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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

Not a tournament angler

March 31, 2008 at 11:19 AM

Every now and then, for a few seconds, I ponder the thought of joining a tournament bass circuit.

Then I recall stories like the ones I heard today at Jordan’s Mobil in Elmwood. One by one, anglers arrived who had fished Sunday’s Peoria Park District tourney at Spring Lake. All of them agreed the event had been fairly miserable.

How miserable? Out of 42 anglers participating, one person caught a legal bass. And while that 16.25-inch, 2.3-pound bass was good for $900, it meant that all other guys did not land a legal fish. One guy weighed in a large clam that was good for the critter pot. But instead of catching fish, the field spent six hours shivering, grumbling and getting wet. Had they not been in a tournament circuit, they would have stayed home.

“After six hours of throwing a spinnerbait we should have at least snagged a fish,” said Harold Jehle, who also spent last week at a Bass Cat event on Lake Norfork with little to show.

The only drawback to not fishing tournaments is that there might be a tendency to not fish. But I don’t seem to have that problem. No, I just try to pick dates to fish when the weather looks good. I work hard in advance of those dates and then have time to slack off a bit when the day arrives.

So today, while it rains and hails, I plan to work hard. Same for Tuesday, when the weather also looks marginal. But I’ll be ready to fish Wednesday morning, when the forecast calls for some sun, no rain and decent temperatures.

This time of year, I’d much rather schedule my fishing around the weather than have my fishing scheduled for me by a tournament circuit.

Story and comments

Wild Things 3-30-08

March 30, 2008 at 03:47 AM


Number of Illinois sites that open to trout fishing Saturday, including Siloam Springs State Park, the I&M Canal at Utica and the Hennepin Canal visitor’s center pond.

Keck leaving NWTF

Rumors are floating Rob Keck’s resignation as CEO of the National Wild Turkey Federation. says Keck is leaving as of June 1 due to the recent firing of two high-level NWTF executives: Chief Operating Officer Carl Brown and Senior Vice President Dick Rosenlieb.

Keck, 57, joined NWTF in the 1970s and has been CEO for the past 27 years, helping grow the organization to 550,000 members. In 2006 his salary topped $380,000.

Otter, bobcat bill snared

Bobcats and river otters can breathe a collective sigh of relief. A bill that would have opened trapping seasons for those furbearers in Illinois has not advanced out of committee this spring and likely will not be pushed forward.

INHS scientist dies

Long-time Illinois Natural History Survey Center for Wildlife Research director Dr. Glen C. Sanderson of Champaign, 85, died on March 22.

A member of the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame, Sanderson was one of three people promoted to the rank of Principal Scientist in the 133-year history of the INHS.

The family requests memorials be made to: University of Illinois, INHS Waterfowl Research Station, and mailed to INHS, P.O. Box 590, Havana, Illinois 62644.

Carlyle Lake hotspot

This is the year to plan a fishing trip to Carlyle Lake in southwestern Illinois. Fishing prospects for white bass, channel catfish and crappie are all very good to excellent for the massive
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir. Flathead catfish are also rated excellent while largemouth bass and sauger should be fair to good.

April brings changes

Anglers and hunters are reminded they need a new 2008 license starting Tuesday. Woodchuck hunting and beaver trapping also end Monday, as does the statewide snow goose conservation order season. Also Tuesday, the hot-water discharge arm at Clinton Lake opens to anglers.

You speak

“The Wightman Lake project, a wetland restoration joint effort between Ducks Unlimited and the Audubon Society on the edge of Sparland is now complete. Trees were planted last summer and I hear the levees will be seeded soon.

“It is amazing how quickly things began to happen. Gulls arrived immediately and waterfowl are now very active. I have seen bald eagles sitting on the levees as well as many turkey buzzards. And pelicans have arrived.

“Although this is much smaller than the ‘Hennepin Hopper’ project it should attract the same amount of different species.”
— Lou Lenz, Sparland

Tip of the week

Looking for a place to camp in central Illinois? My advice remains the same: you can’t beat Comlara Park on Evergreen Lake. So it’s worth noting campers can reserve Comlara sites in person starting Saturday at 8 a.m. Call (309) 726-2022, Ext. 221.

Critter corner

  • In the wilds of Illinois in April…
  • Peak breeding season for toads.
  • Walleye and muskellunge spawning.
  • Whip-poor-wills call.
  • Wild turkeys gobble.
  • Snipe begin courtship flights.
  • Woodchucks, coyotes and raccoons are born.

This ‘n that

A Kansas landowner killed that state’s first confirmed mountain lion in more than 100 years.

Story and comments

Cool IHSA fishing logo

March 28, 2008 at 12:54 PM

Here’s that IHSA bass fishing logo I mentioned recently. Pretty cool looking, I have to say. We’ll have more after the committee meeting on April 3.

Illinois Outdoors

Story and comments

Open Blog Thursday

March 27, 2008 at 06:43 AM

The sun was shining this week. That means I went fishing. That means I’m way behind. That means I’ve got to beg you once again ... please ... take over.

FROM Denny Fulk of Pottstown:

“The Pottstown 3-D Range will open the weekend of April 5-6 and remain open every weekend through September. Registration time each day is 7 a.m. to noon.”

FROM Lou Lenz of Sparland:

“The Wightman bottom project, a wetland restoration joint effort between Ducks Unlimited and the Audobon Society on the edge of Sparland is now complete. Trees were planted last summer and I hear the levees will be seeded soon. It is filled from a standpipe in Gimlet creek and also by levee gates that allow the river to enter during periods of high water. It is amazing how quickly things began to happen. Gulls arrived immediately and waterfowl are now very active. I have seen Bald Eagles siting on the levees as well as many turkey buzzards.

“As of yet I have seen no Pelicans on the water but hope they start to use it soon. They were late to arrive this year. The earliest reported to me was March 16 and my wife saw some on the 22nd, I saw a few on the 23rd.  Last year I saw them the Feb. 28 and the year before, Feb. 22. 

“Although this is much smaller than the ‘Hennepin-Hopper’ project it should attract the same amount of different species of birds and other plants and animals. Having a bird’s-eye view of this from a bluff above it will be interesting to monitor this on a daily basis.”

FROM Lynn Wilcox of Blue Mound:

“That white turkey in your picture of the day, is called a smoke-phase turkey,Illinois Outdoors if you did not know. Kind of like the silver-phased turkey you had a picture of a few weeks ago. I attached a picture of a smoke-phase hen (shown at right), I got a picture of last spring. Sorry I did not get a good picture of my hen, the weeds were missing me up. I have seen her the last two years, twice each spring. I hope to get a better picture of her next month.”

FROM Jim Maxon of Wingman Lures.

“My company is creating a new category of swimbaits called wingbaits. Wingman is the original Wingbait. We debuted with 30-second TV commercials late last fall in Tampa/St. Petersburg and Jacksonville, Fla. We are currently attending trade shows around the country. I invite you to visit our Web site and discover the unbelievable undulating action for yourself. Although our products are not yet available in retail stores, I would be interested in your assessment.”

FROM Rita McCabe:

“The annual spring courtship of the male woodcock is both daring and dramatic. In late evenings the male begins by ascending, producing a twittering sound while he circles at the top of his climb. Then he plunges back to the Prairie making sharp turns in direction producing a series of loud and varied chirps. This ritural is usually repeated several times over a period of twilight evenings before the male achieves success in attracting a female. Because of lack of habitat, the woodcock’s numbers are much diminished. But he can still be seen at the Wolf Road Prairie in Westchester. Local bird expert, John Banaszak, will be leading guided woodcock walks at 7 p.m. on both April 2 and April 11.  If you are interested, you can meet John at the 31st Street kiosk just west of Wolf Road. Call 708-354-5512 or visit for more information.”



Story and comments

A fine day for fishing

March 26, 2008 at 06:07 PM

They say a picture is worth what, 1,000 words? Well here’s 2,000 words worth of blog entries after Victor and I enjoyed a fine day of fishing. I’m writing about the day for Friday’s paper, so I’ll leave you with these two images until the rest of the story arrives.

Illinois Outdoors

Illinois Outdoors

Story and comments

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