Category: Something Else

Texas Trip

November 29 at 8:30am leaving the Quad Cities, IL

Well, I haven’t done much of anything here on the blog for a while. Just busy these days and actually think that I am still recovering from this Texas trip which started the month. I have never been much of a traveler and I have certainly not gotten any better with age. Enough about reality, let’s take an overdue escape. An overdue trip tunes to come but first up is a Texas blurb and slideshow below.

My work detail consisted of a stop in north central Arkansas to install some IT gear before proceeding to south central Texas for round two of the same. Having to haul a fair amount of equipment meant driving rather than flying, which is just fine for a guy who prefers to be closer to the ground. Such a mode of travel also allows for packing along some fishing gear in the event that I have the time to wet a line.

Several waters were on my radar as I planned my route. Greers Ferry Lake was only minutes from my first stop in Arkansas but a long work day and short daylight kept me from a visit.

Grapevine, TX too early and too big of a hurry, just saw the outside

I overnighted in Grapevine, Texas, a Dallas suburb, right next door to a Bass Pro Shops. The store sat on the banks of Lake Ray Hubbard which was being beaten by gale force winds. Beyond the wind, I still had a five hour morning “commute” to work and no permit so casting did not materialize on this water, either.

Next choice was the Guadalupe River near Seguin, TX and only minutes from my work destination. I took a peek one evening finding the access decent and deserted but I had yet to obtain my permit. After getting two days’ worth of non-resident permits I hit the spot again only to find it packed with anglers leaving me no room. Instead, I headed 30 minutes north to New Braunfels, TX where the water on the river was too shallow. I spent my half hour before sunset just walking the bank in a local park and enjoying some fresh air.

Guadalupe River, New Braufels, TX – scenic but shallow

I had considered Grand Lake o’ The Cherokees in northeast Oklahoma on my ride home. I thought it would be cool to chase a bass on the site of the 2013 and 2016 Bassmaster Classics. However, a late start on the road, short days, cold weather and a desire to take the shortest route home eliminated this destination.

 

In the end, I selected Lake Fork which lies just east of Dallas. Ideally, a half day of work to finish my week would put me on the road in time to explore Lake Fork for a couple hours. In reality, the combination of a late start after work and some difficulty finding lake access only left me about 45 minutes to cast. My first intent was to fish the dam but I could not find access as I cruised the road below the structure. Next, I found a couple private fishing resorts and a lone pay ramp that featured very little decent bank access. As a last ditch effort, I selected a nearby causeway and hoped the map app would do its thing. It did and I reached a public ramp area with ample access for the short amount of remaining daylight that I had to cast.

Lake Fork, TX looking for a bass with daylight fading 

The rest is history as described in the Lake Fork, TX fishing report (click here). Such trips late in the year make it tough to enjoy much fresh air after a day of work. Sunsets just after 5:00pm really limit the option to travel very far in search of a bite before darkness falls. Thus, it was tough to manage some outdoor time while earning a living.

December 4, 2020 at 8:00pm, back home 2500 miles, two plants, one bass and five days later

All of that time behind the wheel gave me ample fodder for a final “Trip Tunes” post of 2020. Stay tuned for that Top 5 later this week. Talk to you later. Troy

Thoughts at 53

Starting back in 2011 at age 44 while blogging for a now defunct outdoor website, I started doing a “Thoughts” thing on my birthday. Well, with a weeklong work trip to Georgia, I did not have an opportunity to post this year’s edition on my birthday. However, the lengthy drive did provide ample time to ponder and surf the radio dial so belated is perhaps better than nothing?

The voice of Pat Hughes was music to my ears as Cubs baseball graced the airwaves on my ride home. I listened to the broadcast from start to finish. From “And away we go…” through “Time to fasten those seat belts…” to a “Cubs win!” finale.

I mentally collect unique song lyrics and words. Among those on my trip were “All day long wearing a mask of false bravado” and “It’s spurs and latigo.” Name those tunes?

Boy, have I been missing my MLB boxscores and the stories that they tell. How about Kyle Hendricks on Opening Day?
9.0-3-0-0-0-9-0-103-74-0.00

There’s more than one way to rig a Senko and I need to step beyond wacky.

The Cubs are sending foul balls to the season ticket holder whose seat is nearest where the ball lands. Do you think it would be a magnanimous gesture or an insult to hire Steve Bartman to collect the fouls? Poor guy, wasn’t his fault that Cubs came up short all those years ago.

Saw my first Illinois armadillo this week in Southern Illinois.

Being a radio broadcast baseball fan, there really isn’t much difference. The Cubs are pumping in a little crowd noise and the rest, as always, transpires in my age old baseball imagination.

For summer fishing, a dam is a darn good place to start.

37 years ago yesterday was the George Brett “Pine Tar Incident.” Still one of my favorite baseball highlight clips. Brett played the game with a passion that is on full display and no better instigator than a character by the name of Billy Martin. Great stuff and worth a look at the clip and entire story.

There is no such thing as a bad Steely Dan song.

Radio is a wonderful way to take in a ballgame. I have no idea what most of the players even look like and it doesn’t matter.

Dorothy Gale vs. Motley Crue – As I pulled into the driveway after four long days on the road I wavered between “There’s no place like home” vs. “Home Sweet Home.”

Tough call. Talk to you later. Troy

Lucky Shirt – R&J’s Sportstacular

Many years since I bellied up to this bar

I’ve got some catching up to do as the first “lucky shirt” hit the water last summer. While that’s not actually a contemporary fishing trip, I guess that’s part of the point to this whole project. Besides, it would be an injustice to forego the original in favor of the most recent.

So, here we go.

We’re looking at a vintage R&J’s Sportstacular t-shirt today.

I know what you’re thinking. Where’s R&J’s and what’s a Sportstacular?

R&J’s was a tavern, watering hole, gathering place located in Sheffield, Illinois.

You know Sheffield, right? Kind of north of Neponset, roughly centered between Mineral and Wyanet?

R&J are Rodger and Joe, two of the three Hansen brothers (younger brother Michael) who operated the establishment and devised the Sportstacular. Along with a batch of Knox College buddies I met the Hansen brothers after first meeting their sister, Kathy, who was a fellow Siwash in the late1980s/early 1990s (actually we’re kind of always a Siwash).

As the Hansen’s were fellow sports nuts and enjoyed the occasional cold one, we all hit it off pretty well. From the sport and beverage combo arose an event that they deemed The Sportstacular, kind of like a team oriented Olympics with beer. The one day event kicked off with each four participant team playing a round of golf and likely having a few morning beers. Following the round, it was back to R&J’s for the three remaining events, darts and sand volleyball at the bar and free throw shooting at the village park. Oh yeah, and some beer. They also had something onsite called Rolle Bolle that we played at times but I do not recall it actually being included as an event. Please cut me some slack on the exact details as it was around 25 years ago, and remember, there was a fair amount of beer involved.

Julie and I actually took a road trip to the area last summer to snap a few pics.

Site of the free throw event

The old court but I believe a new hoop

Sand volleyball and Rolle Bolle, once upon a time

Fast forward to July 13, 2019 when I decided to kick off the “Lucky Shirt” project. What better shirt on a hot summer day than one that I earned on another hot summer day many years ago. The fishing portion of the project consisted of an enjoyable strip mine outing with my friend, John Kirkemo. The results of our outing are below and the original fishing report can be found by clicking here.

Date: July 13, 2019 with John Kirkemo
Location: Knox County, IL private strip mines (2 lakes)
Time: 5:00am-11:30am
Weather: Sunny/breezy to calm
Air Temp: 68-86F
Water Temp: 82-83F
Totals: 16 bass
Lures:
5” Yamasenko wacky rig (various) – 13 bass
Booyah Buzz Buzzbait (snow white shad) – 2 bass
Spinning Worm Rig – 1 bass
Top Bass: 1-7 (Senko)
Top 5 Weight (only 4 at 12” or better): 4-6 (1-7,1-4,1-0,0-11)

As far as Sportstacular results, I know that we did not claim the title in any of the three years I was involved. But if you could quantify fun and you were counting beers, I suppose that our foursome of John Junk, Mark Junk, Matt Reynolds and myself (weakest link in the beer department) were perennial frontrunners.

Bonus pic from 3/27/07 with my original R&J Hansen’s shirt, wore it until it wore out.

And there you have it, “Lucky Shirt” post number one with many more to follow. A fine place to start the series. A small town, good times, good friends and good memories, from what I can remember. Talk to you later. Troy

Lucky Shirt Intro

So, I’ve got plenty of concepts, from silly to somewhat serious, bouncing around upstairs, jotted down in binders or noted on my phone. These ideas are in quite various stages of ever seeing the light of day, if some ever do at all.

I actually kicked off one of them last year but never got around to truly launching in the form of a blog series. It’s something that I am calling the “Lucky Shirt” project.

For years, I have pretty much worn the same outdoor attire just because that’s what I do. My wardrobe essentially consists of work clothes (collared shirt and slacks or jeans) and not work clothes (t-shirts and jeans or camo pants). Sweatshirts cover both roles with the older ones used for the not work portion.

Speaking of sweatshirts, a few green versions have been popular for fishing and other outdoor pursuits for many years.

 

Anyway, after a successful weight loss challenge at work in mid-2019, I decided to dig out an old batch of t-shirts that had been packed away. And, what do know, they all fit again.

As a result, I not only had a new batch of fishing shirts but also a new blog idea.

Last summer, I actually put the concept into practice but it kind of fell through the cracks. Thus, it is time to chip away at the posts that have been waiting in the wings as well as continue the project in 2020 with a new old shirt for every trip.

 

Just like every picture tells a story, every one of these old shirts also has a story to tell. As the project proceeds, you’ll get the stories and the stats. Perhaps, along the way I’ll luck into a “lucky” shirt to expand my standard fishing wardrobe.

I guess that’s the best I have for an explanation for the lucky fishing shirt posts that will periodically appear here on the blog. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

#660

What do these guys have in common and why are they making an appearance on an “outdoor” blog?

Well, let me tell you.

We’ve all heard of, and probably have, lucky or unlucky numbers.

There’s also other numbers that hold a special significance.

If you are a music fan perhaps you know 867-5309 or Beechwood 4-5789?

In baseball terms, I’ve always been fond of 44, 56, 755 and 3,000 to name a few.

And a bit more loosely sports related, there’s good old #660, which is where those fellows above come into play. You see, from 1973 through 1977, the Topps baseball set offered up the challenge of collecting a total of 660 cards for your “complete set. That end card in the set, #660, often has a slight uptick in value if found in quality condition. After all, it wasn’t quite as protected as all the cards in between it and #1 in that old shoebox.

Here’s a brief look at each of the #660 cards from 1973 through 1977 before I actually reveal why I found it appropriate to build a blog post around them.

1973 Topps #660 – Fred Scherman
Southpaw Scherman spent seven seasons (1969-76) in the majors with his best years coming in relief for Detroit. In 1974 he was traded to Houston and would wrap up his career with Montreal. A highlight was his 69 appearances for the Tigers in 1971, a club record at the time.

1974 Topps #660 – Larry Dierker
Dierker’s MLB career spanned 1964-77 with all but the final season being spent with Houston (brief duty with St. Louis in 1977). Along the way he became the Astros first 20-game winner in 1969 and tossed a no-hitter in 1976. He would later serve as Astros manager from 1997-2001.

1975 Topps #660 – Hank Aaron
What can you say about the greatest #660 card of all-time? Just an amazing man, home run king and one of my favorite ball players despite only seeing the end of his illustrious career. Did you know that if you take away every homer “Hammerin’ Hank” hit, he would still have 3,000 hits? (3,771 hits – 755 homers = 3,016 hits) Interestingly, the 1975 Topps set also featured “Hammer” as card #1. And while we are talking 660, do you know what contemporary of Henry Aaron posted 660 career home runs?

1976 Topps #660 – Davey Lopes
Although Lopes had a turn with my Cubs in the 80s, I will always remember him as part of a solid Dodger infield through the bulk of the 70s. From 1973 through the rest of the decade you would find, first to third, Steve Garvey, Lopes, Bill Russell and “The Penguin” Ron Cey. An adept base stealer, Lopes was also featured on a 1976 Topps Highlight card recognizing his 1975 record setting run of 38 consecutive thefts without being caught.

1977 Topps #660 – Willie Horton
Willie Horton always seemed like one of those larger than life characters to this baseball card collecting kid in early to mid-70s. A stout frame, a killer Fu Manchu and tales of some monster homers were all a pretty cool combination. In those days it was tough to see much of my American League baseball heroes until This Week in Baseball came around in the same year that this card was issued. Turns out that my larger than life guy came in at regular guy height of 5’10”. However, his impact on and off the field was monumental, particularly in Motown, where he is honored with a statue at the Tiger’s Comerica Park.

Well, if you’ve made it this far, pat yourself on the back for enduring Troy Jackson Outdoors blog posting #660 since setting off on this adventure 1,081 days ago on May 1, 2017. Not too bad of an output if I do say so myself. You know that translates into a “batting average” of .611 for any fellow baseball fans out there. Tough to say on the breakdown of the posts in terms of swinging bunts, seeing eye grounders, Texas Leaguers, doubles in the gap or the occasional dinger. But rest assured, I’m going to continue stepping up to the plate ready to take my cuts.

And since 1,000 is kind of a nice round number, I suppose I’ll sign off with a tip of the cap and get back to writing. Talk to you later. Troy

Line, Lure, License, Lose, Log (Lockout?)

The latest in a series of letdowns in our strange spring

This time of year always gets the fishing feeling flowing. Mid-February means the local Quad City Conservation Alliance Outdoor Show, which I skipped upon finding that Al Lindner was unable to make a scheduled appearance for medical reasons.

Of course, then there is baseball spring training which also turns my thoughts to better weather and getting on the water. The pre-season of my favorite past time was fun while it lasted but is now out of action.

Don’t forget the Bassmaster Classic which has lost it’s luster for me with the departure of most of the guys I followed for many years. I did tune in for the final weigh-in but overall it just doesn’t appeal to me like it did with the old roster.

And now the powers that be have shut down the outdoors as I can’t even go fishing at Snakeden Hollow State Fish & Wildlife Area. One of the places I enjoy maintaining my social distance and rarely see another human on my hikes is now off limits.

Despite the above series of letdowns, I have stuck to my pre-fishing ritual to insure that I put my best foot forward when it comes time to cast. My annual alliterative preparations consist of the following.

Line

Also threw in a new reel courtesy of a Field & Stream gift card from Christmas

Lure

Boys got new tackleboxes and we all got some new tackle

License

Illinois – check! Iowa – Check! Club Dues- Check!

Lose

Back in shape although I did get a little lax during the holidays (see below)

Once my public strip mines are out of quarantine, I’m ready for battle

Log

Here’s to 2020…

Talk to you later. Troy

Fill the Void-Content, Content, Content

Click here for my latest stunt, a YouTube channel

Interesting times these days with the dearth of current entertainment for those who are typically dialed in to arguably the most wonderful sports time of the year.

Interesting times as well, in the fact that folks can take a shot a filling that entertainment void from the comfort and relative safety of their own home. As a blogger, I loosely categorize myself as an entertainer and educator. In the world of digital media, I guess that the current designation assigned to us blogger, tweeter, social media ramblers is “content creator.”

Unfortunate and bizarre as the circumstances may be, there is substantial block of time out there that folks are looking to fill. Plans have been altered, you can only watch so many highlight reels and well, who really wants to watch the news these days? Without the escape of Cinderellas, buzzer beaters, heartwarming profiles and eventually “One Shining Moment” the made up mainstream media mumbo jumbo just gets depressing.

So, guess who has been spending more time than he should over the last few days creating content?

Your escape from reality and my effort to claim a bit of your “free time” begins now with my plunge into the world of YouTube.

And it doesn’t stop there!

A significant reveal looms on the horizon as I attempt to fill a bit of the void left behind by the missing madness.

Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Outdoor Gifts – Low End

 

The outdoor wishlist concludes with a collection dominated by stocking stuffer items that ring up at under $20 apiece. Not surprisingly, most everything comes from my favorite shopping stop, the fishing aisle.

Bass Tacklebox 101 samples, just add open water one of these days.

Sure there are apps but I like the personalization of a handwritten fishing log (landscape tops portrait).

Too big for a stocking but perfect for cookout, concert, campout or catfishing.

There you have it, plenty to offer for the outdoor type on your list. Of course, I suspect that I will be more in tune with a snow shovel and an ice scraper than a fishing pole and a hot dog fork for a while. So goes the Midwest but at least I have a blog to get me through. Lots more to come for 2019, hope you continue to stop by. Talk to you later. Troy

Outdoor Gifts – Mid Range

Round Two of suggestions for that outdoor person on your list takes a look at items in the $20-$99 price range. I’ve broken it down into a few outdoor categories with some gift options in each.

Camping

While we still roll old school in a tent, a sleeping bag directly on the ground is not the best on a fifty-something back.

Fishing

A solid rod and reel combo fits today’s price range and don’t forget the “must haves” for the tacklebag.

General

Don’t let inclement weather hold you back when a modest investment can prevent the conditions from ruining your day.

Technology

                                                         Nowadays both of these items are encompassed by a “phone” but still cool to go retro                                  (digital over film though for photography as I like the “do over” option).

Okay, not too tough on the piggybank with most of these items. And several are not solely limited to outdoor pursuits as they can come in handy year round, indoors or out. We wrap up our wish book tomorrow with a collection of low end items, many of which could be good stocking (or tacklebox) stuffers. Talk to you later. Troy

Outdoor Gifts – High End

 

Kicking off the gift list are what I consider “high dollar” items, those in excess of $100.

For each of the items featured in the above video, the range runs from right around $100 to way out of my price range. Like anything, there’s plenty of choices out there for the gift giver. It’s all about how much you wish to spend.

Today’s fishing kayaks come with a wide array of bells and whistles. But they’ll cost you. It’s your choice to pick up a $3,999 fishing kayak (yeah, really) or stick with one of the considerably less pricey base models for a few hundred bucks.

Julie and I need to get our crew back out to a campsite as it’s been a couple years. When we do, we’ll still pitch it old school via tent. Six of us can sleep in a pair of domes that maybe cost us $250 combined once upon a time.

My GoPro is a low end model but it preserves the memories just fine. No doubt it has been more than worth the cost (a gift from Julie and the kids in 2017) and I encourage fellow outdoor folks to invest if you are able. (Note: there are additional costs for editing software. I use Wondershare Filmora at $39.99 annual fee for what its worth)

A drone would be a cool addition to my outdoor blogging someday but for now the GoPro is fine for recording a personal perspective. And just for fun here’s a vote for the GoPro below.

 

In the end though, I’m a rather cheap outdoorsman (and in general) so it’s tough to pry too much cash out my wallet. Now there’s an idea for some blog posts…frugality. But first we continue with the next batch of gift ideas from the $20-$99 range. Talk to you later. Troy