Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Great Opportunity to Take Kids Fishing This Saturday!

By Jeff Lampe of

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The call comes often. “Where can I take a kid fishing?” The answer will never be easier than this Saturday from 8-11 a.m. at Hooked on Fishing Park in East Peoria, located just north of Dixon’s Seafood Shoppe along the Illinois River. Saturday marks the second Presleys Outdoors Free Fishing Derby for kids. Youngsters ages 15 and under are welcome to fish for free. And while you can bring your own gear if you want, there will be rods, reels, bait and other gear available for use at the park.

Bait shack

 If you’ve never been to the much-remodeled Hooked on Fishing park, you should take time for a visit. This really is a nicely kept fishing facility. For one thing, the ponds are fully stocked, so that kids have a good chance of catching something. Then too, access is easy. No weeds to navigate or ticks to fear. “Every kid fishes for free. Not only that, but they fish in the comfort of white rock and concrete. No ticks and chiggers. Not that there’s anything wrong with ticks and chiggers. They’re part of nature and that’s all cool. But this is easier,” said Kelly Presley, whose family sponsors the event. “It’s close. It’s in town. It’s comfortable and it’s clean.” Plus, each kid who participates gets a prize. There are even volunteers on hand to help bait hooks, remove fish and give tips in case you aren’t a fishing expert. And if you can’t make this weekend’s derby, there will be more chances to enjoy the park. Fishing derbies will also be held the first Saturday in July, August and September, courtesy of Presleys Outdoors. All in all it’s a great combination. Easy access to plenty of fish plus a prize. Tell me a kid who wouldn’t like that?

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pond Waterslides, Algae, and Fish

Memorial Day Weekend was definitely a highlight for the year! I absopositivealutely love hot weather (when I am near water that is). Well, this weekend was hot and I was very near the water! We built waterslides all weekend so that was kind of fun to figure out.
Anyhow Friday morning we were in the water at Ravina on The Lakes in Peoria by 6:15 am. They had several weddings this weekend and a nice fresh batch of filamentous algae covering their lake. When they called Thursday night in despair I was so close to saying there was nothing I could do about it on this short notice going into the weekend, but for some reason I just have a soft spot in my heart that still needs hardened up a bit....
Jared and Phil had no clue what was in store for them Friday morning, all they knew was 6 am at Ravina with swim trunks. We had the pond cleaned up by 8:30 and were in route to Cuba, IL to work on the coolest floating dock in Illinois. This dock is 120' long connnected to the lodge, then the stairs are also 120' long going down to the 120' long floating dock with extra cool wood bark railing. We had to calibrate the floats for the weekend!
Then we finally ended up at the lake and set out the rest of our fish feeders. I use tiny 1/16" high protein fish pellets in Texas Hunter tripod scatter feeders in 3-4' of water to feed all my small fish! Most people use feed programs to feed their adult fish, but its even more important to feed your little fish!! I have been doing lots and lots of experimentation and research on fish food diets and am getting amazing results on species of fish that dont even eat fish food because of the feed programs geared for growing forage.
Ok so then on Saturday morning we got started on our main project for the weekend. You see my family's idea of a great weekend is to work on a project. Seems like there sure has been alot of great weekends lately, project after project after project. Anyhow this one was really cool. We built a waterslide 8 feet wide by 92 feet long with 29 feet of elevation down into the lake. We got a 2" pump and plumbed a pipe from 15' down in the lake and rigged it up to come out of both sides of the slide for an awesome ride down! Here are some pics of that project going together, it turned out AWESOME!!!
Took us a day and a half from start to finish the waterslide. Then once we got that done we caught a bunch of fish for a fish fry Sunday night. Also we made sure to save a little time each evening to catch a few fish. Here are some of the fish pics from the weekend. These pics dont even scratch the surface of the fishing that went on. Kids were fishing nonstop, I just had a bit too much going on to snap photos, these are what I got typically with the last few minutes of light:
We fed 55 people Sunday night fresh fish (oh yeah, I had the priviledge of cleaning lots of fish, burned through two electric knives this weekend.)  Guests coming out for the weekend were like you dont even have the fish caught yet??? No worries, we can catch fish for a hundred people lickity split! 50 people is nothin. Anyhow we tried out a new batter from a fish breading company in Florida that they shipped up to us to try out for a sample. Was amazing! Will make a seperate blog post for that breading once we use it again and I remember the name. Everyone loved it and it fried up nice!! So then Monday comes along and we decide to squeeze in yet another project. Only this time my smarter brothers and sisters headed home to relax and just Justin, Jared, and I were left to tackle this one. We bought a fiberglass slide from craigslist or ebay or a garage sale last fall for pennies on the dollar, but it didnt have any directions or hardware, etc. We just started coming up with ideas and places and ways to use this thing and by the end of the day we were pretty proud to have this baby put together and operational!! Still have to get a pump and some plumbing and some railing up top, but the kids sure loved it with just using buckets of water for the trial runs....
So I get home about 7 pm monday night just sunburned and beat. I took a short 2 hour nap in my chair and then went to bed about 9:30 pm. I could of actually slept in Tuesday, but like an idiot I had an electrofishing survey scheduled for 8 stinking am in the morning. Was a very neat 17 acre property a guy had just purchased and it had a nice looking 5 acre strip mine lake. I knew instantly it was full of carp since the water was so cloudy, but was very surprised to only find the maximum depth at 7 feet deep. Next time you guys want to buy a new lake or property, have me come out before closing on it!

Anyhow, I am currently figuring out a way to pump water from the creek to bring the lake level up a few feet....I have set up several pumps along the shoreline pulling water directly out of creeks and other ponds piped to other ponds, but this particular situation will require some sort of wet well or bored well or concrete enclosure for a submersible pump. Anyone out there have any experience with this sort of application?

So life is speeding along at 180 miles per hour and I cant even depict a small portion of whats going on in these blog pages. Got several big announcements coming up in the months ahead involving real estate, tv stuff, and our business is transforming and evolving literally daily, been pluggin away at building my house every spare moment, been helping my brothers/in laws on their houses every other spare moment, and been working on my parents house/addition all the other spare moments. This is all in addition to working on over 170 local properties just in the last 4 months. On top of all this I am trying to do the best job humanly possible raising my young family. June is booked up to capacity and I am finishing up the month by going deep sea fishing down in Venice with my brothers and some friends! I have a few minor announcements and events to post coming up, but it might be awhile before I get a chance to personally post a blog entry....

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Big Bluegill, Bigger Bluegill and Monster Bluegill

I have been experimenting with bluegill nutrition and genetics extensively since 2007. My proving grounds is a 30 acre lake out in Fulton County where we study fish intricately. Anyhow if you look closely in the following pics of these monster boone and crocket bluegill you will see about 10 different strains of regular and hybrid bluegill. Contrary to popular belief, I can actually grow regular bluegill bigger than hybrid bluegill. Hybrid Bluegill just grow quicker, but ultimately not bigger.

InFisherman contributor and international fishing guru Steve Ryan and his buddy Doug came down for a day of fishing for bluegill pics and these photos just scratch the surface of what they caught. Look for photos similar to these in upcoming magazines, articles and product advertisements!

They also caught plenty of other species of fish, but bluegill pics was the focus of the day.

This beast of a smallmouth bass is actually on her way out.  Probably almost a 10 year old fish that caught in her prime would have given the state record a run for its money.

I got an email from Steve on Monday. It was nice and I thought it appropriate to post with the photos:


Somewhat crazy around here this morning (afternoon) but didn't want to get side tracked any longer without saying thanks again for letting me fish your little piece of paradise.
There was a period Saturday afternoon where I just couldn't stop smiling based upon the size of the gills. Just incredible and greatly appreciated.
In all my years of chasing big gills, I have never seen anything like it. A true testament to your lake management skills.......
Thanks, Steve
This week like most has been somewhat crazy for us as well! Beautiful weather and always lots of stuff happening. I got out of a big road trip up to savana for stocking a new smallmouth pond, putting in a cedar floating dock, aeration system, fish feeder, the whole works basically. The guys are loading up the fish and heading out first thing in the morning. I have kindergarten graduation thursday night.
The only problem with the weather is that it is so nice right now, but our lack of rain this spring is going to have some huge ramifications in the weeks and months ahead. Could be a very hot dry summer....Ponds that are usually overflowing are actually several feet low to start out the summer.
I was electrofishing a guys lake near Emden this morning and his lake is already 7 feet lower this year than it was last year at this time. Now I am excited for the mid 90 degree temps forecasted for this weekend, because I plan on swimming!! The only projects we are working on are in or near the water projects at the lake. Building 2 water slides so that will be fun. Sunday we will catch a bunch of hybrid striped bass and will have a huge fish fry!!!
Oh yeah I forgot that on Saturday we have 20 guys coming down to fish at Otter Creek with Chef Todd. I will be there in the morning to get things rolling, but then have to get back to the lake to get them water slides built. Should have tons of fish and food pics to post come Monday.....err Tuesday. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Monday, Jared and I headed down near Carbondale to check out Jason's new 100 acre property. He wants the property set up for wildlife and his 4 ponds set up for FISHING!! He was pumped up when he found out we came down that far south. Here are some pics of the terrible small and skinny fish we have to work with on his property already. Turns out his main 4 acre pond is loaded with gizzard shad that he never knew were there. Electrofishing Pics.

Here is a pretty cool subdivision up near Chicago. Later in the week we were working right next to it and had to stroll through and check out this skiing and wakeboarding community. 

On Friday we built this dock up in Manhattan, IL. Took us till 9 pm to finish along with putting in a nice fountain, but we got er done and got home around midnight! 

Some more recent dock projects:

Some fishing pics:

After working 85 hours this week, I spent all day today just playing with kids. This is the kind of stuff I did my whole childhood, so its fun to relive those days with my children. Yes its dangerous and dont try this at home.