High school bass final to select its host lake
Carlyle, Ill. - Carlyle Lake has been placed on the very short list of finalists to host the Illinois High School Association's first Bass Fishing State Series finals, which are scheduled for May 2009.
Dave Gannaway, assistant executive director with the IHSA, said he expects the IHSA board to select a site for the state final at its Oct. 15 board meeting. The site will be determined on the basis of fish population, docking and parking facilities as well as viewing areas.
"We're not going to say any one place has a better opportunity than anyone else," Gannaway said. "There are going to be some things some lakes probably can't handle because of what you're going to need to have a two-day tournament."
As of mid-September, the only other formal meeting Gannaway had regarding a state finals site was with Shelbyville, which has Lake Shelbyville. He said a meeting was scheduled with Ina city leaders about the use of Rend Lake in Jefferson County.
Gannaway said he had phone conversations with city officials from Springfield (Lake Springfield, Sangchris Lake), Peoria (Illinois River, Banner Marsh State Fish and Wildlife Area), and Danville (Lake Vermilion).
Gannaway met with Carlyle city leaders earlier this month in a fact-finding mission about the possibility of the city placing a bid to host the landmark state tournament - the only one of its kind in the nation - on Illinois' largest man-made lake.
Carlyle was given until Oct. 1 to formally submit a bid to host the state tournament, which will be held May 8-9, 2009.
"We have to get the state finals site solidified, because there's a lot of work I have to do with that site between now and the course of next May," Gannaway said.
Structure for the fishing tournament is still taking shape. Schools can enter two teams, composed of three students each, in the state championship series. Students will not be allowed to operate the outboard motors, a school representative must do that.
A few other details have been nailed down, but to date, a lot of questions remain. For instance, how many schools will participate? Where will sectionals be held?
"We don't know," Gannaway said. "I would say we're estimating between 200 to 300 schools are going to end up with a team entered. That would be a good number for the first year. There is a huge interest out there."
Schools have until Nov. 1 to commit to the state tournament series. The number of sectionals, and the location of sectionals, will be determined after Nov. 1.
"We'll have to end up looking at eight to 14 sectionals depending on the number of teams we have," Gannaway said. "We'll have to look at the number of boats you can put on a lake. We're probably looking at no more than 25 to 30 boats at a sectional. We'll try to keep the number of boats between 40 to 50 in the state finals."
However, there are still a lot of unresolved issues.
Chad Morgenthaler, a professional bass fisherman from Coulterville, has been coaching Pinckneyville High School's fishing club the last two years. He said there is still a lack of basic information.
Morgenthaler is the vice president of the Professional Anglers Association. He said several schools from the northern part of the state have contacted the PAA seeking help in obtaining boats and other equipment.
Morgenthaler said schools in Benton, Carterville and Du Quoin have asked him about the requirements to field a team. At this point, he doesn't know of any school, including Pinckneyville, that has committed to the tournament.
Pinckneyville athletic director Greg Hale said Pinckneyville has decided to participate. However, he said the state tournament dates conflict with graduation, so the Panthers may have to withdraw.
"It's happening too fast," Morgenthaler said. "How about doing a feasibility study and finding out what kind of numbers would be interested?"
He's afraid the uncertainty surrounding the series could have ill effects.
"The biggest concern I have with someone starting a program that doesn't have the format and the instructors lined out and educated in every aspect of the event is that the kids will be disappointed with the program," Morgenthaler said.
Les Winkeler contributed to this report.