Month: July 2024

Hennepin Canal Report – July 6

As I was not having much success close to home, I decided to take the show a bit further down the road. The stretch that I selected runs over a mile and a half in length between tubes, and I had only covered roughly a third of the water during one prior visit. The Top 5 quest continued as this spot lacked a couple quality bites of hitting the ten-pound mark. Read on for the results.

8:54am – Top Bass at 1-5 (15″) on a frog

Stats
Date: July 6
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 6:05am-11:35am
Totals: 11 bass
Weather: Partly cloudy/breezy, 61-77F
Lures: 6” Zoom Ultra Vibe Speed Worm (white pearl or junebug) – 8 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 2 bass, Spro Flappin Frog 65 (albino) – 1 bass
Top 2 Weight (only 2 bass at 12” or better): 2-9 (1-5,1-4)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

Top 5 Update – I launched in search of a near three-pound boost in my Top 5 as the mark for this stretch stood at 7-2 (1-12,1-7,1-6,1-5,1-4). Well, I left disappointed as I only fooled two small “keepers” among the eleven bass that I reeled in. At the end of the day, I boosted my Top 5 on the pool by an entire ounce so there’s still plenty of work to do to reach my goal.

A swimming worm was a new trick that racked up some bass and some casualties in the process

New Presentation – For some reason, a solid June topwater bite has completely dried up in the last two weeks. I was on the water shortly after sunrise on this trip when the topwater bite should shine but I could not raise a single fish on a Whopper Plopper, buzzbait, or frog during the lowlight window before the sun cleared the tree line. This prompted me to try a new presentation that a fellow angler had mentioned to me while conversing on the water in late June. The swimming worm offering saved the day in landing eight of my eleven bass. Positive feedback but lacking in quality as none of those eight bass made the 12” mark.

10:56am – Top Bass Runner Up at 1-4 (14″) on a lipless crankbait 

Talking Trash – While on the water, I was occasionally checking a local fishing forum on social media. I was lamenting the lack of a topwater bite on recent outings and found that others were in the same boat. The strange thing was that amid badmouthing the Canal bass, I landed my Top Bass of the day (only 1-5) on a Spro frog in less-than-ideal bright sunny conditions. I was hoping that my trash talk would get a few more fired up but not so lucky as I never had another topwater strike.

Another tough day on the water and while I saw three other boats, they all went in the opposite direction from my choice. I did not get an opportunity to speak with any of the anglers, so I have no clue on their results. Regardless, I stick by my choice as many firsthand hours and secondhand reports on The Canal have convinced me that the bass are there no matter which direction I turn. Some days I win, some days I come up short and I was back the following day in the direction that those other boats headed in search of some answers. Stay tuned for that report and talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report – July 5

I took a vacation day from work to give me a four-day Fourth of July weekend. The plan was to spend three of those mornings (July 5, 6, 7) chasing bass. Morning number one left me wondering if I should have saved my vacation day. But, as the saying goes, “Any day fishing is better than a day working.” Even if you can only muster one bite. And I wasn’t alone in experiencing a tough bite.

Stats
Date: July 5
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 6:15am-9:15am, 9:30am-9:45am
Totals: 1 bass
Weather: Partly cloudy/calm 65-72F
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (pumpkin/black flake) – 1 bass
Top 1 Weight (only 1 bass at 12” or better): 2-6 (2-6)

Winning Lure

Notes and Nonsense

Mission Impossible – I launched alongside three kayak anglers and two more were spotted on the water later. I took a right turn and headed west, the two late arriving kayaks did the same, and the three early kayaks headed east. Two and a half hours later, we crossed paths or met at the ramp to discuss our efforts. I must admit that I was a bit embarrassed in having to report that I had not caught a single bass. Much to my surprise, neither had any of the other anglers. Granted, some days are better on The Canal than others but the odds that six anglers would not fool a single bass are astronomical. Seriously, if I were a betting man, I would wager that we could fish every day until October and never again get shutout as a group. Oh yeah, I also told one of the guys that while I felt bad that he did not catch a fish, it also made me feel better. Is that wrong?

Hail Mary Cast – Discouraged by my lack of success, I almost called it a day and just headed home. However, my route took me past a lock that I don’t fish much, and I figured the bite couldn’t be any worse. The decision proved to be a winner as I nabbed a bass on a wacky rigged Senko after about a half dozen casts. And it wasn’t a bad fish, weighing in at 2-6.

9:35am – Lone bass of the morning at 2-6 (17.5″) on a Senko wacky rig

Another Canal Oddity – From the “you never know what you will see on The Canal” file, I had a timely encounter shortly after landing my lone bass. As I walked along the lock on the way back to my truck, a familiar face from my old hometown of Galesburg exited a vehicle and headed my way. An old friend and former supervisor from another place and time was out for a hike with his wife and the timing was just right to cross paths for the first time in years. I enjoyed the conversation and catching up and later considered just how weird it is when things work out in such a manner. If I hadn’t taken a vacation day, I would have been at work. If the bass had been biting on my original stop, I would have stuck around longer and had no reason to stop at the second spot. If I hadn’t opted to take one more shot at a few casts on the heels of the frustrating morning, I would never have been at the lock. So on, and so forth in pondering how it was that we ended up in the same place.

While the Fourth of July weekend fishing plan was off and running, the launch left much to be desired. But tomorrow is a new day and I was up and on the water at sunrise for another shot. Stay tuned for that report and talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report – July 3

I ended my workday Wednesday looking at a four-day weekend courtesy of the Fourth of July holiday on Thursday and a vacation day on Friday. What better way to kick off a break from work than with a quick trip to The Canal.

8:18pm – First bass at 1-1 (13″) on a frog

Stats
Date: July 3
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 7:25pm-8:55pm
Totals: 3 bass
Weather: Partly cloudy/calm 80-76F
Lures: Whopper Plopper 110 (bone) – 2 bass, Spro Flappin Frog 65 (albino) – 1 bass
Top 3 Weight (only 3 bass at 12” or better): 3-6 (1-4,1-1,1-1)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

Choices – The Canal is an interesting place as it is a linear collection of relatively narrow fishing holes connected or separated by tubes, locks, berms, and siphons. As such, anytime that I have a couple evening hours to get away, I am faced with the dilemma of selecting a spot from about a dozen options within twenty minutes of home. On this occasion, I chose a spot that I don’t fish often for a bike and hike adventure.

8:46pm – Second bass at 1-1 (13″) on a Whopper Plopper

Goals – My Top 5 on this stretch was not even a Top 5, only a Top 2. Those two “keepers” consisted of a 2-13 on July 2, 2021, and an 0-14 on May 20, 2023. Thus, goal number one was to fool three more keepers to establish an initial Top 5. Mission accomplished as I landed three bass, and each met or exceeded twelve inches to qualify. Goal number two was to hit the ten-pound mark in my quest for a double-digit Top 5 in every pool from Colona to the Feeder Basin. I did make progress on that goal but still have a ways to go with the current Top 5 for the pool sitting at 7-1.

8:54am – Third bass at 1-4 (14″) on a Whopper Plopper

Short and sweet for today’s report and a successful quick hit on The Canal. The water level has been manipulated over the last two years on this stretch to such an extent that I was concerned about winter kill. Apparently, there are decent bass that weathered the storm, and the water has returned to normal pool. I’ll be back and I hope to encounter the bites that will push me to the ten-pound mark. Word has it that the pool used to hold plenty of quality bass. Time will tell. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Our first submissions for July consist of a quality bass a new species.

Weight: 2-15
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: July 6
Location: Knox County public strip pit
Lure: Scum frog (natural green & yellow)
Editor’s Comments: Brent reported that he was on the water for about two and a half hours and landed ten bass. The above fish was his Top Bass and his Top 5 for the trip tipped the scales at 8-1.
Top 5 Weight: 15-12 (3-12,3-6,3-4,2-15,2-7) culls 2-7

Species: Freshwater Drum
Weight: 2-10 (19.5”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: July 7
Weather: Overcast/breezy, 75F
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad)
Angler Comments: For a brief time, I thought that I finally had my first four-pound bass on The Canal but not quite. No matter, a worthy fight, and a new species for the Top 5.
Top 5 Weight: 2-10 (2-10)

Good to see Brent getting a summer strip mine bite and always a treat when they are hitting topwater baits. As far as The Canal entry, the drum was a rewarding catch as bites have been hard to come by when chasing bass. The Canal is an interesting place with several reports from recent trips in the works. Talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report – June 29

The Top 5 Canal Quest was back in action on a stretch that I had only fished one time back on May 8 of this year. That outing was a tough day as I came up two bass shy of a Top 5 for the pool with three keepers weighing in at 4-0 total. Read on to see of I could avoid a shutout, catch at least two keepers, and ideally boost my Top 5 weight to double digits on this trip.

Stats
Date: June 29
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 5:45am-9:15am
Totals: 3 bass
Weather: Partly cloudy to sunny/breezy 75F
Lures: Whopper Plopper 110 (bone) – 3 bass
Top 2 Weight (only 2 bass at 12” or better): 5-9 (3-0,2-9)

6:01am – First bass of the morning was Top Bass at 3-0 (18.5″), catch video below

 

Notes and Nonsense

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad (Part I) – Just over forty minutes into the trip, I had two good bass in the log with a 3-0 at 6:01am and a 2-9 at 6:27am, both on the Whopper Plopper. In the roughly three hours that followed, I caught a lone short bass, also on the Whopper Plopper. Disappointing to say the least, but if I am only going to muster three bites, it is good when two are quality fish.

Tried ’em all but only the Whopper Plopper (lower right) was a winner

Kitchen Sink Approach – My lack of bites wasn’t for a lack of adjustments to find a winner. When reviewing my morning post trip, I determined that ten different lures hit the water, covering the water column top to bottom. When I say top to bottom, that encompasses about four feet maximum on this stretch of The Canal. My “depthfinder” is one of my oars and I have yet to find a spot where I don’t hit bottom before I run out of oar. Anyway, only one of the ten lures resulted in any bites. That’s a rough day.

New Trick? – As I wrapped up my morning, I crossed paths with another angler with whom I had briefly chatted earlier. When we spoke around 7:00am, I had my two quality bass in the log and was feeling confident about my prospects for a banner day. Fast forward to 9:00am and I was scratching my head after only landing one more short fish. I spied what he was using but incorrectly assessed his presentation. He gave me the scoop and I went shopping online with one of my ancient gift cards when I got home. Stay tuned for the reveal and the results in an upcoming report as I have already put the presentation to use.

6:27am – Top Bass Runner-Up at 2-9 (18″), catch video below

 

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad (Part II) – As noted in the introduction, my aim in visiting this stretch was threefold: don’t get shutout, land two keepers to complete a Top 5 for the pool, and then find enough weight to push that Top 5 into double digits. I had met the first two goals in no time but the third eluded me as the boost to my initial Top 5 of 4-0 still comes up short at 9-9.

All I needed was one more decent bite. But that’s kind of how fishing works, always looking for that “one more bite.” Talk to you later. Troy

Hennepin Canal Report – June 23

Some recent evening success on a stretch that I had neglected in 2023, had me interested in checking out the lowlight morning bite as well. I was not disappointed as the bass were all revved up for a topwater bite.

8:08am – Top Bass Runner-Up at 2-2 (17″) on a Whopper Plopper

Stats
Date: June 23
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 6:40am-10:10am
Totals: 14 bass
Weather: Partly cloudy to sunny/breezy 75F
Lures: Whopper Plopper 110 (bone) – 13 bass, Spro Flappin Frog 65 (albino) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-8 (Frog)
Top 5 Weight: 10-2 (2-8,2-2,1-15,1-13,1-12)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

Top 5 Decision – My ongoing commitment to establish a double-digit Top 5 on each stretch of The Canal played a primary role in choosing my destination. Pre-2024, my Top 5 of 5-5 on this stretch needed a boost and an earlier outing with Julie was an eye opener as she landed her own Top 5 tipping the scales at 8-12. I also made a rain-soaked visit on June 19 and boosted my Top 5 to 7-7 so I still lacked a couple quality bites to reach my goal.

9:26am – Top Bass at 2-8 (17″) on a Spro frog

Top 5 Update – I had quite a morning as I landed a double-digit Top 5 on this trip alone. My five best bass topped any of my previous Top 5 catches so the mark for this pool now stands at 10-2. As an added bonus, every bass on this outing was a “keeper” (12″ or better and all released).

Catch chronology, just short of 9:30am the bite completely dried up with no bass in the last forty minutes

Record Results – Prior to this year, the Top Bass for this pool was a less than impressive 1-3 after three visits (two in 2022 and one in 2023). During four visits this year, Julie and I have landed twenty-three bass exceeding that 1-3 mark. On one hand, the pool is connected via tubes to water with quality fish so it makes sense that these fish should be able to move freely between pools. On the other hand, it has been like night and day this year compared to previous years. My best guess for the positive change is an influx of water that has raised the level of the pool. In prior years, the bottom could be seen on nearly the entire stretch. This year, the level appears to be up 8-12” which is a significant amount considering much of the area was maybe three feet deep maximum during my previous visits.

 

So, mark another pool off the list as I have achieved my goal of a double-digit Top 5. That doesn’t mean that I won’t be back though as The Canal changes from year to year and if a spot is hot, you take advantage. And that aspect leads to a lesson to remember about The Canal. Refrain from first, second, or even third impressions as there are surprises all along those miles of water. Talk to you later. Troy

Hennepn Canal Report – June 22

For this outing, I was able to complete full exploration on a lengthy stretch of water that I had only partially covered on a previous visit. In the process, I was able to complete a Top 5 for the pool as I previously had just two keepers for a 2-13 weight. Following this trip, my Top 5 Weight for the stretch stands at 7-15. Read on for some notes on the trip as well as some general observations and stats from The Canal.

6:09am – First bass at 1-12 (16″) on a buzzbait

Stats
Date: June 22
Location: Hennepin Canal
Time: 6:00am-12:00pm
Totals: 13 bass
Weather: Partly cloudy to sunny/windy 73-88F
Lures: Strike King Red Eye Shad (red craw or sexy shad) – 6 bass, Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 3 bass, 7” Berkley Power Bait Power Worm (blue fleck/firetail) – 2 bass, Spro Flappin Frog 65 (albino) – 1 bass, War Eagle Spinnerbait (chartreuse/white) with Bass Pro Shops Twin Tail trailer (Houdini) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-15 (Red Eye Shad)
Top 5 Weight: 7-1 (1-15,1-12,1-7,1-0,0-15)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

Row, Row, Row, Your Boat – I looked at the map when I got home just to get a feel for how far I traveled on this outing. For this trip, I selected a pool with the intent of covering the entire distance from a tube on one end to a lock on the other end. Turns out there was roughly nine thousand feet. Now multiply that by two as when I row out from my launch point, I also need to row back. Converting the footage equates to right around 3.4 miles. Good exercise whether my quarry is cooperative or not.

8:54am – Top Bass at 1-15 (17″) on a lipless crankbait

Gently Down the Stream – The Canal does have current and the pools west of the feeder junction near Sheffield all flow to the Rock River in Colona. Depending on which end of a pool I launch, I either get help on the row out or on the row back. In this instance, I was working against the current as I fished my way east to start the morning. Therefore, I had some help from the flow on the way back to my truck. If I had my druthers, this is the best way to approach a trip but the choice on many stretches is typically based on launch accessibility. Now, I can make a launch most anywhere if I want to work hard enough. But I opt for easier access this time of the year largely due to poison ivy taking over areas that were clear in the spring.

Been a while since I collected anything from the “Lost and Found” on The Canal

Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily – I caught my first bass on the Hennepin Canal on June 5, 2021, so this trip marks just over three years of fishing the waterway. I’ve really grown to enjoy my time rowing, walking, and biking along the miles in those three years. For me, each section represents a different, long, narrow lake. Some stretches are more well-travelled by other anglers, hikers, and bikers depending on proximity to towns and parking areas. On some stretches, I may not see or hear another person the entire time that I am on the water. Such peace and quiet is a welcome break from busy days. Oh, and by the way, with thirteen bass landed on this trip, my all-time Hennepin Canal bass total stands at seven hundred and eighteen.

Life is But a Dream – With thirteen bass landed on this trip, my all-time Hennepin Canal bass total stands at seven hundred and eighteen. As a stat guy, I am always dreaming of new targets as I pore over the data. I’ve still got a ways to go but I now have my sights set on the one thousand bass mark from The Canal. I have no predictions on when I may reach that goal, but I intend to keep on casting when the opportunity arises. Hopefully some of those two hundred and eighty bass that I am seeking live in the “uncharted” sections of The Canal that are part of the dream to cover every mile from Colona to the Feeder Basin.

 

A bit of a departure from most reports and I didn’t really cover the baits and bites in the above notes. A quick recap of those aspects was running through my tackle bag as it took some work to fool thirteen bass on six different lures. Always learning out there and stay tuned for two more reports as my on the water education continues. Talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Stats

We hit the midway point of the year with a total of fifty-four bass submitted along with a handful of other species. Read on for a closer look at the numbers.

Bass Totals (largemouth and spotted)

2024 Totals
March = 15 bass
April = 16 bass
May = 11 bass
June = 12 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)
June = 14-7 (3-12,3-0,2-10,2-9,2-8)

Boat vs. Bank
Boat = 37 bass
Bank = 17 bass

Boat vs. Bank Weight
Boat = 16-0 (3-12,3-4,3-4,3-0,2-12)
Bank = 17-5 (4-6,3-14,3-10,3-1,2-6)

Public vs. Private
Public = 54 bass
Private = 0 bass

Public vs. Private Top 5 Weight
Public = 19-0 (4-6,3-14,3-12,3-10,3-6)
Private = no submissions

The Baits
Jerkbait = 17 bass (Top Bass 2-8 John Kirkemo)
Chatterbait = 10 bass (Top Bass 4-6 Jim Junk)
Propbait = 6 bass (Top Bass 3-0 Troy Jackson)
Plastic Worm = 5 bass (Top Bass 3-4 Brent Jackson)
Popper = 5 bass (Top Bass 3-12 Brent Jackson)
Lipless Crankbait = 4 bass (Top Bass 2-6 Jim Junk)
Buzzbait = 2 bass (Top Bass 2-9 Troy Jackson)
Frog = 2 bass (Top Bass 2-8 Troy Jackson)
Spinnerbait = 2 bass (Top Bass 3-0 Troy Jackson)
Crankbait = 1 bass (Top Bass 1-11 Troy Jackson)

Monthly Top Bass
March
4-6 Jim Junk
April
2-8 John Kirkemo
May
3-6 Brent Jackson
June
3-12 Brent Jackson

2024 Top 10 Bass
4-6 Jim Junk 3/3
3-14 Jim Junk 3/18
3-12 Brent Jackson 6/27
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
3-0 Troy Jackson 6/29

Angler Weights
Jim Junk 17-5 (4-6,3-14,3-10,3-1,2-6)
Brent Jackson 15-4 (3-12,3-6,3-4,2-7,2-7)
Troy Jackson 13-14 (3-0,3-0,2-12,2-9,2-9)
John Kirkemo 10-9 (2-8,2-7,2-0,1-13,1-13)
Julia Jackson 8-12 (2-10,1-10,1-10,1-8,1-6)
Jayce Jackson 3-4 (3-4)

Other Species

Bowfin
Troy Jackson 3-13 (3-13)

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

Gar
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”)

A solid June with a dozen bass added to the project. At fifty-four bass thus far, we are just over halfway to the annual target of one hundred bass for the year. However, we need to pick up the pace as the latter half of the year is typically leaner on submissions with most anglers already establishing an initial Top 5. Of course, there’s always room for others to join the quest. Good luck as we continue into the dog days of summer and talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Three more bass give a couple of Jackson brothers a summer boost for their respective Top 5 weights.

Weight: 3-12
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: June 27
Location: Knox County public strip pit
Lure: Mann’s Chug-N-Spit (black/chrome belly)

Weight: 2-7
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: June 27
Location: Knox County public strip pit
Lure: Mann’s Chug-N-Spit (black/chrome belly)
Top 5 Weight: 15-4 (3-12,3-6,3-4,2-7,2-7) culls 2-4 and 2-1

Weight: 3-0 (18.5”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: June 29
Weather: Overcast/calm
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: Whopper Plopper 100 (bone)
Structure: Submerged brush
Angler Comments: Tough to beat having your first bite of the morning tip the scales at three pounds.
Top 5 Weight: 13-14 (3-0,3-0,2-12,2-9,2-9) culls 2-8

Folks, topwater time is in full swing. Get up early or stay out late to improve your shot at some exciting strikes. The monthly Top 5 stat update is in the works as well as a few more fishing reports so stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy