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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

Gulping up bluegills with minnows

February 15, 2010 at 05:50 PM

For the past few years I’ve heard rave reviews for the various Berkley Gulp Alive products.

Last year was the first time I was really tempted to spend money on Gulp, which was the favored bait of crappie anglers at the Emiquon Preserve. Because minnows are not allowed at Emiquon, some anglers turned to Gulp with great results.

For me, though, two things scared me off. The price tag. And the size of the commonly available Gulp minnows. I don’t like 3- or even 4-inch minnows.

All of which leads me up to today, when Gulp Alive 1-inch minnows Illinois hunting and fishingperformed wonderfully well in the strip mines.

A group of us (Gordon Inskeep, Tony McCoy and Gregg Meyers) fished together. Everyone was using fake plastic baits. I was the only one who had live waxworms. But the waxworms were not the ticket. It was the Gulp Alive that eventually wound up on every hook.

We caught nice bluegill, redear, a few crappie and a few bass. For awhile I tried waxies with the minnows. Then just waxies. Then just minnows. The last combination worked as good as the double combination. So for the latter half of the day all I used was the Gulp minnows.

So now I guess I’m going to stock up on the things. But there are problems. The goo they are stored in tends to leak out of the containers, which do not screw down tight enough. If they tip over (as they do in my tackle sack) everything gets stinky and slimy. So that’s a problem to address. But all in all, they are a good addition to the panfishing arsenal.



Story and comments

Fish are biting

February 02, 2010 at 02:04 PM

Everybody I’ve talked to who has ice fished in the past few days since the warm-up on Sunday and Monday tells me the fish are biting.

That’s true even for the Farmer, who enjoyed his best outing of the year at some strip mines in Stark County.

In fact, he caught his biggest bluegill ever.

The news doesn’t really surprise me for two reason: 1. Seems like warmer weather after a cold snap always sparks a good bite, 2. I am tied up in the office all week.

But good fishing is not universal across the Midwest. In North Dakota last Saturday, 4,400 anglers competed in the annual Devils Lake Fire Department tournament. They combined for only 38 fish.

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Now this is a real ice fishing tourney

January 29, 2010 at 03:45 PM

All this talk of Lake Camelot’s ice fishing tournament on Saturday was put into perspective for me a few moments ago as I perused the AP wire.

The annual Camelot tourney is a big deal for us here in central Illinois. Would it even register in North Dakota?

Devil’s Lake fishing tourney will have 5,000 holes

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. (AP) - Organizers of an annual ice fishing tournament on Devils Lake plan to drill 5,000 holes on Six Mile Bay Saturday morning.

City Fire Chief Jim Moe says 13,500 tickets were made available for the department’s 26th annual tournament. He says he expects a huge crowd if it’s not windy.

Moe says more than $170,000 in prizes will be awarded.


Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

Ice fishing stunk today

January 12, 2010 at 04:39 PM

The good news today was that I had 40 pounds of cat litter in the back of the truck. Thanks to the cat litter, Gordon Inskeep and I were able to navigate my truck out of a snow drift that I drove into as we left a lake we had ice fished.

The bad news was that was about the highlight of the day in terms of excitement.

Bites were few and far between today in 3 1/2 hours of ice fishing at three different {Peoria County lakes.

The first was a smaller lake near a sod farm. We caught several small (tiny) bluegill and Gordon hooked into one small bass. When nothing big materialized we headed for another, larger lake. Action was actually slower. I caught the 13-inch bass pictured above. Gordon had a big fish that he lost. That was it.

Then we headed for one last small pond, caught a bass and left.

Yes, we were fishing in the afternoon. Yes we had to leave before the prime time just before sunset. No, I still don’t have a Vexilar and I still don’t have a jug of homemade wine (which, by the way, is illegal at Emiquon so don’t try bringing it out there).

Even so, it seems we should have caught more fish on such a sunny, warm, gorgeous day. Right now I am a bit frustrated with ice fishing so far. And I need to buy some more cat litter.

But we’re going to try a few more lakes Wednesday afternoon along with a Journal Star video crew. Let’s hope the fish are more cooperative tomorrow.

Story and comments

We blanked at Emiquon!

January 05, 2010 at 06:38 PM

Well, this may be a first.

My buddy Gordon and I may be the first anglers to ever fish at the Emiquon Preserve and not catch a thing.

Ouch. We spent 2 1/2 hours at the fish-filled lake this morning, drilled 20 or so holes and never got a bite.

There was plenty of ice (6-8 inches) but no fish.

We fished everywhere from 4-14 feet deep with no luck.

Finally, frustrated, we left and went to a big, deep Peoria County strip mine lake where we started catching fish after 1 p.m. But we only had 3 inches of ice there, probably because of snow cover insulating the lake.

I still can’t figure out what went wrong today. But at least we’ve already got our permits for Emiquon for the year. We were Nos. 76-77. Last year they issued 3,900. Will be interesting to see how many are dealt out this year.

And I will return to Emiquon soon after it warms. No way a person can get blanked there twice, is there?

Story and comments

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