Woman wins muskie tourney

How do these things happen?

It is guys that read countless publications, scour the Internet for information, attend numerous seminars and trade shows devoted solely to muskie fishing, annually purchase far too much of their disposable income on fishing equipment and drive boats valued at more than their personal residences.

It is men who are supposed to dominate the quest for the fearsome muskellunge, the legendary fish of 10,000 casts with teeth like a crocodile and a foul disposition. Shrieking is not allowed in a muskie boat. True muskie anglers are those who are willing to part with their fingers and other parts of their anatomy in return for having their photograph taken holding a monstrous fish.

Why then did Michelle Peplinski win the largest muskie tournament of 2013?

That’s right. Michelle Peplinski of Bear Creek, Wis., won “The Nationals.” The National Championship Musky Open is considered the most prestigious of all muskie competitions. It is held annually at Eagle River, Wis., on several different muskie waters. For 27 years, men have held the trophy high.

This year a record 1,222 seasoned muskie fishermen from 15 states hit the water Aug. 16-18. The field included Peplinski. It was her first time entering the tournament. So what happened?

Well, Peplinski caught four muskies in three days of fishing. Her total inches of fish was 150.5 for an average catch of 37.5 inches, better than anyone else in the huge field. Tournament muskie fishing has forever been changed. It was the first time in 28 years of the event that a woman was the winner. Good for her!

At the awards ceremony it was announced that the National Championship Musky Open has raised more than $940,000 for the muskie fishery of Wisconsin. The money is used for fish stocking and for scholarships for students pursuing fisheries degrees.

Next year’s “Nationals” is scheduled for Aug. 15-17. I’m guessing plenty of fishermen will be paying close attention to Peplinski.