Friday Flashback – September 24, 2006

Fifteen years ago, I had the good fortune of prowling a fantastic batch of Fulton County fishing holes. Collectively, they were referred to as the Buckheart strip mines. It wasn’t the first time that I had prowled these waters, but it would be the next to last visit. Below is an excerpt from the original post detailing a full day on the water with my brother-in-law, David Breuer and my nephew, Dylan Breuer.

David with our Top Bass Runner-Up on the day at 4-1

Originally posted 10-6-2006

On September 24th I had another opportunity to fish the Buckheart strip mines near Canton. The waters had been kind to me on previous outings and my trip with David and Dylan was no exception. We put in a full day as our first casts hit the water a little after 7:00 am and we headed for home around 6:00 pm. In between, we fished nine bodies of water ranging from large-scale strip pits to potholes that you could easily cast a lure across. We began our day in the boat but spent the bulk of the day prowling the banks. Several bass joined the record book and though I felt that I struggled at times, I still wound up catching 32 bass. David was easily the top angler of the day putting on an impressive display both in quantity and quality. Dylan came on strong after a rough start to teach me a thing or two about fishing even though I’ve got a twenty-five-year head start. It’s fun to watch a kid when he gets a good bite going and puts on a show. He’s a good kid, and pretty quiet too, so he doesn’t rub it in too much.

A Tale of Two Days – When we began our day, we launched the boat to overcast skies, strong winds, cool temperatures, and a looming threat of rain. My turtleneck and sweatshirt were a good decision though I did question leaving my rain suit in my truck. By early afternoon, it seemed like a completely different day as I had worked up a sweat under sunny skies and warming temps. We had a smattering of rain mid-morning that led to the decision to trailer the boat in case things got ugly but that was the extent of the precipitation. The changing weather conditions didn’t really seem to have much of an effect on getting bites, as it seemed at least someone was catching fish throughout most of the day. With three anglers pounding the water and frequently changing fishing holes we managed to avoid prolonged dry spells.

Dylan with a 3-14 for his Top Bass of the outing

Results – Between the three of us we easily caught well over a hundred bass on a variety of offerings. The top baits were Rat L Traps, Senkos, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. We added five bass to the record book, but the largest fish of the day was not weighed. David caught one in the five-pound range at our final stop but did not have his scale with him at the time and I was on the opposite side of the lake making it impractical to head his way with my scale and camera. Despite this unfortunate situation, he still managed to claim Top Bass with a 4-1 landed earlier in the day on a Rat L Trap. Dylan later took a shot at the title but fell a few ounces short with a 3-14 on a spinnerbait. Dylan also claimed the third spot with a 3-2 on a Rat L Trap and I added a 2-15 (Rapala Rattlin Rap) and a 2-6 (Senko) to round out or new entries.

 

Good memories from some classic fishing holes. But as time moved on, parcels of the land were sold off and now reside behind locked gates for which I no longer have a key. I sure wish that I would have taken more advantage of the access I had back in those days, but old fish stories and flashbacks will have to suffice. Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Extras – September 19

 

While Brent and I caught decent numbers and some quality fish on last Sunday’s outing, as with any trip, there’s more to the story than just the catch. Today’s post features some of the peripheral highlights from our day on the water.

I like to launch in the dark to be on the water by the official sunrise. To do so with a 45-minute drive to the fishing hole, I’ve got to get up and get on the road early. At least as summer wanes, the sunrise isn’t quite so early and having a fishing partner meet you at the lake with the boat in tow also helps.

The first casualty of the trip was a reel as the level wind gave out on my Bass Pro Shops Tourney Special model. I am a frugal fisherman (and human) so the dozen or so years that I got out of this low budget reel was just fine. I tried to keep fishing with it even though the line piled to one side of the spool but eventually it seized up and forced my hand to put it away. It now joins the tub of reels from the last 35 years that need to find a reel repair shop.

Casualty number two was Brent’s Shimano Black Magnum Fightin’ Rod which snapped in half on a cast. I don’t know if he was sadder or I was, as those old Shimano Fightin’ Rod models take me back to our earliest days of bass fishing. Old school 5’6” rods with a tapered blank that was fat at the reel seat were a hot item for us back in the 1980s. I remember admiring one for many days at Farm King before finally breaking down and spending some money. Mine is long gone and Brent’s was the last of its kind in our arsenal.

In the back of one pocket on the lake, we spotted a couch on the bare, mucky bank of exposed bottom. We shook our heads at the ambitiousness of the vandals responsible, first pondering why someone would do such a thing. And why in the world would you go through the effort of hauling it to such a remote location?

Prior to this trip, I think I could say that in all my years of fishing that I had never caught a rock. There’s a first for everything and I don’t believe that I will soon forget the odd occurrence. It was strange sensation, wondering what was on the line. I’ve caught logs, sticks, trash, a jar, a glove, rope, fishing line and other random items and most can deceive with some lateral movement or varied resistance on the retrieve. This one was just dead weight which makes sense in hindsight, it fought like I would imagine a rock would fight.

Brent poked fun at my fishing shoes as they have seen better days. Julie keeps telling me that I should throw them away, but I believe that they are good for plenty more fishing and lawn mowing. As far as the latter task, Brent stated that they looked like they had been hit with a lawnmower. But after a good day on the water, I certainly need to keep them on hand for more good luck.

To round out today’s post, it is always good to have a fishing partner along for various reasons. One of those reasons is photography as it alleviates the selfie and timer shots. On this outing it also allowed for Brent to shoot what I call a fishing magazine photo. We don’t normally pull the zoom in/hold your arm out stunt. In fact, I just grin as I peruse the social media pics of fish that look freakishly (and foolishly) large. This bass weighed in at 2-9 but could certainly pass for a larger fish if one didn’t shoot straight.

An entertaining day on the water and always looking forward to seeing what the next trip holds in store. Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Report – September 19

September means the annual drawdown at Lake Storey and calls for at least a visit or two back to my “home lake.” My brother, Brent, and I caught our first fish in Lake Storey sometime in the 1970s and we’re still going strong all these years later.

 

Stats

Date: September 19, 2021
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Time: 6:25am-1:40pm
Weather: Sunny/calm to windy
Air Temp: 66-89F
Water Temp: 76-78F
Totals: 27 bass (Troy = 14 bass, Brent = 13 bass. 1 crappie)
Lures: Strike King Rattling Squarebill Crankbait (natural pumpkinseed) – 12 bass, Bomber Flat A crankbait – 8 bass, Emiquon Special spinnerbait – 4 bass Strike King Red Eye Shad (orange craw) – 2 bass, 5” Yamasenko wacky rig – 1 bass,
Top Bass: 2-9 Troy Crankbait
Top 5 Weight: 10-10 (2-9,2-8,2-3,1-11,1-11)

Notes and Nonsense

The Prediction – My boy, Zac, always harasses me about his Uncle Brent being a better fisherman than me. I play along knowing that years of firsthand observation show that trip by trip it varies as to who is “the best”. Prior to the trip I asked Zac how many bass he thought we would catch, and he answered “twenty-five.” His optimism exceeded mine and I offered up that a ten bass outing for me at Lake Storey is a solid day. He then grinned and offered up that Uncle Brent would outfish me 7 to 2. It turns out the Zac’s original prediction was close as we landed 27 bass. However, I was the one grinning when I told him that I had the most bass. Of course, he was quick to add that the difference was “only” one fish. All in good fun, and who’s counting anyway? At least until we get back to the boat ramp.

Bonus crappie caught on a spinnerbait

The Presentations – The drawdown leaves the shoreline structure high and dry which means that you need to fish the contours, any still submerged visible structure and those “secret spots” that are never visible to the naked eye. And in our case, we fish fast unless the bass tell us otherwise. Fortunately, for us they were quite responsive to a batch of “power” presentations including crankbaits, a spinnerbait, and a lipless crank. The successful Senko wacky rig offering got left behind as a result. Whether it is not as effective on Lake Storey or whether we just don’t throw it enough out there is up for debate. But if the bass are biting on my other choices, I’ve got no problem saving the Senko for another day.

I guess that’s about all I’ve got to say for today. The bass did the talking and we’ve been listening and learning for many years. This day was our day but Lake Storey can be a finicky fishing hole so who knows what lies in store should we get another shot this fall. I expect we will so stay tuned and also watch for another post of some additional Lake Storey stories from this outing. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – September 13, 2006

My “home” lake, Lake Storey, is in the process of the annual fall drawdown which I always find to be a welcome sight. It can also coincide with some good fishing if you are in the right place at the right time. Fifteen years ago this week, Dad and I timed it well as noted in the following excerpt from an old fishing report.

Originally posted 9-30-06

September 13, 2006
Dad and I had planned a trip but were unsure of our destination until the night before when I dropped Helena off for her overnight stay at Gamaw and Papa’s. I was torn between Lake Bracken and one of the Little John lakes that we’ve neglected this year. However, Dad mentioned that Lake Storey was already in the process of its Fall drawdown. He also went on to mention that Brent had seen a guy with a large muskie during a family gathering on 9/10. In addition, Tim had some luck with muskies last year during similar conditions, so we figured it was worth another try.

September 13, 2006 at 7:55am – 36.5″ muskie on a Rapala DT6 crankbait

We were not disappointed as we each managed to boat a muskie. Mine came aboard first and measured 36.5 inches and weighed 9-15 to best Tim’s muskie record by two pounds. The fish was caught at 7:55 am, just over an hour into our trip. It bit while bass fishing with a Rapala DT6 (parrot) that hooked up almost as soon as it hit the water. When I set the hook, I actually said to Dad, “I think it’s a snag.” Then the snag started moving, and then we recognized a different and much larger body plan than a bass. Dad did an excellent job netting the fish and we brought it aboard, snapped a few photos, released the fish, and had to cut my crankbait out of the dipnet. I figured that no matter what happened the rest of the day, I was a happy fisherman. However, I’m greedy and hoped for more as we had plenty of fishing left.

September 13, 2006 – 37.5″ muskie on a Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait

My muskie record stood for approximately an hour and a half before a larger muskie came aboard. Dad nailed this one off the west side of Freak’s Point on a Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (splatterback sunfish). His fish measured 37.5 inches and weighed in at 10-11. I snapped a couple pictures as he fought the fish along with a few more after it was landed. The muskie was Dad’s first entry for the species although he has caught one before the days of recorded history. He presently sits atop the Top Muskie list with the third record buster from Lake Storey in the last two years. The crazy thing is there is likely a fish in the lake that is three and quite possibly four times as large. Not only would this fish shatter our record, but it would also be a state record if it tips the scales in excess of 38-8. A final note on these fish is the fact that they were longer than either of my kids are tall (Helena’s around 34”) and outweighed the little one (Carly weighed in at 9-7 during her latest checkup).

1-12 on a Power Craw

2-8 on a Power Craw

Oh yeah, we also fooled a few bass and a walleye. Dad caught seven bass with the largest being 2-8 and 1-12. This pair fell to a Berkeley Power Craw that he flipped into the branches of a downed tree. He landed the others on a Rapala Jointed Minnow and a Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait. I failed to catch any bass but started our day with a small walleye (11”) that hit a Mann’s 4- crankbait (red shiner).

If things work out, I intend to take a shot or two during this year’s drawdown. As always, you’ll get the firsthand report, good or bad, here at your favorite fishing blog. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – September 10

A busy Friday last week finished with a couple hours on some old stomping grounds. Prior to getting on the water, I had worked a half day, visited with a fishing buddy, paid my respects to another fishing friend who recently passed away and had a good visit with my folks while back in Galesburg.

Stats
Date: September 10, 2021
Location: Little John Conservation Club – Knox County, IL
Time: 5:10pm-7:20pm (2.00 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny/breezy to calm
Air Temp: 64-75F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 2 bass, 7 bluegill
Lures: War Eagle Spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) – 2 bass, Gulp Minnow (emerald shiner) on a 1/16 oz. jighead (pink) – 7 bluegill
Top Bass: 2-13 Spinnerbait
Top 5 Weight (only 2 at 12” or better): 4-9 (2-13,1-12)

5:35pm – First bass 1-12 (15.5″) on a spinnerbait

Notes and Nonsense

Overdue and Off Limits – I’ve fished Little John Conservation Club for close to 35 years but had only managed one visit this year as my casting has focused on other waters. With several spots to choose from at Little John it is a challenge to decide where to fish. While I had it narrowed down to two spots, my decision was made for me as the first choice was off limits to anglers due to goose hunting. I can’t recall ever experiencing such a restriction at Little John before. I agree that the goose population could certainly stand to be thinned but it frustrates me to see it limit my fishing (see also Snakeden Hollow).

Believe it or not, these bass were only separated by an ounce in weight as displayed on scale and described below

Same Size, Different Shape – I like fish and over the years I’ve come to appreciate the variation in size, shape, and color of many of the species that swim in our area waters. In particular, the body plan and hues of my favorite, the largemouth bass, always catch my eye. On this trip, my Top Bass weighed in at 2-13 and measured 17” in length. Without getting into my vast collection of data over the years, those measurements indicate a stout, solid bass. In contrast, Brent landed a 2-12 a couple days later that was considerably longer (around 19” or 20”) but was rather gaunt. The series of pics above feature these catches along with the reading on my scale. Angler honesty has long been a point of contention and in some cases questionable. Indeed, it is tough to believe that these fish essentially tipped the scales at the same weight. No way that I would guess that from the photos, so I guess the moral of this fish story is to shoot straight and let the internet haters hate.

Gulp Minnow Master – I was able to get the afternoon off from work so that I could attend the visitation of an old fishing friend, Larry Smith. Larry and I have been telling fish stories off and on since the late 80s and our correspondence had really kicked up a notch over the last ten years or so via emails, texts, and some on the water visits. Larry was a wizard with a jar of Berkley Gulp Minnows as his catches were phenomenal in terms of both quantity and quality. While he often focused on bluegill and crappie, he and his Gulp Minnows landed nearly every species that swims. In fact, just a week before Larry passed away, he texted me a picture of a good Lake Storey muskie and informed via email that “Two days ago caught a musky at Lake Storey to complete my catching every species of fish that swims there on a Gulp Minnow.” A master indeed and I sure will miss his fish stories.

Dedicated the end of the evening to some Gulp Minnow fishing for an old friend

Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

A couple more Jacksons add a few more September bass to our list.

Weight: 1-13
Angler: Jayce Jackson
Date: September 6
Weather: Sunny/breezy, 70F
Location: Knox County, IL public strip pit
Lure: Senko wacky rig (watermelon creme laminate)
Angler Comments (via editor): It was fun to get Jayce out with myself and our Top 5 leader, Jim Junk. Some challenging conditions on the hike to our fishing holes but it paid off when Jayce landed our largest catch of the day.
Top 5 Weight: 5-4 (1-13,1-3,1-3,1-1)

Weight: 2-3
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: September 12
Location: Snakeden Hollow
Lure: Senko wacky rig

Weight: 2-12
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: September 12
Location: Snakeden Hollow
Lure: Senko wacky rig
Angler Comments: The 2-12 was kind of skinny. Ended up with around a dozen, also got a 2-3. Two or three others around a pound, mostly on a Senko and a few on a spinnerbait.
Top 5 Weight: 17-9 (4-7,4-0,4-0,2-12,2-6) culls a 2-5

This is a great time of the year to get on the water and there should be a good window once the weather breaks into a fall feel. Get out there if you get a chance as it seems that this part of the year always flies by for me. Between work and the shorter days, there’s never enough time to fish. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – September 8, 2001

Today’s post takes us back 20 years to an old favorite fishing hole called Emstrom’s Pond. The Friday Flashback has spent a few weeks there since the inception of the series back in 2018. You’d think after that collection of posts about the farm pond that I would have run out of stuff to write about.

Nope, I can always come up with something when it comes to talking fishing.

For today’s post we’ll look at our resemblance to a couple celebrities of yesteryear.

Wilson (Home Improvement 1991-1999) & Jackson (2-6 bass from 9/8/2001)

While I have shown some improvement in striking a pose with my catches, it took me quite a few years to heed Julie’s advice to not hide behind the fish. A valid point, although I never really thought about it back in the day. After all, the fish was the focal point to my way of thinking. Of course, today’s pic pre-dates my use of a cell phone for selfies although I did employ cameras with timers in those days. Those cameras were lacking the do-over feature provided by digital photography, but I didn’t care if my face was in there anyway. Would have liked to have gotten a brighter shot on this catch though.

U L (MLB 1977-1987) & TJ (3-15 bass and toothpick from 9/8/2001)

Dad’s pose with his quality bass from this trip brings to mind a shortstop by the name of U L Washington. Washington’s major league career spanned 1977 through 1987, during which he collected 703 hits, 27 homers and 132 stolen bases while posting a .251 career batting average. However, it was his ever-present toothpick that left as much of an impression as his on the field performance.

One more catch from 9/8/2001, Dad with a 3-1 bass (and a toothpick)

You know, come to think of it, Dad also had a “fro” reminiscent of U L once upon a time. And did you know that U L was U L’s given name and not initials?

Yes, folks, this blog is much more than just pretty fish and rugged outdoors people. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – September 6

Labor Day offered a chance to get away and chase some bass. This time around I was able to share the day with one of my boys as well as a couple fishing friends. A great way to celebrate the holiday as detailed below.

Stats
Date: September 6, 2021
Location: Knox County, IL public strip mines
Time: 7:10am-9:20am (1.75 hours fishing, the rest hiking)
Weather: Sunny/breezy
Air Temp: 63-70F
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 12 bass (Jim = 6, Jayce = 3, Troy = 3)
Lures: Senko wacky rig (various colors) and Bass Pro Shops Speed Shad (small mouth magic) with Berkley 3/0 weighted swimbait hook
Top Bass: 1-13 Jayce (Senko)
Top 5 Weight (only 1 at 12” or better): 1-13

7:14am – Jayce with his first bass of the morning on a Senko

Notes and Nonsense

Guide Fails – Having my son, Jayce, along for the outing allowed me to partially assume the role of guide. I got off on the wrong foot as he awoke me at 5:09am, well after I had silenced my 4:04am alarm. I knew what we were getting into in terms of weedy hiking, but I decided to give it a go and test our endurance. After navigating some tough terrain, I couldn’t put my client on very many fish before the decision was made to head for the truck.

Even Jayce’s “juice”, given to him by Papa, couldn’t help us fool those stubborn bass 

Guide Success – Jayce did land our largest bass of the trip and he gets all the credit for getting it done. He picked the lure; he selected his spot on the bank and he did the work to fool the fish. As with any of my “guide trips”, this one was on the house. Payment is always received via an excited young fisherman battling his catch and a big grin upon landing it (same for the guide behind the camera).

7:52am – Jayce with our Top Bass of the day, caught on a Senko

Meet Up – Many of the famous YouTubers do a thing called a “meetup” where they meet and greet subscribers and viewers of their channel. While I do have a YouTube channel, my 24 subscribers indicate that I am far from famous. Even so, I can kind of pretend as my buddy, Jim, joined us for our two hours of strip mine roaming (and was the top angler of the morning). In addition, Jayce and I headed over to a nearby boat launch to visit with our friend, John, to end our trip. Good to see both fellows and even better to have Jayce along to be “one of the guys.”

8:58am – The “Senior” guide gets on the board…barely

Lost and Found – Along the way we lost a pair of shades. Not the first time but the first lost in a long time. We lost a couple Senkos along the way as well, one to the weeds and one to a fish. But we also gained a few items during the morning. Jim provided me with a collection of classic fishing reading material while John offered up an edible souvenir from his recent trek to The Land of Enchantment. Thanks, guys, for the treasures and treats.

Treasures and treats from a good morning of visiting

I sure do like to catch fish and I am a dedicated compiler of notes and stats regarding those catches. But as time rolls on, I’ve come to realize that there’s a lot more to a fishing trip than fish. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Stats

Another month in the books and only one bass added since the last stat update. However, it was a good one as it easily made it into the Top 10 Bass of 2021. At present we are sitting at 70 bass with plenty of opportunity to find some more as the fall bite should be on the horizon.

2021 Totals
January = no submissions
February = 2 bass
March = 19 bass
April = 14 bass
May = 13 bass
June = 10 bass
July = 9 bass
August = 2 bass
September = 1 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 = 14-14 (4-6,2-12,2-10,2-10,2-8)
June = 15-8 (4-3,3-9,2-14,2-8,2-6)
July = 22-7 (6-0,4-10,4-4,3-13,3-12)
August = 5-7 (3-4,2-3)
September = 4-7 (4-7)

Boat vs. Bank
Boat = 14 bass
Bank = 56 bass

Boat vs. Bank Weight
Boat = 15-12 (4-3,3-9,2-14,2-10,2-8)
Bank = 26-4 (6-0,5-5,5-3,5-2,4-10)

Public vs. Private
Public = 66 bass
Private = 4 bass

Public vs. Private Top 5 Weight
Public = 26-4 (6-0,5-5,5-3,5-2,4-10)
Private = 9-6 (2-10,2-8,2-6,1-14)

The Baits (* = new record)
Plastic Worm = 28 bass (Top Bass 6-0 Jim Junk)
Lipless Crankbait = 17 bass (Top Bass 4-3 Jim Junk, Troy Jackson)
Spinnerbait = 8 bass (Top Bass 4-10 Troy Jackson)
Crankbait = 6 bass (Top Bass 4-0 Brent Jackson)
Chatterbait = 5 bass (Top Bass 5-3 Jim Junk)
Jig = 2 bass (Top Bass 1-8 John Kirkemo)
Creature = 1 bass (Top Bass 5-5 Jim Junk)
Livebait = 1 bass (Top Bass Patricia Kirkemo 2-10)
Stickbait = 1 bass (1-11 Troy Jackson)
Swimbait = 1 bass (1-13 Troy Jackson)

Monthly Top Bass (* = new record)
January
No submissions
February
3-15 Jim Junk
March
5-5 Jim Junk
April
5-2 Jim Junk
May
4-6 Jim Junk
June
4-3 Troy Jackson
July
6-0 Jim Junk
August
3-4 Troy Jackson
September
4-7 Brent Jackson

Top 10 Bass (* = new Top 10 all-time)
6-0 Jim Junk (7/4)
5-5 Jim Junk (3/26)
5-3 Jim Junk (4/8)
5-2 Jim Junk (4/6)
4-10 Troy Jackson (7/11)
*4-7 Brent Jackson (9/3)
4-6 Jim Junk (5/25)
4-4 Jim Junk (7/6)
4-3 Jim Junk (3/30)
4-3 Troy Jackson (6/19)

Angler Weights
Jim Junk 26-0 (6-0,5-5,5-3,5-2,4-6)
Troy Jackson 19-0 (4-10,4-3,3-9,3-6,3-4)
Brent Jackson 17-2 (4-7,4-0,4-0,2-6,2-5)
John Kirkemo 11-14 (2-10,2-8,2-8,2-6,1-14)
Jayce Jackson 3-7 (1-3,1-3,1-1)
Landon Hannam 2-12 (2-12)
Patricia Kirkemo 2-10 (2-10)

We already have one more catch to add but that one will have to wait for next Monday’s update before being officially added to our list. And perhaps this week may hold some others in store. Fingers crossed and talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Got a good one for the update this week. Anytime you land one that won’t fit in a selfie, you’ve got a quality bass.

Weight: 4-7
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: September 3
Location: Knox County, IL public strip pit
Lure: Senko wacky rig
Angler Comments: This one came on a Senko. I had caught two others on a spinnerbait, maybe a pound. He came right from the spot where we saw the big one in the spring.
Top 5 Weight: 17-2 (4-7,4-0,4-0,2-6,2-5) culls a 2-3

It’s Labor Day and several of us are out there taking an early morning shot at some more Knox County bass. Here’s hoping we find some fish for next week’s update, but I’ll have a fishing report to post whether we fool any big ones or not. In addition, I have a special guest tagging along in the truck. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy