While other downstate lakes were not allowing fishing tournaments, Lake Shelbyville has been reeling them in.
Jeremy Logan of the US Army Corps of Engineers said they have had five or six tournaments. The first one was May 9.
"We had USA Bass and the others have been smaller local club tournaments," Logan said. "We are getting quite a few planned and have had several call just in the last couple of days. We are proceeding."
Logan said that they got the O.K. from the St. Louis District of the US Army Corps of Engineers.
"They left it up to each host lake to decide," Logan said. "The tournament have to get a federal and a state permit. We ask them to practice social distancing and CDC guidelines. They all have had their own plans."
The Illini Team Trail Bass Tournaments, that began on Lake Shelbyville 20 years ago, will be back on Sunday, May 31.
According to Sean Viernum the tour owner, they faced some challenges this year. The first obstacle was that the State of Illinois was going to require the tour give up 10% of their profits as a fee for being located at Eagle Creek State Park Boat Ramp on state ground.
So, the Illini Team Trail changed their location for the Lake Shelbyville events to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the 9th Street Boat Ramp. They did that last fall and their first event at Lake Shelbyville is on May 31.
The second obstacle was the COVID-19 pandemic that shut events down. Viernum checked back, recently, with the USACE at Lake Shelbyville and since the COVID-19 restrictions were set to end on May 30, the Illini Team Trail event at Lake Shelbyville could continue.
Viernum said that was interesting since other USACE properties, like Rend Lake and Lake Carlyle were not allowing tournaments.
Viernum also said he had to submit a plan to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).
"They asked for detailed protocols," Viernum said. "In 24 hours they came back with a 'yes.' We are sending out teams in 10 boat flights at different times.
Last week, at Lake of Egypt they had 75 boats. A good tournament day in the past would have maybe 50 boats.
"Everybody is ready to fish," Viernum said.
The "Buddy Bass" tournament already uses the two person per boat limit imposed by the state.
The tourney will be taking off from and returning to the 9th Street Boat Ramp, as well as having their weigh-in there.
It may be a busy day for people in town wanting to get out and do a variety of activities. However, the weigh-in would be fascinating to see for those not familiar with bass tournaments. Watching them weigh bag after bag of Big Bass is a sight.
Viernum said the weigh-in will begin at 2 p.m. at the 9th Street Boat Ramp and will run for an hour or so, before the winners are announced.
Last weekend, May 16, the first of 12 qualifying events was held at Lake of Egypt. A record 75 boats competed for the prize. The winners were the original founders of the tour, Mike and Penny Black.
The Black's caught the limit of 4 fish, weighing in at 13.68 pounds. Their biggest catch was the Big Bass of the day, almost 5 pounds (4.87 lbs). They earned the 100 points for 1st place. Brett and Mike Anderson, the 2019 Classic Champions placed 7th with a weight of 10.03 pounds
Mike Black of Toledo started the Illini Buddy Bass Team Trail years ago at Lake Shelbyville. The Black's retired and sold the tour in 2012. Eventually, it grew into two divisions, a Northern Division at Lake Shelbyville and a Southern Division at a variety of lakes.
After a few years (2016), Sean Viernum, who had run some of the ITT tournaments, and his wife Lisa, became the new owners of Illini Team Trail.
The Blacks continued to fish the tournament after they sold it and, obviously, after winning last week against 74 other boats, they remain competitive.
May 16 -- Top 15 Teams
1. Mike Black/Penny Black 4 fish, 13.68 lbs, BBass 4.67 lbs, Pts 100
2. Rick Williams/Tom Henitz 4 fish, 12.52 lbs, BBass 3.43 lbs, Pts 99
3. Glenn Dalton/Rusty Rosenthal 4 fish, 12.37 lbs, BBass -, Pts 98
4. Jake Hurst/Travis Little 4 fish, 11.99 lbs, BBass 4.41, Pts 97
5. Vernon Williams/Billy Dean 4 fish, 10.96 lbs, BBass 3.57 lbs, Pts 96
6. Cole Jezek/Ben Nation 4 fish, 10.23 lbs, BBass -- , Pts 95
7. Brett Anderson/Mike Anderson 4 fish, 10.03 lbs, BBass -- , Pts 94
8. Jason Ryan/Mike Ryan 4 fish, 9.98 lbs, BBass -- , Pts 93
9. JT Russell/Brock Wilke 4 fish, 9.85 lbs, BBass -- , Pts 92
10. Alex Kile/Kyle Hopper 4 fish, 9.69 lbs, BBass 3.28 lbs, Pts 91
11. Caleb Middleton/Mark Rutand 4 fish, 9.63 lbs, BBass -- , Pts 90
12. Eric Niswonger/Adam Eggertsen 4 fish, 9.54 lbs (Penalty 1.00), Pts 89
13. Dylan Rice/Calob Mayfield 4 fish, 9.51 lbs, BBass -- , Pts 88
14. Keith Cloe/Chuck Gardner 4 fish, 9.47 lbs, BBass -- , Pts 87
15. Bill Walker/Jo Jo Johnson 4 fish, 9.45 lbs, BBass -- , Pts 86
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