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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.

Illinois Outdoors


A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Illinois hunting and fishing

Bass and even crappie at Emiquon

August 23, 2009 at 02:02 PM

The bass were an expectation. Even when fishing started slowly for the first two hours, I kept thinking sooner or later we’d get into the bass at the Emiquon Preserve.

Sure enough, we did. By day’s end we easily topped 100 bass. After awhile, keeping count at a place like Emiquon is impossible. But still enjoyable.

This morning was fishing buddy Gordon Inskeep’s first visit to Emiquon and the start had me a bit worried. We were on the water by 6:45 a.m. and the morning bite was slow. There was no top-water action. Fishing shallow yielded nothing. The old reliable ditch near the boat ramp yielded nothing. Senkos yielded nothing.

Then, as we moved out farther into the lake, we started catching fish on tubs jigs and a red shad worm. Still not great, but at least they were biting—something that I was a bit worried about after a 49-degree evening.

Then round about 8:30, the bass of Emiquon started flexing their fins. Over the next 3 hours were caught fish after fish after fish. Most came on crankbaits off secondary weedlines in about 8-10 feet of water. Nearly all of them fought like trains, prompting Inskeep to tell me again and again, “This one’s a good one.”

Unfortunately, the only really good one got away. That fish hit on a white Bagley Mama Cat crankbait and looked huge. I’m saying 5-6 pounds. But just as it flashed along the boat, it was gone after breaking my line.

Frustration did not last long. Not when there are so many bass to soothe the pain of a lost fish. Most we caught were 12- and 13-inchers, though we did manage some 14 3/4-inch fish. All fought well.

As an added bonus, I think we may have found a crappie pattern. Inskeep caught the 13-inch fish below by accident on a crankbait. Shortly thereafter I downsized to a jig and plastic body and caught two more 11-inchers. I also missed numerous crappie-like bites (a few bluegill bites, as well) and cursed not bringing waxworms.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Next time I’m bringing waxworms and crappie nibbles. If the pattern holds, I’ll even tell you what we did.

Until then, here’s yet another reminder: Emiquon is the finest public bass fishing lake in Illinois when it comes to catching numbers of fish. As one fellow angler Sunday said, “I’ve never seen anything like this.” Yet another guy fishing this morning was there in a bass boat with the motor removed. He said he took the motor off eight weeks ago and has seen no reason to put it back on yet.

“Not with fishing like this,” he said.

Amen to that.



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