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Finally, big bass: Final day, IHSA bass fishing championship

Sandwich's Chris Thompson weighed the big bass of the IHSA state championship for bass fishing Saturday.
Credit: Dale Bowman

CARLYLE, Ill.–Some bigger bass bit Saturday, but not enough for Chicago area schools. Only St. Charles North finished in the top 10 of the Illinois High School Association’s eighth state championship for bass fishing on Carlyle Lake.

The North Stars only weighed one fish, but it was a good one of 3 pounds, 9 ounces for two-day total of 11-9 and 10th place.

Total weight determines finishes at bass tournaments. In IHSA events, each boat may weigh their five heaviest black bass (largemouth, smallmouth, spotted), 12 inches or longer. It’s largemouth at Carlyle.

Elverado with the bag on the final day as they won the eighth IHSA state championship for bass fishing.<br>Credit: Dale Bowman
Elverado with the bag on the final day as they won the eighth IHSA state championship for bass fishing.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Elverado’s Zach Berner and Alec Valerius were the only ones to weigh big bags both days, blowing away the competition with 21-5.

Highland Boat 1 was second with 14-15.

As to the North Stars big bass, junior Danny Barsanti said, “I caught it early on a Senko.’’

Senkos, descendants of the Do-Nothing Worm, were one of the go-to baits Saturday for many teams.

“We caught lots of other non-keepers,’’ North Star senior Dylan Allamian said.

Bass fishing in this format is a team sport. On Day 1, freshman Reece Rother caught all three keepers. “I’ll see you next year,’’ the gregarious one said.

Two students (male or female) fish with an adult boat driver. Each boat may sub up to two fishers. Each school may enter two boats. Five schools advanced both boats from sectionals.

The big bass of the tournament, no doubt about it, was the 4-14 prespawn female brought in by Sandwich’s Chris Thompson, helping his team finish eighth with 12-6.

“I caught it midday on a black and blue ChatterBait with a white tail,’’ he said.

Sophomore Tommy Zobel and junior Sean Cook only caught one keeper, but it was a good one (3-12) as Joliet Central Boat 1 finished 14th with 10-5. Ah, but the one that got away.

“I missed a giant, 5-pounds-plus,’’ Cook said. “Senko came flying by this way and the bass went that way.’’

The Chicago area did put Huntley in 15th (10-0), Plainfield Central 16th (9-0), Streamwood 17th (8-14) and Minooka 19th (8-2).

The gorgeous weather on Saturday befit the first state championship not delayed, shortened or postponed by weather. But conditions did play a factor. The water remained murky and cool for May in the mid-60s, though it certainly seemed that the fishermen adjusted or the big females started to move shallower. By the end, 57 of the 66-team field had weighed keepers.

There was a good tweak to the format this year. The 66-boat field was divided into three flights– (boats 1-22, 23-44, 45-66)–with three staggered return times: 3, 3:15 and 3:30 p.m. It cut down the pandemonium at the launch and made for a better flow through the holding tanks and stage.

I just like the idea of having a stage for high school fishermen to cross.