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Illinois hunting and fishing

Hawk Classic a success

October 28, 2009 at 04:21 AM

Now that high school fishing is entering its second year in Illinois, schools and coaches have had more time to get organized.

Proof of that came in the recent Hawk Open tournament held at Lake Shelbyville on Oct. 10.

While things got off to a foggy start, the event showed how successful high school fishing tournaments can be.

Takeoff was delayed by about an hour due to the dense fog on the water. But despite the late start and cold morning (36 degrees at sunrise), temps warmed up to around 60 degrees and dozens of kids got the chance to hit the water in a tournament atmosphere.

The tournament was hosted by Meridian (Macon) High School and the Assumption Bass Club. Organizer Darren Gates reported about 60 kids participated on a total of 27 teams from Atwood Hammond, Monticello, Sullivan, Champaign Centennial, Maine West, The High School of Saint Thomas More, Meridian, Mt. Zion, Okaw Valley, St. Charles North, Dunlap, and Chicago Marist.

Lake Shelbyville played host to one of the IHSA sectional tournaments last school year. First and second place teams from those sectionals advanced to the state tournament at Carlyle Lake. All previous IHSA tournaments had been held in the spring. Gates saw this as an opportunity for kids to get some experience on the lake, as well as enjoy some fall bass fishing in the process. The tournament was open to anyone who is a member of their high school bass fishing team.

Thanks to a DNR waiver on the length restrictions, kids could weigh in fish 12 inches and over. Lake Shelbyville normally has a 14-inch limit. The waiver is also given to all IHSA-sanctioned tournaments, and helps ensure that kids enjoy the experience by weighing in more fish. With the new DNR director focusing on youth recruitment in the outdoors, hopefully regional biologists will continue to give the waivers for youth tournaments like this.

A week of heavy rains, followed by a bitter cold night moved the fish a little deeper, but the kids were able to find the fish once the fog burned off the lake. A total of 18 teams weighed in 53 fish, including 4 teams that brought in 5-fish limits. No dead fish were reported. Big fish honors went to Patrick Tharp of Mt. Zion with a bass that weighed in at 3.52 lbs.

The weigh-in was professionally handled by Mike and Penny Black from the Illini Team Trail. All the teams brought their fish to the front to be weighed in, and received applause for their work. Black worked the microphone to get the crowd of about 100 people energized and entertained.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Volunteers served hot dogs and snacks for all the participants at weigh-in. Donors and sponsors made sure that all the kids walked away with raffle prizes, including several rods, a baitcaster, and a dozen lures. Sponsors included Assumption Bass Club, Illini Team Trail, Triple B Jigs,, Gates Plumbing, Zips Flowers by the Gates, Whites Auto Body, Wall Street Printing & Embroidery, and Limit Lure Co.

Letters from participating schools praised the quality of the tournament and all the hard work that went into it. It’s plain to see that IHSA fishing has a lot of support behind it, as it continues to grow from its inaugural year last spring. Gates plans to keep the fall tournament going next year, and hopes to double the number of entries. Once word gets out how successful this event was, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Congrats to all the kids, and a big thank you to the sponsors, volunteers, boat captains, and parents for getting their kids involved in the sport!

Results are below:

Illinois hunting and fishing

1st Place
Tom Sullivan/Nicholas Engel
Chicago Marist High School
5 fish, 11.25 lbs.

Illinois hunting and fishing

2nd Place
Reid Stephenson/Nick Kohlman/Daniel Ruedi
The High School of Saint Thomas More
5 fish, 8.45 lbs.

Illinois hunting and fishing

3rd Place
Mt Zion High School
Patrick Tharp/Brock Lemmon
3 fish, 7.08 lbs.

Illinois hunting and fishing

4th Place
Justin Siekman
Dunlap High School
4 fish, 7.01 lbs.

Illinois hunting and fishing

5th Place
Creighton Delgado/Anthony Zountas
Maine West High School
5 fish, 6.54 lbs.

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

Good article & pics Kevin.
This is a great program to help get our kids involved in the outdoors !
I would like to thank Darren Gates, for heading this up & to all that helped him in anyway.
Good luck to all the kids this coming spring fishing season & I hope more kids get involved in these types of outdoors programs !!!!
Good Work !

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/28 at 05:34 PM

Thanks To all involved in putting this tournament together, great people ,very helpful, Can’t wait till next year. Thanks again Coach Dave Marist High School

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/30 at 05:22 PM

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