At the season opener on Lake Tohopekaliga, the 48-year-old Florida pro is making his return to major-league tournament action after having his career interrupted last June for triple-bypass heart surgery that ended his Bassmaster Elite 50 season prematurely.
Still, the eight-time BASS winner won’t be launching his Triton with an eye toward showing the fishing public that he’s fully recovered from his heart ailment.
“I’ve never worried about trying to prove myself to anybody except me,” Grigsby said. “I have – very honestly – forgotten about the surgery, other than the fact that my chest muscles aren’t quite back to 100 percent yet.”
For the last six months, Grigsby has endured a workout regimen that included time on an exercise bike and strength machine every other day.
“I’m feeling stronger every day,” he said. “I just need more time at home, which is hard to get.
“Instead I’ve been filming my TV shows and doing some hunting. When the season starts up, I’ll be mentally ready for it. In fact, I’m excited about it – I love fishing. I’ve never lost my enthusiasm for it, and when I get an opportunity, I go.”
The 10-time CITGO Bassmaster Classic qualifier enters the 2005 season with goals similar to those he’s always had as the year begins.
“My main goal is always to make the Classic,” he said, “and every year I set my sights on the Angler of the Year award. I don’t know whether I have it in me to do that anymore, but I was in the running two years ago, so I think it’s possible.
A member of the BASS Millionaire Club, Grigsby likes his chances for success this season.
“I like the schedule. It’s going to be a good run.”
He’s also looking ahead to April and the start of the Elite 50 Tour.
“I’m looking forward to the Elite 50s. It was tough to miss them last year because it was the first season, and that’s when you really want to shine.
“I was in good shape last year in the Elite 50s – in 13th place after the first event – and I really thought I was going to make the Classic. It was disappointing not to finish the season.”
DEATH IN THE FAMILY. Tommy Thompson of North Bend, Ohio, a Bassmaster competitor from 1993 to 2002, recently passed away.
Thompson competed in 30 BASS events, finishing in the money in four tournaments.
THESE GUYS CAN CATCH ‘EM. Ever wonder what sets the pros apart from the amateurs? I got another lesson in the difference between the two this past week while fishing with CITGO Bassmaster Southern Open pro Troy Jens.
Alabama’s Lake Guntersville, where Jens guides when not competing in tournaments, had less than ideal conditions for catching bass. Despite the fact that the water temperature was in the low 40s, Jens never missed a beat. While most amateurs would have been methodically fishing bottom-hugging baits, we enjoyed good action on fast-moving lipless crankbaits fished across the top of submerged hydrilla in just six feet of water.
The color of choice was “royal shad,” a purplish hue that Jens invented. It’s become Guntersville’s hottest color and will likely see lots of use when the CITGO Bassmaster Tour arrives in late February.
DID YOU KNOW? Despite what was reported in last week’s edition of Inside BASS, Roland Martin did not win the first three BASS Angler of the Year titles. It seems that Bill Dance won the first one ever awarded. Former BASS tournament director Harold Sharp recalls that the Angler of the Year trophy didn’t arrive on time for the presentation, so he borrowed a silver tray from the restaurant, polished it up and handed it to Dance with a quiet explanation. The real trophy was later mailed to him.
PRO BIRTHDAYS. Virginia’s Chris Daves (33) and Robert Graham of North Carolina (44) share Jan. 6 as their birthday. Arkansas’ Keith Green will blow out 43 candles two days later. Virginia pro Rick Morris will be 43 on Jan. 11. Texas pro Bud Pruitt turns 39 two days later. Missouri’s Mark Tucker blows out 44 candles on Jan. 31. A pair of former Classic champions (Ken Cook, 58, and Denny Brauer, 56) will celebrate their birthdays on Feb. 2 and 3, respectively.
IF I HADN’T BECOME A BASS PRO… Alabama pro Jimmy Mason would likely be working for NASA in Huntsville. He majored in engineering in college.
THEY SAID IT. “There aren’t many jobs where you can make this kind of money doing something you love. We’re very fortunate to have the kind of opportunities we have, and it’s only going to get better. “Three-time BASS Angler of the Year and 2001 Classic champion Kevin VanDam.
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.