By Duane Landmeier
The third qualifying event of the 2009 Professional Musky Tournament Trail — Mercury Marine’s Summer Challenge — was held on the beautiful Eagle River Chain in Eagle River, Wisconsin, June 27-28, with over 200 enthusiastic anglers registered to compete in the Mercury Marine-sponsored event.
The chain is known for a very good population of muskies and lived up to its billing, producing 37 muskies in this year’s event. Weather leading up to the qualifier was filled with high pressure systems and hot weather, but that changed on Saturday when low pressure, rain and ideal fishing conditions moved in. This caused the fish to turn on, though Sunday proved a little slower bite with sunny conditions and winds picking up into the 30 mph range, making boat control and lure presentation a challenge. As always, a lot of anglers figured out a good pattern to net some muskies.
Rob Manthei of St. Germain, Wisconsin, and brother-in-law Andy Regenfuss were fishing their first PMTT ever and won it. The two anglers have fished the chain often. They worked deep weed edges and rock bar edges at about 12 feet with Bull Dawgs, letting them sink to the bottom and pumping their baits back, keeping in close proximity to the bottom as their presentation.
Manthei and Regenfuss caught and released muskies that were 34 1/2, 37 3/4 and 40 inches long, and ended up also winning the Mercury Marine’s Bonus Bucks Award for an additional $500, the first place hardware and over $14,000 for the first place win.
Placing second were Nick Cammeretta of Cary, Illinois, and Tom Olsen of Northern, Illinois, who used a lure presentation of slow-rolling bucktails on deeper weed lines. The two fishermen were also the Ranger Cup winners for the event for an additional $1,000 bonus. Fish sizes for Olsen and Cammeretta were 34, 35 1/2 and 37 1/2 inches as they took home over $4,500.
Third place was taken by two Geneva, Illinois, residents Ryan Reynolds and Steve Pekarek, who used bucktails near cabbage in less than 6 feet of water to coax a 44 1/4-inch hybrid musky and a purebred of 34 3/4 inches. The beautifully-marked tiger was the big fish of the tournament.
Fourth place was won by Eric Burseth of Bartlett, Illinois, and Chris Burseth of Crystal Lake, Illinois, who also caught their muskies on Bull Dawgs. The brothers tandem-fished deep weed edges to coax two muskies measuring 38 and 39 inches into their net. Placing fifth was Ben Diamond of Antioch, Illinois, and Steve Huylk of McHenry, Illinois, who caught and released muskies of 38 1/2 and 35 3/4 inches. They used bucktails in 7-8 feet of water for their success.
Steve Lindahl from Ranger boats was on hand and spoke to all of the anglers about some new upcoming boat ideas for 2010. “What a great partnership Ranger Boats and the PMTT have had over the years and I see a bright and incredible future together. Ranger Boats will be introducing some new redesigns to the Fisherman series in 2010 and as always will keep on building these legends one at a time,” said Lindahl.
Tournament Director Tim Widlacki thanked all of the PMTT’s fantastic sponsors, especially the Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce does every year on hosting this event and to all of the local Eagle River area sponsors. Also to Mercury Marine for sponsoring not only this event but for supporting the entire 2009 PMTT trail.
Other sponsors include Ranger Boats, Musky Hunter Magazine,Keyes Outdoors Television, Rollie & Helens Musky Shop, Musky Mayhem Tackle, Crash’s Landing, Chaos Tackle, Morehead Kentucky Tourism Commission and all the associate and contributing sponsors.
The final PMTT qualifier will be held on the St. Croix River on the Minnesota and Wisconsin border near Hudson September 12-13. To become a member of the PMTT or to view the event photo album, visit www.promusky.com or call PMTT office 815-478-4351.