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Raley & Osfar Win PMTT Mercury Qualifier At Eagle River

 By Tim Widlacki, Tournament Director

There are so many different ways to approach a water that it could simply be overwhelming before you even launch the boat. Do you rely on past hotspots, baits, colors, current weather conditions, try something different, or all of the above? Past knowledge is the most valuable tool, but it is what you do with it along with current conditions that will determine your current success. This is key to the start of every day of musky fishing.

Top teams of the PMTT’s Mercury Marine Qualifier on the Eagle River Chain include, from left: front — champions Matt Raley and Nate Osfar; back — third place team of Darrell Seasor and Lance Seasor; second pace team of Ben Michlig and Matt Michlig.

On June 22-23, the PMTT hit the Eagle River Chain of Lakes in Eagle River, Wisconsin, for the Mercury Marine Summer Challenge with almost a full field of 118 teams registered to compete. The team of Nate Osfar Marathon City, Wisconsin, and Matt Raley of Minocqua, Wisconsin, were already thinking different.

“We decided not to get stuck with one pattern. Whether it’s the bait, color, size, area, structure, speed or whatever, we wanted to keep hitting as many spots with as many lures as possible,” said Raley.

We have all done it before. We catch a musky on a certain bait or color pattern and we stick with it, sometimes even too long before we make a change. The tournament’s near-perfect weather conditions of partly sunny to full cloudy skies, air and water temperatures both in the low to mid 70s seems perfect to change and move often.

“We decided to keep hitting spots and changing baits often even if we caught fish. We would work a spot kind of quick but slow down and work any spot on the spots or sweet spots a little more thoroughly. If we saw a spot void of a fisherman we stopped and worked it,” said Osfar.

This type of hybrid run-and-gun method seems to be a perfect concept for tournaments and the anglers competing in them. For Raley and Osfar it couldn’t have worked out better as they put four muskies in the net up to 37 inches on four different baits, sizes and colors, in four different locations. This was good enough for them to lock up the first place prize package of approximately $18,000 and win this annual event.

PMTT Mercury Summer Challenge Qualifier Top 10 Teams

1. Matt Raley & Nate Osfar, 37, 36 1⁄4, 36 and 33 1⁄2 inches
2. Ben Michlig & Matt Michlig, 43 1⁄4, 37 and 30 inches
3. Lance Seasor & Darrell Seasor, 34, 33 1⁄2, 32 1⁄2 and 31 1⁄2 inches
4. Jason Walls & Wyan Chockbengboun, 36 3⁄4, 34 1⁄2 and 30 3⁄4 inches
5. Toby Stubbs & Rick Busalacchi, 39 1⁄2 and 38 inches
6. Nick Filip & Eugene Gabanski, 40 3⁄4 and 33 inches
7. Tim Barker & Brian Barker, 37 1⁄2 and 35 inches
8. Ladd Wildeson & Andrew Hinton, 41 1⁄4 and 30 1⁄4 inches
9. Jared Adamovich & Clayton Spiess, 45 1⁄4 inches
10. Al Gould & Drew Willemsen, 44 inches

Three Kentucky Teams Lead Top Gun Standings

After two qualifiers, the top three teams in the PMTT’s Top Gun/Team of the Year standings all hail from Kentucky. Currently Tim Barker and Brian Barker are in first place with 313 points, having finished second at the PMTT’s Vitaminerals Qualifier on Cave Run Lake and seventh at Eagle River.

In second place of the Top Gun standings with 309 points are Darrell Seasor and Lance Seasor, who finished tenth at Cave Run and third at Eagle River, after leading the latter tournament through Day 1.

Rounding out the top three with 300 points after two qualifers are well-known guides and Musky Hunter editors Gregg Thomas and Tony Grant, who finished sixth at Cave Run and caught two muskies at Eagle River but did not make the top ten.

Top Gun/Team of the Year

1. Tim Barker & Brian Barker, 313 points
2. Darrell Seasor & Lance Seasor, 309 points
3. Gregg Thomas & Tony Grant, 300 points
4. Rick Simpson & Tim Smith, 298 points
5. Jason Walls & Wyan Chockbengboun, 297 points
6. Jacob Sandberg & Ryan Stauffer, 297 points
7. Mark Johnson & Jake Socha, 280 points
8. Mark Follenweider & Adan Follenweider, 279 points
9. Diana Worline & Tina Smith, 275 points
10. Mike Olson & Nate Ruskiewicz, 275 points

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