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Grigsby Grabs The Gold

Shaw GrigsbyEditor's Note: Professional fisherman, 46-year-old Shaw Grigsby of Gainesville, Florida, a member of Strike King's Pro Fishing Team, won the gold medal for bass fishing in the Olympics of outdoor sports -- the Great Outdoor Games.

Question: How long have you been a member of the Strike King team?

Grigsby: I think three years.

Question: What award have you recently won?

Grigsby: I won the Great Outdoor Gold Medal in the bass-fishing competition on July 13, 2002.

Question: What did you have to do to win?

Grigsby: To win, I had to compete in the tournament and catch more bass than the rest of the guys. The guys I competed against included incredible fishermen, such as Mark Davis, Kevin VanDam, Davy Hite, Clark Wendlant, Gary Klein and Rick Clunn. Competing against those guys and winning was very special to me.

Question: How many guys fished in the tournament?

Grigsby: 10

Question: Those were some of the best bass fisherman this year, right?

Grigsby: Yes, I fished with some of the best pros in the country, including one amateur, Ken Christ, who won the B.A.S.S. Federation Championship this year. He gave a good performance. When he went to the 2002 BASS Masters Classic in Birmingham, Alabama, he came in fourth place for two straight days. He's a great angler and a good guy.

Question: Where did you fish?

Grigsby: I fished in the Saranac chain of lakes next to Lake Placid in New York.

Question: What did you know about these lakes? Had you ever fished these lakes?

Grigsby: No. I never had fished those lakes.

Question: How did you set up your strategy? What did you decide to do?

Shaw GrigsbyGrigsby: Since I never had fished up there before, I decided to drive up on July 4. I travelled for two days to get there. I fished all day July 5 and caught a ton of bass. I just basically wanted to learn the layout of the lakes.

Question: How did you catch fish on a lake that you never had before fished?

Grigsby: Basically, I just play-fished. I threw spinner baits, tubes and top-water baits. I started catching bass on a bait called the Zulu, which is Strike King's new 3X soft-plastic bait. The bass loved that bait.

Question: What does a Zulu look like?

Grigsby: The Zulu is a soft-plastic jerkbait made out of that Cyber Flexxx material. The bass ate it like candy. The Zulu locked me in on Middle Saranac Lake, where I ended up fishing during the tournament. I found plenty of bass in the creek that runs from Upper Saranac to Middle Saranac.

Question: What pattern were they holding on, and what kind of bass were you catching?

Grigsby: I caught largemouth and smallmouth, and they were holding in the current on some boulders. I made that location my No. 1 spot to fish. When I got there for the tournament, I practiced on July 5 and July 6. I had to fly out to Indianapolis, Indiana. I came back on July 10 and fished on July 11. Then the Great Outdoor Games put that entire creek -- my No. 1 spot -- between Upper and Middle Saranac off-limits. So, on the July 11 practice day, I told my wife, Polly, that I would fish the Middle Saranac because I had more confidence in that area than I did anywhere else. In fact, during practice, my son caught a 4-pound largemouth on those little rock shoals, and we caught some more real nice smallmouth there. So I figured I'd fish in that lake. During practice there, I found this little sharp, rocky ridge with smallmouth bass all in it.

Question: Why did they put your No.1 spot off-limits?

Grigsby: Apparently, the guy who owns the land on both sides of this region didn't want anybody fishing in there. I ended up fishing in the same place I'd fished on our official practice day, which was July 11.

Question: What was it?

Grigsby: I fished a sharp little rocky point that had grass on top.

Question: At what depth of water did the fish hold?

Grigsby: The fish held from probably 16 feet all the way up to about 8 or 9 feet deep.

Question: What did you use to fish?

Grigsby: I caught them on a Denny Brauer Flipping Tube. I rigged it on an exposed hook called a Bite Me jighead, and I Texas-rigged it with an Eagle Claw No. 3 High-Performance hook.

Question: Now did you rig it -- Texas style or with an open hook?

Shaw GrigsbyGrigsby: I used both style hooks. I had the open hook on 12-pound-test line and the Texas rig on 12-pound-test line. I rigged both of those on original green Stren line. I fished them on a 665 PT rod and a 705 PT Tour Edition rod, which are both Tour Edition Quantum's new outstanding rods. I'd drag the Strike King flipping tube on the bottom to make it look like a crawfish crawling through the rocks. The bass loved it. On the last day, I had to catch them all on the exposed hook because the weather was so windy. But the first day of the competition, which was the qualifying day to make it to the finals, I just needed to make the top six to be one of the final six guys to go for the gold medal. I caught the bass on a High-Performance hook. The water was slick and calm on the qualifying day, but the wind was blowing and howling on the competition days. I just had to have an open hook to stick the bass. My bait got hung-up more often, but I definitely caught the fish when they would bite, although I couldn't feel their bites well with that much wind.

Question: What color tube jig were you using?

Grigsby: I used a watermelon-colored tube and a green- pumpkin-colored tube. I also used the sand candy-colored Kevin VanDam tube as well.

Question: Explain why you used an exposed hook on a windy day.

Grigsby: Because on windy days, you can't feel the fish take the bite as well. A number of times, as I started to reel down, the fish would have the bait in its mouth. I really didn't have to set the exposed hook. The hook would just stick in the fish's mouth without any effort. I took a chance, because most of the times with an exposed hook, I'd have a less hook-up percentage. In other words, you hook them, but then they jump and throw the hooks, with a lead head attached to each. I prefer to throw that Texas rig with the high-performance hook because when you stick them, they won't come off. You just never lose one when you fish with a Texas rig.

Question: Why is that?

Grigsby: I like the design of the hook, and then the lead weight separates from the bait. The Texas-rigged lead slides up and down the line. When the bass comes up and jumps, it doesn't have leverage, so you tend to keep that fish hooked-up much better. Plus, the unique bend of a high-performance hook really holds the fish in place.

Question: So on windy days, when you can't feel the bass take the bait, fish an open hook with a lead head. On calm days, when you can feel the bass take the bait, rig the tube Texas style and use a sliding lead, correct?

Grigsby: Yes, use a slide lead and a High-Performance hook.

Question: Now what did you win by winning the Outdoor Games?

Shaw GrigsbyGrigsby: I won money and the gold medal. I also got the recognition of winning the Olympics of the outdoor world. This competition includes timber sports; dog sports, such as trials and agility; hunting sports, such as archery, sporting clays; and bass fishing and fly-fishing. This competition is a tremendous venue and is really fun to attend. If you win a gold, silver or bronze medal, you automatically get invited back the next year. Competing against the likes of Kevin VanDam and the rest of the top guys out there was special in itself. Then, to win the gold medal was really a treat of a lifetime. I guess the older I get, the more I appreciate winning because I know it doesn't happen all of the time, and it won't happen a ton more. I'm just real thankful that I had the opportunity to win.