By Tony Perkins
If you look around the halls of Jacksonville High School (JHS) next spring, you may see students wearing a new type of spirit wear; bass fishing is coming to JHS! The new activity will begin in January and will consist of meetings, practices, and tournaments. Tony Perkins, a seventh grade social studies teacher at Jacksonville Middle School and bass angler from Jacksonville, will coach the team. Jacob Traeger and Josh Kyle, two local anglers who are excited about the opportunity to help young people become better anglers, will assist him. Traeger is president of the Jacksonville Bass Club, the Thursday evening fishing league at Lake Jacksonville. Perkins and Kyle are also members of the club.
The Illinois High School Association has been offering bass fishing sectionals and state tournaments for 10 years. They were the first state to offer high school sanctioned bass fishing, and this year, almost 300 schools participated in 22 sectional tournaments around the state of Illinois. The top three finishers from each sectional advanced to the state tournament held at Carlyle Lake. The 66-boat field fished for two days to determine a state champion.
The JHS Bass Club will begin in January with winter meetings. During these meetings, student anglers will learn fishing techniques, explore a variety of topics related to bass fishing, and will practice casting, flipping and pitching techniques. They will also discuss tackle organization, rod and reel preparation, and focus on preparation for tournaments. When the winter weather breaks, the anglers will begin practicing on Lake Jacksonville. The club will participate in four tournaments during the latter part of March and the month of April in preparation for the sectional tournament, which is held in early May. It will take a top three finish at sectionals for student anglers to qualify for the State Tournament, which is held towards the end of May. The state tournament includes a day of practice, followed by two days of fishing. The team with the highest cumulative weight at the end of day two is crowned state champion.
In order to participate on the tournament team, students will need to provide their own rods, reels and tackle. If there is a lot of interest in the club, preference will be given to students who do not participate in other spring sports, have the equipment necessary to compete, and have experience fishing in tournament situations. Students who do not participate on the tournament team but wish to learn more about bass fishing are encouraged to attend the winter meetings.
The club will be looking for boat captains to assist the club next spring. If you enjoy bass fishing, have a boat, and would like to take a couple of high school anglers out for a day and help put them on fish, please contact Coach Perkins by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. District policy requires all boat captains to complete a background check through the school district before they will be allowed this opportunity. The process takes a couple of weeks, so it is important for the club to plan and secure boat captains early. You may volunteer for one outing, or as many as you wish.
You may follow the Jacksonville High School Bass Fishing Club on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jhsbassfishing/, on twitter at twitter.com/jhsbassfishing or for more information, you may visit their website at www.jhsbassfishing.weebly.com