Category: Flashbacks

Friday Flashback – July 19, 1994

Today we flash back 25 years to a Henderson County bankpole fishing trip with me, Dad and Brent. The destination was a place we called “Pat’s Creek” which ran through a stretch of the middle of nowhere in the proximity of Little York, Bald Bluff and Rozetta, if that helps you get a feel for the location.

Lots of adventures in this remote triangle, a great place to get lost for many years

Creek Attire 101 – a fine candidate for “creek shoes”

Bearing the tools of the trade through the cornfield to the creek

Beyond permission, all you need are some quality “creek shoes”, some cut willows rigged up with line, sinker and hook, some bait (minnows, cutbait, crawdads, worms or even some corn) and a little energy to trek from truck through cornfield and into the creek and back. Oh yeah, a little courage too when it comes to poison ivy, bull nettles, hidden subsurface obstructions, mosquitoes, snakes, snapping turtles and those spots where the water gets to that certain spot in the anatomy that makes you breathe funny.

The creek is just over there, at the tree line

Not quite up to our necks in it but well past that breathe funny spot

Definitely all worth it as your party enjoys the welcome sights of “Pat’s House”, “The Trashpile” and “Buffalo Head Tree” on your way to “Where We Get In.” And before you eventually reach “Where We Get Out” you wade past “The Brushpile”, “The Roots”, “The Deep Hole”, “The Bridge”, “The Culvert” and “The German Torpedo” (a story for some other day).

Looking towards “The Riffle” and “The German Torpedo”

“The Culvert”, obviously

“The Bridge”, location of the historic find of the little boat I still drag around the strip mines

An “in action” pic of our 1994 haul

Always brings a smile looking back at the pics and daydreaming of a summer morning wading the creek (rhymes with “stick”, by the way). Talk to you later.

Friday Flashback – July 9, 1989

So this old Lake Storey outing is kind of fun to look back on for a guy who is a couple weeks from turning 52. I’ve got to say that the soon to be 22 year old fellow in these pictures with those Lake Storey bass was in pretty decent shape back then. Summer days spent pushing a mower around the Galesburg city parks and summer nights knocking a softball around some of those same locations had me kind of dialed in once upon a time.

Original log entry and the data entry database version from the “Computer Age”

Winning lures including the actual Mann’s 15+ crankbait, a newer Zara Spook and a 30 plus year old Tender Tube

It’s also fun to compare a couple pictures from nearly 30 years later with a bass from last fall and a crappie from Mother’s Day weekend this year. Same location, old faithful favorite Lake Storey, but several decades of water under the bridge for both me and the fishing hole. If I do say so myself, neither of us are too much worse for wear.

Lake Storey is still a good fishing hole and I’d like to think that the angler has gotten better with age at figuring it out

And here’s what’s funny and rather timely.

Last week I wrapped up a six week fitness/weight loss challenge at work and managed to pull off the win. Last fall I did the same thing and while I lost exactly 20 pounds (200 down to 180), I wound up losing the contest by under a pound. Well, I was kind of bummed and since I had gained 17 of those pounds back I was poised for another try and determined that I was not going to be runner-up again.

More on that tomorrow. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – July 6, 2014

Presenting the “Misfit Tacklebox” 

Quite a few years ago, I came up with this idea to take a batch of old lures that I just had to have or that somehow wound up in my tacklebox and see if they could actually fool a bass. In an excerpt from the original 2014 intro post here’s a little background (along with some of the original photos passed along in each of the 14 posts in the series as there was a separate post for each lure).

Sometime back in 2010 I got this brilliant idea for a fishing experiment. Emiquon was at its peak, I was getting in tune with being a blogger and I had more than a few utility boxes full of must have lures that had never caught a fish. It dawned on me that the dumb bass of The Emiquon Preserve could provide a perfect opportunity to finally get some return on my investment in that batch of “can’t miss” lures. Well, I wound up missing my window of opportunity as I got too carried away catching Emiquon bass on stuff I liked to throw and the next thing I knew those uneducated bass started to wise up to public angling pressure.

         

Fast forward to late September 2013 when I found a remote batch of dumb basses on some public Knox County strip mine ground. Forgive me, but I can’t resist resorting to an old comedy standard regarding these fish.

Okay, so I say, “Those strip mine bass are so dumb.”

You inquire, “How dumb are they?”

I respond, “Those bass are so dumb that I would take a bite of my sandwich, cast out twice, catch and unhook two bass while I chewed and entered them in the log, take another bite, repeat…”

That’s a true story as I wound up catching 12 bass in 15 minutes during my first visit to the spot while eating a sandwich and documenting my catch.

So, as it turned out I gave 14 lures a shot in a project that I called “The Island of Misfit Lures.” In terms of numbers it was a rousing success as all of them landed a bass (one of them even fooled a double). In terms of quality, however, all were of the less than stellar size in a spot that I call Cottonwood Lake.

 

Perhaps someday I’ll dust off that old Misfit tacklebox again but for now I’m intent on sticking with the tried and true. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – June 15, 2014

For today’s Flashback we travel back to Father’s Day five years ago courtesy of the original fishing report posted on June 20, 2014.

A Father’s Day fishing trip can work from a couple different angles for me. For one, I am a father of four children ages 2 to 9. From another perspective, I am one of Dad’s four kids ages 41 to 46. So, as if my life isn’t full of enough decisions already, how do you decide on which role to assume when selecting a fishing partner(s) for such an occasion? Here’s a look at how it all turned out in choosing to fish as a son instead of as a dad.

Take your Dad fishing or is Dad taking a kid fishing, worked either way on this outing.

Stats
Date: June 15, 2014
Location: Knox County strip mines (two lakes)
Time: 5:15am-9:00am and 9:10am-12:10pm
Weather: Overcast to sunny/very windy
Air Temp: 62F-75F
Water Temp: No reading
Totals: 42 bass (Dad – 23 bass, Troy – 19 bass)
Lures (Dad): 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (smoke with large black flake) – 22 bass, Zoom Baby Brush Hog (watermelon) – 1 bass
Lures (Troy): Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (Snow White shad) – 11 bass, 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (smoke with large black flake or baby bass) – 6 bass, K9 Walker stickbait (Madd shad) – 1 bass, Spro Bronzeye Frog (Halloween pumpkin) – 1 bass
Top Bass (Dad): 3-4 Senko wacky rig
Top Bass (Troy): 3-5 Buzzbait
Top 5 Weight (Dad): 8-11 (3-4,1-9,1-8,1-5,1-1)
Top 5 Weight (Troy): 13-6 (3-5,3-4,2-7,2-5,2-1)
Top 5 Weight combined: 14-9 (3-5,3-4,3-4,2-7,2-5)

5:15am Interesting and early catch before we even put the boat in the water (details below)

Notes & Nonsense

Debunked? – We’ve long stated that catching a bass on your first cast is a bad omen as it is all downhill from there, right? Well, Dad couldn’t resist a toss or two with his Senko before launching the johnboat so I joined in and fired my K9 Walker stickbait parallel to a nearby weed edge. After a bit of walking the dog I was rewarded with an explosion and a 3-4 on my first cast. It may very well be the best first cast bass on record and marks the second largest bass to eat the K9 Walker, a handmade bait given to me by Frank “Coinman” Harvey (got a 4-3 last year on the bait). At any rate, I got eighteen more before the day was through including one that was bigger (by an ounce). If that’s bad luck, it’s all good.

5:28am Gotta be happy with two three-pounders in the boat before “official” sunrise

Strong Start – The shot above is really cool considering the fact that Dad’s got a good bass and you can still see my truck at the launch in the background. At that point we were a whole thirteen minutes into our morning and we each had a fish tied for Top Bass at 3-4. We’ve been on more than a few trips that took a little more than ten minutes to score some good fish, if we got any at all.

We’ve all been there as this reel was out of commision for most of the trip 

Frog Birdnest – With a 2-7 from some slop, another interested follow and my eye on some froggy looking spots I was enthused about continuing to give the Spro a go. However, a nasty backlash in the 25 pound mono on the reel coupled with my pool cue of a frog rod put me back on the buzzbait and Senko track. Frogging is prone to more than a little slack in my retrieve and I know better than to keep firing away without an occasional “maintenance cast” to address the issue. Well, I failed to take care of that business so that reel will be getting a brand new batch of line as that mishap certainly qualified as a quality example of what some call a “professional overrun.”

10:06am Our third three-pounder of the morning and Top Bass for the day by one ounce at 3-5.

Ones That Got Away – While we would get a bass to displace our Top Bass by one ounce before the day was through, a couple other contenders came unbuttoned. Both were on Dad’s Senko and each were kind enough (or cruel enough) to go airborne and offer a good look. The first was at least four and the second would have been real close to besting the eventual Top Bass of 3-5. I felt our 14-9 creel in under six hours was pretty darn good, but it could have been even better; such is fishing.

A couple in the two-pound range weren’t too bad either at 2-7 and 2-5.

Regardless of whether I chose to play father or son on a Father’s Day fishing outing, how could I really go wrong? I will say though that at least my partner of choice took off most of his own fish (I lipped a couple nice ones for him at boatside), rigged up his own rods and made all of his own casts. I also saved money by not having to buy Bug Juice, slushies and a pile of snacks before heading to the water. However, I did still provide transportation on the road and rowed him all around the lakes, got him unsnagged (he returned the favor too), let him have first shot at all the “good spots”, carried the heavy end of the boat (hey, it’s my story, right)…As always, we had a good time retelling old stories, making some new ones and catching a bass or forty two along the way. Here’s hoping the rest of you dads (and sons) had a good day as well.

A bonus bite on the star of the day, the Senko wacky rig.

A winning Father’s Day outing and we even fooled some bass as a bonus. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – June 12, 2009

Similar to last week’s Friday Flashback I was back at a Bassmaster event nearly fifteen years to the day from the 1994 Bassmaster Superstars. Things sure had changed.

Originally Posted 6-17-09 as “Amateur Observations”

On June 12, we took a family trip down to Fort Madison, Iowa to check out the day two weigh in of the four day Bassmaster Elite Series event “The River Rumble” on the mighty Mississippi River. It is the seventh of eight regular season events in the series that will eventually help determine the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title. The series features the sport’s top bass fishermen and points are awarded based on an angler’s finish at each event. Perhaps this background information and my passion for fishing may help to explain why I considered a bass tournament weigh-in a good idea for a family outing.

It was certainly a challenge for Julie and I to contend with three kids whose combined age’s total just less than eight years old (Helena turns five on 7/1, Carly three on 7/9 and Jayce was a whole fifteen days old). At various times during our journey, I felt like patting myself on the back with one hand and slapping myself upside the head with the other. At any rate we survived a trip that lasted roughly six hours with approximately thirty minutes actually spent watching roughly a dozen of the 100 anglers bring their catch to the scales. The remainder was spent driving, walking, going potty, nursing a baby, changing his diapers and dining at Taco John’s in Burlington. The last item was Helena’s favorite portion of the ordeal as she was quite excited upon learning that we were going to eat at a restaurant (that’s kind of a rarity on our budget these days).

Anyway, on our way home, Julie commented that she was “excited just to see me excited.” It made me feel good as I was just beginning to daydream away the final stages of brooding over a plan that seemed like a good idea about four challenging hours before. I had no idea that some of what I was feeling about being in the presence of the bass fishing legends had actually shone through my outward frustration. The spectacle for me was what I would call a “Wrigley Field moment.” You can watch it on television, look at the pictures or see it in print, but being there takes your breath away every time. One of those goosebump, loss for words and can’t wipe the smile off of your face experiences; I felt like a fourth little kid in our party despite being a month away from turning forty-two.

Skeet Reese’s monster vehicle with boat in tow

The only other Bass Anglers Sportsman Society event I’d attended was with my brother, Brent, back in 1994 and the weigh-in took place inside of the Peoria Civic Center. While it was exciting it seemed much less accessible than the intimate setting I found at Fort Madison’s Riverview Park. We strolled along the riverfront right next to the competitor’s rigs and stepped aside as anglers cruised by on golf carts. We watched Michael Iaconelli (2003 Bassmaster Classic winner) and Guy Eaker (30 year tour veteran who waved at me and Carly) drive by on their way to the stage and were dwarfed by Ish Monroe’s “monster truck” of a tow vehicle as he stopped near us to chat with a fellow angler. My newest little fisherman and I also got our photo taken standing next to Kevin VanDam’s truck and boat (2001 & 2005 Classic winner and four time Angler of the Year). I also killed some time watching Takahiro Omori (Japanese born angler and 2004 Bassmaster Classic winner) as he checked his equipment and filled his reels with fresh line as Julie was nursing Jayce (discreetly) in our car a mere fifteen feet away. How cool is that?

Me and my two-week old boy, Jayce, checking out Kevin VanDam’s setup

I must admit a bit of envy as we passed by dozens of decked out and decorated tow vehicles and fully equipped bass boats. Gargantuan motors, power pole anchoring devices, an array of electronic gadgetry, used baits and the rigged rods of bass fishing’s elite were all right there on public display. Famous anglers milled about, many with their families in tow, discussing strategies or just simply visiting. Some passed each other without a word while others stopped to chat like old friends. I tried to put myself in their shoes; you’re tired, perhaps frustrated by your day on the water, you’ve got your boat and gear to attend to, you’re hungry, you want to spend time with your family, and so on. Throw in the fact that everyone’s after a limited amount of prize money and it has all the makings of quite a challenging career.

Coming out of my reverie, I also thought about how it’s likely not as glamorous as it might look on television or in the magazines. For one thing, you earn all that fancy stuff by “catching” bass and if you can’t do it consistently all over the country, year in and year out, the sponsors will find someone who can. With my recent struggles, my family would be living in a tent and eating ramen noodles (uncooked).

Secondly, although many anglers were joined by their wife and kids, that was likely due to summer break. I’ve been fortunate to have had a front row seat for each of my kids being born, never missed a tumbling recital, open house, doctor’s appointment, school carnival and so on. Things don’t work out so favorably with some other jobs, pro bass fisherman included, I’m sure.

Thirdly, have you ever spent eight hours bass fishing? I have, and my approach doesn’t hold a candle to the wear and tear these guys go through each day on the water. I don’t consider myself old by any stretch, but working from the ground up I typically have sore heels, ankles, knees, back and hands by the end of the day. Now try that for a couple practice days, followed by four consecutive tournament days (if you are skilled enough to make the cut after the preliminary rounds) multiplied by numerous events over the course of the year. I’d like to think I’m that tough, but I’m not.

The legendary Rick Clunn weighs in and incredibly is still a competitive force in 2019

One of the anglers who have proven quite capable of enduring the grind is Rick Clunn. I was pleased that he was one of the anglers that we had the fortune of observing as he weighed in his catch. I’ve got twenty-five years of Bassmaster magazines stashed away in the basement and Clunn has been a force to be reckoned with for all of those years, and then some. He’s been fishing the circuit since 1974 and has four Bassmaster Classic titles (a record), easily making him a living legend. It was refreshing to hear him expound on the tough conditions of our mighty river. I was encouraged to find that even the world’s most talented bass fisherman still have days when it’s tough to figure out a little green fish.

I considered a return trip for Sunday’s finale but with the field pared down from 100 to 50 for Saturday and further to 12 for Sunday I felt as if I’d already seen the best part of the spectacle amidst a much smaller crowd of fans. While there was a children’s carnival slated for Saturday and Sunday afternoons, I was more partial towards checking out the lineup of 100 loaded rigs that likely have price tags in excess of the value of my home, annual salary and battered retirement fund combined.

Carly and Jayce strike a pose aside the rig of eventual winner, Kevin Short

Oh, by the way, the winner of the River Rumble was Kevin Short, a knowledgeable river angler hailing from Mayflower, Arkansas. It just so happens that his rig was one of the first two parked along the riverfront as we made our way to the stage. As a result, I’ve got a photo of Carly and Jayce in the stroller alongside his boat and trailer. What are the odds? Well, considering that I only took pictures of five of the 100 different rigs, I suppose they were 20:1.

Whew! A little longwinded there as I was prone to do back in those days. Sometimes you’ve just got a lot to say and I’ll leave it at that. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – June 11, 1994

For several years, Bassmaster held a Superstars tourney which featured all the heavy hitters from back in the day. Folks like Jimmy Houston, Roland Martin, Larry Nixon, Gary Klein, Denny Brauer, newcomer Kevin VanDam and Hank Parker.

That last guy was the rooting interest of me and Brent as we took a weekend drive down to the Peoria Civic Center to check out the final weigh-in. We weren’t disappointed as it was an exciting finish although our man Hank wound up getting edged out at the end by O.T. Fears III.

Final standings as a four-pound final day kicker fish pushes O.T. Fears III past our favorite.

Twenty-four years later, I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Hank Parker at the QCCA Outdoor Show. I mentioned that me and my brother were pulling for him all those years ago and he launched into a discussion of the tourney with me as if I was his regular fishing buddy, pretty cool.

A reunion of sorts as as me and Hank wind up in the same place in a different locale 24 years later.

I purchased a souvenir t-shirt at that event and as I am prone to do, wore it until it wore out. Initially it was just a regular part of my limited wardrobe but once it began to get a bit threadbare it became a fishing shirt.

And a darn good one at that as evidenced by more than a few pics in the outdoor albums.

August 14, 2001 and July 12, 2002

June 25, 2003 (a double) and July 23, 2004

May 11, 2005 (another double) and August 16, 2006

July 21, 2010

Good memories all the way around and if you’ve got about twenty minutes to spare sometime you can check out this YouTube recap of the tourney.

As the camera pans that crowd of 9,000 fishing fans, somewhere out there is a pair of West Central Illinois fishing brothers who were there to cheer on some of their fishing heroes. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – June 9, 1999

Today’s catch comes from a time when I used to have a big lake in my backyard.

Lake Bracken sits south of Galesburg, covers about 170 acres and intermittently over the course of 20 plus years I saw them all. Funny thing with this fish though is that I caught it about as far from my backyard as one could get. That particular stretch of bank running east from the lone boat ramp was always good for a few bites but this fish was easily the biggest of that bunch over the years.

No surprise on the lure that fooled it as “The Blue Glimmer” was a Lake Bracken standout and an overall solid producer in the 90s. It has long been out of production but I do have one more left and several others that are banged up and need dressed with new skirts. I did bust one out a couple years ago at Lake Storey but sadly it lost a blade after fooling a few bass. Not sure if I’ll unveil the lone “new” one I have left or just keep it in the package for old time’s sake.

While this was a good fish, a look at the log indicates that it otherwise wasn’t a very productive outing. In fact, I only managed one other short bass during three hours on the water. Oh well, if I am only going to fool a couple bass it sure is nice when one of them tops the four-pound mark.

Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – May 19, 1994

It’s always fun when I get to include some fellow anglers in one of these Friday Flashback posts and today’s pair go back a ways in terms of friendship. And the fishing hole goes back even a little farther than that.

My buddy, Mark “Geek” Junk (above) made an appearance two weeks ago in the Keith Whitley flashback post and he’s back again with a quality Lake Bracken Spillway carp from this outing, one of many climbs down that old, rugged path. Been friends with Mark dating back to the early 80’s as we played some basketball together along with a year of baseball in the old Galesburg Senior League with Hi-Lo Grocery. Later we crossed over for a couple years at Knox College and even rented a house together with another buddy, Matt Reynolds, and Mark’s brother, John, in the early 90s. Plenty of tales there too but not outdoor related, which is probably for the best.

The young lady in this post, Lisa Browne, was also a companion of that crew and would become Lisa Junk not too long after this pic upon marrying Mark’s brother, John. She was also my boss at the Knox County Mary Davis Home for fourteen years even later down the road. Her prowess at the Lake Bracken Spillway, as shown here today, would earn her the questionably endearing title of “Carp Queen.” Obviously, lots of memories with these fishing partners.

The Lake Bracken Spillway also holds a special spot in fishing lore going back to the late 70s but it was during the early 90s when it was a frequent stop. For you see, as our crew migrated from the rented house I found myself purchasing a cottage on the shores of Lake Bracken. Thus, “The Spillway” was only a handful of curves down the road and with limited responsibilities at the time, what better getaway than tangling with some of the carp that called it home.

Twenty five years later, we’re scattered about in different towns with different occupations and a combined total of eight kids. Life moves on but those fish stories and beyond live on. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – May 12-18, 1989

Quite the chronology from 30 years ago this week.

Dateline: May 12, 1989 – Ripon, WI

Came up short in 1989 but had to include the 1986 results for fun, another story for another day.

On May 12, 1989, I played my last ever baseball game, a 5-4 loss to Lawrence University during the Midwest Conference Championship. Remember how it all went down all these years later too, had a perfect view from my second base position. A bases loaded walk on a 3-2 pitch that was too close to take. Still ticked off at the batter for not taking a cut and more so at the ump for not having the guts to call a strike a strike. The 1989 MLB draft then came and went without a call (that’s a joke) so it was on to a number of years on the softball diamond which just didn’t compare.

So, how does a guy get his mind right after an irritating way to end a career?

Why, you go fishing, of course, as the “box score” and pics detail below.

Dateline: May 14, 1989 – Ponder’s Pond outside of Knoxville, IL

Dateline: May 16, 1989 – Ponder’s Pond outside of Knoxville, IL

Dateline: May 17, 1989 – Lake Storey near Galesburg, IL

Dateline: May 18, 1989 – Lake Storey near Galesburg, IL

Funny how some things change over the years…and some don’t.

Thirty years later I haven’t been bass fishing yet in the month of May, let alone four out of five days.

However, including this coming weekend I will have participated in four baseball games in the last eight days. Even spent much of the time near my old stomping grounds at the hot corner. Nowadays though, I am on the foul side of the line in the third base coach’s box helping to guide a squad of 7-9 year olds. And thirty years removed from my final inning between the lines, I find it is the right place to be as I ponder, “How did I use to do that?”

You know, things like bend over for a grounder, throw a ball across the diamond or sprint to my position (I still do my best 51 year-old jog though so as not to get in trouble with my dad). Fortunately, the other aspect of today’s flashback is still attainable as I continue to get around the fishing holes just fine.

Now, if I only had time.

Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – May 9, 1989

It’s about 4:00am on May 9, 1989, you’re a couple college guys, you’ve been up all night for whatever reason and you’re not quite ready to call it a day.

So, what do you do?

Why, you go fishing, of course.

And that’s exactly what me and my buddy, Mark “Geek” Junk, did. Slipped over to my folks, grabbed the 8’ johnboat (yep, the same one I still fish out of today) without waking anybody up and headed for Henderson County.

The Mark Twain Refuge near Keithsburg, IL proved a bust due to shallow water so we opted for Plan B and headed for Gladstone Lake. Believe it or not there is no log entry from the day but I seem to recall a fair number of less than impressive bass.

#24 Mark Junk (far right), one of the top scorers in Galesburg Silver Streaks history in action back in November 1984 along with Tom Bates (far left), #40 John Junk and #13 Troy Jackson

However, the date is unfortunately more memorable for the news we heard on the radio thirty years ago yesterday.

Country music star, Keith Whitley, passed away at the age of 33 on that day right in the prime of his recording career. It was quite a shock as me and my buddies were fans of the genre back when it was in the midst of a sort of traditional revival. These days I’m out of the loop but from the stuff I hear on occasion it sure doesn’t seem like I’m missing much.

Maybe I’m just getting old but the latest batch of country stars don’t hold a candle to his voice. And while they croon about some hard living I sure doubt that they walk the walk. I suppose that’s for the best as that lifestyle ultimately laid Whitley to rest.

Keith Whitley (1955-1989)

I’ll wrap-up today’s Friday Flashback with my personal Top 10 Whitley favorites.

Top 10 Keith Whitley Tunes
1. I’m No Stranger to the Rain
2. I’m Over You
3. I Wonder Do You Think of Me
4. Don’t Close Your Eyes
5. When You Say Nothing At All
6. Hard Livin’
7. Some Old Side Road
8. Ten Feet Away
9. Somebody’s Doing Me Right
10. It Ain’t Nothin’

Happy Mother’s Day weekend and hope some can get out there and do some fishing as the crappie should be in full swing and the bass in the midst of heading for their beds. Talk to you later. Troy