John Murray takes out the trash

The popular Elite pro could have been making the long drive home; instead he and his family cleaned up part of Douglas Lake

Louie Stout
Amy, T.J. and John Murray spent their Saturday morning cleaning up Douglas Lake.

John Murray has a word for anglers living and fishing on river system reservoirs — take a little time to clean up your lakes. The Phoenix, Ariz., pro backed up his words by showing them how on a day when he could have been heading home with his family.

The topic of lake debris came up during the Douglas Lake Challenge where the shorelines were lined with litter. He and other pros commented on it while waiting to weigh in fish.

"In all my years of fishing, I've never seen anything like it," said Murray. "I don't think it's the locals' fault. It's just stuff that washed down from the river feeding the lake."

So he did his part to help out.

When Murray didn't make the top 50 cut, he loaded his wife, Amy, and 3-year-old son, T.J., into his boat Saturday morning before heading home.

"We went into the first pocket next to the ramp and filled the boat with trash by just leaning over the side," he said. "That's how easy it was there."

The Phoenix pro hauled out two auto tires, a cistern from an RV portable bathroom, softballs, wire cages and also filled two garbage bags with bottles and cans.

"And we did that in less than 15 minutes," he said.

Murray said Douglas is the victim of being at the headwaters of the Tennessee River system. The lake is drawn down 40 feet or more during the winter, and as the lake fills in the spring, all of the debris coming from upriver is washed along the shores and in the pockets.

"I like to flip shorelines, and every pocket I went into was filled with clutter," he noted. "It's a beautiful lake, but with the water coming up fast, it's infested with trash."

When he weighed in, Murray challenged local residents to take an empty trash bag onto the lake the next time they go out and fill it up before they get back to the ramp.

"I think tournament groups should do the same thing, including ours," said Murray. "If you told guys they had to bring in one trash bag with their fish catches, it wouldn't take long to clean up a lake."

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