Category: Top 5

Friday Flashback – May 23, 2015

Five years ago this week I spent a full day roaming and rowing some of my strip mine stomping grounds. The combination of many public and private fishing holes produced a sizeable quantity of bass including several in the two pound range. Below are the stats and a couple notes from the original three-part fishing report posted May 27-29, 2015.

Top Bass of the day at 2-13 on a Senko wacky rig

Stats
Date: May 23, 2015
Location: Knox County strip pits (2 sites – 9 lakes)
Time: 6:55am-8:00pm (8.75 hours fishing, the rest walking/relocating)
Weather: Sunny/windy
Air Temp: 55-75F
Water Temp: 70F
Totals: 58 bass
Lures: Senko weighted wacky rig (various colors) – 35 bass, Strike King Red Eye (sexy shad) – 9 bass, Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (salt & pepper) – 8 bass, K9 Walker (Madd Shadd) – 4 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (copper shad) – 1 bass, Rebel Zell Rowland Pop’R – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-13 (Senko)
Top 5 Weight: 10-0 (2-13,2-1,1-15,1-11,1-8)

An old Zell Rowland signature Rebel Pop’R, probably older than some folks reading this post

Notes & Nonsense

Topwater Tactics – With the weed choked waters I did a fair amount of topwater casting by throwing a buzzbait, stickbait and popper as far as I could into open water. I’d then work it back to the edge and give a big yank to send it flying back in my direction and then reel it up out of the grass on the bank nearby. It was cool to nab a few on a K9 Walker stickbait made by HO.com reader, Frank Harvey. In addition, I caught one on a Zell Rowland Pop’R autograph model that is probably over 20 years old and likely hadn’t caught a bass for nearly as long. Gotta do what you gotta do when dealt some tough conditions.

K9 Walker, a homemade topwater bait received from a blog reader many years ago

Unlucky Bass – The 2-1 pictured below had a bad day upon making a decision to try a Senko for brunch. For starters, my equipment is a bit less than new and would not be mistaken for top dollar as my money goes elsewhere. So anyway, the bail on my spinning reel flipped open on the hookset leading me to originally think I’d busted the line. I quickly realized that wasn’t the case, found that the tough luck fish was still attached and finished battling the nice bass to the boat. Then I discovered that the fish was hooked deep and debated just clipping my jighead but was able to extract it without any noticeable damage. Upon release I placed the bass in tail first and let go only to watch the fish make a tail walking jump right into the Red Eye Shad I had hanging over the side of the boat (yes, I should know better). Well, if bass have a chin that’s where it wound up double hooked the second time. So, I snatched my rod before it went overboard, unhooked my bass again with no visible damage and re-released it (only recorded it in the log once though as that would be greedy and unethical to count it twice). I did apologize to the fish as it was the right thing to do and it swam away in a hurry, minus the leap. For its sake I actually hope it does not find my bait in the future no matter how big it grows as I feel kind of bad for its ordeal.

My apologies to this unfortunate “sorta twice caught” bass

The Shirt – This marked the final day for one of my favorite fishing shirts.  For me, fishing is rife with favorites whether it be a hat, a lure or a productive spot on the water.  Well, me and this shirt go back a ways but it now must join the collection of other “good luck” shirts that have worn thin over the years.  Perhaps someday I will pursue writing more on the specific shirt and the general topic but for now just want to say “Thanks” to the holey tatter that Julie said that she wouldn’t wash again should it show up in the laundry.  

Rain or shine the old “lucky shirt” was a winner

Five years later, I’m getting around to the “Lucky Shirt” thing with a yearlong project. It’s also time for topwater baits and a Senko wacky rig presentation as the weeds take over some waters. Hard to believe May is about to come to a close. Stay tuned for June as we’ve got a couple fish already in for next week’s Top 5 Update and I hope to include a fishing report or two in the near future. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Memorial Day weekend found a father-daughter duo prowling the banks of a local fishing hole looking to fool a few bass. Weed choked shallows and the bass spawn can make for a challenge but this angling pair managed to find a couple bass for our latest update.

Weight: 1-11
Angler: Kennedy Jackson
Date: May 24
Location: Lake Storey
Lure: Senko wacky rig
Top 5 Weight: 5-12 (1-13,1-11,1-5,0-15)

Weight: 2-12
Angler: Brent Jackson (his fishing guide holding his catch for a pic)
Date: May 24
Location: Lake Storey
Lure: Senko wacky rig
Angler Comments: They must have been ready to spawn. They were right up by the bank. Dropped the Senko in front of them and they grabbed it.
Top 5 Weight: 7-8 (3-2,2-12,1-10)

Well done, and fun to see that the younger of these family members is within one good bite of catching her dad in Top 5 weight. Hang in there, kiddo, I can relate. Your dad has had the upper hand on his older brother for most of the last 35 years. No matter, it’s all good regardless of who is catching them when it comes to family fishing. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Well, 2020 continues to be quite a mess. While I will leave the Covid conversation for other forums, I will gripe a bit about the weather. It seems like spring just can’t hit its stride and put together a stretch of pleasant days. This past week featured a substantial amount of rain, steady winds and a near 20-degree drop in daily high temperature as we headed into the weekend. Nevertheless, some of us still got out there and a few more bass joined the ranks.

Weight: 2-4
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: May 11
Weather: 52F and partly cloudy/windy
Location: Knox County, IL strip pit
Lure: Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad)
Structure: Weed edge
Angler Comments: After two and a half hours of a cold front shutout on my first stops I sure was happy to get this one in hand. Simply a bonus that it bumped my Top 5 weight up by a couple ounces.

Weight: 2-8
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: May 15
Weather: 75F and partly cloudy/breezy
Location: Knox County, IL strip pit
Lure: Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad)
Structure: Point
Angler Comments: Strange, full day on the water with my four best bites coming in the span of about 30 minutes of a near six hour day. This bass was the last and largest of the four that averaged right around two pounds.
Top 5 Weight: 14-5 (4-12,2-8,2-7,2-6,2-4) culls 2-3 and 2-2

Weight: 3-8
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: May 16
Location: Knox County, IL strip pit
Lure: Creature bait
Top 5 Weight: 15-13 (4-1,3-8,3-4,2-12,2-4) culls 2-4

It appears that the weather in the area will take a turn for the better at mid-week and into the weekend. Here’s hoping that you have a fishing hole and an opportunity to get on the water and take advantage. Send them my way when you catch them. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Nearly 25 pounds of bass join the ranks after a period of decent, stable weather graced the area last week. Didn’t take long for that to disappear but fun while it lasted.

Weight: 4-12
Angler: Chris Schwarz
Date: May 3
Location: Warren County, IL private pond
Lure: Chatterbait (bluegill) with paddle tail swimbait trailer

Weight: 5-4
Angler: Chris Schwarz
Date: May 3
Location: Warren County, IL private pond
Lure: Chatterbait (bluegill) with paddle tail swimbait trailer

Weight: 5-7
Angler: Chris Schwarz
Date: May 3
Location: Warren County, IL private pond
Lure: Chatterbait (bluegill) with paddle tail swimbait trailer
Top 5 Weight: 22-5 (6-14,5-7,5-4,4-12) NOTE: that’s only four fish too, folks

Weight: 2-6 (17.5”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: May 4
Weather: Partly cloudy/windy
Location: Knox County private strip mine
Lure: Stanley Vibra Shaft Spinnerbait (blue glimmer) with twin tail trailer (pumpkinseed)
Structure: Trees

Weight: 2-2 (16.5”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: May 4
Weather: Partly cloudy/windy
Location: Knox County private strip mine
Lure: Stanley Vibra Shaft Spinnerbait (blue glimmer) with twin tail trailer (pumpkinseed)
Structure: Trees

Weight: 2-7 (17”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: May 4
Weather: Partly cloudy/windy
Location: Knox County private strip mine
Lure: Stanley Vibra Shaft Spinnerbait (blue glimmer) with twin tail trailer (pumpkinseed)
Structure: Trees

Weight: 2-3 (16.5”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: May 4
Weather: Partly cloudy/windy
Location: Knox County private strip mine
Lure: Stanley Vibra Shaft Spinnerbait (blue glimmer) with twin tail trailer (pumpkinseed)
Structure: Stumps
Angler Comments: A tough start to my day was salvaged in a hurry. I found the right lake at the right time resulting in a flurry of quality bass in my last 75 minutes on the water. The classic Blue Glimmer spinnerbait was on fire just like old times.
Top 5 Weight: 13-14 (4-12,2-7,2-6,2-3,2-2) culls 2-1,1-15,1-14,1-14

A potentially frosty start to this week but temps look to pick up as the week progresses. Here’s hoping that the bite does too. As always, send them my way when you catch some. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

A solid weather weekend and an extra day off for me allowed for quite a few hours on the water. Good numbers on bass but any real big ones were elusive. Fun to get the family in on the act and managed to add a quality “accident” for our first “Other Species” entry of 2020.

Weight: 1-15 (16.5”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: May 1
Weather: Partly cloudy/windy, 61F
Location: Knox County, IL strip pit
Lure: Senko weighted wacky rig (strawberry cream)
Structure: Weed edge/drop
Angler Comments: This bass was interested in a crappie that I had just caught on a Shad Rap and continued to cruise a dropoff in view of my position on the bank. I tossed out a Senko several feet beyond the bass and the fish immediately turned towards the splashdown. Several seconds into the Senko sinking the bass was on the line.
Top 5 Weight: 12-8 (4-12,2-1,1-15,1-14,1-14) culls a 1-12

Weight: 0-14 (13”)
Angler: Carly Jackson
Date: May 2
Weather: Partly cloudy/breezy
Location: Knox County, IL strip pit
Lure: Senko weighted wacky rig (smoke)
Structure: Flat/dropoff
Top 5 Weight: 0-14 (0-14)

OTHER SPECIES

Weight: 1-2 (13”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: May 3
Weather: Partly cloudy/breezy
Location: Knox County, IL strip pit
Lure: Senko weighted wacky rig
Structure: Weed edge/dropoff
Angler Comments: After I missed strike on a Zara Spook, I tossed the Senko near the area of the boil thinking maybe the bass would still be there looking for a perceived meal. Right on cue, I got a hit on the Senko but to my surprise it wasn’t a bass at all.
Top 5 Weight: 1-2 (1-2)

The bite has picked up with some stable weather and the crappie in particular should really be hitting full stride as Mother’s Day has long been the general target date to nab a bunch of those papermouths. Got a few more days off on the horizon so hoping to add some more fish to the log and hopefully contribute to another Top 5 Update or two along the way. I also have a significant backlog of fishing reports, pics, videos and random stuff so stay tuned as I try to chip away at those posts. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Stats

On the heels of May Day it is time for the first batch of Top 5 Stats for 2020. Same as it ever was, my intent is to provide monthly updates as we make our way through the year.

2020 Totals (* = new record)
January = 1 bass
February = no submissions
March = 4 bass
April = 25 bass

Top 5 Weight by Month (* = new record)
January = 1-4 (one bass)
February = no submissions
March = 15-8 (6-14,4-1,3-4,1-5)
April = 16-11 (4-12,3-2,3-1,3-0,2-12)

Boat vs. Bank
Boat = 2 bass
Bank = 28 bass

Boat vs. Bank Weight (* = new record)
Boat = 5-6 (4-1,1-5)
Bank = 21-1 (6-14,4-12,3-4,3-2,3-1)

Public vs. Private
Public = 20 bass
Private = 10 bass

Public vs. Private Top 5 Weight
Public = 17-4 (4-12,4-1,3-4,3-2,2-1)
Private = 17-15 (6-14,3-1,3-0,2-12,2-4)

The Baits (* = new record)
Chatterbait = 9 bass (Top Bass 4-1 Jim Junk)
Plastic Worm = 8 bass (Top Bass 3-2 Brent Jackson)
Lipless Crankbait = 3 bass (Top Bass 3-4 Jim Junk)
*Spinnerbait = 3 bass (Top Bass 6-14 Chris Schwarz) – tops 5-14 Mark Balbinot
Crankbait = 2 bass (Top Bass 1-10 Brent Jackson)
Jig = 2 bass (Top Bass 4-12 Troy Jackson)
Livebait = 2 bass (Top Bass 3-1 Teagan Mills)
Grub = 1 bass (Top Bass 1-4 Jim Junk)

Monthly Top Bass (* = new record)
January
1-4 Jim Junk
February
No submissions
March
6-14 Chris Schwarz
April
4-12 Troy Jackson

Top 10 Bass (* = new Top 10 all-time)
*6-14 Chris Schwarz (3/25) – new #10 all-time
4-12 Troy Jackson (4/26)
4-1 Jim Junk (3/7)
3-4 Jim Junk (3/3)
3-2 Brent Jackson (4/26)
3-1 Teagan Mills (4/21)
3-0 Teagan Mills (4/12)
2-12 Jim Junk (4/23)
2-4 Jim Junk (4/23)
2-4 Jim Junk (4/23)

Angler Weights
Jim Junk 14-9 (4-1,3-4,2-12,2-4,2-4)
Troy Jackson 12-5 (4-12,2-1,1-14.1-14,1-12)
Chris Schwarz 6-14 (6-14)
Teagan Mills 6-1 (3-1,3-0)
Brent Jackson 4-12 (3-2,1-10)
Brady Jackson 4-8 (1-5,1-2,1-1,1-0)
Kennedy Jackson 4-1 (1-13,1-5,0-15)

Thumbs up to our anglers for a good start to what has turned into an unusual year. Here’s hoping that opportunities continue to arise for folks to get out on the water. Send them my way when you catch them at troy@troyjacksonoutdoors.com. Top 5 Update coming your way Monday and check back often as I have plenty of stuff to submit as time permits. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

A mix of weather in the area this last week found several anglers fooling some bass during all conditions. From moderate temp, cloudy days mid-week to a cold, wet, nasty Saturday through a bright, warm Sunday, a solid batch of bass join our 2020 Top 5.

Weight: 3-1
Angler: Teagan Mills
Date: April 21
Location: Private pond
Lure: Minnow
Top 5 Weight: 6-1 (3-1,3-0)

Weight: 2-4
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 23
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Chatterbait (black/blue)

Weight: 2-4
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 23
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Chatterbait (black/blue)

Weight: 2-2
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 23
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Chatterbait (black/blue)

Weight: 2-12
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 23
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Chatterbait (black/blue)

Weight: 1-9
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 23
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Chatterbait (black/blue)
Angler Comments: Filled out my Top 5 in about 20 minutes.
Top 5 Weight: 14-9 (4-1,3-4,2-12,2-4,2-4) culls 2-2 and 1-9

Weight: 3-2
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: April 26
Location: Knox County public strip pit
Lure: Senko wacky rig
Top 5 Weight: 4-12 (3-2,1-10)

Weight: 4-12 (21″)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 26
Weather: Sunny/windy
Location: Knox County public strip pit
Lure: Jig (black/blue) with #11 pork frog (black/blue)
Structure: Open
Angler Comments: This one turned around a tough morning after two good bites got loose and I logged only one short bass in my first hour of casting. Been a long time coming and a lot of casts after struggling to find some big bites the last two years. More to come, including video, when I get time to compile the fishing report.
Top 5 Weight: 12-5 (4-12,2-1,1-14,1-14,1-12) culls 1-11

A quality haul amidst the strange conditions in our world but no problem maintaining social distance as advised. It still baffles me how spots like Snakeden Hollow and Banner Marsh remain closed while a number of other sites are slated for “partial re-opening” on May 1. I have yet to find any explanation on the choices so if anybody has any input, drop me a line.

Still trying to play catch-up on a handful of items but tough to find time as I am fortunate to still be working. Sooner or later, I’ll get the posts compiled so make sure you check back in for more fish, family, friends, fun and foolishness. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

The area saw some stable weather this weekend with an upturn in temps from a week featuring a couple snowstorms but still not top notch conditions. High winds also made for some challenges for those casting from the bank. Well done by the anglers below in persevering and getting one step closer to completing their Top 5.

Weight: 1-1
Angler: Brady Jackson
Date: April 20
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Senko (black/blue)
Top 5 Weight: 4-8 (1-5,1-2,1-1,1-0)

Weight: 1-13
Angler: Kennedy Jackson
Date: April 19
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Senko (orange)

Weight: 0-15
Angler: Kennedy Jackson
Date: April 19
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Senko (orange)
Angler Comments: We started out where we had good luck last week but the wind was blowing right in our faces which made casting a little difficult. We fished about 20 minutes and decided to make the hike over to another lake. Brady said he was not going to fish until someone caught a fish. It was about 2 or 3 casts and Kennedy caught the 1-13 on an orange senko with a flat tail (she picked it out herself). Brady started fishing and ended up catching one at 1-1 on the black/blue senko. Kennedy had another one at 15 oz. and she ended up getting her hair caught up in the reel handle – I’m pretty sure that is the first time that has ever happened to one of my fishing partners.
Top 5 Weight: 4-1 (1-13,1-5,0-15)

Still waiting for that run of stable, warm weather to really kick the bite into gear. A couple reports of some monster bass from West Central Illinois but overall hearing more reports of scattered tough bites. The extended forecast does show some warmer days and more importantly warmer nights on the horizon. Here’s hoping that it heats up the bite as well.

Loads of stuff lined up for the blog, just need to find time to put it together. So stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Easter Weekend saw some decent weather giving folks an opportunity to do some social distancing in the outdoors. As a result, the total submissions for 2020 more than doubled with the catches below.

Weight: 2-1 (17”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 11
Weather: Overcast/windy
Water Temp: no reading
Location: Knox County strip mine
Lure: Stanley Vibra Shaft Spinnerbait (blue glimmer)
Structure: Flat
Angler Comments: Old school Lure Lunacy runner-up comes through proving that its appearance in the final was not a fluke.

Weight: 1-11 (15.5”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 11
Weather: Overcast/windy
Water Temp: no reading
Location: Knox County strip mine
Lure: Stanley Vibra Shaft Spinnerbait (blue glimmer)
Structure: Saddle
Angler Comments: Perfect setup as this bass was hanging around a windblown ridge separating two deeper sections on this body of water. I suspected that there would be a bass in the neighborhood and always a treat when it works.

Weight: 1-11 (15”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 11
Weather: Overcast/windy
Water Temp: no reading
Location: Knox County strip mine
Lure: Stanley Chatterbait (bluegill) with Zako trailer (smoke)
Structure: Ledge/drop
Angler Comments: Never have had much luck getting a chatterbait going but found an area that set up well for a bank bound angler. Wading out a few feet on a shallow ledge allowed for a parallel retrieve along the ledge’s steep drop into the depths. As the lure hit the transition, success!

Weight: 1-14 (15”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 11
Weather: Overcast/windy
Water Temp: no reading
Location: Knox County strip mine
Lure: Stanley Chatterbait (bluegill) with Zako trailer (smoke)
Structure: Point/drop
Angler Comments: A broad, shallow point allowed for a cast into deeper water and a retrieve covering the transition from deep to shallow. Not a lot of coverage of a strike zone for a bank angler but got the cast in the vicinity of this interested bass.

Weight: 1-14 (15”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 11
Weather: Overcast/windy
Water Temp: no reading
Location: Knox County strip mine
Lure: Stanley Chatterbait (bluegill) with Zako trailer (smoke)
Structure: Point/drop
Angler Comments: Similar to the previous catch only a shorter, stubbier point produced this identical result.
Top 5 Weight: 9-4 (2-1,1-14,1-14,1-11,1-11) culls 1-8,1-5 and 1-4

Weight: 3-0
Angler: Teagan Mills
Date: April 12
Location: Private pond
Lure: Worm
Top 5 Weight: 3-0

Weight: 1-5
Angler: Brady Jackson
Date: April 12
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Senko wacky rig

Weight: 1-2
Angler: Brady Jackson
Date: April 12
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Senko wacky rig

Weight: 1-0
Angler: Brady Jackson
Date: April 12
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Senko wacky rig
Top 5 Weight: 3-7 (1-5,1-2,1-0)

Weight: 1-5
Angler: Kennedy Jackson
Date: April 12
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Senko wacky rig
Fishing Guide Comments: The kids both got fishing poles for Easter so I thought we would try them out. We fished for bluegills for about a half an hour with no bites and the kids were both ready to go. I convinced Kennedy to try another lake not too far away. She got a bite after a few minutes but did not hook it. Brady was just sitting on a bucket up the hill. He was ready to leave. I made two casts with a jig and caught two bass around a pound. They were both a little more interested at that point. I tied Senkos on their poles and Brady caught one before I could even get Kennedy’s tied on. Brady ended up with 5 bass – biggest was 1-5. Kennedy ended up with 2 bass – she tied for the big bass of the day at 1-5. They actually casted, hooked, and landed (or beached) them all by themselves. I told them the Senko was Uncle Troy’s favorite lure. I think it is probably their favorite now too.
Top 5 Weight: 1-5

Nothing like a little fresh air amidst the ongoing disruption of our regular routines. Cool to see some youngsters getting out there too for a bit of distancing from electronic devices. Well done parents and a fine example that I hope to emulate soon. Of course, don’t put those devices away until after you visit this website and the Troy Jackson Outdoors YouTube channel for an essential distraction. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Decent weather and some open access puts a few more bass in the Top 5 log for a pair of fishing brothers. And yes, we were there at the same time on one day without planning it but maintained social distance as our closest encounter was across a deep cut wall. In fact, it required a cell call as we were literally not within “shouting distance.”

Weight: 1-12
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 4
Weather: Sunny/windy
Location: Knox County, IL strip mines
Lure: 3/8 oz. jig (black/blue) with #11A pork frog (black/blue)
Structure: Overhanging tree/drop
Angler Comments: This one worked out just like it was supposed to as this bass was hanging around one of the prime structural elements on this small pothole of a pit.

Weight: 1-8
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 4
Lure: Strike King Red Eye Shad (orange craw)
Structure: Ridge
Angler Comments: A nice setup for a lipless crank produced along the deep side of a slight ridge separating the main bowl of this pothole from an adjacent shallow bay.

Weight: 1-4
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 4
Lure: Strike King Red Eye Shad (orange craw)
Structure: Drop
Angler Comments: When possible on a steep walled stretch on a strip pit I like to parallel a straight bank to keep my bait in the potential strike zone throughout the retrieve. This time it worked.
Top 5 Weight: 5-13 (1-12,1-8,1-5,1-4)

Weight: 1-10
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: April 5
Location: Knox County, IL strip mine
Lure: Mann’s 4- crankbait
Top 5 Weight: 1-10

Nice to get some fresh air and nab a few bass along the way. Full report on the weekend to come, hopefully later this week. Talk to you later. Troy