Moline senior Matt Blair and junior Cameron Verbeke cast, pitched and flipped artificial lures over two grueling days into the stained water of massive 25,000-acre Carlyle Lake to take home the first IHSA bass fishing state championship won by a school in the northern portion of the state.|
The casting Maroons caught about 16 keepers during competition according to coach and boat driver Tim Albrecht. Two of those largemouth will be etched in their memories forever.
"We got off to a great start on Friday," Blair said with a wide grin. "On my second or third cast, I felt a strike, set the hook and brought in a 5-pounder! That gave both of us a lot of confidence and got us really fired up."
"We were in second place Saturday morning and knew we needed a good bag to win," Verbeke said smiling. "In the afternoon, we'd caught a limit, but one of them was a squeaker -- just over 12 pounds. Then I caught a 4-pounder which improved our bag a lot."
All 10 fish weighed-in were important -- those two sealed the deal.
Moline athletic director Todd Rosenthal was very supportive and happy for the bass champs and coaches at the welcome home trophy presentation ceremony. "See those state championship banners," he said pointing toward the ceiling of Wharton Field House. "There aren't many (now 11). These boys and their coaches have done their school and city very proud."
Many folks think of fishing as a "luck" sport. Could that be the case here? Not even close. In the six years of IHSA bass fishing, the Moline Maroons have qualified for the state finals five times --amassing finishes of second, sixth, ninth,12th and now first. How did and does that success come to be?
"This is year-round for us," Albrecht explained. "Over the winter months, we work on skills with rod and reel and the many different techniques used and needed to catch bass. Some of that in a gym and some in the swimming pool, so kids can watch and see what each lure does in the water; we do that several days each week."
This is not just a high-school win.
"We can't thank thank the community enough for all their help," co-coach Brian Prybil said. "One local company allows us to practice fish in their lake, the QCCA provides anything we ask for, the Harvester Bass Club has been very helpful as well as many local anglers with their time and equipment -- including boat use.
"We're self-funded -- we get no money from the school to help with expenses. We raise money through various events to pay for motels and meals mostly used for the state finals -- one year we had both teams qualify and had to come up with double expense money -- and the Booster Club came through for us. In fact, every time we've asked either groups, clubs, organizations, businesses for individuals or help, they've always said yes."
DNR boat safety: Checks will be held this Friday from noon to 3 p.m. Illinois Conservation Police Officers will be at the north launch ramps of Sunset Park and Marina, Rock Island, preforming courtesy boat checks. These inspections are free, tickets will not be issued and CPOs will answer any questions you may have.
Bob Groene is outdoors writer for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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