UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - California Delta

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 

Co-Angler Winslow Goes Light to Win

Co-Angler Winslow Goes Light to Win

Fishing with eventual winner Wayne Vaughan on the final day, Winslow utilized a light-weight technique to catch 15 pounds, 2 ounces (and 50-11 total) to win the Costa FLW Series Northern Division finale presented by Gajo Baits. READ MORE »

Vaughan Gets Dream Win on St. Lawrence

Vaughan Gets Dream Win on St. Lawrence

Making a key adjustment on the final day, Vaughan turned a small limit into a tournament-winning 20-pound, 11-ounce stringer to take home the victory in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division finale on the St. Lawrence River, presented by Gajo Baits. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from the St. Lawrence River – Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from the St. Lawrence River – Day 2

Four of the top seven anglers in the Angler of the Year points race for the Costa FLW Series Northern Division finale presented by Gajo Baits made the top-10 cut, and three of them – Scott Dobson, Casey Smith and Wayne Vaughan – are in the top five with real chances at winning both the tournament and AOY. READ MORE »

Kelley Grabs Lead with 43 Pounds

Kelley Grabs Lead with 43 Pounds

Down near Ogdensburg, N.Y. – roughly 45 miles from takeoff – was the area on day one of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division finale presented by Gajo Baits, as the majority of the top bags came from there. A day later, it was the anglers who ran 75 miles or more down to Clayton, N.Y., and beyond who scored big, while the Ogdensburg bunch either capitalized in small windows or not at all. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from the St. Lawrence River – Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from the St. Lawrence River – Day 1

Moving and transitioning fish, changing winds, long runs that didn’t always pan out and a 1-ounce lead at the top. Day one of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division finale on the St. Lawrence River, presented by Gajo Baits, certainly hasn’t lacked storylines. READ MORE »

Hatch Leads by 1 Ounce

Hatch Leads by 1 Ounce

There were no 25-pound mega-bags coming across the stage at weigh-in of the final leg of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division. The event on the St. Lawrence River, presented by Gajo Baits, hasn’t been the slugfest many expected after one day of fishing. There were still plenty of 20-pound bags, though, and the St. Lawrence on a bad day is still a tremendous fishery. READ MORE »

St. Lawrence Midday Update – Day 1

St. Lawrence Midday Update – Day 1

The final leg of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits on the St. Lawrence River opened to perfect conditions for anyone looking to burn some gas. Yes, it was a crisp 40 degrees at takeoff, but it was clear and calm. In fact, the current is ripping so hard it’s keeping the river as flat as most anglers have ever seen. Most pros should’ve been able to run all 95 miles to Lake Ontario (and into the lake if they wanted to) with little trouble. READ MORE »

Seal Sticks to River

Seal Sticks to River

Zackery Seal of Findley Lake, New York, brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 44 pounds, 4 ounces, to win the two-day T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Northeast Division super-tournament at the 1000 Islands Sunday. Seal earned $6,066 for his efforts. The Northeast Division is presented by Gajo Baits. READ MORE »

Elrod Nets a Hat Trick

Elrod Nets a Hat Trick

Bryan Elrod of Mechanicsville, Virginia, brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 29 pounds, 7 ounces, to win the two-day T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Shenandoah Division super-tournament on the James River Sunday. Elrod earned $3,542 for his efforts. READ MORE »

Fitzpatrick Notches No. 7

Fitzpatrick Notches No. 7

Roger Fitzpatrick of Eldon, Missouri, brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 36 pounds, 3 ounces, to win the two-day T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Ozark Division presented by Bassing Bob super-tournament on Lake of the Ozarks Sunday. For his victory, Fitzpatrick earned $6,891 for his efforts. READ MORE »

No. 6 for Schroeder

No. 6 for Schroeder

Billy Schroeder of Paducah, Kentucky, brought a two-day total of seven bass to the scale Sunday weighing 22 pounds, 12 ounces, to win the two-day T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) LBL Division super-tournament on Kentucky and Barkley lakes. Schroeder earned $6,122 for his efforts. READ MORE »

Murray Wins on Watts Bar

Murray Wins on Watts Bar

John Murray of Spring City, Tennessee, brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 28 pounds, 11 ounces, to win the two-day T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Volunteer Division super-tournament on Watts Bar Lake Sunday. Murray earned $7,334 for his efforts. READ MORE »

Rampey Takes Another on Hartwell

Rampey Takes Another on Hartwell

Jayme Rampey of Liberty, South Carolina, added another BFL victory to his impressive resume Sunday, bringing a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 31 pounds, 6 ounces, to win the two-day T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Savannah River Division super-tournament on Lake Hartwell. Rampey earned $5,665 for his efforts. READ MORE »

Leary Frogs and Flips on G-Ville

Leary Frogs and Flips on G-Ville

Jim Leary of Guntersville, Alabama, brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 37 pounds, 12 ounces, to win the two-day T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Choo Choo Division super-tournament on Lake Guntersville presented by Cortland Line Sunday. Leary earned $5,869 for his efforts. READ MORE »

Humbard Claims Another Cherokee W

Humbard Claims Another Cherokee W

Bill Humbard of New Market, Tennessee, won the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Mountain Division tournament on Cherokee Lake Sunday after catching a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 26 pounds, 9 ounces. For his efforts on the water, Humbard took home $6,337. READ MORE »

Youngstown Wins on Erie

Youngstown Wins on Erie

The Youngstown State University duo of Jeffrey Jardine of Niles, Ohio, and Mike Soots of McDonald, Ohio, won the YETI FLW College Fishing event on Lake Erie with a five-bass limit weighing 22 pounds even. The victory earned the Penguins’ bass club $2,000 and a slot in the 2020 FLW College Fishing National Championshi READ MORE »

Williams Winds and Flips on Dardanelle

Williams Winds and Flips on Dardanelle

Charles Williams of Clarksville, Arkansas, won this weekend’s T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Arkie Division tournament on Lake Dardanelle presented by Navionics after catching a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 35 pounds, 9 ounces. For his efforts, Williams took home $4,868. READ MORE »

Shadowens Drags Docks on Grand

Shadowens Drags Docks on Grand

Mark Shadowens of Kiefer, Oklahoma, won the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Okie Division tournament on Grand Lake Sunday after catching a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 29 pounds, 3 ounces. For his finish, Shadowens pocketed $5,704. READ MORE »

Smith Needed One Rod on Shelbyville

Smith Needed One Rod on Shelbyville

Bradley Smith of Saint Jacob, Illinois, took home the win at the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Illini Division tournament on Lake Shelbyville Sunday after catching a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 23 pounds, 7 ounces. For his win, Smith pocketed $7,310. READ MORE »

Lobato Sticks to Pool 8

Lobato Sticks to Pool 8

Fernando Lobato of Sparta, Wisconsin, won the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Great Lakes Division tournament on the Mississippi River at La Crosse Sunday after catching a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 31 pounds, 2 ounces. Lobato earned $5,316 for his win. READ MORE »