CARTERVILLE — Tyson Shoot carried a big bag of fish to the scales at Saturday’s 23rd Midwest Bass Classic at Crab Orchard Lake. But, he wasn’t convinced it was the winning bag.

“No,” he said, pausing and shaking his head for emphasis. “No, maybe from fifth through tenth. There are some good fishermen on this lake, year in and year out.

“I really thought it would take 24-25 pounds with the conditions we had though. You put 70 boats on this lake … There’s a lot of dead water on this lake.”

It turns out Shoot had reason to be concerned.

He and teammate Hunter Grounds’ five-fish limit tipped the scales at 19.57 pounds, but that was barely enough to get past Mark and Gabe Jelley. The runners-up had 19.28 pounds. In fact, less than three pounds separated the top five spots.

Shoot and Grounds helped themselves by catching a 6.67 kicker fish that claimed big bass honors. Shoot caught the fish early on a ChatterBait.

“It started off pretty good,” Shoot said. “We had our best three in the first couple hours. It just kind of went dead for a little bit. We tried something a little bit different and it didn’t work out. We went back to what we were doing and started catching fish again.”

Seven of the 71 boats in the event weighed in limits. But, at least for the winners, there wasn’t a lot of culling going on.

“We had six good bites all day,” Shoot said. “We lost one good one.”

The winners fished jigs and ChatterBaits throughout the day, concentrating on windswept rip rap areas.

“We just came out here and fished the same old stuff we always fish,” Shoot said. “These fish are on the same things every year. It’s just a matter of getting some to bite.”

They earned $3,000 for their first place finish and another $700 for big bass.

Rounding out the top five were Dan Shoraga and Chad Spence. They finished third with 18.70 pounds. Austin and Matt Swalls were fourth at 17.86 pounds. Tim and Kevin Whitecotton were fifth with 16.94 pounds.

The 71 boats brought 113 bass to the scales. The total weight was 396 pounds, or an average of 3.5 pounds per fish.

Anglers had to battle the rain most of the afternoon.

“Not until about 11 a.m.,” Shoot said “It sprinkled all morning until about then and then it just opened up for about an hour. Then it quit and just sprinkled the rest of the day.”

The tournament is a fundraiser for the Southern Illinois Celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Days. The event is held at John A. Logan College in Carterville. This year’s event will be Sept. 24-25.

les.winkeler@thesouthern.com / 618-351-5088 / On Twitter @LesWinkeler

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Sports editor

Les Winkeler is sports editor and outdoors writer for The Southern Illinoisan.

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