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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 9-7-2016

by Mark Walters

The Minute Man Musky Tournament is One Good Time

Hello friends, 

I have so many friends that I laugh with almost all of the time. This week’s column is about The Minute Man Musky Tournament that is run by my good friend, Matt Symon and hosted by Amanda Wilson, owner of Deerfoot Lodge and Resort, on the beautiful Chippewa Flowage (www.deerfootlodge.com).

So I have been out of the Wisconsin Air National Guard since 1987, but the friends that I made during that six-year enlistment are forever. Over the years I met a bunch of guys that are currently enlisted. Back in the 90’s these guys started a really fun musky tournament that used to be held on the Round/Pike chain of lakes.

I joined the “party” about 15-years ago and along with me about 16-people from that are somehow part of my deer camp “The Red Brush Gang” joined the pack.

Saturday, August 27th
High 78, low 52

There would be 32 of us having as much fun as we could handle, for 48-hours on this can’t miss trip and the lodge at Deerfoot is our headquarters.

This tournament runs from 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning until 7:00 p.m. and then from 6 until 11:00 on Sunday. I would be fishing with my fellow bomb loader, Jeff Neitzel and we generally never catch a fish, this year would be no exception. Mr. Neitzel gets up early, fishes hard and likes to be my teacher. Fortunately, his student is a rebel at heart, gives his teacher a constant hard time and skips a lot of school.

We always start this tournament with very high hopes and today we found a “new spot” that covered about 160-acres and the structure constantly changes from 3 to 22 feet of water. So we are drifting a shoreline and each of us has one pole that is rigged for northern pike, as there is a northern pike side bet.

My teacher asks me if I have a medium leader for gators, and I give him one and he ties it on and choses a #5 Mepps spinner. With my teachers first cast a big fish hits it, the fight is on for maybe five seconds and then his line went limp. Based on past performance, that was our one chance for the year.

An hour later, what may have been a good northern pike or a small musky whacks another spinner, my teachers line goes limp and we still suck. Towards dark, my teacher has what he figures is a 38-40 inch musky do a follow up and we had a great day.

At 7:00, the “social experience” begins in the lodge and a 37.5 musky is top fish which was caught by fellow bomb loader Mike O’Shaugnessy “Shaggy” and second place is a 35-inch fish caught by Matt Symons. The top gator, which would win was a 25.25 that was caught by Jay Kimberley. (Side story on that, I never met the kid before and 5 days later would paddle my canoe up to his duck boat at 5:30 in the morning as I ventured to my spot).

When I was in the guards, as you can imagine I was a model airmen, all you have to do is ask me and I will tell you. My superiors John Meier, Tommy Gilbertson and Gary Jensen are all in this tournament as well and tonight along with my teacher and Robby Meier and Todd Cibulka and a whole bunch of “hard core” fishermen we talked intense strategy until 2:00 a.m and we laughed our heads off.

Both my nephews, Riley and Trent Schuster tried going to bed early and I was having no part of that which in the end resulted in races outside of the lodge and some wrestling with Riley.

The following morning my teacher was not at all impressed with his “star student” (to be perfectly honest, my teacher blew it three times yesterday so I was rebelling). Perhaps teacher created a little video of his student taking a short rest in the boat and his only glory was showing it off at the awards ceremony back at the lodge.

I have never missed this tournament since I started doing it and as you may be able to see, it aint all about catching fish. Sunset.