Month: June 2023

Hennepin Canal Report – June 20

Courtesy of a couple vacation days, I found myself making some casts on The Canal for the fifth consecutive day. The stretch that I chose had been on my list since I started fishing the waterway two years ago. I’d seen positive reports from a skilled angler on social media over the years, but he also reported that sometimes the spot can be hit or miss. I found it to be a miss and as a result spent vastly more time exploring than fishing before the long day was over. Excuses, stats, and notes below.

9:56am – Top Bass at 2-4 (18″) on a spinnerbait

Date: June 20
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 6:05am-8:50am
Totals: 4 bass
Weather: Sunny/calm to breezy, 58-80F
Lures: War Eagle Spinnerbait (chartreuse/white) with a BPS XPS double tail grub trailer (gold shad) –3 bass, Booyah Buzzbait (black) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-4 Spinnerbait
Top 3 Weight (only 3 at 12” or better): 4-10 (2-4,1-7,0-15)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

Water Conditions – We use a saying around home that “you get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.” And that summed up my mindset upon seeing the dingy water clarity and abundance of nasty, unhealthy looking surface weeds. But I was there and determined to take my shot at fooling a Top 5. I came up short on that goal as I only managed to fool four bass with three being keepers. A late 2-4 kind of saved the day but I still have some work to do which would require a return trip. If/when I do, it would likely be earlier in the year before the weeds get bad. As far as a fall revisit, I understand that floating leaves make for a hassle.


Frog Saga – The frog futility continues as I had three blowups on the topwater presentation with zero hookups. I even followed up one strike with my “can’t miss” Senko offering and came up empty. I do believe that I may be cursed.

Exploring – My initial thought after struggling on The Canal was to visit the nearby Mautino State Fish & Wildlife Area. However, bright sun and hot temps pushed me to do some on the road exploring for future options on the water. Before the day was done, I had driven the entire stretch of The Canal to the furthest east access I could find at Lock 2 in Bureau Junction. But I wasn’t finished yet. Just across the Illinois River lay a place called “Hennepin-Hopper” (aka the Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge). I’ve seen and read many fish stories about the area and was enthused to see it with my own eyes. I anticipated it being weedy based on past reports, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the vast expanse of lilypads that lay before me as I stood at the ramp. Maybe someday, but not looking like in the summer.

While not much of a fish story from the time on the water, my drive and walk tour of unexplored stretches of The Canal was enjoyable. I made notes and took pics and video for future reference as it looks like there are plenty of fish stories just waiting out there off the beaten path. Maybe someday, but for now one more report to post from the Knox County strip mines, hoping for a fishing hole reunion tomorrow, and plenty of stats and recaps to come. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Family Fishing Report

A Father’s Day weekend camping trip along The Canal offered an opportunity to get the family out for a couple hikes on Friday and Saturday evenings in search of some bites. It turns out that we had such a good time that we went exploring one more time on Sunday evening after wrapping up our camping trip. Read on for the stats, notes, and video.

June 17 evening outing with the boys


Date: June 16-18
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 5.50 hours total
Totals: 13 bass, 24 panfish (22 bluegill, 1 pumpkinseed, 1 warmouth)
Weather: Sunny/breezy, 64-82F
Lures: Bass – Senko/Yum Dinger wacky rig, Panfish – waxworms on jighead and slip bobber
Top Bass: 2-13 Senko (Carly)
Top 5 Weight: 6-13 (2-13,1-3,1-2,0-14,0-13)

Waxworms on a slip bobber setup is a favorite panfish rig

Wacky rigged worms are a great fit for young (and not so young) anglers

Family Top 5 and totals from the weekend


Notes and Nonsense

Field Testing – If you are introducing kids to bass fishing, it is hard to beat a wacky rigged worm once the water warms up. It is easy to cast on a spinning setup, has only one hook, requires minimal retrieve action, and flat out catches fish. I favor the 5” Yamamoto Senko but also opted for some Yum Dingers for the kids as they are cheaper, and I anticipated a few presentations ending up in trees or not coming back from various underwater obstructions. The Yum Dingers did just fine.

June 17 family fishing evening


Restock – After a Saturday evening trip resulted in a couple lost Senko setups, I found that I needed to replenish my hooks. Prior to our Sunday evening trip, I grabbed another pack of fifteen hooks from a local fishing aisle. Well, by the end of our Sunday evening, many of those new hooks had also been “donated” to The Canal. A learning experience and good practice as prowling the banks of The Canal can present some casting and retrieving challenges.

Advanced “scouting” and playing fishing guide can be workout.

Exercise – As noted in the screenshot above, I got a workout on Sunday. Early morning was a solo walk on The Canal followed by more steps as we packed up at the campsite. Next was a walk through the local fishing aisle in search of more hooks and some Yum Dingers. Finally, I played fishing guide on our evening stop along The Canal. Those final couple hours featured numerous steps between the five anglers dishing out waxworms, assisting with an occasional cast or advice, retying after snags, logging catches, shooting pictures/video, and other associated tasks. I never reeled in a fish or even made a cast of my own and that was just fine.

Screenshot from Carly’s Top Bass catch (2-13). Negotiations are ongoing on whether she will let me post the full video…

Wrap-up – Everyone landed a handful of fish over the course of the weekend. Helena got us started with the first catches on both Saturday and Sunday. Carly was the Bassmaster on Saturday with five catches and Top Bass of the trip. Jayce posted a Top 5 bass among his catches. Zac also posted a Top 5 bass and tied Carly for the species title at three. Mom also posted a Top 5 catch along with several panfish while being part-time guide and pointing me to a couple bass that she saw or heard near her fishing spot.

June 18 family fishing evening


The Father’s Day weekend fishing adventure drew to a close as dusk approached on Sunday. But family time continued with a silly ride, Casey’s pizza pickup on the way home, and opening some gifts. It was a great weekend that kicked off with camping and some casting on Friday around 4:00pm and concluded with those final slices of pizza near 10:00pm on Sunday. And the cool thing was that everybody was still laughing and getting along after hanging out all weekend. As a dad, I couldn’t ask for more. Talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report – June 19

The new water theme continued as I took another shot at establishing a Top 5 on a stretch of The Canal I had only seen when iced over. Back on New Year’s Day, I took a walk along this portion, and it looked to contain some appealing wood structure along its length. Of course, things look a lot different in June than in January, primarily aquatic vegetation. Read on to see if I was able to coax out any bites.


Date: June 19
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 6:50am-11:20am
Totals: 9 bass, 1 green sunfish
Weather: Sunny/breezy, 64-82F
Lures: Booyah Buzzbait (black) – 5 bass, 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (watermelon cream laminate) – 3 bass, Berkley Power Blade Spinnerbait (coleslaw) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-14 Senko
Top 5 Weight: 8-2 (1-14,1-11,1-9,1-9,1-7)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

Weeds and Wood – If given a choice between weed and wood cover, I would choose wood for reasons that would best be covered in a post of its own. For this outing, however, I had to work a combination of the two types of cover for a few bites. Several fish came off the ends of laydowns or overhanging trees that were lengthy enough to reach the edge of the abundant shoreline weeds. The weapon of choice in these cases was a buzzbait. It is always fun as you anticipate an explosion when the lure nears a suspected ambush point while your mind says, “There should be one right here…”

Buzzbait Pattern Video 


Lost and Found – Another lure was added to the collection as I found a topwater frog on a snag along the way. Typically, these discoveries end up in the tacklebag of my oldest boy, Jayce. The Canal has contributed a solid batch of additions to the rest of his gear received over years of birthday and Christmas celebrations. However, the frog tempted me to keep it for myself. You see, me, The Canal, and frog fishing have never seen eye to eye for some reason. As mentioned in a previous post on the blog or social media, I am the self-proclaimed “worst frog angler on The Canal.” I mean, the place is custom made for the presentation and I see plenty of reports of others having success, but I continue to struggle. Thus, I thought that maybe the frog find was an omen, but I have yet to put it to use. I did use one of my own frogs and had a couple blowups but still 0-2023 in landing a bass.

Was this discovery trying to tell me something?

Fatigue – This trip took place on a Monday after an enjoyable Father’s Day weekend camping trip with plenty of fresh air and fishing. Couple that with rising at 4:30am after about five and a half hours of sleep and I was feeling rather beat. As the years roll on, I have begun to find that fatigue has an adverse effect on my fishing, Primarily, I observe this effect in my casting. By virtue of forty plus years of practice, a guy gets pretty accurate with his presentations. But when I am tired, I pull some casts, get lazy and leave others off to the right, and my touch and distance are suspect. The result was catching many more trees, vines, roots, and weeds than normal. It all makes me realize that I am not getting any younger and why the pro tournament trail is mainly a young angler’s game.

I got my Top 5 from this new stretch of The Canal although I came up short of the ten-pound mark at 8-2. The upside of doing a lot of fishing is self-explanatory. The blogging aspect, however, suffers a bit as it can be tough to find time to put together the “fish stories.” One more report down, and a handful to go. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

This week’s update is as easy as 1-2-3. As in bass in the one-pound, two-pound, and three-pound range for a trio of anglers. And, once again, we get a map of one catch which is always a winning addition.

Weight: 1-3
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: June 21
Weather: Early morning sun with east wind.
Air Temp: In the 60s
Water Temp: 77F
Location: West Central Illinois public water
Lure: Wacky worm
Angler Comments: Not many quality hits in the three hours I fished. Hooked a fish on the fourth or fifth cast of the day but he got off. Finally got some quality hits in a shady area in three to four feet of water.
Top 5 Weight: 6-4 (2-4,1-15-1-3,0-14)

Weight: 2-0
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: June 24
Location: Knox County private strip mine
Lure: Senko wacky rig
Top 5 Weight: 14-14 (3-8,2-15,2-13,2-13,2-13)

Weight: 3-2
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: June 24
Weather: Sunny/breezy
Location: Knox County public strip mine
Lure: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (natural shad)
Structure: Weed pocket
Angler Comments: Probing weed pockets with a Senko wacky rig produced all of my bass on this outing, including this Top Bass of the day.
Top 5 Weight: 20-15 (5-3,4-10,4-2,3-9,3-7)

Good stuff as summer started right off with a taste of the dog days as temperatures hit the nineties. As evidenced by the details of the catches above, you just can’t go wrong with the good, old wacky rig. Plenty of reports and additional fishing stuff to come as time permits. Talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report – June 17 & 18

During a Father’s Day weekend camping trip, I managed to get away for a few hours while the rest of the crew were sleeping or lounging around the campsite. Turns out that they missed out as I was able to find a handful of cooperative bass as I prowled the bank.


Not quite Bigfoot, but a white squirrel is an unusual sighting (plenty of gnats, too)

Date: June 17 & 18
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 10:30-11:30am & 6:30-8:30am
Totals: 4 bass and 4 bass
Weather: Sunny/breezy, 70-75F
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (watermelon cream laminate) – 8 bass
Top Bass: 1-11 Senko
Top 5 Weight: 6-11 (1-11,1-10,1-3,1-2,1-1)

Winning Lure

Notes and Nonsense

Senko Sweep – All eight of the bass I fooled were landed on a Senko wacky rig. Beyond success in casting to appealing targets, a pair of the catches were what I call “spotting.” As I wander from target to target, I keep an eye on the water looking for any cruising bass. If I am fortunate enough to spot my quarry, a Senko pitched in the vicinity is often a winner. I shot videos of such catches over the weekend and intend to post more on the technique in a separate post.

June 17 at 10:56am – Top Bass at 1-11 (16″) on a Senko

Fellow Prowlers – During my walks, I crossed paths with several fellow Canal anglers. Four were boating while another angler was walking (spoke to him three times in two days and had met before). It’s always entertaining to compare notes and I am all ears having only two years of Canal experience on my resume. The main takeaways from the brief conversations were that I was fishing good water and I was tossing productive lures. Plenty of room for improvement though as I am still not worth a darn on my topwater frog approach, and I could stand to slow down with a Texas rigged worm or creature bait.


Lots more to come as the family did get out on the water for some quality fishing time. I also invested in a couple vacation days to explore new Canal water in search of an initial Top 5 on those stretches. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Father’s Day weekend, a camping trip on The Canal, and free fishing days were a winner for our family. Read on for a batch of Top 5 bass submissions with much more on the weekend to come.

Weight: 2-13 (19”)
Angler: Carly Jackson
Date: June 17
Weather: Sunny/breezy
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig

Weight: 0-13 (12.5”)
Angler: Carly Jackson
Date: June 17
Weather: Sunny/breezy
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig
Top 5 Weight: 3-10 (2-13,0-13)

Weight: 1-3 (14”)
Angler: Jayce Jackson
Date: June 16
Weather: Sunny/breezy
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig
Top 5 Weight: 1-3 (1-3)

Weight: 0-14
Angler: Julia Jackson
Date: June 18
Weather: Partly cloudy/breezy
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig
Top 5 Weight: 0-14 (0-14)

Weight: 0-11
Angler: Zac Jackson
Date: June 18
Weather: Partly cloudy/breezy
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig
Top 5 Weight: 0-11 (0-11)

It was a blast getting the whole family out on The Canal. When it doesn’t require getting up at 4:30am, this bunch is eager to wet a line. Several fishing reports and a camping post are on the way when time permits. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

The Top 5 Updates continue with this week’s submission including a little something extra. Not only do we get the standard picture and data, but also a detailed description of the setup including a map. Read on for a cool fishing report.

Weight: 2-4
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: June 8
Weather: Early morning sun with 60-degree air temperature
Water Temp: Not Available
Location: West Central Illinois public water
Lure: Black and silver shallow running Rapala
Angler Comments: There is a narrow area of shallow water across the entrance to an inlet off the main lake. The shallow water is only one to two feet deep. There is deep water on the inlet side and lake side of the shallow water. If the lake water level were to drop the inlet would be cut off from the main lake. The shallow water has numerous bluegill nests, and a lot of bluegills were present. Bass were coming up from the deep water on the lake side and harassing the bluegill population. Earlier in the morning I hooked a heavy bass on a silver and black floating Rapala cast into the bluegill nest area. The fish immediately headed for the deep water weed beds. He was able to use the weeds to get away. Later in the morning I returned to the spot and could see several large bass in the deep clear water. I threw wacky worms, spinner baits, shallow running Rapalas and paddle tail plastics toward the bass in the deep water, but they showed little interest. Finally, a bass took the Rapala and headed for the weeds. I was able to keep him from wrapping the line around the weeds and landed the 2 lbs. 4 oz. fish.
Top 5 Weight: 5-1 (2-4,1-15,0-14)

Thank you, John, for your catch and the detailed rundown of how you got it done. I may take a page out of your book for an upcoming post of my own. We’ll see how my attempt at an illustration goes as I may be in touch for more of your artistry. I also have a plan to get a few more submissions for next week’s Top 5 Update. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Prowl the Canal – May Notes

Lone find from the “Lost and Found” in May

Along with the stats, there are usually some other bits and pieces to report from a month of casting on The Canal as I try not to ramble too much on the specific fishing reports. So, read on for the rest of the story from a series of prowls in the merry, merry month of May.

“The one that got away” in the clip below


Majestic cottonwoods litter the surface of The Canal with fuzz as described below

The Fuzz – The Canal is lined with some massive cottonwood trees. The leaves, bark and twigs of these trees can be messy, but the bane of anglers is the cottony fuzz that these trees scatter in seed dispersal. The fuzz gathers on the line during the retrieve and proceeds to clump on the line ties, the hook eyes, and the spools of reels. It can be darn tough to get it completely cleaned off these spots particularly your line. This year, the fuzz appears to be a bumper crop, possibly a cyclical phenomenon where plants produce an abundance of seeds known as “masting.”

Cottonwood fuzz accumulates rapidly at this time of the year

Gnuisances – The gnats are especially irritating this year on The Canal. Up your nose, in your ears, on the inside of your glasses, and in your hat, they are everywhere. And some of them bite as evidenced by a dozen or more itchy welts on my neck, face, and ears after several outings. All part of the pursuit and while I am aware of potions, elixirs, and sprays, the smell of most of those concoctions annoy me more than the bugs. But, hey, at least it’s not mosquitoes…yet.

Weeds abound despite efforts to control, but the bass are hiding in there somewhere


June on The Canal is underway so stay tuned for those reports and more. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Stats

A little delayed after catching up on some fishing reports but it is once again time for the monthly Top 5 Stat Update. May saw four anglers join the ranks for 2023. Three are veterans of the quest, Dad (Terry Jackson), John Kirkemo, and Landon Hannam. The fourth new participant is my niece, Natalee Townsend, with her first pair of submissions. Read on for the notes and numbers on our sixty-one bass entered for the year.

2023 Totals
January = no submissions
February = 2 bass
March = 7 bass
April = 32 bass
May = 20 bass

Top 5 Weight by Month
January = no submissions
February = 6-10 (3-9,3-1)
March = 19-8 (5-1,4-5,4-4,3-5,2-9)
April = 24-0 (5-5,5-3,4-12,4-8,4-4)
May = 24-11 (5-9,5-6,4-14,4-10,4-4)

Boat vs. Bank
Boat = 20 bass
Bank = 41 bass

Boat vs. Bank Weight
Boat = 20-0 (5-6,4-2,3-9,3-8,3-7)
Bank = 26-0 (5-9,5-5,5-3,5-1,4-14)

Public vs. Private
Public = 59 bass
Private = 2 bass

Public vs. Private Top 5 Weight
Public = 26-8 (5-9,5-6,5-5,5-3,5-1)
Private = 6-4 (3-9,2-11)

The Baits
Lipless Crankbait = 24 bass (Top Bass 5-6 Natalee Townsend)
Plastic Worm = 9 bass (Top Bass 3-9 Troy Jackson)
Chatterbait = 7 bass (Top Bass 5-9 Jim Junk)
Grub = 5 bass (Top Bass 5-3 Troy Jackson)
Jerkbait = 3 bass (Top Bass 2-13 Brent Jackson)
Propbait = 3 bass (Top Bass 4-10 Troy Jackson)
Spinnerbait = 3 bass (Top Bass 2-14 Troy Jackson)
Swimbait = 2 bass (Top Bass 4-4 Jim Junk)
Buzzbait = 2 bass (Top Bass 3-8 Brent Jackson)
Jig = 1 bass (Top Bass 2-13 Brent Jackson)
Popper = 1 bass (Top Bass 2-13 Brent Jackson)
Spinnerbait = 1 bass (Top Bass 3-7 Troy Jackson)

Monthly Top Bass
No submissions
3-9 Jim Junk
5-1 Jim Junk
5-5 Jim Junk
5-9 Jim Junk

2023 Top 10 Bass
5-9 Jim Junk 5/2
5-6 Natalee Townsend 5/26
5-5 Jim Junk 4/23
5-3 Troy Jackson 4/7
5-1 Jim Junk 3/5
4-14 Jim Junk 5/5
4-12 Jim Junk 4/9
4-10 Troy Jackson 5/6
4-8 Jim Junk 4/1
4-5 Jim Junk 3/11

Angler Weights
Jim Junk 25-9 (5-9,5-5,5-1,4-14,4-12)
Troy Jackson 20-15 (5-3,4-10,4-2,3-9,3-7)
Brent Jackson 14-14 (3-8,2-15,2-13,2-13,2-13)
Natalee Townsend 7-9 (5-6,2-3)
Landon Hannam 3-8 (3-8)
John Kirkemo 2-13 (1-15,0-14)
Terry Jackson 2-11 (2-11)

Summer is just around the corner and we’re nearly two thirds of the way to my annual target of one hundred bass entries. And don’t forget, other species are eligible as well so good luck out there and keep me posted if you reel ‘em in. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Welcome back to Top 5 veteran angler, John Kirkemo, as he adds his first submissions of 2023. He and a young fishing partner took on Snakeden Hollow’s McMaster Lake last week on a balmy evening and had a good outing.

Weight: 1-15
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: May 31
Weather: Partly cloudy with air temperatures in the 90s
Water Temp: 79-83F
Location: McMaster Lake
Lure: Wacky worm

Weight: 0-14
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: May 31
Weather: Partly cloudy with air temperatures in the 90s
Water Temp: 79-83F
Location: McMaster Lake
Lure: Wacky worm
Angler Comments: Fished from 4:15pm to 7:45pm. Most fish were caught before 6:00pm while the sun was still high. Not much action after 7:00pm. Only one other power boat on the lake and only a few shore fishermen.
Top 5 Weight: 2-13 (1-15,0-14)

Well done, John, as that crystal clear lake can be a challenge, especially on a sunny, summer-like afternoon. Great to hear a report from that unique fishing hole. More fishing stats and notes in the works. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy