BISMARCK, Ark. — North Carolina angler Brandon Gray experienced a rollercoaster ride of bad and good luck before taking over the individual lead on Day 3 in the Toyota Bonus Bucks Team Championship at DeGray Lake.
His morning started out with boat problems, but Gray soon got into fish when he reached his first spot. “I got a little lucky this morning,” said Gray. “(The fishing) was on fire and I hit everything just right, but the rest of the day I didn’t get anything.”
The Bullock, North Carolina angler finished the day with a five-fish limit weighing 10 pounds, 8 ounces to top the other five finalists from the team competition of this two-part tournament. “I basically went through the same area we worked all week,” he said. “I feel like there are fish there because the last couple of days I was able to watch them on the depth finder. The bait has been sitting there and hasn’t moved all week. So hopefully it will be there tomorrow when I get there.”
Bad luck hit Gray again throughout the day when he lost a couple of crankbaits, including one he called Lucky that broke off when a bass wrapped around a stick. “It’s been a good crankbait and I’ll miss it,” he lamented. “I found Lucky Junior a little bit later though.”
The six finalists of the championship will square off again tomorrow for the final day of competition. The final 2015 Bassmaster Classic berth is the grand prize for the winner, who will also receive a Skeeter FX20/Yamaha 250 outboard rig to run in the Classic.
Gray hopes he fares better this time than when he challenged for Classic berths in 2010 and 2011 in the Bassmaster Weekend Series championships. “I have been in this situation before and it didn’t turn out too well,” said Gray, who recalls finishing second and third in those events.
Arizona anglers Jon Griffith and John Stewart Jr. missed the Top 3 cut yesterday by finishing fourth in the team competition. However they got a chance to fish in the individual round of the tournament when the second-place team of Brandon Gladish and Aaric Correll were disqualified. Jon Stewart, tournament director for the championship, said the team of Gladish and Correll from Indiana was disqualified for violation of Rule C7, which covers tackle and equipment. As a result of the disqualification, the team of Brandon Gray and Todd Massey of North Carolina moved into second place in the final standings of the team competition, and the fourth-place team of Jon Griffith and John Stewart Jr. moved to third.
Griffith made the most of his second chance to fish by catching four bass weighing 8-06 to move into the runner-up spot. The Mesa, Ariz., angler admitted he had plenty of fun throughout the day catching a lot of hybrid stripers. “As much as I love to fish I don’t care what I am catching, I just like to catch them,” Griffith said. Fortunately for Griffith, largemouth and spotted bass started showing up in the mix to give him some fish to weigh in as well.
Moving into third place with two bass weighing 4-04 was Royce Davis, who won the team competition of this championship with his partner Flannagan Fife. The Arkansas angler caught his keepers dragging a wobble head jig and had some short fish on a jerkbait.
The host for this event is the DeGray Lake Resort State Park. The final launch will be held at the DeGray Lake State Park Marina with the final weigh-in at Caddo Bend in DeGray Lake Resort State Park, Bismarck, Ark.