IL: High school fishing finals continue growth

Bloomington, Ill. – Organizers of the 2011 High School Bass
Fishing Finals say they are “right on the edge” of adding a 20th
sectional to this spring’s event.

“We’ve been wrestling with it a lot, but the way the numbers
look now – and where the 19 sectional lakes are located – will
allow us to keep it at 19,” Illinois High School Association
Administrator Kurt Gibson said. “That could change if we get a
flurry of new schools signing up in the next month or so.”

This will be the third year of the fishing finals, an event
pioneered by the IHSA and Illinois.

Another record field is expected for the April 21-22 sectionals,
which lead to the May 6-7 state finals at Carlyle Lake.

As of Jan. 5, 232 schools had registered. The inaugural event
had 199 schools in 2009, while 22 competed in 2010.

Gibson, who replaced the retired Dave Gannaway as IHSA’s point
person on the fishing event, said the growth of the tournament has
been steady.

“Best of all, it’s been statewide,” he said. “We gain new
schools but they are from all regions of the state.”

Few changes are planned for the 2011 tournament. Fans who can’t
make it to Carlyle for the finals are expected to be treated to
live online broadcasts of the weigh-ins at IHSA.org.

Those who make it to the lake are likely to find video boards
displaying leaders.

As far as rule changes for 2011, one bans “hole sitting,” where
non-competitors sit in boats over prime fishing spots and hold them
for certain schools.

Gibson said the IHSA advisory committee approved the ban after a
few instances of “hole sitting” at some sectionals this year.

Other rule changes:

n Participants must stay completely in the boat unless they are
using an authorized rest room facility, are back at the dock
switching participants, or due to some other emergency or
malfunction. If an emergency or malfunction occurs, the participant
must contact the local manager or his/her designee prior to leaving
the boat.

n Any transfer of fish from one live well to a different live
well in another boat due to malfunction must be made in the
presence of the local manager or his/her designee.

n Once competition is under way, anglers may not obtain fishing
patterns or locations from non-competitors, follow a
non-competitor’s boat. In addition, non-competitors may not place
markers for contestants. All of these acts are prohibited and will
result in the immediate disqualification of the boat.

n School uniforms must be worn during competition. School
uniforms can only have the school name and/or logo and the
student’s name on them. Any sponsorship the school has secured
cannot be displayed on the uniforms or on the coach/driver of the
boat. Sponsorship logos may be displayed on the boats that are in
the tournament.

The 2010 state high school bass fishing tournament, also held at
Carlyle Lake was won by Illini West High School of Carthage. West
Frankfort High School won the inaugural event in 2009.

As for his settling into the position he assumed after
Gannaway’s retirement, Gibson said things have gone pretty
smoothly. He is expecting a few more schools to sign up for the
tournament.

“The people here at IHSA, DNR, the people in Carlyle and all the
schools have made it pretty easy,” he said. “I don’t profess to
have the kind of outdoors knowledge that Dave had, but it would be
hard to mess things up with the way everyone is working
together.”

He said he hopes to have sectional lakes posted by the middle of
February and does not expect any changes to the list of the 19
lakes that hosted sectionals in 2010. He also hopes to release team
assignments earlier than in the past, possibly in early March.

“That way, if the weather breaks and the schools know where they
are going to fish, they can begin to practice and learn the lake,”
Gibson said.

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