Category: Fishing Reports

Prowl the Canal – May Stats

As I near the one-year mark of fishing The Canal, I grow more appreciative of what is has to offer. Proximity is key as I can be on any of the spots that I fished within a half hour after I get off work around 5:00pm and still have ample time to cast. Throw in an activity free holiday weekend to end the month and I was able to find plenty of time to prowl. Read on for the stats portion of the monthly recap.

Stats

May 1 Top Bass at 9:54am weighing 1-6 on a spinnerbait

Date: May 1
Time: 7:40am-10:40am
Totals: 10 bass
Weather: Overcast/windy with 48F air temp
Lures: Special K Spinnerbait (bold bluegill) with Zoom Creepy Crawler Twin Tail (rootbeer pepper green) – 10 bass
Top Bass: 1-6 Spinnerbait
Top 5 Weight (only 4 at 12” or better): 4-15 (1-6,1-,3,1-3,1-3)
Comments: New water on a nasty day still produced some fish on a morning where I nearly needed gloves on May Day. And yes, there was a strong east wind. Is it proper to estimate windchill in May?

May 8 Top Bass at 7:34am weighing 2-11 on a buzzbait

Date: May 8
Time: 6:35am-9:50am
Totals: 9 bass
Weather: Overcast/breezy with 56F air temp
Lures: Special K Spinnerbait (bold bluegill) with Zoom Creepy Crawler Twin Tail (rootbeer pepper green) – 6 bass, Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 2 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- Crankbait (red craw) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-11 Buzzbait
Top 5 Weight (only 4 at 12” or better): 5-15 (2-11,1-4,1-2,0-14)
Comments: Revisiting a spot that produced a pair of three-pounders in April got another good one and kicked of the 2022 topwater bite.

May 24 Top Bass at 6:57pm weighing 2-2 on a buzzbait

Date: May 24
Time: 5:50pm-8:05pm
Totals: 11 bass
Weather: Overcast/very windy with 66-69F air temp
Lures: Special K Buzzbait – 7 bass, Special K Spinnerbait (bold bluegill) with Zoom Creepy Crawler Twin Tail (rootbeer pepper green) – 4 bass
Top Bass: 2-2 Buzzbait
Top 5 Weight: 7-3 (2-2,1-10,1-5,1-1,1-1)
Comments: Back with a buzzbait on the same spot as the May 8 outing and the bite did not disappoint. Always fun once the topwater bite kicks into gear.

May 27 Top Bass at 7:33pm weighing 2-12 on a buzzbait

Date: May 27
Time: 6:00pm-8:30pm
Totals: 10 bass
Weather: Partly cloudy/breezy with 60-64F air temp
Lures: Special K Spinnerbait (bold bluegill) with Zoom Creepy Crawler Twin Tail (rootbeer pepper green) – 7 bass, Bass Pro Shops Stik-O (candy corn) – 2 bass
Special K Buzzbait – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2- 12
Top 5 Weight: 9-9 (2-12,2-7,1-10,1-7,1-5)
Comments: A second visit of the year to this pool resulted in a pair of bass topping our previous Top Bass for the section (former Top Bass caught by Jayce on April 24 at 2-3).

May 28 Top Bass at 7:43am weighing 2-3 on a wacky rig

Date: May 28
Time: 6:00am-9:00am
Totals: 5 bass
Weather: Partly cloudy/calm to windy with 53-72F air temp
Lures: Special K Spinnerbait (bold bluegill) with Zoom Creepy Crawler Twin Tail (rootbeer pepper green) – 2 bass, Bass Pro Shops Stik-O (candy corn) – 1 bass
Special K Buzzbait – 1 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- Crankbait (red craw) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-3
Top 5 Weight (only 2 at 12” or better): 3-3 (2-3,1-0)
Comments: A favorite stretch and decent conditions did not pan out for the solid bite I was anticipating. Fortunately, a tried-and-true area produced a two-pounder on a wacky rig to save the day.

May 29 Top Bass at 7:26pm weighing 2-8 on a spinnerbait

Date: May 29 (two sections)
Time: 4:55pm-6:25pm, 6:30pm-7:15pm
Totals: 6 bass
Weather: Partly cloudy/very windy with 82F air temp
Lures: Special K Spinnerbait (bold bluegill) with Zoom Creepy Crawler Twin Tail (rootbeer pepper green) – 4 bass, Special K Buzzbait – 1 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- Crankbait (red craw) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-8 Spinnerbait
Top 5 Weight: 6-8 (2-8,1-9,1-4,1-3)
Comments: I wandered out to a pair of new pools and got immediate feedback with a catch on my second cast of the evening. The remaining two hours only produced five more fish, but I don’t think these stretches revealed their true colors and are worth another shot in the future.

May 30 Top Bass at 7:58am weighing 1-9 on a spinnerbait

Date: May 30
Time: 7:50am-11:05am
Totals: 6 bass, 1 sauger
Weather: Sunny/windy with 73-82F air temp
Lures: Special K Spinnerbait (bold bluegill) with Zoom Creepy Crawler Twin Tail (rootbeer pepper green) – 5 bass, Strike King KVD Rattling Squarebill Crankbait (sexy shad) – 1 bass, 1 sauger
Top Bass: 1-9 Spinnerbait
Top 5 Weight (only 3 at 12” or better): 3-15 (1-9,1-6,1-0)
Comments: Extended exploration on a pool that has produced well from the bank turned out to be a disappointment. However, I am blaming it on a later morning start than normal and blazing sun. On the plus side, I did learn some stuff and happened to hook my first ever sauger on The Canal.

 

May Totals
Time: 20 hours
Totals: 57 bass, 1 sauger
Lures: Spinnerbait (bold bluegill) – 38 bass, Special K Buzzbait – 12 bass, Bass Pro Shops Stik-O (candy corn) – 3 bass, Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (red craw) – 3 bass, Strike King KVD Rattling Squarebill (sexy shad) – 1 bass, 1 sauger
Top Bass: 2-12 Spinnerbait on May 27
Top 5 Weight: 12-9 (2-12,2-11,2-8,2-7,2-3)

RECORD BOOK UPDATE – NO NEW RECORDS ESTABLISHED
Hennepin Canal (2021-present)
Top Bass: 3-6 Troy Jackson 7/21/21 Plastic Worm
Best Top 5 Day: 10-8 (3-5,3-2,1-9,1-6,1-2) 4/23/22
All-Time Top 5 Weight: 16-2 (3-6,3-5,3-4,3-2,3-1)
Comments: It now takes a bass over the three-pound mark to enter the all-time Top 5 list.

A lot of stuff to digest there as I was extremely fortunate to spend a decent amount of time on the water. Next up, we go beyond the numbers for some “Lessons” learned from the month of May. Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Report – May 15

Well, when you write fish stories as a hobby, every once in a while, you run into a report such as this submission. Getting right to the point, Brent and I had a rough day on Lake Storey a couple weekends ago.

6:01am – I said we’d better take a pic just in case we don’t catch any more. I was kind of joking.

Stats

Date: May 15, 2022
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Time: 5:55am-11:40am
Weather: Partly cloudy/calm to breezy
Air Temp: 71-73F
Water Temp: 76F
Totals: 2 bass
Lures: Special K Spinnerbait – 1 bass, War Eagle Spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) with twin tail trailer – 1 bass
Top Bass: None at 12” or better
Top 5 Weight: None at 12” or better

7:19am – even goofing around doesn’t really make my lone catch look any larger

Notes and Nonsense

Bad Timing – On Tuesday May 10, my friend, John Kirkemo, reported in from Lake Storey noting, “Lake is full. Lot of timber normally only partially submerged is now barely showing above the water. Water is about as clear as I have ever seen it. No weeds showing on the surface.” Those were definitely some encouraging words, but a nasty storm blew through on the evening of Friday the 13th and the lake was still a mess two days later. Tons of floating debris and dirty water dampened my spirits and had both the bass and this bass fisherman out of sorts. Mother Nature and Lake Storey conspired to make things tough. That’s fishing.

Clumps of debris from the oak trees were abundant after the recent storm

Mats of floating vegetation in the dingy water were also an unusual post-storm result

Theories (take your pick)

1. The storm and cold front knocked the bass for a loop.

2. The recent proliferation of shad in the lake are making for a tougher bite as the bass have an increased natural forage base.

3. We just aren’t that good of fishermen.

Winning lures, one bass apiece, and we threw plenty of other stuff without getting a strike

Really, there’s not a whole lot to report, not even “one that got away” as we landed the only two bites we got. No doubt it was good to avoid a shutout but neither bass was much to write home about. But fishing stories are what I do and long ago I guaranteed a fishing report for every trip, good or not so good. This outing was one of the latter and tested that vow. I suspect that we will cross paths with Lake Storey again in 2022 to see if we can show those bass who is boss. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – May 14

Getting word from my brother that a controlled burn had been implemented on a portion of our strip mine stomping grounds provided incentive to take a hike. My aim was to hit as many bodies of water as I could while they were more easily accessible. Along the way, I was hoping to add some fish to the record book for these waters. And I even stumbled upon a few bass on a couple spots I’d never fished.

Stats
Date: May 14, 2022
Location: Knox County, IL public strip pits (11 lakes)
Time: 5:45am-1:30pm (5.50 hours fishing, the rest waking)
Weather: Overcast to sunny/calm to breezy
Air Temp: 64-86F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 36 bass, 3 green sunfish, 1 crappie
Lures: 5” Senko wacky rig (blue pearl/silver flake) – 21 bass, 3 green sunfish, 1 crappie, Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 10 bass, Rebel Pop-R Zell Rowland Model (rainbow) – 3 bass, Googan Baits 10” Mondo Worm (green pumpkin) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 1-12 Pop-R
Top 5 Weight: 6-2 (1-12,1-3,1-3,1-0,1-0)

7:44am Top Bass at 1-12 on a Rebel Pop-R

Notes and Nonsense

Shifting Gears – After a solid start during a below average weather year on spinnerbaits and crankbaits, an uptick in conditions meant it was time to employ some other presentations. May means topwaters and the Senko wacky rig come into play and both approaches were right on the money, combining for 34 of 36 bass.

Rebel Pop-R and Senko, a pair of good baits for mid-May through the summer

Mondo Minis – There is one particular lake that produced a 4-6 back in 2014 and has hardly produced anything over a pound since. Numbers are good but no quality. In an effort to change things, I employed a 10” Googan Baits Mondo Worm in hopes that a larger worm would eliminate the smaller bites and perhaps land a “good one.” No such luck as those little bass were rather brave. The two I landed on the Mondo Worm were right about the same length as my lure at 10” and 11”. So much for a good plan.

 

11:56am – Mondo Worm bass that is barely longer than the lure

Record Book Update

10:27am – a new Record Book addition for Y Lake at 1-3 on a Senko wacky rig

Y Lake (2017-present)
Top Bass: 1-4 Troy Jackson 9/9/17 Plastic Worm
Best Top 5 Day: 1-4 (1-4) 9/9/17
All-Time Top 5 Weight: 2-6 (1-4,1-2)
UPDATE: added a 1-3 to boost our All-Time Top 5 Weight
NEW All-Time Top 5 Weight: 3-9 (1-4,1-3,1-2)

1:18pm – a new Record Book addition for Convoluted Lake at 1-0 on a Senko wacky rig

Convoluted Lake (2013-present)
Top Bass: 1-0 Troy Jackson 4/10/22 Chatterbait
Best Top 5 Day: 1-0 (1-0) 4/10/22
All-Time Top 5 Weight: 1-0 (1-0)
UPDATE: added 1-0 and 0-12 to our All-Time Top 5 Weight
NEW All-Tine Top 5 Weight: 2-12 (1-0,1-0,0-12)

11:17am – a new Record Book addition on Pound Lake at 1-0 on a Senko wacky rig

Pound Lake (2022)
Top Bass: 1-0 Troy Jackson 5/14/22 Plastic Worm
Best Top 5 Day: 3-12 (1-0,1-0,0-15,0-13) 5/14/22
All-Time Top 5 Weight: 3-12 (1-0,1-0,0-15,0-13)
UPDATE: new lake, first time ever fished

12:16pm – a new Record Book entry on Distant Lake at 0-15 on a Senko wacky rig

Distant Lake (2022)
Top Bass: 0-15 Troy Jackson 5/14/22
Best Top 5 Day: 0-15 (0-15) 5/14/22
All-Time Top 5 Weight: 0-15 (0-15)
UPDATE: new lake, first time ever fished

Nothing stellar but I accomplished my goal of fishing several neglected spots while the access was good. Walking was easy but that is not always the case as most years the grass is already getting wild by mid-May. I covered a lot of ground and even though I could certainly be in better shape, the body handled it pretty well. With that said, it is getting to the point where one of these years I’m going to start eliminating lakes due to a combination of walking distance and lack of quality bites. Several spots that I visited on this outing may be on that list. Then again, there’s that voice in my head stating, “You’ve been saying that for years.” Time will tell. Talk to you later. Troy

Prowl the Canal – April Stats

(NOTE: All trips described below were on sections from Colona to Geneseo, and all bass were released)

After a bit of a delay, the monthly “Prowl the Canal” feature is back for another year. And it looks like me and The Canal are going to see a lot more of each other in 2022. My first ever attempt to fish The Canal took place on June 5, 2021, and I was pleasantly surprised. Between that success and this administration’s fuel prices, more of my 2022 fishing will be closer to home.

The uptick in time on The Canal also means that the “Prowl” series debut for 2022 will be a two-part piece. First up, “Stats” with “Lessons” to follow.

April 15 at 5:30pm first bass from The Canal for 2022

Stats

Date: April 15, 2022
Time: 5:25pm-6:55pm
Totals: 3 bass
Weather: Overcast/breezy, temp 49-45F
Lures: Special K Spinnerbait (bold bluegill) with Zoom Creepy Crawler Twin Tail trailer (root beer pepper green) – 3 bass
Top Bass: no “keepers”
Top 5 Weight: no “keepers”
Comments: My initial prowl of 2022 was on foot, and I came armed with a new spinnerbait that was made by an old high school and Legion baseball teammate. It was a winner run parallel to shoreline riprap or brush.

April 23 at 8:00am – 2022 Top April Canal Bass 3-5 (18″) on a spinnerbait

April 23 at 7:07am – 2022 Top April Canal Bass #2 at 3-2 (18″) on a spinnerbait

Date: April 23, 2022
Time: 7:00am-9:45am
Totals: 10 bass
Weather: Sunny/breezy to windy, temp 64-72F
Lures: Special K Spinnerbait (bold bluegill) with Zoom Creepy Crawler Twin Tail trailer (root beer pepper green) – 9 bass, Strike King KVD Rattling Squarebill Crankbait (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 3-5 Spinnerbait
Top 5 Weight: 10-8 (3-5,3-2,1-9,1-6,1-2)
Comments: On the heels of my spinnerbait success on the first outing, I hit a new stretch of The Canal that was littered with wood. An ideal setup for a spinnerbait fan and the bass were right in the thick of the structure.

April 24 at 7:24am – 2022 Top April Canal Bass #3 at 2-12 (18″) on a crankbait

Date: April 24, 2022
Time: 7:20am-10:20am
Totals: 16 bass
Weather: Overcast/breezy, temp 60-59F
Lures: Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (red craw) – 13 bass, Spinnerbait (bold bluegill) with Zoom Creepy Crawler Twin Tail trailer (root beer pepper green) – 3 bass
Top Bass: 2-12
Top 5 Weight: 10-1 (2-12,2-5,2-4,1-8,1-4)
Comments: Different structure on a different stretch, with riprap taking top billing over wood, was a spot for a shallow crankbait to shine. The Mann’s Baby 1- dominated the haul in another textbook approach, cranking parallel to riprap shoreline and weed edges.

April 24 at 8:04am – 2022 Top April Canal Bass #4 at 2-5 (17.5″) on a crankbait

Date: April 29, 2022
Time: 5:40pm-7:55pm
Totals: 2 bass
Weather: Overcast/breezy, temp 64F
Lures: Whopper Plopper (I Know It) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 2-3
Top 5 Weight: 3-7 (2-3,1-4)
Comments: I brought my son, Jayce, along and was focused on finding him some bites with a one-two punch of the Mann’s Baby 1- and a Whopper Plopper. I’d seen several posts on social media of bass with the latter lure lodged in a lip and was optimistic that we might entice some topwater bites. Two decent bass were right on target and the Whopper Plopper has a new fan.

April 29 at 6:28pm – Jayce with a 2-3 on a Whopper Plopper that narrowly missed the April Canal Top 5

April Totals
Time: 9.50 hours
Totals: 41 bass (Troy 39 bass, Jayce – 2 bass)
Lures: Spinnerbait (bold bluegill) – 25 bass. Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (red craw) – 13 bass, Whopper Plopper (I Know It) – 2 bass, Strike King Rattling Squarebill crankbait (sexy shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 3-5 Spinnerbait on April 23
Top 5 Weight: 13-12 (3-5,3-2,2-12,2-5,2-4)

April 24 at 9:53am – 2022 Top April Canal Bass #5 at 2-4 (17.5″) on a crankbait

RECORD BOOK UPDATE
Hennepin Canal (2021-present)
Top Bass: 3-6 Troy Jackson 7/21/21 Plastic Worm
Best Top 5 Day (only 4 bass at 12” or better): 7-4 (3-6,2-10,2-0,1-4) 7/21/21
UPDATE BEST TOP 5 DAY: 10-8 (3-5,3-2,1-9,1-6,1-2) 4/23/22
All-Time Top 5 Weight: 15-6 (3-6,3-4,3-1,2-14,2-13)
UPDATE: added a 3-5 and 3-2 to boost the All-Time Top 5 Weight
NEW ALL-TIME TOP 5 WEIGHT: 16-2 (3-6,3-5,3-4,3-2,3-1) culls 2-14 and 2-13
Comments: It now takes a bass over the three-pound mark to enter the all-time Top 5 list.

So, that’s the April Prowl by the numbers. Coming next is the “Lessons” portion of the project as each visit is a learning experience. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – April 11

After turning in three vacation days due to inclement fishing weather earlier this month, I stuck with one on April 11. After a boom of bites on the previous day on my second-tier waters, I was hoping for similar with better quality on my top-tier spots. The boom turned to a bust, but all was not lost. Read on for the results and research.

Stats
Date: April 11, 2022
Location: Knox County, IL public strip pits (8 lakes)
Time: 10:15am-3:30pm (3.75 hours fishing)
Weather: Partly cloudy/windy
Air Temp: 50-64F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 4 bass
Lures: Rapala Shad Rap (shad) – 2 bass, Chatterbait (white) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 0-12 Chatterbait
Top 5 Weight (only1 at 12” or better): 0-12

11:14am – First Bass and Top Bass and all downhill from there

Notes and Nonsense

Breakfast Bust – Things have gotten weird since March 2020. The ripple effect delayed my breakfast over two years later. On a Monday morning, I pulled up to the local Sonic drive thru to treat myself to a SuperSonic Burrito. After a period of dead silence, I saw the small sticker indicating that the business did not open until 9:00am. I did not have 30 minutes to waste, so on to Dunkin Donuts for my favorite, the Power Breakfast Sandwich. No dice, discontinued. Finally, the Pilot in Woodhull provided sustenance with a sausage, bacon and egg burrito which hit the spot.

Bite Bust -On the heels of a thirty-eight bass outing the previous day, I was optimistic of a good bite even though temps had dropped about ten degrees in the forecast. The bass were not interested in the barrage of lures I threw at them, however, and I was left losing the battle on this day. To add insult to injury, of the four bass I found, only one was a “keeper,” weighing a mere twelve ounces.

Threw a lot of stuff but only these lures produced, and barely at that

Top Bass Bust – A brief stop to check out a spot I hadn’t visited since September 2016 produced my two best bites of the day. Both were in the two-pound range, and both got away. Standard “fish story,” right, but certainly piqued my interest to return for some more fish stories.

Record Book Bust – My less than impressive results made for no new entries in the record book for the second straight outing. So much for that brilliant addition to my fishing reports. But plenty of year remains and I believe I can find some new submissions with a few tricks up my sleeve.

Not A Total Bust – A couple of those tricks revolve around new water and revisiting a neglected fishing hole. In the face of a tough bite at lunchtime, I elected to use my remaining time away to cover some uncharted territory. I’ve had my eye on a few spots in the area that I had only seen on a satellite photo. My exploratory hikes turned up just one bite but verified a suspected bass population on that particular lake. Another spot is home to some solid bass via a secondhand report from an angler last year while two other bodies of water are suspect. I believe that the latter two were formerly only wetlands but look more fishable with higher water levels at present. As such, they are likely eliminated unless I come upon reliable info in the future.

All was not lost with some exercise, exploration, and some ideas

A tough day on the water did wind up on a positive note with those last few thousand steps. Longstanding questions were answered, and I am hoping that those answers will provide dividends as 2022 progresses. Now if I can just get Brent on board for field testing. I suspect that it won’t take too much convincing. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – April 10

Pleasant temperatures, high winds and cloud cover are a good mix for one of my strip mine hikes. There was no way I wanted to be in a boat fighting the gusts, so bank prowling was the ticket. I opted for my second-tier lakes in terms of quality bites and the results reinforced why these spots are not on the “A-list.”

Stats
Date: April 10, 2022
Location: Knox County, IL public strip pits (7 lakes)
Time: 12:00pm-5:20pm (4.00 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny to overcast/very windy
Air Temp: 58-69F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 38 bass
Lures: Rapala Shad Rap (shad) – 20 bass, Lunkerhunt Finesse Worm ¼ oz. (Bama craw) – 9 bass, Chatterbait (white) – 8 bass, Googan Gridiron jig (PB&J) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-0 Chatterbait
Top 5 Weight (only 3 at 12” or better): 2-9 (1-0,0-13,0-12)

 

Trip Lyric
“Everyone knows it’s windy” – Windy, The Association (1967)

Notes and Nonsense

Blow Away, Blow Away, Blow Away – I always liked George Harrison’s 1979 release, Blow Away, and it was certainly apt along with Windy. How windy was it? Well, the highest reading I saw on my weather app indicated 24mph, but gusts certainly exceeded that mark. Depending on the way I was facing, the wind would blow my lures (and some little bass) out of reach in one direction or wind up blowing the lure at me and having a hook or two snag my sweatshirt on occasion. Several times it also rocked me a bit as sloped, soft, and suspect strip mine terrain can make for precarious perches on the bank.

Always fun to add something from the collection, my 45 of a favorite from 1979

New Lure – After having several short strikes on a jig, I broke out a Lunker Hunt Finesse Worm to see if downsizing would get the short strikers. While the wind made it a challenge to maintain contact with the light lure, it was quite effective on one lake. Nearly every cast resulted in a hit and most of those little bass were caught on the smaller offering before I decided to relocate in hopes of better bites.

Craters – My final quest for quality bass was at a pair of potholes that I call “The Craters.” My last visit to these spots was in 2017 and I was disappointed to find that the already challenging bank access was worse and even reaching the water was a chore due to thick brush. As the years roll on, I am beginning to mentally check off some waters as “not going back again,” and these may have just made the list.

 

Record Book Update
As happens on more than a few occasions, I just couldn’t find any good bites. Therefore, there is no record book update info to pass along.

First one of these nasty critters found crawling on my neck as I sat on the couch upon returning home

Just one of those days where quantity is good, but quality is lacking. Such is fishing, better luck next time…or not. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – April 3

Trip number two of the year was another strip mine hike with my brother, Brent. Our first outing was a tough bite and came up shy of a Top 5 for the day with only four “keepers” and a low total weight of 4-5. This trip was also a tough bite with only four “keepers” but a considerably better total weight. Read on for all the details.

Stats
Date: April 3, 2022
Location: Knox County, IL public strip pits (5 lakes)
Time: 11:15am-5:00pm (4.75 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny to overcast/breezy
Air Temp: 47-56F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 5 bass (Troy – 3, Brent – 2)
Lures: Jig & Pig/plastic (black/blue) – 4 bass, Rapala Shad Rap (shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 3-9 Jig & plastic
Top 5 Weight (only 4 at 12” or better): 9-6 (3-9,2-11,2-0,1-2)

2:50pm Top Bass 3-9 (18.5″) on a jig & plastic (black/blue)

Notes and Nonsense

Conditions – Recent rains had the ground quite saturated but the lack of terrestrial weeds in the early spring still made for easy walking. The lakes were full, the water was surprisingly clear, and the aquatic vegetation was just beginning to take hold. The air temperatures were comfortable, wind was limited to a breeze and the sun was out in full force most of the day. Two out of three ain’t bad in regard to the weather aspect as some cloud cover is always welcome when fishing these waters. No complaints, we gave it a go with a variety of presentations but just couldn’t get much going.

Forage Find – Shortly after Brent landed our Top Bass, I spotted the remains of a crawdad near the bank. I couldn’t help but notice that the coloration of the pincers were quite like the offerings that landed our top four bass. I guess there is something to be said for matching the forage available to fool a few fish.

Record Book Update

In an earlier preview of this trip entitled “Record Book Roundup”, I provided data on the lakes we intended to target. We wound up with three catches that made solid upgrades as detailed below.

Maiden Lake (2013-present)
Top Bass: 4-0 Brent Jackson 4/2/21 Crankbait
Best Top 5 Day: 5-12 (4-0,1-12) 4/2/21 with Brent 1.00 hours
All-Time Top 5 Weight: 11-10 (4-0,2-5,1-14,1-12,1-11)
UPDATE: added a 3-9 to boost our All-Time Top 5 Weight
NEW All-Time Top 5 Weight: 13-8 (4-0,3-9,2-5,1-14,1-12) culls a 1-11

2X4 Lake (2013-present)
Top Bass: 4-3 Troy Jackson 9/29/13 Stickbait
Best Top 5 Day: 11-7 (4-2,3-0,1-9,1-7,1-5) 4/12/14 with Brent 1.50 hours
All-Time Top 5 Weight: 19-12 (4-3,4-2,4-0,4-0,3-7)
UPDATE: no new additions

Kentucky Lake (2013-present)
Top Bass: 2-8 Troy Jackson 9/26/21 Spinnerbait
Best Top 5 Day: 7-10 (2-5,1-9,1-7,1-4,1-1) 9/29/13 with Brent 0.75 hours
All-Time Top 5 Weight: 10-0 (2-8,2-3,2-1,1-13,1-7)
UPDATE: added a 2-0 to boost our All-Time Top 5 Weight
NEW All-Time Top 5 Weight: 10-9 (2-8,2-3,2-1,2-0,1-13) culls a 1-7

Molar Lake (2013-present)
Top Bass: 3-5 Troy Jackson 9/29/13 Jerkbait
Best Top 5 Day: 5-8 (3-5,1-4,0-15) 9/29/13 with Brent 0.75 hours
All-Time Top 5 Weight: 12-0 (3-5,3-2,2-0,1-13,1-12)
UPDATE: added a 2-11 to boost our All-Time Top 5 Weight
NEW All-Time Top 5 Weight: 12-15 (3-5,3-2,2-11,2-0,1-13) culls a 1-12

 

A pleasant day but a tough bite on an early April strip mine prowl. The recent cool and rainy conditions seemed to have the bass in a less than cooperative mood. But if we were only going to eke out five bites, it’s cool when three of them are “good ones” (see Friday Flashback here) and give a boost to the record book. Stay tuned for the latest Friday Flashback and a Trip Tunes post from this outing is in the works. Talk to you later. Troy

Snakeden Hollow Report – March 20

On the road to the fishing hole, 204,000 miles and counting

After 123 days of “winter”, the water was open, the weather was stellar, and I had a weekend day to get away. I met my brother, Brent, at one of the Snakeden lots in search of my first bass with the anticipation of a little exercise along the way (Brent got his first bass and some exercise several days prior). We covered a lot of ground for not a lot of bass, but I was more than happy to kick off 2022. Read on for the rundown.

Stats

Date: March 20, 2022
Location: Snakeden Hollow (5 lakes)
Time: 12:10pm-6:00pm (4.50 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny/breezy to windy
Air Temp: 59-71F
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 11 bass (Troy – 6, Brent – 5)
Lures: Rapala Shad Rap (blue) – 5 bass, Spinnerbait (green) – 3 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (chartreuse sexy shad) – 2 bass, Chatterbait (white) with twin tail trailer (root beer pepper green) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-11 Rapala Shad Rap
Top 5 Weight (only 4 at or > 12”): 4-5 (1-11,1-3,0-12,0-11)

1:20pm First bass, plenty of room for improvement

Trip Lyric

“It’s been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time.” – Led Zeppelin, Rock and Roll (1971)

Winning Lures (Brent, left – Troy, right)

Notes and Nonsense

Overdressed – I am not sure what I was thinking other than the forecast was not going to meet it’s high in the 60s. My attire consisted of a themal, a long-sleeved t-shirt and a sweatshirt along with some fleece lined pants. It turns out that the temperature hit 70 and resulted in a pile of shirts cast aside as Brent was somewhat similarly dressed. But Dad always said on the trapline that “you can take off what you don’t need but you can’t put on what you don’t have.” Right on the money at the fishing hole as well.

1:29pm Brent’s first bass of the day (third of the year)

Fellow Fishers – We were not the only folks taking advantage of the pleasant first day of spring. Four anglers crossed our path, several others were spotted from a distance and over a half dozen cars were scattered around the lots. One pair of fishermen repeated our report of “some small bass” while a second pair expressed a desire to “find a spot away from the crowd.”

4 for 5 – All told, we fished five bodies of water, one more than my initial goal. Only the first spot was a shutout on Goldenrod Lake. Slurry Lake produced seven bass, Bearclaw two, Bactrian one and Beaver one. This trip was one of the earliest visits that I have made to most of these spots, and I was struck by how clean and clear the waters were in late March. The place still brings surprise and enjoyment nearly thirty-five years after Brent and I first fished it.

Roughly 772 steps/bass, but who’s counting

Record Quest Data – As covered in the trip preview post “Go Fish!”, an added objective in my fishing reports this year will be a look inside the record book. I still think it is a fun idea, but we didn’t find much to add on this inaugural outing. In fact, had Slurry Lake not been lacking two fish for a full Top 5, I wouldn’t have any record data to report. The details are below with the new Top 5 catches in bold.

Slurry Lake
All-Time Top 5 Weight: 10-4 (4-3,3-9,1-1, 0-12, 0-11)
A boost from 8-14 to 10-4 in the record book, all good.

 

A slow start is infinitely better than no start and plenty of casts to go as we make our way through another year of fishing and blogging. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – November 17

I have stated many times that my annual fishing goal is to start with a March bass and end with a November bass. The first half of the goal was accomplished on March 20, and I set out on November 17 in search of the bookend bass. Details below on how it turned out.

Stats

Date: November 17, 2021
Location: Little John Conservation Club (3 lakes)
Time: 10:20am-4:00pm (3.5 hours fishing)
Weather: Overcast/windy/light rain
Air Temp: 47-48F (felt like 41F per weather app)
Water Temp: no reading
Totals: 3 bass
Lures: Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 1 bass, War Eagle spinnerbait (chartreuse/white) – 1 bass, Rapala Shad Rap (shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-7 (Spinnerbait)
Top 5 Weight (only 2 bass at 12” or better): 3-6 (2-7,0-15)

Winning Lures

Notes and Nonsense

Plan – Having a few vacation days remaining for the year, I opted to invest one on a day with forecast high temps in the mid-50s. The only problem was that the high occurred somewhere around 3:00am and then proceeded to drop from there. In addition, the wind was substantial and the mid-morning end to rain showers continued to be pushed further out past noon. Let’s just say it was less than ideal conditions but at this time of the year, you get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.

10:29am – Mission accomplished on a lipless crankbait

Bass #1 – Catching only three bass, I figure that I might as well provide details on all of them as they are likely my final three bass of 2021. Nine minutes into my morning, armed with a Red Eye Shad, I had my November bass in hand. While I was confident that I could fool at least one bass in the cold front conditions, it sure felt good to get an early catch and achieve my goal.

1:42pm – Top Bass at 2-7 on a spinnerbait

Bass #2 – After an hour and half and one bass on my first stop, I sat in my truck with froze toes and pondered my next move. Stop number two was a shallower spot with a fair amount of wood cover and expanses of submerged vegetation in three to seven foot of water. A reliable collection isolated laydowns in a shallow bay was once again a winner as it produced my best bass of the trip, a healthy 2-7 on a spinnerbait.

3:39pm – mystery solved, barely

Bass #3 – With about an hour of daylight and maybe 30 minutes of energy and cold tolerance remaining in this fifty-something angler, I decided to do a little exploring. First, I took a walk around a small lake to investigate access due to some landscaping over the last several years. All looked well but I moved on without making a cast, opting instead to check out one more lake. My final stop has intrigued me for decades as I have driven past hundreds of times wondering, “does that spot support any bass”, “how deep is the water” and “is there any significant structure”? The answers as follow: Yes, roughly eight feet and not really.

Another good year of fishing, time to ride off into the sunset for 2021

All’s well that ends well. And I suspect that this is indeed the end of casting for 2021. It’s been a great year with ample opportunities to get on the water and good results in terms of both quantity and quality. Stay tuned for a follow-up post with some peripheral stuff from this latest outing. In addition, there’s plenty more outdoor and fishing related content to come here on the blog as we near the end of the year. Talk to you later. Troy

Prowl the Canal – October

It’s time to catch up on the latest visits to the Hennepin Canal as I head towards the end of my first year of fishing the interesting and historic corridor. An impressive summer bite had my hopes high for a fall feeding frenzy. Read on to see how October played out.

Stats
Date: October 2, 17, 30 & 31, 2021
Location: Hennepin Canal – Henry County, IL
Time: 8.00 hours total (three evenings, one morning, two hours each)
Weather: Varied but pleasant in the sixties
Totals: 10 bass (daily breakdown below by date)
Lures: Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (red craw) – 4 bass, Rebel Pop’R Zell Rowland Model – 2 bass, War Eagle Spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) – 1 bass, Bomber Flat A Crankbait (baby bass – 1 bass)
Top Bass: 2-0 (Mann’s Baby 1-)
Top 5 Weight (only three at 12” or better): 4-5 (2-0,1-4,1-1)

Winning October Lures

Notes and Nonsense

October 2 – Top Bass at 13″ and 1-4 on a Pop’R

October 2 (4 bass) – One week prior, the same spot, same time of the morning and similar weather conditions saw my first two casts land nearly six pounds of bass. While it didn’t take me long to fool one on this visit, it was just slightly over a pound. It would also be the largest bass of the trip. I did have an enjoyable chat with a couple boat anglers who provided insight on The Canal as well as some Knox County public strip mine ground. The latter info was news to me and may come into play in 2022.

October 17 – Lone bass and happy to avoid an embarrassing shutout

October 17 (1 bass) – This pleasant fall evening had my hopes high for finding a flurry of fish feeding. That couldn’t have been further from what transpired. I focused on a productive stretch of water and never even had a bite in the first hour and a half of casting. I was honestly resigned to the fact that I was going to be shut out on The Canal for the first time. However, a last-minute bite near the parking lot saved the day. Not a big bass but infinitely better than nothing.

October 30 – new Top Smallmouth Bass at 15.5″ and 2-0, haven’t caught one in years

October 30 (3 bass) – Well, two out of three ain’t bad in terms of successful stops along The Canal. The action was far from fast and furious, but I did wind up with a cool Top Bass. Coming in at two pounds even it also established a new all-time Top Smallmouth Bass mark. In the interest of honesty, it did not come from The Canal but rather some nearby moving water. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

October 31 – Halloween bass, not very scary but as good as it got

October 31 (2 bass) – I had a few free hours before the official Halloween night kicked in, so I decided to scout some new ground on The Canal. My aim was to evaluate a few stretches that had intrigued me during jogs and bike rides a few years back. The trip was a learning experience, and the lesson was that most of the spots are not worth a return visit. For the most part the waters were just too silted in and not worth the effort when I have plenty of better, deeper, proven water. Only a pair of small bass joined the logbook, but mission accomplished in eliminating unproductive water.

While I was optimistic about a solid fall bite on The Canal, I just couldn’t find it. Whether it was me or the bass to blame is up for debate. Time, daylight, and weather will tell if I make another visit in 2021. Regardless, it has been an entertaining, educational, and productive several months of summer and fall fishing on the historic waterway and I look forward to adding some spring trips in 2022. Talk to you later. Troy