Dick’s Sporting Goods pro Shaw Grigsby believes he has one of the best partners for the PAA Tour Team Challenge on Lake Toho in January.
The acclaimed sight-fishing specialist is joining forces with Pinnacle pro Paul Elias of Mississippi for the three-day team tournament. With three days of practice to put their heads together, Grigsby thinks they should be able to crack Toho’s pre-spawn code.
“I’m really excited about it,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. That’s a good time of the year on Toho and we’ll have great potential for some big catches. I think it’s going to be exciting.
“Paul is really good at open water and offshore fishing, and I’m good with shallow techniques. I think combining those two will be good with our practice and ideas, and then in the tournament. There are times when you can win because both partners do the same things well. Other times, I think you need to have a combination of efforts.”
The tournament is set for Jan. 22-28 at Lakefront Park in Kissimmee, Fla. Tournament days are Jan. 26-28, with weigh-ins at Lakefront Park the first two days and final weigh-in at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World on International Drive in Orlando.
Tour Team Challenge teams must have at least one PAA Tour-level angler, with the other being a Tour- or Advantage-level member. The Advantage member can be a family member, friend or sponsor, or two Tour members may fish together.
The winning team will take home a fully-rigged Nitro Z-8 with a Mercury 225 Optimax and $14,400, while the second-place team will win a Nitro Z-7 with a Mercury 150 Pro XS and $5,000. Tournament highlights will be broadcast on FishPAA Television on VERSUS, part of the NBC Sports Group, later in the year.
Some of the top pros will be competing, including Gerald Swindle and Terry Scroggins, Mike McClelland and Jared Lintner, Jeff Kriet and Jason Reyes, and Guy Eaker and David Hendrick.
Swindle won the 2010 Bassmaster Open title on Toho at the same time of the year with an offshore pattern, as did Brian Snowden in the 2009 PAA Tournament Series event. Grigsby said late January in Toho could give competitors a chance to get out in deeper water or possibly have some sight-fishing action.
“Toho in January has great potential for really, really big bass,” he said. “The cool thing is you don’t know which direction you’re going to go as a team until you get there, start looking around and then make decisions. That’s part of the fun.”
Because of the travel of the Bassmaster and FLW circuits, many pros don’t get the chance to compete against each other. The PAA Tournament Series events provide that opportunity, and Grigsby said the Tour Team Challenge adds an extra element.
“A neat thing about this tournament is it’s going to be fun because there are few opportunities to fish with fellow competitors,” he said. “We’re all traveling, on different tours, competing against each other, and team events are rare.
“There are times in the past when I’ve fished with some of my fellow anglers and absolutely cherish those memories forever, like fishing with Rick Clunn and Denny Brauer. I think a lot of guys will see this as a chance to fish with a buddy or friend at a great time on Toho.”
Not only that, he said, but the Tour Team Challenge is a throwback to early days when many pros were cutting their competitive teeth in local derbies.
“It brings us back to our roots,” he said. “Probably all of us at one time or another fished together with a buddy in pot tournaments way back when. It was fun to do that then, and it’ll be fun now.”
Entry fee is $5,000 per team. Registrations are being accepted now, with a $750 deposit and balance due by Jan. 9. There is no off-limits period.
To register, contact the PAA at (270) 527-2030.
About the PAA
The Professional Anglers Association is a non-profit organization that gives
professional anglers a unified voice in order to aid in the growth of the
sport of professional bass fishing. The PAA also aims to administer
educational programs to the average angler, to increase enjoyment of the
sport, and to embrace sound conservation practices to further the future of
the sport. Web: www.FishPAA.com