Southern Illinois will send an experienced bunch of anglers to the Illinois High School Bass Fishing Championship at Carlyle Lake this weekend. Five of the six teams going to state are making their second appearance in the state tournament.
Weigh-ins will be held at the Dam West Recreation Area parking lot at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Pinckneyville will be sending two teams, including last year’s runners-up, Cale Jausel and Jacob Louis. Jausel and Louis finished less than three pounds behind Moline.
Kaylee Rulevish and Grant Murphy of Pinckneyville won the Rend Lake sectional to advance to state. This is also the second appearance at state for Rulevish. She has won two sectional events, and has also won the National Hunting and Fishing Days tournament.
Not to be outdone, the Elverado team of Zach Berner and Alec Valerius placed eighth at the state meet last year. Justin Sarensen and and Nolan Waller, also of Elverado, will be making their second trip to state.
Also advancing out of the Rend Lake sectional were the Benton duo of Dailus Richardson and Trevor McKinney. They qualified for the state tournament two years ago.
Finally, the West Frankfort team of Brennon McCord and Lane McDaniel advanced from the Lake of Egypt Sectional. They also qualified last year.
“I would like to see Southern Illinois bring home one-two-three, and I don’t care if I’m one, two or three,” said Elverado fishing coach Dave DeWulf.
Carlyle Lake is a 19,000 acre lake, so experience would be a major factor.
“It’s a definite advantage for them instead of going up there cold,” said Pinckneyville coach Dennis Heape. “The more experience you have on that lake, the better off you’re going to be. It’s kind of like Rend Lake in that the north end fishes completely different than the south end. You really have to run some areas and take the temperature of the fish.”
On the other hand, the experience factor might be mitigated by water levels. Carlyle Lake is lower this spring than it has been in previous years. But, the Carlyle area received several showers this week, meaning the water levels might be rising.
“All this rain can change everything,” Heape said. “It’s pretty much going to be Cale and Louis have a pretty good idea of what they want to do. They’re pretty much going to run the same pattern they ran last year. The other two will cover some water, cover some backs and some secondaries.”
DeWulf said despite his team’s experience, appearing in the state tournament is still nerve-racking. Staying focused will be a key.
“Sticking with what they know, and that’s the same with both teams,” he said. “We’ve discussed that. We know what works for your two. Just because it doesn’t work for an hour or two, don’t give up your pattern. Just stick with it. They have to listen to their boat captains.”
This is the third time in six years Elverado has sent teams to the state tournament. The Falcons placed second in 2012.
McCord and O’Daniel are also intimately familiar with Carlyle Lake. The West Frankfort team finished fifth last year, less than five pounds behind the championship team. West Frankfort won the state’s first bass fishing championship in 2009.
While the Benton duo of Richardson and McKinney didn’t go to state last year, they have an impressive resume.
They finished second in the Bassmaster High School National Championship last summer and also win the National Hunting and Fishing Days tournament.
LAKE OF EGYPT -- Elverado's Alec Valerius and Zach Berner had the experience of advancing ou…