The Crusader bass fishing team started out the 2013 season last Saturday right where they left off last year – on fire. The team fished the Oak Lawn High School Invitational Tournament Saturday, October 13, on the Des Plaines and Kankakee Rivers in Wilmington, Illinois. Fifteen area schools and 49 boats participated in the tournament. Despite strong winds, cold temperatures, and heavy rains all day, the Crusader anglers stood strong, took two of the top three places, and also landed the Big Bass for the tournament.
Seniors Matt Caulfield and Jimmy Ciurej were the 1st place tournament champions, weighing in the only five fish limit of the event out of all schools. Their winning bag of live fish totaled 7.43 pounds, topping the next closest team by almost a pound and a half. Jimmy Ciurej had the Big Bass for the tournament with a nice bruiser largemouth of 2.5 pounds. The two caught their limit by 10 A.M., fishing deeper weed edges on the Des Plaines River with spinner baits. They were each awarded a winning trophy, and Ciurej also took home a limited edition framed painting donated by Bass Pro Shops and an additional trophy for winning Big Bass of the tournament.
Juniors Joe Hayes and Brendan Moriarty took 3rd place with four live fish totaling 5.90 pounds. They missed taking 2nd place by falling just a fraction over one ounce short. The two worked a variety of crank baits and finesse baits in all types of water all day long to fill their hard-earned bag of keeper fish.
Bass fishing is becoming an increasingly popular sport with Illinois high schools, and for those who participate, fishing is serious business. It is intense and non-stop – just like the professional tournaments you see on TV. The sport is co-ed statewide, but there are many all-girl and all-boy teams from schools like Brother Rice. It is a relatively young sport; the state final competition has only been around for four years, but interest is growing every year.
The 2012 tournament schedule had the most participating schools in the sport’s history, with 232 Illinois high schools sending students out to see who can catch the most fish, and 57 schools making it to the state finals. Competitive bass fishing is spreading so rapidly across the state that regional competitions may be added in the future by the IHSA. As it stands right now, there are only sectional competitions before teams are able to head to the state championship.
Students are only allowed to use artificial bait in the competition, and all fishing is done from boats. Adult boat captains are not allowed to participate in any way other than driving the boat. Students must manage their tackle, as well as land their own fish. The winning team is determined by the weight of its five largest fish. All fish are returned to the water after the weigh-in.
Fifteen members of the BR team made the Oak Lawn Tournament trip, and all made it out on the water to fish, despite the lousy weather. We added three new trophies to our growing trophy case and certainly made a statement to all participants that Brother Rice is ready for the 2013 tournament season. Great job to everyone who attended!