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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 6-8-08

June 08, 2008 at 01:08 AM


Millions of acres of U.S. land projected to be shifted out of conservation and into farming by 2010.

Some free fishing

Would-be anglers are reminded that Free Fishing Days continue today and Monday, meaning you do not need a fishing license to wet a line in Illinois.

That said, a clarification is in order. During a visit to the dentist last week, hygienist Kathy Davis of Mapleton asked if people who live on the lakes in her subdivision need a fishing license to fish legally?

Yes, homeowners who live on a lake in a development must buy a license to fish legally. Owners or tenants (who reside on the land) can fish for free in waters on or flowing over their lands. But, ‘This exemption does not apply to club and organizational lakes or lake developments,’ says the 2008 Illinois Fishing Information guide.

Goodbye grassland

Iowa estimates that last September it lost 230 square miles of grasslands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. By 2010 nearly 800 square miles of CRP is expected to be converted to row crops. That’s the equivalent of a continuous strip of grass more than 2.5 miles wide across Iowa from Omaha to Davenport.

Tip of the week

Fresh shad has been tough to find so far this year on much of the Illinois River. But catfish anglers pondering what type of live bait to use should consider cutting up a few of the Asian carp no doubt flopping around the bottom of the boat.

Guide Tim Scott of Bradford said he’s had good luck with cut up chunks of Asian carp this spring. ‘Plus if you’ve got a piece with skin on it, that stuff stays on the hook so good you’ve got to cut it off,’ Scott said.

Bug bits

The Carolina mantid is the only native mantid species in the U.S. The largest praying mantis you may encounter this summer is actually an import from China. There is also another imported species called the European mantis.

The stinkbait gospel

Russ Nash of Elmwood faces an uphill battle in parts of Illinois when it comes to spreading the word about his Hoss’s Hawg Bait. Like choosing between Pepsi and Coke or Ford or Chevy, many catfish anglers pick a favorite stinkbait and are reluctant to switch to a new smelly concoction.

And the dip bait market is competitive, with several regional products competing for a share of the market along with Sonny’s, arguably the best-known brand.

But Nash is working to publicize his locally produced bait. Part of that effort is helping to sponsor an upcoming Big Cat Quest tournament June 21 at Rend Lake in which anglers can usually only manufactured baits.

Sign up is June 20 from 4-9 p.m. at Rend Lake Resort Lodge. Or call (309) 565-3241 for details.

Kudos corner

Praise is due two Boy Scouts who helped renovate trails at Forest Park Nature Center in Peoria. Grant Madden of Troop 165 led a crew that repaired Pimiteoui Trail just south of the hill prairie (a site you should visit this summer). And C.J. Edwards of Troop 178 led a group that worked hard on a steep section of the Wake Robin Trail.

This ‘n that

The fishing business has been very good to Peoria pub owner Pat Sullivan, who so far this spring has caught a 50-inch muskie and a 7.2-pound largemouth bass. ... Illinois non-resident archery deer hunting permits are on sale for $400. Visit or call 1-888-673-7648. ... Rend Lake Bike Trail has been designated a National Recreation Trail.


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