Month: October 2021

Friday Flashback – October 23, 2001

 

Heading towards November, my 2021 fishing days are drawing to a close. Whatever catches I can muster during the late season will simply be icing on the cake for another productive year. Today’s flashback was such a trip back in October 2001, a Lake Bracken outing with Dad. Since the trip took place in the days before blogging and we only caught one quality fish, it took me a bit to figure out what route to take for today’s post.

October 23, 2001 at 4:13pm – 3 pounds 3 ounces at Lake Bracken on a crankbait

And…we’re going with some stats. After all, I’ve got over 35 years of family and friend fishing data, so might as well put some of it to use. Here’s a little peek at how this October 23, 2001 catch stacks up in a few categories.

Fun to look back on the names of some old favorite spots

Our Top Bass of 2001 shows that this catch barely missed the Top 10 and was the largest Bracken bass

This bass ranked 17th on my personal all-time Lake Bracken list

And, finally, a portion of the Top Lake Bracken Bass of all-time

Plenty of memories and stories, that’s what Friday Flashback is all about. And it doesn’t stop here! More flashbacks to come, all the way into December so stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Extras – October 14

While I had a fair day on my latest Lake Storey outing (10/14), a follow-up post was necessary to cover the “extras” via some pictures and notes.

The picture above isn’t the greatest, but it is a shot of a fellow fisher, an osprey, a regular sight for me over the years at Lake Storey. Another fellow fisherman, friend and Top 5 angler, John Kirkemo, was also on the water and reported observing the osprey with a fish in its talons.

Speaking of John, he was able to get out on the lake that morning as well, thanks to some early rains delaying his outdoor household chores. We had a good chat mid-lake as John shared a catch with me and I just happened to catch my Top Bass of the day with John in proximity. Same thing happened in 2020, so not only good to visit but also good luck.

Perhaps the most interesting observation while on the water was an eerie structure reminiscent of what is termed a “Sasquatch tree structure.” On one hand, the sight was a bit unsettling. On the other hand, I marveled at how bold of Bigfoot to construct it so near a campground and roadway. In retrospect, I should have beached the boat and scoured the area for tracks. I’m sure I would have found some and been left wondering why they call the creature “Bigfoot” and why would he wear Converse?

This summer, my son, Jayce, joined me and his Uncle Brent in chasing bass on Lake Storey. We had an enjoyable time, and each caught a bass (or two in the case of Brent). Particularly entertaining were a couple catches prompting us all to say, “that’s a nice dam bass.” Well, in nabbing another one along the water retention feature, I couldn’t resist a text so Julie could inform Jayce that I fooled another dam bass.

As I secured the boat at the ramp to end my day, a familiar looking color scheme caught my eye. There in the pea gravel lay an Emiquon Special spinnerbait skirt, just like Brent’s legendary creation. Knowing that Brent respects nature and is not a litterer left me wondering who would do such a thing. Possibly someone who reads my blog and knows the prowess of such a color scheme in the hands of an adept angler. If you are the blog reader who left the item, knock it off, find a trash can or stuff in in your hip pocket next time. But thanks for reading.

I suppose that the opposite of the old saying “Go West, Young Man” would logically be “Go East, Old Man.” Well, my normal spots on the west end of the lake had produced to the tune of one bass in three hours and that one came on my second cast. As a result, I expanded my search further east than normal, nearly to the opposite ramp. And what do you know, two keepers in a span of 35 minutes, a definite improvement.

That final anecdote is what the fishing part of a fishing outing is all about, figuring out the fish. But as you can see, there’s always more to a fishing trip than just fishing. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

It’s always good to get a late season submission as the fishing days for most of us are winding to a close.

Weight: 1-5
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: October 14
Weather: Cloudy with rain early followed by clearing skies and sun
Water Temp: 67-68F
Location: Lake Storey
Lure: Wacky rigged Senko
Angler Comments: Not much action with only light taps on the wacky worm until a soft hit by this fish near some submerged timber. No other fish caught in about three hours of fishing. Tried a Chatterbait for awhile but no hits.
Top 5 Weight: 11-14 (2-10,2-8,2-8,2-6,1-14)

Thanks, John, for the fish. Good to see you on the water that day and appreciate you introducing me to this specific bass. For a little something different, here is a look at this Top 5 catch from my perspective.

Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Report – October 14

What is it like to spend nine and a half hours on your favorite lake?

Well, if you elect to tag along here on the blog. I’m going to run it down for you with the regular stats and a chronology of the catches.

Stats

Date: October 14, 2021
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Time: 7:20am-4:50pm
Weather: Overcast/rainy/breezy to sunny/breezy
Air Temp: 57-70F
Water Temp: 67F
Totals: 8 bass
Lures: Strike King Rattling Squarebill Crankbait (natural pumpkinseed) – 4 bass, War Eagle Spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) with twin tail trailer – 2 bass, Berkley Havoc Pit Boss (green pumpkin) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 2-3 Squarebill crankbait
Top 5 Weight: 7-5 (2-3,2-0,1-2,1-0,1-0)

Chronology

7:21am – Bass #1 (12.5″ and 1-0)

7:21am – The second cast of the day produces the first bass of the day on a spinnerbait. If you have fished Lake Storey, perhaps you know the log across from the boat ramp. It’s been a spinnerbait winner many times and had my hopes high in the dingy water resulting from a substantial amount of recent rain.

10:23am – Bass #2 (15.5″ and 2-0)

10:23am – Bass number two hits the two-pound mark, once again on a spinnerbait off some sunken trees. However, it took me over three hours and most of the lake to get the bite. Numerous good spots had let me down and I had wandered to spots further than my normal rounds. My early high hopes were trending back to my initial outlook of a tough bite in the stained water but it was good to get bit “uplake.”

11:07am – Bass #3 (13.5″ and 1-2)

11:07am – Not nearly as long a wait between bites and wood in the water comes through again. This time it requires slowing down with a Texas rigged Yum Crawdad bounced through some brush. I don’t slow down much and must admit it was kind of fun to find success on a different approach.

12:19pm – Bass#4 (17″ and 2-3)

12:19pm – The Top Bass of the morning comes on a crankbait cast to a submerged rockpile near a main lake point. This spot gets a look during every visit and if you bang a crankbait around it enough you can often get a bite. The timing was fun also as I had just finished an on the water chat with my friend, John Kirkemo, and he trolled back over to shoot a few pics.

12:31pm – Shortly after recording my Top Bass and chatting with John, I fired another cast to the rockpile and was rewarded with a second bass from the structure. This one was smaller than his fellow resident and at 11.5” narrowly missed being my fifth “keeper.”

2:15pm – Fishing a submerged stump for the second time produced my sixth bass of the day. However, this one kind of surprised me as I had cast nearly twenty feet past the stump so as not to land on top of the structure and then planned to work my bait into the prime spot. My Yum Crawdad never made it to the stump as the bass hit almost as soon as my cast entered the water. Another short one but a bonus open water fish from an intentional off target cast that produced before it was intended.

3:30pm – Bass#7 (13″ and 1-0)

3:30pm – Time was running out on finding a fifth “keeper” to round out my regular goal of a Top 5 of bass at 12” or better. While an early morning pass along the dam did not produce, the afternoon stop proved to be a winner on a crankbait. The 13” bass came in right at one pound to complete my Top 5.

3:46pm – Continuing my pass along the dam, I caught my final bass of a long day. It was short and no help to my weight, but any bite is a good bite on Lake Storey as those bass can be tough to fool. It was also satisfying to still be dialed in after a long day on the water.

Winning Lures

Could I catch more bass somewhere else? Sure.

Would I catch more quality bass on my other fishing holes? Most likely.

But I have a long-standing affliction with what I still call my “home lake” even though it requires a bit more of a drive than it once did. There’s something satisfying about fooling those wary bass along with the focus, perseverance and execution required to do so. This likely completes my 2021 Lake Storey visits but myself and my fishing partners did alright, and I think we came out on top in our efforts. Beyond the catches there is always more to report so stay tuned for the “extras” from this latest trip coming to the blog next week. Talk to you later. Troy

Snakeden Report – October 10

I set out last Sunday with the Snakeden Hollow shutdown only a week away, my Top 5 lacking fifteen ounces from reaching the 20-pound mark and limited days remaining to get on the water. Crunch time if I’ve ever seen it and throw in a stormy morning that wasn’t in the forecast. Brent and I met at one of the lots at 6:30am and proceeded to wait out the rain. Read on to see how it all worked out.

Stats

Date: October 10, 2021
Location: Snakeden Hollow (4 lakes)
Time: 6:35am-6:16pm (5.25 hours fishing, the rest waiting and walking)
Weather: Overcast/rain/breezy to partly cloudy/breezy
Air Temp: 69-78F
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 27 bass
Lures: Chatterbait (white) with twin tail trailer (salt and pepper) – 16 bass, Berkley Havoc Pit Boss (green pumpkin) – 4 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (orange craw) – 4 bass, Buzzbait (black) – 1 bass Senko wacky rig (green pumpkin/crème laminate) – 1 bass, Strike King Rattling Squarebill crankbait (sext shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 4-4 (Buzzbait)
Top 5 Weight: 9-15 (4-4,1-12,1-10,1-3,1-2)

Winning Lures

Trip Lyric
“Ridin’ the storm out”– REO Speedwagon

Notes and Nonsense

Meant To Be – Rain postponed our first casts for nearly two hours. Killing time found us scoping out the crowd (or lack thereof) at other area fishing holes and I wound up casting on a different lake than where I had intended to start. I lost a boat cushion and had to backtrack to find it further delaying my launch. No bites on some good-looking spinnerbait structure prompted me to switch to a buzzbait. Drifting into the middle of a featureless shallow bay, I fired out my second buzzbait cast to nothing in particular, just open water. With a less than sensational swirl, my buzzbait disappeared, I set the hook and it felt heavy. Once I had the bass aboard, I hollered to Brent that I might just have the fish I needed to make my 20-pound Top 5 limit. It would take a 4-4 to reach the mark and wouldn’t you know it, right on the money.

8:47am Top Bass 20.5″ and 4-4 on a buzzbait

4.25 pounds on the scale, exactly what I needed. What are the odds?

Not Meant To Be – Just before switching to a buzzbait, the rain had begun, and I opted for my sweatshirt over short sleeves. Being eager to cast, I disregarded the GoPro, leaving it under the sweatshirt. Therefore, I missed the strike, fight and landing of my Top Bass of the day. I did shoot the release, but it turns out the video was corrupted, so pictures are as good as it gets.

Second Storm – Another thunderstorm ran us off the lake with one bass apiece, my 4-4 and a 1-5 for Brent, after 40 minutes of casting. I chose to remain on site to wait out the weather while Brent headed for home and came back in the afternoon. While Brent was away I put in three and a half hours on two lakes, landing nine more bass with a 1-10 being the best.

 

Chatterbait Lake – Some Snakeden lakes do not have “real” names, so I have made up my own over the years. One of the latter, Dromedary Lake, has always been a prime spot for throwing a chatterbait. Chatterbaits are not my strong suit but you can bet I have one on when I hit this spot. Sure enough, I landed seventeen bass in an hour and a half with sixteen of them falling to a chatterbait. Unfortunately, all but two were under the 12” mark but I know some larger bass call the place home.

A long day with roughly twelve hours between arrival and departure but only five plus hours of fishing. Totals were boosted by the small bass catches on “Chatterbait Lake,” but all were icing on the cake after the four-pounder to start the day and give me the boost I needed to reach the 20-pound mark for my Top 5. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – October 17, 2006

As the 2006 fishing season was nearing the end, I was in search of what I called “Bass #2000”. This quest began at the outset of the 1997 season, shortly after I obtained my first personal computer. With the computer available for data entry, I decided a return to meticulous record keeping for my fishing was in order. So, from March 21, 1997, up until this October 17, 2006 trip, I had landed 1,971 bass. Therefore, going into this Lake Bracken outing, I needed 29 bass to reach the 2,000 bass mark. On the heels of that somewhat rambling intro, let’s flash back.

3:03pm – 15″ and 1-10 on a Rapala DT6 crankbait

Originally posted 11-4-06 as part of “Quest for 2000”

October 17 – Though the weather wasn’t exactly stellar, I had an opportunity to get on the water for an afternoon and chose Lake Bracken for my destination. As luck would have it, 29 bass were landed in just over four hours on the water. However, my celebration would have to wait as Dad landed seventeen of the bass. My twelve bass put me within seventeen of the goal but the likelihood of more fishing trips with favorable conditions seemed slim at best for the remainder of the year. I did manage to land Top Bass of the day with a 2-13 on a Senko (watermelon) as well as a 1-10 on a Rapala DT 6 crankbait (parrot). Dad also posted a pair of record book entries with a 1-12 and a 1-11 on a Senko (black). Senkos caught most of our fish though we did have some success with crankbaits and a Mepps.

1-11 on a Senko wacky rig

1-12 on a Senko wacky rig

Stats

Date: October 17, 2006
Location: Lake Bracken – Knox County, IL
Time: 1:10pm-5:25pm
Weather: Overcast/breezy
Air Temp: 54F
Water Temp: 56F
Totals: 29 bass (Dad – 17, Troy – 12)
Lures: Senko wacky rig (watermelon or black) – 20 bass, Mepps – 4 bass, 4- crankbait (firetiger) – 2 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait – 1 bass, Rapala DT6 crankbait (parrot) – 1 bass, Blue Glimmer spinnerbait – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-13 (Troy – Senko)
Top 5 Weight: 8-15 (2-13,1-12,1-11,1-10,1-1)

3:57pm Top Bass at 19″ and 2-13 on a Senko wacky rig

A good day on the water even though I fell short in my search for the 29 bass needed to reach 2000. However, Friday Flashback isn’t quite done for the year. Just saying. Talk to you later. Troy

Prowl the Canal – September

Still trying to play catch up with the fishing reports due to a combination of being busy with work and striving to get in my final fishing trips of the year. Today, we take another look at The Canal via the combined reports from September.

Jayce joined up on 9/6 but even two lures in the water only resulted in one total bass

Stats
Date: September 6, 18 & 25, 2021
Location: Hennepin Canal – Henry County, IL
Time: 5.50 hours total (2 mornings, one evening)
Weather: Sunny/breezy each day
Totals: 7 bass (9/6 – 1 bass, 9/18 – 3 bass, 9/25 – 3 bass)
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (green pumpkin/white crème laminate) – 4 bass, Rebel Pop’R Zell Rowland Model – 2 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (red craw) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 3-1 (Pop’R)
Top 5 Weight (only 4 at 12” or better): 8-14 (3-1,2-11,2-3,0-15)

Had to get new boots for my son, Jayce, same size as mine.

Notes and Nonsense

September 6 – For a change, I was able to convince some company to join me on a prowl as my oldest boy, Jayce, came along for a scenic bike ride. Unfortunately, a bit of exercise was what this trip was all about as we only got one bite. It was also too bad that it was my bite instead of Jayce’s but a quality fish at 2-3 on a Senko wacky rig.

A disappointing small bass day on 9/18

September 18 – A cool, pleasant mid-September morning would rank as one of my favorite times to fish. However, this morning was not one of the favorite times for the fish to bite. Two stops resulted in a disappointing haul of three small bass between eight and nine inches. Just one of those days that make no sense when you can’t figure out those fish.

September 25 at 6:30am, first cast bass at 2-11

September 25 at 6:34am, second cast bass at 3-1

September 25 – The bass redeemed themselves from the previous week as I had a couple early morning hours to get away. My first two casts resulted in two quality bass that totaled nearly six pounds (2-11 and 3-1). The cool thing was that the bass bit on an old topwater popper known as the Pop’R. It’s always rewarding when a plan comes together as in this case, I chose the lure as I wanted something that caused a commotion and stayed right in the bass’ face. The right lure at the right time got the job done.

Rebel Pop’R Zell Rowland Model, fun to put an old lure to work and land a couple good ones 

Some ups and downs on The Canal for the month but a few more quality catches added to the 2021 Hennepin haul. It’s been a fun few months of exploring and I hope to make a few more casts on the waterway before the fishing year ends. However, it is my understanding that the leaves on the water become a hindrance as they begin to fall. Only one way to find out. Talk to you later. Troy

Homer Lake Report – October 8

Work took me to North Carolina last week and required driving due to hauling a batch of equipment. I packed along a few fishing poles with the intent of hitting some eastern Illinois water on the way home. My choice was Homer Lake in Champaign County as it offered proximity to I-74 and a couple of hours of daylight.

Stats

Date: October 8, 2021
Location: Homer Lake – Champaign County, IL
Time: 5:15pm-6:45pm
Weather: Sunny/calm
Air Temp: 70sF
Water Temp: Not available
Totals: 2 bass
Lures: Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (red craw) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 10.5”
Top 5 Weight: none at 12” or better

6:16pm First bass, mission accomplished

Trip Tune
“Way Less Sad” – AJR (2021)
My “fishing trip” consisted of over 30 hours of driving, and I was in search of this song as I had no idea who sang it or what it was called. Just that I liked it and it gave me a sort of 70s vibe. Turns out that I wound up hearing it right before I got home, courtesy of a detour of several minutes due to road construction on my normal route through Colona. What are the odds? And speaking of odd, I had just queued up Supertramp’s “Take the Long Way Home” prior to encountering the construction and having to do just that. Even better was correctly identifying the 70s vibe as a sample from Simon and Garfunkel’s “My Little Town.” Overall, a cool ending to my weeklong journey.

 

Notes and Nonsense

Helpful Angler – I chatted with a young fisherman onsite who gave the fishery a thumbs up. When I told him that I was torn between a stop at Homer Lake versus a stop at Lake of the Woods near Mahomet, Illinois, he said that I made the right choice. He added that he’d been fishing Homer Lake for 19 years, so I figured that his recommendation carried some weight. However, I refrained from asking if he’d first fished it from a stroller as he looked to be about 20 years old.

Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait, a good shallow, warm water, riprap option

First Impression – I only explored a few hundred yards of bank in three spots but I must say that Homer Lake was rather appealing. To varying degrees, riprap lined the shoreline at and below the waterline. For my money, when only having a short time to try my luck on a new lake, I look for riprap. When pondering some casts on new water I always look to start on the dam as it likely contains some rock and will have some deep water along with a transition to shallower water along its ends. In addition to the rock, there were also several laydowns and stumps within casting distance along the areas that I fished. I like targets and they are even more appealing when I have a narrow window to fool a fish or two. No matter if everyone and their brother fishes such visible structure as I’ve never minded fishing “used” water.

Mission accomplished as I was able to land a pair of bass from the bank on some water I’d never previously seen. For me, that is a victory even if the quality weren’t much to brag about. However, I do have a couple more fishing reports on the way that do contain some quality catches. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

So, I hit Snakeden Hollow yesterday sitting at 19-1 for my Top 5 weight. Thus, I needed a boost of fifteen ounces to reach the 20-pound mark. That meant I would need a 4-4 bass to knock out the 3-5 that was the lightest in my creel. Well, believe it or not…

Weight: 4-4
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: October 10
Weather: Overcast/rainy/breezy
Location: Snakeden Hollow
Lure: Booyah Buzzbait (black)
Structure: Open water
Angler Comments: Several things fell into place to get this one in the boat. Brent and I waited out a storm and wound up at a different lake than I intended for my first casts. I was delayed after losing a boat cushion and had to walk back to retrieve, thus delaying my launch. I had just ditched my spinnerbait in favor of the buzzbait. I simply cast into the middle of a shallow bay not having any specific target. And what are the odds that the bass would weigh exactly 4-4? (See scale pick below, not pulling your leg or telling a fish story). Seems like it was just meant to be.
Top 5 Weight: 20-0 (4-10,4-4,4-3,3-9,3-6) culls a 3-5

Closing time nears for Snakeden Hollow so this trip will likely be my final visit of 2021. What better way to call it a year on the site? Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – October 9, 2016

 

Well, here we go again, headed into the home stretch of fishing. Read on for the report from exactly five years ago today.

7:52am First bass and Top Bass at 2-6 on a crankbait

Originally posted 10-13-16

The arrival of Fall always brings a mix of fishing emotions. I suppose the romantic term for it is “bittersweet.” While hope surges with the remembrance of past successes no doubt aided by the bass strapping on the fall feedbag there is also the realization that my last casts of the year loom on the horizon. The kickoff to the 2016 home stretch as related in today’s report got off to a strong start but just never hit its stride. Respectable quantity but not the quality I foresaw after a solid first bite.

Stats
Date: October 9, 2016
Location: Knox County strip mines (4 public, 1 private)
Time: 7:50am-5:00pm (6.50 hours fishing, the rest walking/driving)
Weather: Sunny/windy
Air Temp: 51F-68F
Water Temp: 63F
Totals: 17 bass
Lures: Strike King Red Eye Shad (orange craw or sexy shad) – 13 bass, Strike King KVD 1.5 squarebill crankbait (pumpkinseed) – 2 bass, Terminator Spinnerbait (firetiger) with twin tail trailer (salt and pepper) – 1 bass, Senko weighted wacky rig (electric shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-6 (KVD squarebill crankbait)
Top 5 Weight: 7-9 (2-6,1-13,1-3,1-3,1-0)

Notes & Nonsense

High Hopes – So, after a 65-minute drive, I haul my boat several hundred yards to my first stop, get my gear in order, set up the tripod, shove off and commence to casting at 7:50am. Running my squarebill crankbait past a meager collection of brush just off the bank about forty feet from the “ramp” it gets nailed and the hookset lets me know it is a solid fish. It’s 7:52am and on what is probably cast number five of the morning, I bring aboard my first bass that registers at 2-6. A great start but little did I know that it would turn out to be Top Bass for the day. About an hour later I briefly had a comparable fish hooked on the Red Eye Shad but if it would have bested the first fish it would have been only by an ounce or two at best. However, I still had the entire day ahead of me so at that point I was not particularly concerned as visions of a lunker or two still danced in my head.

Half Hearted Hits – The vast majority of my bass came on the Red Eye Shad which I’m typically reeling at a rapid pace. Nearly every hit was coming at me meaning the fish would just knock some slack in the line as opposed to anything resembling a rod rattling strike. Several of the fish were also hooked on the outside of the mouth as if simply slashing at the bait instead of really going for the kill. Kind of unusual in my experience at this time of the year as fall feeding bass typically mean business. Glad I caught them regardless of the subtle strikes and would like to think that more than a few years of doing this thing added several bass to the ledger that I may not have hooked back in the day. (Note: I do count my catches that are hooked on the outside of the mouth although such catches would not count in some tournament situations, luckily, I’m not good enough to fish competitively.)

1:55pm Top Bass Runner-up 1-13 on a crankbait

Different Day – Stop number three was a lake that treated me quite well back on September 18 to the tune of twenty-three bass in just under three hours of casting (seven at 12 “or better and Top Bass 2-5). On this day it looked like The Dead Sea, and I moved on after 2 bass in 75 minutes with a 1-13 and a 1-3. Crazy thing is that it is not a particularly large lake with well over 75% being essentially unfishable this time of the year with extremely shallow, dense vegetation while a targeted bowl-shaped area makes up the rest of the lake. This bowl and some deeper pockets in a couple fingers produced all my fish on the previous trip but this time around I just couldn’t find them. Such is the game, and I am not ashamed to concede the victory to my quarry. Get ‘em next time, right?

Sounds like closing date is October 18 for 2021

Speaking of Next Time – Like many “Waterfowl/Goose Refuges,” a great deal of my water has now been rendered “off limits” for us anglers until the central goose season ends next February. Granted, I’ve got some other good water to fish and these days I can’t swing too many more fishing trips, but…Okay, so no crusade on my part despite losing out on some quality fishing days. After all, these refuges could use a few less geese anyhow, best of luck in putting a dent on the population.

And, so it goes, time is running short for another year on the water. Time flies when you are catching fish. And even when you aren’t these days. Talk to you later. Troy