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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

Scattershooting at fish, geese and ice

March 11, 2010 at 08:58 PM

Rambling through the outdoors while eagerly awaiting pictures of the first bass of 2010 to top 7 pounds.


While following a few thousand snow geese the other day, I realized counting flocks is way too hard for laymen like me. Suffice to say there seem to be more migrating geese in the area than usual. So many, in fact, that Peoria Air National Guard temporarily halted flights of C-130 cargo planes to avoid possible collisions. ... If you aren’t wading through mud to hunt snows or to find shed antlers, you should consider wetting a line. Fishing season improved overnight in Illinois thanks to the recent warm spell, with reports of big muskie, fat walleye and abundant crappie and sauger suddenly flooding in. ... Biggest so far is guide Chad Cain’s 49 7/8-inch muskie caught out of Kinkaid Lake last Saturday. Cain thought the fish might top the state record of 38 pounds, 8 ounces. But the toothy rascal (with a girth of 25.5 inches) weighed 37.4 pounds before swimming off to freedom in Kinkaid. ... Muskie chasers are also out in force on north Spring Lake, which was virtually ice-free Thursday. Surely it’s no coincidence that Larry’s Family Restaurant reopens today on the south lake.


Ice fishing quickly went from fun to dangerous in central Illinois, but a few anglers enjoyed memorable outings last weekend. Best story came from Peorian Derek Hunn, who hauled a 23-pound flathead catfish through 13 inches of ice at Lake Bracken last Saturday. Hunn was fishing for crappie with a minnow and silver jig. “I fought the fish for 45 minutes and then had to hold him for a few more minutes while they drilled four holes side by side so I could get him out,” Hunn said. ... Time was a fish that big would have prompted some comment from Our Neighbor Ash. Sadly, Ash was laid to rest on Feb. 11. Here’s hoping he shuffled off to someplace short on public address men but long on multi-color pens. ... Who can fill the void left by Ash’s passing? How about Minister Morris, the only ordained man of the cloth we know who compiles a fishing report. Crappie are biting sayeth Minister Morris, who advises his flock to cast their nets toward the south end of Spring Lake, Crab Orchard Lake or Sangchris Lake. ... Visit to see the full Illinois fishing report. We’ll run local reports in the paper starting March 25.


Among the crowd of 5,000 at last weekend’s first Elmwood AllOutdoors Show was Al Hayden of Dahinda, who will be honored as an Illinois Outdoor Hall of Famer on Saturday at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles. The owner of Al’s Sporting Goods in Galesburg, Hayden is a long-time outdoor columnist and radio host, has helped organize the Kid’s Fishing Derby at Lake Storey and hosts fishing clinics every year. “If it gives someone as much enjoyment as I’ve got from being outdoors then it’s worth it,” Hayden said. ... Speaking of the Elmwood Show, here’s a heartfelt thanks to everyone who attended or volunteered. You helped raise more than $27,000 for athletics and athletes in Elmwood and assured we can do the show again next March 5-6. ... One of many memorable moments at the show was hearing that a youngster caught a smallmouth bass in the fishing pond and rushed the fish inside to Glasford taxidermist Bob Hammerich. ... Ice-out can produce whopper bass in strip mines, as Ron Boyer will no doubt tell you during a free fishing seminar Saturday at 10 a.m. at Peoria’s Gander Mountain store. John Askins discusses muskie Sunday at 11.


If this week is any indication, the Illinois River sauger fishery is in great shape. Big catches are the norm from Starved Rock to Hennepin with vertical jigging or pulling floating jigs working well in 16-18 feet of water according to Darrell “Buster” Culjan. Anglers report plenty of small fish along with enough fat keepers to keep things interesting. Farther afield, anglers caught three walleye of more than 9 pounds in the past week, two on the Rock River near Oregon and one on the Kankakee River near Momence. ... As for bass, the best is yet to come in this area. In other words, Emiquon did not have enough open water to launch a boat on Thursday. That will change soon and when it does, anglers are advised that the parking lot is flooded and access is difficult. Even so, please do not park along the very busy Illinois Route 97/78. If water levels allow, plans this summer are to build four parking lots, boat ramps and other facilities that should be above the current high-water levels. ... Parting shot: Thank heavens nobody is talking about making prep bass fishing a multi-class event. Yet.


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Flathead's Picture of the Week :: Big bucks :: Birdwatching :: Cougars :: Dogs :: Critters :: Fishing :: Asian carp :: Bass :: Catfish :: Crappie :: Ice :: Muskie :: Humor :: Hunting :: Deer :: Ducks :: Geese :: Turkey :: Upland game :: Misc. :: Mushrooms :: Open Blog Thursday :: Picture A Day 2010 :: Plants and trees :: Politics :: Prairie :: Scattershooting :: Tales from the Trail Cams :: Wild Things ::

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