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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

Two big bites at Lake Jacksonville

June 29, 2009 at 05:15 PM

Ten minutes into our fishing trip to Lake Jacksonville I was convinced the lake truly was the best in Illinois for bass.

That’s because Tony McCoy hooked into a fat 21-inch fish moments into our trip. We had left the boat ramp, headed across the lake and into the first cove we came to in the no-wake zone. Then, bam. A lunker. On a Senko. You can see the fat fish above. We didn’t weigh the fish, but I’m betting it was over 5.

Moments later I caught a fat 14-incher. No question, we were going to slay them. Then a funny thing happened. The next 10 hours of convincing were not nearly as impressive.

The lake is beautiful. There are trees and weeds everywhere. Not much of that nasty sticky moss, either. There are so many places to toss a lure it’s almost unnerving.

In many of the coves you can fish from either side of the boat at once, as Gordon Inskeep (left) and Tony McCoy (right) demonstrate here.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Despite all that, we were almost disappointed.

The night bite Sunday evening was slow. A few fish from the lilly pads, but not great.We attributed that to all the weekend boat traffic. We expected much more Monday morning.

But the morning bite was even slower, though we were on the water well before 5 a.m.

No big deal in most lakes. But we had come to Lake Jacksonville thinking “This is the No. 1 bass lake in Illinois.”

For me, though, salvation came with about an hour left in our trip. The wind had forced me to put down my trusty Senko and to pick up a salt craw. As I pitched the craw to a weed edge near some wood, “Bang.” A 20-incher nailed the bait and made the trip for me.

Will I go back now? You bet. And I’ll have an in-depth report on the lake for Sunday.

Illinois hunting and fishing


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