Zach Berner (left) and Alec Valerius of Elverado High School won the IHSA Lake of Egypt Sectional on May 6, and captured the state title on Saturday at Carlyle Lake. 

CARLYLE — Elverado’s Zach Berner and Alec Valerius earned this title

In dominating fashion, they won the Illinois High School Association’s eighth state championship for bass fishing on Carlyle Lake on Saturday with 21 pounds, 5 ounces. They caught five-fish limits both days, including 11-10 on Day 2, the second biggest bag on Saturday.

To give an idea how commanding their victory was, Highland Boat 2 was second with 14-15.

"They had six keepers, all before noon,’’ boat driver and Zach’s dad, Greg Berner, said.

Zach Berner said they were using squarebill crankbaits, flipping blue and black jigs and throwing Lunker Lure spinner baits.

The senior and his junior teammate Berner had made state three years in a row, which included an eighth two years ago on their first trip to Carlyle.

Christopher juniors Derek Mueller and Luke Garver weighed in the biggest bag of the day (11-14) to make the biggest jump of the tournament from 42nd to sixth with a two-day total of 13-6.

That included a big bass of 4 pounds. The big bass of the day and for the tournament (4-14) was caught by Sandwich’s Chris Thompson.

Mueller and Garver said they were throwing spinner baits.

Hunter Behm and Cole Hopkins of DuQuoin Boat 1 only weighed one fish, but it was a good one at 3-14, caught only 20 minutes before weigh-in. That gave them 21st place (7-9). They were casting spinner baits and squarebill crankbaits.

Water conditions remained challenging, murky and cooler than normal for May in the generally in the mid-60s, but more big prespawn females came across the stage Saturday, whether from the sunny weather or a sign they were coming shallow.

DuQuoin Boat 2 finished 53rd (1-10).

Of note, this was the first state championship where weather did not delay, shorten or postpone the fishing.


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