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Troy Jackson
TROY
JACKSON

Meandering

Strip Mine Report 4/8

Wed, April 12, 2017

While March was able to fill out my Top Five in a pair of trips with a lunker to anchor my limit, it still left plenty of room for improvement as the other four in my creel were all under two pounds.  During my first April day on the water I was fortunate to displace a couple of those fish and fool a decent quantity as well.  It took some legwork to do it, here’s the rest of the story.

Stats
Date: April 8, 2017
Locations: Private pond and IRAP public strip pits-Knox Co. (7 lakes)
Time: 8:00am-9:00am and 10:45am-5:20pm (IRAP = 5.00 hrs. fishing the rest walking)
Weather: Sunny/very windy
Air Temp: 45F-72F
Water Temp: 53-58F
Totals: 24 bass
Lures: Booyah Blade Spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) with twin tail trailer (salt & pepper) – 13 bass, 3/8 oz. Strike King Rattlin’ Jig (black/blue) with #11 pork frog (black) – 7 bass, Chatterbait (bluegill) with swimbait trailer (watermelon) – 1 bass, KVD 2.5 Rattling Squarebill Crankbait (sexy ghost minnow) – 1 bass, Strike King Red Eye Shad (sexy shad) – 1 bass, 3/8 oz. Fish Head Underspin (white) with 4” Keitech Swing Impact (electric shad) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 3-6 Jig & Pig
Top 5 Weight: 10-0 (3-6,2-1,1-12,1-8,1-5)

Underspin Bass
8:01am First bass of the day, one minute into casting and first ever Underspin bass, nothing particularly impressive but a good start to what would be a good day.

Notes & Nonsense

Work Pond – First stop was a pond that I was given access to through my employer.  I knew the pothole existed at one of the plant locations but never gave it much thought in terms of fish or fishing.  One hour to start the day with temps in the 40’s produced four short bass (Jig & pig -2 bass, Underspin – 1, Chatterbait – 1) and a visit from a regular who informed of a fish kill a couple years ago that wiped out the quality bass (up to six pounds).  Oh well, cool to fish new water, got my first underspin bass and likely will come back again as the water warms and the surviving residents get more active.

Top Bass Runner-Up
11:58am 16” 2-1 Spinnerbait, eventual runner-up for the day’s Top Bass

Troy Bass
1:44pm 16” 1-12 Jig & pig

IRAP – Next stop was some public access Knox County strip pits accessible via the Illinois Recreational Access Program which I have taken advantage of dating back to 2013 with solid results.  Walk-in only access is a double edged sword at the site.  On the upside, it offers off the beaten path angling and a stick and jab approach with numerous potholes; no bites in fifteen minutes or so, move on to the next body of water.  The downside is the fact that my iPhone Health app recorded a total walking distance of 5.2 miles from 10:19am when I left my truck until 5:50pm when I got back (13,365 steps, by the way, for any Fitbit fans out there).  And this ain’t some leisurely stroll around the neighborhood as undeveloped strip mine terrain pretty much stinks.  Last fall I performed a similar stunt and wasn’t sure I wanted to pull it again.  However, as I surmised, an early season trip is much more user friendly as the weeds are manageable (both terrestrial and aquatic) and no mosquitoes yet compared to the previous outing where I darn near needed a transfusion.

IRAP Distance
So you wanna do the walk-in only access thing?  And that’s only covering seven of the couple dozen possible fishing holes.  That “Flights Climbed” thing gives me a chuckle too, sure would be nice if some of those strip pit banks indeed had stairs.

Troy Bass
1:52pm 14” 1-8 Spinnerbait - Always fun trying to get a shot of the catch on a regular camera instead of a selfie in the crazy terrain.

Troy Bass
2:16pm 14” 1-5 Spinnerbait rounds out my Top 5 for the day along with the Top Bass pictured below

Weather – Though I wound up a bit sore, bank fishing was definitely the right choice on this day as the wind was howling out of the south and would have been a bear to deal with in a little johnboat.  In addition, the recent heavy rains in the area had really pumped up the lakes to a fuller pool than I have ever seen before.  Even so, they were not muddied up and with the wind chop on the surface and the windblown banks being riled up it really made for some favorable conditions.  If there was anything that was less than optimal it was a lack of cloud cover but after barely seeing the sun this month, no complaint, I can deal with it.

Troy Bass
12:58pm Top Bass 18” 3-6 Jig & pig, caught early enough in the day that I was able to assume the catcher’s stance for a pic and not need help getting back up.

Textbook Success – Top Bass came in a classic spot on my first cast after relocating to IRAP fishing hole number three.  This narrow cut/pothole runs north to south meaning that on this day the wind was just pounding a ledge on the north end that drops pretty rapidly from about two feet into ten plus.  My jig and pig offering was met with a telltale tick after a couple hops down the drop and the result was a 3-6 with an impressive well-fed gut.  Pretty cool when it works like that but I will also admit that during the course of the day there were many other similar, can’t miss setups that just didn’t pan out despite considerable effort.  Runner-up Top Bass at 2-1, however, did show up in a windblown chute on a spinnerbait after the jig and the underspin proved ineffective.  Lesson here is that if you think a spot sets up to hold a fish give it a variety of offerings before giving up.

A productive day on the water and what a nice day to be outside. I’ve waited all the way since February for this one, kind of a weird year.  Between the sun and wind I even wound up looking like a real bass fisherman with a burnt nose, cheeks and neck combined with pale eyes and forehead.  Can’t ditch the sides of my beard now for a while though as it would look even weirder than the customary shaggy goatee.  When it was all said and done, my back put up some protest regarding my habit of hauling too much tackle and one knee was a bit stiff but overall I was pleased with my ability to successfully pull off this stunt one more time.  Might just have to do it again…Talk to you later.  Troy

 

 

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Top 5 Update

Mon, April 10, 2017

A three year Top 5 veteran is back with his first 2017 bass submissions and I get a reasonable bump in weight with a couple nice catches from my first April outing.

Jake Bass

Weight: 3-10
Angler: Jake Breeson
Date: April 1
Location: Northern IL pond
Lure: Jonn Graham Swim Jig

Jake Bass

Weight: 3-7
Angler: Jake Breeson
Date: April 1
Location: Northern IL pond
Lure: Jonn Graham Swim Jig
Angler Comments:  Yesterday I got out on what used to be my favorite bass pond but in recent years it’s been garbage save for 6.6 I sent you a couple April’s ago. Last night she gave me 2 bass that actually were measurable and went 3 lbs 10oz and a 3 lb 7 Oz fish. That gives me a little hope that the pond is coming back from a couple different fish kills but I’m not holding my breath till I start seeing fish like that on a regular basis. These fish both fell to a Jonn Graham swim jig and were the only 2 to take a swipe at it…I did catch 8-10 bass all on a tube but I didn’t feel measuring them was worth it.
Top 5 Weight: 7-1 (3-10,3-7)

Troy Bass

Weight: 2-1 (16”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 8
Location: IRAP public strip pits – Knox County
Lure: Booyah Blade Spinnerbait (white/chartreuse) w/ twin tail trailer (salt & pepper)
Structure: Windblown chute
Angler Comments: Took some work and several lure offerings in the north end of a north-south strip pit that was just getting pounded by a south wind.  Crawling the lure just off the bottom in maybe 4’ of wind stained water got the job done.

Troy Bass

Weight: 3-6 (18”)
Angler: Troy Jackson
Date: April 8
Location: IRAP public strip pits – Knox County
Lure: 3/8 oz. Strike King Rattlin’ Jig (black/blue) with #11 pork frog (black)
Structure: Windblown ledge
Angler Comments: Different lake but identical windblown setup as described above but immediate results as this fish came on my first cast in this body of water.  A perfect scenario that worked just like in the magazines and worthy of a fist pump, all alone, in the middle of nowhere. Fishing is good!
Top 5 Weight: 15-4 (6-2,3-6,2-1,1-15,1-12) culls 1-10 and 1-3

Glad to have Jake (our 2014 Top 5 champ) back on board with some quality fish and it sure was nice for me to get out again on an outstanding spring day (report coming later this week).  If anybody else managed to get out and fool a few fish this past weekend go ahead and pass them along, be happy to hear from you.  Best of luck and talk to you later.  Troy

 

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Top 5 Stats

Wed, April 05, 2017

Three months, 24 bass, 2 northern pike, six anglers and three limits.  Here’s the rest.

2017 Totals (* = new record)
*January = 1 bass (no previous entries)
*February = 13 bass
March = 10 bass

Top 5 Weight by Month (* = new record)
*January = 2-11 (2-11) no previous record
February = 21-5 (5-2,4-14,4-2,3-15,3-4)
March = 22-15 (6-2,4-11,4-9,4-3,3-6)

Boat vs. Bank
Boat = 24 bass
Bank = 0 bass

Boat vs. Bank Weight
Boat = 25-6 (6-2,5-2,4-14,4-11,4-9)
Bank = 0 bass to date

Public vs. Private
Public = 14 bass
Private = 10 bass

Public vs. Private Top 5 Weight
Public = 23-7 (5-2,4-14,4-11,4-9,4-3)
Private = 18-2 (6-2,4-2,2-12,2-11,2-7)

The Baits - unspecified (* = new record)
Crankbaits = 10 bass (Top Bass 4-2 Mark Balbinot)
Jigs = 8 bass (Top Bass 6-2 Troy Jackson)
Lipless Crankbaits = 3 bass (Top Bass 4-3 Bruce Zilkowski)
Unsderspins = 2 bass (Top Bass 5-2 Mark Balbinot)
Jerkbait = 1 bass (Top Bass 3-0 Mark Balbinot)

Monthly Top Bass (* = new record)
January
*2-11 Mark Balbinot (no previous record)
February
5-2 Mark Balbinot
March
6-2 Troy Jackson

.
Top 10 Bass (* = new Top 10 all-time)
6-2   Troy Jackson 3/4
5-2   Mark Balbinot 2/26
4-14 Randy Sampson Sr. 2/19
4-11 Randy Sampson Sr. 3/25
4-9   Bruce Zilkowski 3/26
4-3   Bruce Zilkowski 3/26
4-2   Mark Balbinot 2/19
3-15 Bruce Zilkowski 2/19
3-6   Randy Sampson Sr. 3/4
3-4   Randy Sampson Sr. 2/19

Angler Weights
18-0 Bruce Zilkowski (4-9,4-3,3-15,3-0,2-5)
17-11 Mark Balbinot (5-2,4-2, 3-0,2-12, 2-11)
16-3   Randy Sampson Sr. (4-14,4-11,3-6,3-4)
12-10 Troy Jackson (6-2,1-15,1-12,1-10,1-3)
3-2   Brent Jackson (3-2)

Bonus Species – Northern Pike
54.5” Jake Breeson (33.5”,21.0”)

Best of luck and keep ‘em coming as we work through the first third of 2017.  Talk to you later.  Troy

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