IHSA bass fishing: St. Laurence pair preps for state finals

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Paul Petan Jr. caught the big bass, a 3.78-pound largemouth, within the first 10 minutes of the District 230 tournament Saturday. Petan, 16, and Santo Munizzi, 18, were casting crankbaits on the rocks around the Three Rivers area where the Kankakee and Des Plaines rivers form the Illinois River headwaters.

But they switched up and caught most of their 30 bass, including 17 keeper-sized, on wacky-rigged worms. That switching is a sign of fishermen good enough to adjust.

The St. Laurence pair dominated in winning–their five best weighed 12.43 pounds–one of the biggest high school tournaments at Big Basin Marina.

It was a good warm-up for the Illinois High School Association’s seventh bass fishing state finals Friday and Saturday on Carlyle Lake. They advanced to state with a second in the Des Plaines River sectional on May 1, also out of Big Basin.

“We have been fishing the river a long time,’’ Petan, a junior, said.

Munizzi, a senior from the Midway area, also reached the state finals as a sophomore in the year weather shortened the state finals to one day. Petan of Palos Park is making his first trip to state.

“They fish a lot and they fish both lakes and rivers,’’ St. Laurence coach Barry Shaw said. “I have been very fortunate. They fish a lot and they look for patterns.’’

Shaw will depend on that overall fishing experience at Carlyle. Conditions will be different than the high water in 2013. The first day Shaw will likely drive the boat with only Petan fishing.

Munizzi is staying home for his girlfriend’s prom at Queen of Peace Friday night. Munizzi’s father, Thomas, will drive his son to Carlyle late Friday night to fish the final day at state and probably drive the boat. An adult drives the boat while two students fish.

Munizzi will likely follow his father’s footsteps to being a Chicago fireman. Petan, a 6-2 outside linebacker and lacrosse player for the Vikings, is leaning toward something in the outdoors.

Petan thought a bass-fishing scholarship would be “awesome.’’ Bethel University in Tennessee was first to offer bass fishing scholarships. It will become more widespread, probably partial scholarships similar to those in non-revenue sports.

“I wish more people could see the positive things that the kids are out there doing and not just the crap that is grabbing headlines,’’ Shaw, also dean of students, noted.

After covering all seven years of IHSA bass fishing, I think he has the right to say that.

TURKEYS: The strong harvest by Illinois turkey hunters keeps going. The south zone had a harvest of 6,034, compared to 5,812 last year. Through four seasons, hunters in the north are way ahead of last year, 7,181 vs 6,059.

FACES: Bill Sutton of Lindenhurst won the pro side of Cabela’s National Walleye Tour (NWT) Friday on the Mississippi River at Lake City, Minn. He weighed a two-day total of 46.58 pounds for more than $70,000 in combined earnings.

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MORELS: One of the best Mays for morels keeps on.

Both Lee Sczepanski (that’s his big paw in the photo) and David Martin Repya messaged that yellows (the big ones) popped last week in Indiana.

A faithful follower tweeted Monday that morels are in big time in DuPage County. Noted fishermen Larry Green and Nick Doumel both found their life firsts.

TICKS: If you have not already noticed, Howard Bass reminded that ticks are crawling. Use bug spray, tuck in your socks and change clothes at home.

STRAY CAST: Baseball season is like night fishing for flatheads: you’re never quite sure if line twitch is current or a flathead picking up the bluegill (60-102 or 90-72).


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