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CARLYLE — Experience mattered Friday, all three years of it for Elverado’s Zach Berner and Alex Valerius.

The Falcons positioned themselves well after Day 1 of the Illinois High School Association’s eighth state championship for bass fishing on Carlyle Lake. They weighed one of the six five-fish limits and were in fourth place with 9 pounds, 11 ounces. Their big bass was 2-14.

Highland Boat 2 led all teams with a limit weighing 11-15. Rochelle was close behind at 11-10 with only four bass.

The Falcons are within catching distance of them.

"Once the sun came out, we caught them later in the day,’’ Valerius said.

And this is a tournament with good weather. It will likely be the first state championship not shortened, postponed or delayed by weather.

Water conditions are another matter.

"The whole lake is dirty, you have to catch them in dirty water,’’ Berner said.

The other factor is cooler than normal water.

DuQuoin’s Hunter Behm said they found water temperatures ranging only from 63 to 67 degrees. No really big prespawn females were weighed in, the kind of bass that make the crowd ooh and aah, and the spawn appears to be lagging behind most Mays on Carlyle.

All the same, Valerius likes where they are.

"We put ourselves in a good position, a good spot,’’ he said.

Both Valerius, a senior, and Berner, a junior, said this being the third straight year they qualified for state helped. They know how the basics of the championship work and they know the lake.

Saturday, the final day of the two-day championship, is their final exam.

Behm and Cole Hopkins fished DuQuoin Boat 1 into 20th with two bass weighing 3-15.

They caught fish all day, the better fish were not bass.

"We caught some really big catfish,’’ Hopkins said.

"I had an 8-pounder and another that was probably 5 pounds,’’ Behm said. "Hopefully, we do well tomorrow, the lake changes every day.".

DuQuoin Boat 2 was 41st (1 bass, 1-10) and Christopher was 42nd (1, 1-8).

In the 66-team field, 46 teams weighed in fish, murky water and all.


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