Carlyle bass in championship form for Illinois High School Association Bass Fishing State finals

Carlyle, Ill. — Bass good to excellent using crankbaits near the rocks.

So said the Carlyle Lake fishing report as of April 12.

Of course, by the time high school anglers hit the lake May 4-5 for the fourth annual Illinois High School Association Bass Fishing State Finals, things could change – including the nearly perfect weather central and southern Illinois has experienced.

As fishing goes, Carlyle, the state’s largest man-made body of water, has been getting rave reviews since last year’s finals, which were postponed more than a month after heavy spring rains caused dangerous high waters and flooding.

This past fall, after conducting a survey on the lake, Dan Stephenson called Carlyle the overall best lake he had ever seen.

“Carlyle Lake had one of the better bass surveys I’ve seen in my 32 years, maybe the best white bass and crappie surveys, a top 10 channel catfish and flathead survey and very good bluegill and even some sauger,” Stephenson,

DNR’s assistant fisheries chief, said. “The several years of high water in the spring have led to excellent spawns and recruitment of all species, it appears. I can’t say enough about Carlyle Lake.”

High school anglers hoping to benefit from such rave reviews of Carlyle must first qualify for the finals. More than 230 teams are scheduled to do so at sectional tournaments on 19 lakes up and down the state on April 20.

A maximum of three teams from each sectional will qualify.

All schools that qualify for the finals will have a practice day on Carlyle Lake May 3.

Canton won last year’s state championship, catching 14 pounds, 6 ounces of bass to top second place finisher Farina South Central, which caught 12 pounds, 13 ounces.

Champions in the first two years of the series were Carthage Illini West in 2010 and West Frankfort, which won the inaugural event in 2009.

With the 2009 event, Illinois became the first state in the country to sponsor a prep bass fishing tournament. Other states have since investigated following Illinois’ lead. In fact, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association recently announced that high school bass fishing will be a sanctioned sport activity starting with the 2012-13 school year.

“Not only does it seem like a natural fit, given the number of Kentuckians of all ages who enjoy fishing and the outdoors, but it also allows us to reach one more group of students who may not already participate in an extra-curricular activity and give them a chance to be a part of a team,” KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett said.

In the 2012 Illinois tournament, teams that make it to the finals at Carlyle will begin fishing at 7 a.m. on May 4, come back to the marina at 3 p.m., and have their first professional-style weigh-in at 3 p.m. The May 5 (Day Two) schedule is the same, with an awards banquet at 4:30 p.m. after the 3 p.m. weigh-in. The weigh-ins will be facilitated by FLW Outdoors at the West Access Marina.

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