BISMARCK, Ark. — Fishers of Men teammates Flannagan Fife and Royce Davis made B.A.S.S. history by becoming the first team winners of the inaugural Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship today at DeGray Lake.
The Arkansas anglers topped a field of 155 two-man teams from a host of B.A.S.S.-sanctioned team trails across the country to earn the championship title along with the grand prize of a Nitro Z7 bass boat/Mercury Optimax 150 Pro XS outboard rig and the Livingston Leader Award of $500. The national champions also received a travelling trophy to take back to their Fishers of Men team trail.
Today’s action concluded the team competition of this unique four-day tournament. Tomorrow the six anglers from the Top 3 teams will fish individually for the final two days of competition. The individual champion qualifies for the final 2015 Bassmaster Classic berth and receives a Skeeter FX20/Yamaha 250 outboard rig to run in the Classic.
Fife and Davis spent both days cranking the shallows to catch nine bass weighing 26 pounds, 8 ounces. Although the weather changed from sunshine yesterday to clouds today, Fife thought their pattern stayed about the same.
“We had a lot of lulls when we weren’t getting bites and we would try to make adjustments but still wouldn’t get bit, so we went right back to cranking,” he said.
The team tried about 30 spots during the two competition days but only four kept producing fish. Even though they will be fishing the next two days, Fife and Davis didn’t save any spots for the next round.
“We went all out (to win),” Fife said. “Most of our spots are isolated and we didn’t have a lot of them, so to get five bites we had to fish everything and lean on it hard. I don’t know if there is anything left there or not.”
Fishers of Men anglers Brandon Gladish and Aaric Correll moved into second place with 23-13 and will fish for two more days. The weather change caused their fish to go deeper so they had to make some adjustments from yesterday to catch a limit weighing 12-8 today.
Gladish said they have used “three or four different baits” while keying on largemouth bass the first two days and are using tactics totally different than what they fish back home in Indiana. Since they will be fishing against each other the next two days, they will have to share their most productive spot.
“There are a lot of fish there so we should be in good shape,” Gladish said.
Day 1 leaders Brandon Gray and Todd Massey stumbled today and caught only four keepers weighing 8-14. However they made the Top 3 cut by finishing in third place with 23 pounds overall.
“The cloud cover really hurt our fish,” Massey said. "We just couldn’t get anything really good going. We had four keeper bites today and fished clean. We did catch a short fish, which was probably a quarter of an inch short, in the last 15 minutes, but it might have moved us up only one place. We just couldn’t get the bites.”
The North Carolina anglers from the Anglers Choice circuit keyed on one area both days.
“We bounced around and tried a few other areas but went back to that one area we have really been focusing on and lived or died there,” Massey said.
Hosting the tournament is the DeGray Lake Resort State Park. Launches and weigh-ins for the last two competition days will be held at Caddo Bend in DeGray Lake Resort State Park, Bismarck, Ark.