It was a good weekend of bass fishing for Carlyle native Josh Jackson. Jackson, 38, who now resides in Cobden, was the top co-angler in Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open No. 2 held April 20-22 at Dayton, Tennessee’s Chickamauga Lake.
Jackson caught a three-bass limit each day of the tournament and finished with nine bass for a total weight of 32 pounds, 9 ounces. With the victory, he went home with a Triton 179 TrX and a Mercury 115 four stroke boat/motor package, valued at $30,000.
Anglers from 27 states and countries competed in the three-day Southern Open.
The field of 390 pro and co-anglers was cut to 12 in each division for Saturday’s final day of competition.
Competing in the co-angler division, Jackson explained that he fished alongside pros and competed in a separate prize purse.
“We draw a random pro partner each day of the tournament with the pro fishing in front and the co-angler fishing behind him,” Jackson said.
On Thursday, the first day of competition, Jackson drew Louisiana fisherman Todd Murray and reeled in three fish totaling 9-10.
Surprisingly, on the second day, he drew his regular tournament fishing partner Luke Estel of Murphysboro, who was fishing in the pro division last weekend.
Jackson bagged 7-2 on Friday for a total two-day weight of 16-11 —just enough to put him in 12th place and secure a spot in Saturday’s championship competition.
“I was the 12th boat and 6 pounds out of the lead,” Jackson said.
“I told myself before the final day of the tournament that I needed 15 pounds to do any good, and I ended up with close to 16.”
Jackson was the second co-angler to weigh in.
“With three fish totaling 15-14, I took the leader’s chair and stayed there until the end. It was pretty neat.”
Jackson was fortunate to draw Alabama’s Justin Lucas, who fishes in the Bassmaster Elite Series — the highest level of professional bass fishing tournaments — as his partner on the final day.
However, he said, that alone didn’t secure the victory.
“I talked to Justin Lucas the night before about what he was doing and he was doing similar stuff to what I was doing,” Jackson said. “We take off at 7 a.m., and we went to fish all of his places. By 11 a.m. we had zero fish in the boat.”
Knowing they had to be off the water by 3 p.m., it was time for some major adjustments.
“I didn’t want to say anything, but then he asked me if I had anything. We went to a main river ledge where my partner and I had done well in practice. We caught 60 bass in that spot.”
While Jackson came in first place in the co-angler competition, Lucas finished 11th among the pros bringing in a three-day total weight of 45-2 (five fish limit per day). Winning the pro competition was John Cox of Debary, Florida with a three-day total of 68-3.
Jackson, who is sponsored by the lure manufacturer Strike King, said he generally fishes around 30 local tournaments a year in some of southern Illinois’ favorites fishing holes like Kinkaid Lake, Cedar Lake, Crab Orchard Lake and Lake of Egypt.
But he got his start fishing with his dad, the late Harry Jackson, on Carlyle Lake.
“I was 13 years old when I got my boater’s license,” he said.
His interest in bass fishing escalated several years ago after moving to the Carbondale area.
Today, Jackson said, he fishes two larger tournaments a year. His next tournament is the USA Bassin April 28-29 on Kentucky Lake.
Jackson said he had the opportunity to fish in the pro division at Chickamauga Lake, but the extensive travel associated with the pro circuit is not for him. Plus, he has his own construction company to keep up with.
“My wife agrees that two bigger tournaments a year is enough,” he said.
And when the end result is a $30,000 prize package, that’s even better. Still, while the new boat is impressive, Jackson said he’s going to keep his old boat.
“The new boat’s for sale,” he said.
Anyone interested in purchasing the new Triton can call Jackson at 618-527-2476.
This is not the first time Jackson has made headlines for fishing. He and Ryan Povolish of Carbondale were fishing Kinkaid Lake in late March when Povolish caught a state record crappie.
The black crappie officially weighed in at 4 pounds and 8.8 ounces, narrowly eclipsing a state record (4-8.2 set at Rend Lake) that had stood for nearly 40 years.
A little rain didn’t stop a group of volunteers from meeting at Plant Land Saturday morning to do their part for Earth Day, or at least start to do their part. Volunteers were out in full force on Saturday morning cleaning up some of the garbage that has inundated our roadways and ditches in Breese and the surrounding community.
Starting at the Plant Land parking lot, east of Breese, and equipped with gloves and garbage bags, the group of volunteers worked their way around various locations on the outskirts of the city.
The initiative was the brainchild of Allen Huelsmann of Breese who has long been an advocate for maintaining a clean, litter-free community.
“It aggravates me that I can spend 45 minutes picking up trash and other debris, and one week later the ditches are full of beer cans and Styrofoam cups,” Huelsmann said. “I think the people who came out last weekend are the people who are also tired of seeing the trash.
The Earth Day weekend cleanup continued on Sunday when a large group of 65 players, parents, family and friends turned out for a Central Boys Basketball Community Cleanup Day.
“It was a great turnout with tons of hard work, but an even better feeling walking away knowing we helped make our community look better,” said Donny Petterson, a Central basketball coach who organized the cleanup.
The weekend cleanup included the exit and entrance ramps near U.S. Route 50 in Breese, Holy Cross Lane, Breese Road, Old State Road and Drive-In Road in rural Breese; the Russland Road exit and Schumacher Road in Aviston; St. Rose Road and other locations along Old Highway 50.
The city of Breese provided a dumpster for the debris. When the weekend was over, Huelsmann said, the dumpster was full with nearly 80 large bags of trash being collected.
The important thing, Huelsmann said, is that we continue to raise awareness to put an end to the littering.
“We’re going to try the Earth Day Cleanup again next year, and with better weather, we may have a better turnout,” he said.
However, he stressed that community cleanups should not just be a one-day or one-weekend event.
For all those who were unable to take part in the Earth Day weekend, Huelsmann asks them to go out in their own neighborhood at any time “to help make our community a cleaner, greener place for all of us,” he said.
New Baden Elementary kindergartners from Mrs. Katie Mense’s class were the first to welcome Gov. Bruce Rauner inside the school early Monday afternoon as part of his #GovClassroomVisit tour.
Gov. Rauner was welcomed by signs written in chalk on the pavement, and students waving American flags and wearing T-shirts in support of the school.
Rauner toured New Baden Elementary school April 24 after Mense had submitted a video as part of the #GovClassroomVisit.
Last month, Gov. Rauner encouraged schools across the state to use digital media to submit videos illustrating unique and inspiring ways students were learning in their classrooms.
Mense, who has been teaching for 13 years at New Baden Elementary, said that Wesclin superintendent, Jennifer Filyaw, received an email from the governor’s office regarding the possibility of the governor visiting classrooms as part of a learning tour.
The email was sent to all administrators in the state.
“Mrs. Filyaw forwarded it out to all of the staff and encouraged us to enter,” she said, adding that when she first heard about it, she immediately called her buddy, Ethan Christopher.
“Ethan was a student in my very first kindergarten class 13 years ago. He is now a senior in high school,” she said.
Ethan recorded the introduction and then he worked on putting that and many other clips together for Mense. She explained that Ethan often comes in and helps her record videos for her blog/YouTube channel.
“I am constantly thinking about and looking for new, fun and innovative ways to teach my kinders,” Mense said. “I never teach the exact same way two years in a row. I teach to my kids. I always try to take their needs and interests into consideration when planning my lessons.”
She said that she likes to teach with a “lot of movement and use many different engagement strategies to help keep my kids focused and ready to learn.”
“I try to bring a whole lot of fun into my classroom! It’s important to have a developmentally appropriate program even with all of the extremely high focus on academics in kindergarten today,” she said. “I always try to remember that play is work and to make learning an adventure for my students!”
Mense sent the video to the governor’s office, which received over 100 #Gov ClassroomVisit video submissions.
Last month, the top five finalists were posted to the governor’s Facebook page and the people of Illinois voted for their favorite school — and New Baden Elementary was one of the top five schools.
“It was incredibly exciting to see the passion for learning from our teachers and students,” Gov. Rauner had said. “They put a lot of time and effort into showing Illinois how they are furthering their education, and we thank them for their enthusiasm. Originally, we had planned to have three finalists, but because we had so many great submissions, we decided to have five.”
The other four finalists were Stratford Middle School in Bloomingdale, Maine East High School in Park Ridge, Richland County Elementary School in Olney and Homewood-Flossmoor High School in Flossmoor.
Maine East High School in Park Ridge was the first stop for the #GovClassroomVisit, as they were the school with the most votes.
Rauner toured Maine East High School on April 19 and a few days later, Mense was informed that he was going to stop by New Baden Elementary School on April 24.
“We were contacted at the end of last week so we had to plan quickly,” Mense said, adding that teachers and staff at New Baden Elementary held an emergency meeting to come up with a plan.
“But, as always, our staff came together, always supportive of each other and willing to help in any way they can,” she said.
Mense said that she was always hopeful that New Baden could be a winner so Gov. Rauner could see for himself what a great school they have.
“New Baden Elementary is the most amazing school,” Mense said. “Having Governor Rauner come to our school was such an honor.”
She said that Gov. Rauner got to witness the amazing staff at New Baden Elementary, including the comradery and supportiveness that the staff gives one another.
“When you have that kind of staff, it spreads through your whole school, creating a loving and safe learning environment for the kids,” she said. “Our teachers are amazing and would do just about anything to see our students succeed.”
During the visit, New Baden Elementary Principal James Rahm welcomed Gov. Rauner to the school and Clinton County and gave him a Wesclin Warriors T-shirt (donated by Jim’s Men & Boys of Trenton) and a six-pack of cold, bottled Ski (donated by Excel Bottling Co. of Breese).
“I want to congratulate Mrs. Mense and Ethan Christopher,” Rahm said. “If not for their time and effort in creating the video, this great experience would not have been possible for our students.”
Rahm then introduced Gov. Rauner, who said that he was excited to be in southern Illinois.
“My favorite thing to do is visit schools,” Rauner said, adding that the most important job is the job of a teacher.
Students were able to ask Gov. Rauner questions, such as his favorite food (ice cream, then hamburgers, with his third favorite being pizza), where does he live and work (Springfield), how old he was (61 years old), favorite place to eat (Dairy Queen), if he arrived to school in a limo (he arrived in a black Ford Explorer with the state police for security).
However, Gov. Rauner said, at times, he likes to ride his motorcycle when the weather was nice.
Another student had asked why Illinois was so bad with money.
“We don’t balance our budgets,” he said, adding that Illinois hasn’t balanced a budget in over 30 years.
Rauner stressed that he does not receive a salary and is volunteering as a governor.
“I ran for governor as a volunteer so we can make sure we get good resources for schools and make sure we have a strong, healthy economy that is growing,” Rauner said.
Rauner said that he was most impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of the students and staff.
“The kids in Mrs. Mense’s class were so excited to learn and the classrooms are so bright and fun and cheerful, it makes learning fun,” he said.
During a short visit to Mense’s kindergarten class, Rauner listened to Mense give a lesson about “rivalry” to the students and illustrated a pie chart (of a baseball glove and jerseys) of students who liked which baseball team — Chicago Cubs or St. Louis Cardinals. Only four students liked the Cubs; the rest of the class was for the Cardinals.
As for Gov. Rauner, he chose the Cubbies!
In good spirits, Mrs. Mense and her class presented Rauner with a St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap, in which Mense signed her name for the class and Rauner said he will have the cap on display in the state capital building.
“I wanted to highlight southern Illinois’ love for the Cardinals and luckily, Gov. Rauner was a great sport,” Mense said.
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