Top 5 Update

Several more solid bass this week in the midst of some cooler, windier conditions in West Central Illinois. Further proof that you need to keep on casting in 2019, especially as a rebound in temperatures are on the horizon.

Weight: 3-10
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: October 13
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Chatterbait

Weight: 3-8
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: October 13
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Chatterbait
Angler Comments: Got here around 5:00pm, 11 bass total. All over 1.5 with 3-10 and 3-8 leading the way.
Top 5 Weight: 23-15 (5-3,4-14,4-12,4-10,4-8)

Weight: 4-5
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: October 13
Location: Snakeden Hollow
Lure: Spinnerbait (brown/orange) aka “The Emiquon Special”
Angler Comments (editor’s note): Several minutes prior I had landed a small bass to take the shutout out of the equation after arriving at a different lake. Brent noted that we’d both caught bass on the other three lakes we’d fished so he needed a fish as well. Sure didn’t take long and avoided his shutout in a big way. Just a great looking bass, more in a later fishing report as I had a front row seat for this catch.
Top 5 Weight: 13-7 (4-5,2-14,2-6,1-15,1-15) culls a 1-12

All the proof you need to keep casting. So, please submit your reports by roughly 9:00pm next Sunday to make the deadline for next week’s update. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – October 7, 2009 Pt II

As promised, here are some numbers and notes to complete the flashback that we started yesterday. Read on for Part II of the original 2009 post entitled “As Advertised” and a further look at a place called “Emiquon.”

12:22pm 2-0 Spinnerbait

Date: October 7, 2009
Time: 10:20am-6:20pm
Weather:  Sunny turning partly cloudy/windy
Air Temp: 50-60 F
Totals:  Brent (98 bass) Troy (56 bass)
Lures:  Troy – Strike King Pro Model crankbait (chartreuse sexy shad) 21 bass, Zoom Baby Brush Hog (candy bug) 12 bass, Rapala DT10 crankbait (parrot) 12 bass, Rapala DT6 (parrot) 5 bass, Yum Dinger worm (cotton candy) 3 bass, Hank Parker Classic spinnerbait (white) 2 bass, Senko wacky rig (blue pearl blue) 1 bass
Lures: Brent – Bass Pro Shops spinnerbait ¼ oz. (crawdad) roughly 80 bass, Mann’s 4- crankbait (green firetiger) roughly 15 bass, Bagley DB series crankbait (unknown) 1 bass
Record Book Bass:  Troy (2-6, 1-15, 1-14, 1-13, 1-12, 1-12, 1-11, 1-9, 1-8)
Brent (2-3, 2-2, 2-1, 2-1, 2-0, 1-15, 1-14, 1-13, 1-12, 1-9)
Top 5 Weight: 10-13

Rare photo of “The Emiquon Special”, a spinnerbait that got it’s nickname as a result of this outing

The Bait – Brent’s spinnerbait was an old Bass Pro Shops model sporting tandem (two) copper hammered (dimpled like a golf ball) Colorado blades (see photo) and a brown/orange skirt (often referred to as crawdad). He just happened to have it tied on from a previous trip to Spring Lake and it proved to be a wise decision to stick with it. I’ve never seen anything like the performance. It is also worth noting that the bait is one of the first spinnerbaits we purchased upon getting into bass fishing which makes the lure close to twenty five years old. You can bet that I’ll be rummaging around the baitshop in my garage prior to setting off again for Emiquon.

Sounds funny, but too bad I didn’t have a phone back in the day to get a better picture of “The Clicker”

The Clicker – I’m not sure where I picked up my counter years ago but figured that it might be a handy tool for keeping track of my partner’s catch. It has four digits and I mentioned to Brent as we neared the ramp to leave that we can potentially rack up 1,000 bass. However, having just pummeled the Emiquon population he was quick to point out my error with soaring confidence stating, “Actually it would be 9,999.” I’m thinking he’s probably up for a return trip.

The Bass – The vast majority of our fish were in the 12-14” range. All were healthy, aggressive and hard fighting. A handful that I examined also had fish tails emerging from their throats yet were still in pursuit of another meal. We’ve seen two bass on one lure and reports have noted several bass following a hooked fish to the boat on occasion. With the obvious population density it’s no wonder that these bass are so competitive but fortunately it doesn’t appear that anyone is starving at this point.

No brutes on this trip but the overall quantity and quality were unmatched by any body of water we have ever fished

The Lake – I would advise getting in on the action while it is hot as nothing lasts forever. Mother Nature and morons always have the potential to adversely affect things that seem “too good to be true.” I’ve got no problem with the former as that’s just the way things work in the natural world. There’s always potential for disease if the population remains unchecked, flooding is no stranger to our neck of the woods and aquatic weed growth can pose problems. As far as the latter is concerned, I do have a problem as these days there’s no shortage of irresponsible outdoorsmen (I use the term loosely) who poach, introduce exotic species or have a general disregard for rules and regulations. I hate to sound bitter but the whole “few bad apples” routine gets old after a while. Anyway, that’s enough of the editorial. 2009 is drawing to a close but make sure to have your gear ready for 2010 and if you’ve been nice ask Santa for a decent size johnboat, a stout trolling motor and a couple batteries.

Ten years have passed and a lot of fish have been caught since this epic day on Emiquon. Regardless of what has occurred in the interim, this tale remains a favorite. I suspect it always will no matter what my fishing future holds in store. A true fish story. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – October 7, 2009 Pt I

Only part of the original log entry on a day when Emiquon showed it’s true colors

How about another Emiquon post as 2009 was quite a year on a brand new fishing hole the likes of which we had never seen. No better proof than an October 7, 2009 trip that actually takes a pair of flashback posts to cover. Part I today and a bonus Saturday Flashback to help tell the tale.

11:11am 2-1 on a spinnerbait

Excerpt from the original 10-11-09 post entitled “As Advertised”

Brent and I were back in the boat again less than two months after our successful August outing at McDonough County’s Spring Lake. The time frame is noteworthy as we’d previously gone nearly four years between trips largely due to just being busy. On October 7th we eliminated work from the equation as we each took a vacation day specifically to get in a trip to Emiquon. Brent had yet to see the area and I looked forward to seeing his reaction to the expanse of water that slowly comes into view as you drop into the river bottom on Route 97. He was definitely impressed but I couldn’t help thinking, “You ain’t seen nothing yet” while hoping that the bass would live up to their reputation. As it turned out, I needn’t have worried.

11:19am 2-2 on a spinnerbait

We hit the water at around 10:20am following a visit to Dickson Mounds Museum in order for Brent to obtain his fishing permit. After a twelve minute ride to one of our prime spots and a few tense minutes without a bite, we hauled aboard our first bass at 10:39am. Although we experienced a few flurries of activity in the first several hours I still maintained that Brent had yet to see Emiquon reveal its true colors. Sometime just before 3:00pm it started.

While I’d been fairly successful pulling bass out of a stretch of ditch with a couple different crankbaits, Brent was picking off scattered fish using a spinnerbait along the shelf on the west edge of the ditch. As the crankbait bite slowed, we decided to pursue Brent’s spinnerbait pattern. It would prove to be the right move as Brent quickly began to add to his total. I’d brought along a counter that allowed me to punch in each bass for him rather than relying on tick marks in my fishing log, and the clicks began coming with increased frequency.

3:59pm Brent Top Bass 2-3 on a spinnerbait

I couldn’t find a suitable spinnerbait in my arsenal to replicate his success and my crankbait bite had subsided so I experimented with a few other baits and enjoyed the show. At one point, I could no longer resist commenting on his good fortune asking, “Do you know how many you’ve caught?” He indicated that he wasn’t sure but didn’t seem too surprised when I said, “Fifty.” And it wasn’t long before I let him know that he’d reached seventy. Although I didn’t ask him at the time, I was beginning to consider the possibility that he could reach the century mark as we still had about an hour and a half of fishing remaining. Not wanting to jinx him, I kept my mouth shut content to keep clicking off bass after bass as we settled into a favorite spot to finish off our day.

Apparently the area is no secret as it had drawn a crowd the entire day preventing us from taking our shot. But sure enough the bass were still there and cooperative despite getting pounded all day by the other anglers. Just before 6:00pm, curiosity got the best of my brother and I informed him that his total now stood at ninety two bass.

We agreed to fish until 6:15pm before taking off on the roughly ten minute boat ride back to the ramp in order to be off of the water before sunset as stipulated in the rules. Thus our only choice was to run back through a productive stretch of water that had already given us roughly three dozen bass. Were there eight more left for his spinnerbait? I honestly had my doubts even knowing how the Emiquon bass can turn on in a hurry. However, right away Brent stuck one on the spinnerbait and lost a second at boatside much to our dismay. I’d considered quitting so as not to take any of “his fish” but went about my business catching a couple on a Baby Brush Hog before a snag made the decision for me and I just sat back to watch the thrilling conclusion.

Brent slowly chipped away at the mark before we simply ran out of time. In fact, he was the one who made the call. It was a valiant effort and we left satisfied with the outing since you’d be a fool to complain about “only ninety eight bass.” I did get a laugh though as Brent joked in hindsight stating, “Man, I shouldn’t have eaten lunch.”

10:54am Top Bass on the day 2-6 on a crankbait

By the way, I thought that I had a decent day although fifty six bass certainly pales in comparison. I’d like to say it was due to running the motor, logging the trip or taking Brent’s fish of the hook for him but none of the above were the case, I just plain got outfished. Overall, I was pleased with my output even though I found myself trailing by forty two bass when all was said and done. On “normal” lakes it is a rare trip where we can combine for forty two bass, let alone wind up with that amount being the difference. Suffice to say, that place is nuts.

Downright crazy, indeed. Man, those were the days. Still brings a smile and a head shake every time I revisit this outing. Which I am going to do again tomorrow with a few more notes and some stats. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Better late than never as this post is a bit tardy for the customary Monday update. The days are definitely getting shorter and after a short local warm-up it looks like some pretty chilly overnights are on the horizon. Don’t you dare give up yet though, as there’s still plenty of bites out there to be caught.

Weight: 4-6
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: September 29
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Texas rigged Senko
Angler Comments: Was getting dark and was leaving, stopped for one last cast. Threw Texas rigged Senko over some reeds into a small pool that had been completely weed covered all year. Couldn’t see my line but felt the tap, tap and felt the line moving. Set the hook on this 4-6 and called it a night.
Top 5 Weight: 23-15 (5-3,4-14,4-12,4-10,4-8)

It’s been a tall order for our leader to cull but always good to get a fish story from Jim to pass along. Hey, any four-pounder deserves some recognition, crazy when it falls short of adding some weight to a creel. Yep, I’m a bit envious and sure hoping to get a few more casts before my 2019 fishing year comes to a close. Hope some others get in some more fishing as well. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – September 27, 2014


Original log entry from the outing

Today we venture back to a “fall drawdown” outing on Lake Storey. Each fall the water level is dropped, largely as a fishery management practice, and it has been a favorite annual fishing challenge for many years. Below is an abridged version of the original report detailing whether any fish let their guard down at the drawdown.

Originally Posted 10-16-14

My “home lake”, Lake Storey, is a little farther from home these days with my family no longer residing in Galesburg. Therefore, me and three of our brood headed down Friday after work to stay at my folks in order to ease the chaos and crankiness of an early morning departure (our little guy, Zac, was sick and stayed home with Julie). As a result, Dad and I were on the water at a reasonable time, making our first casts just after 8:00am.

12:26 pm – Keeping it real in a fishing report as they are not all trophies

Date: September 27, 2014
Location: Lake Storey
Time: 8:10am-2:10pm
Weather: Sunny to partly cloudy/calm to very windy
Air Temp: 65-81F
Water Temp: 69-72F
Totals: 6 bass, 1 muskie
Dad Totals: 2 bass
Troy Totals: 4 bass, 1 muskie
Lures Dad: Muskrat style creature bait – 1 bass, Zoom Baby Brush Hog – 1 bass
Lures Troy: Xcalibur XR50 lipless crankbait (chicken pox) – 2 bass, Zoom Baby Brush Hog – 1 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (orange craw) – 1 bass, Strike King KVD Rattling Squarebill Crankbait (natural pumpkinseed) – 1 muskie
Top Bass: Dad 1-11 Zoom Baby Brush Hog
Top 5 Weight (only one bass 12” or better): 1-11

A pattern called “Chicken Pox”, these discontinued baits are going for $20 or more online

Notes & Nonsense

Patience – There were several other boats on the water on this pleasant Saturday but nothing that we all couldn’t work around in terms of sharing water. A couple muskie anglers beat us to one of our spots so we waited them out before moving in behind. I figured that they were targeting a different species and some different cover than we had in mind so I didn’t mind fishing “used water.” We were a little bummed when they moved off the first spot and camped on a second spot to eat their lunch. While the first spot let us down, we again waited out their lunch break, moved in and Dad proceeded to nail our Top Bass of the day. It was definitely worth the wait and further reinforcement that we’ve paid our dues on the lake and learned a couple things.

1:30pm – Dad with our Top Bass of the day at 1-11

Make My Day – We’d been on a proven spot for about twenty minutes without a bass when we spotted another boat fishing towards us. Our spot was a traditional winner but we’d pounded it good and I didn’t want the other anglers to hit another spot I wanted to fish on the other side of the lake so I decided to make a move. Now, a fishing day is made up of a lot of decisions, not all of which pan out; that’s fishing. In this case, however, on about my second cast after relocating I set the hooks of my crankbait into something that didn’t move. A few seconds later, I hollered “Muskie!” to Dad who went for the dipnet. The fish put up a classic fight with a couple line stripping runs, an exciting (and worrisome), completely airborne leap and managed to evade our dipnet twice. But the 12-pound Trilene survived, the hooks held and Dad scooped him in, luck was on our side. In terms of the fortuitous move though, I’m still torn on whether we were lucky or good. Then again, it doesn’t really matter, we got a fish that made our day, shot a couple pics and released it to fight again.

11:08am – One of those good, old Lake Storey bass fishing “accidents”

Second Chances – We revisited the proven spot noted above for another shot about an hour and a half after moving off and happening upon the muskie. True to form, a couple Lake Storey bass that called the place home were now in a biting mood. Dad and I each pulled one out with his on a muskrat bait and mine on a Zoom Baby Brush Hog. A productive Round Two confirms another Lake Storey fact (and general bass fishing approach) that if you’ve got a good spot it is wise to pay a couple visits in order to increase the likelihood that you’ll be in the neighborhood when they decide to bite.

8:35am – I’ve got lures that are darn near as big as this small bass

When combined with last week’s strip mine report, me, Brent and Dad landed 141 bass and a muskie in two trips. Two trips that were like night and day in terms of quantity (135 bass vs. 6 bass) but I’d actually be hard pressed to decide which trip was the best. 135 bass are cool but when they are really dumb you don’t feel really smart and while 6 bass is a tough day when they are extra wary you feel extra wise. And a decent toothy critter don’t hurt either; tough call.

A tough bass bite in terms of both quantity and quality but you’ll have that, it’s fishing. Just keep on casting though as evidenced by this outing as our best bass was the last catch, over five hours into our day. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Stats

The bass continued to trickle in as we transitioned from summer to fall pushing us to 75 submissions (5 other species submissions as well). Right on schedule, here’s another look at the numbers.

2019 Totals (* = new record)
January = 1 bass
February = no submissions
March = 8 bass
April = 14 bass
May = 12 bass
June = 14 bass
July = 11 bass
August = 7 bass
September = 8 bass

Top 5 Weight by Month (* = new record)
January = 3-3 (one bass)
February = no submissions
March = 19-3 (4-8,4-2,4-1,3-5,3-3)
April = 19 -10 (4-1,4-1,4-0,3-12,3-12)
May = 19-1 (4-6,4-0,3-15,3-10,3-2)
June = 19-15 (4-3,4-1,4-1,3-15,3-11)
July = 13-15 (5-3,3-14,1-15,1-8,1-7)
August = 19-4 (4-14,4-10,4-6,2-14,2-8)
September = 22-6 (5-3,5-0,5-0,4-12,2-7)

Boat vs. Bank
Boat = 23 bass
Bank = 52 bass

Boat vs. Bank Weight (* = new record)
Boat = 14-9 (3-14,3-11,2-8,2-4,2-4)
Bank = 25-4 (5-3,5-3,5-0,5-0,4-14)

Public vs. Private
Public = 58 bass
Private = 17 bass

Public vs. Private Top 5 Weight
Public = 24-3 (5-3,5-0,4-14,4-10,4-8)
Private = 22-7 (5-3,5-0,4-12,3-14,3-10)

The Baits (* = new record)
Plastic Worm = 25 bass (Top Bass 4-14 Jim Junk)
Chatterbait = 14 bass (Top Bass 5-3 Jim Junk)
Spinnerbaits = 12 bass (Top Bass 3-10 Chris Schwarz)
Lipless Crankbaits = 9 bass (Top Bass 4-8 Jim Junk)
Buzzbait = 3 bass (Top Bass 2-4 Troy Jackson)
Jigs = 3 bass (Top Bass 2-10 Troy Jackson)
Crankbait = 2 bass (Top Bass 3-11 Chris Schwarz)
Swim Jigs = 2 bass (Top Bass 5-3 Chris Schwarz)
Underspin = 2 bass (Top Bass 4-6 Jim Junk)
Prop Bait = 1 bass (Top Bass 4-12 Jim Junk)
Livebait = 1 bass (Top Bass 4-1 Jim Junk)
Topwater Frog = 1 bass (Top Bass 1-1 Landon Hannam)

Monthly Top Bass (* = new record)
3-3 Jim Junk
No submissions
4-8 Jim Junk
4-1 Jim Junk
4-6 Jim Junk
4-3 Jim Junk
5-3 Jim Junk
4-14 Jim Junk
5-3 Chris Schwarz

Top 10 Bass (* = new Top 10 all-time)
5-3 Jim Junk 7/28
5-3 Chris Schwarz 9/22
5-0 Jim Junk 9/15
5-0 Chris Schwarz 9/22
4-14 Jim Junk 8/3
4-12 Jim Junk 9/7
4-10 Jim Junk 8/20
4-8 Jim Junk 3/28
4-6 Jim Junk 5/14
4-6 Jim Junk 8/3

Angler Weights
Jim Junk 24-7 (5-3,5-0,4-14,4-12,4-10)
Chris Schwarz 20-10 (5-3,5-0,3-11,3-10,3-2)
Troy Jackson 13-8 (3-14,2-10,2-8,2-4,2-4)
Brent Jackson 10-14 (2-14,2-6,1-15,1-15,1-12)
Landon Hannam 6-14 (2-7,1-4,1-2,1-1,1-0)
Terry Jackson 3-13 (1-15,1-1,0-13)
Jayce Jackson 2-13 (1-8,1-5)
John Kirkemo 2-12 (1-7,1-5)

Other Species
Bluegill 1-8 Teagan Mills 6/2/19 Private pond
Channel Catfish 13-0 Teagan Mills 4/20/19 Private Pond
Catfish 6-9 Chris Schwarz 6/12/19 Spring Lake – McDonough County
Catfish 34-35” Chris Schwarz 6/2/19 Spring Lake – McDonough County
Muskellunge 6-4 Chris Schwarz 6/28/19 Lake Storey

Still some time to catch some good fish so keep that gear at the ready. Those fish sense what’s on the horizon as well and if you can be on the water when they turn on, well, good things can happen. When they do, let me know. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – September 21, 2009

A look back at a blog feature that has since evolved into something I call “Lake Lowdown.” Today’s flashback includes an excerpt from the original September 28, 2009 post along with the pics of our catches and a few noteworthy peripheral items.

Originally Posted 9-28-09

While my initial “Day on the Lake” feature for 2009 turned into a weather shortened and embarrassing flop at Emiquon this April, our second attempt proved more fruitful. Dad also was a good sport when I revealed that I wanted to give Lake Storey a shot on September 21. However, he did comment at one point that he would have preferred another trip to Emiquon (can’t blame him as that place will spoil you). Anyway, for anyone unfamiliar with this annual feature, I document the specifics of every bass reeled in by either angler along with snapping a photo regardless of the size of the fish.

All told, we combine for fifteen bass as Dad edges me out by one fish. I claim Top Bass with a 2-10 but overall Dad lands more quality fish. We manage seven keepers among our catch (Dad 1-10, 1-10, 1-9, 1-0, 1-0 Troy 2-10, 1-4) with our five heaviest tipping the scales at 8-11. The Mann’s 4- leads the way with six fish followed by the Bomber Flat A and Brush Hog/Baby Brush Hog (3), the Rapala DT6 (2) and the Rapala DT10 (1).



Goodbye Old Friend – After hauling up one of my crankbaits from some sort of snag I observed that the eye on the end of my pole had busted off about an inch below the tip. There was a bit of sadness as the rod was an old Shimano Fightin’ Rod that represented the last of the original group of poles from my initial foray into the exciting and expensive world of bass fishing. That thing was close to twenty five years old so I had certainly gotten my money’s worth, ripping the hooks home for the better part of three decades. Dad mentioned repairing it but it was a rather short rod to begin with at 5’6” so I’ve decided to just say goodbye. I commented at the time that I should chuck it into the middle of Lake Storey as a fitting final resting place. However, some sort of environmental conscience got the best of me and I hauled it home for trash day instead.

Money Saver – While Dad’s Mann’s 4- crankbait was the hottest lure of the day, another important tool from my tacklebox also had a starring role. My lure retriever saved our crankbaits at least half a dozen times (a bare minimum of $25 in savings), never failing to dislodge the treble hooks from various submerged snags. Along the way we caught stumps, logs, several pieces of fishing line whose owners need to purchase lure retrievers and even an anchor rope at The Most Fished Tree.

Budding Angler – Regardless of how the fish were biting, Dad and I had plans to reach the fishing shelter at Cannon Hill around 10:45am. Julie was bringing Carly and Jayce out to visit with us after picking up Carly from pre-school. We had a little life jacket ready and Carly took us up on an offer for her first ride in “the big boat” while it was actually on the water (she hangs out in the boat in Papa’s garage on occasion). She loved it and at one point inquired about her Princess pole. While we hadn’t brought it along I was proud of my girl for wanting to get in on the fun.

Old friend, teammate, fishing buddy and college opponent, Arnie Gonzalez

Gonzo – During my annual fall visits to Lake Storey, I rarely fail to cross paths with a longtime buddy. Coach Arnie Gonzalez and I have been friends since kindergarten and played high school and Legion baseball together. He’s been the head baseball coach at Galesburg High School for quite a few years and teaches an Outdoor Living class which is why I see him (more accurately hear him first) with his students at the lake. It’s always good to see him and we had a good visit from boat to bank. Over the years, we racked up many adventures, fishing, sports and otherwise. But one of my favorites will always be a changeup he delivered that looked like a beach ball on a 3-2 count during a Knox-Monmouth baseball game many years ago. After the pitch, we just gave each other a slight nod of acknowledgement as I trotted around the bases. I will admit that he also got the best of me during some matchups, but since this is my story, you’ll have to ask him for any details.

Storey vs. Emiquon – After experiencing the unprecedented bass fishing action at Emiquon, it is quite tempting to forego fishing any other body of water. However, Lake Storey does have its merits that draw me back year in and year out. If you listen to some locals, “Lake Storey is dirty” or “has no fish in it.” Wrong, big time, but I’m glad that many feel that way because it leaves more fish for me and Dad. From my experience you’ve got to work for your fish but therein lies the reward. There’s an undeniable satisfaction from fooling a 2-10 at the challenging lake that rivals the “got to see it to believe it” feeding frenzy that one can take part in at Emiquon. In addition, every cast made while bass fishing at Lake Storey has the potential for an “accident.” There are muskies in there that are scary, I’ve seen them up close and they get your attention. So will a nearly eight pound walleye like I stumbled upon last October. Granted there are some nice fish at Emiquon but it was pure luck that I got my picture taken with one of them.

Looks like another rainy weekend around here. Dang! Although that didn’t get in the way last weekend…Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Extras – September 22


There’s an old saying about “not having enough sense to come in out of the rain.” Well, I would counter that statement with something along the lines of “nobody with any sense would walk away from a good bite.” And walking was a key component of this fishing trip. The definite risk was hiking in about two circuitous miles with the impending inclement weather. The potential reward was a good batch of bites. In the end, both aspects materialized as further detailed today with a lyrically filled post emphasizing “rain.”

Some old rain pics as evidence that you you won’t melt and the fish will bite

“I’m No Stranger to the Rain” (Keith Whitley – 1989) – When faced with potential precipitation I often resort to the old familiar refrain of “we’ve been wet before.” And as you can see above, we did okay, wound up no worse for wear and learned our lesson. That lesson being, as long as there’s no lightning, you better take your shot because there are a lot of good stories in those rainy pics.

If this is fishing in the rain, I’ll take it. Took my backup “rainy day” log (on right) and transferred data post trip 

“Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head” (B.J. Thomas – 1971) – Indeed, they did. Rainfall consisted of a light rain during my pre-dawn walk in, a brief shower about 7:00am calling for donning the raincoat and a downpour during the last hour of casting and hiking back to the truck. But hey, “I’m never gonna stop the rain by complaining” with 47 bass in the logbook. And with a change of clothes in the truck “nothing’s worrying me.”


“Blame It on the Rain” (Milli Vanilli – 1989) – The rain showed up full force about 10:15am and continued steadily at varying degrees through my final cast at 11:50am. During the downpour, the bite was inversely proportional to the severity of the showers. The heavier the rain the lighter the bite while my better fish of the day showed up as the rainfall eased a bit.


“Fool in the Rain” (Led Zeppelin – 1979) – I wasn’t sure what to make of the iPhone Live Photo feature at first but have found it to be kind of fun, albeit a little creepy in some instances. As I played around editing pics for these latest reports I found that I could actually put one of them to use. I was simply snapping the “after” shot to go with the “before” pic I had taken at the parking lot to start the morning but found that the motion revealed plenty about a wet, walk-in adventure. Five miles, deep weeds, undulating terrain, hauling gear, rough footing, 47 bass and a 52-year old body. I’d had a good day, but for me the video loop above also says that I’d had enough. Just plain wore out.

A good representation of how the day progressed from early to late

Anytime I can post a 47 bass morning, I’m good. Bigger fish would have just been icing on the cake. I knew the rain would show up at some point and planned accordingly for the long walk. Rain gear was an obvious choice but I also scaled down to “only” four poles and bare bones on tackle. In fact, in terms of that latter aspect I actually overdid it as I needed only four lures to fool my nearly four dozen bass. Yep, now that I’m not so sore anymore, I’d gladly take another shot at being the fool out there on those strip mine hills. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – September 22

In a bold move, I dared to doubt the weatherman last Sunday and the 90-100% prediction of rain all morning, all afternoon and all evening. Call me a “fool”, but for most of my morning on some walk-in strip pits, it actually worked out just fine. And speaking of “fools”, I had so much fun with the lyrical fishing report notes last week that I am doing it again. Twice for this outing, in fact. “Fool” songs in today’s standard report and a “rain” theme for tomorrow’s extras.

Extended an invite but could not “Find Another Fool” (Quarterflash – 1982)

Ready to hike and fingers crossed as it looks like a dry window after all

Date: September 22, 2019
Location: Knox County, IL public strip mines (5 lakes)
Time: 6:15am-11:50am (4.50 hours fishing, the rest hiking)
Weather: Overcast/breezy/rain
Air Temp: 72-69F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 47 bass
Strike King Red Eye Shad (orange craw) – 22 bass
Booyah Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 12 bass
Booyah Blade Spinnerbait (snow white shad) – 11 bass
Zoom Baby Brush Hog (watermelon seed) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 1-13
Top 5 Weight: 7-12 (1-13,1-11,1-11,1-8,1-1)

7:03am First bass and 7:46am first “keeper”

Notes and Nonsense

“What a Fool Believes” – (The Doobie Brothers – 1979)
All day Saturday I checked the weather forecast only to find 100% chance of rain every hour from about 4:00am into the afternoon. Tough call but I opted to go for it and lucked into a window of mostly dry skies from my 6:15am arrival until about 10:15am. I’m glad I elected to disregard the weather app and take my chances. Oh, I still got soaked, but I already had about 40 bass in the log by that point.


“What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am” – (Lee Roy Parnell – 1992)
First off, that is one of those “rhetorical” questions. Anyway, I texted out an invitation on Saturday afternoon to a fellow fishing fool who politely declined as previously noted. And to tell you the truth I was beginning to wonder as well. For while the forecast had shifted towards the dry window noted above it sure was pouring on the drive down. From the I-74 Edwards River crossing until just shy of Galva on Route 17 it was raining so hard that I could barely see the road at times. Fortunately, less than 10 miles to the south there was barely any precipitation despite some ugly skies.


“Poor Little Fool” – (Ricky Nelson – 1958)
Actually, my Red Eye Shad fooled several poor little fools in the 6” range. That says a lot about the predatory instincts of the largemouth bass as these overachievers certainly bit off more than they could chew. One of their bigger brothers was fooled too but made a fool of me within a couple feet of the bank. Yep, the “one that got away”, more on that incident in a follow up post.

11:11am Top Bass 16″ 1-13 

“Fool If You Think It’s Over” (Chris Rea – 1978)
With a Top Bass of 1-13, the quality of my catches certainly left room for improvement. That’s been the theme for my 2019 as I just can’t find those big bites. In the case of the lakes fished on this trip, three of them had produced over half a dozen bass from 3-0 to 4-6 since 2013. But while I failed to find those quality bites again, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over and I intend to make at least a few more casts before I call it quits on 2019 fishing.

Some final totals beyond the bass (grocery shopping included that afternoon)

“Fool Hearted Memory” (George Strait – 1982)
As time passes I must admit to wrestling more and more with the decision to put these adventures behind and pursue some lower impact fishing. Throw in a saturated landscape that got even more saturated during the last hour and a half of wandering around and those thoughts crossed my mind again. But here I am several days later with the aches fading and a chance to relive the catches via blogging and editing, well, you know the rest.

Back tomorrow with Part II from a fool that doesn’t have enough sense to come in out of the rain. Fishing will do that to you. Talk to you later. Troy


Top 5 Update

Ten pounds of bass make for quite a cull this week and push a second angler into the 20-pound club for 2019.

Weight: 5-0
Angler: Chris Schwarz
Date: September 22
Location: Warren County pond
Lure: Swim Jig

Weight: 5-3
Angler: Chris Schwarz
Date: September 22
Location: Warren County pond
Lure: Swim Jig
Angler Comments: 5-3 and 5-0 on back to back casts on a swim jig.
Top 5 Weight: 20-10 (5-3,5-0,3-11,3-10,3-2) culls a 2-10 and 2-7

Outstanding fish, Chris, and well done on passing the 20-pound mark. Still more year to go so everybody keep on casting. Talk to you later. Troy