CARLYLE – Suppose they throw a tournament and the fish fail to show up.
The first day of the Illinois High School Association’s bass fishing championship wasn’t quite that bad, but it was close.
Just 20 of 70 boats brought fish to the scales.
“It was a tough day on the pond today for all of them,” said Elverado coach Dave DeWulf. “The weather shut them down, just flat shut them down. They had lockjaw.”
Neither of Elverado’s two teams weighed in a fish.
The Benton duo of Dailus Richardson and Trevor McKinney was the only Southern Illinois team to catch a keeper. They weighed in one fish. The four-pound, 3-ounce fish has them in 14th place.
They are still within striking distance of the title. The team of Zach Hingson and Jon Bialeschki of Arter-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond is in first place with 12 pounds, 1 ounce. They were one of two teams to weigh in a limit.
“We lost one fish early this morning, it definitely would have helped out,” Richardson said. “It was a big one. We caught that fish with about three hours left in the day. We caught probably 6-7 fish that were about four inches long. It was pretty bad.
“I just think the fish are at an awkward stage with the spawn and the water level dropping and rising.”
While a four-pound bag wouldn’t be much to talk about in most tournaments, the four pounds keeps the Rangers in contention.
“Anybody can catch a five-bass limit for 12-13 pounds and be right in this thing and win it,” McKinney said. “It was a tough day. Tomorrow (Saturday) is going to be the determining factor. If you can catch them, you can bring this thing home.”
Most anglers seemed baffled by the lack of action.
“It was pretty tough,” said Duke Jenkel, boat captain for one of Pinckneyville’s teams. “Last Saturday we fished and the lake level was 443.38 and today it was 446.8, so that’s two or three feet. We caught them good last weekend. I guess if I really knew what happened we’d have some today.
“We had six short fish today, which is pretty short when they only have to be 12 inches anyway. It wasn’t like we didn’t get a bite. It was all short fish for us. I really don’t have a good explanation for it.”
Complicating matters was a storm that blew through the Carlyle Lake area early Friday afternoon. The threatening weather forced IHSA officials to bring boats off the lake at 2 p.m., an hour earlier than scheduled.
“It didn’t matter,” said DeWulf. “Nothing was biting anyway, so get them off the lake with the weather.”
The tournament ends today. The final weigh-in is at 3 p.m. at the Dam West Recreation Area.