Keri May, co-owner of BassResource.com, spent a day on the water with Shaw Grigsby posing questions that members from our forums submitted for Shaw to answer. Here is part 3, where Shaw answers every single one of them! In this episode, Shaw talks about his fishing heroes, the early days of tournament fishing, and a lot more!
Keri: Do you have a fishing hero?
Shaw Grigsby: I think Roland and Clunn. Clunn is just one of the best bass anglers ever, used to be. So when I was growing up, winning four Classics, that type of deal was stunning. Roland won three out of four or something one year, which made you realize it's not luck. You can overcome a lot of this and do well. Some people are very gifted, like Kevin.
To me, Kevin is probably the best single bass angler ever, ever been, and I'm not taking anything away from Ricky and what he's done. Still, Ricky doesn't hold a stick to Kevin in the sense that Kevin has already won three Classics and three or four Angler Of The Year, maybe five Angler Of The Year. I don't know how many Angler Of The Year. He's won a lot.
Ricky won one Angler Of The Year, and that was it. So when you look at it, Kevin, and Kevin has a lot of years left; he's going to win more Classics, most likely. He dominates. I've fished with him a lot. I've fished with Rick three different times, and he's phenomenal, just phenomenal, a great guy. When you're talking heroes, Kevin is in my time, and Rick was who I looked at when I was a kid growing up and going, man, he's awesome. To watch him perform was always a treat.
So he had to be one of my heroes, and of course, Gary Klein, who's still out there. He's one of the guys that never had another job. He came out of high school and fished right out of high school. That's been his job as a professional angler in tournament competitions. That's impressive. The thing about that is also how much passion he has for it and how he still is just driven, and that's incredible. A lot of the guys, after you've done it for so long, your drive and determination kind of wanes a bit, so to see how driven he still is pretty impressive.
Keri: I like that. Who do you think will be the next KVD or Clunn?
Shaw: I don't know.
Keri: Do you see anybody up and coming?
Shaw: I sit back and watch these guys, and it's really impressed me that guys like Skeet. Skeet won Angler Of The Year the last two years and got it taken away from him in postseason B.S., and it's sad; fortunately, when Jerry bought it, he got rid of that because that was a horrific system. If it wasn't for that, Skeet won Angler Of The Year last two years. I'm impressed that there are anglers that stay with Kevin because I've fished with Kevin, and I've always been impressed by how awesome he is. He's on another level than most anglers out there, and to see guys like Skeet, Iaconelli, a few of those guys that hang with him. It's really neat.
Do we have a young and up-and-coming guy? Jonathan, his nephew, is now on tour with us. I don't know that there will be another Kevin for any length of time, so it's got to be a special angler. You don't see that very often. I don't see anybody right now. Everyone is thinking and hoping that Jonathan will be the next one, another VanDam on tour, but that happens so rarely when you see that.
Hank had a tremendous run when he was on top, and he's Kevin-ish but not even close. Nobody, not even Roland with his umpteen wins, when he was doing it. A lot of that competition back in the 70s and 80s, a lot of that competition they'd drink beer and chase women. That's what a lot of the guys were doing. It wasn't as serious. Now there isn't a single person out here who can't win every tournament. They're all just super tough anglers.
I always said that when I started fishing. I'm 16, 17, and 18 years old, and we were just there to fish. We were there to catch fish. We loved fishing. All these guys would come out, and, one of the guys, we were at a championship event, and they're like, where's Doug? Where's Doug? Nobody could find him. I said well, his truck is right over there and they opened his truck door, and he fell out drunker than a skunk.
Keri: Oh, no.
Shaw: And he got in his boat, and he went out there, and somebody else thought he had died because he'd fallen out of the boat because they saw his boat floating across the lake. They went up there; he was asleep in his boat. He gets up at 1:00 and wins the tournament, 1:00 to 3:00. Most guys weren't that good, but he was. They do that. It's like getting away from their wives. That's what the tournament deal was at the beginning, the little tournaments, local tournaments, and all that.
Now you don't have that. These guys are driven; they're passionate. It's their livelihood. There's no play; it's like we're here. Every one of them is the top of the top, the best of the best. The competition is really, really stiff, and when you see guys like Kevin and Skeet, they're not just stomping everybody, they're beating the best of the best. When they rack up all the accolades and things they do, all the tournament wins; Kevin wins every year, one or two events, or sometimes three events in a year.
You look at that, and you go, that's pretty impressive. You don't see that with any other angler. Will we see another one? I don't know. It's going to be a while before you see somebody who can dominate like Kevin and Skeet have in the next couple of years. We'll see how Skeet handles it in the next two or three. He has certainly been impressive.
Keri: Here's somebody. Back in the old days, I had no idea they did this, but they did in the old days. You were allowed 10 pounds of tackle and 4 rods.
Shaw: I believe it was 5, but they weighed our tackle boxes.
Keri: So if they called you today and said the rule applies tomorrow?
Shaw: I'd cry. I've got more than 10 pounds in just Rage Craws in this boat. Jigs and all the rest. I remember going to a Classic in '86 I think it was, 1986 in Chickamauga. George Cochran showed up with a box that I'm telling you didn't weigh 5 pounds. I'm like, how can you fish a Classic with 5 pounds of tackle? All he had was just a few crankbaits in there, and that was it. He was done, and he did pretty good. It was crazy.
I couldn't do it. I hated it then, and I’m thrilled that we get to use our own boats, all the rods, and reels we do. That was brutal. And then Ray would pull tricks on you. He got to cull out of your box if you weighed more.
Keri: Oh, no.
Shaw: Oh yeah, so he'd go in there and pick your best bait and take it. It got pretty hilarious. Those were some good days. There were some great, great things about the old days. I never got to fish in the days when they flew them in the air and said you're landing here, and this is where you're going to fish. That, to me, is the ultimate. No calling, no telephoning, no practice, just get it. That would be to me, the best you could do as a professional angler is no help, to do it on your own.
I could tell you a lot of these guys here this week when they were here in December had plenty of help. Some of them are from the best of the best. You look at that, and many of those guys have spent a lot of time here. Cliff Pace doesn't live very far, and he fishes here all the time, and I mean all the time. He spent tons and tons of time here. There's a massive disparity between one guy that shows up here and fishes three days or four days, and that's it and another guy that's been here for months and had ten years experience on it or 20. So I like the idea of not telling anything, where the Classic is or anything, and just showing up and getting it done.
Keri: I'd have to agree with you. So what do you think tournament fishing needs the most?
Shaw: A whole lot of sponsors. It's such a great sport; it really is. It's a great sport, and it's sad to think that many companies don't support it. You look at a company; I don't mean to slam any company. I don't mean this as a negative. I won't even mention names now that I thought people can spin. That's terrible how people spin your words and get different meanings out of them.
Keri: I have to agree with you.
Shaw: There are so many companies that their products apply so much, that people use them every day out here, and it applies more out here than it does anywhere else, and yet they want to support golf or tennis or some other deal, and it's like, you don't understand the numbers. The number of fishermen and the people that love the outdoors and the people that go outside and participate. It used to be the number one participatory sport out there.
You look at fishing. It's unbelievable. You can do it male, female, black, or white; it doesn't matter who you are, what color, or what nationality, you can love and enjoy the outdoors and enjoy fishing and do it from the time you're two years old. I filmed a TV show with my three-year-old grandson and had a blast. Two and three years old, all the way to when you're 92, 93. You can fish if you can sit in a seat and your arms still work. And you can enjoy it and take to the utmost professional like Kevin VanDam to enjoy the day and get away from it all.
When we were running down the canal, I couldn't help but admire looking over there and seeing the bald eagle in the tree, a big mature one and two young ones coming into plumage, what you see. The alligator on the log, you see raccoons and wildlife and all kinds of stuff that doesn't exist on a golf course; it doesn't exist on a tennis court. Then if you look at the skill level of these guys, they put a bait 20 feet under a dock in a teacup every time.
There's no doubt about how good they are skill-wise, but we're pursuing something that's alive and moving and changing. You look at a tennis ball. All you got is a court and wind, maybe. A golf ball, you've got a little grain on the grass and the wind, but it's all the same. It's like, come on. These guys are really good. The Kevin VanDams, the Iaconellis, the Kleins, the guys here, the Elite guys, are precisely that. Very, very elite.
I love the sport. It's disappointing to see that there's not more, that we have to get the significant sponsor dollars from boat companies and motor companies and things like that rather than from the big companies that every one of us here uses, and like I said, I won't mention names, but a lot of them that aren't here that should and could and I think it's a great sport.
Keri: So, what do you think tournament fishing needs the least?
Shaw: There's a whole group of people out there that don't think you should fish, hunt, molest wildlife, and that's probably the most significant factor out there is not to allow these wackos to influence.
Keri: I'll say it, PETA?
Shaw: That's it; that's it, over and over and over