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Jeff Lampe
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.

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A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

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A morning at Powerton Lake

July 07, 2008 at 03:36 PM

Yep, The Rock is open to boat fishing again. After a long delay due to levee work, Powerton Lake near Pekin reopened to boaters about 10 days ago (on June 28).

During a typical year—when Powerton opens to boats in February—the first few weeks are very busy at the cooling lake. But demand for an ugly place to fish with extremely hot water is obviously not all that strong in July, when there are plenty of cooler, more scenic options.

At least that’s what Pete Riedesel of Ottawa and I discovered this morning during a wet outing that lasted from 6 a.m. to a little after noon. We virtually had the lakes to ourselves, as there were only two other boats out when we launched. That surprised me. Because the fish are there. They always are. Despite having to leave the lake for more than an hour (due to lightning, nasty clouds and rain) we managed to catch a decent number of fish. Actually, Pete cost most of the fish, including about a dozen smallies (most on Big Dude blade baits or twister tails). Here’s Riedesel with one of his bronzebacks.

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Channel catfish were also active, taking crankbaits in much of the “cool-water” arm of the lake. Cool is a relative term, since water was 85 degrees at the start of the intake canal. Then again, it was closer to 90 degrees on the warm-water side. Anyway, crankbaits seemed to work best for cats while smallies were evident but very busy feeding on bait fish off the intake point. Myself, I lost the biggest smallmouth of the day (Riedesel figured it went about 20 inches) at the boat. That fish hit a crawdad-colored Chatterbait made by Paul Clay of Chillicothe.

But fishing wasn’t so amazing that there was no time for talking. One of the more interesting parts of the outing for me was hearing about Riedesel’s home-made tackle box, pictured below. His father, the late Ralph Riedesel, made this for Pete when he was in his teens. “I never appreciated it much until later,” he said. “I never knew it was going to turn out to be one of the most meaningful gifts I ever got.”

Pete still uses the tackle box today.

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