The 43rd annual World Championship Musky Classic was held last weekend and 688 anglers took to the water in the traveling tournament that rotates between the north Lakeland towns of Manitowish Waters, Winchester, Presque Isle, and Boulder Junction.
This year’s festivities were headquartered at the community center in Manitowish Waters.
The Musky Classic, at it’s heart, is a fundraiser for the Ben Bendrick Memorial Scholarship.
“We take the money and we turn it around and give it in scholarships to the kids that go to North Lakeland Elementary School, because those are the four towns that go to the school — Boulder (Junction), Winchester, Manitowish Waters, and Presque Isle,” Musky Classic Board of Directors president Beth Kebl said. “So when those kids get into high school I get a list and then they become eligible for our scholarship.”
In addition to a worthy cause, the Musky Classic also offers a top of the line competitive fishing experience. Over 20 trophies, all sponsored by local individuals and businesses. are given as prizes in various categories.
This year’s master of ceremonies was Bill Sherer of the We Tie It Fly Shop in Boulder Junction, and according to him, it was a fine weekend for musky fishing.
“Quite honestly I think this was probably the best weather conditions we’ve had for musky fishing for this weekend in a long, long time and the results show it,” Sherer said.
Sixty-two total muskies were caught over the weekend — 15 of them were over 40 inches and 47 of them were between 35 and 40 inches. Only muskies that were over 40 inches were transported to one of the 19 tournament boat landings for registration and scoring before being released. Fish between 35 inches and 40 inches were released immediately on the water.
Jake Trussoni of North Prairie topped the field by catching a 46.5-inch musky with a bucktail on Rest Lake. That enabled him to win the Sportsmen’s division first place trophy sponsored by Retreat Bar. The Sportsmen’s division includes amateur, non-compensated fishermen. Josh Lenda, of Cudahy took second in that division with a 43-inch musky caught on Spider Lake, and Jeff Comp, of Prior Lake, Minn., took third in the Sportsmen’s division, also with a 43-inch musky, that one was taken on North Turtle Lake.
In the Open division, which includes licensed guides, people hiring guides, guests of the Musky Classic, and professional or compensated fishermen, Isaac Hoffmaster of Madison took the first place trophy sponsored by Greer’s Pier. Hoffmaster caught a 45.25-inch musky with a bucktail on Clear Lake. Taking second in the Open division was Aaron Raynoha of Monona, who caught a 45-inch musky on Rest Lake. Third in the Open division went to Rick McClellan of Manitowish Waters. He caught a 42.25-inch musky on Horsehead Lake.
In Team competition, in which teams of 1-10 members compete with the combined length of up to three fish, Junebug’s Oswego Lake Resort took the first place trophy sponsored by Camp Holiday.
They scored a combined total length of 82 inches with two fish.
The second place team was the Law Dawgs with one fish at 46.5 inches. The third place team was Tower Hill Team Adelaide with a length of 45 inches for one fish.
In the Club division, which features teams of 11 or more members, club Catch ‘Em won the first place trophy sponsored by Bill’s Musky Club/12 Apostles Musky Club. They scored a length of 45.25 inches with one fish. The second place club was Team Retreat. They scored 42.34 inches with one fish. There was not a third place club that registered a fish.
In addition to the division trophies, there were a number of individual awards given out.
Because he released his 46.5-inch catch, Trussoni, who won the Sportsman’s division, also won the largest fish released trophy sponsored by The Lakeland Times and the Michael Luedtke Memorial.
Kim Mampe, of Sturtevant, won the Deakin Family Memorial Trophy for the biggest musky caught by a female angler. Mampe caught a 39.5-inch musky on Clear Lake.
Mark Ghiloni of Wisconsin Rapids caught the largest musky with a fly rod. His 36-inch fish won him a trophy sponsored by We Tie It out of Boulder Junction.
Barry Hopkins won the Bill Sherer Award trophy, sponsored by the Sherer family, for outstanding community involvement and extraordinary volunteer involvement with the Musky Classic.
And Dan, Ed, and Randy Gascoigne won the Sportsmanship Trophy for exemplary sportsmanship. That trophy was sponsored by the Musky Clubs Alliance of Wisconsin.
Finally the Township Traveling trophy went to host Manitowish Waters because the biggest fish of the tournament, Trussoni’s 46.5-inch musky, was caught on the Manitowish chain. The traveling township trophy is sponsored by Musky Hunter magazine.
In addition to the fishing contest there was also a patch and button design contest. The winner’s designs were featured on patches and buttons sold at the 2019 Musky Classic and the patch design was featured on the cover of the official program and tournament hat. Logan Penrose, from Boulder Junction, a sixth grader at North Lakeland Elementary, won the button design. Chance Jacobs, of Mercer, also a sixth grader at North Lakeland, won the patch design. The cash prizes awarded to the youth were sponsored by the Musky Classic and Headwaters State Bank.
The ultimate winners of the Musky Classic, however, were the recipients of this year’s Ben Bendrick scholarship, which is what all the hard work and hard fishing was for.
To be eligible for a scholarship a student must have attended grades 5-8 at North Lakeland School and display extraordinary dedication to the classroom and community. If chosen they must have an adequate class schedule and maintain a 2.75 grade point average.
This year Stephanie Mauzer of Presque Isle was awarded a four year scholarship, as was Andrew Johnson of Boulder Junction. Margaret Wohlleber of Manitowish Waters was awarded a two-year scholarship.
Since it began in 1977, the World Championship Musky Classic has awarded $188,500 in Ben Bendrick Memorial Scholarships.
Jacob Friede may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]