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Gross Earns First Bassmaster Elite Series Victory On Lake Eufaula

Disclaimer: The views, suggestions and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No ZEX PR Wire journalist or Editor was involved in the writing and production of this article.

Instead of the usual routine of being handed the trophy by Elite Series Tournament Director Trip Weldon, Gross received the prize onstage from his family due to strict social distancing measures in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It doesn’t get much better than that,” Gross said. “This is something you dream of as a kid because B.A.S.S. is the epitome of fishing — just the staple of the fishing world. To dream about something like this, and then for it to happen so early in my career, is amazing.”

Gross, who lives in Chickamauga, Ga., made two scouting trips to Lake Eufaula before the event. Each trip, the weather was so rough that he spent all of his time just idling around and marking brushpiles.

During those two trips, he said he marked over 300 of the man-made structures that are so prominent on the fishery.

But when he showed up for the official practice period on Sunday, some of the brush he had marked was gone — presumably washed away by flooding in the area. However, Gross said new brushpiles had already been put in place since his most recent visit.

“I didn’t want to spend time fishing phantom waypoints,” Gross said. “So, I had to start marking those places off the list where brushpiles had washed away. Then as I was doing that, I found brushpiles in places where there weren’t any back before the off-limits period just 35 or 40 days ago.

“The people in this town must be part beaver or something. I’ve never been to a place with so many brushpiles.”

Gross started his week probing the brush with a Zoom Swimmer in the Tennessee shad color and a 5-inch Natural Light Scottsboro Swimmer. That netted him just 16-14 on Day 1 and left him in 43rd place.

The next day, he made possibly his most important adjustment of the week.

“On the second day of the tournament, I switched over to a jig,” he said. “First cast, I got bit. Second cast, I got bit. It was just consecutive. Every brushpile I went to it probably increased my bites by 50 or 60 percent.”

The magic lure was a prototype bullethead jig from Nichols Lures with a green pumpkin Zoom Super Chunk trailer. It allowed him to catch 20-7 on Day 2, 19-8 on Day 3 and then the monster bag of 27-11 during Saturday’s final round.

On Saturday, another slight logistical adjustment was necessary for him to find the quality of fish he needed to jump from 10th place and surpass Alabama pro Scott Canterbury who entered the day with more than a 4-pound lead.

“I had started off fishing new brush this morning, just places I hadn’t fished,” Gross said. “On the deeper ones, I just didn’t get bit.”

Then he moved to an area with shallower brush in Pataula Creek.

“On the first shallow brushpile I fished, I hung one and lost it,” he said. “Then on the second one, I caught a 6-13 that was my biggest fish of the day. I said right then, ‘This is gonna be the deal all day.’

“My best brushpiles today were the ones in 5 1/2 to 6 feet.”

The season has been one of ironic twists for Gross.

Considered one of the best anglers on Lake Chickamauga, he was deeply disappointed when Elite Series tournaments scheduled for that fishery were cancelled in February and then again in April. He thought that might be his best chance for a win this season, but Eufaula helped take the sting out of those two curves thrown to the professional fishing world — first by flooding on the Tennessee River and then by the COVID-19 outbreak.

This week, Gross wouldn’t have even qualified for Saturday’s final Top 10 if North Carolina pro Shane LeHew hadn’t been penalized several ounces for weighing in dead fish and then 2 pounds for accidentally making a cast with six bass in his livewell.

Crazy things also happened to Gross on the water.

“The first day of the tournament, I was running brushpiles so fast that I was fishing with my lifejacket on,” he said. “I had a 7-pounder at the boat, and I reeled my lanyard up into my reel. That fish was out there jumping, so I tried to just muscle through it. All that did was make it worse.

“That fish eventually got off — and I thought [for] sure that would cost me a lot. But I guess when something is meant to be, it’s meant to be.”

Canterbury caught 19-3 and finished less than a pound back with 83-9. Georgia pro Drew Benton weighed in 24-8 — the second-biggest bag of the event — and placed third with 82-4.

Texas pro Chris Zaldain took home Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the week honors with a 7-5 largemouth.

South Carolina’s Brandon Cobb finished third, earning an additional $3,000 for being the highest-placing entrant in the Toyota Bonus Bucks program, and Jamie Hartman took home $2,000 for being the second-highest placing entrant. 
 

Finish

Name

Hometown

Total lbs-oz

Earnings

1

Buddy Gross           

Chickamauga, GA

84-08

$101,000

2

Scott Canterbury      

Odenville, AL          

83-09

$25,000

3

Drew Benton

Blakely, GA

82-04

$20,000

4

Brandon Cobb

Greenwood, SC

79-08

$15,000

5

Drew Cook

Midway, FL

78-05

$15,000

6

Caleb Kuphall

Mukwonago, WI

77-04

$15,000

7

Matt Arey

Shelby, NC

76-09

$15,000

8

Clark Wendlandt 

Leander, TX            

75-05

$15,000

9

Jamie Hartman

Newport, NY

74-07

$15,000

10

Chris Zaldain

Fort Worth, TX         

70-01  

$17,000

11

Shane LeHew            

Catawba, NC            

56-09  

$13,000

12

Brandon Lester        

Fayetteville, TN        

56-08  

$12,000

13

Chad Pipkens          

Lansing, MI            

56-06  

$12,000

14

Keith Combs            

Huntington, TX          

56-05  

$12,000

15

Kyle Monti            

Okeechobee, FL          

55-05  

$12,000

16

Kyle Welcher          

Opelika, AL            

54-03  

$10,000

17

Seth Feider            

New Market, MN          

53-03  

$10,000

18

Hank Cherry Jr        

Lincolnton, NC          

52-13  

$10,000

19

Lee Livesay            

Gladewater, TX          

52-06  

$10,000

20

Patrick Walters        

Summerville, SC        

52-03  

$10,000

21

Austin Felix          

Eden Prairie, MN        

51-09  

$10,000

22

Garrett Paquette      

Canton, MI              

51-07  

$10,000

23

Ray Hanselman Jr      

Del Rio, TX            

51-07  

$10,000

24

Clent Davis            

Montevallo, AL          

51-06  

$10,000

25

Skylar Hamilton        

Dandridge, TN          

50-15  

$10,000

26

Caleb Sumrall          

New Iberia, LA          

50-07  

$10,000

27

Hunter Shryock        

Newcomerstown, OH      

50-06  

$10,000

28

Bill Lowen            

Brookville, IN          

49-12  

$10,000

29

Gerald Swindle        

Guntersville, AL        

49-05  

$10,000

30

Gary Clouse            

Winchester, TN          

49-05  

$10,000

31

Wes Logan              

Springville, AL        

49-02  

$10,000

32

Todd Auten            

Lake Wylie, SC          

48-08  

$10,000

33

John Cox              

Debary, FL              

48-01  

$10,000

34

Matt Herren            

Ashville, AL            

47-08  

$10,000

35

Frank Talley          

Temple, TX              

46-13  

$10,000

36

Brandon Card

Knoxville, TN          

46-01  

$10,000

37

Clifford Pirch        

Payson, AZ              

45-13  

$10,000

38

Brad Whatley          

Bivins, TX              

45-02  

$10,000

39

Jake Whitaker          

Fairview, NC            

43-12  

$10,000

40

Brock Mosley          

Collinsville, MS        

43-06  

$10,000

41

Shane Lineberger             

Lincolnton, NC          

31-03  

$7,500

42

Taku Ito              

Chiba JAPAN            

31-02  

$7,500

43

Jeff Gustafson        

Keewatin Ontario CANADA

31-02  

$7,500

44

Jesse Tacoronte        

Kissimmee, FL          

31-01  

$7,500

45

Derek Hudnall          

Baton Rouge, LA        

30-14  

$7,500

46

David Mullins          

Mt Carmel, TN          

30-12  

$5,000

47

Cody Hollen            

Beaverton, OR            

30-09  

$5,000

48

Stetson Blaylock      

Benton, AR              

30-09  

$5,000

49

Luke Palmer            

Coalgate, OK            

30-08  

$2,500

50

Jason Williamson      

Wagener, SC            

30-08  

$2,500

Media Contact: Emily Harley, B.A.S.S. Communications Manager, 205-313-0945, [email protected]

SOURCE B.A.S.S.

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