Attention to detail.
That’s the major thing that separates professional bass fishermen from anglers simply wanting to have some fun on the water.
There’s something about getting a paycheck doing something they are passionate about that brings out laser-beam like focus.
“You see that, Chester,” said Bassmaster Elite Series legend Shaw Grigsby.
“That hook is perfectly fine and would work for 90 percent of the applications you would put it through but I just can’t chance it.”
The Trokar treble hook had already hooked many bass and has bumped against everything from brush to docks and still held its edge but one point was a little worn, so Grigsby replaced it.
“I spend the afternoon or evening before our tournaments going over my tackle, making sure things are organized and all of the equipment is up to par. It’s a necessity in this game,” Grigsby said.
Enthused by a strong morning of practice fishing and led by a strong sense of faith and positive attitude Grigsby said tournaments like the kick-off he is preparing for in Orange (March 19-22) make things interesting for the Elite anglers.
“It’s a lot different than a slugfest like we’re going to have on Lake Guntersville (Alabama) in a few weeks. We’ll be out there seeing who can get 20 pounds a day where in a fishery like this with lots of fish but few keepers it might be half that. A couple of good keepers can make the difference,” he said.
That is another reason detail is so important. Seconds count when it might take sorting through several dozen smaller fish to catch a limit.
The back of his truck is filled with highly organized boxes with multiple editions of his favorite lures ranging from tiny soft plastics to topwaters, buzzbaits and crankbaits.
Grigsby pulled out a reel rigged with high visibility yellow braided line, something that at first seemed a bit unusual since bass are known for being line shy.
“I can get away with fishing braid in murkier water like this and the high visibility line gives me a visual cue. I can see the line start slowing moving or see that little bit of slack given by a soft bite. But to take away the factor of the fish seeing the line as easy I take a marker and blacken the first few feet of line. There’s no use taking chances,” he said.
Ditto for wasting time grabbing the wrong rod. He has a color-coded system so he knows which type of action he is grabbing and then writes the size line on the back so he can be sure.
“Sometimes the difference in presentation even between the 17- and 20-pound test can be the difference between catching fish and not,” he said.
A few seconds wasted on wrestling with the wrong gear can lessen the number of casts and that can equal fewer fish or perhaps take away an opportunity at the one big one that could put him over the edge at weigh-in.
Grigsby was once the subject of a study determining the athletic component of a bass tournament and found that a day of intense fishing like they engage in burns about 2,600 calories.
“It’s very physical and demanding in terms of the lack of sleep we sometimes get and the time on the road but it is also very much a mental game as well. All of the detail and the variable are astounding. There is no sport that has as many variables and that makes it exciting to me.”
Trying to fool living creatures into feeding on something that is not real (a lure) in their own environment that can change by the second is indeed a challenge. Factor in wind, rain, barometric pressure, fishing pressure and in this tournament tidal influence and salinity and one can see how fishing a tournament is like putting together a very large puzzle.
“I think the fact that men in their 50s and 60s can compete with those in their 20s say something about the sport. I think it’s the greatest one of them all and even though I have been doing this for a long time, I still love it. Very much so,” Grigsby said.
And that’s why this popular outdoors athlete spends so much time refining the tiniest details of his tackle and game plan.
It’s not just a way to make a living for him.
“And it’s one I think the good Lord for the opportunity to do every day.”