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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

Catch a cold to catch crappie

March 16, 2009 at 07:10 PM

I’m not one to advocate calling in sick when you really feel well. But if you have any vacation days to burn and you like catching crappie, Tuesday looks like a good one to avoid work in any fashion possible.

It will be warm. And if today is any indication, crappie will be biting.

Reports from Spring Lake this evening are that anglers are hauling in plenty of crappie. And the anglers don’t need boats. Fish are coming all along the road on the south lake. Fish 20 feet out from shore with a jig and bobber set 2 feet deep. Tip it with a waxworm or, better yet, a minnow. Reel in a few inches and twitch. Reel in a bit and twitch. Then be ready to land a fish.

At least that’s the way it went today at Spring Lake in Tazewell County. Spring is a shallow backwater that warms quickly. If you know similar water, I’d head there first.

But crappie were also biting fairly well in strip mines on Monday. Some sort of live bait seemed to be the key, as fish were not taking jigs alone all that well. Chef Todd reported 13 nice crappie, four or five bluegill and three bass in a few hours today. He was fishing a Fulton County strip pit and said he saw schools of fish. But he had few waxies and no minnows. “Dude, if I had minnows I’d have cleaned up,” he said. How he knows that, since he didn’t have any, I’m not sure. But I tend to agree.

Anyway, you can bet I’m finding a way to go crappie fishing Tuesday after having to work all day today.

Story and comments

Bluegill are legal as bait

March 16, 2009 at 09:55 AM

Bluegill are legal to use as bait in Illinois.

I repeat, bluegill are legal to use as bait in Illinois.

A recent story about Pastor Charles Everly catching a 65-pound flathead catfish on bluegill has raised a stream of questions from readers like Larry Joyner who e-mailed, “I noticed in today’s article that this fellow caught his catfish using a bluegill (rock bass). As bait. I thought they were gamefish. Isn’t this illegal? Doesn’t anyone care? You care to comment? Also thought there was a size limit. I guess if it’s under size and used for bait then one is not keeping it.”

For the answer, we need only open the 2009 Illinois Fishing Information Guide and read the following section on Page 2 under the heading, Bluegill as Bait. The guide says…

“There is nothing in the Illinois Fish Code which prohibits the use of legally taken bluegill or sunfish as bait for another species of fish. The bluegill/sunfish must have been taken by a properly licensed sport fisherman using legal sportfishing devices. You must also observe all size and creel limits both where the bluegill/sunfish were taken and where they are being used as bait. Also, it is illegal to cut up or dress or be in possession of cut up or dressed fish on any body of water where there is a size limit for that particular species of fish.”

That gives the impression that bluegill caught at one lake can be hauled elsewhere and used for bait. That’s not true thanks to the emergency rules adopted last year to combat the spread of the fish disease VHS. Under those regulations,

“Use of wild-trapped fishes from within the state as bait will be restricted to the waters where legally captured.”

The list of fish that can’t be transported from one lake to another includes the following:

Black crappie          
Bluntnose minnow      
Brown bullhead        
Brown trout            
Channel catfish        
Chinook salmon        
Emerald shiner
Freshwater drum      
Gizzard shad          
Hybrid (Tiger) muskie
Lake whitefish
Largemouth bass      
Shorthead redhorse    
Northern Pike          
Rainbow trout          
Rock bass            
Round goby            
Silver redhorse        
Smallmouth bass      
Spottail shiner  
White bass            
White perch            
Yellow perch  



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