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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

Emiquon still awesome

July 15, 2009 at 02:06 PM

The Emiquon Preserve continues to amaze. In wonderful ways and in frustrating ways.

First the wonderful. The Farmer and I had hoped to hit the water at sun-up today, but rain storms delayed our launch until closer to 7 a.m. Whether we missed it or it never materialized at all, the top-water bite we had hoped for was not there. Farmer caught one on a frog. I tossed a Spro Jr. frog with no luck.

And when he switched and then caught two more on a Senko, well that was all I could handle.

I started throwing soft plastics and started catching fish. By the time we left, the two of us had caught and released 80 or more bass (most similar in size to the one held above by the Farmer). The fish hit on everything we threw: Senkos (any color, even ones that don’t work elsewhere), flukes, jigs and twister tails, salamanders. The bite was constant and often vicious.

All in all it was very enjoyable. No big fish, just tons of 10- to 14-inchers.

After awhile, though, we tried for something else. We both tied on crawler bits under a bobber and had no luck at all. Hard to imagine those 4,000 acres don’t have a huge population of bluegill and crappie. Harder still after talking to Nerissa Michaels, a graduate student from Western Illinois University who is doing research on the lake and runs nets most days.

MIchaels said she had plenty of bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish and crappie in her nets today (including the crappie below). “I just don’t know why anglers aren’t catching them,” she said.

Illinois hunting and fishing

I don’t know why those fish aren’t biting, either. But that we caught nothing outside bass is not exactly news. Emiquon is a bass lake right now. Anglers don’t catch much else at all. If that’s a problem, then you probably should stay away. But if you like catching bass until your thumb is raw from unhooking fish, this is a great place to spend some time.

I can tell you this, I will be back soon.


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