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Anglers share in muskie prize

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Dustin Carlson of Hermantown and Bob Benson of Chetek, Wis., won the Minnesota Muskie Tournament Trail event on July 20-21 at Lake Vermilion.

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The two anglers won a combined $6,000, along with rods and reels, Carlson said.

Carlson and Benson caught two muskies, 51 inches and 41 inches long, on Friday, the first day of the tournament, then came back to catch muskies of 41 and 41½ inches the second day. On a point system that awards bonus points for larger fish, the team finished with 56½ points to edge the second-place team with 55 points.

"It was neck-and-neck right to the end," said Carlson, 30, a dedicated muskie angler who moved to Hermantown from Wisconsin about seven months ago.

Carlson caught the 41-incher earlier Saturday morning, and Benson caught his 41½-incher at 11 a.m., Carlson said.

"It was hugs and high-fives. We knew we had it wrapped," Carlson said.

Carlson said he and Benson caught their fish by casting and slow-trolling bucktails and Cowgirls and by twitching 14-inch Jake crankbaits.

The team was the only one in the top 15 to catch four muskies over 40 inches long. Of the muskies caught by the top 15 teams, nine of 27 were longer than 50 inches. The longest was a 55-incher taken by the second-place team of Chris Jensen and Luke Ronnestrand.

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