Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
RulesIllinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
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

Bass slow, but spring is here

March 19, 2008 at 03:49 PM

Spring is here. Not technically, since that happens Thursday. But trust me, spring is here.

On the way to go fishing today Gordon Inskeep and I saw flocks of robins. Not a few birds, entire flocks, feeding through Knox County strip mine land on their way to places north. While on the water we saw muskrats, a big beaver on shore and a pair of Illinois OutdoorsCanada geese getting set to nest. We heard frogs singing nearby. Unfortunately, the only part of a fine spring day we didn’t encounter was excellent bass fishing.

Oh, we managed to catch two small fish—both on a Strike King Red Eye Shad. Nothing else yielded bass: not a Rogue, not a Chatterbait, not tubes, not a black and blue jig, not Senkos and not salt craws. The strip mine we fished is not exactly loaded with big numbers of bass. But there are several large fish, including the two biggest fish I’ve caught (5- and 6-pounders, both released). So on a good day, you don’t expect to wear yourself out. On a chilly pre-spring day, two bass is better than nothing.

Besides it was good merely to get out this afternoon to fish a little and catch a little and to see a lot.

Spring is here. The critters know it. Now it’s time for Mother Nature to convince the bass the same thing.

WORKING ON:
Getting ready to speak tonight at 7 p.m. at the Pekin Public Library. Topic is fishing in Illinois. I’ll have free samples so come on out.

Story and comments

A turtle tale and a tip

March 18, 2008 at 12:23 PM

Turtles and turtle soup must be on the minds of many these days.

I’ve had two inquiries in the past week about where people can find fried turtle in the Peoria area. And now Fred Krause of the Ottawa Daily Times has penned a story recalling going rodding for turtles with his grandfather. I’ve been wanting to do a turtle rodding story for years, but have been unable to find anyone who was not scared off by the publicity. But Krause wrote an informative column about the subject, including the following tip.

Today, most of the time I still rod turtles in the same manner that grandpa taught me in the mid-1950s.Illinois Outdoors Since then I have found another, easier way to take them. During the summer, when large towboats are traveling up and down the Illinois River, they, create a large amount of water that is pulled from the bank when they pass it.

First you find an area near shore where there are a lot of tree roots extending out into the water. You then wait for a tow boat (the wait usually is not too long). When the boat passes, the water is drawn out from shore and exposes any turtle under those roots. It is easy to grab the reptile’s tail and place it in a sack; it’s also a lot quicker than rodding. It is very easy to see the business end of a snapping turtle in this manner.

I wish grandpa was still around, so I could show him a new trick or two.

Click here to read Krause’s entire column on the subject of turtles.

Story and comments

A cool use for shed antlers

March 18, 2008 at 10:55 AM

Illinois Outdoors

Need an idea of what to do with your shed antlers? Here’s one from shed hunter and deer writer Les Davenport, formally of Eureka. Davenport makes antler furniture, including this table that he just donated to an auction for a friend who had died of mouth cancer. The table is made of walnut and antlers. Davenport said a similar table brought $950 at auction, a relative bargain since it could fetch up to $2,000 on the open market.

As for other uses for antlers, Davenport wrote:

“Shed antlers were—and are—one of the most diversely used of all renewable natural resources: decoration, ground for medicine and mineral supplements, used for making weapons (knife handles, arrowhead points, etc), ground for tea and aphrodisiacs, used as tools by Indians, and used in religious ceremonies. Many hundred tons of elk, moose and mule deer antlers are sold to Asia every year.”

 

Story and comments
Illinois Outdoors

Cool wave pictures ... from Antarctica

March 17, 2008 at 03:17 PM

Here we go again. The following awesome pictures of ice waves are being passed around as though they were from Lake Huron in Michigan. Here’s text of the e-mail I received.

Michigan has had the coldest winter in decades. Water expands to freeze, and at Macinaw City the water in Lake Huron below the surface ice was supercooled. It expanded to break through the surface ice and froze into this incredible wave. I’ve seen pictures of this wave phenomena in Antarctica, but in Michigan? Yes, it’s been quite a winter!

Is this true? Not really according to a report by Joe Charlevoix of TV 7-4 in Michigan. Writes Charlevoix:

I must point this out based on the amount of e-mails I’ve received regarding enormous frozen waves that are supposedly near Mackinac Island in Lake Huron. The e-mails usually have the title “Fw: An ice wave from the floor of lake huron near Mackinaw Island./Michigan” The pictures, are indeed real, and are really amazing. However, they are not taken anywhere near Michigan. Odds are that they are from somewhere around Antarctica.

As with any suspect e-mail, a trip to Snopes.com was in order. Click here to read their post on this e-mail.

That the text is incorrect not does not take away from how cool the pictures are. But I just don’t understand why people have to pass off something like this and fake where it is from. Doesn’t April Fools Day come just once a year? Really, what’s the big rush out of tricking people?

Oh well. Enjoy the pictures.

Illinois Outdoors

Illinois Outdoors

Illinois Outdoors

Story and comments

Wild Things 3-16-08

March 16, 2008 at 02:06 PM

11


Different species of ducks counted last Sunday at the Spring Lake Bottoms wetland units.

Huge pike caught

Angler Jim Saksa of Whiting, Ind. caught the 22.83-pound northern pike (above) while ice fishing at Wolf Lake near Chicago on March 2. Dale Bowman of the
Chicago Sun-Times reports the 42-inch fish hit a golden roach on a tip-up.  But the fish is smaller than the state record — Walter Klenzak’s 26.15-pounder caught Nov. 9, 1989 in a Kankakee County strip pit.

Eagle count record

This year’s bald eagle survey in Illinois set a record, with 4,292 eagles counted from Jan. 2-16. That’s 2,372 more than last year.

Most of the eagles (3,793) were in the Mississippi River basin and just 171 were counted along the Illinois River. Good news is that 40 percent of the birds counted were immature.

Gun rights rally

Hundreds of gun owners visited Springfield Tuesday as part of an annual Illinois State Rifle Association event in the state capitol.

Many of those in attendance lobbied for House Bill 4544 proposed by Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, which would provide for concealed carry permits to qualifying applicants 21 or older who complete a training course in handgun use and marksmanship.

Wild on the Web

Bloomington bass angler and radio personality Terry Brown has a new fishing Web site (Wired2fish.com) that offers radio clips, video and even an online tackle shop.

Tip of the week

Want to see waterfowl? Visit the Spring Lake Bottoms wetlands between Spring Lake and the Illinois River in Tazewell County.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more accessible birdwatching area. And last weekend site manager Stan Weimer spotted six species of puddle ducks and five species of diving ducks in the restored wetlands. On Wednesday thousands of ducks were still present, along with Canada geese, mute swans and at least four bald eagles.

Birding bits

The migration is in full swing. Rufous hummingbirds are among the many species that have arrived in Illinois in the past few days and thousands of geese and sandhill cranes have been streaming overhead in recent days.

With that in mind, now is a prime time to clean out bird nesting boxes. Herb Unkrich reports he’s seen black droppings left by bluebirds in several boxes he maintains near Edwards and Kickapoo.

Kudos corner

Hunters continue to amaze with their generosity. A recent banquet held by the Illinois River Valley chapter of Pheasants Forever grossed $48,000. And an Easter Seals benefit archery shoot at Presley’s Outdoors last month netted more than $8,000.

This ‘n that

... Monarch butterflies have started their journey north out of Mexico.

... Brian Efnor of Farmington averaged $24.59 per raccoon pelt during auctions this year with a high of $44.

... Illinois Pheasants Forever has its state gathering May 2-3 at Springfield’s Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Story and comments

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