Chad Rosinski was struggling. He had fished for nearly a year without catching a musky, but then a thought occurred to him to make a favorite bucktail smaller in profile.
“Almost immediately I started catching fish and it’s still working,” he said after using his modified bait to catch five muskies during the National Championship Musky Open to earn the first place title.
Held in Eagle River, Wisconsin, from August 18-20, the NCMO attracted an all-time record of 1,330 anglers from 17 states, and they combined to catch 194 muskies. The 32nd annual event is the single-largest fundraiser for the Musky Clubs Alliance of Wisconsin and is co-sponsored by the Alliance and the Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce.
Rosinski, of Conover, Wisconsin, caught muskies measuring 41, 39, 36 3/4, 36 1/2 and 34 inches during the three-day event.
Four other anglers caught three muskies over the weekend. Placing second in the NCMO was Aaron Berken of Milwaukee with three muskies measuring 43, 40 and 39 1/2 inches. Third place went to Darrel Fritz of Rothschild, Wisconsin, with three muskies of 44 1/4, 40 and 36 3/4 inches.
Josh Freidel of Wausau, Wisconsin, placed fourth with three muskies measuring 41 1/2, 37 1/2 and 37 inches. In fifth place was the NCMO’s 2016 champion, Hunter Mathison of Eagle River, Wisconsin, with three muskies of 40 1/2, 35 1/2 and 34 1/2 inches. Sixth place went to Al May of Kewaskum, Wisconsin, with two fish of 44 and 43 inches.
A record number of youths ages 15 and under entered the NCMO, and Jack Schnaubelt of Green Bay, Wisconsin caught two muskies measuring 39 and 36 1/4 inches to place first in the youth division. Schnaubelt and Jared Adamovich of Eagle River, Wisconsin, combined to place first in the guardian/youth division as Adamovich caught a 46 1/4-incher to give them 121 1/2 total points.
Sixty-seven teams participated in the husband/wife division, with Eric and Angelica Wachdorf of Random Lake, Wisconsin, placing first by catching two muskies of 39 1/4 and 35 1/4 inches.
The largest muskies of the tournament were a pair of 48 1/2-inchers by Al White of New Berlin, Wisconsin, and Kyle Spitz of Marshall, Wisconsin. Bob Cleaton of Janesville, Wisconsin, caught a 48-incher and Ed Myshak of Lafayette, Indiana, caught a 47-incher to round out the largest fish.
The highlight of the weekend was the drawing for two Ranger 1880 boats rigged with Mercury 150 hp outboards. One boat is awarded to an angler entered in the tournament, and the second boat goes to a person who purchased a raffle ticket from a Musky Clubs Alliance member leading up the tournament. The tournament boat was won by Paul Dimmer of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and the raffle boat was won by Amber Cmejla of Milwaukee.
The total of 1,330 anglers in the 2017 tournament topped last year’s record number of 1,296. It was the fifth consecutive year the NCMO has set an attendance record.
The 2018 National Championship will again be held in Eagle River during the weekend of August 17-19. For more information, visit http://eagleriver.org/featured/musky-open/