Former high school angler wins college qualifier

Geneseo angler wins national college qualifier

High school bass fishing has expanded throughout Illinois with many of our local schools starting new teams over the past few years.

One local angler, Hunter DeSplinter of Geneseo, has taken the next step in his fishing career and landed a huge accomplishment to go with it.

“Winning the tournament at Toledo Bend wasn’t really our goal for the week. Making the top 30 would qualify us for the National Championship was our real goal,” Hunter confessed after scoring that dramatic victory.

He and his fishing partner, Connor Choate from Toddville, Iowa, teamed up to represent the University of Wisconsin-Platteville fishing team at the college fishing event at Toledo Bend.

On tournament day, the duo made the 15-mile run to their spot and were fortunate to have it to themselves. In about an hour, they were able to boat a limit of fish and were feeling good. After a little running around the same areas, the pair upgraded several fish including a six-pound kicker.

“When we got back to the weigh-in, we were happy with our fish, but started hearing that half the teams didn’t catch any keepers, so that helped our confidence as well,” Hunter recalled. The pair finished the first day in 10th place with a haul of 15-pounds, 13-ounces.

Day 2 started with a reversing of the order during take-off and they were able to get to their spot without issue. Within 20 minutes the pair had their limit of fish and all the pressure was off.

“Having a quick limit after yesterday’s results helped us to know we were probably going to qualify for nationals as long as we continued to fish,” he continued.

The two fished diligently and around 9:30, an opportunity was given to the boys that they seized.

“I was throwing my 5XD crankbait and when I got a hit. I knew that if this was a bass, it was going to be a giant. A couple seconds later the fish jumped about 20 feet from the boat and we were panicking. The water is really clear and we could see the fish swimming sideways. I tried to force it up, probably too much, and as it hit the surface, it jumped again and Conner caught it mid-air, just as it threw the hook,” Hunter recounted….Read More