Category: Fishing Reports

Strip Mine Report 11/24/18

9:55am and looking for that final bass of 2018

I’ve mentioned more than a few times that one of my annual goals is to land a November bass before calling it quits on the fishing year. And for 2018 I had pretty much conceded that it wasn’t going to happen. I was okay with that as responsibilities, work, weather and some vehicle trouble had conspired against going fishing as we reached the last week of the month. But things worked out after all and I took my shot last Saturday on one of my regular haunts.

10:45am no giant but got what I was after, a November bass courtesy of a Rapala Shad Rap

Date: November 24, 2018
Location: Knox County, IL strip mine – private
Time: 9:55am-2:40pm
Weather: Sunny/windy
Air Temp: 43-53F
Water Temp: no gauge
Totals: 5 bass
Strike King Rattlin’ Pro Model 3/8 oz jig (green pumpkin) with Bass Pro Shops Triple Ripple Craw trailer (pepper frog hot orange) – 3 bass
Rapala Shad Rap (blue) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 1-15 Jig & Plastic
Top 5 Weight (only 3 at 12” or better): 5-2 (1-15,1-12,1-7)

11:09am  14″ and 1-7 on jig and plastic

12:25pm Top Bass for the day 16″ and 1-15 on jig and plastic

Notes and Nonsense

Fishing Factors – Several items got me an unplanned day on the water. First up was the confirmation of open water as observed during a Thursday trip to Galesburg which led to the next item. Thanksgiving Friday off of work then allowed me to get my end of year yard work done on Friday instead of Saturday. A forecast of a Saturday temperature pushing 50F and the job of returning a nephew to Galesburg after an overnight stay were the final straws in the makings of a getaway.

All In – I picked one of my best spots in terms of potential quality bites and past cold water success when it came time to choose a destination. While I normally max out at two or three hours on visits to this lake before hopping to another fishing hole, for this outing I committed to investing all my time and working it over thoroughly. I hit all of my regular areas two or even three times as I picked apart the lake and managed what I felt was a solid creel.

1:58pm and likely last bass of 2018 at 15.5″ and 1-12 on jig and plastic

Mission Accomplished – I lost my first bite at boatside as the anti-reverse on my reel gave out causing a batch of slack to spin out as I took my hand off the handle to reach for my catch. Fortunately, I only had to wait about 15 more minutes for another bite to get me on the board. While I’d also hoped to get a boost for my Top 5 it wasn’t meant to be as I could not find anything to boot those two-pounders from the bottom of my list. As a result, it looks like I will fall short of the coveted 20-pound mark for the first time since kicking off the Top 5 project back in 2014.

The lures that got it done – Rapala Shad Rap and a bit of a changeup from my standard jig and pig offering

Benching the Black and Blue – I’m pretty much a one trick pony when it comes to fishing a jig and pig being a longtime proponent of black and blue. Well, on this day, I stepped out of my comfort zone for a couple reasons. For one, the last time I fished the spot I saw a fellow nail a 5-9 bass on a green pumpkin colored jig and plastic trailer. In addition, I wanted to bulk up and really didn’t have any decent option to replace my normal #11 blue pork rind trailer. The intent of bulking up was that I was hoping that whatever decided to eat it would be bulked up as well. Turned out to be the right decision in terms of bites as it fooled three bass. And while none turned out to be as bulky as I’d hoped, no complaint from me on the successful results.

2:40pm and likely the end of the line for another fun year of fishing

I’ll close with a final outdoor observation as a shout out to Dad. On the way down to the fishing hole the early morning skies were gray and the wind was pushing blustery. The leaf covered ground was wet from a series of showers the previous day and nearly all of the farm fields were devoid of crops. I must admit that it felt a little odd taking in the scenery with a johnboat and a load of fishing gear along for the ride. For that voice inside my head repeated a phrase frequently uttered by Dad this time of the year as it “sure felt like a trapping morning.” Talk to you later. Troy

Rest of the Storey – October 19, 2018

That old saying of “saved the best for last” is certainly up for debate as we wrap up the mid-week revisit of an October Lake Storey outing. What isn’t debatable is that I saved the best catches for this final posting, one of which established a new lake record. That bass and more for the finale so here we go.

Lake Storey record chronology – 1988 (Dad 4-6), 1998 (Brent 4-7), 2007 (Troy 4-8) – looks like it’s about that time

Record Holders – Thinking back I wish I would’ve shot a little GoPro footage while Brent and I took shelter and ate our lunches in his truck (which Dad had driven out to the lake for a timely visit). After all, it’s not every day that you get three Lake Storey Top Bass record holders hanging out lakeside shooting the breeze about the longtime fishing hole. Then again, some of that discussion would reside in the “Top Secret” category so perhaps better to be off the record.


Pre-trip Facebook prognostication and on the water result

Channeling Nostradamus – Leading into this trip I took a look back through the Lake Storey record book to confirm some of the data on the family bass record from the spot. Turns out there is a general pattern that results in a new record about every ten years. Just for the fun of it I made a bit of a prediction in the Facebook post shown above shortly before heading out from home to try our luck. I’ve got to say that it was pretty cool for Brent and a bass to make the prediction a reality. Brent had no idea that I had made the predictive post and probably thought I was a little too excited as I awaited the weigh in saying, “Oh man, this is good, this is real good, gotta be 4-9, this could really be good…” Once it locked in at 4-11, I explained my crazed reaction and even made a Facebook update post from the water. Oh yeah, I guess Brent thought it was a pretty cool catch too.

2:52pm – a great way to call it a day as we put our poles away, making this catch the last cast

Last Cast Bass – As our day drew to a close and we neared the boat ramp, I glanced at my watch which read 2:48pm (yes, I still keep time with a watch and not a “phone” but I do take pics and video with a “phone”). I mentioned to Brent that I was good to call it a day if he was okay with trailering the boat a few minutes earlier than our original 3:00pm quitting time. Wisely, he opted to pay one more visit to a nearby laydown and at 2:52pm he reeled in our (actually his) second largest bass of the day at 3-8. Only then did he decide it was time to head for the ramp as what better way to end a stellar day than with a last cast, quality bass.

Was the new Lake Storey record actually foretold by Nostradamus? Read on and decide for yourself.

I’ll leave you with one odd, final note to close out this whole Lake Storey adventure. After my “prediction” came to fruition, I did a little research (or something like that) on some of good, old Nostradamus’ predictions which were typically written in a four line literary form referred to as a “quatrain.” Turns out that there’s a great deal more of those quatrains that have yet to find any sort of supposed tie to a historical event than those that purportedly do. And by some stroke of luck, while burning the midnight oil during my exhaustive search, I did find the following gem that someone attributed to the legendary soothsayer.

Decade by decade it increases,
Slightly as it goes,
Eclipsed by one who never ceases,
With spinnerbait he throws.

Pretty weird, huh?

Talk to you later. Troy

More of the Storey – October 19, 2018

A couple other highlights of our outing involved crossing paths with a pair of fellow anglers who have made more than a few casts at Lake Storey. The first one we met on the water (twice) and the second we met on the bank (twice).

Top 5 angler, John Kirkemo, in the background as noted by the arrows. The white cloud represents his reported misfire with the fire extinguisher in his boat which unfortunately was not caught on video.

Top 5 Trio – Brent and I ran into a fisherman on the water who stated, “I’m looking for the Jackson brothers” as we crossed paths. Now, what are the odds that three Top 5 anglers would find themselves chatting out in the middle of Lake Storey just a bit east of Freak’s Point on this morning? Actually, pretty good, as Brent and I were aware that fellow Top 5 angler, John Kirkemo, also had a trip planned. Dating back to 2014, the Top 5 project has resulted in a fun batch of fishing banter with more than a few fellow anglers. Add John, a Top 5 “rookie”, to the list for 2018 as we have shared a considerable amount of electronic fish stories, opinions and laughs over the course of the year. Sure was nice to share more of the same, not only in person, but also while floating on the surface of one of our most popular fishing topics.


John Kirkemo’s creations represent a perfect complement (and compliment) to whatever you call this writing thing I do as while I am certainly serious about fishing I don’t take it too seriously.

OSO Lures – In corresponding with John, he had mentioned a hobby he’d taken up to feed the fishing fix when off the water, crafting some lures. Earlier this year he’d passed along a few pics of the baits complete with his fun and unique take on product packaging and presentation. And now I am a fortunate fisherman to have a pair of his creations in my possession. A generous offering from a fellow fishing fool (take that how you may). Very cool and icing on the cake to the encouragement John has provided upon reading my rambles. Perhaps his creations can also provide a topic to delve into a bit further during the off the water portion of the calendar that looms on the horizon.

The figure in the background knows a thing or two about Lake Storey and apparently a thing or two about the guys using his boat as he showed up just in time to provide a reprieve from some rain.

MVP Race – While Brent wound up taking the unofficial title of “Most Valuable Participant” on this outing, another guy also received considerable consideration. We spotted Dad on the bank at a handy access point at a most fortuitous time although it turns out that he’d been stalking us from a distance for a while (actually said he saw us talking to “that John guy” about a half hour prior). As the rain that was not in the forecast began to pour we beached the boat, grabbed our lunch buckets and made a run for Brent’s truck that Dad was driving as Brent had driven Dad’s to the lake with boat in tow. As we enjoyed the lunch break, Dad (aka Papa to our kids) laughed and reminisced telling Brent and me about how his dad (our Papa) used to show up on the periphery of the trapline with some grub and conversation back in the day. However, Dad’s contributions did not end with providing a dry truck. As shown in the video clip below, he followed up with a run back home for some dry clothes as a couple of his boys didn’t pack so well. Fortunate to have dads who are good like that and ours saved the day as we were experiencing a few shivers in our rain dampened clothes.


A final note for today comes from our second on the water powwow with John after the rain had passed through and we met again not too far from Cannon Hill. He mentioned that he saw us disappear for a while during the twenty five minute or so rain delay. We related the tale of Dad’s timely arrival with a shelter vehicle as well as his run back home for a load of raingear, sweatshirts and towels. I believe the word that John then used to describe us was “pampered.” We had a laugh at that assessment. Right on the money too, considering Brent and I were conducting our second visit with John while sitting in the bass boat that Dad kind of, sort of, in a roundabout way, bought for us back around 1987. Yep, nothing wrong with a bit of good natured ribbing and all the better when you are warm and reeling in some bass on a challenging fishing hole.

One more look inside our outing coming your way tomorrow. Hope you’ll tune in for some forecasting, some fish and some flashbacks. Talk to you later. Troy

Additional Storey – October 19, 2018

My standard format for a fishing report consists of stats, notes and pics. Since launching my own blog I have also instituted an annual “Lake Lowdown” feature as a variation on that standard report. But usually there’s even more stuff that goes along with those outings that simply gets left out due to time, space and modern attention span constraints (also a little leery on occasion of sharing some of the secrets and silliness) . The October 19 outing to Lake Storey with Brent was such a trip and as I always enjoy talking about that fishing hole, well, I’m going to talk about it some more for the next few days. Sort of an extension on the “Notes and Nonsense” bit from the regular report.

Breakfast Burrito Banter – My typical source of nourishment for the drive to my fishing holes consists of a homemade breakfast burrito whose contents can vary based on whatever is in the fridge. However, the later start of a Friday morning Fall outing (to let things warm up and help get kids to school) combined with payday afforded a chance to splurge at the neighborhood Sonic. Folks, I give you the SuperSonic Burrito, complete with jalapenos to start your day right (video commentary below).

NOTE: I am aware that I spelled “Y’all” incorrectly but lack the time to edit, I try my best but oh well, is it even a real word anyway?

Designated Driver – It’s commonly accepted knowledge that the angler in the front of the boat has a bit of an advantage over the angler in the back. Often when Brent and I fish together in the “big boat” we’ll split the time doing the driving. However, on this occasion I was perfectly content to give up my shot. After a full day on the trolling motor the previous day, I was a little sore and with the windy conditions I truly didn’t feel much like battling the elements. Besides, I realized long ago that Brent doesn’t need to “front end” me to have the upper hand. I was perfectly content to relax in the back, go about my regular approach, enjoy the spinnerbait lesson, take some pictures of his quality catches and only get outfished 10 to 7.

Video below of Brent landing a 2-7 pertains to both the “Designated Driver” heading above and the “Spinnerbait Clinic” item that follows (and yes, some actual fishing footage as opposed to my behind the wheel rambles. On the water footage is a topic to be explored another day)


Spinnerbait Clinic – I had gone full in on a spinnerbait bite on my solo visit the previous day after nabbing a bass on the bait on my first cast. As this lure type is probably Brent’s top weapon, I was not surprised that it wound up landing all 10 of his bass on our trip together. It also spoke volumes to his skill in fooling bass with one that he didn’t miss a beat after his old faithful Emiquon Special bit the dust after his first catch, a solid 2-7. Having no spare Emiquon Special in tow, he opted for a good, old white spinnerbait and proceeded to end the day with a pair larger than that first bass including the new lake record of 4-11.

Remnants of The Emiquon Special and the Plan B spinnerbait that came through big time, dig those copper hammered blades.

Okay, I won’t keep you any longer today although I do have more to offer from this day on the water. Tune in tomorrow as we cross paths with a couple fellows who are also familiar with this fishing hole. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report 10/22/18


Still trying to play catch up as it is often tough to keep the pace with the reports when I string together several fishing days in a short time frame. As such, I had originally planned on passing along some more Lake Storey notes, pics and video but have elected to shift gears. Instead, you get the last of three fishing reports from my fishing “vacation” with plenty more fishing posts next week. So, first things first.


Date: October 22, 2018
Location: Knox County, IL strip mines – private (2 lakes)
Time: 10:30am-2:15pm
Weather: Sunny/breezy to windy
Air Temp: 51-66F
Water Temp: no gauge
Totals: 4 bass
Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 4 bass
Top Bass: 1-1 Red Eye Shad
Top 5 Weight (only 2 at 12” or better): 2-1 (1-1,1-0)

12:59pm First bass and Top Bass 13.5″ 1-1 Red Eye Shad, only took 2.5 hours to find and fool this one

Notes and Nonsense

The Goal – After a pair of productive outings at Lake Storey to end the previous week I was faced with a dilemma. While Lake Storey was a blast, it typically is not my go to spot when looking for a Top 5 boost which was part of my aim on this day. However, Brent had landed three good fish at Lake Storey, all of which would have provided a bump for my rough Top 5 year. But, that’s Brent fishing and not me. I’d put my money on him for bigger fish out there as opposed to perhaps even money on the strip mines. So, off I headed for a pair of my Knox County strip mines that have solid potential for those sought after Top 5 culls.

I make a point to keep Julie up to speed, at least she knows I’m not lost or worse

The Results – It took me 2.5 hours and two lakes to even catch a bass and not even close to knocking anything out of my Top 5. On a positive note, it only took me five minutes to land my next bass but it was an ounce lighter than the previous non-Top 5 booster. But hey, at least I was perhaps onto something. I managed another pair of short fish on Stop Two before deciding that my finale should be a return to Stop One. Yes, that’s Stop One where I had been shutout to start my day. However, the lure of some large bass that live there brought me back for one more shot. And they all ignored me yet again, shutout on both ends of the Stop One doubleheader.

1:04pm 13″ 1-0 not as big as I was looking for but what I got as the bass come out on top

Top 5 Bass (sort of) – As soon as I arrived on Stop One, I spotted a fellow angler approaching the bank about 50 yards away. Two of his casts later, I heard him tell his wife, who was alongside him, that he had a fish and it was a good one. I proceeded to observe the battle and even from a distance it was indeed a nice bass. The angler asked if I had a scale and I then rowed over to assist with the weigh-in. Final result came in at 5-9, just what I was looking for and perhaps a good sign that some big ones would cooperate (not so much for me as it turned out). I congratulated the fellow on a good catch and, of course, gave a plug for a certain website that showcases the catches of fellow fish chasers. His wife even looked up the site on her phone as we all chatted for a bit, another cool example of how technology can actually be productive. I’ve yet to see the fish in the Inbox but time will tell.


No sense in stretching this one out anymore as it was just a tough day. I briefly thought that perhaps I should have went to the well one more time with a Lake Storey outing but in the end still felt that I made the right decision. I went all in for some big bass and gave it my best shot on some good water but this time around the bass simply won.

A Top 5 Update comes your way Monday that you definitely don’t want to miss followed up by a couple more posts of Lake Storey stuff and then the regular Friday Flashback. A busy week ahead here on the blog featuring some quality content. Hope you’ll tune in and talk to you later. Troy

Lake Lowdown – Lake Storey 10/19/18


Nearly waited too long to get around to the Lake Lowdown project for 2018 and darn near missed out on my shot to fish Lake Storey as well. But it all worked out in the end as both items came together last week and did not disappoint.

This time around I brought my brother, Brent, along on the project for the first time since the inaugural stab at the concept back in 2002 on Knox County, Illinois’ Lake Bracken. Sixteen years later we teamed up again, kicking the challenge up a notch with a visit to a public fishing hole. And a historically tough one at that.

Welcome to Lake Lowdown 2018 on Knox County Illinois’ Lake Storey.

Date: October 19, 2018
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Time: 9:15am-3:00pm
Weather: Overcast/windy to very windy/spell of light to heavy rain
Air Temp: a cold 50-52F
Water Temp: 54-55F

Catch by Catch

Bass #1 – 9:39 am 8” Mann’s Baby 1- Crankbait (rainbow)
Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait too long to long to put the shutout behind us as the first bass came aboard just over 20 minutes into casting. Not quite as quick as the previous day when I nabbed a bass on my first cast and not a trophy but hey, we’re on the board.

Bass #2 – 9:44am 17” 2-7 The Emiquon Special spinnerbait
It doesn’t take long for Brent to work some spinnerbait magic with his legendary creation. This quality Lake Storey fish comes from some manmade structure and weighs nearly a pound more than anything from my previous day on the water. But it comes with a price as it destroys the skirt on Brent’s best bait and he has no spare in tow.

Bass #3 – 10:08am 15” 1-5 Tandem spinnerbait (white) with hammered copper blades
While he had to shift gears to a backup spinnerbait, Brent doesn’t miss a beat with another solid bass from the back of a shallow cove. Another handmade bait is his replacement with a white skirt and tandem, hammered, copper blades. And to anybody who is reading this and is under the age of 20, well, that bait has probably been around longer than you have. Still works, though.

Bass #4 – 10:46am 12.5” 1-3 Booyah Blade spinnerbait (white/chartreuse)
Back on the spinnerbait bite that fooled 13 bass the previous day after messing around with some unproductive crankbait casts on this morning.

Bass #5 – 11:00am 11.5” Tandem Spin
Brent has donned his coveralls at this point as the wind has really chilled things out despite the temperature remaining stable in the low 50s. More on his attire in a later post as I milk this Lake Storey thing across a few blog entries.

Bass #6 – 11:16am 13” 1-3 Tandem Spin
A mysterious figure lurks in the background as the rain begins to come down and we kick ourselves for not bringing rain gear as we bought the forecast of no precipitation. We were taught better by that fellow looming back there on the bank.

Bass #7 – 11:58am 8.5” Tandem Spin
After a rain delay with Dad as we made a run for his truck (actually Brent’s as we had Dad’s), Brent wasted no time getting us back on the board. We are damp, cold and the wind is even chillier. But the bass are still biting.

Bass #8 – 12:02pm 14.5” 1-9 Strike King 2.5 Rattlin’ Squarebill Crankbait (sexy shad)
Not wanting Brent to have all the fun, my Top Bass for the day comes on board as I shift to a crankbait bounced around some rocks. I’d like to say it warmed me up a bit but nope, still the occasional shiver. This one completes our combined Top 5 and puts us at 7-11 and time to start culling.

Bass #9 – 12:08pm 8.5” Booyah Spinnerbait
Not much of a bass but my only back to back catches on a day ruled by the guy in the front of the boat. Any sort of advantage that his positioning may have offered is tempered by the fact that I am confident that he would have outfished me from the back of the boat as well.

Bass #10 – 12:11pm 7.5” Tandem spinnerbait
Brent lays claim to both the smallest and largest bass of the day with this catch. He would best one end of that spectrum before the day was done so don’t give up on this post quite yet.

Bass #11 – 12:37pm 14” 1-7 Booyah Spinnerbait
Top 5 boost up to 7-15 as this one boots our 1-3. Oh yeah, Dad came to the rescue in a return with some raingear which is a very welcome windbreaker on the blustery day.

Bass #12 – 1:05pm 15” 1-8 Tandem Spin
Brent moves our Top 5 up by five ounces to 8-4 as we make a second stop on a productive stretch following a shutout on another go to area.

Bass #13 – 1:09pm 14” 1-7 Tandem Spin
Brent boosts us another couple ounces to 8-6 in displacing our 1-5. Watch out as he is starting to heat up. Fellow Top 5 angler, John Kirkemo, fishes in the distance after our second visit of the day to compare notes. More on our meeting in another batch of notes from this outing later this week.

Bass #14 1:24pm 12” 0-10 Booyah Spinnerbait
Spinnerbait Bassing 101 as multiple casts to a laydown that runs perpendicular to the bank finally gives up a bite. Lake Storey 101 if it looks good work it over good as a lot of those bass need some “convincing” before they strike.

Bass #15 – 1:36pm 20” 4-11 Tandem Spin
A new Lake Storey record for family and friends eclipsing the 4-8 which had stood since 2007. Lake Storey 101 again as Brent had beat this spot to death with his spinnerbait before this brute decided to eat it. Just an awesome fish as Lake Storey bass of this size don’t come around every day, no matter who you are. And how about that cull? Our Top 5 moves to 11-10 with a gain of over three pounds.

Bass #16 – 2:40pm 7.5” Strike King Squarebill
This Dam fish (that’s the location so don’t get up in arms over any questionable language) was my final bass of the day and tied me for the lead in the “Smallest Bass of the Day” category. Too chilled and beat for a celebratory fist pump though as the cold wind just continues to howl.

Bass #17 – 2:52pm 18” 3-8 Tandem Spin
Our plan was to fish until 3:00pm but after Brent landed another Lake Storey winner he decided that it was a fitting way to end his day. I agreed and we put our poles away and headed for the ramp (not many yards away) after a solid last cast bass. And a last cull gains us just over two pounds to finish the day with a Top 5 of 13-11.

Totals: 17 bass (Brent – 10 bass, Troy – 7 bass)
Lures – Troy
Booyah Blade Spinnerbait (chartreuse/white shad) – 4 bass
Strike King KVD 2.5 Rattling Squarebill Crankbait (sexy shad) – 2 bass
Mann’s Baby 1- Crankbait (rainbow) – 1 bass
Lures – Brent
Tandem Spinnerbait (white) w/ hammered blades (copper) – 9 bass
The Emiquon Special Spinnerbait (brown/orange) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 4-11 Brent on a Spinnerbait
Top 5 Weight: 13-11 (4-11,3-8,2-7,1-9,1-8)

There you have it, Lake Lowdown for 2018 and many thanks to Brent for making it a rousing success. A little longwinded perhaps, but I’ve been known to do that sort of thing. However, I’d have to say blame it on the bass as they were quite generous to a couple fellows who have been chasing them for a long time.

Friday Flashback up tomorrow and some more notes on Lake Storey hopefully this weekend. Also have a Top 5 Update coming your way on Monday and still need to work in my latest fishing report from a strip mine visit earlier this week. Too much fishing and not enough time to write but I know that luxury is about to change. Talk to you later. Troy



Lake Storey Report October 18


Finally able to work in a Lake Storey trip for 2018 as I was starting to wonder if I would be able to get it done before the weather got too ugly for me. It took the investment of a pair of vacation days but certainly worth it for back to back days on my “home lake.” The first of the two reports coming at you below and happy to say some productive days on a longtime favorite fall fishing destination.


Date: October 18, 2018
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Time: 10:20am-4:35pm
Weather: Sunny/breezy to windy
Air Temp: 44-61F
Water Temp: 54-58F
Totals: 13 bass
Booyah Blade Spinnerbait (chartreuse/white shad) – 13 bass
Top Bass: 1-8 Spinnerbait
Top 5 Weight: 6-2 (1-8,1-6,1-2,1-1,1-1)

1:03pm Top Bass 14.5″ 1-8 Spinnerbait

Notes & Nonsense

First Cast – Lake Storey can be a stingy lake at times as it supports a population of smart bass that get their education via a steady stream of angling pressure. So when you launch your boat, do your best intro, describe a historically productive spot and then proceed to catch a bass on your first cast of the day, all you can do is laugh at your good fortune. And while I’ve often viewed the “first cast bass” as a potential bit of bad luck, all worked out just fine on this day. Video of the catch below.


Shifting Gears – After nabbing that first cast bass on a spinnerbait, I kept on tossing it around my regular stops and it kept on getting bit. Now I’m not normally a spinnerbait guy on Lake Storey (that would be my brother Brent’s gig as we will see in the next report) as I lean towards more of a crankbait bite. But there’s no way I’m going to alter my offering when the bass are telling me that they want a spinnerbait. Yes, even as a creature of habit, I’m not that stubborn. For proof, the spinnerbait caught every fish on this outing as my brief foray into other offerings (crankbaits, creature baits and lipless cranks) proved to be unproductive so I wisely set them aside.

11:14am featuring a reveal on the bait that got the job done

Fun in the Sun – While full sun concerns me at a number of my fishing holes, Lake Storey is not one of them as I also prefaced in my intro. Turned out just fine as all but one of my catches were soaking up some rays on the banks hit by direct sunlight.

3:11pm Solid, stout fish are easy on the eyes, 14.5″ 1-6 on Spinnerbait

Not Made in the Shade – In contrast to the sun success, I sure couldn’t buy a bite in the shade. Even when fishing similar depth and structure it was just no go. Unfortunately, it took me a while to figure out that even my go to spots just weren’t going to work on the shady side as I went about an hour without a bite before making another run in the sun.

Wood is Good – Recent rains had brought the water level up a bit compared to the full drawdown pool which was kind of cool as it brought some structure back into play. A great deal more wood in the form of laydowns and brush were now shallow targets and 9 of my 13 catches were in those neighborhoods.


Fishing Friend – Ran into a fellow fisherman that I have known since the 80s and had a good chat which was a pleasant addition to our prodigious email correspondence discussing Lake Storey and beyond over the years. I’ll call him “Larry” and while he was walleye fishing on this day, he noted that he’d run into a few bass in the pound range and backed up my assessment on how healthy the bass looked. So while size was lacking the bass were indeed a stout sort.

– Kind of interesting too, that my Top 5 Weight for the day of 6-2 was an exact match from my last outing on October 2, 2017.
10/18/2018 Top 5 Weight: 6-2 (1-8,1-6,1-2,1-1,1-1)
10/2/2017 Top 5 Weight 6-2 (1-11,1-3,1-2,1-1,1-1)


No lunkers on this outing but I was quite pleased with the quantity of bites and the quality build of the catch. My average catch rate based on data from 1997 to present comes in at 0.98 bass per hour so this trip’s rate of 2.08 was outstanding for me. And what was also cool was the fact that I would be back on the water the next day with my brother, Brent, a spinnerbait wizard, to do it all over again. That report heads your way soon as the 2018 version of something I call “Lake Lowdown.” But first, a recap of what the feature is all about along with the historical data from all prior “Lake Lowdown” outings. Hope you’ll check it out and talk to you later. Troy


Strip Mine Report – October 14

Last Sunday afternoon provided a few hours to get on the water after some boat prep work at my folks in Galesburg in advance of some possible fishing later this week. After clearing the clutter from Dad’s boat, checking tire pressure and getting the batteries charging I had several hours of daylight and the little johnboat in the bed of my truck. So, it was off to the strip mines where Top 5 leader, Jim Junk, had texted that he would be chasing some crappie. Perhaps he could be convinced to join up for some bassing…

The makings of a fishing trip


Date: October 14, 2018
Location: Knox County, IL strip mines (1 lake with Jim, 1 lake solo)
Time: 3:10pm-6:15pm
Weather: Overcast/calm to breezy
Air Temp: 51F
Totals: 10 bass (Troy = 6, Jim = 4)
Lures Troy
Booyah Blade Spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) – 3 bass
Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 2 bass
Senko wacky rig (pumpkin/black flake) – 1 bass
Lures Jim
Wacky rigged worm
Top Bass: 1-7 Jim Wacky worm
Top 5 Weight (only 3 at 12” or better): 3-8 (1-7,1-1,1-0)

Notes and Nonsense

Teaming Up – I’d texted Jim to warn him that I was headed in his direction but hadn’t received a reply and didn’t spot his vehicle upon arrival so figured I was on my own. However, as I drug the boat down the grassy “ramp” I heard somebody holler. Turned out that I would enjoy some good company while Jim gave the semi-cooperative crappie a break.

3:32pm- Jim with a 1-0 on wacky rigged worm

Counting Catches – As a dedicated “logger”, I got a kick out of Jim mentioning that he recently decided to track some data on his catches. A text message from October 8 had put his October totals at “25 bass with 8 over 3 pounds and biggest at 4-1.” As we hit the water, Jim noted that he was sitting at 35 bass which gave him just a slight edge over my October total. A slight edge of 35 bass. Well, in the hour and a half of our tag team bassing I sure didn’t gain any ground as he continued to outfish me four to one.

Close Quarters – Don’t know if you’ve ever teamed up with a co-angler in an eight foot johnboat but it’s quite an interesting experience, been doing it for 35 years or so. Takes a little coordinated casting and boat maneuvering to hit your spots from a decent angle while ideally not hitting each other upside the head. In addition, not only can you get a visual hint when your partner is gearing up for a hookset but on occasion you can also feel the boat move. I got a laugh out of such an instance this time around in seeing and feeling Jim briefly lean into and flinch in a near hookset as a bass did one of those quick hit and then let go of the lure moves. The cool thing is that only seconds later the bass came back for another shot and got it right resulting in a repeat lean followed up by the real deal on a hookset and catch. Good stuff that I suspect you just don’t get in a $50,000 bass rig.

3:45pm Top Bass at 1-7 on an afternoon where we couldn’t find that big bite

Fair Finish – After an hour and a half I decided to relocate to another nearby fishing hole while Jim elected to finish his day chasing a few more crappie. I managed to pick up five more bass including my Top Bass of the outing at 1-1. Nothing much to write home about but still blog worthy as I simply tell it like it happened. Jim wound up with a decent batch of crappie but elected to set them free when it was all said and done instead of winding up with a late evening of cleaning fish.

5:47pm best I could muster at 1-1 on a spinnerbait

So, glad to get out as always though not much to brag about. A bit more of a pleasant afternoon/evening than I really anticipated as a couple layers of clothing made it quite comfortable in the low 50s temps with merely a light breeze. Getting to that point where I know my days on the water are numbered so honestly a bit antsy to put some more bass in the log and hoping for a late season boost to my somewhat lackluster Top 5. Hope to invest some time (and a few vacation days) as the weather looks stable leading into and through the weekend although more than a bit chilly in terms of overnight lows. Hope you’ll check back in for what lies in store over the back half of the month and if you get out, by all means send any Top 5 catches my way as we push towards 100 bass (93 bass and counting as we already have a new entry for next Monday’s update). Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – September 30

After 57 days without a bass, I was quite happy that back to back weekends to end the month offered opportunities to go fishing.  A September without any fish would be a real bummer as it is one of my favorite months of the year to get on the water.  For September fishing trip number two, on top of the expected enthusiasm, I was also looking forward to teaming up with a friend, Jim Junk, who is having quite a year as our Top 5 leader.  Here’s the scoop.


Date: September 30, 2018
Location: Knox/Fulton County, IL strip pits (3 public, 2 private)
Time: 6:30am-10:45am and beyond (details later in report)
Weather: Partly cloudy/calm to breezy
Air Temp: 53-74F
Totals: 42 bass (Troy = 24, Jim = 18)
Lures Troy
Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 8 bass
Senko wacky rig (pumpkin/black flake) – 7 bass
Strike King KVD 2.5 Rattling Squarebill crankbait (sexy shad) – 5 bass
Booyah Blade Spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) – 3 bass
Zara Spook (black shore minnow) – 1 bass
Lures Jim
Wacky rigged worm or white spinnerbait
Top Bass: Jim 3-14 Wacky worm, Troy 1-13 Spinnerbait
Top 5 Weight Jim: 14-7 (3-14,3-4,2-8,2-7,2-6)
Top 5 Weight Troy: 8-11 (1-13,1-12,1-12,1-11,1-11)

7:03am on the board with a double

Notes and Nonsense

The Shallows – After about 20 minutes without a bite we rowed into a spot that afforded casts in opposite directions, each to a shallow pocket. Prior to taking our shots I mentioned that I often get a bite despite there being some pretty skinny water. Right on cue we soon had a double in the boat and we were off and running. Our second catches, mere minutes later, also came aboard in similar synchronized fashion and we missed a third double about ten minutes later. As the day progressed, we continued to find our Knox County bass quite shallow which is just fine by me.

8:56am with my second largest bass of the day at 1-12 on a buzzbait

Old Boat, New Junk – Jim has posted quite a Top 5 creel this year which I find additionally impressive due to his catches coming while prowling the bank. So, while my eight foot johnboat is not particularly glamorous I hoped that it at least provided some new scenery as we hit all the spots that a bank angler views as “I sure wish I could get over there.” Jim and I had visited one of the lakes in Dad’s Bass Tracker in June but the little boat is a whole different ballgame and I had a laugh later upon realizing that I had added another Junk to the list of co-anglers in the watercraft. Back in the 80s I prowled Knox County waters with his brothers, John and Mark, took his sister-in-law, Lisa, along about 15 years ago (she was eight months pregnant at the time) and his nephew, Brady, has had the boat out for a few adventures (not sure if Jim’s boy, Matthew, may have been aboard on some of those as well). I always say that I take too much stuff along on my outings but apparently never can have enough Junk in the boat.

9:45am – Jim’s 2-8 was Top Bass from the Knox County leg of the day

12:22pm – My Top Bass of the day at 1-13 on a spinnerbait from Knox County walk-in strip mine

Full Day Addendum – While we had a successful morning in combining for 37 bass in just under four hours at Little John, we both had other tricks up our sleeves. I headed to some walk-in ground after our joint outing for another dozen bass while Jim remained at Little John chasing some crappie. I stopped by again on my way home about 2:00pm just as Jim was wrapping up, or so I thought. Instead, about 7:45pm I got a text from Jim stating that he had made his last casts of the day at around 6:30pm at Banner Marsh where he fooled five more at 3-14,3-4,2-7,2-6 and 1-9.

Jim couldn’t get enough fishing it seems and his dedication paid off in Fulton County to end a long day

One That Got Away – As painful as it can be, it’s a fishing standard that inevitably hits every angler from time to time. The fishing gods decided it was Jim’s turn this time around. Shortly before we ditched the little boat and went our separate fishing ways, Jim flicked his wacky rig onto a shallow ledge featuring a collection of laydowns and worked his lure towards the edge into deeper water. I wasn’t sure if it was a fish or a snag in the initial split second when I saw his rod bend but a huge thrash just at the surface and a big flash of green and white screamed “Big fish!” However, seconds later the worm came loose and we were left to wonder. I did not offer up an estimate, not the time or place, and we didn’t fish long enough afterwards for the topic to come back up. But after nearly a week to replay those few seconds, I’ll just say that the current lake record of 5-14 (a bass caught by Jim in 2014) wouldn’t be the lake record anymore.

My arsenal for the day while Jim scored with a wacky rig and spinnerbait

A solid and enjoyable day on the water as we put the first week of Fall behind us. If pressed to choose, I would have to say that this is my favorite time of the year to chase some bass. Too tough to put the appeal into words but knowing that the days on the water are numbered seems to bring an added appreciation. Just a vibe that this is the home stretch knowing what looms on the horizon in terms of the seasons. Those bass know it too, providing us anglers with a good opportunity to find a few that let their guard down. Here’s hoping for a few more chances to cross paths with a Fall feeding frenzy. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – September 23

After 57 days without a bass I was excited to get a chance to hit the water last Sunday. My original plan was to spend the first day of Fall prowling the banks of a regular haunt while flying solo. But just for fun I sent out a text to an old fishing partner who’s also been known to cover a few miles in search of some bass. And guess what? My bro was good to go. Too bad for the bass.

6:34am Top Bass #2 of the trip and our first bass of the day at 20″ and 4-8 on a buzzbait


Date: September 23, 2018
Location: Knox County, IL strip pits (3 public, 2 private)
Time: 6:30am-1:15pm (5.25 hours fishing, the rest walking/driving)
Weather: Sunny/calm to breezy
Air Temp: 46-74F
Totals: 48 bass, 1 crappie (Brent = 28 bass, 1 crappie, Troy = 20 bass)
Lures Troy
Senko wacky rig (green pumpkin/black flake) – 8 bass
Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 6 bass
Booyah Blade Spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) – 4 bass
Strike King KVD 2.5 Rattling Squarebill crankbait (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Yum Wooly Curltail (pumpkin/pepper/green) – 1 bass
Lures Brent
Spinnerbait (Emiquon Special) – majority of his catch
Senko wacky rig (smoke) – the rest of his catch
Top Bass: 5-1 Brent Spinnerbait, 4-8 Troy Buzzbait
Top 5 Weight Brent: 14-11 (5-1,3-7,2-3,2-2,1-14)
Top 5 Weight Troy: 12-7 (4-8,3-2,1-11,1-10,1-8)
Top 5 Weight combined: 18-5 (5-1,4-8,3-7,3-2,2-3)

8:39am Top Bass at 22.5″ and 5-1 on a spinnerbait, just an outstanding looking fish, long and lean

Notes and Nonsense

First Bass – The original plan was to hit some walk-in strip mines but reconsidered as I had the boat loaded for Plan B. Thus we decided to row first while the prodigious terrestrial weed growth hopefully dried out a bit so we wouldn’t end up starting the day soaked in the 40 degree weather. Proved to be a good decision four minutes after hitting the water as my first bite of the day wound up being a 4-8 on a buzzbait worked over a mid-lake hump. Turned out to be my biggest of the day but not the biggest of the trip.

Lunker Point – As I rowed us around stop number two I started telling fish stories as I have been known to do while on (or off) the water. Pointing to an approaching point I mentioned to Brent that it had produced a pair of five-pounders over the last couple years (5-10 and 5-0 to be exact). I even noted that I had taken to calling it “Lunker Point” when documenting the location of catches in that vicinity as they are entered in the log. Right on cue, Brent’s rod loaded up with a good fish after a cast to the spot and the fight was on. After a few tense seconds trying to get a grip on the bass at boatside he hauled in the third five-pounder from the spot I’d been bragging up. Got us another fish story to add to the mix.

11:38am Top Bass #3 Brent’s 3-7 on a spinnerbait

Dropped the Ball, Part I – It’s kind of tough to explain but unfortunately there is no video footage of the two catches described above. I did have the GoPro packed along in my tackle backpack but just never got around to buckling it on. Kind of disappointing on one hand as it would have been some cool footage. But that thing can also present a bit of a dilemma as it is rather revealing. I love fishing pics and videos, especially if they are from somewhere that I fish but I must admit that I admire the background as much, if not more, than the fish. Just saying…

12:07pm Top Bass #4 at 2-3 Senko wacky rig, very cool as just a stout fish

Dropped the Ball, Part II – Last year I introduced something called “Lake Lowdown” here on the blog. This feature documents every bass we land via a photograph and log entry of all the details. Originally borrowed from Bassmaster’s monthly “Day on the Lake” series, I’ve run my piece nearly every year dating back to 2003. Well, in hindsight, this would have been a real winner for the project but somehow slipped my mind. Maybe next time as I need to keep the string alive with a 2018 version.

Get to the Point – Stop number one on our walk-in part of the outing resulted in a dozen bass warm-up as prep for stop number two, our best fishing hole on the property. As we headed out I told Brent that it’s “first come, first serve” on choosing our spots. He arrived first and made a solid choice. Never leaving the point he selected, he proceeded to put on a clinic in outfishing me 6 to 4 and easily outweighing me with his Top 5 on the spot tipping the scales at 11-8.

12:52pm – Top Bass #4 at 18″ and 3-2 on a crankbait

Quite a day, easily the best of 2018. I’ll wrap it up with one final bit of fun via a comment that I threw out after Brent had landed his 5-1 to top my 4-8 less than two hours into our trip. As we also had several in the one-pound range in our creel I said, “Now all we need is a three and a two for a 5-4-3-2-1 day.” Shortly before noon, Brent had put the finishing touch on the quintet with a 3-7 and a 2-2. Plenty more I could share from our productive day, including another batch of Trip Tunes so stay tuned. Talk to you later. Troy