April 11, 2019
For legendary Florida professional bass angler Shaw Grigsby, Jr., it remains one of his biggest thrills in a lifetime spent chasing lunker largemouths.It being the sight-fishing catch of a massive bass that still brings shivers to his spine, a largemouth caught in central Florida years ago during a Professional Anglers Association event.
Even if the whole experience began in a rather irksome way when he snagged some left-behind line.
“I was fishing at Toho and I got hung up on some (discarded) braided line,” recalled Grigsby. “Somebody (had been) shiner fishing and left the line laying across the whole bunch of grass and lily pads.”
Initially, Grigsby wasn’t too thrilled by his contact with the wad of used-up fishing line.
“When you hang up, you know it’s going to screw up your fluorocarbon line, and I’m like ‘Man, that’s braid (discarded line), so I got on the the trolling motor because I didn’t want to break off my tungsten, break off my hook, and lose my bait.”
Fishing Shallow with the Master
Editor’s note: This is part of a digital-exclusive series on sight fishing for bass with shallow-water expert Shaw Grigsby. Jr.
So far in the series:
And that’s when fate smiled big-time on the mustachioed Bass Fishing Hall of Fame angler, with nine tournament wins and more than $2.26 million in career earnings.
“When I trolled by, I saw this little hole in the grass and I saw a fish down there and I thought ‘Ooohh, that’s about a seven-pounder!’ and I just blew right on past her,” said Grigsby. “I saw her, I knew where she was, and I just kept going.”
Soon, Grigsby, the veteran of many Bassmaster Elite Series, FLW Tour, PAA and Major League Fishing events, had gotten his line into the boat, collected the used braid, tossed the wasted line into his cooler (which also serves as a garbage can for a day out on the water) and went back to fishing.
“After all that, I turned around and went all the way back to where I’m a cast away,” said Grigsby with his trademark grin. “It was not quite a full cast, but close enough to make for an easier cast. I put my Power Poles down and my partner said, ‘What are you doing?’ and I said, ‘I’m fixing to catch a seven-pounder!’ and he said, ‘Cool.’”
Since he had scored his line on the used braid, Grigsby paused to cut and retie.
“I retied using a Texas-rig – I was using the Strike King Rodent in Okeechobee Craw – and I reeled up, fired it across that hole, and it sank down,” said Grigsby, one of professional angling’s best sight fishermen.
“I started to move it real slow and all of a sudden, ‘Thunk!’ and I’m like ‘Oh yeah, a seven-pounder!’ But I set the hook and missed him clean.”Undeterred, Grigsby reeled back up and fired his bait back in there.
“This time, I feel the thunk and he pulled it down and I set the hook and I catch about a four-pounder,” recalled Grigsby. “I’m like ‘Man, I’m disappointed!’ I always want to catch the female and I think, ‘That’s not the fish that I saw.’”
Grigsby unhooked the four-pound male, put him in the box to make for four fish on the day, and sat down to retie again.
“The whole time, I’m like ‘OK, hopefully, she’s still in there,’” he said. “I fire back in there, a fish started to drag it, I feel the thunk, feel the bite, set the hook, but there’s nothing. So now I’m all jazzed-up because I know this is the big one.”
Shaky-Head Tip from Shaw Grigsby
Grigsby reeled back up and … made a bad cast, hanging up in a small cluster of lily pads. Hey, even the sport’s best anglers can occasionally do that when the pressure is on.
“I reel down and think, ‘I’m going to break it off’ and I pull and finally get it out of the lily pads,” said Grigsby. “So once again, I retie because I’m thinking, ‘Here we go, it’s a seven-pounder, and I don’t want to take a chance.’
“So, I fire back in there – it’s my fifth cast since on the first one, I got a bite, the second one, I caught the male, the third one I got a bite, the fourth one I got hung, and now we’re up to the fifth cast.”
Like before, it wasn’t long before Grigsby’s heart raced as he felt the tell-tale thunk.
“It starts to pull me down and when I set the hook – I remember this as vividly as it could be because the water is fairly clear- that this (giant) mouth opened up,” chuckled Grigsby.
“Now a seven-pounder’s mouth is, you know, a good bit bigger than a softball,” he added. “Well, this one looked like a basketball and I went, ‘Oh my gosh, what in the world?!?
“Now I’m turning into (Mike) Iaconelli. I’m screaming, ‘It’s a giant!,’ and I’m running all over the boat. I get it up (to the surface) and I (finally) do land it because it was a long, drawn-out deal. I landed her, and she was 13-pounds, 6-ounces!
“So, this was actually the biggest bass of my life - by a hair, because I had a 13-5 once – and I got her off a bed sight fishing, so it was pretty cool.”
Even if it all started with a wad of discarded fishing line and a hung-up lure.