IHSA bass fishing finals underway

May 06, 2010 at 10:08 PM

Other IHSA bass coverage

Click here to read Dale Bowman’s Top 10 list of Chicago schools competing in the IHSA finals. The top five are: 1. St. Charles North, 2. Wheaton-Warrenville South, 3. Bradley-Bourbonnais, 4. Minooka, 5. Fenwick.

Click here to read Rod Kloeckner’s an article about Highland fishing coach Jon Rinderer who has introduced hundreds of high schoolers to fishing over the years.

Click here to read another Kloeckner article on the Highland fishing team.

Click here to read Les Winkeler of The Southern Illinoisan explain why he now thinks the IHSA tournament is a good thing.

 

 

 

The 2010 IHSA Bass Fishing State Finals return to Carlyle Lake in Carlyle Friday and Saturday.

For some repeat finalists like coach Steve Graves of Pekin, the novelty of competing in a fishing final is past.

The excitement is there, strong as ever heading into this weekend’s second Illinois state bass fishing finals at Carlyle Lake.

But gone is the feeling that merely taking the 57-team tournament is enough. Gone is being satisfied with winning the Banner Marsh Sectional for a second straight year. Today and Saturday Graves wants his trio of Pekin anglers to weigh fish during the country’s only high school fishing finals—something Pekin was unable to do last year.

“I had two freshman and a sophomore last year and these boys are better prepared,” Graves said of his trio of seniors Alex Cufaude and Dillan McKinley and junior Austin Pool, who was on last year’s state team. “These boys are better prepared. The first time I called them this year about practice they were already in the boat fishing.

“I can’t give them all the practice they need. They need to fish on their own and these boys have done that.”

Last weekend Cufaude spent time pre-fishing Carlyle and caught 12 bass. Don’t bother asking the lure he caught them on, nobody is talking about specifics right now.

Whatever the lure, Graves is hoping for similar fish-catching in the tournament, which starts with 7 a.m. takeoffs and finishes with a 3:15 weigh-in Friday and a 3:30 weigh-in on Saturday. Once again, the City of Carlyle will hold Bass Celebration in conjunction with the tournament on Friday and Saturday, as vendors provide food, fishing and fun located in the Dam West Recreation Area where all participants will start and finish the day.

Despite catching the boat maximum of five fish in its Sectional, defending state champion West Frankfort High School will not have a chance to defend its title, as the Redbirds placed seventh in their Sectional at Lake Egypt, where 17 of the 23 boats nabbed five fish.

Pekin does return after a strong showing at Banner, during which the team caught a five-fish limit in just 45 minutes. Graves hopes for another fast start today.

“I want to get that first fish caught early and get the jitters out,” Graves said. “Because I know they are going to be jittery. And they should be excited. This is a great deal that’s kind of snowballing. And I’m glad for that.”

Pekin is one 23 teams returning to this second tournament. Another 34 qualifiers are first-timers. But the returnees aren’t the only teams that appear more organized heading into this year’s tournament. Actually, most squads seem better prepared whether they competed in last year’s historic tournament.

Highland returns after placing eighth last year and senior Corey Hemann told Rod Kloeckner the experience should help. Click here to read more.

“We kind of know what to expect going into it,” Hemann said. “It’s not as foreign this year. We have a little more confidence about the whole thing going into it. There were some nerves last year. Being the first one of its kind and not knowing what to expect kind of made us all nervous. We feel like we’re ahead of the game this year.”

But that’s also true of first-time qualifier Dunlap, whose coach Rob Beckman and boat captain Mike Cranford spent last Saturday on Carlyle and caught several bass. “We did well enough to be optimistic,” Beckman said. “Our kids have worked real hard for the past year.”

The Illinois High School Association has also learned plenty from last year, when storms shortened the first day of fishing but several teams could not be contacted by cell phone and kept on casting. This year every boat will carry a radio to ensure all participants can be contacted.

As for Graves, success this weekend would cap a wonderful week of fishing. Last weekend in a River City Casters tournament on Spring Lake he used plastic lizards and chatterbaits to catch six bass weighing over 19 pounds. If Pekin posts similar weights this weekend, they just might have another trophy to join their two bass fishing sectional plaques.