Shaw Grigsby Raw - Part 6

Keri May, owner of spent a day on the water with Shaw Grigsby posing questions that members from our forums submitted for Shaw to answer.  Here is part 6 of a nine-part audio series where Shaw answers every single one of them!

In this episode, listen as Shaw reveals his funniest moment on the water, advice for turning pro, and his background with snakes!
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Shaw Grigsby: So fishing the Red Man Regional and I had this lady that was editor of the magazine and I was doing really well and really thought I could win it. I may have been in the lead or second or something like that at the time. So she's with me and I pull into this spot and I am just crushing them and of course you got to go pee and so she's in the back, she's got her camera and I told her I had to go pee.

She just spun around on the seat facing backwards. I don't quit fishing, I just kind of stand up to the front and let it go and I'm still fishing. Well, doggonit if I don't get a bite and I set the hook and it's a 3-pounder, a nice one and I'm in full stream so what do you do? Of course she wheels around and I'm like, what do I do? I'm facing forward taking a pee.

I shut it off of course, that's one good thing to do. I shut it off and I reel this fish up and I swung it over my back and dropped on the floor then I had to tuck it in. She's cracking up because she's taking pictures the whole time and I'm like, this is just really embarrassing. But those things happen.

Keri: That's great.

Shaw: What do you do? You have to land the fish, it's competition and I ended up finishing third in that one, but it was a pretty funny deal.

Keri: So, on the same line, what was your scariest moment?

Shaw: Probably, I've had a few, but probably Santee Cooper. I don't know the year, but I do know the partner. I didn't know the partner until a few years ago, five years ago or something. You know how you get a partner and you draw them and you never see them again or hear, whatever. This guy actually came on strong, became an Elite angler and has done real well. He doesn't fish with us now, but it was Frank Scalish. Well, this was Frank's first tournament and he drew me.

We're at Santee Cooper and it's 50 mile an hour winds. It was so funny, we pulled in, we'd been beat up, we hadn't caught anything, it was just so brutal and we got on the dam at Santee and I had a Zara Spook and I just for the fun of it, I've got the wall of the dam and I threw it as hard as I could and it just came blowing back, that's how hard it was blowing. It was like throwing it into a hurricane, it was crazy.

We had to go into weigh-in and it got worse and worse the farther you go and Santee is nothing but big giant stumps and logs and there are actually a lot of them right in the channel and what happens is instead of having 2 and 3 footers you have 8 to 10 that are so high that you get up on them and you'd be sitting there and you'd look 2 or 3 waves up if you could see that far and one had punched through the wave and you go oh crap, so now you have to move over because you could just hit one and you'd be dead because the water is swampy and it's way too rough.

I told Frank, I said listen, there's only one thing I want you to do. I want you to make sure no dummy comes up trying to go fast and runs over us and drops down on us and kills us because that'll happen. They'll just run over the top of you and you're done. I said it's really important that you do that.

Keri: Do what?

Shaw: He's like totally just enthralled going oh my God. You get down to the bottom there's nothing but water all around, you get at the top and it's just stunning. He's like, can I take pictures? I said yes, you can take pictures, just go and make sure nobody comes over the back and the whole time I'm going, we're going to die. He has no clue, I mean he has no clue and I just said, this is as bad as it could be, it can't get any worse and it could happen at any moment here. It's just one of those things. You've just got to keep cool, keep calm and work your wave, every one of them. Just do your best not to go down because anything, a hiccup, in that situation you're done.

Everything worked out great, we made it in. Ten years later I learned that Frank was my partner. He said, do you remember that time in Santee? I go oh yeah, I'll never forget that. He said, I was your partner and I went, no kidding, how cool is that?

Keri: What's the strangest thing you ever caught?

Shaw: A jaguar guapote.

Keri: Excuse me, what?

Shaw: A jaguar guapote. I caught it in Miami Canal. I didn't have a clue what it was. I had to get the guide going. He's also a real good friend of mine, but he's also a peacock guide down there. I said, what the heck is this? He said, I'm pretty sure that's a jaguar guapote. I don't know how it's exactly spelled, but it sounds kind of like that. Anyway, it's one of those exotics that got dumped down there. I've caught some really cool things.

Probably in tournament fishing, I was fishing a tournament on my local lake there outside of Gainesville on Orange Lake and I've had two different things. I've actually caught bullfrogs a couple of times. Pitching and flipping all of a sudden you get a bite and whack, all of a sudden there's two big legs flying across your back. What the heck? But on this one situation I had this one little mat and it wasn't very big and I'd caught two 5-pounders out of it and so I was fishing tournament and I'm running in, I go, I'm going to my big fish mat. I got a limit.

If I catch this 5-pounder I'm going to win the tournament or be second, or have a really good finish. I pull up on the mat and I flip in there and it just gets spongy and I'm like, oh yeah, whack, I set the hook and out comes this big old snake. He had eaten my bait and of course when you rip him out of the water he just spins around and he wraps the line all up and I'm like a minute to go to go to weigh-in and I'm like, you got to be kidding me.

It's pooping and it's all hooked up and it was just nasty, what do you do? I didn't want to leave it all wrapped up and stuff like that, so I actually untangled it and got the hook out and did all that and came in, but that was probably one of the weirdest things to just catch in a tournament. I think it was a big old green water snake is what it was called. It wasn't a moccasin or anything. If it was a moccasin I'd just cut the line. I may have slung him up on the bank or beat him to death first, but it was just a poor little green water snake about 4-foot long. He was a big old long thing.

I used to catch them so it didn't phase me in the least, but I used to catch poison snakes when I was in high school. My biology teacher was Ross Allen. Most people don't have a clue who Ross Allen is. Ross Allen was the world's foremost snake authority in the 50s, 60s, 70s. I graduated high school in '74. He was the man. You're talking about any snake, snake venom and stuff like that, he was the guy and he worked at Silver Springs, he had a big reptile institute and of course Silver Springs was one of these places just south of Gainsville there at Ocala, crystal clear spring water where they had big attractions and one of the attractions was the reptile institute.

Everybody would come and look at the poisonous snakes and all the different snakes and all that and Ross, that's where he worked and was based out of. Well, my biology teacher was his 4th wife, ex, and she was a wonderful lady and just taught me a lot, but just to tell you how times have changed I caught a rattlesnake, eastern diamondback and I caught a cottonmouth and I brought them to school in aquariums and we kept them and fed them in school.

Nowadays you do that you just get suspended forever, never come back. We don't want to see you again. So I brought them to school, fed them and it wasn't that X generation where you're searching for some high, nobody would consider putting their hand in it. Not even the dumbest kid in the world would consider going up there and putting their hand in there.

Nowadays you have somebody is going to rib somebody, the Beavis and Butthead and whatever the rest of the deal, crazy stuff that they do, let's see how far we can go. Back then they didn't do that. They were very respectful and all that. I had it in class and it was awesome to feed one and see what a cottonmouth would do. We put a fishbowl, if you remember the old style fishbowls like for goldfish, they were just kind of rounded on the top. Catch a little bluegill, drop him in that. He'd search around for the thing and look and then he'd get up on top and boom, he'd blast him from the top. It was awesome, and then he'd eat him.

So we had a great time watching it and seeing how they fed and then we made a trip to Ross Allen's Reptile Institute and sold him to Ross and got to go in there and have one of the scares of my life. Sitting there talking to Ross and of course you're in awe because he's like the man. It's like talking to Rick Clunn because he's the man, or Kevin. I'm sitting there with my back to these cages, we're behind the scenes in the display. I'm sitting there with my back to the cages.

We're talking and then he's talking to Mrs. Allen, Virginia Allen, and I just turned around to look and right behind me, and I'm talking two feet from me, was this big king cobra, totally open, totally just sitting there, with the back of my head right there and I almost fainted but I didn't. I dropped down, it just scared you so bad, so fast, like holy cow. I dropped down to my knees and I kind of crept down and he just kind of snickered and said he's not going to do anything.

I said dude, you got a whole lot more faith than I do. I almost died. That dude was like right there. He could've been 3 feet, but he wasn't any farther than 3 feet from me. I was just like, oh my God, what am I doing here? I catch rattlesnakes, but I'm looking at them, not anything sneaking up behind me or whatever.

Keri: I would've fainted. I know I would've.

Shaw: It was brutal. They got a chuckle out of it though. Nobody has ever got all these stories.

Keri: Oh really?

Shaw: You're like digging into way back.

Keri: What's the most important single piece of advice you would give a young angler who's pursuing a career in the fishing industry?

Shaw: Get a good education. Fish, fish a lot. Fish your summers, fish weekends. Learn all you can learn. Take courses in fisheries, fish biology so you understand your prey and you know what you're going after, take courses in public speaking, take courses in marketing and advertising to give you a feel in business courses where you know how to run your own business because we're all independent contractors, independent businessmen.

So you need a little bit of a business background. Some of the best anglers I know graduated as fisheries biologists. It gives you a real good understanding of what they do and why they're doing it. You've got to have that public speaking ability, the ability to communicate because you're going to be basically salesman for your sponsors. That's really the best thing. Get a good education, fish a lot. Then when you have an education so you have something that you can fall back on that gives you a lot more piece of mind when you're out here.

That means you can concentrate totally on fishing, not worrying about if I don't do it, what am I going to do? Because if you don't have an education and you don't have something to fall back on and you just can't make it as an angler, which a lot of guys do, a lot of guys can't make it as professionals. If they don't have it and they don't have anything to back up, then they're really stressing and it keeps them from fishing their best. So in your early years when everybody struggles you'll fish better having an education and knowing that if things don't work out, you can always fall back on a job or get a regular job or whatever and that really makes it a lot easier.

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