2009 Perch Assault Series Draws to a close. The ice is off on another fantastic year for the Perch Assault. 2009 saw the addition of a new tournament lake, the first annual Masters Invitational and a new series Champion. The rewards were great for several new teams and veterans teams as well.
The first event kicked off the year at Smith Lake, west of Kalispell, MT. This lake has been recently regarded as a frustrating lake to fish, mostly due to a surge of hammer handle pike. Several teams opted to sit out, feeling that the perch fishery would no longer produce the kind of tournament winning fish that teams have become used to. Several teams did their homework and were well awarded for their efforts. The winning team of Jim Hoover and Ralph Johnson, The Fish Devils, stunned the participants with a ten perch bag weight of 6.63 pounds, fishing the same 3-4 holes all day long. They actually were not in their first choice of spots, as heavy wet snow and slush kept them from reaching their prime area. Bruce Sackett and Bob Poore posted a strong second place with 5.49 pounds of fish. Bob Hickey and Trent Young barely edged out Don Schaeffer and Jon Carpenter for third place with 4.67 pounds for the former and 4.64 pounds for the latter. Dan Muir and Dave Yarger rounded out the top five with a close 4.45 pounds.
Brian Kahler and Kirk Rasmussen ook big fish honors with a perch that tipped the scales at 1.28 pounds. Levi Jeschke, fishing with his Dad, Perch Assault co-founder Chancy Jeschke, won the youth division with one fish that weighed .74 pounds.
The second event of the series took place in February at Middle Thompson Lake, midway between Libby and Kalispell, the jewel of the Thompson Lakes Chain. Conditions on the day were perfect with solid ice, a skiff of snow and a picture perfect blue sky, with bright sunshine. 44 teams took to the ice and quickly spread out in all directions. The morning started slow for most, but it quickly became obvious that some teams had the bite figured out. In the end it was the team of Jamie Curylo and Kirk Lehmann, The Perch Heads, hat emerged victorious. Their 10 fish bag weight of 6.38 vindicated them of their forgetful day at the previous event. They also scored the big fish ofthe day at 1.08 pounds, earning them over $1500 in cash on the day! Second place went to Schaeffer and Carpenter with 5.97 pounds. Inaugural 2006 Perch Assault winner Wes Harapat, fishing with Ron Redfield, came third with 5.07 pounds.
Doug Bolender and Dan Smith finally put it all together to finish fourth and Shane and Josh Stratton, winners of the Masters Invitational, rounded out the top five with 4.27 pounds. Denise Schlegel, fishing with husband Wayne, won the ladies division with 1.07 pounds, but Wayne was the lucky winner of a StrikeMaster Lazer Mag Express auger when his number was called at the door prize drawing. Wayne and Denise have fished every Perch Assault and have had great luck with the prize drawings.
The last event again saw some great weather to begin with, but it turned windy and cold at mid point, which made for a bite that turned on and off for most of the day. Lake Mary Ronan, in Proctor, MT, is a favorite of almost all the teams who participate. It usually rewards most anglers with lots of fish, and for those in the right spot, some of the nicer fish to be caught anywhere in the area. Bob Hickey started the day off early with a 1.35 pound beauty that would hold as the top fish of the event.
Schaeffer and Carpenter, last year’s series Runners Up, bested the field with 7.12 pounds, earning them the top spot on the day, and the series championship. Tim Marsh and Jim Smith from Helena, MT were a very close second with 6.96 pounds and some of the nicest fish of the year. Thane Melton, who usually fishes with father Mike, instead invited his girlfriend Bayley Sorenson along, and they took third with 5.65 pounds. Bayley also won the women’s division, in her first ever ice fishing tournament. That girl is a keeper, Thane! Hoover and Johnson were fourth with 4.66 pounds and Hickey and Young finished fifth with that big fish of Bob’s the contributing factor there. Pete Jellar won the much coveted Frabill Magnum GT ice house in the drawing.
The runner up position for series champs went to Hoover and Johnson, with Hickey and Young in third place overall. Congratulations guys, you all fought hard, but Don Schaeffer and Jon Carpenter proved unstoppable this year. Their total weight of 17.73 pounds of perch caught in the three events was more than five pounds heavier than second place. After losing the championship last year by less than half a pound, they left no margin for error in 2009.
A special thank you to all 54 teams that participated this year. Your sportsmanship, camaraderie and skills make this series what it is. Of course, our sponsors make it all possible by providing the extra incentive and rewards for your hard work. Thank you for making the Perch Assault Montana’s Hottest Tournament…On Ice!!!
The Perch Assault sends a big thank you to Walleyes Unlimited of Montana; Flathead Chapter, Snappy Sport Senter, StrikeMaster, Frabill, Vexilar, HT Enterprises, Northland, Automatic Fisherman, Mo Fisch Charters, Brian’s Cenex, and Conoco.