am 14″ 1-2 Buzzbait

Notes and Nonsense

Early Escape – Up at 3:33am and pulling out of the driveway at slightly after 4:00am, I was several hours ahead of anyone in my house even thinking about getting out of bed on a Father’s Day morning. Honestly, that was kind of the plan, felt slightly bad about ditching my crew but knew they’d barely miss me at that time of the day, if at all. And I had to smile as I neared my destination, still in the dark, with the truck radio displaying 5:02am while I turned up the volume on “Fly by Night” from Rush. Summed it up nicely.

The Father’s Day menu that I prepared to serve up to the bass

Early Brunch – I know that a lot of places do a Mother’s Day Brunch but not so sure about Father’s Day. No matter, as I had my own batch of offerings all set up for the strip mine bass I was chasing. Senko was the most popular dish, with scattered interest in a buzzbait, one strike on the Whopper Plopper, no bites on the Mann’s crankbait or topwater frog and I never even picked up the spinnerbait or giant Senko. As usual I packed way more than I used but you don’t catch fish on lures in your garage and you just never know what you might need.

8:56am 14″ 1-1 Senko

The One That Sorta Got Away – The largest bass I saw all day was one between two and three pounds that took an interest in a short bass I had hooked on a Senko near the end of my day. I let the small bass swim around for a while just so I could get a better look at his buddy and then worked the area over but the larger fish didn’t show up. Kind of fun though and I’ve had as many as eight bass follow a hooked fish to the boat (or shore) along with a handful of instances of catching two bass on one lure. But those are tales for another day.

I’m a lucky guy beyond the rewarding day on the water

Happy Father’s Day – A fishing trip was a great gift to myself with an assist from Julie as I pretty much didn’t have to do anything on Father’s Day. An hour and a half afternoon nap was kind of cool too after the short night as well as home-cooked shrimp fajitas for dinner.  And on top of that there was beef Jerky, M&Ms, Nestea, some work shirts, a new watch and a new pair of work shoes. I have a great family and hope that their show of appreciation indicates that I am a better Dad than fisherman.

Okay, so no dingers as I’d hoped for in my decision to swing for the fences but still equates to a good day at the plate in my book. Say, 2 for 4 with a single, double, walk and maybe a run scored. At any rate, left me feeling better about my effort than my last outing and was a pleasant escape from my priorities. Jammed out to a few good tunes on the round trip as well, so stay tuned…Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – June 13, 2003

Page One of the original log entry from today’s flashback

For today’s flashback I take a look at a bit of a borrowed concept that has evolved into something that I renamed “Lake Lowdown” which debuted here on the website on July 14, 2017. However, the original debut of this idea actually goes back to 2002 but up now is a look back at the second outing on which I employed this approach.

Day on the Lake (Vol. II) from 6/13/2003 (full credit to Bassmaster for the idea/title):

Here’s the scoop on a trip that Dad and I took on Friday the 13th. This was the second in the series of “Day on the Lake” trips. Once again, the timing was right as we hauled in 35 bass including a pair of additions to the record book. Just picked up my photos from this adventure and they tell quite a tale as well. The pictures of the first four bass and the last four bass make it look like a comfortable day. Both of us are in short sleeves and I’ve got my shorts and sandals. However, the 27 photos in between the beginning and the end are filled with rain and the anglers are decked out in full rain gear. Although the rain dampened us a bit, it didn’t dampen our spirits or negatively affect our fishing. Despite this, Dad did mention “not going anymore” with me in light of recent waterlogged adventures. Here’s the story and the data.

6:48am Bass #1 13″ (1-1) on a white spinnerbait

Date: June 13, 2003
Location: Lake Bracken
Weather: Overcast/breezy/light to heavy rain
Air temp: 65F-70F
H2O temp: 70 F
Time: 6:45am-Noon

7:49am Bass #5 at 7″ this happens when you take a pic of every bass, pretty brave attack on a spinnerbait though

6:45 am-7:05am: Dad hauls in our first fish at 6:48am; a 13″ (1-1) on a single spin spinnerbait (white). We each catch a pair along Ramp Road with three at 12″ or better. Dad’s two come on the spinnerbait while mine fall to a Mann’s 1- crankbait (orange tiger shad). At this point we’re still dry but casting glances to the west and patting ourselves on the back for remembering the rain gear.

7:51am Bass #6 at 12″ (0-12) on Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait

7:49am-7:51am: Dad and I nearly go back-to-back on the beaver lodge in West Bay with our same weapons of choice. Mine comes in at 12″ during what is now a steady downpour.

8:18am Bass #9 Top Bass for the day at 18.5″ (3-3) on white spinnerbait in a steady downpour

8:03am-8:22am: Four bass in twenty minutes including “Big Bass of the Day”, an 18.5″ (3-3) that falls to Dad’s spinnerbait. This fish comes out of less than two feet of water on a flat off of Salt Point. Dad knew it was a better fish and I got a look at it as he fought it to the boat and told him it was a very good fish. The bass then made a run, pulling some drag and Dad realized it was larger than he first thought. After a brief battle, I lipped the fish for him at boatside and estimated it around 2-4. I guess I’m out of practice as I was nearly a pound off. Of course, maybe it was due to it being Dad’s fish and not mine. It is customary to overestimate your fish and underestimate your partners. It’s raining even harder.

8:42am-9:19am: Seven more bass fall to our same offerings along with a crappie and a bluegill for Dad on his spinnerbait, giving him a solid lead for the species title. Still raining.

9:32am Bass #18 my Top Bass of the day at 17″ (2-2) on a Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait 

9:32am-10:24am: This stretch starts with my “Big Bass of the Day”, a 17″ (2-2) on a Mann’s 1- (rainbow). Less than twenty minutes earlier, I had opted to change colors and caught a bass on my first cast with this offering. Dad also picks up a 12″ bass during this stretch. Six bass in twenty minutes along the dam on a Mann’s 1- (autumn sunfish), a Mann’s 4- (splatter sunfish) and a 1/8 oz. jighead (plain) with a silver spinner and twister tail (chartreuse) wrap up a solid hour of fishing. Still raining, but after a while you don’t really notice and besides, the fish don’t seem to mind.

10:55am-11:17am: Three more short bass as we skip to some proven spots amid a waning downpour. Riprap continues to produce on a spinnerbait and crankbait diet.

11:42am-11:56am: The Ramp Road riprap proves to be a successful homestretch as we cover it for a second time. Four bass as we’ve come full-circle and are back to our short sleeves and out of our rain gear.

9:56am Bass #21 at 10.5″ Mann’s 4- crankbait, always like to add some “personality” to the batch of short bass pics with this one displaying my habit (addiction) for measuring the catch

Statistics
Total Bass 35
Troy’s Bass 19
Dad’s Bass 16 (took a break for some panfishing)
Streaks-Troy 3 consecutive bass (3 times)
Streaks-Dad 3 Consecutive bass (2 times)
Droughts-Troy 0:46 (7:05 am-7:51am)
Droughts-Dad 0:53 (10:24am-11:17 am)
Crankbaits 20
Spinnerbaits 9
Ultralights 6
<8″ Bass 7
8-9.5″ Bass 7
10-11.5″ Bass 13
>12″ Bass 8

Top Five Weight 8-0
Top Seven Weight 9-7
Total Weight (12″+) 10-1

Notes
Species Title – Dad wins and completes “The Grand Slam” by catching four species (largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie and green sunfish). Dad caught around a dozen crappies on his ultralight by casting and many bluegills by trolling as we moved from spot to spot.

Called Shot – Dad successfully employed a secret weapon to produce a bass in Shabena Cove. This time it went something like, “We usually get one in the back of this cove.” This was uttered as he fired a cast to some logs in the back of the cove. Right on cue, a small bass nailed his spinnerbait and became bass #15 for the day. One word of warning; this is an advanced technique, honed over years of fishing experiences. Don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t work at first.

10:00am Bass #22 as Dad shifted gears to some ultralight fishing but still couldn’t escape the bass…barely

Precipitation – Dad and I have quite a track record with inclement weather. This trip made for back-to-back Friday’s of getting soaked. However, this trip was much more comfortable considering I had nearly full coverage with rain gear and no boot full of water. The last two trips have certainly been wet, but Beefy’s Monsoon may still be the wettest outing in recorded fishing history (I’ll add that to my “That’s another story” list).

Diet – Several bass that we caught had antennae sticking out of their throats, indicating that they had recently had a crawfish breakfast. Another small bass had a very large belly and further inspection showed a fish tail still protruding from its throat. I don’t think it had room for any more lunch, but it still engulfed my crankbait.

Triskaidekaphobia – Something like that. Anyway, it’s fear of the number 13. What better test than a “Friday the 13th” outing. So much for superstition here, as the outing was a rousing success. Coincidentally, the very first bass of the day came in at 13″. I guess if you are pessimistic, you could view the rain as bad luck. Dad and I aren’t much for this superstition, as he wore the number in baseball and softball and I followed in his footsteps on a few sports teams as well. Our license plates also reflect this with “13DAD” and “13TROY” adorning our trucks. However, I recall stories about my late Uncle Frank and his adherence to superstition over the years. From what I understand, he may not have even left the house on “Friday the 13th”, much less went fishing.

10:57am Bass #30 only 7″ submitted this as a profile pic for an earlier blogging gig but got talked into a bigger catch, always thought this fish was a very honest representation of time on the water though

Whew, got a little longwinded back in the day. Still happens from time to time but I guess this flashback offers proof, in comparison to recent stuff, that I have generally toned it down and spread some reports out over multiple postings. Always fun for me to look back no matter the word count and reminds me that I’m due for a 2018 installment of the “Lake Lowdown” project. Talk to you later. Troy

Fishing Funk Report – 6/4

Remnants from the previous day where wind and a bad batch of line made for a mess.

This is one of those posts that a fishing blogger doesn’t really want to write but should. If you’re going to tell fish stories, you’ve got to tell the not so good with the good. This one comes from a June 4 walk-in outing and made it 2 out of 3 on the downside in regards to my latest fishing trips.

It essentially goes like this:

“I had a bad day on the water.”

But, of course, I just can’t leave it at that, so here we go.

Lone bass, caught on a spinnerbait, from the abbreviated and frustrating morning

Walk-in access had deteriorated due to terrestrial weed growth and water conditions had made it darn near impossible to fish these stomping grounds due to aquatic weed growth. As a result, I wandered more than I fished.

About two hours of the former and maybe forty minutes of the latter with only a lone short bass to show for it. In addition to the site conditions, I was just kind of overwhelmed and stressed from the regular routine of work, responsibilities, budget, fatigue, sore joints from the previous day’s fishing trip…

What a way to mentally and physically spend a vacation day, huh? Darn near turned the whole “worst day fishing, better than the best day working” adage on its ear. In fact, the previous night I was tempted to turn the day off back in and go to work instead. Once I got out, that feeling did not really change as I was just in a down mood. Still not sure what would have been the best decision as my afternoon upon returning home turned into a rather wasted bunch of hours trying to combat that rough mood with fitful napping.

Sure hate those kind of days and extra troubling when even fishing can’t pull me out of my funk.

More bad line as there’s a buzzbait under there that was hand lined in after undoing a backlash only to find that the line had busted as well, for the third time in two days, weird…

Even though the trip was a bust as a result of my poor mood and attitude, I always feel that you should learn something new each time you hit the water.

So, what were some lessons learned or reinforced during this challenging outing?

Lesson One: Always pack the little boat along as a backup, could’ve saved the day but mistakenly went all in on the walk-in. I really should know better as I have used this Plan B approach in the past, just a poor decision on this day.

On the bright side I may have found where this one swims (see below)

Lesson Two: When stuck in a funk, just explore, as I think I found a spot for this fall or next spring. The picture above came my way in a text message last year, pushing 7 pounds and a slight reveal in the background of the photo that I have since cropped. Anyway, I believe I found it. Unfishable on this outing but plan to revisit under better conditions.

Lesson Three: Not always welcome but I still have to marvel at how nature does its thing. I knew the earlier controlled burn on the property wouldn’t last but just amazing how the vegetation rebounds after that management process. And throw aquatic vegetation into the mix as well for I have never seen these waters as weed choked as this year.

Really kind of a disappointing day for a guy who just can’t pack up and fish anytime he wishes. But ultimately the letdown rests squarely on my shoulders due to the combination of poor decision making and allowing a surly mood to get the best of me. As it happens, I’m over it and ready to work my way out of the fishing funk that has struck me down on two of my last three trips.

Been here and done this before and regarding such funks and I’m always taken back to a Brownsville Station lyric from their classic “Smokin’ in the Boys Room.”

“But I found a way to get out of ‘em…”

Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report 6/3

Got to enjoy a Sunday morning on the water with a friend who I have known since the 80s when I used to run around a Galesburg High School basketball court with his younger brothers. Jim Junk has also been a regular contributor to the Top 5 project going back to the start in 2014. His 2018 Top 5 is off to a great start with some solid Banner Marsh bass so I was hoping some of his success would rub off as we teamed up for some Knox County, IL strip mine bass.


6:31am 1-4 Senko

Stats

Date: June 3, 2018
Location: Little John Conservation Club (2 lakes)
Time: 5:55am-12:50pm (6 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny/windy to very windy
Air Temp: 62-81F
Water Temp: 76F
Totals: 30 bass (Jim = 15, Troy = 15)
Lure Jim
Senko wacky rig (several colors) – 15 bass
Lures Troy
Senko wacky rig (several colors) – 11 bass
Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (sexy shad) – 4 bass
Top Bass: 1-14 Troy Senko
Top 5 Weight: 7-5 (1-14,1-8,1-6,1-5,1-4)


8:09am 1-8 Senko

Notes and Nonsense

Off the Bank – As noted in the intro, Jim has been knocking the bass pretty good from the bank at Banner Marsh and has also had bank bound success on the first body of water we fished on this morning. For me, it was not only fun to have a fishing partner along but also to be able to help that partner get a look at those “over there” spots that are inaccessible to a bank angler. If you’ve spent any time on the bank, you certainly know what I mean.


8:13am 1-5 Buzzbait

Wind – The forecast called for the wind to pick up around 11:00am but it arrived about an hour ahead of schedule. We’d relocated to a second lake after working over stop number one but the layout just made it too tough with the particular wind direction. Therefore, we bailed out and headed back for round two on our original stop. A handful of bass joined the ledger on the second visit but the wind and its toll on the trolling motor battery prevented us from reaching a spot that was productive earlier in the morning. Chop on the water in the sunny conditions was welcome but when you’ve got to run full throttle on the motor just to stay in place it makes for a challenge.


8:36am 1-14 Senko

Senko Domination – Several Senko hues fished wacky style were the big winners on this trip, landing 26 of our 30 bass. The Senko success was no surprise as it is the typical winner on the water we fished and both Jim and I are big fans of the presentation. In fact, we were in definite agreement as to the fact that the Senko had revolutionized our approach over the last decade plus. I also tried to force feed a buzzbait in search of that one big bite but it never materialized with the combined weight of those four bass coming in close to what I had my sights on for a lone big bite.


12:46pm 1-6 Senko

Good numbers and certainly enough to keep us interested but just couldn’t find a lunker. Still good to get out with a fishing friend and shoot the breeze with some fish stories, Cubs observations and whatever else came to mind while chasing bass on a windy day. More than a few months of fishing left for 2018 so perhaps a Part II lies in the future. Talk to you later. Troy

Lost Grove Lake Report – May 28

I got to wondering the other day in my “Am I a Bad Fisherman?” posting about my merit as a dedicated fisherman after choosing some much needed rest over an early morning of fishing. Well, I tried to make up for it a couple days later and wound up questioning myself yet again. A couple tentative titles for today’s report were “Am I an Old Fisherman” and “Am I a Wimpy Fisherman” but I went with the standard fishing report format of location and date instead. Details below on why the alternative titles were up for consideration.

6:38am – Quick feedback with first Iowa bass of 2018

Stats

Date: May 28, 2018
Location: Lost Grove Lake, IA
Time: 6:35am-8:50am
Weather: Sunny/calm
Air Temp: 73-82F
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 3 bass
Top Bass: 1-5 (only bass over 12”)

7:11am Top Bass 14″ 1-5 Buzzbait (GoPro video of the catch included below)

Notes & Nonsense

Late Night – My first error in judgment involved staying up too late and having a few cold ones when my intent was to get up at 4:45am. In the end, that poor decision making resulted in about 4.5 hours of sleep so was kind of getting off on the wrong foot from the get go.

Heat – The weather app on my phone read 73F at 6:35am as I made my first cast but it was already a hot 73 degrees. No air moving whatsoever and the effort of dragging my boat out of the back of the truck over some parking posts in a slightly elevated parking lot got the sweat flowing. Then, I had to drag the boat and gear through about 20 yards of weeds which got the heart pumping and the sweat kicked up a notch. And after that I just had roughly 400 acres of water in front of me to choose from armed with an old set of oars and an even older rower providing the power.

Snip from GoPro footage of abundat gnat population from earlier this year but same concept on this trip

Gnats Are Gnuts – If you have been enjoying the outdoors in my neck of the woods as of late, I am certain you are aware of the prevalence of gnats, a real bumper crop. Under the bill of my hat, on the inside of my fishing shades, in my ears, up my nose and yes, I ate a couple, just relentless. Most times you can get away from the bank and enjoy a bit of an escape but these pests were thick everywhere, flat out crazy and no fun.

Another gnat snip just for fun

Weeds – I am accustomed to goofy, scattered weeds on this fishing hole and I hope that someday they may subside as the lake ages. No go as of yet, however, as the vegetation influenced my presentation as I went pretty much all in on a buzzbait in open water amidst the gunk. Also tried a topwater frog in spots and flipped a Senko around but only the buzzer was a winner in the calm, sunny conditions that were likely better suited for something else. A gamble I was willing to take in hopes of a big bite but didn’t materialize this time around.

All good for Iowa and always a good thing to do the right thing as noted below

Quitting Time – By about 8:30am, the factors above had taken their toll and I headed back to my launch point to see if I could rustle up a last bite from a patch of flooded bushes and sunken culverts. No luck in 15 minutes or so and I’d come to the conclusion that my mind and body had had enough of our early arrival of summer. But before I could get off the water, an Iowa DNR truck pulled up nearby and I rowed over for a license check (legal as I should be with my internet purchase the night before). A nice fellow and he also provided a recommendation on gnat repellent though I have since forgotten what it was and only recall that he said it comes in a “green bottle.” Oh well, I don’t think anything works anyway.

GoPro footage of Top Bass, not a trophy but the video thing is still pretty fun

So, after just over two hours and three not so impressive bass I was headed home to celebrate a birthday with my boy, Jayce. My intent was to get in some fishing before the kids got up and moving too much but I sure thought it would be later than 8:50am when I packed it up. Just couldn’t hang and hope it is only an isolated incident brought on by a combination of factors and not too early of an indication of the way things go as time moves on. Talk to you later. Troy

Senko Cinco de Mayo Strip Mine Report

As me and my oldest boy, Jayce, drove an hour towards the fishing hole, I wavered on whether a walk-in trip was a good idea. After all, our day had started with a local JDRF walk covering somewhere near two miles. So the prospect of a 1.5 mile round trip hike to a fishing hole was a tough call. However, I felt it was my best bet to accomplish a couple goals as detailed below.

  

Just over 1.5 of the miles were racked up on our round trip with Jayce eager to pitch in and carry some of the load.

Jayce’s Stats
Date: May 5, 2018
Location: Knox County, IL public strip mine
Time: 4:35pm-6:50pm
Weather: Partly cloudy/windy
Totals: 8 bluegill, 6 bass, 2 crappie
Lures/Bait
Senko wacky rig (cream white) – 6 bass
Waxworms on jighead with slip bobber – 8 bluegill, 2 crappie
Top Bass: 2-5 Senko
Top 5 Weight: 7-8 (2-5,1-13,1-5,1-4,0-13)

  

A first cast bluegill and a quick multispecies start to the evening

Notes and Nonsense

Cinco de Mayo – Every once in a while that whole light bulb thing goes on upstairs and I get one of those “hey, that would be a good blog project” ideas that at least amuse myself. So, the water is warming courtesy of some stable weather, the bass are moving shallow to make more bass and my boy is chomping at the bit to go fishing. And, here’s the kicker, its Cinco de Mayo and the conditions are ripe for one of my favorite presentations to kick into gear. Enter the Senko wacky rigged worm in the cream white pattern that I also refer to as “Mayo”, as in Mayonnaise. Get it? Well, the bass did on a day where I got to kick back and play fishing guide for a young angler who really took a leap forward courtesy of an ever improving skill set and some quality hungry bass.

First Senko de Mayo bass weighed 1-5 (new personal best) and there was no turning back to panfish for this happy angler (see release video for this bass below)

 

Destination Dilemma – My aim was to put Jayce in front of some quality bass and shift gears from our standard panfish/whatever will eat a waxworm approach. Half a dozen private strip mines fished via boat or one of the dozens of public, walk-in spots was what made it a tough call. We left the little boat at home which seemed to initially disappoint Jayce and the decision also caused me to waver on the drive. In the end, I elected to hit a public off the beaten path proven spot and it turned out to be a winning move for a dad wearing the hat of fishing guide on this evening.

Kicking the personal best up by a full pound with this Senko de Mayo 2-5 (video of catch below)

 

Senko de Mayo – I wanted to focus on the weightless Senko wacky rig presentation which is not only a solid producer but also pretty kid friendly when compared to a handful of other mid-spring techniques. With aquatic vegetation kicking into full gear, the wacky rig also shines due to its slow sinking action amidst the weeds. It doesn’t require a young angler to kick a retrieve into full gear as the lure hits the water like a spinnerbait, chatterbait or lipless crank and the single hook is a lot more friendly navigating weeds than a treble hooked crankbait or a bottom bumping lure such as a creature bait or jig.  The Senko proved to be the right bait for the day as a few brief attempts with other lures drew no interest whatsoever.  When the dust had settled it had produced a solid Top 5 limit for the young angler in roughly two hours of fishing.

Another solid Senko bass tipping the scales at 1-13

Quote of the Day: When discussing the trip at home before we hit the road, I was telling Julie and Jayce that the aim was to hit a spot that upped the odds of Jayce crossing paths with a decent sized bass. I told them that the goal was to get Jayce hooked into one hitting the 12” mark (or better). Jayce chimed in, “Maybe I can get one that’s even a foot.”

Mission accomplished in a batch of those foot long (and better bass) and right on target with the Senko de Mayo presentation. And the boy was still going strong at the end of a long day, a lot of exercise and some good old fresh air. In fact, he surprised me in staying awake the whole way home despite it pushing an 8:15pm arrival. You just can’t fit it all of this outing into one posting so stay tuned for a further look at some of the peripherals beyond the fish. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – May 6, 2003

Well, 15 years ago this week I took my wife, Julie, fishing at an old fishing hole we called Emstrom’s Pond. Emstrom’s has already been featured in three of the Friday Flashbacks but, hey, it was stellar fishing spot as evidenced by this pair of fishing pics. Of course, it helped that it was only minutes away from our home at the time so it was a perfect destination when time was limited. And thinking back to 2003 with no children yet in our life, I’d have to say that we really had no clue on how the concept of “free time” would forever change.

Here’s an excerpt from the original report that I submitted to family and friends back on 5/9/2003 regarding this outing that tells the whole story behind the 10+ pounds of bass in the pics above.

May 6 – After giving the fish a few days off, I took Julie fishing at Emstrom’s. I joke about not taking someone fishing again if they outfish me, but here’s proof that I’m only kidding as Julie outdid me, two bass to zero a few years back at Lake Carlton. Anyway, we only had an hour on the pond but it was well worth the trip. The new 2003 largemouth bass record stands at 5-5 after I worked over The Beaver Lodge with my 1/4 oz. Strike King Rattlin’ Jig (black/blue) with a #11G pork frog (blue glitter). Measuring 23″ in length, it is the longest bass I’ve ever caught despite being several ounces shy of my heaviest (5-15), a great, healthy looking fish. Julie even took up my offer to hold it for a picture. We played the customary “guess how big the bass is” game. The first bass I caught, I guessed at 1-2 and Julie opted not to guess, stating that she had no idea of a reasonable estimate. The fish weighed in at 1-3. Upon catching “the big one”, we tried again. My guess, 5-12, Julie’s guess, 5-6. I was very impressed, not only because she was an ounce off, but also, more importantly, she guessed heavy. The mark of a true fisherman (woman), overestimate the weight. We also played “guess the water temperature”, yet another example of silliness. Julie promptly stuck her finger in the water and guessed 68 degrees while my estimate was 63 degrees. Actual temp, 67 degrees. We also managed 13 bluegills on 1/8 or 1/16 oz. jigs (pink) with twister tails (smoke) with and without spinners (silver).

So, there you have it, the real tale behind two pictures but only one fish.  I would definitely say that Julie’s shot is the more attractive of the two. Not only for obvious reasons but also because it just appears more dynamic with the gills flared and a broader depth on the fish.  What’s also fun is that you could definitely pull this one off as two different fish due to the lighting and angle of the shots if you wanted to pull somebody’s leg or stretch the truth a bit.  Not here though, as while I do use multiple shots of the same fish for a few different postings (Facebook, Top 5 Update, fishing report), the data is consistent to emphasize that it is the same fish.  Yep, there are still a few places where you can believe what you see and read on the internet.

And once again, I have to say that writing has been an outstanding addition to the whole fishing experience as it preserves details that would otherwise be lost over time. In this case, the guessing game on weight and water temperature. Just a couple examples of goofy things employed over the years to enhance the adventure.

And speaking of that sort of thing, stay tuned for a new bit of family fishing fun slated to make its debut sometime this spring. Inspired by some college football hijinks that I caught wind of last season, I think it will be an entertaining bit of silliness. Of course, I have little trouble entertaining myself so we’ll see how it translates to others. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report 4/22

With the kids away last weekend at my folks it meant consecutive days on the water. And that’s a good thing even in the midst of yet another cold front (albeit mild) which would provide for a challenge and a diminished bite. However, what lacked in quantity was made up for with a pair of quality bites.


8:55am First Bass 15.5″ 1-12 Rapala Shad Rap

Stats
Date: April 22, 2018
Location: Little John Conservation Club (2 lakes)
Time: 8:10am-11:45am
Weather: Partly cloudy/very windy
Air Temp: 48-62F
Totals: 4 bass
Lures:
Rapala Shad Rap (blue) – 2 bass
Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Strike King KVD 2.5 Rattling Squarebill crankbait (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 3-0 Squarebill crankbait
Top 5 Weight (2 bass at 12” or better): 4-12 (3-0,1-12)

Notes and Nonsense

No Hot Sauce? – Slept in a little later than normal on a fishing morning so I opted for a fast food breakfast instead of making my own. I was looking forward to a Super Sonic Burrito from the local Sonic even though probably not the best for me. Particularly appealing is the inclusion of a batch of jalapenos in these breakfast creations. Throw in some hot sauce and it’s a great start to the morning. Well, good on the jalapenos but disappointed when the lady at the window informed that they’d ran out of hot sauce. Boy, what kind of spot runs out of hot sauce? Certainly not my house as noted by my current collection below.

Weather You Like it or Not – Wind gusts that made it a chore to row, water that numbed the fingers when pulling up the anchor and 40 degree starting temps…hey, what’s new for 2018? As I struggled to get bit, I Iapsed into that whole blame the weather routine that us anglers have been known to employ as a reason for not fooling the fish. That’s right, reason, not excuse. Been doing this for a long time, I know the semantics. At any rate, as I replayed bits from the four previous trips alongside the current weather I realized that I had not had a decent day to go fishing all year. In fact, I would have to say that my bonus February 27 outing was actually the “nicest” day. And there was still ice on a quarter of the lake. Been an ugly 2018, sure hope Spring shows up before Summer.

Shad Rap – This old bait saved the shutout again after I struggled to get a bite on several other presentations. I really don’t know what it is about this unassuming, quiet bait but run at a slow crank, just enough to keep it in a tight wobble, it is a winner when looking for a cold water bite or two. I’ve got a pile of stuff in my “Legendary Lure” series of writings over the years and this one is bucking for inclusion. One of these days I also want to go off on a tangent about this bait that I bought in the 80s as it begs for a melding of tunes and tackle. After all, its cool name brings to mind an exposure to the musical genre that included the likes of Kool Mo Dee, Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Flash, Whodini, Run DMC and The Sugarhill Gang.

10:17am Top Bass 18″ 3-0 Squarebill Crankbait

Top Bass – The KVD crankbait came through on an old faithful sort of spot that was getting hit by the east wind. Not my preferred direction but proves that wind can still be a winner in positioning some fish. This fish came minutes after I’d relocated to a second lake and had me thinking that perhaps I had found some interested bass. I hit a number of similar setups but only got one more bite the rest of the way. The whole “wind from the east” saying was right on target again.

Got a Friday Flashback tomorrow, some loosely related fishing stuff over the weekend and perhaps a Top 5 Update for Monday. May need a little help with that last item though. Anybody interested? Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report 4/21

Got a chance to fish with my brother, Brent, for the first time this year. It pretty much happened on a whim as I was on my way out of the driveway when I thought that I would shoot him a text to see if he was free. He was and I had a partner for a walk across some public Knox County, IL strip mine land.

10:23am Brent wastes little time in kicking off his 2018 Top 5 with a 1-9 on a spinnerbait

Stats

Date: April 21, 2018
Location: Knox County, IL public, walk-in strip pits
Time: 8:30am-3:30pm (5.50 hours fishing, the rest walking)
Weather: Overcast/windy
Air Temp: 48F-59F
Totals: 32 bass (Troy = 18, Brent = 14)
Lures Troy
Booyah Blade Spinnerbait (white chartreuse) – 10 bass
Strike King KVD 2.5 Rattling Squarebill crankbait (sexy shad) – 4 bass
Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 3 bass
Senko weighted wacky rig (morning dawn) – 1 bass
Lures Brent
Spinnerbait, jig & plastic, Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (several colors)
Top Bass: 2-12 Brent Jig
Top 5 Weight: 10-11 (2-12,2-10,1-14,1-12,1-11)

10:31am Brent’s grip on Top Bass was short lived, booted by my 1-12 on a spinnerbait

Notes and Nonsense

Save the Best for First – I hit the area about an hour and a half ahead of Brent as he had some items to take care ahead of the impromptu outing. I used the time to hike across to where he would park and then invest some casts in testing a body of water that I don’t typically fish. Four small bass gave me head start and wound up being what separated our totals as we each fooled 14 bass while fishing together. I elected to save my best spot until Brent showed up and in our first 25 minutes of casting on it we nabbed four of our overall Top 5 fish including his 2-12 Top Bass of the trip.

10:37am Brent’s back on top to stay for Top Bass with a 2-10 on a jig

10:48am Brent with another boost to 2-12 on a jig and would last as Top Bass

Top Bass – Things were fast and furious right out of the gate in our pursuit for the Top Bass title for the day.  We began our joint effort at 10:20am and Brent got us on the board with the first “keeper” weighing in at 1-9 at 10:23am.  At 10:31 I snatched the title away with a 1-12 only to be outdone six minutes later by Brent’s 2-10.  I got a quality fish at 10:40am with a 1-11 (well short of the new mark) but it was Brent’s 2-12 at 10:48am that would claim the title.  It was a crazy flurry of bites that we could not replicate or exceed over the next five hours of casting on half a dozen other spots.

One of the reasons I frequently fish solo as I averaged roughly one bass per quarter mile of hiking

Approaches – I fish solo a great deal for various reasons (another post, some other day) but when teaming up for bass fishing I’d have to say that Brent or Dad are tops on the list.  In regards to this trip with Brent, it reinforced the confidence factor in our shared hobby.  Brent does his thing with his favorite baits and I do mine with my go to baits.  His spinnerbait offering was brown/orange while mine was white/chartreuse, both were successful.  He whacked ‘em on a black and blue jig with a plastic trailer (pumpkinseed) while I never got a bite on a black and blue jig and pig.  He fooled only a few on a bright orange/red crankbait while light colored crankbaits produced nearly half of my haul.  Way too much to analyze as bass anglers are wont to do, but here’s what’s cool.  We both fished our strengths, some of which produced better than others, and in the end we wound up with exactly fourteen bass apiece during our time fishing together.

11:45am Brent’s 1-14, the lone member of our Top 5 that came from beyond our best lake

I find it fun to keep Julie up to speed and my optimistic “Stay tuned” wound up being the next day so stay tuned for another report

Another enjoyable day of trying to fool some fish and another batch of stories to add to an already expansive collection.  I’d have to estimate that we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 combined years of trying to figure out these crazy green fish they call the largemouth bass.  In doing another piece of mental math as I thought back over our “experience”, I realized that come next February we will combine to hit the century mark in life experience.  Pretty wild.  Talk to you later.  Troy