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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

Wild Things 3-22-09

March 22, 2009 at 06:35 AM

Illinois hunting and fishing

Decoys on display

Decoy carver Gary Hulin of Modena (pictured above) will display some of his waterfowl starting this weekend through April 18 at the Spoon River Landing gallery in Wyoming.

Raised on a farm north of Williamsfield, Hulin has been a teacher and administrator at Wyoming and Henry. Hulin is also a decoy collector and will be selling some of his hand-carved birds. Call (309) 695-900.

Birding bits

In the small town of Longreach in Queensland, Australia, all streets are named after birds: land birds for north-south streets and water birds for east-west avenues.

That’s one of several bits of information that can be gleaned from “Birdscapes” by Jeremy Mynott, available at Barnes and Nobles, and Borders.
The 384-page book is described as “a leisurely conversation about a favorite subject with a close, widely read and highly articulate friend.”

Duck blind fishing

Things are looking up at the Department of Natural Resources, but the agency is a long way from perfect.

A few weeks ago we mentioned a new regulation in the 2009 Illinois Fishing Regulations book that said there shall be: “No fishing within 250 yards of a Department owned or managed waterfowl blind.” The word “occupied” was inadvertently left out. In other words, this regulation only applies during waterfowl season when hunters are present.

MWC tourney still on

The flooded Illinois River is not in ideal fishing shape, but organizers are still planning to hold the 23rd annual MWC Tournament next Saturday and Sunday in Spring Valley.

“If we don’t get any more major downpours, everything should be fine,” said Bill Guerrini, an organizer of the annual sauger tourney. “One positive thing here is this will be the first time the MWC is going to come to town where has been no fishing” leading up to their tournament.

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

Dip of the week

A hunter in Vermont who bolted a 10-point rack of antlers to the head of a doe and posed for photos has been fined $400 and jailed for 10 days for game violations. Marcel Fournier shot the deer at night and lost hunting and fishing privileges for at least three years. Night hunting is illegal and Vermont has limited seasons for antlerless deer hunting.


Heaviest two-day weight in pounds at the Spring Valley MWC Walleye tournament.

Floodplain easements

Extra money is available for Illinois landowners who want to convert floodplain cropland into wetlands, forest or other wildlife habitat. Landowners with ground that has flooded in the past 12 months or in two of the past 10 years are eligible for the Emergency Watershed Program. Friday is the deadline to apply for these permanent easements. Contact your local NRCS office.

April 20 a key date

Do you like catching bass and crappie? Do you live in central Illinois? Circle the week of April 20-26 on your calendar. We’ll tell you why soon.

Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

Glasford prep anglers on the water

March 19, 2009 at 06:17 PM

After weeks of tying knots in classrooms and practicing pitching lures, high school anglers across Illinois are happy to finally get a chance to wet lines.

The practice is much-needed for many heading into the country’s first statewide prep bass fishing tournament.

Among the central Illinois teams on the water already was Illini Bluffs (team members pictured above), which fished a practice tournament last Saturday morning at Banner Marsh. Dustin Doubet caught the only fish of the frigid event, a 16.5-incher.

Here’s hoping for warmer days ahead for prep anglers between now and the April 24 sectionals. The state finals are May 8-9 at Carlyle Lake.

Story and comments

Open Blog Thursday

March 19, 2009 at 09:04 AM

Stanley and I have a fishing report to assemble. Can you help me fill this space?

FROM Steve Horwedel:

I heard that American Idol is going to use Carrie Underwood’s song “Home Sweet Home” and how Carrie will be donating some of the proceeds to a good cause, the (HSUS) Humane Society of the United States. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. I would like to give out some information that most people are not aware of. The HSUS is not to be confused with the American Humane Society, or the Animal Humane Society which are non-profit organizations that support animal shelters and strive to give pets good homes and I completely support. The HSUS is the largest anti-hunting, anti-fishing, anti-trapping, anti-meat in any and all forms organization in the country. They do not oversee or support animal shelters or work to save pets. They are a very radical animal rights organization with ties to PETA, ALF(Animal Liberation Front) and ELF(Earth Liberation Front). The last two radical groups are on the FBIs domestic terrorist watch list. I wanted Carrie’s fans to know, many of which are hunters and fisherman who love their steak and burgers what they are supporting when they support Carrie Underwood and by supporting Fox and American Idol since they are supporting Carrie by using her song. Time for Fishermen, Hunters and Outdoorsmens voices to be heard.

Story and comments
Illinois hunting and fishing

Crappie and bass were biting

March 17, 2009 at 09:19 PM

As I left the computer today and my wife gave me that look that said, “Don’t complain to me tonight about all the work you have to do when it’s time to put the kids to bed,” I told her, “If I don’t go fishing today, the Journal Star should fire me.”

“They might fire you anyway,” she said.

Gotta love wives.

She was wrong, of course. At least I hope so. More importantly, the fish bit. Crappie. Bass. Even some bluegill. Despite gusting winds that made casting tough, Gordon Inskeep (pictured above with the best bass of our outing) and I enjoyed a fine day of fishing from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Not a long trip, but a great start to 2009. First we fished a deep, clear Peoria County strip mine lake that is typically very slow to warm.

We walked the bank at the far north end of the lake, the end where the wind had been pushing to all day. Fish were obviously very aware of the wind, because they were stacked on the north end in the big lake and also in a shallower pothole we fished.

I started things off with some crappie caught on my favorite: a black and chartreuse tube on a very light jig head. A heavier jig head would have been a good option, but I left them at home. (Note to self: Get organized, soon). Before long I caught three 11- to 13-inch bass. I caught a few more bass throughout the day on one of Paul Clay’s Mad Willow chatterbaits (crawfish custom pattern). Gordon missed a few fish.

Illinois hunting and fishing

But before I could feel guilty, Gordon nailed a nice bass on a black and blue jig with a big Strike King trailer.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Then we moved on to the pothole, where I caught crappie (largest was 12 inches, smallest 9 inches and all were full of eggs) and he caught bass. Nearly all the fish we caught were on the north end on tube jigs. The lakes are very high right now and there was a line of cattails submerged on the north end. The fish were in those cattails thick, waiting for food to float their way. When it did, they hit. Gordon caught several bass on tube jigs. I caught four crappie and could have had more with heavier jigs. As it was, the bow in my line made it hard to feel a bite. When the wind stopped, I caught fish. When it whistled, I didn’t.

But I’m not complaining. It was a great way to start 2009—even before we walked out and Gordon hooked into a nice 20-inch bass on a tube jig (the one pictured at the top of this entry). If this is a sign of things to come, this fishing season is going to be a great one.



Story and comments

Catch a cold to catch crappie

March 16, 2009 at 07:10 PM

I’m not one to advocate calling in sick when you really feel well. But if you have any vacation days to burn and you like catching crappie, Tuesday looks like a good one to avoid work in any fashion possible.

It will be warm. And if today is any indication, crappie will be biting.

Reports from Spring Lake this evening are that anglers are hauling in plenty of crappie. And the anglers don’t need boats. Fish are coming all along the road on the south lake. Fish 20 feet out from shore with a jig and bobber set 2 feet deep. Tip it with a waxworm or, better yet, a minnow. Reel in a few inches and twitch. Reel in a bit and twitch. Then be ready to land a fish.

At least that’s the way it went today at Spring Lake in Tazewell County. Spring is a shallow backwater that warms quickly. If you know similar water, I’d head there first.

But crappie were also biting fairly well in strip mines on Monday. Some sort of live bait seemed to be the key, as fish were not taking jigs alone all that well. Chef Todd reported 13 nice crappie, four or five bluegill and three bass in a few hours today. He was fishing a Fulton County strip pit and said he saw schools of fish. But he had few waxies and no minnows. “Dude, if I had minnows I’d have cleaned up,” he said. How he knows that, since he didn’t have any, I’m not sure. But I tend to agree.

Anyway, you can bet I’m finding a way to go crappie fishing Tuesday after having to work all day today.

Story and comments

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