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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

Still plenty of Asian carp around

September 04, 2010 at 05:28 PM

In case anybody was worried about the status of Asian carp in the Illinois River, stop worrying.

As this picture from Thad Cook proves, carp are alive and well.

Cook snapped this photo Aug. 16. And while Cook works for the Illinois Natural History Survey, he was not electroshocking when the fish started jumping. He was merely motoring through Chain Lake.

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Illinois hunting and fishing

Taneycomo a trout mecca

August 15, 2010 at 01:26 AM

Illinois hunting and fishing

Loving info

Buster Loving guides year-round at Lake Taneycomo, Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals for trout, bass and crappie.

E-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call (417) 335-0357.



In early May the water of Lake Taneycomo was a chilly 53 degrees.

Last Thursday despite a blistering heat wave, the water of that Missouri lake had actually dipped below 50.

No wonder Lake Taneycomo offers memorable trout fishing on a year-round basis.

Trout need cool water to survive and in Taneycomo they’ve found a suitable home. Water released during power generation at the Table Rock Dam flows into Taneycomo from the bottom of Table Rock, which keeps temperatures down and trout active.

That also keeps fishing guides like Buster Loving of Rockaway Beach, Mo. in business. Earlier this spring during a visit to Branson I joined Loving and fellow outdoor writer Darrell Taylor for an afternoon outing on famed Taneycomo.

Since singing and dancing shows aren’t my thing, I had come to Branson reluctantly. But I was happy to learn the Branson area also offers plenty of outdoors opportunities.

Enough opportunities that Loving, 42, has for the past 18 years made a full-time living as a guide. “Down here the water is always cold and the fish are always biting,” he said.

While that’s a questionable statement most places, it’s pretty accurate at Taneycomo whether you fish in August or April. Last Thursday evening Loving and clients caught 30 fish in a few hours.

“The biggest we had was 18 inches,” he said. “A few months ago I had a guy that hooked into one that was 9 pounds.”Illinois hunting and fishing

We didn’t come close to that during our trip and we never hooked into anything near the 18-pound brown trout Loving once caught or the 12-pound rainbow trout on display at his home.

Yet we caught several trout while floating the upper reaches of this 22-mile lake that more closely resembles a river. Now and then I saw big fish dart off through the clear water, their thick sides showing off against the rocky bottom.

No surprise there. The upper 3 miles of Taneycomo are a trophy zone, in which anglers must release all fish of 12-20 inches. Elsewhere the daily limit is four fish of any size per angler.

Then too, the state periodically includes big brooder fish in its stockings of trout raised at a hatchery at the base of Table Rock Dam. Some of those fish stick around and grow, as in the case of the 28-pound, 12-ounce state record brown trout caught last Nov. 20 by Scott Sandusky of Arnold, Mo.

Most of our trout came on small jigs, though we also had a few bites on Berkley Gulp eggs on drift rigs and on nightcrawlers. To make worms float better in the current, Loving injected each one with air from a syringe.

While drifting along, Taylor took time to recall past visits to Taneycomo. “When we started coming down here in the 1970s there would be cattle in the lake getting water,” he said. “Not any more.”

Now fancy houses line much of the shoreline, including one owned by Branson performer Andy Williams.

Even so, wildlife abounds. Loving said he sees bald eagles now and then and during our trip, a blue heron snatched a small trout from the lake and headed for shore.
There the big bird gulped the fish down in one smooth motion.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Later this fall, that might not be so easy for the heron, since big brown trout start running when the leaves fall and air temperatures cool.
Loving said that’s his favorite time on Taneycomo.

“There’s not near as much pressure here and there’s a lot of big fish caught from about the first of November until the end of February,” Loving said. “Most of the time they release the big brooders in the winter.”


Story and comments

Night bite best for bass

July 02, 2010 at 02:47 PM

Numerous reports in recent days point out that evenings have been much better than mornings for largemouth bass.

At least that’s been the case for the top-water bite.

Rick Morgan said it’s also true for jigs after dark. Here’s his report from last Saturday evening, when he fished from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. and caught 17 bass, including a 21-incher.

“All were caught on jig-n-pig. Had a full moon and I was out during the major feed. Had a nice breeze around 7 mph and it was very pleasant since the daytime hours had been pretty hot and humid. The “skeeds”  (mosquitoes) weren’t bad either. I did experience a few bats flying down at my lure as I was casting, this can be quite normal at night. If you have never experienced the bats, it may freak you out at first as they get rather close when you raise your rod tip to cast, you can actually hear their wings flapping. I once took my hat off and shook it by one of my friends head (during night fishing). He was already freaking out at the bats behavior, he screamed like a little girl, leaned back hard in his chair, and fell out of my 2-man bass boat. Once back in the boat, he just kept talking about leaving and how the bats had ruined his night. I then explained the hat trick and we both laughed. Luckily it was a warm night and we could continue fishing. He did later catch a 6 pounder so he was happy.

“I always throw a jig-n-pig during the night time hrs unless the lake is so mossy that I have to go to a texas rigged worm type bait. The jig-n-pig present a larger bait for the bass to find at night since they really cant see it too well and have to rely on their lateral lines to pick up the vibrations and movement.”

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Illinois hunting and fishing

Bluegill red hot in the strip mines

May 24, 2010 at 03:32 PM

If you’ve got a good spot to catch bluegill, take Tuesday off from work. Or get out this evening. Or Wednesday. Just don’t wait too long because the big bluegill are headed to the beds and biting like mad.

At least they were this morning in the 20-acre, deep, clear, Peoria County strip-mine lake I fished with Journal Star opinion page guru Mike Bailey (pictured below with a nice gill).

We caught about 60 bluegill, redear and crappie. Of those I’d say probably 50 were bluegill. Nice ones, too. Lots of 9-inch males in bright colors and a pair of fish that topped 10 inches.

Bailey had not been fishing in years but showed that he still had skills. Seems to me he caught more fish than the old veteran JS sports reporter Phil Theobald did in the same lake. Dare I say Bailey could outfish Theobald? Well, anybody could have looked good today.

Just to recap: the bluegills are up on the beds and biting. Now is a good time to get out of work and go fishing.

The only other point worth making off today’s trip is this: Bailey caught a lot more fish when he downsized hooks to a small, 2-spot ice-fishing jig. If he would have started with that jig on, we’d still be cleaning fish.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

A Spoon River sturgeon

May 19, 2010 at 10:33 AM

Here is photographic evidence of a fish reported in late April out of the Spoon River.

At the time all we could tell you is that an angler caught a 4-foot sturgeon from below the dam at Bernadotte, which by the way has been a catfishing hotspot this year (though not now with all the high water).

In an update from the earlier post, we have been informed the angler in the Cardinals shirt is Cliff Miller from the Vermont area. The pictures would indicate the fish was caught April 22 at around 5 p.m.

Various biologists speculate this is a late sturgeon, though the pictures are obviously not the best.

Word is the fish was released and that a larger sturgeon was also see at the same time in the same location.

Illinois hunting and fishing

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