Category: Flashbacks

Friday Flashback – September 2010

Well, I’ve been writing a great deal about Snakeden Hollow in celebration of 30 years of public access. So, how about a look back ten years ago at some results from three trips within a week to Snakeden’s Lake McMaster. Welcome to another Friday Flashback courtesy of some notes, numbers and pics from September 2010.

Slideshow below of some highlights along with plenty more from late September back in 2010, as I remember, what a week.


Originally posted 9-23-10

Having a full day to fish, Dad and I decided on an early start and chose Snakeden Hollow’s Lake McMaster for our destination. We’d fished it back on May 20 with fair results and figured we’d give it another try before the area shuts down to anglers on October 1. We had to work for our fish but had a successful day once we pinned down some cooperative bass.

Original log entry from September 22, 2010

Date: September 22, 2010
Time: 7:20am-2:20pm
Results: 19 bass, 1 green sunfish (Dad – 10 bass, Troy – 9 bass, 1 green sunfish)
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (natural shad) – 13 bass & 1 green sunfish, Zara Spook (black shore minnow) – 3 bass, Lizard – 2 bass, Zoom Baby Brush Hog – 1 bass
Top Bass: 3-6 (Troy – Senko)
Top Five Weight: 11-4 (3-6,2-1,2-0,2-0,1-13)

September 22, 2010 – First bass at 7:31am on a lizard, weight 2-1

Notes – September 22

Toothy Encounters – We each had an opportunity to add another more impressive species than my lone green sunfish. About thirty minutes into our trip I had a muskie (upper 30 inch range) blow up on my Zara Spook. I’d seen the fish in pursuit and committed the cardinal sin of Spook fishing as the water exploded. I set the hook before I felt the fish and came up empty. I know better but if you’ve been in my shoes I hope you can relate. Dad also had a similar size fish follow a hooked bass to the boat but it wouldn’t commit to the easy meal.

Beaver Lodges – If I had to pick my favorite piece of structure it would likely be a beaver lodge and we picked three bass off of the two spots we fished today. Our first fish of the day was Dad’s 2-1 on a lizard and I quickly followed his fish with a 0-15 on a Baby Brush Hog. Fifteen minutes in we had three pounds on the board and high hopes.

Top Bass – My 3-6 came from a series of laydowns crossing a small, fairly deep shoreline pocket. It hit shortly after my Senko landed near one of the laydowns and the bass dove between a pair of the tress scraping my eight pound test along the wood. I could see it was a decent fish but had little choice other than horsing it to the surface in hopes it would clear the trees into some open water. In the end, I got lucky and have a new personal best for 2010 (for the time being).

Originally posted 9-24-10

Wednesday’s success on Lake McMaster brought us back for Round 2 on Thursday. Once again, we had to work for our fish but presentation was more of a chore than location as the weather forecast was right on with high winds.

Original log entry from September 23, 2010

Date: September 23, 2010
Time: 8:40am-1:25pm
Results: 17 bass, 1 bluegill (Troy – 13 bass, 1 bluegill, Dad – 4 bass)
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (natural shad) – 16 bass & 1 bluegill, Zoom Baby Brush Hog (watermelon seed) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-9 (Troy – Senko)
Top Five Weight: 4-9 (1-9,1-1,1-0,0-15)

September 23, 2010 – Top Bass 1-9 at 10:47am on a Senko

Notes – September 23

Some Words on the Wind – The reports indicated gusts of up to 33 miles per hour but I think there was a fair amount that exceeded even those predictions. A couple nearly knocked me off balance and more than once I found myself having to lean into the wind as I fished. On the upside, the wind helped to position a few bass but it never fails that the wind is working against us when trolling back to the ramp.

Back of the Boat Blues – Such was Dad’s assessment as he joked about having a tough day on the water. Typically I’m up front on the trolling motor while Dad is in the back sometimes getting “used” water despite my best efforts. But all he had to do was ask and on this rare occasion I would likely have traded places and let him fight the wind.

Solitude – As I wrote about last week, fall is a good time to have the lake to yourself. Today was a prime example as we showed up to an empty lot, never saw another angler the whole day and returned to find the lot just as we’d left it. It could be argued that the absent anglers simply had enough sense to stay out of the wind. But, you know, we got seventeen more bass than we would have hooked in the living room and it sure beats mowing the yard or doing the dishes.

Originally posted 9-29-10

Our pursuit of a strong fall finish continued Tuesday after a weekend at work and a Monday of grown up responsibilities. Dad and I selected Snakeden’s Lake McMaster once again in light of our recent success while hoping that the days off had given the bass in our hotspot time to recharge. We weren’t disappointed.

Original log entry from September 28, 2010

Date: September 28, 2010
Time: 9:10am-2:10pm
Results: 16 bass, 2 green sunfish (Dad – 9 bass, 2 green sunfish, Troy – 7 bass)
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (natural shad) – 13 bass, Zara Spook (black shore minnow) – 2 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- 1 bass, 2 green sunfish
Top Bass: 3-9 (Troy – Senko)
Top Five Weight: 12-10 (3-9,2-13,2-11,1-14,1-11)

September 28, 2010 – Top Bass 3-9 at 11:01am on a Senko

Notes and Nonsense
81% – Of our 16 bass, 13 came from one general area in the span of just over an hour and a half. All but one came on a Senko with the lone exception hitting the Zara Spook. This was quite similar to our trip on 9/22 where the spot produced 13 of 19 with 10 on the Senko and 3 on the Spook. We had the area to ourselves despite half a dozen other boats on our latest outing so apparently nobody has caught us catching bass.

Misses – While we weighed a decent stringer (all released of course), there were a couple others that got away. Dad lost a two plus pounder when it dove into some heavy weeds and I had a big blowup on the Spook that unfortunately had bad aim. Near the end of our day I also had a small muskie nose my Senko part way back to the boat before slowly turning away.

Top Bass – At 9:53am I landed a 2-11 on my Spook to set the bar for the day’s big fish. It stood until Dad reeled in a 2-13 at 10:20am on his Senko. As soon as I set the hook on my bass at 11:01am I told Dad that I was going to need a net man. Upon seeing the fish in the clear water I further told Dad, “I think I’ve got you if I get this one in.” My eyes did not deceive as the 3-9 on my Senko would not only claim the title but eclipse our lake record of 3-6 from 9/22.

Final Stats
16.75 hours produced 52 bass (Troy – 29 bass, Dad – 23 bass)
3.1 bass/hour average (solid anywhere but very good for Lake McMaster)
Lures: Senko – 42 bass, Zara Spook – 5 bass, Lizard – 2 bass, Zoom Baby Brush Hog – 1 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait – 1 bass
Top Bass: 3-9
Top 5 Weight: 14-8

September 28, 2010 – Dad Top Bass at 10:20am on a Senko, weight 2-13 

All in all, a darn good “week” on the water and fun to take a walk down Memory Lane. Hope someone else got some insight along the way as well. Got at least a couple more Snakeden pieces to post before I wrap up the 30 year Snakeden celebration. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – September 2010

A couple late summer fishing trips to an area farm pond with Dad were custom made for a pair of days when I had a few hours to get away. Not only was it several enjoyable and successful hours with Dad but it also answered the often asked question:

“Who is the U.L. Washington of fishing?”

Is Terry Jackson the U.L. Washington of fishing? Or, is U.L. the T.J. of baseball? Take your pick from these masters of the toothpick.

Originally Posted 9-12-10
On Friday I had a few hours to get away after dropping off the girls at school and was torn between Little John Conservation Club and Snakeden Hollow. Instead, Dad invited me along to a farm pond on some land that he traps. He’d caught over a hundred bluegill during a pair of recent solo trips while fishing from the bank but with less than a quarter of the shoreline fishable on foot he figured that we’d take the little johnboat and explore the rest while taking a shot at the bass population. Here’s how it went.

Date: September 10, 2010
Location: Warren County farm pond
Time: 9:00am-12:30pm
Air Temp: 65F
Totals: 17 bluegill (Dad 17, Troy 0), 16 bass (Troy 14, Dad 2)
Lures: 5” Yammasenko wacky rig (natural shad or bubblegum) – 14 bass, Zoom Baby Brush Hog – 2 bass, waxworms on jighead hung from bobber – 17 bluegill
Top Bass: 2-3 (Troy – Senko)
Top 5 Weight: 7-10

September 10, 2010 – Top Bass at 2-3 on a Senko

Notes & Nonsense

Different Targets – In all fairness to Dad, he stopped fishing for bass after our first lap which only produced five fish so the final totals are skewed in my favor. On the other hand, the bass kept me interested enough that I never picked up the ultralight rig I’d packed along just in case.

One That Got Away – On an earlier trip, Dad lost a roughly five pound catfish at the bank while panfishing with waxworms. This time around, an even larger whiskered fish took a shot at the bait but spit the jighead following a wild explosion at the surface. It seems like it might be worth targeting another species at some point in the future.

New Terminology – For years we referred to short bass (9-10”) we caught anywhere as “Bracken Bass” due to the multitude of these fish that called Lake Bracken home back in the 1980’s. In a similar development, Dad called the fish pictured below an “Emiquon Bass” as I lipped it at boatside. Sure enough, the healthy looking bass measured 14” and tipped the scales at 1-9, quite like its thousands of relatives to the south.

September 10, 2010 – A solid bodied “Emiquon Bass” from Lucas’ Pond

Originally posted 9-22-10

Date: September 21, 2010
Location: Warren County farm pond
Time: 8:45am-11:45am
Air Temp: 75-85F
Totals: 11 bass (Dad 6, Troy 5), 1 redear (Dad)
Lures: 5” Yammasenko wacky rig (natural shad or clear with large black flake) – all fish
Top Bass: 1-5 (Dad)
Top 5 Weight: 3-8 (only three bass 12” or better)

Notes & Nonsense

Surprise – Well, we were certainly aware of the pond population containing bluegill, largemouth bass, crappie and channel catfish. But a slight flash of red below the surface as Dad reeled in a hookup prompted me to say, “That looks like a redear.” Sure enough, my assessment was correct as evidenced by the photo below.

September 21, 2010 – Dad with a redear to claim the species title

Luck – Dad offered me a good luck charm off of the patio table before we left but I declined. So I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised that he wound up with Top Bass, most fish and claimed the species title as well. He reminded me of my decision as we got back in the truck to leave, producing a lucky buckeye from his pocket. He and my brother, Brent, have employed the lucky buckeye tradition for many years particularly when squirrel hunting. Maybe next time I’ll give it a go instead of relying solely on my floppy hat and shirts that should have bit the dust long ago.

September 21, 2010 – Dad with Top Bass at 1-5 on a Senko

I only work two days for the rest of the month and have plans to get on the water as much as the daily routine allows. I’m sure Mother Nature will have her say as usual during my vacation but I’ve got my fingers crossed. Hopefully we can also turn up some better fish as 2010 has left much to be desired in terms of quality. But such is one of the perils I foresaw when deciding to do the blog thing. I’ve got to tell it like it is, whether it’s flattering or not.

Sure wish I only had to work for two more days the rest of the month in 2020, but no such luck. However, another aspect of that original concluding paragraph turned out to be right on the money as we were able to “turn up some better fish” as 2010 wound down. Those fish are the subjects of several Friday Flashbacks over the next month or so. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – September 1, 2010

A pair of recent Friday Flashbacks hearkened back to 1985 and included mention of a few high school friends and fishing partners. One of those co-anglers is featured again today as we were fortunate to be casting together again 25 years after those days back in the summer of ’85.

Originally Posted on 9-3-10

Forty two days between bass during the summer is not really a good thing if you cite bass fishing as a hobby. But such was my plight, fortunately due to not fishing as opposed to being completely inept. On Wednesday evening I got a chance to hit a subdivision pond with John and Brady Junk to see if we could fool some bass before dark. Here are the stats followed by a few highlights.

Date: September 1, 2010
Time: 7:10pm-8:25pm
Air Temp: 75F
Water Temp: Not available
Location: Still working on a name
Totals: 4 bass
Top Bass: Troy 2-2
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (bubblegum), Stanley Ribbit Frog – 2 bass each

Notes and Nonsense

Respecting Your Elders – On this particular trip, Brady, the lake record holder (6-8 bass), deferred to the old guys. John and I each landed a pair of bass as Brady chose not to embarrass us. John did offer a bit of a taunt in claiming that he’d actually caught the lake record and simply allowed Brady to hold it for the picture. Brady argued otherwise and I was left believing the original report. After all, I’ve known John for many years and have learned be on the alert for a fish story whether or not we’re talking fishing.

Wearing Out My Welcome – John also commented to Brady that I wouldn’t be allowed to come back due to outweighing his catch by a mere three ounces. I posted a 2-2 and a 1-14 while John’s bass tipped the scales at 1-15 and 1-14. I think he was joking.

Other Bites – I did have a couple halfhearted hits on the Zara Spook and one that blew the lure clear out of the water. Following the latter strike I tossed in my Senko and the 2-2 bass came through just like he’d been schooled in Bass Fishing 101. I love it when they make you feel smart. While the bass bite never really materialized, the mosquito bite certainly did leading to a sort of “swat, twitch, swat” Senko retrieve.

A Potential First – At one point, John commented that it was likely the first time that he’d provided me with access to a fishing hole. In the past we’d either both had memberships/permission, gained access through friends or I’d brought him along. Whatever the case, I’m always up for a new spot and definitely enjoyed the brief visit. Too bad he’s threatened to not let me come back; did I mention that I hoped he was joking?

It’s funny though, as ten years later I haven’t been back on the lake.

Of course, a lot has happened in those ten years. As co-pilots to our wives, we’ve guided a batch of kids through the multitude of activities and events associated with their various stages of growing up. Here in 2020, those commitments remain top priority for these two old fishing partners with my bunch still requiring a bit more attention as they work towards increasing independence. (Note: I even added one more kid since that fishing trip back in 2010.)

So, while a return trip hasn’t materialized, it’s clearly more about life than about barely outfishing the host. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – August 20-25, 1985

Inside of an old green spiral notebook are a series of fish stories dating back 35 years. Those stories begin on January 19, 1985 and run through August 25, 1985 in a collection of 64 fishing log entries. The timeframe covers the latter half of my senior year in high school and the following summer.

Today’s flashback features the final three entries in the logbook and reinforces why I am glad that I took up the practice of documenting fishing. Things like the fishing partners, the fishing holes and the fishing habits are a treat to look back on and reminisce.

In terms of fishing partners in these last three log entries, the two fellow anglers were a couple of my best high school buddies. The August 20 entry notes John Junk, a friend since our sophomore year in high school and sports opponents going back several years prior. The fishing partner on August 21 was Jeff VonDrake, a friend going back to middle school. Many memorable fishing trips with those guys back in the day and just a few hijinks, on and off the water. Probably for the best that some of those were not documented for posterity, however.

Fishing holes in these entries consisted of the dynamic duo of Lake Bracken and its entertaining spillway. 35 years later I no longer have access to those spots but I do have plenty of memories to last a lifetime. It is also interesting to note the mention of “The Clubhouse” as the lakeside venue no longer exists having burnt down in January of 1987.

Fishing results were not stellar during that August week 35 years ago but no matter. It’s just fun to read of doughballs, chicken liver, poppers, Mann’s Jellyworms and Mister Twister jigs. A much simpler and less expensive time in bait and tackle.

What is also fun is reading the beginning of the summary for the August 25 entry, the final fishing trip documented for 1985.

It reads,

“I went out by myself for about 2.5 hours in a steady downpour…”

And thus, my fishing for 1985 likely ended. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to head for college shortly after that final trip. I suspect that new chapter in life put fishing (or at least logging any trips) on the back burner for the remainder of 1985.

Here in 2020, reading that last entry, I envision an eighteen year old kid rowing across Lake Bracken on that rainy summer day pondering a wide open future. High school behind, college, employment, adulthood and more ahead. A romantic vision, perhaps. More likely I was pondering whether I should throw a worm or a crankbait.

Makes for a good story, though. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – August 25, 2005

It looks like 2005 was the “Summer of the Creek” as me and Dad made a trio of trips to what we called “Pat’s Creek” in July and August. Nothing like a wade on a warm summer day and in this case, rain or shine. No better place to fish in the rain either. If you are doing it right you are going to wind up soaked anyway, so what’s an added downpour.

Original log entry from the outing

Below is the brief, original entry from the trip posted back in September 2005.

August 25 – Dad and I hit Pat’s Creek and emerge soaked to the bone following a steady downpour and a walk through a saturated cornfield. However, the fish were cooperative, leaving our spirits much less dampened than our bodies. Final results were fifteen fish made up of six species and three new carp for the record book. Tops was my 7-3 which set a new record for Pat’s Creek by one ounce as it unseated Dad’s catch from May of this year. The fish also sits as Top Carp for 2005. I also managed a 5-9 while Dad landed a 4-5.


Not even bad weather can rain on a good time and some good fishing with a good fishing partner. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – August 14 & 19, 1985

I always have fun reminiscing as i put together one one of these weekly flashbacks but I will admit that I have been looking extra forward to this one. Funny how some things seem just like yesterday from 35 years ago while others indeed seem like a long time ago.

As today’s original log entries note, “Bru, Joe and I” went on a pair of August outings. For those who don’t know Bru and Joe, well, I am going to tell you a bit about them. For those who do know Bru and Joe, well, you know that they are indeed a pair of memorable characters.

“Bru” and “Blue” having a discussion

Bru is Gary Bruington, longtime Galesburg Silver Streaks baseball coach and stellar GHS athlete in his day (Dad told me all about Bru’s abilities as I was growing up). Bru’s 1988 Silver Streaks claimed the state baseball title in dominating fashion (I was fortunate to be in the stands in Springfield that day) but our story occurs a few years prior.

Not only was Bru a great coach and teacher but he also served as a mentor to a teenage kid who had been bitten by the bass bug. Bru gave me my first spinnerbait and I remember marveling at the size compared to my old standard Beetle Spin offerings. He also showed me how to rig a Texas rigged worm. And Bru would take it a step further in inviting me out on Knox County’s Oak Run to show me just how to fish such a presentation (outfishing me about 10-0 on the two trips included in this post). Now, that is a not only a good coach but flat out a good man.

Our Oak Run outings also included some water skiing which was extra entertaining with Joe in tow. Joe Dennis is the toughest dude that i have ever met and has the Golden Gloves boxing cred to back up my assessment. Joe was also one to talk some good-natured trash among friends (and a little less friendly to some opponents and the occasional sports official). In the good-natured trash talking regard that made Joe and Bru two peas in a pod. This made the water skiing quite a spectacle as Joe constantly ran his mouth while Bru navigated in a manner seemingly aimed at dumping or perhaps killing Joe. I kept my mouth shut, enjoyed the show and crossed my fingers that Bru wouldn’t treat me in the same fashion.

Joe, me and some teammates in our younger days

I have more stories about Joe Dennis than likely anybody I have ever met. Rivals growing up, temamates later, good friends and even fishing buddies, quite ride. Joe wound up in Alabama for college and still resides down that way. It’s been quite a few years since we crossed paths, sadly at a GHS andLegion temmate’s funeral and happily at Joe’s induction to the GHS Athletic Hall of Fame. No matter the years, we don’t miss a beat and the tales start flowing.

Like the time Joe got ejected during our inner city Churchill-Lombard Junior High basketball rivalry.

Or the time Joe got the boot against Moline High School. I was right behind him and an opponent who began mouthing off as we lined up for an inbounds play. I believe I even told the fellow that he’d better watch his step but did he listen? The kid had been asking for it, was kind of annoying over the years.

Or in junior high when Joe and his fellow linebacker, Bobby Jackson, convinced me that my quarterbacking days were over. Just not worth the beating they threatened and effectively dished out.

Then there was the bench clearing altercation with the Farmington Legion baseball squad.

And the Peoria Spaulding High School baseball fiasco (neither of the above were instigated by Joe but always a good teammate for me to locate when push came to shove).

Oh yeah, there was the time Joe and I got technical fouls down at the Morton High School gym when getting a “homer” job by the officiating crew. It was my lone career technical while Joe would eventually end up getting tossed after one of the officials disregarded Joe’s request to mop up a slick area on the floor. The ref said something along the lines of “Clean it up yourself.” Joe responded in kind by telling the ref to do something himself and it kind of went downhill from there.

Yes, we also caught a few fish over those high school years with Joe always having “The Glove” in tow. A leather work glove as the fellow who could whoop pretty much anybody didn’t like to handle our fish.

Geez, I guess don’ t get me started. Quite a pair of guys sharing today’s flashback and memories to last a lifetime. Talk to you later. Troy


Friday Flashback – August 1995

For anyone reading this who was around 25 years ago, think about the degree to which your life has changed since 1995.

In my case, there were a lot less responsibilities on my plate. Life, at that point, basically consisted of going to work and goofing off. The work schedule consisted of four twelve hour days followed by four days off. So, while the work days left limited free time if one chose to sleep (which I did most of the time), the off days were like a mini vacation every week.

Some of that “vacation” time was spent fishing with some other fellas who also had limited responsibilities. Creeks, ponds, lakes and a spillway were our destinations and as evidenced by the slideshow below, a good time was had by all during August of 1995.

Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – August 8, 2015


Perhaps a bit lengthy for today’s flashback but too tough to trim down this pair of original posts from August 2015.

Originally posted August 26, 2015

Well, me and the bass have not crossed paths for 66 days during a busy summer. However, I did get an opportunity to play fishing guide recently as a couple of my kids wanted to go for a boat ride and chase some bluegills on a recent camping trip.

Actually, I had planned to go on a solo bass trip that particular morning while the rest of the crew slept off a late night of tacos in a bag and s’mores around the campfire. But at 5:30am, as I rolled around out of the tent, I was met by Julie and our youngest daughter, Carly, who was interested in accompanying Dad on the water.

What do you say to that?

I was admittedly a little shocked to see a youngster up that early to fish but she had been a pretty dedicated bluegill chaser the previous evening so I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised. And I will also admit a tinge of selfish disappointment at rearranging my bass pursuit in favor of panfish but I quickly and properly got over it. In fact, Carly’s enthusiasm left no doubt concerning what I already knew was the right thing to do.

Carly is a talker and she lived up to that billing as we drove through Little John Conservation Club from campsite to fishing hole peppering me with a barrage of questions and observations. While a nine year old girl and her forty eight year old dad’s interests are sometimes separated by the traditional generation gap, during those few hours in the wild we were right in tune. An “experienced” outdoorsman, an eager pupil and the natural backdrop were a perfect combination.

A few minutes after launching the little johnboat Carly hooked into her first fish off a point that is a consistent winner and apparently more than just a bass haunt all of these years. Later in the trip she posted her first (and second) redear on her way to a decent bunch of fish in maybe an hour and a half of casting before we decided to head back to see what the rest of the crew was doing.

I was quite impressed with Carly’s casting precision from boat to bank as she was right on target and demonstrated a touch that usually isn’t necessary when prowling the bank. The bite was fair and many were missed as some of our quarry may not have been large enough to adequately take even a 1/16 ounce jighead hung from a slip bobber. Carly’s success solidified her opinion that waxworms rule as her Gulp minnows just didn’t do the trick. It was also cool to hear the pride as she discussed her catch, even when she pointed out the fact that I had not caught a single fish. I did pitch a Senko around briefly and tried to talk a bass into taking a buzzbait to show Carly the exciting and explosive strike but neither presentation produced. I also tossed a Gulp minnow to no avail but was quite content with my tasks of rowing, baiting up waxworms, releasing the occasional catch, snapping pics and shooting the breeze.

An enjoyable morning spent with our family’s most dedicated fisherkid who’d also posted a handful of bluegill the previous evening. Those fish came with a healthy dose of fishing advice from her Papa, the same guy who taught this blogger a thing or two about fishing back when I was a nine year old kid.

Originally posted August 28, 2015 

A few hours later I was back on the water with a boy of my own as our six year old, Jayce, was itching to try his luck from the boat as well. While Jayce has been out on boat rides in his Papa’s Bass Tracker, this marked his first time in what we’ve long called “the little boat.” Me and Jayce’s Papa and Uncle Brent have covered many miles over the 30 plus years we’ve rowed that thing around West Central Illinois. Dozens of other anglers have also tagged along over the years, making me think it would’ve been fun to have had each of them add some graffiti on their trip (likely would’ve weathered away anyhow).

Anyway, Jayce was fired up from the moment we left the bank. It started with standing up as his initial stab at pushing the limits. And, “No, buddy, you’ve gotta sit down” was my response (all half dozen times or more).

Next was “Can I put my hand in the water?” No problem as I wrapped a couple fingers in a strap on his life jacket.

“How about my feet?” Nope, sorry buddy, too tough in an eight foot johnboat with six year old legs.

“Can I row the boat?” That was gonna be a winner and a valuable skill to be put to use in future years as his dad keeps getting a little older. However, he shortly added, “with my flip flop?” Cool, whatever floats your boat little man.

And yes, we fished, although the roles were somewhat reversed from my trip earlier in the morning with Carly. In this instance, I cast and caught the fish while Jayce was in charge of tending to the bluegill once they reached the boat. I asked him several times if he wanted to cast, hook and reel them in but he was more interested in surveying and organizing our catch in the bottom of the boat. That was probably for the best anyway as our catches were so small that it was a very limited hooking percentage on the bites, potentially frustrating for a young angler.

We had a good time fishing our way around a smallish body of water over the course of maybe an hour before heading across the road to our campsite. It was our first camping trip of the year to Little John and I’d kind of lost touch with the adventure of a family outing in the wild. In terms of the fishing portion I also found it fun that camping afforded the cool aspect of my boy crawling out of bed and then climbing into a boat without even bothering to change out of his pajamas. Gotta love the outdoors.

Talk to you later. Troy

Snakeden at 30 – Three Bs

The latest look back at Snakeden Hollow explores several aspects of the customary workload at the site back in 1990. I break it down into something I call the “Three Bs.”

Boulders – The original landscape of the site was a batch of unkempt grasses and weeds that hid a rather remarkable collection of large rocks. Such large rocks were a danger to the blades beneath the mowing deck as our crew took the initial steps towards maintaining the terrain. As low man on the totem pole I got to spend a few hours scouting in front of the tractor in search of boulders to avoid. Currently, there are a few boulder piles onsite that I suspect we first found just over 30 years ago.

Beavers – The weirs, overflows and tubes on the numerous water holes onsite were constantly being plugged by these busy rodents. As a result, there was a constant battle to dismantle the elaborate constructions of the industrious inhabitants. It took some work to undo the intertwined collections of logs and sticks that were sealed up with a clever coating of mud and muck. I have to admit that it was kind of fun to tear up the blockages and found it quite rewarding to see the water begin to flow as we achieved our goal. And I suppose that it was a good thing that I didn’t mind the task as a couple days later, the beavers, and the crew, were at odds once again.

Boundaries – I also found the task of identifying the specific site boundaries to be rather enjoyable. It was kind of like a treasure hunt as we were armed with some sort of plat map that guided us to the survey pins, most of which were quite remote. Several survey pins were marked with a plastic tag while others were simply a thin metal pin pounded into the ground “forty feet due east” of whatever landmark was noted on the plat. There was a sense of satisfaction when you were the guy with the “Eureka moment” as a result of stumbling upon the survey pin. Once the boundary point was established it was not quite as entertaining to manually pound a fencepost and affix the old Department of Conservation sign. I wonder if the remote ones have been replaced with Illinois Department of Natural Resources upgrades. If not, I suspect that there are many places at Snakeden where no one else has set foot for over 30 years.

Perhaps rather mundane tasks but ones that were necessary in the formative months of Snakeden. No matter how many more years I may continue to hike through the site I will always have an appreciation for its boulders, beavers and boundaries. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – July 13, 2005

Today’s flashback revisits a project that I first launched back in 2003. The concept was to document and photograph every bass along with compiling on the water notes as we made our way through the day. This outing took place on Lake Bracken in Knox County, Illinois and here’s how it went via most of the original posting.

Originally posted 8-10-05

In our fourth “Day on the Lake” installment we once again spend a “Day on the Lake with the Dads” as Dad and I selected Lake Bracken for some bass fishing. We hadn’t fished the lake since an outing on 6/1/05 so we hoped the bass had forgotten who we were and turned dumb again. Though we didn’t meet any of our previous DOTL totals, we were rewarded with a respectable creel of uneducated fish. Here’s a look at our day.

Date: July 13, 2005
Location: Lake Bracken
Weather: Overcast/breezy
Air Temp: 75F-85F
H20 Temp: 79F
Time: 5:35am-1:05pm

5:35am-6:00am – We pound Ramp Road, which is usually good for several bites but not today. A barrage of lures including a Mann’s 4- crankbait, a Texas rigged lizard, a buzzbait, a spinnerbait and a Rebel Ghost Minnow jerkbait produces only one hookup on a small bass that throws the lure on the way to the boat.

6:10am-6:30am – West Bay results in a pair of bass that weigh 0-13 and 1-1 respectively. Dad’s falls to a Texas rigged lizard (red) while mine hits a 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (black). Both fish come off of the Beaver Lodge and we each miss a pair of other strikes.

6:35am-7:00am – After catching my first bass on the Senko, the rest of my poles remain on the floor of the boat. Two short bass during this stretch reinforce my lure selection and it’s not long before the guy in the back of the boat is occasionally tossing an identical bait. Every bass we land for the rest of the day has a Senko hanging from its mouth.

7:10am-10:15am – One bass apiece causes our confidence in the Senko to waver but only momentarily. Dad nets a nice 2-7 off of Island Lane Point that has my Senko firmly hooked in its jaw. A good fish does wonders for your confidence and recharges your faith in what’s tied on the end of your line.

10:15am-11:15am – The Wild Side (Lake Bracken’s uninhabited south shore) gives up four bass in an hour as we work our way back to West Bay. Dad accounts for three of the fish with one coming in right at the twelve-inch “keeper” mark.

11:30am-1:05pm – The home stretch includes Oak Cove and Ramp Road and results in ten bass. This doubles our total from the previous six hours on the water. While I got out front catching five of our first seven bass, Dad comes on strong at the finish to outfish me eleven to nine.

Total Bass 20
Dad’s Bass 11
Troy’s Bass 9
Streaks-Dad 3 consecutive bass (10:22am-11:15am & 11:41am-11:57am)
Streaks-Troy 3 consecutive bass (6:43am-8:18am)
Droughts-Dad 3:27 (6:27am-9:54am)
Droughts-Troy 1:59 (8:18am-10:17am)
Plastic worms (Senko) 19
Plastic lizard 1
7.5-10” bass 6
10.5-11.5” bass 8
12” and over 6
Total 5 Weight: 5-14



Species Title – Dad claims the title as he adds two green sunfish to his bass total. These aggressive little guys will try to eat lures way bigger than they have any business attempting to swallow. Lake Bracken has a substantial population of this species that typically lurk in the shallows, particularly around riprap shorelines. Often incorrectly called “Rock Bass” (by myself as well as others), these fish are quite colorful with a wide variety of color shades including greens, yellows, oranges and black. Julie could probably paint a much better picture describing specific color names but I’m more in tune with something in the lines of the Crayola sixteen pack.

Tackle – Once again, we came fully armed with ten poles and in excess of 30 pounds of tackle. After the first 45 minutes on the water, I used one rod and reel and went through a couple Senkos. Dad held out a little longer as he waited close to four hours before putting all else aside and switching exclusively to the Senko wacky rig. However, you never know what will happen on the water and you need to come prepared. It wasn’t too long ago that I either left my Senko’s at home or on the floor of the boat tucked away somewhere in a tacklebox.

Lake Patrol – Mr. Purl and his dog, Goldie, run the lake patrol and usually show up between 8:30 am and 10:00 am to check anglers. For several years, Mr. Purl was my neighbor when I lived on the lake and we would generally have a lengthy chat about once a week as we crossed paths. One benefit of such conversations was being given a break on the $3.00 guest-fishing fee on a number of occasions. We weren’t so lucky during our DOTL but on a later trip Dad and I were granted a free day. Mr. Purl said he enjoyed the conversation so much as we floated in the middle of the lake that he would give us a break. Brent and I weren’t so lucky recently but we have learned to keep talking and not reach for the wallet right away just in case.

Not our largest batch of bass but I find it fun to set out with the goal of chronicling the day on the water and then just letting the chips fall where they may. The current version of this project is something that I call “Lake Lowdown.” Somehow, I managed to forget this project last year but look to make up for it with a 2020 version before we call it a year. Talk to you later. Troy