February 13, 2013
Permitted use provided by: MajorLeagueFishing.com
Standing on the dock before the final round of the Jack Link's Major League Fishing 2013 General Tire Summit Cup competition at Chautauqua Lake, Shaw Grigsby was all smiles.
Which is nothing new for the enthusiastic, popular bass pro from Florida.
On this morning, as Grigsby and the other five finalists prepared to launch their bass rigs out onto the waters of western New York's 13,000-acre bass fishing gem, Grigsby has ample reasons to smile.
First and foremost, he is in the hunt for his first ever Major League Fishing championship title.
"Well, you certainly hope so," said Grigsby. "I've got a good feel for how the lake fishes and the technique that I'm doing is something that I like to do so I just hope that it will work out."
With nine B.A.S.S. tournament wins and career earnings right at the $2 million dollar mark, there's a good chance that things will work out for Grigsby.
Grigsby likes his chances but readily admits that it doesn't matter what you did yesterday in this sport, only what you can get done today.
"It really comes down to these guys are the best and you can't miss a fish," he said. "Yesterday I kind of imploded during period two and just lost a bunch of them."
Grigsby knows that kind of effort will not cut it in the final.
"If you can convert every one of them and execute exceptionally (on strikes), then yeah, you can come out on top," he said. "That's what it's going to take, the guy who doesn't lose them, and catches them on every strike, that's the guy that's going to do well today."
One thing that stood out during Grigsby's second round isn't that he fished docks - so did everyone else, especially those protected from yesterday's stiff breeze. But what kind of docks he fished - and the rough water that was crashing into them - well, that was another story.
"Yeah, (fishing those rough water docks) actually allowed the fish to feed a little better," said Grigsby. "It also took the other anglers out of that area, so that basically left the water fresh. And that was a good thing (for me)."
Why did he choose the rough water docks?
Chalk that up to years of veteran experience and accumulated knowledge that Grigsby has gathered en route to becoming one of the greatest professional bass anglers of all time.
"These are small holes and it's not like you've got a regular tournament where you've got just a small handful of awesome anglers," he said. "This IS the handful, every one of these guys are the best. They don't miss a thing and they know every little trick there is. So if you can find some fresh water, some water that doesn't get beat up, then that's real special."
Speaking of getting beat up, does Grigsby pay attention to the leader board, something that can beat up the psyche of an angler as an all-out brawl takes place on the water?
Well, does Grigsby love his Florida Gators?
"It's giving you feedback on what everyone else is doing," said the Sunshine State pro. "So you know if you're behind, you know if you're in front, and you know what you need to do. So it's your whole world, that leader board.
"In a normal tournament, you're always going 'I'm catching them, but is it enough and am I catching the right size of fish?' Well, with this, every fish counts and you know (where you are and whether you are doing the right thing)," he added.
"You're seeing it every second, whether I'm in third, I'm in fourth, or I'm back up to second. You know where you are at. So it's everything and your decisions are based on that leader board."
Having accomplished just about all that can be accomplished in a Hall of Fame type of career, just how important is it for Grigsby to be atop the leader board at the end of the championship round?
"Oh, it would be huge, absolutely huge," he said.
"To me, this is the sport. This is what the sport will be. I think in the next two to three to four years, Major League Fishing will be the dominant fishing entity. Everybody is going to want to be participating in this, everyone is going to enjoy watching this, it's just way too exciting."
Grigsby isn't just selling the company line, mind you. He genuinely likes the innovative format and what it brings to the table.
Whether he's an angler on the water or a spectator sitting in the stands.
"It's so exciting just to be here and compete in it but it's also exciting to watch it," said Grigsby. "I got knocked out last year in the first round and for me to sit back and watch the competition, it just blew me away."
Especially when Kevin VanDam lit up the Texas/Mexico border waters on Lake Amistad last fall.
"Watching Kevin tap out and be done in the second period first thing in the morning (was awesome)," laughed Grigsby. "Then (to) go sit on the bank and do commentary on the other anglers fishing against him, that was pretty neat (too).
"And even watching the round I was in, the first round, Tommy Biffle led and was ahead after every round and then he didn't even qualify when he got knocked out (at the end) of the third period and finished in fifth place."
Grigsby believes that Major League Fishing is just what the doctor ordered for professional bass fishing - a product that is electrifying to compete in and equally exciting to watch at home in the easy chair.
"It's like a NASCAR race, just watching the guys go at it," he said. "You could see that last year during the championship round. If that third round had gone another 20 or 30 minutes, it would have been a different winner.
"It was just that simple, Kevin's momentum was building and he was just ripping it, picking them off one at a time, and closing the gap. It took him a while to get going, but once he got going, it was just like watching a NASCAR race. He got hooked up, was tracking him (Brent Ehrler) down, and give him one or two laps more and he's got him."
Bottom line, Major League Fishing represents fishing excitement at its best as far as Grigsby is concerned.
"When you have that much excitement in fishing, I think this is going to be the ultimate in the outdoors sports field."
Tune in and see if you don't agree.