Brandon Gray of Bullock, N.C. — a member of the Anglers Choice team trail — takes the lead in the bracket round of the Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship on DeGray Lake out of Bismarck, Ark., with 10 pounds, 8 ounces Friday. The winner of this round will earn the final berth in the 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic.
Photo by Seigo Saito/Bassmaster
BISMARCK, Ark. — North Carolina angler Brandon Gray experienced a roller-coaster ride of bad and good luck before taking over the individual lead today in the Toyota Bonus Bucks Team Championship at DeGray Lake.
His morning started out with boat problems, but Gray soon got into fish when he reached his first spot. “I got a little lucky this morning,” Gray said. “(The fishing) was on fire, and I hit everything just right, but the rest of the day I didn’t get anything.”
The Bullock, N.C., angler finished the day with a five-bass limit weighing 10 pounds, 8 ounces to top the other five finalists from the team competition of this two-part tournament. “I basically went through the same area we worked all week,” he said. “I feel like there are fish there because the last couple of days I was able to watch them on the depthfinder. The bait has been sitting there and hasn’t moved all week. So hopefully it will be there tomorrow when I get there.”
Bad luck hit Gray again throughout the day when he lost a couple of crankbaits, including one he called “Lucky” that a bass broke off when it wrapped around a stick. “It’s been a good crankbait and I’ll miss it,” he lamented. “I found ‘Lucky Junior’ a little bit later though.”
The six finalists of the championship will square off again Saturday for the final day of competition. A berth in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic is the grand prize for the winner, who will also receive a Skeeter FX20/Yamaha 250 outboard rig to run in the Classic.
Gray hopes he fares better this time than when he challenged for Classic berths in 2010 and 2011 in the Bassmaster Weekend Series championships. “I have been in this situation before, and it didn’t turn out too well,” said Gray, who recalls finishing second and third in those events.
Arizona anglers Jon Griffith and John Stewart Jr. missed the Top 3 cut yesterday by finishing fourth in the team competition. However they got a chance to fish in the individual round of the tournament when the second-place team of Brandon Gladish and Aaric Correll were disqualified. Jon Stewart, B.A.S.S. tournament director for the championship, said the team of Gladish and Correll from Indiana was disqualified for violating Rule C7, which covers tackle and equipment.
As a result of the disqualification, the team of Brandon Gray and Todd Massey of North Carolina moved into second place in the final standings of the team competition, and the fourth-place team of Griffith and Stewart Jr. moved to third.
Griffith made the most of his second chance to fish by catching four bass weighing 8-6 to move into the runner-up spot. The Mesa, Ariz., angler admitted he had plenty of fun throughout the day catching a lot of hybrid stripers. “As much as I love to fish, I don’t care what I am catching. I just like to catch them,” Griffith said. Fortunately for Griffith, largemouth and spotted bass started showing up in the mix to give him some fish he could take to the weigh-in.
Moving into third place with two bass weighing 4-4 was Royce Davis, who won the team competition of this championship with his partner Flannagan Fife. The Arkansas angler caught his keepers dragging a wobble head jig and had some undersize bass on a jerkbait.
The host for this event is the DeGray Lake Resort State Park. The six finalists will launch from the DeGray Lake State Park Marina Saturday morning with the final weigh-in at Caddo Bend in DeGray Lake Resort State Park, Bismarck, Ark.
2014 Bassmaster Team Championship Title Sponsor: Toyota Bonus Bucks
2014 Bassmaster Team Championship Official Sponsors: Mercury, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha
2014 Bassmaster Team Championship Supporting Sponsors: Booyah, Diet Mountain Dew, Livingston Lures
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series presented by Allstate, Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation events, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, Bassmaster High School Series presented by Carhartt, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro.
Name # Fish # Live Lbs -Oz
1 Brandon Gray -Anglers Choice 5 5 10-8
2 Jon Griffith -Total Bass Addicts 4 4 8-5
3 Royce Davis -Fishers of Men 2 2 4-4
4 Flannagan Fife – Fishers of Men 1 1 3-0
5 Todd Massey – Anglers Choice 2 2 2-6
6 John Stewart Jr.- Total Bass Addicts 0 0 0-0
Day #Fish #Live Lbs-Oz #Limts
1 14 14 28- 7 1