Zion-Benton banks big bass at stateMarist's Jim O'Neil caught one of the biggest bass of the tournament (5 pounds, 11 ounces) to help the Redhawks to a seventh-place tie after day one of the Illinois high school bass fishing state championship. | Dale Bowman ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 18, 2011 6:57PM
CARLYLE, Ill. — Tyler Cantu and Josh Stagg fished Zion-Benton back into familiar territory Friday on Carlyle Lake.
With five bass weighing a total of 9 pounds, 9 ounces, they have the Zee-Bees 1 pound, 6 ounces behind Canton on the opening day of Illinois’ third annual high school bass fishing state championship.
‘‘Very slowly and painfully,’’ Cantu said of the Zee-Bees’ method. ‘‘We caught maybe one an hour, lost a few.’’
But they boated their limit. Each team could weigh its five heaviest bass 12 inches or longer. Each boat could have two anglers fishing at any time with an adult captain/driver.
Neither Zion-Benton angler wanted to divulge more information on how they fished. Both were alternates when the Zee-Bees sent two boats to state in 2009, with one boat capturing second place. Stagg gained infamy when he landed a monster flathead while fishing below the dam in 2009 during his downtime.
On Friday, Illinois High School Association officials contacted all boats and stopped the fishing at 12:30 p.m. as heavy thunderstorms approached. Teams were instructed to seek shelter in the nearest marina. The rain arrived at 1:20 with near-continuous rolls of thunder.
It was similar to the opening day of the inaugural season when a tornadic storm shut down the tournament in the morning.
Jim O’Neil’s 5-11 bass helped put Marist in a tie for seventh with two bass weighing a total of 8-6.
‘‘I thought it was a drum at first,’’ O’Neil said.
As impressive as O’Neil’s catch was, Highland’s Taylor Wieser snagged the biggest fish of the day with a tournament-record 6-8 egg-stuffed female largemouth.
Near-record flooding on Carlyle forced the IHSA to postpone the championship from May 6-7 and spawning bass were not expected.
The postponement meant that some schools lost anglers and alternates due to various obligations. Marmion was down to one fisherman, David Thielen, but he has the Cadets in range in 11th place with two bass totaling 7-1.
Other local teams within striking distance are Minooka (13th place, 6-6) and Wheaton Warrenville South (15th, 5-13).