Emiquon at 10 – Windows

Once upon a time, those crazy Emiquon bass put a positive spin on the old saying, “When it rains, it pours.” Those head shaking bursts of feeding activity were something I referred to as “windows.” Of course, I wrote a little something about it as detailed below.

Originally Posted 5-11-11

It doesn’t seem to occur as frequently or intensely as it did in 2009 but there are still occasions when the bass bite gets hot and heavy. Such bursts of activity exceed anything I’ve ever witnessed in over three decades of bass fishing both in terms of quantity and quality.

I’ve fished long enough to know that presentation and location are key. I also know that you might need to hit your “hotspots” several times during a day before finding fish in a biting mood. At Emiquon these feeding windows can be something to behold. After prodding around on some fishy looking areas and picking up the occasional bass it’s as if someone suddenly flips a switch and the bass go crazy.

Original log entry from a window, never seen anything like it, fun, fun fishing

My fishing log bears out these instances and it is often quite tempting to abandon my practice of documenting the catch in favor of casting. The above page from September 9, 2009 displays the results of a feeding frenzy typical of the “old days” with bass on several consecutive casts. Mind you that the gaps are due to me wasting time writing when I could be catching. Keep in mind also that Dad was reeling in just as many if not more as I logged his success with tick marks.

Dad, Brent and I have witnessed two bass on one lure similar to numerous internet reports from other anglers. In other instances several bass have followed a hooked companion to the boat looking to get a piece of the action. On one memorable occasion I even took a break to simply sit back and watch as my brother worked his magic. Brent had the right lure in the right spot at the right time and I elected to quit casting as I punched in bass after bass on the clicker that I bring to tally such catches. Before sunset sent us packing he was two bass shy of one hundred.

Two bass on one lure and three in the boat will certainly bring a smile

In an article I wrote for family and friends on October 11, 2009 I stated, “I would advise getting in on the action while it is hot as nothing lasts forever.” Things do seem to have slowed since anglers were turned loose on those naïve bass that spring but it’s still darn good.

As I have alluded to previously, things have gotten off track at Emiquon in terms of fishing since I wrote the pieces shared this week. I am honestly out of touch with what is going on down there in terms of management and fishing reports but understand that the once stellar fishing hole is but a skeleton of its former self.

So, why not keep the old memories rolling with an Emiquon Friday Flashback coming your way tomorrow. Talk to you later. Troy

Emiquon at 10 – Guts

Today’s Emiquon Flashback was the second of a four-part fishing report from a May 5, 2011 trip with my brother, Brent. I suppose it seems a bit over the top to craft four postings from one six hour fishing trip but Emiquon was that kind of place back in those early years.

Originally Posted 5-16-11

Looks like its “All You Can Eat” for the bass that call Emiquon home.

While some things have changed since Emiquon was opened to anglers back in April of 2009, the bass continue to display an aggressive disposition. And although outings may not produce the quantities they used to, the quality continues to impress. These bass are stout, well fed and show no signs of slowing down.

Brent and I both marveled at the distended bellies on the bass we landed on our latest trip. Repeatedly we were left shaking our heads stating, “Look at the gut on this thing.” We’re strictly catch and release on our bass but I must admit being tempted to take one home just to do some dissection. Of course, we didn’t have one make the grade anyway as Emiquon regulations specify a daily limit of one largemouth with an 18” minimum length. The best we could do was 17” and I truthfully would have only taken photos home no matter the size of our Top Bass.

No matter how you shot the pics, the bass were flat out healthy

Looking at my log entries dating back to 1987, the weight of 17” bass is clustered between 2-0 and 2-4. Our 17” Emiquon specimen tipped the scales at 2-12 and while it represents only one data point, I don’t think it’s a fluke. Our three 16” fish came in at 2-3, 2-3 and 2-5 compared to my log data averaging right around 1-15 and we also had a 15” at 2-1 compared to about 1-10. Granted this is rather unscientific and contains innumerable variables in the sampling methods and locations but I’d still put the health of the individuals in Emiquon’s bass population up against those on any other public body of water I’ve ever fished. Regardless of the length, you just don’t see scrawny bass.

Getting back to my dissection comment, we left without a solid answer on what they were eating other than spinnerbaits, which was working out just fine. Back in 2009 I wrote a piece on Emiquon that included the following observation; “A handful that I examined also had fish tails emerging from their throats yet were still in pursuit of another meal.” This time around we spotted neither tails nor the telltale antennae indicative of a crawdad dinner but whatever is on the menu it certainly seems like there’s plenty to go around.

Here’s another incredible bit of data as I weigh all bass 12″ or better and 35 of our 36 catches met that criteria.                           Folks, that is not normal.

From what I understand, over the last several years management decisions and Mother Nature have totally altered the population dynamics and species structure of the old fishing hole. Unfortunately, for us anglers, the management strategy was never really geared towards being one of the best fisheries around. But for a time, and for my money, once upon a time, it sure was. Talk to you later. Troy

Emiquon at 10 – Colors

We’re going to roll through the rest of the week with some more Emiquon flashbacks as public access at the Fulton County site marks its ten year anniversary. First up are a trio of posts from my former blogging gig that hit the internet back in May 2011. It’s “Colors” for today followed by “Guts” and “Windows” before we finish off the week with an Emiquon Friday Flashback.

                                Two bass, two hues with the upper fish having more pronounced barring along the body                                              as well as darker fins, mouth and gill plate

Originally Posted 5-7-11

No matter the aim, The Emiquon Preserve is an outdoor blogger’s dream.

My brother, Brent, and I found the color variations to be quite appealing amongst the individual bass in our creel. We took pictures of well over a dozen of our catch for various reasons including the following photo essay. Hopefully the shots will do the fish justice but there’s nothing like seeing it firsthand and I would encourage you to give it a try sometime.

Pale bass and “silver bass” comparison, the latter of  which  featured a metallic shimmer and an orange tint to the fins

Like the anglers, these two could have been brothers, quite similar coloration

Each of the fish posted above came during a May 2, 2011 outing where Brent and I posted 36 bass in just over six hours on the water (12:30pm-6:45pm). Obviously, lighting and the angle of the pics has some effect but it was really quite a treat to see this population in person. Not sure if it was the result of a random batch of bass in those initial stockings but yet another unique aspect to what was a unique fishery.

More Emiquon stuff tomorrow so talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Our Top 5 leader continues to boost his creel with a trio of August bass that combine for nearly fourteen pounds of fish.

Weight: 4-14
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: August 3
Location: Knox County public strip pit
Lure: Texas rigged Senko
Structure: Weed edge
Angler Comments: Ran into a Senko Texas rigged bite, most were deep and small but caught one every few casts. Somewhere in the middle of this a 4-14 smashed the Senko at the weed edge.

Weight: 4-6
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: August 3
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Rapala Clackin’ Rap

Weight: 4-10
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: August 20
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Chatterbait
Structure: Weed edge
Angler Comments: Today was 3 bass with top weight of 4-10 that came off a weed edge and hit a chatterbait.
Top 5 Weight: 23-9 (5-3,4-14,4-10,4-8,4-6) culls a 4-6 and 4-3

Way to go, Jim. When paired with last week’s submissions our 2019 August Top 5 sits at 16-13, within striking distance of the current August record of 18-9 from 2017. Still nearly a week left before September, so a shout out to send them my way in pursuit of a new monthly mark. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – August 16, 2009

McDonough County’s Spring Lake, not to be confused with similarly named Tazewell County fishing hole

Today’s flashback features a rather lengthy excerpt from the original September 5, 2009 post entitled “Just Like Riding A Bike.”

Thirty minutes into my return to bass fishing on August 16th, my old hobby indeed felt just like riding a bike. McDonough County’s Spring Lake had already given me three bass with a combined weight of 7-12 and I was back in business after a somewhat self-imposed hiatus to get my fishing mind right. My brother and fishing partner, Brent, then responded with a trio of his own that tipped the scales at 4-14. Barely an hour into our trip we had nearly thirteen pounds of bass (all released of course). An impressive start and little did we know that we both had yet to land our largest bass of the trip.

6:28am 18.5″ 2-15 on a Rapala DT6 crankbait (parrot)

Our immediate success was gratifying and I mentioned to Brent that our good fortune made me feel like laughing out loud. That would be “lol” in today’s “textspeak” or whatever it’s called as I don’t partake in one of technology’s latest rages. Paired with another comment we’d shared during the feeding frenzy (more on this later), it got me thinking about some of the peculiarities of the English language. Upon returning home, I pondered how I could relate our fishing adventure by enlisting the aid of figures of speech. Being a creature of habit, I often resort to such verbal tactics anyway but I thought perhaps this would be a chance to take it to another level while still being careful not to go overboard. All in all, it seemed like a perfect fit as fishing has contributed many phrases to our language that can be variously referred to as sayings, adages, clichés, idioms or old saws. One can “take the bait”, be “caught hook, line and sinker” or rue “the one that got away.” So, without further ado, I’ll give it my best shot as we get down to brass tacks.

6:41am 19.5″ 3-11 on Rapala DT6 crankbait (parrot)

“A sight for sore eyes” – It was exciting to get back on the water to harass some bass and while I had actually seen the lake before this outing, it had been many years ago and only during a short hike along the dam area while not armed with a fishing pole. I’d also checked out some internet info and a relatively crude map in a publication I own along with soliciting some input from Brent who had spent the previous day on the lake. Upon getting out on the water I was pleasantly surprised with some relatively good water depth close to shore and ample structure in the form of fallen trees, points, riprap and duck blinds. An added bonus was the nearly complete absence of aquatic vegetation. Granted, this can work both ways, but in the midst of summer it was a welcome change as many of our area lakes become choked with shallow weeds. And things worked out well as we were able to spend more time removing largemouth bass from our hooks instead of what we grew up referring to as “moss bass.”

6:44am 16″ 2-0 Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (grey ghost)

“The early bird gets the worm” – Brent and I launched the boat and made our first casts right around 6:10 am and had a bass in the boat seven minutes later. When Brent hooked a 1-14 at 7:14 am it marked our sixth bass in just over an hour on the water. The next hour or so produced three more and at 9:36am Brent reeled in a short fish that would turn out to be our last catch of the day. During the final two and a half hours, the Spring Lake bass threw a shutout but it wasn’t too hard to swallow after catching lightning in a bottle to start our day.

7:14am 15″ 1-14 Spinnerbait (yellow/white)

“Some things never change” – Consulting my fishing log it appeared that the last time Brent and I shared a boat was July 31, 2005. That’s quite a span between trips considering the amount of time we used to spend fishing together back in the day. But as we all know too well, time flies as evidenced by the fact that in the interim Brent got married and we combined for three kids. Despite such life altering changes, there we were once again with Brent tossing a spinnerbait while I relied on a crankbait just as my 2005 log entry had also recorded. And both times we each were catching bass proving that there is indeed more than one way to skin a cat.

“You should’ve been here tomorrow” – This was the other comment (besides lol) that got me thinking about the English language and was derived from the fishing standard of a frustrated angler being informed by a local that he “should’ve been here yesterday.” My misuse of the saying, while not grammatically correct, did have a purpose. Brent and Dad had fished the lake the previous day with limited success as they eked out three small bass during four early morning hours on the water.

7:24am 20″ 3-12 Rapala DT6 (parrot)

My botched take on this saying represents a figure of speech known as a malapropism. Perhaps some of you may remember Norm Crosby, a comedian who made a living out of butchering the English language and is regarded as the “Master of the Malaprop.” As a kid I recall him hosting a game show called “Liar’s Club” in the 70’s where a trio of celebrities described an unusual object for a contestant who had to decide which story was actually the truth. Anyway, while I’m off on a tangent I thought that I might as well pass along a handful of examples that I found amusing while researching malapropisms.

“It’s not the heat, it’s the humility.” – Yogi Berra
“I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family.” – George W. Bush
“I might just fade into Bolivian, you know what I mean.” – Mike Tyson
“I am not going to make a skeptical out of my boxing career.” – Tonya Harding
“Vagrant disregard for the law” or “patience is a virgin” – Archie Bunker

8:18am 18.5″ 3-12 Spinnerbait (yellow/white)

“Right place at the right time” – Although Dad and Brent’s outing didn’t provide much in the way of a fish story, Dad did relate an interesting anecdote from his trip to Spring Lake. After calling it a day and visiting the campsite where Brent, Kim and Brady were staying, Dad hit the road headed for home. As he exited the park onto a county road, he spied a young man pushing a bicycle down the shoulder. Dad opted to take the Good Samaritan route despite not knowing what you might encounter these days. It turned out that the fellow was a Western Illinois University student who had the misfortune of a broken chain while out for some exercise. He was grateful for the lift to the bike shop in Macomb as it is a rather substantial walk from Spring Lake. I guess timing is everything with the guy being lucky that the fish weren’t biting as Dad quite likely would have still been in a boat on the water as opposed to his truck on the road.

“Better lucky than good” vs. “Practice makes perfect” – I hope that our success was more directly a result of the latter of this pair of sayings. We’ve been at this for a while and have no doubt refined our techniques over the years. The fish will often tell you what they want (or don’t) but it’s up to the angler to discern a pattern after taking into account a handful of variables. Weather, season, forage and structure are among the factors that must be assessed. Experience is also an indispensable tool and this time around we happened to start out in the right spots with the right presentations. Could we repeat the performance on a future trip? I’d like to think so; perhaps that’s a future fish story.

9:30am 17″ 2-6 Rapala DT6 (parrot)

”If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” or “What a difference a day makes” – A return trip after a tough day certainly gives credence to this adage. I must admit a bit of pessimism upon hearing that Brent and Dad had struggled during their day on the water. I’m as confident in their abilities as my own so it didn’t bode well when I got wind of their fishing report. There was even brief consideration of a trip to nearby Lake Argyle but fortunately we stuck to our guns. How easy it would have been to simply write off Spring Lake as a bad fishing hole after one trying experience. Such is fishing; that’s why it’s not called “catching.”

“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” – Our success came by taking our time and thoroughly working over pieces of structure that we felt should hold a bass. Points, fallen trees and duck blinds with some proximity to deeper water was the pattern of the morning. A quality bite on crankbaits and a spinnerbait left little reason to experiment with some of our other “go to” lures such as the Senko or Baby Brush Hog. In the end, we combined for eleven bass with a tie for Top Bass honors as we each hauled in a 3-12. Our five heaviest bass combined for an impressive weight of 16-8, well over a three pound average per bass. Nine of our eleven bass exceeded twelve inches with weights as follows; Troy (3-12, 3-11, 2-15, 2-6, 1-2) and Brent (3-12, 2-0, 1-14, 1-0). The lure breakdown consisted of a Rapala DT6 (parrot – 4 bass), Mann’s Baby 1- (grey ghost – 4) and a tandem spinnerbait (white/yellow – 3).

Original log entry from an entertaining and productive day on some new water

I did work a Baby Brush Hog around several logs to no avail and remarkably never even picked up my Senko wacky rig. But then again, you’ve got to dance with who brung you. We did experience the customary “one that got away” as Brent had a bass in the two pound range toss his spinnerbait after being hooked. The only concern was being shut out during the final two and a half hours but a fair amount of that time was spent exploring the southern bank which I found much less appealing. We also may have gotten a bit complacent but based on my year of futility any more bass would certainly have been icing on the cake.

Whew, hope you hung in there through that lengthy and wandering fishing tome. I won’t keep you any longer today as I’m sure you’ve got bigger fish to fry. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Back with an overdue Top 5 Update, our first since July 29. August has always been a lean Top 5 month and thus far it looks like 2019 will be no exception. Thus it was a treat to see an email entitled “Top 5 Update Submission” show up in the Inbox this past week.

Weight: 1-6
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: August 13
Location: Lake McMaster – Snakeden Hollow
Lure: Weedless wacky worm (green/white)

Weight: 1-9
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: August 13
Location: Lake McMaster – Snakeden Hollow
Lure: Weedless wacky worm (green/white)
Structure: Along weed edges
Angler Comments: Fished from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Partly cloudy with air temperature in low 80s. Water clear; temperature 82 degrees. Hooked but lost what felt like a good sized fish but never saw it. Caught two other smaller fish less than 12 inches. Two other fisherman on board got bites but no hookups. The fish appeared to be in good condition. Plump bellies.
Top 5 Weight: 5-11 (1-9,1-7,1-6,1-5)

Thank you, John, and kudos for getting out there and getting it done. Also fun to see some bass from an old familiar fishing hole as I haven’t been out there for quite a few years. Keep up the good work and anybody else that is fooling some fish, send them my way. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – August 9, 1999

August 9, 1999 still my Club Lake PB (personal best) at 4-12 and speaking of records, read on.

Looks like August from 20 years ago was an overachiever when it came to fishing as this is the third straight flashback from that time period. The August heat can often pose a challenge but those bass are still there, just sometimes a little harder to find and fool.

Early or late in the day can often be your best August options with this bass being a prime example. It was my third catch of the morning, coming ashore at 6:35am.

Topwater presentations can also be the ticket during those early and late windows. And what do you know? This fish came on a legendary lure known as a Zara Spook.

This bass also holds the distinction of being the largest bass that I have landed from a Little John fishing hole named Club Lake.

Each of the above aspects of this catch got me to thinking about the record book I’ve kept over the years so let’s take a look at where today’s bass stands in each of these categories and more.

Top August Bass
All-time: 6-8 Brady Junk Henry County Pond 8/29/10 Crankbait
Troy PB: 5-11 Little John Conservation Club 8/21/17 Senko wacky rig
Today’s Flashback Bass #5 all-time

Top Zara Spook Bass
5-8 Woody’s Middle Pond 9/1993
Today’s Flashback Bass #3 all-time

Top Little John Bass
All-time: 8-4 Tim Townsend Little John Conservation Club 4/4/2000 Jig & Pig
Troy PB: 6-2 Undisclosed Lake 3/4/17 jig & pig (black/blue)
Today’s Flashback Bass #14 all-time

Top 1999 Bass
5-1 Lake Bracken 9/18/99 Mann’s Baby 1- Crankbait (rainbow)
Today’s Flashback Bass #2 for the year

I don’t know about anybody else but it sure is fun for me to look back through a bit of the record book that I began compiling many years ago. In fact, that record book was the impetus for this whole writing obsession. Back on April 30, 2002 it all started with the line “Introducing the Family Fishing Hall of Fame Newsletter.” Still going strong at exactly 1,500 posts later with plenty more to come. Talk to you later. Troy

Bummer, So Long Summer

As this post hits the blog, the family is nestled all snug in our beds awaiting the annual household wakeup call that signifies the end of summer. Much too early as summer still has six weeks remaining but for all intents and purposes, once school starts, it’s over. Sure, there are still plenty of summer type events to go but they just take on a different feel with the activities, planning and logistics that accompany “back to school.”

As usual, we’re left with that customary “where did the summer go” sentiment.

Well, looking back I guess these are some of the answers. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – August 6, 1999

August 6, 1999 – Our 2019 Top 5 leader, Jim Junk, with an 8-1  Lake Bracken Spillway carp 

These flashbacks are always fun for me as while I have had the posts for the year lined up since February, I never really know where they will end up until I get around to writing them. In today’s case, I’m typing at about 8:30pm Thursday night on the deck with the Cubs leading the Reds on the radio.

A relaxing summer night just like today’s shots from 20 years ago. And the adventures with these friends and this fishing hole both go back even further.

August 6, 1999 – Mark Junk with a 5-10 carp

I’ve run around with some combination of the Junk brothers dating back to the early 80s. Kind of cool to say you’ve been friends with somebody for close to 40 years. In the case of the Junks in today’s flashback we’re talking Mark and Jim. These guys had it dialed in that night relegating me to photographer and eventually, 20 years later, documentarian.

August 6, 1999 – Mark with a 6-8 carp and note the cooler in the background, fluid intake is important in the summer and we definitely stayed “hydrated” back in those days

Mark left quite a mark on the basketball record books of Galesburg High School and Knox College during the 80s and early 90s. With today’s featured catches and more than a few others he also made a splash in my family and friends fishing record book.

August 6, 1999 – Jim with a 5-3 carp

Jim has made more than a few appearances on the blog via the Top 5 with his bassing success. For today’s haul though, it is fun to step back in time to get a glimpse of him fooling some other species.

August 6, 1999 – Jim with a bonus 3-8 catfish

My history with the fishing hole, Lake Bracken, and more specifically “The Spillway”, goes back even farther than my association with the Junks. The best estimate would be a 1978 or 1979 visit to “The Spillway” with some Little League teammates that indeed got me hooked.

As the saying goes, “the rest is history”, a whole bunch of it. But I’ll let you go for now with the latest in the 2019 Friday Flashback series. Plenty more to go as I’ve got one for every Friday through November so make sure you stop by as we’ll have a few more guests along the way. Talk to you later. Troy

Lake George Report – August 4

 

Forgot I had an old topo map, lot of good it did me in the basement

Seems like about every year I get around to writing one of these blog entries.

Yep, the dreaded shutout.

It is what it is and I tell it like it is. Never claimed to be a better fisherman than anybody else, just like to fish and tell. And if you fish, you should tell the bad with the good.

So, here we go with the scant details, some notes and a little bonus reminiscing in advance of tomorrow’s weekly Friday Flashback.

61-mile roundtrip and 38 minutes ramp to driveway, a lesser commute than my Knox County dwelling days

Stats

Date: August 4, 2019
Location: Lake George – Rock Island County, IL
Time: 6:30pm-8:00pm
Weather: Sunny/calm to breezy
Air Temp: 88F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 0 bass

Notes and Nonsense

Scenery – Lake George is a nice looking lake with an abundance of attractive shoreline cover, good water clarity and very few weeds. I took a couple shots in order to have something from the day to offer in lieu of zero bass. Also spotted an attractive young lady on one of those paddleboard things. May have to get me one of those (paddleboard) as they evidently get the paddler in some darn good shape.

Nice two lane boat ramp on east side of lake near one of the campgrounds

Excuses – Too hot, too deep too quick, too sunny, too long away to remember much about the lake, too much forage…too bad I failed to figure anything out.

Been a while, July 1997 and May 2000 but actually fooled a couple fish all those years ago

Flashback Logs – As noted by the original log entries and the database above, I did manage to fool a few bass at Lake George back in the day. Both were part of camping trips in 1997 and 2000 with my girlfriend and we’re still going strong headed towards wedding anniversary number seventeen.

July 8, 1997 camping trip on Lake George

Flashback Pics – Now I know the weekly flashback is on Friday but couldn’t resist a few bonus shots of the 1997 Lake George camping trip with Julie. Kind of fun as I just fished out of that very same boat last weekend and noteworthy that my camping buddy still looks the same just over 22 years later. Her companion, well…

July 9, 1997 – peaceful outdoor dining, who knew we’d one day share the picnic table with four kids?

Thanks for hanging in there for the more or less annual “shutout” report. Friday Flashback up next and hopefully I will break the shutout streak when I have another chance to hit the water. Talk to you later. Troy