Month: November 2021

Strip Mine Extras – November 17

A look at the “starting lineup” for the final day of the season.

Every fishing trip that I take gets a fishing report here on the blog. I attempt to cram as much info into the posts as possible while still trying to keep them at a modest read. Time, viewing habits, unending internet content and attention spans have changed over the years in the information age, and many are ready to move on to the next thing before finishing the current thing. All of this leads me to having batches of extra stuff sitting around on my devices and in my brain. So, here’s a few such items from my November 17 fishing trip.

Rain or shine, I was committed to chasing bass and on this day. Conditions dealt me occasional bouts of the rain portion and none of the shine aspect. The scattered precipitation did not discourage or dampen me much, but I still can’t get it through my head to pack raingear after all these years.

During my drive to, from and around my destination, I observed nearly a dozen deer as well as a bald eagle. While the deer were no surprise, it wasn’t that many years ago that it was quite an occasion to spot a bald eagle at any significant distance from a major river system. Nowadays, it is not uncommon around my Knox County fishing holes.

A sure sign that the end of my fishing year is approaching is displayed on the console of the truck. An 8:22am departure is a far cry from setting out at 4:30am to beat the sunrise to the strip pits. This time of year, leaving later allows for a little extra warmth that is often more about the fisherman than the fish. And the heat turned up in the truck is quite different than the windows rolled down (natural air conditioning as the artificial type no longer works).

I suspect that a tiny bass landed at 3:37pm will be the final bass for me in 2021. It was fooled on a Shad Rap crankbait that I found during a family hike around Sylvan Island in the fall of 2020. If it indeed is my final 2021 bass, it will provide a fun bookend on the year as my first bass of 2021 was also caught on the lost and found lure back on March 20.

More miles racked up on the road to the fishing hole during a year when the truck crossed 200,000 miles.

Another year in the books and well over 40 years and counting on this deluxe watercraft

Oh yeah, there’s also tunes to report from this trip but those will have to wait for another day. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – November 24, 2006

November 24, 2006 – Bass #2000

What follows is an original post detailing how it all went down to end the 2006 fishing year and the “Quest for Bass #2000”.

On November 24th at 8:13am bass #2000 came ashore with my jig and pig planted firmly in its jaw. It marked the end of my recent quest and turned out to be my final bass of 2006. I’m okay with that as there were times that my confidence was shaky as I pursued those last few bass. But thanks to some unseasonably warm weather and a prime piece of structure, everything worked out just fine. For this article, I’ll take a closer look at the final push for #2000.

Bass #1 of “the computer age” made its way into the database on March 21, 1997, at 5:04pm. It fell to a blue glimmer spinnerbait on Duck/Deer Lake at Little John and measured eleven inches in length. By November 22, 2006, I had spent over 900 hours chasing bass and stood five fish shy of 2000. Fortunately, me and my girls were headed for Buckheart to celebrate Thanksgiving, the weather forecast was favorable, and I had permission to fish.

On the morning of November 23rd, I spent a fair amount of time wandering around a good-sized strip pit before settling on an area that featured a lengthy stretch of bank containing numerous beaver lodges, probably my favorite piece of structure. After losing a small northern pike on a dew worm hung from a bobber, bass #1996 inhaled my jig and pig as I hopped it around some debris on the bottom. I was unable to fool any others on the lake and was blanked on a smaller pond nearby. While fishing I crossed paths with my brother-in-law, David, who was goose hunting and he suggested that I try a spot where we had success earlier this fall.

November 23, 2006 – Bass #1998 at 2-15 on a jig and pig

His advice produced three bass in less than fifteen minutes. All the fish hit my Rattlin’ Jig (black/blue) with a #11 pork frog (blue) as I worked a beaver lodge. The second of the three fish joined the record book at a respectable 2-15. Another half hour on the lake failed to produce a bite and I headed for Thanksgiving dinner. I couldn’t help but wonder if fate would be so unkind as to leave me one bass shy of my goal. However, I still held out hope that I could entice one more bite the following day.

I reached the beaver lodge at 8:12 am on the 24th and quickly retied my jig and pig as I eagerly awaited my first cast. I didn’t have to wait long as only seconds after my jig hit the bottom, I felt the familiar tap of a hungry bass. I reared back to hammer the hooks home on #2000…and missed. In the seconds that followed I felt the despair of potentially missing my shot, possibly uttered a few uncharacteristic and colorful words and began to reel in my lure for another cast. To my surprise, a bass suddenly appeared out of nowhere and slammed the jig as it rode inches below the surface. I’m not sure exactly what happened next, but I would have to give the bass credit for hooking itself as I think I kind of went on autopilot before winding up with a firm grip on the lip of #2000.

Looking at my watch, I recorded the time at 8:13am. I proceeded to measure the length of the bass and it was documented at 13 inches. Having met my 12-inch minimum criteria for a weight measurement I reached for my scale despite already knowing the result before making it official. I’ve seen a few bass in my day and can usually give a reasonable, fairly unbiased estimate. In this instance, I was right on the money. The fish weighed in at 13 ounces. You see if I had to pick a favorite number, it would be 13, which I would admit to inheriting from Dad. It’s on my license plate and Dad’s. He sported the number on various athletic jerseys over the years, as did I when it was available. Therefore, it seemed fitting that my quest would end upon landing a 13-inch, 13-ounce bass at 13 minutes after eight o’clock in the morning.

After snapping a couple of photos of what would coincidentally be (believe it or not) my 113th 13-inch bass, I decided to work the area for a few more minutes. I managed to get one more bite but busted off on the hookset despite retying after #2000. Following a few more half-hearted casts I decided to head back to the guesthouse. I’d spent fifteen minutes on the lake and left satisfied upon having reached my goal. The 2006 season had been good to me, and I didn’t care if I had to wait until 2007 to begin the pursuit of my 3000th bass.

Another shot of Bass #2000, complete with the beaver lodge in the background

Well, the pursuit of the 3000th bass is well in the rearview mirror as I presently sit 112 bass away from #6000. But that’s a chase for 2022 as there’s more Friday Flashback and plenty of other stuff before we bid farewell to 2021. Talk to you later. Troy

An Inside Look At A Fishing Outing

I’m a simple guy so a look inside the cab of my truck is a bit embarrassing due to the amount of stuff packed along for the November 17 fishing trip. However, it is all absolutely necessary as shown and described below.

1. Lucky sweatshirt and flannel that are probably older than my high school senior daughter. It would be interesting to see how many fishing pics that sweatshirt and it’s twin have appeared in over the decades.

2. Cooler containing the standard sandwich, a couple bottles of water or tea and a Ziploc baggie of ice.

3. Chocolate in my favorite forms. M&Ms and a Cosmic Brownie.

4. My fancy GoPro bag containing two cameras, two chest mounts, a zipper case and two extra batteries.

5. Stocking hat as a balding head can get a bit chilly this time of the year.

6. Utility box that hadn’t made it into my tackle backpack in my lazy, last-minute packing.

7. Unsweetened iced tea, a steady companion on any drives. I can last about an hour until I need to make the resultant pit stop (this morning in the parking lot of The Victoria Pheasant Habitat Area).

8. Masks, although my smalltown drink stops along the way have apparently eradicated COVID.

9. Floppy hat as a balding head is not a good match in the event there is sunlight and warm weather. Neither applied on this day.

10. A bag with a bag of chips, another component of the standard fare on a fishing trip.

11. Backpack which contains my “just in case I fall in the lake” change of clothes. Overall, the balance is still there but feeling it slip a bit and always wise to be prepared in the event of a swim.

12. Boots come in handy when launching and loading the little boat. In addition, they are good at keeping the feet warm when paired with some decent socks. Unfortunately, those socks were at home in a drawer resulting in a mid-morning truck break with the heater turned up.

13. A clipboard for notes seems odd when you’ve got a smartphone in your pocket (or baggie when on the water). But ever since making a clipboard in Churchill Junior High shop class, we’ve been tight.

There you go, every item important. Perhaps someday we’ll take a look inside the tackleboxes and the horde of “can’t leave home without” lures. I use about a dozen of them. But you never know when you might need that certain bait. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – November 17

I have stated many times that my annual fishing goal is to start with a March bass and end with a November bass. The first half of the goal was accomplished on March 20, and I set out on November 17 in search of the bookend bass. Details below on how it turned out.


Date: November 17, 2021
Location: Little John Conservation Club (3 lakes)
Time: 10:20am-4:00pm (3.5 hours fishing)
Weather: Overcast/windy/light rain
Air Temp: 47-48F (felt like 41F per weather app)
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 3 bass
Lures: Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 1 bass, War Eagle spinnerbait (chartreuse/white) – 1 bass, Rapala Shad Rap (shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-7 (Spinnerbait)
Top 5 Weight (only 2 bass at 12” or better): 3-6 (2-7,0-15)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

Plan – Having a few vacation days remaining for the year, I opted to invest one on a day with forecast high temps in the mid-50s. The only problem was that the high occurred somewhere around 3:00am and then proceeded to drop from there. In addition, the wind was substantial and the mid-morning end to rain showers continued to be pushed further out past noon. Let’s just say it was less than ideal conditions but at this time of the year, you get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.

10:29am – Mission accomplished on a lipless crankbait

Bass #1 – Catching only three bass, I figure that I might as well provide details on all of them as they are likely my final three bass of 2021. Nine minutes into my morning, armed with a Red Eye Shad, I had my November bass in hand. While I was confident that I could fool at least one bass in the cold front conditions, it sure felt good to get an early catch and achieve my goal.

1:42pm – Top Bass at 2-7 on a spinnerbait

Bass #2 – After an hour and half and one bass on my first stop, I sat in my truck with froze toes and pondered my next move. Stop number two was a shallower spot with a fair amount of wood cover and expanses of submerged vegetation in three to seven foot of water. A reliable collection isolated laydowns in a shallow bay was once again a winner as it produced my best bass of the trip, a healthy 2-7 on a spinnerbait.

3:39pm – mystery solved, barely

Bass #3 – With about an hour of daylight and maybe 30 minutes of energy and cold tolerance remaining in this fifty-something angler, I decided to do a little exploring. First, I took a walk around a small lake to investigate access due to some landscaping over the last several years. All looked well but I moved on without making a cast, opting instead to check out one more lake. My final stop has intrigued me for decades as I have driven past hundreds of times wondering, “does that spot support any bass”, “how deep is the water” and “is there any significant structure”? The answers as follow: Yes, roughly eight feet and not really.

Another good year of fishing, time to ride off into the sunset for 2021

All’s well that ends well. And I suspect that this is indeed the end of casting for 2021. It’s been a great year with ample opportunities to get on the water and good results in terms of both quantity and quality. Stay tuned for a follow-up post with some peripheral stuff from this latest outing. In addition, there’s plenty more outdoor and fishing related content to come here on the blog as we near the end of the year. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback-November 17-18, 2001

Since the inception of Friday Flashback, we’ve spent a fair number of Fridays looking back at Emstrom’s Pond. Indeed, the first post in the series, back on March 18, 2018, featured the legendary fishing hole.

After all those posts, what more could there be to say about the pond?

Well, thanks to the log entries in the photo above from November 17 & 18, 2001 there are several things to say.

Both entries note that I fished for a brief period. This conveys that the proximity of the pond to where we used to store our little johnboat at my folks’ house made the spot ideal for a quick visit. On November afternoons that is important. In the case of the November 17 entry, I was able to get off work at 3:00pm, run by my parents’ house, grab the boat, and start casting by 3:45pm. It doesn’t get much better than that. Well, except for those years when Lake Bracken was my backyard. But that’s another story.

Of the dozens of Emstrom’s pics, this is the best I could find that showed “The Beaver Lodge”

When you only have an hour or so to fish like these two log entries denote, it pays to have a good spot. And in the case of Emstrom’s Pond, there was a good spot on the spot. As the log shows, that spot was what we called The Beaver Lodge. Such a structure is a good spot about anywhere. But that’s another story, too.

Not sure if this is the Pearl pattern Baby 1- or the Gray Ghost (the latter of which is “another story”)

Finally, the successful lure scribbled down in the log is the Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait. I have to say that it is odd for the bait to be so dominant in November. However, the conditions noted in the log show that the weather and water conditions were anything bug typical mid-November. Air temperatures at 60 degrees or above on consecutive days and water temperatures in the upper-50s are a late season dream. As always, the bass will tell you what they want, or don’t. And if I don’t have to slow down my presentations, I don’t.

November 18, 2001 – another winner from Emstrom’s Pond

The picture above provides solid feedback that I was in the right place on the right water at the right time with the right lure.

That’s the puzzle that is fishing. And occasionally, I get it right. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Most years in the history of the Top 5 we have wound up with a handful of November bass but this year I was beginning to wonder. Fortunately, one of our anglers found some bites down around our state capital. Read on for the results.

Weight: 1-8
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: November 9
Weather: Overcast with mid to high 60s air temperature and light wind
Water Temp: 58-60 degrees
Location: Sangchris Lake
Lure: Black and silver floating Rapala

Weight: 1-8
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: November 9
Weather: Overcast with mid to high 60s air temperature and light wind
Water Temp: 58-60 degrees
Location: Sangchris Lake
Lure: Black and silver floating Rapala
Angler Comments: These two bass along with three others of lesser weight were caught casting the pictured Rapala to shoreline cover.
Top 5 Weight: 11-14 (2-10,2-8,2-8,2-6,1-14)

John’s winning lure pictured below

Well done, John, on fooling those late season bass and great to see a classic lure getting in on the action. The old Rapala Floating Minnow is still a winner over 60 years after making its debut in the United States. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – November 14, 2001

One of the regular stops for me and my brother on some of our public strip mine hikes is a spot we call “2X4 Lake.” It doesn’t have a real name, so we made one up after a 2013 trip when it gave up two four-pound bass in the span of ten minutes.

Well, quite a few years prior to that pair, Brent and I completed the same four-pound feat on good, old Emstrom’s Pond. If you’ve followed the Friday Flashback posts over the last four years, perhaps you’ve heard of the legendary fishing hole. No matter that it took us just a bit more than ten minutes to land this duo, it’s always cool to catch multiple high-quality bass on one outing.

Original log entry from November 14, 2001

November 14, 2001 at 11:45am, Brent strikes first with a four-pounder

November 14, 2001 at 12:45pm, I manage to match the day’s Top Bass

Brent struck first with an even four-pounder at 11:45am and I was able to follow up with a fish of identical weight at 12:45pm. Both bass fell to black and blue jigs, classic cold water, big bass baits. Such a presentation was a winner on that old pond over the years as we compiled quite a list of good fish bouncing those jigs around The Beaver Lodge and a couple other spots. In fact, the 2001 bite on the jig (and another surprising lure) was not quite done after this trip. But those are tales for future Fridays as we head down the home stretch of this year’s Friday Flashback.

Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Prowl the Canal – October

It’s time to catch up on the latest visits to the Hennepin Canal as I head towards the end of my first year of fishing the interesting and historic corridor. An impressive summer bite had my hopes high for a fall feeding frenzy. Read on to see how October played out.

Date: October 2, 17, 30 & 31, 2021
Location: Hennepin Canal – Henry County, IL
Time: 8.00 hours total (three evenings, one morning, two hours each)
Weather: Varied but pleasant in the sixties
Totals: 10 bass (daily breakdown below by date)
Lures: Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (red craw) – 4 bass, Rebel Pop’R Zell Rowland Model – 2 bass, War Eagle Spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) – 1 bass, Bomber Flat A Crankbait (baby bass – 1 bass)
Top Bass: 2-0 (Mann’s Baby 1-)
Top 5 Weight (only three at 12” or better): 4-5 (2-0,1-4,1-1)

Winning October Lures

Notes and Nonsense

October 2 – Top Bass at 13″ and 1-4 on a Pop’R

October 2 (4 bass) – One week prior, the same spot, same time of the morning and similar weather conditions saw my first two casts land nearly six pounds of bass. While it didn’t take me long to fool one on this visit, it was just slightly over a pound. It would also be the largest bass of the trip. I did have an enjoyable chat with a couple boat anglers who provided insight on The Canal as well as some Knox County public strip mine ground. The latter info was news to me and may come into play in 2022.

October 17 – Lone bass and happy to avoid an embarrassing shutout

October 17 (1 bass) – This pleasant fall evening had my hopes high for finding a flurry of fish feeding. That couldn’t have been further from what transpired. I focused on a productive stretch of water and never even had a bite in the first hour and a half of casting. I was honestly resigned to the fact that I was going to be shut out on The Canal for the first time. However, a last-minute bite near the parking lot saved the day. Not a big bass but infinitely better than nothing.

October 30 – new Top Smallmouth Bass at 15.5″ and 2-0, haven’t caught one in years

October 30 (3 bass) – Well, two out of three ain’t bad in terms of successful stops along The Canal. The action was far from fast and furious, but I did wind up with a cool Top Bass. Coming in at two pounds even it also established a new all-time Top Smallmouth Bass mark. In the interest of honesty, it did not come from The Canal but rather some nearby moving water. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

October 31 – Halloween bass, not very scary but as good as it got

October 31 (2 bass) – I had a few free hours before the official Halloween night kicked in, so I decided to scout some new ground on The Canal. My aim was to evaluate a few stretches that had intrigued me during jogs and bike rides a few years back. The trip was a learning experience, and the lesson was that most of the spots are not worth a return visit. For the most part the waters were just too silted in and not worth the effort when I have plenty of better, deeper, proven water. Only a pair of small bass joined the logbook, but mission accomplished in eliminating unproductive water.

While I was optimistic about a solid fall bite on The Canal, I just couldn’t find it. Whether it was me or the bass to blame is up for debate. Time, daylight, and weather will tell if I make another visit in 2021. Regardless, it has been an entertaining, educational, and productive several months of summer and fall fishing on the historic waterway and I look forward to adding some spring trips in 2022. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – November 1, 2001

Portion of the original log from 11/1/2001

Do you know what the Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year was for 2013?

The answer is “selfie.”

Well, not being particularly hip, I have no idea when I got wind of such a word. But being a fisherman who spent a lot of time flying solo in boats or boots, I guess that I was dabbling in the practice long before it ever got an official name.

And twenty years ago, in an eight-foot johnboat with an Advanced Photo System camera and without a fishing partner, the “selfie” thing wasn’t exactly a piece of cake. This is quite apparent from the slideshow below featuring my Top 5 bass from an Emstrom’s Pond trip on November 1, 2001.


Ah yes, the good, old days before a tripod, instant feedback and free do overs.

While I could write plenty on the evolution of fishing photography, that is best left for another time. Instead, the pics of the fish and the angler will speak for themselves in today’s flashback.

Although, in compiling today’s post, I did wonder if a “true” selfie was simply a photo taken by, and featuring only, the subject taking the shot.

According to the reliable source, Wikipedia, “A selfie, however, may include multiple subjects; however, as long as the photo is being taken by one of the subjects featured, it is considered a selfie.”

Here’s to many more (and hopefully better) fishing selfies. Talk to you later. Troy