Month: May 2018

Friday Flashback – June 6, 2003

How many times have I told you that I am glad that I took to documenting outdoor adventures via the modern equivalent of a journal?

At least a couple, and I mean it. How fun is it to look back in time and get another smile, chuckle or head shake out of some details that are long gone from the memory?  Sure the big fish or weird catch sticks with you but it’s all the little details that really make the writing worthwhile.  Throw in the photo album and some video these days and you’ve got a winning combination.

For example, the words and pics for today’s flashback come courtesy of the original report submitted to family and friends back on June 10, 2003.

Pat’s Creek with Dad on 6/6/03

Weather – Despite the weatherman predicting rain, we went fishing, spending around four hours in the creek.  Part of the time it rained, the rest of the time it rained harder.

Tips – Wait to see if anyone is injured before laughing.  I’ve learned this one over the years and was able to chuckle after Dad slid down the bank into the creek.

Hygiene – Always clip your fingernails before creek fishing.  Dad and I were on the same wavelength.  He mentioned it in the middle of the creek and I was on the same page.  We left no room for grit (the subtle things you learn from Dad…)

Boots – Smart enough to check for a matching pair.  Not smart enough to check for holes.  With a knee-high hole in one of my hipboots, I might as well have worn sandals.

Bites – Numerous fish with a handful of hookups, but the rain limits mosquitoes and biting flies.

Monsoons – Rivals Beefy’s Monsoon of 2001.  But, that’s another story…which may be another article…possibly concerning my penchant for “another story”

Species contest – Dad wins again 2 to 1 (5 channel catfish/1 carp versus 1 channel catfish)

Record Book – Dad (Channel Catfish 3-9 and Carp 5-12)

So, have you started your own outdoor or fishing journal yet?  Years down the road, you’ll be glad you did.  Talk to you later.  Troy

Lost Grove Lake Report – May 28

I got to wondering the other day in my “Am I a Bad Fisherman?” posting about my merit as a dedicated fisherman after choosing some much needed rest over an early morning of fishing. Well, I tried to make up for it a couple days later and wound up questioning myself yet again. A couple tentative titles for today’s report were “Am I an Old Fisherman” and “Am I a Wimpy Fisherman” but I went with the standard fishing report format of location and date instead. Details below on why the alternative titles were up for consideration.

6:38am – Quick feedback with first Iowa bass of 2018


Date: May 28, 2018
Location: Lost Grove Lake, IA
Time: 6:35am-8:50am
Weather: Sunny/calm
Air Temp: 73-82F
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 3 bass
Top Bass: 1-5 (only bass over 12”)

7:11am Top Bass 14″ 1-5 Buzzbait (GoPro video of the catch included below)

Notes & Nonsense

Late Night – My first error in judgment involved staying up too late and having a few cold ones when my intent was to get up at 4:45am. In the end, that poor decision making resulted in about 4.5 hours of sleep so was kind of getting off on the wrong foot from the get go.

Heat – The weather app on my phone read 73F at 6:35am as I made my first cast but it was already a hot 73 degrees. No air moving whatsoever and the effort of dragging my boat out of the back of the truck over some parking posts in a slightly elevated parking lot got the sweat flowing. Then, I had to drag the boat and gear through about 20 yards of weeds which got the heart pumping and the sweat kicked up a notch. And after that I just had roughly 400 acres of water in front of me to choose from armed with an old set of oars and an even older rower providing the power.

Snip from GoPro footage of abundat gnat population from earlier this year but same concept on this trip

Gnats Are Gnuts – If you have been enjoying the outdoors in my neck of the woods as of late, I am certain you are aware of the prevalence of gnats, a real bumper crop. Under the bill of my hat, on the inside of my fishing shades, in my ears, up my nose and yes, I ate a couple, just relentless. Most times you can get away from the bank and enjoy a bit of an escape but these pests were thick everywhere, flat out crazy and no fun.

Another gnat snip just for fun

Weeds – I am accustomed to goofy, scattered weeds on this fishing hole and I hope that someday they may subside as the lake ages. No go as of yet, however, as the vegetation influenced my presentation as I went pretty much all in on a buzzbait in open water amidst the gunk. Also tried a topwater frog in spots and flipped a Senko around but only the buzzer was a winner in the calm, sunny conditions that were likely better suited for something else. A gamble I was willing to take in hopes of a big bite but didn’t materialize this time around.

All good for Iowa and always a good thing to do the right thing as noted below

Quitting Time – By about 8:30am, the factors above had taken their toll and I headed back to my launch point to see if I could rustle up a last bite from a patch of flooded bushes and sunken culverts. No luck in 15 minutes or so and I’d come to the conclusion that my mind and body had had enough of our early arrival of summer. But before I could get off the water, an Iowa DNR truck pulled up nearby and I rowed over for a license check (legal as I should be with my internet purchase the night before). A nice fellow and he also provided a recommendation on gnat repellent though I have since forgotten what it was and only recall that he said it comes in a “green bottle.” Oh well, I don’t think anything works anyway.

GoPro footage of Top Bass, not a trophy but the video thing is still pretty fun

So, after just over two hours and three not so impressive bass I was headed home to celebrate a birthday with my boy, Jayce. My intent was to get in some fishing before the kids got up and moving too much but I sure thought it would be later than 8:50am when I packed it up. Just couldn’t hang and hope it is only an isolated incident brought on by a combination of factors and not too early of an indication of the way things go as time moves on. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

More bass as our brief visit to spring has rapidly turned to summer with Mother Nature turning up the heat.

Weight: 3-10
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: May 22
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Senko
Top 5 Weight: 12-15 (3-10,2-8,2-6,2-5,2-2)

Weight: 15″
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: May 22
Location: Prairie Lake near Chetek, WI
Lure: Wacky worm

Weight: 2-7 (15″)
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: May 23
Location: Prairie Lake near Chetek, WI
Lure: Wacky worm
Water Temp: 65-69F
Structure: Shoreline, docks, downed trees
Trip Tunes: None, I just walk to the docks
Angler Comments: Lots of action from shoreline bass. Most are 10 – 14 inches. It is hard to find a bass more than 15 inches. All fish have been caught on Wacky Worms.
Top 5 Weight: 2-7 (1 bass weighed)
Total Length: 56” (15″,15″,14”,12”)

Thanks guys for providing the catches and, as always, keep ‘em coming. Gave it a brief shot myself yesterday morning, details to come. Talk to you later. Troy

Happy Birthday, Jayce

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Top 5 Update (will appear tomorrow) to wish one of my co-anglers a Happy Birthday.

(Note: also wish to give thanks to those we honor on this Memorial Day. Much debate over the state of our country these days but no place I would rather live. I found it a welcome sight when driving through a local main street yesterday as it was lined with flags and littered with the lawn chairs of folks reserving a spot for the upcoming parade. I leave the bickering for other social media spots and keep my website dialed into a positive vibe so I’ll just say that it made me feel good and I’ll leave it at that.)

Today marks birthday number 9 for our oldest boy, Jayce, and as always I can come up with an outdoor tale to pass along. In this case, I got a little help on what to post courtesy of a birthday gift that Jayce received from his Uncle Brent during a family celebration yesterday.

The spinnerbait pictured above is the latest version of something that I dubbed “The Emiquon Special” after watching Brent wield it en route to a 98 bass day on his first ever visit to The Emiquon Preserve back on October 7, 2009. While not all 98 of his bass fell to this legendary bait, it caught the vast majority and his final flourish in pursuit of the century mark had me setting down my rod and reel to simply watch the spectacle. Anyway, there’s actually a little more to the story as Brent’s use of this spinnerbait color scheme goes back to the mid-80s and over 30 years later he’ still fooling them on the latest version of the bait, pics and tales for another day.

Don’t know if Jayce realizes exactly what he’s got a hold of with this piece of family fishing history which was handcrafted by his Uncle Brent, the angler who made it famous. Pretty cool and will be fun to watch when we put the new weapon in his arsenal to use. Spinnerbaits have a little bit more of a learning curve than the baits Jayce has already put to work primarily in the aspect that you generally need to get the bait moving shortly after it hits the water. Simply another skill for our young angler to work on and once he gets the hang of it I suspect the Emiquon Special and the bass will take care of the rest.

So, while Jayce and I wait for a chance to get on the water together for some practice, I told him that I’d just keep the lure nice and safe in my tacklebox. For you see, Uncle Brent has never made one of these for his older brother.

Further fishing stuff for Jayce’s tacklebox courtesy of Papa

Happy Birthday to my fishing buddy Jayce.

Talk to you later. Dad

Am I A Bad Fisherman?

I had a shot at getting in a few hours on the water this morning and guess what I did?

Yep, I slept in, instead.

Turned out that conditions looked halfway decent though during one of the regular times I woke up. Around 6:00am there were overcast skies and a slight breeze on the heels of what looked to have been some showers. Now, as I put this post together, the sun has come on full force and the breeze has picked up with temperatures rising into the low 70s. Overall, a darn good morning to fish.

Thus, passing up my chance kind of has me wondering if I made a good decision. In addition, as I profess to be such a fan of this hobby, I started to ponder “Am I a Bad Fisherman?”

Nothing to do with skill set and bad habits, this question revolves solely around dedication.

May 23 – Helena “Night of the Stars” awards for 8th grade

Yesterday was just another of our crazy May days with the mind and body on full throttle from 6:00am until 10:00pm with a full slate of work and family activity. As a result, I had nothing prepared for an anticipated sunrise first cast and frankly, I was just plain wore out.

May 14 – Our oboist, Carly, recognized for a job well done in the Glenview Beginner Band

Now, May is among the lengthiest months at 31 days so there should be ample time to fit everything in right? Well, here’s my list of excuses leading up to fatigue winning over fishing with a list of all of our May commitments below (probably even forgot to include a few).

13 baseball practices or games (helping coach too)
7 Tae Kwon Do lessons
3 Graduation activities (ceremonies or parties)
3 Birthday activities
3 Oboe lessons
3 Color Guard practices
2 Musicals/plays
2 Band activities (concert and awards)
2 End of year school awards ceremonies
2 Tutoring sessions
2 Field trips
2 Kid fishing trips
1 JDRF walk
1 Kid fun run
1 Wedding
1 Bridal shower
1 Moving day assistance
1 Mother’s Day (Julie hasn’t been fishing for years so guess I’ve actually got it made)

Mother’s Day at Pizza Hut with all the folks who make Julie a Mom

Interspersed through today’s post I have included the reasons why it is okay to be a “bad” fisherman when it comes to skipping out on an opportunity. Better to invest your time in doing your best to be a good spouse, parent, family member, friend, employee and so on. I dig fishing and would love to do it anytime I could. Well, except for this morning and the rest of those items above result in being just flat out wore out come Friday night/Saturday morning.

May 21 – Jayce’s black belt now hangs in the studio as incentive to work hard for the next six months 

Oh yeah, I nearly forgot that there was also a Grandparents Day for the boys at school with my folks. Of course, I didn’t have to worry about anything associated with that gig but got me to thinking that I should ask my parents, “Why didn’t you warn me about what lie on the horizon?” Actually, they did, by example, you just roll with taking care of everybody. I was just too busy with my own activities to comprehend that their world also revolved around a total of four kids. Funny how this has all turned out.

May 1 – Silvis Cub, Zac (3B), reminiscent of Kris Bryant, Ron Santo or perhaps a Knox College Siwash fellow who manned the “hot corner” in the 80s.

Okay, time to end this well rested rant, feels good and kind of recharged for the home stretch of this wild month. Actually get an extended weekend as well, so perhaps I can make it up to the fish for leaving them hanging this morning. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – June 2, 2008


A whole different ballgame when kid fishing. Beginning in the late 2000’s it started kicking into full gear and it hasn’t stopped since. Just got a little more crowded on the bank or in the boat.


But for today’s flashback we head back to a time when there were only a pair of little girls armed with a Princess or Mickey Mouse pole, slip bobbers, 1/32 oz. jigheads and a couple dozen waxworms. This outing was part of a family camping trip to Little John Conservation Club as described below in the original posting that I submitted to family and friends back on June 15, 2008.

“My haul in the last month consists of three bluegill, one green sunfish and one small bass from Little John’s Well Lake. The bass hit on a Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait while the others bit on a waxworm and jighead hung from a slip bobber on either a Mickey Mouse or Disney Princess pole. Somehow I ended up with the kiddie poles during a fishing lesson for the girls while camping at Little John on June 2nd and 3rd. The girls were more content helping me cast out and then reeling in large masses of moss or leaves in addition to throwing rocks and sticks into the fishing hole. They also enjoyed playing with the waxworms instead of feeding them to the fish. Both did actually ‘pet’ our catch and Carly even tried to grab a hold of one of our bluegills in order to help turn him loose. Fishing, or whatever you would call what we did, was great. We spent a total of 15 hours camping, from 5:00pm on June 2nd until 8:00am on June 3rd when the impending thunderstorms sent us packing. However, in our meager time we were able to cram in playground activities, fishing, building a fire for hot dogs and s’mores, playing in the tent and even a few relaxing beverages for the parents. A good time was had by all despite not getting to follow through on the girls’ much anticipated visit to the swimming hole; maybe next time.”

And over the years, there have been plenty of “next times”; may even see one in a future Friday Flashback as we head into June. In addition, we have our sights set on creating a few more “next times” over summer break. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Today’s update marks six straight weeks with submissions. The hits keep coming from West Central Illinois as we head into the last month of spring. And, as these entries demonstrate, if you ain’t fishing wacky, you are missing out.

Length: 14”
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: May 14
Location: Lake McMaster – Snakeden Hollow
Lure: Wacky worm
Water Temperature: 65-66 degrees
Structure: Close to bank
Angler Comments: Lame excuse for not doing better – too late a start, overcast at first, followed by bright sun.
Trip Tune: “Rio” by Duran Duran
Top 5 Length: 26” (14”,12”)

Weight: 2-6
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: May 13
Location: Little John Conservation Club
Lure: Senko

Weight: 2-2
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: May 18
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Senko

Weight: 2-8
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: May 18
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Senko

Weight: 2-2
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: May 18
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Senko

Weight: 2-5
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: May 18
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Senko
Top 5 Weight: 11-7 (2-8,2-6,2-5,2-2,2-2)

Thanks for the fish fellas and appreciate your efforts to keep this thing afloat and our consecutive update string alive. Would love to help you out but my May is also wacky, but in terms of off the water commitments rather than on the water presentations. Keep up the good work and talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – May 17, 1988

“TJ” with a 1988 bass from “The Ponderosa”

Always fun to reminisce about fishing holes from the past and Ponder’s Pond was a winner. Nicknamed “The Ponderosa” and located north of Knoxville, Illinois, it was a regular stop for a group of fishing buddies back in the late 80’s.

The friend who gained us access and clued us in to the pond’s nickname was generally referred to by a nickname or two himself. “Hack” or “Hacksaw” grew up in Knoxville and had connections with the family who owned the farm pond and the Ponder’s were kind enough to let some college boys test their waters. That buddy’s given name is Matt Reynolds but we still refer to him as “Hack.” In fact, I just did so last weekend when getting to visit for the first time in a few years.

But the nicknames don’t stop there as we also made a few casts at the location with a batch of anglers also known as “Geek”, “Swerve” and “Catfish/Catdaddy.” In real life these guys are actually named Mark Junk, Mick Swanson and Jim Hunter (fitting nickname for that fella, huh?).

Snips from the original 1988 log entry 

And the weapon of choice on today’s featured outing, designated in the log entry above as Zara Spook (frog) was affectionately nicknamed “The Pickle.” Well, “The Pickle” knocked ‘em pretty good on this day with three of the four bass coming in from 17-20.5” and weighing 2-2, 2-13 and 3-12.

The original “The Pickle” or two are long gone but picked up this one for old time’s sake last year

Another aspect of these trips that added to the adventure and enjoyment was the fact that our route to the fishing hole went right by a watering hole. Which, of course, had a nickname. The East End tavern on the outskirts of Knoxville was also referred to as “The Old Double Eagle.”

While partaking of more than a few of the bar’s beverages, typically “The Beast” or some “Beast Light”, we’d usually cross paths with some of the regulars that “Hack” knew, including “Fast Eddie” and “Two Speed.” And when another buddy, John Junk, was along for the adventure one of the bartenders would simply refer to him as “The Big Guy.” Of course, there was also “The Little Guy”, yours truly (aka “TJ”), who still is considerably shorter than John.

Ah yes, the good, old days of fishing, drinking, darts, pool, country music on the jukebox…fun to reminisce. Haven’t picked up a pool cue or dart for many years but still enjoy an old country tune from time to time. And 30 years later, I’d like to think that I’m a better fisherman these days and not ashamed to say, a worse drinker. Just can’t hang like that 21-year old kid. Honestly, don’t even want to try. Talk to you later. Troy

More Than the Catch

You know, I could probably write all day about the five hour trip I enjoyed with my boy, Jayce, back on Cinco de Mayo. Stats, pics and video of his catches have already graced the blog and the Troy Jackson Outdoors Facebook page. But those items only tell part of the story as a fishing trip is always about more than the fish.

Cloudy Imagination – As we made the ten minute stroll to the fishing hole, Jayce said, “Hey, Dad check out that cloud!” Well, there were plenty of scattered clouds so I told him that I wasn’t quite sure exactly where to look. So, he points and adds “that one over there that looks like a penguin with Mickey Mouse gloves and a mustache.” Oh, that one. Pretty obvious to one of us at least and I’ll leave it to you to let your imagination do its thing with the actual shot above.

Jimmy Who? – Jayce doesn’t have the slightest idea who Jimmy Houston is and for anyone else out there who is not familiar here’s a brief bio. Houston is a bass fishing legend and Fishing Hall of Famer who had a successful career as a tournament angler and parlayed that success into a long running outdoor television program. An entertaining and enthusiastic fellow, one of his trademarks was kissing bass. So, when Jayce pulled this stunt on our trip I had to laugh and applaud his appreciation of the catch. I think I’ll stick to a pic and standard release, however.


Gnats and Worms and Jayce, Oh My! – The video above demonstrates that Jayce still had plenty left in the tank for the three quarter mile walk back to the truck at the end of our day. His gyrations did have a purpose beyond being goofy as the gnats had gotten out of control. The bag he is wielding contained our bait (waxworms) so those larvae that eluded being fed to a fish sure wound up with a wild ride as evidenced by the pic below.

Favorite Quote – Although there were plenty of choices for this one, I’d have to say that, “Dad, I like your laugh” was the best of the bunch. It’s always interesting to relive an adventure via GoPro or iPhone video after returning home and it still kind of strikes me as a bit goofy when hearing/seeing yourself on audio/video. Completely unscripted, unlike the big boys in the world of media content creation, just a guy and his kid going fishing. So when your kid comments on the way you express your enjoyment of a shared adventure it’s priceless. I suppose someday, more than a few years from now, he will come to appreciate all that lies underneath that involuntary reaction to some quality father-son time.

Always entertaining, enlightening and unpredictable when you get kids out chasing some fish. Then again, that’s just plain fishing, big kid or little kid. And no better place than the outdoors for some bonding and a chance to leave the modern, technological world behind. Well, except for a cell phone and a GoPro. But those contradictions are fodder for another day. Talk to you later. Troy

Trip Tune, Daniel Boone – 5/5

Bear with me on this one folks, it may make some sense before we’re done

If I haven’t conveyed enough already over the past blogging year about just how much I dig the good, old radio, today’s post is yet another example.

During a May 5 fishing trip with my boy, Jayce, the whole Top 10 Trip Tunes thing flew by the wayside with a drive dominated by conversation and a Cubs game. And that was just perfect as we hung out shooting the breeze until the occasional rise in tone from the great Pat Hughes on the radio alerted us to something significant going down in the ballgame. One of those highlights this time around was the Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber losing a shoe during a fly ball adventure that wound up with him recovering to make the catch.

And here’s what was extra cool about the play.

Jayce said, “Dad, did you hear that, he lost his shoe?” Very rewarding when your 8-year old is tuned into a ballgame on the radio instead of some YouTuber on a device. Jayce also noted, “We’ve got to ask Papa if he saw that next time we see him.” The Cubs, and baseball fandom in general, run deep in our family so it was also cool to hear Jayce excited about sharing a baseball story.

While returning home, with the Cubs game over and truly anticipating my young angler taking a nap, it was on to a 70s weekend radio program to mix in with our discussion of the trip. The program host previewed an upcoming track as a one-hit wonder by an artist whose stage name was borrowed from an American pioneer and folk hero. Well, that old useless knowledge thing kicked into gear upstairs and I was quite certain that “Beautiful Sunday” was on the way from Daniel Boone (peaked at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972).

The singing Daniel Boone

Turns out I was right on target and Jayce was pretty excited when he heard Daniel Boone’s name come over the airwaves. Now you see, while hanging with Papa, Jayce gets a dose of some History Channel type stuff which is really cool considering he also ingests a fair amount of SpongeBob, Uncle Grandpa, Teen Titans and so on.

Anyhow, Jayce gets rolling on the Daniel Boone tales with “he got captured”, “he ran a hundred miles through the woods”, “he had to rescue his daughter” and “he survived getting beat up.” Each anecdote was an accurate snippet from the Boone biography but it was Jayce’s final assessment which proved to be the best quote for me.

Jayce summed up the American legend by saying, “Daniel Boone was a beast.”

Ah yes, a “beast” indeed. Gotta dig the lingo of a new generation.

And as far as the tune by the fellow who adopted the hero’s name as a pseudonym, it’s a classic, happy, sing along tune perfect for any day. For it was certainly a beautiful Saturday with my boy and I getting to share some quality father-son time on the water and in a truck. Don’t get much better than that and extra valuable in a one on one setting that is a rarity in a family with four kids.

Many thanks, to my man, Jayce, for reinforcing that fishing trips are about a whole lot more than fish. Talk to you later. Troy