Category: Fishing Reports

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

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

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

Stats
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

Stats
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

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

Stats
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

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

Stats
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