Bass sluggish at IHSA fishing sectionals

Spring's cold temperatures and heavy rainfall wreaked havoc with bass fishing sectionals hosted by the Illinois High School Association.

At Busse Lake in Schaumburg, where 16 boats went out early Thursday morning, only four returned that afternoon — after eight hours — with any fish.

For the third year in a row, student anglers from Wheaton Warrenville South High School were named champions at the Busse Lake sectional in the bass fishing state championship series hosted by the IHSA.

Junior Alex Bielik of Wheaton caught the biggest fish of the day, a 3-pound 14-ounce bass, with just 10 minutes to go in regulation.

“It was a really, really light bite,” Bielik said. “I didn't know I had caught anything until I brought up my line.”

Bielik and his teammate, sophomore Chris Bulaw of Wheaton, also caught a 2-pound bass, making their combined catch, the largest of the day, and enough to advance to the state championships, on May 6 at Carlyle Lake in downstate Illinois.

“The fish were so cold and lethargic, you practically had to put the bait on their heads before they'd go for it,” Bulaw added.

Streamwood High School placed second, with student anglers Nick Welu and Zach Eldredge also catching two fish, for a combined weight of 4 pounds, 8 ounces, to advance to the state finals.

“We've come out here to practice,” Welu said, “and we practice at school. We go over everything from (fish) patterns to lures and rigging.”

Wheaton North High School, in their first year competing in bass fishing, placed third, to grab the third and final berth from the Busse Lake sectional, with their combined catch of 3 pounds, 12 ounces.

“We've been wanting to start a team since we were sophomores,” said senior Ryan Van Dusen of Wheaton, who teamed with senior Dan Simmons and coach Greg Chrisman in the boat. “Now that we're seniors, we finally did it. It's fun. We'd fish every day if we could.”

The Chain O' Lakes near Fox Lake, hosted two sectional competitions, though they faced the same conditions as the Busse Lake anglers. Of the 44 boats that went out, at both the north and south ends of the 44-acre lake, only 12 came back with fish.

“With the cold spring and the heavy rainfall over the last few days, it was tough conditions,” said Dan Caporusso, Hersey High School coach.

From the south end of the lake, Jacobs High School won the sectional title, followed by Stevenson and St. Viator high schools. On the north end, Grant High School took first place, followed by Zion-Benton and Alden Hebron high schools.

Also advancing was Naperville Central, whose anglers caught two fish, totaling 4 pounds, 4 ounces, at a third regional competition at Heidecke Lake in Morris.

  The starter fires off a bomb from shore to signal the start of the sectional. Bob Chwedyk/
  Chris Bulaw of Wheaton Warrenville South, armed with fishing poles and doughnuts, heads to his boat. Bob Chwedyk/
  From left, Zack Wallin, Peter Liavas and Jimmy Doerning pack their gear to head out onto Busse Lake. Bob Chwedyk/
  The Wheaton Warrenville South team loads up their boat. Bob Chwedyk/
  From left, Kamila Kroczak, Jessica Pietras, Justin Johnson and coach Mike Conroy of Immaculate Conception High School in Elmhurst, prepare to head out. Bob Chwedyk/
  From left, Kyle Schingoethe, coach Bob Wozniak and Kyle Casper of Lake Park High School head out onto Busse Lake. Bob Chwedyk/
  From left, Patrick Lucarz, Tom Caruso, driver, and George Hozan of Maine West in Des Plaines work the shoreline of Busse Lake. Bob Chwedyk/
Streamwood anglers Zach Eldredge, left and Nick Welu, display their prize catches Thursday. Laura Anchor/Cook County Forest Preserve District
Third year in a row! The Wheaton Warrenville South team takes a moment to enjoy winning the Busse Lake sectional to advance to the state finals. Laura Anchor/Cook County Forest Preserve District