Archive for September, 2008
Bass fishing catching on as high school sport
Students getting hooked as Illinois is 1st state to adopt angling as a secondary school activity By Emma Graves Fitzsimmons | Chicago Tribune reporter
September 27, 2008
Brian McDonald understands why people snicker at the mention of Vernon Hills High School’s new bass fishing team.
Even McDonald, the school’s athletic director, has trouble promoting the coming Cougar Bass Fishing Classic tournament without cracking a smile.
“I’m still trying to say it with a straight face,” he said. “To put bass fishing out there as a sport, it makes people chuckle a little.”
But students across the state are casting out lines in search of a big catch now that Illinois has become the first state in the country to adopt bass fishing as a high school sport. Teams have formed at more than 60 schools, and a state championship will be held this spring.
Coaches acknowledge bass fishing is viewed more as a low-key hobby for older men in khaki vests and floppy hats than as a competitive sport for teenagers. They too have been surprised by the enthusiasm among students. At Oak Lawn Community High School, an after-school meeting to gauge interest last spring drew 50 students.
Bass fishing attracts some students who might not otherwise be involved in athletics and teaches them about conservation, coaches say. It also provides opportunities for parents and children to spend time together, lots of time—say, 8 hours in a boat.That’s the major appeal of fishing for Sarah Warner, a Vernon Hills senior, who will join her team in its first tournament Wednesday against Libertyville High School at Independence Grove Forest Preserve near Libertyville.
“It’s a good time for us to talk and bond,” she said of fishing trips with her dad. “We go up to my uncle’s lake house in Wisconsin and bring food and music.”
The high schools are catching on to a larger trend. Bass fishing has become a multibillion-dollar industry with magazines, television shows and clubs dedicated to the sport. A collegiate championship has been around since 2006, and professional tournaments dole out prizes of up to $1 million.
The Illinois High School Association voted last year to add bass fishing to its official list of 35 sanctioned sports and activities. Officials expect at least 100 schools will join the spring tournament. Teams can sign up until Nov. 1.
“We were looking for some other activities that could get kids involved,” said Dave Gannaway, IHSA assistant executive director. “We thought we could get at a whole different group of kids with this.”
At the two-day bass fishing state championship in May, students will be on the water for at least 5 hours each day. The winner will be determined by the total weight of their five best fish.
In the winter when students can’t fish, they will study the contour, water temperature and clarity of lakes to determine the best places to fish. “This fits in with other curriculum areas: the sciences, math, ecology,” Gannaway said.
Oak Lawn Community High School athletic director Pat Keeley doesn’t fish, but he has been learning about the sport since his school started a team. He never knew there were so many fishing spots nearby, such as forest preserve lakes and the Des Plaines and Cal-Sag waterways. The club will do cleanup projects and build fish cribs in the forest preserves.
“Fishers take the conservation aspect pretty seriously,” Keeley said. “Otherwise, their sport goes away.”
The Oak Lawn school board voted last week to add a bass fishing club mostly in order to recruit more students to after-school programs. Research shows involvement can boost academic performance, school officials noted.
“The bottom line is, it’s an opportunity to reach out to students who are not involved in traditional sports,” Keeley said. “We’re interested in anything that gets kids involved.”
Craig Warner, whose daughter, Sarah, joined the Vernon Hills team, is thrilled he can now root for her at a school event.
“Everybody else gets to watch their kid at football games,” he said. “Finally this is something she can do, and of course, dad will be sitting right there.”
On Thursday, students practiced shoreline fishing during a regular physical education class at a pond on the Vernon Hills campus. Coaches incorporate fishing into class periodically to build interest and recruit students while giving team members a chance to practice.
The teenagers were catching only water plants until 17-year-old Sarah Manning squealed with delight. She pulled a small fish from the water before it quickly dropped back into the pond.
“It’s OK, I’ll get another one,” she yelled to the coach before casting her line again.
Coach Jerry Miceli drove a golf cart around the pond passing out live worms and fake maggots for bait. He said they want to reach students such as Dan O’Roark, a 16-year-old who isn’t involved in other athletic teams this fall.
“Fishing is for everyone,” O’Roark said. “It’s nice to be out by yourself—no cities, no cars. It’s just peaceful.”
Miceli tells students fishing is something women and men can do their whole lives. Meanwhile, like everyone else, he defends the decision to start a team.
“All my buddies are busting my chops,” Miceli said. “They say, ‘you’re coaching fishing?’ I still can’t believe how many kids want to get involved.”
All Winners, No Whiners
The Fox Lake Fishing tournament was definitely not a bust even though the weather tried to keep us all at bay. We ended up with 20 die-hard fishermen showing up, we were expecting around 60-70 anglers but I’m sure some people were home bailing their basements instead of thinking about fishing as the remnants of hurricane Ike swept through the area over the weekend.
But 20 brave souls still showed up, all donned in rain gear and ready to fish their hearts out at 6:00 in the morning on Sunday at Baja Benny’s It was drizzling as they were registering and launching their boats, we filled them up with hot coffee and doughnuts brought by Dia the owner of Baja’s. Around 9:00 AM a cold front swept in with the rain coming down hard and the waves were kicking up into whitecaps. Most everyone stayed out all day till the weigh in at 1:00, a few of them anchored their boats under a few bridges, riding out the worst of the bad weather.
The good thing though was that the fish were biting and reports of a few of the larger catches were being called in so everyone was excited and waiting for the boats to come in. There was a winner in every category with a cash prize of $200 each and lots of great raffle prizes. Here’s some pictures of the winners, our hats are off to them for the guts and determination they all had to stay out there all day fishing in the tail of the hurricane.
Robert Alsup also known as Slipbob on the Forum snagged the Catfish category with this great pair of cats, the largest being 25 3/4″.
Lincoln Buchanan with his 17″ Walleye Tournament Winner.
Mike McCollum, my brother in law won the Bass category with a 16″ Lunker Largemouth I guess that proves that fishing runs in our family. You can find him on the forum as Southern Buck Mike was quick to get his winning Bass back in the water, so quick I failed to get a picture of it. If anyone else happened to get a shot of it please upload it to our fishing gallery.
Pete Sinkovits collecting $200 for his 6lb 9oz heap of Panfish shown above.
Many thanks to all of our sponsors and the hard core fishermen of Chain O Lakes to make this day a great one! We’re looking forward to our next get together already.
More pictures on the forum, and our fishing gallery, it’s there to share so add any photos you may have of the tournament also.
Rain has been a good thing. Conditions are ideal, particularly for early September.
Although you might think that lovely sunny weather is the best sort to fish in, not so: fish don’t respond so well. The best sort of weather is warm, overcast with a slight wind. In hot weather fish often seem to stay away from bait and get more sluggish, that’s why fishing either in the morning before eight or after six in the afternoon gets better results. “Above 30 inches on the barometer and fish just don’t seem to respond to the bait as well”So here’s what we got
Water temps in the 60’sWater level rising
Current now starting to flow
Winds 15 mph +
Overcast in the morning maybe a few light showers clearing more towards afternoon
You can not get a better fishing conditions than this So if you’re a fisherman that is not afraid of a little rain
Then come out tomorrow to our fox lake fishing tournament
I cant wait to see the monsters that will be brought in tomorrow afternoon
By our diehard fisherman . lake county news sun will be their to take pics of
The winning fish . Also we have over $1500 in raffle prizes to give away from all of our sponsors . I really hope you don’t let a little rain scare you away from a exciting event
I got this off weather.com
Early morning only showing a 10 to 20% chance of rain
By weigh in up to a 50% chance of light rain
|64°F||20%||60°F||87%||From WNW 8 mph|
|66°F||30%||59°F||78%||From NW 9 mph|
|1 pm||Few Showers
|69°F||50%||59°F||78%||From NW 13 mph|
also chain o lakes sports in fox lake will be open at 4:30 am sept 14th if you need bait or stickers
and cjsmith will be open at 5 am for bait on sept 14th