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Illinois hunting and fishing

IHSA bass administrator retiring

May 09, 2010 at 01:16 AM

Sitting lake-side Friday morning, Dave Gannaway was the picture of contentment. For a few minutes the normally fidgety Gannaway held court from a folding chair as volunteers and coaches posed questions about the ongoing Illinois bass fishing finals.

Such is the luxury of a man who worked hard to iron out the wrinkles involved with running a history-making event.

Then too, it’s also the look of a man who will retire in July. “I’m going to fish and hunt,” said Gannaway, who plans to spend plenty of time outdoors near a rural Mackinaw home he built two years ago.

Given his love for the outdoors, it’s fitting Gannaway, 57, played such an integral role in helping Illinois make bass fishing history. While several high school associations have expressed interest in a prep fishing tourney, Illinois remains the only state to make that step.

Gannaway deserves a lion’s share of credit. And this weekend at Carlyle Lake showed the real potential of this tournament. One year after struggling to catch fish, prep anglers brought sack after sack to the scales. Smiles were everywhere among the young anglers. “This is awesome,” Gannaway said.

Word of that success will likely encourage more participation in an activity that has already shown modest gains. This year’s field of 216 teams was up 17 from last year, better than IHSA officials expected given the funding crisis schools face.

Besides, slow growth is actually better according to Gannaway.

“If we gain a whole lot more, we’re going to have to restructure,” said Gannaway, who expects a cap of 75 teams for the finale. “Do you have regionals and then sectionals, or how do you handle the additional boats? Because you can’t just keep adding sectionals. It’s not easy securing 19 lakes all in one day.”

Even so, the IHSA would be wise to consider switching some sectionals. If you want kids to enjoy fishing, they need to be put in places where they have the best chance to catch fish.

Then again, prior to this weekend many would have voted to leave Carlyle Lake after a three-year deal expires next spring. That sentiment softened some Friday when 166 bass came to the scales.

Gannaway has another proposal that should be a sure thing. He would like to expand the field of state final qualifiers to include anyone who catches the biggest bass at a sectional. This year that would have brought an additional five teams to Carlyle Lake but would also provide a larger benefit.

“Then you would see kids at the sectional fishing clear to the end knowing one fish could get them to state,” Gannaway said.

Ultimately, a decision will be made by the bass fishing advisory board ... and by Kurt Gibson, who was recently promoted to associate executive director and will head up the bass fishing tournament. Gibson, who has a muskie he caught hanging over his desk in IHSA headquarters and fishes a few times each year, said he doesn’t envision any major changes.

“We saw some good growth this year and I think will continue to see that. Any changes will be just managing the growth,” Gibson said. “The event runs well and has been well-received.”

Given that, is there hope for an IHSA-sanctioned hunting activity some day?

“Let’s just take what we’ve got,” Gannaway said.

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

Great job Dave!  You’ve done a lot for the kids in Illinois!  Enjoy your retirement.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/10 at 10:24 PM

Mr Gannaway has helped start a great program !!

THANKS for all you have done for our past, current & future IHSA fishermen !

This is a great program to help get more kids into the outdoors !!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/10 at 11:24 PM

Thank you Sir for starting a program that my son will one day take part in. Many people talk the talk, but very few actually make the world a better place for future generations.

And Jeff going from 17 teams to 216 is not what I would call modest gains.

Posted by illin on 05/11 at 07:18 PM

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