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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

Wild Things 4-25-10

April 25, 2010 at 06:47 AM


Number of boating accidents reported on Illinois waters in 2009, seven below the 10-year average.

Fishing help needed

Hooked on Fishing Park has a busy schedule of outings for youngsters age 5-12, senior citizens and special needs anglers this year. Now the unique East Peoria fishing park — located on the site of the old Dixon’s Fishing Ponds — needs more volunteers to help those anglers.

“We need some people to help bait hooks, take fish off the hook and help with casting,” said Casey Carey, who coordinates fishing at the facility.

Prospective volunteers are invited to attend an open house Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lunch will be served. There’s also volunteer training Thursday from 9-11 a.m.

And while June and July are almost entirely booked, there are openings for anglers in May, August and September. Close to 1,000 anglers fished at the park last year and Carey expects that to increase to 4,000 this spring and summer.

For more information on volunteering or on booking an outing e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call Carey at (309) 219-3560.

Family destination

Looking for a family fishing destination? The 150-acre Dawson Lake in Moraine View State Park (east of Bloomington) is a good choice according to biologist Mike Garthaus.

“It’s the perfect place to take a family fishing,” Garthaus said. “There’s catfish, redear, bluegill, saugeye and bass.” Bluegill have really improved in recent years and a fair number are over 8 inches. There’s also a restaurant at the lake and a good amount of bank access.

Gearing up

One of the most decorated spinning reels on the market is the WaveSpin series designed by “The Bass Professor” Doug Hannon. Billed as a tangle-free reel that will allow you to make longer casts, the WaveSpin has been recognized by most outdoor publications and retails for under $90.

Otter problems

There was a time when Jerry Vawter was happy to see otters in his 5-acre pond near Industry. No longer. Since 2004 Vawter has used nuisance permits to trap 48 otters. He’s not alone, as otter numbers have increased dramatically across Illinois.

“The whole southern McDonough County and Schulyer County area is overrun with otters,” Vawter said. “We need a trapping season.”

Maybe, but there are no plans in the works to allow otters to be taken during the regular season. Legislation to create an otter trapping season has already failed twice. At last check, no new trapping bill had been introduced this spring.

Rooster madness

Preliminary estimates put the South Dakota pheasant harvest for last year at just under 1.7 million birds — lowestin the last five years but sixth-highest in the past 40. All-time high for SoDak was 7.5 million birds in 1945 when the daily limit was eight roosters and four hens.

Birdwatching at the Emiquon Preserve is the subject of Tharran Hobson’s free lecture Thursday at 5 p.m. at the former Emiquon Field Station. Hobson will discuss birdwatching and guide visitors on a walk. Call (217) 206-8339.

This ‘n that

All national parks, national wildlife refuges and many areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management will offer free admission on June 5-6, Aug. 14-15, Sept. 25 and Nov. 11. ... If you catch smallmouth bass in most Illinois rivers (not including the Illinois River) and streams, you must release those fish immediately until June 15.


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