Category: Fishing Reports

Rock Report – September 20

Over the past several years, I’ve had the good fortune of being able to fish a cool Peoria County fishing hole referred to as “The Rock”. The owner, Chris, invited me to tag along on those trips with the most recent visit being this past June. On the heels of that trip I finally got up the nerve to ask if I could bring Dad down for a shot and Chris was kind enough to oblige. But after having Chris’ experience and expertise as a guide on previous trips I was curious how it would work out when I got to assume that role. Could I get the guy who got me hooked on fishing hooked up to some bass? Read on for the results.

2:52pm – First bass at 14″ and 1-8 on a spinnerbait

Stats

Date: September 20, 2020
Location: Private lake – Peoria County, IL
Time: 2:50pm-6:20PM
Weather: Partly cloudy and varied winds
Air Temp: 71-63F
Water Temp: 69F
Totals: 45 bass (Troy – 29 bass, Dad – 16 bass)
Lures: Spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) – 32 bass, KVD Strike King Rattling Squarebill crankbait (multiple) – 7 bass, Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 4 bass, Yamamoto Senko wacky rig (smoke) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 1-11 Spinnerbait (Troy), 1-10 Spinnerbait (Dad)
Top 5 Weight: 7-15 (1-11,1-10,1-10,1-8,1-8)

Several of the winning lures along with a Senko fooling a couple

Notes and Nonsense

The Plan – Figuring we had four hours at most to fish, I had five areas in mind to try our luck. We were able to hit four of them and only one was a bit of a bust. Spot one was a bit of a slow start but gave up 6 bass in about 45 minutes. Spot two then produced 9 bass in 45 minutes and spot three resulted in 5 bass in about 20 minutes before our final stop really kicked things up a notch. In our last 70 minutes of casting we reeled in 25 bass for an exciting finale leaving us no time for the fifth area that I had in mind.

Mother Knows Best – While definitely a safe practice, wearing a life jacket is one of those do as I say not as I do sort of things when I am on the water. As we left home, however, Mom made it clear that Dad needed to wear a life jacket the entire time on the water. As you can see from the pics and clips we abided by her instructions. Just don’t tell Mom that one of her kids did not follow her directions.

3:52pm – Dad with one of our “doubles” both coming in at 1-4 on spinnerbaits

One That Got Away – No matter where you fish, if you do it often enough, you’ll end up with a batch of these tales. In this case, what would have likely been our Top Bass of the day spit Dad’s crankbait midway back to the boat. The one that got away would have tipped the scales at over two pounds and represents a step in the right direction as the lake experienced a partial fish kill several years ago that wiped out the big bass (past lake record catches included several over eight pounds).

 

Fish Stories – I’ve always enjoyed fishing the lake with Chris as the guide as I not only learn how to fish the water but also a little history of the fishery. So as the substitute guide it was fun to pass along some of the lore to Dad. From spots of the lake that were estimated to never hold water to the exact spot where a bass over eight pounds was reeled in to the decision to stock tiger muskies to the spot where I caught one of them to the spot where Chris landed one of similar stature, it was fun, as always, to tell some fish stories. Fishing never fails to leave a lasting impression and The Rock is something special.

The end of a good day on a great fishing hole

Thanks, Chris, for a chance to get out on the water with Dad for a memorable and productive evening of bass fishing. Much appreciated by a couple of guys who have shared more than a few hours creating some memories and chasing some fish for many years. I’m sure Dad’s been telling some of the new fish stories to Mom. Hope she doesn’t make him wear his life jacket in the living room.

Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Report – September 19

 

As often happens when I am “back home” in Galesburg, Illinois, I take a drive or a walk around an old favorite fishing hole, Lake Storey. A recent family get together was no exception other than the fact that I brought a couple poles along for my stroll.

6:05pm – First bass of the evening on Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait

Stats

Date: September 19, 2020
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Time: 5:50pm-7:20pm
Weather: Sunny/calm
Air Temp: 65F
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 3 bass
Lures: Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (chrome blue back) – 3 bass
Top Bass: 0-15
Top 5 Weight: 1-13 (only two at 12” or better)

6:53pm – Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait and kind of a baby bass

Notes and Nonsense

Bank vs. Boat – Go figure that my brother, Brent, and I spent over four hours in a boat on Lake Storey the previous weekend and only managed five bass with the whole lake at our disposal. In contrast, I spent maybe an hour casting in two stretches of perhaps a couple hundred yards and fooled three from the bank. This is not the first time I’ve witnessed this sort of thing and I do have some ideas on the increase in bass/hour. A topic for another time but factors to consider include different casting angles, enhanced focus on a specific, proven area and in this case, an increased drop in lake level.

7:10pm – last bass also on the Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait

Normal vs. Drop – Lake Storey is always a challenge for me and I give myself and co-anglers a little pat on the back for every bass we fool. For many years I have made it a point to pay a visit or two during the fall drawdown as I feel it can tilt the odds a little more in my favor when I can catch it right. Of course, there are plenty of factors that come into play any time you hit the water and stable weather, some sun and a little breeze are at the top of my Lake Storey fall trip wishlist.

This guy was pretty friendly and encroached on my fishing spot

Man vs. Raccoon – Raccoons and my family are not on the friendliest terms. You see, between my dad, my uncle, my cousins, my brother, myself, spouses and kids there would have to be well over 200 years of combined trapping experience. However, the proximity of my visitor pictured above may indicate that the tensions have decreased as we all retired from the trapline several years ago. Lots of stories from those days though. Made me wish that I’d asked the coon if his kind told stories about The Jacksons.

Lots of memories out on that old lake and fun to create a few more on a pleasant late summer evening. From my vantage point at Cannon Hill in the shot above I can see where I caught my personal best muskie, where I lost one that was bigger, where Brent set the Lake Storey bass record, where Dad caught a bass out of a hollow stump, where possibly the largest Lake Storey walleye ever was caught, where an Illinois state record muskie was landed in the 1980s…the memories go on and on. Perhaps 2020 holds another shot to make some more. Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Report – September 13

I always look forward to the “Fall Drawdown” at Lake Storey in Knox County, Illinois which typically begins just after Labor Day. In general terms, here’s how it is supposed to transpire.

1. The City of Galesburg Park Department opens the valve to lower the lake.
2. The lake drops and leaves the spots for little fish to hide high and dry.
3. Cooler nights and warmer days get the predator fish in a fall feeding mood.
4. Me and Brent clean house on the often challenging lake.

And here’s how it really went down in blog terms.

6:57am – First bass on KVD Squarebill crankbait

Stats

Date: September 13, 2020
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Time: 6:40am-10:55am
Weather: Partly cloudy to sunny/breezy
Air Temp: 58-73F
Water Temp: 67-69F
Totals: 5 bass (Troy – 4 bass, Brent – 1 bass)
Lures: Spinnerbait (white) – 3 bass, KVD Strike King Rattling Squarebill crankbait (natural pumpkinseed) – 1 bass, Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-5 Spinnerbait
Top 5 Weight: 1-5 (only one at 12” or better)

Notes and Nonsense

The In Crowd – By most accounts, recreational fishing has seen a significant uptick in 2020 as a ripple effect of the pandemic. Lake Storey supported the validity of such an assessment with six trailers in the lot and a flotilla of kayaks scattered about the lake. Good for folks to get outdoors in these wild times and it appeared that crappie or bluegill were the targets for those we observed. Nobody else seemed to be casting and moving and honestly they weren’t missing much from our perspective. Then again, maybe they knew something we didn’t and opted to leave the bass alone.

Mr. Lake Storey – And, yes, on occasion there’s that one guy who owns the lake and feels that the rules do not apply to him. In this case, he was running his outboard at a pretty good clip around the lake multiple times. Several kayakers, bank anglers and other boaters hollered at him to no avail. In fact, he actually waved at us as he sped by in the distance. Brent and I elected to wave back rather than respond with an alternate hand gesture. Who knows, maybe the guy was just clueless but kind of hard to believe he was unaware of the trolling motor only restriction.

Proven winners at Lake Storey but limited production on this outing

Excuses – I was feeling good about our chances leading up to the trip as the weather had been warming for a couple days after a cold front and heavy rain. Word also had it that the drawdown had begun many days prior. It turns out that the level had not dropped much at all, seemingly filling up from the rain as much as the drop from the drain. In addition, the rain had the clarity murkier than the normal green tint and was progressively dirtier to the east away from the dam. All our meager catches came from the west end of the lake and none more than a quarter of the way to the inflow near the east ramp.

7:44am – Retro floppy hat and Top Bass of the day on Blue Glimmer spinnerbait

Old Hat – I managed to destroy my lucky floppy fishing hat and elected to go retro with a previous version instead of breaking out a new one. While I do have a couple new options, I wish to put 2020 behind us and start 2021 with a new floppy. More on that at a later date.

I feel bad as I failed to get a shot of my fishing partner but always like this 1980s Lake Storey shot of Brent

BREAKING UPDATE!!!

 I paid a short visit to Lake Storey last evening and walked the bank armed with a couple poles. Three bass in roughly 75 minutes of casting in a pair of spots was certainly an improvement over last week’s visit. Looks like the increased drawdown and the cool nights/warm days combo has some fish in a biting mood.

I believe the anticipated fall fishing bite has arrived, just a few days early. Get out there and get after some bites. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – September 12

It’s that time of year again folks, when some of my public strip mine stomping grounds are reaching the end of fishing access. Of course, in the case of the fishing holes in today’s report, the bite is just picking up as the site nears shutting down. Gotta get in those last casts while I can and this outing produced a solid bite.

Stats
Date: September 12, 2020
Location: Knox County, IL public strip mines (5 lakes)
Time: 3:15pm-6:45pm (3 hours fishing)
Weather: Partly cloudy/breezy
Air Temp: 68-72F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 15 bass
Lures: Chatterbait (bluegill) with Zako trailer (smoke) – 11 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 2 bass, Booyah Spinnerbait (bleeding shad) – 1 bass, Senko wacky rig (smoke) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-12 (Chatterbait)
Top 5 Weight: 8-5 (2-12,1-7,1-7,1-6,1-5)

3:20pm – Happy to be on the board but room for improvement

Notes and Nonsense

First Cast Top Bass – After catching a pair of small bass in 30 minutes on my first stop, it was on to what is probably my best fishing hole on the site. Right on cue, the first cast with a chatterbait parallel to the deep edge of a lengthy flat produced a 2-12 bass. Sure thought I was on to something but that catch would be Top Bass of the evening.

3:55pm – Top Bass at 19″ and 2-12 on a chatterbait

Feeling Hip – With a heavy batch of rain for several days and a light shower ending as I arrived, I figured that the vast expanse of terrestrial weeds would be quite damp. As a result, I opted for hip boots over my regular knee boots to contend with the moisture. The approach took me back to the old trapping days of walking miles of creek and timber in a pair of the bigger boots. The kept me plenty dry (although a bit sweaty) and provided a nice barrier when planting a knee to climb up several steep banks. Once again, that technique took me back to those fall days of yesteryear on the trapline.

Five for Five – Each of the stops at the five lakes that I selected on this evening produced some bass. My best lake produced the best catch after struggling the last few years on the spot to get quality bites. It was also cool that the lake where I have the least confidence produced four bass in 45 minutes with all running over a pound. Yet another of the aspects that I enjoy about spot hopping a collection of strip pits. While you may have a track record or a preconceived notion of how things may shake out, you just never know.

Entertaining late night horror hosts, past and present (Chuck Acri’s Creature Feature was a highlight of 1970s Saturday nights with siding sales pitches and all) 

Attack of the 14” Bass – I tune in to a couple of Saturday late night horror programs nearly every week, Midnite Mausoleum and Creature Feature. Both include some interesting flicks and camp humor reminiscent of the original Chuck Acri’s Creature Feature that I watched as a kid in the 1970s. I couldn’t help but think of a monster movie sort of title as I reeled in a batch of solid bass on this outing with nine of the fifteen looking quite similar and ranging from 13-14.5”.

 

A fun evening hike on the strip mines and one that I hope to pursue again before access for 2020 ends on September 28. As always, if I get out, you get a report. And speaking of another fishing report, stay tuned for a recent trip “back home” to Knox County’s Lake Storey. Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Report – August 22

As best I can recall, I first fished Lake Storey in the early 1970s with Dad and it’s always a treat to get back on that old hometown fishing hole. This trip actually involved several “missions” and limited fishing but always a good time back in The Burg.

4:55pm – first bass, mission accomplished and the rest didn’t get much bigger.

Stats

Date: August 22, 2020
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Time: 4:40pm-6:40pm
Weather: Partly cloudy to sunny/breezy to calm
Air Temp: 85-81F
Water Temp: Forgot to check
Totals: 3 bass
Lures: Blue Glimmer Spinnerbait – 2 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: not applicable
Top 5 Weight: Nothing at 12” or better

Notes and Nonsense

Mission One – Dad’s boat had not been out of the garage since my trip to Lake Storey last October. As a result, it had attracted a fair amount of clutter from Christmas décor to toys to Mom’s original childhood highchair. Under Dad’s direction, we were able to get the stuff relocated. Mission accomplished.

Mission Two – The boat batteries needed charged and the tires required a dose of air in order for the boat to be road and water ready. We hooked up the chargers as we cleared the clutter and Casey’s came through with a working air pump. Mission accomplished, barely (see Mission Three below).

5:05pm – another smallish bass that lives tight to the wood in the background

Mission Three – I figured that while I was in town and the boat was ready that it was worth an evening peek at Lake Storey. My first casts came at 4:40pm with the intent to fish until sunset. However, the partial charge on the batteries as we cleaned the boat nearly left me out of juice after two hours. Thus, I called it quits on fishing at 6:40pm and spent the next forty minutes or so limping back to the ramp from halfway down the lake. Maybe not my brightest idea to roam so far but I did land the third of my three bass down there by Cannon Hill. Mission accomplished, just enough juice to run the boat up on the trailer.

Weeds weren’t bad, fooled a few bass and plenty of reminiscing in the relative solitude

Mission Four – This whole pandemic thing has obviously had a profound effect on things that we may have previously taken for granted. One of those things has been the regular visits with my folks. So it was great to hang out on the patio and shoot the breeze for a few hours before and after my brief Lake Storey visit. Mission accomplished with plans to get the whole crew included on a visit soon.

I bill this thing as an “outdoor” website but a fish story always involves more than just the fish or the time on the water. And a trip back home for a visit with an old favorite fishing hole, its wily inhabitants and my folks never disappoints. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – August 8

With no fish submitted for a Top 5 Update this week, I will instead use Monday to catch up on an overdue fishing report. For this outing it was back to some old stomping grounds that I had neglected since mid-May to see if the bass had missed me.

Stats
Date: August 8, 2020
Location: Knox County, IL strip mines (3 lakes)
Time: 6:15am-11:50am (5.00 hours fishing)
Weather: Partly cloudy/breezy to windy
Air Temp: 66-81F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 25 bass
Lures: Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 14 bass, Booyah Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 4 bass, Strike King Vibra Shaft Spinnerbait (blue glimmer) – 4 bass, Senko wacky rig (white) – 3 bass
Top Bass: 2-3 (Blue Glimmer)
Top 5 Weight: 9-3 (2-3,1-13,1-13,1-12,1-10)

 

Trip Lyric
“When the lights go on at Wrigley Field, I’ll be coming home to you.”
Don’t Wait on Me – The Statler Brothers (1981)
As this trip occurred on August 8, it was the anniversary of the first Cubs night game at Wrigley Field on August 8, 1988. While that game got washed out in the fourth inning, my fishing trip went off without a hitch.

Lucky Cubs shirt comes through in the late innings

Notes and Nonsense

No Panic When Tannic – Typically during this time of the year I can get a productive sunrise topwater bite, especially when I have some cloud cover and light chop on the water. Both of those conditions were in my favor just after dawn to start this trip. However, the first two lakes that I fished were unusually tannic and the bass in those tea colored waters just never turned on to my topwater offerings. But adaptation is the name of the game in dealing with the numerous variables that a day on the water offers. In this case, the commotion of a lipless crankbait was a winner in the dingy conditions.

Did get a few on a buzzbait including the exciting strike below

 

Winning Wind & Water – While I did manage a respectable haul of twenty one bass from the less than ideal stained waters, I just couldn’t find much in the way of quality bites. Only three of those nearly two dozen fish made the twelve inch mark and Top Bass to that point was a long and gaunt 1-13. I then pinned my hopes on a final stop to take me from late morning to noon on a spot that I hoped had some cleaner water. My hopes were realized in terms of water clarity and I also benefitted from an uptick in the wind which added some surface chop. Those conditions on this particular lake often produce a solid spinnerbait bite regardless of the season. In my final hour and fifteen minutes, the lake came through with four bass ranging from 1-10 to 2-3, all on my old faithful Blue Glimmer spinnerbait.

Blue Glimmer spinnerbait – 30 years old and still getting it done

A struggle at times, but in the end, a good day on the water. Much needed too as it was my first legitimate shot at the bass since the Fourth of July (did have a late July lunch hour pit stop in southern Illinois on the return from a Georgia work trip). In addition, it was a brief but welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of work, the daily upheaval related to this confusing pandemic and the steady, confounding stream of unrest and bickering seemingly everywhere you turn.

By the way, I understand that The Statler Brothers later substituted “When they put a dome on Wrigley Field” to address the fact that the lights had finally came on at The Friendly Confines. Here’s hoping that the following lyric will not need to be altered in future renditions:

“When they unfurl Old Glory and no one stands and cheers.”

Talk to you later. Troy

Ferne Clyffe Lake Report – July 24

With a work trip to Georgia that required driving, I figured that I would pack along some fishing gear just in case. My plan was at least one brief stop during the substantial portion that covered Illinois and I was able to get it done. But, did I catch anything during my “lunch hour” on the way home?

Figured that I’d earned a fishing “lunch break” after a couple 12-hour days of this. 

Stats

Date: July 24, 2020
Location: Ferne Clyffe Lake – Johnson County, IL
Time: 1:20pm-2:05pm
Weather: Sunny/calm
Air Temp: 92F
Water Temp: warm bath like
Totals: 2 bass, 1 sunfish (unsure on species), 1 channel catfish
Lures: KVD Rattling Squarebill crankbait (sexy shad) – 2 bass, 1 sunfish, Senko wacky rig (white) – 1 channel catfish

Trip Lyric

“I could feel the tension, I was longing for home.” – Long, Long Way From Home, Foreigner (1977)

Did see some wildlife on my work detail installing IT equipment.

Notes and Nonsense

Birthday Trip – Once upon a time, I tried to make it a point to get on the water on my birthday. Well, things are a little more complicated these days between work and family so it just doesn’t always pan out. In fact, this year I celebrated my birthday in Georgia on a work assignment. However, I did have some poles in tow for the lengthy stretch of the drive through Illinois (didn’t make financial sense to buy any sort of out of state permit) and briefly hit the water on my return home the day after my birthday.

On the board at 1:42pm and 92 degrees 

Belated Birthday Bank – I had a couple spots in mind to possibly try my luck from the bank that weren’t too far of a detour from my route. One was Rend Lake as I have never wet a line in the second largest man-made lake in Illinois. However, upon spotting a sign for Ferne Clyffe State Park on the way down it brought back memories of a southern Illinois trip with my wife back in the early 2000s. I recalled that the small lake on the site offered some solid bank access, a bit of riprap and relatively deep water along the dam. It turned out that my memory served me well as it was just as I had pictured.

1:46pm and icing on the cake

Belated Birthday Bass – Roughly 15 minutes of burning a Red Eye Shad over the riprap breakline along the dam failed to produce any bites in the blistering midday heat. Plan B consisted of going a little deeper and a little slower with a KVD 2.5 Squarebill crankbait and after only a handful of casts I had a bass. Another joined the log a few minutes later along with some sort of unidentified panfish (thought maybe a warmouth). But I wasn’t done quite yet.

Still not sure what I’ve got here, any suggestions?

Belated Birthday Bonus – Only a few yards down the bank from where I started, I spotted a catfish rooting amongst the riprap in about three feet of water. I pitched a Havoc Pit Boss in front of the fish and got it to pick up the bait twice. The second time it seemed that I had the fish hooked but it came loose and then disappeared into the depths. I gave the spot a rest and returned about twenty minutes later to find that the catfish had also returned (I am guessing guarding fry). This time I switched to a wacky rigged white Senko as I could not only see the lure better but also increase my odds of hooking up with an entirely exposed hook. Sure enough, I pitched out the worm and shortly saw the white lure completely disappear so time to set the hook. A brief battle ensued before I had a nearly three and a half pound channel cat in hand, the first catfish I have caught in a long time. And sight fishing of all things.

2:03pm An entertaining and unexpected catch

All in all, a fun “lunch hour” to break up the nine and a half hour drive I had from the previous night’s stop in Kimball, TN. No trophies, but hey, mission accomplished with a short fishing outing a long way from home. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – July 13, 2005

Today’s flashback revisits a project that I first launched back in 2003. The concept was to document and photograph every bass along with compiling on the water notes as we made our way through the day. This outing took place on Lake Bracken in Knox County, Illinois and here’s how it went via most of the original posting.

Originally posted 8-10-05

In our fourth “Day on the Lake” installment we once again spend a “Day on the Lake with the Dads” as Dad and I selected Lake Bracken for some bass fishing. We hadn’t fished the lake since an outing on 6/1/05 so we hoped the bass had forgotten who we were and turned dumb again. Though we didn’t meet any of our previous DOTL totals, we were rewarded with a respectable creel of uneducated fish. Here’s a look at our day.

Date: July 13, 2005
Location: Lake Bracken
Weather: Overcast/breezy
Air Temp: 75F-85F
H20 Temp: 79F
Time: 5:35am-1:05pm

5:35am-6:00am – We pound Ramp Road, which is usually good for several bites but not today. A barrage of lures including a Mann’s 4- crankbait, a Texas rigged lizard, a buzzbait, a spinnerbait and a Rebel Ghost Minnow jerkbait produces only one hookup on a small bass that throws the lure on the way to the boat.

6:10am-6:30am – West Bay results in a pair of bass that weigh 0-13 and 1-1 respectively. Dad’s falls to a Texas rigged lizard (red) while mine hits a 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (black). Both fish come off of the Beaver Lodge and we each miss a pair of other strikes.

6:35am-7:00am – After catching my first bass on the Senko, the rest of my poles remain on the floor of the boat. Two short bass during this stretch reinforce my lure selection and it’s not long before the guy in the back of the boat is occasionally tossing an identical bait. Every bass we land for the rest of the day has a Senko hanging from its mouth.

7:10am-10:15am – One bass apiece causes our confidence in the Senko to waver but only momentarily. Dad nets a nice 2-7 off of Island Lane Point that has my Senko firmly hooked in its jaw. A good fish does wonders for your confidence and recharges your faith in what’s tied on the end of your line.

10:15am-11:15am – The Wild Side (Lake Bracken’s uninhabited south shore) gives up four bass in an hour as we work our way back to West Bay. Dad accounts for three of the fish with one coming in right at the twelve-inch “keeper” mark.

11:30am-1:05pm – The home stretch includes Oak Cove and Ramp Road and results in ten bass. This doubles our total from the previous six hours on the water. While I got out front catching five of our first seven bass, Dad comes on strong at the finish to outfish me eleven to nine.

Statistics
Total Bass 20
Dad’s Bass 11
Troy’s Bass 9
Streaks-Dad 3 consecutive bass (10:22am-11:15am & 11:41am-11:57am)
Streaks-Troy 3 consecutive bass (6:43am-8:18am)
Droughts-Dad 3:27 (6:27am-9:54am)
Droughts-Troy 1:59 (8:18am-10:17am)
Plastic worms (Senko) 19
Plastic lizard 1
7.5-10” bass 6
10.5-11.5” bass 8
12” and over 6
Total 5 Weight: 5-14

 

Notes

Species Title – Dad claims the title as he adds two green sunfish to his bass total. These aggressive little guys will try to eat lures way bigger than they have any business attempting to swallow. Lake Bracken has a substantial population of this species that typically lurk in the shallows, particularly around riprap shorelines. Often incorrectly called “Rock Bass” (by myself as well as others), these fish are quite colorful with a wide variety of color shades including greens, yellows, oranges and black. Julie could probably paint a much better picture describing specific color names but I’m more in tune with something in the lines of the Crayola sixteen pack.

Tackle – Once again, we came fully armed with ten poles and in excess of 30 pounds of tackle. After the first 45 minutes on the water, I used one rod and reel and went through a couple Senkos. Dad held out a little longer as he waited close to four hours before putting all else aside and switching exclusively to the Senko wacky rig. However, you never know what will happen on the water and you need to come prepared. It wasn’t too long ago that I either left my Senko’s at home or on the floor of the boat tucked away somewhere in a tacklebox.

Lake Patrol – Mr. Purl and his dog, Goldie, run the lake patrol and usually show up between 8:30 am and 10:00 am to check anglers. For several years, Mr. Purl was my neighbor when I lived on the lake and we would generally have a lengthy chat about once a week as we crossed paths. One benefit of such conversations was being given a break on the $3.00 guest-fishing fee on a number of occasions. We weren’t so lucky during our DOTL but on a later trip Dad and I were granted a free day. Mr. Purl said he enjoyed the conversation so much as we floated in the middle of the lake that he would give us a break. Brent and I weren’t so lucky recently but we have learned to keep talking and not reach for the wallet right away just in case.

Not our largest batch of bass but I find it fun to set out with the goal of chronicling the day on the water and then just letting the chips fall where they may. The current version of this project is something that I call “Lake Lowdown.” Somehow, I managed to forget this project last year but look to make up for it with a 2020 version before we call it a year. Talk to you later. Troy

Snakeden Report – July 4

On the heels of an interesting July 1 adventure to celebrate Snakeden’s 30th birthday, I was back for more with a day off on The Fourth. This time around I also had my bicycle and my brother in tow.

Winning Lures

Stats

Date: July 4, 2020
Location: Snakeden Hollow (6 lakes)
Time: 5:10am-10:00am (3.50 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny/calm
Air Temp: 70-84F
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: Troy – 12 bass, Brent – roughly 10 bass
Lures (Troy): Senko wacky rig (smoke) – 8 bass, Zara Spook (natural frog) – 2 bass, Booyah Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 1 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Lures (Brent); Senko wacky rig – about 8 bass, Emiquon Special spinnerbait – 2 bass
Top Bass: 1-6 Zara Spook (Troy)
Top 5 Weight (only 2 at 12” or better): 2-11 (1-6,1-5)

5:22am – first bass 11″ on a buzzbait

Trip Lyric
“I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike” – Bicycle Race, Queen (1976)
Well, actually, I kind of had to go back to the old bike and hike route after my boat transport setup gave out on the previous trip. And with the old Trek in tow, well it was, you know, just like riding a bike.

5:56am – Top Bass Runner-up 14.5″ and 1-5 on a Zara Spook

Notes and Nonsense

66 Years and Counting – It’s hard to believe that my brother, Brent, and I go back a combined 66 years in terms of fishing the waters of Snakeden Hollow. Our first shot was back on July 1, 1987, three years before the site opened for public access but that’s another story for later in the ongoing Snakeden celebration. Tough to process but I did the math a few times to verify 66 years of combined experience. Since we were teenagers in 1987 and now in our fifties, I guess it all adds up.

Buzzbait trails on the water (center) show the limitations of bank fishing, lots of untouched surface

Buzzkill – I’ve got a thing about buzzbaits and admittedly throw them more than I should on some mornings. Visions of explosions and the potential for that one big bite still dance in my head and cloud my decision making some 35 years after fooling some bass on the old Bass Pro Shops inline bait, the Uncle Buck’s Buzzer. This particular morning was not the best for such a presentation and getting my first bass on a buzzbait at 5:22am didn’t help matters much. I stubbornly kept tossing the lure hoping for more but no such luck.

6:23am – Top Bass 15″ and 1-6 on a Zara Spook

One That Got Away – I had a three-pounder hooked at a spot where I had about a shoulder width access to the lake amidst the ten foot reeds that ringed the fishing hole. Part operator error with my drag too tight and part restricted mobility cost me in breaking off on my standard 10-pound mono. However, it was an interesting reveal as I have never seen a bass even close to that size swimming in this lake. I’ll be back…with a machete and properly adjusted drag.

There’s a lesson (or maybe two) in this exchange

Don’t Text & Fish? – The one that got away represents a valuable lesson that I have long had trouble learning. A friend and I were exchanging texts with me detailing my results while he was giving me the scoop on the current Lake Storey crowd. So, I fired out my Senko and decided to tap out a text as I let it drop through the water column. After a sentence or two I picked up the slack only to find a pull on the other end which resulted in the eventual breakoff after a brief battle. Unfortunate result but once again reiterating that I need to slow down and let the Senko sink rather than getting antsy to reel and twitch.

This trip took some work to find our fish and we admittedly struggled. But such is fishing and while rather hot and occasionally frustrating, you can’t beat time on the water no matter how “experienced” you are. In fact, even after 33 years of Snakeden casting, I learned something new. And that’s a big part of what keeps me coming back. Talk to you later. Troy

Snakeden Birthday Report – July 1

Earlier this week I paid a visit to an old friend for a birthday celebration. It was the first time we’d seen each other since last October but like all old friends, we picked up right where we left off. In fact, it only took four casts before I was greeted with a bass. A great start and the hits kept on coming before things got a bit ugly on the exit.

 

Stats

Date: July 1, 2020
Location: Snakeden Hollow (4 lakes)
Time: 5:20am-11:35am (4.00 hours fishing)
Weather: Partly cloudy or overcast/breezy to windy
Air Temp: 70-79F
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 34 bass
Lures: Booyah Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 17 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 15 bass, Chatterbait (bluegill) – 1 bass, Senko wacky rig () – 1 bass
Top Bass: 4-0 Buzzbait
Top 5 Weight: 12-14 (4-0,3-11,1-15,1-14,1-6)

 

Trip Lyric
“Can’t afford a blowout ‘cause we haven’t got a spare.”
Sausalito Summernight, Diesel (1981)
A wonderful one hit wonder sums it up quite nicely as my boat transport setup gave out on me big time. As a result, I wondered if I would get my boat back to the truck and along the way began to wonder if I was going to make it as well. Further details below.

Notes and Nonsense

Personal Lake Record One (video below) – Twelve minutes into casting I had my third bass in the boat, a four-pounder which represented my Top Bass from this particular lake. And while not an overall lake record, such a catch will sure make your day. Our lake record is a 4-12 caught by my brother, Brent, last October and I was fortunate to have had a front row seat for that one. As far as a potential true lake record, I am aware of a seven-pounder from the spot in 2015. All of the above were released, by the way.

 

Personal Lake Record Two (video below) – On my final stop of the day, I was able to establish a lake record of 3-11 besting the previous mark of 2-15 that I landed in July 2012. This one was also rewarding as I had spotted the fish cruising among some shoreline sticks and was able to tempt it with a Senko wacky rig tossed out in front of its path. Always cool when something like that works out and makes you feel like you know what you are doing.

 

Fun Fact – As I have been fishing Snakeden Hollow for its entire public access, it is interesting when I consider how much the site has changed. For instance, on this outing, 20 of the 34 bass that were landed came from a pair of lakes that did not even exist 30 years ago. One was a rather lifeless depression in the terrain while the other was an expansive, nasty, shallow, slurry wetland. Kudos to those onsite personnel and fisheries staff that have transformed the once decimated landscape into a couple quality fishing holes.

Well, Goodbye, Dolly – I’ve seen various contraptions used to transport small watercraft into the remote waters of Snakeden and some are rather impressive. Mine, not so much, although the two wheel dolly has performed quite well during a batch of trips over the last three plus years. On this day, however, both tires blew and made for a real drag of a drag as I was a long way from my truck when disaster struck. I am not sure what lies in store as a remedy but I was back on my bike and beating the bank just like old times on my next visit.

But that’s another story. Talk to you later. Troy