Grigsby set for season
Gainesville pro is past his heart surgery
Published: Friday, January 21, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 20, 2005 at 10:46 p.m.
Seven months after having his career interrupted and his life jarred by open-heart bypass surgery, Gainesville's million-dollar professional fisherman Shaw Grigsby returns to action next week as the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Tour casts off on Lake Tohopekaliga and the Kissimmee Chain.
But he insists that the start of his 22nd BASS season has no special significance.
The eight-time BASS winner is adamant he will not launch his Triton boat with an eye toward showing his fans and the fishing public that he has fully recovered from his heart ailment.
"I have, very honestly, forgotten about the surgery other than my muscles aren't quite back 100 percent yet, my chest muscles," said Grigsby, 48, a member of the BASS Millionaire Club. "I'm past all that. I don't even think about it and I've never worried about trying to prove myself to anybody except me."
For the last six months, the P.K. Yonge graduate has endured a workout regime that included time on an exercise bike and Bowflex strength machine every other day.
"I'm feeling stronger every day doing that," he said. "I just need more time at home, which is hard to get.
"I've been filming my TV shows and doing some hunting. When the season starts up, I'll be mentally ready for it. I'm excited about it. I love fishing. I've never lost that enthusiasm and when I get an opportunity I go. That's still there."
Except for an eight-week period spent recuperating from doubleheader surgeries (the bypass followed by a gall bladder procedure), Grigsby hasn't slowed down. Although he spent some time hunting white-tailed deer in Chiefland and mule deer in Colorado, most of his fall was spent filming shows for his television show. "One More Cast with Shaw Grigsby" on the Outdoor Channel is in its ninth season.
In his chosen sport, the former University of Florida student is among the elite - both on and off of the water. His tournament record includes eight victories, 10 runner-up performances, 10 Bassmaster Classic appearances and $1.25 million in BASS earnings. Away from the competition, he is among the most in-demand pros in the country who pulls down more than six figures in endorsement fees from an impressive sponsor stable that includes Triton, Mercury, CITGO, Strike King, Stren, the Dick's Sporting Good chain, MotorGuide, Lowrance, Zebco-Quantum, Ford, Rugged Shark footwear and Spike-It Dyes.
Grigsby says he enters the new season with similar goals as previous years.
"My main goal is always to make the Classic," he said. "I think every year I look at trying to win Angler of the Year. I don't know what I have it in me any more, but I was in the running two years ago. So it's possible to do that.
"I always point toward getting to the Classic and hopefully winning it. I always take the Classic real serious and try to turn it into a victory. Those are the goals I set for myself when I first started and I haven't given up yet."
Grigsby is already looking ahead to April and the start of the Bassmaster Elite 50 Tour, a four-event all-star circuit with no entry fee and a $1.6 million payout.
"I'm looking forward to the E-50s," he said. "It was tough to miss them last year because, gosh, it was the first season and the inaugural season is the one when you want to shine. I was in good shape last year in the E-50s, setting in 13th after the first one and I really thought I was going to make the Classic. That was disappointing."
First things first, though. Grigsby's immediate concern is the Bassmaster Tour season-opener on Toho.
"I don't expect it to be a spawning tournament," he said. That is great news for his competitors because from his years of fishing the spring-fed rivers in the Gainesville area he developed into the country's premier sight-fisherman.
"If it stays warm, you might have some spawning going on during the tournament, as well as some postspawn," he continued. "If that happens, it will be really good, fun fishing."
North Central Florida will be well represented this season on the Bassmaster Tour.
Gainesville's Bernie Schultz will be starting his 20th BASS season, still in search of his first victory. But he has had a fine career that includes qualifying for seven Classics, posting 10 top-10 finishes and earning about $300,000.
Terry Scroggins of Palatka will be beginning his third full season after starting off with two BASS victories. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Preston Clark, a rookie from Palatka.
Jacksonville's Peter Thliveros is now an old veteran with 10 Classic appearances, three BASS victories and nearly $733,000 in tournament earnings.
Tim Tucker is an award-winning outdoors writer who lives in Cross Creek.
Comments are currently unavailable on this article