Shaw Grigsby has been around the Elite circuit long enough to know who is who in the game. The 14-time Classic qualifier has seen his share of up and comers and crash and burners.
That’s why Bassmaster.com wanted to pick his brain to see who he would put on his Classic Fantasy Fishing team. Grigsby said he has never played Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing, but that shouldn’t stop him from selecting a competive lineup.
The veteran knows the anglers and their strengths. That’s the key to how he picked from the salty Group A list of Ott Defoe, Edwin Evers, Greg Hackney, Michael Iaconelli, Aaron Martens and Kevin VanDam.
This is a star-studded, super six, and every fantasy player would love nothing more than to pick all his players from it, but that’s not how it works. Players choose one angler each from Groups A through E.
Grigsby: “You can only take one of those guys? I would have just about chosen all of them! It’s awful hard anytime you’re in a Classic to not to choose Kevin VanDam. I mean he’s the monster. He’s the guy that can catch them anywhere, anytime.
B.A.S.S.: Why do you think KVD is going to be better on the river this year than the last time he was there?
Grigsby: “You can’t ever bet against him if he’s in the tournament; he’s probably going to be at the top. He wins more than anybody and you can’t bet against him, that’s the bottom line and you got to have him on your team. If you bet on him every time you’ll make a lot more money than you’ll lose.”
This is a bunch of anglers who know how to get it done. These guys won’t go down without throwing a few punches. Any of these anglers could win it all.
Grigsby: “Great group of guys, Alton Jones, David Walker and Terry Scroggins are awesome. Swindle has been riding a good streak and he’s fishing very well. Chapman is another that works very well in those river systems because he’s consistent, and that time of year he’s one of those guys I wouldn’t count out either.
"You have five guys here that I would say are as good as any pick you can have and choosing one of them is tough. If it’s a flipping tournament, you can’t back off of Scroggins. Swindle is good all around and Alton is a proven angler and Chapman’s really good on a river.
"Choosing one of them is hard when you have to eliminate guys you’d like to have. Man, I’d hate to go against Swindle or Scroggins. This is the toughest group to choose from, but from a gut feeling I tell you what I’d have to go with Brent Chapman.
B.A.S.S.: He might have some momentum from winning the Central Open last week, but why Chapman?
Grigsby: “I think all of those guys are tremendous, but I think Brent is solid in the pick’em apart type situation where you really know it’s not gonna be the easiest fishing. It’s gonna be a little tough and when it’s tough, he’s mentally tough and I think he has a little bit of an edge over the other anglers when it comes to the Red River. He’s really good with cranks and flipping and pitching, he’s just a good solid river fisherman and tough condition fishermen, so I have to give him the edge."
There are strong and seasoned anglers here who will definitely be in the mix at the Classic. It boasts guys like Denny Brauer, who has 20 Classic appearances and a title under his belt. Then there’s Brandon Palaniuk, an up and comer, who is making this his second Classic coming off of a fourth last year. Takahiro Omori is another proven angler that knows how to get it done in the big leagues.
Another difficult selection, but Grigsby, who would you choose?
Grigsby: “Man, Denny Brauer, goodness gracious. I’m gonna take Denny Brauer in that group. The rest of those guys are tremendous and absolutely have the chance to do very well. Denny is very seasoned on the river and a very good tough condition kind of guy, won tons of tournaments and angler of the year awards. It wouldn’t surprise me if Denny did very, very well there. It’s hard not to choose somebody that’s got such a great track record and is a proven winner.”
Picking his favorite angler from this group was easy for Grigsby. The veteran is feeling confident and laughingly chose himself from the list -- he wants revenge on the river. Disappointed in his last finish on the Red River, he is looking to return and amend that disappointment.
Grigsby: “I pick me! I’m not the best, I think this is my 14th classic. I’ve had a second place and probably a third and some other top finishes, but knockin’ one outta the park hasn’t ever happened, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. That just means it’s a possibility every time you hit the water to win one.”
B.A.S.S.: We wouldn’t expect you to show if you didn’t think you could win, but why exactly did you pick yourself?
Grigsby: “I like the red river, I like the way it fishes. I may be totally lost when I get out there, but I feel real comfortable. I feel real comfortable that I’ll catch them and I’ll put myself in the mix.
“Last time I was there I did fair. I made the final cut and I think I finished 18th or 17th but I had a horrific first day and so to come back from that and still make the cut and finish in the top 20 was substantial for me.
“It should have been an easy top 10 finish and I’m hoping to expand upon that and be able to catch them. I think there’s a distinct possibility that I’ll do real well, but in any tournament I know there’s a distinct possibility that I’ll crash and burn too. I’ll pick myself though because I think I’ll make a run at it.”
The final grouping has Jamie Horton and Chris Price, the only two in Group E who have ever fished the Classic. Grigsby knew little of these guys, mainly the Federation Nation bunch, but he mentioned that this is the Classic and every one of these guys deserves to be there. Having competed in his share of Classics, Grigsby knows that these guys can offer a surprise.
Grigsby: “Well, I’ll tell ya, I don’t know any of those guys, but I guess they’re Federation and probably some Open guys in there and of course the college guy. I can tell you in past classics we have almost always had a Federation angler in the top 5 and there’s always gonna be one of them that really figures it out and does well.
“Brandon Palanuik did it recently at the classic at New Orleans and he had a great run. There’s just so many of those guys that are really good anglers and I look for one of those guys to do well but I just don’t know which guy. I’ll pick Andrew Upshaw because the first two days on the Red River fishes a lot like the Arkansas River and if he was able to pick them apart there he could do it at the classic, mainly because the Arkansas River is not much different.“