For the first time in more than a decade, the Spring Classic of Champions Muskie Tournament is filled with a full field of 150 teams.

The 39th annual tournament will take place this Saturday and Sunday, June 8-9, on the Eagle River Chain of Lakes, with $28,000 in prize money.

“We are really excited about filling the tournament field,” said tournament director Scott Samuels for the sponsoring Headwaters Chapter of Muskies Inc. The entry fee was $340 per team.

Headquarters for this year’s Spring Classic will be at a new venue, at Shotski’s in Eagle River, located at 1295 White Pine Drive.

“We are excited about our new venue. Most of the festivities will take place in their 13,000-square-foot outdoor entertainment space,” said Samuels. “And there is plenty of parking around the facility.”

Registration for teams will be Friday, June 7, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Shotski’s, with a mandatory meeting at 8 p.m.

Samuels said a topic at the meeting will be the new fish measuring policy.

“There will be no judge boats this year,” said Samuels. “Anglers will be measuring and photographing their own fish. Teams must have a measuring board, as well as a smart phone or digital camera.” 

The Spring Classic, which is a catch-and-release tournament, will use a 34-inch size limit for a legal fish. 

For the 2019 Spring Classic, first place will pay out $15,000 with the full field of 150 teams. Second place will be $3,800, third will pay $3,100, fourth will be $2,000 and fifth will pay $1,000.

“The classic will continue to pay out cash prizes to the top 10 teams, but in addition, there will be a $100 drawing for teams who did not catch anything,” said Samuels.

Fishing will be Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to noon. The boats will take off both mornings from Eagle Lake Park on Eagle Lake.

A meal, raffle drawings and awards presentation will start at 1 p.m. Sunday at Shotski’s.

Last year, the team of Joe Perepechko and Santo Munizzi, both from Chicago, won the first-place prize of $13,500 with a 43-inch muskie. They also won the big fish award. Second place went to the team of Nathan Andrews of Harshaw and Jeff Eisner Jr. of Merrill with a 421⁄2-inch fish. They won $4,000. Scott Panko of Wisconsin Rapids and Ryan Konopacky of Stevens Point took third place with a 413⁄4-inch muskie. They won $2,400. A total of 16 fish were caught and released by 138 teams in 2018, but no teams doubled up.

Proceeds from the Spring Classic go to boat landing and pier improvements, supporting youth fishing events, scholarships, and muskie stocking and research.

“This year one of our big projects is to repair the Braywood boat landing ramp on Catfish Lake,” said Samuels. “So we are thrilled to be filled. One of our goals as a chapter is to make the fishing experience better for all, and improving access is one of the ways we can do that.”

For more information about the Spring Classic, call Samuels at (715) 547-3340 or visit the chapter website at headwatersmuskies.com.