Top 5 Update

Time is running out on access to the collection of lakes at Snakeden Hollow and my brother has made the most of his time to get away and take his shot.

Weight: 2-4
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: September 30
Location: Snakeden Hollow
Lure: Senko wacky rig

Weight: 2-8
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: September 30
Location: Snakeden Hollow
Lure: Senko wacky rig

Weight: 3-8
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: September 30
Location: Snakeden Hollow
Lure: Senko wacky rig

Weight: 2-4
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: October 2
Location: Snakeden Hollow
Lure: Senko wacky rig
Top 5 Weight: 18-11 (4-7,4-0,4-0,3-8,2-12) culls 2-6

Don’t quote me on it as it seems that there is always some confusion on the final day of Snakeden access, but I am guessing October 18. If you try your luck before closing time, send those catches my way. And here’s hoping Brent gets back out and finds the needed ounces to push him to the 20-pound mark. Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Report – September 27

For quite a few years, I used to do a series similar to Bassmaster’s “Day on the Lake” where I would log the details of every fish caught by me and my fishing partner that day. I then shifted gears to a similar project that I called “Lake Lowdown”, and last year I missed compiling such a post altogether. Well, the concept returned on this trip to Lake Storey minus any sort of fancy name.

Stats

Date: September 27, 2021
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Time: 6:35am-1:50pm
Weather: Sunny/windy
Air Temp: 65-86F
Water Temp: 70F
Totals: 18 bass (Troy = 10 bass, Brent = 8 bass)
Lures: Emiquon Special Spinnerbait – 5 bass, War Eagle Spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) – 5 bass, Strike King Rattling Squarebill Crankbait (natural pumpkinseed) – 3 bass, Bomber Flat A crankbait – 3 bass, Berkley Havoc Pit Boss (green pumpkin) – 2 bass
Top Bass: 2-14 Pit Boss
Top 5 Weight: 8-13 (2-14,2-7,1-4,1-2,1-2)

The Starting Lineup for the morning

Chronology of the Catch – a slideshow below of every bass from #1 through #18

 

Notes and Nonsense

Picnic Fishing – While I do not condone vandalism, submerged picnic tables have been a winner on Lake Storey. Quite a few years ago, Dad reeled in several bass from one that has since been removed. However, there is one that remains hidden until the full extent of a drawdown is in effect. On this day, about six inches of the beams of the legs was visible and right on time, a bass that called it home took a liking to my spinnerbait.

Close Call – It has been quite a few years since we have hooked an “accident” with teeth. Lake Storey contains some quality walleye and a few muskies that are downright scary and occasionally, one takes a liking to our bass lures (truly, if it is in the water, they are kind of every species lures). Brent had a muskie strike near boatside and had it briefly hooked before it came undone. His estimate was upper 20s to low 30s in length and unfortunate that it let go as it is always a treat to get one in the boat.

Last trip a rock, this trip a sock

For My Next Trick – On the previous trip to Lake Storey in September, I somehow managed to “catch” a rock. It had me scratching my head as I reeled it in and we had a laugh once it was “landed.” This time around, I wound up reeling in a sock. Not quite as exciting as the fight was more like a leaf and not particularly heavy. Once again, we had a laugh and I mentioned to Brent that at least it didn’t have a foot in it. He agreed saying that it would cause undue hassle as there would likely be some paperwork involved with the authorities. Jokingly (sort of), I said perhaps I would be better off in such a case to just throw it back. We also landed some decent logs.

Best logs of the day, at least they didn’t claim any lures

Another enjoyable day fishing the fall drawdown and a decent haul in fooling a good batch of those wary Lake Storey bass. I am hoping to get one more shot at them before the year is done but time will tell. And time is also a factor in my efforts to post another “Prowl the Canal” update along with the latest Top 5 Update courtesy of Brent chasing Snakeden bass before the gates are locked in mid-October. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – October 1986

Ah, yes, the good old Lake Bracken spillway back in the early days of access and carp chasing. We’ve been here before in Friday Flashback but there’s always plenty to write about when reminiscing.

For starters, these shots are from back in the thermal and flannel days. Not a bad fall look even today as far as my limited fashion sense goes. Practical for the cool fall days and a rustic, somewhat rugged look perfectly suited for outdoor adventure.

Throw in a Galesburg Silver Streak baseball cap and a wad of Red Man or Levi Garrett in the cheek for good measure (can you still say “Red Man” these days?). Yes, I guess once upon a time I thought I was a baseball player. Don’t know the last time I tried to hit or throw a baseball and grateful that I eventually kicked the chew habit sometime in the mid-90s.

As far as the catch, those carp were a blast in The Spillway although they could be kind of strange at times. Some days they were on fire, others it seemed like there was nobody home. Some days only one person caught them and other days several anglers got a piece of the action. I also don’t know how they replenished in that small pool as it did not appear that we were repeatedly catching the same fish. In fact, the specimens here are unique and look like what are called “mirror carp” as the scales are not uniform but rather irregular.

Fun pics for me to pull out of the album for a flashback but I wish I could recall who had tagged along to serve as the photographer. Likely, it was either my brother, Brent, or one of the Junk brothers (John or Mark) as we spent more than a few days down there trying to tempt those bugle mouths. But since the only pics from the outing are me, I would guess it wasn’t Brent as he generally outfishes me. The Junk brothers on the other hand…just kidding (sort of).

Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – September 26

Closing time is nearing on the Knox County public strip mines so choosing a destination for last Sunday’s outing was not too hard. The tough part comes down to which spots to fish. Read on to see if I made the right decision.

Stats
Date: September 26, 2021
Location: Knox County, IL public strip pits (6 lakes)
Time: 8:05am-12:30pm (3.25 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny/windy
Air Temp: 53-80F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 14 bass, 1 green sunfish
Lures: War Eagle Spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) – 10 bass, Strike King 2.5 Squarebill crankbait (sexy shad) – 4 bass
Top Bass: 3-5 Spinnerbait
Top 5 Weight: 9-13 (3-5,2-8,1-8,1-5,1-3)

Trip Tune
“I Ain’t As Good As I Once Was” – Toby Keith (2005)
I heard this one on the radio on my way to the fishing holes. It hit the spot as I knew I had a workout waiting in my pursuit of some bites. Every year I ponder if it is still worth the effort and so far, the answer remains “Yes.”

Notes and Nonsense

A Nice Problem – Public access to the strip pits in Knox County offers up dozens of bodies of water to explore. Beginning close to 35 years ago, I made my first casts on what is now Snakeden Hollow’s Lake McMaster, which at the time was not open to the public. In the intervening years, I have covered a lot of ground and fished a lot of water. As such, it is tough to choose which batch of fishing holes to target for each trip as there are way too many to cover in one day.

 

The Selection – I chose an access where I could fish a half dozen spots. While it takes roughly ten minutes to reach my first destination, the others are then relatively close. However, it is some tough walking this time of the year as the terrestrial vegetation is some places is armpit deep and rather dense. I wound up fishing six bodies of water and landed a bass in all but the final stop. Three different lakes posted a bass in my Top 5 including one that I can’t recall fishing before. Even after many years of prowling, there’s always more to learn.

Once I finished my day on the water, I stopped by my folks’ house to visit and do a bit of prep work on Dad’s boat in advance of a Lake Storey trip. But that’s another story. Stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Top 5 Update

Three three-pounders this week including one from a new angler to the Top 5. The other pair from a not so new guy.

Weight: 3-13
Angler: Emerson Hannam
Date: September 26
Location: Private pond
Lure: Wacky rigged Senko
Top 5 Weight: 3-13 (3-13)

Weight: 3-1
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: September 25
Weather: Sunny/breezy
Location: Hennepin Canal
Lure: Rebel Pop’R Zell Rowland Model
Structure: Open water
Angler Comments: This fish was the second quality fish in the first two casts I made at sunrise on the canal. It missed on the first strike but came back for a second chance as I resumed the retrieve after a brief pause.

Weight: 3-5
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: September 26
Weather: Sunny/windy
Location: Knox County public strip pit
Lure: War Eagle Spinnerbait (white chartreuse)
Structure: Weed edge
Angler Comments: It took some hiking through some high weeds but a fish like this one makes if worth the work.
Top 5 Weight:19-1 (4-10,4-3,3-9,3-6,3-5) culls a 3-4

Way to go, Emerson, and welcome aboard with a very impressive catch. It sure is tough to beat the Senko wacky rig.

Up next, I have a backlog of reports following a three-day weekend of fishing so stay tuned and talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – September 24, 2006

Fifteen years ago, I had the good fortune of prowling a fantastic batch of Fulton County fishing holes. Collectively, they were referred to as the Buckheart strip mines. It wasn’t the first time that I had prowled these waters, but it would be the next to last visit. Below is an excerpt from the original post detailing a full day on the water with my brother-in-law, David Breuer and my nephew, Dylan Breuer.

David with our Top Bass Runner-Up on the day at 4-1

Originally posted 10-6-2006

On September 24th I had another opportunity to fish the Buckheart strip mines near Canton. The waters had been kind to me on previous outings and my trip with David and Dylan was no exception. We put in a full day as our first casts hit the water a little after 7:00 am and we headed for home around 6:00 pm. In between, we fished nine bodies of water ranging from large-scale strip pits to potholes that you could easily cast a lure across. We began our day in the boat but spent the bulk of the day prowling the banks. Several bass joined the record book and though I felt that I struggled at times, I still wound up catching 32 bass. David was easily the top angler of the day putting on an impressive display both in quantity and quality. Dylan came on strong after a rough start to teach me a thing or two about fishing even though I’ve got a twenty-five-year head start. It’s fun to watch a kid when he gets a good bite going and puts on a show. He’s a good kid, and pretty quiet too, so he doesn’t rub it in too much.

A Tale of Two Days – When we began our day, we launched the boat to overcast skies, strong winds, cool temperatures, and a looming threat of rain. My turtleneck and sweatshirt were a good decision though I did question leaving my rain suit in my truck. By early afternoon, it seemed like a completely different day as I had worked up a sweat under sunny skies and warming temps. We had a smattering of rain mid-morning that led to the decision to trailer the boat in case things got ugly but that was the extent of the precipitation. The changing weather conditions didn’t really seem to have much of an effect on getting bites, as it seemed at least someone was catching fish throughout most of the day. With three anglers pounding the water and frequently changing fishing holes we managed to avoid prolonged dry spells.

Dylan with a 3-14 for his Top Bass of the outing

Results – Between the three of us we easily caught well over a hundred bass on a variety of offerings. The top baits were Rat L Traps, Senkos, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. We added five bass to the record book, but the largest fish of the day was not weighed. David caught one in the five-pound range at our final stop but did not have his scale with him at the time and I was on the opposite side of the lake making it impractical to head his way with my scale and camera. Despite this unfortunate situation, he still managed to claim Top Bass with a 4-1 landed earlier in the day on a Rat L Trap. Dylan later took a shot at the title but fell a few ounces short with a 3-14 on a spinnerbait. Dylan also claimed the third spot with a 3-2 on a Rat L Trap and I added a 2-15 (Rapala Rattlin Rap) and a 2-6 (Senko) to round out or new entries.

 

Good memories from some classic fishing holes. But as time moved on, parcels of the land were sold off and now reside behind locked gates for which I no longer have a key. I sure wish that I would have taken more advantage of the access I had back in those days, but old fish stories and flashbacks will have to suffice. Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Extras – September 19

 

While Brent and I caught decent numbers and some quality fish on last Sunday’s outing, as with any trip, there’s more to the story than just the catch. Today’s post features some of the peripheral highlights from our day on the water.

I like to launch in the dark to be on the water by the official sunrise. To do so with a 45-minute drive to the fishing hole, I’ve got to get up and get on the road early. At least as summer wanes, the sunrise isn’t quite so early and having a fishing partner meet you at the lake with the boat in tow also helps.

The first casualty of the trip was a reel as the level wind gave out on my Bass Pro Shops Tourney Special model. I am a frugal fisherman (and human) so the dozen or so years that I got out of this low budget reel was just fine. I tried to keep fishing with it even though the line piled to one side of the spool but eventually it seized up and forced my hand to put it away. It now joins the tub of reels from the last 35 years that need to find a reel repair shop.

Casualty number two was Brent’s Shimano Black Magnum Fightin’ Rod which snapped in half on a cast. I don’t know if he was sadder or I was, as those old Shimano Fightin’ Rod models take me back to our earliest days of bass fishing. Old school 5’6” rods with a tapered blank that was fat at the reel seat were a hot item for us back in the 1980s. I remember admiring one for many days at Farm King before finally breaking down and spending some money. Mine is long gone and Brent’s was the last of its kind in our arsenal.

In the back of one pocket on the lake, we spotted a couch on the bare, mucky bank of exposed bottom. We shook our heads at the ambitiousness of the vandals responsible, first pondering why someone would do such a thing. And why in the world would you go through the effort of hauling it to such a remote location?

Prior to this trip, I think I could say that in all my years of fishing that I had never caught a rock. There’s a first for everything and I don’t believe that I will soon forget the odd occurrence. It was strange sensation, wondering what was on the line. I’ve caught logs, sticks, trash, a jar, a glove, rope, fishing line and other random items and most can deceive with some lateral movement or varied resistance on the retrieve. This one was just dead weight which makes sense in hindsight, it fought like I would imagine a rock would fight.

Brent poked fun at my fishing shoes as they have seen better days. Julie keeps telling me that I should throw them away, but I believe that they are good for plenty more fishing and lawn mowing. As far as the latter task, Brent stated that they looked like they had been hit with a lawnmower. But after a good day on the water, I certainly need to keep them on hand for more good luck.

To round out today’s post, it is always good to have a fishing partner along for various reasons. One of those reasons is photography as it alleviates the selfie and timer shots. On this outing it also allowed for Brent to shoot what I call a fishing magazine photo. We don’t normally pull the zoom in/hold your arm out stunt. In fact, I just grin as I peruse the social media pics of fish that look freakishly (and foolishly) large. This bass weighed in at 2-9 but could certainly pass for a larger fish if one didn’t shoot straight.

An entertaining day on the water and always looking forward to seeing what the next trip holds in store. Talk to you later. Troy

Lake Storey Report – September 19

September means the annual drawdown at Lake Storey and calls for at least a visit or two back to my “home lake.” My brother, Brent, and I caught our first fish in Lake Storey sometime in the 1970s and we’re still going strong all these years later.

 

Stats

Date: September 19, 2021
Location: Lake Storey – Knox County, IL
Time: 6:25am-1:40pm
Weather: Sunny/calm to windy
Air Temp: 66-89F
Water Temp: 76-78F
Totals: 27 bass (Troy = 14 bass, Brent = 13 bass. 1 crappie)
Lures: Strike King Rattling Squarebill Crankbait (natural pumpkinseed) – 12 bass, Bomber Flat A crankbait – 8 bass, Emiquon Special spinnerbait – 4 bass Strike King Red Eye Shad (orange craw) – 2 bass, 5” Yamasenko wacky rig – 1 bass,
Top Bass: 2-9 Troy Crankbait
Top 5 Weight: 10-10 (2-9,2-8,2-3,1-11,1-11)

Notes and Nonsense

The Prediction – My boy, Zac, always harasses me about his Uncle Brent being a better fisherman than me. I play along knowing that years of firsthand observation show that trip by trip it varies as to who is “the best”. Prior to the trip I asked Zac how many bass he thought we would catch, and he answered “twenty-five.” His optimism exceeded mine and I offered up that a ten bass outing for me at Lake Storey is a solid day. He then grinned and offered up that Uncle Brent would outfish me 7 to 2. It turns out the Zac’s original prediction was close as we landed 27 bass. However, I was the one grinning when I told him that I had the most bass. Of course, he was quick to add that the difference was “only” one fish. All in good fun, and who’s counting anyway? At least until we get back to the boat ramp.

Bonus crappie caught on a spinnerbait

The Presentations – The drawdown leaves the shoreline structure high and dry which means that you need to fish the contours, any still submerged visible structure and those “secret spots” that are never visible to the naked eye. And in our case, we fish fast unless the bass tell us otherwise. Fortunately, for us they were quite responsive to a batch of “power” presentations including crankbaits, a spinnerbait, and a lipless crank. The successful Senko wacky rig offering got left behind as a result. Whether it is not as effective on Lake Storey or whether we just don’t throw it enough out there is up for debate. But if the bass are biting on my other choices, I’ve got no problem saving the Senko for another day.

I guess that’s about all I’ve got to say for today. The bass did the talking and we’ve been listening and learning for many years. This day was our day but Lake Storey can be a finicky fishing hole so who knows what lies in store should we get another shot this fall. I expect we will so stay tuned and also watch for another post of some additional Lake Storey stories from this outing. Talk to you later. Troy

Friday Flashback – September 13, 2006

My “home” lake, Lake Storey, is in the process of the annual fall drawdown which I always find to be a welcome sight. It can also coincide with some good fishing if you are in the right place at the right time. Fifteen years ago this week, Dad and I timed it well as noted in the following excerpt from an old fishing report.

Originally posted 9-30-06

September 13, 2006
Dad and I had planned a trip but were unsure of our destination until the night before when I dropped Helena off for her overnight stay at Gamaw and Papa’s. I was torn between Lake Bracken and one of the Little John lakes that we’ve neglected this year. However, Dad mentioned that Lake Storey was already in the process of its Fall drawdown. He also went on to mention that Brent had seen a guy with a large muskie during a family gathering on 9/10. In addition, Tim had some luck with muskies last year during similar conditions, so we figured it was worth another try.

September 13, 2006 at 7:55am – 36.5″ muskie on a Rapala DT6 crankbait

We were not disappointed as we each managed to boat a muskie. Mine came aboard first and measured 36.5 inches and weighed 9-15 to best Tim’s muskie record by two pounds. The fish was caught at 7:55 am, just over an hour into our trip. It bit while bass fishing with a Rapala DT6 (parrot) that hooked up almost as soon as it hit the water. When I set the hook, I actually said to Dad, “I think it’s a snag.” Then the snag started moving, and then we recognized a different and much larger body plan than a bass. Dad did an excellent job netting the fish and we brought it aboard, snapped a few photos, released the fish, and had to cut my crankbait out of the dipnet. I figured that no matter what happened the rest of the day, I was a happy fisherman. However, I’m greedy and hoped for more as we had plenty of fishing left.

September 13, 2006 – 37.5″ muskie on a Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait

My muskie record stood for approximately an hour and a half before a larger muskie came aboard. Dad nailed this one off the west side of Freak’s Point on a Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait (splatterback sunfish). His fish measured 37.5 inches and weighed in at 10-11. I snapped a couple pictures as he fought the fish along with a few more after it was landed. The muskie was Dad’s first entry for the species although he has caught one before the days of recorded history. He presently sits atop the Top Muskie list with the third record buster from Lake Storey in the last two years. The crazy thing is there is likely a fish in the lake that is three and quite possibly four times as large. Not only would this fish shatter our record, but it would also be a state record if it tips the scales in excess of 38-8. A final note on these fish is the fact that they were longer than either of my kids are tall (Helena’s around 34”) and outweighed the little one (Carly weighed in at 9-7 during her latest checkup).

1-12 on a Power Craw

2-8 on a Power Craw

Oh yeah, we also fooled a few bass and a walleye. Dad caught seven bass with the largest being 2-8 and 1-12. This pair fell to a Berkeley Power Craw that he flipped into the branches of a downed tree. He landed the others on a Rapala Jointed Minnow and a Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait. I failed to catch any bass but started our day with a small walleye (11”) that hit a Mann’s 4- crankbait (red shiner).

If things work out, I intend to take a shot or two during this year’s drawdown. As always, you’ll get the firsthand report, good or bad, here at your favorite fishing blog. Talk to you later. Troy

Strip Mine Report – September 10

A busy Friday last week finished with a couple hours on some old stomping grounds. Prior to getting on the water, I had worked a half day, visited with a fishing buddy, paid my respects to another fishing friend who recently passed away and had a good visit with my folks while back in Galesburg.

Stats
Date: September 10, 2021
Location: Little John Conservation Club – Knox County, IL
Time: 5:10pm-7:20pm (2.00 hours fishing)
Weather: Sunny/breezy to calm
Air Temp: 64-75F
Water Temp: not available
Totals: 2 bass, 7 bluegill
Lures: War Eagle Spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) – 2 bass, Gulp Minnow (emerald shiner) on a 1/16 oz. jighead (pink) – 7 bluegill
Top Bass: 2-13 Spinnerbait
Top 5 Weight (only 2 at 12” or better): 4-9 (2-13,1-12)

5:35pm – First bass 1-12 (15.5″) on a spinnerbait

Notes and Nonsense

Overdue and Off Limits – I’ve fished Little John Conservation Club for close to 35 years but had only managed one visit this year as my casting has focused on other waters. With several spots to choose from at Little John it is a challenge to decide where to fish. While I had it narrowed down to two spots, my decision was made for me as the first choice was off limits to anglers due to goose hunting. I can’t recall ever experiencing such a restriction at Little John before. I agree that the goose population could certainly stand to be thinned but it frustrates me to see it limit my fishing (see also Snakeden Hollow).

Believe it or not, these bass were only separated by an ounce in weight as displayed on scale and described below

Same Size, Different Shape – I like fish and over the years I’ve come to appreciate the variation in size, shape, and color of many of the species that swim in our area waters. In particular, the body plan and hues of my favorite, the largemouth bass, always catch my eye. On this trip, my Top Bass weighed in at 2-13 and measured 17” in length. Without getting into my vast collection of data over the years, those measurements indicate a stout, solid bass. In contrast, Brent landed a 2-12 a couple days later that was considerably longer (around 19” or 20”) but was rather gaunt. The series of pics above feature these catches along with the reading on my scale. Angler honesty has long been a point of contention and in some cases questionable. Indeed, it is tough to believe that these fish essentially tipped the scales at the same weight. No way that I would guess that from the photos, so I guess the moral of this fish story is to shoot straight and let the internet haters hate.

Gulp Minnow Master – I was able to get the afternoon off from work so that I could attend the visitation of an old fishing friend, Larry Smith. Larry and I have been telling fish stories off and on since the late 80s and our correspondence had really kicked up a notch over the last ten years or so via emails, texts, and some on the water visits. Larry was a wizard with a jar of Berkley Gulp Minnows as his catches were phenomenal in terms of both quantity and quality. While he often focused on bluegill and crappie, he and his Gulp Minnows landed nearly every species that swims. In fact, just a week before Larry passed away, he texted me a picture of a good Lake Storey muskie and informed via email that “Two days ago caught a musky at Lake Storey to complete my catching every species of fish that swims there on a Gulp Minnow.” A master indeed and I sure will miss his fish stories.

Dedicated the end of the evening to some Gulp Minnow fishing for an old friend

Talk to you later. Troy