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Gil Hamm: Final day

COOK, Minn.–The local chapter of Muskies Inc.–Star of the North–performed like stars, leading the Gil Hamm Memorial Chapter Challunge on Lake Vermilion start to finish.

The thing I found fascinating about the competition was how no one method seemed to be the only way. People caught muskie working weeds near deep water, some caught them off reefs and others worked bait balls over deep water.

Vermilion is an intimidating body of water. Just an interesting place.

Obviously, that is why the advantage went to the home team.

Star of the North claimed the Lunge Bucket with seven muskies, including a pair of 49ers. One 49 came on Wednesday, the other one today.

At one point, the stars set their trophy on a table while the wrap-up festivities were going on, sort of like the Stanley Cup resting on a bar. Well, sort of.

Pat Garaghty of the Metro North chapter caught the only 50-inch muskie during the three-day competition.

“I got lucky, 13 minutes in, fish on,” he said. “Net man tried to go in the water on [the first attempt], but on the second pass, he netted it. It went downhill from there.”

Weather certainly took a turn today, for the final half day of fishing.

Winds picked up by late morning as the temperature hovered around 50 degrees. The wind through white caps and changed fishing plans for many, including my partner Steve Statland and myself. The area where we had success raising and catching several fish bore the brunt of the winds, so we ended up trolling rather than casting as the winds came.

Even with the winds, a few good fish were brought in, including one of the 49s by Star of the North.

Chicagoland Muskie Hunters, hosts as defending champs, sent five six-man teams. The Hamm Bones–John Wall, Joe Fabian, Randy Jaros, Glenn Jaros, Chuck Birmingham, Bob Lottman—finished seventh.

I was a member of the Grumpy Old Men (at least two of us are not old and a couple are not grumpy), which also included Statland, Paul Hortenstine, Brent “Bert” Cunningham and twin brothers Bob and Don Roman. The only fish our team had to enter was the 41.5-incher Hortenstine caught Wednesday, the first day of competition.

Much to digest about the trip.