Bassmaster Elite Series rookie Buddy Gross won the DEWALT Bassmaster Elite at Lake Eufaula on Saturday, earning $100,000 and a coveted blue trophy.
Fishing in only his second event on the trail, Gross caught a tournament-best five-bass limit that weighed in at 27 pounds, 11 ounces. Gross collected the prize onstage from his family due to social distancing measures of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Gross, who lives in Chickamauga, Ga., scouted Lake Eufaula twice before the event, marking over 300 man-made brush piles that lure bass.
But during a practice run some of the brush he had marked was gone — probably washed away by flooding. New brush piles had cropped up in different locations.
“I didn’t want to spend time fishing phantom waypoints,” Gross said. “So, I had to start marking those places off the list where brush piles had washed away. Then as I was doing that, I found brush piles in places where there weren’t any back before the off-limits period just 35 or 40 days ago.”
Switching lures and testing different holes, he moved to an area with shallower brush in Pataula Creek.
“On the first shallow brush pile I fished, I hung one and lost it,” he said. “Then on the second one, I caught a 6-13 that was my biggest fish of the day. I said right then, ‘This is gonna be the deal all day.’”
The win was transformational, he said.
“It doesn’t get much better than that,” Gross said. “This is something you dream of as a kid because B.A.S.S. is the epitome of fishing — just the staple of the fishing world. To dream about something like this, and then for it to happen so early in my career, is amazing.”