The worst hours of weather made for the best fishing of the weekend on Lake Mayfield at the 7th annual Mayfield Open Tiger Musky Tournament, June 23 and 24.
At the end of the day on Sunday, Mark Wells added up the scores of the contestants and came up with an interesting statistic.
“This was the best Mayfield Open we’ve ever had,” said Wells, “And while it may have looked like a tiger musky factory out there, it took 13 teams 416 hours to catch just 13 fish. That’s 32 hours per fish.”
In the first six hours of the tournament, between 6 a.m. and 12 noon, ten of the thirteen fish caught in the tournament were landed. Only three were caught during the Saturday evening run — and only two of those were caught during a brief bout of sunshine.
Sterner’s fishing partner, his son Ben Lomedico, had never fished for tiger muskies until the morning the tournament opened.
Somewhere near the twelfth hour of fishing, Lomedico hooked into his first musky.
“It was only 26-inches, so it was undersized, but it was my first one ever,” said Lomedico with a wide grin. “Now I’m hooked … literally.”
Chilly Sterner and son rode the smallest boat of the tournament; a customized aluminum boat that seemed as though it should be overpowered and out fished by those riding big Ranger bass boats, but that certainly wasn’t the case. Seven of the thirteen teams went home without a recorded catch, Sterner’s wasn’t one of them.
“I’ve never been skunked out here before,” said Sterner with a shake of his head as he lamented Sunday’s zero point count. “I hooked two and lost two today that would have been winning fish.”
With a field of only 13 teams, fifth place didn’t garner the team cash winnings, but they did seem to earn the respect of the out-of-town anglers.
The Sterner-Lomedico team concentrated most of their efforts inside the Winston Cove near the resort, but did venture out into the salt flats and near the park for a few casts, where most teams patrolled throughout the two days.
The tiger musky king of the flats was Oregon resident Ed Walzer. He became known as “The Fly Guy,” so named by tournament judge Stacie Kelsey, WDFW, who had his cell phone number memorized after several calls the first morning of the tournament.
Walzer and his teammate Mike Floyd, of Auburn, caught seven of the thirteen fish caught all weekend long — six of those seven were Walzer’s fish and all six were caught on fly fishing gear.
Walzer said he started using fly fishing gear exclusively last year.
“It’s just something I had on my bucket list,” he said.
Walzer’s teammate, Floyd, said, “I only took one fish, but I got to net six. That was a really good day. And watching Ed with that fly rod was amazing. He’s a wizard. If the fish came up behind the fly, they’d hit it every time. And they didn’t just hit it, they engulfed it.”
The team spent most of their time on the flats, some in the cove, but caught fish everywhere.
Cascade Musky Association president Mark Wells and his wife, Lori Wells, took second place in the tournament.
Lori Wells caught the two biggest fish of the tournament, one at 45.5 inches with a 22-inch girth, and another just a quarter inch larger. There is some speculation that Lori caught the same fish twice.
“On Sunday Lori had a great follow by another big fish,” said her husband Mark, “but that fish took one look at her and said, ‘Not again!’ and turned right around.”
Take a look at Lori’s two fish: