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Fisherman descend on Saint Joseph for tournament

SAINT JOSEPH, Mich. - It’s a not-so-well-known sign that summer is about here.

Hundreds of fishermen from across the Midwest were in the Saint Joseph Harbor Friday for the annual Shu’s Summer Challenge.

The challenge is the largest summer fishing tournament in St Joseph/Benton Harbor.  

“This is a good size fish for this year,” Jason Lillich showed off his prize of the day, a 12-and-a-half pound Chinook Salmon. “This was our biggest fish,” he said.

Lillich is competing on the pro-side of the profession and amateur competition. His catch hardly compared to the 20-pound Lake Trout that weighed in right after him.

 Lillich and his team are from South Bend and like their chances. They know this is water well. “Michigan City, St. Joe and New Buffalo is what we call home,” he said.

“We think it’s one of the best,” said Jim Marohn.

Marohn is head of Southwest Michigan Steel headers, sponsors of the tournament. “The summers are great in St. Joe but for fisherman this is the best weekend,” he said.

52 boats are competing in the 2-day tournament. More than $15,000 are at stake.

“It’s a love and an addiction,” said Lillich. His team isn’t in the lead yet.  

“Tomorrow is another day and we need to regroup,” said Lillich. “(We need to decide) where we want to go and try to set up the big ones.” Saturday they need to find that one spot and they’ve got some hometown experience on their side.

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