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Jeff Lampe
Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors


A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Illinois hunting and fishing

An Emiquon lunker bass

April 13, 2010 at 09:16 PM

For a little while this morning, I was almost ready to term my outing to the Emiquon Preserve as a disappointment.

Gordon Inskeep and I caught fish, but not like we usually do. We actually had to work to hook our 80 bass today. And I never saw a crappie. Never got a bluegill to hit, either (though we did see big schools of them shallow).

With water at 66-67 degrees, I figured we’d slay the bass. And anywhere else, our day would have been termed a wild success. But Emiquon spoils you. You come to expect 100 bass for two guys in a boat, if not for one.

So 80 is sort of, OK. Even when two come on one crankbait, a feat Inskeep pulled off once and nearly replicated later with three bass. We actually switched baits plenty today in an effort to fine-tune what was working. Crankbaits. Beaver baits. Worms. Tubes. Chatterbaits. Carolina rigs. Everything got a change. Everything caught fish, too, just not as many as we expected.

But any thought of the day being disappointing went out the window for me on one cast. I tossed a white Rat-L-Trap past a tree in 12 feet of water along one of the old transmission ditches. Then wham. A fish was there. And it felt big. Problem was, the fish immediately got into a tree. That’s bad news for me, since I fish 10-pound test line and have a knack for losing big fish. Not to mention the fact the fish was on a little treble hook.

Somehow, she came through the trees. Somehow, Inskeep netted her after she tried to pull me under the boat. And that one fish made my day.

The fish was 21.5 inches long and had a fat belly that was 16.75 inches around, I think. Measuring girth is tough in a small boat. Suffice to say she was very fat, far fatter than any bass I’ve caught before.

Seeing her made me ponder what Emiquon will be like two years from now when all the 15-16 inchers are bigger. Think what it will be like there when 19 inchers are everywhere. I can’t wait. For now, though, I’m happy with this fish and happy I let her go.

Illinois hunting and fishing


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