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Illinois hunting and fishing

Photo by Brian Brueggemann, Belleville News-Democrat
Television fishing icon Babe Winkelman, right, talks with Woodlawn High School fishermen Josh Kehrer, left, and Ryan Flowers, second from left, after practice Thursday for this weekend’s Illinois High School Association state bass-fishing championship. Also pictured, third from left, is Brent Guthrie of Carlyle, a friend of the Woodlawn teammates.

Illinois prep bass anglers make history

May 08, 2009 at 12:20 AM

Fifty two teams will compete in the nation’s first bass fishing finals today and Saturday at Carlyle Lake in southwestern Illinois.

The big question after Thursday’s practice day is, will they catch 52 fish?

“We haven’t caught anything but white bass,” Richwoods coach MicMcCormick said after two days on Carlyle. Pekin’s squad reported similar success.

But Dave Gannaway of the Illinois High School Association said some of that talk is gamesmanship typical leading up to any tournament. Gannaway said locals reported as many as 40 boats on the lake in the days leading up to this weekend’s first tournament.

“They were hunting hard for different spots today. They were telling me they caught fish in other spots and were looking for new spots,” Gannaway said. “I would say there were probably 40 different boats down here this week.”

One of those belonged to the team from Farmington, whose squad reported a few 12-inch bass according to Coach Chuck Davis. “And we also caught a 6-inch walleye,” laughed Davis.

Even so, he gives his early nod to Pinckneyville, a nearby school that has had a fishing club for several years, knows Carlyle Lake fairly well and has the tournaments only wrapped boat. Wrapped boats are covered with advertising for sponsors.

Another question being bandied around Thursday concerned what it would take to win the two-day tournament, which has weigh-ins starting at 3:15 p.m. each day at the Marina Boat Ramp in Carlyle.

“I think 12 pounds will win it,” said Terry Brown of the popular Web site, one of the founding fathers of this first statewide bass fishing tournament. “Unless somebody catches a 6-pounder out there. That would skew things. But otherwise I really think 12 pounds will win it.”

This is the first year of a two-year contract at Carlyle Lake, which at 26,000 acres is the state’s largest inland lake. Unfortunately, Carlyle is not noted as the state’s top bass fishing lake. White bass, sauger, crappie and catfish are all considered better prospects in Carlyle, which has an average depth of 11 feet and is 3.4 to 4 miles wide and about 15 miles long.

Youngsters competing in this first IHSA event heard words of advice from television fishing icon Babe Winkelman during a banquet Thursday night.

“For things to get better, I have to get better,” Winkelman told the roughly 160 fishermen during a reception at the Mariner’s Village Conference and Banquet Center. “Success in school or fishing or life is kind of based around the same principles.”

Winkelman planned to leave early Friday to attend the fishing opener in his home state of Minnesota. But he has a camera crew at Carlyle shooting video for his “Good Fishing” and “Outdoor Secrets” shows.

“You guys are doing more than you know, by a long shot,” Winkelman said. “I promise you, you’re going to inspire some folks.”

Brian Brueggemann of the Belleville News-Democrat reported that some controversy developed Thursday when off-limits areas were changed. Teams will now be allowed to fish marinas, with the exception of the West Access Marina.

The daily limit is five fish of 12 inches or better. Thunderstorms rolled through the area late Thursday and early Friday morning but were expected to be done by the time of the 7 a.m. launch.

The following information is from Matt Troha of the Illinois High School Association:

Each team will have a single boat, with an adult driver and two students fishing at a time. Some teams have three individuals who qualified to compete in the state finals. Only two individuals can be in the boat at a time, leaving the third angler to wait on land. A team with three individuals has no limit on the number of times they can substitute their students on the boat. A team can return to land with a maximum of five fish to be weighed. The team with the largest combined weight from their Friday and Saturday fish weight totals will be declared the state champion. Team ties will be broken by the largest individual fish caught and then by the total number of fish caught. Weight penalties will be assessed if participants are late returning to land or if fish do not survive.

State Final qualifying occurred at 18 Sectional lakes throughout the state on Friday, April 24, with three teams advancing from each Sectional, with the exception of Tampier Lake, which had two teams advance. 48 schools will be represented among the 53 boats, as five schools (Highland, Macon (Meridian), Rochelle, Teutopolis, Zion-Benton) qualified two boats per school to compete in the state finals. With no common lake in the equation, picking a state final favorite based on Sectional results is futile and will likely render the following statistics useless: of the 53 qualifying teams, 33 caught the maximum five fish at their Sectionals, while seven schools managed to advance based on the merit of a single catch. Four advancing teams caught four fish and three qualifiers caught three, while the six remaining qualifiers caught two fish to advance. Vernon Hills and Streamwood caught two and one fish, respectively, at the Chain O’Lakes #1 Sectional and still managed to score a larger weight total than Hersey’s five fish. Several Sectionals saw numerous teams catch the maximum five fish, leaving 23 five-fish teams who did not qualify for the state finals. Carrier Mills (C.M.-Stonefort) produced the state’s best Sectional total, catching five fish on Lake Egypt with a combined weight of 14.40 pounds. Coal City #1 (LaSalle Lake, 14.19 pounds) and Zion-Benton #1 (Chain O’ Lakes #2, 14.04) were the only two other schools to break 14 pounds. Sixteen qualifiers managed double-digit pound totals at Sectionals.

Here are some other factoids about the tournament.

* Joliet (Twp.) was the largest school by enrollment (5,555) to register a team this season, DeLand-Weldon the smallest (60).

* DeLand-Weldon was the smallest (60) school to advance to the State Finals, Chicago (Brother Rice) the largest (3963.3).

* Wilmette (Regina Dominican) was the only all-girls school registered in the state this year and the Panther team produced a state qualifying boat featuring juniors Christine Brown and Natalie Hoga.

* Two other female anglers will join the Regina Dominican duo on the water this weekend in Oswego (H.S.) senior Becky Weaver and Woodstock (Marian) senior Jackie Bowler
* Five teams will have brothers in their boats this weekend, including Grant Park (Derick & Nick Abels), Highland (Jared & Jordan Mettler), Macon (Meridian) (Dan & Joe Carr), Normal (Community) (Adam & Andrew Bean) and Teutopolis (Jake & Josh Koester).

* Bradley-Bourbonnais senior Nate Bass may be the most appropriately named angler competing this weekend.

Illinois hunting and fishing

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