So, here we go again with year number six of the Top 5 project already off and running thanks to a West Central Illinois New Year’s Day bass. Yep, that’s right, open water on a non-power plant/cooling lake to start the year, rather unusual. Of course, that is only part of the equation as you also need to figure out how to get bit. Congrats to Jim Junk on getting it done with all the details below.
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: January 1
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Rat L Trap
Angler Comments: Didn’t really think I would be putting you to work this early in the year. Healthy 3-3 Banner bass hit a Rat L Trap.
Top 5 Weight: 3-3
If a New Year’s Day bass wasn’t cool enough, Jim had also landed a 2018 Christmas Day bass as pictured below, quite impressive.
(Note: Below is a rundown of the “rules” for the Top 5 project as a refresher for some and an invitation for others.)
The Top 5 is an audience participation project for anglers to submit their catches for public consumption on what I like to call a virtual brag board. 2019 marks year number six of the project and it’s been an entertaining addition to my fishing and writing hobbies as well as something to look forward to with weekly update postings each Monday and monthly updates of the running totals.
While initially focusing solely on bass, beginning in 2017 the project was expanded to include other freshwater species. I will accept either weight or length data based on the angler’s preference so there will potentially be separate categories within species according to the information provided. One stipulation is that the fish be landed via rod and reel.
Bass will still remain a collective group for your Top 5 creel (largemouth, smallmouth, spotted or whatever other black bass species you might run into on a fishing journey somewhere) and must measure 12” or better to qualify whether submitted to the length or weight category. Don’t hesitate to send in some early members of your “limit” that you anticipate displacing later. It’s always fun to watch the progression in such instances and even the Bassmasters have to post some “dinks” along the way.
I don’t really have any minimum criteria on other species at this point and I am leaving each species on its own. For example, the catfish family will all be separate, thus a flathead Top 5, channel cat Top 5 or even a bullhead Top 5 if that’s your specialty.
For those who elect to weigh their catch, while a digital model is preferred, if you still roll with a DeLiar and such, it’s all good as long as you can get within a couple ounces of accuracy (remember there is no big money check). We run on honor code. I shoot straight in terms of weight in all of my fishing reports and I assume others do as well.
The amount of information you are willing to share is entirely up to you. I’m a more information the better guy but I get it if you’d rather remain somewhat elusive. I have compiled a database of the 591 bass and handful of other species submitted over the years and it’s always fun to take a look at the record book. Thus, it would be cool to have it dialed in, but I’ll take whatever I can get.
Here’s what I’m asking for in your submissions:
Weight/Length: I record weights in pounds and ounces such that 5-4 equates to five pounds four ounces as opposed to decimals so I ask that submissions be reported in this fashion to avoid conversion and/or confusion. For length submissions let’s go with the nearest half inch.
Lures/Bait: if you aren’t willing to reveal specifics such as brand, model, presentation and color, a generic category such as spinnerbait, plastic worm or crankbait would be appreciated. Chicken liver, stinkbait, dew worm, cutbait and so on work just fine as well.
Location: if you don’t want to say “Emiquon Preserve” just go with Fulton County and a designation of public or private would also be of interest. Even West Central Illinois strip mine or Eastern Iowa stream would be beneficial if you prefer not to be too specific.
Date: can’t see much of an issue with this aspect but I guess I’ll just list it as the date I received the submission unless otherwise noted. Once again though, the more accurate the better in my book.
Name: totally up to you whether you want to use your real name or a nickname, just let me know what you prefer.
Photo: a pic is required so have your cameras or “phones” at the ready. After all, part of the premise of this entire project is to show more fishing pictures on the website than just my little bass. Whether you put your mug in the frame is your choice.
Angler Comments: if you’ve got a story, something weird or otherwise interesting to pass along with the catch, by all means, include your tale. Same goes for structure as it’s fun to hear if the fish came off a point, alongside a laydown, amidst a patch of lilypads and so on. I will be happy to use your description, as written, in the periodic updates so don’t use any “bad” words, that way I don’t have to spend time editing.
And here is the general process:
Step One: You catch, weigh/measure, document and photograph a fish that resides in your Top 5 heaviest of 2018.
Step Two: Send your pic and details to email@example.com.
Step Three: I track the catches and photos in order to provide periodic updates (typically each Monday) as you build your Top 5. (Note: you send each fish as you work towards a Top 5 rather than waiting until you have five, unless, of course, you wipe ‘em all out on your first trip).
Step Four: Repeat the above, replacing (or culling to use a tourney term) smaller Top 5 fish as larger ones join your ledger. For instance, say your Top 5 by May 1 is as follows: 3-4, 2-7, 2-3, 1-12 and 1-11 for a total weight of 11-5. Then on May 6 you reel in a 3-3 so out goes the 1-11 and the total weight bumps up to 12-13. Same concept for length submissions.
And as you saw at the beginning of this lengthy post, we are already off and running. Good luck to all and talk to you later. Troy