Month: July 2017

Lost Grove Lake Report 7/25

Another Tuesday evening outing worked its way into the schedule for the fourth time this summer. And yet again, way too much sun for my liking also worked its way into my fishing trip but you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. I’ll also tell you up front that I didn’t get much but such is fishing and I will stick to my commitment of a fishing report for every outing through thick or thin.

Date: July 25, 2017
Location: Lost Grove Lake, IA
Time: 6:16pm-8:31pm
Weather: Sunny/windy
Air Temp: 80F
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 1 bass
5” Yamasenko wacky rig (pumpkin with black flake) – 1 bass
No bass at 12” or better

Notes & Nonsense

Crank Bank Revisited – In the report from my previous visit to Lost Grove I noted that “I discovered a spot that could certainly pay further dividends and will be a regular stop.” Just as planned, I stuck with the “regular stop” portion of that statement.  In fact, I made two runs through the stretch. However, the “regular dividends” aspect did not pan out as it failed to give up a fish. I did get one decent strike on a buzzbait but couldn’t hook up with several follow up casts with a Senko and Whopper Ploppper. Got some neat footage of the strike with my GoPro but need to find some editing software (and time) to mess with that stuff as well as decide just how to utilize video in this whole venture, if at all…

Gotta admit that the GoPro thing is pretty cool as this buzzbait strike shows, even though the fish had bad aim. Proud of myself though for not setting the hook as I never felt the fish on, did make me jump a bit though as I observed in the video footage.

Last Gasp Cast – As sunset loomed and I neared my two hour window that I’d looked to fish, the bass still had the upper hand in dealing me a shutout and one lone missed bite as noted above. With a bit of sunlight remaining I decided a final cruise down a stretch in proximity to the launch was going to be my last chance. 8:30pm was originally quitting time but zero bass had me lingering for a few more desperate casts. At 8:31pm my quest was fulfilled with a bite on the Senko wacky rig and I truly didn’t care that the bass was a whole 10”, at least I avoided the embarrassing shutout. That was good enough for me as it is always rewarding to catch a bass on the last cast and perhaps even more so when it’s the only fish of the evening.

8:31pm Lone bass 10″ on the Senko, anyone remember that old show “My Favorite Martian” where the guy would sprout antennae from his head?

No sense in milking this one out any more than necessary as the buzzbait strike and final catch were pretty much the only items of note and admittedly not overly noteworthy to anybody but the guy in the boat.

Thought this was finally gonna get me caught up on fishing reports but guess where I am this morning? Yep, sitting in a boat in the strip mines as the stars aligned once again and all the kids are gone to my folks. Actually a tough call to fish or sleep in but think I am doing the right thing. Besides, no kids when I get home means I can even take a nap. Hopefully, my outing today will provide something for a Monday Top 5 update as I have not received any fish from the “fans.” If not, full report up later next week anyway. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report 7/23

So, what to do to kick off my 50th birthday in style?  Why, a fishing trip, of course.  Up at 4:15am and half a dozen bass in the log before anybody probably even got up at my house.  I could also write “before anybody even missed me” for as long as those kids have their mama around I don’t think they notice that I’m gone, even on my birthday.

Date: July 23, 2017
Location: Little John Conservation Club (2 lakes)
Time: 6:30am-12:15pm (5.25 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny/breezy to windy
Air Temp: 74-86F
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 11 bass
Whopper Plopper (I Know It) – 5 bass
5” Senko wacky rig (pumpkin with black flake) – 2 bass
Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (chartreuse white shad) – 2 bass
Zoom Baby Brush Hog (green pumpkin) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 3-8 Buzzbait
Top 5 Weight: 8-1 (3-8,1-8,1-1,1-0,1-0)

6:33am 13″ 1-1 Whopper Plopper                                                                                   6:58am 13″ 1-0 Whopper Plopper

Notes & Nonsense

Immediate Feedback – Julie and the kids bought me a GoPro for my birthday as I must admit to being a bit entertained by a handful of fishing oriented YouTubers over the last year or so.  I’m nowhere near as hip as this bunch but do take some consolation in the fact that I was pulling a few of their stunts before they were even born or Al Gore invented the internet.  Anyway, this was the inaugural GoPro outing and believe it or not I caught a bass on my first cast of the morning, GoPro filming and everything.  Only a 10” fish but had to laugh at my good fortune despite such “luck” superstitiously being the kiss of death via a first cast bass.  The jury is still out on what will become of the GoPro footage in terms of any public display but that’s a decision and a blog entry for another time.

You Go Back, Jack, Do It Again (Steely Dan, Do It Again, 1972) – Stop number two did not live up to expectations with only three bass in just under three hours with the largest being 13” and one-pound even on the buzzbait.  The other pair came on the Senko wacky rig and I busted off a fish on a creature bait on the hookset as my knot pulled free.  Just not my day on this spot, even when I slowed down a bit.  Once again focused on force feeding a buzzbait in less than ideal conditions looking for that one bite but my stubbornness did not pay off.  The good thing was I still had at least another hour and a half before I had to head home.  The tough thing was deciding on the next fishing hole that would present the best opportunity to get something big.  I mulled it over as I rowed back to the ramp and came up with the brilliant plan to go back to the lake I’d selected to start my day.

7:23am 15″ 1-8 Whopper Plopper                                                                      10:29am 13″ 1-0 Buzzbait

That One Bite – It took me thirty minutes upon my return to lake one before I fooled my first bass of visit number two while slowing down with a Texas rigged creature bait.  Not looking like a real winning move in my choice of a return trip at that point as the sun dominated the sky and the noon hour was just around the corner.  I was desperate for cloud cover and when a lone cloud showed up between me and the sun it was time to bust out the buzzbait yet again…and it worked to the tune of a 3-8 to save the day.  Crazy thing is, it was the fourth time I had worked this particular historically productive area on this trip and the only bite it produced.  With a blend of perseverance and stubbornness I got my bite.

Top Bass 11:40am 19″ 3-8 Buzzbait                                                               New appearance of an old lure

BBH – This abbreviation found its way into the logbook again after a significant absence from being on the end of the line for a cooperative bass.  Strange how lure selection can result in lures that come and go as I get in a rut, rely heavily on comfort lures or swing for the fences with a proven big bass bait.  In this case it was a welcome and successful changeup in my choice to slow it down as the Zoom Baby Brush Hog was my Texas rig bait of choice.  I’d struggled this year to entice a bite in limited use with this general presentation while employing a Senko or Havoc Pit Boss but “rediscovered” the Brush Hog, tied it on and parlayed it into a pair of bass around some laydowns.  My game (and sometimes my downfall) is power fishing but setting the hook on those taps brought back an appreciation for the variety of approaches it takes to fool my quarry over the course of a day, a year and a lifetime of chasing the largemouth bass.

Been waiting to write a report filled with a combination of quantity and quality so, of course, that means a little longwinded on the recap.  But what else do you have to do, you’re probably supposed to be working anyway.  No need to thank me for the substantial distraction, just keep reading.  And tell your fishing buddies.  One more report to go this week in order to finally get caught up for July, been very fortunate in terms of time on the water.  Talk to you later.  Troy

Lost Grove Lake Report 7/19

On the heels of the previously reported washout last week I headed back across the river the following evening to try it again. Thanks to my folks for keeping our boys an extra day to alleviate a scheduling conflict and thus opening up another chance for me to hit the water, making it an unexpected three days in a row and four out of five overall. Been a lucky guy in July.

Date: July 19, 2017
Location: Lost Grove Lake, IA
Time: 6:30pm-8:30pm
Weather: Sunny/breezy
Air Temp: 89F-83F
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 2 bass
5” Yamasenko wacky rig (pumpkin with black flake) – 1 bass
Strike King KVD Rattling Squarebill 2.5 Crankbait (pumpkinseed) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-11 Senko (only fish at 12” or better)

Notes & Nonsense

Compliment? – I reached the launch about the same time as a group of folks who were doing some distance swimming on the lake. One of the fellows even helped me haul my boat to the water’s edge, a welcome gesture as I was flying solo as usual. As I prepared to shove off, one of the ladies in the group took a look at the seeming overabundance of stuff in the little boat and said in wide eyed fashion, “You look serious about this.” I appreciated her take on the collection of seven poles, moderate sized tacklebag, pair of oars, anchor, boat cushion, lifejacket, tripod, couple bottles of water and a 200-pound guy with an unruly beard and a floppy hat as I suppose “ridiculous” could have been used instead of “serious.”

I think I could fit at least a couple more poles in there if needed.

Crank Bank – On the section of lake that I was fishing on this outing there is an abundance of scattered subsurface vegetation that limits presentation options. I like my lipless and traditional crankbaits but those types of treble hooked baits present a great deal of difficulty as they constantly foul in the scattered weeds that are not visible in the stained water (fortunately I dig topwater offerings which navigate the conditions much better). However, on this trip I did find a second stretch of bank that lends itself to cranking and my Strike King KVD 2.5 squarebill landed one fish and had two others hooked in a roughly fifty yard stretch during the span of fifteen minutes. There’s a fishing standard that says you should learn something new each time out and this time around I discovered an a spot that could certainly pay further dividends and will be a regular stop.

Top Bass 7:48pm 1-11 15.5″ Senko

Front Row Seat – In the middle of the crankbait stretch described above, I also managed to coax a bass out of a weed pocket on a Senko wacky rig. The fun thing about this catch was the fact that I had lifted the bait to a point where it was just visible below the stained surface when the bass hit. It is always cool to see a strike in such a close up fashion as the bass suddenly appeared out of nowhere to grab the lure. Luckily, I made sure that the fish had the bait rather than getting too trigger happy, prematurely setting the hook and pulling the Senko away from the bass before it got a good hold. Been there, done that, and probably will make that mistake again, tough to control those reflexes.

Two bass in two hours wasn’t exactly the results I was looking for but still a productive outing. One quality Lost Grove bass, lost three other fish I had hooked, several missed strikes on a buzzbait or frog and found a new spot that definitely has some future potential. Oh yeah, didn’t get caught in a storm either. Overall, a worthwhile evening across the river. Still have a birthday outing report and this Tuesday’s regular Lost Grove visit as I deal with playing catch-up on fishing reports. Cool when that happens. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Been pretty steamy in my neck of the woods as of late, true dog days of summer as it don’t take long before I am drenched in sweat even early in the morning.  No word from any fellow anglers but the bass have given me a decent workout during an unprecedented four outings this past week, catching solid numbers and the pair below that gave me a Top 5 boost.

Weight: 4-7 (20.5”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: July 17
Location: Little John Conservation Club
Lure: Whopper Plopper #90 (I Know It)
Structure: Overhanging bushes
Angler Comments: First fish of the day and the first Whopper Plopper bass ever.  Heard good things about this bait that I received as a Father’s Day gift but just recently put into the starting lineup.  Lived up to its reputation with this fish and fooled several other decent bass on this outing as well.

Weight: 3-8 (19”)
Date: July 23
Location: Little John Conservation Club
Lure: Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (chartreuse white shad)
Structure: Chute/brush
Angler Comments: At 11:40 am, about a half hour before I called it quits on my 50th birthday fishing trip I got that one bite I was looking for.  Combination of a proven spot and the sun disappearing briefly behind the clouds got it done.
Top 5 Weight: 24-10 (6-2,5-9,5-0,4-7,3-8) culls 3-6 and 3-5

Thankful that the stars have been aligned to get out multiple times last week and icing on the cake with these two new entries (a happy birthday bass included) pushing me further into uncharted Top 5 territory.  Got that 25-pound mark within spitting distance and several months of casting left.  Hope to hear from some other anglers too, the more fish the merrier.  Talk to you later.  Troy

Thoughts at 50

Today, I get to be 50.

Since taking up writing I have made a tradition out of a birthday posting starting back in 2011 with something entitled “Thoughts at 44.” My blogging gigs dating back to 2011 before starting my own website this year were entitled “Meandering.”  Gave me some leeway I figured, should I wander…Here we go again.

I can still row a boat as good as anybody around, probably could even find my hotspots on a few of my fishing holes while rowing with my eyes closed.

Probably could tie an improved clinch knot with my eyes closed too, which isn’t much of a stretch these days as I’m starting to experience some technical difficulty hitting the eyes on lures.

Baseball still rules, been older than all the players for a while, now older than half a dozen managers.

Still digging introducing our kids to the wonders of the outdoors before they get “too big” to hang out.

Dig being the kid too, getting to fish with Dad and add some more fish stories to an already impressive list.

On July 23, 1967, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was early in a fifteen week run at number one on the album chart.  On July 23, 2017 the spot was held by DJ Khaled, whoever that is.  Nope, further reinforces why I rarely listen to anything on the radio from this century.

I used to view “fishing” solely in terms of “catching” but have come to realize that there’s a lot more to the experience.

An added bonus of taking kids fishing is that they typically make you feel smarter than you really are.

These days I’m glad that nobody has captured Bigfoot.  It would ruin all the fun.

The oldies station is playing stuff I used to watch when MTV played music videos.

Kinda weird but I’m starting to realize that I make involuntary noises like grunts and stuff when performing some rather rudimentary tasks while fishing.  Not positive, or perhaps not ready to admit, but suspect the body is feeling 50 on occasion.

Did you know that if you took away all of Hank Aaron’s home runs he would still have over 3,000 hits?  Simply amazing, one of my all-time favorites and still the home run king in my book.

In a world of glitz, glamour, gimmicks and internet shopping, you still can’t beat a good old baitshop.  Never know what you may find and the best ones just have that smell.

At 50 I don’t think my beard will give the boys from ZZ Top a run for their money.  My eyebrows and ears on occasion, however…

Speaking of that band, anybody know the last name of their mustachioed drummer?  Always found that kind of amusing.

If you don’t fish a Senko wacky rig, you should.

Cubs were World Series champs before I hit 50, pretty impressive, all things considered.

I’ve accepted the fact that our camping cooler contains more juice boxes than Old Mil Lights and that I will also feel much better in the morning because of it.

Why is beef jerky so expensive?  I like Sasquatch and all, but whatever they’re paying him is too much.

Transformers and TMNT inhabit my home decades after their original incarnations.  I’m thinking we also need to bring back Championship Fishing (complete with the aquarium demonstrations and theme song), Solid Gold (with the dancers) and The Midnight Special (with a digitally remastered Wolfman Jack).


While grocery shopping for a camping trip last week, our six year old, Zac, randomly says, “Dad, you know, you look like a ‘Papa.’”  Wait ‘til graduation, little buddy, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Saw some swimbaits recently ranging from about $40 up to $120 per bait.  Takes me back to the advent of those fancy (and expensive) basketball shoes that weren’t going to help me dunk.  Nope, I’ll be sticking with the Chuck Taylors of fishing lures.

I imagine I was more excited landing my 2017 Top Bass of 6-2 at 49 than I would have been at 17 and that’s cool. Of course, I say “imagine” because I never could fool one that size back when I was a novice.

Considered going for 50 thoughts but think we’ve all had enough.

Had an early celebration yesterday with my family, my folks, my brother, sister-in-law, sister, two nieces and two nephews, good stuff and thanks to all for hanging out and making it a special day.  Also got a new toy to help make outdoor outings a little more hip and entertaining, maybe…Gonna try it out as I celebrate with some bass this morning before most all of those folks are even out of bed.  Talk to you later.  Troy

Lost Grove Lake Report 7/18

My weekly Tuesday evening fishing trip took me across the river again for the first time in several weeks. Conditions were looking ideal for the buzzbait feast I’d been looking for but Mother Nature intervened just as me and the bass were getting dialed in.

Date: July 18, 2017
Location: Lost Grove Lake, IA
Time: 6:00pm-7:00pm
Weather: Sunny to stormy/breezy to very windy
Air Temp: 91F-74F (not a typo folks, that’s for real)
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 3 bass
Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (white chartreuse shad) – 2 bass
Strike King KVD Rattling Squarebill 1.5 Crankbait (pumpkinseed) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-11 Buzzbait (only fish at 12” or better)

6:19pm First bass, found a stretch where I could actually fish a crankbait without constant fouling in the vegetation, gotta like that.

And here’s the crankbait, my favorite squarebill model and color.

Notes & Nonsense

Forecast – I launched to sunny skies and a bit of a ripple on the surface with a storm forecast for between 7:30 and 8:00pm. Looked about right as some darker skies were looming to the south and west but the whole system just seemed stalled and had me looking at possibly being able to fish until sunset as originally planned. Didn’t quite work out that way, tell you about that shortly.

Frontal Bite – Intermittent clouds passing between me and the sun had me pretty fired up for a buzzbait bite with a larger cloud bank slowly headed my way. It was exactly what I’d been looking for to get the buzz on and with a pair of bass just past 6:30pm on the buzzer it looked like it was gonna be my day. The front was still stalled and I had two of my best topwater sections laid out before me ready for the home stretch. Did I mention it didn’t quite work out that way?

Change in the Weather – About 7:00pm, the stalled storm got unstalled in a real hurry just as I neared my much anticipated topwater spots.  In a matter of seconds the dark clouds hustled in overhead, the lake surface was churning with whitecaps and the temp plummeted (91F to 74F).  I was now in a hurry to get off the water and fortunately the gale force wind was pushing me in the general direction of the ramp, all I had to do was steer.  Had the wind been in the opposite direction I truly don’t think I could have made any headway rowing and the waves would have definitely been spraying over the front of my little johnboat.  Game over, and a little scary…then the rain started in.

6:43pm Top Bass 15.5″ 1-11 Buzzbait This one really exploded on the bait and I sure thought I had a new lake record from the strike but fell several ounces shy of the 2-4 needed though still a good fish.  Looks like a nice day behind me, huh?  Well, at that point it was, a mere twenty minutes later, not so much.  No pics of the storm as I was real content to stay in the truck.

Aftermath – Luckily there was no lightning to push my concern beyond simply getting wet. I did wind up a bit soaked by the time I had everything back in the truck but that could have been worse as well. I sat in the lot for several minutes as a heavy, sideways rain drenched the area. I was happy to be back in the truck as the storm raged away but also pretty bummed out that the conditions I’d been looking for during the last several outings lasted about twenty five minutes before the rainout sent me packing.  On a positive note, the gravel roads sure weren’t dusty on the way home.

The Catch – So headed home an hour and a half early I decided to stop by the grocery store for a 12-pack of Miller Lite, a replacement buzz of sorts. Julie and the girls had been out for dinner with a friend, Deb, and the storm chased them home early too as our daughter, Carly, is not a fan of the inclement weather. Deb asked how many I’d caught and seemed impressed when I replied, “Twelve.” Of course, I was referring to my grocery store purchase, not the bass.

Still have one more fishing report to catch up on as I went back after them the following evening. But first, got one more outdoorsman celebrating a birthday tomorrow, hope you’ll stop back by for a posting that I guess you would say has been a long time in the making. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report 7/17

Took last Monday off work along with the previous Friday for an extended weekend of family camping, some swimming, visiting with more family around the campfire and, yes, some fishing.  On the heels of a Saturday outing with my brother, Brent, here’s the Monday report when flying solo.


Date: July 17, 2017
Locations: Little John Conservation Club (2 lakes)
Time: 5:25am-10:45pm (5.00 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny/calm to breezy
Air Temp: 64-82F
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 12 bass
Senko wacky rig (pumpkin with black flake) – 6 bass
Whopper Plopper 90 (I Know It) – 6 bass
Top Bass: 4-7 Whopper Plopper
Top 5 Weight: 9-4 (4-7,1-7,1-3,1-2,1-1)

5:35am Top Bass 20.5″ 4-7 Whopper Plopper                                                                            5:51am 14″ 1-1 Whopper Plopper

Notes & Nonsense

Firsts – Ten minutes in I had my first catch of the day which was also my first Whopper Plopper catch ever.  And like the first name of the lure, it definitely qualified as a “Whopper” in my book. Pretty cool when you’ve got a 4-7 in the log at 5:35am.  While that first bass would also wind up being the Top Bass, I can’t say I was particularly disappointed with the rest of the morning as five more fell to the Whopper Plopper along with several more strikes from bass that had some poor aim.  Looks like this lure could be a winner, actually catching fish instead of fishermen.

What About Me – Despite the smashing success of the new topwater weapon in my arsenal, I still had the good, old Senko rigged up.  Although it does not weed out the small fish to the extent of my trusty buzzbait or the early Whopper Plopper catches, the Senko wacky rig flat out catches bass on the waters I was fishing.  You’d be a fool not to have one rigged up.  No doubt I’ve got some bad habits but I ain’t no dummy when it comes to getting wacky with it.  Dead even score between the only two baits that caught bass on this day.

7:07am 14″ 1-3 Whopper Plopper                                                                                          8:27am 15″ 1-7 Senko

2017 Top 5 – The 4-7 Whopper Plopper fish knocked a 3-5 out of my Top 5 limit boosting my weight by over a pound which ain’t easy for me to do at this point.  You see, I was already in uncharted waters at 23-6, my top weight in the four years of this project, as I launched the boat on this outing.  With the latest cull I now sit at 24-8 and find myself wavering between satisfied and greedy.  But I figure it’s kind of like one of those days back in the 70’s and 80’s; 3 for 3 and walking out of the on deck circle, time to just let ‘er rip as you never know when you’ll enter “the zone” again.

9:11am 13.5″ 1-2 Senko                                                                                           10:45am Last Cast Bass

Last Bass – Now the picture above may not hold a candle to the glossy magazines, YouTube videos or websites that actually earn some bucks but I’d have to say it ranks as my second favorite bass of the day.  The regular responsibilities of husband and father don’t take a break even on a “vacation day” and I’m good with a timeframe when I need to get back home.  On this day, that meant a decision to fish until 10:45am and then load up and head home.  Within casting distance of the ramp I was fortunate to get another “last cast bass” right at 10:45am.  Always dig it when that happens and totally satisfied with hooking my lure back to an eye on the pole, calling it “well done” and rowing back to the ramp.  Doesn’t get much better than a successful final cast.

Very fortunate to have some recent circumstances that have allowed me to hit the water much more than I would have anticipated this summer (thanks Julie, Mom and Dad).  Two more trips in the books in the meantime, just can’t catch up with the blogging portion of the program.  Try to work them in when I can although Sunday is out as I’ve already got some blogging plans lined up.  Hope you’ll stop back by for a milestone of sorts and check out the Facebook page if you need a friend.  Talk to you later.  Troy

Happy Birthday, Zac

Today our youngest hits 6 years old so a big “Happy Birthday” to Zac.  All boy, with a penchant for dirt, sand, water, fish slime, mud, ashes, basically anything that will eventually necessitate a bath or change of clothes.  Although, rather frequently he still doesn’t wear clothes…

Anyhow, the boy digs the outdoors and typically provides plenty of entertainment for the rest of us with more than a few head shaking moments mixed in.  Particularly “entertaining” was last weekend’s camping trip bathroom break as I told him to just go behind the tent.  I later discovered that he apparently found it “entertaining” to actually water the tent instead of the trees.  The shirt in one of the pics above mentions good, old “Mr. Potato Head.”  More apt would be an arrow pointing up to little “Mr. Knucklehead.”

I’ll finish with a snippet from the original posting entitled “An 8-12 Keeper” that I submitted as a blogger on the Prairie State Outdoors website announcing our new arrival.

“Zac has already got his first fishing pole courtesy of Papa.  In fact, he got a fishing pole before he ever got a name as we drug our feet on the latter task for about sixteen hours.  Going in, we didn’t know boy or girl and I never liked naming a kid until you’ve actually seen ‘em.  It just took a while to figure out what name he looked like.”


Love you, Z, and talk to you later.  Dad

Strip Mine Report 7/15

Got the first opportunity of the year to team up with my brother, Brent.  We chose to hit some Knox County strip mines in hopes of fooling something big as they have produced several nice catches including a pair totaling 8-5 for me and Dad a week earlier.  I was also looking forward to Brent filling out a Top 5 limit with four fish joining a 3-2 caught back in February on his only bass outing of the year.

5:59am 1-5 Buzzbait                                                                                                7:01am 1-6 Senko

Date: July 15, 2017
Locations: Little John Conservation Club (2 lakes)
Time: 5:55am-12:15pm (5.50 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny/breezy to windy
Air Temp: 56F-82F
Water Temp: 80F
Totals: 15 bass (Brent – 10, Troy – 5)
Senko weighted wacky rig (several colors) – 13 bass
Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad or chartreuse) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 1-6 (tie one apiece) Senko for both
Top 5 Weight: 7-3 (1-6,1-6,1-5,1-5,1-2)

Notes & Nonsense

Addictive Start – Four minutes into casting and Brent had our first bass courtesy of a buzzbait from a shallow pocket, definitely a good sign in terms of some topwater success. It took 25 more minutes for our next catch but my buzzbait bass continued to foster some high hopes despite those doggone sunny conditions.  I really knew better and even told Brent that I was potentially wasting my time sticking with a topwater bite (was also tossing a Whopper Plopper) but you know, that whole “only takes one bite” thing.  Well, I never got it this time around.  In fact, we never caught another buzzbait bass the rest of the day though I foolishly kept trying.

Old Faithful – Unlike his older brother, Brent effectively shifted gears and left the buzzbait rod on the deck in favor of a tried and true strip pit wonder, the Senko wacky rig.  Outfishing me 9 to 4 after our early buzzbait catches, he certainly made the right choice.  While his Senko did not produce any lunkers, at least he was reeling in six more fish during my three hour drought (7:09am-10:11am).

7:59am 1-5 Senko                                                                                    8:13am 1-2 Senko

Clarity – The Senko was clearly the bait of the day even in some less than ideal conditions.  My somewhat unfounded concern dealt with a decrease in water clarity.  I view the Senko as being more effective in clearer water situations, which are the norm on most of the Little John bodies of water.  However, the last two years, water clarity has been quite odd on several of the typically clear locations I fish.  I was rather confused on the cause as my 2016 season drew to a close but it sure seemed to throw the bass and yours truly out of whack.  Same thing this year, which I attribute to some pretty significant amounts of rainfall in recent weeks.  Commotion has been key to enticing some big bites but as noted in an earlier report, sunny conditions have really hurt the topwater bite.  Granted, you rarely have what one would call a “perfect” day, but conditions have been extra odd for 2017 (still somehow have managed my best Top 5 since kicking off the project, fishing is just plain weird sometimes).

11:22am 15″ 1-6 Senko                                                                                Winning Lure – Senko wacky rig

Limit – As the guy who keeps tabs on this whole Top 5 thing, I was very excited to see Brent post four more bass to his creel and fill out a limit.  Plenty of room for upgrades and for me that is so much a part of the fun.  Get those first five on the board and then start picking them off as you reel in bigger catches along the way.  Summertime can be tough but looking forward to getting back on the water at some point with Brent.  I’ve fished enough with the guy to know that it’s just a matter of time on the water to put together an impressive creel.  Could be Summer, could be Fall, but I’ve got some ideas to put us on some fish for a strong finish.

While the results did not live up to my expectations, fifteen bass was still a reasonable haul but just not many for the highlight reel, I guess.  No matter, it is always good to hang out on the water with Brent although we don’t get to do it as much as we did back in the day.  We did get to hang out around a campfire later for a while as his bunch came out to hang out with my bunch as my family was enjoying a weekend camping trip at Lake Storey near Galesburg.  Overall, a good family weekend as Mom and Dad also hung out as well.  A couple more fishing reports in the works and perhaps some camping stuff later this month as writing time permits.  Talk to you later.  Troy

Strip Mine Report 7/11

Tuesday’s are overnight days for our boys at my folks in Galesburg so that means Girls’ Night for the ladies and fishing night for me.

Date: July 11, 2017
Locations: Little John Conservation Club (2 lakes)
Time: 5:50pm-8:25pm (2.75 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny/calm
Air Temp: mid 80’s but crazy humid
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 10 bass
Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 9 bass
Senko weighted wacky rig (electric shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-6 Buzzbait
Top 5 Weight: 5-11 (1-6,1-4,1-2,1-0,0-15)

5:54pm 14″ 1-2 Buzzbait, so humid I ditched my hat at risk of exposing my balding head to the sun, now that’s hot.

6:13pm 14.5″ 1-6 Buzzbait, though only in the mid 80’s the humidity was ugly as seen in the color progression of my shirt.

6:28pm 12″ 0-15 Buzzbait, put the hat back on as I have no hair to stop the sweat, need me a headband like good, old Slick Watts (anybody remember that guy).

Notes & Nonsense

Attempted Plan – I intended to head out from work early at 3:00pm instead of 5:00pm to offset travel time to Victoria (about 70 minutes) versus my usual Lost Grove Lake, IA Tuesday destination (about 25 minutes). Well, got tied up on an issue so didn’t leave the office until about 3:50pm. Part two of a time saver was a shortcut off Route 34. About a half mile into the dirt road portion of said shortcut I found it way too muddy and had to put her in reverse all the way back to some gravel. All told, going back to the normal route cost me another twenty minutes (by the way anybody out there know if the road is open at the tracks in Altona yet). So, my intended 4:30pm first cast wound up being 5:50pm instead.

Calling All Clouds – In order for my buzzbait pattern to really kick into high gear on these lakes, I need some cloud cover, whether complete or intermittent. But every time I have had a chance to go of late there has not been a cloud in the sky. I can still manage to eke out a few bites but the big ones aren’t interested and I really feel like I’m force feeding the bass. Even so, it’s a sacrifice that I am willing to make during these abbreviated outings. As my previous trip demonstrated, it only takes one bite to make your day and I’m content to take my chances. On this day, that big bite didn’t come until the end of the day but that’s another story (see below).

Bad Decision, Bad Outcome – I stopped short of a solid piece of structure consisting of several laydowns bordering a pocket off the main lake. This put the wood between me and any fish taking a liking to my buzzbait, kind of a dumb move in hindsight.  I clearly saw about a four pounder smash the bait roughly ten feet from the boat, right in the middle of the tress and proceed to head into the tangle before I could turn it in the right direction. The bass hit moving from my left to right which proved my doom. Had it been moving the opposite direction I would have stood a good chance of steering it clear of the snag. I could briefly feel the fish pulling amidst the logs but it soon wrapped me beyond hope and my line busted as I tried to free it.

7:24pm 14″ 1-4 Buzzbait, the heat just kept getting nastier as the evening wore on.

8:02pm 12.5″ 1-0 Buzzbait

Premonition – Odd thing is, I had been reminiscing a few days earlier when talking to myself about fishing (which I do nearly daily) and said aloud in my head that I could not recall the last time I lost a good fish. It wasn’t like I was patting myself on the back or anything just pondering some good fortune. Call it karma, the law of averages or just fishing but I will also admit to occasional flashes of superstition crossing my mind. Whatever the case, I guess I’ll do my best to avoid that conversation with myself going forward.

8:29pm Last bass, nothing to boost my total weight but shot the pic to show complete saturation by the end of the evening, crazy heat,
had sweat running off my nose when reaching for tackle in bottom of the boat.

In assessing my decision to make a longer drive for Illinois bass versus some Iowa bass closer to home, I vote that I made the right choice. Definitely bigger bass potential from this side of the river compared to my Lost Grove Lake results and I got my shot, just didn’t work out this time. Maybe next time or the time after that. Two more trips already in the log so stop back later this week for those reports or hit the Facebook page for some previews/spoilers.

Hey, just dawned on me, its Tuesday again, think I’ll go for the shorter drive to Iowa this time around.  Talk to you later. Troy