Category: Fishing Reports

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 #5 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

Friday Flashback – September 29, 2013

Boy, is it fun when you get it right.

And even more rewarding when you are traipsing cross country over some challenging terrain in search of some bites with a longtime fishing companion.

The best day of 2013 (83 bass including a rock solid Top 5) comes your way below via some excerpts from the original post.

Back in 1980, the R&B/Funk duo, The Brothers Johnson, posted their third and final Top 10 hit with an entertaining cut called “Stomp!.” Well, lets fast forward to September 2013 when the bass fishing duo known as The Brothers Jackson put a “stomp” on some Knox County strip mine bass. Here’s how it went down.

Date: September 29, 2013
Location: Knox County public walk-in strip mines
Time: 7:50am-1:15pm (4 hours fishing, the rest walking)
Weather: Sunny/windy
Air Temp: 60-75F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 83 bass & 2 green sunfish (7 different lakes)
Brent Totals: 44 bass & 1 green sunfish
Troy Totals: 39 bass & 1 green sunfish
Lures Brent: White Spinnerbait, Mann’s 4- crankbait
Lures Troy: Rebel Suspending Jerkbait – 22 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (orange craw) – 10 bass, Bass Pro Shops River Bug – 5 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (rainbow) – 1 bass, K9 Walker stickbait (Madd Shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass Brent: 2-5 Mann’s 4- crankbait
Top Bass Troy: 4-3 Rebel Suspending Jerkbait
Top 5 Weight: 15-7 (4-3,4-0,3-5,2-5,1-10)

8:52am Top Bass #3 of the day 19.5″ 3-5 Jerkbait

Changeups – Lots of decisions are made during four hours on the water (or bank in this case) and it is rewarding when they pay dividends. It doesn’t always work in our favor but just as I report the lackluster performances and bad calls, I also pass along the times when we get it right. Either way, it’s simply a matter of giving you my version of the straight dope from a day on the water. The following “changeups” went a long way towards making this a memorable day.

9:54am Top Bass #4 of the day 2-5 Crankbait

Changeup #1 (9:54am) – Relying solely on his white spinnerbait, Brent had put on a fishing clinic at our third stop while never leaving his spot on the bank. He’d landed nine bass in just over twenty minutes before his bite left. As we were considering leaving he tied on a Mann’s 4- crankbait and proceeded to nail a 2-5, his largest of the day, on his first cast. While taking the above photo I made sure to compliment Brent on this changeup to add a solid second fish to our creel (all fish released though). We wound up sticking around for another twenty minutes and landed nine more bass combined to bring the lake totals to 19 bass in 45 minutes.

10:25am Top Bass #5 of the day 1-10

Changeup #2 (10:25am) – Brent moved from the main body of our fourth lake to a narrow finger and proceeded to clean house with his spinnerbait. In a hurry, he had five bass to my one and added another solid bass to our five fish limit with a 1-10. Once again I offered a thumbs up on a productive decision that would eventually produce a total of thirteen bass for him in forty five minutes.

10:43am Top Bass #2 of the day 20″ 4-0 Jerkbait

Changeup #3 (10:43am) – I took over the point Brent had vacated with his move to the finger and quickly had a large bass explode on my K9 Walker stickbait. I briefly had the fish on but it let go and left me pretty bummed that it hadn’t hooked up. A few casts later, to my surprise, the bass busted the bait again but completely missed with its tail clearing the water and providing reason for dejection as it was a good one. I opted to leave the fish alone and moved to a nearby dropoff with a muskrat run extending out into deeper water. Two casts later with a suspending jerkbait and Brent was snapping a photo of me holding a 4-0.

10:53am Top Bass of the day 20″ 4-3 Stickbait

Changeup #4 (10:53am) – I definitely wasn’t leaving without giving my hot fish one more chance and moved back to the point where I’d enticed the two blowups. Amazingly, the bass gave me a third shot and this time his aim on the K9 Walker was true and our former Top Bass was displaced after ten minutes with a 4-3. The neat thing is that this is a handmade bait that I received from a blog reader and commenter, Frank Harvey. In fact, as I posed for the picture, leaving the lure hanging out of a lip, I said to Brent, “How cool is that to catch it on Frank’s lure.” Thanks, Frank, it’s a winner!

K9 Walker homemade stickbait crafted by a reader at my former blogging gig

We wound up our day hitting all the spots we’d aimed to fish, racking up a couple dozen more bass in our run and gun process. It was tough to leave a few fishing holes but we were on a mission as we had plans to attend a birthday cookout for Dad that evening. At one point during a good bite, Brent wondered aloud if we’d make it to all of the lakes we had on our agenda. I responded that if the bass kept it up we might not make it to the family gathering. It was that kind of day. We left tired and a little sore, but a good kind of tired and a little sore. It didn’t take me long to get over it though as I was back the following day headed for a half dozen more lakes in a different direction. But that’s another story.

Believe it or not that is the slightly abbreviated version. As much as I like to talk fishing, I sometimes find it hard to stop. Especially on a day when the bass make you look like you actually know what you are doing. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – September 17, 2003

A solid day on a longtime fishing hole south of Galesburg, Illinois for me and Dad featured a couple interesting and unexpected catches. Both are detailed below in an excerpt from the original report posted to family and friends.

Original log entry from this day on the lake

Date: 9/17/2003
Location: Lake Bracken
Angler(s): Me and Dad
Time: 6:00 am-11:45 am
Bass: 24
Crappie: 3
Bluegill: 4
Channel Catfish: 1
Mann’s 4- crankbait (wounded alewife) – 8 bass
Spinnerbait (white) – 5 bass, 1 catfish
Quad Shad Spinnerbait (salt & pepper) – 4 bass
Mann’s 1- crankbait – 1 bass
Twister tail (white or chartreuse) with spinner (gold) – 6 bass, 4 bluegill, 3 crappie
Top Bass: 2-15 Troy – Mann’s 4- crankbait
Top 5 Weight: 7-6 (2-15,1-5,1-4,1-1,0-13)

10:32am Top Bass 18″ 2-15 Mann’s 4- crankbait

Top Lure for the day Mann’s 4- crankbait (wounded alewife pattern, I think)

Between 9:14 and 9:16 am we end up with four bass in the boat at one time although we are practicing catch and release. Along the dam, I hook a small (9″) bass on my Mann’s 4- crankbait (wounded alewife) that falls into the bottom of the boat as I lift it out of the water. Not wanting to waste time trying to find this fish I go ahead and fire another cast. A couple cranks into my retrieve I’ve got another hit and set the hook. About the same time, I see Dad ram the hooks of his Mann’s 1- crankbait into a hungry bass. As we each battle our fish to the boat, I let Dad know that I’ve got an unusual result on my crankbait. It turns out that I’ve caught two fish on one lure for the second time this year. It’s now 9:16 am and there’s one fish flopping around in the bottom of the boat, Dad’s unhooking his bass and I’m hoping neither of my bass fall off before Dad can snap a picture. Both of my bass cooperated and we got a nice picture of a 12″ bass on one treble hook and a 13″ bass on the other.

9:16am – A rare “double” during a flurry when we had four bass in the boat at one time

A second unusual catch occurred later as Dad hooked a fish on his white spinnerbait. Actually, that part is rather common, as the white spinnerbait is one of his deadliest weapons. However, the way the fish fought and the body plan upon our first glimpse suggested something other than our targeted species. I grabbed the net and soon we had a decent catfish in the boat posing for a picture. The fish makes a Grand Slam for Dad with four species along with largemouth bass, crappie and bluegill.

Dad’s white spinnerbait is also a winner with a “whiskered” bass

Always a good time on the water and definitive proof that you just never know what lies in store with each outing. And yet again reinforces why I feel that fishing trips can always use a few tools beyond rods, reels and lures. A camera, a log book and a word processing program (after a rough draft with pen and paper on the old, trusty clipboard) all help to preserve the details for revisiting the tales anew more than a few years down the road. Talk to you later. Troy

A September Bass

My boy, Jayce, gets us on the board for September

In conjunction with a weekend work errand I was able to swing a visit to the Knox County, Illinois strip mines, Little John Conservation Club to be specific. A last minute change of plans also had me playing fishing guide as opposed to struggling angler desperately trying to fool some more respectable bass for his less than impressive Top 5 total. Perhaps some time for that later this month as taking one of your boys fishing should take priority.

And it did.

As expected, however, it put just a little different spin on the outing. The nine-year old version of a fishing trip is considerably briefer and a bit more prone to distraction than the fifty-something guy who thinks he’s a Bassmaster version. We put in maybe 45 minutes on the water/bank and fooled only one bass but nonetheless had an adventure complete with some education, celebration, imagination and one’s that got away.

Jayce’s request for a heavier version of the wacky rig was the right call as the Zappu Inchi Wacky Head saved the day

Education – Rather strong winds were not only a challenge for the guide while rowing the boat but also raised a red flag for my young fishing partner. His weightless Senko wacky rig just didn’t have much sink to it in the choppy conditions prompting Jayce to ask, “Dad, do you have anything with weight?” Indeed I did and I was quite impressed with Jayce’s assessment that his presentation needed an adjustment from the only way he’d ever previously fished the highly effective wacky rig. Enter the Zappu Inchi Wacky Head which proved to be a winner mere minutes later. Well done, young man!

Well done, young man, on this task also as its kind of nice to just chill in the truck

Celebration – Like a dummy, I did not have my GoPro rigged up to catch the exciting action of our lone bass but we did do a post catch interview. Just like the big boys we ran down the details on the lure that got the job done even though we have yet to market our skills to some sponsors (Gary Yamamoto, if you’re out there reading though…). Unlike some of the big boys, however, we actually reported the stats on our catch to the nearest half inch and ounce. A little education here as well, the old “honesty is the best policy” standard.


Imagination – Don’t know if anybody else out there is into this “The Meg” thing but my boys sure are “obsessed with it” (Jayce’s description). If you are unaware, it’s “Jaws” for the new generation with a giant, prehistoric shark known as a Megalodon terrorizing ocean goers and facing off with a band of heroes out to save the day. Well, what I didn’t know is that apparently “The Meg” is not relegated to salt water as it had a bead on our eight foot johnboat while headed back to the ramp (insert classic boat line from “Jaws” here). Other than a handful of lightning storms or high winds, I have never rowed so fast during my decades on the business end of some oars. I’m not sure how “The Meg” ends as I’m still wavering on whether viewing is such a good idea for a seven and nine year old but in our adventure the good guys lived to fish again.

My assessment of how it feels as you attempt to escape the colossal “Meg”

Ones That Got Away – About ten minutes in, Jayce started to holler. “Dad! Dad! Dad!” and I observed the tip of his bowed rod nearly hitting the water’s surface. Jayce then stated, “It’s pulling good” before the lure came shooting out of the water as the fish had let go. Who knows but sure looked like it could have been a quality fish. Near the end of our afternoon Jayce told me to go ahead and fish as he prowled the bank messing with little frogs. A cast to a productive laydown got me a bite and from my perch on the bank about six feet above the water I actually got a decent look before my fish also let go. Looked to be one pushing the two pound range which qualifies as a “good one” in my book and a downright trophy bass for my rough 2018.

Chalk up another adventure that played out a bit different than the original plan but good stuff during some rare one on one time with one of the kids. Although the haul was only one bass I was encouraged by three bites in limited casting and less than ideal water conditions as the normally clear lake still features a substantial stain to the water. Solid call on altering his lure presentation by my protégé and good practice for him in casting for bass from a watercraft as opposed to the bank, he did quite well.

A welcome exclamation point to our outing

Oh yeah, and we tuned into the radio on the ride to hear the makings of a Cubs victory as they played longball on a young Phillies Cy Young Award candidate. A great day all around. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – September 5, 2013

These old fishing reports come in real handy for the Friday Flashback series, kind of nice how that works out several years down the road when just a bit too busy to get on the water. Eases the load on writing as well. Here we go with the original report in its entirety as posted on September 10, 2013.

Nothing like a farm pond to break a fishing drought.

The start of the school year has understandably and rightfully put a damper on goofing off. Thus I’ve submitted no blog entries for 32 days and logged my last bass at 11:46am on August 1. I guess it must be something about months that begin with the letter “A” as I went 0 for April earlier this year. Hopefully the next couple months or so will provide a few opportunities now that the family is finding some sort of routine amidst work, school, running, soccer, dance and so on. Kicking off my “fall finale” was a welcome trip with Dad to a local farm pond for some good old multispecies fishing.

9:37am Quickly on the board with the first bass 15″ 1-10 Crankbait

Date: September 5, 2013
Location: Warren County Farm Pond
Time: 9:30am-noon
Weather: Sunny/calm
Air Temp: 75F-80F
Water Temp: Not available
Totals: 31 bluegill, 5 bass, 1 crappie, 1 redear
Lures (bass): Strike King Pro Model crankbait (sexy shad) – 4 bass, Senko wacky rig (natural shad) – 1 bass
Bait (panfish): Waxworms on a jighead hung from a bobber
Weight (2 bass at 12” or better): 3-12 (2-2, 1-10)
Top Bass: 2-2 (Troy – Strike King crankbait)

9:44am Top Bass 16″ 2-2 Crankbait

Notes & Nonsense

Out of Practice – Having not used my fishing gear for a while, I was a little lost on some last minute prep. Throw in a real busy two year old to keep an eye on and things get a bit wild and prone to distraction. Dad was quick to point this out when I arrived at his house minus oars prompting a return trip across town to my garage. Looking on the bright side, however, at least I didn’t forget the kid instead.

Who needs a fish basket?

Runs in the Family – Upon arriving at the pond, Dad found that he too had forgotten an item, his five gallon panfish bucket. He combed a nearby barn to no avail so we just went with what we had and tossed our keepers into the back of the boat. Looking on the bright side, however, Dad commented that we certainly had plenty of room in the 12’ fish basket for some cooperative fish.

Just Like Riding a Bike – Seven minutes into casting I reeled in proof that I still knew how to fool a bass. Seven minutes later I boated bass number two which engulfed my crankbait as soon as it hit the water next to a fallen tree. The 2-2 was a nice fish to break the bass drought and fell one once shy of the pond record, a 2-3 that I caught on September 10, 2010 on a wacky rigged Senko (interestingly the first bass I ever caught at the pond). We made roughly one lap around the pond pursuing bass from 9:30-10:45am winding up with five fish (all released).

Multispecies day – Crappie? Check!

Round Two – The second half of our trip focused on pursuing some panfish with waxworms hung from a bobber. Dad has a couple productive spots where he plants his lawn chair for solo outings so we hit one only to find that the fish weren’t to be found. Moving around a point he began to pick up a handful but felt we should try a consistent area near the dam. His suggestion paid off and we spent our final thirty minutes hooked up on a pretty solid bite.

Redear sunfish?  Check!

The Title – Back when we used to target whatever would bite our Beetle Spins, we’d award an unofficial “Species Title” to the angler who reeled in the most different fish. Dad and I spent much of this trip knotted at two apiece with a bass and a bluegill before his late additions of a crappie and a redear gave him a runaway victory. He’s also tangled with several good catfish on his ultralight over the years but none of them paid a visit this time around. In the interest of honest reporting I will also admit that he soundly whipped me for the overall catch title as I only managed seven bluegill to his twenty six panfish.

The Taste – Part of the reason for the trip was to obtain some fillets for a lunch event at my workplace yesterday. For many years, staff members have put together a more or less annual feast called “The Taste of the Mary Davis Home” where employees bring in dishes of their choice to share with the kids in our charge. Life in a detention home certainly has its share of challenges, frustrations and stressors and sadly for a number of these kids, things may not be any better at home. Therefore, it’s always rewarding to have an event such as this to put life aside for a bit in favor of a tray, two bowls and two paper plates for most that are heaped with a little bit of everything. Dad’s contribution of bluegill and crappie fillets was met with several compliments from kids and staff alike and I’d like to say thanks for helping us out. All involved helped to create an atmosphere with a lot of smiles, ample debate on which dishes ruled the day and, of course, plenty of kids (and a few adults) clutching their stuffed guts yet still having room for that last cookie.

Although Zac didn’t tag along on this outing, showing off the catch is another important piece of a father-son fishing trip.

Okay, maybe a bit longwinded for a trip without any true trophies but it reinforces that there’s more to the trip than the catch. For better or worse, that’s how I fish. That’s also how I write and after a month without a blog entry you should’ve seen this coming.

I may beat a dead horse on this but darn glad that I took up writing as it’s fun to look back and remember details that would otherwise have been forgotten. Whether it’s forgettable to those who tune in, I’ll leave that to you. Personally, I think these batches of real life provide a brief, pleasant escape from much of the other real life that lies out there a mouse click away. Talk to you later. Troy

30 Minutes

So here we are, back to school for a week or better depending on the kid and, as always, wondering just where the summer went. A summer seemingly so brief and absolutely so busy that it slipped by without the normal camping and fishing we usually manage to squeeze in.

Oh, but we did get to work in just a few other things. Like baseball, band camp, Tae Kwon Do, oboe lessons, color guard camp, birthday parties, tutoring, slumber parties, summer camp, a week of work on the road, a cleaning gig, dogsitting…you get the picture.

So, when my boy, Jayce, recently asked about getting out it was pretty much a no brainer as I knew he’d been chomping at the bit for quite some time.

We hit the local bait cooler for some waxworms for panfish and dew worms for catfish. We also picked up a missing ingredient for a doughball recipe to see if we could fool a carp as well. Finally, we grabbed a couple items of terminal tackle and a soda to complete our gear grab.

Armed with a doughball, “Papa makes them different” says Jayce.

After completing doughball prep in the kitchen and tackle rigging at the tailgate it was off to our potential multi-species destination at the confluence of the Hennepin Canal and the Rock River in Colona, Illinois.

Thirty minutes later we had two bluegill on our waxworms, no bites on our doughballs or dew worms and the 90 degree heat was getting the best of my young co-angler. I could tell he was no longer feeling up to the task of chasing fish so after our second bluegill it was time to make a move. No sense in pushing it when the youngsters begin to fade so I asked Jayce if we should rebait our ultralight slip bobber rig or just call it a day. Told him I was good whatever he decided. After all, “it’s kind of hot”, “the fish aren’t really cooperating”, “we can always try it another day when the heat breaks…”

With feigned reluctance, Jayce opted to head for home and I had to grin inside as I saw the glint of relief as I seconded his decision to hit the road.

Hey, 30 minutes prowling the riverbank was just fine as such adventures are always about more than casting, reeling and catching. After all, we’d revisited the practice of making doughballs (Jayce informed me that Papa makes them with some different stuff), dumped all of our waxworms in the mud and listened to the Cubs on my trusty ancient transistor radio as we watched our poles. Throw in two fishing buddies shooting the breeze in an old pickup truck on the way to and from the fishing hole and the trip was a winner no matter the duration or the haul.


Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – August 11, 2003

The dog days of summer can present a challenge when trying to find some cooperative bass, particularly for a guy who has a tendency to stay shallow. In addition, I’ve long been addicted to warm weather topwater presentations so I often get stuck in that rut as well.

So, the following excerpt from a report submitted back on August 21, 2003 should serve as a lesson that I need to try a little something different every now and then.

August 11 – Dad and I fished at Little John from 6:00-9:30am and only boated four bass. Our only “keepers” were a pair of bass that weighed a total of 7-2. I posted a 4-13 while Dad caught a 2-5. My fish came on a jig (brown/orange glimmer) with a split double tail trailer (black) as I worked it through a saddle (a slight depression between a pair of points that run towards each other). Following a light tap, my line went a bit slack and I reeled the line up tight and felt the fish swimming towards me. Setting the hook, I knew I had a decent fish although I didn’t envision a near five-pounder. Dad did an expert job on the dipnet as he nabbed the fish in mid-air following a spectacular jump at boatside. This bass made my personal Top 10 as the ninth largest bass I’ve ever caught. Dad caught his 2-5 on a Mann’s 4- (red shiner) as he worked a trough between a mid-lake hump and a narrow finger.

Hey, what do you know? A change in my approach actually worked, should try that more often, right? Well, still chucking buzzbaits longer than I should, seeking that one bite that will make your day, similar to today’s flashback fish. Too much of a creature of habit in fishing and life and find myself more and more in the mindset of being “too old to change.” Maybe next year, but probably said that fifteen years ago too. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – July 28

Revisited some old stomping grounds with an approach I call “bike and hike” which dates back several decades. Still going almost as strong in my fifties with the scoop on the trip below.

Folks, I ain’t exercising so this is pretty much all fishing related data, kinda dumb for seven bass but you never know and I still keep pulling this stunt a few times a year.


Date: July 28, 2018
Location: Knox County strip mines (5 lakes)
Time: 6:15am-11:20am (3.0 hours fishing, the rest bike and hike)
Weather: Sunny to partly cloudy/calm to breezy
Air Temp: 56-79F
Totals: 7 bass
Senko wacky rig (pumpkin/black flake) – 5 bass
Booyah Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 1 bass
Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-4 Red Eye Shad
Top 5 Weight (only 3 at 12” or better): 3-5 (1-4,1-1,1-0)

6:24am First Bass 13.5″ 1-1 Buzzbait, it was a long time and several miles until Second Bass showed up

Notes and Nonsense

Saturated – While the height of the weeds at this location was more navigable than another spot that I visit, they were still tall enough to exceed the tops of my boots. As a result, I was soaked to the middle of my thighs after wading in only a few yards. Throw in the fact that the Shoe Goo used this winter to repair several holes in my boots had succumbed to many miles of less than friendly terrain and I was in for several hours and several miles in soggy socks. Yes, not unexpected, I know the routine.

Ok, so this pic is actually from 2012 as I forgot to shoot a shot of the bike this time around.  I no longer look like I’m in the same shape as this photo.  But wait until next year…

Two Wheeling – Julie got my bicycle tuned up for my birthday last year as it was looking and sounding a little rough after many years of strip pit off roading. Twelve months later, I figured it was high time to drag it up from the basement where it was attached to a stationary frame that Julie got me last Christmas that I have also failed to put to use. Once I got it out on the strip mines, however, it was just like (you guessed it) riding a bike. It is a nice time saver that cuts down the walking as I ride the roads into proximity of a fishing hole and then park it for the walk through the deeper weeds. Had a laugh on one spot this time around as I forgot where I parked my bike and wandered about like a shopping center parking lot. Found it about a hundred yards away.

My nemesis is alive and well in Knox County, watch where you tread.

Hiker Beware – Definitely not my favorite member of the vegetative community but no doubt the most important one to recognize. Me and poison ivy have had a rocky relationship for as long as I can remember, including shots, prednisone prescriptions, medicated baths and plenty of calamine. I couldn’t pass up the shot above of some serious specimens, dang near poison ivy “trees” that lay just off the beaten path, makes me itch just looking at the pics.

Water conditions just haven’t been right this summer, taking a toll on at least one bass angler and providing an excuse for futility.

Oh Bad Water – I don’t know what it’s been with the summer weather conditions but nearly all of my strip mine waters just look nasty. Normally clean or green waters now have a brownish tint and the surface vegetation just doesn’t look healthy, far from a vibrant green, either a nasty yellow or dying brown. I realize summer can be tough but I believe that these conditions have the bass in a funk and I’m right there with ‘em.

11:07am Top Bass 13″ 1-4 Red Eye Shad

Another less than impressive haul, kind of like a broken record for 2018. It is what it is and I pull no punches, you get a write up no matter the results. It’s a pact I made with myself when I started doing this thing many years ago. Just tell it like it happened and leave it up to you on what to do with the mouse, touchpad or touch screen.

Did a piece for my birthday last month entitled “Thoughts at 51.”  Well, the video below is an addendum to that post as I ponder how much I’ve got left in the tank for these adventures.


August is typically a rough month for fishing and writing with school and the related activities kicking into gear so may be a little lean. Still got a few things up my sleeve though and hey, more than enough archive posts for anyone to revisit as the website approaches 300 submissions. Talk to you later. Troy

Lost Grove Lake Report – July 25

For quite a few years, I used to work in a fishing trip on my birthday. But as birthdays often become just another day consumed by work and responsibilities, the fishing trips seem to be postponed or fall by the wayside altogether. This evening outing a couple days post birthday number 51 was as close as I was going to get.

And as it turned out, I wound up about as close to getting shut out as you can get. Still can manage a “fishing report” though, despite it not being much of a “catching report.”


Date: July 25, 2018
Location: Lost Grove Lake, IA
Time: 6:20pm-8:35pm
Weather: Partly cloudy/breezy
Air Temp: 81-77F
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 1 bass
Lures: Booyah Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-0

Notes & Nonsense

Close Call – I caught my lone bass at 8:12pm which meant that I was indeed getting a little nervous about posting my first goose egg of 2018. My buzzbait had just ticked off of some weeds on the way to a strip of open water in the midst of a big batch of duckweed and it was on, as shown in the GoPro video below.

Originally I was kind of bummed as I had a corrupt video that I was pretty certain was the lone catch. Fortunately, I was mistaken and got my bass on “film.” No trophy but I continue to get a kick out of this fun bit of technology, kind of cool to see the duckweed holes fill back in after the battle as well.

The Soundtrack OR when you don’t really have quality fish to blog about…

I don’t know about anybody else, but when I’m flying solo on the drive and on the water, tunes are a big part of my distraction and daydream. Generally it is a rather crazy soundtrack featuring an eclectic mix of cuts that either stopped me on the radio or came to mind based on some observance on the water. And while maybe not necessarily worthy of a “Top Trip Tunes” post, I do dig talking tunes.

Party in the USA (Miley Cyrus – 2009) – Okay, let’s get this one out of the way first. I heard this Miley Cyrus tune while driving and actually let it play for a while.  Bad idea but you’ve gotta admit, it’s got a catchy hook.  Hence, the song was running through my head most of the evening, especially when I was rowing the boat like yeah, casting my lure like yeah or I would see some “butterflies fly away.” Kinda rough, but, “you know I’m gonna be okay.”

Angeline (Allman Brothers Band – 1980) – There’s a station that I get up here, 107.7FM out of Polo, IL that is frequently the winner for best song on the dial when surfing through the presets. Interesting and unusual cuts abound, and even more so recently as I believe it has changed hands, or at least format. Didn’t know this cut, but sure knew who was performing it.

Forever Autumn (Justin Hayward – 1978) –Same as the above tune, it’s always a treat to hear something I’ve never heard before but recognize in some fashion. Swore this one was The Moody Blues but not too far off as simply their lead singer instead.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Warrant, 1991) – Darn near a full moon caught my eye during the trip, indeed it was quite hard to miss. Of course, the moon is a popular subject for more than a few song lyrics and the scene brought to mind, “Where the full moon shines through the rooftop cracks.” Got a million of ‘em upstairs, something for every occasion.

Fun snapshot from some GoPro footage with moon, reflection and buzzbait (right of reflection)

Okay, back to the fishing part of the report with a GoPro blooper finale.

This one will go on the 2018 blooper reel as it was a swing and miss but the brain said “pull the trigger” and I was indeed a little desperate to end the shutout.

This mishap from the outing pretty much sums up my last several months on the water.

Better luck next time, I guess, as 2018 fishing continues to be a little rough on me. Talk to you later. Troy