Category: Top 5

Top 5 Update

Been a little lean on the good, old Top 5 project so it’s cool to have consecutive Monday reports for the first time in 2018. As an added bonus, I was able to recruit a longtime fishing partner, a fellow I’ve known for just over 48 years. The pics and details follow and look for a full fishing report from our outing coming soon.

Weight: 1-9
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: April 21
Location: Knox County, IL public strip pit
Lure: Emiquon Special Spinnerbait
Structure: Chute/drop

Weight: 2-10
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: April 21
Location: Knox County, IL public strip pit
Lure: Jig (black/blue) with split twin tail trailer (pumpkinseed)
Structure: Chute/drop

Weight: 2-12
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: April 21
Location: Knox County, IL public strip pit
Lure: Jig (black/blue) with split twin tail trailer (pumpkinseed)
Structure: Chute/drop

Weight: 1-14
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: April 21
Location: Knox County, IL public strip pit
Lure: Emiquon Special Spinnerbait
Structure: Brush/drop
Angler Comments (actually mine): Got a chance to chase bass with my brother on some walk-in strip mines and he caught our three largest of the trip and four of our Top 5 with the submissions above.
Top 5 Weight(four bass): 8-13 (2-12,2-10,1-14,1-9)

Weight: 3-0 (18”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 22
Location: Little John Conservation Club
Lure: Strike King KVD 2.5 Rattling Squarebill crankbait (sexy shad)
Structure: Windblown point
Angler Comments: This bass was right where it should be on an old reliable piece of structure that was just getting pounded by the wind. And I was happy to get the strike on one of those “wind from the east, fish bite the least” days which lived up to the old adage.
Top 5 Weight: 12-3 (3-0,2-9,2-6,2-3,2-0) culls a 1-13

Now, that was fun. Been a weird run of weather for the first four months of the year but looks like some stability on the horizon in this neck of the woods. Here’s hoping the warming water temps will get the bass out of their world of confusion and see some more make a mistake for their 15 minutes of fame here on the Top 5. Plenty of room for more if anyone wants to play along. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Been a rough spring so the forecast of back to back 70 degree days in West Central Illinois had me cashing in a vacation day for Friday the 13th to hit some public access Knox County, IL strip mines. I’d originally attempted this plan with vacation days on April 2 and 3 but nasty weather had me opting to go to work instead and wait for better conditions. Turned out to be a good decision.

Weight: 1-13 (14.5”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 13
Location: Knox County, IL public access strip mines
Lure: Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad)
Structure: Windblown shoreline pocket
Angler Comments: Nice setup with a small pocket featuring a shelf that dropped into the main lake basin and was just getting pounded by a heavy south wind. Casting from the bank into the teeth of the wind produced this bass and another a 1-0 within a three minute span on the lipless crank right at the dropoff.

Weight: 2-3 (16”)
Lure: Booyah Blade Spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) with twin tail trailer (salt & pepper)
Structure: Windblown chute
Angler Comments: Caught a 2-1 on April 8, 2017 from this same exact location and was pretty sure I could repeat the feat. The narrow chute on the north edge of this spot was getting a direct hit from the gale force winds. The second of two bass in the first two minutes of casting to the spot (first was 11.5”). Fun stuff and can make you feel smart but this was a no-brainer, would’ve bet money on this one.

Weight: 2-0 (16.5”)
Lure: Strike King KVD 2.5 Rattling Squarebill (sexy shad)
Structure: Windblown chute/saddle
Angler Comments: Between the main lake and a southern finger on this spot is a shallow ridge that drops on each side into deeper water. Sounds like a broken record, but I’m no dummy and play the wind for every bite I can find when bank bound. Another bass right where it should be, on the windblown drop in this case, one of six that the specific area would produce and a cool page out of the Bass Fishing 101 textbook.

Weight: 2-9 (17”)
Lure: Strike King KVD 2.5 Rattling Squarebill (sexy shad)
Structure: ???
Angler Comments: This area has produced in the past from a different bank bound angle and I was fortunate that conditions allowed me to get at it from the other direction thanks to a controlled burn knocking out the nasty terrestrial vegetation. Honestly, still not sure what holds the bass but it produces. So, while still curious, I suppose that ultimately it is irrelevant and I’ll just keep casting away each visit.
Top 5 Weight: 10-15 (2-9,2-6,2-3,2-0,1-13) culls 1-7,1-5,1-2,0-15

Always fun to build and boost the Top 5 and while no early season lunkers in my creel it’s been a fun start to the year. One outing each month for 2018 beginning with a rare bonus February shot and two of the trips have provided a Top 5 Update. Still a long ways to go so stay tuned and send ‘em my way if you wish to play along. Full report on this trip headed your way tomorrow along with some bonus stuff to extend the tale throughout the rest of the week. Can’t help it, happy to get out during a stretch of good weather and it sure seemed like the bass were ready for a shot of spring as well. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Guidelines

For anyone not familiar with the Top 5, it is an audience participation project for anglers to submit their catches for public consumption on what I like to call a virtual brag board. 2018 marks year number five 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.  We already have two updates in the books this year, click these dates to check out the postings from 2/5 and 3/5 .

Screenshot from our first 2018 update.

While the first three years were devoted exclusively to bass, for 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 as this is still a work in progress to see what may turn up. I’m also going to leave each species on its own for this experiment. 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 485 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.

Having typed all that, here is a sample submission (using an old school bass just for fun on the heels of Easter weekend):

Troy Jackson
Largemouth Bass
Lake Storey
April 4, 1999
Spinnerbait (blue glimmer)
Dad and I were able to sneak away for a little Easter Sunday bass fishing on our “home lake.” My only bass of the day and first of the year but a cool way to kick it off, came on a perfect setup as I slowly ran my spinnerbait parallel to a submerged log, just like you read about in the magazines.

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 2017.

Step Two: Send your pic and details to

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 we’ve already got a pair of limits on the books as a couple of us were able to get out in January and February. Crazy thing is, I’m sitting here typing the draft of this posting amidst a late March snowstorm that has really dumped a pile of the white stuff on us. I’d say “C’mon spring” but I guess it’s already here. Good luck out there and talk to you later. Troy

2018 Top 5 Update

We have our second limit of 2018 in the books and while not quite as impressive as the initial limit submitted by our 2016 and 2017 champ, it’s the best I could do. Truly just happy to get on the board with some open water February bass. My submissions follow and here’s to more on the way with spring on the horizon.

(Note: Click here for Top 5 rules for those who wish to join the fun)

Weight: 1-7 (15”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: February 27
Location: Little John Conservation Club
Lure: Rapala Shad Rap SR07 (blue)
Structure: Shoreline brush/dropoff
Angler Comments: Eleven minutes into casting for 2018 and I had my first bass and the kickoff to my Top 5. I’d take a bite that early on any trip but such rapid February feedback nearly caught me off guard.

Weight: 0-15 (13”)
Lure: Rapala Shad Rap SR07 (blue)
Structure: Shoreline brush/dropoff
Angler Comments: Did not take long to land Top 5 bass number two and falling just short of a pound didn’t bother me in the least. Much of the fun on the early season outings is simply establishing that initial Top 5 baseline knowing that upgrades will come with future time on the water.

Weight: 2-6 (17”)
Lure: Rapala Shad Rap SR07 (blue)
Structure: Dropoff
Angler Comments: Third bass of the day was another “keeper” and would wind up being Top Bass for the day. Less than an hour into casting I was feeling pretty good about landing a limit on my first outing of the year.

Weight: 1-2 (13.5”)
Lure: Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad)
Structure: Flat/dropoff
Angler Comments: A slack period on the Shad Rap and no interest on a jig and pig was reason for a changeup and the Red Eye Shad produced on about the third cast. However, this was the only fish that I’d fool on the bait.

Weight: 1-5 (14.5”)
Lure: Rapala Shad Rap SR07 (blue)
Structure: Overhanging brush/drop
Angler Comments: After a lull of nearly 90 minutes without a bite I completed my Top 5 on the first cast after a quick lunch break to gobble down a sandwich. Mission accomplished, only one short fish landed after this one. Looking forward to the next chance to get on the water, thankful for a limit but eager to displace them.

Top 5 Weight: 7-3 (2-6,1-7,1-5,1-2,0-15)

For the second straight year, a pair of limits were in the books before we reached March. Off to a solid start and looking forward to continued contributions as conditions improve. Send them my way at and stop back by for the regular Monday updates as well as monthly stat updates beginning in April. Best of luck out there, always up for a fish story. Talk to you later. Troy

2018 Top 5 Update

Our 2017 winner provides us with a welcome batch of bass as he kicks year number five of the Top 5 project into gear. January nearly slipped by in winter’s grip but his trip to warmer waters in the form of a power plant lake proved to be a winner. And we’re off…

Weight: 2-7
Angler: Mark Balbinot
Date: January 27
Location: Sangchris Lake
Lure: Rapala Shallow Shad Rap
Structure: Bare bank in about 1-6’ of water

Weight: 2-6
Angler: Mark Balbinot
Date: January 27
Location: Sangchris Lake
Lure: Rapala Shallow Shad Rap
Structure: Bare bank in about 1-6’ of water

Weight: 2-3
Angler: Mark Balbinot
Date: January 27
Location: Sangchris Lake
Lure: Rapala Shallow Shad Rap
Structure: Bare bank in about 1-6’ of water

Weight: 3-15
Angler: Mark Balbinot
Date: January 27
Location: Sangchris Lake
Lure: Rapala Shallow Shad Rap
Structure: Bare bank in about 1-6’ of water

Weight: 2-6
Angler: Mark Balbinot
Date: January 27
Location: Sangchris Lake
Lure: Rapala Shallow Shad Rap
Structure: Bare bank in about 1-6’ of water
Angler Comments: The lake level was about 2 to 3 feet below normal pool and the water temp was in the low to mid 50’s. There were lots of shad flipping on the surface. Weather wise it was sunny with temps in the high 40’s but the blowing wind made it chilly.
Top 5 Weight: 13-5 (3-15, 2-7, 2-6, 2-6, 2-3)

Not only do we have some fish but Mark continues to post YouTube videos of his day on the water with some cool new features that add to the viewing experience. Really neat stuff and I highly recommend checking it out at the link below:

Exciting to be back in business already and if anyone out there happens onto some more catches, send them my way at

Good luck and talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Bass Record Book – Who

To finish off the wrap-up, here’s a look at the all-time heavyweights, both anglers and bass.

The 20-Pound Club * = 2017 entry
*33-14 Mark Balbinot 2017 (7-4,6-15,6-13,6-8,6-6)
32-13 Jake Bresson 2014 (9-4, 8-8, 6-6, 4-10, 4-1)
32-13 Mark Balbinot 2016 (7-7,6-8,6-5,6-5,6-4)
32-0 Gary Le 2014 (8-10,6-8,5-12,5-10, 5-8)
29-7 Austin Chapman 2015 (6-4,6-2,6-0,5-14,5-3)
27-12 Jake Bresson 2015 (6-13,6-2,5-5,5-0,4-8)
27-6 Randy Sampson Sr 2015 (7-0,6-1,4-13,4-12,4-12)
27-6 Jake Bresson 2016 (6-3,5-13,5-4,5-2,5-0)
*26-13 Troy Jackson 2017 (6-2,5-11,5-9,5-0,4-7)
26-4 Austin Chapman 2016 (5-14,5-10,5-2,4-14,4-12)
26-1 Brice Wangler 2014 (5-11, 5-5, 5-2, 5-0, 4-15)
25-8 Brice Wangler 2015 (5-7,5-4,5-2,4-14,4-13)
24-14 Ty Hartlipp 2014 (6-11, 5-10, 5-5, 4-0, 3-4)
24-9 Terry Isbell 2014 (5-8,5-4,5-2,4-8,4-3)
*23-12 Jake Bresson 2017 (5-4,5-2,5-2,4-3,4-1)
*23-11 Randy Sampson Sr. 2017 (6-0,4-14,4-12,4-11,3-6)
22-15 Adam Bean 2015 (5-13,4-9,4-6,4-2,4-1)
22-13 Mike Mooney 2014 (6-4, 5-7, 4-3, 3-9, 3-6)
22-12 Troy Jackson 2015 (5-13,4-13,4-10,3-12,3-12)
21-8 Randy Sampson Sr. 2016 (5-12,5-8,4-11,3-1,2-8)
21-7 Brice Wangler 2016 (4-8,4-7,4-4,4-2,4-2)
21-3 Troy Jackson 2016 (5-9,5-4,3-9,3-7,3-6)
20-14 Troy Jackson 2014 (4-13, 4-6, 4-2, 4-1, 3-8)
20-9 Austin Chapman 2014 (4-15, 4-4,4-0,3-13,3-9)
20-1 Bruce Zilkowski 2014 (4-11,4-3,4-0,3-12,3-7)

Comments: Four more entries into the coveted 20-pound club in 2017 including a new record up there in the rare air of the 30-pound club. Mark Balbinot grabs back to back titles with 30-pound limits in both years he has participated. Randy Sampson Sr. makes it three for three in the 20-pound club and among those who have taken part all four years, Jake Bresson and the guy who runs the blog make it four for four.

Top 10 Top 5 Bass * = 2017 entry
9-4 Jake Breeson 5/23/14 Jig
8-10 Gary Le 5/4/14 Swimbait
8-8 Jake Breeson 5/23/14 Jig
8-0 Kamryn Kaesebier 4/13/14 Crankbait
7-7 Mark Balbinot 12/11/16 Underspin
*7-4 Mark Balbinot 10/29/17 Jig
7-0 Randy Sampson Sr. 3/22/15 Jig
*6-15 Mark Balbinot 5/13/17 Creature Bait
6-13 Jake Breeson 4/9/15 Swim Jig
*6-13 Mark Balbinot 12/10/17 Creature Bait

Comments: Our winner’s record breaking haul included three new Top 10 entries and you darn near need a seven-pounder to make the list these days. Not too surprising to find the list dominated by early and late catches with a nod to jig style presentations.

And just for fun…

All-Time Weights (40-pound minimum “career” mark)
(Note: not all anglers have participated each year)

111-11 Jake Bresson (32-13,27-12,27-6,23-12)
91-10 Troy Jackson (20-14,22-12,21-3,26-13)
76-4 Austin Chapman (20-9,29-7,26-4)
73-0 Brice Wangler (26-1,25-8,21-7)
72-15 Bruce Zilkowski (20-1,17-0,17-14,18-0)
72-10 Randy Sampson, Sr. (27-6,21-8,23-12)
66-11 Mark Balbinot (33-14,32-13)
52-2 Paul Kessler (18-6,17-6,16-6)
48-5 Brent Jackson (18-7,6-10,13-2,10-2)
45-11 Mike Mooney (22-13,4-9,18-5)
41-3 Jim Junk (11-7,16-5,13-7)

Comments: Folks, we have our first member of the 100-pound club. Way to go, Jake. And thanks to all for giving this a shot and coming back for more.

Four exciting years in the books and back for more in 2018 for anyone who is interested. And we’ll take all species again this year if you chase or happen upon something other than bass. So, let the fun begin, again. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Bass Record Book – Where & How

Understandably some of the specifics concerning location don’t always get revealed but we do have good details on whether our fish are coming from public or private waters. Also fun to track is the boat versus bank approaches. And lastly for this portion of the update we’ll take a look at what our anglers are casting with success. Once again, we are looking at the breakdown of the 475 bass submitted over four years of our project.

Public vs. Private Water (2014/2015/2016/2017)
Public = 281 bass (92/52/95/42)
Public Top 5 Weight = 32-2, 31-7, 30-5 and 27-7 (2017)
Private = 177 bass (53/48/39/37)
Private Top 5 Weight = 38-10, 30-0, 32-13 and 33-14 (2017)
Undisclosed = 17 bass (9/6/2/0)

Comments: There’s nothing like having a private honey hole. In fact, wish I had more. However, there’s also something to be said for pulling quality bass out of a public body where the fish get pounded by everybody and their brother. Cool to see that public water still leads the pack by a considerable margin in quantity although private waters have shelled out more weight.

Boat vs. Bank (2014/2015/2016/2017) * = new record
Boat = 324 bass (90/63/103/68)
Boat Top 5 Weight = 30-7, 31-7, 32-13 and *33-14 (2017)
Bank = 145 bass (64/43/27/11)
Bank Top 5 Weight = 40-14, 27-6, 27-12 and 20-14 (2017)
Undisclosed = 6 bass

Comments: So not everybody has a souped up bass boat, modified johnboat or even an eight-foot rowboat so I always find it cool to have a solid contribution from the bankers though they still trail the boaters by a fair margin in quantity. However, the overall quality in our four years shows that those casting from the bank can still hold their ground. For me, I still spend my year on both sides of these approaches and simply get a kick out of quality catches whether on my feet or on my seat.

The Baits (43 undisclosed) * = new record
82 Plastic Worms (Top Bass 6-8 Mark Balbinot 11/20/16)
53 Crankbaits (8-0 Kamryn Kaesebier 4/13/14)
48 Jigs (9-4 Jake Bresson 5/23/14)
45 Spinnerbaits (5-4 Terry Isbell 10/22/14)
34 Lipless Crankbaits (5-13 Troy Jackson 3/21/15)
29 Swimbaits (8-10 Gary Le 5/4/14)
27 Swim Jigs (6-13 Jake Bresson 4/9/15)
*23 Creature Baits (6-15 Mark Balbinot 5/13/17)
Old Record (6-1 Jeff Marshall 5/23/14)
19 Jerkbaits (5-10 Ty Hartlipp 6/5/14)
*18 Buzzbaits (5-9 Troy Jackson4/25/17)
Old Record (5-8 Terry Isbell 9/14/14)
12 Tubes (Top Bass 5-0 Jake Bresson 4/28/15)
10 Topwater Frog (6-11 Ty Hartlipp 6/11/14)
7 Chatterbaits (Top Bass 4-10 Mark Balbinot 2/20/16)
7 Underspins (Top Bass 7-7 Mark Balbinot 12/11/16)
*5 Stickbaits (6-6 Mark Balbinot 8/27/17)
Old Record (5-8 Randy Sampson Sr. 5/7/16)
*5 Ultralights (3-1 Paul Kessler 10/12/17)
Old Record (2-11 Paul Kessler 5/16/15)
4 Livebait (5-14 Jim Junk 7/4/14)
*2 Inline Spinners (5-2 Jake Bresson 9/17/17)
No previous record
2 Propbaits (6-2 Jake Bresson 5/1/15)

Comments: The good old plastic worm still leads the way. Worm styles and presentations have no doubt expanded over the years but tough to argue that the general lure category continues to be a winner. Several records bested in 2017 which is getting to be a tall order with some real quality catches.

A final installment tomorrow with one more look at our fish…and the anglers who caught ‘em. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Bass Record Book – When

Time for the annual Top 5 Record Book wrap up series. What follows is a look at how our bass stack up with respect to the calendar. Four years, 27 different anglers and 475 bass (all but 22 from Illinois waters) make up the all-time record book. Here we go.

Group Totals = 475 bass (2014 = 154/2015 = 106/2016 = 136/2017 = 79)
Submissions by month (2014/2015/2016/2017) * = new record

118 April (43/33/31/11)
82 May (27/23/19/13)
68 March (13/11/34/10)
64 June (34/14/15/1)
48 July (18/11/8/11)
24 February (2/2/7/*13)
22 September (6/4/6/6)
21 October (4/5/4/8)
10 November (6/0/4/0)
9 August (1/3/1/*4)
8 December (0/0/7/1)
1 January (*2017 had first submission)

Comments: Spring continues to rule the day in terms of submissions. Warming weather, looking to scratch that fishing itch after a long winter and the simple fact that you’re starting your haul makes the totals add up significantly. Summer continues to be a bummer when it comes to numbers but a solid year with only November failing to see a contribution.

Top 10 Top 5 Monthly Weights (group total) * = new entry
37-9 May 2014
29-8 June 2014
29-7 March 2016
29-2 April 2014
28-7 December 2016
27-14 April 2015
27-12 March 2015
27-11 July 2014
27-10 April 2016
27-1 May 2016

Comments: Takes just over 27 pounds combined from our anglers to crack the Top 10 all-time monthly weights and we fell just a little shy during May (26-14) and October (26-11) in 2017.

Top 5 Weights per Month (group total) * = new record
*January (2017) = 2-11 (one fish)
February (2016) = 22-9 (6-7,4-15,4-10,4-1,2-8)
March (2016) = 29-7 (6-5,6-1,5-14,5-10,5-9)
April (2014) = 29-2 (8-0, 5-11, 5-10, 4-15. 4-14)
May (2014) = 37-9 (9-4, 8-10, 8-8, 6-1, 5-2)
June (2014) = 29-8 (6-11, 6-4, 5-10, 5-8, 5-7)
July (2014) = 27-11 (6-6, 6-0, 5-5, 5-0, 5-0)
*August (2017) = 18-9 (6-6,5-11,4-3,2-5) old mark 13-6 (2015)
September (2014) = 22-3 (5-8,5-2,4-0,3-13,3-12)
*October (2017) = 26-11 (7-4,6-8,5-10,4-3,3-2) old mark 22-11 (2015)
November (2016) = 24-9 for 4 bass (6-8,6-5,6-4,5-8)
December (2016) = 28-7 (7-7,6-5,5-13,4-11,4-3)

Comments: Our first ever January bass sets the mark and two other monthly records get a boost as well. Particularly good to see August up the mark by five pounds as the “Dog Days” can be a tough sell. Interestingly, the new August mark only featured four fish but easily eclipsed our former mark that consisted of a full limit. As always, good to see fishing rods that aren’t put away too early as evidenced by the new October record.

Monthly Top Bass * = new record
2-11 Mark Balbinot 1/29/17 Underspin (first January submission)
6-7 Mike Overturf 2/27/16 Plastic Worm
7-0 Randy Sampson Sr. 3/22/15 Jig
8-0 Kamryn Kaesebier 4/13/14 Crankbait
9-4 Jake Breeson 5/23/14 Jig
6-11 Ty Hartlipp 6/11/14 Topwater Frog
6-6 Jake Breeson 7/11/14 Plastic Worm
6-8 Gary Le 8/16/14 Swimbait
6-0 Austin Chapman 9/19/15 Jig
*7-4 Mark Balbinot 10/29/17 Jig (old record 6-0 Mike Mooney 2016)
6-8 Mark Balbinot 11/20/16 Plastic Worm
7-7 Mark Balbinot 12/11/16 Underspin

Comments: Another outstanding year by our 2017 Champ, Mark Balbinot, saw him establish a pair of new monthly marks, January (2-11) and October (7-4). And, hey, unseasonably warm out there for January so you got a few more days to take your shot at fame.

Always fun for me this time of the year to compile the records and daydream about what this year holds in store. Back tomorrow with a breakdown of baits and locations. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 2017 Final Stats

Congratulations to Mark Balbinot as he repeats as Top 5 Champion with a record breaking bass haul of 33-14. This eclipses the former top mark of 32-13 held jointly by Mark (2016) and Jake Bresson (2014). A dominant year for Mark that also saw his haul singlehandedly establish new highs for several catch categories.

2017 also marked our first foray into including other species and while the submissions were sparse, I feel it was still a fun addition. All told, 2017 ended with 79 bass, 9 northern pike, 5 muskie, 5 walleye and a green sunfish via the contributions of eight anglers with all the details below, starting with bass and followed by the other species.

3/26 Bruce Zikowski 4-9 Newton Lake Lipless Crankbait 

2017 Totals (* = new record)
*January = 1 bass (no previous entries)
*February = 13 bass (old record 7 in 2016)
March = 10 bass
April = 11 bass
May = 13 bass
June = 1 bass
July = 11 bass
*August = 4 bass (old record 3 in 2015)
*September = 6 bass (ties record 2014, 2016)
*October = 8 bass (old record 5 in 2015)
November = 0 bass
December = 1 bass

5/20 Jake Bresson 5-2 Northern IL creek Swim Jig

Top 5 Weight by Month (* = new record)
*January = 2-11 (2-11) no previous record
February = 21-5 (5-2,4-14,4-2,3-15,3-4)
March = 22-15 (6-2,4-11,4-9,4-3,3-6)
April = 25-0 (6-0,5-15,5-9,3-14,3-10)
May = 26-14 (6-15,5-8,5-4,5-2,4-1)
June = 6-3 (only submission)
July = 21-0 (5-0,4-12,4-7,3-8,3-5)
August = 18-9 (6-6,5-11,4-3,2-5) (only four submissions)
September = 14-10 (5-2,3-0,2-9,2-4,1-11)
*October = 26-11 (7-4,6-8,5-10,4-3,3-2) – old record 22-11 in 2015
November = no submissions
December = 6-13 (only submission)

5/27 Paul Kessler 3-4 Emiquon Preserve Crankbait

Boat vs. Bank
Boat = 68 bass
Bank = 11 bass

Boat vs. Bank Weight (* = new record)
*Boat = 33-14 (7-4,6-15,3-6-13,6-8,6-6) old record 32-13 in 2016
Bank = 20-14 (5-2,4-3,4-1,3-14,3-10)

9/17 Brent Jackson 2-9 Lake Storey Spinnerbait

Public vs. Private
Public = 42 bass
Private = 37 bass

Public vs. Private Top 5 Weight
Public = 27-7 (6-0,5-15,5-4,5-2,5-2)
Private = 33-14 (7-4,6-15,6-13,6-8,6-6)

4/15 Randy Sampson Sr. 6-0 West Central IL strip mine Crankbait

The Baits (* = new record)
Crankbaits = 16 bass (Top Bass 6-0 Randy Sampson Sr.)
Jigs = 12 bass (Top Bass 7-4 Mark Balbinot)
Spinnerbaits = 9 bass (Top Bass 4-3 Paul Kessler)
Plastic Worms = 8 bass (Top Bass 5-11 Troy Jackson)
*Buzzbaits = 6 bass (Top Bass 5-9 Troy Jackson)
Old record 5-8 Terry Isbell 9/14/14
Jerkbaits = 5 bass (Top Bass 5-4 Jake Bresson)
Swim Jigs = 5 bass (Top Bass 5-2 Jake Bresson)
*Creature Bait = 4 bass (Top Bass 6-15 Mark Balbinot)
Old record 6-1 Jeff Marshall 5/23/14
Lipless Crankbaits = 3 bass (Top Bass 4-3 Bruce Zilkowski)
*Inline Spinners = 2 bass (Top Bass 5-2 Jake Bresson)
No previous record
Swimbait = 2 bass (Top Bass 4-12 Randy Sampson Sr.)
Underspins = 2 bass (Top Bass 5-2 Mark Balbinot)
*Propbait = 1 bass (Top Bass 4-7 Troy Jackson)
No previous record
*Stickbait = 1 bass (Top Bass 6-6 Mark Balbinot)
Old Record 5-8 Randy Sampson Sr. 5/7/16
Topwater Frog = 1 bass (Top Bass 6-3 Mark Balbinot)
Tube = 1 bass (Top Bass 4-1 Jake Bresson)
Ultralight = 1 bass (Top Bass 3-1 Paul Kessler)

5/13 Mark Balbinot 6-15 Fulton County, IL strip mine Creature Bait

Monthly Top Bass (* = new record)
*2-11 Mark Balbinot (no previous record)
5-2 Mark Balbinot
6-2 Troy Jackson
6-0 Randy Sampson Sr.
6-15 Mark Balbinot
6-3 Mark Balbinot
5-0 Troy Jackson
6-6 Mark Balbinot
5-2 Jake Bresson
*7-4 Mark Balbinot (old record Mike Mooney 6-0 10/1/16)
No submissions
6-13 Mark Balbinot

7/9 Terry Jackson 3-5 Knox County, IL strip mine Plastic Worm

Top 10 Bass (* = new Top 10 all-time)
*7-4 Mark Balbinot 10/29 (#6 all-time)
*6-15 Mark Balbinot 5/13 (#8 all-time)
*6-13 Mark Balbinot 12/10 (#9 all-time tie)
6-8 Mark Balbinot 10/29
6-6 Mark Balbinot 8/27
6-3 Mark Balbinot 6/18
6-2 Troy Jackson 3/4
6-0 Randy Sampson Sr. 4/15
5-15 Mark Balbinot 4/14
5-11 Troy Jackson 8/21

3/4 Troy Jackson 6-2 Knox County, IL strip mine Jig

Angler Weights (* = new Top 5 record, old mark 32-13)
*33-14 Mark Balbinot (7-4,6-15,6-13,6-8,6-6)
26-13 Troy Jackson (6-2,5-11,5-9,5-0,4-7)
23-12 Jake Bresson (5-4,5-2,5-2,4-3,4-1)
23-11 Randy Sampson Sr. (6-0,4-14,4-12,4-11,3-6)
18-0 Bruce Zilkowski (4-9,4-3,3-15,3-0,2-5)
16-6 Paul Kessler (4-3,3-4,3-2,3-1,2-12)
10-2 Brent Jackson (3-2,2-9,1-11,1-6,1-6)
5-6 Terry Jackson (3-5,1-3,0-14)

5/27 Jayce Jackson 0-13 Henry County, IL pond Waxworm

Bonus Species – Green Sunfish
0-13 Jayce Jackson

Late May Jake Bresson 47.0″ Canada Jerkbait 

Bonus Species – Muskie
Total = 131” Jake Bresson (47”,31”,29”24”) on Rapala X-Rap
Total = 29” Troy Jackson on Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait

3/24 Jake Bresson 33.5″ Northern IL creek Tube

Bonus Species – Northern Pike
Total = 167.25” Jake Bresson (37.0”,35.25”,33.5”,32.0”,29.5”)

Late May Jake Bresson 26.0″ Canada Jig & Minnow

Bonus Species – Walleye
Total = 118” Jake Bresson (26.5”,26.0”,25.5”,20”,20”) on Rapala X-Rap or jig & minnow

I’m up for another run if anyone out there wishes to play along again for a fifth year. And coming next week, a look at the grand totals and the Top 5 bass record book covering 475 bass submitted from 2014-2017. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Well, folks we’ve got one more December bass that makes its way into our final 2017 update now that the Holiday Season dust has finally settled. And it’s a good one…

Weight: 6-13
Angler: Mark Balbinot
Date: December 10
Location: Fulton County, IL Strip Mine Lake
Lure: Texas rigged Zoom lizard
Water Temperature: 39 degrees
Structure: Laydown in about 10’ of water
Top 5 Weight: 33-14 (7-4,6-15,6-13,6-8,6-6) culls 6-3

Way to go, Mark, another fantastic year, been great to follow along. And for anyone who wishes to see this catch and others in action, along with some cool new video data features check out Mark’s You Tube links below:

December 10 Video –

Dashware Enhanced Video –

Got several things going on with a few more Trapping Tuesday and Resolution Result posts to finish up the month but also looking to get a series of Top 5 posts put together regarding the final 2017 stats as well as looking into the numbers from four years of the project. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy