Grand Valley State duo wins Bassmaster College Series Event

Lucas Murphy and Mitchell Gunn of Grand Valley State University win the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series at Smith Lake presented by Bass Pro Shops out of Cullman, Ala., with a three-day total of 52 pounds, 7 ounces.Photo by Chris Mitchell/B.A.S.S.

Lucas Murphy and Mitchell Gunn of Michigan’s Grand Valley State University win on the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series tournament on Alabama's Smith Lake. The duo caught 15 bass in three days for a total weight of 52 pounds, 7 ounces. They were in second place heading into Saturday’s final day of fishing, but an 18-2 limit vaulted them past Day 2 leaders JT Russell and Porter James of the University of Montevallo, which is located about 90 minutes south of Smith Lake.

“The goal was to get 15 (pounds a day here), which we figured would be good enough to do get us into nationals,” Murphy said. “But we had absolutely no idea it would be enough to win it. So this is completely surprising.”

Ten of the 12 tandems competing Saturday caught a five-bass limit, which highlighted how active Smith Lake became as practice days gave way to competition. Some anglers suspected the super moon on Wednesday had a positive effect on the bass bite.

Murphy and Gunn seized the Day 1 lead with an 18-13 limit, but fell to second on Friday when they caught a 15-8 limit. Russell and James stormed to the top of the leaderboard with a 20-9 limit that day, which was the second heaviest total of the tournament. The Grand Valley State duo bounced back on Saturday, however, when Russell and James struggled and only put 10-10 in their livewell.

“We missed a few chances today,” Russell said after his team fell to third overall. “We missed three fish and they all were at least three pounds.”

Murphy and Gunn took advantage. They used spinning rods to swim 3.3-inch and 3.8-inch Keitech baits in 5 feet of water underneath docks. Tennessee shad, pro blue and bluegill flash were all effective color patterns, they said.

This was Murphy’s second win in a Bassmaster College Series event. He teamed with Nolan Hitt to win the Eastern Regional last May on Cherokee Lake in Tennessee.

The dozen teams that fished Saturday split a pool of $8,500 cash for their respective school bass fishing programs. Murphy and Gunn won the top prize of $2,500 for Grand Valley State.

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