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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

Scattershooting at blue cats, morels and more

May 13, 2010 at 03:49 PM

Rambling through the outdoors wondering why I didn’t shoot that dumb jake.


Fate smiled on Dewey Banks Tuesday at Powerton Lake. As he was fishing, an Asian carp leaped onto the rocky shore near Banks, who was fishing along the hot-water discharge. Banks grabbed the carp, cut it up for bait and a few minutes later landed a 55-pound blue catfish, largest documented at Powerton since they were stocked in the fall of 1999. Just don’t plan on fishing at Powerton from May 25-27 — the lake will be closed for levee repair. ... Youngsters get a chance to wet a line in several fishing derbies this weekend. First up is the Clyde West Fishing Derby on Saturday at Glen Oak Lagoon in Peoria. Youngsters 9 and under fish from 9-11 a.m., ages 10-13 wet lines from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and seniors and disabled anglers can cast from 1-3 p.m. Rods bait and supplies are provided for those who need them. On Sunday the scene shifts to Lincoln Park Lagoon at Lake Storey in Galesburg. Registration starts at noon and youngsters can fish from 1-3 p.m. for redear and channel catfish. Prizes are awarded.


How will this morel mushroom season rank? “It was the worst season anybody has seen in southern Illinois,” said Joe McFarland, a writer for the Department of Natural Resources who also authored the book “Edible Wild Mushrooms of Illinois and Surrounding States.” The same was true in much of central Illinois. Problem was there wasn’t much eating going on for most Illinois morel hunters. “It’s no coincidence this was the warmest April on record,” McFarland said. ... The weird spring weather worried some hummingbird watchers like Mary Samuelson of Peoria, whose fast-moving little friends have been late to show. Many report hummers are 10 days to two weeks later than usual in arriving — though a few had birds show up early during those seemingly long-ago warm days of April. ... If you want more birds around your house, consider attending a backyard habitat and garden tour Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Forest Park Nature Center and then Luthy Botanical Garden.


Another turkey season has ended with me gobbler-less. The aforementioned jake (which means young male turkey) came to my decoys three times on my second outing. I let him walk, hoping for a mature gobbler with a long bard. Of course I never had as good a shot in six more days of hunting. ... What seemingly innocent question can start fistfights among bowhunters? Fixed blade or mechanical? ... Arrow flingers looking to improve their aim have a chance to shoot the 3-D course Saturday and Sunday at the Chillicothe Sportsmen’s Club, with registration starting at 7 a.m. each day. ... The wickets are down again at Peoria Lock and Dam and the Illinois River will be flooding backwaters soon. Fortunately, waterfowl refuges have not yet been planted at Rice Lake, Banner Marsh or Anderson Lake. But sunflowers are in at Banner and Double T, which is good news. ... Speaking of Rice Lake, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is busy taking core samples and doing preliminary work related to the long-awaited rehabilitation project there and at Duck Island. So we may yet see the project started this century.


Smaller fish should be the highlight of this coming week, with bluegill expected to spawn in force once weather stabilizes. When the gills hit the beds, make sure to bring crickets for bait. Those wiggly legs must look like candy to a bluegill. ... Need a public bluegill hotspot? On the west side of the Illinois River try the many lakes of Snakeden Hollow (my favorite for trophy gills is Turkey Lake) or the Fulton County Recreation Area near St. Davis. On the east side head to Dawson Lake in Moraine View State Park or Lake Bloomington. ... Spent Tuesday fishing Prairie Lake at Jim Edgar-Panther Creek near Chandlerville and left very impressed at the size of bass and the abundant flooded timber in that 210-acre lake. Even so, it was painful to drive past Emiquon to go fish for bass somewhere else. ... Word of my dilemma prompted Minister Morris to start a sermon about not coveting thy neighbor’s bass. ... The other impressive thing at Prairie Lake was the various birds we saw flitting through the flooded trees. Woodpeckers, warblers, swallows and even orioles made the day pass faster.


Among the most memorable moments at last weekend’s Illinois High School Association bass fishing finals was when little Dalton Wesley of Edwardsville hoisted a pair of 4-pounders he caught on Carlyle Lake. Seeing an 80-pound freshman grinning from ear to ear as he held those lunkers was a great reminder why the IHSA event is the best bass tourney going. In what other event could a kid of Wesley’s stature have a chance to take center stage?  ... Want to learn how to kayak? Evergreen Lake has a paddling clinic Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon in Comlara Park for $15. Call (309) 726-2022, Ext. 221. ... Illinois deer hunters are reminded to get online and apply for firearm permits. We are now in the second lottery period. ... Parting shot: Consider this a second to the motion made by reader Jim Miller that Dave Gannaway of the IHSA should be nominated for the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame. He has laid a solid foundation for the IHSA bass tourney.



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Flathead's Picture of the Week :: Big bucks :: Birdwatching :: Cougars :: Dogs :: Critters :: Fishing :: Asian carp :: Bass :: Catfish :: Crappie :: Ice :: Muskie :: Humor :: Hunting :: Deer :: Ducks :: Geese :: Turkey :: Upland game :: Misc. :: Mushrooms :: Open Blog Thursday :: Picture A Day 2010 :: Plants and trees :: Politics :: Prairie :: Scattershooting :: Tales from the Trail Cams :: Wild Things ::

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