Mt. Vernon, IL, 6/4/11 – The inaugural Student Angler Federation Illinois High School Fishing State Championship was held June 4 at Rend Lake, Mt. Vernon, Illinois, at the Marcum South Boat Ramp. The state championship was a two person team event for students in grades 9 -12. It was open for all high school anglers and their “coach,” who provided provide the boat they competed in. Together, the teams can bring in a 5 bass limit between the two anglers.
Meridian High School Hawks Anglers Jacob Brown and Kyle Gates were victorious and were named the 2011 SAF Illinois High School Fishing State Champions. Together, they brought in a limit of 5 bass that weighed 12.47 lbs. “Early in the morning, we started off trying to flip the brush and it was going a little slow for us, so we went out deeper and started Carolina Riggin’ the flooded points and that’s where we caught most of our fish at the end of the day,” Gates stated. The anglers culled about 15 fish and kept their heaviest five. For bringing in 5 fish that were alive, the team won a bag of baits with TBF Sponsor Berkley’s program called ‘Five Alive’.
Crab Orchard High School anglers Ben Westrich and Collin Basham finished in second place with also a limit of bass that weighed 9.04 lbs. The team was awarded with a Berkley bag of baits with the ‘Five Alive’ program as well. This team also competed against nearly 80 teams in the 2011 Murray State Open in Kentucky that was held in April. They finished in second place overall, winning them a $1,000 scholarship to Murray State. The team finished that tournament with a limit of fish that weighed 14-11.
Westrich and Basham were also the State Championship tournament’s Certified Angler Team winners. By completing the online quiz and presenting their completion certificate at registration, the team was awarded extra prizes for completing the angler testing component.
A unique feature of an SAF sanctioned event such as this is the “angler testing” component. Anglers were given the opportunity to take a free online test at HighSchoolFishing.org about boater safety, conservation and angler ethics, which made them eligible for contingency awards at their state championship. “It’s an industry first by TBF and a tremendous way to emphasize the importance of education to these student anglers,” TBF Youth Director Mark Gintert commented. “The Federation is driven by our desire to promote education through fishing and the testing component is designed to do exactly that. Put this package together with our partnership with FLW Outdoors and the sky is the limit. These young anglers will have opportunities unlike anything the industry has ever seen.”
Fellow Crab Orchard High School anglers Hunter Arnold and Luke White took third place, bringing in 4 bass that weighed 6.44 lbs.
The state champions will advance to an FLW Outdoors/TBF High School Fishing Regional Championship held in conjunction with a National Guard FLW College Fishing Regional Championship hosted on a college campus this fall. They will receive travel allowances to help offset expenses and use of a Ranger boat for the event. The winners from each regional will advance to the FLW Outdoors/TBF High School Fishing National Championship held on a college campus in conjunction with the National Guard FLW College Fishing National Championship in the Spring of 2012. National Champions will each receive a $5,000 scholarship to use at the university of their choice.
All teams who entered and competed at this event qualify for the largest event in high school fishing, the 2011 High School Fishing World Finals, July 18-23 in Russellville, Ark. (at no extra cost), to compete for thousands in college scholarships and prizes. Additionally, it is open to any and all high school fishing teams who would like to come and compete. If you are not SAF members, you will just need to pay a $50 team entry fee. For more information regarding the 2011 HSFWF, please visit our HS Fishing World Finals page on HighSchoolFishing.org.
TBF and SAF would like to thank the Illinois Bass Federation, Director of the Mt. Vernon Convention and Visitors Bureau, Bonnie Jerdon and all the volunteers who helped make this event happen. And a huge thank you to all the parents, mentors, teachers, coaches and boat captains for getting your students involved with high school fishing! Thank you all! We couldn’t do this without you.