Month: September 2020

Snakeden at 30 – Changes

Thirty years is a long time to be acquainted and the changes certainly add up over the years. When a relationship is close during such a term, those changes just kind of happen, you take note and then they just become part of the landscape. However, when you look back over a span of three decades, well, things kind of add up. For better or worse, change is part of the game.

I could probably write a book on Snakeden Hollow but not today. Instead, you get the rough draft, abridged version in a video of some of the changes along with a couple things that remain the same.


Indeed, here is to some more Snakeden adventures. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – September 28, 2005

Fifteen years ago this week, I took a few days off of work to focus on some fall fishing. The combination of encountering a potential for a fall feeding frenzy and knowing that the end of another fishing year is near make this period my favorite time to hit the water. This trip to Knox County Illinois’ Lake Bracken, which was once in my backyard, did not disappoint. Below are some stats, pics and most of the original fishing report.

9:13am – Top Bass at 4-2 on a Mann’s 4- crankbait

Originally posted on 9-30-05

Day Three provided exactly what I was looking for from my Fishing Vacation. Lake Bracken came through with quality and quantity, as the bass were on a classic fall feeding binge complete with an approaching storm front. It would be tough to find a better time to be on the water during an unpredictable time of the year.

Site: Lake Bracken
Time: 7:10 am – 12:25 pm
Totals: 20 bass
Lures: Mann’s 4- crankbait (blue/chartreuse) 13 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (rainbow) – 6 bass, 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (black) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 4-2 (Mann’s 4- crankbait)
Top 5 Weight: 8-15 (4-2,1-8,1-3,1-2,1-0)

Original log entry from the outing

7:00 am to 8:00 am – My first cast hits the water at 7:10 am and I boat my first bass at 7:13 am along ramp road on a Mann’s 4- crankbait (blue/chartreuse). It’s a nice 11” fish and I get the feeling things may go well today. Our past few outings on Lake Bracken haven’t given up many fish even at some of our “old faithful” spots. This one comes from The Sticks three minutes into my trip and gives a welcome boost to my confidence. The Beaver Lodge in West Bay gives up a pair of bass including a healthy 1-3 and things are looking good as two proven spots produce.

8:00 am to 9:00 am – Three more bass are added to my creel with one each on a Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (rainbow), a Mann’s 4- crankbait (blue/chartreuse) and the Senko finally makes another appearance. At 8:11 am, a 13”, one-pound bass becomes bass number 100 for Lake Bracken this year. I also lose a two-pounder that throws the hooks after a brief battle on The Beaver Lodge in Spillway Cove. I’m sticking with a run and gun approach as the weather is supposed to take a turn for the worse somewhere around late morning. I’m hoping to hang in until noon and plan to move quickly to a number of proven spots. Crankbaits are the order of the day allowing me to cover a lot of water in a hurry while hoping to run into some active fish. So far so good.

9:00 am to 10:00 am – This turns out to be my most productive stretch of the day as I boat eight bass, seven of which come along The Dam. The crankbait bite is in full throttle as I also add a pair of fish to the record book. The first is a 1-8 while the second comes in at an impressive 4-2. The latter fish bests Brent’s 4-0 by two ounces for Top Bass of the month. Needing to share my success, I phone Dad who is on his way to Kentucky with Mom for a fall getaway. I end up talking with Mom as Dad is driving and she relays my results. Despite my success he decides to continue on his vacation rather than come back to get in on the feeding frenzy. However, Dad does mention that it is funny that I have no witnesses to verify my big fish. I guess Walgreen’s photo lab will have to back me up as I always bring along my camera. I also call and leave a message on Brent’s answering machine to greet him/rub it in when he gets home from work.

I still pack this item along but now primarily use a phone for a camera

10:00 am to 11:00 am – I add four more bass including two over 12”, all on my Mann’s 4- crankbait. Two of the fish during this hour come on a return trip to The Dam. I figured it was worth a second pass after leaving the fish alone for an hour.

11:00 am to 12:25 pm – Things slow down considerably during my last hour and a half on the water as I only catch two more bass. My final bite comes at 12:12 pm and while the bass is 12” long, it falls just a bit short of 12 ounces. As I reel the bass in I can see the first few sprinkles of rain making their way across the lake towards me. Wanting one more shot at The Beaver Lodge in West Bay, I hope the heavy stuff can wait just a little longer. It turns out I was being a bit greedy and should have been happy with twenty bass instead of going for twenty-one. The skies open up, barely allowing time for me to don my rain gear. I head for the ramp at 12:22 pm satisfied that Mother Nature cooperated as long as she did as the sky looked rather ominous most of the morning.

I sure miss the TracPhone days when my livelihood wasn’t tethered to a device

Always fun for me to look back on this stuff that I documented and hopefully it provides a little escape and perhaps some fishing insight for those who invest a few minutes to read. It is also fun to ponder the peripherals of a camera versus today’s smartphone along with the reference to getting pictures developed at the photo lab. Much has changed for me in the last fifteen years but many things also remain the same. This flashback featured Dad’s old Bass Tracker which will be put to use again this weekend as me and Brent have a trip in the works to a lake I last fished in 2013.

But that’s another story. Talk to you later. Troy

Rock Report – September 20

Over the past several years, I’ve had the good fortune of being able to fish a cool Peoria County fishing hole referred to as “The Rock”. The owner, Chris, invited me to tag along on those trips with the most recent visit being this past June. On the heels of that trip I finally got up the nerve to ask if I could bring Dad down for a shot and Chris was kind enough to oblige. But after having Chris’ experience and expertise as a guide on previous trips I was curious how it would work out when I got to assume that role. Could I get the guy who got me hooked on fishing hooked up to some bass? Read on for the results.

2:52pm – First bass at 14″ and 1-8 on a spinnerbait


Date: September 20, 2020
Location: Private lake – Peoria County, IL
Time: 2:50pm-6:20PM
Weather: Partly cloudy and varied winds
Air Temp: 71-63F
Water Temp: 69F
Totals: 45 bass (Troy – 29 bass, Dad – 16 bass)
Lures: Spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) – 32 bass, KVD Strike King Rattling Squarebill crankbait (multiple) – 7 bass, Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 4 bass, Yamamoto Senko wacky rig (smoke) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 1-11 Spinnerbait (Troy), 1-10 Spinnerbait (Dad)
Top 5 Weight: 7-15 (1-11,1-10,1-10,1-8,1-8)

Several of the winning lures along with a Senko fooling a couple

Notes and Nonsense

The Plan – Figuring we had four hours at most to fish, I had five areas in mind to try our luck. We were able to hit four of them and only one was a bit of a bust. Spot one was a bit of a slow start but gave up 6 bass in about 45 minutes. Spot two then produced 9 bass in 45 minutes and spot three resulted in 5 bass in about 20 minutes before our final stop really kicked things up a notch. In our last 70 minutes of casting we reeled in 25 bass for an exciting finale leaving us no time for the fifth area that I had in mind.

Mother Knows Best – While definitely a safe practice, wearing a life jacket is one of those do as I say not as I do sort of things when I am on the water. As we left home, however, Mom made it clear that Dad needed to wear a life jacket the entire time on the water. As you can see from the pics and clips we abided by her instructions. Just don’t tell Mom that one of her kids did not follow her directions.

3:52pm – Dad with one of our “doubles” both coming in at 1-4 on spinnerbaits

One That Got Away – No matter where you fish, if you do it often enough, you’ll end up with a batch of these tales. In this case, what would have likely been our Top Bass of the day spit Dad’s crankbait midway back to the boat. The one that got away would have tipped the scales at over two pounds and represents a step in the right direction as the lake experienced a partial fish kill several years ago that wiped out the big bass (past lake record catches included several over eight pounds).


Fish Stories – I’ve always enjoyed fishing the lake with Chris as the guide as I not only learn how to fish the water but also a little history of the fishery. So as the substitute guide it was fun to pass along some of the lore to Dad. From spots of the lake that were estimated to never hold water to the exact spot where a bass over eight pounds was reeled in to the decision to stock tiger muskies to the spot where I caught one of them to the spot where Chris landed one of similar stature, it was fun, as always, to tell some fish stories. Fishing never fails to leave a lasting impression and The Rock is something special.

The end of a good day on a great fishing hole

Thanks, Chris, for a chance to get out on the water with Dad for a memorable and productive evening of bass fishing. Much appreciated by a couple of guys who have shared more than a few hours creating some memories and chasing some fish for many years. I’m sure Dad’s been telling some of the new fish stories to Mom. Hope she doesn’t make him wear his life jacket in the living room.

Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Report – September 19


As often happens when I am “back home” in Galesburg, Illinois, I take a drive or a walk around an old favorite fishing hole, Lake Storey. A recent family get together was no exception other than the fact that I brought a couple poles along for my stroll.

6:05pm – First bass of the evening on Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait


Date: September 19, 2020
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Time: 5:50pm-7:20pm
Weather: Sunny/calm
Air Temp: 65F
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 3 bass
Lures: Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (chrome blue back) – 3 bass
Top Bass: 0-15
Top 5 Weight: 1-13 (only two at 12” or better)

6:53pm – Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait and kind of a baby bass

Notes and Nonsense

Bank vs. Boat – Go figure that my brother, Brent, and I spent over four hours in a boat on Lake Storey the previous weekend and only managed five bass with the whole lake at our disposal. In contrast, I spent maybe an hour casting in two stretches of perhaps a couple hundred yards and fooled three from the bank. This is not the first time I’ve witnessed this sort of thing and I do have some ideas on the increase in bass/hour. A topic for another time but factors to consider include different casting angles, enhanced focus on a specific, proven area and in this case, an increased drop in lake level.

7:10pm – last bass also on the Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait

Normal vs. Drop – Lake Storey is always a challenge for me and I give myself and co-anglers a little pat on the back for every bass we fool. For many years I have made it a point to pay a visit or two during the fall drawdown as I feel it can tilt the odds a little more in my favor when I can catch it right. Of course, there are plenty of factors that come into play any time you hit the water and stable weather, some sun and a little breeze are at the top of my Lake Storey fall trip wishlist.

This guy was pretty friendly and encroached on my fishing spot

Man vs. Raccoon – Raccoons and my family are not on the friendliest terms. You see, between my dad, my uncle, my cousins, my brother, myself, spouses and kids there would have to be well over 200 years of combined trapping experience. However, the proximity of my visitor pictured above may indicate that the tensions have decreased as we all retired from the trapline several years ago. Lots of stories from those days though. Made me wish that I’d asked the coon if his kind told stories about The Jacksons.

Lots of memories out on that old lake and fun to create a few more on a pleasant late summer evening. From my vantage point at Cannon Hill in the shot above I can see where I caught my personal best muskie, where I lost one that was bigger, where Brent set the Lake Storey bass record, where Dad caught a bass out of a hollow stump, where possibly the largest Lake Storey walleye ever was caught, where an Illinois state record muskie was landed in the 1980s…the memories go on and on. Perhaps 2020 holds another shot to make some more. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Always fun to see some fish in the inbox for an update and an extra treat this week with some State Capital city public water bass.

Weight: 1-4 (14”)
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: September 15
Weather: Sun with some passing clouds, air temp mid-70s
Water Temp: 78-80F
Location: Sangchris Lake
Lure: Wacky worm
Angler Comments: Casting to shoreline structure

Weight: 1-4 (14”)
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: September 16
Weather: Sun with some passing clouds, air temp mid-70s
Water Temp: 78-80F
Location: Sangchris Lake
Lure: Wacky worm
Angler Comments: Casting to shoreline structure

Weight: 1-2 (13”)
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: September 16
Weather: Sun with some passing clouds, air temp mid-70s
Water Temp: 78-80F
Location: Sangchris Lake
Lure: Chompers
Angler Comments: Casting to shoreline structure

Weight: 1-8 (14”)
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: September 16
Weather: Sun with some passing clouds, air temp mid-70s
Water Temp: 78-80F
Location: Sangchris Lake
Lure: Wacky worm
Angler Comments: Casting to shoreline structure

Weight: 1-3 (13”)
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: September 16
Weather: Sun with some passing clouds, air temp mid-70s
Water Temp: 78-80F
Location: Sangchris Lake
Lure: Chompers
Angler Comments: Casting to shoreline structure
Top 5 Weight: 8-0 (1-15,1-13,1-8,1-6,1-6) culls 1-4

Way to go, John, looks like a productive pair of days on the water. Further reinforcement that a solid bite remains so keep on casting as we officially head into fall this week. Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Report – September 13

I always look forward to the “Fall Drawdown” at Lake Storey in Knox County, Illinois which typically begins just after Labor Day. In general terms, here’s how it is supposed to transpire.

1. The City of Galesburg Park Department opens the valve to lower the lake.
2. The lake drops and leaves the spots for little fish to hide high and dry.
3. Cooler nights and warmer days get the predator fish in a fall feeding mood.
4. Me and Brent clean house on the often challenging lake.

And here’s how it really went down in blog terms.

6:57am – First bass on KVD Squarebill crankbait


Date: September 13, 2020
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Time: 6:40am-10:55am
Weather: Partly cloudy to sunny/breezy
Air Temp: 58-73F
Water Temp: 67-69F
Totals: 5 bass (Troy – 4 bass, Brent – 1 bass)
Lures: Spinnerbait (white) – 3 bass, KVD Strike King Rattling Squarebill crankbait (natural pumpkinseed) – 1 bass, Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-5 Spinnerbait
Top 5 Weight: 1-5 (only one at 12” or better)

Notes and Nonsense

The In Crowd – By most accounts, recreational fishing has seen a significant uptick in 2020 as a ripple effect of the pandemic. Lake Storey supported the validity of such an assessment with six trailers in the lot and a flotilla of kayaks scattered about the lake. Good for folks to get outdoors in these wild times and it appeared that crappie or bluegill were the targets for those we observed. Nobody else seemed to be casting and moving and honestly they weren’t missing much from our perspective. Then again, maybe they knew something we didn’t and opted to leave the bass alone.

Mr. Lake Storey – And, yes, on occasion there’s that one guy who owns the lake and feels that the rules do not apply to him. In this case, he was running his outboard at a pretty good clip around the lake multiple times. Several kayakers, bank anglers and other boaters hollered at him to no avail. In fact, he actually waved at us as he sped by in the distance. Brent and I elected to wave back rather than respond with an alternate hand gesture. Who knows, maybe the guy was just clueless but kind of hard to believe he was unaware of the trolling motor only restriction.

Proven winners at Lake Storey but limited production on this outing

Excuses – I was feeling good about our chances leading up to the trip as the weather had been warming for a couple days after a cold front and heavy rain. Word also had it that the drawdown had begun many days prior. It turns out that the level had not dropped much at all, seemingly filling up from the rain as much as the drop from the drain. In addition, the rain had the clarity murkier than the normal green tint and was progressively dirtier to the east away from the dam. All our meager catches came from the west end of the lake and none more than a quarter of the way to the inflow near the east ramp.

7:44am – Retro floppy hat and Top Bass of the day on Blue Glimmer spinnerbait

Old Hat – I managed to destroy my lucky floppy fishing hat and elected to go retro with a previous version instead of breaking out a new one. While I do have a couple new options, I wish to put 2020 behind us and start 2021 with a new floppy. More on that at a later date.

I feel bad as I failed to get a shot of my fishing partner but always like this 1980s Lake Storey shot of Brent


 I paid a short visit to Lake Storey last evening and walked the bank armed with a couple poles. Three bass in roughly 75 minutes of casting in a pair of spots was certainly an improvement over last week’s visit. Looks like the increased drawdown and the cool nights/warm days combo has some fish in a biting mood.

I believe the anticipated fall fishing bite has arrived, just a few days early. Get out there and get after some bites. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – September 2010

Well, I’ve been writing a great deal about Snakeden Hollow in celebration of 30 years of public access. So, how about a look back ten years ago at some results from three trips within a week to Snakeden’s Lake McMaster. Welcome to another Friday Flashback courtesy of some notes, numbers and pics from September 2010.

Slideshow below of some highlights along with plenty more from late September back in 2010, as I remember, what a week.


Originally posted 9-23-10

Having a full day to fish, Dad and I decided on an early start and chose Snakeden Hollow’s Lake McMaster for our destination. We’d fished it back on May 20 with fair results and figured we’d give it another try before the area shuts down to anglers on October 1. We had to work for our fish but had a successful day once we pinned down some cooperative bass.

Original log entry from September 22, 2010

Date: September 22, 2010
Time: 7:20am-2:20pm
Results: 19 bass, 1 green sunfish (Dad – 10 bass, Troy – 9 bass, 1 green sunfish)
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (natural shad) – 13 bass & 1 green sunfish, Zara Spook (black shore minnow) – 3 bass, Lizard – 2 bass, Zoom Baby Brush Hog – 1 bass
Top Bass: 3-6 (Troy – Senko)
Top Five Weight: 11-4 (3-6,2-1,2-0,2-0,1-13)

September 22, 2010 – First bass at 7:31am on a lizard, weight 2-1

Notes – September 22

Toothy Encounters – We each had an opportunity to add another more impressive species than my lone green sunfish. About thirty minutes into our trip I had a muskie (upper 30 inch range) blow up on my Zara Spook. I’d seen the fish in pursuit and committed the cardinal sin of Spook fishing as the water exploded. I set the hook before I felt the fish and came up empty. I know better but if you’ve been in my shoes I hope you can relate. Dad also had a similar size fish follow a hooked bass to the boat but it wouldn’t commit to the easy meal.

Beaver Lodges – If I had to pick my favorite piece of structure it would likely be a beaver lodge and we picked three bass off of the two spots we fished today. Our first fish of the day was Dad’s 2-1 on a lizard and I quickly followed his fish with a 0-15 on a Baby Brush Hog. Fifteen minutes in we had three pounds on the board and high hopes.

Top Bass – My 3-6 came from a series of laydowns crossing a small, fairly deep shoreline pocket. It hit shortly after my Senko landed near one of the laydowns and the bass dove between a pair of the tress scraping my eight pound test along the wood. I could see it was a decent fish but had little choice other than horsing it to the surface in hopes it would clear the trees into some open water. In the end, I got lucky and have a new personal best for 2010 (for the time being).

Originally posted 9-24-10

Wednesday’s success on Lake McMaster brought us back for Round 2 on Thursday. Once again, we had to work for our fish but presentation was more of a chore than location as the weather forecast was right on with high winds.

Original log entry from September 23, 2010

Date: September 23, 2010
Time: 8:40am-1:25pm
Results: 17 bass, 1 bluegill (Troy – 13 bass, 1 bluegill, Dad – 4 bass)
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (natural shad) – 16 bass & 1 bluegill, Zoom Baby Brush Hog (watermelon seed) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-9 (Troy – Senko)
Top Five Weight: 4-9 (1-9,1-1,1-0,0-15)

September 23, 2010 – Top Bass 1-9 at 10:47am on a Senko

Notes – September 23

Some Words on the Wind – The reports indicated gusts of up to 33 miles per hour but I think there was a fair amount that exceeded even those predictions. A couple nearly knocked me off balance and more than once I found myself having to lean into the wind as I fished. On the upside, the wind helped to position a few bass but it never fails that the wind is working against us when trolling back to the ramp.

Back of the Boat Blues – Such was Dad’s assessment as he joked about having a tough day on the water. Typically I’m up front on the trolling motor while Dad is in the back sometimes getting “used” water despite my best efforts. But all he had to do was ask and on this rare occasion I would likely have traded places and let him fight the wind.

Solitude – As I wrote about last week, fall is a good time to have the lake to yourself. Today was a prime example as we showed up to an empty lot, never saw another angler the whole day and returned to find the lot just as we’d left it. It could be argued that the absent anglers simply had enough sense to stay out of the wind. But, you know, we got seventeen more bass than we would have hooked in the living room and it sure beats mowing the yard or doing the dishes.

Originally posted 9-29-10

Our pursuit of a strong fall finish continued Tuesday after a weekend at work and a Monday of grown up responsibilities. Dad and I selected Snakeden’s Lake McMaster once again in light of our recent success while hoping that the days off had given the bass in our hotspot time to recharge. We weren’t disappointed.

Original log entry from September 28, 2010

Date: September 28, 2010
Time: 9:10am-2:10pm
Results: 16 bass, 2 green sunfish (Dad – 9 bass, 2 green sunfish, Troy – 7 bass)
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (natural shad) – 13 bass, Zara Spook (black shore minnow) – 2 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- 1 bass, 2 green sunfish
Top Bass: 3-9 (Troy – Senko)
Top Five Weight: 12-10 (3-9,2-13,2-11,1-14,1-11)

September 28, 2010 – Top Bass 3-9 at 11:01am on a Senko

Notes and Nonsense
81% – Of our 16 bass, 13 came from one general area in the span of just over an hour and a half. All but one came on a Senko with the lone exception hitting the Zara Spook. This was quite similar to our trip on 9/22 where the spot produced 13 of 19 with 10 on the Senko and 3 on the Spook. We had the area to ourselves despite half a dozen other boats on our latest outing so apparently nobody has caught us catching bass.

Misses – While we weighed a decent stringer (all released of course), there were a couple others that got away. Dad lost a two plus pounder when it dove into some heavy weeds and I had a big blowup on the Spook that unfortunately had bad aim. Near the end of our day I also had a small muskie nose my Senko part way back to the boat before slowly turning away.

Top Bass – At 9:53am I landed a 2-11 on my Spook to set the bar for the day’s big fish. It stood until Dad reeled in a 2-13 at 10:20am on his Senko. As soon as I set the hook on my bass at 11:01am I told Dad that I was going to need a net man. Upon seeing the fish in the clear water I further told Dad, “I think I’ve got you if I get this one in.” My eyes did not deceive as the 3-9 on my Senko would not only claim the title but eclipse our lake record of 3-6 from 9/22.

Final Stats
16.75 hours produced 52 bass (Troy – 29 bass, Dad – 23 bass)
3.1 bass/hour average (solid anywhere but very good for Lake McMaster)
Lures: Senko – 42 bass, Zara Spook – 5 bass, Lizard – 2 bass, Zoom Baby Brush Hog – 1 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait – 1 bass
Top Bass: 3-9
Top 5 Weight: 14-8

September 28, 2010 – Dad Top Bass at 10:20am on a Senko, weight 2-13 

All in all, a darn good “week” on the water and fun to take a walk down Memory Lane. Hope someone else got some insight along the way as well. Got at least a couple more Snakeden pieces to post before I wrap up the 30 year Snakeden celebration. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – September 12

It’s that time of year again folks, when some of my public strip mine stomping grounds are reaching the end of fishing access. Of course, in the case of the fishing holes in today’s report, the bite is just picking up as the site nears shutting down. Gotta get in those last casts while I can and this outing produced a solid bite.

Date: September 12, 2020
Location: Knox County, IL public strip mines (5 lakes)
Time: 3:15pm-6:45pm (3 hours fishing)
Weather: Partly cloudy/breezy
Air Temp: 68-72F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 15 bass
Lures: Chatterbait (bluegill) with Zako trailer (smoke) – 11 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 2 bass, Booyah Spinnerbait (bleeding shad) – 1 bass, Senko wacky rig (smoke) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-12 (Chatterbait)
Top 5 Weight: 8-5 (2-12,1-7,1-7,1-6,1-5)

3:20pm – Happy to be on the board but room for improvement

Notes and Nonsense

First Cast Top Bass – After catching a pair of small bass in 30 minutes on my first stop, it was on to what is probably my best fishing hole on the site. Right on cue, the first cast with a chatterbait parallel to the deep edge of a lengthy flat produced a 2-12 bass. Sure thought I was on to something but that catch would be Top Bass of the evening.

3:55pm – Top Bass at 19″ and 2-12 on a chatterbait

Feeling Hip – With a heavy batch of rain for several days and a light shower ending as I arrived, I figured that the vast expanse of terrestrial weeds would be quite damp. As a result, I opted for hip boots over my regular knee boots to contend with the moisture. The approach took me back to the old trapping days of walking miles of creek and timber in a pair of the bigger boots. The kept me plenty dry (although a bit sweaty) and provided a nice barrier when planting a knee to climb up several steep banks. Once again, that technique took me back to those fall days of yesteryear on the trapline.

Five for Five – Each of the stops at the five lakes that I selected on this evening produced some bass. My best lake produced the best catch after struggling the last few years on the spot to get quality bites. It was also cool that the lake where I have the least confidence produced four bass in 45 minutes with all running over a pound. Yet another of the aspects that I enjoy about spot hopping a collection of strip pits. While you may have a track record or a preconceived notion of how things may shake out, you just never know.

Entertaining late night horror hosts, past and present (Chuck Acri’s Creature Feature was a highlight of 1970s Saturday nights with siding sales pitches and all) 

Attack of the 14” Bass – I tune in to a couple of Saturday late night horror programs nearly every week, Midnite Mausoleum and Creature Feature. Both include some interesting flicks and camp humor reminiscent of the original Chuck Acri’s Creature Feature that I watched as a kid in the 1970s. I couldn’t help but think of a monster movie sort of title as I reeled in a batch of solid bass on this outing with nine of the fifteen looking quite similar and ranging from 13-14.5”.


A fun evening hike on the strip mines and one that I hope to pursue again before access for 2020 ends on September 28. As always, if I get out, you get a report. And speaking of another fishing report, stay tuned for a recent trip “back home” to Knox County’s Lake Storey. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

I say this every year and will say it again. Don’t put those fishing poles away just yet as there are plenty more bites to be had and a solid chance to give your Top 5 a boost. I actually got to join the fun last weekend and added a few ounces courtesy of a hike around the strip mines.

Weight: 2-12
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: September 12
Weather: Partly cloudy/breezy
Location: Knox County, IL public strip pit
Lure: Chatterbait (bluegill) with Zako trailer (smoke)
Structure: Flat/drop
Angler Comments: My first cast on the second stop at some walk-in strip mines had me pretty fired up that I’d found the right spot. No such luck on more big bass though as this one would be as good as it got for the evening.
Top 5 Weight: 17-11 (4-12,4-0,3-11,2-12,2-8) culls a 2-7

I haven’t been able to post a 20-pound limit since 2017 but the possibility of return to the club is within reach. Here’s hoping that the handful of trips I have in mind can add those additional 37 ounces to my creel. Good luck if you get out and keep me posted. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – September 2010

A couple late summer fishing trips to an area farm pond with Dad were custom made for a pair of days when I had a few hours to get away. Not only was it several enjoyable and successful hours with Dad but it also answered the often asked question:

“Who is the U.L. Washington of fishing?”

Is Terry Jackson the U.L. Washington of fishing? Or, is U.L. the T.J. of baseball? Take your pick from these masters of the toothpick.

Originally Posted 9-12-10
On Friday I had a few hours to get away after dropping off the girls at school and was torn between Little John Conservation Club and Snakeden Hollow. Instead, Dad invited me along to a farm pond on some land that he traps. He’d caught over a hundred bluegill during a pair of recent solo trips while fishing from the bank but with less than a quarter of the shoreline fishable on foot he figured that we’d take the little johnboat and explore the rest while taking a shot at the bass population. Here’s how it went.

Date: September 10, 2010
Location: Warren County farm pond
Time: 9:00am-12:30pm
Air Temp: 65F
Totals: 17 bluegill (Dad 17, Troy 0), 16 bass (Troy 14, Dad 2)
Lures: 5” Yammasenko wacky rig (natural shad or bubblegum) – 14 bass, Zoom Baby Brush Hog – 2 bass, waxworms on jighead hung from bobber – 17 bluegill
Top Bass: 2-3 (Troy – Senko)
Top 5 Weight: 7-10

September 10, 2010 – Top Bass at 2-3 on a Senko

Notes & Nonsense

Different Targets – In all fairness to Dad, he stopped fishing for bass after our first lap which only produced five fish so the final totals are skewed in my favor. On the other hand, the bass kept me interested enough that I never picked up the ultralight rig I’d packed along just in case.

One That Got Away – On an earlier trip, Dad lost a roughly five pound catfish at the bank while panfishing with waxworms. This time around, an even larger whiskered fish took a shot at the bait but spit the jighead following a wild explosion at the surface. It seems like it might be worth targeting another species at some point in the future.

New Terminology – For years we referred to short bass (9-10”) we caught anywhere as “Bracken Bass” due to the multitude of these fish that called Lake Bracken home back in the 1980’s. In a similar development, Dad called the fish pictured below an “Emiquon Bass” as I lipped it at boatside. Sure enough, the healthy looking bass measured 14” and tipped the scales at 1-9, quite like its thousands of relatives to the south.

September 10, 2010 – A solid bodied “Emiquon Bass” from Lucas’ Pond

Originally posted 9-22-10

Date: September 21, 2010
Location: Warren County farm pond
Time: 8:45am-11:45am
Air Temp: 75-85F
Totals: 11 bass (Dad 6, Troy 5), 1 redear (Dad)
Lures: 5” Yammasenko wacky rig (natural shad or clear with large black flake) – all fish
Top Bass: 1-5 (Dad)
Top 5 Weight: 3-8 (only three bass 12” or better)

Notes & Nonsense

Surprise – Well, we were certainly aware of the pond population containing bluegill, largemouth bass, crappie and channel catfish. But a slight flash of red below the surface as Dad reeled in a hookup prompted me to say, “That looks like a redear.” Sure enough, my assessment was correct as evidenced by the photo below.

September 21, 2010 – Dad with a redear to claim the species title

Luck – Dad offered me a good luck charm off of the patio table before we left but I declined. So I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised that he wound up with Top Bass, most fish and claimed the species title as well. He reminded me of my decision as we got back in the truck to leave, producing a lucky buckeye from his pocket. He and my brother, Brent, have employed the lucky buckeye tradition for many years particularly when squirrel hunting. Maybe next time I’ll give it a go instead of relying solely on my floppy hat and shirts that should have bit the dust long ago.

September 21, 2010 – Dad with Top Bass at 1-5 on a Senko

I only work two days for the rest of the month and have plans to get on the water as much as the daily routine allows. I’m sure Mother Nature will have her say as usual during my vacation but I’ve got my fingers crossed. Hopefully we can also turn up some better fish as 2010 has left much to be desired in terms of quality. But such is one of the perils I foresaw when deciding to do the blog thing. I’ve got to tell it like it is, whether it’s flattering or not.

Sure wish I only had to work for two more days the rest of the month in 2020, but no such luck. However, another aspect of that original concluding paragraph turned out to be right on the money as we were able to “turn up some better fish” as 2010 wound down. Those fish are the subjects of several Friday Flashbacks over the next month or so. Talk to you later. Troy