Category: Top 5

Top 5 Update

In between the ongoing rains in the region, our Top 5 leader continues to reel in some quality bass. Read on for the details with a bonus look at a lure you should have tied on the end of a pole from now through summer.

Weight: 4-6
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: May 14
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Underspin
Structure: Point
Angler Comments: Steady retrieve parallel to a point

Weight: 3-15
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: May 17
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Underspin

Weight: 4-0
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: May 19
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Texas rigged Senko

Weight: 2-13
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: May 19
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Wacky rigged Senko (white and smoke)
Top 5 Weight: 21-2 (4-8,4-2,4-6,4-1,4-1) culls a 4-1

Senko style worm success has kicked into gear and quite effective in both weedless Texas rigged and wacky rigged presentations. Jim passed along several of his weekend winners below.

Two wacky rig looks that were successful this past weekend

A couple Texas rigged worms post catch, Jim notes that they are just as effective rigged from tail end to get extra use from damaged baits

Thanks to Jim for a quality update and the heads up that the Senko bite is off and running. Here’s hoping you have an opportunity to get out and enjoy it with a holiday weekend on the horizon (got my fingers crossed for a shot too). Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

A good showing this week as more of our Warren County contingent is back on board for another year. After an up and down start to spring it was great to see an outstanding weather weekend in the area and glad that this pair of anglers were able to take advantage.

Weight: 2-4
Angler: Chris Schwarz
Date: May 4
Location: Warren County private pond
Lure: Spinnerbait (bluegill)

Weight: 2-7
Angler: Chris Schwarz
Date: May 4
Location: Warren County private pond
Lure: Spinnerbait (bluegill)

Weight: 2-10
Angler: Chris Schwarz
Date: May 4
Location: Warren County private pond
Lure: Spinnerbait (bluegill)

Weight: 3-2
Angler: Chris Schwarz
Date: May 4
Location: Warren County private pond
Lure: Spinnerbait (bluegill)

Weight: 3-10
Angler: Chris Schwarz
Date: May 4
Location: Warren County private pond
Lure: Spinnerbait (bluegill)
Angler Comments: Bass were tight to the bank and getting ready to spawn; I’m sure the weather has wreaked havoc on their internal spawning clocks.
Top 5 Weight: 14-1 (3-10,3-2,2-10,2-7,2-4)

Weight: 1-2
Angler: Landon Hannam
Date: May 5
Location: Private Pond
Lure: Wacky worm
Angler Comments: I was fishing in our school’s tournament and caught another 1-0 bass on a Z-Man chatterbait.
Top 5 Weight: 1-2

Well done guys and happy to have you back in the mix. Keep ‘em coming when you catch ‘em and that goes for anybody else out there as well. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Our leader continues to reel in some quality bass but it’s already a tall order for him to bump his weight as it takes a bass over four pounds to provide a boost. This one was darn close and in the interest of sharing pics and fish stories, always worth an update. I also have a note this week on some Banner Marsh video so read on.

Weight: 3-12
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 24
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Rapala Clackin’ Rap
Angler Comments: Nothing to cull but did manage this 3-12 while talking to a Conservation Officer.
Top 5 Weight: 20-13 (4-8,4-2,4-1,4-1,4-1)

First up, way to go Jim and thanks for keeping us afloat on Top 5 Updates. Last week I found that Jim wasn’t the only one taking a shot at that Fulton County fishing hole as noted below.

As I am always looking for some fish stories, I’ve found myself checking out a batch of YouTubers who chase some bass as their primary target. Trouble is, they are usually fishing in Texas or Florida or some other warmer clime where the bass come a little larger due to a more favorable year-round growing season.

But among the YouTubers I check out there’s a couple of fellows out on a cross country road trip they refer to as a “50 State Fishing Tour.” At present they are over 20 states into the project and just posted their Illinois outing. Originally they hinted that the destination would be Lake McMaster at Snakeden Hollow. I thought that was pretty cool as I first fished Lake McMaster back on July 1, 1987 several years before it was open to the public and a few years before it even got the name (shout out to my friend, Larry, who took me and Brent on an eye opening outing). Me, Dad and Brent have fished it since 1990 so I was looking forward to see how the guys did on our longtime stomping grounds.

However, they wound up shifting gears and hit Bass Pro Shops in Peoria before ultimately heading to Banner Marsh for some muskie fishing. Slightly disappointing but still rewarding to see them fish water that I have fished and where last Friday’s Flashback took place. I’ll leave it to you if you choose to check it out rather than being the spoiler alert guy. But for my two cents, some cool stuff at the link below from the SBFishingTV channel:

https://youtu.be/HxCWckD2lkM

Emiquon Pitfalls continue tomorrow, hope you’ll tune in. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Hey, we’ve got something besides a green fish this week, one with whiskers. And a good one at that, equaling the largest catfish submitted to date. Both by the same young angler.

Weight: 13-0
Angler: Teagan Mills
Date: April 20
Location: Private pond
Angler Comments: Caught on 4-pound test
Top 5 Weight: 13-0

Congrats, Teagan on an impressive catch that definitely required some skill and patience on that light line. Looks like the area weather is headed for a pretty stable run of warm temps so here’s hoping those fish will finally be able to get their act together and let us fool some more. I encourage anyone out there to join the fun and send them my way at troy@troyjacksonoutdoors.com.

The Emiquon at 10 celebration kicks off tomorrow, hope you’ll tune in. Talk to you later. Troy

Lures of the Top 5

Well, every Monday when there’s some new fish to offer, the weekly Top 5 Update gives you their pictures. In addition, the details of the catch accompany the fish and typically include the bait that got the job done. As a bonus Top 5 post we’re going to take a more in depth look at the specific lures that are fooling our fish thus far in 2019. Pictures of all the winning lures along with some notes and stats below, so read on.

A range of color and trailer combinations in chatterbaits have been winners

Chatterbaits: 10 bass – Top Bass 4-2 Jim Junk – Top 5 Weight 18-9
Also referred to as bladed jigs, this lure type is a relative newcomer with origins dating back to 2004 but not experiencing a real sales explosion until a few years later. For our group in 2019 it has had the best start in terms of numbers and is pushing the 20-pound mark for a collective Top 5. Definitely a lure that you should give a go early in the season as a proven producer.

You won’t find the Rapala Clackin’ Rap on the baitshop shelves (read below)

Lipless Crankbaits: 6 bass – Top Bass 4-8 Jim Junk – Top 5 Weight 20-0
Generally a faster moving bait than most other cold water offerings and still makes me scratch my head at times on its early season effectiveness. No need to ponder though, just throw it. An interesting detail here is that Jim Junk’s now not so secret weapon happens to be a bait that is no longer in production (note: Jim gave me permission to reveal). The Rapala Clackin’ Rap is now the denizen of the online auction and there’s plenty of them out there if you are willing to fork over the bucks.

Strike King Pro Model Jig (pumpkin/green flake) with BPS Triple Ripple Craw trailer (pepper frog/hot orange)

Jigs: 3 bass – Top Bass 2-10 Troy Jackson – Top 3 Weight 6-7
Another cold water standby that can fool some big cold water bass, this one has taken a back seat to the faster paced and noisier offerings noted above. Certainly recommend having one of these tied on this time of year and don’t be afraid to throw it into some of the nastiest looking wood and/or rock in the fishing hole.

Booyah Blade spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) with twin tail trailer (smoke)

Spinnerbaits: 2bass – Top Bass 0-14 – Top 2 Weight 1-11
Not much to show for this old school lure that has kind of fallen out of vogue in the last 20 years or more. However, I’m a firm believer in them and when given a shot they still get the job done, just not as glamorous as some other baits. I would have to say more of a fall presentation for me but I still keep the faith of that 1980s kid who cut his bass fishing teeth on them and have had one tied on each time out in 2019.

BONUS!
Livebait: 1 bass – Top Bass 4-1 Jim Junk

A perfect example of the allure of “the real thing” along with reinforcing the fact that if you have a bait in the water anything can happen (Jim caught this entry while crappie fishing with a minnow). Jim also provided the pics below of what some of his Fulton County bass are likely eating so it’s no wonder that there are some darn healthy fish swimming down there.

Fulton County, IL forage – I want to catch something that’s eating that!

Such forage takes me back to 2014 and the initial year of the Top 5 as there was a Chicagoland area angler who used to prowl the banks of his local waters armed with large swimbaits. While the bites could be limited on such giant baits, when they came they were quite impressive as seen below.

Top 5 Flashback from 2014,  quality vs. quantity dilemma on large swimbaits. Your choice? 

Okay, all for today and hope that you enjoyed the rundown of these early season baits and perhaps found an addition to your tacklebox. If nothing else, I hope it got some folks a little fired up for some fishing as the local weather really took a turn for the better (may even last a day or two this time). And if you are fortunate enough to enjoy the benefit of a three day weekend, well, send your catches my way and go ahead and include a pic of the lure while you’re at it. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Well, I noted last week that one of our anglers was a catch away from hitting the 20-pound mark. Way to go, Jim Junk, that didn’t take long at all. And there was more than one quality catch for him since last update as reported below. However, the standard update structure lists our catches chronologically so first up you get the other guy who managed to get into double digits.

Weight: 2-10 (16.5”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 6
Location: Knox County, IL public strip pit
Lure: 3/8 oz. Strike King Pro Model Jig (green pumpkin) with Bass Pro Shops triple ripple craw trailer (pepper frog/hot orange)
Structure: Weed edge/drop
Angler Comments: With less than ten minutes to go before I needed to start walking back to my truck, I finally got a quality bite on what was a slow morning. Here’s to those catches that save the day.
Top 5 Weight: 10-7 (2-10,2-3,2-0,1-13,1-13)

Weight: 4-1 (20”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 10
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Rapala Clackin’ Rap (red crawdad)
Angler Comments: Again, he almost jumped on the bank as I was beginning to lift the Clackin’ Rap out of the water. I saw his shadow before my lure, or him taking it.

Weight: 3-11
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 12
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Chatterbait (white)
Structure: Flooded path near deeper water

Weight: 3-12
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 12
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Chatterbait (white)
Structure: Point
Angler Comments: Hit the white chatterbait as I worked a point with a strong wind at my back.

Weight: 4-0 (20”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 13
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Rapala Clackin’ Rap (firetiger)
Structure: Submerged weeds

Weight: 4-1 (20”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 13
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Rapala Clackin’ Rap (firetiger)
Structure: Submerged weeds
Top 5 Weight: 20-13 (4-8,4-2,4-1,4-1,4-1) culls 4-0 and 3-12

A great start in spite of some temperamental early spring weather that currently has dumped a late batch of snow in the region along with sub-freezing temperatures greeting some this morning. It does look like better temps as the week proceeds but I’ll believe that when we see it.

I’m hoping to find some time to put together a piece on the lures that are getting it done for the 2019 Top 5, so stay tuned. If you get out there, send your fish (and a lure pic if you are willing) my way and we’ll take this two-man show up a notch. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Stats

A little lean on the contributions to this point for 2019 with only two anglers submitting catches. One angler’s numbers are just a bit more impressive than the other fellow. Read on for all the 2019 stats through this past Monday’s update.

2019 Totals (* = new record)
January = 1 bass
February = no submissions
March = 8 bass
April = 7 bass

Top 5 Weight by Month (* = new record)
January = 3-3 (one bass)
February = no submissions
March = 19-3 (4-8,4-2,4-1,3-5,3-3)
April = 13-1 (3-11,3-6,2-3,2-0,1-13)

Boat vs. Bank
Boat = 1 bass
Bank = 15 bass

Boat vs. Bank Weight (* = new record)
Boat = 0-13 (one bass)
Bank = 19-12 (4-8,4-2,4-1,3-11,3-6)

Public vs. Private
Public = 15 bass
Private = 1 bass

Public vs. Private Top 5 Weight
Public = 19-12 (4-8,4-2,4-1,3-11,3-6)
Private = 0-13 (one bass)

The Baits (* = new record)
Chatterbait = 8 bass (Top Bass 4-2 Jim Junk)
Lipless Crankbaits = 3 bass (Top Bass 4-8 Jim Junk)
Jigs = 2 bass (Top Bass 2-0 Troy Jackson)
Spinnerbaits = 2 bass (Top Bass 0-14 Jim Junk)
Livebait = 1 bass (Top Bass 4-1 Jim Junk)

Monthly Top Bass (* = new record)
January
3-3 Jim Junk
February
No submissions
March
4-8 Jim Junk
April
3-11 Jim Junk

Top 10 Bass (* = new Top 10 all-time)
4-8 Jim Junk 3/28
4-2 Jim Junk 3/30
4-1 Jim Junk 3/31
3-11 Jim Junk 4/5
3-6 Jim Junk 4/3
3-5 Jim Junk 3/28
3-3 Jim Junk 1/1
3-3 Jim Junk 3/28
2-10 Jim Junk 3/29
2-3 Troy Jackson 4/1

Angler Weights
Jim Junk 19-12 (4-8,4-2,4-1,3-11,3-6)
Troy Jackson 9-9 (2-3,2-0,1-13,1-13,1-12)

Other Species
No submissions

Sooner or later this weather will straighten out and get those fish on a more consistent bite. If you get out there and reel ‘em in, drop me a line at troy@troyjacksonoutdoors.com with the details and a pic. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Different ends of the spectrum for this pair of early season Top 5 veterans. One guy is a catch away from hitting the 20-pound mark for another year while the other guy just filled his limit. Have a look below at results from the first few days of April.

Weight: 2-3 (17”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 1 (11:06am)
Location: Knox County public strip mine
Lure: Z-Man Chatterbait (brown/black)
Structure: Flat/ledge
Angler Comments: The first bass of an April Fool’s Day outing would turn out to be Top Bass of the day.

Weight: 1-13 (14.5”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 1 (11:30am)
Location: Knox County public strip mine
Lure: Strike King 3/8 oz. Pro Model Jig (green pumpkin) with Bass Pro Shops triple ripple craw trailer (pepper frog/hot orange)
Structure: Dropoff

Weight: 2-0 (16.5”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 1 (12:45pm)
Location: Knox County public strip mine
Lure: Strike King 3/8 oz. Pro Model Jig (green pumpkin) with Bass Pro Shops triple ripple craw trailer (pepper frog/hot orange)
Structure: Dropoff
Angler Comments: Gave this lake a second shot after a break of about an hour and a half and was immediately rewarded with this bite upon my return.

Weight: 1-12 (15”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 1 (1:12pm)
Location: Knox County public strip mine
Lure: Z-Man Chatterbait (brown/black)
Structure: Bowl
Angler Comments: Casting a bowl type area, my lure had sunk in the water column a little more than normal as I pulled out some backlash and the added depth was a winner.

Weight: 1-13 (15.5”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 1 (1:16pm)
Location: Knox County public strip mine
Lure: Z-Man Chatterbait (brown/black)
Structure: Bowl
Angler Comments: Minutes after landing the 1-12 of my prior entry I let the bait sink as before and what do you know, another solid catch.
Top 5 Weight: 9-9 (2-3-2-0,1-13,1-13,1-12) culls 0-13

Weight: 3-6 (18.5”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 3
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Rapala Clackin’ Rap (red crawdad)
Structure: Submerged weeds

Weight: 3-11 (18”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 5
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Chatterbait
Top 5 Weight: 19-12 (4-8,4-2,4-1,3-11,3-6) culls 3-5 and 3-3

An outstanding start for Jim and I’m looking forward to the text message and pic of the bass that finds those missing four ounces. Good luck.

I did find another one to boost my weight into double digits this past weekend but will stockpile it for next week. I also have plenty of stuff to get us through this week including a busy Saturday for a fishing father, a full fishing report, some Top 5 Stats and the weekly Friday Flashback post. Stay tuned to see if I can find time to get ‘em all posted. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Bass #600

I don’t know about you, but I sure think that there just aren’t enough fish pictures on the internet. So, five years ago, instead of just griping about it, I decided to do something about it. Now, I’ve been sharing my own fish pics for almost seventeen years but figured the more the merrier. After all, if you’ve seen my level of fishing and the limited time I have to get away, well, you are aware that I need some help.

Enter the Top 5 Project back on March 21, 2014 to provide an assist via the catches of fellow anglers. Just over five years later our dynamic group continues to do its thing to address the dearth of fishing pictures (and stories).

Which brings us to a milestone, Top 5 bass #600, caught by Jim Junk and detailed below.

Weight: 4-1 (20”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: March 31
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Minnow hung from a bobber
Angler Comments: Had some minnows left over so hung one from a bobber and then cast the bank with a swim jig for a while. Look back and don’t see the bobber so reel in slack and set the hook on something with some weight to it. Started stripping line and we went back and forth for about 15 minutes. Finally got it to the bank and grabbed its mouth. I am pretty sure that reel has 4# line on it, 6# at the most. It was really fun!

Now that’s what it’s all about, a good fish, a good story and a couple good lessons. First lesson being the old adage that says “the best time to go fishing is anytime you can.” And Jim’s catch is proof that as long as you’ve got a bait of some sort in the water, anything can happen.

A shout out to Jim and the others who have joined the pursuit over the years. I’m proud that we have contributed something worthwhile to the vast landscape of cyberspace. Part education, part entertainment, part escape and just good clean fun with the only kind of drama being the right kind of drama. Here’s to the quest for Bass #1000, feel free to play along (click here for details). Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Now we’re talking!

Some stable weather last week had some area bass in a more cooperative mood and a veteran Top 5 angler was on the scene to take his shot.

Weight: 0-14 (13”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: March 26
Location: Snakeden Hollow
Lure: Spinnerbait (white)

Weight: 4-8 (19”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: March 28
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Rapala Clackin’ Rap (red crawdad)
Angler Comments: Hit my Clackin’ Rap right at the bank. I basically just lifted him right out of the water.

Weight: 3-3 (17.5”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: March 28
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Chatterbait (white)
Angler Comments: Hit a white chatterbait as I was reeling parallel to the bank.

Weight: 3-5 (18”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: March 28
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Chatterbait (white)
Angler Comments: Hit the chatterbait with about 20 or 30 yards of line out.

Weight: 2-10 (16”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: March 29
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Chatterbait (white)

Weight: 4-2 (19”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: March 30
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Z-Man Chatterbait (white)
Structure: Shallow flat with emerging weeds
Angler Comments: Came on a rather shallow flat varying the retrieve over and through emerging weeds.

Weight: 4-1 (20”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: March 31
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Minnow hung from a bobber
Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for some more details on this catch in an additional post this week as it marks a milestone in the Top 5 project.
Top 5 Weight: 19-3 (4-8,4-2,4-1,3-5,3-3) culls 3-3,2-10,0-14

Now that is the way to say “Hello, spring” while bidding farewell to March. Although with that finale perhaps Jim doesn’t want April to come so soon. But time marches on, and as it does, the bite should only get better. Stay tuned for the additional Top 5 post coming your way along with our first April fishing report as some fool will be out there on a cool April Fool’s Day morning. Talk to you later. Troy