Month: June 2020

Top 5 Update

West Central Illinois public waters keep the Top 5 Updates rolling along as we near the midpoint of the calendar year. Got some good ones this time around so read on as we have a new leader and another angler one step closer to filling his limit.

Weight: 4-14
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: June 22
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Chatterbait

Weight: 5-15
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: June 22
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Chatterbait

Weight: 4-6
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: June 24
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Chatterbait
Angler Comments:
Top 5 Weight: 23-8 (5-15,4-14,4-6,4-4,4-1) culls 4-1,3-9 and 3-8

Weight: 1-6 (13”)
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: June 25
Weather: Bright sun
Water Temp: 77F
Location: McMaster Lake
Lure: Wacky worm
Top 5 Weight: 5-11 (1-15,1-6,1-6,1-0)

Thanks for the submissions guys as it doesn’t get much better than seeing a fish story show up in the Inbox. Good luck and stay cool out there as some dog day fishing looms on the horizon. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – June 26 & 28, 1995

Although I’ve neglected these types of waters for nearly a decade, there’s something special about spillways and streams. Many good memories and many good fish courtesy of a simple dew worm, a “secret” doughball or a can of corn. It really doesn’t get much more basic than tossing in one of those baits, waiting for a tug and pondering what is on the end of the line as you set the hook.

Twenty five years ago this week I was able to cover both spillway and stream fishing over the course of just a few days. A handful of fellow fishermen (Dad, Brent and Mark “Geek” Junk) joined up to take a shot at a couple legendary fishing holes known as “Pat’s Creek” (Henderson County, IL) and “The Spillway” (Lake Bracken). Below is a slideshow of the photos that served to document those enjoyable adventures.


The crazy thing is that all of these years later I have plenty of moving water up here in the Quad Cities worth visiting. If I could just put down those bass rods…

Talk to you later. Troy

The Rock Report – June 13

After nearly a month without a fishing trip and with a weeklong work trip to North Carolina on the horizon it was looking like the bass were going to get an even longer break. That fishing hiatus changed in a hurry though following a Thursday night text from my friend, Chris Rock, offering “if you are able to get away Saturday morning…” Even though I would be leaving my family for most of the week beginning at about 4:00am Sunday morning, Julie said, “Well, you gotta go.” My thoughts exactly and I’m sure glad I did.

Early departure to make the 5:30am launch time

Date: June 13, 2020
Location: Peoria County, IL private lake
Time: 5:50am-10:50am
Weather: Partly cloudy/windy
Air Temp: 57-64F
Water Temp: 74F
Totals: Troy = 42 bass, 1 tiger muskie, Chris = more than 42 bass
Lures: Blue Glimmer Spinnerbait – 16 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- Crankbait (red craw) – 11 bass, Strike King 2.5 Rattling Squarebill Crankbait (sexy shad) – 10 bass, Booyah Buzzbait (bleeding shad) – 4 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (orange craw) – 1 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 1 muskie
Top Bass: 2-5 (Chris) and 2-3 (Troy)
Top 5 Weight (Troy): 8-9 (2-3,1-14,1-10,1-8,1-6)


Notes & Nonsense

Rebounding – It had been a few years since I had a chance to fish a lake that had churned out several bass topping eight pounds. In the interim, Chris noted that Mother Nature had thinned the big bass in some manner so such bass were now unlikely. An unfortunate setback for the fishery but those we landed seemed quite healthy and headed in the right direction.

Comfort and Confidence – It’s always interesting when I get to fish with a partner and observe different approaches. Chris did much of his damage with a swim jig, a lure that I could stand to learn better. Not surprisingly, I stuck to several of my standard offerings. While the bass mood did fluctuate at times, it was cool to find that we were both able to dial in our own effective presentations.

Muskie Mystery – About midway through our morning, Chris pointed out a nice sized muskie swimming in the distance with its head sticking out of the water. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen such a thing before as the fish covered several yards in this manner before disappearing. Post fishing research by Chris turned up some possible explanations below. In the same general location, as we ended our outing, we actually got one in the boat but I was too distracted to ask the catch about the behavior. Maybe next time…

10:50am 36″ 12-12 Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad)

Last Cast – We’d discussed “quitting time” and I opted for “around 11:00am” as I had plenty to do with a weeklong work trip beginning at 4:00am the next morning. As the deadline approached I’d been struggling to get bit while Chris continued to fool several bass on a couple different lures. I was confident in a lipless crank but felt I may have the wrong color so I switched out my orange craw for a sexy shad pattern. A few casts later, at 10:50am, the action below took place. After the release, I put my poles away, convinced that there was no better way to end the day. I’d have to say that it was my best “last cast” ever and a welcome “accident.”


Thanks to Chris for a great day and his guidance on a stellar body of water. I’ve done this fishing thing for a long time but still get a little self-conscious as a guest. Once I get going though, the mind and muscle memory kind of go on auto-pilot and the fish stories start to flow. I believe I only wound up with one snag and with Chris on the net was able to get a close muskie strike on 12-pound mono into the boat. I guess all of those years of practice tend to pay off in the form of some new fish stories. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

A trio of bass join the ranks as we transition from spring to summer. Yep, time sure flies when you’re fishing, a perfect getaway during our unusual times.

Weight: 1-0 (12”)
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: June 18
Weather: Bright blue skies
Water Temp: 78F
Location: Lake Storey
Lure: Senko wacky style
Top 5 Weight: 4-5 (1-15,1-6,1-0)

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

Weight: 3-9
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: June 20
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Texas rigged Senko
Top 5 Weight: 19-7 (4-4,4-1,4-1,3-9,3-8) culls 3-7 and 3-4

Thanks for your submissions fellas and keep them coming as the summer rolls on. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – June 19-20, 1995

Better late than never this time around as the Friday Flashback darn near didn’t show up until Saturday. Been a wild week of work that wrapped up about four hours ago upon ending a roughly 1,000 mile/16 hour drive from Kinston, NC to the Quad Cities (four hours last night and twelve today). I am beat but not too beat to meet my Friday deadline.

Mark “Geek” Junk

Today’s flashback takes me back to a time with far less responsibilities for a trio of more or less single guys back in 1995. Joining me at the Lake Bracken Spillway on this trip were a couple old buddies known as “Geek” and “Hack”. Throw in some doughballs and an adequate supply of Milwaukee’s Best and you’ve got yourself an adventure.

And on this day it sure was a good time as evidenced by the rewards from a pair of carp battles.

Matt “Hack” Reynolds

A fun outing with some good guys who I’d say are now even better. Each of us has added a better half and a batch of eight kids over the last quarter century. We’ve long scattered in different directions and rarely see each other these days but when we cross paths it’s just like old times. Can’t ask for better friends than that. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Circumstances dictate that the Top 5 Update shows up a day early this time around. No worries, all good here at blog headquarters, just some busy days ahead. Yes, I do more than just fish and camp and then sit around and blog all day. Although that setup would be nice. And speaking of nice, we have a solid batch of fish to add to the database.

Weight: 4-1
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: June 8
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Texas rigged Senko
Angler Comments: Hitting almost everything I threw, frog, creature thing, wacky Senko and Texas rigged Senko.

Weight: 3-2
Angler: Jim Junk
Date: June 10
Location: Banner Marsh
Lure: Creature
Top 5 Weight: 18-5 (4-1,4-1,3-8,3-7,3-4) culls 2-12

Other Species – Tiger Muskie

Weight: 12-12 (36”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: June 13
Weather: Partly Cloudy
Water Temp: 74F
Location: Peoria County private lake
Lure: Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad)
Structure: Hump
Angler Comments: In what would turn out to be my last cast of the morning I wound up with something other than the bass I was targeting. Sure was an exciting “accident” that dove under both motors and had me walking the length of the boat. More to come on the catch at a later date in the full fishing report.
Top 5 Weight: 12-12/Top 5 Length: 36”

Well, that was fun and hopefully will tide everyone over for a bit until the Friday Flashback, which may actually be a Saturday Flashback. At any rate, have no fear as there are still plenty of fish stories and more to tell, just limited time for composing and editing. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – June 17, 1995

Guess what “officially” turns 30 years old in just a few weeks.

Why, Snakeden Hollow, of course.

The old Knox County collection of fishing holes holds plenty of memories for me, my brother and my dad. And today’s flashback happens to be one of those memories. My biggest bass from the area, nabbed on a Zara Spook, 25 years ago this week.

It’s a little weird to me looking back. So many pictures grace the internet these days where you have no idea how big the fish truly is based on the camera angle, the proximity of the bass to the lens and the integrity of the angler.

No matter, not for me to question or judge. I just enjoy the pictures and reports and leave the scrutiny to others who feel the urge to add their two cents.

So, my biggest Snakeden bass came in at 5-2 although it sure doesn’t look like it one of the pics. This one could raise an eyebrow, even for the guy who caught it as he looks back 25 years later. But I’ve landed, measured and weighed thousands of bass over the years and never once felt the need to stretch one. After all, nearly all of them are meticulously documented in a collection of fishing logs dating back 35 years.

Fortunately, my brother, Brent, was along on this day to snap a shot with the scale in view. Zooming in, the display indeed reads 5-2, so no funny business going on with my trophy (released as always).

Another weird aspect of this catch is that I caught it on a spot that I would initially name Spook Lake after the lure that fooled the bass, the Zara Spook. In the 25 years since, I have never caught anything remotely close to this bass out of this pothole. I believe my runner-up comes in at 1-15. Due to the lack of future quality catches I even went so far as renaming the lake. Along with it’s somewhat linked companion, the fishing holes now bear the names of Upper and Lower Twin Lakes.

Just a strange catch all the way around and one I’ll always remember. That’s today’s story and I’m sticking to it. Talk to you later. Troy

Camping – 27 Hours in 3 Minutes

Last weekend we got in our first camping trip of the year. Actually it was the first camping trip in three years. Obviously, 2020 has been quite strange. So strange that most folks couldn’t even go camping unless they had a secluded spot. And even that possibility for us had some limitations. But with an ease in opening up some amenities (read pit toilets), we were off and running as our weekends are quite free as of late.

Rather than a ramble, I’m opting for a video and slideshow recap of our chance to get away from home.


A good time was had by all. So much so that plans are in the works to do it again soon. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – June 1, 2005

A couple weeks ago, the Friday Flashback told of the first Senko bass I ever caught. May 22, 2005 at Lake Bracken, a true highlight in a lifetime of fish stories. Well, just over a week later, Dad and I were back on Lake Bracken and that wacky presentation was on the end of my spinning rod. Below is the original log entry along with the original fishing report submitted on June 30, 2005 as part of a “June Wrap Up.”

Original log entry – June 1, 2005

June 1 – The first day of the month turned out to be the only day of the month that I actually wet a line. Dad and I hit Lake Bracken from 5:30am-9: 30am and we landed 31 bass. Dad led the way catching 19 with 12 coming on a Rebel Ghost Minnow, 5 on his tube jig and one apiece on a plastic crawdad and a twister tail. I caught 12, all of them on my Senko. The highlight of the day was a 5-0 that I caught off of a stump in about seven feet of water. The bass currently holds the Top Bass title for the year and missed the Lake Bracken record by one ounce.

Senko record of 5-0 from June 1, 2005 (later eclipsed on May 19, 2007)

If I wasn’t hooked on the Senko from the success of that first May outing, my second trip wielding the lure certainly sealed the deal. It’s been a mainstay in my arsenal ever since.

Oh, by the way, Dad and I would make our next visit to Lake Bracken on July 13, 2005. Guess what lure caught ten of his eleven bass? Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Stats

A new month means a new stat update. So, here we go.

2020 Totals
January = 1 bass
February = no submissions
March = 4 bass
April = 25 bass
May = 18 bass

Top 5 Weight by Month
January = 1-4 (one bass)
February = no submissions
March = 15-8 (6-14,4-1,3-4,1-5)
April = 16-11 (4-12,3-2,3-1,3-0,2-12)
May 22-6 (5-7,5-4,4-12,3-8,3-7)

Boat vs. Bank
Boat = 10 bass
Bank = 38 bass

Boat vs. Bank Weight
Boat = 13-10 (4-1,2-8,2-7,2-6,2-4)
Bank = 27-1 (6-14,5-7,5-4,4-12,4-12)

Public vs. Private
Public = 28 bass
Private = 20 bass

Public vs. Private Top 5 Weight
Public = 19-0 (4-12,4-1,3-8,3-7,3-4)
Private = 25-6 (6-14,5-7,5-4,4-12,3-1)

The Baits (* = new record)
Plastic Worm = 15 bass (Top Bass 3-7 Jim Junk)
*Chatterbait = 12 bass (Top Bass 5-7 Chris Schwarz) – tops 4-10 Mark Balbinot
*Spinnerbait = 7 bass (Top Bass 6-14 Chris Schwarz) – tops 5-14 Mark Balbinot
Lipless Crankbait = 5 bass (Top Bass 3-4 Jim Junk)
Crankbait = 2 bass (Top Bass 1-10 Brent Jackson)
Jig = 2 bass (Top Bass 4-12 Troy Jackson)
Livebait = 2 bass (Top Bass 3-1 Teagan Mills)
Buzzbait = 1 bass (Top Bass 2-5 Brent Jackson)
Creature = 1 bass (Top Bass 3-8 Jim Junk)
Grub = 1 bass (Top Bass 1-4 Jim Junk)

Monthly Top Bass
1-4 Jim Junk
No submissions
6-14 Chris Schwarz
4-12 Troy Jackson
5-7 Chris Schwarz

Top 10 Bass (* = new Top 10 all-time)
*6-14 Chris Schwarz (3/25) – new #10 all-time
5-7 Chris Schwarz (5/3)
5-4 Chris Schwarz (5/3)
4-12 Troy Jackson (4/26)
4-12 Chris Schwarz (5/3)
4-1 Jim Junk (3/7)
3-8 Jim Junk (5/16)
3-7 Jim Junk (5/29)
3-4 Jim Junk (3/3)
3-2 Brent Jackson (4/26)

Angler Weights
Chris Schwarz 22-5 (6-14,5-7,5-4,4-12)
Jim Junk 17-0 (4-1,3-8,3-7,3-4,2-12)
Troy Jackson 14-5 (4-12,2-8,2-7,2-6,2-4)
Brent Jackson 9-13 (3-2,2-12,2-5,1-10)
Teagan Mills 6-1 (3-1,3-0)
Kennedy Jackson 5-12 (1-13,1-11,1-5,0-15)
Brady Jackson 4-8 (1-5,1-2,1-1,1-0)
John Kirkemo 3-5 (1-15,1-6)
Carly Jackson 0-14 (0-14)

Other Species
Crappie 1-2 Troy Jackson

A strange year and it keeps getting stranger. All the more reason to grab a rod and reel, get some fresh air and tune out for a bit. Here’s hoping you get a chance to get away. Talk to you later. Troy