Brown Trout winners wrap-up

ALPENA – The 39th Annual Brown Trout Festival wrapped up with an awards presentation and final raffle drawing in the big tent on Sunday evening. The tournament saw a steady number of fisherman with numbers similar to last year, and provided quite a challenge to anglers who fought choppy waters and brisk winds.

Super Tournament winners were team Wipe Out with local Wipe Out Charter boat Captain Rick Konecke and his crew Blaine Abbe, Dean Spitzer and Brad MacNeill aboard Konecke’s 27 foot sportcraft. After the weigh-in on Saturday, the anglers knew they had to catch a few nice salmon and steelhead to bring their weight up.

“We did lots of driving around the water and fished a bunch of spots,” Captain Konecke said. “We managed to pull a few kings.”

According to member Brad MacNeill, the team was around 10 pounds down after the first day of the super tournament, so they needed to come up with a strategy for Sunday’s fishing.

“It seems like the weather was worse this year, but the fishing was better,” MacNeill said. “We went right to the wreck and caught two and lost three. We managed to bring in a good cooler, but I wasn’t sure it would be enough to win.”

The men used dodgers and spin-n-glows to attract the lake trout, and said they were also using spoons.

“We knew it would be close,” MacNeill said. “We thought maybe top three.”

Konecke said the team did well and he was excited to place in first.

“It feels good,” he said. “We worked our butts off today!”

Second place captain for the super tournament was Chad Kruczynski, and tied for third were Nick Gabara and Kris Werda, with Martin Skiba’s team coming in fifth.

The kid’s tournament winners were also announced at the awards ceremony and Austin Szatkowski took first place with a 15.80 pound laker, with Jack Rea taking second. All the kids that participated received a prize from Audrey Koopikka funded by Stan Konecke’s Memorial Youth Award fund. This was the 8th annual kids tournament and the nine participants weighed in a total of 25 fish.

The biggest Brown Trout of the tournament was caught by Shawn Szatkowski weighing in at 13.35 pounds. Szatkowski was excited to get the award for biggest brown and said he has been fishing the tournament since he was a young boy. He said he was born the year the tournament started and his family plans their vacation around Brown Trout every year.

“This feels good, excellent. I’ve been fishing here my whole life,” Szatkowski said. “My whole family fishes the tournament. We take our vacation all week and fish every day. It’s our getaway.”

Szatkowski’s team included his youngest son, Austin, and his brothers Luke and Jason.

“We had a lot of bad weather and had a few break off this year, including a big lake trout,” he said. “I really hope this continues. It’s something we look forward to every year and I hope it gets bigger. Starting tomorrow we can’t wait until it gets here again next year. “

Biggest walleye went to Chris Wade at 8.80 pounds, biggest steelhead to Matt Beauchamp at 12.30 pounds, biggest salmon to Danielle Hanson at 21.85 pounds, and the biggest laker to Nick Gabara at 19.35 pounds.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.