Miami juniors caught the "big one" (really) in regional fishing tournament

Business students stand with their award

Chris Bulaw and Josh Prephan win top regional award for fishing. They founded a fishing club at Miami.

by Carole Johnson, university news and communications

Two Miami University business students can tell you about the “big one that didn’t get away.” In fact, with five big ones, they caught a regional fishing tournament title.

Incoming juniors Chris Bulaw and Josh Prephan competed as Team Miami during the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference tournament on Ohio’s Indian Lake, July 11. They finished first out of 43 two-person teams representing universities from the United States and Canada –including six teams from Ohio State University.

Bulaw and Prephan founded the Miami Fishing Club spring semester. At this time, the club consists of two members – Chris and Josh – but with this national win, the students hope to lure more members. At the least, they are hoping to secure Miami team T-shirts for their next tournament.

Both grew up fishing, Bulaw in Illinois competing at the high school level, and Prephan in the Toledo area, enjoying family vacations in Canada.

With Bulaw’s competitive drive and Prephan’s natural love of the sport, the two connected to form the club and took their passion on the road. The Indian Lake tournament is their first major win.  They successfully caught five large mouth bass weighing a combined 9 pounds, 12 ounces—which put them in the winner’s circle.

What’s their secret? Strategic planning.

Bulaw studied the lake Thursday prior to Saturday’s tournament. Friday, a practice day for the competitors, both agreed that the best spot to fish was the in the main part of the lake.

How did they know?

Bulaw explained they focused on their own strategy of following riprap, or rock walls, along the main-lake points.

“We kept an open mind, thinking that the larger fish would remain more in the main portion of the lake,” Bulaw said.

The two noticed most teams were heading to the side of the lake, where small secondary bodies of water were cut off from the main body of water by the rock walls. Those areas also included lots of water lily pods — creating a natural food source environment for fish.

Avoiding those areas, their strategy netted them their first fish, a 3 1/2-pounder in some riprap, around 8:30 a.m., they told Bass They caught a few others, and then caught two more

2 1/2-pounders by 11 a.m. that morning. By then, other boaters started coming into their area and spooked the fish, the students believe. They felt confident, though, that they had a good haul.

“These kind of tournaments are very hard to win,” Bulaw said. “I knew we would place. We were calm, but surprised we actually won.”

The team, winning $2,000 for the club, advances to the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference Championship tournament in the Chesapeake Bay.