Category: Something Else

Twelfth Day of Christmas

Twelve pounds of Trilene,
eleven months of bassing,
ten miles of walking,
nine holes of fishing,
eight nights of camping,
seven hours of sleeping,
six months of burning,
five pounds of bass,
four kids all fishing,
three weeks of winter,
two Northerner boots,
and one transistor radio.

Life is full of choices.

And when it comes to consumer goods these days, there are way too many for a guy who grew up with one kind of Coca-Cola. I also remember a time when you ordered an “iced tea” and it didn’t take an entire conversation. You just got a glass of tea (no sugar, no lemon, no raspberry, no peach, no green…).

So, anytime I can keep it simple, I’m all in.

That’s why, when it comes to fishing line, I’m a monofilament man. After all, it mirrors my lifestyle; old school, cheap and a creature of habit.

Sure, the myriad collection of braids, fluorocarbons and superlines that span the aisles of department store fishing sections or grace the pages of catalogs or advertise on websites all have their merits. I don’t doubt their effectiveness and have dabbled in their likes over the years but it’s just all too much. Too much decision and too much cash.

For my money, good old Trilene mono in 12-pound test does the job (also use 10-pound on spinning reels). I’ve been doing this for a long time and generally speaking, when you lose a fish it has more to do with the person holding the reel than the line the reel is holding. My Trilene is always up to the task and I’ll take the heat for the ones that get away.

Reels wind up lacking on line by the end of the year so time to ask Santa to restock my stocking.

There you have it, the finale of my latest, mostly outdoor version of the 12 Days of Christmas. May try to squeeze in a few more posts before the year ends and then move on to a batch of wrap-up posts in the New Year.

Happy Holidays to all and talk to you later. Troy

Eleventh Day of Christmas

…eleven months of bassing
ten miles of walking
nine holes of fishing
eight nights of camping,
seven hours of sleeping,
six months of burning,
five pounds of bass,
four kids all fishing,
three weeks of winter,
two Northerner boots,
and one transistor radio.

 

2019 calendar featuring a few potentially important dates in a new fishing year…stay tuned

I have often mentioned my annual bass fishing goal of a March catch to kick off the year and a November catch to end it. Traditional bookends to another year of fishing no matter the results in between.

Got it done in 2018 and then some with a bonus bass before the shortest month of the year gave way to the much anticipated month that harbors the official beginning of spring. Yep, I managed to sneak in a February 27 trip to post my first bass and called it a year right about nine months later with my final catches coming on November 24. I did miss out on an August trip so in the interest of accuracy and honesty I really only caught a bass in nine months of the year.

For 2019 I’m looking to correct that and if the weather cooperates kick it up one more notch with a December bass to end the year. Time and Mother Nature will tell if I can get it done as you never know what the weather holds in store around West Central Illinois. In fact, this year we’d already had over a foot of snow before we even hit this final month.

Of course, there’s also January as a possibility though I am not much for icefishing. However, I do have a youngster, Jayce, who has expressed interest in that potentially frigid pursuit. We even went out and got the needed gear this past February but an earlier than normal thaw left it all sitting in the garage.

We’ll see how it all shakes out as the next year progresses. But first we’ve still got another week of 2018 to go and one more day of Christmas to put a wrap on this series. Talk to you later. Troy

Tenth Day of Christmas

…ten miles of walking
nine holes of fishing
eight nights of camping,
seven hours of sleeping,
six months of burning,
five pounds of bass,
four kids all fishing,
three weeks of winter,
two Northerner boots,
and one transistor radio.

A rundown of some of the 2018 walk arounds at the good old strip mines

We’re staying in the same locale as yesterday’s “nine holes of fishing” and just like walking a golf course, the walk-in strip mines will give you a little exercise as you pursue your hobby. A look at a couple of the local links shows the walking distance around the neatly manicured courses at right around 6,000 yards. A little conversion work translates that yardage into about 3.4 miles. A nice little workout if you’re walking the course along the well-trimmed fairways, paved cart paths and maybe adding a few more yards to the total as you wander the rough in search wayward shots.

In contrast, there is nothing that resembles manicured when you venture out into strip mine habitat to get to the “good spots.” Granted there are a few interior roads that connect the peripheral parking areas but once you stray from those one lane pathways, it all qualifies as rough. And we’re not talking “first cut” type rough to borrow a golfing term. Nope, we’re talking flat out “uncut.”

Note: In the above video I am about a half mile walk from my truck through this same sort of jungle

But it can sure be worth the effort and that’s why I am once again committed to giving it another go in 2019 and racking up a few more miles. Whether the ten miles are registered all at once remains to be seen. However, I am considering a handful of what I have referred to as “stupid stunts” that have been racing around in my brain for more than a few years so time will tell.

Of course, it’s easy to talk tough while pecking away on a keyboard and lurking behind a monitor in the comfort of home on a December night. It’s a whole different ballgame when you decide to walk the walk, stepping off the beaten path into Mother Nature’s version of fescue on steroids. And don’t forget that just like golf, once you walk “out”, you’ve got to walk back “in.”

Time to hit the treadmill.

Talk to you later. Troy

Ninth Day of Christmas

…nine holes of fishing
eight nights of camping,
seven hours of sleeping,
six months of burning,
five pounds of bass,
four kids all fishing,
three weeks of winter,
two Northerner boots,
and one transistor radio.

Kinda looks like a golf course layout but those are fishing holes not fairways

Once upon a time, I used to golf, even lived down the hill and just across the lake from the Lake Bracken course. Took the show on the road many times as well, hitting a couple dozen courses in the region in my “younger” years. Several of those road trips were 36-hole days to make the most of the getaway. A Lick Creek/Quail Meadows combo one day, Indian Bluff/Maple Bluff another day, Baker Park/Arrowhead Country Club another as well as Bunker Links, Laurel Greens, Gibson Woods, Weaver Ridge and so on through the 80s, 90s and early 2000s.

Since then, I’ve picked up my clubs twice in the last 15 years or so. It was fun while it lasted but honestly I’d much rather pack up my fishing gear these days when I get a chance to get away and goof off.

And today’s posting kind of fits the golf theme as the aerial pic of some of my West Central Illinois strip mine stomping grounds kind of resembles a golf course. Quite similar too, in the fact that each fishing hole in the pic has its own personality and set of challenges.

For a number of years, I have also pondered the challenge of seeing how many different fishing holes I can nab a bass from in the course of a day. Well, nine sounded like a solid number for this day of Christmas but there is definitely potential out there for a full round of eighteen. Throw in some other fishing holes in the area and perhaps one of those old 36-hole double headers is certainly within the realm of possibility.

Stay tuned to see if this project actually tees off in 2019.

But first, the tenth day coming at you tomorrow. Talk to you later. Troy

Eighth Day of Christmas

…eight days of camping,
seven hours of sleeping,
six months of burning,
five pounds of bass,
four kids all fishing,
three weeks of winter,
two Northerner boots,
and one transistor radio.

Eight campers camping…six kids in tow is the current record for me and Julie

On the heels of zero days of camping in 2018, it’s time to shoot for a decent batch of outdoor overnights.

Now for the hard part.

When?

Weekends are getting progressively busier as the kids get bigger and weekdays are obviously out during the school year. Throw in that I am foolishly frugal with using my vacation days and well, it takes some work to get away.

Our standard crew grubbing outside one of the two tents it takes these days

Looking back on the year, we did have a couple weekends with good intentions that got foiled. Once it was weather, as tent camping through a series of thunderstorms just isn’t all that much fun. A second false start involved a kid under the weather along with a bumper crop of summertime mosquitoes (had to take my radio inside during many a Cubs game once dusk rolled in).

Maybe we’re simply getting soft and hopefully not just getting old. Whatever the case, I feel a renewed commitment as I sit indoors engaged in the annual battle with Cabin Fever.

Once upon a time, this was camping…

Of course, I’ll be sure to write up a recap of our adventures in the great outdoors as it usually gets a little wild. Talk to you later. Troy

Seventh Day of Christmas

…seven hours of sleeping,
six months of burning,
five pounds of bass,
four kids all fishing,
three weeks of winter,
two Northerner boots,
and one transistor radio.

While there are technically enough hours in my day to consistently afford seven hours of sleep, I don’t always take advantage. Oh, I am definitely tired once about 9:00pm rolls around and all of the young people in the house no longer require any attention. But after being “on” since about 6:00am, it’s time for the nightly struggle of “me” time versus “sleep” time.

It goes in waves but most of the time goofing off (stuff like blogging) wins out over an extra hour or two of sleep. While skipping those few hours I’ve often wondered just where I stand on the recommended sleep scale.

Well, it would appear from the data presented above that I should be in the 7-9 hour range for over another decade before I get to trim the upper end down by an hour.

As such, maybe I’ll start the New Year with a more concerted effort to go to bed a little earlier.

Actually, you know, I think I’ll start a couple weeks early.

   

Good night…and talk to you later. Troy

Sixth Day of Christmas

…six months of burning,
five pounds of bass,
four kids all fishing,
three weeks of winter,
two Northerner boots,
and one transistor radio.

The sixth day sounds like an extended version of one of those can’t miss exercise videos you find on a TV infomercial (would never sell though as folks are more into six minute or six day results).

No doubt, there is certainly a fitness aspect to today’s post but another “burn” is more of the focus.

You see, today we’re talking about a less glamorous type of bass chasing called “walk-in strip mine fishing.” No need for a $50,000 bass boat, a 250 HP outboard and a couple television sized fish finders here, boys and girls. Nope, just a pair of boots, a backpack, some rods and more than a little determination.

Ever navigated strip mine terrain?

Ever seen it when the terrestrial vegetation is left to run wild?

Now that’s a rough combo for a fifty-something guy out there trying to fool a few bass (actually more like a few dozen).

  

Photo comparison, same exact spot with me on left from 4/21/18 and Brent on right from 9/23/18.

So, imagine my delight as I pulled into the parking area of one of my stomping grounds this past April to see it laid bare courtesy of a controlled burn. Yep, no more neck high weeds to plow through while trying to find fishing holes that are only revealed when you break through the vegetation upon reaching the water’s edge. No more hidden, eroded ruts that sneak up on you while your eyes are focused on the tough to penetrate jungle that lies before them.

Instead, it’s a regular walk in the park with everything laid out before you in a sea of soot. A leisurely stroll with no surprises, no stumbles and no falls.

However, with a fresh start and a Midwest spring, Mother Nature does her thing as the vegetation energetically rebounds to reclaim the terrain. And it sure doesn’t take her long to make ambulatory navigation a challenge once again.

Thus, today’s Christmas wish would keep this stomping ground in a relatively vegetation free state for the six months that it is available to anglers (April 1 through September 30). Darn near seems unfair though as those bass wouldn’t stand a chance. Talk to you later. Troy

Fifth Day of Christmas

…five pounds of bass,
four kids all fishing,
three weeks of winter,
two Northerner boots,
and one transistor radio.

2018 marked the first year since 2014 that I was unable to fool a bass of five pounds or better. It wasn’t for lack of effort, just wasn’t meant to be as I was able to get ample time on the water and chase them in a few places where some quality bass swim.

The best I could muster was a 4-8 although I did have the good fortune of being along to witness a five pounder. Same outing as my 4-8 in fact and landed by my brother, Brent, after allowing me to stake a claim to 2018 Top Bass for just over two hours.

September 23, 2018 and 4-8 was as close as I could get for the year, did see Brent nab his 5-1 though to hit the mark.

In addition, our 2018 Top 5 allowed me to ogle several in this range or better thanks to the efforts of Mark Balbinot and Jim Junk throughout the year.

  

Mark Balbinot (left) made the mark with 8 bass and Jim Junk (right) posted a pair of five pounders

Oh yeah, I also watched a bank angler reel in a 5-9 back in October within shouting distance of my boat, even pitched in my scale to assist with the weigh-in. Good for him though, as I also know a thing or two about being the guy on the bank.

So, while I did get my fix, this wish for five pounds of bass specifically and selfishly means all at once and on the end of my line. Not too much to ask I figure for a guy who has paid his dues. I’ll even walk many a mile to find one…but I’m getting ahead of myself on this here project.

Day Six tomorrow, hope you’ll tune in and talk to you later. Troy

Fourth Day of Christmas

…four kids all fishing,
three weeks of winter,
two Northerner boots,
and one transistor radio.

Sadly, it’s been a while since we’ve had a scene similar to the photo above with our crew lining the bank of a fishing hole. Life just gets crazy busy as this bunch gets older and begins to explore other activities looking to find what suits them. And during this past year those fishing poles wound up taking a backseat to a lot of other stuff.

  

Helena spent the beginning of her freshman year wielding a flag in the United Township High School Color Guard instead of her Lady Shakespeare rod and reel combo. Well done too, in earning the “Rookie of the Year” award from her coach.

  

Carly does her work with a volleyball or on an oboe much more so than the Abu Garcia Ike spinning combo she picked out a couple years ago. And the oboe work for the Glenview Middle School Band has paid off to the tune of Illinois Music Education Association All District Honors.

  

Jayce is just a few short months from his rod and reel gripping hands being considered “lethal weapons” as the old saying goes. His Tae Kwon Do black belt hangs in the All Family ATA studio as an impressive reminder each day as he reports for lessons.

  

Zac spent the summer working on hitting some liners instead of casting a line and this winter it’s basketballs over bobbers as he hits the hardwood. The kid gets rich too in earning five bucks a game when Papa shows up (rarely misses a game and just for a 1970s and 80s comparison I actually had to get a hit to earn a quarter from my Papa).

Julie and I are behind them all the way regardless of how these interests pan out and it keeps us rather busy. During the rare free time though we do make an effort to get everybody out in the wild for some fresh air. I guess we just need to make a note to seek out more spots with some water and pack along some poles. Talk to you later. Troy

Third Day of Christmas

…three weeks of winter,
two Northerner boots,
and one transistor radio.

  

Images from a much too early 11/26/18 snowstorm that dumped over 13″. I’m ready to move on to spring now.

Okay, so I know that I live in the Midwest, have for my whole life and you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. Just get out the shovel, the scraper and some ice melt and have at it.

But hey, this is kind of a wish list sort of thing. Besides, the seasons continue to get a bit weirder all the time.

So, I’m saying there’s a chance.

It’s already ruined for this year though thanks to just under 14” of late November snow to go with a couple more inches from earlier in the month. However, if I had my way it would go something like this.

Winter and all its trimmings would start right about December 16 and run its course by January 6. A white Christmas is still appealing and I do like the sight of a freshly fallen blanket of snow but once or twice a year on the latter would be just fine. Otherwise, I want my lakes, ponds and strip pits open through mid-December and ready again by the beginning of February. Along the way I’m willing to shovel my driveway once or twice, debate about when to put the sandbags in the bed of the truck and keep my fingers crossed that we dodge the seemingly annual ice storm.

Oh yes, I’d certainly make the most out of those three weeks in order to not be left wishing I’d done this or that outdoor winter activity (yeah right). The first week would be spent stripping line, respooling reels and restocking tackle as you can’t fool around with such a short season off the water. My second week would encompass celebrating Christmas and perhaps a few vacation days to coincide with school break for some family time minus a bit of the hustle and bustle. The final week would be used to welcome the New Year, build a snowman, go sledding, drink some hot chocolate, throw some snowballs and then start drawing up plans for a garden with warmer weather right around the corner. I might even make one ice fishing trip just to say I did it as long as there’s at least six inches of ice and forty degree air temperatures (perhaps an unlikely prospect during such a short winter but a wish list isn’t always realistic).

Whew, I’m worn out just writing about such a wonderful and fun filled winter.

Now back to reality and the Fourth Day tomorrow. Talk to you later. Troy