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Recent entries

Troy Jackson


20 Years of Stats - Fish

Wed, March 01, 2017

My primary focus over the last 20 years has been the largemouth bass but that’s not to say that there haven’t been occasional forays into chasing other species along with more than a few rewarding bass fishing “accidents”.  To go along with my 4263 largemouth bass since 1997, here’s the rest of the 20-year tale of the tape on other species. 

20 Year Species

Coincidentally, my first ever muskie came back in 1997, a complete accident while casting a Zara Spook for bass on Snakeden’s Lake McMaster one nasty, rainy September morning with Dad.  I’d been camping nearby at Little John Conservation Club and had trolling motor issues the previous evening that ruined a proposed outing.  Then, the following morning it was raining so hard at the campsite that when Dad showed up to meet me we had to make sandwiches for lunch in the cab of his truck.  But once on the water, every cast has the potential to brighten your day…

Among those walleye on the list are a pair which combined for 18 pounds out of Lake Storey.  Dad was there for the largest of that pair too.  In the interest of honesty, both of those fish were bass fishing mistakes as well, but I’ll take ‘em.

More or less annual creek fishing trips also helped to rack up a few catches as did panfishing trips for “coon bait.”  In addition, the arrival of kids has contributed to further panfish catches but the bulk of those go on the ledgers of those budding anglers as I’m generally too busy playing guide to actually fish.  A completely different source of enjoyment on the water that I really never thought much about way back in 1997.

Anyway, more than a few tales in there regarding some of those other catches but since the vast majority of recent years has been spent bass fishing I’ll leave the rest of those tales for other days and move on to some largemouth numbers.

20 Year Bass Length Totals

We’ll start with a graph that displays the size distribution of the 4,263 bass landed in the last 20 years.  I still measure every catch to the nearest half inch and weigh those that measure up at 12” or better.

20 Year Bass Length

Shortest bass: 4.5” Lake Bracken 5/31/99 Crappie tube
Longest bass: 23.5” Buckheart Strip Mines – Fulton County 8/16/06 Senko
                23.5” Emiquon Preserve 9/2/09 Crankbait
Notes: Speaking of Emiquon, the distribution certainly got a boost of 12+” bass with the arrival of fishing at the site in 2009.  I’ll save the specifics for tomorrow’s report but the percentage at 12” or better was just staggering. 

20 Year Yearly Bass Totals

Next up is the breakdown of bass caught each year.  Really kind of weird here as I am not entirely sure what happened during 1998 and 2008 but apparently had something else to do besides fishing.  At any rate, I hope it is not a ten year thing as 2018 might look a little bleak if that’s the case.

20 Year Yearly Totals

Top Year = 2013: 345 bass The decision to take a couple hikes into some IRAP ground certainly helped set the record with 99 bass in just under nine hours.  Throw in 23 Emiquon bass (8.5 hours), 41 from another public Knox County spot I call The Buffalo Pasture (7.75 hours) and 21 from the Virginia City Reservoir (3.25 hours) where I later discovered that I may have actually been trespassing and the numbers start to add up.  Finally, I had a banner year at Snakeden with some help from a friend and there you have it, a record haul.

20 Year Yearly Bass Hours

Each outing winds up covering a time frame that breaks down to a quarter of an hour.  So if I start casting at 6:25am, I’ll make sure I call it quits at ten, forty or fifty five minutes after the hour, just kind of a silly, superstitious sort of record keeping habit.

20 Year Bass Hours

Notes: Got married in 2002 so that year and 2003 racked up a few extra hours as I likely spent more time at the fishing hole as opposed to the local watering hole, much safer that way.  Had kids in 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2011 so no surprise that there were dips in time on the water, right thing to do. Switched jobs in 2014 and moved a bit further from my regular stomping grounds so no surprise there either, plus an uptick in kids’ activities as they keep on getting bigger.  Had what I consider a solid amount of time on the water in 2016 and if I can swing a similar amount in the years to come that will be just fine, lots more to do than fish but looking forward to using some of these kids as an excuse once they get a little bigger and hopefully hooked.

20 Year Yearly Bass per Hour

Gotta do this one just for fun since I’ve got the data.  Fortunately, I have some numbers spots that make the catch rates look pretty friendly most years.  Not always the biggest in terms of quality but do manage to have a big one beat the little ones to the lure often enough to post a respectable Top 5 the last several years. 

20 Year BPH

Notes: We all know stats can often be deceiving and 2014 would be a case in point.  On the surface, a 4.45 bass/hour average sounds downright impressive.  However, one pothole gave up 20 fish in a half hour but the largest only 14.5” and 14 less than 12”.  Another spot produced 32 bass in 2.5 hours but only 6 over 12”.  I actually ate a sandwich while reeling them in, take a bite, cast, chew, catch, unhook, measure, repeat.  In contrast, however, good old Lake Storey gave me a whipping with only 5 bass in 12 hours (0.42 bass/hour) but also provided a pair of bonus muskies.  Always more to the story than just the numbers but all part of the enjoyment for me on (and off) the water.

Well, I suppose I could go on and on with some more analysis on this batch of numbers but figure I’ve kept you from doing something productive for long enough.  Besides, there’s always tomorrow.  Hope you’ll tune in again and talk to you later.  Troy


20 Years of Stats

Tue, February 28, 2017

Last year, I thought, “Hey, I should do a 20-year retrospective with some of my fishing data.” 

Then I forgot about the project and now just recently remembered it barely in time before I get to kick off a new year on the water, so what the heck.  After all, those statistics make great fodder for a guy who likes to talk fishing, so why let ‘em just sit around on a hard drive?

Okay, so I’ve been taking fishing half way seriously going back to high school which is somehow over 30 years ago.  As I’ve commented and documented here on the blog more than a few times over the years, I’ve also amassed a great deal of fishing data over that time period as well.  The last 20 years have been particularly well documented with the dawn of the personal computer age for me back in 1997.  Access databases and Excel spreadsheets were right up this stat hound’s alley and I never dreamed a word processing program would wind up getting such a workout. 

Before I get too carried away with the fishing numbers over the next several days, however, I’m going to digress into a handful of facts and observances from the last 20 years (also got more than a few blog ideas on how fishing has changed over the years stashed away for “someday”).

So, back in 1997, Kevin VanDam was fishing the 7th of what will soon be his 26th Bassmaster Classic.  He had yet to claim a victory but a record tying four were on the way.

2009 Me and my boy, Jayce, with KVD’s rig at Fort Madison, IA Bassmaster tourney.

Rick Clunn already had four Bassmaster Classic titles by 1997 but a fifth has eluded him in the interim.  However, in a cool testament to fishing being a lifelong pursuit unlike some other sports/hobbies, Clunn claimed a Bassmaster Elite Series victory last year just a few months shy of his 70th birthday.

And how about 2017 Bassmaster Elite Series contenders, David Fritts (5th place finish in 1997 Classic) and Paul Elias (did not qualify in 1997) being granted “Legends” exemptions for the Elite season? 

Anybody my age who has been a longtime Bass fan feeling a little old yet?

1997 Bass
Fishing 1997 style

On a personal level, a lot has transpired on and off the water since 1997.

Off the water has included getting married (2002), four kids (2004, 2006, 2009, 2011), four jobs, five homes, diminishing sleep and understandably some limited time on the water.

2016 Fishing
Fishing 2016 style

On the water has consisted of 1919.50 hours (1693.50 targeting bass) and 5492 fish (4263 bass).  Okay, perhaps a little obsessive on the record keeping there but that’s how I roll.

My personal best bass in 1997 stood at 5-8 (August 1988 Green Oaks on a 6” Sidewinder worm and August 93 Woody’s Middle Pond on a Zara Spook).  It’s bigger now.

Old PB
A personal best as of 1997 (caught August 1988)

In 1997, I still had eight years to go before landing my first bass on a Senko wacky rig (5/22/05 at 7:48am off Lake Bracken’s Snake Island 16.5” and 2-5).  Caught 744 more since that revelation (or would that be revolution?).

First Senko
2005 legendary catch, the first Senko bass.

Oh yeah, also back in 1997 the Cubs hadn’t won a World Series since 1908.

2017 Log
2017 features a brand new fishing log, here’s to the next 20 years.

So there’s a sample and we’ll get even more carried away with bass stats should you continue the journey for the next few days.  As always, read at your own risk, I don’t claim to know what I’m doing either fishing or writing.  Just a guy who has affliction for both hobbies (960 outdoor postings and counting since 2002, by the way).  Talk to you later.  Troy


Top 5 Update

Mon, February 27, 2017

Well, it sure didn’t feel like February in West Central Illinois a week ago and several anglers took to the water, finding some quality bass in a biting mood in the balmy weather. 

Mark Bass

Weight: 4-2
Angler: Mark Balbinot
Date: February 19
Location: Fulton County Strip Pit
Lure: Bandit 200 Crankbait (chartreuse with blue back)
Structure: Submerged brush 10-20’ of water
Angler Comments: Felt something heavy while reeling it in and thought I had a tree branch until I saw a flash under the water. Finally a bite! And it looked like a good one too. Once it was in the net I could not see my crankbait. The bass had inhaled it. Got the hooks out and weighed it - 4 -2. Nice for the first fish of the day!

Mark Bass

Weight: 2-12
Angler: Mark Balbinot
Date: February 19
Location: Fulton County Strip Pit
Lure: Bandit 200 Crankbait (chartreuse with blue back)
Angler Comments: About 10 minutes later on the same bank caught another one - 2 -12. Weird how you can go 2 hours without a bite and then in a span of 10 minutes catch 2.

Mark Bass

Weight: 2-7
Angler: Mark Balbinot
Date: February 19
Location: Fulton County Strip Pit
Lure: Bandit 200 Crankbait (chartreuse with blue back)
Angler Comments: Trolled down that bank until I got to the submerged trees. Threw that crankbait in there a caught 2 more. One at 2-4, the other at 2-7. Caught a couple other short ones and that is all she wrote for today

Mark Bass

Weight: 2-4
Angler: Mark Balbinot
Date: February 19
Location: Fulton County Strip Pit
Lure: Bandit 200 Crankbait (chartreuse with blue back)
Angler Comments: Fished a total of 4 1/2 hours today and was happy with what I caught.

Top 5 Weight: 14-4 (4-2, 2-12, 2-11, 2-7, 2-4)

Randy Bass

Weight: 3-4
Angler: Randy Sampson Sr.
Date: February 19
Location: West Central IL public water
Lure: Berkley’s Wild Thang Crankbait (crawdad)

Randy Bass

Weight: 4-14
Angler: Randy Sampson Sr.
Date: February 19
Location: West Central IL public water
Lure: Jig with pbj trailer

Top 5 Weight: 8-2 (4-14,3-4)

Brent Bass

Weight: 3-2
Angler: Brent Jackson
Date: February 19
Location: Snakeden Hollow
Lure: Lipless crankbait

Top 5 Weight: 3-2

Winter has since resumed but it sure looked like fun for those who got an earlier than normal shot at some open water with 70 degree temperatures to boot.  Personally, I was a little bummed as the unseasonable weather coincided with a weeklong work trip to South Carolina, Georgia and northern Iowa.  Nice weather down south too and got a peek at Lake Hartwell from the air and the interstate (just announced as the Bassmaster Classic destination for 2018) but way too busy playing IT guy to chase any bass, just my luck. 

One of those anglers above is my brother and he was kind enough (or cruel enough) to send me a photo of his freshly caught fish as I sat in a dusty Greenville, SC manufacturing plant swapping out a computer.  Actually, it was a welcome sight as though I was only about ten hours into my travels I was already homesick, so good to see a familiar face and longtime fishing partner doing his thing.  Brought a smile, wished I was alongside and also reinforced my commitment to join forces for a few overdue fishing adventures as the year progresses.  In the meantime, got a series of postings to finish this week that take a look back at some stats from the past twenty years of fishing.  Hope you’ll tune in and talk to you later.  Troy


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