MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. — Freezing temperatures made catching bass extremely difficult Thursday during the Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship.
But brothers Brett and Beau Govreau of St. Louis, Mo., stayed hot on the second and final day of team competition on Norfork Lake. Entering Day 2 in second place with a five-bass limit of 14 pounds, 5 ounces, they followed on Thursday with another limit that weighed 11-13.
That gave the Govreaus a two-day total of 26-2 and helped them win the tournament that attracted 162 of the finest tandems from team trails covering 33 states, as well as Canada and Australia.
The Govreaus fish on the US Anglers Choice team trail. Ryan Butler and Dustin Lippe of the Joe Bass team trail placed second overall in team competition with a two-day total of 24-12, and the father/son duo of Robbie Dodson Jr. and Robert Dodson Sr. finished third with 24-10.
With the win, the Govreau brothers collected a Nitro Z20 and Mercury 225 Pro XS boat/motor package valued at $41,995, including a Minn Kota trolling motor and Lowrance electronics. The duo also will be honored at the annual Bassmaster Classic Night of Champions in March.
But besides merchandise and prestige, there’s an even bigger prize within reach for the Top 6. The remaining anglers had their weights zeroed after Thursday’s weigh-in, and now they’ll compete individually in another two-day competition. The angler with the heaviest total weight in that portion of the tournament will earn the final spot in the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods to be held on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell March 16-18.
It’s a lot to absorb, but the six men will have to do so quickly. Launch in the solo tournament is set for 6:45 a.m. CT on Friday.
The Govreaus decided to fish new water on Thursday, despite their success on the first day. They were tight-lipped about how they caught their fish in the team competition, but did say it’s not a particular area that is producing.
“We ran a little bit of the same water we did on Wednesday, but didn’t get a bite there,” Brett, 38, said. “It’s the way we’re fishing, not an area. It’s a pattern.”
Beau, 36, said his older brother located the bass they caught the past two days, so he’ll run new water to find his own bass for the next two days. He certainly can be proficient (Beau won the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Central Regional presented by Magellan Outdoors in April on Missouri’s Lake of the Ozark).
Whatever they have in mind for the next two days, both brothers hope the fishing is easier than it was on Thursday.
“It was really tough out there,” Beau said. “It was cold, and we were battling the wind all day. It was not easy by any means.”
Still, the struggle was well worth the result.
Butler, of Blue Eye, Mo., and Lippe, who lives in Lampe, Mo., won $11,000 for the second-place finish. The Dodsons, both of Harrison Ark., won $8,000. Like the Govreaus, all four have a chance to fish their way into the Bassmaster Classic with a solid showing Friday and Saturday.
Flannagan Fife of the Arkansas Bass Team won the inaugural Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship on Arkansas’ DeGray Lake in 2014. He and his new partner, Cody Davis, finished fourth on Norfork Lake with a two-day total of 24-2.
David and Sean Mulkey, a father/son tandem from the Joe Bass team trail in Missouri, led after the first round of the team championship despite their boat breaking down just after launch. A friend loaned them a boat on Thursday, but that vessel also faltered. The Mulkeys dropped to fifth place with a 23-14 total.
The big bass of the tournament went to the Dodsons who boated a 6-pounder bass on Thursday. Matthew Rittman had the big bass (5-0) on Day 1. Both awards come with a $500 prize.
Friday’s weigh-in will begin at 2:45 p.m. at the 101 Boat Dock.
The Mountain Home Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting the tournament.