Category: Fishing Reports

Strip Mine Report – July 13

Top 5 angler, John Kirkemo, and I joined forces last Saturday for a “dog day” pursuit of some Knox County strip mine bass. We persevered in the challenging weather and water conditions to eke out a decent haul in terms of numbers. Quality bites, on the other hand, were tough to come by. Read on for the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

What a start to the day, 4:01am with Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime” on the airwaves, classic cut and killer sideburns (that’s lead singer Ray Dorset by the way, not John Kirkemo)


Date: July 13, 2019
Location: Knox County, IL private strip mines (2 lakes)
Time: 5:00am-11:30am
Weather: Sunny/breezy to calm
Air Temp: 68-86F
Water Temp: 82-83F
Totals: 16 bass
5” Yamasenko wacky rig, weighted or weedless (various colors) – 13 bass
Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 2 bass
Spinning Worm Rig – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-7 (Senko)
Top 5 Weight (only 4 at 12” or better): 4-6 (1-7,1-4,1-0,0-11)

5:13am First bass roughly a half hour before official sunrise

Notes and Nonsense

Tough Times – I subscribe to an old saying that “the best time to go fishing is anytime you can.” Well, after a wet and stormy spring, we were blessed with a dry summer day so that was a good thing. However, balmy temps, clear skies and barely a breeze aren’t exactly what one would dial in for picture perfect bass fishing conditions. At my house we also have a saying that “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” Grin and bear it we did and managed enough bites to make a respectable showing.

6:46am John is on the board with a weedless Senko wacky rig

Best and Bust – The Senko wacky rig was by far the star of the day when fished either weighted (me) or weedless (John). No surprise there as I always have one tied on this time of the year and it is half of my regular 1-2 punch on the primary lake that we fished. The other half of that approach is a buzzbait which didn’t work out so well in the prevailing conditions. That didn’t mean that I didn’t try to force feed ‘em though. More on that below.

7:14am John lands what would be our Top Bass of the day at 15″ and 1-7 on the Senko

Bullheaded Buzzbaiter – To add yet another saying to today’s post, I stubbornly stick to my “all it takes is one bite” rationale as I foolishly cast a buzzbait when the odds of success are rather slim. I rightfully caught some razzing from John as he offered up half a dozen legitimate and well-informed reasons throughout the morning as to why I should give it a rest. He was spot on and I knew it but on a few occasions I have managed to get that “one bite” on a summer day that has nearly outweighed all of the other bites combined. Mind you though that I did catch the fellow dishing out the advice casting about a topwater frog for a while. So you see, that topwater allure is a powerful thing. I guess it can even make you disregard your own advice. Then again, maybe it was the heat clouding my partner’s decision making (in the interest of honesty, however, John did get a solid blowup on the frog late in the morning but the fish had bad aim).

7:33am barely a “keeper” at 12″ and 1-0 on the Senko as big bites eluded us on this “dog day” morning

Risk and Rambles – Now for a public “thank you” to John for hanging in there with me on some of the peripherals of the outing. First up was an ill-advised but “worth a try” launch on a proven but tough to access lake. Got real close but called it off in the interest of not getting stuck. Part two involved taking the long way home to show John some of the off the beaten path Knox County outdoor offerings. Now I’ve been covering this ground for close to 35 years so let’s just say that I’ve got more than a few of those “there was this one time” or “I remember” type tales. Much appreciated for lending an ear but then again I guess where was he going to go as I was his ride home.

8:18am the best I could muster at 14.5″ and 1-4 on a Senko weighted wacky rig (stay tuned next week for a project regarding fishing attire kicked off here with a shirt from back in the day)

Got a couple more things from this outing to pass along but will leave you be for now so as to not get too longwinded. Besides, I’m guessing that you have something that you should be doing right now instead of reading fish stories. Perhaps like work or chores, so not necessarily “more important” things, just “other things.” So, I won’t keep you but make sure that you stop by again. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – June 22

Driveway departure to lakeside launch

On the heels of the successful “100 Year Trip” I decided to try my luck again the next day at some more public strip mine ground with the same wheel in the boat approach. While the walk wasn’t near as arduous, it was still a mile in and a mile out. Between the back to back trips and pushing myself for the final week of a fitness challenge (more on that later this week) my legs were shot. In addition, I couldn’t find any big bites on my first lake and couldn’t find suitable fishing conditions on the second lake so the day wound up a bit frustrating.

6:54am – First bass, gotta start somewhere but didn’t get a whole lot bigger the rest of the morning


Date: June 22, 2019
Location: Knox County, IL public strip mines (2 lakes)
Time: 6:35am-9:50am (2.25 hours fishing, the rest walking)
Weather: Partly cloudy/windy
Air Temp: 62-66F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 8 bass
Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 5 bass
Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 2 bass
5” Yamasenko wacky rig (watermelon/crème laminate) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-0 (Red Eye Shad)
Top 5 Weight (only 2 at 12” or better): 1-13 (1-0,0-13)

7:02am – the first of two “keepers”, this one on a buzzbait

Notes and Nonsense

Stop One – The plan was to hit two spots with the first lake being the farther of the two walks. I’ve done well on this lake in terms of numbers over the years but have yet to find any big bites. My brother, Brent, has a 4-15 and a 3-2 from the spot over the last several years and I know of some others over three pounds but I just can’t find them. More of the same on this outing with only two qualifiers for a Top 5 trip weight and they barely made the cut.

No such thing as boat ramps where we’re going, this one is about a three foot drop into the water

Stop Two – After an ill-advised “shortcut” I found that the water and wind conditions make the lake essentially unfishable from my eight-foot johnboat setup. I made one lap around the main body of the lake with only a handful of casts before packing up and heading home a couple hours earlier than anticipated. Sore, tired and second guessing my choices of fishing holes left nothing in the tank by the time I got back to the truck. I hate to leave early when I get a chance to fish but the prospect of coaching an early afternoon baseball game in the quickly rising temps also had me thinking a little bonus rest could do me good.

Arsenal – I went in with the mindset that a limited morning on the water was custom made for a buzzbait as my primary weapon of choice. Got enough bites to keep me interested but once again, not the big ones I’d hoped to find. I did catch one on a Senko via the follow up cast to a missed buzzbait strike as demonstrated on video in another recent fishing report. This lake features a corner where I can usually get a lipless crankbait bite and a pair of bass came through here for me again. The picture below is one of those that was particularly greedy on this morning.

7:48am – Top Bass for the day and a greedy one at that as it already had a crawdad breakfast

So the big bites continue to elude me for 2019. I do have a couple items in the works to see if I can turn that around but those will be reports for another day should things turn out. In the meantime, tune in for another round of Trip Tunes combined from this outing and the previous day’s “100 Year Trip” along with the regular Friday Flashback. Talk to you later. Troy

100 Year Trip Report – June 21

The first day of summer was reason for the investment of vacation days for me and my brother, Brent. The objective was to try our hand at a stunt I’d long considered. As described in an earlier post I thought it would be fun to do it at a time when our combined ages totaled 100 years (I’m 51 for about another month and Brent is 49). If you checked out that prior post you already know that we pulled it off without hurting ourselves. Here’s the fishing report part of the adventure.

Chronology and distance – driveway to parking lot to first steps to fishing hole


Date: June 21, 2019
Location: Knox County, IL public strip mines (3 lakes)
Time: 5:45am-12:15pm (5.25 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny to overcast/breezy to windy
Air Temp: 63-71F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 62 bass (Troy – 33 Brent – 29)
Troy: Rapala DT10 (parrot) – 16 bass, 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (watermelon/crème laminate) – 13 bass, Booyah Buzz Buzzbait – 4 bass
Brent – Mann’s 4- crankbait (alewife) – 15 bass, Tandem Spinnerbait (white) – 10 bass, Senko – 4 bass
Top Bass: 2-4 (Buzzbait)
Top 5 Weight: 6-4 (2-4,1-1,1-0,1-0,0-15)

First bass with both on the board by 6:00am

Notes and Nonsense

Trailblazers – The most significant unknown of the trip was a cattail choked expanse of marsh that connected our smaller portage lake to the larger ultimate destination. From a distance, things didn’t look so good. However, we found that apparently we were not alone in our ambition as a manageable path had been blazed through the hundred plus yard jungle. It took a steady amount of push poling with our oars and nearly getting stuck once but we made it. Had it not been for some bushwhacking Daniel Boone’s of the strip mines it wouldn’t have been possible. Many thanks to whoever you are.

Truly “nowhere” after a few initial forays into live social media posts, fun to be out of reach

Impressions – As we emerged from the cattails on the shallow lower end of the lake it was pretty cool to get a view of the enticing expanse that lay before us. It had been thirteen years since I’d seen this water and that adventure was from a steep perch on a limited stretch of accessible bank. Things started out slow but I was confident that we would find a decent batch of bass before it was all said and done. The only down side was an impending batch of thunderstorms predicted about six hours out. And remember we had a significant row, push, row, carry and drag return to the truck on the way out.

Always good when both anglers have one in the boat at the same time

Emiquonesque – Scattered bass throughout the first hour kept us interested as they say but a spot along the upper end of the lake really kept us busy. In a span of just over a half hour we would end up boating 18 bass between us as we ran into a stellar crankbait bite on what appeared to be some sort of expansive flat in maybe 8-10 foot of water. It was reminiscent of one of the old Emiquon days when it seemed as if someone flipped a switch and the bite was on. Not near the quality of those Emiquon bass but still a blast including a couple instances of two in the boat at once.

Top Bass and get out the field guide for these bass fishermen, one ambitious bluegill

Lone Lap – With the potential for bad weather and over two miles of row and haul from the far end of our destination back to the truck we only completed one lap around the larger lake. We got our fill but sure would have been nice to have spent a little more time and perhaps slowed down our presentations a bit in some areas. But the run and gun approach did find plenty of cooperative bass and certainly fit the styles of the guys sharing the boat.

Our last bass before the weather sent us scrambling

Strange skies ended up soaking us as we loaded our trucks and a welcome case of “bass thumb”

When it was all said and done we were no worse for wear just a little poison ivy on a finger, some soaked clothes, bass thumb and tired. In fact I fell asleep sitting on the couch for about an inning and a half of the Cubs game after stopping by my folks.

So, was it worth it?

Would I be willing to pull the stunt again?

Bet there sure would be a good bite in the fall…talk to you later. Troy

100 Year Trip

While a recent fishing trip wasn’t actually a hundred years in the making, the anglers who undertook the trek have been around for 100 years. For another month, I check in at 51 years old while one of my little brothers comes in at 49. Do the math and there you go.

Our adventure has been formulating in my mind for quite some time, however, and I figured what better time to pull it off?

You know, before we got too old and thought better of it.

What this stunt consisted of was wheeling in the eight foot johnboat to a remote public strip pit that has only one lone opening along a reed line bank where an angler can make limited casts. From there, the plan was to use that lake as a jumping point to our larger ultimate destination.

Can it be done, and if so, will it be worth it?


1990 – I stood on the east end of this lake, a wide expansive flat that was accessed while working for the old Illinois Department of Conservation. We were able to “cheat” a bit in cutting down the hike via a lane through private property.
2000 – I give it a go and wind up with one bass from the only spot that my route allows me to make some casts from the bank.
2006 – I decide to hike in to access what little fishable bank is available due to steep banks and abundant terrestrial vegetation. Half a dozen bass later I head back to my truck via a cross country route which finds me nearly crawling through brush and wondering if I am going to be stranded as sunset looms. Part of me vows “never again” while another part ponders an ambitious Plan B.
2016 – A former Top 5 angler reports that he and a partner were able to access the lake with belly boats. Several 3-pounders and 60+ fish was the reward for the duo. However, his detailed description of the adventure noted, “Was it worth it? Yes, I think it was. I no longer have to stare at the aerial view map and wonder…what if? Would I do it again? Hell no!”
2019 – Here we go.

Attack (see map above)

Stage One – A one-mile hike wheeling in the eight-foot johnboat and gear while strapped to a two-wheel dolly. Not flat, not paved and not freshly mowed, the “road” presents a real workout.
Stage Two – A hundred yard drag downhill to get to our portage lake. Not too bad with gravity’s help but tempered with the realization that the return is all uphill, not so easy.
Stage Three – Fish the smaller portage lake hoping that the connecting marsh is somehow navigable with no idea the expanse of the reed clogged area. (Circled area on the map)
Stage Four – Find our proverbial “Northwest (or whatever direction) Passage” to reach “The Promised Land.” (Star on the map)
Stage Five – Fish the seldom visited water with visions of uneducated bass dancing in our heads.

Well, we did it and managed to survive to tell the tale.


Results – Stay tuned for the full report next week on the heels of the latest Top 5 Update.

Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – June 11

Well, my folks took my boys for a couple days this week and my girls (Julie included) really don’t mind if I stay out of the way so guess what I decided to do on Tuesday?

Yep, even was able to ditch work a few hours early to hit the fishing hole. That fact convinced me that I needed to invest in the extra drive time to some of my favorite ground rather than dinking around closer to home at the often stubborn (and currently dirty) portion of Lost Grove Lake.

However, the Knox County strip mine bass started out rather tight-lipped too before a late rally saved the day.


Date: June 11, 2019
Location: Knox County, IL private strip mines (2 lakes)
Time: 3:15pm-8:45pm (5.25 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny to partly cloudy/breezy to windy
Air Temp: 80-72F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 11 bass
5” Yamasenko wacky rig (watermelon/crème laminate or natural shad) – 7 bass
Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 3 bass
Booyah Pad Crasher Frog (cricket frog) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-11 (Senko)
Top 5 Weight (only 4 at 12” or better): 5-7 (1-11,1-7,1-7,0-14)

4:49pm the first “keeper” on a tough late afternoon/early evening bite 15″ 1-7 Senko

Notes and Nonsense

3:42pm First bass and thanks Landon for the inspiration (details below)

Frog Inspiration – Leaving work at 1:00pm I then ran by home to pack my lunch and supper before hitting the road and decided to check my email. Pretty cool when you have a fishing report to greet you just as you are headed out the door. The report from some Knox County water from fishing friend, John Kirkemo, noted, “No action until Landon brought out his Walmart- bought scum frog which he had never used. He cast the lure on the vegetation a few times before he started to get hits. The fish or fishes kept after the frog until one was hooked. The fish was immediately caught up in the weeds, so we had to go after him with the boat. We didn’t see the fish until we had scooped a pile of weeds with the net.” That presentation also boated my first bass of the day and was my first frog bass since July 6, 2014. A tip of the floppy hat to the young Top 5 angler, Landon Hannam, for inspiring an old dog to try an old trick.

Things just look ugly out there this year, I blame the crazy spring weather but who knows 

Dirty Water – I suppose it is largely a factor of the monsoon-like spring we experienced but my strip mine water is really a mess. It is quite dingy which puts a damper on my buzzbait bite as I had at least half a dozen bass come up short and a couple more come unbuttoned as they likely weren’t hooked very well. It also diminishes the effectiveness of the Senko which shines a bit more in less stained water. In addition to the clarity aspect, the surface vegetation bears an ugly and unhealthy looking hue in the shallow surface mats and floating clumps. Finally, random strands of floating weeds and a fair amount of cottonwood fuzz add some frustration. And then there’s the gnats…

8:01pm finally back on the board with another “keeper” as a late rally kicked in 12″ 0-14 Buzzbait

8:14pm Top Bass 15.5″ 1-11 Senko

Late Night Bite – With sunny skies to start the day I knew it could be slow and I was pleased to see the forecast called for things to cloud up as the evening progressed. I tried to keep my head up after three bass in the first three hours knowing that the low light conditions of dusk/sunset and cloud cover combo held potential. Thank goodness for a good finale as eight bass in the last couple hours turned it into a decent outing.

8:35pm crunch time with a 15″ 1-7 on a buzzbait but ran out of time on a fifth “keeper” to complete a “limit”

While I didn’t get any of the big buzzbait bites that I know are out there, I was happy to find an extra day on the water to get my fix. Also got my tune fix on the ride down (bad Cubs performance took over the airwaves on the way home) so look for Trip Tunes post this weekend on the heels of tomorrow’s weekly Friday Flashback. Talk to you later. Troy

Lost Grove Lake Report – June 2

Early departure required to catch sunrise on the water this time of the year.

I wasn’t sure if I would fork over the dough for a Non-Resident Iowa fishing license this year but broke down last weekend. On the upside, the regular haunt over the river is only a 25 minute drive. On the downside, I still have yet to figure out how to fool any of the quality bass that I’ve seen firsthand and in scattered reports over the last several years.

Spoiler Alert – This was it for the morning, one lone bass


Date: June 2, 2019
Location: Lost Grove Lake – Scott County, IA
Time: 5:35am-8:05am (2.25 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny/windy
Air Temp: 56-58F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 1 bass
Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (bleeding shad) – 1 bass
No bass at 12” or better

Brief clip of the lone catch, a well placed cast along a laydown in flooded timber got it done. Duplicated the cast in dozens more similar spots with nary a strike.

Notes and Nonsense

Bugs, Boats and Breeze – While it’s always good to find time to get on the water, this trip turned out to be a bit frustrating. For starters, my normal area was too muddy so I had to drive uplake in search of clearer water for a second drag of my boat to the water. No surprise as the gnats were terrible but just had to grin and bear it. Two parking lots totaling 50 trailers and a couple dozen other vehicles got me reminiscing about the days when I used to have weekdays off and generally owned the water. Finally, a stiff breeze is not angler friendly to a guy in a rowboat.

A couple shots of lots and I’m sure the third launch was just as packed, they were still coming as I was leaving.

Limitations – In regards to that last aspect, oars just don’t lend themselves to rapidly relocating to a better or less crowded spot. And on this day, there was no such thing as less crowded as any direction I looked there was a boat or half dozen or ten. Often I can get into some locations where bigger boats can’t go but even those presented a challenge as there were few open lanes to traverse without infringing on someone else’s spot.

The lake was littered with dead fish including some crappie that were pushing the 12″ mark.

Dead Sea – While I wasn’t constantly checking the other anglers, the only person I saw landing fish was a bank angler who fooled a pair on a point while casting a crankbait. What I did see was a multitude of dead bluegill and crappie anywhere I rowed and some pretty decent sized ones in the mix. Tough to say the cause but perhaps something in the runoff from the overabundance of rain took them out.

So, while it was interesting to see a new section of the 400-acre lake I really don’t know when I will be back to get some more use out of my Iowa license. I definitely would like to take a shot at my regular portion of the lake but when you can barely see the skirt on your buzzbait at boatside it’s going to be while until the water clears up.

Friday Flashback coming your way tomorrow and beyond that will have to see when I can get away again. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – May 27

2019 is off to a slow fishing start with a slew of responsibilities and an abundance of rainy weather keeping me from getting on the water. The former I can handle no problem, got more important things to do as a husband and parent. The latter, well, I have grown weary of the nearly constant rain this month. Can’t control the weather though and certainly understand that lack of fishing is a mere inconvenience compared to the rain related hardships faced by many in the area.

Weather was a big theme on this day as noted in this video intro and recap of the trip


Date: May 27, 2019
Location: Knox County, IL private strip mines (2 lakes)
Time: 11:45am-2:20pm
Weather: Partly cloudy to overcast/breezy to windy
Air Temp: 74F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 9 bass
Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad or bleeding shad) – 6 bass
5” Yamasenko wacky rig (watermelon/crème laminate) – 2 bass
Booyah Blade Spinnerbait (bluegill) with twin tail trailer (salt and pepper) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-4
Top 5 Weight (only 2 at 12” or better): 3-5 (2-4,1-1)

Winning lures of the outing, some true favorites

Notes and Nonsense

MVP – West Central Illinois is saturated and finally forced my hand to drop a few dollars on a new pair of boots. Blaine’s Farm & Fleet came through with a reasonable price, just hope these will last me as long as my old Northerners. Their decade plus term of service was admirable but too many ripped up patches would have left me with wet socks on this outing. The new boots get my vote as most valuable piece of equipment on this trip.

Video clip I call “Boots and Bookend Bad Weather”

“And I wonder, still I wonder, who’ll stop the rain?” – Who’ll Stop the Rain – Credence Clearwater Revival (1970)
Torrential rains greeted me on the way to the fishing hole despite only a 40% chance per the forecast. I actually pulled over at the Pilot gas station outside Woodhull and waited for 15 minutes pondering just going back home. Glad I stuck it out for a few hours on the water and got my May bass. Oh yeah, on the way home it was raining so hard as I neared Galva that it was tough to see. It never ends…storming again as I type this, in fact.

Workout – The soggy conditions had me concerned about reaching my fishing holes without getting stuck or tearing up the lane I looked to traverse. My concerns were correct as I stopped part way in to inspect on foot and elected to pull the boat out and drag it the rest of the way rather than risk it. Getting a bit more challenging to pull this stunt as the years add up but you gotta do what you gotta do when you have a chance to do it.

First May bass of 2019 and Top Bass of the day

May Bass – After a shutout and one missed buzzbait strike on an extremely weed choked lake I switched to Plan B. Water conditions were quite pleasant on my second stop and only a few casts after launching I had a long overdue May bass in hand. Icing on the cake was a Top Bass of 2-4 for a bit of a boost to my 2019 creel. Missed a couple others on a buzzbait that would have helped also but such is fishing, just happy to get out.

The other “keeper” on the day 13.5″ and 1-1, got some interesting video to come on this greedy catch

Overall, a successful storm shortened outing and great to fool a few of my favorite fish while getting reacquainted with the Senko and buzzbait (both bites are in gear so give ‘em a go). Also had some interesting strikes and catches caught on the GoPro which I always find fun. Looking to pass along those items after the latest Friday Flashback. Good luck if you get out, send me those Top 5 fish and talk to you later. Troy

A Really Crappie Day

                                                                         Mother’s Day weekend crappie chasing success

While there are no fish on hand for the Monday Top 5 Update, we do have a fishing report as a suitable substitute.

And it goes like this…

My boys and I were invited down to a “secret” destination by a noted local guide who goes by the name of “Papa” for our crew and several others. For decades he has had the crappie dialed in at this fishing hole during the Mother’s Day weekend. While the weather forecast left much to be desired with early rain, barely 50 degree high, gray skies and a stiff breeze, we confirmed our reservation around lunchtime and headed out for the late afternoon outing.

First casts were made at roughly 3:35pm and in no time the bite was on. My brother, Brent, and his kids joined the fun a little after 4:00pm and our bunch hung in there until 5:15pm during a bite with barely a lull.

            Jayce called this contorted technique “Pretzel Fishing”, can’t argue with the results

All told we combined for somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty crappie and a few bluegill courtesy of waxworms on a jighead hung from a bobber. Location was key as the fish were flat out shallow and on the inside edge or first pockets in the abundant surface vegetation. Not uncommon for this fishing hole, been there done that before.

Weather was really pretty crappy for the second weekend in May but what was cool is that there were zero complaints from our young anglers. In fact, we grownups were the only ones who commented on sore and somewhat numb fingers and a chill that just kind of stuck. And mind you, those kids handled and released a bunch of fish.

                                                                                          Cousins conquering crappie

Post fishing fun included hot dogs over the much needed warmth of a campfire at the area campground along with some kid led hiking. Good stuff considering that Brent and I have been on the kid end of such adventures on those same trails dating back to the 1970s.

      Our guide led us to a sizeable earlier dead muskie discovery

All in all a great outdoor day in less than great conditions. Plenty of practice for the youngsters in terms of casting, catching and fish handling and always fun to watch their confidence grow in regards to each aspect. Also fun to teach in the same outdoor classroom with the guy who taught Brent and me the same lessons well over 40 years ago. Yet again proves that the best time to go fishing (or get outdoors) is anytime you can.


One other impressive observation was the fact that the only devices in use were in the hands of me and Brent as we preserved some quality memories for posterity (and a blog posting). Never heard a peep from the kids either as they were too busy having some old fashioned, low-tech fun, gotta love it.

And thus ends today’s fish “Storey.” Talk to you later. Troy

Emiquon Pitfall #3 – Expectations

Quite a show when Emiquon lived up to “Expectations” but pre-trip visions can be a funny thing.

Most times when something sounds too good to be true, it is. In the case of those early Emiquon days, however, you really had to see it to believe it. And we were lucky enough on more than a few occasions to see Emiquon live up to those lofty expectations.

Originally posted 8-26-10

“Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.” – Charles Dickens from Great Expectations

Isn’t the internet great? With a few clicks I can come up with an applicable quote from something I’ve never read, making me sound smarter than I truly am.

Prior to my maiden voyage on Emiquon in April of 2009 I’d seen the pictures, looked at the lake and read the reports. While Pitfall #6 sent me packing after about an hour of whitecaps, overconfidence also caused me some distress. I launched with visions of the initial fishing reports proclaiming “100 bass days”, “ten straight casts with a bass” and “several times we caught two on one crankbait” dancing in my head. While I don’t discount these claims, expectations led me to think I could fill the log book with my eyes closed.

Another 2009 outing also taught me something about expectations. Last August I fished McDonough County’s Spring Lake on the day after Dad and Brent had a tough morning, only fooling a handful of short fish. Therefore, as Brent and I launched the next morning I was doing more hoping for bites than expecting them. A half hour later I had three bass totaling 7-12. An hour into the trip we’d combined for 12-10 and both had yet to land our heaviest fish of the day. In the end, six hours of casting gave up a five fish limit of 16-8, exceeding all expectations on a lake I’d never fished before. At Emiquon on the other hand, I’d simply expected that bass after bass would slam my lure as soon as it hit the water. I was wrong, until I came back in the fall.

This brings me to 2010 on Emiquon. By most accounts things aren’t so easy in year two of public access. My experience has been in tune with these reports during the pair of trips I’ve taken (19 bass in four hours for Julie and I combined in May and 44 bass during a ten hour solo trip in June).

Even last year as we kept casting towards the century mark I couldn’t help but wonder how long it could last. Yes, pessimism sometimes has a way of creeping in even during the best of times. However, I’ve learned my lesson and will reserve judgment until after September and October have passed. I always look forward to fall fishing and I plan on hitting Emiquon a time or two depending on the wind. The bass are still there, maybe just a bit more wary or educated, who knows? I’m no better fisherman than anyone else and certainly less talented than many. Being a creature of habit I’m too set in my ways, often reluctant to experiment, largely content to beat the bank and generally out of practice to name a few traits that could use some help. But I won’t be convinced of a decline until I get a chance to follow Mr. Dickens’ advice and collect some evidence in the best way I know how, personally.

Emiquon did churn out a few more impressive outings for me in 2011 and 2012 but only one of those lived up to the craziness of 2009. Six years have passed since my final visit and the site seems to have fallen of the radar in terms of coverage and reports beyond debate over site management. Then again, maybe those who still have the lake dialed in have elected to keep things under wraps. Talk to you later. Troy

Easter Weekend Fishing Report

Well, I managed to get on the water for a few hours over the holiday weekend. Good Friday was an unexpected quick trip to an area pond while Saturday found me playing fishing guide on an overdue outing. Neither day was particularly impressive but it’s not always about the fish so read on if you can relate to that concept.

Stats – Good Friday
Date: April 19, 2019
Location: Henry County, IL pond
Time: 4:15pm-5:30pm
Weather: Sunny/windy
Air Temp: 62F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 5 bass
ZMan Chatterbait (perch) with Yamamoto Zako trailer (Tennessee shad) – 3 bass
Bomber Flat A crankbait (baby bass) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 0-14
Top 5 Weight: 1-10 (2 bass)

Notes and Nonsense – Good Friday

Just going to go with a video recap below (SMALL BASS ALERT BUT A COOL RELEASE)


Stats – Saturday with Jayce

Date: April 20, 2019
Location: Knox County. IL public strip pit
Time: 3:00pm-3:45pm
Weather: Sunny/windy
Air Temp: 70F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: No bites

Jayce’s arsenal consisted of The Emiquon Special, Senko wacky rig and ZMan chatterbait with a Zako trailer

Notes and Nonsense – Saturday with Jayce

New Gear – Part of Easter came a day early for the kids as everybody got a new fishing pole upgrade (Jayce got two as I still owed him one from hid birthday last year). Zac, Jayce and Helena are now armed with Shakespeare spinning combos while Carly bumped up to a baitcasting rig as she already had the spinning combo covered.

Happy Easter with the next step up in fishing rod combos for our crew of anglers

New Tricks – Jayce decided to go all in on bass as he had success on Cinco de Mayo 2018 at the spot but Easter weekend 2019 wasn’t as friendly as it pitched a shutout. However, we managed to invest our time in learning about a couple new baits in a chatterbait and a spinnerbait. The spinnerbait is extra cool as it is a homemade model that Jayce received as a gift from Uncle Brent, a copy of his legendary Emiquon Special.


Old Habit – Many years ago when Dad was teaching his kids outdoor stuff, a stop at an area shop was often in order to grab a soda and a bag of chips. Well, apparently the day end treat left a mark. Our post fishing refreshments consisted of a Mountain Dew for me and some chocolate milk for Jayce while we shared bags of Sun Chips and Spicy Nacho Doritos.

As you see, all is not lost when the fish get lockjaw. And it is always a treat to hang with one of the kids in a one on one setting, tough to do very often. Two hours in a truck and another hour hiking and casting provide some great father-son time. We talked of Run DMC, listened to a poor Cubs performance, reminisced about past outings and Jayce made me a proud dad upon correctly identifying “Ballroom Blitz” by Sweet after a mere handful of notes.

A good weekend in spite of less than impressive results. Always good to get some fresh air too with the weather actually being nice for two consecutive days, a rarity thus far in 2019. Here’s hoping it continues and helps to get the bite headed in a more active direction. Talk to you later. Troy