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Musky tournament reels in anglers
Mike Schultz of Michigan shows a 41-inch musky he caught in Warren County during the Hardly Strictly Musky Tournament held Friday and Saturday. Schultz was part of the winning team with three of the 10 musky caught during the two-day event.

The calming waters of the Collins River can act like a stress-relieving sauna for those who gently float downstream.
But from the soothing surface, you’d never guess what lurks below.
The demonic-looking musky, with its fangs and natural snarl, fills the depths of the Collins River, attracting fishermen from around the nation to hunt it.
Winners were announced Saturday night at the Park Theater for the fifth annual Hardly Strictly Musky Tournament. The two-day tournament featured 75 anglers from dozens of states, all of whom came to Warren County thirsting for musky.
“We had fishermen come from as far north as New York, as far south as southern Florida, and as far west as Colorado,” said tournament organizer Todd Gregory, owner of Towee Boats, a local boat manufacturer. “Catching musky on a flyrod is one of the hardest things to do in the sport of fishing. We had 75 of the best right here in Warren County and 10 fish were caught in two days. That shows you how tough it is.”
Fishermen arrived Thursday night for an opening banquet before spending two days on the water on Friday and Saturday.
Maryland resident Katie Blizzard emerged as the big fish winner, catching a musky 42.75 inches long. The championship team included Wisconsin resident Chris Willen, Michigan resident Mike Schultz, and Virginia resident Blane Chocklett. They caught three musky 41, 40 and 36 inches long.
Blizzard said she’s been musky fishing for about four years and usually fishes two to three times a week on places like the Potomac River. She said the Collins River is one of the best places for musky she’s seen.
“This was the biggest musky I’ve ever caught,” said Blizzard. “It was on a tributary of the Collins. I used a color combination I don’t normally use and I sunk it deep into a hole. That’s where I caught it.”
Blizzard said musky fishing is not just a hobby, but a lifestyle.
“I’m addicted,” she said. “To catch something that smart, it has to be an obsession. There aren’t a lot of people who fly fish for musky.”
Warren County is establishing a reputation as a prime spot for musky with the Collins River serving as the main fishing hole. This year’s tournament included sponsors such as Costa Del Mar sunglasses, Floodtide and Patagonia, an outdoor apparel company.
“Patagonia is based in California and they expressed an interest in becoming a sponsor because they want to be a part of what’s happening here in Warren County,” said Gregory, whose company is always the title sponsor.
McMinnville Mayor Jimmy Haley said events like the Hardly Strictly Musky Tournament have helped the community gain fame as a happening place. He pointed to an article in Jet Setter magazine which listed McMinnville as one of the top 9 coolest Southern towns. Other cities on the list included Wilmington, N.C., Athens, Ga., and Natchez, Miss.
Rock Island State Park ranger Jason Miller said he transferred from Burgess Falls near Cookeville so he could work at Rock Island and have better access to musky. He also entered the tournament.
“There were 10 fish caught and I caught one of them so I’m happy about that,” said Miller. “This is really big for our area. I know all the cabins at Rock Island are filled.”