BY JENNIFER BAILEY
If anyone is looking for spring weather to get here, it’s those who love fishing.
Among those who love to fish are members of 217 Extreme Fishing, a fishing club formed last year by a group of friends.
The president of the group, Daniel Williams, 23, saved up his money and is working with the other members to open the old bait shop at 306 N. Logan Ave.
The bait shop is called 217 Extreme Tackle, and could open within the next week or so.
A longtime staple for area anglers, Davis Bait Shop at that location was re-opened in 2007. Helen Davis of Champaign took over the business from her father in 1992.
The tackle shop has been there since 1940, when Robert Juvinall was the owner.
The shop closed years ago and was a clothing re-sale shop most recently.
Williams said he worked out an agreement in late December with Abundant Life Pentecostal Church of God, which owns the building, to re-open a bait shop.
Williams and other fishing club members have been working on renovating the building, which the city was to condemn, during the past few months.
Williams said they have all state licensing needed. They were waiting for city inspectors to stop by and the city to issue a certificate of occupancy.
According to the group’s Facebook page, 217 Extreme fishing club was started by a group of friends last year “who joined together to challenge the water ways of Vermillion County and outlying counties to prove there are plenty of challenging fish in our back yards to be caught. (The group goes) to the extreme limits to catch the biggest fish caught in this county and surrounding areas, using any means necessary to bring home a record catch every trip. Every year bigger and bigger fish are being pulled out of our local river and various ponds/lakes and it is time to document these fresh water monsters and the local fisherman who claims his/her prize.”
There are about 136 members of the club, with about 17 very active in it.
“We all grew up in South Danville,” Williams said.
Finding live bait can be a challenge, with working third shift and different job hours, he added.
That’s why Williams wanted to open a shop.
The building on Logan has historically been a place to go to get bait, he said.
The shop will have bee moth and live worms, night crawlers. The wells have been restored.
Also planned are crayfish, minnows, goldfish, chubs, shiners and other basic stock of hooks, lures, etc.
Williams said they will slowly build into more lures.
The shop also will be a Bass Pro authorized dealer.
Williams said being born and raised in South Danville, fishing was a regular hobby.
He and his friends would walk to the river and meet up at the dam.
“It was something we all really liked to do…,” Williams said.
Fishing club member L.J. Stevens added that fishing is great around the area, with the lakes and river systems.
That’s why they also are against the removal of the Vermilion River and Ellsworth Park dams.
They are trying to gather information and work together with other opponents of the dam removals to prove to the city why the dams shouldn’t be removed.
“The dam has always been a place to fish. I have caught and seen people catch record-size fish there and the amount of people I meet from different counties grows every year. I have been going to the dam for over 15 years now since I was a little boy and used to walk the trails with my father and fish the river for small mouth bass,” Williams said.
“There’s no reason to turn (the river) into a creek,” Stevens added.
They also are worried about Asian Carp hurting the local river system.
They want to get a petition started to save the dams.
A meeting is expected next month on the dams.
Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said a date for a public hearing in April will be set where residents can hear from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources regarding the report it submitted.
The meeting will be for public comments on both sides of the issue.
The meeting will be outside of a city council meeting and will be a public hearing only for this issue.
Hours for the 217 Extreme Tackle bait shop at 306 N. Logan Ave. will be 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the week.