Category: Fishing Reports

Friday Flashback – July 24-25, 2013

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

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

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

Virginia City Reservoir

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

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

Emiquon Preserve

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

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

Jim Edgar Panther Creek – Drake Lake

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

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

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

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

Friday Flashback – July 8, 2013

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

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

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

The not so old destination has a whole new look.

Emiquon has changed.

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

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

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

Original log entry from the outing

Notes & Nonsense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Flashback – July 1, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Flashback – June 30, 2003

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

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

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

Original log entry from this outing

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

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

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

Second shot of the top catch

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

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

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

Friday Flashback – June 16, 2008

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

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

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


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

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


Bass #8 – 7:45am 2-13 Senko

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


Bass #9 – 7:48am 2-0 Baby Brush Hog

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


Bass #11  – 8:00am 3-5 Senko

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


Entire original log entry from the outing

Notes

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

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

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

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

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

Strip Mine Report – Father’s Day

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

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

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

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

6:17am 15.5″ 1-10 Buzzbait

8:13am 14″ 1-2 Buzzbait

Notes and Nonsense

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

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

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

8:56am 14″ 1-1 Senko

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

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

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

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

Friday Flashback – June 13, 2003

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fishing Funk Report – 6/4

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

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

It essentially goes like this:

“I had a bad day on the water.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report 6/3

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


6:31am 1-4 Senko

Stats

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


8:09am 1-8 Senko

Notes and Nonsense

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


8:13am 1-5 Buzzbait

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


8:36am 1-14 Senko

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


12:46pm 1-6 Senko

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

Lost Grove Lake Report – May 28

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

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

Stats

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

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

Notes & Nonsense

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

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

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

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

Another gnat snip just for fun

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

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

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

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

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