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It has been an exciting couple of weeks for Illinois State High School Bass Fishing Sectionals and Finals. Since the first year of state high school competition in 2009, the field has grown from 199 schools to more than 250 schools. Some schools have been entering multiple teams.

This year’s Sectional tournaments to decide which teams would compete in the State finals were held May 1 on 22 lakes across the state. On each lake, between nine and 13 teams competed in a one-day event. The rules were fairly simple: Each boat would fish for seven hours with a six-fish limit, and the top three teams in each of the Sectionals would move on to the championship. The local Sectional was held at the Skokie Lagoons, with teams from Niles North (2), Loyola Academy, Niles West (2), Regina Dominican, New Trier and several Chicago schools competing. The top three teams to qualify for State were Niles North-Team #1, St. Patrick-Team #1 and Loyola Academy-Team #2. The winning team weighed in with 5 lbs.14 oz. of bass, nine ounces more than the second-place finishers.

Last weekend, May 15-16, the 66 teams that qualified were at Carlyle Lake in southern Illinois for the State championships. The format is similar to the Sectionals, except teams fish for two days and use the accumulated weight for the two days. The teams were allowed to “pre-fish” the lake on Thursday from 7:30 a.m. till 3:00 p.m., and then they had to be off the lake until the start of the event. After two days of hard fishing, the team from Maryville High School near Edwardsville won with over 19 pounds of bass. The closest team from the local Sectional was the Niles North team of Kevin Tong and Alex Guidarelli, who finished in 18th place. Only 42 teams weighed in fish for the tournament, and all the fish were checked and released by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources at the weigh-in site.

It is so great to see Illinois leading the way in high school sports by sanctioning competitive bass fishing, and the best news is that the sport is growing in popularity and participation. Until next time…keep a tight line.

Contact Dick at hookedonfishing@comcast.net.