Editor: With his win on Lake Toho, Buddy Gross became the most recent winner on the FLW Pro Trail. Buddy has also won on Lake Seminole in the Costa Series, as well as doing well on FLW tournaments on Pickwick and Guntersville. Our own Kevin Carwile caught up with Buddy to get the low down on his big win.
iBass360: First, I have to ask you, is Buddy a nickname?
Gross: Actually, it is my real name. My parents didn’t want me to have a nickname. My grandpa was Bud. That was a nickname. But in naming me after him they made sure my name and nickname were the same.
iBass360: Congratulations on your big win on Toho- you basically ran away from the field. What was your approach to the tournament?
Gross: I had some good spots where fish were active. My main areas were offshore stretches of hydrilla holding both pre and post-spawn fish. The pre-spawners were feeding, and when they feed, I can catch them using a swim bait and a pair of swim jigs. I used a black and blue-colored swim jig and a white swim jig with Scottsboro swim bait as trailers. I also had success with my Nichols spinnerbaits.
iBass360: Do you have a favorite style of fishing and were you able to employ it to your
advantage at this tournament?
Gross: My favorite thing is using moving baits to keep me where the fish are most active. It was a reaction bite really, and the baits I chose to get the reaction were a 5-inch Scottsboro Tackle Company swim bait in a natural shad color. I fished this on an 8/0 Owner Beast Flashy Swimmer. This has a 3/8th ounce belly weighted hook with a blade, and a homemade ½ ounce swim jig with a 4-inch Scottsboro trailer also in the natural shad. I used a little underspin blade on the hook – it’s an Owner Flashy Swimmer. It’s got a little extra flash and I think that triggered the fish.
iBass360: Are there other bodies of water on the circuit this year that you feel are conducive to your style of fishing?
Gross: Yes I feel both Seminole and Chickamauga will both fish to my strengths.
iBass360: From a bait perspective, what were the keys to your success on Toho?
Gross: I think by using the natural shad, I matched what they were feeding on because they all had the bait deep.
iBass360: Moving to some broader questions, how did you work your way up to the big leagues? What were your keys to success and what advice would you give to anglers looking to try the same?
Gross: I fished very few BFL’s coming up. I basically just jumped into the Costas and qualified for the Tour on my first try. I guess I would have to say that the key for me was to fish hard, stay focused and make sure you know the water you’re fishing. If you put in the practice time and the study time, I think it pays off.
iBass360: What sacrifices have you had to make along the way? Would you say this is the area weekend warriors understand the least and need to?
Gross: If I look at it from the right perspective, the sacrifices were all made by my family. I just fished hard while my wife and mom kept life going at home. They made the sacrifice for me and I could not love and appreciate them more. I have to say there are times I miss them so much. I don’t think the average angler in general appreciates the sacrifice we make as a family, the things that get missed. It’s not for everyone.
iBass360: What approach did you take to lining up sponsors and using social media? What advice can you give us?
Gross: I don’t make it too complicated. I post messages about their gear, lures, rods etc. as often as possible and I look for relationship selling, that is, opportunities for me to sell myself to my sponsors and show them how I can help their business. If they are going to make a commitment to you, you have to convince them you can help them achieve their goals as they help you achieve yours.
iBass360: You probably figured I would ask this but, since it is the first season of the new MLF sponsored pro tournament series in its format, what is your take on all this? Good for the
industry? Not so good? What are your thoughts so far?
Gross: My opinion is simple really. To me, change is good, and it is going to keep everyone on their toes. I hope it is good for the sport.
iBass360. Buddy, thank you so much for your time. We at iBass360 wish you the best over the rest of your season and we look forward to watching you compete. As we always say, Live the Passion!