Month: December 2017

You Say You Want A Resolution

Okay, so maybe you don’t really want a resolution, but as a committed outdoor blogger, I’m going to give you some. After all, this annual exercise (often in futility) is just too good to pass up. Here we go, for 2018…

Bass Break – Going to be tough to top 2017 in terms of my Top 5 weight of 26-13. Not to say that I’m not going to try, but it’s high time that I go back to my fishing roots and give some other species a shot.

Catch and Cook – A much younger generation dominates the fishing vlog landscape and I keep a watchful eye on a handful of them for entertainment and occasional enlightenment. One standby is something they call “Catch and Cook” videos. Now, I don’t know that I will necessarily go the whole video route but I do plan on keeping some fish with the intent of showing the kids the whole process from reeling ‘em in to chomping ‘em up. Been a lot of years, hope I still remember how to clean fish. Hey, Dad…

New IA H2O – Now that Iowa is only a handful of miles from home, I’ve taken to purchasing the non-resident license and trying to fool some Hawkeye State bass. My exclusive destination to date has been Scott County’s Lost Grove Lake but for 2018 I’ve got my eye set on a couple other spots to add to my list.

New Parks – Our family had a good time with several day trips to Illinois and Iowa parks in 2017 and I want to continue that trend in the New Year. There’s tons to choose from whether a few acres amid the urban setting of the Quad Cities or expanses that lie beyond the hustle and bustle of the city.

New Campground – While our normal stomping grounds of Little John Conservation Club or Lake Storey just outside Galesburg, IL are outstanding outdoor resources, I’m looking to expand our horizons and show the kids some new scenery. Once again, plenty of opportunities are available within close proximity which is cool as I hate wasting time sitting in a vehicle that could be better utilized getting some fresh air.

Definitely a family oriented slant on the 2018 outlook and that is the overall intent. I had an excellent 2017 on the water chasing my bass but admittedly got a little selfish and had more than a few “Dad can we go fishing?” requests that didn’t materialize. So here’s to getting better at fulfilling those wishes.

Stay tuned as the New Year gets underway for a look back at how I fared on my 2017 resolution list. Talk to you later. Troy

Trapping Tuesday – 2002 Routes, Records

2002 wound up being a solid year on the trapline in terms of totals and variety as our haul featured more than just the standard coons, muskrats and beaver with a couple coyotes, double digit skunks, a mink and even a weasel. However, record keeping on the trapline often wound up being a bit unofficial as the seasons drew to a close. After the first couple weeks our group of trappers would split up and the trapline totals and reports would get a little more sporadic based on factors such as time, access and weather. Nothing overly inaccurate, maybe a coon or two here or there as the totals below show 120 coons while a write-up I did back in 2002 reported our total as 130+ along with 20 beaver versus 19 in the respective reports.

Of course, it was about much more than the numbers as we traversed old, familiar stomping grounds such as The Big Timber and Pat’s Creek. For many years we would split up with Uncle Dick and me hitting the former while Dad and Brent covered the latter location. We would then move onto a handful of Warren County locations collectively called Moore’s before meeting up to compare the hauls and pose for a group photo.

Richard, Troy, Terry and Brent Jackson with a 2002 day’s haul

We covered many miles over the years and I suspect Dad and Uncle Dick could probably cover the ground with their eyes closed. Well, except maybe for The World’s Most Dangerous Crossing, had to be on your toes for that spot. And those sort of memories are as much a part of the story as the fur. Many tales and many places that were entertainingly named by a couple outdoorsmen who knew it best.

Photo shoot at The Cemetery with 20+ pound coon, 47 and 39 pound beaver 

These shots from one of those spots, The Cemetery, during the 2002 season are particularly memorable as we racked up a new record for beaver catches including a couple that tipped the scales at 60 pounds, another at 47 pounds, two at 39 pounds and one at 34 pounds. In addition, we pondered whether or not we had set a family coon record with one coming in close to 24 pounds. Great catches that you don’t really want to have to haul too far along those trapline trails. Talk to you later. Troy

Outdoor Wish List #2 – 2 Boot Patches


My Northerner boots definitely rank as unsung heroes among my fishing/outdoor gear. These typically unseen items rarely get any glory when snapping pics of the catch. After all, the standard pose presents the fish in proximity of the angler’s chest, right in front of my face in a lot of my old pictures or embarrassingly extended as far as the arm can reach towards the camera in some of the mainstream media (I quit doing that one a long time ago). And with the advent of the fishing selfie, well, there’s no way your boots are going to get in on the action.

Fortunately, a fair amount of my fishing has taken me off the beaten path on foot and made for some interesting photo shoots on the weedy bank of a pothole or from a foothold on the steep incline of a spoilbank with a camera propped up on some utility boxes. As such, it’s kind of fun looking back to find that my boots got to be included in the fishing album. Never thought about that aspect before as they are simply great boots, doing their job as they take a beating while keeping my feet warm and dry.



Every once in a while, those good old boots make it into the pic

Well, this pair has finally gave out in a couple spots making them a little leaky as I prowl around the bank or wade through early morning wet terrain. But with the combination of frugality, sentimentality and perhaps even a little superstition, new boots aren’t on the list. Instead, a couple patches and some gunk will suit me just fine.

Besides, things usually get a little deeper during fish stories than they do during the actual fishing, if you know what I mean. Talk to you later. Troy

Outdoor Wish List #3 – 3 Booyah Buzzbaits

It’s awful tough to beat buzzbait bassing. So much so that it can be downright addicting. You know, one of those presentations that you keep using even though something else may be more of the ticket on a particular outing or particular part of the day.

You see, buzzbaits have a few things going for them that keep me reaching for one once the water warms and the bass take an interest in topwater baits.

Reason #1 – They’re fast. If I can get by with it, that’s the way I like to fish, cover a lot of water and target aggressive fish or trigger a reaction strike.

Reason #2 – They’re exciting. There’s nothing quite like a surface strike to get the blood pumping, wake you up from a brief, ill advised daydream or make you kick yourself for sneaking a glance at the target area for your next cast instead of focusing on the current one.

Reason #3 – The results can be big.

I guess that Reason #3 probably gets the nod as the favorite but the combination of these features make the buzzbait one of my favorite approaches from about April into October. And some days I stubbornly stick to buzzing these things around willing to wait on that one bite that makes the wait worthwhile.


A couple 2017 Booyah Bites – April 25 (left) and July 8 (right)

For 2017 I got several of those big bites among an overall productive buzzbait year of quality and quantity. Unfortunately, a pair of those big bites wound up costing me two of my Booyah Buzzbaits.

The first took me into a downed tree after the strike. In hindsight, I was pushing my luck in some heavy cover and actually saw this four to five pound fish break the surface over a submerged branch and smash my bait. However, I could not turn the large fish in time and down it went into the cover where I could feel it pull on occasion before the frayed line gave way.

A crushing blow at boatside was the last cast for this Booyah Buzzbait

The second lost fish hit within a few feet of the boat as shown in the snapshot above from the GoPro footage of the strike. Nothing I could do on this one in the same weight class as the previous fish. I actually saw this bass bulging the surface just before the strike and when it hit like a freight train it wound up beating my 12-pound mono. In a matter of a couple seconds I saw the bass, witnessed the strike, had my rod tip pulled under the surface and felt the snap of the line. It’s a pretty cool bit of footage and the snapshots are awesome in a disheartening sort of way. Yep, watched it more than a few times over the intervening months.

So, for Wish List item #2 I’m looking for two baits to replace the ones that were lost along with another spare as you can never have enough buzzbaits in your tacklebox. Talk to you later. Troy

Trapping Tuesday – 2007 Garb, Gear, Gals

Me and Dad with Helena (left) and Carly (right), trapping prep 2007

With the introduction of kids/grandkids to the trapline beginning in the early 2000s, garb and gear saw some considerable changes from when me or my brother would have gotten to tag along in the 70s.

In terms of outdoor wear, camo has really become a moneymaker and our bank account was apparently a little lighter from the looks of these outdoor ladies. In addition, I’m thinking that the color pink hadn’t made too many appearances in our outdoor adventures either prior to these two and their cousin a few years earlier. You know, there’s been outdoorswomen forever but whoever came up with the pink camo style probably made a few dollars too. By comparison, us boys and Dad back in the day look to have worn whatever we had.

Tailgating trapline style

Dig the attire before head to toe camo became required

Modern day trapping kids at the age of my girls in today’s photos required a little more packing beyond a packbasket, hip boots and a can or two of soda.

We’re talking car seats, sippy cups, a diaper bag, juice boxes, snacks and healthy batch of good old hand sanitizer. I don’t even know if that latter hygiene item existed back in the days when a little dirt never hurt. Now that stuff is everywhere, somebody’s probably made a killing off of that fad too with scents, sparkles, fancy bottles and fancy things to put your fancy bottles in and attach to your backpack. I believe that stuff may eventually be the downfall of our kind as our immune systems wind up getting lazy.

Okay, maybe I’m getting a little carried away. After all, if you’d seen some of what has went down over the years with those trapping boxes the ladies are lounging on…well, perhaps a shot of sanitizer ain’t a bad idea before you dig into that bag of cookies. Talk to you later. Troy

Outdoor Wish List #4 – 4 4 Day Weekends

You know, a weekend is just never enough time to get everything done or sufficiently put work on the back burner for a while. Seems like I’m always wishing I had one more day off as that impending Monday morning feeling begins to creep in again every Sunday afternoon. Forty plus hours of technology on the horizon, helping get four kids off to school for five mornings (Julie does most of the work), activities, homework, chores and all the rest that it takes to be a grownup kind of wears you out.



What’s needed is some extra fresh air to help recharge those batteries and what better way to do so than to extend your weekend?

Granted, even that takes some planning in order to swing it to coincide with the kids being out of school. After all, you don’t get vacation days as a kid during the school year and playing hookie is sometimes more trouble than its worth. Instead, we have to wait for holidays or the scheduled teacher institutes and such. There’s also the traditional summer break although that seems to get shorter all the time and lately we’ve had a fall break to go along with the spring break. At any rate, there should be some opportunities to work this thing into the schedule.

This year I even ventured out solo for a three day, two night camping/fishing trip via a four day weekend to coincide with this summer’s eclipse. That one didn’t quite work out as planned when torrential rains sent me packing after a roughly sixteen hour “vacation.” Here’s hoping for getting a better hand dealt to me from Mother Nature when it comes time to put this wish list item into action.

And, you know what would really be cool?

Anybody want four kids for four days? Talk to you later. Troy

Outdoor Wish List #5 – 5 Species

On the heels of yesterday’s wish for the family to reel in some catfish, today this wannabe bass fisherman is expanding on the multispecies theme. While I did manage to land four different species in 2017, three of them were unintentional, simply “accidents” while bass fishing. In contrast, for 2018 I’m looking to pursue some other species on purpose.

While Jayce has caught his own bass, I always dug this pic of him admiring Uncle Dave Breuer’s catch

Kids are the prime motivation for this wish list item and for the most part, up to now, I’ve held the roles of baiter, caster and unhooker during our outings. Everybody continues to get a little bigger, much more proficient in their fishing skills and gradually more comfortable handling the catch. Therefore, it’s time for Dad to pick up one of the spare poles we always pack for those just in case situations and make it my own.

Carly holds the family title as the “Redear Queen”

Helena and the ever popular and cooperative bluegill

Jayce and his 2017 family record green sunfish

I’m sure that many of us anglers cut our fishing teeth on the more cooperative panfish type species and my crew is no exception. And neither am I, as the roots of all the fishing stuff you read on here were planted with an ultralight pole, a handful or grubs and spinners or something hung from a float. I like to refer to the approach as “Beetle Spins and Bobbers” and I look forward to throwing in this change of pace in the coming year.

Me, Zac and Dad with a bounty of farm pond crappie and bluegill

For many years, Dad and I have gotten a kick out of what we unofficially call “The Species Title” during our outings. Perhaps for 2018 I can make it official as our crew is certainly up for a little competition pretty much all the time. Boy, the wheels are turning, going to have to recruit Julie to put such a concept into action. I can create a lot of words in a hurry when putting together a blog posting but when it comes to something tangible, I defer to the arts and craft oriented parent. We’ll see…Talk to you later. Troy

Outdoor Wish List #6 – 6 Catfish

A couple of my kids had this one on their wish list this year and I let them down. Gonna look to correct that in 2018.

Carly and Jayce both stated that they want to catch a catfish to add to their species list which already includes bluegill, crappie, largemouth bass, green sunfish and redear. Our other two kids, Helena and Zac, didn’t necessarily specify such a wish but this thing is going to be a family affair.

7/26/2011 Pat’s Creek Henderson County. IL

7/9/2005 Pat’s Creek Henderson County, IL

Julie and I both have landed our share of catfish over the years but it’s been quite some time. In fact, I believe the last time we combined for some catfish would have been in 1997 on the Mississippi River out of Quincy, Illinois. That trip was hosted by Julie’s dad, Junior Breuer, back when his daughter was just my girlfriend. Sadly, Junior passed away in the summer of 2006, a few years after his girl became my wife and we had a couple girls of our own. I’m sure he’d get a kick out of our fishing brood which has since doubled with the addition of a pair of boys.

My late father-in-law, Junior Breuer, with a mess of Mississippi River catfish

My Dad also knows a thing or two about catching those whiskered fish with one of his favorite pursuits being creek wading and looking for whatever had interest in a dew worm. Float trips were also among his adventures and my brother, Brent, and I have enjoyed both with him over the years.

Dad in his element, what we called Pat’s Creek in Henderson County, IL

And back in the day, before I got all tore up with this bass fishing thing, me, Brent and a handful of buddies used to spend a considerable amount of our fishing time chasing catfish.

4/14/85 accidental catch from Lake Bracken while panfishing with Dad and Brent, fun story for another day

7/2/1985 from Sperry’s Pay Ponds north of Galesburg, just saw that Mr. Sperry passed away, good memories from his fishing holes

So, this one’s on the Wish List for 2018 and the significance of 6 catfish pertains to each member of my family reeling one in. Yep, we already know all about some basic lures and waxworms so now it is high time to explore the exciting world of catfish bait. Oh yeah, a messier, smellier batch of goodies that is sure to entertain. Bring on some chicken liver, dew worms, cut bait and stink bait.

Gotta do what you gotta do to grant those outdoor wishes for your kids. I’m already grinning as I think about some of the memories to be made. I dig that they want to catch something new and I also look forward to a few of those “careful what you wish for” moments as catfishing can be a whole different ballgame. Talk to you later. Troy

Outdoor Wish List #7 – 7′ Cherrywood Rod

If you fish enough, you are going to experience some equipment “casualties” over time. And 2017 turned out to be what I guess one would call a banner year in this regard. Therefore, the Wish List includes a 7’ Berkley Cherrywood Medium Action casting rod as mine bit the dust during an October 21 strip mine outing.

Not only did I break the rod tip on this outing but I also blew out a reel handle.

I’m not really sure how it all went down as it just turned up with a busted tip as I unloaded the boat from the back of the truck when switching lakes. I take good care of my stuff and my fishing gear rates pretty high on the valued possessions list but on occasion I get a little impatient when untangling the mess of rod tips that can occur while driving. Of course, when you are hauling seven rods, six of which are darn near as long as your boat, you’re kind of asking for some tangles. So, note to self (again) to take it easy.

This rod was the perfect match for lipless crankbait fishing, a favorite and successful power presentation

I hate busting any gear but this one really stunk as it was an ideal rod for lipless cranking. The tip had just the right action to give a little on the strike and hookset to get that part of the job done and the needed backbone to keep the fish on and get it in the boat. Really kind of hard to describe but it just felt right.  If you fish, then you know where I’m coming from.

An action snapshot from the GoPro – Johnson Sauk Trail Lake on September 11, 2017

The upside of this unfortunate break is that being a frugal sort it won’t break the bank to replace. In fact, $24.99 will take me all the way, virtually unheard of these days for what I consider a quality rod. Yep, pretty wild compared to the rods pitched by my fishing magazines that sport a price tag up to ten times the price of this model. Granted, I’m not some kind of pro/150 days on the water angler but even so, I doubt that I could part with that kind of money for a fishing pole. Besides, imagine busting the tip off of one of those babies. I’d probably cry.

Talk to you later. Troy