Good weather leads to good catches at Coho Club Classic
Written by Post-Tribune   
Sunday, 07 May 2006 11:31

Unlike the past several years when cold winds, choppy waves and soggy rain were abundant on the first day of the Hoosier Coho Club Classic, the start of this year’s two-day tournament brought with it ideal fishing weather.

And with much luck or skill — or both — some boats managed to bring in limits of salmon and trout while others struggled to net fish on Saturday.

The Classic is divided into two groups: pro and amateur and the stakes in the games are large. Charter boat captains are required to enter the Pro Division which has a first place payout of $5,000. The winner of the Amateur Division is awarded a check for $2,000.

One of those within striking distance of a chance to pick up a check as well as gain bragging rights in the amateur division is Jack Gillen of Furnessville, whose team aboard the Spend A Buck boated 12 fish that weighed 49.30 pounds.

That tally put them in fifth place in the 32nd annual Classic, one of the most popular tournaments on the Great Lakes.

“The first hour of the tournament began slow as we only managed to land four fish,” Gillen said. “We decided to move a little deeper and then we got into some lake trout.”

Tournament standings are determined by the number of fish caught and the weight. There is a 12-fish limit and each fish is worth 10 points. Then the weight of the catch is added to determine total points. While fish such as coho salmon can tally a good number of points, generally speaking of all the species of fish out there, those tend to be light on the scale during the early fishing season.

Gillen said that his group caught most of their fish (seven coho, four lake trout and one steelhead) at lake depths between 165 to 175 feet.

“The lake trout were caught on Glow dodgers with Pickle Sunshine flies manufactured by Action Lures,” Gillen said. “We found them all hanging along the bottom.”

Mike Jones of LaPorte, the winner of last week’s “Mini-Classic,” which brought in a total weight of 71 pounds, was less fortunate at the close of fishing on day one of the Classic. His team managed to boat only one fish, a nine-pound steelhead.

“All week long the action for chinook had been good up near St. Joseph, Michigan, so we decided to make the run,” Jones said. “However, today wasn’t our day though we did catch a beautiful steelhead that was pink and apparently had just moved back out into the lake from the river.”

Like many other crews on the big lake, Jerry Ruess and his team aboard Wave Knockers netted a catch that consisted mostly of coho salmon. Their catch of eight coho and one five-pound chinook has them 20th among the field of 41 amateur boats.

Ian Stewart of Chicago, formerly of Michigan City, was ranked eighth in the Pro Division after his crew brought in 12 fish that weighed 38.40 pounds. Stewart said he plans on changing course today in hopes of finding bigger fish.

“We found a good number of fish. However, to win the tournament you need to get the big fish,” Stewart said. “Going into tomorrow quite a few boats still have a chance to win the tournament.”

Atop the leaderboard after the first day in the Pro Division was Dave Johnson and his crew aboard Quick Release. Their 12 fish tipped the scales at 77.50 pounds. The current top spot in the Amateur Division belonged to Jim Marohn and his fishing mates on Hot Pursuit. They also checked in 12 fish that had a total weight of 70.55 pounds.

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