Wells, Schneider Win PMTT Shootout on The Cave

Category: Tournament

 Apr 11th, 2006 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Apr 11th, 2006 at 12:00 AM

Quietly nestled in the rustically beautiful mountains of eastern Kentucky’s Daniel Boone National Forest, Cave Run Lake .”Musky Capital of the South”, saw a near record 130 team field gathered here from across North America the weekend of April 8th & 9th for the much anticipated opening of the Professional Musky Tournament Trails exciting eighth season and the first of four national qualifiers . “The Southern Shootout”, that will determine the 2006 Ranger / PMTT World Championship field of 50, Top Gun points winner and ultimate owner of an awesome first place prize package that includes the keys to a new 2007 619 Fisherman – Ranger Trail Trailer – 150 hp Mercury Optimax. and cash totaling near $45,000! Fairly steady weather with highs near 80 had many here anticipating a `hot bite’ and sunscreen, until Saturday’s dark, `bone-chillingly-cold’ morning weather; replete with sleet, wind and on-again-off-again rain, served ominous notice of things to come as a brutal cold front, bain of all tourney anglers, put this prolific Spring Musky fishery on virtual `lock-down’ status for most of the more than 250 anglers attending this popular venue . with only 12 teams registering 13 Musky on day one . and 6 legal fish released on a frosty, blue-bird skied Sunday, putting these already elusive “Monarchs of Freshwater” at an even higher premium than is usual !But as the old adage goes, “When the going gets tough . the tough get going”, and this weekend, none were tougher than James Wells of Florence, KY and partner Russell Schnieder of Harrison, OH. who utilized a combination of casting and slow-trolling tactics that they have refined from years of working this and other systems around the country, enabling them to register a quality fish each day, a 39-« inch specimen Saturday around 1:30 and then hammering a second fish about 11:00 on Sunday within 100 yards of when they decided to switch over to a trolling pattern that had been working pre-fishing for the winning 37-incher . scoring a huge lead in the 2006 TOP GUN Standings and a whopping $16,930 check for their yeoman-like efforts !!!Super Shad Raps were their primary weapon of choice as they plied creek channels along deeper breaks and tree lines with a very slow stop-and-go, zigzagging attack. “Throwing the 115 Mercury into and out of gear to impart the desired presentation is a key”, said Wells. Adding, “Slow is the deal, with stop-and-go direction changes mixed in to sweeten it up a bit, you use the boat sort of like your rod when working a cast crankbait and though it flies in the face of a growing trend to use speed as a trigger when using trolling tactics . it works . especially in tougher conditions”. Schnieder expressed his feelings about James’ netting ability when he shared a near disaster at boat side Sunday that saw the net slip from the yoke and flip as the fish went under the motor, leaving the bait in the netting as the fish attempted a Houdini-like escape. “He almost dove into the water, grabbed the bag and rolled it back around the now free swimming Musky and somehow got all of it . fish included, into the boat. Best damn net man in the business right here folks . and no slouch controlling the boat either”, he laughingly ended.These sentiments are similar to those shared by the amazingly consistent, current TOP GUNS, Kirk Allen & Brad Swenson who employ risky long-line spinner bait trolling tactics in these hard times. “We do this a lot on our home waters when it gets tough, just get the Rad Dogs back about 100 feet and work the outside edges of weeds like what we found around the Zilpo Flats area and hang on”, said Swenson. “We lose a lot of baits like this”, added partner Allen, “But we catch a lot of fish as well”. Attesting to the success of this tactic was the Saturday & Event $500 ‘Big Fish Award’, a very healthy 43 inch beauty that held up to take 2nd Place and $4,734 . plus setting them up for a run at repeating as Top Gun. Keep an eye on these two, they have registered fish in 5 of their last 6 PMT outings and are proving themselves the team to beat.James Bowling of Cincinnati, Oh and Dave Everhart of nearby Fairfield scored Sunday’s $500 `Big Fish Award’, a 42 release, that fell for a downsized chartreuse bucktail in Beaver Creek for 3rd Place and a total of $3,464 in just their first time out against the Trail Pros. While Minoqua, WI’s. Bob Elsner & Dave Boreman also registered a nice 42 incher on day one that had a taste for trolled Grandmas that put $2,160 in their pockets and 4th Place. Another conspicuously consistent duo, Tom “Terrific” Olson & Seamus Hanley from the Chicagoland area, made yet another amazing Top Ten finish when they were the only team able to double on day one with fish of 33 & 31 inches. Unable to get that much needed third fish to go on day two, Olson cited conditions and additional pressure on his spots as factors that limited them to a final 5th Place finish and a check for $1,694.Other notables were the $1,000 Ranger Cup Award winning efforts of Neenah, WI angler Kevin Hofensperger as he and partner Bill Burroughs of Appleton, WI also doubled up with a 33-« on day one and a 30-¬ Sunday to finish in 6th Place overall and as the top placing registered Ranger Boat owner for a total payout of $2,270. Kevin and Bill are hopeful that this finish wills quite some of the guys back home who have been giving them the business about competing at this level. “They didn’t give us a chance back home”, said Kevin, “Man, I can’t wait to tell them!” Team Carlson, Jim Sr & Jr, also no strangers to top ten finishes, slipped from 5th to 8th Place, taking home $1,100 when they could not get that second bite to hang on after bagging 5 fish on Shad Raps day one, of which only a 36-incher registered. “We had plenty of opportunity . just didn’t get the size we needed win it”, informed Jim Sr. “So close, just not meant to be. this time anyway”.Though an awfully tough bite brought on by a brutal cold front passage Friday evening and the ensuing post-frontal conditions faced Sunday . as always is the case with these top anglers . somebody gets it figured out! If you look to the final results you will see that a very slim percentage of the teams in attendance scored the 19 Musky registered – 13 on a brutal Saturday, and but a meager 6 on blue-bird Sunday, and not by accident. Local experts, present Top Gun Team, past Qualifier Winners, Ranger Musky World Champ, a couple of teams with about a dozen years combined Trail experience and two that utilized almost identical strategies got bit. Hats off to these quick thinking, intuitive Musky Hunters. Their actions this past weekend, including downsized, slower presentations, in one of the tougher bites I have ever seen, have shown us some keys for success when facing just such adverse conditions: Let the fish dictate your approach – Work through the options – Pay attention to the signs/clues Mother Nature & Fish give you – Crack the code and you to will reap the rewards.. regardless conditions.PMTT Director Tim Widlacki jokingly jibed that he was a little disappointed about not getting his traditional sunburn this time around to the Cave, while leading a huge round of applause for those hardy souls manning the Judge Boats through some very extreme conditions during this two day event. He also had kudos for Terri Cline, Director of the Morehead Tourism Commission, our hosts and primary site sponsor, while adding that without the much unheralded behind the scenes promotion and extra effort by Crash & Gina Mullins of Crash’s Landing & Outfitters . “I really do not know if we could have made it through the first couple of years as we began this wonderful journey to were we are now. thanks Crash”. Tim added that while thanking those who have helped us get to this record-breaking point in our eight year history, “I would be remiss to not thank each and every one of our Site, Contributing and Associate Sponsors . including Ranger Boats, Mercury Marine, Musky Hunter Magazine, Heckel’s Marine, Crash’s Landing, Extreme Muskie Expo’s, Keyes Outdoors Television, Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, The Village of Antioch Illinois, Morehead Tourism Commission and our next hosts, the Wisconsin Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center. Please let these fine folks know that you appreciate their efforts in support of freshwaters most challenging, exciting, only national Pro Musky Trail . and the mighty Muskellunge!Be a part of the action … Learn from the Pros … Fish top waters at peak times …Share the camaraderie . become a better angler and have Great Fun in the process. It is not just about this amazing fish or big money, it’s folks just like you sharing a unique passion, educating by example while helping to bring positive focus and growth to this potentially fragile resource. Anyone can join the PMTT and enter this fast-growing and addictively exciting competition and everybody is warmly invited to come out and join the fun.To register or obtain more information on the 2006 PMTT, any Qualifier or to view event photo album, please visit them on the Web @ www.promusky.com or call PMTT Director, Tim Widlacki @ 815-264-3228 *space is limited; Trail Team and single event reservations are being taken now.130 Teams participated – safely releasing a total of 19 fish – 13 Sat. & 6 Sun – up to 43-1/4-inchesWATER TEMPS AVG 51 DEGREES / AIR TEMPS HI 50 LOW 28 / POST COLD FRONT / STAINED – MUDDY

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