Taking a different path to All-American bass angler

Minooka’s Hunter Petrovic is following a unique route.

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Hunter Petrovic headng out to fish a Minooka Anglers Club qualifier, which he won, on Braidwood Lake. Provided

Hunter Petrovic headng out to fish a Minooka Anglers Club qualifier, which he won, on Braidwood Lake.

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Hunter Petrovic’s fishing obsession started early, but he has different sides. He plans to attend Southwestern Michigan College for its nursing program and bass-fishing team.

‘‘First time ever on the boat, I was less than a year old, couldn’t even hold a rod,’’ Petrovic said. ‘‘Actually started fishing the time I could hold a rod in my hand. As a tiny kid, I fished for bluegill, but bass are my thing.’’

Petrovic, a senior at Minooka Community High School, has come a long way since that first fishing trip with dad Brian. On May 5, Petrovic was named one of the 12 anglers on the Bassmaster High School All-American Fishing Team.

On Friday and Saturday, Petrovic will fish in his third consecutive Illinois High School Association state finals for bass fishing on Carlyle Lake. (He lost his freshman year to COVID precautions.) In June, he will try to qualify for another Bassmaster High School Championship.

His credentials for All-American include catching the biggest bass — 7 pounds, 4 ounces — during an Illinois Coaches and Students State Tournament Trail event April 23 on Clinton Lake.

He considers the Des Plaines River his home waters, but his favorite local water is Heidecke Lake.

‘‘I have caught more big bags out of there than any other lake in Illinois,’’ he said, though he loves Clinton and Lake of Egypt, too.

Many high school bass anglers despise fishing Carlyle, but Petrovic has a different take on it.

‘‘Definitely a challenging lake, but I actually like fishing tough lakes if you can find something a little different,’’ he said. ‘‘I like a grind. I like to fish slow, even right behind people. You just have to have confidence.’’

Asked what makes Petrovic different, coach David Barney said: ‘‘His work ethic, hands down. He has the hardest work ethic. He goes out there and practices to the most.’’

That fits with Petrovic’s favorite style of fishing.

‘‘Probably just slow, mainly shallow,’’ said Petrovic, who can fish all styles.

He likes frog-fishing in the summer but said: ‘‘All-time favorite? Flipping laydowns, grass or anything.’’

At the state finals, Petrovic will partner with Hayden Host.

‘‘If anything, we fish similarly, but he is much more into crankbaits,’’ Petrovic said.

I’ve interviewed many high school anglers, and Petrovic was the first to pair a nursing program with a bass-fishing team.

‘‘It’s one of the few schools that actually has a nursing program and a bass-fishing team,’’ he said.

It’s different, especially considering both parents teach: Brian at Minooka and mom Julie at Jefferson Junior High in Naperville.

‘‘Both of my aunts are nurses,’’ Petrovic explained.

But teacher influences also show up in Petrovic, who noted: ‘‘As much as I like fishing, I make sure my grades are where they are supposed to be.’’

Hunter Petrovic with a smallmouth bass caught while fishing Shell Lake in Wisconsin, where the Petrovics were fishing with Stan Tischer, founding coah of the MAC, and his son Joe, who also coached for the MAC. The Tischers influenced Petrovic’s fishing career. Provided photo

Hunter Petrovic with a smallmouth bass caught while fishing Shell Lake in Wisconsin, where the Petrovics were fishing with Stan Tischer, founding coah of the MAC, and his son Joe, who also coached for the MAC. The Tischers influenced Petrovic’s fishing career

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Fishing instructors

The Chicago Park District reposted fishing counselor positions on chicagoparkdistrict.com (deadline is Friday). Questions? Email fishing@chicagoparkdistrict.com or call 312-859-2395.

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