The exciting finale of the 2020 Professional Musky Tournament Trail was greeted by spectacular fall colors, perfect water temperatures and variable weather conditions. What more could the top 38 teams that qualified for the PMTT Ranger Boats World Championship on Cave Run Lake near Morehead, Kentucky, October 23-25 ask for while they compete for the first place prize package of a 2021 Ranger Angler 2080M powered by a Mercury outboard?
Day 1 was beautiful with a partly cloudy sky, a slight breeze and temperatures at 80 degrees, and tournament anglers responded with 19 muskies measuring 30 inches or more caught. The Ranger Boats World Championship is an elimination tournament in which the teams needed to catch at least one 30-inch or larger musky on Friday or Saturday to be able to compete Sunday. On Friday night, a major cold front moved through dropping the air temperature on Saturday by 30 degrees, and the water temperature plummeted three degrees. The musky bite remained consistent even with the cold front and the competing teams caught 16 muskies. A total of 20 teams made it to the final day.
On Day 1, Nate Osfar Marathon City, Wisconsin, and Matt Raley of Minocqua, Wisconsin, were in the lead with four muskies. On Day 2, Osfar and Raley had several muskies hooked but failed to land any. Meanwhile, the team of Jarod Donar of Madison, Wisconsin, and Kevin Nash of Aurora, Illinois, caught two muskies each day to put their total at four muskies and take the lead going into the third and final day.
Day 3 had the two teams going back and forth with Osfar and Raley catching two muskies in the first hour to take the early lead. Donar and Nash then caught the big fish of the day at 46 1/2 inches to take the lead into the final hour. Osfar and Raley rallied with two more muskies, bringing their total to eight muskies for the tournament up to 38 1/4 inches which allowed them to win the championship for the second consecutive year.
Osfar and Raley said they were casting small black Medussas near weed walls and working them like a jerkbait. Most of their strikes came in the first five pulls because the muskies were holding close to the weeds. The team said the best spot to catch a musky is where you caught your last one.
In a close second place with five muskies up to 46 1/2 inches were Donar and Nash. Donar used black Medussa rubber baits and Nash used shad-colored minnowbaits as they covered a lot of different areas that had shallow weeds. They said the key to triggering fish was to tick the weeds with their baits.
In third place were Bill Burns of Morehead, Kentucky, and David Lee of Cincinnati, Ohio, who caught three muskies up 43 to inches. Burns and Lee fished 10-foot weed lines and beach areas with slow retrieved topwater baits and Burns spinnerbaits.
Placing fourth were Tony Grant and Gregg Thomas, Cave Run guides and editors of Musky Hunter magazine. They boated four muskies up to 37 1/4 inches and used a mix of baits that included Musky Innovations Real Fish, Fat Bastard topwaters and a Bondy Bait.
Rounding out the top five were Chris Riebe of South Elgin, Illinois, and Matt Snyder of Tower, Minnesota, who caught three muskies up to 36 1/2 inches. They fished twitchbaits as slowly as they could near deeper weed edges.
Top Gun Awarded
The prestigious Top Gun/Team of the Year award was determined early on in the championship event this year. Rick and Sarah Hoover of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, caught a nice musky on Day 1 to seal the deal as the top point team throughout the year. They caught a musky at every event in 2020.
Finishing in second place in the Top Gun standings this year were Tony Grant and Gregg Thomas of Morehead, Kentucky, while third place went to Kevin Nash of Aurora, Illinois, and Jarod Donar of Madison, Wisconsin.
Tournament Director Tim Widlacki thanked all the PMTT’s sponsors, especially Ranger Boats, for sponsoring the tournament and the entire trail. Also, he cited Morehead Tourism for hosting the event and the great hospitality the entire town gives the PMTT every year.
Other sponsors include Mercury Marine, Musky Hunter Magazine, Okoboji Tourism, Keyes Outdoors, MotorGuide, Chaos Tackle, Treelands Resort, Vitaminerals, Feldstrein Jeweler’s, Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce, Lake Chippewa Flowage Resort Association and all the associate and contributing sponsors.