National Musky Championship Open held for 32nd yearSubmitted: 08/18/2017
Dakota Sherek
Dakota Sherek

National Musky Championship Open held for 32nd year
EAGLE RIVER - About 1,300 people will attempt to snag the biggest Musky during a long-standing tournament in Vilas County this weekend.

"When you go on the water and see all these yellow hats you'll know the tournaments on," said Wisconsin Musky Clubs Alliance Secretary Donald Gilbert.

The National Musky Championship Open has lasted for decades.

"It's growing every year. So we're doing something right, for doing 32 years I guess we learned a little bit," said Gilbert. 

It is a catch-and-release tournament, so no points are given if competitors keep the fish. Organizers say the money raised in the tournament benefits the state.

"We invest that money back into Wisconsin, for scholarships, research, kids days," said Gilbert.

The Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce also receives some of the money from the tournament.

In addition to bragging rights for those who catch the most and biggest fish, two brand new boats will be given away through random drawings to a couple lucky winners on Sunday.

One Illinois family, who won a new boat during the 2009 raffle, makes a point to participate every year. 

"Well they've been coming up here since before I was born," said 13-year-old Carter Wachtel, "I started being able to register in the tournament when I was six." 

Both Carter and his 10-year-old brother Cameron enjoy Musky fishing.

"I like when you get a big one it's, I like the fight and the adrenaline rush," said Carter. 

"I just like the competition and so many great fishers in the area," said Cameron.

Organizers enjoy having kids involved in the tournament.

"It's nice to hear the stories and the enthusiasm especially from young people. They come back and they just talk and talk, you see the gleam and their eyes and it's just really something to me," said Vice President of the Wisconsin Musky Clubs Alliance Chuck Brod.

The Wisconsin Musky Club Alliance says keeping the tournament family-friendly is key.

"Friends, brothers, sisters come out here, we try to bring the fun part of the tournament," said Brod. 

At the heart of it all, organizers think the reason people come back year after year is simple.

"People just enjoy fishing I think, and being here in the Northwoods," said Gilbert.

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