Crystal Clear or Dirty, Whats your mentality to catching more fish?

Courtesy of Vance McCullough / Photo courtesy of Major League Fishing


I was talking with Shaw Grigsby when a funny story came up. The famous sight fisherman took another legend fishing near Grigsby’s lifelong home in Gainesville, Florida where drinking quality waters spring straight from the aquifer  through holes in the limestone bed and flow to the sea beneath centuries old live oaks and towering cypress. There’s no prettier place to not catch a fish.

“Years ago, I took Rick Clunn to one of my favorite springs, along with Peter T (Thliveros), both great guys. Crystal clear water. We floated down the run and Pete and I said ‘this is so cool, look at this bass, look at that bass’ and we’d catch one here and one there and I asked Rick, ‘what do you think? This is one of my favorite places in the world.’ He said, ‘I hate it.’ I said ‘what? What do you mean you hate it?’,” chuckles Grigsby. Clunn explained, “I throw over there by that tree and twenty-five bass will come out and I don’t get any of them to eat, or I get maybe one to eat, and that’s destroying my self-confidence. When I pitch into dirty water, I have the confidence that I’m going to get bit or there’s not one there.”

“The difference was,” Grigsby elaborated about Florida’s sight-fishing anglers, “we know there are ten or fifteen fish there and they didn’t eat your bait and we’re ok with that. Every now and then one will eat it and we’re good with that. So, the difference was amazing in terms of mentality, you know, that crystal clear water and the dirty, stained water and seeing how many fish, so when you have three, four or five that refuse you, don’t get frustrated because the next one is probably going to eat. Every time you go, you learn.”

The unpredictable, some might say surprising, nature of bass is among the reasons Grigsby likes sight fishing. “I think that’s one of the reasons we enjoy bass fishing in the first place, it’s a challenge.”

The challenge doesn’t go away when using electronics. Yes, the best sight fisherman in bass tournament history uses electronics when called for, but he is basically doing the same thing with a different set of eyes. “I posted some stuff on social media about the new Active Target from Lowrance. I was reading the comments. Some of the guys were going, ‘man, they need to outlaw this,’ and all this kind of stuff and I’m like ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’. Everything I can get that helps me catch fish is what I want to do. Never is it so easy that you can just go do it. It’s always a challenge even if you know that school is there. You’ve still got to figure out the right bait, the right presentation, the right color to get that fish to hit. You’ve just got great technology to help you find them. Instead of going out and catching one or two you go out and catch nine or ten and that makes it special.

“Every second I get to spend with that unit, it’s stupid,” laughs the affable host of the long running One More Cast TV Show. “You can spot them out away from the boat, see the school of fish and fire a bait out there. Again, you have to choose the bait and choose the color and see what they’re doing, are they up high or are they following it down.”

He talks about a video he put on social media “If you look closely at the bottom right-hand side of the screen, you’ll see the fish starting to go crazy and then right at the end, you’ll see a little dot twitch, and then twitch again and then disappear. Well, that’s my grandson’s jerkbait. You can actually see the fish and what they’re doing by just watching your screen.”

A hack that Grigsby recommends is to turn the transducer sideways and get into the Scout Mode. “You’re not as precision as you are with forward-facing, you know, if I dial that forward-facing in and point it at a brush pile, it’s right there. You just shoot it right where the arrow is facing on your trolling motor. With Scout Mode you actually see how far away the fish is and you have about 100-degree field of vision.”

Grigsby also says the technology would open another world for small craft anglers who typically can’t stand and follow fish the way he can when sight fishing on bass boat but who still want to see what’s out there. “I would think, if you’re kayak fishing, that Active Target from Lowrance is a must because you’re so low to the water that your vision when sight fishing is limited. Now all of sudden, you can see out a long way. It would be like ‘oh yeah!’.”

For those who want to keep it low tech and use only their eyes to locate cruising fish, Grigsby recommends Strike King S11 shades to eliminate glare and illuminate the watery world below. . “Being able to see them is ninety-percent of the game. I use Strike King S11’s. The older I get, the more I appreciate that Cloud lens they have too, the best for sight fishing. They’re an incredible pair of sunglasses. They’re also reasonably priced and they protect your eyes. That’s been my favorite pair of glasses for years.” Picking on big fish with spinning gear can feel like hunting bears with a willow switch. Grigsby tips the odds in his favor. “I use a Lew’s Custom Pro All Purpose Spinning rod, 7’ or 7’2” and I’ll pair it with a Lew’s Custom Pro 300-size reel. I’ll use Seaguar Smackdown braided line for backing, three rods with 15-lb for dropshoting and two more with 20-lb, which is still extremely small. With those I can go straight braid to bait on certain techniques. Then I put my fluorocarbon top shot on there, 20 feet, 25 feet, sometimes 30 feet of InvizX on there.” Weights range from 6-to-10 pounds on Grigsby’s fluoro leaders. He leans heavily on the dropshot when sight fishing and makes frequent use of Trokar’s TK 180 hook, 1/0, a size that allows him to rig the lure weedless if he needs to. Because of their “lifelike” qualities, the Strike King Dream Shot or Strike King Half Shell close the deal on many bass for Grigsby.