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New Southern Illinois Team Trail Division in 2007
By Barry Featheringill


In 2000 Illinois angler and insurance agent, Michael Black, had a dream of a bass tournament circuit that catered to Illinois anglers. Along with his wife, Penny, they started the ‘Illini Team Trail’ fishing six tournaments on Lake Shelbyville and then a Classic on a lake that the anglers chose.

The ITT (Illini Team Trail) started their first year with 55 boats and have maintained that level every year with a highest level of 85 boats while averaging in the 60’s. As with Mike and Penny when they are fishing a tournament they also work as a team in the operation of the ITT. Penny takes care of the paperwork and Mike does the marketing and getting sponsors. Mike says he operates the ITT because of his enjoyment of the sport.

The majority of the anglers who compete in the ITT are from Illinois along with some from Missouri and Indiana. With anglers vehicles showing dealer stickers from the far reaches of the State of Illinois .

The ITT, along with “Ranger Boats”, offer a fully equipped Ranger Boat as championship prize. The qualifiers for the Classic are the winners of the previous year Classic and then the top 30% of the average boat field for the season by points and then the top 10% of the average boat field for the season at the Wild Card event (second chance to qualify) after the top 30% have been identified by points. Two additional teams are determined by drawing at the Wild Card event.

In 2007 there will be a second division headed by Gene and Pat Cailey of Litchfield , Illinois . The tournaments for the Southern Division are planned to be held on Lake of Egypt , Rend Lake , and the Ohio River ( Golconda ). Gene and Pat have been tournament directors prior to joining the ITT circuit. Gene, in addition to being a tournament director, is an avid angler as well as a guide and creator/maker of ‘Mad Dog Lures’.

The addition of a second division will give anglers additional chances to qualify for the classic in 2007. Both divisions will be a stand-alone circuit up until the Classic. Anglers can fish both divisions according to Mike Black, but they can only qualify for the Classic in one. The division in which they qualify for the Classic will be determined by their highest points scoring finish in that divisions season.

The tentative dates for the Lake Shelbyville division are April 29, May 20, June 10, July 22, August 5 and August 26 with the classic to be announced at a later date. The Southern Division dates are March 25 & April 15 on Lake of Egypt (confirmed); May 13 & June 24 at Rend Lake (cannot confirm until November); and July 29 and August 19 (confirmed) on the Ohio River in Golconda, Illinois.