Monday, April 16, 2012
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LCHS students join others hanging the sign 'Gone fishing!'

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[April 16, 2012]  On April 1, the Lincoln Community High School's bass fishing team competed in its first tournament of the year. The tournament was at Clinton Lake and was sponsored by the University of Illinois Bass Club.

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.

Area high 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 of ways.

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.

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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 onshore activities.

The high school bass fishing program is an Illinois High School Association-sanctioned activity with 232 Illinois high schools participating.

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 continually grown.

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


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