Brandon Gray of North Carolina dominated the 2-day individual portion of the Bassmaster Team Championship at DeGray Lake in Arkansas to claim the final berth for the 2015 Bassmaster Classic.
The 42-year-old occupational hearing conservationist (he conducts OSHA standard hearing tests for companies) was the only one of the six competitors to catch a limit on both days. His 20-03 total gave him a margin of victory of nearly 7 1/2 pounds.
Gray said he'd come close to making the Classic three times through the Bassmaster Weekend Series National Championship. That route to the sport's premier event was supplanted by the Team Championship this year.
“It’s been a long hard road for me,” he said. “The last 3 years I have fished it, I finished 2nd 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."
He thought spooning would be the best way to catch fish at DeGray, but 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 2 days.
The deep-diving crankbaits produced three keepers for him on Saturday, but the calm weather prompted him to make a switch. He completed his limit by catching two keepers on a 1/8-ounce shaky-head jig tipped with a black Zoom Trick Worm.
Here are the totals for the six finalists:
1. Brandon Gray: 20-03
2. Jon Griffith: 12-12
3. Royce Davis: 9-04
4. John Stewart Jr.: 4-13
5. Flannagan Fife: 3-00
6. Todd Massey: 2-06