NEW ORLEANS, La. — Fresh from their high-profile victory at the bass competition at the ESPN Great Outdoor Games presented by Dodge, Shaw Grigsby and Gary Klein now turn their sights toward the 33rd annual CITGO Bassmaster Classic, the sport's biggest event and the title that has eluded them throughout their illustrious careers.
The Classic, which is presented by Busch Beer, takes place Aug. 1-3 in New Orleans. And their victory on Lake Folsom in last week's Great Outdoor Games has both veteran anglers extra-excited about their chances of winning competitive fishing's most important title.
"Do I feel like the Outdoor Games gives me momentum? Absolutely," said Grigsby, a 47-year-old, eight-time BASS winner from Florida who will be making his 10th Classic appearance. "Because I'm going into the Classic on a positive note.
"Anytime that you have a positive note and a positive attitude, you're going to do better. Coming off a good win like that is going to put me in a positive attitude, and I'm really going to work hard to win this thing."
"I would be a fool to say that it doesn't (give us momentum) because for Shaw and I that was a great victory," added Klein, a 45-year-old seven-time BASS winner from Texas. "Anytime you win against a field like we did, it's a great victory. Those guys are all class anglers, and I really felt that any of them could have won it."
Both gold medalists say they won't soon forget their experience in the Games in Reno.
"Shaw and I have always had a good time fishing together and the Great Outdoor Games on Lake Folsom was no exception," Klein said. "Shaw and I had a really good game plan as a team, and we were able to find enough fish to where we could execute really well. It was just a flawless performance on our part."
"Participating in the Outdoor Games is always a thrill," Grigsby added. "It's something that I really enjoy. Both last year and this year I took it real seriously and really worked hard at it. I pre-fished up there when we were in California (during the CITGO Bassmaster Tour season) and then practiced again just before it went off-limits for the Games. Then I had an great, great partner in Gary Klein, who also took it real seriously."
Now both pros' thoughts and attention turns to Classic XXXIII and the massive Louisiana Delta. Both will spend the next two weeks preparing to take their best shot at the $200,000 prize.
"The Games were my focus up to this point, but now that that's over I've got a whole week set aside for nothing but Classic preparation," Grigsby said. "Right now my focus is strictly on the Classic.
"I'm going to make sure that I cross all of the T's and dot all of the I's, and make sure that everything I have in my box is perfect, and that I have all of the baits I can need. I'll get back on my map study, but that will come later. I have to finish all of my tackle first - the important stuff that includes the rods, reels, line and my baits. Then I'll start thinking about strategy and where to go and when to do it.
"When the Classic starts, I'll really have put all of my eggs in one basket, and it's probably not the basket to put them in. I'm going to concentrate my fishing in one area, where I'm basically going to live and die. Either way, I'm going to have a good time."
"The difference between the Great Outdoor Games and the Classic is I can catch them on Lake Folsom," Klein added, laughing. "But the Classic is now my focus.
As far as preparation for the Classic, physically, I'll just keep doing what I normally do. I'll increase my fluids a whole bunch between now and then, which is real important this time of year under those conditions. But besides that, I'm pretty physically fit. I keep myself busy and get constant exercise. As far as fishing equipment goes, I will probably have less equipment at this Classic than I've had at any Bassmasters Classic I've ever fished in my history. I know what I'm going to be doing, I just don't know where I'm going to be doing it."
Like the other 59 Classic contenders, Klein and Grigsby have been monitoring the weather map and bemoaning the additional rainfall that has plagued the New Orleans area recently. Most pros expect the Delta's high water level to hamper their fishing prospects.
"I've been watching (Tropical Storm) Claudette like all of the other guys," Klein admitted. "They got more rain in New Orleans. And there's nothing that says we won't get another storm between now and the Classic.
"On the flip side of that, though, this is a competition. Somebody is going to win this Classic; I don't care if they catch 60 pounds or 16 pounds. And it's that single thought that keeps me interested."
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning over 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.
Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Chevrolet Trucks, Yamaha Outboards, Mercury Marine, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, Kumho Tires, Progressive Insurance, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Diamond Cut Jeans, MotorGuide Trolling Motors, Armstrong Industrial Hand Tools, and BankOne.
Associate Sponsors include Bryant Heating and Air Conditioning and G3 Boats.
Local sponsors include the State of Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, and Jefferson Parish.