Disclaimer: Okay, before proceeding, please be aware that I keep more meticulous records than any friends or family members and likely have spent more time on the water than most of those folks over the last 20 years. In other words, if you find some of what follows a bit biased I’m good with that. I do know how to fool a decent bass every once in a while but so do the other anglers on the list (and some who aren’t), they just may not be so obsessive about weighing, documenting and reporting.
Now that that is out of the way, here’s the rundown on the Top Bass for each of the last 20 years among my group of family and friends.
Date – While the first half of the year leads the back half (13 to 7), every month except January and December is represented. Not surprising that these months are absent and pretty cool that the rest make the list. Guess that just reinforces my approach that “the best time to fish is anytime you can.”
My boy, Jayce, checks out his Uncle Dave’s 2012 Top Bass 5-9
Anglers – Dad, a pair of brother in laws and a family friend join me on this “prestigious” list as the record book has long consisted of “extended family.” The entire record book actually dates back to 1986 and includes several other anglers including my brother, Brent (Top Bass 1986, 1991, 1992), longtime buddies Matt Reynolds (Top Bass 1988) and Mark Junk (Top Bass 1994 and uncle of Brady Junk our 2010 and 2011 Top Bass champ) and it is worth noting that Terry Jackson, better known as Dad, also has a couple other titles beyond 2008 (Top Bass 1987, 1996).
Brady Junk 2010 Top Bass 6-8
Location – I feel a little guilty here as all but one of our yearly records come from private waters with the lone exception being the 2009 Top Bass caught at Emiquon. Obviously, there’s nothing like having some private “honey holes” but none of these locations are teeming with big, dumb fish, they still take some time and effort. Plenty of time and effort has also been spent on public water as well with some quality catches that just failed to be the biggest of the year.
This is one of the things I dig about having kept all these stats and now taking some time to reminisce or evaluate. For me, the lures on this list are marked by trends, timing and location.
Spinnerbaits - The 1997 and 1998 fish on spinnerbaits came during a time when I was a real heavy spinnerbait guy and Lake Bracken in particular had some very productive spinnerbait friendly structure. Spinnerbaits have kind of fallen out of vogue in general and for various reasons I guess I have followed the trend.
Tim Townsend 2000 Top Bass 8-4
Jigs – The 8-4 caught in 2000 by my former brother in law on a nasty April afternoon is the kind of fish that you read about in the fishing magazines but only encounter once in a lifetime, maybe. Early spring, black and blue jig and pig, what else is there to say? In fact, all three jig bass on the list fell to this tried and true color combo.
Plastic Worms – Plastic worm can represent a variety of types and presentations but beginning in 2005 it began to mean Senko wacky rig almost exclusively. And the Top Bass from 2005-2007 were all landed on this particular presentation during the first few years of a trend that has yet to wear off.
Troy Jackson 2009 Top Bass 7-3
Crankbaits – The 2009 Emiquon fish was a result of what I like to call “personality” as it pertains to fishing holes. That was the first year of public access at Emiquon and it sure didn’t take long to discover that when the light switch flipped on down there power fishing was the fastest and most effective way to land some aggressive bass. No sense dragging anything around on the bottom or through the brush when you could reel ‘em in as fast as you could cast with standard or lipless cranks. As most bass anglers know, the bass will clue you in to what they want and in the rare case of those early Emiquon days they were screaming so loud that even I knew to put the Senko away.
Troy Jackson 2013 Top Bass 5-10, I think, read below
Buzzbait – The 2013 Top Bass has an interesting detail that I never revealed in the initial report on the blog. Anytime you can get a brute on a topwater it is indeed a blast and this one had me talking to myself as I lipped it and brought it aboard. You see, I have never caught a six-pounder (two 5-15 and a 7-3 but no six) and I sure thought this was the one. Truth is my scale started going haywire as I attempted to weight the thing, jumping all over the in the upper five to lower six-pound range. I tried several times to get a solid read but was unsuccessful and finally settled on a conservative 5-10 which became the final recorded weight. It doesn’t keep me up at night but I sometimes still wonder what might have been if I had a properly functioning scale. As an admittedly biased observer, in comparing it to some other catches, I still think it may have been my six (compare to 5-9 pictured below). On the upside, it was released so no doubt that next time I catch it I will have a first.
Troy Jackson 2016 Top Bass 5-9
Lipless Crankbaits – The latest trend in Top Bass has been the early season lipless crankbait approach. Nothing new here among bass anglers but the immediate feedback over the last two years has been nothing short of amazing. The 2015 fish was my first fish of the year and the 2016 fish was my second catch of the year. On one hand, too bad I couldn’t boost my best the rest of the way in each of the last two years but those two early bites set the bar rather high for this guy.
Well, hope you enjoyed the ride through the last 20 years of bass fishing this week as my primer for 2017 although I don’t really need incentive as much as I need free time to get my year started. Thanks to those who have provided something to cheer about already this year via our Top 5 as we continue to add to our cumulative record book. Speaking of that project, already have half a dozen new entries ready to go for the Monday update. Talk to you later. Troy