Month: June 2024

Hennepin Canal Report – June 19

The eve of summer and overcast skies seemed like an ideal time to get out after the 5:00pm end of a Wednesday workday. The forecast did call for a possibility of some light rain, but I’ve been wet before, so not much of a problem, right? Well, I got wet again. Real wet. But I also had a solid night of catching.

Looked like I had it made

Date: June 19
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 6:20pm-8:50pm
Totals: 14 bass
Weather: Overcast/calm/heavy rain, 85F
Lures: Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 9 bass, Whopper Plopper #110 (bone) – 3 bass, Spro Flappin Frog 65 (albino) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 1-11 (Whopper Plopper)
Top 5 Weight: 7-7 (1-11,1-10,1-8,1-5,1-5)

7:00pm – Top Bass at 1-11 (15″) on a Whopper Plopper while dry under a light gray sky

Notes and Nonsense

Limited Media – For starters, I was in such a hurry to get to the water that I forgot my GoPro. Lack of video wasn’t much of a concern as I fished for decades without such technology and the torrential rains would have put a damper on shooting anyway. The rainy conditions also limited my ability to take pictures of my catches. I only got shots of half of the fish, being those that bookended the heavy rain. In addition, I had to rely on memory for several catches and document them later in the Notes app on my phone. Even then, the screen was wet, and my fingers were so wrinkled and saturated that the phone screen would not consistently register touches or swipes.

7:08pm – Under cover of the trees as a light rain begins

Nowhere to Row, Nowhere to Hide – When your watercraft propulsion is via rowing, there is simply no such thing as a quick return to the boat ramp. My nearly fifty-seven-year-old motor is in decent rowing shape but even at top speed it takes a while to get where I’m going. When the rain began, I had just landed a bass and drifted under some trees to unhook and document. From there, I elected to wait out the downpour with the leaves as an umbrella. However, the canopy soon provided little protection and I was stuck about a half-mile from the truck. That left no option but to keep on casting and get soaked.

Winning Lures

Buzzbait Boon – During the downpour, I relied solely on a buzzbait, and it did not let me down. The crazy thing is the rain was so heavy that it was difficult for me to see and hear the commotion produced by the bait during the retrieve. Fortunately, the bass did not have any issue dialing in their aim as I landed half a dozen amidst thirty minutes of steadily soaking rain.

The deluxe Big Gulp “bailer/bilge pump” 

Bonus Gear – I took a Big Gulp of iced tea (unsweetened, of course) along for hydration but it tipped and began floating in the water accumulating in the bottom of the boat. This made it unpotable, so the cup’s role shifted to bailing water out of the boat. While I was in no danger of sinking or anything, the rain made for a substantial puddle at my feet. I have begun taking a Rubbermaid tub with me to ease hauling tackle and tools and it really saved the day in preventing my gear from getting drenched. Finally, an emergency rain poncho was a winner for the ride home. Now you may ask why I did not wear it to begin with and I will admit that it is a legitimate question. It probably wouldn’t have made much difference but it sure was nice to sit on for the drive to prevent my truck seat from being soaked.

Emergency rain poncho seat cover for the ride home

8:20pm – Soaked to the bone but the bass were still biting

Fourteen bass in two and a half hours of challenging conditions was quite a successful outing. Sure, I was uncomfortable for most of the trip and the entire ride home, but it did convince me of one thing. The rain affects the angler more than the fish. After all, they are already wet. Talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report – June 14

All four kids were down in Knox County a couple Fridays ago fishing with my folks and some cousins, so Julie and I took advantage to have a date night. And what better place for a date than the Hennepin Canal?

7:07pm – First bass at 1-8 (15″) on a Whopper Plopper

Date: June 14
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 6:40pm-8:40pm
Totals: 7 bass (Julie – 6 bass, Troy – 1 bass)
Weather: Sunny/breezy, 81-73F
Lures: Whopper Plopper #110 (bone) – 6 bass, Spro Flappin Frog 65 (albino) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-10 (Whopper Plopper)
Top 5 Weight: 8-12 (2-10,1-10,1-10,1-8,1-6)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

Destination – I selected a spot that I had intended to fish earlier in the week. That previous plan did not materialize as detailed in my “Hennepin Canal Report – June 11” post as I opted not to infringe on other anglers who were already fishing in the area. And one of those anglers later corresponded that the bite had been solid, including a good “one that got away.” Armed with that information, I decided to check the spot again and Julie and I had it all to ourselves on this evening.

An air freshener on the cap kept the gnats at bay but it did not deter the dragonflies 

Rewriting the Record Book – This stretch lived up to the fellow angler’s report as Julie landed a half dozen bass, all “keepers” (12” or better and all released). While playing guide, I did fish and managed to land one “keeper” of my own to avoid the shoutout. If you read the blog, you know that I track the Top 5 Bass for each spot that I fish on The Canal. Prior to this trip, the mark stood at a less than stellar 5-5 after four trips (1-3,1-1,1-1,1-0,1-0). How cool is it that every one of Julie’s catches were heavier than anything in that Top 5 as they ranged from 1-4 to 2-10 and her Top 5 total for the trip was an impressive 8-12.

7:59pm- Good looking Top Bass at 2-10 (18″) landed by a good looking lady


Getaway and Got Aways – With four kids at home, a little away time as a couple is always a welcome prospect. I enjoyed the role of fishing guide and subjected Julie to a steady ramble of reasons why we were casting what we were casting and why we were casting where we were casting. Of course, there were also the obligatory fish stories from The Canal and beyond as they related to our quest, or not. Julie was a committed angler as she displayed enthusiasm when the bass busted the Whopper Plopper, focus as she battled her catches to the boat, and a bit of disappointment when a couple threw the lure and become “ones that got away.” Her smile in the pics also says plenty about a quality fishing date night.

7:53pm – Avoiding my shutout with a 1-3 (14″) on a frog

Couldn’t ask for a better night as The Canal did not let us down. Many thanks to the bass in that old waterway for living up to the fish stories I’ve been telling Julie for the last couple of years. And now she has a few of her own. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

This week’s update features a late spring South Carolina bass that I was unable to add to the previous update and our first summer bass of the year. Read on for the details on a pair of bass, one spotted, and one largemouth.

Spotted Bass
Weight: 1-13 (16”)
Angler: John Kirkemo
Date: June 11
Weather: Setting sun with some clouds
Water Temp: 85F
Location: Lake Hartwell, SC near Coneross Corps of Engineers Campground
Lure: Shallow running silver and black Rapala
Angler Comments: This fish was caught while trolling at 1.6-1.7 mph along the shoreline in nine feet of water.
Top 5 Weight: 10-9 (2-8,2-7,2-0,1-13,1-13)

Weight: 2-8
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: June 23
Weather: Partly cloudy/calm
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: Spro Flappin Frog 65 (albino)
Structure: Weed bed/sticks
Angler Comments: The Whopper Plopper bite had been good, but I was concerned that the disappearing cloud cover would end the bite. Therefore, I opted to go after some “shady bass” in a weed mat under cover of some trees. I was rewarded on the very first cast after shifting gears with what would be my Top Bass of this outing.
Top 5 Weight: 13-6 (3-0,2-12,2-9,2-9,2-8) culls a 2-6

This week’s submissions bring our 2024 bass total to fifty-one fish. The annual goal is to see if we can hit one hundred bass entries for the year. Well, we are halfway there in terms of numbers and halfway there in terms of the calendar. I hope to get another member or two of our household on board as we head through summer and anyone else out there is welcome to join as well. Just send pictures and details of your catches to Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

This week’s update features a new angler for 2024 although she has been involved in the past. My wife, Julie, and I tackled The Canal on a Friday date night a few days after I had taken a shot in an adjacent area. These two spots were not high on the list in terms of quality fish, but our latest trips proved to be a bit of an eye-opener. Read on for the details on our half dozen catches.

Weight: 2-10 (18”)
Angler: Julia Jackson
Date: June 14
Weather: Sunny/breezy
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: Whopper Plopper #110 (bone)

Weight: 1-10 (16”)
Angler: Julia Jackson
Date: June 14
Weather: Sunny/breezy
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: Whopper Plopper #110 (bone)

Weight: 1-10 (14.5”)
Angler: Julia Jackson
Date: June 14
Weather: Sunny/breezy
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: Whopper Plopper #110 (bone)

Weight: 1-8 (15”)
Angler: Julia Jackson
Date: June 14
Weather: Sunny/breezy
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: Whopper Plopper #110 (bone)

Weight: 1-6 (14.5)
Angler: Julia Jackson
Date: June 14
Weather: Sunny/breezy
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: Whopper Plopper #110 (bone)
Top 5 Weight: 8-12 (2-10,1-10,1-10,1-8,1-6)

Weight: 2-9 (17”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: June 11
Weather: Sunny/breezy
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad)
Angler Comments:
Top 5 Weight: 13-4 (3-0,2-12,2-9,2-9,2-6) culls a 2-1

Well done by Julie as anytime you wind up within one more quality bite of a ten-pound limit on an outing is a winner. And we only fished for two hours. Fun to have another participant on board and hope she can cull a few of those on her way to double digits. Stay tuned for the full report from our outing later this week. Talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report – June 11

I enjoy this time of year as the longer days allow me to work in a few hours of fishing after the typical workday ends around 5:00pm. And twelve days was long enough between trips so off to The Canal I went.

7:44pm – Top Bass at 2-9 (17″) on a buzzbait

Date: June 11
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 6:05pm-8:35pm
Totals: 17 bass
Weather: Partly cloudy to sunny/breezy, 80F
Lures: Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 15 bass, 5” Yamamoto Senko wacky rig (pumpkin black flake) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 2-9 (Buzzbait)
Top 5 Weight: 8-4 (2-9,1-8,1-8,1-6,1-5)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

The Plan – I was lukewarm on my intended destination as two previous visits hadn’t produced much to brag about. In fact, my Top 5 sat at a mere 5-5 (1-3,1-1,1-1,1-0,1-0), barely over one pound per bass. That was part of my goal; to give that Top 5 a boost. In addition, the water levels in this area looked to be higher than previous years, which was to my liking. Higher water on The Canal may only amount to half a foot but it brings new cover into play and makes existing cover more appealing. And it is always fun to visit a body of water under varied conditions to see what you can learn.

Plan B – So, with all that said regarding my initial plan, I never made a single cast at my intended destination. I spotted another angler in the area and as there is not much of a “passing lane” on The Canal, I opted to fish in the other direction instead. Like the intended stretch, this area also had much room for improvement with a Top 5 of only 6-8 (1-6,1-6,1-6,1-3,1-3) from three prior visits.

Top Bass Runner Up clip below


Close But No Cigar – Seventeen bass in a two-and-a-half-hour trip is a definite winner, especially after a slow start of only three bass in the first hour on the water. I also shattered the Top Bass mark for the pool with the 2-9 more than doubling the previous record of 1-3. However, I still fell short of the boost needed to push my all-time Top 5 for the pool to the ten-pound mark. The Top 5 mark now stands at 8-5 (2-9,1-8,1-8,1-6,1-6). Which means that I need a return trip. That prospect became more encouraging as the results of this trip were much better than the prior visits. By the way, did you know that the phrase “close but no cigar” is said to have originated on the carnival midway? Apparently, cigars were once given as prizes and if a patron fell short on a game, well, there you go.


This impromptu outing on a low-ranking stretch of The Canal turned out to be an eye opener with a dozen “keepers” and a new Top Bass for the spot. It just goes to show that my previous struggles to find a good bite on this stretch don’t mean that they aren’t there. More like it simply wasn’t my day. I took this lesson and put it to work on the next visit as I hit the area I originally intended to fish on this outing. And I had a special guest angler along for the row. Stay tuned for that report as well as a Top 5 Update to begin next week. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Stats

Back with another look at the numbers as we head towards the mid-point of another Top 5 year.

Bass Totals (largemouth and spotted)

2024 Totals
March = 15 bass
April = 16 bass
May = 11 bass

Top 5 Weight by Month
March = 18-3 (4-6,3-14,3-10,3-4,3-1)
April = 11-0 (2-8,2-7,2-4,2-0,1-13)
May = 14-15 (3-6,3-4,3-0,2-12,2-9)

Boat vs. Bank
Boat = 25 bass
Bank = 17 bass

Boat vs. Bank Weight
Boat = 14-5 (3-4,3-4,2-12,2-9,2-8)
Bank = 17-5 (4-6,3-14,3-10,3-1,2-6)

Public vs. Private
Public = 42 bass
Private = 0 bass

Public vs. Private Top 5 Weight
Public = 18-8 (4-6,3-14,3-10,3-6,3-4)
Private = no submissions

The Baits
Jerkbait = 15 bass (Top Bass 2-8 John Kirkemo)
Chatterbait = 10 bass (Top Bass 4-6 Jim Junk)
Plastic Worm = 5 bass (Top Bass 3-4 Brent Jackson)
Lipless Crankbait = 4 bass (Top Bass 2-6 Jim Junk)
Popper = 3 bass (Top Bass 3-6 Brent Jackson)
Spinnerbait = 2 bass (Top Bass 3-0 Troy Jackson)
Buzzbait = 1 bass (Top Bass 2-9 Troy Jackson)
Crankbait = 1 bass (Top Bass 1-11 Troy Jackson)
Frog = 1 bass (Top Bass 2-1 Troy Jackson)

Monthly Top Bass
4-6 Jim Junk
2-8 John Kirkemo
3-6 Brent Jackson

2024 Top 10 Bass
4-6 Jim Junk 3/3
3-14 Jim Junk 3/18
3-10 Jim Junk 3/3
3-6 Brent Jackson 5/4
3-4 Jayce Jackson 3/31
3-4 Brent Jackson 5/5
3-1 Jim Junk 3/17
3-0 Troy Jackson 5/4
2-12 Troy Jackson 5/8
2-9 Troy Jackson 5/19

Angler Weights
Jim Junk 17-5 (4-6,3-14,3-10,3-1,2-6)
Brent Jackson 13-6 (3-6,3-4,2-7,2-4,2-1)
Troy Jackson 12-12 (3-0,2-12,2-9,2-6,2-1)
John Kirkemo 10-7 (2-8,2-7,2-0,1-13,1-11)
Jayce Jackson 3-4 (3-4)

Other Species

Troy Jackson 3-13 (3-13)

Channel Catfish
John Kirkemo 2-3 (2-3)

John Kirkemo 28” (28”)

Striped Bass
John Kirkemo 6-11 (3-5,2-6,1-0)

Trout (brown and rainbow)
John Kirkemo 24” (12”, 12”)

Just five of us in the Top 5 this year but anyone else is welcome to join and perhaps I can see about putting a few more family members on some fish this summer. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report – May 31

I took a day off work last Friday to continue my quest to hit a double-digit Top 5 on each stretch of The Canal from Colona to Sheffield. The area I chose sat at a Top 5 Weight of 9-14, so all I needed was a catch to give me a two-ounce boost. While I did not get that bite, I did catch a fair amount of bass along with a first for a bonus species. Read on for the results.

10:59am – Top Bass at 1-5 (14″) on a Senko

Date: May 31
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 7:00am-11:30am
Totals: 10 bass, 1 bowfin
Weather: Sunny/breezy, 57-75F
Lures: 5” Yamamoto Senko (pumpkin black flake) – 6 bass, 3.75” Strike King Rage Tail Swimmer (pro blue/red pearl) with 3/8 oz. belly hook – 3 bass, Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 1 bass, 5” Yamamoto Senko (blue pearl/silver flake) – 1 bowfin,
Top Bass: 1-5 (Senko)
Top 4 Weight (only 4 at 12” or better): 4-1 (1-5,1-2,0-13,0-13)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

Senko Success – The Senko wacky rig is arguably my best presentation of all-time, but my use is limited on The Canal as I tend to rely on other lures. The shallow waters of The Canal let me get by with a collection of power presentations and the clarity of much of the water isn’t top notch for the wacky rig. However, it can still get the job done as it saved the day on this outing with half a dozen bass in the last hour and a half on the water.

7:33am- First ever bowfin at 3-13 (23″) on a Senko

Bonus Bowfin – As noted above, the Senko wacky rig was a winner. And not only on bass as it also landed my first ever bowfin. I have wanted to add this species to my list for many years but had come up empty on my two previous hookups. My first encounter was a dozen years ago at the Emiquon Preserve when one threw my spinnerbait at boatside. Just last year, I lost a second one within reach on The Canal when it broke my line after hooking up on a Senko. Luck was on my side on this outing and that’s what it boils down to as the catch was an “accident” while bass fishing.

Species List – The Canal is a wild waterway as there are stretches that harbor a crazy collection of species. On this outing, I landed only two different species (largemouth bass and bowfin) but had a third hooked (green sunfish). However, I also observed several other species over the course of the morning consisting of bluegill, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, common carp, shad, an additional bowfin, and a large freshwater drum. Earlier this week, I saw a social media post with an angler landing a white bass/striper, and two years ago, I landed a sauger. Farther to the east, I have also seen posts of paddlefish and buffalo. Of course, there are also crappie, flathead catfish, and I suspect a couple other panfish species along the way. Suffice to say, The Canal is a unique manmade fishing hole, and I am happy that I chose to start exploring back in 2021.


While I was seeking a 1-11 to knock out a 1-9 and get me to a double-digit Top 5 on this stretch, the best bass I could muster was a 1-5. No help to my quest but adding more bass to my yearly total and a bonus bowfin all made for a successful trip (and better than working, right?). So, at some point I will be back. June starts as a busy month on the family side of things so fishing will take its rightful place a ways down the priority list. But stay tuned as the Top 5 quest will continue along with a few other ideas over the summer. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Quality bass bites to boost any of our anglers’ totals have been hard to come by in the last couple of weeks. However, when you are out there chasing bass on the Hennepin Canal, you never know what might take a liking to your lure. Hence, we added another species to the Top 5 project this week.

Species: Bowfin
Weight: 3-13 (23”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: May 31
Weather: Sunny/breezy, 60F
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: 5” Yamamoto Senko (blue pearl/silver flake)
Angler Comments: In what I call a bass fishing “accident”, I landed my first ever bowfin. Over the years, I have had a couple others hooked but they managed to get away. An exciting and hard fighting fish that I would welcome on the end of the line any day.
Top 5 Weight: 3-13 (3-13)

This fun, prehistoric catch was a welcome addition to the Top 5. For some reason, the bowfin (also called a “dogfish”) has gained a bad rap over the years as a rough/trash fish. I beg to differ as it is a native species whose ancestors appeared on the scene around 250 million years ago and the hardy bowfin may just outlast us anglers if left to do its thing. Talk to you later. Troy