After the start of its season was delayed by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Professional Musky Tournament Trail held its first qualifier event, Mercury Marine’s Summer Challenge, June 27-28 on the Eagle River Chain in northern Wisconsin.
The annual event, hosted by the Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center, was held in mid 80-degree temperatures with slight winds. The muskies cooperated with 37 caught and released over the two-day tournament.
The winning team of Phil Hahn and Dan Wojtusik, locals from Eagle River, were catching muskies while pre-fishing by aggressively twitching Grandma crankbaits. They committed to that bait and presentation during the tournament and it paid off with three fish of 35, 36 and 43 3/4 inches to win the $17,000 prize.
Wojtusik and Hahn said they fished a shallow, weedy area near a basin where other tournament competitors were trolling. Hahn and Wojtusik said they felt the boat traffic from the trollers pushed the muskies into the area they were targeting.
Placing second was the team of James Carlson Sr. of West Bend, Wisconsin, and his nephew, Tim Carlson, of St. Petersburg, Florida. By fishing Baby DepthRaiders and Shad Rap crankbaits while keeping the boat over eight to 10 feet of water near weeds, they boated muskies measuring 44 1/2 and 45 1/2 inches. The latter fish was the biggest of the tournament.
In third place were Eric Jorgenson of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, and Jon Pahl of Appleton, Wisconsin, who caught 43- and 43 3/4-inch muskies while casting bucktails over shallow weeds.
Placing fourth were Mark Lijewski of Minocqua, Wisconsin, and Jeff Piazza of Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin, who fished twitchbaits aggressively in shallow water to catch muskies of 44 1/2 and 36 3/4 inches.
Rounding out the top five was the husband/wife team of Rick and Sarah Hoover of Pittsburgh who trolled Cross Bone and River Slick baits to catch three muskies of 32 3/4, 35 and 39 inches.
In all, 119 teams registered to compete in the event.
Tournament Director Tim Widlacki thanked all the PMTT’s sponsors, especially Mercury Marine, for sponsoring the tournament and the entire trail, as well as the Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center for hosting the event.
The PMTT’s next qualifier will be Musky Hunter Magazine’s Late Summer Showdown on the Spirit & Okoboji Chain of Lakes in northwest Iowa on August 29-30.
Contact: promusky.com or call the PMTT office at (815) 478-4092.