UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Ft. Gibson

Going Shallow with Grigsby on Ouachita

Going Shallow with Grigsby on Ouachita

After a phenomenal ending to the 2018 FLW Tour regular season on Lake St. Clair where Chad Grigsby smashed giant smallmouths to claim the big payday, the Minnesota pro will be making his fifth FLW Cup appearance this week on Lake Ouachita – which was also an added bonus of his St. Clair victory since it earned him enough points to climb the Angler of the Year standings to punch his ticket to the Cup.  

It’s been eight years since Grigsby fished in the big show and it is his second championship stop in Arkansas. Back in 2005, Grigsby finished second on Lake Hamilton (located just down the road from Ouachita) so you can assume he’s looking for a little redemption in The Natural State this time around.

Since Grigsby’s got the hot hand, I figured it’d be nice to jump in the boat with him for day two of practice to see what his Ouachita game plan is.

 

We meet at Mountain Harbor Resort a little before 6 a.m. where Grigsby already has the boat splashed and ready to rock. The sun is barely starting to creep up over the horizon as we idle out of the no-wake zone and Grigsby gives me the scoop on the day.

“I’m going to fish shallow for most of the day,” says the 15-year Tour veteran. “That’s what I’ve got the most confidence in and if you look at the forecast for the tournament I think the conditions should be perfect for fishing a topwater with some rain and clouds.”

With that he throws the Ranger on plane and we make a short run down the lake to a small pocket.

 

The pocket we stop at has a few crappie boats out in the middle tied up to some timber, but otherwise we are the only bass boat in sight. Grigsby throws the trolling motor down, grabs a topwater and goes to work.

“I wanted to check this pocket out yesterday but there were ski boats and jet skis running around and it had the water all dirtied up, so I figured this morning would be a good time to check it.”

Indeed, it is. It’s a gorgeous summer morning and the pocket looks promising. There’s not a breath of wind and despite some mugginess to the air it is actually quite pleasant feeling.

 

After a few hundred yards of bank with nothing to show, Grigsby readies a shaky head.

“I don’t really want to throw this, but I figure I need to keep them honest on some of these points if they won’t hit the topwater.”

He makes a cast or two with it, but with no nibbles he pulls the trolling motor to make a move.

 

We run down a few pockets from where we started and Grigsby picks the topwater back up.

It doesn’t take long for a short bass to roll up on the bait, giving Grigsby the first clue of the day. He would have likely caught the fish during the tournament, but for practice he has his hooks bent in or removed (depending on what he’s tossing) so that he can avoid sticking fish until it matters.

“I know that doing this shallow thing isn’t a way to get 50 bites like the guys fishing out deep can do,” Grigsby explains. “I just feel like when you get bit up shallow they are a little better size and I’m fine with going all day for five or six of those bites.”

 

While we rip down the bank it’s impossible to not notice the millions of tiny shad flickering around on the surface. Every other point seems to have a blue heron on it waiting patiently to grab a snack and on practically every cast Grigsby’s bait pushes shad out of the way causing them to jump in its wake.

Local reports say that Ouachita is healthier than ever and it’s no wonder why with so much food in the system.

 

Grigsby fishes for several hundred more yards without a blow up, so it’s time to make a move.

The sun is starting to poke up over the trees now that it is a little past 8 o’clock and Grigsby takes time to apply sunscreen before any more fishing occurs.

 

Our next stop is more mid-lake where there is a nice breeze welcoming us.

We take some time to reflect a little on his season while he burns shoreline.

“I’m pretty happy with how the season went, other than my two bad finishes early in the season. Winning on St. Clair was awesome and to also make the Cup because of that was even better.

“But I’m not happy with just being here. I want to win. I was close on Hamilton in 2005 and I want to win this thing bad.”

Grigsby fishes two points, but doesn’t like what he sees, so he cranks the Mercury and we’re off.

 

As we idle our way back through some standing timber to get the next stretch of bank, I can’t help but ask about the hen wood duck decoy that has been riding along under the console the whole morning.

“That’s Griffin,” Grigsby says with a chuckle. “I found him tangled in some lily pads and grass on Lake Griffin during practice at the Harris Chain. I saved him basically. He’s been riding right there ever since. I only missed one check since I found him and it was the next tournament after Harris. I just figured we hadn’t bonded yet and that’s why I didn’t cash a check on Lanier because ever since then he’s been my good luck.”

I didn’t want to mess up any mojo between him and Griffin so I didn’t bring up the fact the decoy is a female, yet he calls it a male…maybe next time.

 

Back on the fishing side of things, Grigsby has a decent little lure pile going from the first day of practice. A few different buzzbaits, some swimbaits and a tube from his St. Clair win sit neatly tucked on cooler of the Ranger.

He’s really only thrown two rods all morning, though he has a few extras out in case any schoolers come up. That’s where the spy bait and swimbait come into play – but he hasn’t caught any fish on either bait since he’s been on Ouachita.

 

It’s nearing 11:30 and since we are close to the ramp I decide to get dropped off so Grigsby can run more of the lake and not have to worry about bringing me all the way back. Which is just fine, because the sun is really starting to heat things up and air conditioning sounds amazing.

While it wasn’t a crazy morning of practice, Grigsby seems like he has his mind in the right place for making the shallow bite happen. He didn’t come down to pre-practice or do very much research at all because he likes to figure out what is happening now, not what happened years or even months ago. Read the lake and what the fish are telling him, that’s his strategy this week.

As he idles back out to tackle more of Ouachita there’s no doubt he’s got plenty of time to fine tune the shallow bite to know where to go, or not go, come game time.

Good luck, Chad.

 

Tags: kyle-wood  pre-tournament  2018-08-10-forrest-wood-cup- 

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