White bass bite strong on Illinois

Jeff Lampe

We were supposed to be on the Illinois River first thing Wednesday morning.

Then life got in the way. Sleep. Meetings. And the ever-present rationalization, 'The bite is probably done with, anyway.'

Not two hours later came a report from another, wiser angler who launched past excuses onto the Illinois River and fished the mouth of the Mackinaw River. He and a buddy caught about 80 white bass and 14 largemouth bass in a few hours. The fishing was awesome, he said.

So much for meetings and rationalizing.

If you enjoy white bass, this is a good time to get on the Illinois River. After some real slow years here in the Peoria area, the bite has come on strong. Reports are also excellent near Chillicothe and good to very good near Spring Valley. Even near Beardstown white bass are showing up.

Actually, fishing has been better than expected for late summer in a number of different spots thanks to the recent spate of cool evenings.

No question, river fishing is best right now for both white bass and channel catfish. But beyond those two summer staples, good catches of crappie are coming out of strip-mine lakes. While most papermouths are deep, they are biting. Particularly good of late has been the Oak Run subdivision.

One problem for many outdoors enthusiasts right now, though, is the tug of many masters at once. Dove season is just 10 days away. So is the start of our bonus five-bird Canada goose season (a limit I'm liking less and less as opening day approaches).

To get ready for hunting, there are honey-dos to get done around the house. There are meetings to attend. There are kids to get back to school.

But there are also fish waiting to be caught.

Life can be so complicated.


The Department of Natural Resources is setting up a series of public open houses to discuss deer management. Dates, times and places are not yet final, but the meetings will likely be held in the first half of September centered around six locations: Rushville, LaSalle, Rockford, Sparta, Olney and Decatur.

DNR staff will attend the meetings and answer questions about informational displays focusing on possible deer management initiatives.

The meetings are an offshoot of the state's task force on deer population control which met Monday.

'The format will be similar to the waterfowl meetings' held a few years back by the DNR, said Paul Shelton, head of forest wildlife. 'There will be an open house with information on display that people can talk about. It's just kind of a time for guys to ask questions and let us know what they think. And I'm guessing there will be comment cards.'


Want to hold a hummingbird in your hand? A chance to do just that comes Saturday at Forest Park Nature Center in Peoria Heights during Illinois Audubon Society's Hummingbird Festival.

Vern Kleen will be on hand to band hummingbirds and answer questions from 9 a.m. to noon. He uses a remote-control trap and then bands and releases the birds.

The purpose of banding is to see how far hummers travel into Mexico or Central America during their migration, where they stop, how long they live and whether they return to the same sites year after year.

Admission is free, but people can 'adopt' hummingbirds for a $5 donation to the Illinois Audubon's land acquisition fund. Call (309) 686-3360.

The fact there are more and more similar hummingbird festivals popping up around the state underlines their popularity.


If you've got a youngster that enjoys shooting, Oak Ridge Sportsman's Club near Mackinaw has a deal for you. Proprietor Dewey Kraushaar and his staff are putting on a free youth shoot starting at 8:30 a.m.

Youngsters can shoot shotguns, pistols, rifles and bows and arrows. Plus all ammunition is provided and there's even a free meal.

Space is limited, so call Kraushaar at (309) 208-2624.

JEFF LAMPE is Journal Star outdoors columnist. He can be reached at jlampe@pjstar.com or 686-3212.