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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

Crappie spawn is still on

May 21, 2008 at 08:49 AM

The crappie spawn is still on in Peoria County. In this weird, extended spring here in central Illinois (and elsewhere for that matter) crappie are still full of eggs and moving shallow in places.

I fished with middle son Victor Tuesday afternoon and we had some success catching crappie, bluegill and bass. We fished three different bodies of water in a few hours to get ready for another trip today. The first small lake is relatively shallow and weedy. I’ve had some luck catching good numbers of 8- to 10-inch Illinois Outdoorscrappie out of this pothole. But on Tuesday, the only fish we could find were still in the middle of the small lake. And still full of eggs. Hmmm.

After that we moved on to a large, deep, very clear strip lake. In this lake I’ve generally only had much luck with crappie on cloudy days. But despite Tuesday’s son, we caught a small mess of fish that included three 12-inchers (one a male that was coal black, shown at right). But none of those crappie were full of eggs. They were shallow around woody cover, but none had eggs. Hmmm.

So then we moved to a third lake: another deep Peoria County strip-mine lake that was fairly stained. Well here we came up with several smaller crappie (8 inches or less) that we tossed back. These fish were also fairly shallow around brush. And all appeared to be full of eggs, like the fish below. Hmmm.

Illinois Outdoors

What does all this mean? Seems to me we’ve got to be nearing the tail-end of the spawn. But there are still fish waiting to spawn or in the process, as evidenced by that coal-black male. So I’d say this should be another good weekend for crappie fishing.

The other good news is that bluegill are just getting into the prime bite. So we should have some more excellent panfishing for the next week to 10 days as the gills move onto their beds. It’s time to buy some crickets and waxies and stock up fish for a fish fry.

NOTEWORTHY: No, Victor did not cast with the spinning reel shown in the picture above. He’s deadly with his Spider Man spin-cast combo, but he can’t handle a spinning reel just yet. He wants to, he just hasn’t quite got the hang of it. He does do a good job of reeling in the fish I hook, though.

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