When talking about his life in the past decade or so, Buddy Gross uses the word “we” a lot.
Two weeks after his come-from-behind win in the DEWALT Bassmaster Elite on Lake Eufuala, Gross called it a family accomplishment, as in “we won.”
“I say ‘We,’ and people always ask, ‘Who’s we?’” said Gross, mentioning his family of wife, LeAnn, their daughter, Bella, and stepson, Myles. “We’re a team. They’re here to support me.
“Once we got married, we’ve been pretty much inseparable. Everything in my life got to a better place, and I started to begin fishing again.”
And oh, how he’s fished. Gross, who won four events on FLW circuits, claimed a blue trophy in his second Elite tournament and 10th overall entry with B.A.S.S. A bait adjustment helped Gross figure out the big brush pile fish and rally from 10th place on the final day. His big bag of 27 pounds, 11 ounces made up a 7-9 deficit on the leader, and he won by a pound with 84-4.
“I had just seen a lot of good quality fish. I knew I was going to catch them, but I had no idea I had enough to catch first,” he said. “I like to fish for big ’uns is all I can tell you.”
But life, as well as fishing, wasn’t always so good for Gross, who struggled in tournaments so much he left that world behind in his 30s. Marrying LeAnn began Gross’ turnaround. They worked together at her parents’ body shop; she in the front office and Buddy in the garage.
“It’s a big shop — do about 150 cars a month,” he said. “I went to work as an estimator and within two years I became a general manager and was running the whole show. Things started getting better, and it gave me an opportunity to go fishing again.”
LeAnn didn’t know the first thing about tournament bass fishing, he said, or what jumping back in meant, but she was all for him pursuing his passion. Starting again from scratch, Gross bought a used boat and fished local events on area lakes Chickamauga, Nickajack and Guntersville with partner James Milling, who grew up across the street from him.