May 7, 2014
Season 2 of FLW's hit online series "Circuit Breaker" follows veteran pros and good buddies Chad Grigsby and JT Kenney as they travel the country on the Walmart FLW Tour. In case you haven't yet seen the first two episodes, which are available at FLWOutdoors.com and FLW's YouTube channel, Grigsby and Kenney spend about as much time picking on each other as they do the fish.
To find out what it's like to have cameras following their every move, we sat down for a Q&A with reality bass fishing's new poster boys. Here's what they had to say.
How'd you get hooked up with the "Circuit Breaker" gig?
Chad: FLW sent me an email or something to see if I would be interested, and I think that is how we got here.
JT: FLW called and asked me to do it.
OK, good answers. What's been the reaction from sponsors and other people in the industry?
JT: It seems to me like everybody likes it. I can't say like a percentage of positive to negative comments, but to me all press is good press. It's ok with me, especially if they're posting [online] about it. That's free advertising. I think that's great. All my sponsors think it's great. They really like it.
Chad: All good. I sent the episodes to all my sponsors, and they loved it. A couple responses were single words, like "awesome." The very first episode, I watched with one of the guys from Halo Rods, and he wanted more. He was like, "I can't believe it's that short." He wanted to watch more.
In the first episode, Chad got his truck stuck in someone's yard. How bad was the damage?
JT: Did you see the video? He tore the lawn up pretty bad. They wouldn't let him help pay for it or anything. They got it fixed, and it's all good now. I haven't been there since, though. People were fired up about it, but I think part of that was because they don't understand the relationship we have with the homeowners.
Chad: It wasn't good. It was all tore up, and I felt awful about it. What you didn't see on the show was that I offered multiple times to get it fixed, and they wouldn't hear of it. We have stayed with them for years, and they are just really great people.
Chad, is that kind of situation a regular occurrence for you?
Chad: I wouldn't say that it's regular, but it wasn't the first time my truck has been stuck. I got it stuck in mud at a rest area one time at 1 in the morning, and I had the camper and the boat. I wasn't able to turn around because there wasn't enough room, so I got stuck. I had to get a tow truck to pull me out.
The tow truck driver showed up around1:30, and he pulled the truck out then the camper and then the trailer. As luck would have it, one mile down the road I found a service area that had a ton of parking that was all concrete, so I was able to pull in and finally go to sleep.
You also went gigging for tilapia with fellow pro George Kapiton in the first episode. Who speared the most, and how was the fish fry?
JT: George definitely got the most. Chad second. Me last. The fish fry was awesome. Tilapia is probably one of the best freshwater eating fish. It is only second to cold-water crappie and cold-water walleye, as far as freshwater fish go. And I'm not very good at a lot of things in my life, but eating fish is one of them, and I feel like I can talk about stuff like that. Tilapia would be the No. 3 best-eating freshwater fish.
Chad: George got one on his first throw, but it got off. On my first throw I got one. JT was awful. He couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. I don't think he'd ever been spearing before. I guess George and I tied, but between JT and I, I won. I got one, and he got zero. I think that was the last day - Sunday, before we left. We didn't actually eat the tilapia until the next tournament at Hartwell, and they were delicious.
So, you guys ham it up pretty much nonstop on the show. That's how you really act?
JT: We aren't doing anything different than we would at any other tournament. Chad and I will sometimes call each other about something, and we will go into some rhetoric when the other one answers the phone, to the point that 10 minutes will go by and we forget what the initial call was about. We have to call back later when we remember.
There was some chatter that we did things different after the first episode, but anybody who knows us knows that's how we are. I've just been like that my whole life. I don't know if I'm using levity to battle inner demons I have or something, but that's how I've always been. Don't take life too seriously, or you'll never get out alive.
What's the hardest part about having the film crew follow you around?
Chad: The hardest part is hooking up with them. They always want to do some shots in the morning before blastoff and stuff like that. At Hartwell, we were staying on the opposite side of the lake. They were on the west side of the lake. We were on the east side. And we had to put in at designated launch sites and then go across by boat, and you know how bad the weather was. I got there early and still sat there for an hour waiting to launch. So I had 10 minutes to go pick up my co-angler, and they still wanted to do some stuff. Once you get miked up and everything's set and they're following you around and you can do whatever you want, then it's pretty easy.
Does being on camera add any pressure to the tournaments?
JT: Not at all because the end result is going to be the same anyway. Whether somebody follows me around on the water during the day or just looks at the results at the end of that day, they're going to see if I finished seventh or 67th. It doesn't make any difference.
Chad: No. Not any more pressure than normal. This is just the worst year I've ever had, and it happened to be caught on film. They're only filming for an hour or two while you're out fishing. Then the crew catches up with us at weigh-in, and by that point I've already caught them or not.
JT, in the last episode about Lake Hartwell you were complaining about the lake, and FLW Staff Writer Kyle Wood called you a crybaby. Any response to that?
JT: I was. Yeah, I was being a crybaby. I was mad. I was venting. I was crying about not doing well. I should have caught more bass. But still, everything I said is exactly the way I felt. Even Chad said, "You didn't cry about it last year because you made the cut last year." Yeah, exactly, but I didn't this year, so now I hate it ... but not as bad as I hate Beaver Lake. If they thought I was crying about Hartwell, wait until you see the Beaver Lake show.
Chad, what was your take?
Chad: He is a crybaby. I'm getting tired of him. George and I had a little talk with him. He's like a grouchy old man, and he's only 40. He mopes around, "Hmm, I'm not catching them." That's fishing. You don't always catch them.
Ok, so you guys take shots at each other a lot, but you're also really good friends. How did you two end up becoming buddies?
JT: I think we just started [fishing the Tour] at exactly the same time, and we're kind of the same age. We both like to hunt, fish and have a good time. It was kind of a natural progression.
Chad: Yeah, basically we like to fish and goof around when we aren't fishing. We are very similar, and that is what it boils down to. You know how when you meet guys, you're like, "Oh, I could hang out with that dude." It was like that. He was from Maryland. I'm from Michigan. We obviously went to the exact same lakes to fish, so we were going to bump into each other every month. We just got along, and we like to do stupid stuff. So we started rooming together.
I camped. I always had a camper. Actually, he and his dad would travel together, and they would stay in my camper. It was a little pop-up, and he and I decided to just get a fifth-wheel so we would have a better place to stay. It's a cost-saver too. The last place we stayed for a week. It only cost us $115, and we split it.
He and I both like to cook, so we'll grill or smoke stuff or have fish fries. He'll bring saltwater fish, and I'll bring venison. And now he's gotten into hog hunting, so he'll bring pork.
In a week where most guys would be spending $700 or $800 between groceries and the room, I'd say we spent 150 bucks. And we probably ate better than all those other guys who had to go out to dinner.
Do you guys compete heavily with each other?
JT: No. You know what, and I know this is some cliche thing that people say, but I really don't think, "Man, I want to beat this guy," or "Man, I want to beat that guy." When I first started I was like that, for sure. But now, dude, it's a job. It's paying the bills.
Chad: We're pulling for each other. We work together. We know what the other one is going through.
You both like to hunt, so do you get to spend much time together hunting in the off-season?
Chad: Not in the off-season much. We always start out at the Rayovac at Okeechobee and the Tour on Okeechobee. I always fish that Rayovac because it's nice to get the boat down there and get the bugs worked out, and so in between those two tournaments this season I had a flight out on a Monday, and with the Rayovac done on a Saturday, JT and I were able to go hog hunting for a day. We've done that two or three times.
He wants to get into duck hunting, and I've been duck hunting a long time. I've got a couple buddies who have duck camps, one in Arkansas and one in southern Illinois. So we might go do that.
In the Lake Hartwell episode, you both talked about how hard it is to make it on Tour. And JT, you talked about winning your first-ever Tour event. What did that do for your career?
JT: The first thing I thought for about a month until I got to the second Tour event is that this was going to be easy. I was wrong. I won the very first one, and over the next five events I never got a check. With that $110,000 that I won, I paid the taxes, bought a new truck - the truck I was driving had 335,000 miles on it at the time - and basically paid for the rest of my year. The rest of it was spent on gas, entry fees, food and travel expenses. And at the end of that year I was broke again. After that I started getting a little more consistent and started doing better.
You think $110,000 is life-changing, but I never bought anything that didn't have to do with fishing. It goes to show you how expensive this sport is. It also makes you think about these guys who don't do very well. How do they keep doing it?
I've been pretty consistent, but I'm still just trying to get by.
What's the best part about being on the show?
Chad: I guess just showing people that don't tournament fish, or people that do tournament fish, how hard it is to make a living at this. And to show them the stuff that goes on behind the scenes - how much hard work goes into it. I don't even know if they show how hard we work. You don't just sign up to go to the lake and start fishing the tournament. There's a lot more to it than just putting your boat in and then going fishing.
When you signed up to do the "Circuit Breaker," did they make you swear in blood that you wouldn't reveal what was going to happen on the show before it comes out?
So will you give us a sneak peek at the next episode anyway?
JT: Yeah. Let's see, what would the next one be ... Sam Rayburn. There are guns involved. There are Benellis and Remingtons involved. I can tell you that.
Check out the latest episode of "Circuit Breaker" here or at FLW's YouTube channel.