Month: February 2019

Friday Flashback – March 9, 2004

Original log entry from this outing

We revisit Emstrom’s Pond for the second Friday in a row and we’ll see it again before this whole Flashback project is over. Sooner than you think, really. But it was the kind of place that was worth visiting over and over again during the sixteen years that we had access to the fishing hole.

For today’s post we look at an early season lone bass outing on a perfect spot to take a shot at a challenging cold water bite. The pond was barely outside of the Galesburg, IL city limits which was just right for a quick evening hit for an hour or two to try our luck. Here’s the scoop from the original report posted in March of 2004.

Although the weather wasn’t exactly balmy, the results sure made it much easier to bear as we now have a new “Top Bass” for 2004. As I sat around home on Tuesday (3/9), I debated on whether or not to give Emstrom’s Pond a shot. Around 1:00 pm, I decided to phone Time & Temp for weather conditions. I told Julie that if it was 46 degrees or above I was going. Although my temperature limit was just off the top of my head, 46 degrees turned out to be the exact temperature when I called. Therefore, it was time to pack up and go. I anticipated fishing alone as Dad had some stuff going on. However, after about twenty minutes on the pond, Brent showed up. He’d just gotten off work and stopped by Mom and Dad’s to see if anyone was fishing.

About a half hour after he arrived we moved in for a closer shot at The Beaver Lodge since our efforts in deeper water hadn’t produced any bites. Not long after Brent dropped the anchor, I felt the old familiar tap through the rod blank. As I stated, “There’s a hit,” I rammed the hook home and was rewarded with a tug back in response. I wasn’t sure if I got a solid hookset, but after a few thrashes on the surface I boated my first bass of the year. My concerns on the hookset were unfounded as the jig was completely engulfed and firmly hooked in the top of the fish’s mouth. Brent guessed the weight at 4-6 while I went for 3-5. Seems both of us were a little rusty as the fish nearly split the difference, tipping the scale at 3-11. The fish fell to a jig (black/blue glitter) and pig (#23 kicker frog-black). It was our only hit in around an hour and a half on the water but well worth the trip. It was also convenient that Brent showed up to witness the catch. Not to mention he got anchor duty in the chilly water and served as photographer, hopefully producing better results than some of my self-portraits. I’m sure I’ll get to return the favor somewhere along the way. Anyway, a great fish for my first bass of the year.

A good start to another year of fishing

Fun to read that things got off to a solid start fifteen years ago, especially since we’re still in icefishing mode here in 2019. Quite a winter and definitely ready for it to subside but no such luck with negative low temps returning for the next couple days. Oh well, at least I have the home stretch of the Blog Banner series to provide an escape from the extended bout with Cabin Fever. Talk to you later. Troy

Blog Banner – The Last Bass

“Life, so they say, is but a game and we let it slip away.”

We May Never Pass This Way Again – Seals & Crofts (1973)

End of the line with a gaunt bass from a dying Knox County, IL public strip pit – July 30, 2017

Back in 2006 I wandered well of the beaten path at some public strip mines and found a few bass in a secluded lake partially surrounded by a grove of locust trees. Since it didn’t have a name on a map, I christened it Locust Lake.

For the next several years I made a handful of visits and even managed to portage a boat into the spot on a couple occasions. It was a decent fishing hole in terms of numbers and worth the effort to reach. However, I could never find any heavy bass that I suspected called it home. Closest I got was a big bite that busted off my Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait one afternoon but I never got a look at the fish. But I’ve done this long enough to know that not only was it a good fish but also that it could be as big as the story I chose to tell.

Fast forward to the summer of 2017 and I finally got my look at what might have been on my line, actually several examples. All floating on the surface as I crested the rise that effectively hides the lake. The collection of dead fish, including several bass in the four pound range, was an unfortunate explanation for the foul stench that permeated the air during my approach.

Having put forth the effort to haul in my little boat, I decided to give it a go for old time’s sake to see if I could find any survivors. The picture above from the Blog Banner was one of three bass that came aboard in a couple hours of rowing around the rotting fishing hole. It measured 17.5” and tipped the scales at a sickly weight of only 1-13. I was surprised it even had enough left in the tank to bite and I remember at the time thinking that I didn’t really even want to lip it as it looked almost infectious.

Truly a sad end to the remote body of water and even more disheartening when observing those quality floating bass on its surface. I guess at least it confirmed my suspicions of some decent fish. Sure wish they would have been on the end of my line instead of at the end of the line. Talk to you later. Troy

Blog Banner – Say Cheese

“This is your big debut, it’s like a dream come true,

so won’t you smile for the camera.”

Peg –Steely Dan (1981)

Knox County, IL strip mine – April 25, 2017

While such catches just don’t show up for me every trip, 2017 was a pretty solid year. So this fish definitely deserved a spot in the Blog Banner as it was fooled during the time period designated for this collection of photos. And yes, I will admit that much of the purpose of the Blog Banner is to grab attention as that’s all part of the game for a website. Such a tactic is referred to as “clickbait”, a lure all in itself but not one that resides in a tacklebox. No deceit here though as my posts deliver what the pics represent and that’s what this whole Blog Banner series is laying down.

This fish is just another piece of that message as it is actually a big bass and not some sort of internet photoshop trick. I wouldn’t pull such a stunt as this blog shoots straight and reports weight (5-9 on this 22” bass). Catches of this size are also fun in the age of the selfie as they make you wonder if your arm is going to be long enough to capture the whole fish in the frame.

Another note on fishing pics is that if you elect to put your mug in the shot (and I think you should), don’t forget to put a smile on your face. Looking back over 50 years of family outdoor pics, I’m proud to say that most all of them have some happy looking outdoor folks in them.

Of course, if I luck into one this size that grin is kind of automatic. Pretty much lasts all day too. In fact, it brings a smile as I type up this blog entry nearly two years later and I imagine that it always will.

Talk to you later. Troy

Blog Banner – Taco Tuesday

“Not only good lookin’, the girl was so smart, can’t beat her cookin’…”

Use Ta Be My Girl – The O’Jays (1978)

(Note: Always dug this tune and those lines apply to my wife, Julie. Don’t be misled by the title though as she is still my girl.)

Camping fare fave, taco in a bag/bowl – July 14, 2017

What’s a guy look for in a wife?

I guess part of my checklist in terms of outdoor appeal went something like this:

Does she like to fish? Check

Can she set up a tent? Check

Is she okay sleeping in that tent? Check

Is she good with being the one to open gates on occasion? Check

Can she start a campfire? Check

Can she cook without a kitchen? Check

Yep, I got a good one in Julie, all icing on the cake after that stuff I suppose.

And beyond the goods for taco in a bowl/bag as shown above, she also sets us up with camping grub like breakfast in a bag, pizza pockets and omelet in a baggie. Sure beats my old school bachelor camping fare of hot dogs, sandwiches and little chocolate donuts.

We make a good team as her efforts allow me to take the lead on some of the other important camping stuff.

Fishing poles? Check

Tackleboxes? Check

Waxworms? Check

And so on…

Talk to you later. Troy

Blog Banner – Venit Vidit Vicit

“Whenever I see your smiling face, I have to smile myself.”

Your Smiling Face – James Taylor (1977)

Jayce scores on a Henry County, IL pond – May 29, 2017

Well, the smiling face of a kid with his catch pretty much says it all.

But I’m going to say some more anyway. I usually do.

Not only a smile in this photo of my boy, Jayce, but also a triumphant thumbs up on a job well done. All from a stout green sunfish which for pretty much all anglers does not rank particularly high on the gamefish roster. But that’s just right when introducing young anglers to the hobby. No need to be species specific. Target whatever you can get to bite with the most high percentage bait you’ve got. In the case of this local pothole of a pond that meant waxworms on a jighead hung from a slip bobber.

Jayce came, Jayce cast, Jayce caught.

And in the process caught more than just a quality green sunfish.

Also caught the fishing bug.

Mission accomplished (and got to put those years of Latin class to use for the second time in 2019).

Talk to you later. Troy

Blog Banner – Bass Beware

“When I step out I’m gonna do you in…”

Sharp Dressed Man – ZZ Top (1983)

Looking to battle some bass – July 22, 2017

Last weekend I went to the QCCA Outdoor Show up here in the Quad Cities. While attending, I took in a pair of seminars including one presented by a fellow named Jim Crowley of Hook & Hunt entitled “3 Rigs for More and Bigger Bass.” It was an entertaining and informative presentation with the three standard items that I typically take away from such talks.

1. Most importantly, I learned some new stuff. You can’t help but do so when listening to and observing folks who not only know their craft but also know how to convey it.

2. It’s always cool to get some reinforcement that I’m doing something right when I can nod my head along with what the presenter is laying down.

3. Inevitably there is advice or refinements passed along that ain’t gonna happen because I am either too old, too stubborn or too broke. Should I know better in many cases? Absolutely, but I’m in tune with most of what I do and how I do it.

Specifically, one of the comments that stuck with me from Jim Crowley’s seminar revolved around an angler also being a hunter. Technically, I do not hunt if we are talking traditional firearm or bow pursuits but as a fisherman I am sure employing many of the same strategies as I look to cross paths with my quarry. Good point, makes sense and never really thought of it that way before.

Good thing is though, as a fisherman you don’t have to invest in head to toe camo, face paint, hunting boots, a Ghillie suit, scent blockers and so on. Sure, there’s something to be said about a bit of stealth in bass fishing but me and some of the bass population that I chase have become well acquainted over the years.

They know me, I know them, we both do our thing and let the best species win.

So in terms of the attire in today’s pic, nothing too fancy, it’s just me. Floppy hat Version 2.0 dates back to 2009 and those tennis shoes and shorts will make another appearance later this year in a Friday Flashback post from 2009 as well. I am a creature of habit and as frugal as can be; if it ain’t darn near utterly destroyed don’t throw it out. The GoPro, however, is a recent addition but it was a much appreciated gift as detailed in an earlier Blog Banner post.

I will let you in on one secret though when it comes to appearance and bass fishing. A secret that I have been working on and experimenting with for probably close to 35 years.

You see that beard?

Well, I figure that a lot of those bass below the surface are looking up towards many of the presentations in my normal repertoire such as buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, lipless cranks and wacky rigs. So, by continuously enhancing the gray in the beard it blends in well with any sort of cloud cover thus boosting the odds that my presence will go undetected. I will also add that the floppy hat is a must on sunnier days as it eliminates any glare from a steadily evolving thinning hairline (guess that’s two secrets).

Folks, this is free stuff here but I am available for outdoor show seminars and can be reached at the email address or Facebook link at the top of the page. I’ll pretty much be here every night too as this Blog Banner series unfurls.

Talk to you later. Troy

Blog Banner – Twisted Sisters

“All of the people around us they say, can they be that close?”

We Are Family – Sister Sledge (1979)

Phipps Prairie Park in Silvis, IL with Helena and Carly – April 29, 2018

Okay, so maybe the pose lends itself more to a title of “Turned Sisters” but that didn’t seem as catchy. Besides, it packs a little added musical punch from the days of “hair.” And while I couldn’t find an apt lyric from the band of similar name, you can’t go wrong with Sister Sledge, right?

Plenty going on in this shot of our first two kids. Fun to see them happily coexisting and fortunately that isn’t necessarily uncommon for our teenager and a soon to be teenager. Sure, there’s the expected sibling squabbles but deep down I find that they get the concept of family being the closest bond around.

Spending some of that quality bonding time outdoors away from today’s technological distractions is also an important aspect of this photo. You know, a hike in the woods with the devices put away for a while actually lends itself to something called conversation. Not texting, not chatting, not tweeting but actually speaking to someone within earshot. Comments and observations about the natural surroundings are definitely an added bonus.

Another fun bit of getting along occurred not too long after this photo was taken. As you see, both ladies have matching pairs of shoes at this point. Well, after a misstep in a small creek by the girl in the black shoes, the girl in the green shoes took one for the team. An earlier picture in the Blog Banner series taken after this shot shows that consideration won out over coordination in the form of mismatched footwear.

A small gesture from your kids can sure bring a big smile to their parents.

Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – February 19, 2004

Emstrom’s Pond with Troy Jackson, Tim Townsend and Terry Jackson – February 19, 2004

Sure have heard a lot of icefishing stories lately as it has been a banner season for those who take to the hard water.

Me, not so much. I’ll stockpile my time away from home and wait for open water. While I wait, here’s some pictures and the scoop from the last time I went icefishing just as it was written up in the original post entitled “Outdoor Update” on March 3, 2004.


“On 2/19, Tim Townsend joined Dad and me for some icefishing at Emstrom’s Pond. Seven to nine inches of ice coupled with air temps in the low to mid 40’s is my type of icefishing. I wanted to get out just to say I went considering I hadn’t been icefishing for probably six or seven years. I’m not the diehard that Tim is as exemplified by what we each consider suitable conditions. Tim had a few stories about not standing too close to his fishing partner in order to keep the ice from collapsing or being able to see the bow in the ice from an angler’s weight. No thanks for me; I’ll put in the extra effort to drill through a few more inches. Anyway, it turned out to be a successful outing, once we located the fish.

We started out around The Beaver Lodge with little success as Dad caught three bluegill and I caught one. I elected to move to the east side of the pond where I thought there might be a few green weeds that help keep the water a bit more oxygenated in the area. It didn’t take long before I pulled in a couple bluegill right off the bottom in about seven feet of water. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long before I had some company. Before we left, the three of us had pulled in 52 bluegill and a bass from this area. Tim caught the bass that we estimated at around 1-6 since we forgot to bring a scale. Dad was the icefishing king as he hauled in 31 of our 56 fish during about a three-hour stay. All fish were caught on ice jigs tipped with waxworms.”


Still plenty of ice out there so will see what the rest of the winter holds in store as I wait for open water. More Blog Banner posts kick in tomorrow to pass the time. Talk to you later. Troy

Blog Banner – Go the Distance

“Ah, sometimes I grow so tired

but I know I’ve got one thing to do,

ramble on.”

Ramble On – Led Zeppelin (1969)

Just another day of chasing those Knox County, IL strip mine bass – April 21, 2018

You know, at the outset of this project I stated that each post would have an associated song lyric and I’m sticking to it. However, this one sure begged for a movie line so I elected to use it for my title.

If you do not recognize the line, it comes from the movie “Field of Dreams”, one of my favorites as baseball is another of my passions. I always have a good time seeing where these posts are going to go and it’s fun when I can work in a little something extra. But we’re sticking to the fishing part of the outdoors today.

These days my “Field of Dreams” is an expanse or two of strip mine terrain pockmarked by a bunch of fishing holes. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of covering such overgrown, undulating, eroded landscapes on foot you understand that the stuff of dreams can sometimes turn into a bit of a nightmare.

Too many times I have found myself fishing my way into the mess, hopping from pothole to pothole while reeling in solid numbers of bass only to have reality holler at me that it’s a long way back to the truck. Yeah, but there’s one more spot I’d like to hit since I’ve made it this far…and maybe that other one to the east is worth a shot…

Nothing like being well over a mile from the truck, sweaty and beat but with no choice but to put your head down and wade your way back. And that mile plus estimate is the old “as the crow flies.” Folks, there is no such thing as a straight line in this environment. Nor is there anything that resembles “flat” for more than the length of a long cast.

Nope, if you’ve elected to go the distance out, you’re stuck with going the distance back. Every time I do this thing I always wind up with another familiar lyric playing in my head as I kick myself for trying it again.

“I do believe that I’ve had enough.” Time for Me to Fly – REO Speedwagon (1978)

Sure would be nice to fly, too.

Anyway, on the specific trek recorded in today’s screenshot I wound up landing 19 bass. So that’s what, roughly 637 steps per bass? That’s a lot of work, makes you wonder if it’s worth the effort to go the distance.

Stay tuned for the 2019 verdict as those fishing holes open up again in April. Talk to you later. Troy

Blog Banner – Fellow Fishing Fool

“I think we’re alone now, there doesn’t seem to be anyone around.”

Tommy James & The Shondells (1967)

(Note: I am aware that Tiffany also recorded this tune but I had no idea that new wave performer Lene Lovich had as well. This discovery prompted a fun revisit of this intriguing artist whom I first saw in the early days of MTV when the video offerings were all over the place in terms of genre. Learned something new today from the world of tunes, kind of cool.)

Okay, now back to our regular programming.

Unexpected prints off the beaten path, Knox County, IL strip mines – September 9, 2017

On the heels of yesterday’s Bigfoot post, it seemed fitting to go with a shot of muddy footprints. Nope, not my contribution to the collection of Bigfoot evidence but a mystery nonetheless.

The tracks were found on some of the public Knox County strip mine ground where I do a fair amount of walk-in/bike-in fishing. And that’s the only way that anglers are allowed to access the area. No vehicles and no boats, only bicycles or boots.

While it is not unheard of to see signs of both of those approaches, these footprints were different. They were way off the beaten path around the edge of a pothole pond hidden amidst a vast sea of armpit high vegetation. You don’t even know it is there until you plow through the cover and nearly step in it. Even if you know where it is, it is still hard to find within the numerous ups and downs of the strip mine landscape.

Prior to stumbling upon the tracks, I’d often thought that only a fool would dare tread into such tough to reach territory. I guess that I must now amend my thinking to include a pair of fools.

Once the sting of realizing that I wasn’t quite lost enough to have my own private fishing hole wore off, I actually developed some admiration for the fellow fishing fool. For not only had the angler dared to venture into the tangled interior of the site, he or she had only left behind the proper mark to betray their presence. All too often my initial indication that I am not alone is trash.

So, whoever you are out there, best of luck on our shared water and thank you for taking care of it.

Talk to you later. Troy