Streamwood’s Jake Gaston and Christian Hernandez hold four of their winning bass at the Busse Woods (Main Pool) sectional.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Schooling bass: Changing high school for bass fishing options

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SHARE Schooling bass: Changing high school for bass fishing options

Jake Gaston argued his case to switch high schools for the bass-fishing team/club.

It worked out.

Yes, Jake switched from Hoffman Estates to Streamwood for his senior year for the fishing team/club. The Sabres have one of the top bass-fishing teams in the Chicago area, qualifying for state in eight of the nine years of the tournament.

Jake and partner Christian Hernandez won the Busse Main Sectional on May 5 to qualify for the state finals, which have been rescheduled for Wednesday and Thursday at Carlyle Lake.

Asked whether his move was worth it, Jake said: ‘‘One hundred percent. I think this year, with my move, everything fell in place. I feel my grades bumped up.’’

He had about a 3.3 grade-point average in high school, but he hovered around 4.0 as a senior.

Jake’s dad, Gregg, concurred.

‘‘If I could do it over again, I would have him in [Streamwood] freshman year,’’ Gregg said. ‘‘The knowledge he has gained, it is incredible.’’

Streamwood coach Marty Baker appreciated it and took a jab at a neighboring school.

‘‘It’s a good thing District 211 doesn’t have a bass-fishing program,’’ he said. ‘‘Otherwise, I never would have had the opportunity to meet and coach this great kid.’’

Oh, before his mom and dad agreed on Jake moving in with his dad, Jake lobbied for bass fishing at Hoffman Estates.

‘‘Jake dressed up — tie and everything — and made a nice presentation,’’ Gregg said.

But school officials didn’t go for it, blaming it on ‘‘too much of a liability,’’ Gregg said. That was in spite of teachers, coaches and students being behind the idea.

‘‘Liability’’ is administrative hooey. The Illinois High School Association addressed liability when it established bass fishing as an activity in 2008.

The best programs do something similar to what coaches Baker, Kenton Evans and Mike Rubino do at Streamwood. Jake said they meet Mondays and Wednesdays after school.

‘‘Mondays are in the classroom,’’ he said. ‘‘We watch videos from Bass University or talk about different bodies of water. Wednesdays we go into the pool and work on accuracy, how to work baits and what baits do.’’

Jake said there are usually a dozen or more anglers in the fall and spring. It drops down to the core four to six in the winter.

Jake became serious about bass fishing as he found videos online. He ended up at Japanese baits and at the great outlet for JDM (Japanese Domestic Market)

tackle at Lee’s Global Tackle in Elk Grove Village.

‘‘I have been going to Lee’s for years, probably since I started high school,’’ Jake said. ‘‘It’s the craftsmanship and how much better they work. And that a lot of people can’t get them. That special bait, no one else has.’’

He now does social media for John Moy at Lee’s.

Jake’s favorite fishermen are Japanese stars Takumi Ito and Shinichi Fukae (residing here). He favors younger American pros such as Seth Feider and Brent Ehrler.

Jake’s future is up in the air as he waits to hear about an Evans scholarship. He played golf at Hoffman Estates and Streamwood and is a caddie at Medinah. He plans to attend Elgin Community College for a year, then work toward becoming a lawyer. But he already is checking what schools connected to an Evans scholarship have.

‘‘I am going for a good education and a good team,’’ he said.

By “team,” he meant bass fishing.

Follow me on Twitter @BowmanOutside.

Jake Gaston.

Jake Gaston.

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