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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

Of ice, muskie and hoops

March 07, 2008 at 04:53 AM

Rambling through the outdoors wondering how many 10-pound bass will be caught this spring in Illinois.


With ice thawing, March Madness is seizing many cabin-crazed anglers. This is the prime month to catch big bass in area strip mines and next week looks like a good chance to wet a line. Then again, Al Hayden of Al’s Sporting Goods in Galesburg notes there’s still 15 inches of ice on Lake Storey. So scout your water before setting out. ... Muskie mania is already underway at Spring Lake, where anglers have been launching boats since Monday. Guide Dan Vinovich of Pekin said action is slower than usual after ice-out, in part because ice keeps reforming. But he has boated several fish, including a 40-incher. ... Speaking of muskie, Jeff Sacco of Peoria hauled a 40-incher through the ice at Banner Marsh last Saturday. The muskie hit while Sacco was testing depth with an orange weight on a bare treble hook. He landed the fish thanks to 65-pound test muskie line on his tip-ups. Look for a picture Sunday. But don’t count on ice-fishing Banner now — there’s open water in places that were locked tight just five days ago.


Trail users at Jubilee College State Park have news to cheer. The site has a new Bobcat T300, a shiny new brush-cutting mower and a blade. “We are really going to improve the trails this summer,” site manager Tom Hintz said. And don’t worry that hunters have chased off all of Jubilee’s deer. Site staffer Pat Hanley had 13 run in front of his truck this week. ... Gunsmith David Prater of Lewistown sent two notes that caught my eye. One was about turkeys gobbling on Wednesday, a sure sign of spring. The other was a reminder for hunters that now is a good time to get shotgun repairs done. Fall is not far away, either. ... Larry Dozard of still has a few fishing calendars for sale at Presley’s Outdoors in Bartonville. ... Management of the Illinois State Morel Mushroom Hunting Championship is changing hands, as founders Tom and Vicky Nauman of Magnolia have passed the torch to Tom Davis of Henry. “Vicky and I no longer have enough time to devote to the festival and do it properly,” Nauman said. But Davis still plans to hold the event May 2-4 at the Marshall-Putnam Fairgrounds in Henry.


There’s no change in status at Powerton Lake, where repairs to the discharge tube have kept boaters sidelined. Site manager Stan Weimer said he has no indication when boaters will be allowed back. Bank anglers can still fish the cooling lake, including most of the discharge canal. ... With Powerton off limits, some eager bass anglers have headed for southern cooling lakes like Newton, Coffeen and Sangchris. Visit every Thursday for a statewide fishing report that includes information on those lakes and many others. We’ll publish local fishing reports in the Journal Star starting March 21. ... If you get bored on March 19, some guy named Jeff Lampe is going to discuss “Fishing in Illinois” at the Pekin Public Library at 7 p.m. There will even be free samples. To register call (309) 347-7111, Ext. 2. ... Our Neighbor Ash sez the only way he’ll show at the library is if the free samples are a mixture of hops, barley and malt. ... Faster, faster: Mercury recently unveiled a 350 hp outboard motor to match the 350 put out last year by Yamaha.


Looking to sell a mounted deer head? Consider calling Jimmy John’s corporate offices in Champaign. Yep, the guy who came up with those great-tasting sandwiches also has a taste for big racks. ... Male red-winged blackbirds and turkey vultures are here in force, another sure sign of spring approaching. ... Parting shot: This is what newspaper folk call burying the lede. And it’s a bad idea. But hey, I’m out of sorts. For the past 18 years this weekend meant one thing to me: the Class A boys basketball state finals. This has never been a weekend for family outings or vacations or fishing trips. Even my wife understood Class A weekend was holy. No longer. Bring on the kid’s school carnival. I hope four-class basketball turns out to be a blessing. I hope the small-school passion keeps burning. I hope championship trophies remain as awe-inspiring as the one my boys ogled last Saturday in Findlay’s little gym (where the 1992 team picture includes about one-third of the 97 students then enrolled). Someday I even hope to see another small-school tournament. But it won’t be this one.


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