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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

Will Delta Waterfowl kill all pike?

April 30, 2008 at 03:58 PM

The title is just a joke. Relax. Delta Waterfowl has done some interesting studies into predator management on the prairie and how it helps mother ducks produce more ducklings.

But the following pictures could create a whole new area of study for Delta. I can see the research title now: The effects of esox lucius on duck populations. For you non-Latin scholars, that’s northern pike.

Illinois Outdoors

Illinois Outdoors

Can you imagine finding this inside a fish you cleaned? But I think this is believable. Chef Todd loves to talk about how Wisconsin anglers used to employ squirrel harnesses for pike. Hey, if a fish can eat a squirrel it can eat a small duck—not to mention ducklings. The lure I remember most from a visit to Jake Wolf Fish Hatchery was a small wooden duckling loaded with treble hooks. Hmmm. Think I could rig a small Flambeau teal decoy with treble hooks and catch a pike?

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A visit to bird dog heaven

April 30, 2008 at 10:07 AM

Sorry updates to the site have been slow the past few days, but I was spending some time watching the 2008 national champion bird dog (Whippoorwill Wild Agin) in northwest Mississippi and southern Tennessee.

Internet connections were few and far between, so any Web work had to wait until today. In fact, when I called for a reservation at the Value Inn in Walnut, Miss., I was told “We don’t have any of that Internet here, but they’ve got a WiFi hotspot at Subway next door.” Yes, in Walnut, Miss., the local Subway sandwich shop doubles as an Internet cafe. Go figure. One other tip about Walnut, if you plan on staying at the Value Inn, bring cash. Rooms are $45 per night cash, $52 per night on credit card. And don’t worry about a reservation. When I asked for one, the clerk said, “Don’t worry about that honey, we’re not busy on Mondays.”

As I said, the focus of my trip was on bird dogs and I saw some great English pointers trained and bred by Dr. Jack Huffman and his son Larry Huffman. The Huffmans live on an impressive 1,700-acre farm (Whippoorwill Farm) that is carefully managed for quail and bird dogs. Famed outdoor writer Nash Buckingham used to regularly hunt the same farm years ago, so there’s history every step of the way. Plus, the Huffmans are about 6 miles as the crow flies from the 18,000-acre Ames Plantation, scene of the National Championship field trial each year.

I’ll have more about my trip and a visit to the National Bird Dog Museum and Field Trial Hall of Fame in this Sunday’s paper. One thing I’m sure of is that I’ll having people ask me if I want, “Swee Tea.”


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The only five lures you need?

April 29, 2008 at 07:15 AM

In a recent column, Mike Jackson of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald mentions how a colleague’s father passed on what he told his son were, “the only lures you will ever need.”

Below are the five lures passed on to Aaron Gabriel by his father, Jerome J. Gabriel.

  • A Johnson Silver Minnow, weedless
  • Rapala countdown minnow bait
  • Arbogast Jitterbug
  • South Bend Bass-O-Reno
  • Mepp’s No. 2 spinner

To me this is an intriguing topic. And while I appreciate the late Mr. Gabriel’s list, I decided to come up with my own five lures that I’d pass on to my children when that day comes. This is all subject to change many times, of course, but if I had to make my picks today, the five would be ...

  • 1. Senkos. Not just any Senkos, either. Illinois OutdoorsI’d make sure they got Gary Yamamoto’s variety (my favorite color pictured at right). Nothing beats them for summer bass fishing in my experience, particularly in the strip-mine waters we fish.
  • 2. Twister tail grubs on lead-head jigs. Sometimes I think my life as a stream smallmouth angler would be better if I tossed all the other plastics I’ve accumulated over the years and just fished with twister-tail grubs on lead-head jigs. They work. They come in a million colors. And they will also catch white bass, largemouth bass, crappie and bluegill. Plus muskie. And northern pike. And anything that swims, I’ll bet.
  • 3. Tear-drop shaped ice-fishing jigs. Both one-spots and two-spots.Illinois Outdoors My kids have no idea how lucky they are to bluegill fish with ice jigs during the summer. These little suckers tipped with a waxworm will make fish-catching machines out of any kid.
  • 4. Chatterbaits. They are not a fad. They catch fish. 
  • 5. Rat-L-Trap. They catch fish. White bass, stripers, largemouth bass. You name it, they catch it.

Reviewing this list I already regret several omissions. There needs to be room for buzzbaits, plastic frogs, plastic worms, Mepp’s spinners and so much more. But the point is to pick five. At this moment, these are my five. What about you? What five lures do you hold as most important?

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Illinois Outdoors

Saugeye strong at Argyle Lake

April 28, 2008 at 03:41 AM

This edition of Flathead’s Picture of the Week proves there are some big saugeye at Argyle Lake State Park near Macomb. Above is site superintendent Robin Hinchee with a pair of big saugeye netted Wednesday. Highlights of the survey were an abundant saugeye population from 1.5 to 9.5 pounds and a healthy crappie population from 8 to 13 inches. As a reminder, the current crappie regulation is a 9-inch minimum size and 10 fish per day, daily creel limit.

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Morels here, but small

April 27, 2008 at 10:03 PM

Somebody called to argue with me the other day about a comment that morel season around here was behind schedule. He told me, “Why I’ve found about two dozen little greys.” So I asked, “How little?” He answered, “They were all about a half inch or so.” I thanked him for proving my point once again. See, by now there should be big greys around. But we’re behind a bit. Ask mushroomers and they’ll tell you things are slow.

State reporter Matt Buedel from the Journal Star took vacation to go shrooming. On Thursday his haul was the batch of tiny grays at right.Illinois Outdoors As he said, “I normally wouldn’t pick morels this small, but since they were the first finds of the season for me, I had to cut them.”

Undaunted, Buedel went out again Friday in Cass County. He did a little better, as you can tell from the picture below. Not a great day. Not a sack-filling day. But better than his meager haul from Thursday. As he said, “I’ve got a back pain no mushroom hunter would bemoan. Came home from Cass County last night with 250 morels, mostly half-frees, but a handful of nice-sized greys.”

Illinois Outdoors

Sunday brought more of the same. People all over Elmwood were lamenting the little mushrooms they were finding and the lack of anything worth picking. But things have to get better. An e-mail late this evening brought the following words and picture from Darrin Symonds of Brimfield:

“Couldn’t agree more about your article in Sunday’s paper on morel timing this year. My 2 1/2 yr old daughter (Addie Mae Symonds, pictured below) and I have been scouting the woods for the past week. Today after viewing the picture of the GIANT mushroom she wanted to go again. So in a short trip on some property just south of Dunlap we found our very first mushrooms of the year. And yes she does know what they look like because she pointed out the first at the bottom of an elm stump. While we only found 6 total we know there coming and plan to return on Tuesday.”

Illinois Outdoors

Keep the reports coming. This cold front may well delay the morels for a few more days, but sooner or later the big ones have to start popping.

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