Team coaches Jon Graber and Chris Whiteman took eight members of the
Lincoln team and four boats to the all-day event. Coaches and
members of the community loaned the team their boats.
schools put 54 boats on the water during the tournament. Each boat
had two competing students and an adult driver.
The boats launched at 7 a.m. The fishermen returned to the dock
at 3 p.m. with their catch of largemouth bass.
One important emphasis in the competitive activity is that the
fish are kept alive and well. The fish are dutifully cared for by
placing them in live wells on the boats.
After the fish were weighed and measured by officials, the catch
was then released back into the lake.
Several members of the Lincoln team scored with fish that were
longer than the required 12 inches.
The LCHS team is in its second year and is sponsored by the
Lincoln Bass Club. There is no school funding for this program. The
team has to raise money to cover the costs and does so in a variety
The team's latest project was a cleanup at Lincoln Lakes. In
return for their community service, the Lincoln Lakes Association
has made the lake available to the team for practice sessions.
Metal that was collected from the cleanup was sold and used to
fund the team's first field trip of the year, to the Bass Pro Shop
in East Peoria. They were given a personal tour of the mega sports
store by manager Jim Goff. The team has also visited Mike's Tackle
World in Decatur.
During team meetings, not only do students practice fishing
techniques; they also learn boating safety, environmental
stewardship and community service. Coaches Graber and Whiteman are
quick to point out that bass fishing is not just a strenuous
physical endeavor, but involves mental challenges as well.
[to top of second column]
The Lincoln bass team has its next tournament scheduled for
Friday at Sangchris Lake. This is an important sectional event that
will determine who gets to attend the Illinois high school
championship tournament at Carlyle Lake from May 3 to 5, an event that is run
like a professional tournament with a parade of boats and numerous
The high school bass fishing program is an Illinois High School
Association-sanctioned activity with 232 Illinois high schools
The program began during the 2008-2009 school year, and the first
statewide tournament was at Carlyle Lake in the spring of 2009.
Since then the number of schools participating in the program has
Students interested in combining academics and competitive
fishing beyond high school and wanting to stay in Illinois currently
have two options. Both the University of Illinois and Southern
Illinois University have bass fishing teams and offer scholarships
in the sport.
To follow tournament results or learn more about Illinois high
school bass fishing, go the IHSA site at
[By CURT FOX]