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IHSA bass fishing: Opening day, opening notes

Despite the light rain and gray morning, this looks like the year when weather will have the least impact on the IHSA's state championship for bass fishing on Carlyle Lake.
Credit: Dale Bowman

CARLYLE, Ill.–As Joliet Central’s Boat No. 2 took off Friday morning on Carlyle Lake, the Steelmen’s sub Aidan Walsh said, “Catch some fish.”

That’s the idea for the Illinois High School Association’s eight state championship for high school bass fishing, held on Carlyle as has been the case all eight years.

Joliet Central qualified both of its boats this year. Boat 2 went off at No. 22; Boat 1 was No. 64.

One change this year is in the format. There are three flights. Flight 1 (boats 1-22) must be in at 3 p.m.; Flight 2 (boats 23-44) must be in 3:15 p.m.; Flight 3 (boats 45-66) must be in at 3:30 p.m.

On Saturday, Flight 3 will take off first, followed by Flight 2, then finish with Flight 1. And the return time will likewise be reversed.

Arthur held the No. 1 spot for takeoff at 7 a.m., followed by Bartlett, first of the Chicago area teams. Once again, Chicago-area teams make up 40 percent of the 66-boat field.

A light rain was falling at takeoff, but that soon stopped. This looks like the first year where there will be no weather stoppages or postponements.

Water conditions are very muddy with low visibility, though some coaches said there is some clearer water on the east side of the lake. Conditions aside, fish were caught in practice.

I think both the kids and coaches know the lake better and are becoming better at learning and teaching bass fishing.

After eight years, the takeoff goes off like clockwork. All 66 boats had launched by 7:17 a.m. Robinson was the last boat to launch, No. 66. The Maroons will be first out Saturday.

Good to see Dave Gannaway, the retired IHSA honcho who was the mover and shaker behind making Illinois the first in the world to host a state championship for bass fishing. He showed me his usual turkey photos. Yes, I was envious.

His son Dan, who runs Hooked on Fishing Park in East Peoria, and I swapped fish tales. I should probably get over some day and check the park.