3 Generations Fishing Report – May 22

Prior to a family birthday party, me and the boys joined Papa at his spot to chase some panfish and we weren’t disappointed. Not all about the catch with this crowd as conveyed in today’s report.

Stats
Date: May 22, 2021
Location: Lake Storey
Time: 10:45am-12:00pm
Weather: Partly cloudy/breezy
Air Temp: 70F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: Roughly 40 bluegill, 2 golden shiners, 1 redear
Lures: Waxworms on a 1/16 oz. jighead hung from a slip bobber

Zac added a redear to his personal species list with his first catch of the morning

Trip Tune
“Who Can It Be Now” – Men at Work (1982)
My kids have a varied musical interest thanks to a little 70s and 80s brainwashing from yours truly. This tune is a favorite and ideal for a sing along on the ride to the fishing hole.

A golden shiner was a new species for me at Lake Storey although Dad has caught several in the last few years

The United States of Beef Jerky – We picked up breakfast on the way out of town consisting of spicy chips, Oreo bites, chocolate milk, Mountain Dew, unsweetened iced tea, and a couple bags of beef jerky (it was on sale). Zac grabbed a piece of jerky that he reckoned looked like North Dakota and it was on. A couple “states” in the video required some chewing while the rest were straight from the factory. Do we know how to have fun or what? Feel free to send me any additions that you may encounter in that next bag of beef.

 

Terms – I can’t recall the topic but somewhere along the ride my boys learned the saying, “Open a can of whoop@$$.” They found it rather amusing, and I asked Jayce to record it on the voice memos on my phone. He did so but wouldn’t use the “bad word” even though I told him it was fine. I also learned something new as Zac asked about a bug that had breezed by at one point. Jayce informed that it was a “three-horned monkey wasp.” As a guy with a biology degree and an entomological appreciation, I was impressed with his quick identification. Just wish we’d gotten a picture of this new species.

Croc Rescue– A highlight of the trip was watching one of Zac’s brand-new Crocs blow across the lake out of grasp and casting distance. Somehow, he managed to launch if off his foot and well beyond his reach. The wind rapidly pushed it past the depth of my knee boots and several casts failed to hook the floating footwear. Fortunately, the wind direction was perfect, and the croc wound up across the cove along a limited stretch of easily accessible bank. We all got a laugh and a “don’t tell Mom.” All’s well that ends well and Mom got wind of the story but just shook her head in what I interpreted as a “boys will be boys” statement.

 

Sponsor Quest – Unlike real bloggers and YouTubers, I have no sponsors. However, the boys talked me into supper, so Culver’s, if you are out there, this makes two stops in a row on the return home from a fishing trip. In addition, the Cubs broadcasts tout a product called “FunkAway.” Well, my boys are getting to the ages where it gets a little ripe in the cab of a truck after a full day outdoors. I suppose we might as well throw in a beef jerky sponsor along the way. Perhaps one day we will get a spot in a commercial with Sasquatch, a dream come true for this crew.

The boys usually ask on the ride what time we will get home and my 8:09pm guess was only off by 15 seconds as we reached the driveway at 8:08pm and waited for the display to change.

Sure, we caught some fish, too. But with Papa as our guide that was to be expected as there are just a few years of experience for that guy in the camping chair. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

A trio of submissions this week from a pair of brothers who have done the strip mine hike and cast thing more than a few times over the years.


Weight: 2-5
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: May 23
Weather: Overcast/calm
Location: Knox County public strip pit
Lure: Senko wacky rig
Editor’s Note: Brent forgot to take a pic but this snip from the GoPro footage saved the day
Top 5 Weight: 14-11 (4-0,4-0,2-5,2-3,2-3) culls 2-2

Weight: 1-13  (16″)
Date: May 23
Weather: Overcast/breezy
Location: Knox County public strip pit
Lure: Bass Pro Shops Speed Shad (small mouth magic) with Berkley 3/0 weighted swimbait hook
Structure: Weed edge
Angler Comments: A rewarding catch in some tough, weedy conditions as I had already worked the weed edges and limited open water with a Zara Spook, a Senko and a frog without a hit. Fun to have the swimbait come through as I am gaining more confidence in the presentation.

Weight: 2-0 (16″)
Date: May 23
Weather: Overcast/breezy
Location: Knox County public strip pit
Lure: 5″ Yamasemko wacky rig
Structure: Tree/drop
Angler Comments: A decent fish but I initially thought it was considerably larger when it stopped dead on the hookset. Always exciting in those seconds after such a hookset as you wait to find out just what you’ve got. Not a trophy but I’ll take two-pounders all day long.
Top 5 Weight:10-6 (3-1,2-0,1-13,1-13,1-11) culls 1-10 and 1-10

An enjoyable morning chasing bass under some of my favorite strip mine fishing weather conditions. Water conditions, on the other hand, posed some challenges. Those aspects and more to be covered in a fishing report later this week. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – May 1991 and 2011

May 24, 1991 – Dad on a Snakeden hike 

Today’s flashback is actually drawn from a pair of visits to Snakeden Hollow with vastly different approaches to chasing some bass. First up is a walk-in trip with Dad back on May 24, 1991. At the time, Dad was in his late forties while I was in my mid-twenties. I invited him along on one of my strip mine adventures and we racked up more than a few miles and reeled in more than a few bass. At the time, Dad had also come out of retirement to play a season of softball with me and my brother, Brent, and we had a game that evening. That combo of activity prompted Dad to “retire” from any future strip mine hikes and he also hung up the cleats after the softball season.

Over the years, there have been many more trips to Snakeden with Dad, but they have been spent on Lake McMaster while casting from the luxury of a Bass Tracker. Twenty years after the walk-in trip was one such outing as detailed in the original blog post below.

Originally Posted 5-20-11

Following a somewhat self-inflicted hiatus, it was time to see if I had my sea legs back.
Dad and I hit Snakeden’s Lake McMaster yesterday for some overdue bass fishing. In fishing report terms, I would describe bass as “fair on soft plastics.” However, I have the liberty of getting a bit more long winded, so here we go.

Stats
Date: May 19, 2011
Location: Lake McMaster – Snakeden Hollow
Time: 9:50am-3:20pm
Weather: Sunny to partly cloudy/breezy
Air Temp: 55F-72F
Water Temp: not available (wiring problems)
Totals: 13 bass, 1 crappie (Dad – 10 bass, Troy – 3 bass, 1 crappie)
Lures: 5” Yamasenko (natural shad) wacky rig – 12 bass, Vicious Muskrat (green pumpkin) with ¼ oz bullet weight (brass) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-9 (Dad)
Weight (4 bass > 12”) – 5 lbs. 5 oz (1-9, 1-6, 1-6, 1-0)

Chronology

9:40 am– Arriving at the lake we are caught off guard by ten other trailers in the parking lot and another boat launching in our wake. I can’t recall ever seeing that many boats on the water, but I hope it means that the bass are biting.

9:50 am – Strangely enough as I mentioned in a posting last Friday, the kiss of death is a bass on your first cast. I pull this stunt on a point just west of the ramp but lose the pound and a half fish at the boat. I’m hoping the quick release fends off bad luck as it doesn’t technically count as catch in my book. I’m wrong.

9:58 am– The 9.9 motor is being stubborn, so we loiter within spitting distance of the ramp for a while where Dad gets us on the board with a 1-0 on a Senko (pictured above).

10:42 am – Shortly after arriving at one of our best areas, Dad’s Senko comes through again.

11:05 am – I’m off the snide with a 1-6 on a Senko and breathing a sigh of relief that I won’t get shut out on such a beautiful day.

11:29 am – Dad picks up what will be Top Bass with a 1-9, once again on the Senko, the only lure he’ll need all day.

12:34 pm – Dad misses a short bass, but it comes back into view right near the boat prompting him to drop his Senko in front of its nose. We get an awesome bird’s eye view as the bass flares its gills to inhale the lure a second time and remains hooked.

1:22 pm – My second fish of the day gives me the species title as a fifteen-ounce crappie likes my Senko, a photo worthy accident for me.

2:22 pm – The One That Got Away on this trip belongs to Dad and likely would have tipped the scales in the two-and-a-half-pound range. Usually, these bass can be as large as you want but the gin clear water at this lake keeps you pretty honest if you’re not fishing alone. The clear water is also cool because I was able to give Dad play by play from my angle as I commented “Here comes a good one” followed by “He just took your bait.” While this one did get briefly hooked, I have sometimes been guilty of jumping the gun and pulling the lure away from the fish in anticipation of an impending strike.

2:26 pm – It only takes four and a half hours to land my second bass, a short fish on the Muskrat. It’s a textbook bite as the bass hits just after I’d bounced the bait over a log in about ten foot of water and is the lone fish caught on something other than the Senko.

3:01 pm – My final fish hits a Senko pitched into a hole in the moss over a spawning bed. The lure hit in the back of the hole and fell under the canopy in front with the bass in pursuit. It was impossible to tell if the fish had the bait or not, but I figured it was worth a hookset. The resultant splash and resistance showed that I made the right decision. The fish was released to resume its biological duty but not before getting a picture for the blog.

3:33 pm – We did make a few casts beyond 3:20pm as we waited our turn to trailer the boat. Dad made the time count as the point west of the ramp came through yet again and gave him a commanding ten to three margin of victory, but who’s keeping score anyway?

For some final comments we did see plenty of crappies in the shallows, I talked to some walleye anglers who saw a fish in the 27” range and muskies failed to make an appearance for us this time around. We also lost over half a dozen bass that just didn’t stay hooked for whatever reason. But fishing is always interesting as Dad and I threw the same Senko around most of the day and his outperformed mine ten to two. Perhaps it was his bait spray that he referred to as “lotion” at one point or maybe his plain hook was more appealing than my red hook. It was just all part of the fun during a great day to be on the water. If anyone out there reading was on Lake McMaster too, drop us a comment about how you fared. Don’t worry, I can take it as getting outfished is no disgrace even if it is by the guy in the back of the boat (especially if he’s your dad).

Dad lasted longer than me on the diamond as I gave it up before hitting my thirties. But I’m still going strong on the strip mine hikes as the mid-fifties approach. And as a duo, we’re still catching some fish from boat or bank. Talk to you later. Troy

Boys’ Fishing Report – May 16

Me and my boys were looking to make some casts, but we did not have enough time on a Sunday afternoon/evening to make the drive to our regular stomping grounds. Instead, it provided an opportunity to look around at some local Quad City fishing holes, which is something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time. We took a shot at a pair of destinations, spending about a half hour at each spot to see what we could learn. We did our searching with a Senko wacky rig and waxworms hung from a slip bobber. Read on for the stats, a classic Trip Tune and the lessons learned.

Stats
Date: May 16, 2021
Location: Prospect Park and Hennepin Canal
Time: 3:30pm-6:00pm (one hour of fishing, see below)
Weather: Overcast/breezy
Air Temp: 68F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 6 bluegill
Lures: Waxworms on a 1/16 oz. jighead hung from a slip bobber

Trip Tune
“Sink the Bismarck” – Johnny Horton (1960)
My boys could actually care less on this tune as they were goofing off on the ride, but you can sure bet that I was singing along. I dig some Johnny Horton as it takes me back to my childhood and some old 45 records. My folks had “Sink the Bismarck” and my cousin Ronnie’s house had “The Battle of New Orleans”, absolute classics. Of course, I later discovered “North to Alaska”, “When It’s Springtime in Alaska” and more, awesome cuts.

Lessons
If you don’t learn something new from each fishing trip, you aren’t paying close enough attention. Here’s the list from our adventure.

Bait – We ran out of our old waxworms and the reliable Carbon Cliff baitshop was closed, prompting a search. The Shell station in Colona was a winner after the 7-Eleven came up empty although they did have a bait cooler with some dew worms.

Spoiled – Much of my time on the water is rather isolated and affords a measure of privacy when nature calls. To paraphrase Shakespeare, “All the world’s a bathroom” out there on the strip mines. The spots we fished on this outing, however, were crawling with people which posed a bit of an issue for the fifty-something boy on this trip. All’s well that ended well (barely) with a pit stop at home on the way to find more waxworms. However, the boys delighted in talking of flowing water, a big iced tea, and waterfalls during that leg of the journey. Good to know, that my boys will be boys.

Prospect Park – Little bluegills were the catch and I saw some bass in there that were as small as minnows at the local baitshop. First impression left much to be desired but perhaps the big ones were just smarter than us.

Hennepin Canal – We hit a spot in Colona that afforded a bit of space among several other anglers. It was our second choice as the first was quite crowded which did not surprise me in the least on a pleasant Sunday evening. The canal did produce a few decent bites and there are many more miles of water to explore on the historic corridor. A stretch to the east is on my radar and we are looking to explore in that direction later this spring.

Practice – There is only one way to get the hang of casting in close quarters and it’s called “practice.” One of the youngsters on this trip got in such practice. If you recognize any of the background scenery in some of the photos, there is a Senko for you up in a tree across the canal. I mean, way up in a tree. In addition, there were a few casts that I have no idea how the lure was rescued. That’s part of practice, too.

An entertaining afternoon/evening adventure with my boys that consisted more of just hanging out than actually fishing. All good, as it is always fun to break the kids up a bit to get some two on one time as a parent of four. I have a couple prospects on fishing before the end of May so here’s hoping that they pan out. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

A good batch of bass comes our way courtesy of a couple doing some Illinois Capital City fishing.

Weight: 2-10
Angler: Patricia Kirkemo
Date: May 10
Weather: Partly cloudy evening, temperature 60s
Water Temperature: 60-65F
Location: Sangchris Lake State Park
Lure: Nightcrawler under a bobber
Angler Comments (provided by her spouse): Fish caught by casting a bobber and worm from boat toward shore. Fish was in water 3-4 feet deep.
Top 5 Weight: 2-10 (2-10)

Weight: 1-8
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: May 10
Weather: Air and water temps 60s
Location: Sangchris Lake State Park
Lure: Chompers
Angler Comments: Not many signs of feeding fish. The fish was caught casting to structure from boat.

Weight: 1-14
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: May 13
Weather: Air temperature 60s
Location: Farm pond, Sangamon County, IL
Lure: Wacky worm

Weight: 2-6
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: May 13
Weather: Air temperature 60s
Location: Farm pond, Sangamon County, IL
Lure: Wacky worm


Weight: 2-8
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: May 13
Weather: Air temperature 60s
Location: Farm pond, Sangamon County, IL
Lure: Wacky worm

Weight: 2-10
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: May 13
Weather: Air temperature 60s
Location: Farm pond, Sangamon County, IL
Lure: Wacky worm
Angler Comments: These fish were caught during early evening in private water not visited by many fishermen. Feeding fish were evident. Fish were eager and large. Lost several that were probably as large or larger.
Top 5 Weight: 10-14 (2-10,2-8,2-6,1-14,1-8)

Thank you to the Kirkemos for their submissions as it looked like the Springfield area visit was fishing success. Here’s hoping for continued catching as the year progresses and I appreciate the contributions as the Top 5 needed a boost. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – May 7-17, 1991

 

Thirty years ago, I was happily employed at my first real job at a place called National Seal Company in Galesburg, Illinois. The work schedule consisted of four twelve-hour days followed up by four days off. It was like having a vacation every week. Pretty outstanding and definitely my favorite schedule in all the years of earning a paycheck.

So, what does a twenty-something guy do with a batch of perpetual four-day “weekends”?

Well, as exemplified by today’s post, there was some fishing involved. In this case, I hooked up with a couple fishing partners who were still attending Knox College, Mark Junk and Joe Lang. I’d known Mark since high school while Joe was a friend made while attending Knox. Both were also sports teammates along the way. Mark and I were Silver Streaks hoopsters (his career considerably more impressive) and later played a year of hardball together for Hi-Lo Grocery. Joe was a fellow Siwash as he covered the catching duties while I manned the hot corner 90’ away.

“Geek” at Emstrom’s Pond

As with many teammates over the years, there were often nicknames thrown around more than given names. These guys were referred to as “Geek” and “Clubber” for Mark and Joe, respectively. In turn, I was usually “TJ.” I haven’t crossed paths with these fellows for quite some time, but I suspect we would greet each other in the nickname fashion all these years later.

“Clubber”, sunrise lunker at Snakeden and I believe we had stayed up all night goofing off and thought, “Hey, let’s go fishing!”

The shots from May 7 were at an old pond we called “Emstrom’s”, just off the Highway 34 exit ramp onto Main Street near the Galesburg Drive-In. May 10 and May 17 were at Snakeden Hollow during only its second year of public access. Looking at the backdrops in the photos it is also fun to see how the scenery has changed all these years later.

Good times, good friends, and some good fishing holes. Talk to you later. Troy

A Lonely Morel

Me and morel mushrooms rarely see eye to eye or come face to face. While I dig a walk through the timber under the guise of hunting fungus, I haven’t done so for quite a few years. With limited outdoor time, I find myself on the water rather than in the woods when I get a chance to get some fresh air. However, on May Day I was able to incorporate a few minutes of mushroom hunting as I pond hopped on some strip mine ground.

You see, several years ago, as I stood on the bank of a deep strip mine cut, I observed a pair of anglers making their way down the opposite side. They were not particularly quiet so I couldn’t help but overhear one fellow holler at his buddy, “Hey, there’s mushrooms over here.” Well, I filed that info and general location away in the event that I would have a chance to take a peek for myself one of these years. This was the year and sure enough there was fungus (note: plural would be fungi). The lone morel I managed to spot is pictured above and it was left to hopefully produce a few more next year in the way that mushrooms do their thing.

Were there more in the vicinity? Probably, but I sure didn’t see them. I marvel at the posts of folks with picnic tables full and hauls registered in pounds as opposed to individual specimens. But I just don’t have the touch and have long wondered how many morels have seen me as I aimlessly wandered and scanned the terrain oblivious to their presence. There’s always next year though and perhaps my “luck” will change. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Stats

Somewhere between busy and lazy has resulted in a lack of Top 5 Stat updates in 2021. Throw in limited angler participation and, well, I just haven’t kept up as in past years. But have no fear, the first complete stat update has arrived.

2021 Totals
January = no submissions
February = 2 bass
March = 19 bass
April = 14 bass
May = 2 bass

Top 5 Weight by Month
January = no submissions
February = 7-3 (3-15,3-4)
March = 21-14 (5-5,4-3,4-2,4-2,4-2)
April = 21-6 (5-3,5-2,4-0,4-0,3-1)
May = 3-13 (2-2,1-11)

Boat vs. Bank
Boat = 0 bass
Bank = 37 bass

Boat vs. Bank Weight
Boat = no submissions
Bank = 23-15 (5-5,5-3,5-2,4-3,4-2)

Public vs. Private
Public = 37 bass
Private = no submissions

Public vs. Private Top 5 Weight
Public = 23-15 (5-5,5-3,5-2,4-3,4-2)
Private = no submissons

The Baits
Lipless Crankbait = 15 bass (Top Bass 4-3 Jim Junk)
Crankbait = 6 bass (Top Bass 4-0 Brent Jackson)
Spinnerbait = 6 bass (Top Bass 4-0 Brent Jackson)
Chatterbait = 5 bass (Top Bass 5-3 Jim Junk)
Plastic Worm = 2 bass (Top Bass 2-2 Brent Jackson)
Creature = 1 bass (Top Bass 5-5 Jim Junk)
Jig = 1 bass (Top Bass 1-1 Troy Jackson)
Stickbait = 1 bass (1-11 Troy Jackson)

Monthly Top Bass
January
No submissions
February
3-15 Jim Junk
March
5-5 Jim Junk
April
5-2 Jim Junk
May
2-2 Brent Jackson

Top 10 Bass
5-5 Jim Junk (3/26)
5-3 Jim Junk (4/8)
5-2 Jim Junk (4/6)
4-3 Jim Junk (3/30)
4-2Jim Junk (3/19)
4-2 Jim Junk (3/24)
4-2 Jim Junk (3/28)
4-1 Jim Junk (3/30)
4-0 Jim Junk (3/23)
4-0 Brent Jackson (4/2)
4-0 Brent Jackson (4/12)

Angler Weights
Jim Junk 23-15 (5-5,5-3,5-2,4-3,4-2)
Brent Jackson 14-8 (4-0,4-0,2-3,2-3,2-2)
Troy Jackson 9-13 (3-1,1-13,1-11,1-10,1-10)
Jayce Jackson 1-3 (1-3)

Kind of like a broken record there as Jim Junk has already had quite an impressive year and we are just over a week into May. Beyond those catches, it has just been a trio of Jackson boys adding to the list thus far. Here’s hoping a few other regulars have some catches on the horizon to join the fun. One other note on the Top 5 this year is that the submissions have come exclusively from public waters and from the bank. Kind of cool and old school although I certainly plan on checking out my private waters and getting off the shore as the year progresses.

As always, send your submissions to troy@troyjacksonoutdoors.com when you catch them. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – May 2, 2011

I always enjoy looking back at a place called “Emiquon.” This incredible fishery opened to public access in 2009 and the bass fishing was like nothing we’d ever seen or likely will ever see again. Below is an original post from May 5, 2011 detailing an outing from 10 years ago this week.

My brother, Brent, and I weren’t sure what to expect on our first Emiquon journey of 2011. The craziness of 2009 had ebbed somewhat in 2010 and this year’s wacky weather had me worried about whether he was wise to take a half day of vacation. However, it’s tough to not feel some extra excitement when taking on this unusual fishing hole. Here’s a bit of a different approach to my report from a bit of a different lake.

Stats
Date: May 2, 2011
Location: The Emiquon Preserve
Time: 12:30 pm-6:45 pm
Weather: Overcast/windy
Air Temp: 53-56F
Water Temp: 58F
Totals: 36 bass (Brent- 22, Troy- 14)
Lures: Tandem Spinnerbait (brown/orange) – 21 bass, Quad Shad Spinnerbait (white/shad) – 12 bass, 3” Yum Wooly Curtail (green pumpkin green) – 2 bass, ¼ oz Jig (black/chartreuse) with split double tail trailer (black) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-12 (Troy – Yum Wooly Curltail)
Top 5 Weight: 11-10 (2-12,2-5,2-5,2-3,2-1)

Chronology of the Catch

12:53 pm – I get us on the board with a 13” (1 lb 3 oz) fish on the Wooly Curtail worked around some flooded trees. The bass comes out of four feet of water in a narrow ditch that runs through an expansive one to three foot deep flat.

1:08 pm – Brent gets on the board with a 1-5 on his Emiquon Special, the same spinner bait that pushed him within two bass of the century mark back on October 7, 2009.

1:39 pm – Brent scores on a jig and plastic off a tree in a spot that is tailor made for the presentation as seen in the above photo.

2:37 pm – Brent lands another standard issue on the Emiquon Special prompting him to comment, “What’ve they got some kind of cloning program going on down here?”

4:00 pm – After three fishless and frustrating hours for me, I finally get another on the Wooly Curtail and the 2-12 will turn out to be our Top Bass for the day. At this point, Brent has a six to two lead since I’m running the trolling motor (he might also be a better angler most days). It’s been a rough start but Emiquon is about to show what it’s made of with a second half surge.

5:04 pm – Brent lands his heaviest fish of the day, a 2-5 on the Emiquon Special, of course. The lure is tough to beat as he winds up having me down 15 bass to 3 before I find a spinnerbait that will fool a few.

5:44 pm – Seconds after I hoist my 1-9 into the boat Brent nails a 2-1 for a “double” and a challenging photo opportunity.

5:55 pm – A 2-5 makes it a pair of two pounders in a row for us as I’m beginning to make up some ground.

6:03 pm – My 2-3 makes three consecutive two pounders but I’m still trailing 20 to 9.

6:24 pm – The above specimen wasn’t anything to brag about but I wanted a picture with a bass while the sun was shining. What were the odds of catching one during that approximately five-minute span?

6:44 pm – Brent lands a bass on his final cast as we set a departure time at 6:45 pm. I wanted a picture, but the bass was released before I got a chance as I was desperately trying to get bit before my watch turned to 6:46 pm.

 

Emiquon is now a mere shell of its former self as site management steered away from preserving the incredible fishery. While there’s plenty to debate regarding the decision, for today it’s all about what was rather than what is and what could have been. My, oh my, was it a blast while it lasted. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – May 1

Hard for me to believe that it is May already and what better way to kick off the month than with a hike around the strip mines. I was able to hit the water last Saturday morning where I was greeted with some cool temperatures and ugly winds. But you get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit as you can’t control the weather. Read on for the scoop.

8:38am – first bass and first swimbait catch

Stats
Date: May 1, 2021
Location: Knox County, IL public strip mines (6 lakes)
Time: 8:00am-12:35pm (4.00 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny/very windy
Air Temp: 52-75F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 11 bass
Lures: Bass Pro Shops Speed Shad (small mouth magic) with Berkley 3/0 weighted swimbait hook – 5 bass, Senko weighted wacky rig (pumpkin/black/green flake) – 2 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 2 bass, Zara Spook (natural frog) – 1 bass, Rapala Shad Rap (shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-11 Zara Spook
Top 5 Weight (only 4 at 12” or better): 5-2 (1-11,1-3,1-3,1-1)

9:02am – Top Bass 1-11 on a Zara Spook

Notes and Nonsense

Blow Away – The wind was crazy on this outing at 8:00am when I started casting and got stronger as the day progressed. Wind can be your friend in helping to position some fish, but that aspect wasn’t particularly pronounced on this outing. Wind can also be a challenge in hindering casting and maintaining a feel for some presentations. Like any day on the water, there are numerous variables to take into consideration and adapt accordingly. Fittingly, I also heard George Harrison’s 1979 Top 20 hit “Blow Away” on the drive to the fishing hole.

Taking my shot and joining the swimbait craze

New Trick – I struggled for about the first 40 minutes of casting with nary a bite, cycling through several solid, proven lures in the process. The chatterbait, Red Eye Shad lipless crankbait, a jig and craw and a Shad Rap had all failed to produce, so what to do next? Over the winter, I had picked up some Bass Pro Shops Speed Shads while visiting the business’ East Peoria, IL location. Despite being a challenging presentation in the high winds, I tied one on with a Berkley Fusion 19 3/0 hook and tried my luck. Several minutes later, I had my first bass of the day and first ever on such a lure.

The arsenal mixed new with old and older

Old Trick – In contrast, I later threw a Zara Spook, a lure that I first fished nearly 35 years ago. I had packed a couple along on this trip after reading many reports of a topwater bite while perusing several regional fishing groups on the internet. However, the strong winds weren’t exactly ideal for such a presentation. But stubbornness, faith in my lure and a bit of desperation at my lack of bites led to me giving it a shot. While I only caught one bass on the lure, it wound up being my Top Bass of the day. It was caught as a result of plenty of years of practice as I tried to fool a semi-interested bass. I spotted the fish on a shallow flat and it took a look at my first pass without committing. Therefore, I elected to increase the speed and commotion of my retrieve on the next cast in hopes of provoking a reaction bite as the faster moving lure doesn’t give the fish the luxury of a lengthier analysis. Right on cue, the bass struck the lure but missed getting hooked. Bingo, I knew the fish would bite and hoped another pass would result in better aim. The rapid, loud retrieve did the trick on cast number three and those 35 years of Zara Spook fishing paid off with a solid and rewarding catch.

10:38am – Top Bass Runner-Up 1-3 on swimbait

Same Old, Same Old – I ended my day on a spot that I call Maiden Lake as it is the first lake that I ever fished on this batch of strip mine waters. My largest bass on the lake was the first fish I ever caught there and came in just shy of two pounds. In the years since, all I have been able to manage during my occasional stops has been an endless parade of 8-11” bass. However, witnessing my brother, Brent, reel in a four-pounder last month sure got my attention. His catch proved that there was at least one quality fish that called it home and hopefully more as there is plenty of water. I spent close to an hour on a few stretches of windblown bank and guess what? Three bass between 8-11”, surprise, surprise. However, one of these less windy days with a bit of cloud cover, I’m going to put the old Zara Spook to work on Maiden Lake and see if that approach can weed out the little ones and get me some quality bites.

Interesting day with big sun and big wind as I made my way around a half dozen of my target lakes. Due to time constraints, I skipped over one other spot but overall was pleased with my gameplan and decision making during a morning where I had a time limit due to real life responsibilities. My brother later reported a near four-pounder on that spot but apparently in spawn mode as no interest in biting. Those bass are out there, just boils down to outsmarting them. Definitely an important aspect of what this fishing hobby is all about but always fun to get out there and take your shot no matter the results. Talk to you later. Troy