CARLYLE — Steamy weather, high water levels and a two-hour rain delay added up to tough fishing at the Illinois High School Association’s state bass fishing tournament at Carlyle Lake Wednesday.
The tournament had originally been scheduled for May 20-21, but was cancelled due to flooding. The Carlyle Lake is still about two-and-a-half feet over normal pool.
Although 41 teams weighed in fish, only 10 teams brought three or more fish to the scales. And, most of the fish were small.
The team of Phelps Bohlman and Cade Harris from Moline High School leads the tournament with 8 pounds, 1 ounce. Tyler Lubbat and Dominic Domian of Buffalo Grove sit in second dplace with 7 pounds, 15 ounces.
Both teams caught five fish limits.
West Frankfort’s Cole Levanti and Brendan Johnson sit in sixth place. They brought four fish to the scale that weighed in at 6 pounds, 6 ounces. However, they were penalized for having a dead fish, making their official weight 5 pounds, 14 ounces.
Even without the penalty, the West Frankfort duo would still be in sixth place.
On a brighter note, Levanti and Johnson may have stumbled onto something in the final hour of the tournament. A storm moved across the lake at about 1 p.m. Wednesday, forcing boats to take cover until 3 p.m., leaving teams just one more hour to fish.
They caught all four keepers in the same spot within that hour.
“We’re going to try to hit it again tomorrow,” Johnson said. “I think there are some big ones. It was rough today. We didn’t have really that many bites until the last hour or so after the rain delay. The morning was tough.”
West Frankfort didn’t do anything differently after the rain delay, fishing crank baits and flipping along the rip rap.
And, although Johnson knew fishing was tough for everyone, he was surprised by finishing the day in sixth place.
“I was nervous coming in here,” he said. “I’m not that nervous anymore. Everybody I talked to said it was tough. That made me more nervous, but then we came in here and weighed them in and I’m doing pretty good now.”
Crab Orchard’s Bailey Whitehead and Chase Arnold find themselves in 12th place with 3 pounds, 9 ounces. But, they are just 4 pounds, 8 ounces out of first place.
“It was really hard to get bites,” Whitehead said. “We caught two fish all day. We caught both fish before the rain delay, one early and one right before it. We were fishing fast, just trying to find bites. We didn’t get to come in until yesterday. It was just kind of a runaround today, trying to find a place we liked.”
Pinckneyville’s Corey Dahn and Kyle Kreger caught just one fish, and they caught it 15 minutes before weigh-in and about 40 yards from the boat ramp.
“At first we tried to stick to the trees and bushes,” Kreger said. “That proved it didn’t work. After the rain delay we tried a different tactic, tried to hit some rocks. It paid off in the end. We caught our fish with 15 minutes to go.”
Although the fish barely made the 12-inch limit and weighed just 15 ounces, weights were so small Wednesday they’re still in the hunt.
“We’ve caught 17 pounds in one day,” Kreger said. “Who’s to say we can’t come out and do that tomorrow.”
Other Southern Illinois teams weighing in fish were Conner Bacon and Josh Eickelman of Benton (1 pound, 6 ounces) and Tanner McFeron, Jacob Kwiatkowski and Conner Wolters of Nashville (1 pound).
The tournament concludes Thursday with a 3 p.m. weigh-in.