Matt Raley, of the Minocqua area, and his partner, Nate Osfar of Marathon City, took top spot in The first event of the 2014 Professional Musky Tournament Trail, the Chaos Tackle Spring Shootout, near Moorhead, Ky. on Cave Run Lake.
The two-day tournament was held April 26-27. While Northwoods lakes were still mired in ice, it was 80 degrees in Moorehead when a field of 91 boats took to Cave Run Lake.
Raley, who runs Hideaway Hollow Outfitters, indicated it’s not entirely different fishing muskies there than it is in the north.
“It’s definitely different scenery above the water, being in Daniel Boone National Forest, but a muskie’s a muskie,” he said. “There’s some weeds down there, otherwise you find a lot of gizzard shad where the muskie are located, too. So some stuff is similar and some stuff is a little bit different.”
“You find good looking structure, associated with bait, too, you find fish,” Raley added.
They boated muskies measuring 35-1⁄2, 41, and 48-1⁄2 inches to take the top spot.
Raley said he and Osfar were getting their fish on jerk baits.
“We got one off weeds in probably about 6 feet of water and another one was pretty shallow again, up on the break, up on some rocks, and then one was kind of like right off the break ... there was a lot of bait there,” he said.
“That’s where two of the three fish came – pretty similar area there, within a hundred yards of each other on the lake. It was the best looking place I was able to find while we were down there scouting.”
The muskies were just post-spawn, so to speak.
“Some of the fish, they don’t really actually lose their eggs, just because they’re all like stocked fish down there,” Raley said. “I mean, the big one that my partner got definitely had its eggs left in it still ... There’s really no natural recruitment down there.”
Raley and Osfar won $14,500 for the first-place finish plus $500 for Saturday’s biggest fish.
The outcome of the tournament was actually decided late. The team that trailed Osfar and Raley caught their third muskie the morning of day two, meaning the Wisconsinites had to find another fish to regain the lead.
With a mere 30 minutes to spare, the duo landed their 41-incher to seal the deal.
Jason Hamernick of Wyoming, Minn. and Ty Sennet of Hayward took second. They caught three muskies ranging in size from 33-1⁄2 to 43 inches on crank baits.
Taking third were Lance and Darrel Seasor of Ashland, Ky. The Seasors caught 35- and 38-inch muskies while jigging Bondy Baits.
Father and son team Mark and Adam Follenweider of Palo Heights, Ill., the reigning PMTT champions, came in fourth. They caught muskies measuring 35-1⁄2 inches and 35-3⁄4 inches on Shadzilla Swim Baits.
Alec Germann of White Bear Lake, Minn. finished fifth, and also scored an extra $500 for Sunday’s biggest fish, a 46-incher he caught on a shad-colored spinner bait.
It was Raley and Osfar’s second time at the Chaos Tackle Spring Shootout.
“Lat year we boated one smaller fish, a 32, 32 and-a-half, I think it was. The PMTT you can measure fish 30 inches or greater. It was another tough bite. We had our opportunities last year, but we just couldn’t keep’em hooked. This year, we got out bites and we were able to keep’em hooked, so it worked out.”
The next PMTT event is the Mercury Marine Summer Challenge on the Eagle River Chain June 21-22.
Anglers interested in the Eagle River event or others, or becoming a member, can get more information by visiting www.promusky.com or calling 815-478-4092.
Craig Turk may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.