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Illinois hunting and fishing

Anglers wait their turn to pull their boats out at the Lake Springfield Lindsay Bridge Boat Ramp. Photos by Chris Young

Evening bass tournaments focus on fun and friendship

May 22, 2011 at 07:16 AM

Prairie State Outdoors

Casual evening bass fishing tournaments are trying to hook a new generation of anglers and keep the fun in a sport that has grown increasingly competitive.

Spring Lake has a Tuesday evening tournament that costs only $30 per team to enter.

“It’s not a big money tournament and the guys know it,” said Troy Galvin, who lives a stone’s throw from the lake.

“It’s for fun and the joy of catching fish.”

Galvin took over coordinating the tournament about six years ago.

“It started out with a few guys who wanted to fish during the week, and it was mostly local guys,” he said. “But they enjoyed it so much the word has got around and spread, and now we’re pulling from 40 miles away or so.”

Last Tuesday’s tournament drew 28 boats.

An hour or so south in Springfield, two weeknight tournament series offer the chance for anglers to fish without the pressure of too much competition.

“We don’t want that (emphasis on competition),” said Ed Skube, who for years helped coordinate bass fishing tournaments at Lake Springfield. “We want to instill the friendship aspect of the sport.

“We try to keep it real family-friendly.”

Tuesday night tournaments at Sangchris Lake and Thursday night tournaments at Lake Springfield drew 18 and 25 teams, respectively, May 10 and 12.

“That’s a real nice turnout,” said Rod Cooke who coordinates the Sangchris Lake tournaments.

“This is our best night so far,” said Steve Parker, who organizes bass fishing tournaments at Lake Springfield.

The tournaments kick off after work at about 5 p.m. and the participants have to be back at the boat launch before dark.

It doesn’t cost much to compete and the time commitment is less.

“Ours is just three hours,” Galvin says. “Once the days get a little longer I let them fish until 8:30 p.m., but for safety reasons I don’t want them out there in the dark.”

Fees are $30 per boat at Spring Lake, $25 at Sangchris Lake and $20 at Lake Springfield.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Chris Clem of Auburn caught the biggest bass at Sangchris Lake on May 10.

“It worked out good tonight,” the soft-spoken Clem said with a smile.

It’s not clear if he’s referring to the pleasant weather or the nearly 5-pound largemouth bass Cooke was weighing at the moment.

Clem is new to the Tuesday night tournaments. He also joined the Sangchris Bass Club this year, also competing in the club’s regular daylong tournaments.

“It’s more casual and less hours,” he said of the evening tournaments.

“Fifty percent of them are new this year,” Parker said of the anglers gathered at the weigh-in.

Illinois hunting and fishing

The scale is set up under a light in the parking lot.

“The lake being really good this year really helps,” he said. “A lot of limits are being caught.”

“The lake is in awesome shape,” said Skube. “The bass are healthy and plentiful.”

Galvin says a bass that tipped the scales at 7.88 pounds last week may be the largest one caught during his evening tournament series so far.

“She was full of eggs and hadn’t spawned out yet,” he said. “But she was getting ready.”

He says six fish were over 5 pounds, and one was pushing 6.

“We weighed 150 pounds of fish,” he said.

Spring Lake allows three fish per angler.

Skube said the relaxed atmosphere of the evening tournaments means a parent can fish with a child and not worry about giving up prize money needed to reclaim a hefty entry fee.

“We’ve got kids just starting out,” Skube said, nodding in the direction of a boy who was taking pictures of anglers and their catches.

Along with people new to the sport are those who have been fishing together for almost two decades.

“It’s the same group of friends,” he said. “We just get closer every year.”

Chris Young can be reached at (217) 788-1528 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Copyright 2011 Some rights reserved

Illinois hunting and fishing

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