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

A seagull with jewelry

October 28, 2009 at 06:18 AM

It’s a good thing Flathead carries his camera with him. You never know what he’s going to encounter. Weird fish. Freaky spiders. And even seagulls wearing odd forms of jewelry.

This one is from Sept. 13 on the Illinois River near Chillicothe. And give credit to Flathead’s son, Briar, for correctly identifying the bird as being tagged. Writes Flathead, “Briar said it was an animal tag right away!  I did not think so until I saw the leg band in the photos.”

So where did the band come from?

Local naturalist Michelle Simone writes, “It might be a bird from one of the nesting colonies along Lake Michigan. USDA-WS has been marking gulls in various colonies along the lake for several years. One of their marked birds was sighted on Anderson Lake a few years ago.”

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

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Illinois hunting and fishing

A big bass that survived a hook

October 23, 2009 at 10:34 PM

Flathead snapped these pictures of a 5.5-pound bass from Wheel Lake in Banner Marsh that survived a hook embedded near its gills. Seems like a good Picture of the Week to me.

Writes Flathead: “The big one that got away!  The bass was in great body shape and the hook was slowly dissolving away.  The wound site was also very clean.”

Illinois hunting and fishing

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Illinois hunting and fishing

Here is a spider to admire

October 17, 2009 at 07:17 AM

This is one of Flathead’s best Pictures of the Week in my book. Wow. What a spider.

Flathead snapped a picture of this one while he and son Briar were helping Grandpa Joe set up a ground blind. Briar found this rascal. Here is Flathead’s account.  “A cool spider he said! It is a Marbled Orb Weaver. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders says it is found throughout the United States and north to Alaska.  No note on how much bite it might have, so I guess it is cool looking!”

Never new there were spiders that wild looking in Illinois.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

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Illinois hunting and fishing

Pike are truly prehistoric, with pix

October 02, 2009 at 06:18 AM

Ever wonder if northern pike are prehistoric? Flathead came through with all the evidence you need in this picture of a truly ugly pike sampled from Lake Candlewick on Sept. 9 during a routine fall population assessment.

Flathead called it “the ugliest northern pike I have ever seen. The eye on this side had an incredible wicked glow!”

While this one is an ugly rascal, I can tell you that fishing for northern pike ranks as one of my favorite angling pastimes. Maybe if I lived up north where they are pests I would feel differently. But since there are such limited opportunities for northerns here in Illinois, they represent a trophy to me.

And now should be a good time to target pike, which will be putting on the feed bag for fall. Hmmm. Maybe a trip to Spring Lake south is in order?

Illinois hunting and fishing

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Illinois hunting and fishing

Ever seen an orangethroat darter?

September 23, 2009 at 12:31 PM

Here’s another critter picture from Flathead. This is an ugly little sucker, if you ask me. More to the point, this is an organgethroat darter from Stark County.

Flathead says, “The orangethroat darter is a common small stream fish in the Illinois river basin. A large orangethroat is 3 inches in length. The darters and perches are fish in the family Percidae. More common fish to anglers in this family are the walleye, sauger and the yellow perch.”

From “The Fishes of Illinois” we can also learn that, “The orangethroat darter occupies riffles and pools of small creeks that have bottoms of mixed sand and gravel, and it is often abundant in prairie streams that have no marginal tree vegetation. It is a pioneering species that soon reoccupies formerly dry stream beds and ascends well into headwaters.”

OK. I feel like I’ve learned something today. But I still say it’s an ugly little sucker.

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