An 18 year old tradition, the Michigan-Ontario Muskie Club (MOMC) along with the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club and Detroit Athletic Club continues the annual participation in the Special Olympics Muskie tournament raising money for the Grosse Pointe / Harper Wood Chapter of Special Olympics. Organizations like the Detroit Athletic Club, Detroit and Grosse Pointe Yacht Club along with other companies and individuals donate to fish aboard 47 different muskie boats during the one day and is a 100% Catch & Release Tournament with over 315 participants this year.
This day was not typical of others as a storm loomed the area just prior to the cannon shot start. As the boats raced to their muskie grounds, you could easily see there was no turning back. I was lucky to be a guest angler along with a few friends and Joel Piatek, first mate aboard the Yellow Belly, captained by Brad Horton who is a long time friend and fishing team mate. When Joel is not fishing with Brad he operates a full time charter business called FISH HEADZ Outfitter, a sport fishing and waterfowl guide service on LAKE ST. Clair. Together Brad and Joel have worked the SOM tournament for the last 6 years.
Heading across the lake to fish the Canadian side and having dark skies Joel is already beginning to think of today’s lure selections. Darker colors mostly frog, perch and bass patterns on wooden baits such as Ziggies are generally the first picks to run on cloudy days. Adding a Spanky or Lapper Lure Bucktail is also a surefire way of adding a muskie to the catch report.
During the 9-3pm tournament, crews call into the MOMC weigh master to report the lengths of the fish they catch to place in the top 3 largest fish of the day. Once the fish is measured, it is released safely to ensure its survival and ultimately improve our fishery. Tremendous care is put into to releasing the fish that is caught since it ultimately ensures a better future fishery. One way of achieving a safe release is by using a system called, Fishthanks which is a livewell system created by Dave Clark, captain of Liquid Sedation. That has undoubtedly improved the survival of muskies caught on the lake. I believe it is the major reason we are catching muskies that top the 40lbs class. The Fishthanks system for us has kept fish alive for over 3 hours as they were taken in to be weighed and then back out again for safe release.
During this event we were using Shakespeare RP2 Tournament Rods with Shimano Tekota 700 reels spooled with Diamond 40lb test line at 9′ with 60lb leaders for these toothy fish. Utilizing a main line planer board system with single releases off the boards, we vary our weights from 2-6 oz and line distance of 20-40′ off the main planer line to enable us to fish different depths. Mostly we are focusing on the middle of the water column. From the boat we are running a down rod with a 10oz weight right off the back corner and 11′ rods with a 4oz weight 20′ back to fish the area just past the boat.
This day, the weeds and surface clutter is almost non-existent making for an easy day of running the rods, although the changing conditions had us firing through baits on a regular basis as we searched for the hot ticket to produce bites. A little slower in the morning hours, we only landed a few fish and nothing large. It wasn’t until the storm front blew through, when the humidity and temperature started to climb when we had our best bites producing 6 fish in the final few hours of tournament.
Most of our fish during that time came on Ziggie bass patterns and olive frog. Its essential that you continue to search for the colors that are best suited for the given weather. What worked an hour ago, may not be producing now. I like to blend the bait with the water and sticking to more natural color patterns. Finally, keeping rods clean of weeds is essential, so stay vigilant on the rods because no self respecting muskie will take a bait that is pulling weeds. Keep your lines clean, run them around 3.8mph and switch them up to find the color patterns working for that day and you are doing the right things that will produce muskies on Lake St. Clair.
It was a fun day and we pulled in a good dozen, all of good size just no prize winners. The results are as follows:
1st – Capt Jim McCardy (GPYC) – Team After-All
Angler: Tom Thompson
Sponsor – Friends of Dr. McCardy
53″length – Successfully Released.
2nd – Capt Scott Murray (MOMC) – Team Down Time
52″ length – Successfully Released.
3rd – Capt Vince Brennan (MOMC) – Team Mary Megan II
Angler: Mathew Hessburg Special Olympic Athlete
Sponsor – Schoenherr Financial Partners, LLC
51 1/4″ length – Successfully Released.
All 47 boats participating landed fish and over a dozen 50″ class fish were landed and released for another day. With over $10k raised to benefit the Special Olympics you could not have asked for a better day.
The Michigan-Ontario Muskie Club (M.O.M.C) was founded in 1956 by a group of Lake St. Clair Muskie fishing enthusiasts. It was created to provide a forum for Muskie fisherman of all skill levels to come together and enjoy Muskie fishing…A statement which the M.O.M.C. still values today. The M.O.M.C. is dedicated to the sport of Muskie fishing, striving to provide our members both fun and rewarding experiences. Our members practice “Catch and Release”, and have an astonishing 99.9% release to harvest ratio.
The M.O.M.C. develops and supports activities in education, conservation, recognition and community service. We have programs to recognize individual efforts such as True Trophy Release, the Thirty-five Pound Club, the Forty Pound Club, and Top “5’s”. It is the club’s goal to provide members with opportunity for fun and rewarding experience. The M.O.M.C. is a club whose members are proud to belong to, and which sets the standard by which other fishing organizations measure themselves.