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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

Wild Things 3-21-10

March 21, 2010 at 03:27 AM


Winning weight in pounds for 10 sauger at last year’s Masters Walleye Circuit tournament in Spring Valley.

Muskie biting

A late thaw has not hurt the muskie bite on north Spring Lake. Pekin guide Dan Vinovich is one of several diehards who have enjoyed a hot bite since ice went out March 10. Vinovich has had 61 fish in his boat, including five over 38 inches.

“We’ve been going to bigger baits to weed out little ones,” Vinovich said. “And I still think we’ve got another week or two to go” on the hot bite.

Sauger season

If Mother Nature cooperates, weights should be good for the 24th annual Masters Walleye Circuit tournament Saturday and next Sunday in Spring Valley.

Sauger fishing had been very good on the Illinois River prior to rains last week. Barring a return to flooding, the same should be true next weekend when more than 118 teams will compete for as purse of about $70,000.

“For now we light candles and say a few prayers because we want it great throughout pre-fish and right through the tournament dates,” said Bill Guerrini, long-time director of the Spring Valley Walleye Club.

Weigh-ins start at 1 p.m. at Barto Landing. Spectators are asked to park at Hall High School and ride a shuttle.

Local tackle product

When he’s not working at Caterpillar Inc., Dennis Medley of Morton spends his free time tinkering with fishing gear. His newest creation makes sense and scents.

Medley’s latest is the EC Scent Baiter, a plastic ring placed on a fishing line 3-4 inches above a lure. Anglers saturate “scent pods”  with a favorite attractant and place them inside the ring.

“You can interchange a different lure without getting scent all over your hands,” Medley said. “When you throw it out, the scent leaves a v-trail behind and fish hit your lure.”

Medley sells three scent baiters, six scent pods and three Jonah worms for $4.99 on The scent baiter is also sold at Peoria’s The Bricks Gift Shop at 210 W. McClure Ave.

Monarch troubles?

Monarch butterflies started arriving in Texas last week, but reports lag behind past years, prompting concern over this year’s migration. According to Dr. Lincoln Brower, monarchs once occupied 1.92 hectares on their winter roost in Mexico but lost half their numbers due to bad weather.

Tip of the week

Al Hayden of Galesburg has a turkey-hunting secret so good he feels almost guilty. For the past few years, Hayden has burned off small areas in his timber to reduce leaf cover and to encourage the growth of green plants.

“In that bare ground you’ve got spring buds coming up, any remnant acorns and lots of bugs. The birds get used to going there almost like it’s a dinner table,” said Hayden, who sets up near the burned area once hunting starts. “It almost should be illegal.”

To be safe, Hayden stressed burning on days with little or no wind and said it is important to rake a perimeter around the area you want to burn.

Kudos corner

Things are looking up for the Illinois Conservation Foundation. A big boost came at last weekend’s Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame banquet, where the auction raised $46,000 (up $17,000) and attendance increased from 230 to 294. That’s no doubt thanks largely to event organizer Ron Allen, though it helps to have someone running the organization. Former Plano salesman Mark Spangler is interim director. Speaking of the ICF, Peoria is on the short list to host next year’s hall of fame banquet.




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