North Carolina finally broke through and got a fisherman in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic when Brandon Gray of Bullock won the bracket round of the Bassmaster Team Championship on Arkansas’ DeGray Lake on Saturday.
Gray, 42, caught his second-straight limit of five bass on Saturday to finish with 20 pounds, 3 ounces and win by more than seven pounds, taking the final berth in the Classic, which will be held Feb. 20-22 on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell.
Gray’s two limits weighed 10-8 and 9-11. They were the only limits weighed in by the six anglers fishing in the finals, and they earned him a fully-rigged Skeeter bass boat.
“It’s been a long, hard road for me,” said Gray, who has come close to making the Classic three times while fishing in the Bassmaster Weekend Series National Championship.
“The last three years I have fished it, I finished second at Dardanelle and lost by 2 pounds, then lost by 2 pounds at Guntersville the year before and lost by about 3 pounds at Old Hickory last year,” Gray said.
Gray and partner Todd Massey fished the Anglers Choice Team Trail. They finally decided to make the long drive from North Carolina, and a change Gray made in his tactics turned out to be a good one.
He thought fishing a jigging spoon would be the best way to catch fish, but when spoons only produced a couple of fish in practice, he moved to a deep-diving crankbait.
“It’s all about making the right decisions, and I felt like I made the right decisions here,” said Gray, who caught three keeper crankbait fish on Saturday before finishing out his limit with a shakey-head rig and black Zoom Trick Worm.
John Griffith of Arizona took second with 12-12, followed by Royce Davis of Arkansas with 9-4. Arizona’s John Stewart Jr. was fourth with 5-13, Flannagan Fife of Arkansas was fifth with 3 pounds, and Massey was sixth with 2-6.