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Illinois hunting and fishing

Big week for bass in Illinois

April 19, 2009 at 03:58 AM

Emiquon opener

Bass figure to be the focal point for many anglers who wet a line this week when the Emiquon Preserve opens to fishing at sunrise on Monday.

Timing for the opener may be very good, as water temperatures have only recently started warming enough to make bass more aggressive.

The 3,500-acre Emiquon Preserve is located between Havana and Dickson Mounds Museum to the east of Illinois Routes 97 and 78.

In order to fish each angler must first obtain a free permit at Dickson Mounds, open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Free permits are valid for one year and are non-transferable. Through Friday more than 400 had been allocated.

Bank fishing is not allowed at Emiquon and boats are limited to trolling motors only. Gas motors cannot even be attached to boats. Conservation police officers will be on hand for Monday’s opener, so make sure you bring life jackets and your boat is registered and meets all requirements.

There is only one boat ramp at Emiquon, so those using smaller watercraft like canoes or car-top boats are encouraged to put in wherever possible near the parking lot.

And be warned. Most parking is on grass. So the rain forecast for today and Monday could make for a mess.


This is a historic week for Illinois bass fishing.

The smaller piece of history comes Monday when the Emiquon Preserve opens to anglers. Estimations as to the crowd that will show vary widely. I’m better on more than 100 boats.

But while a big crowd is expected at the fertile wetland near Havana, the impact of that opener will only be felt here in central Illinois – at least until the bass-filled wetland restoration starts churning out a steady stream of 5-pound largemouths.

The much larger event is Friday when high schoolers across the state will compete in one of 18 fishing sectionals. The top three teams at each sectional advance to the Illinois bass fishing championship May 8-9 at Carlyle Lake.

Most Peoria-area teams will fish the Main Access to Banner Marsh, where the field includes Canton, IVC, Dunlap, East Peoria, Elmwood, Farmington, Illini Bluffs, Pekin, Peoria Christian, Richwoods, Woodruff and Tremont. Deer Creek-Mackinaw, Metamora, Fieldcrest, Morton, Roanoke-Benson, Midland and Washington face the challenge of bass fishing Evergreen Lake. And Astoria, Cuba and Galva compete at Argyle Lake.

Click here for a complete list of sectional assignments. Click here for more general information on the IHSA fishing competition.

Interest in the nation’s first prep fishing tournament has been keen in many Illinois communities. That includes Astoria, where one response is most common.
“The first thing out of people’s mouths is, ‘Why didn’t they do this when I was in school?’” Astoria fishing coach Jay Van voorhis said. “One of the neatest things about this is how involved the community has been.”

Folks in Astoria have offered the use of their boats and lakes and even chipped in to purchase a boat for the fishing team: a used Bass Tracker that Van voorhis picked up Friday.

That’s a big help, since finding volunteers has not always been easy for coaches this cold, rainy spring. While volunteers are willing, many already have tournaments scheduled for the same weekends when prep teams were competing.

That’s all part of an overall learning curve regarding prep fishing. No doubt other logistical problems will arise between now and May 9. That’s to be expected for something this new and uncharted.

But the potential payoff is far greater than the minor inconveniences along the way. While many people talk about getting more kids involved in the outdoors, this tournament accomplishes that goal. Plus, fishing teams offer one more outlet for youngsters — and one more reason to remain eligible.

“I’ve got some kids that aren’t involved in anything else but who are into fishing,” Van voorhis said.

That includes team members Deavan Malott and Shad Bucher (pictured below), who caught an impressive stringer of bass at a recent team tournament.

Illinois hunting and fishing

That also fits the bill for Jake Ewing (pictured below), an East Peoria junior who did not make the baseball squad this spring. Ewing had no problem earning a spot on the fishing squad. The 8-pound, 25-inch bass he caught last Sunday out of a Tazewell County strip pit is probably an indication why.

“Fishing is probably one of the best sports at East Peoria,” he said.

While Friday is his first tournament, Ewing already has at least one competitive angling skill down pat: giving evasive answers to questions.

Grilled about what lures he plans to fish at Banner Marsh, Ewing said only, “I think I’ll keep that to myself.”

Illinois hunting and fishing

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

As a seasoned tournament angler, I am disappointed to see a photo of bass on a stringer. This practice went out some 30 years ago. These kids should be learning tournament etiquette (fish handling after catch, boating skills and sportsmanship) not just where and how to catch bass. Maybe they are being taught all aspects off tournament fishing, it just wasn’t conveyed by the article’s photo.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/19 at 08:35 AM

Take it easy streamgager. You sound like a PMS’ing woman.
Those fish are doing just fine. Fish survived on a stringer long before you or I were even born. Give the kids some freedom. Something tells me they could be out doing a lot worse things.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/19 at 09:05 AM

I noticed that to.  I can’t tell from the pic but hopefully they were atleast using a mouth clip stringer and not a gill stringer

Posted by WIUBassin on 04/19 at 06:29 PM

if he was on public waters he is way over his limit! lol!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/20 at 08:47 AM

I don’t tournament fish, at least not for many years. I would like to see regs. changed to be catch & release only for tournaments, however I think most if not all are that way now. I’m all for getting the youth involved in the outdoors, hats off to all the volunteers. Streamgager your experience may be helpful.I looked at the IHSA rules, link is in the article, there are deductions for dead fish and all fish must be released after weigh-in, so…ibc looks like you don,t get your wish.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/20 at 09:19 AM

I was there that morning.  They are being taught catch and release. The live well quit on the boat so they hooked the fish through the lower lip.  There were ten fish on the stringer, the heaviest 4lb 14 ounces.  They were all released immediately after being photographed and weighed.  The other boats didn’t get their picture taken because the fish were released straight from the live wells without being weighed.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/20 at 09:42 AM

My first thought on seeing the pictures was the same as Streamgager’s but hearing now that there were extenuating circumstances, I can understand.  I’m also glad that they are being taught ETHICAL practices and not just legal ones.  Too many people, like some above, think that because something is legal that it’s also the “right thing to do”.  I have no problem with folks keeping a catch for a fish fry, but an 8 lb bass isn’t the right fish for that situation.  Hit up a stunted pond and keep some fish and help that fishery at the same time.  It’s common sense and those who speak otherwise are either too thick to understand that, or just flat out don’t care about the fishery in general.  And as far as the stringer survival rate goes, a biologist at the U of Waterloo in Ontario did a study on various retention methods in 2003 and found that 95% of fish kept for 3-5 hours in any manner of retention (baskets, stringers, livewell, etc) experienced some form of injury or mortality compared to 3% that were caught and released immediately.  So you trolls can pick the argument apart all you like but the scientific evidence says that if you retain a fish through whatever means it will suffer and/or die.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/20 at 10:10 AM

The whole idea of keeping that many bass on a rope stringer is very sad.  It is also embarrassing that this picture was even allowed to be posted. It gives the whole high school fishing thing a BIG black eye.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/20 at 12:12 PM

Although I wasnt present, those fish were caught from a lake that I currently manage.

I have noticed that many people who make comments must firmly believe that their fish and wildlife management practices are ABSOLUTE. Anyone who thinks this way regarding fish and wildlife is pretty much ingorant to what goes on in the real world….There are no absolutes

Catching a fish and just merely touching her causes her to become susceptible to disease and especially bacteria and fungus, being kept in a livewell causes serious stress and opens the door for a wide variety of pathogens and fungus to take hold, catching and releasing fish actually seriously messes up their eating habits and overall trophy growing potential, catching and releasing bass in certain private lakes is probably the number one culprit of creating unbalanced and stunted fisheries. Trophy fisherman want everyone to manage for trophy fish, tournament anglers want everyone to cater to tournament anglers, trophy deer hunters want everyone to manage for trophy deer, all of these people think their method of management is the right method, and not really any of it is healthy for the overall good of the fish or game. We just have learned to justify our selfishness.

To me, having a young man hold up a stringer of real nice bass, taking a picture of it, and posting it on Illinois leading outdoor website is pretty spectacular! Everything we do in regards to fish affects them, often times much more than you will ever realise. Making a negative comment about future outdoorsman affects all future outdoorsman and hurts the future of fishing much more than potentially harming a stringer of fish.

Posted by PondGuy on 04/20 at 02:30 PM

Some of you people are as jealous as an ugly girl at a barn dance. I count six bass on that stringer, which is a legal limit in Illinois. He could have had more if others were fishing. I congratulate the young man on a fine day of fishing. I hope they were released into some hot grease after being dipped in corn meal and flour.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/20 at 02:48 PM

Luscious Jackson is the only rational guy in the bunch.

Some of you can’t even count, not that you can even tell if the limit(s) was reached by the fact that there are no less than eight bass on that stringer.

Eating a bass is just fine, -if that’s what floats your boat.
If I have my druthers, I’ll never eat one.
Eating a five pound bass seems just plain silly to me.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/20 at 03:49 PM

hats off to those who took the time to set these tourneys up and those who unselfishly take these kids and coach them. thanks for making a small part of the world a betteer place this spring!!!!

and don’t beat the kid up over a stringer…....
it’s a learning process….... it’s not like he’s hangin’ at a meth lab…... give the kid a break.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/20 at 03:51 PM

OK, I recounted and I see seven.
Seven, eight, whatever, I assume the kid didn’t catch them all. Eating fish isn’t what floats my boat, it’s the reason I go fishing. Anything else is just torturing fish for no particularly good reason.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/20 at 04:25 PM

I take it none of you can read the article said 2 people catght these fish on the stringer, most of you sound like peta for bass! Pathetic

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/20 at 05:27 PM

every tournament ive done there are rules that say you must have a livewell. just but a cooler and put an aerator in it. i did it on my dads pontoon boat its cheap. i spend less then $50.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/20 at 09:42 PM

half of you guys are ridiculous. nobody has to make any excuses for keeping fish. “released immediately, livewell quit working…” its almost as bad as the people who say they dont like gay marriage because they are worried they will be called a gay hater.

my advice to those young men is catch some and eat some. theres freakin gobs of fish out there, way more than any of us could ever catch. its not like deer hunting. fish were put on this earth to eat, and plenty of them. bass included.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/21 at 07:57 AM

If all of you would read the posts you would understand that there were conditions out of the hands of the two in the boat. The livewell they had broke down during the tourney! What were they suppose to do? The post also goes on to say that all fish were released after the picture was taken. I would like to see what some of you “TOURNEY” fisherman would do if your livewell broke down in a middle of of a tourney and you had a catch like that??? Would you release the fish right away and throw in the towel for that tournament or come up with something else so you could weigh your fish and hopefully get in the money?
I say that the kids did what they could to weigh in their fish! KUDOS to them! Keep the youth involved, because when were all dead and gone they will be the ones teaching the future youth how to fish!
And to the young man in the boat….NICE STRINGER OF FISH!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/21 at 08:02 AM

Pondguy, I understand that your involvement on the site is probably voluntary and that you have better(lucrative) things to do with your time, but this whole thread begs for an expert commentary on sustainability and how selective harvest plays into that.  I think that you would have to agree that one of your personally managed bodies of water would require different management strategies than the public waters the majority of us fish, as evidenced by different limits at different locations.  For example, you said that CNR of bass in certain lakes leads to an imbalance and stunting.  Are you referring to the ponds with hundreds of 10 inchers or the more balanced ponds?  I’m all for doing what I can to improve or maintain fisheries in general, so if you’d be willing to teach us a little something I think it would be appreciated.  I would never think that my opinions are absolute and am certainly open to being further educated.  I just want to be knowledgeable enough to enjoy the sport we love AND be responsible with the future of it.

I will agree wholeheartedly that the overall impact that this program has on the sport of fishing is a positive one, and I do want to extends thanks and gratitude to the folks taking time and money to make this happen.  Anything to the opposite was not the intention of my previous post.  I even mentioned that under his particular situation they did what they had to do.  But some of you would defend a picture of that kid as long as he and a fish were in the picture together.  He could be gouging the eyes out of that 8 pounder with a pencil and you’d hear “At least he’s not…”

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/21 at 08:54 AM

I read the article (and it didn’t explain the livewell incident) Put in that same situation I may have done the same thing. Maybe some didn’t read my post! Not once did i mention catch and release or over the limit. I am always up for fish fillets whether people fish for them in tourneys or not. MY POINT was let’s teach them ALL aspects of tournament fishing (the photo was in poor taste). I feel this is a great opportunity for these high school kids. I only wish it were around 20 years ago.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/21 at 12:03 PM

Team members 2(two) people caught 7 (seven) Bass Well within the LEGAL State limit. pondguy says, he is the lake manager, which I Believe, no reason not to. So they must be within that lakes legal limit. Next picture, different person than mentioned, or named in first photo. Maybe he had it mounted, put it back, ate it, who cares! I would let that Bass go, but I didn’t catch it. SO IT IS NOT MY CHOICE! The picture of the day shows 2 guys keeping a 66lb flathead, I would of let it go, looks like they are going to eat it, or have it mounted, freedom of choice! Nobody’s business but theirs!Some of the Fishing & Hunting GODS that post here are nuts. Unless laws and/or rules are being broken then nothing is hurt.Nice fish kids, and good luck in your tournaments!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/21 at 12:16 PM

catch in release is like letting a monster buck walk by you. eat what you kill. batter what you catch.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/22 at 04:22 PM

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