New Elite: Chad Grigsby

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James Overstreet
Chad Grigsby was once fired for fishing too much.

When Shaw Grigsby’s wife Polly introduced herself to him at an ICAST convention, she told Chad Grigsby she wanted to meet him because she gets asked all the time if he is Shaw’s son.

“I get asked if I’m Shaw’s son about 60 times at a tournament,” said Chad. “I’ll have guys come up and say I fished with your dad in 1992 and sometimes I feel bad to tell them that I am not related to him.”

However, the Bassmaster Elite Series newcomer hopes to have as successful of a professional bass fishing career as fellow Elite Series competitor Shaw Grigsby.

“I plan on doing this just as long as my dad, Shaw, who is not really my dad,” quipped Chad. “My long term goal is obviously just to compete, be consistent and make a good living at it.”

Even though he has the same last name as Shaw, Chad Grigsby has related more to Kevin VanDam throughout the years because their hometowns were only about 30 miles apart in Michigan.

“When I was growing up, I would watch what he did, and it is great to see what he has become since I lived that close to him,” said Grigsby, who now lives in Maple Grove, Minn.

His passion for fishing developed when the 6-year-old Grigsby started fishing for bass, bluegill and whatever else he could catch from farm ponds. He recalls fishing competitively for the first time at age 17 in a night tournament, which is a rarity in Michigan.

“In the first 10 minutes, I caught a 4-pounder and got it in the box,” Grigsby said. “I think we got two more after that and we finished about 30th out of the 50 boats.”

Competing in larger local and regional tournaments was Grigsby’s next step on his path to the Elite Series.

“Luckily, there were a few pretty big tournament trails around our house like a Tri-State tournament trail that would go to Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, and I won one of those tournaments,” he said “I went from there and fished some of the BFLs and some of the local 200-boat tournaments, and we won a boat one year.”

Grigsby spent 10 years juggling his tournament fishing with various jobs in advertising and sales with the Yellow Pages, then a boat dealership where he worked with Mark Zona, followed by a stint with a car dealership. The owner of the dealership agreed to give him time off to fish, but he eventually changed his mind when Grigsby kept missing work.

“The guy fired me for fishing too much,” he said.

His firing turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it allowed Grigsby to fish the last three tournaments of the 2002 FLW Tour season.

“Sometimes you need to be pushed over the ledge,” said Grigsby. It worked out, said Grigsby, because he made more money in winnings from those three tournaments than he did working the whole year selling trucks.

During his tenure with FLW, Grigsby has won one event and recorded 15 finishes in the Top 10. The highlights of his career were winning the 2011 FLW event at Kentucky Lake and finishing second behind George Cochran in the 2005 FLW Cup.

Grigsby fished in three B.A.S.S. events (one in 1995 and two in 2002) and decided to try the Bassmaster Central and Southern Opens in 2015 to qualify for the Elite Series. A third-place finish in the Southern Open at Lake Seminole helped Grigsby place eighth in the Southern Open points standings and earn an invitation to the Elites.

The Minnesota angler is looking forward to fishing the destinations on this year’s Elite schedule. “I think the schedule helps me because I am an early spring guy and a sight fishing guy,” he said. “I love it before the fish go offshore, and a lot of the tournaments revolve around the prespawn and spawn, so I think it will be a good year for me.”

Grigsby listed his goals for the Elite seasons are to win the Rookie of the Year award and qualify for the Bassmaster Classic.