Mitchell Straffon loves fishing.
And about four years ago he had an idea. Maybe his friend Henri Sturm would enjoy the sport just as much as he did.
“When I met him I was really into fishing,” Straffon said. “He was kind of an outdoor kid — hunting and fishing, bass fishing. I realized he could do tournaments with me. I kind of taught him what he needed to know and he figured it out.”
In their first bass fishing tournament the duo finished second. Since then the Fenton High School sophomores have only become a stronger team. The teammates recently to the Michigan BASS High School State Championship held on Lake St. Clair.
“We did well. We stayed on the American side of Lake St. Clair and we were leading the first day of the tournament and went wire-to-wire,” Sturm said.
The victory also earned them teammates a spot in next summer’s national tournament.
“We wanted to qualify for nationals. We didn’t care if we took first or second,” Straffon said. “If we took first that was great, but second goes to national in that tournament too.
“(When we found out we won) I couldn’t stop smiling. I was smiling ear to ear. The best part for me was some of our buddies came in second so they qualified for nationals, too. Now we can come together.”
The two-day tournament began on Aug. 15 with a two-day practice session. On Aug. 17 and 18 each boat had 10 hours to leave the dock, find their fishing spot or spots and return before the day’s deadline ended the competition. The top five bass for each boat were weighed and totalled. The team with the most pounds of fish won. Sturm and Straffon collected 21.47 pounds the first day and 20.56 pounds the second day, leading the entire tournament. Sixty-three teams qualified for the tournament.
The duo have had their share of tournament success. They won a tournament earlier this year to help them qualify for the state meet. In 2018, the athletes won the TBF of Michigan Youth Junior State Championship at Pontiac Lake. They won that event with five bass that weighed a total of 11.52 pounds.
Both say they make a great team.
“We spend a lot of time on the water and we fish a lot of different lakes,” Sturm said. “Being able to adjust is one of our strengths.”
“I think we are versatile,” Straffon said. “We don’t stick to one thing the whole time and we compliment each other. ... We both fish off the front of the boat and talk about fishing and other things. Other guys have one fish off the bow and the other off the back. They don’t talk much. You can tell they are not great teammates and don’t work as well.”
The teams must provide their own boats and must have a driver that is over 18 driving the boat. The driver can not help in any other way. The fishermen must decide where they want to fish, if they want to change locations and all other strategic decisions.
Both said they’d love to make a living somewhere in the fishing industry either as a competitor or in some other capacity.