Month: October 2023

Hennepin Canal Report – October 21

Fresh off the previous day’s trip where I had to work for ten bass in five and a half hours, I was eager to get back on the water. I had achieved my goal of 443 bass to make one thousand over the last two years, but I still had other Canal goals to work on before I put the gear away.

Picked a tough spot for these conditions but was on a mission

Date: October 21
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 10:30am-12:30pm
Totals: 1 bass
Weather: Sunny/very windy, 60-65F
Lures: Z-Man Chatterbait (sexy shad) with BPS Speed Shad trailer (pro blue) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-12 Chatterbait
Top 1 Weight (only one at 12” or better: 2-12 (2-12)

Winning Lure

Notes and Nonsense

Destination – I had two late morning hours to fish before readying and heading to a high school band competition in Macomb, Illinois. I selected a stretch of water that I had only fished once before, back in May. The aim was to catch at least one “keeper” as my spring visit had left me one bass shy of a Top 5 limit. Establishing a Top 5 on the pool is part of the larger Canal Top 5 Project which aims to post a Top 5 on every stretch of The Canal from the Feeder Basin to the west (including the Milan section). I intend to explain this project in more detail with a series of blog posts over the winter.

Doesn’t really do justice to how ugly the wind was on this stretch

Rowing and Blowing – My choice of destinations was unwise due to heavy winds from the northwest. The combination of the orientation of this stretch, its broad width, and a less than ideal northern windbreak resulted in whitecaps. Shortly after launching the boat, I pondered packing up for another spot as fighting the twenty-plus mile per hour wind made for tough boat control and lure presentation. Instead, I opted to row all the way to the west end of the pool and let the wind blow me back in the general direction of my truck. Along the way, this resulted in periodically crashing into the willow lined bank.

Got the bite I was seeking and it was larger than I expected

One Winner in the Wind – The water that I was fishing looked good with abundant riprap, overhanging willows, and scattered wood. Being pounded by the wind added to the appeal but that wind also made lure presentation and thorough coverage difficult. It all boiled down to firing away as rapidly as possible to cover water before blowing right over the top of my targets. One such cast proved to be a winner with a 2-12 on a chatterbait. The fish was the “keeper” that I was looking for to complete a Top 5 for the stretch of The Canal and even better it established a new Top Bass for the spot. The former Top Bass mark was a 1-10 from May 29 and the latest catch pushed the Top 5 mark to 7-10.


A short, tough day of battling the wind and only one bass but mission accomplished in getting the bite that I needed to complete a Top 5 for this pool of The Canal. I’ll take it. One more report to come as I hit another spot the following day in search of two more keepers to establish a Top 5. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report – October 20

I headed out to The Canal on October 20 in search of nine bass to meet my goal of 447 bass for 2023. The mark would give me 1,000 bass over the last two years after a new personal record of 553 bass in 2022. After a tough bite to start the day, the bass came through as detailed below.

Chose this pump at a gas station along the way for good luck 

Date: October 20
Location: Hennepin Canal (three pools)
Time: 10:40am-5:35pm (5.50 hours fishing)
Totals: 10 bass
Weather: Sunny/breezy, 54-60F
Lures: War Eagle Spinnerbait (chartreuse/white) with Bass Pro Shops Twin Tail trailer (Houdini) – 6 bass, Z-Man Chatterbait (sexy shad) with BPS Speed Shad trailer (pro blue) – 3 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- Crankbait (red craw) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 3-10 Chatterbait
Top 5 Weight (three pools combined): 8-6 (3-10,1-12,1-1,1-1,0-14)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

Slow Start – Arriving at my first destination, I was greeted by another angler who had just launched. We had a brief conversation to compare some notes and I elected to head for an alternate location to stay out of his way. The second location was new water, and the bass were not as welcoming as I had hoped. It took me forty-five minutes to get my first and only bite. I hung around for a total of two hours and gave it a good effort before heading for an area I had only seen from the bank on a family outing this summer.

1:41pm – New Top Bass record for me on The Canal at 3-10

New Top Bass – Fully aware that there are no guarantees in fishing, I opted to gamble on another stretch of unfamiliar water rather than any regular stomping grounds as I searched for eight more bass. I had previously seen about fifty yards of this area from the bank and that was while playing fishing guide for Julie and the kids in June. Two more hours of rowing and casting was much more successful with six bass, but I was still two bass shy of my goal. The highlight of the stretch, however, was a 3-10 bass that set a new Top Bass mark for me on The Canal, topping a pair at 3-6.

4:34pm – Bass #1000 as described below

Bass #1000 – Stop number three was a spot that I had fished twice before with the last visit being a week prior. That trip had produced a solid bite with fifteen bass landed. And with recent decent weather, I was hoping for a repeat performance. An hour and a half only produced three bass but that was one more than I needed. At 4:34pm, a chatterbait fooled a 12” bass that weighed in at 0-13 for Bass #1000. No matter that it was not a trophy in terms of size, it made the mark.

4:44pm – A new trick with a bass caught on an unusual piece of structure, a dead deer

Deer Bass – Having Bass #1000 in the log made my day but I still had some daylight left and some distance remaining to row back to the truck. The next hour only produced one more bass, but Bass #1001 turned out to be a memorable catch as well. I had fished the spot where it was landed a week earlier and thought that it set up perfectly. The shoreline featured a stretch of chunky riprap at and below the water level. This rocky run served as one edge of an open water trough that was lined with lilypads on the channel side. I had worked it over on the previous visit without a bite but figured that it was worth another look. As I approached, I observed what I thought was a log at the leading edge of the channel side of the trough. As I got closer, I realized that the log was actually a dead deer. It turns out that the added “cover” was just what the spot needed to produce a bite as a chatterbait duped a 12.5” (0-14) bass. It made for a good fish story (and video for a future post), and that’s what it’s all about.


It’s all icing on the cake from this trip forward as my days on the water are numbered with October drawing to a close. My annual aim is to finish the year with a November bass and the new month only lies a few days away. But I am getting ahead of myself as there are still a couple more October outings to report. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

It has been a little lean on Top 5 Updates this fall. Quality fish have been caught but it gets tough to give a solid limit a boost as it takes a really good fish. Well, Brent got one of those this past weekend. Not only did it set a new mark for his Top Bass of 2023, it also breaks the mark for the largest bass from the public strip pit where it was landed (beating his 4-4 from last month). He got another solid bass that fell just short of upgrading his weight but warranted inclusion in today’s update. Similarly, I fooled one that didn’t increase my weight but set a new mark for the body of water where it was landed.

Weight: 4-7
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: October 22
Location: Public strip pit
Lure: Spinnerbait

Weight: 3-2
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: October 22
Location: Public strip pit
Lure: Spinnerbait
Top 5 Weight: 19-3 (4-7,4-4,3-11,3-8,3-5) culls 3-3

Weight: 3-10 (19″)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: October 20
Weather: Sunny/windy, 60F air temp
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: War Eagle Spinnerbait (chartreuse/white) with BPS twin tail trailer (Houdini)
Structure: Fallen trees
Angler Comments: Although it does not give my Top 5 a boost, this fish ties for my fifth largest bass of the year. Better yet, it establishes my new Top Bass for the Hennepin Canal beating a pair at 3-6.
Top 5 Weight: 21-10 (5-3,4-10,4-2,4-1,3-10)

There you go, don’t put those poles away quite yet. Hoping to take at least one more shot before it is all said and done as I always shoot for a November bass. Not sure if Brent is done either, so stay tuned. Talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report-October 14 & 15

I hit The Canal last weekend lacking twenty-six bass for my 2023 goal of 447 bass. Saturday evening consisted of a bike ride while Sunday found me dragging the boat along. Read on for the report and status on reaching my target.

October 14 – Top Bass at 1-1 (13″) on a squarebill crankbait

Date: October 14-15
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 4:05pm-6:05pm, 2:15pm-5:00pm
Totals:2 bass, 15 bass
Weather: Partly cloudy/windy, 55F
Lures: Z-Man Chatterbait (sexy shad) – 7 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- Crankbait (red craw) – 4 bass, War Eagle Spinnerbait (chartreuse/white) with Bass Pro Shops Twin Tail trailer (Houdini) – 4 bass, Strike King Rattling Squarebill (sexy shad) – 1 bass, Yum Wooly Bug (green pumpkin) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-2 Chatterbait
Top 5 Weight (combined trips): 8-5 (2-2,1-14,1-13,1-7,1-1)

Winning Lures – October 14 (left) and October 15 (right)

Notes and Nonsense

Two Bass on Two Wheels – With only a couple hours to get away and windy conditions (yes, even on The Canal), I opted for bike over boat. I chose a mid-distance destination (less than 25-minute drive) with the days getting shorter and a late afternoon departure. The stretch features solid bank access and is home to several quality catches over the last two-plus years. With all of that said, it didn’t really work out as well as I’d hoped with two bass in the pound range and a similar fish that got away. All three catches were within a fifty-yard stretch although I did cover several miles on the bike.

October 15 at 2:36pm- Top Bass Runner-Up 1-14 (16.5″) on a spinnerbait

Sunday Gamble – Saturday’s struggle left me needing twenty-four bass to meet my goal and Sunday didn’t get off to such a hot start in terms of weather. Originally, I intended a late morning trip but waited out some unappealing weather and hit the water mid-afternoon instead. With a larger window of several hours to fish, I opted to drive a bit farther than normal to a section of The Canal that I had only visited twice. Those outings had resulted in ten bass in just over three hours of fishing from a boat. Beyond those results, I just had a good feeling about the spot.

October 15 at 4:13pm – Top Bass 2-2 (17″) on a chatterbait

Sunday Success – My gamble paid off to the tune of fifteen bass from 2:15pm to 5:00pm. I will admit that I did waver a bit upon arrival as the water was rather murky. The alternative would have wasted twenty minutes of fishing time while driving and instinct held that my first choice was still the best choice. My second cast with a Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait provided all the feedback that I needed, and it was game on. Along with the Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait, I mixed in a War Eagle Spinnerbait, and a Z-Man Chatterbait enroute to a solid day. Top Bass for the day came in at 2-2 and hit a chatterbait along a mix of riprap, sparse weeds and a ledge, a classic combination on The Canal. In fact, I found bass in all the right places as this stretch features an appealing mix of rock, weeds, wood, depth, and manmade structure.


Thanks to the successful Sunday, I am now only nine bass from my goal. With the weather and water still maintaining temperatures on The Canal to keep the bass active and feeding, I make as many casts as I can as tight to structure as I can and hold on. Hopefully, the activity level remains on the upside through the weekend, and I can get one more shot before I may have alter some presentations. Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Report – October 12

I was able to visit Lake Storey twice in September for my annual shot at the fall drawdown (one solo trip and one with Brent). All told, we had landed twenty-six bass in thirteen and a half hours on the water. Nearly two bass per hour isn’t bad for Lake Storey but I still felt that we didn’t meet our expectations. There was only one way to fix that, head back for round three.

10:30am – First bass at 1-0 (12.5″) and only five minutes into casting

Date: October 12
Location: Lake Storey, Knox County, IL
Time: 10:25am-4:10pm
Totals: 17 bass
Weather: Sunny to partly cloudy/breezy to windy, 63-75F
Water temperature: 60-63F
Lures: Z-Man Chatterbait (sexy shad) – 13 bass, War Eagle spinnerbait (chartreuse/white) – 2 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 2-8 Chatterbait
Top 5 Weight: 9-3 (2-8,1-15,1-12,1-8,1-8)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

Compliments to the Chef – A shout out to fellow angler and storyteller, Chef Todd Kent, as I finally decided to buy into the Lake Storey chatterbait bite. Chef Todd has long endorsed chatterbaits and shared some solid catches on the lure from Lake Storey over the years. I’ve never been a chatterbait fan, just catching a few here or there on the strip mine ledges and flats. But on this day, I opted to start with a chatterbait on one rod and never took it off as the bass provided plenty of positive feedback.

2:38pm – Top Bass at 2-8 (18.5″) on a chatterbait

Juiced – When I head to Lake Storey, I plan to make a full day out of the trip. Typically, I don’t have a set time when I need to be home, so it comes down to what runs out of juice first, me or the boat batteries. The east wind took a toll on the front mount trolling motor battery as I fished my way down the lake taking a direct hit. While the wind was favorable pushing me back to the ramp, I effectively had no boat control after about five and a half hours on the water. It was disappointing to have to call it a day as I’d hoped to get in seven or eight hours of fishing, but it was comforting that the body was still going strong.

One That Got Away – I have noted before that my goals on each trip are as follows: Don’t get shut out, catch a Top 5 (five bass at 12” or longer) and post a Top 5 Weight of ten pounds or better. The latter item came up short, but I believe that I had the fish on that would have given my weight the necessary boost. Shortly before ending the day, I had one on the way to the boat, but it somehow let go of a chatterbait. Initially, I thought that I gave a little slack as I prepared to reach behind me for the dipnet. However, the video clip below does not seem to back up such a mistake. Instant replay is fun that way if you don’t mind having to relive the one the got away. If it had tipped the scales at 2-5 or better, I would have hit the ten-pound weight goal. I did get a look at the fish, and I am certain it would have made the mark. As I often say, “That’s fishing.”


As the Old Saying Goes – Adages are a fun part of language as their expression of conventional wisdom can talk out of both sides of the mouth, so to speak. For example, “birds of a feather flock together”, yet “opposites attract.” And so it was with this fishing trip as the forecast correctly indicated that I would be greeted with an east wind. Anglers who have been around for a while know that “wind from the east, fish bite the least”, supposedly. But I had vacation day from work and the air temperatures were supposed to hit seventy, so it was all systems go regardless of the wind. Instead of fretting about the wind from the east, I subscribed to another of my favorite fishing sayings. “The best time to go fishing is anytime you can.” And it all turned out just fine.


Seventeen bass on a Lake Storey outing is a rousing success for my level of fishing. When adding them to my database it pushed my 2023 total to 421 bass. As noted in the previous post, I am shooting for 447 bass this year. When coupled with last year’s personal best yearly total of 553 bass, it would give me a grand total of 1,000 bass over the last two years. Thanks to The Canal this past weekend, I’ve already chipped away at the 26 bass that were lacking.

In addition to The Canal report, I have a follow-up Lake Storey post in the works as it is hard to say it all in just one submission. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – October 8

Access is drawing to a close on the Knox County public strip mines, so Snakeden Hollow was the choice for a getaway last Sunday. My goals were twofold. First, I wanted to land six bass to reach four hundred for the year. Secondly, I intended to bike and hike to a few remote spots to learn new stuff on an area that I have fished for over thirty years. Both missions were a success with further details below.

1:03pm – Top Bass at 1-6 (14″), which also happened to be Bass #400 of the year

Date: October 8
Location: Knox County strip mines (9 lakes)
Time: 10:40am-2:40pm (2.25 hours fishing, the rest hiking/biking)
Totals: 10 bass
Weather: Partly cloudy/breezy
Lures: Mann’s Baby 1- Crankbait (grey ghost) – 8 bass, 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (peanut butter and jelly) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 1-6 Mann’s Baby 1- Crankbait
Top 5 Weight: 6-1 (1-6,1-5,1-4,1-2,1-0)

Notes and Nonsense

The Mission – I packed along my bicycle to cut down on travel time to the far reaches of Snakeden Hollow. From there, I switched to foot travel across weedy stretches unfit for pedaling. For even after thirty-four years of exploring, there were still a few places out there where I had never set foot. Several bodies of water did not even exist when I first stepped into Snakeden Hollow back in 1990 while others have undergone significant changes over the years. And one I had not seen since 1990 as a worker at the site. Lots of stories. Perhaps another day.

That’s the sign post up ahead, and it means you have gone off the beaten (although nicely mowed) path

The Results – All told, I made casts in nine different lakes. Six were “known” lakes where I had varying degrees of experience and catch data. The only surprise was a fifteen-minute stop that produced a fourteen-inch bass, the largest of a handful of bass landed from the lake over the years. Therefore, it made my list for some more casts in the future. Three other bodies of water were previously unexplored, and none produced a bass in fifteen to thirty minutes of casting on each. Bank access was limited and while not a thorough test of potential, my first impressions were not positive. One was very weedy and tough to fish, one showed signs of life only in the form of tiny bluegill, and the other showed no signs of life at all.


Grey Ghost – The Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait in the grey ghost pattern was a winner on this trip landing eight of my ten bass. I’ve got a story about this lure. Actually, after forty plus years of chasing bass, I’ve got a story about most everything. Anyway, close to thirty years ago, Brent and I got stuck listening to a batch of fish stories at the Spring Lake tackle trailer over near Manito. The proprietor related how he and his son bought every Mann’s Baby 1- in the grey ghost color in the Peoria area to keep them out of the hands of rival anglers. True story? Not sure. Effective color? Not noticeably for me as I like the red craw color better. But on this trip, the old grey ghost came through. You know, I have another story about how I met the Mann’s Baby 1-. Perhaps another day.

Winning Lures

Oh yeah, there’s also a new story about the Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait from this trip as it landed Bass #400. Check out the catch video below.


Now that I have Bass #400 in the log, I have my sights set on reaching 447 bass. Combined with the 2022 total of 553, that would give me 1,000 bass over the last two years. After this trip, I stood at 404, leaving a ways to go and a short time to get there.

So long to Snakeden for 2023 but still more fishing left before I put the poles away.

A Lake Storey report is in the works as a cooperative batch of bass earlier this week knocked out a chunk of those forty-three bass that I am seeking. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report – October 1

As October arrived, I was looking for fourteen bass to push my 2023 total to four hundred. Having a limited morning window to hit the water, I chose the proximity of The Canal for my getaway. In addition, I had neglected the old waterway for two months, so we were due to connect.

7:55pm – First Bass at 1-5 (14″) on a Whopper Plopper, part of a trend or two (read on)

Date: October 1
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 7:15am-9:45am
Totals: 8 bass
Weather: Sunny/calm, 62-77F
Lures: Whopper Plopper 110 (bone) – 7 bass, Spro Flappin Frog 65 (natural red) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-14 Senko
Top 5 Weight: 7-15 (2-14,1-8,1-5,1-2,1-2)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

Attack of the 14” Bass – It sounds like a cheesy horror movie, but the title was an accurate summation of my early bites as the first three all measured in at exactly fourteen inches. The fourth catch was only slightly larger at fifteen inches, and I did fool one other fourteen-inch fish before the morning was over. No complaints on those fish though as they certainly exceed my “keeper” definition of twelve inches (all bass released). In fact, the “keeper” rate on this outing was one hundred percent with all eight bass at or above twelve inches.

Topwater Sweep – As October progresses, the topwater bite begins to fade. So, while I had a Whopper Plopper and a Spro Flappin’ Frog in my starting lineup, I truly expected to get into a spinnerbait bite. That’s not the way it materialized as topwater presentations fooled all eight fish (seven on the Whopper Plopper and one on the Spro Frog). It is always a treat to get the surface bait bite and I appreciated them even more as they may be the last such bites of the year. Not that I won’t try it to prolong the fun, just that other presentations will be more reliable.

9:06pm – Top Bass at 2-14 (18″) on a Whopper Plopper

What a Difference a Year Makes – 2023 started off with a heavy dose of Canal fishing as I sought to explore new stretches of the waterway. Although I caught fish, my results were not as good as I had hoped so I shifted gears and invested my fishing time (and gas money) on the Knox County strip mines instead. The decision has paid off well in terms of quantity and quality, but I do miss learning on The Canal as I barely have two years of experience on the area. Plenty of stats to come during the off season but my eight bass on this outing brought my Canal total to 109 bass for 2023. That is a far cry from 359 bass last year.


A solid morning but I came up six bass shy of the fourteen needed to hit the four hundred bass mark. Do you know what that means? Yep, another reason to get back out there and find another half dozen bites. Stay tuned as the quest continued last weekend. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – September 30

It is that time of year again when most of the Knox County public strip mine access shuts down to anglers in favor of waterfowl. And as we head into October, I know that my time on the water in general is also drawing to a close. With those factors in mind, I decided to spend the final day of September chasing bass on a couple solid spots. Read on for the results.

9:55am – Top Bass (tie) at 3-2 (19″) on a creature bait

Date: September 30
Location: Knox County strip mines (one public, one private)
Time: 7:35am-11:35am, 1:00pm-2:45pm
Totals: 23 bass
Weather: Sunny/windy, 63-87F
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (peanut butter and jelly) – 11 bass, War Eagle Spinnerbait (chartreuse/white) – 5 bass, Yum Wooly Bug (crawdad) – 4 bass, Spro Flappin Frog 65 (natural red) – 2 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (red craw) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 3-2 (tie) on Yum Wooly Bug and Spro Frog
Top 5 Weight: 11-1 (3-2,3-2,2-10,1-2,1-1)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

Autumn Arrives – As I type up this report exactly one week after this trip, the Saturday morning temperature reads at forty-four degrees with a predicted high of fifty-nine. In contrast, I launched my boat last Saturday morning and it was already in the mid-sixties on the way to a high of eighty-seven degrees. Yes, fall has arrived. But somewhere along the way, those bass will turn on for a late season feed and I hope to be on the water at least once to take my shot.

Public Numbers – My morning was spent on a public body of water and four hours of casting resulted in thirteen bass. Top Bass was 3-2 and the Top 5 Weight tipped the scales at 8-11. I worked from top to bottom, from fast to slow, and while I never got a real pattern going, 3.25 bass/hour is still a very good catch rate. Sometimes, it is odd when on the water and focused that the bite doesn’t seem so great. But when looking back at the log, I had a solid morning. Bites were spread out evenly between three lures with five on a spinnerbait, and four each on a Senko wacky rig and a Texas-rigged creature bait.

1:32pm – Top Bass (tie) at 3-2 (19″) on a frog

Private Numbers – For the afternoon portion of the program I headed over to Little John Conservation Club, an area that I have neglected over the last several years. For various reasons, my focus has been on public waters and some new ones at that with The Canal and a couple strip pits. While I have a long history with those Little John bass, and I dig fishing the collection of lakes, I find it more fun to blog about chasing fish on water that everyone can access. The Little John bass haven’t forgotten about me at least, as ten showed up in just under two hours of fishing. A Senko wacky rig was the top producer with seven bass, while a lipless crank fooled one, and a topwater frog got two including my Top Bass. That Top Bass was also a 3-2 and my weight only consisted of two “keepers” totaling 4-4.

Fall Calls – During the morning portion of the outing, I heard several pheasants and saw a couple flush. Those were some welcome sights and sounds as they take me back to the early nineties when we first started roaming the strip mines. Darn near every trip, one of those birds would take flight at our feet as we traversed the grassy expanses. I am no pheasant hunter and that is probably a good thing because those birds flushing always scared me half to death as I plodded along daydreaming about what lay in store at the next fishing hole.


A very good outing both in terms of quantity and quality. The twenty-three bass left me fourteen bass shy of landing four hundred this year. With that in mind, I hit a favorite stretch of The Canal the following weekend. Stay tuned to see if I was able to outsmart enough bass to hit the milestone. Talk to you later. Troy