Month: May 2019

One Hungry Bass

Every once in a while you land a bass that provides a clue as to what the fish are eating. It may be the telltale fish tail indicating a baitfish meal or perhaps the hairlike antennae in the throat that signify a crawdad dinner.

This catch was of the latter persuasion and there was no doubt what it had for breakfast as shown in the video below.


Pretty crazy stuff when considering that this bass was geared up for another meal before finishing the previous one. And this fish sure didn’t care where that next bite was coming from in light of bottom dwelling prey for breakfast and the immediate attack of a topwater bait on my catch. Kind of fun and a bit of insight into what these predators are really all about. As tough as they can be to fool sometimes, they are built to kill and are quite effective at doing just that throughout the water column.

Back again tomorrow with further proof of that aggression and an additional bit of odd behavior courtesy of another piece of interesting fishing footage. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – June 9, 1999

Today’s catch comes from a time when I used to have a big lake in my backyard.

Lake Bracken sits south of Galesburg, covers about 170 acres and intermittently over the course of 20 plus years I saw them all. Funny thing with this fish though is that I caught it about as far from my backyard as one could get. That particular stretch of bank running east from the lone boat ramp was always good for a few bites but this fish was easily the biggest of that bunch over the years.

No surprise on the lure that fooled it as “The Blue Glimmer” was a Lake Bracken standout and an overall solid producer in the 90s. It has long been out of production but I do have one more left and several others that are banged up and need dressed with new skirts. I did bust one out a couple years ago at Lake Storey but sadly it lost a blade after fooling a few bass. Not sure if I’ll unveil the lone “new” one I have left or just keep it in the package for old time’s sake.

While this was a good fish, a look at the log indicates that it otherwise wasn’t a very productive outing. In fact, I only managed one other short bass during three hours on the water. Oh well, if I am only going to fool a couple bass it sure is nice when one of them tops the four-pound mark.

Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – May 27

2019 is off to a slow fishing start with a slew of responsibilities and an abundance of rainy weather keeping me from getting on the water. The former I can handle no problem, got more important things to do as a husband and parent. The latter, well, I have grown weary of the nearly constant rain this month. Can’t control the weather though and certainly understand that lack of fishing is a mere inconvenience compared to the rain related hardships faced by many in the area.

Weather was a big theme on this day as noted in this video intro and recap of the trip


Date: May 27, 2019
Location: Knox County, IL private strip mines (2 lakes)
Time: 11:45am-2:20pm
Weather: Partly cloudy to overcast/breezy to windy
Air Temp: 74F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 9 bass
Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad or bleeding shad) – 6 bass
5” Yamasenko wacky rig (watermelon/crème laminate) – 2 bass
Booyah Blade Spinnerbait (bluegill) with twin tail trailer (salt and pepper) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-4
Top 5 Weight (only 2 at 12” or better): 3-5 (2-4,1-1)

Winning lures of the outing, some true favorites

Notes and Nonsense

MVP – West Central Illinois is saturated and finally forced my hand to drop a few dollars on a new pair of boots. Blaine’s Farm & Fleet came through with a reasonable price, just hope these will last me as long as my old Northerners. Their decade plus term of service was admirable but too many ripped up patches would have left me with wet socks on this outing. The new boots get my vote as most valuable piece of equipment on this trip.

Video clip I call “Boots and Bookend Bad Weather”

“And I wonder, still I wonder, who’ll stop the rain?” – Who’ll Stop the Rain – Credence Clearwater Revival (1970)
Torrential rains greeted me on the way to the fishing hole despite only a 40% chance per the forecast. I actually pulled over at the Pilot gas station outside Woodhull and waited for 15 minutes pondering just going back home. Glad I stuck it out for a few hours on the water and got my May bass. Oh yeah, on the way home it was raining so hard as I neared Galva that it was tough to see. It never ends…storming again as I type this, in fact.

Workout – The soggy conditions had me concerned about reaching my fishing holes without getting stuck or tearing up the lane I looked to traverse. My concerns were correct as I stopped part way in to inspect on foot and elected to pull the boat out and drag it the rest of the way rather than risk it. Getting a bit more challenging to pull this stunt as the years add up but you gotta do what you gotta do when you have a chance to do it.

First May bass of 2019 and Top Bass of the day

May Bass – After a shutout and one missed buzzbait strike on an extremely weed choked lake I switched to Plan B. Water conditions were quite pleasant on my second stop and only a few casts after launching I had a long overdue May bass in hand. Icing on the cake was a Top Bass of 2-4 for a bit of a boost to my 2019 creel. Missed a couple others on a buzzbait that would have helped also but such is fishing, just happy to get out.

The other “keeper” on the day 13.5″ and 1-1, got some interesting video to come on this greedy catch

Overall, a successful storm shortened outing and great to fool a few of my favorite fish while getting reacquainted with the Senko and buzzbait (both bites are in gear so give ‘em a go). Also had some interesting strikes and catches caught on the GoPro which I always find fun. Looking to pass along those items after the latest Friday Flashback. Good luck if you get out, send me those Top 5 fish and talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Better late than never on a Monday and this one is real fresh. In fact, just got it earlier this afternoon and been such a long time coming that I’m not holding onto it until next Monday.

Weight: 2-4
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: May 27
Location: Knox County private strip mine
Lure: Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (bleeding shad)
Structure: Weed edge
Angler Comments: Been a long wait on this one as I had not been bass fishing since April 19. Not a beast but very satisfying to get a bump in weight.
Top 5 Weight: 10-14 (2-10,2-4,2-3,2-0,1-13) culls a 1-13

All told got in only about two hours of fishing between torrential rains but definitely grateful to get that as I was worried that I would lack a May bass for 2019. Got a few more too so stay tuned for all the details later this week. Talk to you later. Troy

More Than A Few Good Reasons

As you may know, if you’ve hung around here very much, this is not your run of the mill outdoor website.

After all, what kind of blogger professes to be a bass fisherman yet hasn’t caught a bass in over a month?

Well, there’s good reasons for that as bass fishing resides a ways down the old priority list.

The month of May has been a wild one in regards to those reasons. How about lots of bad weather, a First Communion, a birthday party, 2 field trips as chaperones, 3 stitches in the forehead, 3 plays/concerts, 4 awards ceremonies, 5 music lessons, 5 fundraisers and 16 sports related events.


And it’s only May 26, so there’s nine more items to add to those totals above before we bid May farewell.

From the stats and the video I hope you can understand why those green fish have gotten a break from this sometimes bass blogger.

Time will tell when I see them again but stay tuned as plenty of other stuff to pass along in the meantime. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – May 19, 1994

It’s always fun when I get to include some fellow anglers in one of these Friday Flashback posts and today’s pair go back a ways in terms of friendship. And the fishing hole goes back even a little farther than that.

My buddy, Mark “Geek” Junk (above) made an appearance two weeks ago in the Keith Whitley flashback post and he’s back again with a quality Lake Bracken Spillway carp from this outing, one of many climbs down that old, rugged path. Been friends with Mark dating back to the early 80’s as we played some basketball together along with a year of baseball in the old Galesburg Senior League with Hi-Lo Grocery. Later we crossed over for a couple years at Knox College and even rented a house together with another buddy, Matt Reynolds, and Mark’s brother, John, in the early 90s. Plenty of tales there too but not outdoor related, which is probably for the best.

The young lady in this post, Lisa Browne, was also a companion of that crew and would become Lisa Junk not too long after this pic upon marrying Mark’s brother, John. She was also my boss at the Knox County Mary Davis Home for fourteen years even later down the road. Her prowess at the Lake Bracken Spillway, as shown here today, would earn her the questionably endearing title of “Carp Queen.” Obviously, lots of memories with these fishing partners.

The Lake Bracken Spillway also holds a special spot in fishing lore going back to the late 70s but it was during the early 90s when it was a frequent stop. For you see, as our crew migrated from the rented house I found myself purchasing a cottage on the shores of Lake Bracken. Thus, “The Spillway” was only a handful of curves down the road and with limited responsibilities at the time, what better getaway than tangling with some of the carp that called it home.

Twenty five years later, we’re scattered about in different towns with different occupations and a combined total of eight kids. Life moves on but those fish stories and beyond live on. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

In between the ongoing rains in the region, our Top 5 leader continues to reel in some quality bass. Read on for the details with a bonus look at a lure you should have tied on the end of a pole from now through summer.

Weight: 4-6
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: May 14
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Underspin
Structure: Point
Angler Comments: Steady retrieve parallel to a point

Weight: 3-15
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: May 17
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Underspin

Weight: 4-0
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: May 19
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Texas rigged Senko

Weight: 2-13
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: May 19
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Wacky rigged Senko (white and smoke)
Top 5 Weight: 21-2 (4-8,4-2,4-6,4-1,4-1) culls a 4-1

Senko style worm success has kicked into gear and quite effective in both weedless Texas rigged and wacky rigged presentations. Jim passed along several of his weekend winners below.

Two wacky rig looks that were successful this past weekend

A couple Texas rigged worms post catch, Jim notes that they are just as effective rigged from tail end to get extra use from damaged baits

Thanks to Jim for a quality update and the heads up that the Senko bite is off and running. Here’s hoping you have an opportunity to get out and enjoy it with a holiday weekend on the horizon (got my fingers crossed for a shot too). Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – May 12-18, 1989

Quite the chronology from 30 years ago this week.

Dateline: May 12, 1989 – Ripon, WI

Came up short in 1989 but had to include the 1986 results for fun, another story for another day.

On May 12, 1989, I played my last ever baseball game, a 5-4 loss to Lawrence University during the Midwest Conference Championship. Remember how it all went down all these years later too, had a perfect view from my second base position. A bases loaded walk on a 3-2 pitch that was too close to take. Still ticked off at the batter for not taking a cut and more so at the ump for not having the guts to call a strike a strike. The 1989 MLB draft then came and went without a call (that’s a joke) so it was on to a number of years on the softball diamond which just didn’t compare.

So, how does a guy get his mind right after an irritating way to end a career?

Why, you go fishing, of course, as the “box score” and pics detail below.

Dateline: May 14, 1989 – Ponder’s Pond outside of Knoxville, IL

Dateline: May 16, 1989 – Ponder’s Pond outside of Knoxville, IL

Dateline: May 17, 1989 – Lake Storey near Galesburg, IL

Dateline: May 18, 1989 – Lake Storey near Galesburg, IL

Funny how some things change over the years…and some don’t.

Thirty years later I haven’t been bass fishing yet in the month of May, let alone four out of five days.

However, including this coming weekend I will have participated in four baseball games in the last eight days. Even spent much of the time near my old stomping grounds at the hot corner. Nowadays though, I am on the foul side of the line in the third base coach’s box helping to guide a squad of 7-9 year olds. And thirty years removed from my final inning between the lines, I find it is the right place to be as I ponder, “How did I use to do that?”

You know, things like bend over for a grounder, throw a ball across the diamond or sprint to my position (I still do my best 51 year-old jog though so as not to get in trouble with my dad). Fortunately, the other aspect of today’s flashback is still attainable as I continue to get around the fishing holes just fine.

Now, if I only had time.

Talk to you later. Troy

A Really Crappie Day

                                                                         Mother’s Day weekend crappie chasing success

While there are no fish on hand for the Monday Top 5 Update, we do have a fishing report as a suitable substitute.

And it goes like this…

My boys and I were invited down to a “secret” destination by a noted local guide who goes by the name of “Papa” for our crew and several others. For decades he has had the crappie dialed in at this fishing hole during the Mother’s Day weekend. While the weather forecast left much to be desired with early rain, barely 50 degree high, gray skies and a stiff breeze, we confirmed our reservation around lunchtime and headed out for the late afternoon outing.

First casts were made at roughly 3:35pm and in no time the bite was on. My brother, Brent, and his kids joined the fun a little after 4:00pm and our bunch hung in there until 5:15pm during a bite with barely a lull.

            Jayce called this contorted technique “Pretzel Fishing”, can’t argue with the results

All told we combined for somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty crappie and a few bluegill courtesy of waxworms on a jighead hung from a bobber. Location was key as the fish were flat out shallow and on the inside edge or first pockets in the abundant surface vegetation. Not uncommon for this fishing hole, been there done that before.

Weather was really pretty crappy for the second weekend in May but what was cool is that there were zero complaints from our young anglers. In fact, we grownups were the only ones who commented on sore and somewhat numb fingers and a chill that just kind of stuck. And mind you, those kids handled and released a bunch of fish.

                                                                                          Cousins conquering crappie

Post fishing fun included hot dogs over the much needed warmth of a campfire at the area campground along with some kid led hiking. Good stuff considering that Brent and I have been on the kid end of such adventures on those same trails dating back to the 1970s.

      Our guide led us to a sizeable earlier dead muskie discovery

All in all a great outdoor day in less than great conditions. Plenty of practice for the youngsters in terms of casting, catching and fish handling and always fun to watch their confidence grow in regards to each aspect. Also fun to teach in the same outdoor classroom with the guy who taught Brent and me the same lessons well over 40 years ago. Yet again proves that the best time to go fishing (or get outdoors) is anytime you can.


One other impressive observation was the fact that the only devices in use were in the hands of me and Brent as we preserved some quality memories for posterity (and a blog posting). Never heard a peep from the kids either as they were too busy having some old fashioned, low-tech fun, gotta love it.

And thus ends today’s fish “Storey.” Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – May 9, 1989

It’s about 4:00am on May 9, 1989, you’re a couple college guys, you’ve been up all night for whatever reason and you’re not quite ready to call it a day.

So, what do you do?

Why, you go fishing, of course.

And that’s exactly what me and my buddy, Mark “Geek” Junk, did. Slipped over to my folks, grabbed the 8’ johnboat (yep, the same one I still fish out of today) without waking anybody up and headed for Henderson County.

The Mark Twain Refuge near Keithsburg, IL proved a bust due to shallow water so we opted for Plan B and headed for Gladstone Lake. Believe it or not there is no log entry from the day but I seem to recall a fair number of less than impressive bass.

#24 Mark Junk (far right), one of the top scorers in Galesburg Silver Streaks history in action back in November 1984 along with Tom Bates (far left), #40 John Junk and #13 Troy Jackson

However, the date is unfortunately more memorable for the news we heard on the radio thirty years ago yesterday.

Country music star, Keith Whitley, passed away at the age of 33 on that day right in the prime of his recording career. It was quite a shock as me and my buddies were fans of the genre back when it was in the midst of a sort of traditional revival. These days I’m out of the loop but from the stuff I hear on occasion it sure doesn’t seem like I’m missing much.

Maybe I’m just getting old but the latest batch of country stars don’t hold a candle to his voice. And while they croon about some hard living I sure doubt that they walk the walk. I suppose that’s for the best as that lifestyle ultimately laid Whitley to rest.

Keith Whitley (1955-1989)

I’ll wrap-up today’s Friday Flashback with my personal Top 10 Whitley favorites.

Top 10 Keith Whitley Tunes
1. I’m No Stranger to the Rain
2. I’m Over You
3. I Wonder Do You Think of Me
4. Don’t Close Your Eyes
5. When You Say Nothing At All
6. Hard Livin’
7. Some Old Side Road
8. Ten Feet Away
9. Somebody’s Doing Me Right
10. It Ain’t Nothin’

Happy Mother’s Day weekend and hope some can get out there and do some fishing as the crappie should be in full swing and the bass in the midst of heading for their beds. Talk to you later. Troy