Saturday’s Metro Muskie Tournament — the 18th annual — could be a record-setter. Not only because stable weather is expected to prevail until Saturday. But because muskie fishing was pretty good in spots last weekend, and especially because Lake Minnetonka is one of 26 lakes tourney anglers can fish this year.
It’s been 10 years since Minnetonka was included among Metro Muskie Tournament lakes. Organizer Paul Hartman has attempted to secure the lake every year. But bass tournaments have prevailed in getting DNR permits for the same day, so muskie anglers have had to fish elsewhere.
Regardless of the number of tourney anglers who fish Minnetonka on Saturday, action there will be unique, because a no-wake rule likely will be in force due to high water.
Anglers will thus be prevented from popping from favorite spot to favorite spot on the lake, perhaps restricting the number of competitors who choose to fish Minnetonka.
East-Siders, meanwhile, will be happy to know that Forest Lake and Bald Eagle Lake are back in the tourney again this year. (For a complete lake list and other tournament rules, check online at metromuskietournament.com.)
Around 500 anglers are expected to enter the contest, and fishing is allowed from 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with an awards ceremony at 4:30 at Gander Mountain in Blaine.
The entry fee is $35 per angler. Grand prize is a week’s stay for two at Musky Bay Resort on Crow Lake, Ontario, with all muskies caught qualifying for the grand prize drawing.
Averaged over the past 18 years, a dozen to 14 muskies 40 inches or longer are caught during the contest. “We’ve had years where we’ve had more than 40,” Hartman said. “Then, a couple years ago, we didn’t have enough 40-inchers to award all of the top 10 prizes.”
Last Saturday, the muskie season’s first day, fishing around the metro seemed tougher than it was Sunday, according to some reports.
In about five hours on Sunday on a metro lake, my son, Cole, and I moved one big fish — a good omen, we thought, for early season action.
Meanwhile, a guided Capable Partners outing on Minnetonka the same day saw a handful of muskies caught, including one 50-incher.
Regardless the number of fish boated — and released — during Saturday’s tournament, muskies will benefit.
“In 17 years, we’ve raised more than $55,000 through the tournament for stocking,’’ Hartman said.
Dennis Anderson email@example.com