In the 2019 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Tournament Presented by Bass Pro Shops on Lewis Smith Lake in north Alabama, March 21-23, 2019, 250 boats from 74 colleges in 28 states competed. At the end of the tournament, two young men from Michigan’s Grand Valley State University, Lucas Murphy, 22 years old from Walker, Michigan, and his partner 19-year-old Mitchell Gunn from Fenton, Michigan, stood on the winners’ stand. They wore their school’s jerseys, trimmed in Mossy Oak’s Element Agua. They won $2500 for their team at the three-day event with a total of 52 pounds, 7 ounces of bass.
“Lucas Murphy is a very good collegiate bass angler,” Mitchell Gunn, Murphy’s partner, says. “However, Lucas lost his tournament fishing partner when he graduated. Lucas’s partner who was in our GVSU bass fishing club recommended me to Lucas to become his new fishing partner.”
That summer, Gunn and Murphy won their first tournament they’d ever fished together on the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair. With that win, the two young men bonded and decided to fish together as partners.
“When we arrived at Lewis Smith Lake, we started fishing swim baits along the bluff walls,” Gunn said. “We caught a good number of good-sized spotted bass and thought we were catching enough big bass to help us qualify for the Collegiate National Championship. While we were fishing down those walls, we came up to a dock where we saw a 4-pound spotted bass holding under it. Lucas cast to the nice bass and caught it. That’s how we discovered the dock pattern we used for the rest of the Smith Lake tournament.
“The bass we were catching on the bluff walls only weighed from 1.3 to 1.5 pounds. Once we switched over to fishing the docks, the size of our spotted and largemouth bass increased dramatically. With a five-bass limit per day, during the three competition days, we weighed in a total of 52 pounds, 7 ounces, finished 14 ounces ahead of the second-place team and won a place to compete with approximately 130 teams in the national championship.”
Mitchell Gunn is considering the possibility of getting a nursing degree but with all honesty, he told me with a grin, “I don’t really know what my final degree will be. Until then, I’ll be bass fishing.”
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