Fishing League Worldwide pro Buddy Gross of Chickamauga, Ga., caught 20 bass weighing 85 pounds, 12 ounces over four days to earned the victory by a 4-pound, 10-ounce margin over second-place pro John Cox of DeBary in last weekend’s FLW Tour at Lake Toho presented by Ranger Boats on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes.
Gross sealed the win and the $100,000 first-place prize by bringing in a five-bass limit weighing 23 pounds, 12 ounces, to the scale Sunday, the highest of the 10 Day 4 finalists.
Cox (81 pounds, two ounces), who led the field after Friday’s second day, won $30,600 for second, and Darrell Davis of Dover, Fla. (78-7) won $25,000 for third.
“I’m ecstatic. It has been an awesome, awesome journey. To beat the competition that we have – it’s unbelievable,” said Gross, who earned his second career FLW Tour victory. “I came into this event just wanting to cash a check. When I made the top 30, I just wanted stay in the top 10. All I wanted to do was finish strong.
“I got the majority of my weight early today – I’m guessing I had 18 or 19 pounds by 9 (a.m.) and after that it was a grind. I can’t believe this place that I caught these fish and held up – I really believe the Lord just blessed me.”
The spot Gross is referring to was on the main span of Lake Toho, just north of the lock at the lake’s southern end. It was his most productive area throughout the event, producing 19 of his 20 fish. He described it as a “pocket” in the grass line that was 30 feet wide and 50 feet in, but that didn’t break through to the other side.
“It was special because it had two ditches with clumps in the middle, and the fish were sitting in the clumps,” Gross said. “There were 20-foot gaps between each clump, and they’d set up in them [the clumps]. The first day I caught them, it was in the ditch, but after that, everything was on the clumps.”
Gross primarily used a 5- or 6-inch, natural-light-colored Scottsboro Tackle Swimbait on an 8/0-sized Owner Beast Flashy Swimmer and a ½-ounce white custom swimjig with a 4-inch Scottsboro Tackle swimbait trailer of the same color. The same swimjig with a black-and-blue skirt and a green-pumpkin Zoom Z-Craw trailer also came into play. For line, he used 50-pound-test braid on a Daiwa Tatula SV reel. He fished the swimbait on a 7-foot, 3-inch Fitzgerald Rods All Purpose Series extra-heavy rod, but switched to a heavy-action rod of the same length and series for the swim jig.
Overall there were 49 bass weighing 157 pounds, 9 ounces caught by pros Sunday.
The total purse for the FLW Tour at Lake Toho presented by Ranger Boats was more than $860,000, including $9,000 through 65th place in the Pro Division.