Category: Something Else

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

Second Day of Christmas

…two Northerner boots,
and one transistor radio.


Start and finish pics of 2018 boot patching to get “one more year” out of them

This one kind of made last year’s series of Christmas Wish List postings in the form of some boot patches. I must’ve behaved myself in 2017 as I was indeed rewarded with a tube of Shoe Goo to do the repair work.

Well, while it looked like a good idea and covered up those holes upon application, the joy was short lived. For “application” can mean a couple different things.

1. application (noun) – the action of putting something on a surface.
For instance: “On the surface, the application of Shoe Goo to the holey boots looked like a winner.”

2. application (noun) – the action of putting something into operation.
For instance: “The application of the patched boots to some West Central Illinois strip mine trekking proved to be too much for the Shoe Goo.”

However, if it doesn’t pan out with Santa and I stick to the slightly muddy banks and avoid any water over, say, an inch or so, I might just be able to get by for another year. Kind of the way I live when it comes to “stuff” as I adhere to the “maybe one more year” approach. And in regards to these boots, several other pairs of footwear, my boat, my truck, most of my fishing reels, the majority of my wardrobe, my old radio…well, those one more years have turned into a decade or more. Talk to you later. Troy

First Day of Christmas

…a new transistor radio.

I really have no idea how old my old radio is but it’s certainly old enough to say that it has seen better days. It features a busted handle, no antenna, a finicky on/off switch and a slightly corroded (but still functional) battery compartment. None of these items put it out of commission but sometimes you do have to wiggle that on/off switch to get it back in gear or sit with your finger on the broken antenna hole to get a station in tune.

So, as tough as it is to replace, the time has come. Actually, I probably won’t throw the old one out but will just use it in one of the few spots that are radio free at home. The most likely location would be my little basement corner of the world where I occasionally retreat to compose and peruse my archive of logs, notes, photo albums and other stuff.

You know, if I do use that old radio for basement coverage I should pretty much have a seamless transition around our locale. You see, I’m much more of a radio than television guy as evidenced by our home featuring at least a 10:2 radio to television ratio. I can go from room to room to garage to deck to driveway to vehicle and even to bicycle without a loss of radio coverage via strategically placed devices. While I often go days or weeks without turning on the television, radio is a constant daily companion in the home and on the road and it’s been that way for as long as I can remember.

I’ll try not to keep you too long on these posts as I’m sure you’ve got better things to do. But before I sign off on this first day of Christmas, just for fun, let’s have a look at my Top 11 songs that have “Radio” in the title (couldn’t make a cut for a Top 10).

Top Radio Songs

11. Mexican Radio – Wall of Voodoo (1983)
“I wish I was in Tijuana, eating barbequed iguana.”

10. Life Is a Rock but the Radio Rolled Me – Reunion (1974)
“Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me.”

9. There Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong with the Radio – Aaron Tippin (1992)
“The older she gets, the slower we go but there ain’t nothin’ wrong with the radio.”

8. Turn up The Radio – Autograph (1984)
“Turn up the radio, I need the music, give me some more.”

7. Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio – The Ramones (1980)
“Do you remember lyin’ in bed with the covers pulled up over your head?”

6. The Spirit of Radio – Rush (1979)
“Begin the day with a friendly voice, a companion unobtrusive.”

5. Video Killed the Radio Star – The Buggles (1979)
“Lying awake intently tuning in on you.”

4. Listen to the Radio – Don Williams (1982)
“The songs they play, that’s how I really feel, so, listen to the radio.”

3. I Watched it All on my Radio – Lionel Cartwright (1990)
“At the crack of the bat, I knew how far it’d go and I watched it all on my radio.”

2. Radio Land – Michael Martin Murphey (1984)
“I remember summer evenings, late night rock and roll.”

1. Radio Gaga – Queen (1984)
“Let’s hope you never leave old friend.”

New radio or old radio, here’s to more Cubs games while rowing around the strip mines, classic Casey Kasem countdowns over breakfast at a picnic table and late night rock and roll around a campfire with one of the best old friends anyone could ask for. Talk to you later. Troy

12 Days of Christmas

Here we are again in that “before you know it, Christmas will have come and gone” part of the year. As if you don’t already have enough on your plate, I’m going to clutter up your next dozen days with some stuff to view.

You see, after looking back through my blogging archives it’s time to revisit a “12 Days of Christmas” series, for better or worse. The last time I embarked on a similarly titled project was 2011 so I’m either overdue or the statute of limitations on “maybe I should know better” has passed.

The 2018 version of the 12 days are represented in the collage above, stay tuned for the daily reveal…

At any rate, the last few weeks of the year are the time for a few Christmas wishes and some New Year plans. The twelve posts to follow are a little bit of both.

Besides, it gives me something to write about during my “Cabin Fever” days as I will never be mistaken for an icefisherman nor pretend to know much about deer hunting. I used to spend some time on the trapline back in the day but I am afraid that trapping is a pastime that will likely remain in the past.

Nope, I’m content to spend the winter writing when I can and hanging out with my family instead of fish. And as I bide my time and stock up some fatherly fishing points for next year, this is what any faithful readers get in the meantime. Hope you will stop back by for the next dozen days. Talk to you later. Troy

Fit to Fish at 51

Over the years I have been known to rack up a few miles on foot or bicycle in an effort to track down my favorite fish, the largemouth bass.

For a handful of those years, I was actually in decent physical shape to get it done, most recently about 2011 through 2014. Not so coincidentally, I had won a weight loss challenge at a former place of employment by dropping 22 pounds in six weeks for a whopping $42 in prize money.

Well, fast forward to 2018 and another weight loss challenge at my current job with a $10 buy in and a shot at $150 for first and $50 for second thanks to an added donation from the boss shortly after the six week challenge kicked off. A good opportunity for me to shed some pounds from a health standpoint, possibly put the improved stamina to the test during some fall fishing and maybe earn some dough.

Nice round number (and gut) to kick off this fitness adventure at 51 years of age

So, here’s my contribution to the myriad of diet and fitness books, videos, blogs and such that are better at dropping your bank account than they are at dropping pounds.

While heredity and genetics indeed play a role, pretty much all you need to really do is eat less, eat better and exercise. Oh yeah, don’t forget a perpetual dose of will power, that’s the tough part.

Will power test in the fridge since August 31, no contest, I’m on a mission

You can thank me later as that advice is free folks. So quit giving your money to the diet gurus, buy you some tennis shoes, plenty of fruits and veggies, add some fiber and subtract all those sweets, sodas and yep, cut back on the beer.

So, how’d I do with this approach when committing to getting back into “fishing shape?”

August 4 pre-contest kickoff, took a pic of my last beer just for fun, 50 days tomorrow as I continue on quest even though contest has completed.

Had my last beer on August 4, even took a picture of it as a reminder and successfully refrained from grabbing one of two that Julie and her cousin, Carie, left in the fridge on August 31 (yep, I know the exact date).

Week 1 traveling for work had to resort to hotel treadmill walks (too out of shape to run at this point, anyway)

Walked in excess of the 25 miles between treadmill, park and neighborhood (in and around getting fit enough to actually run again)

A lot of lettuce and other healthy stuff has disappeared in the last six weeks, folks, this one from O’Hare airport

Only “diet cheats” were two M&M cookies and that was only because I had just donated to the local blood bank and needed to eat something. Also participated in an annual family food festival but was proud of my moderation. There’s a lot less lettuce in the world too.

My constant companion in the truck bed, ready to ride when time and responsibilities provided a window

Well over 200 miles on the bike during a batch of 10 or 17 mile rides.

Week 6 – Grand finale Sat-Mon push, three days = 9 miles running, 45 miles biking and plenty more walking

Up from being able to run 1/8 mile to 1.5 miles between breaks and 1.0 miles total to 4.0 miles total during a workout to the tune of over 20 miles racked up bookending a two week Achilles issue.

And now, drum roll please, the winner from the September 18 final weigh in is…

Not me.

Runner-up at 10% weight loss in six weeks as I dropped from an even 200 pounds down to 180. Lost out to a 10.38% loss which means that if I’d have lost one more pound…really shouldn’t have done the math on that one post contest. Also not really fun is the fact that I shed 22 pounds the last time I pulled this stunt and would’ve been a winner had I matched it this time around.

Success…but a 12 day running lag in the middle while nursing a left Achilles strain proved to be my “Achilles heel”…DANG!  Still bothers me, and I ain’t referring to the heel.

But hey, I’m now in walk-in fishing shape, just need to find time to get away. However, since I no longer have to worry about finding time to exercise now that the contest is over…

Just kidding. Kind of tempted to see how low I can go, made it down to 163 last time and over half way there.

In the meantime, hang in there for a future fishing report with details on how this 50+ year old body fares while being more fit to fish. Talk to you later. Troy


I like milestones.

And certain numbers lend themselves to milestones. Being a sports fan, one such number is “300.”

So, for today’s entry we celebrate “Post #300” on the website. Not too bad for a blog that is on day number 461 of existence. Perhaps a little ridiculous but I can’t help it, just like to ramble and write.

Maybe a stretch but here’s a shout out to the number “300” with a meandering (used that as a blog name a few years ago) batch of milestones, trivia and my best shot at a fishing equivalent for each item.

300 Game

I always remember watching bowling on television back in the 70s with my grandma, a time when Chris Schenkel was on the microphone and Earl Anthony (pictured above) was the man. I also recall tuning in just long enough to see the bowler lose his 300 game and then moving on to whatever else a kid did. In terms of televised 300 games, the legendary Anthony never achieved the feat despite having over two dozen perfect games on his ledger.

Always thought this classic Zara Spook lure pattern kind of looked like a bowling pin.

300 Wins

One of the pair of Major League Baseball pitchers who ended his career on exactly 300 wins was the aptly named Early Wynn (the other was Lefty Grove). It took Wynn seven attempts over the course of the end of the 1962 season into the 1963 campaign to get his final victory, the longest span of the hurlers who have attained the mark.


300 Saves

Hall of Famer, Bruce Sutter, who played for both sides of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry ended his career with precisely 300 saves as he wrapped up his career with the Braves. Funny thing is, while I appreciated his work for my favorite squad, the Cubs, it was his role on the receiving end of a pair of Ryne Sandberg homers while pitching for the Cards that remains etched in my mind. Nationally televised on June 23, 1984, “The Sandberg Game” would make the Cubs second sacker a household name and both players would eventually go on to earn Hall of Fame inductions.


.300 Average

1960 Galesburg High School JV Squad with front row first from left being the son of baseball great, Enos Slaughter.  I just so happen to be the son of another hoopster in the front row sporting #21.

This baseball mark is generally accepted as the dividing line between good hitters and great hitters. And when taking in an entire career, I think it holds even more significance. Among those who finished their baseball days with an average right on the mark was Enos “Country” Slaughter, most notably with the Cardinals through the 1940s. And in an interesting piece of post career trivia, Slaughter resided in my old hometown of Galesburg for a number of years.

Topwater frog bass where my career hookup ratio on strikes probably hovers around the .300 mark as well. 


300 Movie

Okay, so not sports related and never seen this flick that sounds like it’s just one fight after another with more than a little gore. Not my thing, sure my boys would get a charge out of it but not gonna happen. We’ll stick to battling some bass instead.


Well, there you go as that’s the best I can come up with for my milestone celebration. Always fun to work in a few more of my favorite subjects disguised as an outdoor post. And I waste no time with post #301 hitting the blog tomorrow with our latest Top 5 Update. Talk to you later. Troy

New Look

Figured it was time for a little change of scenery just for a new look. I originally had a revamp slated for May 1, 2018 to mark the one year anniversary of the website but just got too carried away with all of the other stuff.

So, as August can be a slow outdoor month for me and my family as back to school approaches, it seemed like the timing for the re-design was a winner.

Beyond color scheme, I have updated the scrolling banner so that it now contains a series of images from May 1, 2017 through April 30, 2018 to celebrate some outdoor fun within the first 365 days of the website launch.

Of course, every pic in the new banner has an accompanying tale, most of which have been told along the way. As far as the old banner, all of those tales were related in a series of posts back in February with the 28 stories in 28 days.

The “About” page has also been updated to reflect some current numbers along with a new batch of photos.

The general layout remains the same beyond some font alterations as I have passed on adding a couple new features for the time being, maybe at the two-year anniversary next May.

Got a boatload of items as always in terms of projects for posts, often boils down to a matter of time to get them put together. I’ve long considered my backlog of “brilliant ideas” to be my insurance policy against Writer’s Block and Cabin Fever.

Actually have a real life firsthand fishing report coming up tomorrow. Truly my favorite sort of post as it means I really got to go fishing. Doesn’t always mean I was catching but I’ve come to appreciate that such is not the sole means of evaluating a day on the water.

Thanks to those who tune in to these rambles, hope you will continue to do so, and talk to you later. Troy

Thoughts at 51

We’ve had a parade of birthdays this July here on the website with three of the kids and the way it shakes out, we save the oldest for last.

Happy Birthday to me.

Got a year under my belt with this 50-year old thing so ready to take on “51” with a traditional offering that dates back to “Thoughts at 44” that I submitted at a former blogging gig on July 23, 2011.

As always, I try to stay on the outdoor path with my postings but sometimes gotta stretch it a bit in passing along whatever comes to mind.

And that brings us to my first thought on the number 51 as it is indeed the integer that would represent “one card shy of a full deck.”

And away we go…

Area 51 – Not sure what to make of this locale of conjecture but will admit to being guilty of fishing an area that we called “The Forbidden Zone” on a few occasions. I actually have a Friday Flashback post coming next month with more details concerning the 1988 catch pictured below.

Baseball 51 – Willie “E.T.” McGee famously sported this number back in the 80s and 90s, most notably for the archrivals of this Cubs fan. Did you know that McGee hit for the cycle on June 23, 1984 in a classic Cubs-Cards matchup that is known as “The Sandberg Game” as Ryne Sandberg wound up stealing the show?

Fishing 51 – The pic below represents Bass #51 (tie) on my personal list of all-time best bass. April 21, 1999 from Lake Bracken during a day when I caught a pair in the four-pound class. This one tipped the scale at 4-0 while Top Bass for the day was a 4-10.

Football 51 – While I took a liking to the Dallas Cowboys, I did grow up in a Chicago Bears household and Dick Butkus was the man on some less than impressive squads. The guy was an absolute animal on the field and definitely worth an internet search for some highlights. A great deal of which would now get him fined or suspended and several which would probably get him arrested. A different era on the gridiron.

(Note: this 1973 Topps Butkus card is just flat out cool, landscape and action at its finest, not looking good for somebody in the backfield)

Image 51 – What is fish picture number 51 on your phone? Send it my way if you wish, could be another supplemental birthday spinoff post or perhaps a recurring series. What? Some of you don’t have more than 50 fish pictures on your device? Okay, pull them from the cloud instead.  Mine comes from April 21, 2018 and features my brother, Brent, with a solid Knox County, IL strip mine bass.

Numerical 51 – As 51 = 3 X 17, I will conclude this post with a trio of fishing pics that break my existence up into three seventeen year periods.

2018 – 51 years old (rounded up as this was shot last month) on the Knox County, IL strip mines

2001 – 34 years old and fishing the creek in Henderson County, IL

1984 – actually on my 17th birthday at Lake Bracken in Knox County, IL

Okay, enough for now. Belated Top 5 Update headed your way tomorrow. Talk to you later. Troy