By Duane Landmeier
Absolutely Priceless!!! The words that best describes the finish of the 2009 season for the No. 1 musky tournament circuit in the country, PMTT – Ranger Boats World Championship. Gary Lehnherr and 7-year-old son Carson from McFarland, Wisconsin, were absolutely dialed in and completely untouchable during this event. They caught four fish in all and not only will they carry the coveted title of 2009 PMTT Ranger Boats World Champions, but they also won a brand new 2010 Ranger 619 Fisherman boat, RangerTrail trailer and Mercury-powered OptiMax for first place, valued at around $40,000.
The anglers had more to compete against than each other as Mother Nature added some tough conditions. Snow, wind, clouds changing to sunny, and lake turnover to name a few, with water temperatures in the mid 50s. There were a total of 26 muskies caught measuring 34 to 45 1/4 inches in these ever-changing conditions. To make matters even worse, the winds were blowing out of the northwest at about 20 mph, making the 28 degree morning air temperatures seem even worse.
Gary and Carson trolled crankbaits and spoonplugs just off the deep breaklines in the 18- to 22-foot range at about 4 mph, while they tried to keep the baits as close to bottom as possible even making contact with the bottom as they trolled. When a fish would hit, Carson reeled them in while his dad Gary handled the net. Keyes Outdoors TV Show captured the winning fish and all the excitement on film as they hooked up with the final fish while conducting an interview with them. It was priceless watching this 7-year-old crank in the fish and his dad putting the net under the $40,000 musky.
The really enjoyable finish at the awards ceremony was seeing all of the anglers watch as a proud father shared a great moment in musky fishing history with his son and told their story. This is unbelievable as some of these fish were over 20 pounds. A lot of the anglers in the room had butterflies in their stomachs watching this unveil. It was awesome as any parent can relate to the great bond these two will always share through the great sport of musky fishing.
Second place went to two well known anglers who are no strangers to winning. Jason Summers of Lino Lakes, Minnesota, and Troy Bilbrey of Wyoming, Minnesota, caught three muskies that measured 38 3/4, 36 3/4 and 35 1/4 inches. The two anglers were also the Ranger Cup winners worth $1,000 which is awarded to the top-finishing registered Ranger Boat owner.
The two anglers used crankbaits and trolled 3-4 miles per hour in close proximity to the bottom.
Third place went to Dewey Stewart of Pawnee, Illinois, and Forrest Kay of St. Charles, Illinois, who used Rapala Xrap crankbaits and Jake crankbaits that were chartreuse in color to entice 35 1/4- and 43-inch muskies. The two also received $500 for the big fish on Sunday.
Fourth place winners were Dan Sheehan of Harford, Wisconsin, and Scott Gindt of Jackson, Wisconsin, who trolled crankbaits over deep gravel areas to entice muskies that were 41 3/4 and 35 inches in length. Fifth place went out to Aaron Templin and Joe Anderson of Bemidji, Minnesota, who used Cowgirl bucktails and Manta jerkbaits on weed flats near breaklines. The muskies they caught and released were 38 and 34 inches.
The prestigious Top Gun Team of the Year went down to the wire with lead changes the last day of the trail! This award goes to the team who is most consistent in catching fish throughout the trail season. Scott Donovan of Carbondale, Illinois, and Chris Riebe of Montgomery, Illinois won the 2009 Team of the Year title, edging out Jason Summers and Troy Bilbrey by one point. Third place went to the father and son team of Ron and Rich Weidner of Spring Grove, Illinois.
Tournament Director Tim Widlacki thanked Ranger Boats for sponsoring the World Championship and for supporting the entire 2009 PMTT trail. In addition, Widlacki thanked the other trail sponsors: Musky Hunter Magazine, Mercury Marine, Keyes Outdoors Television, Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce, Rollie & Helens Musky Shop, Musky Mayhem Tackle, Howard Johnson Hotels, Crash’s Landing, Chaos Tackle, Morehead Kentucky Tourism Commission and all the associate and contributing sponsors.
To obtain more information on becoming a member of the 2010 PMTT, or to view event photo album, visit www.promusky.com or call the PMTT office (815) 478-4351.
By Duane Landmeier