Steve Kumke, of Belleville, has always been an excellent fisherman, but this year he outdid himself.
He won the club championships of both the Illinois Bass Anglers Association and the Mid State Bass Anglers. Kumke is a member of both clubs.
Kumke won both tournaments at Lake of Egypt, Rend Lake and Lake Shelbyville, topping it all off by winning the IBAA Classic on Crab Orchard Lake. In the IBAA, his catch weighed in at over 94 pounds for the eight tournaments. He also qualified for the FLW's Everstart National Championship in Monroe, La.
Kumke works at Don's Repair in Belleville. He and wife, Bobbi, whom he met while on a fishing trip, travel to most tournaments and pre-fish together. He credits her support for much of his fishing success.
Kumke said seasonal patterns -- where the bass might be depending on time of the year, water temperatures, etc. --clue him in to what's happening on any lake. Because of his many years of experience on the water, his instincts also play a large part in locating bass and in selecting what lures to throw.
He describes his fishing style as "slow and steady." Although he can apply a variety of fishing techniques, he especially likes covering areas thoroughly with bottom-bumping lures like Carolina rigs and jigs.
He fishes approximately 20 tournaments a year.
This is Kumke's third IBAA Mr. Bass title. He also won it in 1998 and 2010. He has also won Mid State's championship six times.