MURRAY, Ky. — The Muhlenberg County High School team of Nathan Flener and Brandon Payne brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 18 pounds, 6 ounces, to win the 2015 Murray State Open on Kentucky Lake.

The win earned the team $4,000 in scholarships to Murray State and qualified the team to compete in a High School Fishing conference championship on Lake Lanier in September.

The duo was forced to overcome boat troubles that left them without the means to hit various spots that they had planned and the two had no choice but to idle to the nearest bay and grind it out. Flener and Payne spent the day fishing for bigger bass in the small cove not too far from the launch. As it turned out, the motor trouble wasn't fatal to their plans. Not only did they finish up their limit, but they were able to cull in the early afternoon, then idle a full 30 minutes to reach the weigh-in.

"The boat trouble helped us because we then had to slow down and actually fish what we could that was close," Flener says. "We couldn't just run all over the place, and it made us slow down and focus on what we were doing."

They said that the bass that they caught almost exclusively hit the gold-bladed umbrella rigs in the morning and the silver-bladed umbrella rigs in the afternoon.

The top three teams on Kentucky Lake that advanced to the conference championship were:

  • First - Muhlenberg County High School – Nathan Flener and Brandon Payne, five bass, 18-6
  • Second - Madisonville North Hopkins High School – Alex Tomblinson and Hunter Purdy, five bass, 17-14
  • Third - Muhlenberg County High School – Billy Hardison and Alex Taylor, five bass, 16-13

Rounding out the top 10 teams were:

  • Fourth - Muhlenberg County High School – Taylor Harris and Drew Mendoza, five bass, 16-9
  • Fifth - Calloway County High School – Trevor Salyers and Cody Jackson, four bass, 16-8
  • Sixth - Muhlenberg County High School – James Hampton and Cole Noffsinger, five bass, 16-6
  • Seventh - Marshall County High School – Adam Fitch and Kody Burdett, four bass, 13-0
  • Eighth - Red Bud High School (Illinois) – Austin White and Kaden Bosch, four bass, 11-7
  • Ninth - Calloway County High School – Cole Emerson and Zach Martin, three bass, 10-11
  • 10th - Trigg County High School – Skylar Pool and Austin Greene, three bass, 10-3

The 2015 Murray State Open was a two-person (team) event for students in grades 7-12. The top three teams from each of the seven TBF/FLW High School Fishing Opens held this season will advance to a High School Fishing conference championship along with the top 10 percent from each TBF/FLW state championship field. The top 10 percent of each conference championship field will then advance to the High School Fishing National Championship, coinciding with the TBF National Championship and an FLW Tour stop in the spring of 2016. The High School Fishing national champions will each receive a $5,000 college scholarship to the school of their choice.

In addition to the High School Fishing National Championship, all High School Fishing anglers nationwide automatically qualify for the world's largest high school bass tournament, the 2015 High School Fishing World Finals, held on Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala., on July 8-11. At the 2014 World Finals more than $40,000 in scholarships and prizes were awarded.

About FLW

FLW is the industry's premier tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money nationwide in 2015 over the course of 240 tournaments across five tournament circuits, four of which provide an avenue to the sport's richest payday and most coveted championship trophy – the Forrest Wood Cup. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.

About the Bass Federation

The Bass Federation Inc., is a member of the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. TBF is owned by those we serve and dedicated to the sport of fishing. The Federation is the largest and oldest, organized grassroots fishing, youth and conservation organization there is. TBF, our affiliated state federations and their member clubs conduct more than 20,000 events each year and have provided a foundation for the entire bass fishing industry for more than 45 years. TBF founded the Student Angler Federation and the National High School Fishing program in 2008 to promote clean family fun and education through fishing.

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