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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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Carp barrier, poisoning a boondoggle?

December 03, 2009 at 07:47 AM

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has already spent millions on an electric fish barrier that may or may not work.

Now another reported $2 million is being spent to poison the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

All that money is being poured out in an effort to keep Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes—something these voracious fish have probably already done.

No wonder Chicago Sun-Times columnist Dale Bowman is calling the barrier, “a shocking boondoggle.”

Writes Bowman:

The establishment of an electrical fish barrier on the Sanitary and Ship Canal is easily the single greatest boondoggle in the Chicago outdoors, now costing well over $10 million.

Click here to read Bowman’s full column on this subject.

To me the whole thing is kind of a slap in the face for the rest of the state. In no other place would so much money be spent to prevent the spread of fish or other critters. No similar effort has ever been made to stop invasive species from leaving the Great Lakes and coming downstate. And don’t tell me the barrier effectively serves the same purpose. The intent was to stop Asian carp, not to stop other species from moving downstream.

UPDATE: I had a different last line here when this was posted this morning. Then I got a can of Diet Mountain Dew and felt less grouchy. So I pulled it. In truth, this is a Great Lakes issue. But I still believe it’s a waste of money. Why not spend the $12 million on finding a way to deal with Asian carp? Why not set up processing plants? They are going to get into the Great Lakes.




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A carp to the jaw hurts

August 13, 2009 at 08:55 PM

Bumps, bruises, cuts and slime are all part of boating trips on the Illinois River these days. Spend enough time on the Illinois and you’re bound to have at least one close encounter at least one flying Asian carp.

But your odds of a collision go way up when you are actively trying to make the fish jump so you can shoot them with a bow and arrow.

Few people know that better than Jodi Barnes of Bartonville, fiancee of carp-slayer Chris Brackett. During a carp-shooting outing earlier this summer, Barnes had her jaw broken when a large silver carp slammed into the side of her face.

The collision occurred within view of Johnny’s Hideaway along the Peoria riverfront with Driven TV hosts Pat Reeve and Nicole Jones in the boat.

“We were going really slow because that seems to get them to jump really high,” Brackett said. “Jodi had shot at one and was leaning forward to reel in her arrow when another fish came out of nowhere to her right and then hit her in the jaw.”

Photographer Bill Konway actually photographed the moment of impact. Click here to see the rest of Konway’s pictures and to check out some of his other cool outdoors-related photographs.

Hours after she was hit Barnes had her jaw wired shut. She still has four more weeks of eating instant potatoes and smoothies until the broken jawbone heals.

The experience left Barnes with a vendetta against flying carp. Moments after her collision, she sent a text message
with three simple words: “Kill ‘em all!”

Incidentally, film crews will be on the water with Brackett Aug. 22-23 to shoot footage for an upcoming episode of
Hooked, which airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on the National Geographic channel.

Story and comments

Shooting carp in the dark is awesome

August 05, 2009 at 12:01 AM

I’ve got to admit, I was not all that fired up about going to shoot Asian carp last night on the Illinois River out of Chillicothe.

I’ve seen the show plenty of times. I’ve shot a few (and missed hundreds). I was tired after spending the morning fishing. I had a million excuses.

But none of that mattered once the sun set, the lights came on and the fish went crazy. Put simply, it was a ball. I really think Jon Sarver and Bill Ludolph are onto something with this night-time carp shooting deal they have going. I’ll be writing more about this soon and we’ll have a video up Thursday by Adam Gerik.

In a nutshell, what makes their version of carp-shooting fun is:

1. They have netting all the way around a pontoon boat so you feel safe. You still get hit some, but there’s just not as much fear of being blindsided and knocked out.

2. Shooting carp under the lights is just cool. You block out the rest of the usual river scenes and focus on carp. And the bigger carp seem to jump better after dark.

3. The draft beers are only .50 cents at Bananas, located at the boat ramp in Chillicothe.

More to come. Right now it’s time for bed. My arms hurt and I still have a fishy smell even after a long, hot shower.


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Illinois hunting and fishing

Snagger alert: The carp are back

July 22, 2009 at 08:40 PM

I knew Photo Joe would be out on the Illinois River quickly once he learned the wicket dam was up again at Peoria Lock and Dam for the first time in what seems like years.

And while the wickets have been up since only last Wednesday, Asian carp are already massing below the dam. That’s the word from Photo Joe, aka Joe Egli. Here is his actual report from today, when he was accompanied by Kurt Karnes (pictured above).

The carp are BACK - couldn’t catch them by the dam but off the rocks on the Peoria side deep! Took my buddy Kurt Karnes from Groveland on his 1st ever snagging adventure - managed a few 15-16 pounders.

So the snagging is not great and the big fish are not stacked up yet. But that will happen. For snaggers who have been waiting patiently for a chance to hook into some hard-fighting Asian carp, now’s the time to head for Peoria.

Snagging is legal year-round below Peoria Lock and Dam and you can launch from the Peoria side at the Mendenhall Boat Ramp, located south of Peoria. Or you can put in at Pekin and run farther up river.

Keep me posted on how you do. I’m going to have to get ahold of Photo Joe soon and get out there with him.



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