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Imhoff & Bailey Set New Mark, Winning Second Straight PMTT Event!
Championship Qualifier # 1
Cave Run Lake - Morehead, KY
Sat. & Sun. April 17th - 18th, 2004
Bob “the Fin-Addict” Osborne
Director of PMTT Public Relations
Showing no signs of letting up following last October's Ranger Boats / PMTT World Musky Championship victory, young Madison, WI. step-brothers Steve Imhoff (23) & Clark Bailey (20) hit the ground running for the opening qualifier of the 2004 Professional Musky Tournament Trail, besting a field of more than 200 of North America's top musky anglers gathered in the hospitable, long-time Pro Musky Trail sponsor and perennial host city of Morehead, patiently coaxing two good-sized musky from the suddenly stingy waters of eastern Kentucky's normally prolific, always beautiful Cave Run Lake, becoming the first team in the circuits over five year history to win back-to-back tournaments with a $15,400 first place finish here April 17th & 18th , registering fish of 41-¾” & 37-½”.
Second place was claimed by 2003 “Top Guns”, Jason Summers & Tony Demars, both of the Twin Cities area, when they were able to land a fat 43” beauty on a Grim Reaper spinner bait around 10:00 am. Sunday morning, taking the days “Big Fish” award for $500, another $500 in Ranger Cup earnings as the highest finishing Ranger owner and 2nd place cash for a total of $4,850! Sticking to a pattern and area they had been working during pre-fishing, they were unable to score on day one. Less than two hours into the second day with the same results, the decision was made to check spots that had been good to them over the past 4 or 5 years here with almost immediate results and putting them on a pace to repeat as the most consistent team on the Pro Circuit.
Third place went to the husband and wife team of Linda & Gary Jacobs, out of Eagle River in Villas County WI. when they doubled up on day one, registering musky of 34-½” & 31” that bit black & silver buck tails, for a total of $2,100. “I was a little shaky when I got the first fish in the boat”, replied Linda when asked by PMTT Director Tim Widlacki, “But I was much more nervous netting Gary’s fish later in the day.” Leading after day one, this competitive North Woods duo was unable to scratch out another bite in the tough conditions and slipped two places. Fourth place and $1,145 went to a pair of local anglers, Dwayne Dillon & Joe Denton as they cast slowly worked gold/green back twitch baits to bring a 40-¼” fish to the boat on day two, narrowly edging the fifth place team by two points. Jim Stella & Rob Frechette of Chicago, IL. cashed their first check in almost five years of trail contention when they registered fish of 32-¾” & 31-¼”. “Man it sure feels good to get that monkey off our back”, stated Rob “But after losing a couple of other biters early and having missed opportunities in past events, all I could think of was, Oh no, not again!” While first day “Big Fish” honors and an extra $500 dollars went to Kevin Nash & Mike Savitski who cast a white Shallow Invader to stick a 38” specimen that held up for 7th place overall.
Winners, Imhoff & Bailey, used jigs & plastic (fire-tiger / chartreuse &black) to slowly work a variety of relatively shallow areas to entice the uncooperative post-spawn fish. Steve Imhoff told the crowd that much of the credit for their success this weekend was directly related to the knowledge gained from hiring guide Bill Burns (Crash’s Landing) last year. “He showed us some quality spots and shared tactics, presentation and locational information with us that really made the difference this time around.” Before going to the slower casting pattern they had been trolling near the dam, catching a 20# plus catfish that gave them some “brief excitement”. Crash Mullins, renowned musky guide, trail sponsor and owner/operator of Crash’s Landing, said that at least five of the teams on the leader board were folks that they had fished with. Adding that after nearly two decades in the business, “I am surprised and very excited by how fast this musky community is growing and am very proud to have been blessed enough to be able to share in shaping that growth.”
High blue-bird skies, increasingly stained water from heavy rains earlier in the week and a swift draw-down of rising water levels in this Corp of Engineers flood control reservoir combined with primarily post-spawn fish to make for one of the toughest bites ever experienced for a PMTT event on this high quality musky fishery. A total of 19 fish were registered by only 15 successful teams, 10 on day one and 9 the second. Slow presentations had the best success with casters out producing trollers nearly 10-to-1. Color was much less a factor than speed, even in the rapidly warming waters, with white and fire-tiger baits near equal in the final standings. Although predicting a possible record bite in the days prior to the event, Widlacki was not surprised at the way things turned out. “One of the things you can count on is not being able to count on anything. The other is that no matter what conditions Mother Nature throws at you on tournament day, somebody in this group of top-notch anglers always figures out a way to contact biting fish.”
Ranger Boats representative Mike McDonald was on hand to address the crowd at Friday evening’s pre-tourney rules meeting, hosted once again by Sherrie Greer and the great folks of Morehead, KY. Tourism Commission, saying that it has been a great pleasure and pleasant surprise to be such an integral part of the exponential growth and success of the PMTT and musky fishing. “Although I come from a bass fishing background and traditionally Ranger has been long associated with that segment of the fishing market, the excitement and challenge of musky fishing as represented by those of you here and our relationship with the PMTT has me looking forward to trying the “Fish of 10,000 Casts” for myself.”
Tim Widlacki closed by thanking each and every one of the PMTT‘s major, associate and contributing sponsors, including Ranger Boats, Mercury Marine, Musky Hunter Magazine, The Fishing Guide Show, Heckel's Marina, Crash's Landing, Inc., Morehead Kentucky Tourism Commission, Illinois Conservation Association, Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor's Center, Frabill, Mepps, 3M Marine, Motor Guide & fishing info.com, for their continued support and part they play in taking us to the next level, asking, “You please consider patronizing the outstanding products and services they represent.” Adding, “There are still openings available for next months second qualifier being held on Lake Shelbyville, IL on May 15th & 16th as well as later events in Eagle River, WI. and Minnetonka, MN. but the spaces are very limited and your chance to be a part of this years exciting competition and a berth in the World Championship being held on Lake Chautauqua, New York this Fall are going quickly.”
Those desiring more information about and/or becoming a member of the most competitive, exciting and fastest growing professional freshwater tournament circuit in North America... or to claim one of the remaining berths in the upcoming inaugural, first ever, $100K 1st place pay-out, "Mike James Mega Musky 2004", are encouraged to contact PMTT Tournament Director, Tim Widlacki @ phone # 1-815-264-3228; via e-mail @firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting them on the web @ www.promusky.com
Cave Run Lake - Morehead, KY
PMTT Qualifier #1
Final Leader Board
1st. Place - Steve Imhoff / Clark Bailey
Cave Run Top Ten
1st. Place - Steve Imhoff / Clark Bailey