Month: March 2019

Top 5 Update

Now we’re talking!

Some stable weather last week had some area bass in a more cooperative mood and a veteran Top 5 angler was on the scene to take his shot.

Weight: 0-14 (13”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: March 26
Location: Snakeden Hollow
Lure: Spinnerbait (white)

Weight: 4-8 (19”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: March 28
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Rapala Clackin’ Rap (red crawdad)
Angler Comments: Hit my Clackin’ Rap right at the bank. I basically just lifted him right out of the water.

Weight: 3-3 (17.5”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: March 28
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Chatterbait (white)
Angler Comments: Hit a white chatterbait as I was reeling parallel to the bank.

Weight: 3-5 (18”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: March 28
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Chatterbait (white)
Angler Comments: Hit the chatterbait with about 20 or 30 yards of line out.

Weight: 2-10 (16”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: March 29
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Chatterbait (white)

Weight: 4-2 (19”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: March 30
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Z-Man Chatterbait (white)
Structure: Shallow flat with emerging weeds
Angler Comments: Came on a rather shallow flat varying the retrieve over and through emerging weeds.

Weight: 4-1 (20”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: March 31
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Minnow hung from a bobber
Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for some more details on this catch in an additional post this week as it marks a milestone in the Top 5 project.
Top 5 Weight: 19-3 (4-8,4-2,4-1,3-5,3-3) culls 3-3,2-10,0-14

Now that is the way to say “Hello, spring” while bidding farewell to March. Although with that finale perhaps Jim doesn’t want April to come so soon. But time marches on, and as it does, the bite should only get better. Stay tuned for the additional Top 5 post coming your way along with our first April fishing report as some fool will be out there on a cool April Fool’s Day morning. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – March 29, 2014

March 29, 2014 – the coveted and rewarding first bass of the year

Today’s flashback features my first bass of 2014 which allowed me to meet the March bass goal with only a couple days to spare. It came from one of a pair of Snakeden Hollow potholes that I refer to as “The Craters” since they don’t have a real name. There’s a North Crater (where I nabbed this fish) and a South Crater separated by a narrow strip of willow covered ground that is nearly impossible to navigate.

The terrain where I caught this one is straight up strip mine country as the water behind me in this pic sits about twelve feet downhill. And when I say downhill, you actually have to slide/crawl/climb to get to and from a small foothold on the bank. A few yards across the narrow finger is a sunken, brushy tree that often holds a bass that will take an interest in a black and blue jig and pig.

Black and blue jig and pig, always a good place to start this time of year

Here’s a portion of the original blog posting from April 4, 2014 that appeared on the Heartland Outdoors website:

Go To Spot – For the last three years, my initial bass outings have been to a couple potholes at Snakeden that have yet to let me down. More specifically, bass number one for 2012, 2013, and now 2014, came off of a sunken bit of brush on the good old jig and pig. While I’ve yet to catch anything particularly large out of these waters (lake record stands at 1-12), proximity and reliability keep me coming back to start the annual quest. My six minute, moderate difficulty walk turned up bass number one on my fourth cast of the year. I spent another forty minutes casting the general area without another bite but left satisfied nonetheless; mission accomplished.

I had a good time, got a bit of a workout, took in some much needed fresh air and enjoyed open water after too long of a winter (145 days between bass). In the process I also fooled a few bass for icing on the cake. Nothing particularly noteworthy in terms of quality but I was happy to get bit. And you know me; I’ll write and ramble about fishing regardless of what is caught.

Original log entry showing that I made another stop and added a few more bass including the one below

Still up to those old tricks in terms of searching for a March bass as well as talking fishing. And the bite is on per several reports from the last two days out of Knox and Fulton County including some solid Top 5 fish coming your way Monday. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 10 Trip Tunes – 3/23/19 Part II

Top 5 Trip Tunes need no introduction so here we go.

5. You’re All I’ve Got Tonight – The Cars (1978) – This is the fourth cut from The Cars debut album to make a Trip Tunes list since kicking off the project in September 2017. How’s that for a band’s first record? And there’s a couple more good tracks still left on the album, ranks as one of the best. This cut also makes me wish I knew more about music and crafting a song as there’s a whole lot going on here to enjoy.

4. Money – Pink Floyd (1973) – Similar to tune #5 above, this one hails from a great album, something called Dark Side of the Moon. In addition, it has some quirky musicality which I still can’t understand, not my thing. Perhaps a primitive music fan but I like ‘em because they sound and feel good. And while just a bit sophomoric, I also dig it when they sneak in an uncensored line on the radio.

3. Nothing From Nothing – Billy Preston (1974) – If this one doesn’t get you moving, whether simple toe tapping or a little air keyboard, well, I don’t know what to tell you. There are certain people who were born to do certain things and it is cool when it all works out. Billy Preston was one of those people and his enthusiasm for his craft is contagious with this tune being a perfect example.

2. Rocky Mountain Way – Joe Walsh (1973) – Sticking with the born to jam theme, Joe Walsh is about as entertaining as it gets. Whether playing, singing or just rambling this guy knows how to have fun. I’m also partial to baseball references in song lyrics and Walsh’s “bases are loaded and Casey’s at bat” is a hit.

1. Do It Again – Steely Dan (1972) – Back in the days when a youngster rarely, if ever, got a glimpse of the rock stars from the radio there was always a mental image of the guys and gals. When I did get a look at Donald Fagen and Walter Becker at some point (probably on The Midnight Special or at The Platter record store), well, my imagination wasn’t even close. No matter to me, but wonder if these guys would be glamorous enough for today’s musical landscape. Ideally, their songwriting and musicianship would win out but not so sure as were not in the 1970s anymore.

And this concludes our Top 10 Trip Tunes. Back to regular programming tomorrow with another Friday Flashback and looking forward to stalking some bass as we head into a new month. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 10 Trip Tunes – 3/23/19 Part I

As another year of driving to the fishing hole kicks into gear it’s once again time to kick out some more jams. Top 10 Trip Tunes comes your way with five tomorrow and five today.

10. The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em) – The Greg Kihn Band (1981) – Here we go again, back to the summer of 1981 and here comes a new television channel called MTV. Mixed reviews on the channel’s impact on the music business but for a few years it sure had an impact on me…still does. Kihn benefitted with his “Jeopardy” video a couple years later even spawning a coveted (?) Weird Al parody. I always found the subtitled sentiment of this cut fun as half the words are “Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah.”

9. Handy Man – James Taylor (1977) – Honestly didn’t know this one was a remake until the DJ on the oldies show told me after the song. Actually checked out the original 1960 version from Jimmy Jones which features a completely different tempo. Still prefer Taylor’s version as it’s the one I grew up on although never would be mistaken for a handy man with “pencil or rule” or otherwise.

8. Rock The Boat – The Hues Corporation (1974) – Before my MTV days there was something called AM radio and it played music instead of endless banter. And 1974 is about as far back as I can recall recognizing then current Top 40 hits on the airwaves such as this summertime #1 smash. And what a summer it was with the likes of “Band on the Run”, “Billy Don’t be a Hero”, “Sundown” and “The Night Chicago Died” also topping the Billboard chart.

7. Time Passages – Al Stewart (1978) – What can you say? Easy Listening at its finest complete with a double dose of solos, guitar and sax. And how about the added bonus of a fishing lyric as Al notes that “it’s just now and then that my line gets cast into these time passages.” One mark of a good tune for me is when 6:40 passes by in the blink of an eye and this one does just that.

6. Landslide – Fleetwood Mac (1976) – Sparse in composition but heavy on the heart and mind. I always marvel at how some of those “oldies” become new again when seen through the eyes of experience. “And I’m getting older too” delivered via a twenty something Stevie Nicks is a winner. Always amazed at the prescience of such songwriters crooning about “changing ocean tides”, ”seasons of my life” and “reflection” way ahead of their time.

One can never get enough tunes and the Top 5 are headed your way tomorrow. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – March 23


Intro on the way to the fishing hole including a Top 10 Trip Tune tease

So the 2019 fishing season is officially off and running and I did manage to land a March bass as is my annual goal. When I say “a March bass” that indeed is singular as in one bass. If you caught yesterday’s Top 5 Update the lone photo of the bass was included there so I’ll do the right thing and not use it again today. Now, if it was a four or five-pounder…

Date: March 23, 2019
Location: Knox County, IL strip mine
Time: 2:15pm-6:00pm
Weather: Partly cloudy/breezy to windy
Air Temp: 52-54F
Water Temp: 50F
Totals: 1 bass
Lure: Strike King Booyah Blade spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 0-13

Fishing partner, Jim Junk, fooled this nice batch of crappies around a break for bass fishing

Notes and Nonsense

Papermouth vs. Largemouth – I met up with my friend, Jim Junk, on this trip and we shared the boat from 2:15pm-5:00pm. Before and after that time frame, Jim managed to land a nice mess of crappies, two shy of a 15 fish limit only because he tossed a few 9” fish back along the way. He repeated his crappie catching ways the following day with a haul that included a real nice 13” catch.

Second mess of crappies for Jim from the following day

One That Got Away – Yep, had one of those this time around. Jim hooked into a decent bass with a jig while fishing some brush along the edge of a trough in a shallow pocket. Most of the pocket is about 2’ deep with the trough dipping to maybe 4’. Unfortunately, I did not have the boat positioned particularly well and his catch made a run under a laydown and came unhooked. Not sure on an estimate but made a good bend in the pole and a strong run before getting away.

The lures I chose to get it done but the bass tossed a one-hitter against the lineup on this day

Starting Lineup – I had most of my standard early season cold water arsenal tied on and truly expected the jig or Shad Rap to be the winners. Turned out that the spinnerbait got my lone bass which was encouraging as I was retrieving at a fairly moderate speed. The fish was in about 3’ of water which also had my hopes high for finding some more interested in the presentation. Wasn’t meant to be so stuck on one bass for 2019. Did have one other strike on the spinnerbait and failed on two bumps on a jig and craw, rusty after that winter I guess.

My mother-in-law bought me a dipnet for Christmas but all I managed to do was hang a loose crankbait on this day

Theme Song – I have tunes running through my head every day and I generally find some apt lyrics on replay in my mind on fishing trips. They just seem to appear as kind of a summary of the day chasing bass. On this occasion it was a bit of Pink Floyd in the form of “I have become comfortably numb.” While the weather app said it was between 52 and 54F, a decent breeze and cloud cover made for several fingers that I couldn’t feel by the time I decided to head for home.

Regardless of numbers, I had a good time on the water with a fellow angler and longtime friend. My odds of getting back out in March are slim and will stay tuned to see how things pan out for Jim. I do have April 1 marked on the fishing calendar with a vacation day from work and some walk-in bass fishing on the agenda. We’ll see how that works out after losing 20 pounds last fall. Found 16 of them back this winter though. Man, winter ain’t good for nothing.

Top 10 Trip Tunes to come and talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

After several days of spring, we have managed to double our 2019 Top 5 bass total. We now have two fish entered with the latest one only making the 12” bass cut by a fraction of an inch. But hey, after a long winter, this fisherman will take anything he can get.

And you’ve gotta start somewhere. No disrespect to this much appreciated catch but hopefully it will be displaced before the year is over. Actually, I’m hoping it will be displaced once April arrives. Stay tuned for that adventure next week and for now take a look at our second Top 5 Update of the year.

Weight: 0-13 (12″)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: March 23
Location: Knox County, IL strip mine
Lure: Booyah Blade Spinnerbait (white/chartreuse)
Structure: Shoreline brush
Angler Comments: I would have put my money on a jig or my Shad Rap but it was a spinnerbait that pulled this one out of about 3’ of water around some shoreline brush for my first bass of 2019.
Top 5 Weight: 0-13

As an added bit for today’s Top 5 Update here is a video clip that I shot as part of the intro on my way to the fishing hole. It was about time that I got a bass in the ledger for 2019 for more reason than simply a rough winter.


Here’s hoping that the bass will be a little more cooperative after ditching the Grizzly Adams/Santa Claus hybrid look for the rest of the 2019 season. Fishing report and the first Top 10 Trip Tunes submission headed your way. Talk to you later. Troy

And Away We Go…

Here we go again with the 2019 fishing year about to get underway.

While I did get on the water on January 5, I couldn’t raise any lethargic bass during that longshot outing. Winter then came on with a fury so while the January trip counts in the log and data, March 23 will be the “official” kickoff.

Of course, before you hit the open water for a new year there are a few tasks that need to be completed as detailed below.

Get your new fishing license, pictured here with my latest Little John Conservation Club membership card and my cool, nostalgic license holder from an old Galesburg shop

Check your tackle to see what needs replaced. Relatively cheap this year thanks to a Dick’s Sporting Goods gift card from Christmas and credit card points from Amazon


Strip, clean and respool your reels (pics above, video below)


Of course, all of that stuff comprises the easy part. Now to put it all together with a little something called experience to see if anything shows up on the end of the line. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – March 25, 2004

March 25, 2004 at Emstrom’s Pond 20″ and 3-10 on a Rapala Rattlin’ Rap

This bass comes from the days when my lipless crankbait of choice was the Rapala Rattlin’ Rap. Nowadays I lean more towards the Strike King Red Eye Shad but I did once again have that old Rapala bait in tow just about a year ago during a tribute to an old Major League ballplayer. However, it did not get into the lineup as another Rapala bait, the Fat Rap, scored on that day. After you finish today’s flashback post I encourage you to click here for the “Le Grande Orange” post to read all about last year’s outing and a nod to the late Rusty Staub.

Rapala Rattlin’ Rap (brown craw), still have this lure in a tacklebox somewhere

But I’m off on a tangent here as the aim today is to go back just a little farther than last year. Yep, we’re going all the way back to when I was just a husband. At the time of this fishing trip it was just me and Julie as parenthood was still 98 days away.

I asked one of our boys, Jayce, what was different about Dad in the picture?

His reply, “Your beard, it’s not gray.” Right on the money, that’s the answer I was looking for.

I then asked, what was different about Mom and Dad’s life fifteen years ago?

His reply, “No kids. Well, Helena was close.”

Yep, right again, young man. He wasn’t sure if there was a correlation between those answers but I suspect this bunch of youngsters has at least contributed in some manner.

Of course, Julie pointed out that I am 51 years old, so…

Original log entry from the trip 

Anyway, I have a good time looking back at such pics and trips and this one also is also accompanied by the brief original write-up from 2004 as follows:

March 25 – Shortly after arriving home from work, the phone rang. All Brent had to say was, “I’m over at Mom and Dad’s.” I interpreted the statement as an invitation to hit Emstrom’s and asked my wife for permission. A half an hour later I clamped down on the lip of a 3-10 bass that had both trebles of a Rattlin’ Rap (brown craw) stuck firmly in the side of its mouth. We fished for around an hour and a half and I caught our other two fish on the same lure with one weighing 1-3 and one 0-13. It sure was nice of Brent to invite me fishing and row me around the lake on the windy day. Water temperature was 48 F with overcast skies and 55 F air temperature. Jigs, spinnerbaits and crankbaits produced a couple of missed strikes.

Sometimes fishing out of the back of the boat can be beneficial

One final note as I close is that it is cool to see myself in the back of the boat and as referenced in the above report that means that Brent was on the oars. Gotta dig that on a windy day on an old favorite farm pond. Over the years I suppose that I returned the favor and paid my dues in taking one for the team.

Fishing is finally on the horizon for 2019 so talk to you later. Troy

Bassmaster Classic Musings

The Bassmaster Classic has long been my favorite fishing event to follow but this year’s tournament featured the added weight of many of the competitors possibly making their final appearance. Indeed, 20 of the 25 anglers who made the cut to fish on Sunday have taken their show on the road to the Major League Fishing circuit (including all of the Top 5 in the snip above).

As a result, this year’s event packed a few emotional farewells as longtime Bass competitors said their piece. In addition, animated angler Mike Iaconelli took the opportunity to defy some longtime marching orders from the Bass brass. His antics included tossing his tourney jersey into the crowd before making a successful “stage dive” onto the arms of the fans at stage side (yes, they caught him). A good show all the way around for the record breaking crowd.

A multitude of ways to enjoy the Classic are available as the event unfolds

Now this thing is always an emotional event as it is a life changer for the angler who takes the title. The pressure is palpable as the three biggest days in bass fishing unfold and it is even cooler with today’s technology. The live coverage gives the armchair angler a close up view from anywhere there is internet access. Initially, I kind of thought that the concept would ruin all of the fun and spoil the edge of your seat excitement of the final weigh-in. Not so much, as I took in live on the water coverage, up to the minute blogs, weight updates and webcast weigh ins from the living room, van and even the garage as I did some fishing gear cleanup in preparation for my own 2019 kickoff.

The Basstrakk feature provides unofficial on the water data but still leaves plenty of room for suspense at the weigh-in 

All of this coverage has been a welcome addition for a guy who used to be content with reading about the results a month later when the latest issue of Bassmaster magazine hit the mailbox. Of particular interest is watching the live on the water talks with the anglers and eventually getting the scoop on what, where and how they do their thing.

Now this is pretty cool as the live feed tracks and talks with several anglers as they fish

And 2019 was cool as the techniques featured a very high percentage of power fishing with the likes of crankbaits, spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits and chatterbaits getting it done. So much more my speed than flipping and pitching and great to see that one of my favorites, the spinnerbait, hasn’t been completely lost among some of the pros after all.

Perhaps I invested a bit too much of my weekend in following the Classic but it’s just too hard for this old angler to resist the new types of access.

Finally, I wondered, is it weird to get goosebumps when watching fishing?

Probably not, if you’ve been doing it and watching it since you were a kid.

Probably not, if you’ve had a Bassmaster magazine subscription since 1983.

Probably not, if you pulled the trigger on the Bassmaster lifetime membership in the early 90s once you got a decent job and had a little extra money.

Probably not, if you still appreciate every bite you get and also realize that sometimes you (and even the pros) don’t get bit at all.

I guess that sums it up for this near 52 year-old fisherman who is older than all of the 52 angler field in this year’s Classic (yep, got Kevin Van Dam by just about three months).

Talk to you later. Troy

Bassmaster Classic Results

The 2019 Bassmaster Classic held on the Tennessee River out of Knoxville, TN is in the books with local angler Ott DeFoe claiming the title. DeFoe was easily the odds on favorite as he was essentially fishing in his backyard and he made good on living up to the lofty expectations. Easier said than done regardless of experience on a body of water when you are up against the best in the business.

I also thought that it was cool how DeFoe handled the pressure of being the favorite after a rough day two knocked him out of his day one first place perch (top bag of 20-0 on day one). He took a rough second day bag of 10-5 in stride although he commented that it made him “mad” as he slipped to fourth place. However, a final day weight of 18-14 pushed him to the title with a winning margin just shy of four pounds.

It was a tournament of ups and downs as each of the anglers in the Top 10 had at least one tough day. DeFoe was able to sandwich his with a pair of top bags and that made all the difference.

So, you’re probably wondering (or not), how did my picks turn out?

Ott DeFoe (picked for first place, finished in first place) – I picked him to win and he did. Really not a surprise but no matter what sort of “home lake advantage” is attributed to an angler, a lot of stuff still has to go right. And it did, on the biggest stage in the sport. I enjoyed a comment by Bassmaster tourney emcee, Dave Mercer, regarding the pressure that DeFoe faced as the favorite. Mercer noted that the pressure didn’t just start this past week, it truly began last April when Bass announced that DeFoe’s hometown would host the big one.

Chris Zaldain (picked for second place, finished in twelfth place) – Things were looking good for Zaldain as he sat in third place entering Championship Sunday on the heels of a 21-12 day two that was the biggest bag of the tourney. However, conditions changed on Sunday and he only managed two bass for 3-4 with both caught as the day wound down.

Jesse Wiggins (picked for third place, finished in third place) – Wiggins’ down day was a day one bag of 10-11 and while he jumped each of the next two days with 15-15 and 17-4, the climb was just too steep without a “big bite.” There was a lot of talk of a pivotal six-pounder being a game changer for anglers but only a few came aboard and not for the right guy at the right time.

Bradley Roy – (picked for fourth place, finished in fiftieth place) – A four fish day of 6-15 to start put Roy in a spot where I suspect he had to shift gears and gamble. Whatever the case, on day two he would end up blanking. I felt bad for the guy but it makes my rough days a little easier to take knowing it happens to the best in the game as well.

Not too bad for an amateur bass fishing handicapper in landing three of four in the Top 25 who qualified to fish on Championship Sunday. Also kind of cool to get my pair who made the Top 3 in the right spots. Makes it fun even if there is no potential financial windfall, only pride or shame in offering up picks for public consumption.

Another exciting Bassmaster Classic is history with an interesting field, the likes of which we will not see again. The sport continues to evolve and I’ve got some thoughts on that aspect and more regarding the Classic coming your way later this week. Talk to you later. Troy