BISMARCK, Ark. — North Carolina anglers Brandon Gray and Todd Massey had never seen DeGray Lake before this week but found a few clues in practice to have a solid start on the first day of the Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship.
Massey said their practice went “not real well”, and he was surprised they caught five fish weighing 14 pounds, 2 ounces to move into first place today. “We found some spots (in practice) that had some fish but we never really beat them to see what was there,” said Massey. “Today, we just started picking those spots and tried to dissect them from there. We bounced around a couple of times but kind of stayed in the same general area.”
The North Carolina anglers caught fish in both deep and shallow water. “I think the fish are scattered,” Massey said. “There are some fish shallow and there are some fish deep. So you can fish whatever style you prefer to fish.”
Massey and Gray qualified for the team championship through the Anglers Choice circuit and have fished as a team for four years. “We travelled together and fished the (Bassmaster) Weekend Series for some years,” said Massey.
Fishers of Men teammates Flanagan Fife and Royce Davis fish DeGray about once a year and usually do well in tournaments on the lake, according to Fife. The Arkansas anglers took over second place with four bass weighing 13-1. Since they had what Fife described as an “inconsistent practice,” they decided to use their confidence bait today. “Everything we caught was on crankbaits shallow—about 4 feet of water or less,” said Fife. “We were doing a lot of hopping around and fishing isolated stuff.”
Another Fishers of Men team from Arkansas moved into third place. Wayne Dixon and Jared Allen had only five bites all day but they boated five keepers weighing 12-9 to take over third. “We didn’t fish for Kentuckies,” Dixon said. “We stayed out and fished for largemouth all day long. We just junk fished (running to a bunch of spots) all day.”
This unique four-day tournament is two events rolled into one. Today was the first round of a two-day competition pitting two-man teams from various B.A.S.S.-sanctioned team trails across the country against each other to determine a national champion. The winning team will be awarded the first-place prize of a Nitro Z7 bass boat/Mercury Optimax 150 Pro XS outboard rig and the Livingston Leader Award of $500. A travelling trophy is also presented to the team champions to take back to the team trail they represent.
The six anglers from the Top 3 finishers of the team competition advance to the final two days of the tournament and will fish individually. The individual winner of the tournament will qualify for the final 2015 Bassmaster Classic berth and receive a Skeeter FX20/Yamaha 250 outboard rig to run in the Classic.
The DeGray Lake Resort State Park is hosting the team championship. Launches and weigh-ins for the next three competition days will be held at Caddo Bend in DeGray Lake Resort State Park, Bismarck, Ark.