Month: October 2022

Top 5 Update

Did somebody say, “Don’t put your poles away just yet?” Well, several of us took that advice and hit the water with October drawing to a close. Three anglers, three waters, and six submissions make for a quality late season update this week.

Length: 12”
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: October 26
Weather: Partly cloudy, gusty northwest wind, air temp 60s
Water Temp: Unknown
Location: Devils Kitchen Lake, Makanda, IL
Lure: Four-inch floating Rapala (black/silver)
Structure: Open water

Length: Less than12”
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: October 26
Weather: Partly cloudy, gusty northwest wind, air temp 60s
Water Temp: Unknown
Location: Devils Kitchen Lake, Makanda, IL
Lure: Seps Colorado Pro Flasher with a No. 2 Roy Self brass colored spoon with mirrored red head
Structure: Open water
Angler Comments: These are hatchery raised fish recently released during the fall trout season. Fish were active on the surface often jumping several feet in the air. The twelve-inch trout was taken casting the Rapala in open water. The smaller trout was caught trolling the Roy Self spoon
Top 5 Length: ~48” (12”,12”,12”, <12”)

Weight: 1-10
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: October 29
Weather: Sunny/breezy
Location: Lake Storey
Lure: Spinnerbait
Top 5 Weight: 18-9 (5-4,3-9,3-8,3-3,3-1)

Weight: 1-13
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: October 30
Weather: Overcast skies, light breeze from the east, air temps 50s
Water Temp: 55F
Location: Lake Storey, Galesburg, IL
Lure: Spinnerbait
Structure: About five yards off the dam
Angler Comments: The fish hit the lure near the boat in deep water. Only one other smaller bass caught in 3.5 hours of fishing.
Top 5 Weight: 15-11 (4-2,3-5,2-14,2-11,2-11)

Weight: 2-3 (18”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: October 30
Weather: Overcast/breezy, 60F
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: Booyah Blade Spinnerbait (bleeding shad) with Zoom Creepy Crawler trailer (root beer pepper green)
Structure: Log
Angler Comments: No wonder this one hit my lure as it looked like it was starving. Long but scrawny, it should have been pushing three pounds. It wasn’t, but still a good fish.

Weight: 2-4 (17.5”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: October 30
Weather: Overcast/breezy, 60F
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: Booyah Blade Spinnerbait (bleeding shad) with Zoom Creepy Crawler trailer (root beer pepper green)
Structure: Logs
Angler Comments: This one hit right next to the boat with about two feet of line out. I had to disengage the spool to make landing the bass more manageable.
Top 5 Weight: 16-10 (3-10,3-5,3-5,3-4,3-2)

It’s always cool to see a species beyond our bass make an appearance. And while our bass did not give us a boost, we are getting to that “icing on the cake” period headed into the last two months of the year. I don’t know about anybody else, but I have my sights on my annual goal of a November bass (or more) before I call it quits. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – October 28, 2002

I first caught the bass fishing bug when I was a teenager in the early eighties. From then until about the mid-nineties, I typically put away the fishing gear sometime in September. Looking back, that was a mistake, but it was a different time with different distractions. Today’s flashback provides proof that good bites are out there if you keep on casting.

Excerpts from original October 29, 2002 post

I decided to hit Emstrom’s Pond today (10/28) despite less than favorable conditions. A string of chilly weather and winds from the north and east typically provide for a tough bite. I prepped myself by thinking that anyone can catch fish under good conditions and today would be a challenge. I chose Emstrom’s for its proximity (it takes longer to load my gear than it does to drive to the pond) and its history. The plan was to fish for an hour or so and I was basically looking for one bite. That may be the only chance you get on a day like this, and you just hope your reflexes are sharp.

The cold front/late fall pattern at Emstrom’s is pretty simple. Row directly to The Beaver Lodge, anchor deep and toss a 1/4 oz jig (black/blue) with a #11 pork frog (blue, black, or purple). If this fails to produce, either move in closer or fish some weed edges before returning for a closer shot. I arrived around 1:50 pm, rowed to The Beaver Lodge, anchored, and cast my jig with a black pork frog. A telltale jump in my line before the lure hit bottom meant something below was hungry. I set the hook twice for good measure and the fight was on. A flash of white let me know it was a good fish and I shortly had a 3-5 bass in the boat. It was 1:58 pm. He was hooked solidly in the roof of the mouth with the entire bait inside of his mouth. Following a couple pictures, he was released to be caught again. We often joke about catching a fish on your first cast and view it as a bad omen. I’m not sure if the statistics would provide any proof, but it seems like we have a slow day after catching one on the first cast. In fact, I laughed after catching this fish, wondering if I should just pull up the anchor and head for home.

1:58pm – Top Bass Runner-up at 3-5 (18.5″) on a jig

I elected to stick around. I retied my jig since the bass had inhaled the lure and potentially caused abrasions with its teeth during the fight. Another twenty minutes produced no other bass although I set the hooks on a couple casts when things on the other end just felt weird. Remember, “When in doubt, set the hook.” The wind had switched directions a bit, so I decided to row to the dam and cast the weedline as I drifted back towards The Beaver Lodge. My weapon of choice was a 3/8 oz Stanley Vibra Shaft Glitter Series spinnerbait (blue glimmer) with a twin tail trailer (white), one of my favorites. Several casts produced nothing but a handful of weeds. Then I noticed fish working the surface and figured they were probably crappies. The last time out at Emstrom’s (10/21), I caught a nice crappie on a Mepp’s #5 (Rainbow trout/white), so I decided to try it.

A couple cranks into my first cast with the Mepp’s and I had a hit. I set the hook and initially felt only slight resistance. I quickly reeled as the fish swam at the boat until it turned broadside, giving me a good look at a large bass. I kept my rod tip high as the bass tried to bury itself in the remaining weeds. I had lost a fish earlier this year when it pulled the same stunt, and I was determined to outsmart this one. I was sitting in only about three feet of water, and I wanted to keep the fish near the surface. The fish earlier in the year had hit bottom and gained the necessary slack to get away. I knew better this time, kept the bass from diving and was able to land it successfully.

2:37pm – Top Bass at 4-4 (21″) on a Mepps spinner

The fish had a large head and mouth leading me to believe it was undernourished or ill, and probably would have been heavier if healthy. Regardless of its condition, it measured 21″ in length and weighed in at 4-4. I snapped a pair of photos and released the fish. I later realized that my camera had switched from auto to spot focus (probably when kicked around the boat fighting one of these fish), so I’m interested to see how the pictures turn out. They could also be interesting considering the bass was defecating all over me as I took the pictures. Can’t say that I’ve ever dealt with this before, but it probably lost a couple of ounces (fortunately it was weighed before pictures). I had quite a mess all over my rain pants and sweatshirt. For those who care, it resembled bird droppings and had a smell like the nasty black mud you find on the bottom of lakes and ponds. I worked the rest of the weedline and tried The Beaver Lodge a second time without getting any bites. A last effort was made along a deep weedline near the dam. I had one bite on the jig, but it got off shortly after the hookset.

Original log entry from October 28, 2002

A productive day during less-than-ideal conditions. Fortunately, I had a couple free hours while Julie was doing some things for work, and I had most of my errands done. Might as well go fishing. Then again, it’s 46 degrees, overcast and windy. Maybe I’ll watch the news, explore the internet, work on outdoor articles, or do something around the house. No, I can do that stuff when it’s 20 degrees and windy. After all, I’ve got gloves to warm my hands when needed, a thermal and a sweatshirt, insulated boots, and a rain suit to handle the wind. I’m glad I went.

There you go. Don’t put those poles away quite yet. Time will tell if I am able to follow my own advice, but I always have my sights on a November bass before I call it a year. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Musing Over A Muskie Miss

My recent trip to Lake Storey featured a hookup with a muskie, the first one for me on the lake since 2017. It did not end well as the fish busted off at boatside a foot or two from my dipnet. Today’s post features the GoPro footage along with my assessment of the near catch. First up, some footage, followed by a description of the event, and finally some of the “what ifs” when hooking a muskie on bass fishing gear.


The Fight

I hadn’t hooked an “accidental” muskie at Lake Storey in five years, but such an opportunity is always in the back of the mind when casting on the old fishing hole. Well, that drought ended with a solid hookset on a Red Eye Shad that immediately registered as something heavy. The fish headed deep and while I had yet to get a visual, I suspected that it had teeth. Sure enough, a couple of explosions on the surface confirmed my suspicion. The view also confirmed that the lure was inside its mouth which spells trouble for twelve-pound monofilament line. I figured that it was just a matter time before the line would get cut so I went for a do-or-die approach to get it within net reach as soon as possible and hope I got it before it freaked out. Net in hand, I had the fish within a foot or two of potential capture when a head shake separated my lure from my line. The muskie lay near the surface just out of reach for a split-second as I made a futile stab before the fish realized it was free and disappeared with a thrash. It was exciting while it lasted but still kind of makes me sick to my stomach watching the replay in my head (and on video).


What If

Line – I am a monofilament guy and was casting twelve-pound test Trilene line and targeting bass. Of course, there is always a chance of hooking a toothy muskie or walleye on Lake Storey so braided line and especially a wire leader can be beneficial. I like the action of my bass lures on monofilament, so I take my chances and in this case I lost.

Drag – The fish did pull drag, so I am satisfied that the setting did not cost me this fish. At the point of the breakoff, my rod was still rather upright and absorbing much of the load from the large fish. I maintain that the weak link was the way in which the fish was hooked.

Fight – Upon seeing the fish roll, I knew I was on borrowed time since the lure was not visible on the outside off the muskie’s mouth. I took a shot at trying to get the fish within net’s reach as soon as I could knowing full well that a fresh fish could end the fight with a sudden run. I just didn’t feel that a prolonged battle would end favorably with the mono scraping around those teeth.

Net – It’s a bit of a stunt trying to guide the fish with one hand on the pole while taking aim with the dipnet with the other arm. My net was in the water within a foot or two of the fish when the line snapped. So darn close but what if I had a fellow angler in the boat? I am sure that the odds would have been better, but I probably would have instructed the netter to remain to my left in the video clip thus farther from the fish when it came loose. My plan would have remained at guiding the fish to the net and hoping it didn’t freak out at boatside.

Percentages – I have landed fifteen muskies in my life. Fourteen of the fifteen have been while fishing with ten or twelve-pound monofilament. The lone outlier was caught while actually targeting muskie with braided line and a leader. Beyond the muskies landed, I have lost three. One was short fish (mid-twenty inch) that flopped out of an inadequate dipnet. Another was the heaviest muskie that I have ever hooked that busted off at boatside when I asked my net man, Brent, to hold off for a second (bad move on my part). And of course, this fish which would’ve probably ranked third among the largest muskies I have ever hooked. That previous poor decision to have my net man wait also came into play in rushing the fish this time around as well.

The “one that got away” is a fishing standard. It happens to anyone who spends time on the water. I have been fortunate to not have too many heartbreaks that keep me up at night wondering what might have been or what should have been done differently. This one bothers me. And I’m sure it will bother me for a long time. Not only losing the fish but hoping that it will not suffer any ill effects and be able to rid itself of my Red Eye Shad in some fashion so that either myself or another fortunate angler will cross paths with the fish in the future. Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Report – October 22

Time is winding down for my 2022 fishing season. Shorter daylight and busy weekends make it tough to get on the water. And when I do get a shot, it can also be tough to decide on a destination. However, by October some of the options are no longer in play with the Knox County public access strip mines locking out anglers. Therefore, my choices came down to The Canal, Little John Conservation Club, and Lake Storey. I chose the latter and here’s how it went down.


Date: October 22
Time: 9:30am-5:15pm
Totals: 13 bass
Weather: Sunny/very windy 61-79F
Water Temperature: 51-55F
Lures: War Eagle spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) with Zoom Creepy Crawler trailer (watermelon seed) – 8 bass, Special K Willow Hammer Spinnerbait (white with copper head) with Zoom Creepy Crawler trailer (watermelon seed) – 2 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 2 bass, Bomber Flat A Crankbait (baby bass) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-15 Red Eye Shad
Top 5 Weight: 6-13 (1-15,1-6,1-4,1-4,1-0)


Notes and Nonsense

Weird Wind – I was pleased when I saw that the prevailing wind forecast was generally south. Not only does that mean warming but it also sets up well with many of my spots getting pounded by the weather. In addition, I don’t have to fight it as much as a west wind when it is time to return to the ramp. However, the wind turned out to be a strange swirling direction that was all over the place. I wound up in few spots that were extremely windy that should not have had any wind at all judging from the observed direction of treetops or flags. At least the end of the day featured gusts from the east. Not my favorite for fish activity and made boat control tough for a stop along the dam but it did help push me back to the ramp.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery exemplified (see note below)

Shad Surge – Over the last few years, I have observed a real uptick in shad sightings at Lake Storey. Schools on the surface are common and you can occasionally see them scatter during casts and retrieves around shallow structure. On this trip, my lure collided with what I suspect were shad and I even snagged one in the back with a near facsimile, the Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad pattern). These days, shad look to be a substantial piece of the forage base along with a population of similarly designed golden shiners. Moral of the story is lures that imitate such species are certainly worth some casts.

A golden shiner from Lake Storey in May that also makes up part of the lake’s forage base

Crazy From the Heat – The summer-like weather brought out an interesting crowd. I was one of three trailered boats on the water along with close to double digit kayakers and well over a dozen bank anglers. I observed a topless paddle boarder (male) intentionally go for a waist-deep wade in the fifty-two-degree water. He hollered at his buddy, “It ain’t too bad!” Nope, as it made me breathe funny just watching and recalling how cool creek water got your attention once it reached a certain level of the anatomy. Fish stories abounded with one kayaker stating he’d landed a five-pound bass that morning. He looked adept in his skills, and I believed him. Another kayaker along the dam regaled me with tales of a seven and eight-pounder from Lake Storey over the years, and many six-pounders this year. He also had a state record bass hooked out there. He stated, “the only bass I’ve ever seen that large was in a Bass Pro Shops tank in Galveston, Texas and it weighed 16.62 pounds.” (Illinois state record sits at 13-1, a controversial catch from 1976). I mentioned that I had lost a good muskie and he then proceeded to tell of his fifty-five-inch Lake Storey muskie that he released not realizing it could be “a state record.” For reference, I believe that the largest verified muskies from Illinois waters came in at fifty-four inches. As his fish stories continued, I was smiling inside. You see, we were conversing near the water control structure. It is the deepest part of the lake, and I felt that the water wasn’t the only thing getting deep during our chat.

Snapshsot from the GoPro footage of a large muskie that wound up as “the one that got away.” Stay tuned for the rest of the story in a follow-up post.

Getting back to reality to close this post, my muskie encounter briefly referenced above will get a blog post of its own. Losing a big fish like that torments me and as a teller of fish tales, I need more time and blog space to do it justice. Besides, this ramble has gone on long enough so stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Prowl the Canal – October 16

After two weeks off from fishing due to shorter weekdays and busy weekends, I took another shot at The Canal. With exactly 500 bass in the log for the year, I would say that any catches from here on out are icing on the cake. I was hoping to hit a fall feeding frenzy on this mild (but windy) afternoon, but the bite was tough.

(Note: Also included below is a bonus Snakeden Hollow report from my brother.)

3:45pm – Top Bass at 1-14 (16″) on a spinnerbait

Date: October 16
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 1:45pm-4:45pm
Totals: 4 bass
Weather: Partly cloudy/very windy
Lures: Stanley Vibra Shaft spinnerbait (blue glimmer) with Zoom Creepy Crawler trailer (root beer/pepper/green) – 3 bass Booyah Blade spinnerbait (bleeding shiner) with Zoom Creepy Crawler trailer (watermelon seed) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-14 Spinnerbait
Top 5 Weight (only 4 at 12” or better): 5-10 (1-14,1-9,1-7,0-12)

Winning lures including an old Blue Glimmer spinnerbait from the 1990s on left

Notes and Nonsense

Wind – Much of The Canal that I fish is bordered by tree lines leaving only a narrow window for the wind to be blowing right in the wrong direction. On this trip, that was the case. In fact, the wind was as tough as I have had on The Canal since a cold, windy May 1 outing. No complaints though, just an observation as most days The Canal affords an escape from the gusts that would hound me on any other waters I visit.

A missed strike resulted in the demise of this War Eagle spinnerbait

Broken Bait – I have given a few spinnerbaits a workout this year and they have been very good to me in terms of production from April to present. Along the way, the bass have destroyed two of my favorites. In both cases, the blade arm wire has snapped just above the line tie. The latest casualty came on this trip as a missed strike ruined a War Eagle brand spinnerbait. In September, a Lake Storey bass busted a favorite that an old friend and baseball teammate, Mike Karlovich, had crafted and sent my way. In the latter case, at least the bait went out on top by landing the fish that caused the damage.


Bonus Snakeden Finale Report

My brother, Brent, hit Snakeden on October 16 to get in a few more casts before the site becomes off limits to anglers. His details are below along with a couple photos.

Brent’s Snakeden Top Bass from his October 16 trip at 1-11

Roughly 3.00 hours
13 bass
Top Bass: 1-11 and 1-6
Mann’s 4- crankbait – 6 bass
Strike King Red Eye Shad – 3 bass
Senko wacky rig – 3 bass
Spinnerbait – 1 bass

An odd break for Brent as a busted hook on a Senko wacky rig cost him a three-pounder

My year on the water has reached the home stretch. As I post this entry, I have a final Lake Storey trip in the books and look to have that report posted next week. Beyond that outing, I am not sure what the rest of October holds in terms of getting on the water. These shorter days really do a number when my workday ends at 5:00pm or later. I always set an annual goal to end with a November bass so time will tell how that all shakes out. Fishing or not, I’ve always got plenty of blog ideas so stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Record Book Roundup – Lake Storey

One of my projects for blogging in 2022 was to look inside the fishing record book. I did a decent job on that goal as the year progressed but have yet to relate the records for an old favorite fishing hole, Lake Storey. That missing piece will be resolved with today’s post in advance of hitting the lake one more time this year. The primary focus of this record book update is largemouth bass but if you make it through that portion of the post there’s also a couple impressive bonus species as well.

Spring 1986 – Dad with the initial bass record at 4-6

Lake Storey (1970s-present)
Top Bass: 4-11 Brent Jackson 10/19/18 Spinnerbait
Best Top 5 Day: 14-5 (4-8,3-11,2-7,2-1,1-10) 9/20/07
All-Time Top 5 Weight: 22-0 (4-11,4-8,4-7,4-6,4-0)

October 19, 2018 – Brent with a 4-11, the current Lake Storey Top Bass


Fall Top 5 Daily Weight Data by month
9/30/07 14-5
9/25/07 11-7 with Dad
9/19/21 10-10 with Brent
9/29/10 10-3
9/15/19 9-5 with Brent
9/18/22 9-4
9/27/21 8-13 with Brent
9/19/21 8-10
9/21/09 8-7
9/25/07 8-5
9/8/19 8-2 with Brent

10/19/18 13-9 with Brent
10/12/20 9-0
10/2/08 8-13
10/13/08 8-3 with Dad
10/21/20 7-15 with Dad
10/14/21 7-5
10/19/19 7-4

11/1/08 7-13

October 21, 2010 – Top Walleye at 10-2 (29″)

September 16, 2012 – Top Muskie at 19-8 (43″)

Lake Storey has been good to us over the years, and I always look forward to wetting a line on my “home lake.” Plenty of stories to tell but I’ll leave it as simply another Record Book Roundup for today. It’s a tall order to top any of these catches but stay tuned as record breakers or not, I’ll be back on the lake one more time before the month ends. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – October 22, 2012

With only a half dozen more Friday Flashback’s to go before the series concludes, its time for one more revisit of Emiquon.

Excerpts below from the original blog post on Heartland Outdoors.

Date: October 22, 2012
Location: The Emiquon Preserve
Time: 11:15am-4:00pm
Totals: 35 bass
Weather: Overcast to partly cloudy/windy
Lures: Booyah Counterstrike spinnerbait (snow white) – 15 bass, Booyah Counterstrike spinnerbait (silver scale white) – 14 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 5 bass, Bass Pro Shops River Bug (green pumpkin) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-11 Spinnerbait
Top 5 Weight: 13-0 (2-11,2-10,2-10,2-9,2-8)

1:52pm – Top Bass of the day at 2-11 (16.5″)

Notes and Nonsense

Flipping The Switch – I spent my first fifty-one minutes without a bass and never even had a bite on about half a dozen formerly productive spots. I was searching fast as I normally do with a rotating combination of a spinnerbait, crankbait and lipless crank depending on how deep, weedy, or woody my targets were. My plan was to get bit, drop anchor and sit on them when I found a bite. I’d resigned myself to the fact that it would be power over finesse as the wind just wasn’t conducive to wacky rigging or crawling creature baits. Things worked out in standard Emiquon fashion as once she turned on it went from the Dead Sea to bass waiting in line for their spot in the logbook.

Busted Booyahs

Tough Bass – The bulk of the strikes were not jarring, just heavy with several follows and misses as if the bass were chasing down the lures as opposed to nailing them as they passed by an ambush point (it took three strikes on one entertaining retrieve before the fish got it right at boatside). However, once hooked, the bass put on a good show and fooled me into thinking that I had something larger than the standard issue thirteen-to-seventeen-inch fish. A strong hookset on a creature bait completely fried one of my older reels and I had a couple Booyah spinnerbaits bite the dust as pictured above. The bottom bait in the photo came back missing the willow leaf blade after a strike while the hit and hookset on the other bait resulted in reeling in only a portion of the wire arm. Weird stuff, as I’ve really been pleased with the Booyah baits as they have handled a couple nice muskies this year along with numerous feisty bass. Such is the always interesting (and in this case expensive) world of Emiquon.


Wind Shortened – With the seventy-five–minute drive and the potential for being my final trip of the year, I’d planned to fish until closing time (sunset was 6:09pm). However, by about 3:45pm the wind had picked up more than the ten-to-twelve mph predicted promising for a long, rough ride back to the truck, so I called it quits. It took about twenty-five minutes into the teeth of the wind with a row/troll combo as I had to stay shallow to avoid the choppier water that gives the johnboat all it can take. Emiquon is interesting in that respect as well because you can’t just go cross country to reach the ramp due to expanses of very shallow or weed choked water, even more so this year with a lower-than-normal pool. At any rate, it was the right decision to pass up a few more bites in the interest of safety. Besides, the lake had treated me well after I paid my dues finding productive spots.

Spotted this sign on the ride home and just had to preserve with a photo

I will admit that Emiquon can make me greedy but thirty-five bass in just under five hours is really a winner for me every time. No true “lunkers” to brag about but some darn good fish in terms of both quality and quantity when compared to other places I could have spent my day.

And so it went on that one-of-a-kind fishing hole. In looking over the entries from this trip in my database, I still marvel at the fact that ninety-seven percent of my catches were twelve inches or better (thirty-four of thirty-five bass). Folks, that isn’t normal. And neither was Emiquon, once upon a time. Talk to you later. Troy

Bass Quest 500 – Part II

I launched my boat at The Canal on the morning of October 2 in search of five bass to reach five hundred for the year. After catching four in regular fashion, that final bass turned into quite a challenge. As I struggled to get that last bite, I couldn’t help but wonder how Albert Pujols or Aaron Judge felt in their recent home run milestone quests. In baseball parlance, my mindset was “stick to your swing, don’t press and it will happen.”

Eventually, it did.

My milestone turned out to be the largemouth bass equivalent of a swinging bunt but as the old baseball saying goes “it looks like a line drive in the boxscore.”

Once again, with a little lyrical accompaniment from the band Boston, here’s how it all went down.

8:09am – Bass #499, one more to go and I sure didn’t care if it was big or not

Date: October 2
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 7:10am-9:25am
Totals: 5 bass
Weather: Sunny/breezy 48-60F
Lures: War Eagle spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) with Zoom Creepy Crawler trailer (watermelon seed) – 4 bass, 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (smoke shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: none at 12” or better
Top 5 Weight: none at 12” or better

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

“And there’s nothing like a party when its kicking into gear.”
(Don’t Look Back – 1978)
Arriving at The Canal shortly after sunrise, I was surprised to find a table set up with refreshments opposite my point of launch. I thought that word of my quest had spread, and the media and fans would arrive shortly to cheer me on towards my goal. That’s not how the whole setup turned out, but more on that in a bit.

Long Time
“I’ve got to keep on chasin’ that dream, though I may never find it.”
(Boston – 1976)
Five bass didn’t seem like a whole lot considering I had decent weather, quality water, and about forty years of chasing bass in my favor. I fished the length of my chosen pool and landed four of the five I needed in my first hour of fishing. At that point, I was confident that I could retrace my water on the return to the lot and get that final fish. Not so fast, as I covered the mile of water back to the launch and never had a bite. My last shot was an area with increased current around a tube which runs under a roadway. And I had about ten minutes left to fish until I had to head home and get the boys to religious education class.

9:25am – That’s a 10″ winner for Bass #500

Feelin’ Satisfied
“So come on, put your hands together, you know it’s now or never.”
(Don’t Look Back – 1978)
I hit the heavier current in search of one more bite with a couple of decisions to make. First, what lure was I going to use? That turned out to be Senko wacky rig. Secondly, was it more important to get my bass or to get my boys to church on time? Luckily, the Senko came through right away and I didn’t have to weigh the consequences related to a poor decision on question number two. While there was neither a cheering crowd nor even a triumphant fist pump, there was relief. After a picture and release of the bass, I put down my pole and rowed for the launch feeling satisfied upon reaching my goal.

I Had a Good Time
“And I, I just wanted you to know, I had a really good time.”
(Corporate America – 2002)


Throughout my morning I had seen an increased number of walkers and runners along the towpath that parallels the length of The Canal. I suspected that the crowd was part of an event called the “The Hennepin Hundred,” a hundred-mile ultramarathon. And yes, the refreshment table was for their benefit and not related to my quest after all. As I loaded my boat, a vehicle pulled up with a couple of guys who looked like runners. I said, “Hello” and inquired about the race. One individual confirmed that it was indeed The Hennepin Hundred with the finish line located several miles to the west. He also noted that he was from Michigan, had finished his hundred miles earlier that morning and was now ready to cheer on fellow participants. I congratulated him and marveled at his achievement, electing to keep my fish story to myself. It just kind of paled in comparison.

I am still looking for Bass #501 and beyond as I have yet to get back on the water. Time will tell where the final tally for 2022 ends. Talk to you later. Troy

Bass Quest 500 – Part I

The title of this post is a bit of a “spoiler alert” as it leads one to believe that there will be a “Part II.” And that is correct as I set out on this trip in search of nine bass to reach Bass #500 for the year. My first catch of the evening was landed after only six minutes of casting and had me feeling optimistic. However, I didn’t land another fish for an hour and a half. Read on for the rest of the results with a little musical twist from a favorite “Rock & Roll Band,” Boston.

Bass #492 – 4:36pm at 1-10 (15″) on a Whopper Plopper

Date: October 1
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 4:30pm-7:00pm
Totals: 4 bass
Weather: Sunny/calm 66F
Lures: Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (black) – 2 bass, War Eagle spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) with Zoom Creepy Crawler trailer (watermelon seed) – 1 bass, Whopper Plopper 110 (bone) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-10 Buzzbait
Top 5 Weight (only 4 at 12” or better): 6-5 (2-10,1-10,1-1,1-0)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

My Destination
“And feeling the way I do, wouldn’t last a mile without you.”
(Third Stage – 1986)
The 2022 fishing year kept me closer to home for most of my outings as fuel costs became as much of a factor as lure selection in my fishing. With The Canal being responsible for sixty-five percent of my 2022 catches, my destination for Bass #500 was an easy choice. It deserved to be the spot where I would pursue those final bass.

Bass #493 – 6:08pm at 1-1 (13.5″) on a buzzbait

The Journey
(Don’t Look Back -1978)
A major reason that The Canal has produced so many bass was my change in approach from prowling the banks on foot and bike to rowing the little boat for miles and miles. Access to more water and more structure gave me a shot at more bass. And I added some low impact exercise along the way (some day I need to tally the distance that I rowed this year).

Bass #494 – 6:20pm at 2-10 (19″) on a buzzbait

Peace of Mind
“All I want is to have my peace of mind.”
(Boston -1976)
Fishing relaxes me and takes my mind off all the stuff that comes with being a grown-up. My goals on the water consist of avoiding a shutout, catching a Top 5, and hitting the double-digit mark with that Top 5 weight. However, this time out I was looking for a precise number of bass and I’ll admit that it messed with my mind when the bite got slow. I just kept casting at quality spots with proven lures but came up short, ending my day with Bass #495.

Bass #495 – 6:37pm at 1-0 (13″) on a spinnerbait

Well, the bass kept me waiting for my milestone on this outing. But I was determined to get Bass #500 and set out twelve hours later to continue the quest the following morning. Stay tuned for “Part II” and talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – October 22, 2002


Twenty years ago, I still had a membership at Lake Bracken, located just south of Galesburg, Illinois. Today’s flashback looks at how Brent and I did on a chilly midday outing on the seventh and final visit to Bracken in 2002.

Date: October 22, 2002
Location: Lake Bracken
Time: 11:05am-2:50pm
Weather: Overcast to sunny/breezy, 45F
Totals: 16 bass (Troy – 9, Brent – 7)
Lures: 3/8 oz Stanley Vibra Shaft (blue glimmer) with twin tail trailer (white) – 9 bass, Mann’s 4- crankbait (red shiner) – 7 bass
Top Bass: 2-8 Spinnerbait (Troy)
Top 5 Weight (only 3 at 12” or better): 4-6 (2-8,1-0,0-14)

Excerpt of original post from October 23, 2002

On October 22, Brent and I decided to give Lake Bracken a try for some bass fishing. We considered muskie fishing at Lake Storey as another option, but we also figured it would be a good time to get the two-man bass boat from the dock at Lake Bracken. The plan was to tie the two-man boat to the back of Dad’s bass boat, pull it to the ramp, load it in my truck and haul it home. This approach is much more favorable than the alternative of carrying the boat up the hill behind the house. If you’ve seen the hill, you’d understand. All went well and the boat is in the garage.

Still have these winning lures in my tackle twenty years later (Mann’s 4- crankbait and Blue Glimmer spinnerbait)

As far as the fishing trip, the temperature barely bested forty, but we decided to head out anyway. We fished from around 11:00 am until nearly 3:00 pm and caught sixteen bass. All my fish were caught on my favorite spinnerbait, a Stanley 3/8 oz Vibra Shaft (blue glimmer) with a twin tail trailer (white). Brent caught all his fish on a Mann’s 4- crankbait (red shiner). While the south side of the lake was most productive, it was also in the shade. With temperatures in the mid-40s and a brisk north to northeast wind, conditions weren’t the best for the fishermen. But once again, it’s all about the fish.

Top Bass at 2-8 on a spinnerbait

The bass were more cooperative than we anticipated. I attributed the decent bite to the fact that the lake is in the process of a drawdown, lowering the water level and drawing the forage out of many places to hide. Best spots to hit were any wood that was still in the water as well as riprap (chunky rock) banks. Big bass of the day was my 2-8. This fish had a fish tail sticking out of its throat and a fat belly but was still eager to try and eat my spinnerbait. Another highlight was what could be called a “textbook bass.” I cast my spinnerbait beyond a pair of logs that formed an “X” just below the surface. I reeled the bait up to and over the logs before letting it flutter down just as it passed the structure. Upon the fall, I was rewarded with a nice 0-14 bass. Just like they show on TV and print in the magazines, bass fishing made easy.

A final highlight was getting a good look at a Pileated Woodpecker as it flew overhead. This species is typically rather secretive but is very easy to identify if you’ve ever seen the more common red-headed woodpecker or watched a “Woody the Woodpecker” cartoon. These guys are big, make a heck of a racket pecking or calling and fly with the typical up-and-down flight of their smaller cousins.

A productive day, considering we spent most of it freezing our (insert whatever parts of the human anatomy you deem appropriate) off.

Fun to reminisce about an old fishing hole. Looking at the location names in the log entry also bring back memories and twenty years later I could take you right back to where I caught each of the bass. In addition, it is cool to see that this trip took place in the heyday of a spinnerbait that I simply refer to as “The Blue Glimmer.” All these years later it still works as I landed a bass at The Rock on the lure last month.

Talk to you later. Troy