Defending champions JR Rasmusan and Norm Sillerud got off to a good start as they try to repeat as “Team of the Year” for the Fort Peck Championship Series.
The duo took first place at the Rock Creek Tournament on Saturday with a top weight of 88.96 pounds. The two-day event kicked off the Fort Peck Championship Series consisting of three tournaments on Fort Peck Lake over the next two months.
Rasmusan and Sillerud won the series last year, coming from behind in the standings with a win at Hell Creek, the final tournament in the series. A win at the Gov Cup the weekend before and a third place at Rock Creek to start the series put them within striking distance.
And when they eventually won, it brought Sillerud back from the brink of retirement. Before signing up for the series, Sillerud decided to make it his last year competitively fishing. But he came back this year to defend the title.
“After we had such a good year, it’s just so hard to give it up I enjoy it so much,” said Sillerud.
Sillerud and Rasmusan will be fishing in the lead heading into the Gov Cup on July 11-13 and then Hell Creek on July 20-21. But they’ll have plenty of competition trying to dethrone them, starting with the team they passed at the final tournament last year, Kris Keller and Charlie Redfield.
Keller and Redfield were second in Rock Creek, with a two-day total of 72.6 pounds. They started the second day less than two pounds short of Rasmusan and Sillerud. But Sillerud and Rasmusan put up a huge total of 47.04 pounds on day two, a total large enough to take eighth overall by itself.
Gary Cayko and Brandon Babb were third at 64.94. Ken Schmidt and Trevor Johnson reeled in 53.36 pounds for fourth. Just .36 pounds behind them were Darcy Bunnell and Bill Hoerster at 53 pounds.