Family Fishing Report – May 2

Last weekend presented another opportunity to get the whole family outside for some fresh air, some fishing and a picnic supper. Sticking with my general fishing report format, here is how it all went down.

Date: May 2, 2020
Location: Little John Conservation Club
Time: Evening
Weather: Partly cloudy/breezy, sweatshirt weather
Totals: 6 bass
Lures: Senko wacky rig, weighted and weightless (various colors)
Top Bass: 0-14 (Carly)
Totals: Girls – 6 bass, Boys – 1 bass


Trip Lyric
“Rock and rock and roll radio, let’s go!”
Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio, The Ramones (1980)
So, our daughter, Helena, is working on the driving hours required to obtain her license this summer. Well, the standing policy is pretty much that the driver runs the radio. As such, this lyric fits the bill for our round trip as the current Top 40 had no resemblance whatsoever to my old “rock ‘n’ roll radio”.

Notes and Nonsense

Lucky Shirts – During a normal May we would be taking part in the annual JDRF One Walk for type one diabetes. A classmate and friend of one of our daughters was diagnosed with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes in 2011 at age five. Since moving to the Quad City area in 2014 we have joined Team Morgan’s Hope for the annual event aimed at raising money and awareness in a quest for a cure. Obviously, this is not a normal May thus the event has transitioned to a virtual experience. For details and donations click here.

Sporting our collection of Team Morgan’s Hope shirts from past JDRF One Walks

Girls Rule – It didn’t take long before the whole crew was tossing Senkos looking for a bass instead of wetting some waxworms in search of panfish. And it didn’t take long before the ladies did some catching. Carly posted the first bass and also claimed Top Bass among her three catches. Julie took runner-up honors with a pair of bass and Helena posted her first Senko bass. The boys, well, they were a little more distracted but did get on the board just after suppertime. Their lone bass came on the first cast by the fifty something year old boy who first set foot on those strip mine banks over thirty years ago.

Can’t go wrong with these choices from my “clients”

Additional Catches – Beyond the bass, I witnessed anglers catching a stump, a tree and a bridge. In addition, we had major loops and tangles in a couple of our ultralight spinning rigs. The above are reasons us “fishing guides” bring along plenty of spare poles and tackle. Hey, as long as we avoid catching any family members, it’s all good.

Had to respool a couple reels after this trip

Mission accomplished with some fresh air in these strange and isolated times. My favorite bunch of people to be isolated with and enjoyable when we can do it outdoors. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – May 3, 2000

Twenty years ago I was without a job and essentially without a care. My employer of the previous ten years, National Seal Company, had left town in January 2000 and left me with a reasonable severance package that paid me until June. A single, thirty something guy with a longtime girlfriend (now my wife) could get by for a while.

A keepsake from that old job (1990-2000) that I keep in my tacklebox 

But as the need to find a new job began to become a bit more pressing, so did the need to get on the water while I had ample free time. Today’s flashback outing was about as long distance as I get with roughly an hour drive from my hometown of Galesburg, IL to Fulton/Peoria County’s Banner Marsh. I made this trip with my then brother-in-law, Tim Townsend, and my Dad’s Bass Tracker in tow.

I’d never fished the area before and horsepower restrictions relegated us to a trolling motor only approach. I recall it being a struggle to find some bass in the pair of lakes we chose, one of which required a substantial troll (and much of our battery) to reach a wide open expanse of humps and flooded timber.

Original log entry from the May 3, 2000 outing

And it was in a spot with such a mix of cover that I boated the larger of the only two bass I fooled on the day. But hey, if you are only going to catch two bass it sure is nice when one is a four-pounder (one ounce shy is close enough, right). Kind of fun too, that I caught both of my bass on the Blue Glimmer spinnerbait. Twenty years later, almost to the day (5/4/2020), I had a banner day on an area strip mine with the very same lure (Top 5 Update and fishing report to come next week).

Another shot of my first ever Banner Marsh bass

And also twenty years later, the spot is in the midst of statewide closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic despite it being rather remote and spread out. I know one Top 5 angler who is particularly missing his stomping grounds. Hang in there, Jim, as at least we’ve got some other fishing holes for a fix.

In fact, I have several fishing reports to come from some of those waters along with a batch of Top 5 bass on Monday so stay tuned. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – May 1

Among the many personal lifestyle changes resulting from the worldwide health concern was a directive to take a few days away from work. At least for this vacation hoarder, the timing was right in terms of stable weather around what would be a five day weekend with plenty of fishing in my sights. Read on for the first of several fishing reports from my mini vacation.

This one gets the nod for bravest bass of the day

Date: May 1, 2020
Location: Knox County, IL strip mines (8 lakes)
Time: 9:00am-4:00pm (5.50 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny to partly cloudy/windy
Air Temp: 54-70F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 38 bass
Lures: Jig & Pig (black/blue) – 11 bass, Rapala Shad Rap (blue) – 10 bass, Senko weighted wacky rig (strawberry cream) – 8 bass, Chatterbait (bluegill) with Zako trailer (smoke) – 5 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 4 bass
Top Bass: 1-15 (Senko)
Top 5 Weight: 6-5 (1-15,1-5,1-2,1-0,0-15)


Trip Lyric
“On the road again.”
On The Road Again, Willie Nelson (1980)
Fishing twice within a week’s time can be a rarity these days so this tune was playing in my head as I drove back to the strip mines. It was also exciting knowing that I’d be on the road again over the next several days as well.

Notes and Nonsense

Senko de Mayo – While the Senko wacky rig claimed my Lure Lunacy title last month, I still had yet to catch a bass with the presentation in 2020. Of course, since May and Senko go hand in hand, I didn’t waste any time once the new month arrived. In fact, the first cast with a weighted Senko wacky rig was a winner as displayed in the clip below.


Senko Trick #2 – The next clip is a pretty cool demonstration of the effectiveness of the Senko wacky rig on clear strip mine waters. Never have I found a presentation that will tempt a cruising or interested bass as effectively as the tantalizing drop of the wacky rig (both weighted and weightless). The 1-15 catch proved to be my Top Bass of the outing.


Mother’s Day Approaching – Here in West Central Illinois you can rest assured that as the calendar nears Mother’s Day you will find the local crappie shallow and in the mood to bite. Such was the case on this trip with numerous fish spotted from the bank and several winding up on a hook by “accident.” A couple green sunfish also took a liking to my bass offerings and a hooked bluegill got loose at the bank, narrowly preventing me from posting the species “Grand Slam.”

Going the extra yard for some bass (actually 8,448 yards)

Another stellar day in terms of numbers but the smaller bass continue to beat the larger specimens to my offerings. It is encouraging, however, that what I am throwing is producing. In the world of fishing, you just need to keep on casting. And that’s just what I did along with shifting gears to fishing guide for another outing. Stay tuned as those reports are headed your way soon. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – April 26

Too busy fishing as of late to keep up with the fishing reports but no complaint there. Here is the first of several headed your way as I attempt to get up to speed.

Date: April 26, 2020
Location: Knox County, IL strip mines (5 lakes)
Time: 10:05am-3:50pm (4.75 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny/windy to breezy
Air Temp: 54-66F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 26 bass, 2 bluegill, 1 crappie
Lures: Rapala Shad Rap (blue) – 11 bass and 1 crappie, Jig & Pig (black/blue) – 10 bass, Chatterbait (bluegill) with Zako trailer (smoke) – 4 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 1 bass, bluegill on waxworms on jighead hung from a slip bobber
Top Bass: 4-12 (Jig & pig)
Top 5 Weight: 8-11 (4-12,1-1,1-0,0-15,0-15)

Lures that got it done

Trip Lyric
“So, I’m heading out to the highway, I got nothing to lose at all.”
Heading Out to the Highway, Judas Priest (1981)
Having a big fish in the bag and finding it tough to get many other bites, I decided to head to an area that I refer to as The Highway. While not really familiar with the water in that area, I figured it was worth a look. Read on to see if my decision panned out.


Notes and Nonsense

New Records – My Top Bass on this day had been a long time coming as I have struggled for big bites the last couple years. In fact, the 4-12 is my largest bass since a 5-0 landed on July 8, 2017. The 4-12 also establishes a new lake record for a body of water that I call Fencerow Lake, besting the old mark of 3-6 from April 8, 2017. In addition, it is the largest catch (and release) for which I have GoPro footage.


New Water – Being a creature of habit I’ve become comfortable with my standard collection of fishing holes in the area where this outing took place. And while I’ve paid my dues and covered a lot of ground, there’s still some bodies of water left to explore. After struggling to fool nine bass in the first four hours of casting and roaming, I figured that I might as well invest the time required to reach some distant waters. The decision to relocate was a winner as the new waters produced 17 more bass in just under two hours.

New (Old) Shirt (more to come later in a Lucky Shirt post)

New Catchphrase – I’ve made a point to leave the whole current state of life in a pandemic out of my blogs for a couple reasons. You can get your fill of that stuff elsewhere whether you want it (or believe it) or not and I have no qualifications to provide anything medically insightful. As an outdoorsman, however, I am puzzled by some of the state recreational areas that remain closed such as Snakeden Hollow and Banner Marsh. I understand that facilities come into play. But let’s face it, probably 50 years ago I learned that when you are out in the middle of nowhere (as Snakeden Hollow and other sites are), you don’t need a bathroom to use the bathroom.

Social distancing on this outing? Not a problem.

Okay, enough editorial. Hope everyone is well and hanging in there as we navigate these unusual times. I have several more fishing reports along with various other items coming your way so stop by here, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for a regular escape. 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)


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)
1-4 Jim Junk
No submissions
6-14 Chris Schwarz
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 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

Friday Flashback-April 27 to May 5, 1985

Looking back 35 years ago for this week’s flashback, it appears that I may have missed my calling. From the looks of my old fishing log, I should have been a fishing guide. After all, during the nine days spanning April 27, 1985 through May 5, 1985, I spent parts of seven days on the water and fished with ten different “clients.”

April 27, 1985

April 28, 1985

April 29, 1985

These “clients” included my dad and each of my three siblings (two brothers and a sister). I guess Mom must have been busy that week.

In addition to family, friends rounded out the rest of the ten fishing partners. The log only identifies the co-anglers by first name but I think they all deserve a shout out. From the Galesburg High School Class of 1985 were Doug Dawson, John Junk, Craig James, Jason Radakovich and Joe Dennis. And the GHS Class of 1987 was represented by Mark Junk.

Quite a crew, several of whom were frequent fishers out at Knox County’s Lake Bracken during the latter half of my high school senior year and on through that summer. All told, the old green notebook that served as my first fishing log covers sixty-four fishing trips spanning January 19, 1985 through August 25, 1985.

April 30, 1985

May 3, 1985

May 4, 1985

May 5, 1985

I suspect we’ll explore more of the contents of that green notebook as 2020 progresses. Talk to you later. Troy

Family Fishing Report – April 18 & 19

As a blogger, I find that fishing reports are the best posts to compose and submit. The only problem is that when you get ample opportunities to fish it gets tough to find time to put the reports together. A nice problem to have when blogging, so I guess belated is what you get as I am also a husband, dad and employee ahead of the whole wannabe writer thing.

Today we have a weekend report that covers a solo outing with my son, Jayce, on a recent Saturday followed up by an entire Jackson 6 trip on the following day. This one will be part regular fishing report format and part video/slideshow as the clips and pics say it better than I could write it. The slideshows and more video from our family outing are up in entirety at Troy Jackson Outdoors You Tube, click here.

Date: April 18 & 19, 2020
Location: Knox County, IL strip mines (public & private)
Totals: a handful of bluegill, a few bass and a lone crappie
Lures/bait: Rapala Shad Rap (blue), Senko wacky rig (white), waxworms on a jighead hung from a slip bobber


Trip Lyric 4/18
“That don’t bother me at all” – Two Hangmen, Mason Proffit (1969)
It’s always cool when I catch this rare tune on the radio and good, old 107.7FM “Vintage Radio” out of Erie, IL came through on this ride to the fishing hole. My role on outings with the kids is to observe, instruct and encourage while making a handful of casts of my own at best. This lyric was right on the money.

Trip Lyric 4/19
“Baby, you can drive my car.” – Drive My Car, The Beatles (1965)
I don’t know the last time that I was not behind the wheel on the ride home from my Knox County strip mines. And when I was, I know it was not due to an effort to get our 15-year old some behind the wheel time. Helena did a stellar job during the hour drive featuring off the beaten path, county road, state route and Interstate (with construction).

Notes and Nonsense

Shad Rap, Jayce Jack, A Bended Pole – My boy, Jayce, just wasn’t getting any takers on his go to presentation, the Senko wacky rig. I suggested that he learn about the Rapala Shad Rap as I had fooled over double digits with the lure a week prior on the same fishing hole. Three casts later, he had his first bass of the afternoon. Unfortunately, the bite dried up as soon as it started as the Shad Rap couldn’t find any more interested bass. However, it did hook a fisherman as he was throwing it again the next day.


Gear – I am notorious for packing too much gear but for the family outing I actually dialed it back. Working as fishing guide in tandem with Julie as our hostess, we got by with twelve boots, ten poles, two tacklebags, roughly seventy waxworms, two coolers, six sandwiches and fifteen bottles of water.

COVID Note – We are constantly reminded and continue to do our part, so generally I try to leave this alone in my fishing reports. However, as a frugal father and fisherman, I need to give a shout out to saving a few bucks due to the pandemic. At $1.59 a gallon, I am more willing to take a family road trip during these potentially uncertain financial times. And the whole social distancing thing likely saved me $20 or more on sodas and treats as we had an excuse to avoid the “gas station.”


An enjoyable afternoon/evening with a batch of cooperative panfish, a couple bass and a tired bunch by the time we headed home. The coolest thing was a unanimous “that was fun” and a request to go back and try our luck again. In fact, plans are in the works as I post this report. 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

Lucky Shirt – R&J’s Sportstacular

Many years since I bellied up to this bar

I’ve got some catching up to do as the first “lucky shirt” hit the water last summer. While that’s not actually a contemporary fishing trip, I guess that’s part of the point to this whole project. Besides, it would be an injustice to forego the original in favor of the most recent.

So, here we go.

We’re looking at a vintage R&J’s Sportstacular t-shirt today.

I know what you’re thinking. Where’s R&J’s and what’s a Sportstacular?

R&J’s was a tavern, watering hole, gathering place located in Sheffield, Illinois.

You know Sheffield, right? Kind of north of Neponset, roughly centered between Mineral and Wyanet?

R&J are Rodger and Joe, two of the three Hansen brothers (younger brother Michael) who operated the establishment and devised the Sportstacular. Along with a batch of Knox College buddies I met the Hansen brothers after first meeting their sister, Kathy, who was a fellow Siwash in the late1980s/early 1990s (actually we’re kind of always a Siwash).

As the Hansen’s were fellow sports nuts and enjoyed the occasional cold one, we all hit it off pretty well. From the sport and beverage combo arose an event that they deemed The Sportstacular, kind of like a team oriented Olympics with beer. The one day event kicked off with each four participant team playing a round of golf and likely having a few morning beers. Following the round, it was back to R&J’s for the three remaining events, darts and sand volleyball at the bar and free throw shooting at the village park. Oh yeah, and some beer. They also had something onsite called Rolle Bolle that we played at times but I do not recall it actually being included as an event. Please cut me some slack on the exact details as it was around 25 years ago, and remember, there was a fair amount of beer involved.

Julie and I actually took a road trip to the area last summer to snap a few pics.

Site of the free throw event

The old court but I believe a new hoop

Sand volleyball and Rolle Bolle, once upon a time

Fast forward to July 13, 2019 when I decided to kick off the “Lucky Shirt” project. What better shirt on a hot summer day than one that I earned on another hot summer day many years ago. The fishing portion of the project consisted of an enjoyable strip mine outing with my friend, John Kirkemo. The results of our outing are below and the original fishing report can be found by clicking here.

Date: July 13, 2019 with John Kirkemo
Location: Knox County, IL private strip mines (2 lakes)
Time: 5:00am-11:30am
Weather: Sunny/breezy to calm
Air Temp: 68-86F
Water Temp: 82-83F
Totals: 16 bass
5” Yamasenko wacky rig (various) – 13 bass
Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 2 bass
Spinning Worm Rig – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-7 (Senko)
Top 5 Weight (only 4 at 12” or better): 4-6 (1-7,1-4,1-0,0-11)

As far as Sportstacular results, I know that we did not claim the title in any of the three years I was involved. But if you could quantify fun and you were counting beers, I suppose that our foursome of John Junk, Mark Junk, Matt Reynolds and myself (weakest link in the beer department) were perennial frontrunners.

Bonus pic from 3/27/07 with my original R&J Hansen’s shirt, wore it until it wore out.

And there you have it, “Lucky Shirt” post number one with many more to follow. A fine place to start the series. A small town, good times, good friends and good memories, from what I can remember. Talk to you later. Troy