Another exciting year of the Professional Musky Tournament Trail is in the books and new PMTT champions were crowned on October 22 & 23 at the Ranger Boats World Championship on Lake Miltona in west central Minnesota.
The 35 qualifying teams that are the best of the best musky anglers from 2016 had their fishing skills tested as two not so ideal weather days for musky fishing occurred for the event. The water was 53 degrees after fall turnover and Saturday`s weather was calm, sunny and 60 degrees. The water clarity was gin clear with visibility down to at least 12 feet which seemed to make the muskies hunker down tight to the weeds and tough to entice into biting. With a brand new 2017 Ranger 619 FS Fisherman powered by a Mercury Optimax for the winners of the event, teams worked extra hard to figured out a way to get fish in their nets. A total of 8 muskies were caught during the tournament which is unbelievable on a lake that is so well known for its musky fishing.
Chris Riebe of South Elgin, IL. and Matt Snyder of Tower, Minnesota ended up catching two muskies of 43.50″ and 51″. The two anglers said that they spent almost the week before the tournament not pre-fishing but looking around the lake for patches of weeds that most people did not know about. They caught the 43.50″ fish mid morning and shortly after the 51 inch musky followed Riebe`s bait to the boat and would not hit. So his partner Matt Threw the same large Bulldawg lure towards the direction of the large musky. The fish followed in and started following the figure 8 and started getting a bit more interested through each turn and they were wondering how they would get the fish to bite. So Matt tried pulling the bait straight up vertically fast and the musky inhaled the Bulldawg and Riebe netted it. Riebe and Snyder`s technique held up as Sunday turned out to be a really tough day for fishing and no one could catch the leaders. Their efforts awarded them the Ranger Boats World Championship trophies and a beautiful 2017 Ranger 619 FS Fisherman, powered by a Mercury Optimax Outboard and a Rangertrail Trailer valued at over $45,000.
In second place with a 45″ musky were Fred LeDerer of Perrysburg, Ohio and Phil Cummings of Graytown, Ohio. These two anglers heard the casters were having a hard time getting following fish to bite so they tried trolling 5 miles per hour to get a reaction strike from the muskies. Their idea paid off as LeDerer and Cummings were trolling crankbaits near the break line in 10 feet of water near baitfish schools. In third place with a 44.50″ musky were Ben Michlig of Wausau, WI. and Matt Michlig of Milwaukee, WI. The Michlig brothers were fishing main lake weed edges that had long stretches that went for hundreds of yards and targeted the areas hard that they saw muskies follow their bait.
In fourth place with a 44″ musky were Dave Brown of Iron River, WI. and Mike Keyes of Nekoosa, WI. Brown and Keyes were using Magnum Bulldawgs worked very slowly on sandy areas with patches of weeds on them. They were fishing the east side of the lake where there tended to be less fishing pressure. Rounding out the top five in fifth place were Bob Parteka of Green Bay and Aaron Stack of Waukesha, WI. The two anglers caught a 42.25″ musky on a Sneaky Snake jerk bait. They caught their fish in an area that was sandy areas with deeper weed clumps that the fish were holding to.
The prestigious Top Gun Team of the Year Award was also handed out at the Championship. This award is earned by being the most consistent team that catches fish in the most events . This is a very hard task to win against such a talented group of anglers. The team of brothers Matt and Ben Michlig won top gun honors in nail-biting fashion. The standings came down to Saturday’s fish that they caught. The fish ended up being .50 inch larger than their closest challenging team. So the Michligs won by one point. In second place for top gun honors were Keyes outdoors hosts Dave Brown and Mike Keyes. In third place for top gun honors were Nate Osfer of Wausau, WI. And Matt Raley of Minocqua, WI.
Tournament Director Tim Widlacki thanked all of the PMTT’s fantastic sponsors, especially Ranger Boats for their continued support of not only the PMTT but the entire sport of musky fishing. Also thanks to Mercury Marine, Crossings Inn and Suits Parkers Prairie, MN. Chaos Tackle, Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce, Morehead Tourism Commission, Musky Hunter Magazine, Keyes Outdoors, Musky Mayhem Tackle, Vitaminerals and all the associate and contributing sponsors. Please let these fine folks know that you appreciate their promotional efforts in support of freshwaters most challenging fish and those extreme anglers who chase her on the first, best and only truly National Professional Musky Circuit…the PMTT!