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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

Open Blog Thursday 8-26-10

August 26, 2010 at 08:25 AM

Dove season nears. Honey-dos call. Help.

FROM Bud Neptun of Peoria:

“Thanks for the article you had Sunday about the trout fishing on Lake Taneycomo. We spent several vacations down there in the 1970’s at Rock-away Beach. Lovely spot.  We caught our share of those trout.  We also went up into Bull Creek (I think that is the name of it) and fished for some nice large bluegills. That article brought back many memories. One of them was, I had my first broken bone ever—my right leg/ankle—stepping from the boat across the dock and went in over my head into the boat stall next to mine.  he residents down there are all wonderful people, really make you feel at home. Branson was NOT the show hub back at that time; so, we didn’t spend much time there except for Shepherd of the Hills and the Amusement Part that was there at that time.

“PS: We fished for the Trout with a very small gold hook baited with Red Balls of Fire salmon eggs. We fished on the bottom much like we do here for Catfish.  It worked just great.  Three of the Red Balls of Fire on that little hook was all it took.”

FROM Bill Neff of Dunlap:

“The hunters, who have our place leased near Victoria, had all their several deer stands stolen. The total value of the stands is about $2,000. The theft occured sometime since May and this weekend. The stands were all attached to big trees by cables. The cables were cut. he police were notified and a report made. The police said that deer stand thefts are becoming a major problem Police think that the deer stands are being turned into and sold as scrap.”

FROM Bill Krautwald of East Peoria:

“With the odds of drawing a duck blind at over a 1000 to 1, whose bright idea was it to let non-resident out of state people also draw for blinds on the state areas. Only the resident/ tax paying citizens of Illinois should be allowed to draw.”

FROM Ken Ingram of Lacon:

“Really enjoyed your two recent Sunday columns concerning our local smallmouth fisheries and the largemouth bass on the Illinois River. The Spoon River photo certainly caught the mood of summer on the creeks. I was surprised to hear of the silver carp well up in the Mackinaw River but not of the brown bass in the feeders. More than 50 years ago I was rattling around Woodford and Tazewell counties in an old Plymouth station wagon stopping virtually anywhere I pleased to sample rivulets and an occasional creek. Usually the smallmouth bass were there though it was some time before I caught a fish over twelve inches.  I had heard of Big Sandy and Crow Creeks; the hot shots were off to the Vermillion River and Big Bureau, but I seemed to want my fish in a pasture. Still have the six and one half foot white glass fly rod I often employed..

“Was no stranger to largemouth bass on the big river by the mid-fifties, often walking from home in Peoria Heights to cast in line spinner baits and small river runts along the narrows. There were still weed beds along that stretch and the summer bass were usually around. However, like bass everywhere, they sometimes could sit there and look back at you.  Have a yarn that sort of spans the subjects of your two stories. By the early seventies I was ice-fishing and hunting ducks with George Britton, now retired to Bull Shoals. George was one of the canniest fishermen to ever launch a boat on Peoria Lake and had discovered the resurgent sauger and walleye population some time before the news filtered down from up-river. He was a rather democratic fisherman however, and could happily bail the drum, catfish, white bass, or largemouth bass usually with his small white marabou jigs or roostertail spinners.

“In those days, on the site where the Bass Pro Shop is to be built, there was a leveed settling pond to service the Cilco power plant just downstream. Draining this pond were two pipes side by side, the largest perhaps twelve inches in diameter. The clear water discharge was into a sort of small harbor surrounded by willows and rip-rap not easily discovered from the main river. George did.  The spot was no good at normal pool, but when the river level was up a few feet the fishing was gangbusters, especially with the small jigs. Over the next few seasons virtually every species of fish in the river was caught there.  Early one morning I discovered that the river level likely too low to make for good results there but beached the boat outside and walked in as sometimes there would be some sight fishing for a few largemouth bass still around. Experience had also shown that any smallmouth bass in there would always be in the current just off the most active of the drain pipes. No go on the largemouth, but as I came near the pipes I flushed a smallish bass and figured that to be the end of things.

“Then I noticed the tail of a fish in one of the culverts just inside the mouth.  I was pretty sure it was a good fish and likely a bass. So what the hey. Dropping down a low as I could, I cranked my spinner to with-in a foot of my rod tip and slid it in the pipe. I felt the spinner start to work and the tail disappeared. I quickly withdrew the rod and found a mighty mad pound and half smallmouth thrashing around on the very short line. Gave the fish some room to do his thing and soon made a release back into water.”

FROM Don Axt of Peoria:

“I liked your “Bass are Back”  story Sunday. It gave support to an idea that came to me years ago:  I call it the “protoplasmic float”.  It says that in any given body of water there’s a whole huge bunch of fish eggs, one cell stuff, wrigglers lower forms, jelly fish and the like.  You see ‘em as white dots in undersea photographers a mile or more down   Check the recent Gulf oil spill wellhead photos.These things make food for their predators up what we call the food chain. Lake Michigan .. and other lakes around ... got fished out many years back. That didn’t just eliminate the billions or so adult fish, but the float they were a part of (I think). The eggs, the tiny larvae, the wigglers and all the stuff that fed on those things and their eggs and larvae all of which comprise what amounts to the float.

“So, yes, a bunch of game fish are gone ... but so is a great ton of other suff that depends on them growing up. You said the bass are back ... yes ... feeding on the carp eggs and stuff that feeds on the carp eggs and the other things the carp egg feeders are food for ... the carp grow ... so maybe does the entire fish population grow. The carp will escape to the Great Lakes ... no doubt ... but it’s interesting to speculate what their addition to the protasmic float will do for whitefish and all the others. (Yes I know there’s a mud problem ... the effect of that isn’t quite clear yet (No pun intended.)”




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