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WORLD OUTDOORS: Riverdale wins IHSA Bass Fishing sectional
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The Riverdale High School bass fishing team, from left, Evan Verbeckmoes, Landon Dalaska, Brennan Franklin, Michael Benoit, and boat driver Jay Burrgraf will be heading to the IHSA state championship after its dominating win in last week's Pool 13 Sectional.
JEREMIAH HAAS column logo with this
Bass fishing continues to grow as a popular sport with high schoolers in Illinois as well as across the Midwest.Over the past decade, the Quad-Cities area teams have performed well in these events. Our local waters have performed well, too, as these single-day, statewide events highlight the fisheries across the state.It was a cold, windy day on the water, but that did not slow down the Riverdale High School team consisting of Michael Benoit, Landon Dalaska, Brennan Franklin and Evan Verbeckmoes as they powered through the field of anglers at the Pool 13/Spring Lake Sectional. Their five-fish limit of 17 pounds, 12 ounces beat the second-place finishers from Stillman Valley by over two pounds.“We stayed in Spring Lake for the most part flippin’ beavertails to catch our fish,” stated Jay Burrgraf, boat captain for the Rams that morning.And no good fish story is complete without “the one that got away,” and fortunately it did not cost the boys their chance at the state tournament.“We lost a couple fish early, which was frustrating for the guys," said Burrgraf, "but around 9 o'clock, we lost one at the boat which was all of 5 pounds, which was heartbreaking for them.”The largest bass brought to the scale during the event was 4 ¼ pounds, so that could have been a huge loss had they not filled their limit with other quality fish. Overall, they caught eight or nine keepers, with most of the larger fish caught in the morning.Coach Jason Benoit and the rest of the team will be heading to Carlyle Lake for the state championship May 21 and 22. They will be joined by the Moline High School team of Bennett Glessner, Dustin Goderis and Elijah Medina, along with head coach Tim Albrecht and boat driver Tim Himsl.The Moline #1 team finished third at the Lake McMaster Sectional, qualifying them for the state tournament. Moline #2, consisting of Gage Dopler and John Madison, finished fourth in the qualifier and will be also heading to state as an alternate if any of the first three teams are unable compete. In a COVID year, they should be prepared for anything.“The kids fished hard in the wind and did well in the crowded lake, catching enough fish to cull a few times,” said Albrecht. “When we won state a couple years ago, we qualified for the tournament with a third-place finish in the sectional, so maybe that’s good luck for us. I was very proud of our team as Team #2 was genuinely excited for their teammates, even though they were in third (the last spot for state) and pushed out of the automatic state qualifier. It really shows the character of the kids fishing as a team.”Another shining star for the Quad-Cities is the continuation of the Mississippi River being the dominant fishery in the state. The top 3 finishers from the Pool 13 Sectional ended up first, third and fifth for the largest limits caught in the entire state.The top bag each year is always caught out of the Mississippi River, with only a few exceptions. Many years, the top half of the Pool 13 Sectional boats would qualify for state in any other sectional when you compare the weights. Now that might be an apples to oranges comparison in regards to the anglers, but it is a no-brainer that locally, the Mississippi River is a top bass fishing destination in the state.Good luck to our local anglers at state.
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