Seldom since Ray Scott organized the first one at Beaver Lake, Ark., 45 years ago, has B.A.S.S. held a tournament in Wisconsin.
But if this morning’s buzz at Veterans Freedom Park in downtown La Crosse is any indication of what’s to come the next four days, we can count on a town saturated with college bars and Badger fans to go bananas for B.A.S.S.
While fans lined a low bridge over the Mississippi River cheering for their favorite Elite Series pros, music from Canadian rock group RUSH blared through the low-humidity air.
And speaking of bananas, there sat the always cheerful Florida pro Shaw Grigsby, amid the sunrise party in this college town, jamming dry shredded wheat cereal nuggets into the top of a half eaten banana, while talking about what he expects from the day ahead.
“Three pounders are not happenin’ for me,” said the career long Quantum pro who yet again sits inside the Top 20 of the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings.
“The fish here are patternable, but I just haven’t found them out in the main river channel, and that’s most likely where the big ones are living,” explained Grigsby, noting that water surface temps were around 78 degrees.
“I didn’t set the hook on many fish in practice, maybe four or five fish a day, and the biggest one I caught was a 2-pound, 6-ounce fish,” noted the Florida pro, who has competed in nearly 300 B.A.S.S. events, and qualified for 14 Bassmaster Classics.
“I’ve got slop baits, wood baits and rock baits tied on,” said Grigsby, as he showed off a portion of his starting lineup tied to EXO reels.
“I heard Kelly Jordon say he smashed some big ones in practice, but that certainly wasn’t the case for me. I’m guessing the Top 10 in the standings will have 14 pounds and upwards today.”
Certainly, that’s purely a guess, because much like wrapped presents sitting beneath a tree, without setting the hook in practice, you can’t know for sure what’s inside.
“I enjoy this place,” concluded Shaw. “You do a lot of lookin’ and very little hook setting in practice, but there’s a lot of awesome looking stuff here. Until this afternoon we won’t really know how good it is.”
Safe to say, no matter what they weigh, there will be a buzz of excitement among a group of fans that have long awaited B.A.S.S. to be a part of their town.