Category: Top 5

Top 5 Update

Been a little lean on the Top 5 front since kicking off the new website so cool to have a two year veteran of the project send me his first contributions for 2017.

Weight: 2-12
Angler: Paul Kessler
Date: April 17
Location: Banner Marsh – Pumphouse Lake
Lure: Spinnerbait (white)


Weight: 2-10
Angler: Paul Kessler
Date: April 17
Location: Banner Marsh – Pumphouse Lake
Lure: Spinnerbait (white)
Angler Comments: First trip of the year was on April 17 to Banner Marsh where I tried fishing Shovel and Pumphouse lakes.  Started on Pumphouse in the morning and caught the two above.  Maybe should have stayed there but wanted to look for some crappie since I have never had good luck catching them at any of the lakes there.  Didn’t catch anything else the rest of the day which was disappointing!

Weight: 3-4
Angler: Paul Kessler
Date: May 27
Location: Emiquon Preserve
Lure: Rapala DT6 Crankbait (Helsinki Shad)
Angler Comments: Forecast was for fairly calm winds but the morning was foggy and waves were up to a foot when I launched.  Managed to do well jigging for crappie but waves were topping out at whitecaps. Decided to go in and take a break at that point.  In the next 30 mins the sun came out and the wind died and things calmed down pretty well.  Caught ten bass but only weighed the biggest one.  Dumb mistake since I would have filled out my top five!  All were caught on a Rapala DT6.  Bought several colors of that lure based on some of your blog posts early last year!  Definitely paid off  for me on that day.
Top 5 Weight: 8-10 (3-4,2-12,2-10)

Appreciate the participation again this year, Paul, and looking forward to the next email as you continue to boost your creel.  Also thanks for the mention on the DT6, that lure was definitely a winner back in my Emiquon days. And always good to know someone reads some of my posts and may occasionally find something worthwhile.  Be careful though, there’s also a few bad habits in those entries from time to time.  Good luck to all, send ’em this way and talk to you later.  Troy

Top 5 Stats

A new month means a new stat wrap-up for the Top 5, here we go.

2017 Totals (* = new record)
*January = 1 bass (no previous entries)
*February = 13 bass (old record 7 in 2016)
March = 10 bass (record 13 in 2014)
April = 9 bass
May = 8 bass

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) record 22-9 in 2016
March = 22-15 (6-2,4-11,4-9,4-3,3-6) record 28-0 in 2016
April = 25-0 (6-0,5-15,5-9,3-14,3-10)
May = 25-0 6-15,5-8,5-2,4-1,3-6)

Boat vs. Bank
Boat = 31 bass
Bank = 10 bass

Boat vs. Bank Weight
Boat = 30-9 (6-15,6-2,6-0,5-15,5-9)
Bank = 20-2 (5-2,4-1,3-14,3-10,3-7)

Public vs. Private
Public = 21 bass
Private = 20 bass

Public vs. Private Top 5 Weight
Public = 26-10 (6-0,5-15,5-2,4-14,4-11)
Private = 29-4 (6-15,6-2,5-9,5-8,5-2)

The Baits – unspecified (* = new record)
Crankbaits = 14 bass (Top Bass 6-0 Randy Sampson Sr.)
Jigs = 9 bass (Top Bass 6-2 Troy Jackson)
Swim Jigs = 5 bass (Top Bass 5-2 Jake Bresson)
Lipless Crankbaits = 3 bass (Top Bass 4-3 Bruce Zilkowski)
Underspins = 2 bass (Top Bass 5-2 Mark Balbinot)
*Buzzbaits = 2 bass (Top Bass 5-9 Troy Jackson)
Old record 5-8 Terry Isbell 9/14/14
*Creature Bait = 2 bass (Top Bass 6-15)
Old record 6-1 Jeff Marshall 5/23/14
Jerkbait = 1 bass (Top Bass 3-0 Mark Balbinot)
Plastic Worm = 1 bass (Top Bass 3-5 Troy Jackson)
Spinnerbait = 1 bass (Top Bass 2-1 Troy Jackson)
Tube = 1 bass (Top Bass 4-1 Jake Bresson)

Monthly Top Bass (* = new record)
January
*2-11 Mark Balbinot (no previous record)
February
5-2 Mark Balbinot
March
6-2 Troy Jackson
April
6-0 Randy Sampson Sr.
May
6-15 Mark Balbinot
.
Top 10 Bass (* = new Top 10 all-time)
*6-15 Mark Balbinot 5/13 (#7 all-time)
6-2 Troy Jackson 3/4
6-0 Randy Sampson Sr. 4/15
5-15 Mark Balbinot 4/14
5-9 Troy Jackson 4/25
5-8 Mark Balbinot 5/13
5-2 Mark Balbinot 2/26
5-2 Jake Bresson 5/20
4-14 Randy Sampson Sr. 2/19
4-11 Randy Sampson Sr. 3/25

Angler Weights
27-10 Mark Balbinot (6-15,5-15,5-8,5-2,4-2)
22-3 Randy Sampson Sr. (6-0,4-14,4-11,3-6,3-4)
20-11 Troy Jackson (6-2,5-9,3-6,3-5,2-5)
18-5 Jake Bresson (5-2,4-1,3-10,3-7,2-1)
18-0 Bruce Zilkowski (4-9,4-3,3-15,3-0,2-5)
3-2 Brent Jackson (3-2)

Bonus Species – Northern Pike
Total = 54.5” Jake Bresson (33.5”,21.0”) both on Tubes

Bonus Species – Green Sunfish
0-13 Jayce Jackson

Lots of good fish but still a lean year in terms of participation. I get it, modesty and/or secrecy sometimes outweigh the desire to join a “brag board.” My advice is to just view our project as the modern equivalent of having that Polaroid picture of your latest catch on the counter of the local baitshop. Just ignore the fact that the baitshop is pretty much available to anyone around the world. Good luck and send them my way. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Nothing new in the Inbox so it was fortunate that I got out via a vacation day and managed to fool one that gave me a boost of a few ounces.  This fish was part of my final May outing and the full fishing report was passed along in yesterday’s post.  Here’s the intimate details on the latest addition to my creel.


Weight: 2-5 (17″)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: May 30
Location: Little John Conservation Club, IL
Lure: Booyah Buzzbait (snow white shad)
Structure: Weed edge
Angler Comments: This one gave me a second chance after a good blowup and a long distance swing and a miss in some windy conditions that were pushing the limits for buzzbait commotion.  Didn’t have much of an option for the normal Senko follow up cast in the conditions so figured it was buzzbait or nothing.  Lucky for me, this one was either dumb enough or hungry enough to blast it again.
Top 5 Weight: 20-11 (6-2,5-9,3-6,3-5,2-5) culls a 2-1

So, still got one in the two-pound range bringing up the rear which is a reasonable target to boot on most of my fishing holes.  Gave a couple of those spots a brief shot this past weekend so stay tuned for a report later this week on how it panned out.  As always, if you’re catching them send them this way for a few minutes of “fame.”  Talk to you later.  Troy

Top 5 Update

While the 2017 version of the Top 5 has ventured into a trial run of species beyond the standard bass offerings of the first three years, submissions have been kind of lean.  Four northern pike represented the other species until the fish below came calling this weekend for one eager young angler.  So eager, in fact, that he is back at it again this morning with one of his sisters in tow.

Bonus Species – Green Sunfish
Weight: 0-13
Angler: Jayce Jackson
Date: May 27
Location: Private pond, Henry County, IL
Lure: Waxworn on jighead with slip bobber
Angler Comments: It got on my line, I started reeling and I was struggling though.  It got stuck in the kinda weedy part and then got out of there and I just caught it.

Well done, Jayce, as your catch saved the day in terms of getting a submission for the weekly update.  It now stands as the Top 5 green sunfish record and while it is the only entry for this species to date, it actually was a pretty darn big green sunfish.  In fact, I believe it is the largest one I’ve ever seen in person.  Good job and good luck out there today, we’ll see if you and Carly can find something for next week’s update.  Talk to you later.  Troy

Top 5 Update

When it rains, it pours as we get a much needed dose of Top 5 submissions from a pair of past champs. Way to go guys, especially since there’s been a lot of raining and pouring as of late around Illinois.

Weight: 6-15
Angler: Mark Balbinot
Date: May 13
Location: Fulton Co. IL strip mine
Water Temp: 66F
Lure: Texas rigged Zoom lizard (black/chartreuse)
Structure: Flooded bush in about 3’ of water
Angler Comments: Weather was fairly good and fishing was pretty slow there, water was up a little and stained. Caught a few fish and was heading to the ramp to call it a day. Along the way I decided to make one more stop before going. I was throwing a Texas rigged Zoom lizard in black/chartreuse. Boat was about 10′ from the bank and threw that lizard in front of a flooded bush in about 3 foot of water. I lifted the line and it slowly moved to the right. After setting the hook a bass surfaced on its side and started doing donuts on the surface of the water. Around the bush, to the bank, then jumped, another donut, jumped again, dove down circled the bush and I finally netted it.

Weight: 5-8
Angler: Mark Balbinot
Date: May 14
Location: Fulton Co. IL strip mine
Water Temp: 66F
Lure: Texas rigged Zoom lizard (black/chartreuse)
Structure: Laydown in about 5’ of water
Angler Comments: Decided to go back the next day with my girlfriend and try again, it was Mother’s Day and it was her idea anyway. We caught some small ones on Black and Blue Flaked Wave Worms to start. I switched over to that lizard and caught some bigger fish. My best of the morning was a 5 lbs. 8 oz.
Top 5 Weight: 27-10 (6-15,5-15,5-8,5-2,4-2) culls 3-14 and 3-0

Weight: 4-1 (19.5”)
Angler: Jake Bresson
Date: May 20
Location: Northern IL creek
Lure: Tube
Angler Comments: I went to check one of my creeks last night and when I got there conditions were less than favorable. Actually they were quite high with visibility about a foot. Initially I was just going to go back home but something was nagging as I walked back to the car. I decided screw it I’m fishing since the wife was at work and I had plenty of time to start getting things ready for my Canada trip. I walked down to the one spot I really wanted to fish because even though I was expecting to catch nothing it was the only place I felt I might have a real chance at a fish. I only had the tube on the end of my rod so there was no changing lures. On the third cast dragging the tube on the bottom I felt a thump and set the hook. I brought this 19.5 inch 4.1 smallie to hand.

Weight: 2-1 (16”)
Angler: Jake Bresson
Date: May 20
Location: Northern IL creek
Lure: Swim Jig
Angler Comments: After a few more casts I snagged something on the bottom. In my efforts to free my tube the hook actually broke off so that seemed to be the end of fishing. I walked back to the car and drove home to get my gear ready for my Canada trip at the end of the week. While I was preparing everything I kept feeling this itch to go back so after I finished up I drove back to the creek. This time I decided to try a swim jig figuring the thump of the tail might help in the murky water. I tried initially bringing the swim jig upstream with no success. I repositioned to the downstream position and I was quickly rewarded with this 16″ 2.1lb smallie.

Weight: 5-2 (20.25”)
Angler: Jake Bresson
Date: May 20
Location: Northern IL creek
Lure: Swim Jig
Angler Comments: A few more casts in the same area and I pulled out the biggest largemouth bass I’ve ever caught on this creek. Prior to last night I had never caught anything over about 12-13″ until I caught this behemoth. She went 20 1/4″ and 5.2 pounds!
Top 5 Weight: 18-5 (5-2,4-1,3-10,3-7,2-1)

Bonus Species – Northern Pike

Length: 31.25”
Angler: Jake Bresson
Date: May 20
Location: Northern IL creek
Lure: Tube
Angler Comments: After a few more casts and what felt like small pecks I decided to change casting angles and let the current bring the tube towards me. I was rewarded with this 31 1/4″ pike.

Length: 30”
Angler: Jake Bresson
Date: May 20
Location: Northern IL creek
Lure: Swim Jig
Angler Comments: Just for grins I decided to switch to the tube which netted me another real nice smallie. I guessed it at around 16-16.5″ but she swallowed it really deep and was bleeding. I promptly cut the line and released her to give her the best chance at survival. At that point it was back to the swim jig so I retied. A few casts and I could feel fish bumping it but not taking it when suddenly another big thud. It ended up being another nice northern that taped 30″.
Top 5 Length: 115.75” (33.5,31.25,30,21)

Well done, further proof that “the best time to go fishing is any time you can.” Thanks, fellas, and keep ‘em coming. Good luck and talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Fortunately for some Top 5 continuity I was able to get on the water this weekend and find a bite that qualified for my creel.  Here’s the details.


Weight: 3-5
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: May 13
Location: IRAP public strip pit – Knox Co. IL
Lure: 5” weighted Senko wacky rig (green pumpkin/black flake)
Structure: Dropoff/weed edge
Angler Comments: I was about to relocate from this small, prototype strip pit even though I had landed seven bass in ten minutes since they were all quite small.  Instead I made a cast a ways to the right of where I had been working them over and lucked into my only decent catch on the day.  Tried the lake for a few more minutes and a few more short fish before calling it good, happy with a bass that bumped me over the 20-pound mark, just what I was after.

Top 5 Weight: 20-7 (6-2,5-9,3-6,3-5,2-1) culls 1-15

Icing on the cake from here I suppose as my annual goal since kicking off this project back in 2014 is to hit the 20-pound mark.  The cool thing is that I’ve still got probably six months to surpass my all-time Top 5 best of 22-12 from 2015.

Email troy@troyjacksonoutdoors to join the fun.  Talk to you later.  Troy

Top 5 Update

Here’s the first of what I hope are weekly Top 5 updates as I have reserved Mondays for the reveal of our latest catches.  Been a bit of a drought as of late but fortunately I had this one stockpiled as I left it out of my final update at my previous gig as kind of an insurance policy for the new blog.  Hey, every once in a while I pull off a good decision.  And that would certainly apply to the way I fooled this fish as well.

Weight: 5-9
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 25
Location: Little John Conservation Club
Lure: Booyah Buzzbait (salt & pepper)
Structure: Point with overhanging bushes
Angler Comments: I’ve been doing this fishing thing for a while and every now and again something just instinctively feels right in regards to a change in presentation.  In this case, it was a buzzbait a bit earlier in the season than I would typically throw it.  In fact, most years I wouldn’t even have a buzzbait in the tacklebag in late April.  But something clicked both the previous evening when I packed a buzzbait and again the following day when I tied it on.  In the middle of my fishing “career” I may never have caught this fish so it is refreshing to find that this older angler can occasionally step out of his comfort zone with a changeup reminiscent of the younger angler who had yet to get set in his ways.
Top 5 Weight: 19-1 (6-2,5-9,3-6,2-1,1-15) culls 1-12

So there you have it, the first Top 5 Update post here at the new digs.  While I’m always up for a bump in my weight, I also dig the submissions received from fellow anglers.  So, if you’re out there, and if you’re catching, email link is at the top of the page, send ‘em this way.  Talk to you later.  Troy

 

Top 5 Stat Update

Gonna shift gears over the next few days and finish up the intro type stuff later next week (Where, How and Why).  Instead, I’ll focus on some 2017 fishing items to play a little catch up in transitioning from my previous blogging gig to the new website.  First up is a look at the current 2017 totals for the Top 5 project as I continue with the regular monthly stat update.  (Note: the Top 5 has been an annual project since 2014)

2017 Totals (* = new record)
*January = 1 bass (no previous entries)
*February = 13 bass (old record 7 in 2016)
March = 10 bass (record 13 in 2014)
April = 8 bass

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) record 22-9 in 2016
March = 22-15 (6-2,4-11,4-9,4-3,3-6) record 28-0 in 2016
April = 22-14 (6-0,5-15,3-14,3-10,3-7)

Boat vs. Bank Fishing
Boat = 27 bass
Bank = 5 bass

Boat vs. Bank Top 5 Weight (all anglers combined)
Boat = 28-1 (6-2,6-0,5-15,5-2,4-14)
Bank = 16-6  (3-14,3-10,3-7,3-6,2-1)

Public vs. Private Water
Public = 20 bass
Private = 12 bass

Public vs. Private Top 5 Weight (all anglers combined)
Public = 26-10 (6-0,5-15,5-2,4-14,4-11)
Private = 20-1 (6-2,4-2,3-10,3-7,2-12)

The Baits – (* = new record)
Crankbaits = 14 bass (Top Bass 6-0 Randy Sampson Sr.)
Jigs = 9 bass (Top Bass 6-2 Troy Jackson)
Lipless Crankbaits = 3 bass (Top Bass 4-3 Bruce Zilkowski)
Swim Jigs = 2 bass (Top Bass 3-10 Jake Bresson)
Unsderspins = 2 bass (Top Bass 5-2 Mark Balbinot)
Jerkbait = 1 bass (Top Bass 3-0 Mark Balbinot)
Spinnerbait = 1 bass (Top Bass 2-1 Troy Jackson)

2017 Monthly Top Bass (* = new record)
January
*2-11 Mark Balbinot (no previous record)
February
5-2 Mark Balbinot
March
6-2 Troy Jackson
April
6-0 Randy Sampson Sr.

2017 Top 10 Bass (* = new Top 10 all-time)
6-2   Troy Jackson 3/4
6-0   Randy Sampson Sr. 4/15
5-15 Mark Balbinot 4/14
5-2   Mark Balbinot 2/26
4-14 Randy Sampson Sr. 2/19
4-11 Randy Sampson Sr. 3/25
4-9   Bruce Zilkowski 3/26
4-3   Bruce Zilkowski 3/26
4-2   Mark Balbinot 2/19
3-15 Bruce Zilkowski 2/19

2017 Angler Weights
22-3    Randy Sampson Sr. (6-0,4-14,4-11,3-6,3-4)
22-1    Mark Balbinot (5-15,5-2,4-2,3-14,3-0)
18-0    Bruce Zilkowski (4-9,4-3,3-15,3-0,2-5)
15-4    Troy Jackson (6-2,3-6,2-1,1-15,1-12)
7-1      Jake Bresson (3-10,3-7)
3-2      Brent Jackson (3-2)

2017 Bonus Species – Northern Pike
54.5” Jake Bresson (33.5”,21.0”) both on Tubes
Weekly updates of new entries will be featured each Monday beginning next week so send fish if you’ve got ‘em as detailed in the Top 5 Intro post from earlier this week.  Playing more catch up tomorrow with a fishing report from my first outing of 2017.  Talk to you later.  Troy

Top 5 Project

2016 Champ Mark Balbinot 32-13                 2015 Champ Austin Chapman 29-7      2014 Champ Jake Bresson 32-13

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.  This is the fourth year 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’ll look to get it back in gear next week).

While initially reserved for bass over the first three years, it was decided for 2017 to expand 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 will be a work in progress during the maiden voyage 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 430 fish 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:

Troy Jackson
Largemouth Bass
20.5”
4-10
Knox Co. IL strip mine
October 24, 2014
Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad)
One of two four pounders caught in a fall feeding frenzy

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 troy@troyjacksonoutdoors.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.

We had several anglers on board at my former blogging gig so hoping all will continue with this change of scenery and welcome to any newcomers who are just getting wind of the project.  Good luck to all, thanks for playing along and talk to you later.  Troy