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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

Bass-eating trout and snake shooters

April 04, 2008 at 05:51 AM

Rambling through the outdoors wondering how many rainbow trout go straight from a state fisheries truck into the belly of a bass.

Sure Easter was early, but all signs indicate spring is slow in arriving. Bluebird nesting is way behind schedule according to Herb “Mr. Bluebird” Unkrich of Edwards. So is grass mowing, as neighbor Bernie Sager said he had fired up his grass guzzler on March 26 last year. More importantly, fishing has also been slow thanks to weather patterns that are unusually inconsistent even for early spring. ... But big bass are biting. From Kinkaid Lake in deep southern Illinois we heard word of an 8-pounder caught by Chicago-area angler Steve Anderson. A 7-pound, 15-ounce fish came out of Little Grassy Lake. The biggest we’ve seen evidence of around here so far was caught by Jefferey Todd Ohlman last Monday in a private pond north of Chillicothe. Ohlman was fishing a plastic worm and said the bass weighed 10-2. We’ll print Ohlman’s shot Sunday. ... Rumor mill: Word is circulating about an 11-pound, 14-ounce largemouth caught last Saturday at Siloam Springs State Park — three days after rainbow trout were stocked in the park’s 58-acre lake.

Speaking of trout, the season opens Saturday at 43 locations around Illinois, including Siloam Springs, the pond behind the Hennepin Canal visitor center, the I&M Canal in Utica and Miller Park in Bloomington. Bring corn, but try small spinners, waxworms and minnows. Daily bag limit is five trout. You need a trout stamp and a valid 2008 fishing license. ... If you visit Siloam Springs in Adams County, take bass gear and a few trout-imitating swimbaits. That place is a big-bass breeding ground. Remember that on April 17, 1999, Tim Stevens of Astoria caught a 10-pound, 13-ounce largemouth at Siloam Springs while fishing for trout with 6-pound test line and Berkley trout bait. ... Worth waiting: First day to sign up for camping spots at Comlara Park Call (309-726-2022, ext. 221) is Saturday at 8 a.m. But to get the first few spots you’ll need to show up for a lottery at 12:01 a.m. — that’s how popular camping spots are around Evergreen Lake. ... Resident deer hunting permit applications are not out yet. We’ll let you know when they arrive. Better yet, apply via the Internet at ... The North Zone youth turkey hunt is Saturday and Sunday. South Zone kids shot 245 gobblers last weekend — down 50 from 2007.

Went to see Sports Illustrated great Frank Deford speak Wednesday night at Bratley and left feeling good about being a sportswriter ... right up until I arrived at work and fielded 17 calls from Our Neighbor Ash and then found out I’d made a mistake in Sunday’s article. Sorry, the Chillicothe Recreational Area (309-274-2000) is not open for daily fishing. Annual fishing memberships are available at $225 for an individual or $325 for a family. ... So there’s been a cougar sighted in North Chicago that has residents up in arms, literally. An armed guard was stationed at a youth center the other day to keep watch after the big cat was allegedly spotted on the roof. Funny how Chicago types don’t mind guns when those weapons might work to their advantage. Reminds me of Rosie O’Donnell’s hypocritical stance a few years back. ... In my latest Wednesday fishing trip with son, he slipped into a lake up to his knees. Victor was fine after a bag of M&Ms and some root beer, but the incident was a reminder that steep-sided strip mines are tough to fish.

We’re pondering a regular feature tracking antics of Canton tele-hunter Tim Wells, the guy who speared a buffalo last fall. Last week he took his family to Texas for a combination turkey/rattlesnake hunt. Daughter Sydnie, 10, and son Clint, 8, both shot gobblers and rattlesnakes with bows while wife Kerrie arrowed a wild hog. “Everybody else goes to Disneyworld for spring break, we go hunting,” Wells said. ... Speaking of tele-hunters, Chris Brackett of Bartonville is on a quest for a wild turkey grand slam with a bow and without a hunting blind. So far he has two Osceola gobblers under his belt with three more species to go. ... Nets raised at Banner Marsh this week featured big crappie and a 45-inch muskie out of the Main Access. Main and Bell’s Landing accesses looked best for toothy critters. ... Parting shot: Seeing Gov. Blagojevich’s office propose a $5 to $10 increase in camping fees is no surprise, given Blago’s penchant for raising fees. What will be a surprise is if any extra funds stay within the Department of Natural Resources.



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