Month: December 2019

2020 Visions – Variety

I rely heavily on fishing for a steady stream of content here on the blog. That stands to reason as casting and sometimes catching are my favorites among outdoor pursuits. However, I called this thing “Outdoors” instead of “Fishing” for a reason as it promoted a broader range of activities.

And with this “Vision”, I’m looking to do just that, expand the variety.

Variety in fishing and variety in pursuits.

I had a good time fishing for crappie last spring and I don’t know the last time I caught a catfish or a carp (actually I do but it doesn’t have quite the same effect when composing a post). Perhaps I can cut the bass some slack and nab a few other species with a little help from some fishing partners.

Our crew needs to find more frogs and crawdads and birds and wildflowers.

It’s also been two years since the family has slept in a tent near a campfire under the stars with a transistor radio, some taco in a bag, a few s’mores…

You get the picture and no matter where you live there are plenty of outdoor options if you take the time to look or do a little internet research. Thus, another part of the variety consists of some day trips to explore what outdoor sights and adventures lie within say a 45 minute drive from the driveway.


Of course, with the “Mission” and “Video” aspects of the 2020 Visions you will be able to tag along via your favorite outdoor blog.

Get set for some fresh air and talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Just when it seemed that icefishing was on the horizon, the weather took quite a warm turn for Christmas. Lakes and ponds are open again and one of our crew was able to add another nice bass and a late boost to his creel.

Weight: 3-4
Angler: Chris Schwarz
Date: December 26
Location: Warren County private pond
Lure: Spinnerbait (bluegill)
Angler Comments: One last one for 2019!
Top 5 Weight: 20-12 (5-3,5-0,3-11,3-10,3-4) culls a 3-2

Way to go, Chris, and thanks for the contribution for one more 2019 update post. That makes for a total of 31 update posts dating back to an early start on January 7. Now that’s a full and successful year. If you are a Top 5 participant or fan, tune in next month for both the 2019 stat wrap and a look at the all-time numbers dating back to the 2014 start of the project. Lots of other stuff in the meantime though, beginning with two more “2020 Visions” posts coming your way. Talk to you later. Troy

2020 Visions – Video


“You think you’re in the movies and everything’s so deep.” – You Might Think – The Cars (1984)

I’ve got to say that it is pretty cool to have a GoPro or iPhone in tow while running around outdoors. And while I frequently put them to use when I head outside, particularly while fishing, I could certainly kick it up a notch.

So there you go, more “Video.”

Sounds simple, right?

Well, like anything, there are pros and cons when emulating the outdoor video legends of my childhood like Virgil Ward, Marty Stouffer or Curt Gowdy. For better or worse, I pessimistically find myself dwelling a bit too much on the “con” side of being a videographer and host. Things like time, technical skill, lack of verbosity and yes, confidence often get me hung up.

I mean, do you know how weird it is to stand alone in a boat or alongside a fishing hole and talk out loud to an imaginary audience? It’s tough to overcome all those years of enjoying the solitude where nature does the talking. Perhaps a voiceover would work but Thurl Ravenscroft or John Facenda, I am not. And I’m too cheap (and broke) to pay anybody.

Therefore, I think I will simply address this video vision in the same manner that I have come to approach the writing portion of blogging. Just be myself, document as much as I can and throw out the self-conscious trepidation of whether or not the posts pass muster.

After all, jotting down notes on a clipboard or pecking away at a keyboard is kind of like talking to myself anyway and I’ve grown quite comfortable with those tasks. Here’s hoping that you will continue listening.

(Note: if all else fails, shooting more video likely translates to more bloopers which were always a hit for another outdoor childhood hero, Bill Dance).


Talk to you later. Troy

2020 Visions – Missions

Coming your way next are a handful of what some folks would call “Resolutions.”

And over the years, I have been down that blogging road so I figured that I’d change it up a bit and go with “Visions” instead. After all, the term goes hand in hand with 2020.

If you peruse many of the popular YouTube channels you will find countless submissions that scream “CHALLENGE.” Part “clickbait”, part “Search Engine Optimization” strategy and perhaps a beneficial term, but for now, I’m going down the path of being different (or stubborn, or old, or marketing unsavvy).

Earlier this year, my brother, Brent, and I went on what I would consider a “Mission”, something I called “The 100 Year Trip” (click here to check that one out). Well, I’ve got at least a couple other ideas up my sleeve for 2020. And not only do I suspect that I can get Brent to play along but I also figure that I can recruit Julie, the four youngsters who live under our roof and perhaps some others to tackle a mission or two along the way.

Enough said for now, all you get are a few pics in this post that will hopefully have an explanation in 2020. For now just looking to build up some of that edge of your seat suspense for the new year. Stay tuned for the rest of the “Visions” as 2019 fades from view. Talk to you later. Troy

Rewind 2009 – Family

The “Rewind” post series wraps up on a day where I have the good fortune to celebrate what is arguably the most exciting day of the year with my family (IRAP strip mines opening on April 1 is quite exciting too). And yes, today’s excitement will certainly rouse me and Julie from bed in the pre-dawn dark. But hey, I just need to remember that I was once in the shoes of those youngsters who will soon show up at bedside rearing to go.

So, without further ado, here’s the final 10 year flashback.

July 4, 2009 – Fireworks in Galesburg, IL

Funny to look back and realize that we were The Jackson 5 as the other little brother was still two years away.

July 4, 2019 – Hanging on the deck in Silvis, IL

Sure would welcome some of this weather again although you certainly can’t complain about 60 degrees in the Quad Cities on Christmas Day.

And speaking of Christmas, Merry Christmas to all from The Jacksons.

Talk to you later. Troy

Rewind 2009 – Yours Truly

Does anybody get a kick out of those “spot the differences” activities? You know, two similar pictures where there’s a striped shirt in one versus a spotted shirt in the other?

Well, today’s “Rewind” post is kind of like that. I chose this pair of pictures as I found it fun that they essentially contained the same pose (beyond sitting and standing), ten years apart.

So, let’s have a look at the details behind the pictures before the reveal of the seven items that I find to be different (the bass are essentially the same size as noted below).

IMPORTANT! Guess now if you wish to play along as the differences are revealed at the end of this post.

August 15, 2009 – Spring Lake – McDonough County, IL

6:28am Length: 18.5” Weight: 2-15 Lure: Rapala DT6 Crankbait

October 14, 2019 – Little John Conservation Club – Knox County, IL

2:28pm Length: 18” Weight: 2-11 Lure: Booyah Blade Spinnerbait

Well, here’s my list of seven things that are different in the pictures.

  1. August attire in 2009, October attire in 2019
  2. Floppy hat Version 1.0 in 2009, Version 2.0 in 2019
  3. Shades in hand 2009, no shades as in the shade in 2019
  4. Lure reveal in 2009, no lure present in 2019 pic
  5. Goatee trim and dark in 2019, longer and not so dark in 2019
  6. Well over 200 pounds in 2009, over 30 down in 2019
  7. Ringless in 2019 when fishing, falls off my finger, scared I’ll lose it.

Hopefully, the slimmer look will remain in 2020 as winter and the holiday season typically conspire to pack on some pounds. Getting close to that good, old resolution time though. But first, one more “Rewind” post for the big day. Talk to you later. Troy

Rewind 2009 – Jayce & Papa

While both of these fishermen have already made an appearance on the “Rewind” series, how could I pass up this pair of photos? They epitomize much of what the outdoors and fishing in particular represent to me. A healthy, interactive activity that spans generations, fosters bonding and creates lifelong memories in an expansive and fascinating classroom.

May 28, 2009 – St. Mary’s Hospital – Galesburg, IL

Excerpts below from the original June 6, 2009 post entitled “Here Comes the Son”

Jayce tipped the scales at 7-2 “and just like his sisters, he only topped my personal bass record (5-15) among the five major species in the record book.” 

“Papa once again made sure that another of our kids had a fishing pole prior to leaving the hospital. Superman will now tag along with Mickey Mouse and the Disney Princesses.”

May 11, 2019 – Lake Storey – Galesburg, IL

One of 50 plus crappie landed on this outing by a crew of seven anglers spanning three generations

Excerpts below from the original May 13, 2019 post entitled “A Really Crappie Day”

“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.”

“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.”

How far back do your “fish stories” extend?

For the two anglers above, I suppose the combined answer would reside somewhere in the 75 year range. And while one of the fellows covers most of that ground, it is equally exciting when either starts up an outdoor conversation with “Do you remember that one time..?”

Thanks to both of these outdoorsmen, I actually remember lots of “one times.”

Talk to you later. Troy

Rewind 2009 – Brent

Fishing with a partner is good for a variety of reasons. There’s stuff like someone to help open a gate or load the boat as well as conversation on the road and on the water. In addition, you’ve got two lures in the water to up the odds of fooling a fish and its often wise to start with two different presentations to find what the fish want. This last point gets kind of weird when fishing with my brother though as the details indicate below.

August 15, 2009 – Spring Lake – McDonough County, IL

Length: 18.5” Weight: 3-12 Lure: Spinnerbait

This photo comes from a tag team effort with Brent on a lake I’d never fished and he’d fished for only a few frustrating dog day hours the previous day.

Excerpt from original September 5, 2009 post below along with the stats for the day.

Fishing together for the first time since July 2005 “there we were once again with Brent tossing a spinnerbait while I relied on a crankbait just as my 2005 log entry had also recorded.”

August 15, 2009 with Brent at Spring Lake
6.00 hours with 11 bass (Troy = 6 bass Brent = 5 bass)
Top 5 Weight: 16-8 (3-12,3-12,3-11,2-15,2-6)

October 13, 2019 – Snakeden Hollow – Knox County, IL

Weight: 4-5 Lure: Spinnerbait

Excerpt from original October 15, 2019 post below along with the stats for the day.

“It only took about 10 minutes before Brent got us on the board with his old reliable spinnerbait. That spinnerbait would go on to land all but one of his bass.”

October 13, 2019 with Brent at Snakeden Hollow
5.25 hours with 23 bass (Brent – 12, Troy – 11)
Top 5 Weight: 11-9 (4-5,2-1,1-15,1-10,1-10)

Brent is as good a bass fisherman as I know and I also know that most of the year he is going to come in wielding a spinnerbait. And most of the time it works. The odd part is that I can throw a similar bait and find myself unable to cash in on the bite. Just one of those fishing things that are hard to explain. Perhaps it’s touch or maybe, as Dad is known to say, “You’re not holding your mouth right.” Talk to you later. Troy

Rewind 2009 – Jayce

The next featured participant in this series just narrowly made the cut as my boy, Jayce, made his appearance back on May 28, 2009. It sure didn’t take long for the little guy to get a look at the big boys of bass fishing at barely two weeks old. Fast forward and he is presently getting it done himself.

June 12, 2009 – Fort Madison, IA – Bassmaster River Rumble

Me and my newest angler pose with Kevin VanDam’s truck and boat.

This shot comes from a family outing to watch the Bassmaster Elite Series weigh-in at Riverview Park in Fort Madison, IA. Quite a trick with a four-year old, a two-year old and their brand new, fifteen day old little brother.

Quotes from the original June 17, 2009 post:

“At various times during our journey, I felt like patting myself on the back with one hand and slapping myself upside the head with the other.”

“The spectacle for me was what I would call a ‘Wrigley Field moment.’ You can watch it on television, look at the pictures or see it in print, but being there takes your breath away every time. One of those goosebump, loss for words and can’t wipe the smile off of your face experiences; I felt like a fourth little kid in our party despite being a month away from turning forty-two.”

“I also killed some time watching Takahiro Omori (Japanese born angler and 2004 Bassmaster Classic winner) as he checked his equipment and filled his reels with fresh line as Julie was nursing Jayce (discreetly) in our car a mere fifteen feet away. How cool is that?”

July 26, 2019 – Lake Storey – Knox County, IL

So the kid I was holding in the first picture is now holding his own bass. One that he caught by selecting a lure, choosing a spot, making a cast, recognizing a bite, setting the hook, winning the battle and hauling his catch aboard. In fact, he did it four times under less than ideal dog day conditions on a challenging lake as those Lake Storey bass are a wary bunch. A proud Dad moment and from the look on Jayce’s face in this photo I believe he was also feeling pretty good about his accomplishment.

Oh, by the way, Jayce outfished me four to zero on this day, didn’t bother me a bit.

Talk to you later. Troy

Rewind 2009 – Dad

While you never quite know what social media is up to, this year’s “10 Year Challenge” kind of sounded like a good fit with an outdoor twist. So, before we wrap up 2019, here we go with a new post each day through Christmas.

First up, is Dad as he is an important reason that I am here. Physically, of course, but also for instilling an appreciation of outdoor pursuits. All these years later that outdoor introduction has led to something called “blogging.” And as we head to 2020, Dad gets to kick off the latest blog series as the lead man.

September 21, 2009 – Lake Storey – Knox County, IL

Length: 14.5” Weight: 1-10 Lure: Mann’s 4- Crankbait

This photo comes from the 2009 edition of something I used to call “Day on the Lake” which found Dad and me taking on the annual challenge of the Lake Storey fall drawdown. The concept was to document every bass with a log entry and a picture. This was bass #15 and our final catch during a seven hour day on the water.

Excerpt from original September 28, 2009 post below along with the stats for the day.

3:32 pm – Dad continues his string with the crankbait as a 14.5” (1-10) matches his largest bass of the day. Roughly another half hour on the water fails to add to our creel and we decide to call it a day.

September 21, 2009 with Dad at Lake Storey
7.00 hours with 15 bass (Dad = 8 bass Troy = 7 bass)
Top 5 Weight: 8-11 (2-10,1-10,1-10,1-9,1-4)

July 27, 2019 – Little John Conservation Club – Knox County, IL

Length: 16” Weight: 1-15 Lure: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (smoke)

Excerpt from original July 31, 2019 post below along with the stats for the day.

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.

Date: July 27, 2019 at Little John Conservation Club
4.25 hours with 29 bass (Dad – 17 bass, Troy – 12 bass)
Top 5 Weight: 9-13 (3-14,1-15,1-7,1-6,1-3)

Pretty cool, a pair of pics featuring a pair bass from a pair of trips for a pair of fishermen who have been doing it for decades longer than the 10 year scope of this project. More to come over the next several days. Talk to you later. Troy