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Posted By The Bass Hog

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. Nov. 30, 2017 Many anglers got their start in competitive fishing by teaming with a partner in local weekend events on their home lakes. Team tournaments have always been known to be a lot of fun — and there have been times when these tournaments could be a good money-making venture. But only for the past four years have team events offered a path to the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.
Founded in 2014, the Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship starts with the same simple concept as most team events around the country. Two partners fish for two days out of the same boat for bass that will go in the same livewell. The team with the heaviest total weight wins.
This year, the tournament will head to Mountain Home, Ark., Dec. 6-9 with competition on Norfork Lake.
After deciding a team champion on the final competition day, the six anglers from the Top 3 teams are sent back onto the lake for a two-day solo tournament. The winning individual earns a berth to the Classic.
The Team Championship is comprised of the top teams from organized tournament trails around the country. The trails must register with B.A.S.S. before the season.
The program has been a hit from the start — and has only gotten bigger. In 2014, 38 trails from around the country competed in the inaugural tournament. That number grew to 57 trails (with 11,866 members) in 2017, and the fourth annual Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship will draw more than 170 boats.
The winning team will take home the trophy and a Nitro Z20 boat powered by a Mercury 225 Pro XS with a Minn Kota trolling motor and Lowrance electronics valued at $41,995. In addition, teams finishing through 34th place will earn a check based on a 170-boat field.
B.A.S.S. officials expect continued growth for the Team Championship, as the event gives grass-roots anglers a chance to chase their dreams.
The 101 Boat Dock (565 Howard Cove Rd.) in Gamaliel will be the location for daily takeoffs at 6:45 a.m. CT, with weigh-ins following at 2:45 p.m.
The Mountain Home Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting the event.

2017 Bassmaster Team Championship Title Sponsor: Toyota Bonus Bucks

2017 Bassmaster Team Championship Premier Sponsors: Mercury, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha, Huk, Humminbird, Minn Kota, Shell Rotella, Power-Pole

2017 Bassmaster Team Championship Supporting Sponsors: Livingston Lures, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Carhartt, Phoenix Boats, Shimano, T-H Marine, Advance Auto Parts

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

PARIS, Tenn. — When soaking rains and cold temperatures moved across western Tennessee earlier this week, people wondered how the changing weather would affect fishing in the Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship on Kentucky Lake.

On Wednesday at Paris Landing State Park, Ken Thompson and Brad Weese provided the answer.

Though the duo has only fished together less than a year, they looked like lifelong partners. The team from the Angler’s Choice Team Trail boated a five-bass limit that totaled 24 pounds, 10 ounces and gave them a solid lead after the opening round of the national team championship.

Weese, who is from Petersburg, W.Va., caught the two biggest bass of their creel; each weighed approximately 6 1/2 pounds. Thompson, of Raysburg, Pa., provided the rest of the weight with a 4-pounder and two 3 1/2-pound bass.  They didn’t catch many fish in practice rounds when the weather was extremely disagreeable, but found three spots today that lit up after they ditched their initial fishing area earlier in the morning.

“We complement each other in that we both like fishing the same style,” Thompson said. “If I’m doing something, I know he can do it. And if he has something working, I can fish the same way. We’ll hit those same spots tomorrow. There are fish out there.”

Twenty-five teams are within 10 pounds of Thompson’s and Weese’s lead. In all, 159 of the 186 teams registered in the Bassmaster Team Championship caught at least one bass today, and 58 of them had limits.

Surprisingly, Faber and Gardner, who currently are in third place, were without a limit. They caught four bass on all day, two of which came among their first casts of the day. One of the throws boated a 6-10 lunker to boost the bag.

“This is our first time here, so we don’t know the lake at all,” Gardner said. “So this was good fishing for us today. There were a lot of fish (on our spot,) and we literally stayed on it all day.”

“So we’ll start in the same spot again tomorrow, for sure,” Gardner said.

McCaig and Hurst had the big bass of the day — an 8-3 lunker that Hurst said was caught on a crankbait following the shad bite on Kentucky Lake. Both men said they didn’t catch much in practice, but felt like it would take at least 20 pounds a day to make the cut after Thursday’s action.

“This is the Tennessee River, so you know it’s going to take a good weight to win,” McCaig said. “The first place we started today, we caught an 8-pounder, then a 4-pounder. So why leave?”

“We had three spots in mind, we hit one, and it produced,” Hurst said. “Hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.”

Rain Monday and Tuesday gave way to partly cloudy skies, 50 degree air temperatures, and slack winds on Wednesday. Conditions are supposed to be significantly colder for Thursday’s fishing, after which the team champions will be crowned.

The Top 3 teams will qualify for the Bassmaster Team Championship Classic Fish-Off to be held on Friday and Saturday, also on Kentucky Lake. In that event, each angler fishes individually, teammate against teammate. The competitor who brings in the heaviest daily catches will earn the final available space in the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic when it is held in March on Lake Conroe outside of Houston, Texas.

This week’s event marks the third year B.A.S.S. has held a team championship. The tournament is composed of winning pairs from team trails throughout the U.S. that are sanctioned by B.A.S.S.

194 teams from 31 states and one Canadian province are represented.

The Day 2 launch will be at 6:30 a.m. CT at Paris Landing State Park, weigh-in will follow at 2:30.

Courtesy of B.A.S.S. Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

BISMARCK, Ark. — In celebration of the Yuletide season, Brandon Gray received a couple of early Christmas presents for being a good angler at DeGray Lake.

By winning the bracket portion of the Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship, Gray earned the final 2015 Bassmaster Classic berth and accepted another gift of a Skeeter FX20/Yamaha 250 outboard rig for him to run in the Classic Feb. 20-22 at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina. The Bullock, N.C., angler caught five-fish limits both days during the individual fish-off and finished with 20 pounds, 3 ounces.

“It’s been a long hard road for me,” said the 42-year-old Gray. The occupational hearing conservationist (he conducts OSHA standard hearing tests for companies) disclosed he has  come close to making the Classic three times through 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 had doubts about even coming to this team championship. “It was a long drive, and we had a successful year back home (fishing with Todd Massey in the Anglers Choice team trail),” Gray said.

However, he thought there might be something  special about the site of the championship so they made the long trip. “We both have the same last names — DeGray Lake and Brandon Gray,” he said.

Gray thought spooning would be the best way to catch DeGray bass, but he changed his mind when the tactic produced only a couple of keepers in practice. “It’s all about making the right decisions, and I felt like I made the right decisions here,” said Gray, who decided to throw Norman DD22 crankbaits to catch his fish the last two days.
Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

BISMARCK, Ark. — Fishers of Men teammates Flannagan Fife and Royce Davis made B.A.S.S. history Thursday by becoming the first team winners of the inaugural Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship today at DeGray Lake by bringing in a two-day total weight of 26 pounds, 8 ounces.

The Arkansas anglers topped a field of 155 two-man teams from a host of B.A.S.S.-sanctioned team trails across the country to earn the championship title along with the grand prize of a Nitro Z7 bass boat/Mercury Optimax 150 Pro XS outboard rig and the Livingston Lures Leader Award of $500. The national champions also received a traveling trophy to take back to their Fishers of Men team trail.

Thursday’s action concluded the team competition of this unique four-day tournament. Friday the six anglers from the Top 3 teams will fish individually for the final two days of competition. The individual Bassmaster Team Trail champion qualifies for the final 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic berth and receives a Skeeter FX20/Yamaha 250 outboard rig to run in the Classic.

Fife and Davis spent both days cranking the shallows to earn the nine bass they caught Thrursday. Although the weather changed from sunshine yesterday to clouds today, Fife thought their pattern stayed about the same.

“We had a lot of lulls when we weren’t getting bites, and we would try to make adjustments. But, we still wouldn’t get bit, so we went right back to cranking,” he said.

The team tried about 30 spots during the two competition days, but only four of their spots kept producing fish. Even though they will be fishing the next two days, Fife and Davis didn’t save any spots for the next round.

“We went all out (to win),” Fife said. “Most of our spots are isolated, and we didn’t have a lot of them. To get five bites we had to fish everything and lean on it hard. I don’t know if there is anything left there or not.”

Fishers of Men anglers Brandon Gladish and Aaric Correll moved into second place with 23-13 and will also fish in the bracket round starting Friday. The weather change caused their fish to go deeper, so they had to make some adjustments to catch a limit weighing 12-8 today.

Gladish said they used “three or four different baits,” while keying on largemouth bass the first two days and are using tactics totally different than what they fish back home in Indiana. Since they will be fishing against each other Friday, they will have to share their most productive spot. “There are a lot of fish there, so we should be in good shape,” Gladish said.

Day 1 leaders Brandon Gray and Todd Massey stumbled today and caught only four keepers weighing 8-14. However, they made the bracket cut by finishing in third place with 23 pounds overall.

“The cloud cover really hurt our fish,” Massey said. “We just couldn’t get anything really good going. We had four keeper bites today and fished clean. We did catch a short fish which was probably a quarter of an inch short in the last 15 minutes, but it might have moved us up only one place. We just couldn’t get the bites.”

The North Carolina anglers from the Anglers Choice circuit keyed on one area both days. “We bounced around and tried a few other areas but went back to that one area we have really been focusing on and lived or died there,” Massey said.

Hosting the tournament is the DeGray Lake Resort State Park. Launches and weigh-ins for Friday and Saturday will be held at Caddo Bend in DeGray Lake Resort State Park, Bismarck, Ark.

Courtesy of BASS Communications.

Posted By The Bass Hog

BISMARCK, Ark. — North Carolina anglers Brandon Gray and Todd Massey had never seen DeGray Lake before this week, but this team 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,” Massey said. “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 first Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship through the Anglers Choice circuit and have fished as a team for four years. “We traveled together and fished the (Bassmaster) Weekend Series for some years,” Massey said.
Fishers of Men teammates Flannagan Fife and Royce Davis fish DeGray Lake 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. Because 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,” Fife said. “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. We stayed out and fished for largemouth all day long. We just junk fished all day,” Dixon said, referring to a term used to describe fishing a variety of techniques and locations.
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 traveling 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 GEICO 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 Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster 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.

2014 Bassmaster Team Championship Title Sponsor: Toyota Bonus Bucks

2014 Bassmaster Team Championship Official Sponsors: Mercury, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha

2014 Bassmaster Team Championship Supporting Sponsors: Booyah, Diet Mountain Dew, Livingston Lures

Courtesy of BASS Communications.