The eleventh season of the Illinois Muskie Tournament Trail came to a close on November 9th and 10th with fifteen teams competing on beautiful Lake Kinkaid. The state championship tournament capped a great Trail season and provided some of the tightest points races in recent history.
Saturday’s bite was tough with only four fish registered. Matt Gunkel and Travis Smith boated two fish to take an early lead. The father-son team of Randy and Kyle Hilger boated one fish and the team of Howard Chambliss and Garry Brookman also boated one fish.
On day 2 the temperature and the bite heated up. Each of the teams with fish on Saturday also managed to boat at least one fish on Sunday. Another team managed to double up and two more teams put fish in the net. Gunkel/Smith turned in one fish and Team Hilger turned in a double so each team wrapped up the tournament with three fish.
First place and 2013 State Champion honors went to Matt Gunkel and Travis Smith with three fish (48”, 31,5” & 39.5”) for a total of 119”.
In second place was Team Hilger with three fish (32.25”, 31.5” & 39.5”) for a total of 103.25”.
Third place went to Michelle Hruskovich and Bob Taylor with two fish (41.25” and 32.5”) for a total of 73.75”.
In fourth place was Garry Brookman and Howard Chambliss with two fish (34” & 36.5”) for a total of 70.5”.
On Sunday Ron Rodak caught a 41.25 while fishing with Dan Davin and Brian Paasch caught a 41 while fishing with Eddie Fitzgerald.
Matt Gunkel’s 48” muskie on Saturday was big fish of the tournament as well as 2013 IMTT Big Fish of the Year.
The Angler of the Year competition was a real horse race. Randy Hilger led the 2013 Trail Points most of the season by earning first place finishes at the Spring Lake Tournament and the Shawnee Muskie Hunter’s Spring Fling Tournament. In October Jim Beaty passed Hilger as a result of his win at the SMH Fall Brawl Tournament. Coming into the last event of the year Jim Beaty was in the lead with 255 points and Randy Hilger with 224.5 points. Hilger’s two fish at the Championship tournament put him back in the lead earning him the title of 2013 IMTT Angler of the Year.
Top ten finishers for the 2013 Trail:
1 Randy Hilger 293.25 points
2 Jim Beaty 270 points
3 Travis Smith 261.25 points
4 Matt Gunkel 245 points
5 Howard Chambliss 235.5 points
6 Michelle Hruskovich 208.75 points
7 Garry Brookman 192.5 points
8 Victor Fox 187.75 points
9 Duane Landmeier 178 points
10 Brian Paasch 170 points
CONGRATULATIONS to all of our 2013 Trail participants for a safe, productive and fun Trail season. Take some time sharpen your hooks and plan your 2014 Trail strategies. The 2014 IMTT Trail starts March 15 2014 at Spring Lake North near Manito IL.
Enjoy the Holidays and we hope to see you at the winter shows.