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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

Ice is nice in Illinois

January 20, 2009 at 03:46 PM

This is no year to have dull blades on your ice auger.

That’s the conclusion after an outing today to a Knox County strip mine lake. After laboring to drill through 8 inches time and time again, I realize it’s high time to visit Presley’s Outdoors to pick up new auger blades. Because there should be ample opportunity to use the auger this winter. At least in terms of ice, this is shaping up to be one of the better hard-water fishing seasons in a long time.

The ice is so safe that more and more first-timers are showing an interest. Today brought a chance to introduce Gordon Inskeep to ice fishing for the first time. A diehard bass angler and coach of the Elmwood bass fishing team, Inskeep naturally caught a bass as his first hard-water fish. In fact, he caught three green fish—hooking almost as many bass as bluegill.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Overall, though, the bite was fairly slow. Fish would hit in spurts and then shut off. We finished with about 20 fish, including several pesky green sunfish. All in all, not a great haul. But the sun was shining, the wind was blocked by the high sides of the lake and there was enough ice to make even a chicken like me feel safe. The plan is to clean the fish as soon as I get done typing and fry them up tonight for our Men’s Club meeting (the menu also includes duck gumbo from Chef Rusty).

The other good news is that waxworms are back in stock in many Peoria shops. While mousies worked fine today, I’d prefer a waxie.

Illinois hunting and fishing

So if you’ve ever considered ice fishing, this is the year to get out and give it a try. There’s plenty of ice and should be for several days, if not weeks. Just make sure your auger is sharp.

And be on the lookout for this rascal we ran into. Ice fishing is so good this year, even raccoons are giving it a try.

Illinois hunting and fishing



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