Month: January 2023

2022 Fishing Recap – Lures Pt. II

Today we move on to the heavy hitters from the 2022 lure selection. The six lure types below landed over five hundred bass, including my Top 5 Bass for the year (three on a spinnerbait and one each on a plastic worm and buzzbait). Read on for the stats and video of each lure type working our way up to the Top Lure of 2022.


Chatterbait – 26 bass
Z Man Chatterbait (white) with various trailers
Top Bass: 2-14 Knox County strip pit – September 4
Top 5 Weight: 9-0 (2-14,2-7,1-8,1-2,1-1)
Comments: I’ve just never been hooked on the chatterbait bite although many anglers are quite successful with the lure. However, I do have a handful of go to spots on the strip mines that set up well and usually come through with a few bites. As for The Canal, I have not given the chatterbait much of a shot. More on that reason as we proceed with the rest of the lures in this post.


Propbait – 29 bass
Whopper Plopper 110 (bone), Whopper Plopper 90 (I Know It)
Top Bass: 2-12 Hennepin Canal – September 20
Top 5 Weight: 11-7 (2-12,2-8,2-4,2-1,1-14)
Comments: 2022 was the first year that I really invested much time tossing a Whopper Plopper. Previously, I had thrown one on two July days in 2017 on the strip mines (eleven bass) and on one July day in 2021 on The Canal (three bass). For 2022, I caught twenty-nine bass over the course of seven outings, all on The Canal. While I prefer a buzzbait as my primary topwater bait on The Canal, the shallow water it offers does set up well for the Whopper Plopper when you can avoid fouling the stout trebles when the weeds take over.


Crankbaits – 61 bass
Rapala Shad Rap (blue or shad), Mann’s Baby 1- (red craw), Strike King Rattling Squarebill (sexy shad), Bomber Flat A (baby bass)
Top Bass: 2-12 Hennepin Canal – April 24
Top 5 Weight: 11-2 (2-12,2-5,2-4,2-3,1-10)
Comments: I was surprised to find that I landed sixty-one bass on crankbaits in 2022. On closer inspection, however, I was not surprised to find that thirty-five of the bass came from somewhere other than The Canal (strip mines and Lake Storey). The Canal just sets up better for other lures and when I do fish a crankbait it is often a Mann’s Baby 1-. In fact, seventeen of the twenty-six Canal crankbait bass were on the super shallow lure.


Buzzbaits – 76 bass
Special K Buzzbait, Booyah Buzzbait, Strike King KVD Buzz Toad
Top Bass: 3-5 Hennepin Canal – August 21
Top 5 Weight: 13-14 (3-5,2-11,2-10,2-10,2-10)
Comments: I’ve long been a buzzbait guy, and The Canal is custom made for the noisy topwater bait. It doesn’t get much more exciting than a topwater blast and the shallow waters of The Canal provided plenty of action in 2022. I also added the Strike King Buzz Toad at the recommendation of a fellow angler who has provided sound advice over the last several years. The Toad was a winner with a 2-7 during my first outing casting the lure.


Plastic Worms – 81 bass
5” Yamasenko wacky rig (various colors)
Top Bass: 3-10 Knox County public strip pit – September 4
Top 5 Weight: 12-14 (3-10,2-10,2-4,2-3,2-3)
Comments: The Senko wacky rig has been a mainstay in my arsenal since I first tried out the strange looking presentation on May 22, 2005. For 2022, it landed my Top Bass of 3-10 and several other quality bass from the Knox County strip mines. While I did put it to use on The Canal, it was often as a highly effective follow-up bait to missed topwater strikes. I like the Senko wacky rig better in clearer water, so the mostly stained water of The Canal set up better for other offerings.


Spinnerbaits – 254 bass
Special K Spinnerbait, Booyah Blade, Stanley Blue Glimmer, War Eagle
Top Bass: 3-5 Hennepin Canal – April 23
Top 5 Weight: 15-6 (3-5,3-4,3-2,2-15,2-12)
Comments: I have enjoyed throwing spinnerbaits for as long as I have been chasing bass. That history goes back to the 1980s when spinnerbaits were king among the bass fishing crowd. Over the years, they have fallen out of vogue in favor of other presentations. However, they are still quite effective and really did a number on The Canal to the tune of two hundred and twelve bass. Even cooler was the success of some handcrafted spinnerbaits from an old baseball teammate, Mike Karlovich. His spinnerbait creations fooled one hundred and sixty-four bass and his buzzbaits added another thirty bass on the year.

I always enjoy looking back on the numbers to see what they reveal when the year is said and done. No surprise here as my 2022 fishing can be summed up by a few cliché terms and phrases. With close to forty years of bass fishing in the books, I still find myself going “old school.” My fishing reflects my lifestyle as I am “a creature of habit.” But the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach in 2022 produced my best ever year of bass totals. Some days were better than others, some bass got away, and sometimes I got stubborn but with five hundred and fifty-three bass in the log I got more right than wrong along the way. More recaps to come so talk to you later. Troy

2022 Fishing Recap – Lures Pt.I

Next up is the annual look back at the lures that fooled the bass. I am a creature of habit and an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of guy but I did manage to employ over a dozen different general lure types to catch my fish in 2022. As such, the Lures portion of the 2022 Fishing Recap will be submitted over two posts working from fewest bass caught to most. Read on for some video and data on the first batch of lures.


Topwater Frog – 1 bass
Lunker Hunt Walking Frog Kraken Series (hops)
Top Bass: 2-12 Lake Storey – September 18
Comments: Frogs can be blast to fish, but they don’t play much of a role in my arsenal these days, even on the weedy Canal. Plenty of fellow Canal anglers report success on these types of baits so maybe next year I will invest a bit more time dragging them around. The lone 2022 catch came from some remaining weeds on a flat during the Lake Storey drawdown. My brain said, “This looks like a good spot for a frog”, and several casts later, I had my Top Bass of the day. Feels good when it works like that with a mental pat on the back for a good decision.


Jerkbait – 1 bass
Bomber Long A (red/yellow)
Top Bass: 1-3 Hennepin Canal – August 13
Comments: My only jerkbait bass of the year came on a similar, “I should try this here” decision as my previously described frog catch. I had an extended drop with sparse, scattered, submerged weeds, and figured that I could navigate it better with a jerkbait than a crankbait. While August isn’t your standard jerkbait time of the year, it worked. I fished my way through the drop without another bite and the catch wound up a one off.


Stickbait – 3 bass
Zara Spook (natural frog)
Top Bass: 2-6 Hennepin Canal – July 17
Top 2 Weight: 3-8 (2-6,1-2)
Comments: Me and the Zara Spook go back a long ways, but I don’t throw it much anymore. However, upon obtaining an old reel from a longtime friend, Matt Reynolds, I opted to go old school and try to land the first bass with the reel on the Spook. Matt nicknamed the natural frog pattern Zara Spook, “The Pickle” back in the 80s so my goal was to fool one on the bait while using his reel. The mission was a success with a quality fish in hand shortly after beginning to “walk the dog” (the standard name for the Zara Spook retrieve/presentation).


Lipless Crankbait – 4 bass
Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad)
Top Bass: 1-15 Lake Storey – October 22
Top 4 Weight: 5-7 (1-15,1-13,1-0,0-11)
Comments: Lipless crankbaits have long been a mainstay in my arsenal, but they just weren’t in tune with my frequent visits to The Canal. The abundance of weeds on The Canal as the year wore on made for repeatedly fouling the hooks in the vegetation. Other offerings, primarily a spinnerbait, were more in tune to the conditions so the Red Eye Shad got a break in 2022. Top Bass on the lure came from Lake Storey in a pocket rife with shad activity and the fake shad came through. It also snagged one of the real fish that it looks to imitate.


Popper – 4 bass
Rebel Pop R (rainbow)
Top Bass: 1-12 Knox County public strip pit – May 14
Top 2 Weight: 2-10 (1-12,0-14)
Comments: The Pop R is an exciting lure, but I don’t employ it very often. For me it’s one of those instinct or Plan B lures. For instance, if I have trouble getting a topwater bite on faster lures like a buzzbait or if I have a limited open water strike zone, I may employ a popper. Also, if I have bass missing strikes on a faster moving topwater, I can sometimes fool a few with a popper as I can let it sit in their face when pausing the retrieve as needed.


Jigs – 5 bass
Googan Gridiron (PB&J), Bass Pro Enticer (white), Strike King Rattlin’ Jig (black/blue) with various pork and plastic trailers
Top Bass: 2-12 Knox County public strip pit – September 19
Top 4 Weight: 9-8 (2-12,2-11,2-1,2-0)
Comments: All my jig bass came from walk-in strip pits as The Canal just never gave me much reason to slow down. In addition, the abundance of vegetation that shows up in The Canal makes for frustrating jig fishing. I dig a jig and pig but if I don’t have to slow down, I won’t. If I do get out on The Canal earlier this year than my April 15 debut in 2022, I may employ a jig around the abundant wood before the weeds take over.


Grub – 8 bass
Lunker Hunt Finesse Worm ¼ oz. (Bama craw)
Top Bass: 0-13 Snakeden Hollow – April 10
Comments: I read a lot about the Ned Rig and similar light, finesse presentations that work well in cold water or during a finicky bite. In 2022, I made a decision to give this type of lure a shot on a couple strip pits in early April. Short story is that the presentation fooled some fish but nothing big and it resides out of my comfort zone of fast fishing. Unless the fish force me to slow down, it’s not happening. Perhaps a bad habit, but I get by fishing fast most of the year.

And that leads us into Part II of the lure recap, dominated by power presentations. The seven lure types in today’s post fooled a grand total of twenty-six bass. The next batch of half a dozen lure types landed five hundred and twenty-seven bass. Stay tuned for those heavy hitters. Talk to you later. Troy

2022 Fishing Recap – Locations

Today’s recap post covers the locations that produced my best year of bass.

Grand Totals
Bass = 553
Outings = 56 (ranging from 0.75 hour to 7.75-hour trips)
Bodies of water = 47
Bass Fishing Hours = 187.00
Bass/hour = 2.96
Comments: Citing forty-seven bodies of water makes it seem like I fish all over the place which is not the case as the list primarily covers three counties (Knox, Henry, and Bureau). Knox County featured twenty-seven strip pits and Lake Storey. Henry and Bureau County contributed seventeen pools on The Hennepin Canal. The two remaining spots were a Peoria County private lake and a Johnson County public water. This batch of fishing holes combined for a new personal record of 553 bass landed with a further breakdown of the locations to come later in this post.

Bank Bass (Northerner boots and hiking) = 123 bass
Little Boat Bass (over 40-year-old 8’ johnboat) = 362 bass
Big Boat Bass (1987 Bass Tracker Pro 17) = 68 bass
Comments: Another year of racking up more miles on a pair of boots and a set of oars than I have ever racked up on trolling motors or outboards. I am curious how many miles I walked and rowed on my adventures in 2022 (perhaps another winter project to see if I can get an estimate). While my strip mine trips were limited and only included one boat trip, The Canal was an eye opener upon accessing with a boat for the first time. Much of The Canal is accessible with a portable watercraft and it was well worth the effort of lifting, dragging, and rowing.

Public vs. Private
Public Water = 528 bass
Top Public Water Bass = 3-10 Knox County strip pit 9/4
Top 5 Public Weight = 16-10 (3-10,3-5,3-5,3-4,3-2)
Private Water Bass = 25 bass
Top Private Water Bass = 1-7 The Rock 9/17
Top 5 Private Weight = 6-0 (1-7,1-4,1-3,1-1,1-1)
Comments: While I have access to a batch of quality private fishing holes at Little John Conservation Club, I never made a cast there in 2022. It was only the second time in thirty-five years that I did not land a bass as Little John. Instead, I invested the bulk of my time fishing closer to home on The Canal. The lone private water bass were from an impressive Peoria County fishing hole known as “The Rock.” Private honey holes are always exciting, but I get more satisfaction out of catching them where everybody can fish.

The Waters (from least to most caught)

Dutchman Lake – Johnson County, IL
(1 visit – June 23)
2 bass
0.75 hours
2.67 bass/hour
Top Bass: 11.5” Special K Buzzbait
Top 5 Weight: none at 12” or better
Comments: On the way back home from a roundtrip work drive to Dyer, TN, I decided to visit a fishing hole a short distance from Interstate 24 just north of Vienna, IL. It’s always nice to break up the drive for my “lunch hour” to see if I can fool a bass on waters I’ve never seen beyond an internet search. I was quite pleased to fool two bass in the near ninety-degree mid-afternoon heat and sunny skies. Another treat was a conversation with a local kayaker at the primitive boat launch. He even offered me one of his Twisted Teas to cool off but with a six-hour drive ahead I had to pass.

The Rock
(1 visit, 9/17)
25 bass
5.00 hours
5.00 bass/hour
Top Bass: 1-7 (15”) Senko wacky rig
Top 5 Weight: 6-0 (1-7,1-4,1-3,1-1,1-1)
Comments: A group outing on a prime private water was a highlight of the year. I had not fished The Rock for two years and my fellow anglers (Brent, Jayce, and John Kirkemo) had never visited the Peoria County water. The lake is still bouncing back from a major fish kill several years ago so big bites did not materialize. However, quantity was more than enough to make for a successful day. More to come on the outing in the “Partners” post of the 2022 recap and a big “Thank you” to owner, Chris Rock, for allowing us to come out and try our luck.

Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
(4 visits – 5/15 through 11/2)
43 Bass (35 bass in 2021)
28.25 hours (37.75 hours in 2021)
1.52 bass/hour (0.93 bass/hour in 2021)
Top Bass: 2-12 (18.5”) Topwater Frog on 9/18 (2-14 Top Bass in 2021)
Top 5 Weight: 10-15 (2-12,2-9,2-3,1-15,1-8) Top 5 in 2021 was 12-2
Comments: I always look forward to fishing the Lake Storey fall drawdown in September and October. This year I also expanded my visits to include a May outing as well as a rare November trip to the old lake. The bass were stubborn at times, but overall, I was pleased with the results in terms of quantity and a few solid fish. I also had a heartbreaking muskie miss at boatside, a story that may find its way into another recap post.

Knox County, IL Public Strip Mines
(7 visits, 27 lakes – 3/20 through 9/19)
124 bass (183 bass in 2021)
31.00 hours (42.00 in 2021)
4.00 bass/hour (4.36 bass/hour)
Top Bass: 3-10 (18.5”) Senko on 9/4
Top 5 Weight: 14-9 (3-10,2-14,2-12,2-11,2-10)
Comments: I scaled back on my strip mine drives with the rise in gas prices but still managed half a dozen visits. My largest bass of the year came from a reliable spot and the rest of my Top 5 featured a quartet of nearly identical upper two-pound fish.

Hennepin Canal – Henry and Bureau County
(43 visits, 17 pools – 4/15 through 12/11)
359 bass (61 bass in 2021)
122.00 hours (31.00 in 2021)
2.94 bass/hour (1.97 bass/hour in 2021)
Top Bass: 3-5 (18” and 19.5”) Spinnerbait 4/23 and Buzzbait 8/21
Top 5 Weight: 15-15 (3-5,3-5,3-4,3-2,2-15) 15-6 in 2021
Comments: I concluded my comments for The Canal in the 2021 Fishing Recap as follows, “Glad I gave it a go and plan to be back for more in 2022, perhaps with a boat in tow.” Well, that is indeed what I did, and boy did it pay off. All but three of my 2022 Canal bass were caught while rowing around on various pools in the old eight-foot johnboat. I plan to be back for plenty more in 2023 and hope to find an elusive four-pounder or two out there on one of those narrow fishing holes. More to come in an exclusive Hennepin Canal recap posting when time permits.

The recaps continue with posts on the way covering lures and partners. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

2022 Fishing Recap – BYOB

2022 turned out to be my “Best Year of Bass” as I wound up topping my all-time bass catch record of 418 set in 2020. After bass #419 was landed on September 17 to establish a new personal best, I set my sights on reaching Bass #500 before the year was over. Read on for the results and tune in for a collection of breakdowns on the statistics from 2022 including time on the water, co-anglers, Top 5 weights, lures, destinations, presentations, records, and more.

Bass #419 sets a new personal best total but there were more to come

Grand Totals (bass fishing only)
56 outings (41 outings in 2021)
187.00 hours fishing (136.75 in 2021)
553 bass (313 bass in 2021)
2.96 bass/hour (2.40 bass/hour in 2021)
Comments: The significant increase in outings was the direct result of a heavy focus on the Hennepin Canal. Forty-three of the fifty-six trips this year were at various spots along the historic waterway. Proximity made for many quick early morning or evening getaways on The Canal and the expanded exploring via boat proved to be quite productive.

First Bass – March 20 at Snakeden Hollow

First Bass/Last Bass
March 20 – Snakeden Hollow 1:20pm 9.5” Shad Rap
November 25 – The Hennepin Canal 3:38pm 13.5” 1-1 Spinnerbait
Comments: My annual mission of starting the year with a March bass and ending with a November bass was accomplished. I did give December a brief shot but came up empty. For the third straight year, the Shad Rap came through with the first catch. And fittingly, my last bass of the year came on a spinnerbait which was my most productive lure of 2022.

Last Bass (#553) – November 25 on The Hennepin Canal

Monthly Breakdown (Top Day Weight is Top 5 unless noted)
March – 1 trip, 6 bass, Top Weight (3/20 2 bass Snakeden) = 1-6
April – 7 trips, 74 bass, Top Day Weight (4/23 The Canal) = 10-8
May – 9 trips, 94 bass, Top Day Weight (5/27 The Canal) = 9-9
June – 6 trips, 39 bass, Top Day Weight (6/24 The Canal) = 11-3
July – 9 trips, 77 bass, Top Day Weight (7/2 The Canal) = 9-6
August – 6 trips, 67 bass, Top Day Weight (8/13 The Canal) = 10-6
September – 9 trips, 134 bass, Top Day Weight (9/18 Lake Storey) = 9-4
October – 5 trips, 40 bass, Top Day Weight (10/30 The Canal) = 8-15
November – 3 trips, 22 bass, Top Day Weight (11/6 The Canal) = 9-3
December – 1 trip, 0 bass
Comments: Solid production throughout the year and hoping to get on The Canal earlier this year than my April 24 maiden voyage last year. I was also quite pleased with the home stretch of September through November which produced nearly two hundred bass. Thumbs up on quality Top 5 results for each month as my goal is a ten-pound limit when I hit the water and I made the mark in three months and came close for five others.


Top 5 Weight
16-10 (3-10,3-5,3-5,3-4,3-2)
Comments: My annual goal is a twenty-pound Top 5 and while I fell short this year, I can’t say that I was disappointed. My fourteen months of experience on The Canal still has me in search of the four-pounders that I need to reach the twenty-pound mark. I’ve seen posts of such fish from The Canal, so I know that they are out there, but I suspect they are few and far between. I did have a couple misses in 2022 that may have been such fish. So, I know where they live and hope to encounter them again with better results.

The 2022 Fishing Recap series has just begun. Next up, will be a look at the locations that produced the bass. Talk to you later. Troy

YouTube-Snakeden Spring Bass Fishing

Besides the blog, there is also a YouTube component to these outdoor adventures. The thing is, it is tough to keep up with editing and posting the footage. Therefore, today’s YouTube video link features a Snakeden Hollow outing from last March with my brother, Brent. I look at it like the fishing magazines and television programs. They often showcase tips and techniques that are month or so down the road rather than applicable to current weather and water conditions. So, you can consider today’s clip as a preview for presentations that can be used as spring approaches. To read the original fishing report from this trip click here. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 All-Time Stats

2022 represented year number nine of the Top 5 project. It also marked the fifth year of reaching triple digits in bass submissions and was the first time that we hit the century mark since 2018. In addition to the yearly stats that were posted earlier this month, I also like to provide an annual update of the all-time stats. So, here we go.

(Note: the all-time stats for this post only include bass submissions, not additional species).

Group Totals = 968 bass
2014 = 154
2015 = 106
2016 = 136
2017 = 79
2018 = 116
2019 = 95
2020 = 90
2021 = 92
2022 = 100

Submissions by month (2014-2022)
218 April (43/33/31/11/12/14/25/14/35)
156 May (27/23/19/13/24/12/18/13/7)
131 June (34/14/15/1/10/14/17/10/16)
114 March (13/11/34/10/0/8/4/19/15)
91 July (18/11/8/11/8/11/10/12/2)
68 September (6/4/6/6/16/9/6/10/5)
64 October (4/5/4/8/24/8/2/3/6)
38 August (1/3/1/4/4/7/3/4/11)
36 November (6/0/4/0/8/9/4/2/3)
31 February (2/2/7/13/5/0/0/2/0)
13 December (0/0/7/1/0/2/3/0)
8 January (0/0/0/1/5/1/1/0/0)

Top 10 Top 5 Monthly Weights (group total) – * = new entry
37-9 May 2014
29-8 June 2014
29-7 March 2016
29-2 April 2014
28-10 April 2022*
28-9 October 2018
28-7 December 2016
27-14 April 2015
27-12 March 2015
27-11 July 2014

Top 5 Weights per Month (group total)
January (2018) = 13-5 (3-15, 2-7, 2-6, 2-6, 2-3)
February (2016) = 22-9 (6-7,4-15,4-10,4-1,2-8)
March (2016) = 29-7 (6-5,6-1,5-14,5-10,5-9)
April (2014) = 29-2 (8-0, 5-11, 5-10, 4-15. 4-14)
May (2014) = 37-9 (9-4, 8-10, 8-8, 6-1, 5-2)
June (2014) = 29-8 (6-11, 6-4, 5-10, 5-8, 5-7)
July (2014) = 27-11 (6-6, 6-0, 5-5, 5-0, 5-0)
August (2019) = 19-4 (4-14,4-10,4-6,2-14,2-8)
September (2019) = 24-5 (5-3,5-0,5-0,4-12,4-6)
October (2018) = 28-9 (6-3,5-14,5-10,5-10,5-4)
November (2018) = 26-1 (7-2,6-12,4-3,4-0,4-0)
December (2016) = 28-7 (7-7,6-5,5-13,4-11,4-3)

Monthly Top Bass
3-15 Mark Balbinot 1/27/18 Crankbait
6-7 Mike Overturf 2/27/16 Plastic Worm
7-0 Randy Sampson Sr. 3/22/15 Jig
8-0 Kamryn Kaesebier 4/13/14 Crankbait
9-4 Jake Bresson 5/23/14 Jig
6-11 Ty Hartlipp 6/11/14 Topwater Frog
6-6 Jake Bresson 7/11/14 Plastic Worm
6-8 Gary Le 8/16/14 Swimbait
6-0 Austin Chapman 9/19/15 Jig
7-4 Mark Balbinot 10/29/17 Jig
7-2 Mark Balbinot 11/23/18 Underspin
7-7 Mark Balbinot 12/11/16 Underspin

Public vs. Private Water (2014-2022)
Public = 689 bass (92/52/95/42/92/68/63/87/98)
Public Top 5 Weight
32-2,31-7,30-5,27-7,24-5,25-4,25-13,26-4,28-10 (2022)
Private = 262 bass (53/48/39/37/24/27/27/5/2)
Private Top 5 Weight
8-10,30-0,32-13,33-14,31-9,24-3,30-5,13-3,2-7 (2022)
Undisclosed = 17 bass (9/6/2/0/0/0/0/0/0)

Boat vs. Bank (2014-2022)
Boat = 466 bass (90/63/103/68/55/33/26/28/55)
Boat Top 5 Weight
30-7,31-7,32-13,33-14,31-9,25-4,21-4,18-6,17-9 (2022)
Bank = 396 bass (64/43/27/11/61/62/64/64/45)
Bank Top 5 Weight
40-14,27-6,27-12,20-14,24-2,25-7,30-6,26-4,28-10 (2022)
Undisclosed = 6 bass

The Baits (44 undisclosed)
268 Plastic Worms (Top Bass 6-8 Mark Balbinot 11/20/16)
109 Spinnerbaits (6-14 Chris Schwarz 3/25/20)
96 Lipless Crankbaits (6-3 Mark Balbinot 10/20/18)
86 Crankbaits (8-0 Kamryn Kaesebier 4/13/14)
72 Chatterbaits (5-15 Jim Junk 6/22/20)
65 Jigs (9-4 Jake Bresson 5/23/14)
33 Jerkbaits (5-10 Ty Hartlipp 6/5/14)
32 Buzzbaits (5-9 Troy Jackson 4/25/17)
31 Swimbaits (8-10 Gary Le 5/4/14)
30 Creature Baits (6-15 Mark Balbinot 5/13/17)
29 Swim Jigs (6-13 Jake Bresson 4/9/15)
14 Underspins (Top Bass 7-7 Mark Balbinot 12/11/16)
12 Topwater Frogs (6-11 Ty Hartlipp 6/11/14)
12 Tubes (Top Bass 5-0 Jake Bresson 4/28/15)
8 Livebait (5-14 Jim Junk 7/4/14)
6 Propbaits (6-2 Jake Bresson 5/1/15)
6 Stickbaits (6-6 Mark Balbinot 8/27/17)
5 Ultralights (3-1 Paul Kessler 10/12/17)
5 Grubs (Top Bass 7-0 Chris Schwarz 11/28/20)
2 Inline Spinners (5-2 Jake Bresson 9/17/17)
2 Poppers (3-1 Troy Jackson 9/25/01)
1 Blade Baits (5-3 Mark Balbinot 11/16/19)

Top 10 Top 5 Bass
9-4 Jake Bresson 5/23/14 Jig
8-10 Gary Le 5/4/14 Swimbait
8-8 Jake Bresson 5/23/14 Jig
8-0 Kamryn Kaesebier 4/13/14 Crankbait
7-7 Mark Balbinot 12/11/16 Underspin
7-4 Mark Balbinot 10/29/17 Jig
7-2 Mark Balbinot 11/23/18 Underspin
7-0 Randy Sampson Sr. 3/22/15 Jig
7-0 Chris Schwarz 11/28/20 Grub
6-15 Mark Balbinot 5/13/17 Creature Bait

The 20-Pound Club * = 2022 entry
33-14 Mark Balbinot 2017 (7-4,6-15,6-13,6-8,6-6)
32-13 Jake Bresson 2014 (9-4, 8-8, 6-6, 4-10, 4-1)
32-13 Mark Balbinot 2016 (7-7,6-8,6-5,6-5,6-4)
32-0 Gary Le 2014 (8-10,6-8,5-12,5-10, 5-8)
31-9 Mark Balbinot 2018 (7-2,6-12,6-3,5-14,5-10)
30-5 Chris Schwarz (7-0,6-14,5-12,5-7,5-4)
29-7 Austin Chapman 2015 (6-4,6-2,6-0,5-14,5-3)
*27-13 Jim Junk (6-9,6-0,5-12,5-1,4-7)
27-12 Jake Bresson 2015 (6-13,6-2,5-5,5-0,4-8)
27-6 Randy Sampson Sr 2015 (7-0,6-1,4-13,4-12,4-12)
27-6 Jake Bresson 2016 (6-3,5-13,5-4,5-2,5-0)
26-13 Troy Jackson 2017 (6-2,5-11,5-9,5-0,4-7)
26-4 Austin Chapman 2016 (5-14,5-10,5-2,4-14,4-12)
26-1 Brice Wangler 2014 (5-11, 5-5, 5-2, 5-0, 4-15)
26-0 Jim Junk (6-0,5-5,5-3,5-2,4-6)
25-13 Jim Junk (5-15,5-5,4-15,4-14,4-12)
25-8 Brice Wangler 2015 (5-7,5-4,5-2,4-14,4-13)
25-4 Mark Balbinot 2019 (5-5,5-3,5-1,4-14,4-13)
24-14 Ty Hartlipp 2014 (6-11, 5-10, 5-5, 4-0, 3-4)
24-14 Jim Junk 2019 (5-3,5-1,5-0,4-14,4-12)
24-9 Terry Isbell 2014 (5-8,5-4,5-2,4-8,4-3)
23-12 Jake Bresson 2017 (5-4,5-2,5-2,4-3,4-1)
23-11 Randy Sampson Sr. 2017 (6-0,4-14,4-12,4-11,3-6)
23-8 Jim Junk 2018 (5-4,5-2,4-9,4-5,4-4)
22-15 Adam Bean 2015 (5-13,4-9,4-6,4-2,4-1)
22-13 Mike Mooney 2014 (6-4, 5-7, 4-3, 3-9, 3-6)
22-12 Troy Jackson 2015 (5-13,4-13,4-10,3-12,3-12)
21-8 Randy Sampson Sr. 2016 (5-12,5-8,4-11,3-1,2-8)
21-7 Brice Wangler 2016 (4-8,4-7,4-4,4-2,4-2)
21-3 Troy Jackson 2016 (5-9,5-4,3-9,3-7,3-6)
20-15 Chris Schwarz 2018 (4-11,4-11,4-8,4-0,3-1)
20-14 Troy Jackson 2014 (4-13, 4-6, 4-2, 4-1, 3-8)
20-12 Chris Schwarz 2019 (5-3,5-0,3-11,3-10,3-4)
20-9 Austin Chapman 2014 (4-15, 4-4,4-0,3-13,3-9)
20-1 Bruce Zilkowski 2014 (4-11,4-3,4-0,3-12,3-7)
20-0 Troy Jackson (4-10,4-4,4-3,3-9,3-6)

And just for fun…

All-Time Weights (30-pound minimum “career” mark)
(Note: not all anglers have participated each year)
178-12 Troy Jackson (20-14,22-12,21-3,26-13,15-9,14-4,18-12,20-0,18-9)
169-3 Jim Junk (11-7,16-5,13-7,23-8,24-14,25-13,26-0,27-13)
123-8 Mark Balbinot (33-14,32-13,31-9,25-4)
131-5 Brent Jackson (18-7,6-10,13-2,10-2,19-2,13-7,13-3,18-11,18-9)
111-11 Jake Bresson (32-13,27-12,27-6,23-12)
76-4 Austin Chapman (20-9,29-7,26-4)
73-0 Brice Wangler (26-1,25-8,21-7)
72-15 Bruce Zilkowski (20-1,17-0,17-14,18-0)
72-10 Randy Sampson, Sr. (27-6,21-8,23-12)
72-0 Chris Schwarz (20-15,20-12,30-5)
66-12 Paul Kessler (18-6,17-6,16-6,14-10)
45-11 Mike Mooney (22-13,4-9,18-5)
37-4 John Kirkemo (10-8,6-14,8-0,11-14)

I dig my stats and plenty more to come as I recap the past year on the water in a series of posts to come. Talk to you later. Troy

2022 Top 5 Final Stats

Congratulations to our 2022 Top 5 Champ, Jim Junk. The victory makes it back-to-back titles for Jim with an impressive weight of 27-13, exceeding his 2021 winning mark of 26-0. Read on for all the numbers from our ninth year of the Top 5 challenge as eight anglers added one hundred bass and four trout to the ledger.

Jim Junk 6-0 April 15

Angler Weights
Jim Junk 27-13 (6-9,6-0,5-12,5-1,4-7)
Brent Jackson 18-9 (5-4,3-9,3-8,3-3,3-1)
Troy Jackson 16-10 (3-10,3-5,3-5,3-4,3-2)
John Kirkemo: 15-11 (4-2,3-5,2-14,2-11,2-11)
Jayce Jackson 7-1 (2-3,1-11,1-4,1-3,0-12)
Helena Jackson 1-3 (1-3)
Zac Jackson 1-0 (1-0)
Carly Jackson 0-14 (0-14)
Comments: Jim’s winning limit comes in as the eighth heaviest weight in the history of the Top 5. And it marked the only twenty-pound stringer of 2022.

Brent Jackson 5-4 April 24

2022 Monthly Totals
January = no submissions
February = no submissions
March = 15 bass
April = 35 bass
May = 7 bass
June = 16 bass
July = 2 bass
August = 11 bass
September = 5 bass
October = 6 bass
November = 3 bass
December = no submissions

John Kirkemo May 3

Top 5 Weight by Month
January = no submissions
February = no submissions
March = 14-2 (3-3,2-15,2-14,2-12,2-6)
April = 28-10 (6-9,6-0,5-12,5-4,5-1)
May = 11-9 (2-12,2-11,2-5,2-0,1-13)
June = 16-7 (4-2,3-5,3-3,2-15,2-14)
July = 4-11 (3-1,1-10)
August = 15-1 (3-5,3-4,2-15,2-13,2-12)
September = 10-14 (3-10,3-8,1-11,1-5,0-12)
October = 11-12 (2-14,2-10,2-4,2-3,1-13)
November = 11-7 (4-6,4-0,3-1)
December = no submissions
Comments: Thanks largely to Jim’s April contributions (6-9,6-0,5-12,5-1), the 2022 total for April marks the fifth largest monthly total in Top 5 history. Brent contributed the other Top 5 April bass (5-4) for a total of 28-10. This total fell just shy of the all-time April record of 29-2 from 2014.

Jayce Jackson September 17

Boat vs. Bank
Boat = 55 bass
Bank = 45 bass
Comments: For the first tine since 2017, bass landed from a boat exceeded bass landed from the bank. The addition of a kayak for Brent and my decision to launch a boat on the Hennepin Canal got a couple more of us off the bank much more often.

Carly Jackson June 18

Boat vs. Bank Weight
Boat = 17-9 (4-2,3-8,3-5,3-5,3-5)
Bank = 28-10 (6-9,6-0,5-12,5-4,5-1)
Comments: Even with the additional boating, nineteen of our Top 20 bass still came from the bank.

Helena Jackson June 18

Public vs. Private
Public = 98 bass
Private = 2 bass
Comments: Once again, public waters dominated our haul with the lone exceptions coming on a private water outing in mid-September. The two private water bass were landed by Jayce on The Rock to complete his Top 5 for the year.

Zac Jackson June 18

Public vs. Private Top 5 Weight
Public = 28-10 (6-9,6-0,5-12,5-4,5-1)
Private = 2-7 (1-11,0-12)
Comments: Banner Marsh (Jim – four bass) and a public Knox County strip pit (Brent – one bass), contributed to our public Top 5 while Jayce’s pair or bass from The Rock were our lone private water submissions.

The Baits
Plastic Worm = 27 bass (Top Bass 5-12 Jim Junk)
Chatterbait = 16 bass (Top Bass 6-9 Jim Junk) tops 5-15 Jim Junk 6/22/20
Spinnerbait = 16 bass (Top Bass 5-4 Brent Jackson)
Lipless Crankbait = 15 bass (Top Bass 4-6 Jim Junk)
Jerkbait = 6 bass (Top Bass 2-5 John Kirkemo)
Crankbait = 5 bass (Top Bass 2-12 Troy Jackson)
Jig = 4 bass (Top Bass 3-9 Brent Jackson)
Buzzbait = 4 bass (Top Bass 3-5 Troy Jackson)
Propbait = 3 bass (Top Bass 2-3 Jayce Jackson)
Grub = 1 bass (Top Bass 0-13 Troy Jackson)
Popper = 1 bass (Top Bass 3-1 Brent Jackson) no prior entry
Swimbait = 1 bass (Top Bass 4-3 Jim Junk)
Underspin = 1 bass (3-12 Jim Junk)
Comments: For the fifth straight year, the good, old plastic worm led the way and in our case the lure was exclusively a wacky rigged Senko type worm. However, chatterbaits were the big bass leader in landing five or our Top 10 bass.

Troy Jackson September 4

Monthly Top Bass
No submissions
No submissions
3-3 Jim Junk
6-9 Jim Junk
2-12 Troy Jackson
4-2 John Kirkemo
3-1 Brent Jackson
3-5 Troy Jackson
3-10 Troy Jackson
2-14 Brent Jackson
4-6 Jim Junk
No submissions
Comments: Half of our eight anglers managed to post a monthly Top Bass during the nine months that we had submissions.

Jim Junk 6-9 April 4

2022 Top 10 Bass
6-9 Jim Junk 4/4/22
6-0 Jim Junk 4/15/22
5-12 Jim Junk 4/21/22
5-4 Brent Jackson 4/24/22
5-1 Jim Junk 4/4/22
4-7 Jim Junk 4/4/22
4-6 Jim Junk 4/19/22
4-6 Jim Junk 11/5/22
4-3 Jim Junk 4/21/22
4-2 John Kirkemo 6/13/22
Comments: A stellar year by our winner as Jim posts eight of our Top 10 bass of 2022. And a solid showing from our crew as it took a bass over four pounds to crack the Top 10.

Bonus Species

Other Species – Trout
John Kirkemo ~48” (12”, 12”, 12”,<12”)
Comments: The Top 5 expanded to include species besides bass in 2017. Submissions have been few and far between over the years but always fun to see something different. Thanks, John, for some variety from the streams of Iowa and a southern Illinois fishing hole.

And many thanks to those who took the time to share fish and fish stories. We had a good mix of young and not as young anglers, as well as guys and gals. I appreciate all and hope that you will consider joining up again in 2023. It’s always a treat to see a new fish story in the Inbox, in a text, or in person. Here’s to celebrating the ten-year anniversary of the Top 5. Stay tuned for a look at the Top 5 record book covering 2014 through 2022. Talk to you later. Troy