Month: March 2018

2017 Video #1 – Bad Break


You win some, you lose some.

And some that you lose sting a little more than others.

Gotta admit that this one stung for a while.

Makes it even worse that it was caught on video so I can relive it over and over again if I so choose.

I have so chosen and you know, it’s really kind of a cool strike, especially in slow motion. It gives me some extra time to analyze the incident and assess what I could have done differently to land this boatside blast from a bass in the 4 to 5 pound range. I actually got a great split second view of the fish in the last couple feet of the retrieve as it chased down and struck the bait. Kind of weird there too as that brief instant also seemed to have a slow motion feel to it. However, it did not last long before reality shifted back to full speed and the fish and my buzzbait were gone.

Slow motion version of the clip

In regards to what I could have done to land the fish, I guess one potential item would involve having my drag set a little looser thus potentially allowing the fish to run. Tough call on this one as my drag was pretty well dialed in for a typical strike whereas a strike with only a couple feet of line out is a whole different ballgame.

A second possibility would have been to disengage my reel and thumb it in free spool as the fish charged off with the bait. I’ve actually done this with success on a couple boatside muskie strikes but must admit that those were nowhere near as vicious and sudden as this bass strike thus providing an extra fraction of a second for those motor skills to instinctively kick in.

A final possible route to success would be to switch my allegiance from monofilament line to some sort of braid or super line. Not gonna happen in the near future, if ever, as I’ve been there and they just didn’t suit me. Besides, my good, old Trilene 12-pound test has come out on top versus muskies pushing 20-pounds, walleye over 10 pounds and just a few big bass. Plain and simple, I’ll put my money on my experience and low budget gear over pricey superlines any day of the week.

In the end, this one just wasn’t meant to be and while I was disappointed at the time, I eventually got over it. I can watch this video and simply appreciate the power of the freight train like strike of this fish and admit that it got the best of me on this day. My main concern in looking back on the bad break is that the bass was able to dislodge the lure, go about its business and live to make another mistake. Hopefully, just a little farther away from the boat.

One last time in super slow motion and yes, it still gets away

This concludes my 2017 Top 10 Video countdown, appreciate anyone who has taken the time to tune in. However, I do have one more video compilation up tomorrow in light of the holiday. April Fools’ Day, that is. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – 3/30/2008

March 30, 2008 Little John Conservation Club 18.5″ 2-13 Chatterbait (white)

Week 3 of the Friday Flashback series breaks away from Emstrom’s Pond as featured the first two postings. After losing our access to the old favorite pond in 2004, I needed to find another locale to start my fishing year. Didn’t take much thought as the focus shifted to the Knox County strip mines, both public and private.

For quite a few years now, my goal has been to post my first bass in March and going back to 2002 I’ve managed to do just that every year to present. May not sound like much of a feat but weather, responsibilities and a bunch of kids can make it a challenge. And while it would be nice to slow time down a bit in regards to that last item, we have reached the point where one of the boys is ready to tag along for a March outing (a report for another day on how we did today).

The bass featured today came from a 2008 trip to Little John Conservation Club as I achieved that whole March bass goal by about the narrowest of margins. This was my first bass of the year on the next to last day of the month and was the only one I could muster in three hours of casting.

Original log entry of the outing, not much to report but happy to get on the board

Now this picture leaves much to be desired similar to more than a few others in the photo album. I’m not sure why I did not get a better shot though as I had entered the world of do over, digital photography at this point but apparently did not check the pic before releasing my catch. It is apparent that this shot comes from the days before I began packing along a tripod to assist with the pre-selfie selfies. Instead, I used to prop my camera up on a stack of utility boxes to get the shot and that is likely what serves as the white border in this washed out photo. Still holding the fish in front of my face too, despite Julie’s advice on shooting better fishing pics.

 Chatterbait with twin tail trailer – easily the Top Lure of the day as it caught the only bass

And speaking of photographs, I believe that I have at least a moderate form of what I like to call a piscatorial photographic memory. For while this is a decent bass at 18.5” and weighed in at 2-13, it certainly does not qualify as one of those “trophy” moments on the water. Yet, I can still tell you exactly where I caught this fish, even though I won’t. I will tell you what I caught it on and that was a white Chatterbait. It just so happens to be my current Chatterbait Top Bass which likely pales in comparison to the top Chatterbait bass of many anglers. I have seen catches and heard tales that easily outclass this fish but it’s just never been my forte or go to bait. Perhaps someday I’ll leave my favorites at home and give myself some much needed practice with this lure.

Nah…Talk to you later. Troy

2017 Video #2 – Called Shot

To coincide with today being Opening Day for the 2018 Major League Baseball season I’m going with a “called shot.” Not quite as epic as the legendary Babe Ruth prediction from the 1932 World Series but a called shot nonetheless.

And with one big difference.

There’s no dispute on my called shot as it’s all right here on video and audio. Of course, you can do some pretty creative stuff with software these days but those techniques are still above my editing level. Maybe someday, though.

In contrast, there remains some debate on The Babe’s feat. While video of the at bat indeed shows some sort of gesture it just depends on whose version of the story you buy as to whether it was truly Ruth pointing to where he would then hit a mammoth home run. Makes for one heck of a story and I’m all about those so I’ll buy it hook, line and sinker.

My called shot took place on a remote Knox County, IL strip mine with the bass falling to a Strike King KVD 2.5 Rattling Squarebill crankbait. I wound up with four bass on this lure and it was fun to have this one on video as it decided to strike right as I was describing where the bite should occur.


If you’ve fished long enough it is likely that you can relate to such predictions coming through in a fishy looking spot. You know, one of those can’t miss spots that experience and instinct prompt you to say, “There should be one here.” A well placed cast, a couple turns of the reel and bang, right on cue, you’ve got your bite. Happens plenty of times and those seem to be the ones that you remember. But, of course, whether human nature or just the nature of those who fish, we lose count of all of these sorts of called shots that just don’t materialize.

There’s no story on those failed predictions that are simply cast, reel in and cast again so not surprisingly they all fall by the wayside. Kind of edited out of the memory just as I edit out all of the uneventful footage from the GoPro sessions. For instance, a few of the clips in this Top 10 project are a part of six or eight minutes worth of footage that get whittled down to the 30 seconds or so where something actually happens.

But every once in a while you get some feedback right of the bat which I guess could also qualify as a sort of called shot. After all, why bother turning on the camera if you aren’t expecting to catch something. Below is a bonus “called shot” clip from earlier the same day that features a changeup in presentation from a Senko wacky rig to a crankbait that was met with some immediate results.


Always fun on the water and cool to have some video these days as a reminder that every once in a while you get it dialed in and make it work just like it does on television. Talk to you later. Troy

2017 Video #3 – No Lip

You ever see one of those fancy bass tourneys where the anglers dig around in the livewell to fill their bag for the weigh-in and triumphantly thrust their largest catch into the air triggering the adulation of thousands of fans?

Well, this wasn’t quite like that.

For one thing, we were bluegill fishing. For another thing, we had just pulled the boat out of the lake via a gravel and grass boat ramp. And, oh yeah, there wasn’t another soul in sight for our fishing trip finale and video shoot.

Nope, this was a pretty low key affair but with a couple high energy young anglers in tow and some high strung bluegill in the livewell it got rather exciting. You see, fishing some feisty, slimy bluegills out of a partially drained livewell can present a challenge as they don’t quite have the handy handle like a largemouth bass lip. Even with little hands it still not a lot to grasp.

And here’s the kicker, this particular bluegill had a rough time when getting unhooked sustaining some considerable damage to its lip. As a result, Jayce and Zac had taken to referring to this particular catch as “No Lip.”

Well, when old “No Lip” was snatched from the livewell it appeared as if he was in the mood to get a little revenge. As Papa notes in the video, those bluegill have some pretty stiff fins that can inflict a bit of pain or even draw blood if they get you good while flopping around. And in Jayce’s case in this clip, there was more than the typical finger stick at stake. Let’s just say a bit more tender.


We all continue to get a laugh from this video at the expense of that poor bluegill. Just gets you tickled to hear a kid so excited and even better when that excitement arises from the hijinks on a fishing trip. Talk to you later. Troy

2017 Video #4 – Lonely Bass

“He was caught on a summer day, 2017…Oh, what a lonely bass, oh, what a lonely bass, oh, what a lonely bass.” – Andrew Gold (sort of), Lonely Boy (1977), click here for YouTube video of this 70’s classic after you read this blog entry.

Hey, every once in a while inspiration hits me prompting the inclusion of some of my good, old song lyrics. Hadn’t went there for a while and woke up the other day with this song and Video #4 on a loop in my head. Guess this blogging thing gets a little obsessive at times but sure beats waking up thinking about how to resolve some sort of technology issue. Get to do that all week so nice to find that the imagination can still intervene on the weekend.


Anyhow, today’s video features what is certainly a less than impressive bass but boy did it save the day. (Note: my tentative title for this piece was “Mighty Bass” as a play on the old Mighty Mouse cartoon. “Here I come to save the day”, right? Tough to say what was the better direction but I elected to go with the guy who penned The Golden Girls theme song. How’s that for some useless trivia?)

This catch came on 7/25/17 at 8:31pm from Iowa’s Lost Grove Lake and was the only fish I caught the entire evening in just over two hours of fishing. A 10” trophy for me in avoiding an embarrassing summertime shutout. I was so pleased to get on the board that I shot a picture, rowed to the ramp and called it a night. I figured that there was no better way to end a tough day than with being able to claim a last cast bass.

And I should probably end this post right now as well.

Instead, I’ll push my luck and wrap it up with an assist from some classic “lonely lyrics.” (Answers on the lyrics below my sign off and feel free to add any comments on a lyric that would also fit the bill.)

On the water you will inevitably have some “lonely days” (1) or a “lonely night” (2). But even if “it’s a lonely ol’ night” (3) “don’t you ever be ashamed” (4) if you can’t get the fish to cooperate. Instead, “if you just ask the lonely” (5) bass perhaps he can point you towards a few of his friends.

Ok, maybe too much. Talk to you later. Troy

1. Lonely Days – Bee Gees, 1970
2. Lonely Night (Angel Face) – Captain & Tennille, 1976
3. Lonely Ol’ Night – John Cougar Mellencamp, 1985
4. J.D. Souther – You’re Only Lonely, 1977
5. Ask the Lonely – Journey, 1983

Top 5 Guidelines

For anyone not familiar with the Top 5, it is an audience participation project for anglers to submit their catches for public consumption on what I like to call a virtual brag board. 2018 marks year number five of the project and it’s been an entertaining addition to my fishing and writing hobbies as well as something to look forward to with weekly update postings each Monday.  We already have two updates in the books this year, click these dates to check out the postings from 2/5 and 3/5 .

Screenshot from our first 2018 update.

While the first three years were devoted exclusively to bass, for 2017 the project was expanded to include other freshwater species. I will accept either weight or length data based on the angler’s preference so there will potentially be separate categories within species according to the information provided. One stipulation is that the fish be landed via rod and reel.

Bass will still remain a collective group for your Top 5 creel (largemouth, smallmouth, spotted or whatever other black bass species you might run into on a fishing journey somewhere) and must measure 12” or better to qualify whether submitted to the length or weight category. Don’t hesitate to send in some early members of your “limit” that you anticipate displacing later. It’s always fun to watch the progression in such instances and even the Bassmasters have to post some “dinks” along the way.

I don’t really have any minimum criteria on other species at this point as this is still a work in progress to see what may turn up. I’m also going to leave each species on its own for this experiment. For example, the catfish family will all be separate, thus a flathead Top 5, channel cat Top 5 or even a bullhead Top 5 if that’s your specialty.

For those who elect to weigh their catch, while a digital model is preferred, if you still roll with a DeLiar and such, it’s all good as long as you can get within a couple ounces of accuracy (remember there is no big money check). We run on honor code. I shoot straight in terms of weight in all of my fishing reports and I assume others do as well.
The amount of information you are willing to share is entirely up to you. I’m a more information the better guy but I get it if you’d rather remain somewhat elusive. I have compiled a database of the 485 bass and handful of other species submitted over the years and it’s always fun to take a look at the record book. Thus, it would be cool to have it dialed in, but I’ll take whatever I can get.

Here’s what I’m asking for in your submissions:

Weight/Length: I record weights in pounds and ounces such that 5-4 equates to five pounds four ounces as opposed to decimals so I ask that submissions be reported in this fashion to avoid conversion and/or confusion. For length submissions let’s go with the nearest half inch.

Lures/Bait: if you aren’t willing to reveal specifics such as brand, model, presentation and color, a generic category such as spinnerbait, plastic worm or crankbait would be appreciated. Chicken liver, stinkbait, dew worm, cutbait and so on work just fine as well.

Location: if you don’t want to say “Emiquon Preserve” just go with Fulton County and a designation of public or private would also be of interest. Even West Central Illinois strip mine or Eastern Iowa stream would be beneficial if you prefer not to be too specific.

Date: can’t see much of an issue with this aspect but I guess I’ll just list it as the date I received the submission unless otherwise noted. Once again though, the more accurate the better in my book.

Name: totally up to you whether you want to use your real name or a nickname, just let me know what you prefer.

Photo: a pic is required so have your cameras or “phones” at the ready. After all, part of the premise of this entire project is to show more fishing pictures on the website than just my little bass. Whether you put your mug in the frame is your choice.

Angler Comments: if you’ve got a story, something weird or otherwise interesting to pass along with the catch, by all means, include your tale. Same goes for structure as it’s fun to hear if the fish came off a point, alongside a laydown, amidst a patch of lilypads and so on. I will be happy to use your description, as written, in the periodic updates so don’t use any “bad” words, that way I don’t have to spend time editing.

Having typed all that, here is a sample submission (using an old school bass just for fun on the heels of Easter weekend):

Troy Jackson
Largemouth Bass
Lake Storey
April 4, 1999
Spinnerbait (blue glimmer)
Dad and I were able to sneak away for a little Easter Sunday bass fishing on our “home lake.” My only bass of the day and first of the year but a cool way to kick it off, came on a perfect setup as I slowly ran my spinnerbait parallel to a submerged log, just like you read about in the magazines.

And here is the general process:

Step One: You catch, weigh/measure, document and photograph a fish that resides in your Top 5 heaviest of 2017.

Step Two: Send your pic and details to

Step Three: I track the catches and photos in order to provide periodic updates (typically each Monday) as you build your Top 5. (Note: you send each fish as you work towards a Top 5 rather than waiting until you have five, unless, of course, you wipe ‘em all out on your first trip).

Step Four: Repeat the above, replacing (or culling to use a tourney term) smaller Top 5 fish as larger ones join your ledger. For instance, say your Top 5 by May 1 is as follows: 3-4, 2-7, 2-3, 1-12 and 1-11 for a total weight of 11-5. Then on May 6 you reel in a 3-3 so out goes the 1-11 and the total weight bumps up to 12-13. Same concept for length submissions.

And we’ve already got a pair of limits on the books as a couple of us were able to get out in January and February. Crazy thing is, I’m sitting here typing the draft of this posting amidst a late March snowstorm that has really dumped a pile of the white stuff on us. I’d say “C’mon spring” but I guess it’s already here. Good luck out there and talk to you later. Troy

2017 Video #5 – Bass, Bass, Bass!

Kids are cool.

Bass are cool.

Kids and bass are…well, check out the video.


I’ll admit it can be a challenge teaching kids to fish but memories like this serve to reinforce that it’s well worth it. All of the pulling lures out of trees, “stand back so you don’t get hooked”, “really, it’s okay to pee over there, nobody will see you”, “you don’t need hand sanitizer…” and so on fade away when that bobber goes under.

And it’s fun as a grownup to realize that sometimes you aren’t so far removed from being a kid yourself. Listening to Jayce holler, “Bass, bass, bass” got me to thinking about that little voice in my head that involuntarily starts in with the same mantra once I’ve set the hook.

Never really thought about that before and that’s another aspect of this whole video thing that has been fun while also providing an opportunity for more than a few laughs with the advent of more user friendly recording.

We’re not the big boys, we don’t have a script and any catchphrases that may be spouted out on a regular basis are just the natural reaction to the simple joy of fooling a fish. As a grown up it’s kind of weird sitting all alone in a boat or balancing on a spoilbank while trying to provide the “viewers” with a feel for what you’ve got going on. But throw in a hookset met with some scaly resistance from the other end and a sort of verbal auto pilot feature kicks in. A reaction that goes back as long as I’ve fished, another thing that I never really consciously thought about. I’ve been talking to the fish for years, seems a natural part of the pursuit. Just takes a bit of getting used to when you see it on video.

Which brings me back to the joy of observing kids fishing or hanging with kids in general. Imagination and silliness typically run high even for a fellow like Jayce who is more than a bit reserved in most situations. Thus, it’s a treat to see the goofiness and excitement come pouring out while he’s sharing a common interest with a guy who just so happens to resemble a bigger version of that kid.

Before I sign off, here’s a bonus video from the same day on the water.  It serves to show that kids also learn other valuable fishing skills from their mentors beyond casting and reeling.  And yes, not surprisingly, I learned this one from Jayce’s Papa.


Here’s to more “bass, bass, bass”, “bluegill, bluegill, bluegill” and hopefully one of his 2018 goals of “catfish, catfish, catfish.” Talk to you later. Troy

2017 Video #6 – Bad Is Good


Sometimes I wonder how many casts I’ve made over the years.

Don’t really have the slightest clue.

But what I do know is that the old “practice makes perfect” saying is not entirely accurate when it comes to this skill (or any other I suppose). For no matter how many casts you’ve made, there are still those that end up errant and off target. Such mistakes can range from a mere fraction of an inch to one of those weird ones that crops up on occasion and leaves you wondering just how a seasoned angler could foul it up that bad. Gotta be wind or equipment failure, right?

But as today’s video shows, even when you miss your mark, good things can still happen. As finicky as we might find those bass to be on some days, they are still top of the line predators that are built and programmed to eat.

If your lure is in the water, it’s fair game.

Bad isn’t so good when it comes to this photo of the above catch so I’m glad that I’ve been able to add the video aspect to the fish stories

Such was the case with this catch from Iowa’s Lost Grove Lake, a fishing hole that can be quite frustrating due to an abundance of slimy, scattered vegetation. While the cast doesn’t look as ugly as a toss into a tree or onto a boat dock (done ‘em both more than a few times) it nevertheless struck me as a wasted shot into some of the nasty subsurface weeds. Fortunately, the lure came through unscathed by the vegetation which just so happened to be the hiding place of an interested bass and that aspect was indeed part of the plan.

A plan that worked to perfection despite an imperfect cast. Without the audio on this clip one would never even know that I was essentially looking ahead to my next cast as this one didn’t stand a chance.

Bonus video from this trip featuring the Top Bass weighing 1-14

As always, a fishing trip isn’t only about the haul. It’s also about learning something new each time out. In this case, if you’ve got a lure in the water be ready because anything can happen. After all, even a bad cast can produce a good result. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – 3/26/2003

3/26/2003 Emstrom’s Pond 3-3 Jig & Pig

Boy, I miss the days of a having permission to fish a pond that took about three minutes to drive to from my folks house where we kept our little johnboat. But while some things have changed, several items in this photo have not.

But first, the stats on the day.

Date: March 26, 2003
Location: Emstrom’s Pond – west of Galesburg, IL
Time: 12:55pm-2:55pm
Weather: Sunny/windy (from west)
Air Temp: 60F
Water Temp: 51F
Totals: 2 bass
Lures: ¼ oz. Jig (black/blue) with #11G pork frog (black/blue glitter)
Top Bass: 3-3 (19.5”) Jig & Pig
Weight: 5-1 (3-3,1-14)

Actual log entry from this outing

Still fishing out of that same old boat.

Still got that sweatshirt, think I’m wearing it today, in fact.

Still a fan of the old IronMan watch and a watch in general instead of a “phone.”

Still got the ring, of course.

Still sporting a floppy hat, got this one in the garage as I’m now on FloppyV.2.0.

Still sporting a beard/goatee although something looks a little different these days. Can’t quite put my finger on it. Shaggier, perhaps?

Still shooting selfies these days, albeit with that “phone” as well as a camera.

3/26/03 Emstrom’s Pond 1-14 Jig & Pig

And still happy to land a good fish, almost smiling in the photo where the bass isn’t hiding my face. I have tried to change that pose over the years, for better or worse. Talk to you later. Troy

2017 Video #7 – Smorgasbord


Today’s clip features a catch from October 8 on a public Knox County, IL strip mine pothole. It was one of sixteen bass landed in just over four hours on the water with the first eleven coming from this spot during my first two hours of casting. If you do the math on this first stop that equates to 5.5 bass per hour which is really pretty darn good.

Now here’s the weird thing about this borderline feeding frenzy.

Those eleven bass came on six different lures. It was truly a bizarre sort of buffet as the bass never really showed a preference for a particular presentation yet still proved to be cooperative if I was willing to keep my lure choices rather dynamic.

Here’s the menu for this ever changing fall feeding frenzy, 8 lures = 16 bass

What was also puzzling was that I was all in at the start to nab some on an old topwater favorite, the Zara Spook, and never got the slightest hint of interest. And after five minutes of that I put it down in favor of a chatterbait. Four casts later I had the fish in this clip after a pair of short strikes on two of the previous casts. Sure seemed like they were taking a liking to the chatterbait.

Nope, couldn’t coax another bite the rest of the time on this spot. However, I did continue to catch bass as evidenced by the snip from the log entry below. Briefly got them dialed in on a Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait and a Swim Jig but those flurries were fleeting as well.

In the end I was quite pleased with the overall results on this relatively unfamiliar pothole as it was indeed a productive stop. I also gave myself a pat on the back for being diverse in my offerings and changing up when my “can’t miss” baits (Red Eye Shad lipless crank and Senko wacky rig) only got the interest of one bass.

In assessing my day on the ride home, I found myself envisioning one of those old silly tricks we used to do as a kid. That old rub your stomach and pat your head routine, except this time it was more like pat your back and scratch your head. A fair amount of both occur with this interesting hobby and actually kind of a fun challenge when they coincide. Talk to you later. Troy