The good news is that the high schoolers pressed on under tough conditions Thursday and Friday to catch some bass at most sectional sites of the third Illinois High School Association bass fishing tournament; the bad news is that adult decisions put the kids in that tough spot to begin with.
The good news is some quality fish were caught under post-frontal conditions, almost-wintry conditions, in northern Illinois. Such as the 4.14-pound largemouth caught by Grant Park's Max Gossett (above) at the Wolf Lake sectional, where wicked northeast winds in the 40s came off Lake Michigan and water temperatures were 46 degrees.
The bad news is that another sectional was held at Tampier Lake, which is unsuited for a sectional. And fishermen have known and said that since year one of the tournament.
The first two years, Tampier was the worst sectional in the state. This year it was second worst simply because Skokie Lagoons was flooded, dirty and cold, and only one keeper was caught there.
What makes it totally unacceptable is that there are other options for those two sectionals. Off the top of my head I come up with three: Des Plaines Conservation Area, Lake Calumet/Cal System/Des Plaines River out of Alsip or the Western Avenue launch on the south Branch of the Chicago River.
All three of those sites would be far superior to Tampier and Skokie Lagoons as sectional sites.
Hats off to Niles North's Jeff Wu, who caught the only keeper (1 pound, 4 ounces) at Skokie Lagoons and to three kids who caught keepers at Tampier.
Click here for the sectional results already posted by the IHSA.
I will go through the Chicago-area sectionals and have a brief on Downstate at the end.
WOLF LAKE: I was there and Grant Park put on a show with five keepers and culling one. Only five other teams caught one. That's the second sectional title in three years for Grant Park coach Bill Ekhoff. Marist's Jim O'Neil caught a 2.38-pound largemouth at 8:30 a.m., then sweated it out. While Sandburg advanced to state for the third consecutive year when Khairy Atieh caught a 2.03-pound largemouth in the final hour.
SHABBONA LAKE: If must have paid off when Marmion's Brad Warland and David Thielen discussed strategy with coach Joe Large while waiting for take-off (below).
Marmion won on two keepers for 5.75 pounds. Thielen caught the first keeper early morning, then Warland caught his keeper late in the day.
Left to right, that's third-place Indian Creek, second-place Sandwich and first-place Marmion Academy.
Large sent this:
Tournament Report: The Shabbona Lake IHSA Bass Fishing Sectional was held on Thursday, April 21st. The top three teams from the sectional advance to fish in the IHSA Bass Fishing State Finals at Carlyle Lake on May 6-7. There were 21 teams competing from Aurora Central Catholic, IMSA, Marmion Academy, Batavia, Geneva, Indian Creek, Sandwich, St. Charles East, St. Charles North, West Chicago, and Wheaton Academy.
Overall, there were 12 keeper bass caught for a total weight of 24.15 pounds. The weather conditions were mostly cloudy with temperatures in the high 40s, and southeast winds increasing from calm to the 15-20 mph range at the end of the day.
Marmion Academy took 1st Place with 2 bass weighing a total of 5.75 lbs. David Thielen (Jr), from Aurora, caught the first bass (2.40 lbs) in the early morning on a plastic bait off wood structure in a cove. Brad Warland (Jr), from Naperville, caught the second bass (3.35 lbs) late in the day on a crankbait off of a main lake weedbed. The other member of Marmion's qualifying team was Alex Vaisvil (Jr) from Aurora. The Marmion team is coached by Joe Large and Scott Oesterlin. This is the second time that Marmion has advanced to the State Finals.
Indian Creek H.S. (Shabbona) took 2nd Place with 1 bass weighing 4.15 lbs. Tim Tausch (So) caught the bass on a crankbait near the spillway. This bass also took the Biggest Bass award for the tournament. Indian Creek's team also includes student Steven Urda, and is coached by Eric Schrader and Matt Orstead.
Sandwich H.S. took 3rd Place with 3 bass weighing 3.40 lbs. All three bass were caught on crankbaits off main lake weedbeds. The largest of the Sandwich bass weighed 1.50 pounds. Sandwich's team consists of Ryan Stilson, Austin Hellyer, and Kevin Huhn, and is coached by Adrian Montgomery and Tom Huhn.
In other tournament news, Batavia freshman Matt Fors caught a 40'' muskie during the tournament. Also, several other anglers lost muskie in the 35-45'' range. Overall, the cold front conditions made the fishing tough, but the anglers persevered and did a great job finding and catching the fish that they did. Thanks especially to Denny Sands and the Lakeside Bait Shop for their support and assistance with running the tournament.
LaSALLE: Nine of 10 schools caught limits. Coal City finished second and makes its second state appearance. Streator qualified both its teams and had the big fish 5.12, caught by Blake Angelico.
HEIDECKE: Joliet Central, Naperville North and Minooka advanced. Minooka made it on the basis of Jake Bryce's big bass (3.74).
BUSSE: Wheaton-Warrenville South is returning to state on the strength of Alex Bielik's 3-14 bass. Also advancing were Streamwood and Wheaton North.
CHAIN 1: Chris Duffy of Stevenson had the big fish (1.8) as Stevenson, Jacobs and St. Viator advanced.
CHAIN 2: For the second time, Zion-Benton advanced to state. Grant took first with the help of Tony Moulis' big bass of 2.1.
TAMPIER: Nichole Mara caught the big bass of 2-4 to lead one Hinsdale Central team to state. Hinsdale Central also advanced its other team. As did Stagg.
SKOKIE LAGOONS: Again congrats to Wu. But it is too bad, other schools will not have a chance to experience state.
DOWNSTATE NOTES: At Forbes, Austin Hayes of Effingham St. Anthony caught a 5.58 bass, which I think is the big one for the state. . . . Banner Marsh produced a 4.53 for Farmington's Mason Vonk. . . . Monticello qualified both teams at Shelbyville.