UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Potomac River

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Gross All The Way

Gross All The Way
Buddy Gross

There are no more secrets.

That phrase has become cliché in tournament bass fishing. And to a large degree, it’s true. With the advent of modern electronics, which feature mapping and imaging, every square foot of a lake bottom can be scoured, mapped and captured on an SD card.

But what grows on that mapped lake bottom can change and these days true bass fishing secrets tend to hide in the seams of environmental changes to waterways. For instance, consider how exotics like gobies and zebra mussels have changed fisheries in the Midwest.

Anglers who ply the same waters day after day, year after year are the first to notice these changes in ecosystems and how the changes begin to influence bass behavior. Once these anglers detect a change in how bass relate to the ecosystem, they discover approaches and tactics that give them huge advantages in tournaments.

One such angler who has seen just such a change along the TVA system in recent years is Walmart FLW Tour rookie Buddy Gross of Ringgold, Ga. Gross fishes Lake Guntersville quite a bit and over the last few years he has seen a change in Guntersville’s vegetation that can best be described with one word: Eelgrass.

Gross has witnessed a slow but steady influx of eelgrass in Guntersville, specifically deeper eelgrass that grows in large clumps in 8 to 10 feet of water. These large clumps of what Gross calls “crispy green” eelgrass have been a key to his fishing success on Guntersville in the last several years. As a result, Gross has learned a tremendous amount about where eelgrass grows, how it looks on a depthfinder, and most importantly, how fish relate to it on a seasonal basis. In essence, Gross has tapped into the latest “secret” along the TVA chain. And this week, at the Walmart FLW Tour event  presented by Quaker State and hosted by Florence/Lauderdale Tourism on Pickwick Lake, he applied his unique knowledge of this new form of crispy green gold to win his first FLW Tour event.

Buddy Gross

When Gross arrived at Pickwick for practice at the beginning of the week, he wasn’t sure if the new propagation of eelgrass had reached Pickwick or not. Regardless, he decided to invest some time on his electronics graphing for its “different look” with Lowrance StructureScan. On the second day of practice, he struck pay dirt.

“From my experience on Guntersville, I kind of knew where to look for it and what it looks like on my electronics,” Gross recalls. “On day two I was graphing down a ridge along the river and I saw my first clump of it – as soon as I saw it, I knew what it was. I’ve seen enough of it at Guntersville to know.”

Gross’ heart skipped a beat as he continued down the ridge and his graph began to reveal more and more clumps of eelgrass positioned perfectly between a large spawning flat and the main river in about 8 to 10 feet of water.

“I found about a ½-mile stretch that included about a dozen large patches of it – some of them were as big as a tugboat,” Gross says. “I marked each one on my GPS and circled back around to fish them.”

One of the first lures Gross picked up to sample the eelgrass with was a hair jig: it’s a lure that his roommate Michael Neal tipped him off to, so he had one laying on the deck.

Buddy Gross

“I actually wanted make sure it was eelgrass,” Gross recounts. “So I pitched a hair jig out there to try to snag some of it.”

But his lure never made it to the bottom. Instead, a five-pound smallmouth it inhaled it – and that wasn’t all.

 “Every time I reeled my hair jig in, it had a bunch of shad following and bumping it,” Gross recalls. “It was the perfect scenario – a shad spawn in eelgrass.”

Gross details the presence of eelgrass as being thick, hearty and “crispy green.” He says it grows up to about 3 or 4 feet off the bottom and is far more dense and brittle than hydrilla and milfoil. Because of its properties it makes an excellent current break and is easier to fish lures through.

“You can’t really fish an open hook hair jig in hydrilla,” Gross explains. “It’s too soft and stringy. But fishing a hair jig in that eelgrass was not a problem at all. Even when I got hung up in it, one quick snap of the rod completely cleans the bait off.”

The combination of the eelgrass providing a current break and being a love lair for the shad was a double bonus for Gross and his shad imitating hair jig. For three tournament days in a row he used a 1-ounce Hog Farmer Hog Tie to catch three or four big fish right off the bat in the mornings. After that he would resort to a Tennessee River Tackle Company Tremor head teamed with a Zoom Magnum Fluke as well as a 5-inch Fringe Tackle Company Hollow Belly Swimbait, slow rolling them through the wavy clumps of eelgrass to close out his limits.

Buddy Gross

For three days he weighed in 25-8, 21-3 and 22-12, respectively, amassing a large 14-pound 11-ounce lead going into the last day. And as it turned out, he would need most of that cushion at the final day weigh-in.

The biggest problem with Gross’ eelgrass pattern was he didn’t have quite enough of it to last four days. While he did find one other area with a limited amount of eelgrass, it was not nearly as productive as the original spot he initially found.

“Each day I knew I was running out of fish in that eelgrass,” Gross says. “Each day the number of shad following my jig became less and less and I knew it was tailing off.”

When Gross arrived to his crispy greens on the final morning, his primary area had played out and offered him nothing for his livewell. After trying several other areas, Gross ended up going to some adjacent shallow hydrilla and throwing an Oldham’s ¾-ounce spinnerbait to catch just two keepers and weighing 4 pounds, 14 ounces on the day.

In the end, Gross needed both of those valuable fish to fend off a charge from his friend Michael Neal and win the $100,000 payday.

“Today was the biggest roller coaster of my life,” Gross says. “I knew I needed to catch at least 10 pounds to feel safe. Michael (Neal) is a true competitor – he is one of the best fishermen I know. So I was pretty nervous coming in with just two bass.”

“If it wasn’t for all the people who support me this would have never happened,” he adds “I can’t thank them enough.” 

 

Top 10 pros

1. Buddy Gross – Ringgold, Ga. – 74-5 (17) – $100,200

2. Michael Neal – Dayton, Tenn. – 71-4 (20) –$30,000

3. Scott Suggs – Alexander, Ark. – 65-1(19) – $25,000

4. Jamie Horton – Centerville, Ala. – 64-14 (19) – $20,100

5. Mike Surman – Boca Raton, Fla. – 63-11 (19) – $19,000

6. Barry Wilson – Birmingham, Ala. – 57-13 (20) – $18,000

7. Wesley Strader – Spring City, Tenn. – 56-2 (20) – $17,000

8. Travis Fox – Rogers, Ark. – 56-0 (17) – $16,000

9. Stephen Patek – Dallas, Texas – 50-3 (18) – $15,000

10. Peter Thliveros – St. Augustine, Fla. – 49-7 (18) – $14,000

Complete results

Tags: pickwick-lake  buddy-gross  rob-newell  headline-story  2016-05-05-pickwick-lake 

Matlock Flips Bushes for Title

Matlock Flips Bushes for Title

Tyler Matlock of Omaha, Arkansas, caught 11 pounds, 9 ounces of bass Saturday to win the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Arkie Division tournament on Greers Ferry Lake. For his efforts, Matlock took home $3,205. READ MORE »

Quaintance Makes it Two on Pickwick

Quaintance Makes it Two on Pickwick

Chris Quaintance of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, won the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Mississippi Division tournament on Pickwick Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 21 pounds, 5 ounces. Quaintance netted $4,119 for his victory. READ MORE »

Laufenberg Claims Mighty Miss Title

Laufenberg Claims Mighty Miss Title

Cade Laufenberg of Goodview, Minnesota, won Saturday’s T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Great Lakes Division opener on the Mississippi River at La Crosse presented by Navionics with five bass weighing 16 pounds, 7 ounces. For his day on the water, Laufenberg pocketed $4,355. READ MORE »

Chico Wins on Clear

Chico Wins on Clear

The Chico State University duo of Carson Leber of Dixon, California, and Chad Sweitzer of Chico, California, won the YETI FLW College Fishing event on Clear Lake presented by Costa Saturday with a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 9 ounces. The victory earned the Wildcats’ bass club $2,000 and a slot in the 2020 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

Sales Earns Top Spot on Cherokee

Sales Earns Top Spot on Cherokee

Hunter Sales of Blaine, Tennessee, caught five bass Saturday weighing 14 pounds, 12 ounces, to win the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Volunteer Division event on Lake Cherokee. Sales earned $3,455 for his efforts. READ MORE »

Burger Smashes 23-9 on Chesapeake Bay

Burger Smashes 23-9 on Chesapeake Bay

Jason Burger of Bridgeton, New Jersey, won the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Northeast Division opener on the Chesapeake Bay presented by Navionics Saturday with five bass weighing 23 pounds, 9 ounces. For his efforts, Burger pocketed $4,000. READ MORE »

Boehle Runs Shad Spawn, Points for W

Boehle Runs Shad Spawn, Points for W

Adam Boehle of Warrenton, Missouri, caught five bass Saturday weighing 20 pounds, 12 ounces, to win the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) tournament on Lake of the Ozarks. Boehle pocketed $4,938 for his win in the event presented by Navionics and 250 points in the Ozark Division presented by Bassing Bob standings. The winner of the division’s Angler of the Year title after five tournaments will win $3,000. READ MORE »

Allman Wins on Wylie

Allman Wins on Wylie

Mike Allman of York, South Carolina, caught five bass Saturday weighing 14 pounds, 7 ounces, to win the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) South Carolina Division event on Lake Wylie. Allman earned $2,500 for his efforts. READ MORE »

Alabama’s Quaintance Wins T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League Tournament on Pickwick Lake

Alabama’s Quaintance Wins T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League Tournament on Pickwick Lake

IUKA, Miss. – Boater Chris Quaintance of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, won the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Mississippi Division tournament on Pickwick Lake Saturday with... READ MORE »

Lake County Drops 23-9 on Clear Lake

Lake County Drops 23-9 on Clear Lake

The Lake County High School Fishing Club duo of Cooper Goff and Nathan Phillips, both of Kelseyville, California, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 23 pounds, 9 ounces to win the 2019 Bass Pro Shops FLW High School Fishing Clear Lake Open. READ MORE »

Grover Grabs Clear Lake Title

Grover Grabs Clear Lake Title

Clear Lake is always a fun place to fish, but wind, rain and cooler temperatures made things tough for the second stop of the Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Ranger Boats, and the famed fishery wasn't as kind as it can be with many pros struggling as the week went on. Kyle Grover, on the other hand, only got better as the tournament progressed. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Clear Lake Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from Clear Lake Day 2

Drop-shotting tules was the main pattern for Uribe and knowing how to reach the fish made all the difference. Adjusting to the conditions was definitely key on day two, and no doubt the rest of the top pros had to go with the flow to stay in sight of the title. READ MORE »

Uribe in Charge on Clear Lake

Uribe in Charge on Clear Lake

When weather woes nixed Joe Uribe Jr.’s initial objective, the resilient angler from Surprise, Ariz., refocused his effort and sacked up a limit of 19 pounds, 5 ounces to take over the lead on day two of the Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Ranger Boats and hosted by Konocti Vista Casino Resort & Marina with a total weight of 41-13. READ MORE »

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 2

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 2

Clear Lake was in a foul, foul mood this morning for the second day’s launch of the Costa FLW Series Western Division event, which is presented by Ranger Boats and hosted by Konocti Vista Casino Resort & Marina. Absent was the drizzly rain of yesterday, but the tradeoff was a 15- to 20-mph northwest wind that turned the lake into a washing machine. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Clear Lake Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from Clear Lake Day 1

Lane Olson of Forest Grove, Ore., benefitted from a double dose of Clear Lake kickers when he found the right set of docks in a major spawning bay. Finesse baits did the trick up shallow for the day one leader at the Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Ranger Boats. Other slow presentations served his brief offshore work. Handling the day’s weather challenges was a big part of Olson’s success.  Here are the details of the rest of the top five. READ MORE »

Olson Out in Front at Clear Lake

Olson Out in Front at Clear Lake

Lane Olson of Forest Grove, Ore., was able to separate himself from the pack on day one of the Costa FLW Series Western Division event presented by Ranger Boats with a five-bass limit weighing 25 pounds. One of four anglers to crack 20 pounds, Olson leads second-place pro Joe Uribe Jr. by 2 1/2 pounds. The rest of the top 20 are packed together with just a few pounds separating them.  READ MORE »

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 1

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 1

The weather system pushing through northern California brought dreary, drizzly conditions interspersed with occasional steady spells of light rain for day one of the Costa FLW Series Western Division event, which is presented by ranger Boats and hosted by Konocti Vista Casino Resort & Marina. The sun made only a few peeking appearances, but there were several bright spots in the morning’s activity. READ MORE »

South Laurel Wins KHSAA Championship on Kentucky

South Laurel Wins KHSAA Championship on Kentucky

The South Laurel High School team of Shawn Coots and Trent Keltner weighed 19 pounds, 9 ounces on day one and 13-4 on day two for a 32-13 total and the win in the 2019 Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) State Bass Fishing Championship on Kentucky Lake. READ MORE »

Manson Nets Third Win

Manson Nets Third Win

Scott Manson of Covington, Ohio, brought five bass to the scale Saturday weighing 13 pounds, 4 ounces, to take top honors at the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Buckeye Division opener on Grand Lake-St. Mary’s presented by Navionics. For his efforts, Manson netted $4,046. READ MORE »

Herron, Rutland tie on Lay Lake

Herron, Rutland tie on Lay Lake

Dusty Herron of Alabaster, Alabama, and Chris Rutland of Wetumpka, Alabama, each caught five bass Saturday weighing 16 pounds even to tie for the win at the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Bama Division tournament on Lay Lake. After contingency awards, Rutland earned $3,435, while Herron took home $2,435. READ MORE »