Fishing Lines #20-#11

Quite a collection of not only fish in this bunch of tunes but a veritable menagerie of creatures. The hits keep coming as we enter the Top 20 “Fishing Lines.”

20. “You got fins to the left, fins to the right and you’re the only bait in town.”
Fins – Jimmy Buffett (1979)

19. “Well, I love her, and I love to fish…Yeah, I’m gonna miss her, Oh, lookie there, I’ve got a bite.”
I’m Gonna Miss Her – Brad Paisley (2001)

18. “I like catchin’ fish on a cane pole just about sundown time, my kinda action is country relaxin’.”
Country Relaxin’ – Hank Williams Jr. (1984)

17. “Stoppin’ at the log where catfish bite”
Green River – Credence Clearwater Revival (1969)

16. “They don’t do much huntin’ and fishin’ up here, ya know, but I have met a few squirrels and one porcupine.”
Dixie On My Mind – Hank Williams, Jr. (1981)

15. “Blow across the home of the Seminole, the alligator and the gar.”
Seminole Wind – John Anderson (1992)

14. “I know there’s fish out there but where, God only knows.”
The Downeaster Alexa – Billy Joel (1989)

13. “I can catch catfish from dusk ‘til dawn.”
A Country Boy Can Survive – Hank Williams, Jr. (1981)

12. “I eat fish to pass the time away, ‘neath this blue Canadian moon, this world has made me crazy, crazy as a loon.”
Crazy As A Loon – John Prine (2005)

11. “You oughta see his wife, she’s a cute little dish, she smokes like a chimney and drinks like a fish.”
It’s A Big Old Goofy World – John Prine (1991)

One more day to go, stay tuned for the Top 10.

Fishing Lines #30-#21

A bit more of an eclectic collection graces today’s edition of the Top 40 “Fishing Lines” countdown.

30. “I’m just laid up here in a country state of mind, catchin’ these fish like they’re goin’ out of style…”
Country State of Mind – Hank Williams, Jr. (1986)

29. “But I guarantee this memory’s a biggin’ and she thinks we’re just fishin’.”
Just Fishin’ – Trace Adkins (2011)

28. “If we don’t hook a perch or bass, we’ll cool our toes in dewy grass.”
The Fishing Hole – Andy Griffith (1960)

27. “Johnny’s daddy was takin’ him fishin’ when he was eight years old. A little girl came through the front gate holdin’ a fishin’ pole.”
Don’t Take The Girl – Tim McGraw (1994)

26. “Fish and whistle, whistle and fish, eat everything that they put on your dish.”
Fish and Whistle – John Prine (1978)

25. “Longer than there’ve been fishes in the ocean.”
Longer – Dan Fogelberg (1979)

24. “Trying to save our marriage and perhaps catch a few fish.”
Lake Marie – John Prine (1995)

23. “You flex your rod, fish takes the hook.”
5:01AM The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking – Roger Waters (1984)

22. “When I look back, boy, I must have been green, boppin’ in the country, fishing in a stream.”
Honky Cat – Elton John (1972)

21. “You gonna burn, burn, burn, burn, burn to the wick, oooo, barracuda.”
Barracuda – Heart (1977)

Well, we’re halfway to coveted chart topper. Tune in again tomorrow as we enter the Top 20. Talk to you later. Troy

Fishing Lines #40-#31

Welcome, as we launch the “Fishing Lines” Top 40 countdown for the week beginning August 2, 2021. The following hits were compiled by yours truly and reflect the best I could do to create this multi-part blog series. Apart from one tune (#36), I stuck with the criteria that I had to be familiar with each song and not simply surf the internet in search of “fishing songs” to make the list. It was a bit of chore, but I did manage to reach my goal of 40 although I am sure there are many that I missed or have never heard. Therefore, feel free to chime in with any selections of your own as I’m always up for exploring some new jams.

40. “If I could make a nickel off a turning ‘em bass, never worry about the price of gas, I’d be wheelin’ and dealin’ and sittin’ there reelin’ ‘em in.”
Huntin’, Fishin; and Lovin’ Every Day – Luke Bryan (2015)

39. “Betty’s got a bass boat, Betty’s got a truck, all of a sudden things are looking up.”
Betty’s Got A Bass Boat – Pam Tillis (1995)

38. “Oh, Tennessee River and a mountain man, we get together anytime we can.”
Tennessee River – Alabama (1979)

37. “Settle down far from town get me a pirogue and I’ll catch all the fish in the bayou.”
Jambalaya – Hank Williams (1952)

36. “Everybody caught the limit yesterday; I think I’ll just haul off and go fishing yesterday.”
Fishin’ Song – Stringbean (????)

35. “It’s too hot to fish, and too hot for golf, and too cold at home.”
Too Cold at Home – Mark Chesnutt (1990)

34. “On the dock the fish were stinkin’, I simply didn’t have a care.”
He Forgot That It Was Sunday – John Prine (1995)

33. “I can almost see the bobber dancin’, but I just dream, keep on bein’ the way I am.”
The Way I Am – Merle Haggard (1980)

32. “Skippin’ rocks across the water, fishin’ on an old trotline.”
Red River – Alabama (1983)

31. “When I’d skip school, he’d take me fishin’, sittin’ on the creek bank talkin’ and a wishin’.”
Shoestring – Mel McDaniel (1986)

Heavy on the country tunes to kick off our countdown but I suppose fishing goes a bit more hand in hand with that genre. It is also interestin’ how many words in the lyrics drop the “g”. And we’ve only just begun, as the countdown continues with another ten hits tomorrow. Talk to you later. Troy

Fishing Lines

 

Whenever I get to mix music into an outdoor blog, I’m pretty fired up. And sometimes I get a little carried away, like this project. I’ve explored this topic before but for a 40th anniversary, I’m taking it up a notch. So, here we go.

It was forty years ago today when a fourteen-year-old music fan (and millions of others) was introduced to something completely different; MTV – Music Television. August 1, 1981 opened the floodgates to an eclectic mix of legends (The Who, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie), legends to be (John Cougar, U2, Tom Petty), lady rockers (Pat Benatar, Stevie Nicks, Debbie Harry), future pop superstars (Madonna, Prince), strange new wave acts (Devo, Adam & The Ants, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Talking Heads) and one hit wonders (The Buggles, Aldo Nova, Taco, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Tommy Tutone).

Prior to this rock around the clock menagerie of television tunes I’d had to get my weekly fix via programs such as “The Midnight Special”, “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert”, “Night Flight”, “Solid Gold’’, “American Bandstand” and an occasional dose of “Soul Train.” In addition, there were also the brief glimpses of performers on Saturday Night Live. For a kid raised on these bits and pieces of musical performance and Chicago’s classic WLS 890AM, music television was a revolution. And, yes, unlike today it was videos all day, every day. For an impressionable teenaged music lover, it was “Just What the Doctor Ordered“(can’t resist the Ted Nugent reference).

So, here’s a little background on this project. Ten years ago, on August 1, 2011, as part of another blogging gig, I celebrated MTV’s 30th anniversary with my Top 3 fishing tunes. I revisited the post on August 1, 2017, after launching this blog earlier that spring. Once again, that post include my Top 3 tunes. For the 40th anniversary, however, it only seemed right to do a Top 40 Countdown ala Casey Kasem.

Stay tuned throughout the week as we combine fishing and music with “Fishing Lines.” Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – August 3, 1991

There’s a spot at Snakeden Hollow called “Bearclaw Lake” that was a popular stop for me during the early years after the site opened to the public back in 1990. The trio of Bearclaw bass below come from thirty years ago, and while not trophies, I still consider any bass at two pounds or better to be “a good one.” Each of these three fish made that mark and totaled just over seven pounds.

Bearclaw Lake at 2-12 in the days before “selfies”

Bearclaw Lake at 2-6, not really a keen idea for a photo

Bearclaw Lake at 2-4, my apologies to the bass, I’ve learned a thing or two over the years

According to the back of the pics, they were all fooled by a lure called the “Dying Flutter”, something that I classify as a propbait. These wooden lures were somewhat of the predecessor to today’s popular Whopper Plopper. The Dying Flutter was crafted by Heddon Lures and featured props fore and aft on the lure body. From a brief internet search, it appears that these baits are no longer in production. Strange thing is, I also cannot find any in my tackle collection. Instead, I have several other 80s propbaits called the “Devil’s Horse” that are still made by the Smithwick lure company. Perhaps I made an error in identifying the lure on the picture backs all those years ago. And that’s more or less the last time I threw these particular lures.

I suppose these Devil’s Horse baits from the 80s may be considered antiques by now

Now, there’s nothing wrong with these baits and I had a blast fishing them once upon a time as topwater strikes are about as exciting as it gets. But, like many lures and trends, I shift gears and a presentation gets left behind in one of the multitudes of utility boxes in the garage. Thinking back on my experiences with the Dying Flutter/Devil’s Horse, there’s a tale or two to tell, but those are for another day to keep this post concise.

Just as lure trends change, so has the landscape of Snakeden Hollow. Over the last 30-plus years, Bearclaw Lake has seen significant changes in terms of bank accessibility. A lake that once presented ample bank access to hit all the “good spots” has now become quite a challenge for a bank angler due to vegetation, both terrestrial and aquatic. I have hit it a few times in the last five years along with my brother on at least one occasion. While we’ve posted solid numbers, the quality bass of yesteryear have been lacking. Maybe they’re gone, maybe they’re wiser, tough to say. Perhaps some more sampling is needed.

Bearclaw Lake Top Bass at 3-15 from 20 years ago, better job on the photo, too

I’ll close with the pic above of the Bearclaw Lake Top Bass, landed 20 years ago on August 14, 2001. It was also a topwater catch, coming on the legendary Zara Spook. Good times on a good lake and those topwater strikes sure leave a lasting impression. Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Report – July 25

My family made a trip back “home” to Galesburg last Saturday for a birthday party that included an overnight for me and my boys. While they slept in and later hung out with their cousins, me and Dad launched his boat at daybreak on the old stomping grounds.

6:13am – Dad with our first bass at 12″ and 0-14 on a crankbait

Stats
Date: July 25, 2021
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Time: 5:40am-10:55am
Weather: Sunny/calm to light breeze
Air Temp: 73-88F
Water Temp: 83-84F
Totals: 7 bass (Dad = 5, Troy = 2)
Lures: Strike King Rattling Squarebill Crankbait (sexy ghost minnow or natural pumpkinseed) – 3 bass, 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (green pumpkin) – 2 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (orange craw) – 1 bass, Vicious Muskrat creature bait (green pumpkin) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-2 Dad Senko
Top 5 Weight (only 3 at 12” or better): 2-12 (1-2,0-14,0-12)

Winning Lures

Part of the reason I got outfished by Dad? This stuff may be older than some of his grandkids.

Notes and Nonsense

Back-to-Back Bass – Less than a half hour into our casting, Dad had already lured several strikes, but the bass had shaken off before reaching the boat. Things were looking pretty good in terms of action and proceeded to get better when he landed our first two bass on back-to-back casts. I was busy doing my logging of the first fish when I realized bass number two was on the line. Pretty cool to have it on video as shown below.

 

One That Got Away – As it sometimes happens on a fishing trip, there was “one that got away.” Shortly after 7:00am, Dad set the hooks on a bite that he indicated felt like a good one only to have it somehow come unbuttoned without a glimpse. It was one of several that got loose on crankbaits, and we still marvel at how those bass can avoid the treble hooks. It leaves you scratching your head sometimes considering the ability of those hooks to find purchase in your tacklebags, boat carpet, life jackets, shirts, and so on.

6:31am – Dad with Top Bass at 13″ and 1-2 on a Senko

Big Birds – Over the course of the morning, we spotted several of the larger birds in our area that have an affinity for water. These included a bald eagle, a cormorant, and a blue heron (as well as its smaller cousin a green heron). However, missing on this day was an osprey, a unique bird that we frequently see fishing alongside us at Lake Storey.

The New Armada – We were the first watercraft to arrive at the ramp but were joined by several others before we called it a day. The final tally showed a 2 to 1 ratio of kayaks to boats (10 to 5). Recent years have seen quite the kayak explosion as they are a regular sight on the water or being transported around town awaiting their next dip.

9:02am – The best I could fool but just shy of 12″, not a “keeper”

Nothing stellar on this trip and no problem getting easily outfished by Dad. The dog days of summer are always a challenge and Lake Storey can be a tough one no matter the season. After many years of casting together, the catches can just be icing on the cake. In between bites, there were plenty of what I call “Remember That One Time” tales. Dad told of slaying the crappies with Uncle Bill in a rowboat well over 50 years ago, landing a muskie off Dump Point, losing a Wyoming Cowboys baseball cap in the lake, catching bass off a picnic table, catching a bass from the top of a stump sticking out of the water…

Don’t get us started. Talk to you later. Troy

Prowl The Canal – July 23

I was able to take birthday number 54 off from work to make for a three-day weekend and spent the first half of the day fishing and exploring on the Hennepin Canal. While the bite was tough during the hot, muggy morning and early afternoon, I learned plenty.

Not the only one to “Prowl the Canal”

Stats
Date: July 23, 2021
Location: Hennepin Canal – Henry/Bureau County, IL
Time: 6:15am-2:15pm (4.25 hours fishing, the rest exploring)
Weather: Sunny/calm and reaching the upper 80s
Totals: 4 bass
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (pumpkin with black flake) – 3 bass, Strike King Squarebill crankbait (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-9 (Senko)
Top 5 Weight (only one bass at 12” or better): 1-9

11:53am – Little bass but good to get one on a new stretch of the canal

Trip Lyric
“How you feeling? Hot, hot, hot.” – Hot, Hot, Hot – Buster Poindexter (1987)

Notes and Nonsense

Gut Feelings – As noted in the last “Prowl the Canal” report, I struggled during the start of an evening outing. However, despite forty minutes without a bite, I just had this feeling the something good was going to happen. Right on the money, as the bite kicked in and I posted my new Top Bass from the canal along with my heaviest limit (all released). In contrast, on this outing, my confidence was lacking. I was hot, fatigued and just didn’t have that same vibe. Similarly, my feeling was right on target as I just couldn’t get anything going in terms of a solid bite.

An entertaining catch on a tough day, I’ll take whatever I can get to bring a smile

Senko on the Half Shell – When you can’t fool the fish, the mind wanders, and you may find yourself seeking anything that can salvage the day and provide something of interest. On this day it was a clam shell that I snagged with my Senko. I was so desperate to catch something that I was secretly urging the shell to stay hooked as I hoisted it up to my perch on a lock wall high above the water. I know that I have seen a clam shell catch but I believe that this is the first time I have personally achieved such a feat.

1:26pm – Top Bass on a Senko at 1-9

Top Bass – While not a trophy at 1-9, the day’s Top Bass was an entertaining catch. The fish hit a crankbait and a spinnerbait several times right in front of me without getting hooked. This prompted me to reach for my Senko as it is a bit less of a mouthful and I figured that it would improve the odds of getting a hook into a lip. Sure enough, the bass was still hanging out and interested in an offering that often proves too hard to resist.

Lessons

As always, my “Prowl the Canal” features include some bits of information and observation gleaned from my time on the waterway.

1. Fishing or not, the historic corridor is cool piece of engineering at over 100 years old. There’s plenty to see at the multitude of access points along the way.

2. If your normal stomping grounds aren’t cooperating, it doesn’t hurt to explore in hopes of finding some new spots.


End of the prowl…

When it was all said and done, I wandered quite a ways from home for a mere four bass. However, a tough day fishing beats a day at work, and I am confident that my legwork will pay some dividends as my prowls continue. Talk to you later. Troy

Prowl the Canal – July 4, 18 & 21

Just getting around to posting the report covering a batch of trips to the Hennepin Canal earlier this month.

Stats
Date: July 4, 18, 21, 2021
Location: Hennepin Canal – Henry County, IL
Time: Evenings (4.25 hours total)
Totals: 14 bass (5 bass 7/4, 5 bass 7/18, 4 bass 7/21)
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (various colors) – 7 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- Crankbait (red craw or rainbow) – 3 bass, Whopper Plopper (I Know It) – 3 bass, Strike King Squarebill crankbait (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 3-6 (Senko on 7/21)
Top 5 Weight 10-11 (3-6,2-10,2-0,1-7,1-4)

 

Notes and Nonsense

July 4 – Two spots and an hour and fifteen minutes of fishing up until sunset produced five bass with a Top Bass at 1-7 on a Senko wacky rig. Two other “keepers” (12” or better and always released), one on a Senko and the other on a Strike King Squarebill crankbait. A decent, abbreviated evening for me with plenty of action and plenty of mosquitoes.

July 18 – Two spots again on this evening with a slightly earlier start to give me an hour and forty-five minutes of casting. Five more bass with four “keepers” although the largest was only one pound even. A fair bite from the bass while the mosquito bite was over the top. Spoke to a fellow canal angler on this evening who was employing a Thermacell Mosquito Repellent device. He provided a rave review and I have since purchased one as a birthday gift to myself, but I have yet to put it to use.

New Top Bass from the Canal, a slim 3-6 at 20″ could have weighed considerably more

July 21 – I committed to one stretch of water on this evening from 6:25pm to 8:40pm. It was an odd night as the first forty minutes failed to produce a bite. However, I just had a feeling that things were going to turn out well in the end (even made such a prediction on my GoPro video to be released one of these days). As it turned out, I caught my Top Bass from the canal at 3-6. At 20”, it was a slim specimen and likely would have weighed near four pounds if filled out. In addition, a 2-10, 2-0 and 1-4 joined the log for my heaviest daily total despite being one bass shy of my five bass target limit (always catch and release).

Lessons

As a part of each “Prowl the Canal” report, I intend to pass on some lessons learned along the way, regardless of the results of the outing. The concept of this feature is to reinforce that you should learn something new each time you hit the water.

1. Packing a dipnet along on a canal prowl can be beneficial as you encounter some interesting bank access. The lengthening of your “arm” can save the day.

2. Dipping bass caught on lures sporting treble hooks can make for a tangled mess. The pic below is the result of having to snip a Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait out of the dipnet.

3. You should have spare treble hooks amongst your terminal tackle.

A couple days after the July 21 trip, I was back on the canal to celebrate my birthday. Stay tuned for that report along with a Lake Storey report featuring a special guest. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

This past week, I had a couple opportunities to “Prowl the Canal” and one of those outings produced my new Top Bass for the historic waterway.

Weight: 3-6 (20″, long but scrawny)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: July 21
Weather: Overcast/calm
Location: Hennepin Canal – Henry County, IL
Lure: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (pumpkin with black flake)
Structure: Open water
Angler Comments: Despite an uncharacteristic 40 minutes without a bite to start my evening, I felt something good was going to happen (even said so on my GoPro video). Sure enough, I landed a 2-10 and then this 3-6 in about a 20-minute span.
Top 5 Weight: 18-13 (4-10,4-3,3-9,3-6,3-1) culls a 2-14

Today’s submission was one of several quality bass landed on the canal this month. Stay tuned for the full report. Talk to you later. Troy

Thoughts at 54

My birthday was yesterday, and typically, my thoughts go on a bit of a random ramble for this annual post. However, things have gotten kind of weird since my last birthday or two and some of those sorts of rambles can either get a guy in trouble or cause some unnecessary unrest these days. In the words of Queen, one mission of my blog is to provide the occasional “escape from reality” that I figure we all can use.

Therefore, just a few pics and words to celebrate another trip around the sun.

In pondering age 54, it came to mind that 54 = 18 x 3. Thus, I am three times as old as I was in the summer of 1985, just after graduating high school. In terms of blogging, I thought it would be fun to grab a fishing picture from each of those eighteen years to see just how things change as the years roll by.

July 1, 1985

August 6, 2003

July 23, 2021

Enough said. Talk to you later. Troy