Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
RulesIllinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
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
 

Scattershooting

A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Scattershooting at bass, Bullseye and a czar

April 22, 2010 at 08:24 PM

Rambling through the outdoors wondering if a prep angler will land a 7-pound bass Friday.

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Friday’s expected rain comes at a bad time for Illinois High School Association bass fishing sectionals. Even so, timing of today’s tournament could be perfect at Banner Marsh, as bass have been biting well all week. My money is on Farmington. Weigh-in is 3 p.m. at the three lakes hosting area teams: Banner’s Johnson Lake, Evergreen Lake and Argyle Lake. ... Sectionals halted by lightning, high winds or other weather will be moved to Monday. Anglers must fish have the scheduled time for a sectional to be official. ... Prep anglers would fare better for numbers of fish if they focused on crappie. Papermouths are on a tear in the northern two-thirds of Illinois, with excellent reports from all over the state and numerous slabs caught. If you like catching crappie, get out soon. ... Just how good is fishing? Minister Morris sayeth you can cast a net on either side of your boat and feel confident about feeding your flock. More impressive still, the Panfishing Preacher reports 50-fish sacks of bluegill coming out of the shallows at the Emiquon Preserve, otherwise known as the Bass Wasteland.

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Gobbler fever is in high gear across Illinois and hunters have made the most of favorable weather. The South Zone was on a record pace of 1,497 gobblers through two seasons and the North Zone was 2,752 toms after one season — well ahead of last year’s 2,248 and best since 2002. Fulton County ranked third so far. ... Biggest gobbler I’ve seen a picture of is a 27-pounder from Brown County shot by Pastor Jim Dawson of Pekin’s God and Country Baptist Church. ...  Any hopes a dry spring would stop the annual plague of gnats were dashed as the pests showed up in force this week. Time to steal vanilla out of the baking cabinet again. ... Anybody want a good farm cat? Our feisty feline Bullseye is turning me into more of a hyprocite every day. See, I don’t like city cats roaming outside and killing stuff for no reason. So when Bullseye comes home with a mouth full of cardinal feathers it drives me crazy. Even as a Cubs fan. But when she catches a mouse or corners a chipmunk, as she did Thursday, I don’t mind. Help. ... Bullseye is no doubt unwelcome at Saturday’s 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. celebration of Earth Day at Forest Park Nature Center — a haven for birds and little critters, but not killer cats.

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Predicted rains this weekend would come at the perfect time for mushroom hunters heading into the traditional peak of the central Illinois fungus season. Morel growth has been hampered by dry conditions but there’s time to finish with a flourish between now and mid-May. ... Best ‘shroom reports so far are from Peoria and Fulton counties. Journal Star scribe Matt Buedel sacked up 500 morels last Thursday through Sunday, biggest a 3.5-inch yellow. But some shroomers in southern Illinois lament what they call one of their worst picking years in recent memory. ... Much easier is finding wild asparagus, which is visible from a vehicle and doesn’t require much walking or tick-to-privates contact. Ultimately, though, morels taste better than asparagus. ... A lungless frog, a flying frog and an amorous slug that shoots love darts are among 123 new species found in Borneo since 2007. If ever an entry called for Our Neighbor Ash, that’s it. Amorous slug. Boy do I miss you today, Ash. ... A dry spring is good news for deer hunters. With so much corn planted, odds increase for an early fall harvest and fewer hiding places for wily whitetails.

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Kudos to Ed Barnabee of Farmington, who returned from Oporto, Portugal on Monday after helping a three-shooter U.S. team win the Match of Nations target shoot for the first time since 1953. “Those Europeans did not like that,” Barnabee said. He also tied for first among shooters 70 and over. ... Campers itching to pitch a tent at Anderson Lake may get a chance next week. Staffers had 80 percent of the oft-flooded campground cleaned by Thursday and, barring monsoons this weekend, hope to have the rest done soon. Call first to be safe at (309) 759-4484. ... Need help getting your pooch to perform? The Illinois River Hunting Retriever Club has a training day Saturday out of the East Point Access at Banner Marsh at 8:30 a.m. ... Parting shot: What was DNR Director Marc Miller thinking by hiring an $85,000-per-year canoe czar for a few hours last week? My bet is Miller saw that as a chance to rewrite Illinois’ woefully archaic stream access laws. While that’s a noble goal, the timing was still horrible and could hamper Miller’s future hirings.

 

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Illinois hunting and fishing

April 22: Picture of the Day

April 22, 2010 at 02:38 PM

I’ve spent the past few mornings searching for goslings, having seen a recent picture out of Tennessee with a pair of honkers and their brood. So far I’ve not seen any little honkers. That should change any day now.

Much harder to find are little ducklings, at least in my neck of strip-mine country. But there’s reason to think that will change this spring.

For one thing, I’m paying closer attention to every puddle in the area. As part of that daily search for the photographable, I’ve been tracking two pairs of local mallards and two pairs of local blue-winged teal. The fact they are still here and paired up tells me they are nesting birds. Then again, I’m no ornithologist. But both species nest fairly extensively in the northern two-thirds of Illinois.

This is one of the teal pairs, whose little wet area can actually use some rain. They are on the scene nearly every time I drive past and today were particularly slow to leave.

Here’s hoping the grassy areas around this spot don’t get mowed any time soon so Momma Teal can raise her brood in peace—and I can photograph them later this spring.

According to “Waterfowl of Illinois” by Steve Havera:

“Blue-winged Teals are among the last dabbling ducks to nest because of their late spring migration and are likely to reach their peak of nesting in Illinois in May. They usually favor grass for nest sites within approximately 200 yards of water, average about 10 eggs per clutch, and have an incubation period of approximately 24 days.”

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