If bed fishing’s the game, Shaw Grigsby’s the name.
And that’s just how it went Thursday, the first day of the Dick Cepek Tires Bassmaster Elite at Lake Seminole presented by Hardee’s. Out of Bainbridge, Ga., the event is the 2014 Elite Series season opener.
Well-known for his bed fishing talents, Grigsby led the 108-pro field by 3 pounds, 7 ounces, with a 30-pound, 5-ounce day’s total.
“It was a perfect day,” said Grigsby, who caught the entire 30-plus pounds by 10 a.m., and then sat back and ate cold chicken. “One of those great days — amazing.”
Grigsby took the first step toward duplicating his 2011 season-opener victory in Florida, the ninth and most recent win of his storied Bassmaster career. Two of those titles were taken at Lake Seminole.
Grigsby’s 3-7 lead was over Bernie Schultz, who weighed 26-14. A largemouth of 10-10 was the jewel of Schultz’s bag — and the largest single bass brought to the scales Thursday.
Coincidentally, the two leaders both hail from Gainesville, Fla.
Kevin Short of Mayflower, Ark., was in third place with 25-9, trailing the leader by 4-12. Fourth place was pegged at 24-11 by Brett Hite, a 2014 Elite rookie from Phoenix, Ariz. In fifth was Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla., with 23-13.
Local favorite J Todd Tucker of Moultrie, Ga., who calls Lake Seminole his home water, ended his first day in 18th place. His Day 1 weight of 18-14 was for four bass, one short of the five-fish limit.
The first-place prize of the event is $100,000 and an automatic berth in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic. Pros also earn points that count toward the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year award and a Classic qualification.
Grigsby said his largest bass of the day were two over 7 pounds. They came from one of his several bed-fishing spots, he said, as did most of the bass he hooked into Thursday.
For the second round on Friday, Grigsby said he’d go back to his magical spot.
“I don’t know whether I’ll get a bite in that same area, but I’ve got a couple more areas to hit, and then I can always go sight-fishing to get decent little sacks,” he said.
Grigsby said he’s targeting prespawners moving up to beds, as well as fish actually on beds.
The cold front that came through Wednesday night did not affect his bite Thursday, unusual behavior for spawning fish, he said.
Schultz’s behemoth largemouth of 10-10 set the bar high for the event’s Carhartt Big Bass bonus of up to $1,500. He said he caught the bass sight fishing at about noon.
“She was on a bed with a male that weighed about 4 pounds; I caught him next,” Schultz said.
Fish came in pairs for Schultz. He caught a second couple (male and female) soon after the first two. A fifth bass soon finished his limit.
Short, unlike many in the field, was not bed fishing or sight fishing. He established a pattern during practice and stuck to it.
“You gotta love it when the plan comes together,” Short said.
Neither did Biffle try to “look at ’em.”
“I haven’t seen one on the bed. If I did happen to, I’d try for it. But I don’t like to hunt them,” said Biffle, who would describe his pattern only as “just fishing.”
The full field of 108 will return to the water at 7:30 a.m. Friday. Takeoff will be at Earle May Boat Basin, 100 Boat Basin Circle, Bainbridge. The weigh-in will begin at 4 p.m. at the same location.
Opening at noon Saturday and Sunday, the Bassmaster Elite Series Expo presents the products of Elite Series sponsors. People ages 14 and up can sign up for free demo rides in Nitro, Skeeter and Triton boats powered by Mercury ProXS and Yamaha SHO engines.
There’s no admission charge to any Bassmaster event, and parking is free.
Friday through Sunday, the 11th annual Bainbridge River Town Days will offer many kids activities, plus vendors and Flames on the Flint, a barbecue cook-off. Town Days also will include many free concerts, including Chris Cagle, Saturday’s headliner.
The local host of the Elite event is the Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce.
Image courtesy Bassmaster