The tale of Grigsby, Martens and the bowfin

Shaw Grigsby never actually said he was mad at Aaron Martens on Day 2 of the Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River presented by STARK Cultural Venues.

But anybody who stood within earshot of him after he weighed in before a massive crowd at City of Orange Boat Ramp knew Grigsby probably wouldn’t be buying a big foam finger with “A-Mart” written on it anytime soon.

Grigsby, known as one of the best in the world at fishing for spawning bass since he joined the Bassmaster Tournament Trail in 1977, had fished a little canal upstream from the boat ramp on Day 1 and shared it with Elite Series rookie Micah Frazier. The result was a five-bass limit of spawning fish that weighed 13 pounds, 4 ounces and landed Grigsby in fourth place.

The ultra-popular Florida pro and host of the television show One More Cast ran straight to the same area the next day, only to find Martens sitting right where he said he planned to fish.

“On Thursday, Micah Frazier and I were in there, and he went up one side while I went up the other,” Grigsby said. “A-A-A-Ron didn’t come in until later in the day, and he went all the way to the back.

“He decided that was his spot today, and he started right where I was fishing Thursday.”

That was the extent of Grigsby’s rant.

Mispronouncing the two-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year’s name was as surly as he got.

No cursing.

No screaming.

No nasty insinuations that Martens had done anything illegal – which he absolutely hadn’t.

In a tournament where anglers were stacked on top of one another all week, Grigsby just seemed to feel like his space had been violated.

In his defense, Martens said he was simply fishing a spot he had pre-fished while preparing for the event. He said he had no idea Grigsby had caught any good fish on the stretch in question, or he would have never gone there on Day 2.

“I didn’t see Shaw catch any big fish in there,” Martens said. “But I caught a 3-pounder and a 4-pounder in there on Day 1 and lost a 4-pounder. So obviously, there was never any doubt in my mind that was where I wanted to start the second day.

“I had no idea Shaw was even upset. Hole-jumping is something I’ve never done in my career.”

There are always two sides to every story. But rather than debating who was wrong – if anyone actually was – I’d rather point out that Grigsby handled the situation like a true pro.

Better still, he handled it like a pro with a sense of humor.

Shaye Baker and I were lucky enough to spend some time tagging along behind Grigsby on the day of contention when he and Martens were fishing just down the bank from one another.

Grigsby set the hook on a fish at one point, and we could all see immediately that it was a bowfin – a nasty-looking, tooth-filled fish that some folks in southeast Texas refer to as a “shoepick.” But Grigsby was certain Martens couldn’t tell what the fish was from 100 yards away, and he played it for all it was worth.

He battled the fish like it was a 5-pound largemouth and swung it in the boat, using his body to shield it from Martens. He even did a little dance and shouted a “That’s what I’m talking about” or two.

Then, saving his best for last, he walked the fish back to his live well and opened the lid before gently slipping it over the back of his boat.

He did it smirking all the while through that bank robber’s mask he uses to protect himself from the sun.

Did the award-caliber performance bother Martens?

Obviously not.

He says he didn’t even see it happen - and he went on to finish third, while Grigsby was seventh.

But it was great to see a guy who’s been at this sport as long as Grigsby forego pouting in favor of good, clean tournament fun.

A lot of young, ultra-competitive tournament anglers at all levels of bass fishing could learn a thing or two from the soon-to-be 59-year-old Grigsby.

When things happen that are beyond your control, just keep casting and look for a reason to smile through your face mask.

Even if the bowfin aren’t biting.

To see Shaye Baker's step-by-step proof of Grigsby's bowfin performance, click here and pay close attention to photos No. 77-89.