The 2009 tourney is in the books. A total of 5 muskies were boated in the two day event. My partner Mike Tengwall and I took home the third place prize. Here's how it all went down.
It has been an interesting couple of weeks up on the big pond. The fishing has been great and terrible during this time. It started out with Mike and I finding a large concentration of fish and immediate success. 8 muskies were boated during a short 4 day period by Mike and myself. We started it together with a decent fish, and he kept things rolling. Over the next 3 days he boated 7 more fish with 3 over 50 inches and a giant 53 incher taking the biggest overall weight. A stretch of days that would make any man excited to jump into the tournament.
The next 3 day stint on the water showed us the toughness of Mille Lacs when she rears her ugly head. The fishing was brutal to say the least. We had several close calls, but no muskies were boated by us the weekend prior to the event. This would leave any man feeling foolish to enter any tournament.
The 2 days leading up to the event were more of the same. October-like conditions pounded the big lake on Thursday and Friday and made for one heck of an experience on the big lake. Monster waves made fishing difficult on most of the lake, and we were forced to find a new pattern. We tried everything under the sun on Friday, our last day of pre-fishing. We found some good fish and felt pretty confident going into Saturday morning. The only problem was that the fish didn't feel a need to duplicate their own pattern on Saturday. This made for a tough day on the water, and left us with 2 short strikes during the first day of the 9 hour event. We stuck to our pattern for day one in hopes of one good bite, but it never came. Day one for the tournament produced 3 fish by the small field of willing anglers. Dave Organ and Patrick Cotter scored huge by battling out the mid-lake waves. They boated a 50 and 42.75 on the first day with their rocky pattern. Luke Ronnestrand and his partner Chris Jensen also enticed a 41 incher to bite. That was it for day one. We weren't happy with the results, but knew that things could still change come day two.
Frustrated by our lack of success in getting our "patterned" fish to bite on Saturday, we decided to switch gears completely. The cold weather and a 10 degree drop in water temps finally forced us out of our "milk run." We abondoned everything completely and went back to the basics of muskie fishing. With our lures we labeled "Green Weinies," we chose to spend the entire day grinding them out. A term that I think only Mike and I refer to. Leaving our groups of muskies wasn't the easiest thing for us to do, but we feared we would drive ourselves into the ground if we kept pounding the same dead pattern. As it turns out, we might have made a good decision. We will never know if those fish would have turned on for us, but at 10:00 we forgot all about them. A rocket of a 44 incher finally got mad at all the ruckus we were creating and erupted from the surface with Mike's lure. A strike so fierce that launched the fish a full 4 feet in the air. It was awesome, but at the same time gut-wrenching to see the fish so wild. A fear that she might get off was the only thing that crossed our minds. In a tournament all you see is $$$ jumping in the air, and as we all know, that airborn fish can easily spit a hook. Mike tamed her enough to coax her into the net. This fish now put us into 2nd place. With a bite so tough on the lake, we knew that one more big fish could put us into first place. This opportunity was not to happen for us on that day. A mid 50 incher did show herself in the fading minutes of the tourney, but she was not to eat. To make matters worse, the Ronnestrand team boated anothe fish just before time ran out on the event. They took back their 2nd place position and knocked us down to third. That's fishin.....
Our goals were set a bit higher for this event, but any time you can land a muskie in a tournament is a huge accomplishment. The conditions were brutal on that big body of water, and the muskies showed us all that they were still king. Only 3 teams boated a fish this year which is no surprise. Last year the 50 boat field only gave up 3 fish over the two days. This, coupled with the horrible economy must have been why so many backed out of the 2009 event. A disspointing number of comptetitors showed up this year, but we gave it our all. Congrats on the great fish Mike, and thanks for being an awesome partner. We shall see what the 2010 tourney brings for us on the big pond....Until then, Keep on Livin' the dream!