On Saturday May 30th, forty one entrants were eager to participate in the IMTT Russ Schaller Memorial Tournament. Two weeks earlier twenty one Muskies were caught during the Fox River Valley Chapter Challunge. With cloudy skies, air temperatures topping the 70 *mark and the looming threat of a massive cold front expected during fishing hours, twenty one boats left from Steitz’s Resort on Bluff Lake with the hopes of catching a Muskie.
Within twenty five minutes the first Muskie was in the net. During the one day tournament a total of nine Muskies over the 30″ minimum were caught. Anthony Fazio and Mike Bolt won the tournament with two healthy Fox Chain fish, a 40″er on a topwater bait and a 36″er on a safety pin style spinnerbait. Brandon Schorle (35″ & 35.5″) and Kenny Sowizrol took second place. Third place went to the team of Dave VanDoorn and Tim Crews with a pair of 32.5″ Muskies. Coming in fourth place was the team of Phil Gutmann (36″) and Sam Wilson. Erica Petersen (one tough young lady) fished all day through the bad weather and boated a nice 34.5″ Muskie while fishing with her dad Eric. Erica’s fish will be entered in the IMTT YOUTH TRAIL and she will be receiving a plaque with her fish information on it. Team Ziemans & Sipolt also made it on to the leader board with a 31.5″ Muskie.
By late morning the temperature had dropped nearly 20 degrees, the rain was falling heavily and the north winds were gusting to 30 mph prompting some boats returned to shore to find a warm place to thaw out. At the conclusion of the tournament, entrants and members of the Schaller family gathered inside Steitz’s Resort for the trophy presentation and a short ceremony dedicated to Russ. Long time friend Phil Gutmann shared with those in attendance many kind words about Russ.
Although the weather wasn’t cooperative, fish were caught, friends were seen, a good time was had, and the man who liked fishing for those elusive Muskies was honored.