Month: April 2020

Friday Flashback-April 27 to May 5, 1985

Looking back 35 years ago for this week’s flashback, it appears that I may have missed my calling. From the looks of my old fishing log, I should have been a fishing guide. After all, during the nine days spanning April 27, 1985 through May 5, 1985, I spent parts of seven days on the water and fished with ten different “clients.”

April 27, 1985

April 28, 1985

April 29, 1985

These “clients” included my dad and each of my three siblings (two brothers and a sister). I guess Mom must have been busy that week.

In addition to family, friends rounded out the rest of the ten fishing partners. The log only identifies the co-anglers by first name but I think they all deserve a shout out. From the Galesburg High School Class of 1985 were Doug Dawson, John Junk, Craig James, Jason Radakovich and Joe Dennis. And the GHS Class of 1987 was represented by Mark Junk.

Quite a crew, several of whom were frequent fishers out at Knox County’s Lake Bracken during the latter half of my high school senior year and on through that summer. All told, the old green notebook that served as my first fishing log covers sixty-four fishing trips spanning January 19, 1985 through August 25, 1985.

April 30, 1985

May 3, 1985

May 4, 1985

May 5, 1985

I suspect we’ll explore more of the contents of that green notebook as 2020 progresses. Talk to you later. Troy

Family Fishing Report – April 18 & 19

As a blogger, I find that fishing reports are the best posts to compose and submit. The only problem is that when you get ample opportunities to fish it gets tough to find time to put the reports together. A nice problem to have when blogging, so I guess belated is what you get as I am also a husband, dad and employee ahead of the whole wannabe writer thing.

Today we have a weekend report that covers a solo outing with my son, Jayce, on a recent Saturday followed up by an entire Jackson 6 trip on the following day. This one will be part regular fishing report format and part video/slideshow as the clips and pics say it better than I could write it. The slideshows and more video from our family outing are up in entirety at Troy Jackson Outdoors You Tube, click here.

Date: April 18 & 19, 2020
Location: Knox County, IL strip mines (public & private)
Totals: a handful of bluegill, a few bass and a lone crappie
Lures/bait: Rapala Shad Rap (blue), Senko wacky rig (white), waxworms on a jighead hung from a slip bobber


Trip Lyric 4/18
“That don’t bother me at all” – Two Hangmen, Mason Proffit (1969)
It’s always cool when I catch this rare tune on the radio and good, old 107.7FM “Vintage Radio” out of Erie, IL came through on this ride to the fishing hole. My role on outings with the kids is to observe, instruct and encourage while making a handful of casts of my own at best. This lyric was right on the money.

Trip Lyric 4/19
“Baby, you can drive my car.” – Drive My Car, The Beatles (1965)
I don’t know the last time that I was not behind the wheel on the ride home from my Knox County strip mines. And when I was, I know it was not due to an effort to get our 15-year old some behind the wheel time. Helena did a stellar job during the hour drive featuring off the beaten path, county road, state route and Interstate (with construction).

Notes and Nonsense

Shad Rap, Jayce Jack, A Bended Pole – My boy, Jayce, just wasn’t getting any takers on his go to presentation, the Senko wacky rig. I suggested that he learn about the Rapala Shad Rap as I had fooled over double digits with the lure a week prior on the same fishing hole. Three casts later, he had his first bass of the afternoon. Unfortunately, the bite dried up as soon as it started as the Shad Rap couldn’t find any more interested bass. However, it did hook a fisherman as he was throwing it again the next day.


Gear – I am notorious for packing too much gear but for the family outing I actually dialed it back. Working as fishing guide in tandem with Julie as our hostess, we got by with twelve boots, ten poles, two tacklebags, roughly seventy waxworms, two coolers, six sandwiches and fifteen bottles of water.

COVID Note – We are constantly reminded and continue to do our part, so generally I try to leave this alone in my fishing reports. However, as a frugal father and fisherman, I need to give a shout out to saving a few bucks due to the pandemic. At $1.59 a gallon, I am more willing to take a family road trip during these potentially uncertain financial times. And the whole social distancing thing likely saved me $20 or more on sodas and treats as we had an excuse to avoid the “gas station.”


An enjoyable afternoon/evening with a batch of cooperative panfish, a couple bass and a tired bunch by the time we headed home. The coolest thing was a unanimous “that was fun” and a request to go back and try our luck again. In fact, plans are in the works as I post this report. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

A mix of weather in the area this last week found several anglers fooling some bass during all conditions. From moderate temp, cloudy days mid-week to a cold, wet, nasty Saturday through a bright, warm Sunday, a solid batch of bass join our 2020 Top 5.

Weight: 3-1
Angler: Teagan Mills
Date: April 21
Location: Private pond
Lure: Minnow
Top 5 Weight: 6-1 (3-1,3-0)

Weight: 2-4
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 23
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Chatterbait (black/blue)

Weight: 2-4
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 23
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Chatterbait (black/blue)

Weight: 2-2
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 23
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Chatterbait (black/blue)

Weight: 2-12
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 23
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Chatterbait (black/blue)

Weight: 1-9
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: April 23
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Chatterbait (black/blue)
Angler Comments: Filled out my Top 5 in about 20 minutes.
Top 5 Weight: 14-9 (4-1,3-4,2-12,2-4,2-4) culls 2-2 and 1-9

Weight: 3-2
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: April 26
Location: Knox County public strip pit
Lure: Senko wacky rig
Top 5 Weight: 4-12 (3-2,1-10)

Weight: 4-12 (21″)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 26
Weather: Sunny/windy
Location: Knox County public strip pit
Lure: Jig (black/blue) with #11 pork frog (black/blue)
Structure: Open
Angler Comments: This one turned around a tough morning after two good bites got loose and I logged only one short bass in my first hour of casting. Been a long time coming and a lot of casts after struggling to find some big bites the last two years. More to come, including video, when I get time to compile the fishing report.
Top 5 Weight: 12-5 (4-12,2-1,1-14,1-14,1-12) culls 1-11

A quality haul amidst the strange conditions in our world but no problem maintaining social distance as advised. It still baffles me how spots like Snakeden Hollow and Banner Marsh remain closed while a number of other sites are slated for “partial re-opening” on May 1. I have yet to find any explanation on the choices so if anybody has any input, drop me a line.

Still trying to play catch-up on a handful of items but tough to find time as I am fortunate to still be working. Sooner or later, I’ll get the posts compiled so make sure you check back in for more fish, family, friends, fun and foolishness. Talk to you later. Troy

Lucky Shirt – R&J’s Sportstacular

Many years since I bellied up to this bar

I’ve got some catching up to do as the first “lucky shirt” hit the water last summer. While that’s not actually a contemporary fishing trip, I guess that’s part of the point to this whole project. Besides, it would be an injustice to forego the original in favor of the most recent.

So, here we go.

We’re looking at a vintage R&J’s Sportstacular t-shirt today.

I know what you’re thinking. Where’s R&J’s and what’s a Sportstacular?

R&J’s was a tavern, watering hole, gathering place located in Sheffield, Illinois.

You know Sheffield, right? Kind of north of Neponset, roughly centered between Mineral and Wyanet?

R&J are Rodger and Joe, two of the three Hansen brothers (younger brother Michael) who operated the establishment and devised the Sportstacular. Along with a batch of Knox College buddies I met the Hansen brothers after first meeting their sister, Kathy, who was a fellow Siwash in the late1980s/early 1990s (actually we’re kind of always a Siwash).

As the Hansen’s were fellow sports nuts and enjoyed the occasional cold one, we all hit it off pretty well. From the sport and beverage combo arose an event that they deemed The Sportstacular, kind of like a team oriented Olympics with beer. The one day event kicked off with each four participant team playing a round of golf and likely having a few morning beers. Following the round, it was back to R&J’s for the three remaining events, darts and sand volleyball at the bar and free throw shooting at the village park. Oh yeah, and some beer. They also had something onsite called Rolle Bolle that we played at times but I do not recall it actually being included as an event. Please cut me some slack on the exact details as it was around 25 years ago, and remember, there was a fair amount of beer involved.

Julie and I actually took a road trip to the area last summer to snap a few pics.

Site of the free throw event

The old court but I believe a new hoop

Sand volleyball and Rolle Bolle, once upon a time

Fast forward to July 13, 2019 when I decided to kick off the “Lucky Shirt” project. What better shirt on a hot summer day than one that I earned on another hot summer day many years ago. The fishing portion of the project consisted of an enjoyable strip mine outing with my friend, John Kirkemo. The results of our outing are below and the original fishing report can be found by clicking here.

Date: July 13, 2019 with John Kirkemo
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 (various) – 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)

As far as Sportstacular results, I know that we did not claim the title in any of the three years I was involved. But if you could quantify fun and you were counting beers, I suppose that our foursome of John Junk, Mark Junk, Matt Reynolds and myself (weakest link in the beer department) were perennial frontrunners.

Bonus pic from 3/27/07 with my original R&J Hansen’s shirt, wore it until it wore out.

And there you have it, “Lucky Shirt” post number one with many more to follow. A fine place to start the series. A small town, good times, good friends and good memories, from what I can remember. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – April 25, 2010

Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat.

I am not what one would call a master morel hunter. In fact, I would have to classify myself as a mediocre morel mushroom man, at best. There have only been two occasions where I have stumbled upon what I would consider a motherlode of mushrooms. The first occurred on the wild south side of Lake Bracken back in the 1990s, right where one would expect to find some, near some dying elm trees. Never could duplicate the feat upon repeated visits over the following years despite adhering to the standard morel harvesting guidelines. Those being pinching not pulling and toting a mesh bag.

The second big haul occurred in a much stranger setting on the wild south side of Galesburg in a vacant lot next to our house at the time. That 2009 highlight will have to be a story for another day. Similar to the first motherlode, I was never able to repeat as only three showed up the next year likely due to someone regularly mowing the vacant lot (not me).

Anyway, for today’s flashback, a portion of the original report from April 29, 2010 went like this:

“On April 25, I found seven at Little John. Now when I say seven, I mean seven individual mushrooms, not seven pounds like the reports from some of the more talented hunters. Two hours of walking resulted in four singles and a batch of three in another spot (along with two ticks). Such is my typical lack of success but I was not alone as two other fellows I encountered that afternoon reported similar single digit finds.”

You know what’s cool though? My kids had no clue that my mushroom per hour ratio was pretty humbling. In fact, they actually thought I was some kind of morel hero. Fungus finder or fungus failure, it’s good to be a dad. Talk to you later. Troy

Lucky Shirt Intro

So, I’ve got plenty of concepts, from silly to somewhat serious, bouncing around upstairs, jotted down in binders or noted on my phone. These ideas are in quite various stages of ever seeing the light of day, if some ever do at all.

I actually kicked off one of them last year but never got around to truly launching in the form of a blog series. It’s something that I am calling the “Lucky Shirt” project.

For years, I have pretty much worn the same outdoor attire just because that’s what I do. My wardrobe essentially consists of work clothes (collared shirt and slacks or jeans) and not work clothes (t-shirts and jeans or camo pants). Sweatshirts cover both roles with the older ones used for the not work portion.

Speaking of sweatshirts, a few green versions have been popular for fishing and other outdoor pursuits for many years.


Anyway, after a successful weight loss challenge at work in mid-2019, I decided to dig out an old batch of t-shirts that had been packed away. And, what do know, they all fit again.

As a result, I not only had a new batch of fishing shirts but also a new blog idea.

Last summer, I actually put the concept into practice but it kind of fell through the cracks. Thus, it is time to chip away at the posts that have been waiting in the wings as well as continue the project in 2020 with a new old shirt for every trip.


Just like every picture tells a story, every one of these old shirts also has a story to tell. As the project proceeds, you’ll get the stories and the stats. Perhaps, along the way I’ll luck into a “lucky” shirt to expand my standard fishing wardrobe.

I guess that’s the best I have for an explanation for the lucky fishing shirt posts that will periodically appear here on the blog. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

The area saw some stable weather this weekend with an upturn in temps from a week featuring a couple snowstorms but still not top notch conditions. High winds also made for some challenges for those casting from the bank. Well done by the anglers below in persevering and getting one step closer to completing their Top 5.

Weight: 1-1
Angler: Brady Jackson
Date: April 20
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Senko (black/blue)
Top 5 Weight: 4-8 (1-5,1-2,1-1,1-0)

Weight: 1-13
Angler: Kennedy Jackson
Date: April 19
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Senko (orange)

Weight: 0-15
Angler: Kennedy Jackson
Date: April 19
Location: Knox County strip pit
Lure: Senko (orange)
Angler Comments: We started out where we had good luck last week but the wind was blowing right in our faces which made casting a little difficult. We fished about 20 minutes and decided to make the hike over to another lake. Brady said he was not going to fish until someone caught a fish. It was about 2 or 3 casts and Kennedy caught the 1-13 on an orange senko with a flat tail (she picked it out herself). Brady started fishing and ended up catching one at 1-1 on the black/blue senko. Kennedy had another one at 15 oz. and she ended up getting her hair caught up in the reel handle – I’m pretty sure that is the first time that has ever happened to one of my fishing partners.
Top 5 Weight: 4-1 (1-13,1-5,0-15)

Still waiting for that run of stable, warm weather to really kick the bite into gear. A couple reports of some monster bass from West Central Illinois but overall hearing more reports of scattered tough bites. The extended forecast does show some warmer days and more importantly warmer nights on the horizon. Here’s hoping that it heats up the bite as well.

Loads of stuff lined up for the blog, just need to find time to put it together. So stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – April 11

Another belated fishing report as it has been taking a week or so to get these latest ones put together and published. Still trying to get a handle on the upended routine and fortunate to still be putting in a full week of work. Just kind of out of sorts but here you go, better late than never for some new fish stories.

10:31am – First bass as you gotta start somewhere, Red Eye Shad

Date: April 11, 2020
Location: Knox County, IL strip mines (5 lakes)
Time: 10:15am-5:25pm (5.75 hours fishing)
Weather: Overcast/breezy/light rain
Air Temp: 47-64F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 29 bass
Lures: Rapala Shad Rap (blue) – 20 bass , Chatterbait (bluegill) – 4 bass, Blue Glimmer Spinnerbait – 3 bass, Jig & Pig (black/blue) – 1 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (orange craw) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-1 (Blue Glimmer)
Top 5 Weight: (2-1,1-14,1-14,1-11,1-11) 9-3

The lures that made the starting lineup for this outing

Notes and Nonsense

Trip Lyric
“You slipped upon the floor and hit your head.” – Please Don’t Bury Me, John Prine (1973)
If you’ve ever traversed strip mine territory, you can relate to the care one must take when navigating the steep spoilbanks. With the recent passing of John Prine, a spate of his lyrics have been on my mind as of late. This one came about as I clambered down to a fishing hole. I also had to smile at the prospect of a slip as it brought to mind the final line in the last verse of this very same tune: “And kiss my @$$ goodbye.”

Top 5 Bass clip below


Odd Bass – From downright gluttonous to somewhat crooked to just plain strange, a trio of bass landed during this trip were something other than normal.

Odd Bass #1 – First up was a greedy bass looking for seconds on a late lunch. The first course consisted of a crawdad while the second helping was a Rapala Shad Rap.

2:24pm – Fat Bass on a Shad Rap

Odd Bass #2 – Next up was a somewhat misshapen bass. This one had a crooked back behind the posterior dorsal fin as the body headed towards the tail. The belly side of the fish was also odd with an abrupt transition to the tail as opposed the more normal taper.

4:19pm – Odd Body Bass on a Shad Rap

Odd Bass #3 – The weirdest bass of the day was rather gaunt looking with a ragged dorsal fin and a notched back. Interestingly, this is not the first such bass that I have caught from this lake as noted below.


Odd Lure – While there’s really nothing particularly odd about a chatterbait among the bass fishing crowd, the oddity here is that I actually caught some bass on one. And decent bass at that, maybe I’m finally getting with the program.

Chatterbait comes through for this stubborn “non-believer” of an angler

Rain ran me off and I was already pushing late for supper due to a good bite

Lots more stuff in the works as there’s just not enough hours in the day. Stick around though as sooner or later I’ve got some tunes, some attire, some video, some reflection and hopefully some bass from this weekend. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – April 14 & 22, 1995

If you fish or run around in the great outdoors enough, you will certainly log a few of those “believe it or not” tales.

And this is one of them from a place called “Sewage Lake.”

No, that’s not the “believe it or not” part. That’s actually one of my made up names from 30 years ago that still kind of tickles me all of these years later. You see, it lies below a village water treatment reservoir so I found it both apt and amusing.

Dateline: April 14, 1995
Weight: 2-13
Lure: Spinnerbait (white)
Comments: So, this is my brother, Brent, posing with his catch from an appealing windblown point on the west side of Sewage Lake. One side of the point dropped rapidly into the main lake basin while the other side transitioned into a shallow flat. Somewhere out there on the point of this point was the sweet spot where this bass took a liking to his spinnerbait.

Dateline: April 22, 1995
Weight: 2-13
Lure: Jig & Pig (black/blue)
Comments: So, this is Brent’s brother, Troy, posing with his catch from an appealing windblown point…where this bass took a liking to his jig and pig.

Okay, beyond the date and the lure, everything was the same on these two days when we fished this spot together.

And when I say “everything”, I’ve long wondered if this could actually have been the same bass. After all, the same weight and caught from the same lake on the same spot eight days apart. Makes for a good fish story and flipping through the photo album it is tough to tell.

Same weight, same spot, same bass, or not?

Further photo analysis through magnifying the photos on the computer, however, seems to point to the contention that these could be the same bass as more fish story than fact. As highlighted below, the tail fin on Brent’s bass has been damaged while the tail fin on my bass looks to be intact. Technology seems to dispel the potential “believe it or not” of these catches. Of course, that same technology also has the capability of enhancing a fish story through something known as photoshop.

But that’s not how Troy Jackson Outdoors rolls. Instead, we’ll leave it as this pair of bass being brothers, just like the anglers who caught them. That makes for a good fish story too. Talk to you later. Troy


What do these guys have in common and why are they making an appearance on an “outdoor” blog?

Well, let me tell you.

We’ve all heard of, and probably have, lucky or unlucky numbers.

There’s also other numbers that hold a special significance.

If you are a music fan perhaps you know 867-5309 or Beechwood 4-5789?

In baseball terms, I’ve always been fond of 44, 56, 755 and 3,000 to name a few.

And a bit more loosely sports related, there’s good old #660, which is where those fellows above come into play. You see, from 1973 through 1977, the Topps baseball set offered up the challenge of collecting a total of 660 cards for your “complete set. That end card in the set, #660, often has a slight uptick in value if found in quality condition. After all, it wasn’t quite as protected as all the cards in between it and #1 in that old shoebox.

Here’s a brief look at each of the #660 cards from 1973 through 1977 before I actually reveal why I found it appropriate to build a blog post around them.

1973 Topps #660 – Fred Scherman
Southpaw Scherman spent seven seasons (1969-76) in the majors with his best years coming in relief for Detroit. In 1974 he was traded to Houston and would wrap up his career with Montreal. A highlight was his 69 appearances for the Tigers in 1971, a club record at the time.

1974 Topps #660 – Larry Dierker
Dierker’s MLB career spanned 1964-77 with all but the final season being spent with Houston (brief duty with St. Louis in 1977). Along the way he became the Astros first 20-game winner in 1969 and tossed a no-hitter in 1976. He would later serve as Astros manager from 1997-2001.

1975 Topps #660 – Hank Aaron
What can you say about the greatest #660 card of all-time? Just an amazing man, home run king and one of my favorite ball players despite only seeing the end of his illustrious career. Did you know that if you take away every homer “Hammerin’ Hank” hit, he would still have 3,000 hits? (3,771 hits – 755 homers = 3,016 hits) Interestingly, the 1975 Topps set also featured “Hammer” as card #1. And while we are talking 660, do you know what contemporary of Henry Aaron posted 660 career home runs?

1976 Topps #660 – Davey Lopes
Although Lopes had a turn with my Cubs in the 80s, I will always remember him as part of a solid Dodger infield through the bulk of the 70s. From 1973 through the rest of the decade you would find, first to third, Steve Garvey, Lopes, Bill Russell and “The Penguin” Ron Cey. An adept base stealer, Lopes was also featured on a 1976 Topps Highlight card recognizing his 1975 record setting run of 38 consecutive thefts without being caught.

1977 Topps #660 – Willie Horton
Willie Horton always seemed like one of those larger than life characters to this baseball card collecting kid in early to mid-70s. A stout frame, a killer Fu Manchu and tales of some monster homers were all a pretty cool combination. In those days it was tough to see much of my American League baseball heroes until This Week in Baseball came around in the same year that this card was issued. Turns out that my larger than life guy came in at regular guy height of 5’10”. However, his impact on and off the field was monumental, particularly in Motown, where he is honored with a statue at the Tiger’s Comerica Park.

Well, if you’ve made it this far, pat yourself on the back for enduring Troy Jackson Outdoors blog posting #660 since setting off on this adventure 1,081 days ago on May 1, 2017. Not too bad of an output if I do say so myself. You know that translates into a “batting average” of .611 for any fellow baseball fans out there. Tough to say on the breakdown of the posts in terms of swinging bunts, seeing eye grounders, Texas Leaguers, doubles in the gap or the occasional dinger. But rest assured, I’m going to continue stepping up to the plate ready to take my cuts.

And since 1,000 is kind of a nice round number, I suppose I’ll sign off with a tip of the cap and get back to writing. Talk to you later. Troy