CARTERVILLE — The Pinckneyville team of Corey Dahn and Kyle Kreger won the seventh annual Crab Orchard Refuge High School Bass Classic by almost two pounds on the first day of the Southern Illinois Hunting & Fishing Days, hosted by John A. Logan College on Saturday.
"We went all around the lake and started out pretty strong, having the full limit of about 10 pounds by 8 o'clock," Kreger, a junior at PCHS, said. "We caught probably 12 today and culled seven. They were all about the same size, so it was hard to tell which one was the biggest. The best area for us on the south end of the lake. We used frogs, shaky heads and we pitched a little bit."
Dahn and Kreger hauled in the five fish limit for a whopping 16.80 pounds to easily beat the second place team of Cody Miles and Jordan Bowlin from Benton (15.03 pounds).
"It started off hot and stayed hot, but we had a good day," Dahn, a senior, said. "We caught fish all day just fishing like we always fish. This is our second year in this tournament and we didn't do too well last year. Our other team won last year. One graduated and the one that returned pulled in the second biggest bass."
There were a total of 10 teams out the of 36 boat field that finished with over 10 pounds. The haul came in at 158 fish for a grand total of 287.14 pounds.
Zack Liddell from Carterville won the Big Bass Award with a 5.35 pound whopper, edging out Grant Murphy from Pinckneyville by two-tenths of a pound. Ziddell's weekend got off to a great start Friday with the Lions football team, for which he plays offensive tackle, knocking off previously undefeated Anna-Jonesboro.
"I caught this fish at 12:30 and the tournament ended at 1 o'clock," Liddell said. "Once I set the hook I definitely knew it was a good one, but I didn't know it was good enough to be big bass. I won't tell you where exactly I caught the fish, but it was in a new spot we've never fished before. It was just kind of a spur of the moment thing."
The boats hit the water at 6:30 a.m. and had six and a half hours to catch the limit of five fish. Each boat was limited to two people and the catch was limited to no more than three fish per angler.
Twenty-six of the boats caught the limit, with two boats finishing with four, six with three, one with two and one boat that failed to catch a keeper.
"2010 was the first year we've kicked off this tournament and it has grew quite a bit," said Neil Vincent, Visitor's Service Manager at the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. "It has doubled in size and this year had 40 teams sign up and 36 show up. It could have been a little bit cooler, but it was a good day for fishing."
Caleb Murley and Luke Clark from Goreville (12.08) finished third, followed by Baily Whitehead and Chase Arnold from Crab Orchard (11.78), and Zack Liddell and Kaden Hundley from Carterville (11.40) for the top five.
Rounding out the top 10 teams were Michael Spiller and Griffin Kerley from Benton (11.34), McKager Ferrel and Levi Vinson from Crab Orchard (11.14), Grant Murphy and Chase Fulkerson from Pinckneyville (11.33), Luke Garver and Derek Mueller from Christopher (10.07) and Zack Berner and Tyler Hawk from Elverado (10.01).
The team of Murphy and Fulkerson was the only team in the top 23 that didn't catch the limit, finishing with four fish that averaged 2.83 pounds each. The average weight of the 158 fish caught was 1.82 lbs.
During the weigh-in, Berner and Hawk were awarded a check for $250 on behalf of Elverado High School from the Youth Outdoor Education Foundation in recognition of the Falcons high school team winning the IHSA 2015 Bass Fishing State Tournament.