Central Open: Grayson Smith batting 1.000

Tennessee’s Grayson Smith has made money in all five of the Bassmaster Open tournaments he has competed in. If he never fishes another Open, Smith will end his career with a batting average of 1.000.

However, Smith has no intention of stopping now. He hopes to keep a good thing going and to qualify for the Bassmaster Elite Series.

Four of Smith’s five Opens were as a co-angler. He entered all three Southern Opens in 2013 finishing 12th at Lake Tohopekaliga, sixth at Douglas Lake and first at Logan Martin.

In 2014 Smith competed as a co-angler in the Northern Open at Lake St. Clair and nabbed 36th place.

“St. Clair was the first time I ever fished a smallmouth dominated tournament,” Smith said. “I just took a drop shot with me and dragged it around for two days.”

Encouraged by his back-seat success, Smith signed on to fish the 2015 Bassmaster Central Opens as a boater. The first tournament of the series happened in March at Mississippi’s Ross Barnett Reservoir.

Smith plied Ross Barnett’s copious shallow pad stems with a Strike King Tour Grade Rage Blade Swim Jig, a lure he had never fished prior to that event. He sacked enough bass with it to claim 20th place.

At 25 years old, Smith is fishing with the consistency of a seasoned veteran. Even more remarkable is that he didn’t get seriously into bass fishing until after he graduated from Rossview High School in 2008.

While growing up, Smith occasionally fished with his father, David, and older brother, Houston, for crappie, bluegill and bass. But they never fished tournaments.

“Honestly, I never had an interest in tournament fishing,” Smith said.

That changed when Smith attended the University of Tennessee at Martin. Smith’s brother had graduated from this institution and had been a member of the SkyHawk college bass fishing team.

Fishing was not on Smith’s radar when he went to college, but his brother encouraged him to join the SkyHawk fishing team. Smith did so mainly to make new friends.

“My brother liked to pick on me, but that was some of the best advice I ever got,” Smith said. “I had a blast fishing with the team.”

Smith hit the books to complete his major in civil engineering with a minor in marketing, but he fished with the SkyHawk team to earn a bachelor’s degree in bass fishing.

What put the fever in Smith’s tournament fishing was the $200 he won at his second event.

“I’m telling you, that lit a fire in me,” Smith said. “It’s the most expensive $200 I’ve ever made.”

Since graduating from UT Martin, Smith has joined the Montgomery County Bass Club in Clarksville, Tenn., which is part of the B.A.S.S. Nation. He thoroughly enjoys fishing club tournaments and the opportunity it provides to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic.

Prior to fishing the Bassmaster Opens, Smith fished the Bassmaster Weekend Series for a few years as a co-angler before switching to the boater side.

“I’ve met some really good people that have taught me a whole lot,” Smith said. “I would get in the back of anybody’s boat that would take me. Every bass fisherman has their own thing they can teach you, and I try to learn everything.”

Smith currently works for a local engineering firm and is “very single.”

“Fishing will do that to me,” Smith said.

Although Smith’s goal is to be a successful Elite Series pro, he has placed limits on how long he will pursue it.

“I don’t want to spend my next 25 years chasing this dream,” Smith said. “But I’m going to give it my all for six or eight years.”