Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
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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
 

Scattershooting

A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Sharpen the treble hooks

July 17, 2009 at 04:17 AM

Rambling through the outdoors wondering if the dog days of summer will ever arrive.

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OK. I understand it’s a pain to take a gas motor off your boat, or to set up a boat with no gas motor. And not everybody likes signing up for a free permit. Despite those hurdles, I can’t understand why so few people are fishing The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve. The Farmer and I spent Wednesday morning fishing a small portion of the 4,000-acre lake and had a great time catching and releasing 80 bass on every lure we threw. Folks, there’s no easier place — public or private — to catch numbers of bass. ... One thing missing from bass fishing this summer is a strong early morning top-water bite. I’ll bet cooler weather has tempered the usual morning fury. The only consistent top-water bitee has been just before dark. That’s a shame, because there’s no more enjoyable way to catch bass than with buzzbaits, poppers, frogs or other surface lures. ... While national trends reportedly show little decline in spending by anglers on fishing gear in the past year, things are not so stable locally. Bait sales are down everywhere and one local tackle store said receipts trail last year by $15,000.

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My buddy Photo Joe and other snagaholics better start sharpening their treble hooks. Wickets went up Wednesday at Peoria Lock and Dam and Asian carp should collect below the dam over the next few weeks. Prime snagging times are usually hot days in July and August. ... Bowfishing Asian carp should also improve, but here’s one warning. There are reports of paddlefish jumping alongside silver carp this summer. Don’t shoot the paddlefish. The only fish legal to shoot with bow and arrow or with spear, gig or pitchfork are carp, carpsuckers, buffalo, sucker, gar (except alligator gar) and bowfin. ... Talk of flying carp always makes me think back to the Carp Armada snagging adventure of a few summers ago. The trip was designed to let a group of Chinese biologists get a taste for the flavor of the Illinois River courtesy of Chef Todd, Photo Joe, Flathead and a few other rascals. Most memorable was Dr. Yu, who claimed to speak no English. But he learned the language quickly when Asian carp started flopping into the boat around him and he sputtered, “Too many fish, too many fish.”

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Fishing has not been outlawed yet at the Bernadotte Dam. On Tuesday the state’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules tabled Dam Safety Rule 3703 that would have created a 350-foot exlusion zone at Bernadotte and at 30 other dams. JCAR said the Department of Natural Resources has not proven all dams pose equal danger. DNR is expected to revise the rule. ... In the past week, youngsters caught an alligator on the Iroquois River, somebody captured a two-foot-long African savannah monitor lizard in Libertyville and an 8-foot boa constrictor was declared missing in Quincy. Folks, if you can’t keep your exotic pet, find a home for the critter. Don’t make them a problem for someone else. ... Henry will be the epicenter of bowfishing in Illinois this weekend. For the fourth straight year, the Bowfishing Association of Illinois is holding its state championship on the Illinois River out of Henry. Registration is open Saturday from 6-8 p.m. at the Henry riverfront. The cost is $30. Anglers can bowfish from 8 p.m. on Saturday until noon on Sunday. For details call Ed Devries at (708) 257-5700.

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Local duck blind drawings are July 26 and the big question is whether area public marshes will plant duck food after extended flooding. The answer is maybe. Anderson Lake has 60 acres of millet sprouting in the West Point walk-in and plans are to aerial seed 120 acres in Carlson Lake. Rice Lake hopes to aerial seed millet if the state budget will allow. Banner Marsh has corn planted in one refuge compartment and plans to seed millet around Blind 21. Sanganois has 60 acres of millet planted in the Baker Unit and plans to drain and plant another few hundred acres in Chain Lake and Weiner Slough. ... Speaking of duck food, Kevin Palmer of Manito can aerial seed Japanese millet for duck clubs. Palmer, who can be reached at (309) 545-2281, says the plant needs 60 days to mature. ... That news amazed Our Neighbor Ash, who sez he’s gone 55 years without maturing. Also, here’s a belated happy 87th birthday to Momma Ash. ... Parting shot: Most creeks and rivers are finally rounding into fishable shape. That means it’s time to get out the ratty sneakers and go wading for smallmouth bass.

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