Cook and Russell Take PMTT-Ranger Boats Championship Title
Oct 20th, 2003 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Oct 20th, 2003 at 12:00 AM
How important is 1/2 inch? To the team of James Cook (Belle Vernon, PA) and Steve Russell (Milan, OH), 1/2 inch made all the difference as they won the Professional Musky Tournament Trail’s (PMTT) Ranger Boats Invitational Championship held on Illinois’ Lake Shelbyville Saturday, Oct. 12 and Sunday, Oct. 13.Their three muskies of 38.75″, 37.50″ & 36 .25″ measured 112.5 inches total, while the team of Tom Olson (Antioch, IL) and Len Szulc (McHenry, IL) also measured three muskies which totaled 112 inches. For their efforts, Cook and Russell took home the Ranger 681VS Fisherman Series boat and Ranger Trail Trailer powered by a 125 hp Mercury along with $5,158 cash. For second place, Olson and Szulc cashed a check for $6880. Third place with three musky measuring a total of 107.5 inches was the team of Eric Genson (River Falls, WI) and Steve Genson (Berlin, WI). They earned $3440.Fourth place and a check for $2580 went to Chris Wallis (Mercer, WI) and Bill Buechner (Cross Plains, WI) with three musky measuring 106.25 total inches. Deron Shymkewich (St. Charles, IL) and Craig Freund (Algonquin, IL) rounded out the top five with three muskies measuring 105 inches and a check for $1780.The Big Fish Award went to the team of Crash Mullins (Morehead, KY) and Joe McCartin (Lemont, IL) on Saturday for their 39.5 inch musky and to Tom Styger (Wonder Lake, IL) and Gary Wieliczka (Wintrop Harbor, IL) on Sunday for their 38 inch musky. Each team won a $1,000 certificate from Ranger Boats.”Wow! What an Invitational Championship, and what a year we had in 2002!” said PMTT Director Tim Widlacki. “We measured 27 legal fish on Day One and had two teams triple and five teams double up on that first day, and even after a strong cold front came rolling in on Sunday, the teams still measured seven more musky on Day Two. Six of the seven fish were caught by teams that had already registered a fish on Day One.” Weather did make a huge difference in the Championship as Saturday’s summer-like 70 degree temperatures gave way to temperatures in the 40’s with a strong north wind on Sunday.Although the cold front affected the fishing, Widlacki noted that the Ranger Boats Invitational Championship was a huge success. “The state of Illinois has really worked hard to provide quality musky fishing and the leadership of Mike Conlin, Chief of Fisheries for the state of Illinois, has had a lot to do with that. Add to that the hospitality of the community and the sponsorship of Ranger Boats and it just doesn’t get any better than this.” Casters ruled as only three fish were caught trolling, and almost all bright colored baits caught fish. According to Widlacki, “Almost everyone caught their fish casting up very shallow, 1-3 foot deep water on main lake points, down on the south end of the lake. They were hitting most baits including bucktails, jerkbaits and crankbaits. However, color did seem to make a difference. Light/bright colors, such as white, silver, yellow and chartreuse all seemed to produce fish.”Widlacki made special note of the quality of competition at the Ranger Boats Invitational Championship. “This event showcased the top 50 point teams from throughout the year. They came from all across the country, 13 different states total, and beat out an estimated 500 anglers who competed in the PMTT events this year.”The prestigious Top Gun – Team-of-the-Year Award went to Chris Wallis (Mercer, WI) and Bill Buechner (Cross Plains, WI) which includes a coupon from Ranger Boats for $1,000 and $4,300 in cash. Consistency was the name of the game for Wallis and Buechner, as they caught and registered a musky in four out of the five events this year, including a first place finish at the Madison event. They totaled 551 points throughout the five events and just barely held off the second place team of Monty Stanton & Rick Schmudlach. A special thanks goes out to Ranger Boats for sponsoring the event and toall of the major PMTT sponsors including Ranger Boats, Mercury Marine, Musky Hunter Magazine, All Star Graphite Rods, The Fishing Guide Show, Crash’s Landing, Inc., the Morehead Kentucky Tourism Commission, The Greater Madison Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, The Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center and the Illinois Conservation Foundation, along with all of the Associate and Contributing sponsors that all play a key roll in the PMTT success.