Category: Flashbacks

Friday Flashback – November 2010

Once upon a time, we were trappers.

For nearly a century, members of the Jackson family roamed the creeks, fields and timbers of West Central Illinois in pursuit of furbearers. Dating back to my grandpa George to my uncle, Richard, to my dad, Terry, to my brothers and sister and our offspring, the tradition spanned from the 1920s to just a few years ago. Boy, did we have some times and there are plenty of stories that never grow old no matter how many times they are revisited.

Today’s flashback is one of those stories as November of 2010 featured the introduction of a new trapper to the family tradition. My boy, Jayce, tagged along on this outing to Henderson County, following in the footsteps of his Papa and Dad. Footsteps that had been planted in areas like The Big Timber and Pat’s Creek for close to fifty years. A pretty cool adventure for a kid who was not even a year and a half old at the time.

We saw tractors, hedgeballs, corn cobs and deer. We had a fast food breakfast, drove the truck, rode on the tailgate, told stories and threw stuff. You know, all the normal things us trappers observed and did out there on the trapline. Oh yeah, we also caught a few coons but that was just icing on the cake.

Nowadays, trapping has gone by the wayside but the memories last a lifetime. For many years, I have pondered a formidable trapping retrospective here on the blog. At present though, the project consists of a lengthy list of ideas, a healthy batch of photos and a collection of rough drafts. Perhaps trapping season next year would be a worthy time to kick off such a series. That gives me slightly less than a year to put it all together which is still a tall order when thinking back over all those tales and adventures.

And speaking of thinking back on adventures, this will wrap up the weekly Friday Flashbacks for 2020. As always, I get a kick out of the strolls down Memory Lane with a fair collection of fish, family and friends. I hope that some were able to make the weekly stop and find a brief escape along the way. Of course, plenty more other stuff to come here on the blog before we say so long to this year. And Friday Flashback will resume after the first of the New Year as I have already begun constructing my outline of weekly posts. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – November 7, 2015

Well, it’s that time again as I ponder whether I have caught my final bass of the year. Today we look back five years at just such a catch via a portion of the original fishing report posted at a former blogging gig.

Originally posted 11-13-15

Mission accomplished in logging my November bass.

For more than a few years now, one of my annual fishing goals involves the bookends on the bass fishing year. This particular goal consists of landing my first bass in March and my final bass in November. Back on March 21st I checked off part one of the goal and set out last Saturday looking to put the finishing touch on a solid year. Well, it took some work but I made it…just barely.

Stats
Date: November 7, 2015
Location: Little John Conservation Club (2 lakes)
Time: 9:35am-3:15pm (4.75 hours fishing, the rest relocating)
Weather: Sunny/very windy
Air Temp: 46F-54F
Water Temp: 50-52F
Totals: 1 bass
Lures: ¼ oz Jig & Pig (black/blue) with #11 pork trailer (black/blue) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-2 (Jig &Pig)

1:29pm – Top Bass (and only bass) at 16.5″ and 2-2 on a jig & pig

Notes & Nonsense

One for Two – For my Grand Finale I selected a pair of lakes that have been real friendly this year and most recently combined for 23 bass back on October 24; this time not so much. 9:35am until 11:50am on the first spot produced one lone bump on my Yum Wooly Curltail Grub as it bounced off a submerged limb. Stop number two gave up my lone bass on a jig and pig just over an hour into my hour and a half on the lake; the only bite I had. Of course, I tried fast with no success on a spinnerbait and lipless crank before opting to focus on slowing it down with the jig and pig around some real solid wood cover. I gave it my best shot and got my fish but the bass would rightfully be claimed the victor on this outing in outsmarting each of my attempts to garner some bites.

Winterizing – I had to chuckle as I headed for the “ramp” on my last lake knowing that it was time to think about the care my gear needs to weather the winter. Dragging my boat back up the grassy incline I took into consideration that trailering my watercraft typically involves just me and my truck bed. Roll the boat over beside my driveway upon returning home, close the tailgate and call it good. As for my motors, lean the oars up against the wall of the garage next to my poles and tackle. Looking back over the 51.50 hours I got to go fishing this year, the vast majority involved manpower for propulsion. Seven hours in a friend’s boat back in April were the lone gas powered means of propulsion and only a few quick jaunts from spot to spot. Along with that trip I also spent just over five hours with my foot on a trolling motor pedal during an outing with Dad. The remainder of my season found me manning the oars for about 35 hours and chasing bass on foot for about four hours. I guess the moral of that story is that I need to work on taking care of myself over the winter, something I’ve let slip more than a bit this year.

The old oars have what I call “personality” and plenty of tales to tell

Five years later, the old oars have assumed their place against the garage wall where they will likely remain until next March. And my body and brain will once again engage in their annual debate on what sort of fishing stunts to pull in 2021. May have one more fishing trick up my sleeve for 2020, though. Time will tell. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – November 3, 2010

It’s once again that time of the year when I hold out hope for a November bass before I put the poles away. Ten years ago, I got that November bass after barely ten minutes of casting on a magical place called “Emiquon.” The rest of the day wasn’t quite as easy as the original report relates.

Originally Posted 11-8-10

My quest to finish the year with a November bass found me on what has rather quickly and a bit surprisingly become a challenging body of water, The Emiquon Preserve’s Thompson Lake. Dad decided to sit this one out so I was on my own to figure out the bass. I accomplished my goal upon reeling in our second largest ever Emiquon bass but overall it was a tough day.

Date: November 3, 2010
Time: 11:30am-5:30pm
Location: The Emiquon Preserve
Weather: Sunny or partly cloudy/windy
Air Temp: 50-60F
H20 Temp: 50F
Totals: 3 bass
Lures: 3” Yum Wooly Curltail (pumpkin pepper/green flake) – 3 bass
Top Bass – 3-5 Yum Wooly Curltail (first bass of the day)
Top Five Weight: 5-14 (3-5, 1-7, 1-2)

Yum Wooly Curltail, classic cold water bait, cast it out, crawl it in

Notes and Nonsense

Thriving – If I were pressed for one word to describe the Emiquon coot population I’d have to pick “thriving.” Beyond that all I can say is you have to see it to believe it.

A commotion of coots (I had to look that one up)

5 Hours & 50 Yards – Those are the figures that separated my bass. I caught my first (and largest) bass near a tree on an old roadbed at 11:41am. I did not catch another fish until 4:46pm about fifty yards to the east and my final fish came at 4:58pm in the same spot. In between the first two fish I covered several miles in order to work a pair of ditches using up our older battery in the process; all without a single bite.

4:46pm – Bass #2 after a lengthy drought at 13.5″ and 1-7

Not Alone – I didn’t know what to expect as far as company this time of year but there were about half a dozen other fishermen who hadn’t yet put away their gear. I spoke with a pair who was leaving as I was launching and they reported a shutout in their pursuit of bass and crappie. A few minutes later I witnessed a fellow in a kayak land what he said was his first bass in about two hours on the water. So when all was said and done I was confidently able to blame the bass as opposed to my ineptitude.

11:41am – Top Bass at 18.5″ and 3-5 

Top Bass – Eleven minutes into my trip I was weighing, measuring and photographing the fish pictured above (pictured above twice actually as a three fish outing can make you a bit desperate). It came on a 3” Yum Wooly Curltail rigged Texposed behind a ¼ ounce bullet sinker which was slowly crawled back to the boat in an effort to maintain contact with the lake bottom. The 3-5 currently occupies the number two spot in our Emiquon record book. A nice fish but rather amazing that it comes up nearly four pounds shy of our 7-3 lake record.

4:58pm – Bass #282 for the year, the final catch of 2010

If this trip marks the end of my fishing for 2010 I’d have to qualify it as another good year for family and friends marked by a strong last few months. I did manage to find one more quality fish while quantity eluded me on this latest outing. Perhaps most of the fish are wise enough to reside beyond the “No Trespassing” area at Emiquon. If so they are certainly safe from my offerings, although not from everybody. But that’s another story.

Ten years later, I have my November bass in the log courtesy of some good weather and a vacation day. But that’s also another story so stay tuned. Talk to you later. Troy

Citizen’s Lake Revisited Pt. IV

Spanning a channel between the north and south sections of Citizen’s Lake is a bridge. Back in 1990, the bridge resided elsewhere in Warren County and was slated for eventual demolition. However, regional fisheries biologist, Ken Russell, was on board to get the bridge relocated rather than removed. While I was aware of the proposal, I had no idea what the bridge even looked like, let alone the prospect of actually relocating such a structure.

 

The plaque above notes that the dream became a reality in 1992. Later, in 2016, the bridge from the 1890s was dedicated as “Ken Russell Bridge.”

 

It’s been a fun walk down Memory Lane in revisiting a bit of the history of Warren County’s Citizen’s Lake. My aim for the blog has always been to educate, entertain and escape. Hopefully, this collection of posts was able to cover all of those bases. Talk to you later. Troy

Citizen’s Lake Revisited Pt. III

I must admit it was kind of cool to see myself in a local paper during the Citizen’s Lake rehabilitation project. Honestly though, what was even cooler was hanging out with that other guy in the above photo.

Fisheries biologist, Ken Russell, was the primary caretaker of all of the local fishing holes where I cut my fishing teeth. By 1990, I would guess that he probably had twenty-five years of fisheries work on his resume.

And you talk about still going strong at that point?

Sure thing, as the Illinois taxpayers got their money’s worth out of that man. His work ethic was unmatched and he gave me a work out during the month or so that I had the honor of being his sidekick. His grasp of his craft was incredible and I was always impressed with his willingness to answer any question I had as we traveled between fishing holes on the roads of West Central Illinois.

 

Prior to the Citizen’s Lake project I had been able to work with Ken on a couple other occasions as a volunteer fish dipper during some electrofishing surveys. Thanks to a mutual friend at the Galesburg Park Department where I worked college summers I was able to get those evening gigs. Once upon a time, that mutual friend told me that Ken ranked me as his second best fish dipper of all-time.

Seems that Ken was a popular subject for the local papers

Who was the best fish dipper, you might ask?

Of course, it was that mutual friend. I still take it as a feather in my cap, you may take it as you wish.

Talk to you later. Troy

Citizen’s Lake Revisited Pt. II

In today’s post we take a look at the initial stages in the overall process of the complete Citizen’s Lake fishery rehabilitation. The rehabilitation project actually accomplished a pair of aims. For one, the lake was to be enlarged via digging and dredging with the fill dirt being used to expand the nearby highway to four lanes. The highway construction project, in turn, allowed for a “do over” on the fish population that was suffering due to an infestation of the common carp.

To begin the rehabilitation, a valve on the overflow was opened in order to drop the water level. Inevitably, some of the fish population would escape through “the tube” as noted by fisheries biologist Ken Russell in a newspaper interview at the time. Electrofishing was then employed in order to salvage any remaining desirable fish species. During electrofishing, a current is delivered into the water which effectively stuns those fish in proximity. While stunned the fish generally float up to or near the surface where they can be captured with a long handled dipnet. The “shock” does no lasting damage and in most cases you have to be pretty adept and quick with the dipnet to capture the fish before they regain their senses.

The primary species that we salvaged for relocation was the largemouth bass. I believe that some crappie and bluegill were also collected along with a solid individual walleye. The latter was likely a transplant from the Mississippi River as the species was not intentionally stocked in the lake. I do not recall if we rescued any catfish as they are not as susceptible to the shock. Their smooth skin makes them more elusive than their scaled counterparts in a fishery.

Once collected, the salvaged fish were held in a fish truck loaned out from the Jake Wolf Fish Hatchery in Tazewell County. Those fish were then relocated to several area waters. If memory serves me correctly, these included Lake Storey, Snakeden Hollow’s “Big Lake” (now known as Lake McMaster) and possibly Gale Lake in East Galesburg. What I do remember though, was that it was pretty cool taking the fish truck home at the end of the day and then getting to drive it back to Jake Wolf the following morning.

Once we had done our best at collecting our quarry, Vice’s Fish Market out of Oquawka, Illinois arrived to harvest the common carp that remained. This was done by seining with a large net and it was quite a bounty. The visual image of several truck beds filled nearly to the brim with slimy, squirming carp still brings a smile.

 

Along the way, a couple local papers showed up during the time that we worked on the project. I was able to snip one of the articles from the Galesburg Register Mail while Ken Russell was kind enough to grab me a couple from the Monmouth Review Atlas. I will always be grateful for those gifts as the old yellowed pages sure mean a lot to me all of these years later.

More on the project to come so I hope you’ll stop by as the reminiscing continues. Talk to you later. Troy

Snakeden at 30 – Records A to Z

For the “Snakeden at 30” grand finale, we take a look at the record book. Below is a breakdown of the largest bass caught from 26 different lakes on the site over the last 30 years.

But first, let’s get a little background on the data.

Some bass are more impressive than others.

Some lakes on the list didn’t exist when Snakeden went public.

Some lakes no longer support a fish population.

Some lakes have “official” names while others are my own creations. I didn’t use either in the list, gotta leave a little mystery.

Disclaimer: The list above and the slideshow below include only myself and a couple fishing partners with all catches verified. Certainly other anglers have bigger and better fish stories, so take the list for what it is worth, just my two cents. Over the years, I have received numerous reports, weights and photos from fellow anglers which would rewrite portions of this record book. However, those are not tales for me to tell. But I will say that those submission include bass up to seven pounds.

The slideshow to follow features pics of the bass on the record book list with a few exceptions. No pictures exist for five of the bass on the list, all of which are under the two-pound mark.

 

And with that, “Snakeden at 30” comes to a conclusion. Fun for me to reminisce on the past catches as I’ve meant to compile such a list for quite a few years. And although the list features 26 different lakes, there are still others that have no established records. In addition, I lost a bass on one of the lakes this year (fittingly Lake X) that would have shattered the established record. Sounds like I need to compile a 2021 fishing to-do list.

In the meantime, back with a couple more Citizen’s Lake posts. Talk to you later. Troy

Citizen’s Lake Revisited Pt. I

Thirty years ago today, I had just finished up a six month temporary job with the Illinois Department of Conservation (now IDNR). While originally hired to work at Knox County’s Snakeden Hollow, I actually started my term at Big River State Forest near Keithsburg, Illinois. And for my last couple months I was put out on loan to regional fisheries biologist, Ken Russell, as there just wasn’t much going on at Snakeden in those early days.

One of the jobs that I got to assist with was a total rehabilitation of Warren County’s Citizen’s Lake. The fishing hole north of Monmouth, Illinois had become overrun with undesirable fish species, primarily the common carp. Thus, it was in dire need of a “do over”. The process involved draining most of the lake, salvaging any desired fish species, eradicating the remaining fish population and then proceeding with restocking once the water levels had risen.

 

For a guy with a biology degree and not long out of college, it was a fantastic experience. Thirty years later, I thought it was a good time to combine a return visit with some memories and newspaper clippings from the project. Today’s intro will be followed by a several more posts from a Warren County walk down Memory Lane. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – October 31, 2000

Some things change, some things stay the same. That’s life and yes, it is even reflected in a fishing flashback from 20 years ago this week.

Some things change…

LBCC – In 2000, I was a member and homeowner at Lake Bracken Country Club where this outing took place. The last time I fished Lake Bracken was 2008, nearly 30 years after my first visit.

1:31pm – 19″ and 4-1 on a crankbait

Two Man Boat – These fish were landed while fishing out of our old two-man bass boat that I kept on my dock. A number of years later I gave it to a young family friend who was nearing his teens. Same kid has now graduated college and just got married last month.

Appearance – Twenty years removed, it looks like a Just For Men and Rogaine combo commercial in these pics.

1:40pm – 15 and 1-15 on a crankbait

Habits – The pics also appear to include a cheek full of David Sunflower Seeds as I had stopped making Levi Garrett commercials quite a few years prior.

Some things stay the same…

Log – Still documenting fish all of these years later with a few additional wrinkles. One of those is what you are reading right now as I have been an official blogger for over ten years. Frequent social media posting and an occasional dabble into YouTube have also added to the fun.

Lure – Would you believe that the only lure that I needed on this day still resides in my tackle? May just have to bust it out in 2021 as my recent Baby 1- crankbait offerings have been other patterns.

2:03pm – 20.5″ and 4-2 on a crankbait

Lid – Due to some Floppy Hat V2.0 issues this summer, I reverted back to Floppy Hat V1.0 to finish out 2020. It’s more than a little worse for wear but still “lucky”.

By the way, tricking a pair of four-pounders made for quite a treat on that Happy Halloween afternoon twenty years ago. And the sense of accomplishment and gratitude from landing a good fish (or two) is something that will never change. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – October 24, 2015

Have I ever mentioned how much I dig fall fishing?

Even though I know that winter and a lengthy fishing drought loom on the horizon, I always look forward to chasing fall bass as my year winds down. And every once in a while you find one of those magic days when the bass provide quite a sendoff.

Originally Posted 10-29-15

Stats
Date: October 24, 2015
Location: Little John Conservation Club (3 lakes)
Time: 9:30am-4:05pm (5.75 hours fishing, the rest relocating)
Weather: Overcast/very windy
Air Temp: 61F-57F
Water Temp: 59-62F
Totals: 33 bass
Lures: Booyah Counterstrike Spinnerbait (salt & pepper) – 21 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 9 bass, Senko wacky rig (baby bass) – 2 bass, Berkley Havoc Pit Boss (green pumpkin) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 4-13 (Booyah Spinnerbait)
Weight: 18-1 (4-13,4-10,2-15,2-14,2-13)

9:41am – First Bass at 20.5″ and 4-10 on a lipless crankbait

Notes & Nonsense

20 pound Club – I was out in search of five more ounces on my creel in order to reach the 20 pound mark. For me that’s a real solid year and sitting at 19-11 as I drove to the lake meant that I needed to find a 3-4 in order to reach my goal. I had a pair of lakes in mind where I thought I had a solid shot at fooling one of that weight. Eleven minutes into casting I had my first fish which tipped the scales at 4-10, so all pressure was off by 9:41am. I’d actually hooked a small bass on my very first cast which can be viewed as sort of a curse but luck was on my side as the little catch threw the lipless crank before coming aboard much to my relief.

The Wind Giveth – An area full of wood on my second stop was just taking a beating from heavy winds out of the west southwest. And the bass were right there where they were supposed to be to the tune of seven fish in 46 minutes. Not only was the quantity to my liking but so was the quality. Between 12:36pm and 1:22pm the following were jotted down in the log:

12:36pm 15” 1-6 Booyah Spinnerbait

12:44pm 18” 2-14 Booyah Spinnerbait

12:54pm 15.5” 2-0 Booyah Spinnerbait

12:57pm 17” 2-13 Booyah Spinnerbait

1:06pm 16” 1-15 Booyah Spinnerbait

1:14pm 18” 2-15 Booyah Spinnerbait

1:22pm 15” 1-11 Berkley Havoc Pit Boss

All came while working maybe a thirty yard stretch of a small cove littered with laydowns and stumps. I milked the spot for that last fish by employing a slowdown technique with the Pit Boss creature type bait and was pretty proud of myself for changing it up. But then I thought, boy that is dumb when the bass had really been playing to my strong suit of power fishing with a spinnerbait and lipless crank to that point of the outing. The remainder of my day would hold thirteen more bass and not a single one while slowing down (did catch a pair on some quick pitches with a Senko wacky rig but it was what I consider a power wacky approach-pitch it, twitch it and pull it).

 

The Wind Taketh Away – On my third stop I nailed another bass on the Red Eye Shad which I observed to be in the four pound range. In fact, I could clearly see the fish as it ran me right around a stump on the dropoff of an underwater point. Unfortunately, the wind was blowing me away from the snagged fish (boat not anchored at the time) so I had to disengage my spool as I went for the oars to get back to the spot. In a matter of a few seconds I was back over the stump but there was no longer a bass and I could not see my lure. I gave a pull on the still taught line before employing my lure retriever and promptly broke off, thus also losing a quality lure. I was briefly bummed (more so about the bass than the lure as I had a spare) but then gave thought to the fact that perhaps I was being a little greedy as I’d already had quite a day…it happens.

And Then There Was This One – So after the flurry in the windblown cove as listed above, I continued to work my way around the second lake having no bites from similar structure on the sheltered bank. While mentally analyzing the situation I resolved that I was wasting my time on the slack water as the wind action was the key to the day’s success. Well, nothing like having your daydream and your assessment of the day’s pattern shattered by the Top Bass of the day at 4-13. Quite a pleasant surprise as a new lake record from a spot that you were about to vacate leaves you scratching your head with one hand and lipping the fish with the other. Simply another reason to dig this hobby.

1:39pm – Top Bass at 20″ and 4-13 on a spinnerbait

The Ones That Got Away – So I lost the four plus described earlier and also had another similar fish swipe and miss my lipless crank at boatside early in the day. In addition, I had one around two and a half escape due to slack as I sat in about two inches of water after being blown into shore perpendicular to an underwater point. I took a stab at grabbing that one after the Red Eye Shad got tossed but all I got was a wet sweatshirt sleeve as he not surprisingly slipped from my grip. You know, I don’t think I lost a quality fish prior to this trip all year so I suppose I was due and I can live with that.

In the end, I wound up with one of my best days ever on the water in terms of a Top 5 weight at 18-1. But you know, if I’d got the four pounder that snagged a stump, and even if the one I witnessed taking a swipe was three and a half, add that to the ones I landed…Why, I could have wound up with a twenty pound day when just shooting for one more good fish to give me a twenty pound year, that’s like Bassmaster stuff right there! Not meant to be on this enjoyable day but I’ll keep on casting because maybe next time…

Well, after a balmy day yesterday, next time is kind of up in the air for 2020 as the weather looks to take a dip. My sights are set on a November bass and I will certainly let you know if I get it done. Talk to you later. Troy