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NASH & SAVITSKI TRIPLE: WIN EAGLE RIVER PMTT!
MERCURY MARINE SUMMER CHALLENGE
Reported by: Bob "the Fin-Addict" Osborne
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Kevin Nash and partner Mike Savitski "loosed the hounds" here in this weekends PMTT / Mercury Marine Summer Challenge, casting soft plastic "tadpole-colored" Bull Dawg’s into the shallower weed beds found in and around Scattering Rice Lake to lead ‘wire-to-wire’, registering two quality fish on day one; a 38-½ & 34 incher, then gamely staving off a determined, hard charging field of more than 200 top pro and avid amateur Musky anglers when they caught and released yet a third fish measuring 38 inches Sunday on their way to claiming the 1st Place Title, Trophy and a well-earned check … totaling $16,000 !!
Anglers attending this event faced incredibly tough weather and fishing conditions when a very strong jet stream influenced cold front moved in for the week tying a record low temperature going back more than a hundred years that dropped water temps by more than 10 degrees, literally overnight, while keeping air temps 20 degrees or more below seasonal averages. These extreme conditions combined to make fish unpredictable and difficult to contact for the majority of the field. One key for the successful teams seemed to be in finding concentrations of bait near ambush/feeding areas that had wind blowing into or across them, combined with, or very near well developed weed beds and/or edges.
"While putting the boat in to scout for weeds and structure earlier this week I saw a huge concentration of pollywogs, tadpoles if you rather, in the very shallow weeds near the ramp", noted winning team member Kevin Nash. "They looked like a pretty good meal for a Musky to me and the potential predator/prey relationship seemed likely. I got off the water and purchased a few Bull Dawgs in a color I thought mimicked the bait, returned to the Chain and tested our theory". This winning presentation involved casting to the inside weed edges and pulling the bait back over the tops of the weeds looking for an open pocket to drop the Dawg in … give it a good jerk to "pop" it up and out of the hole and hang on. Although partner Mike Savitski boated all three fish, the first year pro was quick to give the credit to Kevin adding, "I listened to everything he told me to do and cast where he suggested, it was great team work and the fact is that he figured this pattern out … I just caught the fish he put us on".
Close on their heels, local Minocqua, WI area anglers Gordy Hastreirter & Mark Lijewski also utilized the versatile Bull Dawgs to double-up, registering fish of 36 &34 inches for a 2nd Place finish and $4,000. The unseasonably cold weather found them preferring to work deep break lines near wind-blown shores in areas where they found concentrations of baitfish in Catfish and Duck Lakes. "We moved enough fish to have won this thing outright", said Gordy as he and Mark collected their check and trophy, adding "There were probably two fish we missed Saturday but with only about 15 minutes left today we had a real quality fish on that cut off the heavy fluorocarbon leader I was using!" He shared that he felt this type of leader "sweetens" the overall presentation of this bait and is the first time he has ever had a cut-off while using them. He closed saying, "I have lots of confidence in fluorocarbon leaders and will not hesitate to continue using them, although I just can’t help but think what a time to have it happen".
Saturday’s $500 "Big Fish Award" winner, a beautiful Eagle Lake 45-½ incher, falling to a Depth Raider crankbait thrown by Todd Dahl & Jade Petty, held up to take 3rd Place overall and $2,900. "Two casts after we released this fatty and the judge boat was pulling away … we stuck another fish!" said Todd somewhat surprised. "When she came up the first time we knew she was a 40-inch class fish that could well be a tournament winner for us", quickly adding that, "For just a moment we were right there … had a shot at all the marbles … then she shook the hooks". Sunday’s $500 "Big Fish Award" and 5th Place went to the well-known, always dangerous duo of Gregg Thomas (Morehead, KY) & Dave Grochowski (Cincinnati, OH) when, as Greg said, "Groucho used his ‘magic Reef Hawg’ to entice this sweet 42-¼ incher from the momentarily ‘hot’ waters of Scattering Rice when the fish just there seemed to go crazy for about an hour near noon today". Dave added "It must not be that magic because I hooked and lost another large fish Saturday, but that is how it goes with these fish and we are just glad to cash a check and qualify for the Ranger World Championship this fall in New York".
4th Place and $1,600 went to local pre-tournament favorites, Heckel’s Marine President Dick Heckel and Muskies Inc. Headwaters Chapter #12 President Bill Jacobs, both hometown residents with a great deal of experience on this fabled chain of lakes, who found action and two fish on Cranberry Lake, taking a 34-¼ & 34 inch fish using a combination of buck tails and crank baits. "We had a little bit of a slow start", offered Bill. "Finally I just had to tell Dick to quit trying to sell me a new Ranger and FISH!" he jokingly told a laughing audience, "Then we started to catch a couple but just could not get that elusive third one in the boat and on the board".
Ranger Boats Rep Steve Lindahl was on hand to announce his company’s continued support and commitment to the PMTT, thanking those anglers running Rangers adding, "We still build them one at a time and thanks to many of you we are now the #1 fiberglass boat manufacturer in the United States". Mr. Lindahl also noted that with this events Ranger Cup Award of $500 going to Joe McCartin & Ed Haagenson as the highest placing Ranger owner for the 42-incher they took on a crankbait in Catfish Lake, "The Ranger Cup program has awarded a total of $1.4 million dollars so far in this year alone"! Adding to the festival-like atmosphere and the highlight of Saturday night's Hospitality Night Dinner were Mercury Marine's Director of Dealer Sales, Joe Antonneau and Products Manager, Steve Miller, who proudly introduced the newly developed Verado 4-stroke ... by giving test drives and performance rides! Judging by the long lines, wind-swept hair and broad grins, this very quite high performance Mercury offering will be a big crowd pleaser. Very impressive!
Tournament Director Tim Widlacki received a standing ovation and long applause from the over-capacity crowd Friday night when he announced that in keeping with the PMTT’s commitment to giving back to the Musky Community and it’s many fisheries they were donating $1,500, in conjunction with leading conservation groups such as Muskies Inc. to insure an important multi-organizational educational film project would be completed. "I would ask that those of you here tonight think long and hard about many of the divisive issues causing friction in our ranks today. Agreeing to disagree while working together for the common good of the overall fishery would accomplish so much more than this energy drain of fighting amongst ourselves. In the big picture, we really do have much more in common than we have bones of contention."
Special thanks go out to each and every one of the PMTT‘s major, associate and contributing sponsors, including Mercury Marine, Ranger Boats, Musky Hunter Magazine, The Fishing Guide Show w/ Travis Richardson, Heckel's Marine, Crash's Landing Inc., Morehead Kentucky Tourism Commission, Illinois DNR, Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor's Center, Minnesota Musky Market Place, and the Chautauqua County Tourism. Please patronize the outstanding products and services they represent.
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.
FINAL LEADER BOARD
MERCURY MARINE SUMMER CHALLENGE
Eagle River Chain - Eagle River, WI
Sat. & Sun. June 26th & 27th, 2004