It’s interesting to see John Murray leading this derby after the first day. Murray is the quintessential professional angler. He’s had a lot of success out West, won a couple of WON Bass U.S. Opens (1997 and 1999) on Lake Mead, picked up four WON Bass Daiwa Cup Championships (their version of AOY) and earned the respect of everyone who follows the sport. He’s also qualified for six Bassmaster Classics and won the Bassmaster Open Championship in 2003 on Toledo Bend.
So why am I a little surprised to see him leading after Day 1 on a muddy river in the Deep South? I guess it’s because his reputation is for catching ‘em on the deep, clear reservoirs out West using finesse tactics.
Word has it, though, that he’s catching spotted bass deep here, so that makes more sense … at least to me. Of course, Murray can catch them any way he needs to. He’s one of the greats of the sport, though some fans in the East and South may not be all that familiar with his record.
I remember “Classic Night” in 2010, when Skeet Reese made his speech as defending Classic champ. Reese can be an emotional guy, and when he speaks you pay attention because you know he means it and that what he says is more than just words, it's feeling. He spent much of his time thanking John “Papa” Murray for showing him how to be a professional angler. Murray's still a young guy (not yet 49), but he's already shown a generation of western anglers what it means to be a professional.