Month: July 2019

Strip Mine Report – July 27

For the second month in a row I managed to get in back to back days on the water. The July version was extra cool as I fished the first day as Dad with my son, Jayce, while the second outing was spent with Dad as a son. Consult the “Recent Posts” menu if you missed the former report (shame on you) and read on for the latter report.

6:17am First bass 15″ 1-6 Buzzbait

Date: July 27, 2019
Location: Knox County private strip mine
Time: 6:10am-10:25am
Weather: Sunny/windy
Air Temp: 70-80F
Water Temp: 80-82F
Totals: 29 bass (Dad – 17 bass, Troy – 12 bass)
5” Yamasenko wacky rig (smoke or natural shad) – 17 bass
5″ Yamasenko weighted wacky rig (watermelon/creme laminate) – 7 bass
Booyah Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 4 bass
Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: Troy 3-14, Dad 1-15
Top 5 Weight: 9-13 (3-14,1-15,1-7,1-6,1-3)

6:44am This shot reveals Dad’s effective Senko wacky rig, responsible for all 17 bass he landed

Notes and Nonsense

Pliers Please – Dad never leaves home for a fishing trip without his pliers. Well, at least until this trip. All good though as I had him covered once he figured out that they were home in his garage. Right on top of his tackleboxes which he also forgot to pack. Had him covered there too although his lone Senko lasted nearly the whole trip. Good for a laugh and I made sure to shoot a pic of his gear once we returned home to share with all of you faithful readers.

Shot featuring the reappearance of the original floppy hat on this trip as detailed below 

Flashback Floppy – So, after poking a little fun at Dad for forgetting his pliers I must shoot straight and mention that I was without my lucky floppy hat. In my case, I had left it in my truck which was in the shop for the second major repair in as many months. Turns out that the old floppy hat still had some bites left in it, including a good one (pic below).

7:30am Top Bass of the outing at 20″ and 3-14 on a weighted Senko wacky rig

Old Olive Eye – If you are anywhere near mealtime as you read this post perhaps give it a break for the time being and whatever you do, don’t look at the picture below. Our Top Bass of the day weighed in at 3-14 and happened to be my Top Bass of 2019 as it has been a struggle to find some quality bites. I had to pat myself on the back for the precise presentation that was required to catch this one-eyed bass. The fish had a real ugly eye that to me resembled an olive. What are the odds that I could put that Senko in the right place for that bass to spot it? Then again, maybe it was just blind luck. Or would that be “half-blind” luck?

Sorry for those fond of olives, hope this doesn’t stick with you as you sip that next martini

Sinking Senko – Several of Dad’s bass came after his Senko had done some extra sinking as he attended to a loop or two in his spinning reel. Fishing 101 notes that the fish will tell you what they want in a presentation. In this case, those catches advised to slow the retrieve and allow the lure to sink deeper in the water column. Seen this happen on numerous occasions but as “fast” fishermen, both Dad and I still have a hard time sticking to what the fish are saying. But hey, a 29 bass morning does show that our speedier approach isn’t just blind luck.

10:18am Dad finishes strong, only minutes to spare with his Top Bass at 16″ and 1-15 on the home stretch

Another good day on some familiar water, a spot that we first fished together over 30 years ago. Was sure glad that Dad decided to give it a go as the last time we shared time in the boat was July 8, 2017. Understandably not as nimble or durable a team as we once were but still a dynamic duo on the water. Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Report – July 26

Gotta brag a bit and keep Julie and Gramaw up to speed 

Last week I had an opportunity to spend a couple hours on an old favorite fishing hole, Lake Storey. It’s always a fun visit with plenty of memories from over 45 years of testing its waters. And this outing was even made more special as I had a young fishing partner aboard looking to make some memories of his (our) own. Here’s a look at how it all played out with my ten-year old son, Jayce.

Definitely have to keep fellow Lake Storey and Top 5 angler, John Kirkemo, in the loop


Date: July 26, 2019
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Time: 6:50pm-8:35pm
Weather: Sunny/windy
Air Temp: 82F
Water Temp: 82F
Totals: 4 bass (Jayce – 4 bass, Dad – 0 bass)
5” Yamasenko weighted wacky rig (watermelon/crème laminate) – 4 bass
Top Bass: 1-8
Top 5 Weight (2 at 12” or better): 2-13 (1-8,1-5)

Notes and Nonsense

Pre-trip Quote – As we headed out from my folks, Papa gave Jayce a little fishing advice. He said, “Don’t catch more fish than Dad or he won’t take you again. I know, I caught more bass than him last time and he won’t take me anymore.” All in good fun and truth in the numbers but not so much in the invitations. In fact, me and Papa shared a boat the next day. But that’s a fishing report for tomorrow (SPOILER ALERT: Dad caught more fish than me again).

The Score – my three proven baits = 0 bass, Jayce and his weighted wacky rig = 4 bass

Choices – Lake Storey receives a great deal of pressure and can be a tough one when it comes to bass fishing. Throw in some weedy and warm summer conditions and realistically I was hoping that our brief outing may at least produce one bite. As such, we stopped at a local gas station to pick up some waxworms for potential panfishing. Bad move when seeking Jayce’s input on which species to chase as he immediately replied, “Bass.” The next question was answered just as rapidly with “Senko” as his lure of choice.

Uncle Brent and Jim Junk were also on the list for text updates, great to have fishing family and friends

Post-trip Quote – Well, I sure had to brag on my boy’s domination of those tricky Lake Storey bass so I had provided text updates as our evening progressed and his catches continued to come aboard. Those receiving reports on the outing included Jayce’s mom, Jayce’s grandma, Top 5 angling buddy Jim Junk, fellow Lake Storey angler John Kirkemo and Jayce’s Uncle Brent. Congratulations abounded and I got a particular kick out of Brent’s comment “Back of the boat does it again.” You see, not the first time I’ve been outfished by a co-angler in the back of the boat at Lake Storey. Doesn’t bother me a bit and very rewarding to observe firsthand as Jayce develops into the sort of angler who may someday give his Uncle Brent a run for his money as the best Lake Storey bass fisherman I know.

A few items on the footage: yes, I made sure Jayce had his life jacket zipped up properly after noticing it undone on first catch, while he’s got the signature bass kiss down, we do need to work on a bit more gentle release in the future, all good, learning as he goes.

What a fun couple hours on the water and I believe my reply to Brent’s text message above told the tale of a kid flat out getting it done on the water. Being down 3 bass to zero at the time of our exchange, I still shot straight as I was indeed giving it my best shot with my best offerings. It seems the boy has got a knack for this bass fishing thing, looking forward to next time he gets a chance to outfish Dad. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

A good summer turnout for this week’s update with five anglers in the mix. We’ll kick it off with a report from Top 5 angler, Chris Schwarz, who participated in a recent bass tourney on the Mississippi River followed by the other anglers and their catches.

Weight: 3-6
Angler: Chris Schwarz
Angler Comments: I fished in a Quad City Bass Club tournament on Sunday, July 14th. Me and my partner took 9th out of 26 boats. I caught a 3.38, which took 3rd for big bass of the tournament. This fish was caught on a bluegill colored square bill off of a lay down in 4 feet of water. We were fishing a section of Rock Creek, which is in pool 14. I didn’t have a picture of the fish, but I included our tournament results from the QCBC website.

Weight: 1-8 (14.5”)
Angler: Jayce Jackson
Date: July 26
Location: Lake Storey
Lure: Weighted Senko wacky rig (watermelon/crème laminate)
Structure: Point

Weight: 1-5 (13.5”)
Angler: Jayce Jackson
Date: July 26
Location: Lake Storey
Lure: Weighted Senko wacky rig (watermelon/crème laminate)
Structure: Point
Top 5 Weight: 2-13 (1-8,1-5)

Weight: 1-15 (16”)
Angler: Terry Jackson
Date: July 27
Location: Knox County private strip mine
Lure: Senko wacky rig (smoke)
Structure: Point

Weight: 1-1 (15”)
Angler: Terry Jackson
Date: July 27
Location: Knox County private strip mine
Lure: Senko wacky rig (smoke)
Structure: Point

Weight: 0-13 (12.5”)
Angler: Terry Jackson
Date: July 27
Location: Knox County private strip mine
Lure: Senko wacky rig (smoke)
Structure: Point
Top 5 Weight: 3-13 (1-15,1-1,0-13)

Weight: 3-14 (20”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: July 27
Location: Knox County private strip mine
Lure: Weighted Senko wacky rig (watermelon/crème laminate)
Structure: Flat/overhanging bushes
Angler Comments: Fishing with Dad along one of the less appealing stretches of bank on an old favorite stomping ground and wound up with my Top Bass of 2019. While not a regular stop on our normal rounds, it will likely get a few casts in the future just in case.
Top 5 Weight: 13-3 (3-14,2-10,2-4,2-4,2-3) culls a 2-0

Weight: 5-3 (20.5”)
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: July 28
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Chatterbait
Angler Comments: Was throwing a chatterbait with some kind of grub type trailer and sort of still getting used to new baitcaster. Clearing a small rat’s nest from spool and line started moving to right as I was reeling in slack. Set the hook and landed without incident.
Top 5 Weight: 22-6 (5-3,4-8,4-6,4-2,4-3) culls a 4-1

How’s that for a “dog days” report? An impressive batch of catches proving that the best time to go fishing is any time you can. I am hoping for a full week of posts through Friday with a pair of firsthand fishing reports, another round of Top 5 Stats as we leave July behind (will still take any July submissions if you missed this week’s deadline) and the weekly Friday Flashback post. Plenty of fishing stuff, can never have enough, hope you’ll stop by for a daily escape. Talk to you later. Troy

Mossi and The Boss

During a recent session of internet wanderings I happened to see that an old Major League pitcher had passed away.

Don Mossi was age 90 (I think, more on that below) and played from 1954-1965 for the Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Athletics, making the American League All-Star Team in 1957.

While he did receive considerable consideration as the southpaw for my “MLB Fishing All-Star Team” project last summer (click here), he was out voted in favor of Steve Trout. But with his surname representing an item that is both a boon and a bane to anglers, when I learned of his passing, I thought “there’s a blog post tribute here.”

Tell me who you’re gonna believe, Topps 1955 or Wikipedia 2019?

Somehow or another I have a 1955 Topps Don Mossi card in my collection. While this series hit the stores well before my time as a collector, I have long been a fan of the landscape design represented in this set. The orientation resurfaced in the Topps sets from 1971 through 1974 for individual player cards and with that timeframe being right in my wheelhouse I am certain that those sets are responsible for my fondness for such a cool variation.

I must add that the backs of ball cards have long held a fascination for a fellow once referred to as “stat boy” by some “friends.” In addition to the numbers, there’s also a wealth of info (useful and otherwise) in the form of cartoons, highlights and trivia that adorn the flipsides and still bring a grin. In fact, I learned a little something new from Mossi’s card as I failed the “You’re the Ump” quiz.

My original Moss Boss from the 80s (top) and a more recent purchase (bottom)

On the fishing front, I couldn’t help but recall a lure known as the Moss Boss that first entered my tackle collection in the mid-80s. This topwater spoon creation from Heddon Lures was a must have for a kid back in the days when the baitshop offerings weren’t quite so overwhelming. Actually, when there used to be a fair amount of what were called “baitshops.” Interestingly, my logs show only a lone record of a bass landed on the old Moss Boss although I’m pretty certain it achieved a bit more success along the way. However, like many other must haves, the original Moss Boss from the 80s currently finds itself relegated to the “Misfit” section of my substantially larger tackle collection along with a more recent purchase from several years ago. A purchase with good intentions as a blog project that has yet to come to fruition…maybe someday while today’s post will have to suffice for now.

This June 19, 1988 log entry is the only documented success I can find with a Moss Boss during my extensive research for today’s post

Anyway, RIP to Mr. Mossi and I appreciate anyone who elected to bear with me in my stroll down Memory Lane, always a great place to visit as you put a few more years behind.

And speaking of years, did any other card collectors in my age range marvel at how old some of these guys looked on cards back in the day? Mossi would have been 24-25 years old when this card was created. Holy cow! I guess it shows that while the 50s have been portrayed as a carefree sort of decade, life was still indeed tough, likely not near as glamorous as the old TV shows and nowhere near as technologically reliant and distracted as present day. Folks worked hard and ballplayers had off season jobs to make ends meet, a whole different ballgame.

Now, I don’t know the going rate for an online purchase of an old Don Mossi Topps card but I challenge you to invest a few bucks in a Moss Boss from the internet or sporting goods store fishing aisle and send me those Top 5 submissions that result from crawling that hunk of plastic over those mossy spots on your stomping grounds. Get the catches for this week in by tonight though as the latest Top 5 Update hits the blog tomorrow. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – July 29, 2004

Rare walleye catch indicates good health in the Henderson County, IL creek

Excerpt below from an original 2004 post detailing a creek fishing trip with Dad.

Although I fancy myself as a bass fisherman, I enjoy fishing, period. Creek fishing is always a welcome adventure for some multi-species angling so Dad and I set out for Pat’s Creek on July 29th. Armed with two dozen dew worms, you just never know what will tug on the end of your line. We ended up with lots of tugs on our lines before we headed for home, including one unusual and strong tug. More on that later.

This guy has done this before and knows long pants are a wise choice on the long walk to the fishing hole

Father Knows Best – Typically we reach the creek by skirting the edge of The Cornfield to Buffalo Head Tree. However, Dad decided it was better to cut through the wooded pasture area near The Pond, as both the weeds and the corn were rather high. Good idea, if you are wearing long pants (Dad) instead of shorts (Me). Multiflora rose briars are much less forgiving to skin than denim and mosquitoes prefer the pasture to the cornfield along with exposed skin versus jeans. The stinging nettles and poison ivy between Buffalo Head Tree and Where We Get In were simply icing on the cake. In Dad’s defense, I did get lost in the cornfield a couple years ago, so maybe he felt the alternate route was best.

Freshwater drum joins the list as you never know what your dew worm will attract

Attire – Speaking of proper creek attire, I tried out some new footwear. Sort of a “necessity is the mother of invention” type thing. The “necessity” arose when Dad cleaned his garage and decided the garbage was a good spot for the sandals I’d recently started wearing on creek adventures. Though not really an “invention”, the Aqua Sock is certainly a new addition to creek fishing fashion. These things consist of a solid rubber sole with an elastic upper portion that fits snug like a slipper around your entire foot. While such an experiment is not advised, I decided to give it a go rather than turn my good sandals into creek gear. Fortunately, they worked like a charm and hardly collected any creek bottom to take home due to their snug fit. Cornfield and pasture terrain were also navigated comfortably with Aqua Socks. Overall, a welcome addition despite probably being designed by some surfer-dude who has never been totally stoked by an awesome creek fishing trip.

A drum of my own, think I got the other guy by a few ounces, but it’s my story

Fall(s) In The Summer – Though much of the Summer has resembled Fall, this actually has nothing to do with the seasons. The “Fall(s)” described here can happen during any season of the year. Where We Get In consists of about a seven-foot weedy drop over less than ideal footing and ends in a mucky, stagnant pool of water with an extremely soft bottom. In spite of careful navigation, the slope continues to claim victims. Our outing was no exception. As usual, Dad led the way to the creek so I had a particularly good view of his less than graceful entrance into the creek as he lost his footing. Seeing that he hadn’t injured himself, I had to chuckle a bit to myself because it’s really kind of funny when it happens to someone else. Fortunately, Dad was not looking when I essentially duplicated his feat, ending up on my rear end and laughing again, this time at myself. My laughter (or possibly the thud) betrayed me, as Dad knew exactly what had happened before he even had to look.

Improvisation in desperation as detailed below

Bait – Our two dozen worms only survived to The Culvert, leaving a couple popular fishing holes untouched on this adventure. However, it’s hard to complain as running out of bait typically means a lot of bites. Near the end, we began using only half of a worm on each cast as well as trying to salvage any portions remaining after hooking a fish. Finally, Dad left me a dead worm that he found on the bank as he quit in order to clean some of the catfish that we kept. I managed to catch a 3/4-pound catfish on the dead worm but the fish didn’t leave any portion remaining. Following a futile attempt to unearth some sandworms, I headed up the bank for some field corn as a last ditch effort. It was worth the climb as a 4-9 carp found the offering too much to resist.

Anybody got a 1977 Topps Andujar to trade, always liked the shot but mine is severely damaged

Youneverknow – An interesting major league pitcher for the Astros, Cardinals and Athletics, Joaquin Andujar, once stated that his favorite word in English was, “Youneverknow’.” The same can be said of fishing as an instance on this trip reinforced. Less than fifteen minutes into our outing we’d already hooked three catfish and a creek chub near the downstream section of a brushpile across from Where We Get In. Figuring there had to be a few hanging out on the upstream portion of the brushpile, I navigated my way around some logs and washouts until I was positioned just right. Following a well-placed cast, I felt the anticipated tap as a fish picked up my dew worm for breakfast. Ramming the hook home, I was rewarded with a heavy tug on the other end and got Dad’s attention with “I’ve got a good one.” About that time, fur came into view and Dad headed for the bank as an unhappy beaver broke the surface a few yards away from him. No sooner than it had emerged, the beaver dove again to the safety of the brushpile and got me snagged in the logs. After a few pulls, the hook dislodged and Dad and I were simply left shaking our heads trying to digest what had just happened. Mind you, the whole sequence of events took place in the span of five to ten seconds. Dad estimated the beaver at between 30-40 pounds based on his proximity and years of experience trapping.

Yep, youneverknow.

Talktoyoulater. Troy

Thoughts at 52

Back in 2011 I posted something called “Thoughts at 44” and the concept continues to be an annual birthday blog tradition.

So, here in 2019 it is on to “Thoughts at 52”, a birthday that I have been eager to reach. For as I leave 51 behind, in playing card parlance, I am no longer that “one card shy of a full deck.” Figuratively, however, the jury is still out pending how today’s post goes over.

#52 Robert Brazile
The Houston Oiler linebacker and NFL Hall of Famer, also known as “Dr.Doom”, was a fixture for a decade on some successful and entertaining teams. His prowess was often overshadowed by a collection of Oiler personalities. There was the colorful, cowboy hat wearing coach “Bum” Phillips, the end zone dancing Billy “White Shoes” Johnson and the epic, punishing running back, Earl Campbell. Good times for a young football fan.

#52 Mike Webster
As a Dallas Cowboy fan, the Pittsburgh Steelers were the ultimate nemesis coming out on top in a pair of heartbreaking 1970’s Super Bowl matchups. “Iron Mike” was the anchor in the middle of the offensive line for those victories and many more during his 15 seasons over the ball with Pittsburgh. The game appeared to take a heavy toll as Webster died at age 50 amidst a series of mental and physical problems.

#52 Mike Boddicker
Finding that 80’s Baltimore Oriole hurler, Mike Boddicker, sported #52 was kind of fun as it brought back memories of American Legion baseball and a road trip to take on Cedar Rapids during the 1984 season. A pair of the games were actually played in nearby Norway, Iowa, Boddicker’s home town. I recall it being kind of a cool bit of current trivia but it sure didn’t hold up to the Post 285 claim of our own hometown hero, Jim Sundberg.

#52 All-Time greatest song per Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500
“When Doves Cry” – Prince (1984)
How in the world do you make such a list? I have trouble selecting a Top 10 Trip Tunes post although I must admit considering compiling my own Top 100 someday. While this one takes me on a nostalgic ride back to high school and I do enjoy a number of Prince cuts, if I had to choose pop/rock royalty, I’m taking Queen, hands down.

#52 All-Time movie per IMDB
“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969)
Gotta love a buddy film and this one certainly ranks among the best. No better 1-2 punch of starpower than Newman and Redford and lines galore that stick with you forever. Always interesting when you find yourself rooting for the “bad guys”.

#52 Personal Top Bass
One from the Knox County public strip mines while fishing with my brother, Brent, back in 2013. Actually caught another one about 10 minutes later that was even a little bigger (it’s #39 on my All-Time List). Boy, I miss those days when I knew how to fool a few big ones, been a tough couple years since turning 50.

52 Weeks
I’ve long had an outdoor blog project in the works to cover each and every week. Maybe a January 2021 kickoff on that one after I have turned 53 as I always like to include an introductory post to start a series.

#52 Finale – Happy Hairston
What better way to finish a “Happy Birthday” post than with a guy who actually went by the name of “Happy.” And I learned something as I put this post together, his given first name was Harold, still alliterative but just not the same flair.

So, here’s to “52” and thanks for hanging in there for a bit of a ramble. But, hey, my birthday and my blog so here’s hoping you’ll cut me a little slack even if just for today. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

A couple anglers beat the heat in Knox County last week to provide us with another Top 5 update. Sounds like evening fishing was a hit and always a wise choice to improve your odds of a summer bite. Either that or the crack of dawn for any early risers.

Weight: 1-4
Angler: Landon Hannam
Date: July 15
Location: Lake Storey
Lure: Weedless wacky rigged Senko
Angler Comments: I was fishing off the dam and the fish hit the lure about 8 feet from the bank.

Weight: 1-0
Angler: Landon Hannam
Date: July 17
Location: Lake Storey
Lure: Weedless wacky rigged Senko
Angler Comments: Caught this bass fishing off the dock. The bass hit the lure right up at the bank. Also the same night I caught 6 bluegill and a crappie.
Top 5 Weight: 4-7 (1-4,1-2,1-1,1-0)

Note: Realized that I shorted Landon in failing to include one of his bass in the last Top 5 Stat Update. I have corrected as shown in his Top 5 Weight above and if anyone spots an error in my data or calculations just let me know and I’ll get it fixed)

Weight: 1-5
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: July 17
Location: Lake Storey
Lure: Green Senko weedless wacky worm
Structure: South end of dam
Angler Comments: This fish was caught casting a wacky worm from shore at the south end of the Lake Storey dam at about 7:30 p.m. The weather was warm and humid. A brief rain shower passed over the area during the previous 90 minutes. Water was turbid. Aquatic vegetation appeared to be dying.
Top 5 Weight: 2-12 (1-7,1-5)

Nice job guys and always a treat to get a Lake Storey report as I’ve got just a little history with that old fishing hole. It can be a tough one and summertime presents even more of a challenge with excessive weed cover for an angler to combat. Here’s to getting out there and getting it done.

Stop on by again tomorrow for an annual July 23 post that dates back to 2011 with some “thoughts.” Warning that I may stray off the outdoor path a bit but still some standard topics that pop up around here from time to time. Talk to you later. Troy

Outdoors on the Road

Roving reporter selfie perched atop an observation area with Lake Erie as a backdrop (used the stairs not the elevator)

Spent four days on the road for work this week starting with a 3:30am alarm to head to the airport on Tuesday July 16 and ending on Saturday July 20 at, oddly enough, 3:30am when I pulled into the driveway in a rental car. Amidst 32 hours doing IT stuff at two locations and slightly over 1,000 miles of diving I did manage to observe some outdoor stuff along the way. And since I bill this thing as an outdoor blog, well, here we go.

For a lifelong “flatlander” from Illinois, the Appalachian Mountains of Central/Western New York were pretty cool including the Catskill and Allegheny ranges. Nary a corn or soy bean field to be found.

I particularly liked this spot that featured a sort of reverse Mohawk, now that took some work.

Interesting sign observed in Pennsylvania, made me think twice about an off road run.

Pre-work day morning walk at Mead Park in Corry, PA. Embarrassed to say that I did not know this plant and had to cheat with a field guide. Wild Bergamot is one of my summer favorites and this bee balm is essentially the same thing.

Did see some fish, Mead Park in Corry, PA (left) and Tom Ridge Environmental Center in Erie, PA (right)

Some less than alive real ones too, Rock Bass at Lake Erie on Presque Isle, PA (left) and a sample of Lake Erie species at Tom Ridge Environmental Center in Erie, PA (right)

Got in a brief walk on Lake Erie’s Presque Isle and a visit to the Tom Ridge Environmental Center in Erie, PA while waiting to check in for an evening flight home.


Before heading to the airport I had a short, hot stroll along an extra full Lake Erie (bet I was the only guy in long pants and steel toed boots) where I picked up a few “shark teeth” for the kids

Wish list
A closer look at the Hudson River as I was in close proximity but too tired and too late after a long day, poor excuses
En route to Corry, PA I drove through Jamestown, NY, birthplace of naturalist legend, Roger Tory Peterson, and home of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. Unfortunately, work hours and institute hours did not work out for the 25 mile return trip. Kind of bummed as his field guide series has meant a great deal to me over the last 30 plus years. 

Return home was marked by flight delays due to bad weather in Detroit. By 5:30pm the continued delay had me cancelling flights in favor of a rental car to drive home instead. My flight that was originally slated to leave Erie, PA at 6:11pm apparently wound up with 12:24 am departure. I’d long abandoned flight plans and by that time was halfway across Indiana in a rental car. A long drive when leaving Erie. PA at 7:09pm Friday evening and hitting my driveway at 3:30am Saturday morning but worth it as my original flight to Moline didn’t land until 9:00pm Saturday night.

Oh yeah, saw this guy again in Western Pennsylvania, strangely in the same place I spotted him last time…

Top 5 Update headed your way tomorrow. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – July 23, 2004

Here’s a substantial excerpt from the original 2004 post (believe it or not I was even more longwinded back in those days).

For the third “Day On The Lake” installment we spend a “Day On The Lake With The Dads” since it was the first time I shared the boat with my Dad after becoming a father myself. Despite not fishing as much together this year, we didn’t miss a beat and had a little something else to talk about when the fish got uncooperative. This was our first outing this year together in the big boat and I selected my “home lake” as our destination. Lake Bracken has a 10 horsepower limit on bass boat outboards and we looked forward to testing out Dad’s new 9.9 HP motor during our trip. Here’s some chronology, stats and notes on our day.

Date: July 23, 2004
Location: Lake Bracken
Weather: Partly cloudy to sunny/breezy
Air temp: 65 F-70 F
H2O temp: 76F-81F
Time: 6:00am-1:00pm

6:00am: After securing the new motor and nearly figuring out how to adjust the tilt properly, we give up and just decide to hit the water figuring the motor will work fine and we’ll experiment later.

6:04am: Dad gets things started in a hurry as he boats our first bass of the day, a 12.5″ fish that weighs in right at a pound. The fish falls to QuadraShad spinnerbait (white) just east of The Boat Ramp along Ramp Road.

6:13am: Perfect timing as we catch a double for an audience. Dad’s bass wins at 12.5″ and hits on the same white spinnerbait. My 10″ bass gets me on the board and comes courtesy of a Mann’s 4- crankbait (blue/chartreuse). The couple that witness our catch are clearly impressed as they relate that the lady caught a six-pounder earlier in the week.

6:31am-6:35am: Two bass join the record book (barely) from Ramp Corner. I nail a 1-14 that slurps down a buzzbait near some scattered weed clumps. Dad follows up with a 1-8 on his trusty white spinnerbait.

6:40am-7:30am: We decide to test out the new motor and leave Ramp Road for Oak Cove. Once we figure out the choke, the motor starts right up although it could stand to be tilted a bit more towards a vertical position but we haven’t quite figured that maneuver out at this point. Oak Cove fails to produce so we motor to West Bay, another proven spot. Dad catches a short fish (under 12″) in West Bay and we elect to head towards the Dam.

7:50am-9:09am: Steep Cove and the Dam area produce five short bass on a Mann’s 4- (blue/chartreuse), a Texas rigged lizard (pumpkinseed) and a twister tail (smoke) fished on a 1/16 oz. jighead teamed with a spinner (silver).

9:15am-10:10am: Our best stretch of the day as we boat nine bass during a flurry of activity from Breezy Bluff to Stoner’s Cove. Seven of these bass hit on a Mann’s 4- crankbait (red shiner). However, the “one that got away” throws the lure during a second jump and Dad loses a possible 3 or 4 pounder part way to the boat.

11:32am-12:32pm: Following a long drought we catch four more short bass scattered around the lake as many proven spots just aren’t producing like normal. The Mann’s 4- accounts for three of these fish and the other comes on Dad’s ultralight jighead and twister tail with a spinner.

12:47pm-1:00pm: A final pass along Ramp Road nets Dad an 11″ bass on the Mann’s 4- (red shiner) and we call it a day. Overall, a decent haul quantity wise but lacking in overall quality. Enough to keep us interested but we had to work for our bites.

Total Bass 25
Dad’s Bass 14
Troy’s Bass 11
Crankbaits 14
Spinnerbait 4
Twister tail 3
Buzzbait 1
Plastic lizard 1
Plastic worm 1
Jerkbait 1
Total weight (4 at 12” or better): 5-5

Grand Slam – Dad wins the species title as he achieves a “Grand Slam” of four species. His totals include 14 bass, 7 green sunfish, 5 bluegill and 1 crappie. My final totals are 11 bass and 5 crappie.

The Smoo & The Jinx – Midway through our trip, Dad busted out a Smoo crankbait that Bagley Lure Company designed in the mid to late 80’s. Coincidentally, that was probably the last time I saw one tied to someone’s line. His model had the added attraction of a red rear treble hook that he had attached in hopes of provoking a reaction from some otherwise disinterested bass. Unfortunately, he caught a bass on his first cast. All too often, this is the kiss of death and today was no exception as the lure failed to produce another fish. I can’t say I was real disappointed as my meager collection of Smoos were somewhere at home along with all the other lures that don’t work.

Secret Tip – Sometimes you have to talk the fish into biting. As bites were tough to come by, I decided to try something different from my arsenal, a Texas rigged plastic worm. A proven bass weapon, but requiring more patience and finesse than I am typically willing to expend. I had just finished saying, “I haven’t caught one on a plastic worm for a long time” when I got a hit. After a solid hookset, we had another fish in the boat. Making statements such as this requires a great deal of practice and anglers must resist the urge to employ them at the wrong time. Sometimes I wonder if I should actually give these tips away for free.

Tackle – Although crankbaits led the way, a number of lures were employed to get our bites. In all, eight different lures combined to boat our 25 bass. Such diversity got me wondering about just how much tackle we’d packed along to fool the fish. Final count on rods and reels was thirteen, including a pair of ultralight rigs for panfish. As far as lures and equipment, I decided to weigh all of our tackleboxes. The grand total was just over 40 pounds, including my “ultralight” tacklebox that weighed nearly ten pounds. Believe it or not, we actually had room in the boat for lifejackets, lunchboxes, a spare battery and two anglers.

Like Son, Like Father – “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” as the saying goes. Having nailed five bass in a half hour on my Mann’s 4- (red shiner), I was not surprised to see the guy in the back of the boat tie on the same model from his tacklebox. Not long afterwards, he was rewarded with a strike from the “one that got away” mentioned previously. I’m sure things have worked the other way around in the past, but there’s always a little extra satisfaction being copied. It’s hard to cast humility aside in such instances and refrain from bragging or giving your fishing partner a little grief. And…since I write the stories, I get a chance to boast to everyone else as well.

Happy Birthday To Me – This fishing trip was kind of my birthday present to myself, as I turned 37 sometime that day. Prior to this trip, I’d been on the water three times for a combined three and a half hours since April 19th. Rather than fishing, I’d spent my free time mowing rich people’s yards for some extra cash, trying to be an understanding husband and contemplating fatherhood. Come July 1st, a 7-4 “keeper” became the most important thing in our world. After nearly a month off work, doing my best to lend moral support to Julie, I decided to be a little selfish on my birthday and go fishing. What better way to wet a line than with “Papa”? Though he’s been “Papa” for nearly three years, it’s an added bonus when he’s “Papa” to my kid.

A definite winner in terms of quantity although quality bites were severely lacking. But then again, does it really matter when you spend part of your birthday on an old favorite fishing hole with your dad? Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – July 13

Top 5 angler, John Kirkemo, and I joined forces last Saturday for a “dog day” pursuit of some Knox County strip mine bass. We persevered in the challenging weather and water conditions to eke out a decent haul in terms of numbers. Quality bites, on the other hand, were tough to come by. Read on for the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

What a start to the day, 4:01am with Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime” on the airwaves, classic cut and killer sideburns (that’s lead singer Ray Dorset by the way, not John Kirkemo)


Date: July 13, 2019
Location: Knox County, IL private strip mines (2 lakes)
Time: 5:00am-11:30am
Weather: Sunny/breezy to calm
Air Temp: 68-86F
Water Temp: 82-83F
Totals: 16 bass
5” Yamasenko wacky rig, weighted or weedless (various colors) – 13 bass
Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 2 bass
Spinning Worm Rig – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-7 (Senko)
Top 5 Weight (only 4 at 12” or better): 4-6 (1-7,1-4,1-0,0-11)

5:13am First bass roughly a half hour before official sunrise

Notes and Nonsense

Tough Times – I subscribe to an old saying that “the best time to go fishing is anytime you can.” Well, after a wet and stormy spring, we were blessed with a dry summer day so that was a good thing. However, balmy temps, clear skies and barely a breeze aren’t exactly what one would dial in for picture perfect bass fishing conditions. At my house we also have a saying that “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” Grin and bear it we did and managed enough bites to make a respectable showing.

6:46am John is on the board with a weedless Senko wacky rig

Best and Bust – The Senko wacky rig was by far the star of the day when fished either weighted (me) or weedless (John). No surprise there as I always have one tied on this time of the year and it is half of my regular 1-2 punch on the primary lake that we fished. The other half of that approach is a buzzbait which didn’t work out so well in the prevailing conditions. That didn’t mean that I didn’t try to force feed ‘em though. More on that below.

7:14am John lands what would be our Top Bass of the day at 15″ and 1-7 on the Senko

Bullheaded Buzzbaiter – To add yet another saying to today’s post, I stubbornly stick to my “all it takes is one bite” rationale as I foolishly cast a buzzbait when the odds of success are rather slim. I rightfully caught some razzing from John as he offered up half a dozen legitimate and well-informed reasons throughout the morning as to why I should give it a rest. He was spot on and I knew it but on a few occasions I have managed to get that “one bite” on a summer day that has nearly outweighed all of the other bites combined. Mind you though that I did catch the fellow dishing out the advice casting about a topwater frog for a while. So you see, that topwater allure is a powerful thing. I guess it can even make you disregard your own advice. Then again, maybe it was the heat clouding my partner’s decision making (in the interest of honesty, however, John did get a solid blowup on the frog late in the morning but the fish had bad aim).

7:33am barely a “keeper” at 12″ and 1-0 on the Senko as big bites eluded us on this “dog day” morning

Risk and Rambles – Now for a public “thank you” to John for hanging in there with me on some of the peripherals of the outing. First up was an ill-advised but “worth a try” launch on a proven but tough to access lake. Got real close but called it off in the interest of not getting stuck. Part two involved taking the long way home to show John some of the off the beaten path Knox County outdoor offerings. Now I’ve been covering this ground for close to 35 years so let’s just say that I’ve got more than a few of those “there was this one time” or “I remember” type tales. Much appreciated for lending an ear but then again I guess where was he going to go as I was his ride home.

8:18am the best I could muster at 14.5″ and 1-4 on a Senko weighted wacky rig (stay tuned next week for a project regarding fishing attire kicked off here with a shirt from back in the day)

Got a couple more things from this outing to pass along but will leave you be for now so as to not get too longwinded. Besides, I’m guessing that you have something that you should be doing right now instead of reading fish stories. Perhaps like work or chores, so not necessarily “more important” things, just “other things.” So, I won’t keep you but make sure that you stop by again. Talk to you later. Troy