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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

Emiquon bass biting well

April 05, 2010 at 03:49 PM

The bass are biting at the Emiquon Preserve near Havana.

No shock there, I suppose, but you never know for sure. There was always a chance they might not hit as well as last year, when anglers regularly reported 100-fish outings.

No need for worry says my buddy The Farmer, who fished for three hours this morning with his wife and boated about 65 bass—the longest of which went 16 inches.

“It was typical Emiquon fishing,” he said. “Fantastic. If you are a meat fisherman you won’t like it, but I can catch these fat bass all day.”

That’s pretty much what they did, fishing first with purple or pink spinnerbaits and later with plastic worms and salamanders after the spinnerbaits stopped working.

“We probably didn’t get more than 200 yards from the launch the whole day,” Farmer said. “And the bass are bigger and heftier than last year. This year you’ll catch 13- to 15-inch bass that will try to take your pole away.”

But not everything is perfect at Emiquon.

The main drawback right now is very high water that has flooded the old rock parking lot. Instead of parking in the lot, anglers are forced to park on the ramps leading down to the lake. Farmer said several anglers launched smaller boats on Monday with success, but he noted, “There’s not much room to turn around.”

The Nature Conservancy said it plans to draw down water levels as soon as possible, but so far has had only limited success.

As a result, areas that last year were just 1 feet deep are now 5-6 feet deep. “But the water is still nice and clear,” Farmer said.

And the bass are still biting.

As for other species, well the Farmer never caught anything but bass. “But I never tried for anything else,” he said.


Story and comments

Weather will dictate my spring

March 24, 2010 at 12:36 PM

For the rest of April, I am planning my work week based on the weather.

For years now, I’ve been stuck in the office on gorgeous April days when people caught fish and then been outside on miserable days when I froze my hands.

No longer.This year during the early spring fishing season I am playing the odds and picking fishing days based on the weather.

So far, I’m 1-1 in my picks. Last week I got out on a warm Monday and caught a nice fish. But I missed the best day of last week, which in my book was Friday. I heard all kinds of glowing reports from anglers.

So this week, I picked Tuesday as a prime day to fish. The weather was good: warmer and with less wind. To me that’s the key. It doesn’t have to be sunny, just stable, warmer and not too windy. Those are the days I plan to target. Later in the spring, as the strip mines clear up and the crappie get spookier, I will actually target cloudy days. But for now, I want warmth and not too much wind.

Unfortunately, the strategy didn’t work well in Tuesday. Chef Todd, Gordon Inskeep and I managed to not catch a fish in two hours of wetting a line in some pretty good Peoria County waters. I even cheated and had live minnows.

Whatever the cause for that momentary blip, it won’t deter me from following my plan through April. Now I just hope the weather predictors do a good job of helping me plan my weeks.


Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

Get out the black-and-blue jigs

March 15, 2010 at 03:41 PM

Sometimes, bass fishing really doesn’t require all that much thinking when it comes to lure selection.

It is spring. The ice has just recently gone out. Water is cold. Big fish have been caught for generations at this time of year on black-and-blue jigs with pork or plastic trailers.

So why bother thinking about what to throw?

Based largely on that philosophy, Gordon Inskeep and I spent a productive two hours of strip-mine fishing today. We only had three bites and of those we only landed two. Gordon caught the first open-water fish of the year on a black-and-blue jig, close to the bank near the end of a north facing-shoreline.

The latter information did involve some thinking. The lake we were fishing in Peoria County (Lake Harold) was very, very high. In the past, we’ve found fish close to shore in such conditions. So we fished close to shore today.

The other factor we tried to play was the wind, which was gusting out of the north. So we tried to fish the north facing bank wherever possible, figuring the wind would blow food into that shore and fish might congregate there.

Obviously, with only two fish our results were not stellar. But one of those fish was the 20 3/4-incher pictured below, which also hit on a black-and-blue jig. You can give me a fish like that any time—particularly on March 15 during the first open-water outing of the year.

With fairly stable, relatively warm weather predicted for this week, you can bet we’ll be out again in a few days. And there’s no reason to ask what lure we will be using.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Story and comments

Outdoor Life reviews 2010 fishing gear

February 24, 2010 at 03:11 PM

Here is Outdoor Life’s annual review of tackle for 2010.

• Outdoor Life Editor’s Choice / Spinning Reel
Price: $200
“The CI4 cast farther and with less effort that other spinners.”

• Outdoor Life Great Buy / Spinning Reel:
    Price: $100
“This reel is a no-nonsense workhorse with a wallet-friendly pricetag.”

• Outdoor Life Editor’s Choice / Bait-Casting Reel:
Price: $370
“Blends durability, function and comfort at a great price.”

• Outdoor Life Great Buy/ Bait-Casting Reel:
Price: $230
“The best value among the bait-casters.”

• Outdoor Life Editor’s Choice / Spinning Rod:
Price: $180
“Rod flexure is uniform, and sensitivity increases as vibration is transferred from tip to handle more efficiently.”

• Outdoor Life Great Buy / Spinning Rod:
    Price: $100
“It flicked nearly microscopic jigs with nimble accuracy.”

• Outdoor Life Editor’s Choice / Bait-Casting Rod:
Price: $200
“Super-strong, yet light and sensitive.”

• Outdoor Life Great Buy/ Bait-Casting Rod:
Price: $150
“Capable of transmitting the slightest ticks at bait.”

Story and comments

Field & Stream’s top fishing gear

February 23, 2010 at 11:16 PM

Here’s the annual list of Field & Stream magazine’s top fishing gear for 2010.

  * SPINNING REEL- Shimano Stradic C14, $200

  * SPINNING ROD- TFO/Gary Loomis, $100

  * FLYFISHING REEL- Waterworks-Lamson Guru Reel, $179-$249

  * FLYFISHING ROD- Orvis Hydros Fly Rod, $495-$525

  * FLYFISHING BAG- Fishpond Storm Mountain Gear Bag, $195

  * FLYFISHING FLYBOX- Umpqua Feather Merchants Professional Guide Flybox, $25-$40

  * ELECTRONICS- Minn Kota I-Pilot, $400

  * OUTERWEAR- RailRiders Extreme Adventure Pant, $95

  * OUTERWEAR- Simms Streamtread Wading Boot Soles, $120-$220, with HardBite Star Cleat Studs, $40

  * OUTERWEAR- Cloudveil Hellroaring Jacket, $200

  * BAITCASTING ROD- G. Loomis Deep-Flex Crankbait Rods, $245-$275

  * BAITCASTING REEL- U.S. Reel Supercaster 1000 Pro, $250

  * LURES & ACCESSORIES- Leatherman Freestyle CX, $70

  * LURES & ACCESSORIES- Yum Money Hound, $7.35 for 4

Story and comments

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