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Grigsby's Most Unusual Bass-Fishing Tactics

Editor's Note: Shaw Grigsby, a tournament bass fisherman from Gainesville, Florida, and a member of the Strike King Pro Staff, competes on many of the national bass-fishing circuits and hosts the television show "One More Cast." One of only four anglers to have won over $1 million in B.A.S.S. career earnings - ranking 4th on B.A.S.S. all time money list - Grigsby has had nine BASS Masters Classic appearances and eight wins. This week he shares a few of his most unusual bass-fishing tactics and answers some of the industry's most-asked questions.

Question: Can you tell us about an unusual fishing technique that you use to catch bass?

Grigsby: One of the tactics I've used in the past to catch bass, is a method that most people won't even consider -- throwing a crankbait in heavy vegetation. A Series 1 crankbait is just a killer bait. But anglers know that with two treble hooks, this crankbait is likely to get stuck if it's thrown into heavy vegetation. Well there's a little secret that you can use to keep from getting hung-up and still enable the bait to perform well and catch fish.

For instance, in one tournament I caught a pretty good-sized bass by throwing my bait in some lily pads. Lily pads hide big stalks. So, you have to look for a break in the lily pads so you'll have an area through which the bait can move. The secret is to keep your rod tip really high and crank it at a very moderate speed as it moves up to the lily pads. If you have your rod tip high, the lip of the bait tends to grab the pad and then just flop right over the pad so you don't get hung-up. The same technique works with the pad's stalk. That little lip on the Series 1 crankbait will catch the stalk, throw the back end of the bait across it and then keep running.

So hold your rod high, and throw your bait in heavy cover with a slow, steady pace. When you get to the vegetation and the bait is getting ready to hit it, make sure you slow down a little bit, and walk that bait right through the vegetation.

I've also used this method in heavy timber and brush, situations in which most anglers won't use it. They say that in that type of situation they need to flip a jig or pitch something. Also, a lot of times anglers don't want slow-moving baits; they want something that bounces off vegetation or looks a little different.

But what do you do if the only way you can get to the bass is to move your bait through the slats of a dock or actually cast over a dock? You can't fish every situation; many times you can't even get your boat around to the backside of a dock. You'll have to move up close to the dock and make a cast over it. If you hook a fish and reel him back up to the dock, you'll have to flip him back over the top of the dock and get him in the boat or find a net and reach over the dock and get him. We've all done that. But the bottom line with fishing is that you can't catch fish if you don't make the cast.

So don't worry about landing the fish. Worry about getting the bait to the fish - no matter what the situation is, even if it seems like the wildest, craziest thing you can imagine. That's what we have to do as professional bass fishermen. I don't think any of us consider these tactics weird. That's just what we do to catch fish.

Question: Can you think of any other unique tactics that you use to catch bass?

Grigsby: You know, Mark Rose mentioned one of the things that I do in the springtime that's kind of unique. I'm a bit short, so I'll stand one foot on the gunwale of my trike and put the other foot on the foot pedal of my trolling motor. That position elevates me about four inches and gives me better vision when I'm sight fishing. The taller you are, the better off you are for spotting bass. And since we're not allowed to have decks above the gunwale, this is something I do to elevate myself a little bit. Mark thought that was kind of a wild technique.


Most Frequently Asked Questions

Editor's Note: Shaw Grigsby, a tournament bass fisherman from Gainesville, Florida, and a member of the Strike King Pro Staff, competes on many of the national bass-fishing circuits and hosts the television show "One More Cast." One of only four anglers to have won over $1 million in B.A.S.S. career earnings - ranking 4th on B.A.S.S. all time money list - Grigsby has had nine BASS Masters Classic appearances and eight wins. This week he shares a few of his most unusual bass-fishing tactics and answers some of the industry's most-asked questions.

Question: What are some questions people ask you, and how do you answer them?

Grigsby: A lot of guys want to know how to become a professional angler. If they're youngsters, the first thing I tell them is to get an education and take some courses in marketing, public speaking and advertising to give them a better grasp of the business side of professional fishing. Then I suggest they continue fishing with their local clubs and honing their fishing skills. When they graduate from college, they'll have a very good opportunity to make a living in this sport. That's what I've told people over and over again.

Another question I get asked a lot is "How do you get sponsors?" I tell people that you must work very hard for a company to get a sponsorship. What I did in the beginning was ask what I could do for the company. I'd find bait that I really liked and go to the Strike King representatives and say, "Man, I just love these Strike King baits. Let me show you what I can do with them." Nowadays I call the local outdoor writer for the paper and take him fishing. We'll catch the fire out of the bass on a particular bait, and he'll write about our success in the newspaper. I do that as many times as I can.

I also go to tackle stores and say, "You need to carry this new bait. It's just awesome." I back-up the products I use by making sure they're available at the tackle stores. Then all of a sudden Strike King realizes you're doing a lot of work for them, and the company may decide to sponsor you. That's how I've gotten sponsors. I don't search for potential sponsors and say, "Hey! I'm a great fisherman; I've won this tournament and that tournament, and you need to give me bait and money and all kinds of free products." Companies hear that all the time. Instead, if you prove yourself to them, they'll be very willing to work with you.

Another question I often get asked is, "How do you find fish in so many different bodies of water? I know I can go out to my local lake and catch bass, but how do I catch them everywhere else?" What you have to remember is bass are very predictable; they're the same whether they're in New York, Florida, California or Texas. They're still bass, and they'll do the same things in various locations. The main thing you want to look at is the type of lake you plan to fish. What are the water conditions, colors and temperatures? What type of coverage is available? If you consider those things, you generally can locate fish anytime of the year because bass will do about the same things anywhere.

I'm from Florida, and we don't get really cold weather, we don't have really deep water, and we don't have many little reservoirs where bass can migrate. We have several small bodies of lakes. So anglers in this area need to realize that fishing in a natural lake will be a little bit different than fishing in a reservoir or in a river. But a bass is still a bass. They still love to be around cover. They're predators, and they like to ambush their prey. So if you have a little knowledge of bass in general, you should be able to take that information, go to any lake and catch fish.

People also ask me how I can go to a new lake and figure it out so quickly. Well, if I take a small section of a lake, like a major cove or a creek, I'll start at the mouth of it and work all the way to the back. That section is going to be my body of water for that day. That way I can try several different patterns. I also can fish the main lake and the main lake points. I can go into the pockets, the secondary points and the creek channels. I can do all that in one day.

I'll also record each and every bite I get and try to determine what the fish are telling me. For instance, I may get one bite inside a pocket and then fish way back in the creek and not catch anything. Then I may come out on the other side of a little creek and get more bites on another point. I'll know that these fish are on the secondary points back inside the pocket. Those are the spots where I am catching fish. I'll develop a pattern and apply it to the rest of the lake. This is a very good way to eliminate water quickly rather than just looking at a lake that's 40-miles long and 10-miles wide and wondering how in the world you're going to figure out this body of water. Just focus on one area, and fish it. Fish it hard, and don't worry about the rest of the lake. Once you figure out a pattern, you can use it on other parts of the lake.


Selecting a Fishing Pattern

Editor's Note: Shaw Grigsby, a tournament bass fisherman from Gainesville, Florida, and a member of the Strike King Pro Staff, competes on many of the national bass-fishing circuits and hosts the television show "One More Cast." One of only four anglers to have won over $1 million in B.A.S.S. career earnings - ranking 4th on B.A.S.S. all time money list - Grigsby has had nine BASS Masters Classic appearances and eight wins. This week he shares a few of his most unusual bass-fishing tactics and answers some of the industry's most-asked questions.

Question: What's another question that people often ask you?

Grigsby: Probably one more question is how to select a fishing pattern. That's a tough question to answer, but I get asked it a lot. The method I used when I was younger was to always carry a little voice-activated tape recorder with me on fishing trips. When I'd get a bite, I'd talk into the recorder and say something like, "OK. I just got a bite back in a pocket. I spotted a downed tree and threw a crankbait into it." I'd also mention the color of the crankbait, the conditions of the water, the weather and the time of day. When I got another bite, I'd record that. I would just record the pertinent information - what bait I was throwing and everything - on every bite I got throughout the day.

Question: Did you write down the information?

Grigsby: No, I'd just record my findings on the tape recorder. At night I'd come in at the end of the day, lie down in bed, rewind the tape, close my eyes and listen to my entire day of fishing. In a few minutes I'd be finished with the whole trip, having listened to every one of those 5- to 10-second sound bites. If you use this method, oftentimes you'll discover a pattern. For instance, during the day you may have noticed that most of your fish have been back in the pockets in some brush. By listening to the tape, you can better define that pattern. Perhaps the bass aren't just back in the bushes on the edge of the pockets. Maybe there's a whole flat of bushes back there and the bass are holding on the outside edges.

Now in any given body of water, there's always going to be more than one pattern happening at one time. That's why numbers of anglers can go out on the same body of water and all catch fish. Mark Davis may catch bass on a crankbait. I may be sight fishing, and Kevin VanDam may be throwing jerkbait. Three or four patterns may be occurring simultaneously. Each angler tries to fish what he likes - his strong suit. If you're a spinner-bait fisherman, you probably throw spinner baits more than anything else. However, if you can't catch any bass on that, you may have to try other methods. Record every bite on your tape recorder and listen to it later that day to determine the similarities in each bite. The key may be depth, water temperature, cloudy weather or wind on the banks. Several little things may affect your fishing patterns. But if you put these details together, you'll be able to select a pattern more easily.

Question: Can you think of another question anglers frequently ask?

Grigsby: Anglers always want to know about techniques - how to do this and how to do that. Because I do a lot of soft-plastic fishing, people often tell me that they have problems feeling those baits. They can't determine if they're feeling strikes or limbs or something else. In fishing those types of baits, I've discovered a couple of things that can really help. Having the sensitivity to know what your bait is doing is a key to catching fish anywhere. You don't even have to be fishing with soft plastics. If you're using a crankbait and you can feel what that crankbait is doing, you're going to be able to catch more fish because you'll know the difference between a limb bumping over the bait or a fish pulling your line. A lot of anglers will hit limbs while cranking their crankbaits and set their hooks. The crankbaits will get hung-up, and they'll break $5 baits or good Series 3 Strike King crankbaits and think, "Oh no! There goes one of my best baits."

To avoid that mistake, you need to have sensitivity in your line, and there are a couple of ways to develop it. One way, of course, is to spend a lot of time on the water and feel what is going on around you. The easiest way is to loosen your grip on your rod and reel so that you have a gentle grip on it and can feel more of what is happening. Too, there's nothing like having a smooth reel. If you have a reel that's grinding, you're going to have a difficult time feeling any bait movement. You can feel soft plastics easier because you don't have to crank them while you work. What you want to do is loosen the grip on the reel, and try to get direct-line contact. In other words, get your index finger or your thumb on the fishing line when you work the bait. With a soft-plastic bait, you'll need to work slowly. If you have a slow bait, you'll want to get direct-line contact.

When I flip jigs, pitch, cast a worm, fish a Carolina rig - all those type of slow, soft-plastic techniques - I'm using direct-line contact. That means that I hold my hand with the reel cupped in my hand with my index finger touching the line. If your hand is not big enough to cradle the reel and the rod together, move your hand up on the foregrip of the rod so it's right above the reel. Then, holding the rod, put the line between your index finger and your thumb. Whether you're right-handed or left-handed doesn't make any difference. Just get that line in your hand so you can feel straight down the line to the bait. Everything that the bait touches will send a signal through the line to you, enabling you to determine if you have a fish or not. I think a lot of professionals learn about that sensitivity very early. They realize that if they can feel their lines they can catch more fish.


Teaching the First-Time Angler

Editor's Note: Shaw Grigsby, a tournament bass fisherman from Gainesville, Florida, and a member of the Strike King Pro Staff, competes on many of the national bass-fishing circuits and hosts the television show "One More Cast." One of only four anglers to have won over $1 million in B.A.S.S. career earnings - ranking 4th on B.A.S.S. all time money list - Grigsby has had nine BASS Masters Classic appearances and eight wins. This week he shares a few of his most unusual bass-fishing tactics and answers some of the industry's most-asked questions.

Question: If you were going to teach a first-time fisherman how to fish, what equipment would you suggest that a beginner use?

Grigsby: If you're going to take somebody and teach them how to fish - first time out - I don't know if I'll buy the most-expensive equipment. If the beginner has an interest and a passion for fishing, then go ahead, and buy the best. If you know they're planning to fish for the rest of their lives, then definitely purchase good equipment. However, if this individual is just trying fishing out to see if they like it, then I'll pick up a Zebco 33, which is just a solid spincast with a great reel. Anybody can cast and catch a lot of fish with this rod and reel.

Whatever brand you choose, just get a decent graphite rod. They're very inexpensive nowadays. If you get a good graphite rod - about a 6-foot medium-action rod - it will allow the beginner to use a lot of different techniques and baits. You can even go up to 6 feet, 6 inches, if you plan to do a lot of worm fishing and pitching and stuff like that. So that's probably the equipment I'll get.

Get the rod filled with some good line, too. Probably the weakest link you have when fishing is your fishing line. Your rods are graphite, your hooks and reels are steel, and your baits are pretty strong. The weakest thing you have is that fishing line. So make sure you get a quality fishing line that will hold up in various fishing conditions. Bass like to hang around cover, which is going to braid your line. They like rocks, brush, junk and garbage so they can hide and blend into the environment because they ambush their predators. So make sure you have good fishing line.

Altogether, If I were helping a new angler learn to fish, I'd probably get a solid spin-cast rod and reel, put some good line on it and start off with a little Strike King crankbait. I recommend a Series 1 or a Series 3, depending on the time of year and the depth you want to fish. Just take the crankbait, and throw it out there. The bait is very simple to throw out and reel back in. You can also use the Diamond Shad. It's a great bait, especially for beginners. But I prefer to start new anglers with a Series 1, a Series 3 or even the Bitsy Pond minnow. Use something that you know the fish will hit - whether it's a bluegill, a crappie, a largemouth or a smallmouth. Once the new angler starts catching fish, he or she will have a great time and realize what a great sport fishing is.

Question: How can new anglers learn how to fish if they have no one around who can teach them?

Grigsby: That's a really tough situation, because having a partner is always the best way to learn how to fish. I remember when I was kid, one of my best buddies just loved fishing. We went fishing all the time. Anytime we planned our weekends, my parents or his parents would drop us off at a lake or a pond, and we'd fish all day until they came to pick us up. Nowadays you really can't do that with kids because there are too many criminals out there. But in those days it was nothing to be able to just go out and spend the entire day learning about fishing. However, if you don't have that kind of opportunity, you can find many informative books on fishing.

There's also the Bassmaster University, where you can take your child and yourself and learn about everything from tying knots to knowing how, when, where and what to do in various fishing situations. Another effective way to learn how to fish is through a bass club. Local bass clubs are wonderful sources for sharing information about bass fishing. Some of the clubs are very competitive, and they don't like to share a lot. These clubs are very, very good if you want to become a professional fisherman. But you can always check with the B.A.S.S. Federation or your local tackle store and ask them if they know of good clubs around your area. They usually can tell you because most parts of the country have more than one bass club. You can find a Christian club. If you don't want to fish on Sundays, Christian clubs will always have their tournaments on Saturdays. You can also find family clubs, his-and-her clubs and clubs that are very serious about their fishing.

Question: Once new anglers have gotten all the tactics down and want to purchase a boat, what should they buy?

Grigsby: I started out wade fishing, and then I fished out of an innertube (called fishing floats back then). Next I got a little johnboat, and then I bought a small bass boat. I've been through a lot of boats, and I guess the progression was based on where my interest level was and what I planned to do with my fishing. Many people have a lot of money and they run out and buy a brand new $30,000 Triton TR 21 with 225 Mercury on it. That's wonderful, and if that's where you want to be, you can do that. But honestly, if you love fishing, and you really enjoy getting out on a lake, I suggest something smaller. Get yourself a 16- or an 18-foot aluminum boat. This type of boat will get you acclimated to the water without hurting you.

New anglers need to realize that there's a learning curve with those big bass boats. When you first learn to drive a car, you don't go out and buy a Ferrari. You learn to drive first, get all the things down and then trade in the cheaper version for a nicer car. The same thing goes for bass boats. So, start off kind of small first, and get a good aluminum boat that you can hit into a dock and not worry about. Your first boat should be one that you can drive up on a rock and think, "Ooops. I messed-up, but I didn't do any damage to the aluminum." I just got a Triton 1650, which is 16-feet long, 50-inches wide and tougher than nails. It's a great little boat that my son will enjoy.


Grigsby's Favorite Bass Lakes

Editor's Note: Shaw Grigsby, a tournament bass fisherman from Gainesville, Florida, and a member of the Strike King Pro Staff, competes on many of the national bass-fishing circuits and hosts the television show "One More Cast." One of only four anglers to have won over $1 million in B.A.S.S. career earnings - ranking 4th on B.A.S.S. all time money list - Grigsby has had nine BASS Masters Classic appearances and eight wins. This week he shares a few of his most unusual bass-fishing tactics and answers some of the industry's most-asked questions.

Question: Can you name five lakes, one in each region of the country, that are great places to go and experience a lot of good fishing?

Grigsby: There are so many great bass-fishing lakes around the country. The Southeast is just loaded with superb fisheries. One of the first lakes I think about when I think of the Southeast is Lake Guntersville in Alabama. And in Florida, you should fish Okeechobee and Kissimmee lakes. Texas does such a great job with their fisheries that no matter where you go, you're going to find some great fish in Texas. Many people have heard a lot about Lake Fork, but I probably wouldn't go there first. I'd go to Ray Roberts; that lake is just loaded with fish.

In the Northeast, I like Lakes Erie or St. Clair, but you'll find numbers of great fishing spots in that area. Those are all big bodies of water and great places to have a vacation, but even the smaller bodies of water produce good fish. I honestly don't know if you can wrong in the Northeast. You can go just about anywhere and find fish. I was up at Lake Placid this summer, and the fishing was unbelievable. Champlain is also incredible. It's one of the best fishing areas there is.

Out West, the best bodies of water are the Delta and Clear Lake. They're both stunning for tournaments every year because they're loaded with fish. California has many great fisheries too, but they're usually smaller and very controlled. They may open the gates at a certain time and only let in a certain number of boats. Washington State also has some wonderful places to catch bass. Some of the rivers there home large numbers of smallmouth.

You'll also find good fishing in the Midwest including a real big lake in North Dakota that is wonderful for bass, and in South Dakota I've often fished the Mississippi River. The upper Mississippi is tremendous for bass fishing, especially if you fish the pools below Minneapolis and around that area. This spot doesn't get a lot of fishing pressure, and it has large numbers of smallmouth as well as some good largemouth fishing.