Illinois Outdoors at
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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

Illinois hunting and fishing

April 6: Picture of the Day

April 06, 2010 at 09:33 PM

I took plenty of fish pictures today. The bite was fantastic and some of the fish were impressive. A 19-inch bass. A 15-inch crappie. But the best shot of the bunch was this one of a redear coming out of the water along a shallow, weedy flat in a Peoria County strip-mine lake.

This one was taken with my little old Canon Power Shot S5IS. I have truly beat this camera to death over the past two years and it’s still working. In my book, that’s the sign of a good camera.

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A great day, week for bass

April 06, 2010 at 09:22 AM

It stands to reason that since I have not fished in nearly a week, almost everyone I’ve talked to since Saturday has a great bass fishing outing to report.

Big ones are falling left and right. The hot bite started late last week, continued through the weekend’s storms and has kept right on this week, with big fish reported Monday, as well.

As a result, I’m headed out later this afternoon to see for myself.

Among several anglers who reported an excellent outing last Saturday was Rick Morgan of East Peoria, who was the subject of a column on bass fishing in March.

Fishing with a storm front rolling in and in the midst of plenty of wind, Morgan caught 13 bass on a jig and pig (incidentally, he is using Paul Clay’s jigs) including five that went 24 pounds, 15 ounces (a 21 ¼-incher that went 6-4,  a 20 at 5-2 and 3 more 20 inchers that went 4-9, 4-9, 4-7). Morgan said water in the strip mine he was fishing had warmed to 51 degrees and he was also starting to catch smaller fish. He fished 11 hours to catch his 13 fish. Here are his pictures (I hope to have my own later today, actually I have to since this is just Day 2 of my ridiculous Picture A Day project).

Here are highlights from Morgan’s day.

8:03 a.m., storm front coming in quickly with lots of wind

Illinois hunting and fishing

8:09 a.m., staring at downpour of rain through my truck window. I waited it out for one-half hour then headed out.

Illinois hunting and fishing

2:23 p.m., 5-2

Illinois hunting and fishing

2:40 p.m., 6-4

Illinois hunting and fishing

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Illinois hunting and fishing

Wolf? Dog? You make the call

April 06, 2010 at 08:52 AM

Paula Guttilla submitted these photos of a canine that was lingering in her front yard on Sept. 19, 2009.

Guttilla lives near Utica near the Illinois River and said she saw this canine several times during a three-week period from August through September.

Was she seeing a wolf? Or a dog? Or maybe a hybrid?

Whatever this is, my first reaction is not to say wolf, that’s for sure. In one picture the snout looks more like that of a bear. What do you think?

Click here to check out a Web site that offers sighting tips for canines. Wisconsin wolf specialist Adrian Wydeven suggested this site to Dale Bowman of the Chicago Sun-Times to help differentiate wolves, dogs, coyotes and wolf-dog hybrids.

Illinois hunting and fishing

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Illinois hunting and fishing

Good/bad news about whooping cranes

April 06, 2010 at 07:00 AM

Good news out of Florida is that a group of juvenile whooping cranes which were wintering at the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge started their spring migration on Monday, April 5. Nine juveniles joined three other sub-adults and flapped off to Grady County, Ga., according to Eva Szyszkoski of the International Crane Foundation.

Bad news is a new scientific report that claims there are some real problems with the handling of the experimental flock. Click here to read an interesting article on this subject from The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

A five-member panel of experts led by Phil Miller of Senior Breeding Specialist Group of Apple Valley, Minn. called out the various groups running the reintroduction for weak financial controls and a lack of scientific oversight. The panel also called into question the use of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin as a home for the whoopers. The report notes that only one crane chick has been born at Necedah and survived since 2001.

The report also notes that the crane program has so far spent nearly $16 million in the past decade to produce 103 whooping cranes that migrate from central Wisconsin to Florida.

To help cut costs, the panel suggests that crane managers “reduce the number of juvenile cranes over the next five years that fly with ultralight aircraft on their first migration to Florida” opting instead to have young cranes follow mature cranes south. While that would save money, it would also cut down on the fund-raising arm of the crane reintroduction.

All in all, it will be interesting to see what changes come from this report, if any. Certainly the issues raised seem valid.

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