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Late catch earns a prize

Bass fishing partners Austin Winburn and Chandler Brown of Conway High School, along with captain Glenn Cribb, display their hardware after Winburn and Brown won the High School Division of the South Carolina BASS Junior Bassmasters and High School Championship last Saturday on Lake Murray. Submitted photo
What first seemed an inconsequential catch proved the winning fish for Conway duo

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

April 13, 2018 09:07 PM

Updated April 13, 2018 09:07 PM

Two weeks earlier, Austin Winburn and Chandler Brown had fished a spot on Lake Murray in the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Youth Bass Fishing Championship, but with little luck.

The duo weighed in only one bass, and finished well down the standings in the High School Division.

Last Saturday, Winburn and Brown, both freshmen competing for Conway High School, returned to Lake Murray to fish in the South Carolina BASS Junior Bassmasters and High School Championship.

When the day dawned, Winburn was determined to fish the same, unproductive spot, but for good reason.

“We had seen big fish cruising along the bank – they were really big,” said Winburn. “We had seen a few beds in there and made a point to go back there. In the DNR Tournament we went to the same spot and lost a five-pounder. It just broke my heart the rest of the day.”

With Glenn Cribb, a friend of Austin’s parents, Matt and Sherry Winburn, serving as captain, the duo returned to the same spot that Cribb described as “a pocket off the main lake.”

Winburn got the day started by catching a 3.93-pound bass, their biggest of the day, on a buzz bait from a canal that flows into the pocket.

“That’s the only fish we caught blind-casting,” said Winburn. “The other fish we caught were on beds and we sight-casted (to them).”

They used a 1/2-ounce jig with a brownish craw trailer, mimicking a crawfish, to catch bedding bass.

“Whatever gets in their bed, they get mad at it and eventually will bite it,” said Winburn.

After enduring rain showers throughout the day, the duo had a limit of five bass in the live well, and Winburn had caught all five. However, one was a small male in the 1.5-pound range.

Brown proceeded to come through when it counted most, landing a female in the 3.5-pound range very late in the day, enabling them to cull the small fish. The turn of events gave the duo an excellent five-fish limit.

“As soon as he caught that fish we left for the weigh-in,” said Winburn.

At the weigh-in, they discovered just how important Brown’s late catch was.

Winburn and Brown finished with an aggregate weight of 16.87 pounds and claimed the championship of the High School Division, finishing just ahead of Kyler McKie and Chad Champy of North Augusta at 16.71 pounds.

“If it wasn’t for (Brown’s catch) we wouldn’t have won,” said Winburn. “We probably would have finished in third place. I caught five fish but he caught that one that saved us.”

As freshmen, the duo are just getting started on their high school bass fishing careers and their first tournament win qualifies them for the national tournament this summer in Kentucky.

“I was really excited,” said Winburn. “It was pretty crazy.”

Jojo Phegley and Bryson Fittery of North Augusta won the Middle School Division with a five-bass limit of 14.62 pounds.

Several other local teams competed in the tournament.

Bennett Lawshe and TJ McKenzie of Waccamaw High School finished fourth with 14.96 pounds.

Jackson Denny and Bowman Davis of Carolina Forest High School finished 14th with 12.0 pounds.

Noah Jones and Manning Feldner, who finished second in the S.C. DNR Youth Bass Fishing Championship two weeks earlier, finished 28th with 6.61 pounds.

Blake Thompson and Gage Forston of Conway High School finished 29th with 6.26 pounds.

In the Middle School Division, Mason Hardee and Will Hardee-McGuirt of Conway Middle School finished 11th with 3.28 pounds.