The past, present and future of ‘The Harkins’ bass fishing tournament

Outdoors | The past, present and future of 'The Harkins' bass fishing tournament | Outdoors
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“The Harkins” is believed to be the oldest bass tournament in Illinois. The event was the brainchild of the Southern Illinois Bassbusters. The first tournament was held on Crab Orchard Lake in 1967. 

There have been some minor changes in format over the years, and the venue was changed to Rend Lake for a year or two in the early days, but since the mid-1970s there has been little change. Four-man teams pound the waters of Crab Orchard Lake for two days, sometimes producing prodigious weights of fish. 

The number of participants has fluctuated over the years, the proliferation of bass circuits, has taken a bite out of entries in recent years, but The Harkins has soldiered on as an April fixture on Southern Illinois’ calendar … until 2021. 

The COVID-19 pandemic shut the Harkins down last year, ending a streak of 52 consecutive years. With COVID now at manageable levels, the Harkins is back (April 23-24),…

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