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Heartland Outdoors July 2017 cover catfish flathead rend  lake

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Troy Jackson
TROY
JACKSON

Meandering

Strip Mine Report 3/4

Wed, March 08, 2017

Let’s just say that this whole first bass thing has gotten a little ridiculous the last couple years.  Quality fish to kick off the year in 2015 (first bass 5-13) and 2016 (second bass 5-9) both wound up being my Top Bass for those respective years, pretty wild stuff.  Those fortunate catches still sound like fish stories even now as I type this up and perhaps I too would struggle to believe some goofy blogger.  That is, if I weren’t the guy with the front row seat. 

So, how did 2017 get started?

Well, just for fun, I’m gonna keep you in suspense for several paragraphs before the reveal (no peeking ahead, okay).

Stats

Date: March 4, 2017
Location: Little John Conservation Club
Time: 2:30pm-5:30pm
Weather: Sunny/windy
Air Temp: 48F
Water Temp: 44F
Totals: 1 bass
Lures: Jig & Pig (black/blue) with #11 pork frog (black/blue) – 1 bass
Top Bass: the only bass landed
Weight: stay tuned below

Notes & Nonsense

Company – As I pushed my boat into the lake, another pair of anglers arrived and I had a decision to make when faced with sharing water.  The location lends itself to a couple options that I’ll just call a right turn or a left turn.  Both directions have been productive over the years so it was not necessarily an easy decision on which portions of the lake to give up.  I chose to take the figurative left and fate was on my side, winding up with no regrets or second guesses at the end of the day.

Jig and pig
The black and blue jig and pig, an old cold water companion.

Old Faithful – Now the “Old’ part of Old Faithful is certainly apt when it comes to the pork trailer on my trusty black and blue jig and pig setup.  I have no idea how old this piece of pig really is or how many bass it has fooled but it has been through the wringer as I am about as frugal as it gets when it comes to fishing stuff.  The above photo shows the rig from above where it looks pretty normal.  However, the photo below shows the pig portion flipped over to reveal how much it is chewed up and faded.  I’m sure some of those Bassmaster sorts would cringe or shake their heads at my unsophisticated presentation but it fooled another fish and yes, I put it back in the old weathered jar for next time once I decided to call it a day.

Jig and pig
Add another fish story to this battered bait.

Perseverance – On these early season days I go out with the mindset of getting one bite knowing that the conditions are such that it is unlikely I will be greeted by a steady stream of bass coming into the boat.  A week long batch of cold weather, southeast wind, 44 degree water temps and a warm-up not forecast until the overnight meant it could be a challenging day but I was definitely glad to finally get on the water.  I made my first stop at a productive area which allowed fancasting to a number of spots that have cooperated in the past.  I spent 20 minutes anchored where I chose to start and fired away with the jig and pig, slow rolled spinnerbait, squarebilled crankbait, Shad Rap and underspin with a swimbait trailer all without so much as a bite.  Finally, the jig and pig paid off with a bump and a slight sideways movement of the line prompting me to shake the winter rust and set the hook.  Initially, I felt I had a decent fish but a dive near the boat left me wondering just how decent this fish was truly going to be.  When it surfaced, rolled and shook its head, it was obvious that I had something pretty special. 

Troy Bass
2:57 pm 2017 First Bass 22.5” 6-2 Jig and pig (black/blue)

Details – At 6-2, this fish was my first ever in the six-pound range and my second largest bass ever landed.  As such it pretty much broke every personal record with the exception of largest crankbait bass.  In addition, it got my 2017 Top 5 off to a pretty good start, doubt I’ll be culling this one when it’s all said and done.

Unsung Hero
Gotta include a pic of the day’s unsung hero, without this there’s no chance to properly work over a spot in windy conditions while looking for that one bite.

Aftermath – During one of my recent “20 Years of Stats” postings I included some comments about the elusive six-pounder and one fish that “might have been.”  Fortune was smiling on me five days later on the first outing of 2017 as I had now caught and released the bass that I’d chased after for a long time.  After a brief weigh-in, photo session and texts to Julie, Brent and Mom and Dad I just sat for several minutes letting it sink in.  Maybe a little over the top, sappy or cheesy but those three ounces better than the 5-15 bass on my ledger from February 2002 sure meant a lot to this angler.  Sure, many reading this posting have bigger personal bests, and I do too, but the six-pound monkey is now off my back. 

After my catch I really didn’t care how the rest of the day panned out.  Good thing too, as I never got another bite.  Talk to you later.  Troy

 

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