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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 bass, blackberries and more

July 09, 2010 at 04:45 AM

Rambling through the outdoors wondering if the good old days of Emiquon bass fishing are past us already.


Despite dire budget news in Illinois, there’s no final number for cuts in the Department of Natural Resources. “We do have to make cuts. Where and how much I don’t know yet,” Director Marc Miller said. “Every state agency is going to have to do something. But there is an understanding of what this agency has done in the past and I think that’s being taken into account.” Miller said money raised through this year’s license fee increases can’t be used for purposes other than fish and wildlife restoration or management. Even so, my hunch is that the already strapped lands division will see cuts once DNR’s share of general revenue dollars shrinks. ... Given that, starting the Friends of Rice Lake (FORL) is even more timely. “We need more groups like this,” Miller said. FORL meets again Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Presley’s Outdoors to prepare for the July 25 duck-blind drawing. Plans are to register members and sell hats, shirts and chances at Butch Louck’s hand-carved mallard decoy. Worth noting is that the group is working on behalf of all properties in the Rice Lake Complex, including Banner Marsh and Double T.


If you haven’t had your fill of nature’s bounty, now’s a good time to be picking blackberries. Steve Purchase of Elmwood reported a good haul of ripe berries Thursday in Peoria County. Blackberry lovers predict this wet summer should provide a bumper crop. ... The moist summer has not been so kind to most sunflower fields. “Last year I thought was bad, but this year is the worse sunflowers I’ve ever seen,” said Rick Knisely, site manager at Snakeden Hollow State Fish and Wildlife Area. “All these rain-dependent weeds are having a blast.” Flowers are also poor at Banner Marsh but better at Double T and at Jim Edgar-Panther Creek. ... Did you know: Illinois’ state amphibian is the Eastern tiger salamander. ... Did you know Part 2: I have never seen an Eastern tiger salamander in 22 years of living in The Prairie State.


Don’t fret yet about Emiquon’s bass population. Yes, fishing is tougher this summer than last. But it can still be outstanding. And for every angler who bemoans tough fishing there’s another tight-lipped chap with a sore thumb from landing so many largemouths. “I’m not sure it’s really a matter of finding them, but maybe more of being there when they want to feed,” said Doug Blodgett of The Nature Conservancy, who had a recent evening trip that went from slow to great. “We’d been at a spot 10-15 minutes and were ready to continue our tour when within a five-minute period they started hitting like old times. We were in a ditch fishing the edge of the vegetation along it. We probably had 20 fish on in 30 minutes.” ... The DNR expects a verdict soon on the South Zone waterfowl opener. Director Miller said 66 percent of hunters surveyed favored a Nov. 27 opener vs. 29 percent in favor of an earlier Nov. 13 start. To help end this debate, Miller has asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a fourth zone. “If the goals of the Fish and Wildlife Service are to improve hunter satisfaction and help with hunter recruitment, a fourth zone is part of that,” he said.


Brief panic crossed my mind after reading an Associated Press story that said Wisconsin and Illinois reached a “memorandum of understanding” regarding chronic wasting disease in deer. For my money, Wisconsin has made too much out of CWD and killed too many deer while Illinois has taken a more prudent approach. So I was relieved to learn both state’s will maintain whitetail management autonomy. Deer biologist Paul Shelton said all this “memorandum” really means is that the states will do a better job of sharing information and discussing goals. ... Speaking of deer, firearm permits are arriving in the mail for hunters who were drawn in the first lottery. If you haven’t applied, yet, there’s still time. The second lottery deadline is Aug. 16. ... Parting shot: Now is a good time to take home a fat monarch butterfly caterpillar on a milkweed leaf. Feed the caterpillar fresh leaves for a few days and then sit back and enjoy. Watching the ravenous green-and-yellow caterpillar turn to an emerald green chrysalis and then emerge as a monarch never gets old.

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