Michigan boat wins coho classic
Written by Post-Tribune   
Monday, 02 May 2005 17:14

The 31st Annual Sea Ray/Hoosier Coho Classic was won by a mere quarter ounce on Sunday.

The two-day event, which featured both pro and amateur divisions, had a combined field of 100 boats.

On the pro side, Russ Boonstra of South Haven, Mich., and his team aboard "Hunter" took a two-day total of 24 fish and finished with 325.50 points. In the tournament each fish equals one point plus the weight.

Boats are allowed to weigh 12 fish per day. Second-place winner Brian Butz and his crew on the "Sea Flea" held the lead after day one with 12 fish and 172.25 points. However, on Day Two, despite having caught a limit of fish, the total weight of the fish caught couldn?t match those netted aboard the Hunter.

"The last fish of the day is what won it for us," Russ Boonstra said. "Otherwise, we might have ended up as far down as 12th place."

The winning fish was a chinook salmon that weighed 143?4 pounds.

"We started out the day fishing in 150 feet of water and caught 10 coho salmon within an hour and a half," Boonstra explained. "Almost all of the coho were caught on Lemon Ice Spoons fished with lead wire."

Boonstra explained that knowing his team needed to add some weight to stand a chance of winning the competition, they headed the boat back toward shore in hopes of finding either chinook, steelhead or lake trout. Like many other boaters in the tournament, they managed to mark the large fish closer to shore, but still couldn?t get them to bite.

"The water in close was very cloudy and discolored due to all of the north winds lately," Boonstra said. "It makes for very tough fishing under those conditions.

"When we got into 85 feet of water we marked some fish down deep so we set our downriggers at sixty feet and began to troll toward shore. At 80 feet the king hit on a blue Spin Doctor and Mirage Fly."

The amateur division was won by Michigan angler Ellis Walden aboard "Manistee Ma Ma", who took a two-day total of 24 fish and finished with 325.25 points. Third-place winner in the amateur division was Furnessville resident Jack Gillen and his team aboard "Spend-A-Buck". One of Gillen?s teammates, Charley Jokerst, said they fished at depths from 115 to 140 feet, where on day two they caught 10 coho, one lake trout and one steelhead trout.

"We caught a couple of fish in 115 feet of water and then decided to move out deeper," Jokerst said. "When we set our downriggers down we had five rods go off and we managed to land four coho.

"If they would have been steelhead or chinook, we might have won the tournament," the veteran angler said with a smile.

Pro Division Top 5

1. Russ Boonstra? Hunter 325.50

2. Brian Butz? Sea Flea 325.25

3. Carl Magee? Blue Fairway 322.25

4. Carl Stopczynski? Fuzzy Bear 321.50

5. Matt Strong? Strong Performance 320.25

Amateur Division Top 5

1. Ellis Walden? Manistee Ma Ma 325.25

2. Chuck Broadhurst? Spur of the Moment 313.75

3. Jack Gillen? Spend A Buck 310.50

4. Rolf Niezel? LaPaloma 310.50

5. Tom Peterson? Utopia 310.25

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