Category: Stats

Top 5 Stats

Another month means another Top 5 Stat Update. Thus far, 2021 is exclusively a battle of the bass as no other species have been submitted. Five months into our 2021 quest we sit at 48 bass total courtesy of seven anglers. As such, we are almost halfway to the goal of 100 bass with just over half a year of fishing remaining. Hopefully, some stable spring weather is finally here, and the hits will keep on coming. In the meantime, here is a breakdown of our 2021 submissions.

2021 Totals
January = no submissions
February = 2 bass
March = 19 bass
April = 14 bass
May = 13 bass

Top 5 Weight by Month
January = no submissions
February = 7-3 (3-15,3-4)
March = 21-14 (5-5,4-3,4-2,4-2,4-2)
April = 21-6 (5-3,5-2,4-0,4-0,3-1)
May = 14-14 (4-6,2-12,2-10,2-10,2-8)

Boat vs. Bank
Boat = 1 bass
Bank = 47 bass

Boat vs. Bank Weight
Boat = 2-10 (2-10)
Bank = 24-3 (5-5,5-3,5-2,4-6,4-3)

Public vs. Private
Public = 44 bass
Private = 4 bass

Public vs. Private Top 5 Weight
Public = 24-3 (5-5,5-3,5-2,4-6,4-3)
Private = 9-6 (2-10,2-8,2-6,1-14)

The Baits (* = new record)
Lipless Crankbait = 15 bass (Top Bass 4-3 Jim Junk)
Plastic Worm = 10 bass (Top Bass 4-6 Jim Junk)
Crankbait = 6 bass (Top Bass 4-0 Brent Jackson)
Spinnerbait = 6 bass (Top Bass 4-0 Brent Jackson)
Chatterbait = 5 bass (Top Bass 5-3 Jim Junk)
Jig = 2 bass (Top Bass 1-8 John Kirkemo)
Creature = 1 bass (Top Bass 5-5 Jim Junk)
Livebait = 1 bass (Top Bass Patricia Kirkemo 2-10)
Stickbait = 1 bass (1-11 Troy Jackson)
Swimbait = 1 bass (1-13 Troy Jackson)

Monthly Top Bass (* = new record)
No submissions
3-15 Jim Junk
5-5 Jim Junk
5-2 Jim Junk
4-6 Jim Junk

Top 10 Bass (* = new Top 10 all-time)
5-5 Jim Junk (3/26)
5-3 Jim Junk (4/8)
5-2 Jim Junk (4/6)
4-6 Jim Junk (5/25)
4-3 Jim Junk (3/30)
4-2Jim Junk (3/19)
4-2 Jim Junk (3/24)
4-2 Jim Junk (3/28)
4-1 Jim Junk (3/30)
4-0 Jim Junk (3/23)
4-0 Brent Jackson (4/2)
4-0 Brent Jackson (4/12)

Angler Weights
Jim Junk 24-3 (5-5,5-3,5-2,4-6,4-3)
Brent Jackson 14-11 (4-0,4-0,2-5,2-3,2-3)
John Kirkemo 10-14 (2-10,2-8,2-6,1-14,1-8)
Troy Jackson 10-6 (3-1,2-0,1-13,1-13,1-11)
Landon Hannam 2-12 (2-12)
Patricia Kirkemo 2-10 (2-10)
Jayce Jackson 1-3 (1-3)

There you have it, a solid collection of bass submissions and nearly all from the bank on public waters. I find those aspects to be fun bit of the breakdown as they represent locales and approaches that are generally available to anyone looking to make some casts. Keep up the good work, crew, and anybody else out there who wishes to join the quest go ahead and email your catches to Talk to you later. Troy

2020 Fishing Recap – Location

418 bass in 2020 represented a new yearly record (416 in 2017) and an increase from 262 in 2019. Nearly all came from the regular regional haunts apart from a few that were landed during “lunch hour” on a pair of work trips. Today’s post takes a general look at where all those 418 bass still swim as all were released to bite and fight again.

Grand Totals
Bass = 418
Bodies of water = 37
Comments: Once again a big batch of little waters produced the vast majority of my bass. Those small waters consisted of the standard collection of public and private Knox County strip mine waters, many that I have been fishing since the 1980s. I also put in some hours on good old Lake Storey just north of Galesburg, Illinois. One southern Illinois fishing hole got a lunch hour pit stop during a work trip and perhaps the highlight of the year was the chance to make a few casts on legendary Lake Fork in Texas.

Bank Bass (Northerner boots, biking and hiking) = 228 bass
Little Boat Bass (near 40-year-old 8’ johnboat) = 100 bass
Big Boat Bass (1987 Bass Tracker Pro 17) = 48 bass
Guest Boat = 42 bass
Comments: I continue to put more miles on a pair of boots and a set of oars than I have ever racked up on trolling motors or outboards. 2020 featured more of the same although I did take advantage of the “big boat” for several outings. In addition, I had the good fortune to get a seat in a boat with a friend on his impressive Peoria County lake.

The Waters (from least to most caught)

Plenty of water at Lost Grove Lake but a shutout in my two hours in 2020

Lost Grove Lake, IA (1 visit on 6/27)
0 bass
2.00 hours
0.00 bass/hour
Comments: This fishing hole not too far across the river from home continues to give me a hard time. On the lone trip for 2020, overcrowding on my stomping grounds and an impending thunderstorm wound up dealing me a frustrating summer shutout.

Some March Banner Marsh banter on my way to the area 

Banner Marsh (1 visit on 3/7)
0 bass
3.00 hours
0.00 bass/hour
Comments: Top 5 angler, Jim Junk, and others continue to post impressive catches from this collection of waters crossing the Fulton/Peoria County line. I took my shot with Jim in early March and was humbled by a shutout. Cold, sunny and windy did not help matters but it was still exciting to know that any cast could be rewarded with a quality bass. Even Jim found the bass tough to fool on the day in landing only a couple. However, one happened to be a four-pounder that he landed as I was on the drive to meet up.

A rewarding Texas bass from legendary Lake Fork

Lake Fork, TX – (1 visit on 12/3)
1 bass
0.50 hours
2.00 bass/hour
Top Bass: 2-7 (17”) Chatterbait
Comments: After putting the poles away upon meeting my annual goal of a November bass, I was fortunate to get a shot at a few casts on this legendary bass fishing hole. Conditions were less than favorable with a cold front and after about 30 minutes as darkness approached, I was about ready to give up on landing a Texas bass. Luck and location were on my side, however, and a stretch of riprap gave up a quality bite. To say I was happy would be an understatement. Having met my goal, I packed up my gear and headed for home, quite satisfied with my final cast of 2020.

Mission accomplished on a lunch hour stop in Southern Illinois 

Ferne Clyffe Lake, Johnson Co. IL (1 visit on 7/24)
2 bass
0.75 hours
2.68 bass/hour
Top Bass: none at 12” or better
Comments: As I drove back from a Georgia work trip, I decided to stop at this southern Illinois fishing hole as it lies only a few minutes off the interstate just south of Marion. The lunchtime stop was a steamer with temps in the 90s and little breeze. But riprap along a dam is always a good place to try your luck and the stretch came through with a pair of bass. Neither bass was much to write home about, but I was pleased in being able to pull up, hop out of the vehicle and fool a couple on a body of water I had never seen before.

A solid Lake Storey bass during a fall shower

Lake Storey – Knox County, IL (4 visits – 8/22 through 10/12)
18 bass
13.75 hours
0.75 bass/hour
Top Bass: 3-9 (19”) Strike King Squarebill crankbait on October 12
Top 5 Weight: 9-0 (3-9,2-3,1-4,1-0,1-0)
Comments: I always enjoy me time on my “home” lake even though I’m 45 minutes away these days. It can be tough but that makes it even more rewarding when I fool a couple decent ones like I did last fall.

Best I could fool at the private strip mines were in the two-pound range

Knox County, IL Private Strip Mines (9 visits, 5 lakes – 3/7 through 11/3)
58 bass
26.00 hours
2.23 bass/hour
Top Bass: 2-8 (17.5”) Lipless Crankbait on May 15
Top 5 Weight: 11-12 (2-8,2-7,2-6,2-4,2-3)
Comments: For the second straight year, I couldn’t find any real big bites on some lakes that I have fished for over 30 years. Even numbers were a struggle on most of the lakes except for one that I should rename “Two-Pound Lake” as my entire Top 5 for the area called it home.

Bass are bouncing back at “The Rock”

Peoria County Private Lake (2 visits – 6/13 and 9/20)
71 bass
8.50 hours
8.35 bass/hour
Top Bass: 2-3 (17.5”) Crankbait on June 13
Top 5 Weight: 8-9 (2-3,1-14,1-10,1-8,1-6)
Comments: I was fortunate to make a couple visits to an outstanding fishing hole courtesy of a friend that I met several years ago through my employer. While the larger bass succumbed to some sort of kill a couple years ago, the population looks to be bouncing back well. An added bonus in 2020 was being able to take Dad down for an afternoon of bass fishing and he left impressed (and with bass thumb).

A quality catch on Snakeden Hollow’s 30th borthday

Knox County, IL Public Strip Mines (14 visits, 28 lakes – 4/4/ through 10/11)
268 bass
53.25 hours
Top Bass: 4-12 (21”) Jig & Craw
Top 5 Weight: 17-4 (4-12,4-0,3-11,2-12,2-1)
Comments: While I admit that my walk-in strip mine areas do wear me out a bit more these days, I’m not ready to give up quite yet. After landing a couple four-pounders and establishing three personal lake records, I’m hoping to get in plenty more hiking in 2021.

Knowing where to find some bass is only part of the equation. It is also necessary to find out what can fool ‘em. That aspect comes up in the next post. Talk to you later. Troy

2020 Fishing Recap – BYOB

Back to blogging with a recap of my “Best Year of Bass.” Leading it off today is a look at the overall bass fishing numbers from a record-breaking year of 418 bass. Further breakdowns of the stats are headed your way as I wait to wet a line in 2021.

And away we go…

2020 First Bass – March 7

Grand Totals (bass fishing only)
29 outings (25 outings in 2019)
107.75 hours fishing (93.00 in 2019)
418 bass (262 bass in 2019)
3.88 bass/hour (2.82 bass/hour in 2019)
Comments: Fishing comes in a ways down the priority list for a husband, father and co-breadwinner. So, I was more than happy to log over 100 hours on the water. In the process I was able to post my best bass total ever, barely topping 416 bass from 2017.

2020 Last Bass – December 3

First Bass/Last Bass
March 7 – Private strip mine 4:57pm 14.5” 1-5 Shad Rap
December 3 – Lake Fork, TX, 5:17pm 17” 2-7 Chatterbait
Comments: For the second straight year, an out of state final catch provided an extremely rewarding conclusion. In fact, a Lake Fork, TX bass finale was about as cool as it gets after originally putting the poles away exactly a month prior.

Solid Summer Bass – July 1

Monthly Breakdown (Weight is Top 5 Bass unless otherwise noted)
March – 1 trip, 1 bass, Top Weight (3/7 1 bass) = 1-5
April – 5 trips, 75 bass, Top Day Weight (4/11) = 9-3
May – 6 trips, 106 bass, Top Day Weight (5/4) = 11-1
June – 1 trips, 42 bass, Top Day Weight (6/13) = 8-9
July – 3 trips, 48 bass, Top Day Weight (7/1) = 12-14
August – 1 trip, 25 bass, Top Day Weight (8/8) = 9-3
September – 6 trips, 101 bass, Top Day Weight (9/12) = 8-5
October – 3 trips, 17 bass, Top Day Weight (10/12) = 9-0
November – 1 trips, 2 bass, Top Day Weight (11/3 – 2 bass) = 3-1
December – 1 trip, 1 bass, Top Weight (12/3 – 1 bass) = 2-7
Comments: A few ups and downs throughout the calendar year in terms of getting on the water but that was what most of last year was all about. I will just leave it at that regarding 2020. It’s hard to pick a favorite season to fish but I must say that I was fortunate to hit the water pretty hard during what I consider spring (March through May) and fall (September through November).


Top 5 Weight
18-12 (4-12,4-0,3-11,3-9,2-12)
Comments: For the third straight year I fell short of my goal of a twenty-pound limit. But I fished clean and didn’t lose any fish that cost me making my mark, so I can’t complain. I fished plenty of water that no doubt had the capability of getting it done but I just couldn’t fool enough big bites. That’s fishing and hopefully I’ll be back after those bites before too long.

It feels good to write again and when I’m not actually fishing, my fondness for stats and reminiscing are a good substitute. And today’s post only scratches the surface. Next up is a look at location. Talk to you later. Troy

2019 Fishing Recap – Partners

Next up for the 2019 recap is a look at the folks with whom I shared boat and bank.

The Cousins – May 11 at Lake Storey
Now this one was quite fun and quite productive under the guidance of some seasoned anglers. Papa was the ringleader of the crew while Uncle Brent and Uncle Troy proved to be capable assistants. The cousins consisted of my boys, Jayce and Zac, along with Brent’s duo of Brady and Kennedy. It wasn’t what one would consider a particularly balmy day but not a hint of complaint as the kids were having too much fun. The whole crew was together again last weekend for a concert and a 2020 outing seems to be in the works. That says it all, mission accomplished.

Brent Jackson – June through October, several strip mines and Lake Storey
Well, this sort of thing has been going on since 1983 when I got my driver’s license. All these years later we embarked on an epic strip pit walk, drag and row trek I deemed the “100 Year Trip” (click here). Note: Troy aged 51, Brent 49 at the time. Another strip mine visit and a pair of shots at Lake Storey were also on the agenda. Overall, Brent got me 63-58 in total bass, topped me on three of our four outings and his 4-5 Top Bass easily outdid my best. Yep, nothing new after all these years.

John Kirkemo – July 13 on the Knox County, IL strip mines
John and I had corresponded frequently via email, met up for an off season breakfast at one point and eventually cooked up this fishing trip. So, after I missed finding his driveway in the 4:30am darkness he proceeds to poke fun at the guy who is his ride to the fishing hole. I knew at that point it would be a good day, whether we caught fish or not. And we did. Thanks to John for the company, for topping off Dad’s gas tank and for putting up with a barrage of “one time back in the 80s…” or “there’s a spot over there…” strip mine rambles.

Jayce Jackson – April 20 (strip mines) and July 26 (Lake Storey)
Our first outing was a brief strip mine trip that resulted in a shutout on water where Jayce did well in May 2018. Next up, was a short dog day evening on the tough Lake Storey where I was honestly hoping for just one bite. Couldn’t have turned out any better though as my boy outfished me 4 to zero while effectively wielding a wacky rigged Senko. Good fishing (and life) lessons all the way around, for both generations.

Dad – July 27 (Strip mines) and August 3 (Lake Storey)
It was good to have Dad back in the boat again after sitting it out in 2018. Our trips covered some old familiar water. The July outing featured a strip mine that we first fished together in 1987. In August, we hit Lake Storey which probably dates back to somewhere around the mid-1970s for our first tag team effort. A few more fish stories to add to the ledger including my catch of the second largest one-eyed bass of all-time. Dad still holds the record with a Lake Storey bass that I watched him catch back in 1988.

Zac Jackson – September 2 (top secret area)
In 2019, I got access to some water that had intrigued me for over 30 years. After a peak around the area with John Kirkemo on the heels of our July outing, I hit the area with a young angler in tow. The first and only visit of 2019 was a panfish pursuit although I did toss around a few casts for bass without raising any interest. Bluegills were a winner and we gleaned a little info from another angler onsite. Oh yeah, we also purchased a new basketball along with our waxworms on the way to the fishing hole and a Subway sandwich on the ride home. We have still not revealed our destination to anyone, simply referring to it as “a secret fishing spot.”

Merely a brief rundown of the outings with my fellow fishermen but you can click the links included in each of the entries above for the full scoop (see dates and/or locations for links). Here’s to sharing the hobby with these individuals again in 2020 along with a few other anglers if things work out. Talk to you later. Troy

2019 Fishing Recap – Numbers

Now I know that I need to be careful in what I say here, but winter is moving along towards spring at a pretty favorable pace. Overall, not too ugly cold this time around and beyond a few icy days, the precipitation hasn’t been real bad either. Enough to get the shovel and the sleds going several times but can’t really complain.

As such, it is time for the overdue annual recap of my fishing stats, pics and videos from last year. Leading it off today is a look at the overall numbers. More specific breakdowns are headed your way delving into locations, lures, partners and some video highlights.

And away we go…

1/5/19 Early start to the year, crazy temps, half frozen lake and zero bites 

Grand Totals (bass fishing only)
25 outings (19 outings in 2018)
93.00 hours fishing (78.00 in 2018)
262 bass (216 bass in 2018)
2.82 bass/hour (2.77 bass/hour in 2018)
Comments: Fishing comes in a ways down the priority list for a husband, father and co-breadwinner. So any year that I can land over 200 bass and approach 100 hours on the water is a real winner. Quality bass for 2019 were elusive, however. More on that in a bit.

3/23/19 First bass (details below)

First Bass/Last Bass
March 23 – Private strip mine 3:18pm 12” 0-13 Booyah Spinnerbait
November 19 – Sedgwick County, KS 5:37pm 15” 1-9 Booyah Spinnerbait
Comments: It was entertaining to get out on a balmy January day to kick off 2019 although I could not entice a bite. I also got a bonus extension on the season with a November work trip to Wichita, Kansas where I was able to get away for a couple hours and fool a pair of bass. Pretty cool to have a span of 322 days between my first and last casts of 2019 although a February freeze up did not allow for time on the water. Certainly an uptick from 270 days between first and last casts in 2018.

11/19/19 Last bass – drove all the way to Kansas to get it (as noted above)

Monthly Breakdown
March – 1 trip, 1 bass, Top Weight (3/23 1 bass) = 0-13
April – 3 trips, 37 bass, Top Day Weight (4/1) = 9-9
May – 1 trip, 9 bass, Top Day Weight (5/27 – 2 bass) = 3-5
June – 4 trips, 53 bass, Top Day Weight (6/21) = 6-3
July – 3 trips, 25 bass, Top Day Weight (7/27) = 8-12
August – 3 trips, 31 bass, Top Day Weight (8/31) = 10-1
September – 4 trips, 75 bass, Top Day Weight (9/22) = 7-12
October – 2 trips, 29 bass, Top Day Weight (10/14) = 8-8
November – 2 trips, 2 bass, Top Day Weight (11/19 – 2 bass) = 2-11
Comments: Despite getting in some January casts, it took me until April Fools Day to fill my initial Top 5 limit. June through September proved to be the most opportune time to get on the water and I took advantage. Doing the math, the  period between June 2 and September 22 accounted for 70% of my catches (184 of 262 bass).

7/27/19 Top Bass at 3-14 from private strip mine on a Senko wacky rig

Top 5 Weight
14-4 (3-14,2-11,2-10,2-9,2-8)
Comments: The downward trend in weight continues from 15-9 in 2018 to an even slimmer batch of “big” bass in 2019. The inability to fool many quality bass would be the one downside of my 2019 results. Just one of those things that wasn’t meant to be as I fished hard, chased ‘em where some quality fish swim and fished clean in not losing any good fish that I had on the line. Wait ‘til this year though…

Folks, we’ve only scratched the surface as I dig indulging in my penchant for stats. Coming your way next is a look at location. Talk to you later. Troy

Bass #5157

Bass #5157 November 19, 2019 at 5:37pm Wichita, KS

Coming into 2019 I had this big plan for a countdown to “Bass #5000.” You see, I had finished 2018 with a total of 4895 bass on the spreadsheet that I created back in 1997 when I joined The Computer Age. I thought big fanfare, perhaps a countdown, maybe one of those oversized fundraiser type displays in my front yard or a graphic on the tailgate of my truck…okay, maybe not.

But then I got so focused on just fishing that when Bass #5000 hit the log I completely missed the milestone. Initially, I was kind of bummed at blowing the chance to celebrate via another blog posting but I got over it. After all, I’m usually not at a loss for blog ideas (598 and counting since May 2017). I just feel sorry for the bass that never got a photograph and write-up for its fifteen minutes of fame.

Instead, the spreadsheet now shows 5157 bass and I’m going with that fish for the substitute celebration.

Being a stat guy, here’s some data related to the “milestone.”

3/21/1997 – At 5:04pm Bass #1 of The Computer Age enters the log (no pic taken, shot below is of Bass #2 landed at 5:38pm).

7/13/2019 – At 6:36am Bass #5000 comes aboard and I totally blow my chance to take a picture as originally intended

555 – Approximate number of miles between Bass #1 (Victoria, IL) and Bass #5157 (Wichita, KS)

8,278 – Days between catching Bass #1 and Bass #5157

1998.75 – Hours spent fishing to land those 5,157 bass

127 – Bodies of water registering at least one of the 5,157 bass

Plenty of other numbers along the way too, such as 1 wife, 4 kids, 2 trucks, 5 homes, 4 jobs and 2 floppy hats just to name a few. It’s been a wild ride and here’s to keeping the fish total climbing in the 2020s. Talk to you later. Troy

2018 Fishing Recap – Location

This year, I found out where 216 bass lived. More than a few came from some regular stomping grounds so perhaps I’d already met some of them over the years. Today we take a general look at where those fish call home. While they came from spots like Freak’s Point, 2X4 Lake, Silo Bend and The Moose Hump I won’t get quite that specific as fishing is a pursuit that lends itself to a little mystery and more than a few secrets.

All the spots reside inside with a bit of a peek below

Grand Totals
Bass = 216
Bodies of water = 23
Comments: Once again, a big batch of little waters produced the vast majority of my bass. Those small waters consisted of the standard collection of public and private Knox County strip mines, many that I have been fishing since the 1980s. The largest lake I fished was Lost Grove Lake in Scott County, Iowa which comes in at about 400 acres and I also put in a few hours on good old Lake Storey just north of Galesburg, Illinois which comes in at 133 acres.

Bank Bass (Northerner boots, biking and hiking) = 107 bass
Little Boat Bass (near 40 year old 8’ johnboat) = 74 bass
Big Boat Bass (1987 Bass Tracker Pro 17) = 35 bass
Comments: I have put far more miles on pairs of boots and sets of oars than I have ever racked up on trolling motors or outboards. 2018 was no exception as the only times I took advantage of the “big boat” was a June strip mine jaunt and a pair of October outings on Lake Storey. It was a near 50/50 split between bank and boat catches this year and while it takes some work, my fishing on foot locales can sure fill up a few pages of the log during a day hike.

The Waters (from least to most caught)

Lost Grove Lake – Scott County, IA (3 visits 5/28, 7/18, 7/25)
7 bass
5.50 hours
1.27 bass/hour
Top Bass: 1-6 (13.5”) Senko wacky rig
Top 5 Weight (only 4 at 12” or better): 4-13 (1-6,1-5,1-2,1-0)
Comments: After landing some quality bass on this relatively young lake in 2017, I took a step backwards in 2018 as I really struggled to find some bites. Abundant, scattered and somewhat random surface vegetation still make this developing fishery a challenge as the weather warms. Need to make a note to see what it has to offer earlier in the year in 2019, ideally before the weeds take hold.

Lake Storey – Knox County, IL (2 visits – 10/18 and 10/19)
20 bass
12.00 hours
1.67 bass/hour
Top Bass: 1-9 (14.5”) Strike King Rattling Squarebill crankbait
Top 5 Weight: 7-1 (1-9,1-8,1-7,1-6,1-3)
Comments: Always a treat when I get on this old favorite as its bass population can be a challenging bunch. I was pleased with the catch rate on my two visits and the bass were just flat out healthy though none for me in the trophy category. Did witness a few quality catches by my fishing partner, more on that later this week. One suspected toothy encounter with a surface thrash at boatside as I absentmindedly lifted my spinnerbait from the water oblivious to that whole Figure 8 thing.

Knox County, IL Private Strip Mines (11 visits, 3 lakes, 2/27 through 11/24)
82 bass
43.00 hours
1.91 bass/hour
Top Bass: 4-8 (20”) Booyah Buzzbait
Top 5 Weight: 13-11 (4-8,3-0,2-6,1-15,1-14)
Comments: What a difference a year makes as my Top 5 from these old fishing holes for 2018 was barely half of the 26-13 I somehow fooled in 2017. Pretty tough to top though considering that was my best haul ever. I must admit I was pretty excited to fill out my Top 5 with 7-3 during a February visit but never made many more big leaps the rest of the way. Fished my productive spots and worked them over good but just couldn’t find many big bites.

Knox County, IL Public Strip Mines (5 visits, 18 lakes, 4/13 through 9/30)
107 bass
17.50 hours
6.11 bass/hour
Top Bass: 3-2 (18”) Strike King Rattling Squarebill Crankbait
Top 5 Weight: 11-13 (3-2,2-9,2-3,2-0,1-13)
Comments: A controlled burn on some of my public walk-in strip mine ground really produced a big batch of April bass as the access was incredibly easy. It allowed for an increase in pond hopping and permitted me to hit most of my favorites each outing. In contrast, my July and September visits were marked by much tougher walking which limited the spots I could hit over the course of the day. As a result, April produced 78 of the 107 bass that these areas gave up for the year. And it only took about 20 miles of hiking and/or biking.

That’s the “where” part of the recap and coming tomorrow is the “what” as we take a look at the lures that got the job done. Talk to you later. Troy

2018 Fishing Recap – Numbers

Well, with less than a week to go in 2018 and a number of factors (primarily work) not working in my favor, I think it’s safe to go ahead a kick off my annual fishing recap. Over the years I have taken to spreading the recap out over several posts and so it is with the 2018 version.

Leading it off today is a look at the overall numbers. More specific breakdowns are headed your way over the next several days delving into locations, lures and partners.

How it all began, February 27, 2018 with ice visible at top of the photo 

Grand Totals (bass fishing only)
19 outings (37 outings in 2017)
78.00 hours fishing (135.50 in 2017)
216 bass (416 bass in 2017)
2.77 bass/hour (3.08 bass/hour in 2017)
Comments: After posting a personal best of 416 bass last year I was pretty certain that 2018 would show a considerable decrease. In 2017, the first year of having my own blog, the aim was to hit the water pretty hard and I did. This year, on the other hand, was quite busy with the real stuff that I do like being a husband, father and co-breadwinner. Any time that I can get out to the fishing holes is a winner and I was quite pleased with the amount that I was able to get away. In addition, I was happy with the quantity of bass that entered the log during those hours on the water. Quality bass were elusive, however. More on that in a bit.

2/27/18 at 10:06am First bass of the year

First Bass/Last Bass
February 27 – Private strip mine 10:06am 15” 1-7 Rapala Shad Rap
November 24 – Private strip mine 1:58pm 15.5” 1-12 Jig & Craw
Comments: Couldn’t duplicate the 2017 bookends as I led off last year with a crazy 6-2 bass and wrapped it up in solid fashion with a 2-4. A 270 day season for 2018 was pretty cool though as the February open water start was quite out of the ordinary. It did fall just a few days short of the 273 day span enjoyed in 2017 but I just couldn’t extend it even though there was still some open water this week.

11/24/18 at 1:58pm Last bass of the year

Monthly Breakdown
February – 1 trip, 7 bass, Top Day Weight (2/27) = 7-3
March – 1 trip, 3 bass, none 12” or better
April – 3 trips, 82 bass, Top Day Weight (4/13) = 10-4
May – 3 trips (1 bass trip), 3 bass, Top Day Weight (5/28 – 1 bass) = 1-5
June – 2 trips, 27 bass, Top Day Weight (6/17) = 6-8
July – 4 trips, 15 bass, Top Day Weight (7/28 – 3 bass) = 3-5
August – no outings
September – 2 trips, 44 bass, Top Day Weight (9/23) = 12-7
October – 4 trips, 30 bass, Top Day Weight (10/18) = 6-2
November – 1 trip, 5 bass, Top Day Weight (11/24 – 3 bass) = 5-2
Comments: I was pretty hyped after open water in February allowed me to fool enough decent bass to fill my Top 5 limit on the first outing of the year. Pretty slim pickens after that with the exception of some solid batches of walk-in strip mine bass in April and September. October was also a good time with a pair of visits to Lake Storey and some really good fish from a fishing partner. Those highlights to come as recap week continues.

9/23/18 Top Bass 4-8 Knox County public strip pit

Top 5 Weight
15-9 (4-8,3-2,3-0,2-9,2-6)
Comments: If I had to pick one downside of my 2018 results it would have to be my inability to fool many quality bass. My struggle in finding those big bites resulted in my consecutive 20-pound Top 5 string coming to an end. Since the inception of our Top 5 project back in 2014 I had been able to fool at least 20 pounds each year. Just one of those things that wasn’t meant to be as I fished hard, chased ‘em where some quality fish swim and fished clean in not losing any good fish that I had on the line. Wait ‘til next year though…

Folks, we’ve only scratched the surface as I dig indulging in my penchant for stats. Back tomorrow with a look at location. Talk to you later. Troy

2017 Stats – Location

For today’s stat wrap I’m gonna tell you where I caught my bass in 2017, all 416 of them (that is a correction as I erroneously reported 418 last week).

Well, kind of tell you where I caught ‘em. General location on some, specific body of water on a few but not overly precise like Chilly Willy Point, Power Point or Freak’s Point. Actually, all of those are made up names, two by me and one handed down from some fellas back in the 80s. So, unless you are related to me, those spots probably wouldn’t mean thing anyhow.

But I’m still not telling, gotta keep some air of mystery. Here we go.

Bass #416, strip mine

Grand Totals
Bass = 416
Bodies of water = 31
Comments: The numbers are pretty jacked up in terms of bodies of water as I flat out fish small. In fact, the biggest body of water that I fished in 2017 was Lost Grove Lake in Scott County, IA which comes in at 400 acres. On the other end of the spectrum were a handful of public strip pits that are maybe a half cast wide at best.

Hauled 265 bass into this deluxe watercraft

Bank Bass (Northerner boots, biking and hiking) = 102
Little Boat Bass (near 40 year old 8’ johnboat) = 265
Big Boat Bass (1987 Bass Tracker Pro 17) = 49
Comments: Small waters, walk-in only access and no ramps on most of my stomping grounds means no blazing bass boat or high tech gear. And all of that suits me just fine, those things go too fast for this angler and I spend all week messing with technology so who needs electronics. Besides, several of these spots I’ve fished since the 80s or 90s so trial and error has provided ample insight. Sure there are more secrets beneath the surface and perhaps armed with a new, cool, retro tool in 2018 I may just find a few. Stay tuned.

The Waters (from least to most caught)

Henry County, IL pond

Henry County Private Pond (1 visit – 4/18)
4 bass
1.00 hour
4.00 bass/hour
Top Bass: 11.5” (2 bass – Chatterbait, Jig & Pig)
Top 5 Weight: no bass 12” or better
Comments: This is a spot that is associated with my employer, just a pothole water reservoir but I got wind it had some fish in it, got permission and checked it out. Put it to decent use with the kids too (another wrap-up piece) but rumor has it that the big ones are long gone via a firsthand “you should’ve seen it…” report.

Johnson-Sauk Trail

Johnson Sauk Trail Lake – Henry County, IL (1 visit – September 11)
5 bass
3.00 hours
1.67 bass/hour
Top Bass: 1-2 (13.5”) Strike King Red Eye Shad
Top 5 Weight: 2-1 (2 bass 1-2,0-15)
Comments: Hadn’t fished this spot since 2002 but after a look during a day trip with the family I thought I’d revisit. Nothing big in my creel on the lone outing but have seen a few pics of some decent bass and a few toothy fish (just hope they were released to catch again). Found it to be the right size for my little boat and only about half of it was worth fishing on this day as extremely shallow and shady in the morning.

Lake Storey, one of the “big boat” bass

Lake Storey – Knox County, IL (2 visits – 9/17 and 10/2)
34 bass
14.00 hours
2.43 bass/hour
Top Bass: 15” 1-11 Mann’s Baby 1- Crankbait
Top 5 Weight: 6-5 (1-11,1-4,1-3,1-2,1-1)
Comments: Probably my favorite fishing hole of all-time even though it gets some serious pressure and can be a tough nut to crack at times. Nothing particularly large was landed but I was quite pleased with my 2.43 bass/hour rate which was considerably higher than my “career” average of 0.98. Hit it at the right time just couldn’t put my lures in the right place to fool a few big ones.

Encouraging Lost Grove Lake result as they are getting bigger

Lost Grove Lake – Scott County, IA (11 visits June 10 – September 30)
74 bass
24.50 hours
3.02 bass/hour
Top Bass: 2-3 (17”) Mann’s Baby 1- Crankbait
Top 5 Weight: 9-6 (2-3,1-15,1-14,1-11,1-11)
Comments: At 400 acres, a lot to explore in my little boat so I break it down into manageable pieces. Starting to figure out a few things in my second year of casting on this water across The River. After only two fish over 12” in 2016, my quality of catches got quite a boost in 2017 and observed another angler reel in one over four pounds. Like to think I’m experiencing a combination of the bass getting bigger and the bass fisherman getting brighter on the young fishing hole.

The old stomping grounds near Victoria, IL

Knox County, IL Private Strip Mines (20 visits, 5 lakes, March 4 – December 2)
135 bass
62.00 hours
2.18 bass/hour
Top Bass: 6-2 (22.5”) Jig & Pig
Top 5 Weight: 26-13 (6-2,5-11,5-9,5-0,4-7)
Comments: I’ve paid my dues and pay annual dues on these fishing holes so they typically get the most attention. 30 years of experience here has helped me find and fool some pretty good fish but 2017 featured some overachievers on the end of the line including my six heaviest bass of the year. Already have my Top 5 filled for 2018 from this stomping ground but suspect there’s more to come for a boost to my current total of 7-3.

Racked up a few more miles and a lot of bass on the public access Knox County, IL strip mines

Knox County, IL Public Strip Mines (11 visits, 22 lakes, March 26-October 8)
164 bass
30 hours
5.47 bass/hour
Top Bass: 3-8 (18”) Strike King Rattling Squarebill Crankbait
Top 5 Weight: 15-13 (3-8,3-6,3-5,3-5,2-5)
Comments: Private fishing holes as noted above are really cool, I wouldn’t trade them for anything and wish I had access to more. However, I get a great deal of satisfaction from fooling bass where everybody and their brother can fish. And me and my brother have tackled a bunch of these spots and caught a bunch of fish over close to 30 years and a lot of miles on foot, by bike or dragging around a little boat.  Happy to still be able to get it done at 50 although I had to be helped out of a restaurant by Julie and Helena after one of these stunts when my legs cramped up so bad I nearly couldn’t walk. Provided them with a good laugh and I too think its funny, now.

There you go, as much insight as you get on where to find some 2018 bass that even I can seem to outsmart. Looking to work in one more wrap that features the folks I got to fish with last year and hoping to get in a countdown of sorts before the end of the month. Also hoping to get in a March outing but no promises as weather and responsibilities seem to be conspiring against goofing off. Talk to you later. Troy

2017 Stats – Lures Part II

No need for much introduction, did that yesterday for Part I of the lure portion of the 2017 wrap-up. My standard go to baits and one newcomer that made a big splash (actually several big splashes).

New addition for 2017 Whopper Plopper 90 (I Know It color)

2017 Whopper Plopper Top Bass (see below)

Whopper Plopper 90 (I Know It) – 11 bass
Top Bass: 20.5” 4-7 July 17 Little John Conservation Club
Comments: I am not a $12.99 per bait price range kind of guy, no matter how catchy the name is. You see, there’s two ends to this fishing thing, one is the lure on the end of the line, the other is the angler on the end of the rod and I rarely see a need to spend that sort of cash on the latest rage when I’ve got a lifetime of experience with lures that have worked for years. But, I had a gift certificate and Whopper Ploppers were on sale s
o I now have several in the tacklebox. And I’ll be darned if this crazy new bait didn’t produce a 4-7 for its first bass after ten minutes of casting. Perhaps a lure that truly catches fish and not fishermen, more field testing to come in 2018.

Jig & Pig (black & blue), a legend and I am too cheap to replace this chewed up version as obviously it works

2017 Top Jig Bass, first catch of 2017, believe it or not (see below)

Strike King Rattlin’ Jig (black/blue) with #11 Uncle Josh trailer (black/blue) – 15 bass
Top Bass: 22.5” 6-2 March 4 Little John Conservation Club
Comments: If you are throwing a jig, you’ve gotta start with good, old black and blue and what a way to start 2017 with a 6-2 taking the bait for my first bass of the year. On the downside, I failed to fool a larger bass the rest of the year. On the upside, who cares? I’m sure other colors work just fine but the bass haven’t let me down on this old favorite yet.

Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad)

2017 Top Lipless Crankbait Bass (see below)

Lipless Crankbaits
Strike King Red Eye Shad – 27 bass (sexy shad – 26 bass, orange craw – 1 bass)
Top Bass: 16” 1-15 March 26 Little John Conservation Club
Comments: This bait is a favorite and produces throughout most of the year and surprisingly well in colder water as it is generally worked at a decent clip. Therefore, it is right up my alley although I do try and slow it down early in the year. 2017 was a down year for these baits, however, as the early buzzbait bite got me sidetracked.

Classic “Blue Glimmer” bait, possibly an antique but still getting it done

2017 Top Spinnerbait Bass (see below)

Booyah, Stanley Vibra Shaft Blue Glimmer, Teminator – 41 bass
Top Bass: 16” 2-1 April 8 Knox County, IL public strip mine
Comments: Seems like the good, old spinnerbait has kind of fallen out of vogue if you read the major publications. I do have a couple of those subscriptions but either did not get the memo or just too set in my ways to ditch this favorite. Perhaps I will be on the leading edge of a spinnerbait revival after this post hits the internet. Okay, maybe not but I’ll keep tossing these things around as I will never get tired of running one parallel to a laydown and waiting for it to get heavy.

Strike King KVD Rattling Squarebill (sexy shad)

2017 Top Crankbait Bass (see below)

Strike King Rattling Squarebill, Mann’s Baby 1-, Rapala Shad Rap – 66 bass
Top Bass: 18” 3-8 September 2 Knox County, IL public strip mine
Comments: Yet another type of bait that generally lets me fish fast and the models I use also keep me relatively shallow (eight feet or less). Too slow and I get antsy, too deep and I lose my edge so the crankbaits noted above represent my confidence baits and they came through yet again with a decent haul.

Senko wacky rig

2017 Top Senko Bass (see below)

Plastic Worms
Senko wacky rig (weighted and unweighted), Senko Texas rig – 103 bass
Top Bass: 22” 5-11 August 21 Little John Conservation Club Senko wacky rig
Comments: Since I first plunged into the odd looking world of the wacky rig back in 2005, I’ve always had a Senko on a pole when I hit the water. And this year it paid off again with the highlight being an “Eclipse Day” beast that established a new personal Senko best just before a storm rolled in and sent me packing. If you aren’t fishing wacky, you are missing out on some serious action.

Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad)

2017 Top Buzzbait Bass (see below)

Booyah Buzz – 134 bass
Top Bass: 22” 5-9 April 25 Little John Conservation Club
Comments: Can you say addictive? Buzzbait bassing kicked into gear on April 25 last year and once it got going, I wore it out. The buzzbait Top Bass of 2017 was my second catch of the year on the bait and fell one ounce shy of tying my buzzbait personal best. Lots of decent bass in the haul including a second five-pounder and a Top 5 of 18-6 on the lure. And I lost a pair at the boat that were at least four-pounders, scout’s honor.  Literally and figuratively, a blast.

So, there you have it on the lures. The next piece of the series will take a look at location, headed your way soon, hope you’ll tune in. Talk to you later. Troy