Never Stop Learning – Grayson Smith

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” This is especially true in the sport of bass fishing. I, along with many others, have spent numerous hours browsing through internet and magazine articles, tournament recaps, and YouTube videos in order to further expand my knowledge of this great sport. How to rig a bait, the best color to use, the proper way to fish it, or the time of day to throw it are just a few of the many topics I’ve studied. Reading these articles has gotten me a solid base to learn new techniques. However, there is no amount of reading that you can do to completely understand and effectively fish a technique, bait, or condition.

When I first began competing in bass tournaments, I was as unknowledgeable about the sport as I could possibly be. I’m fortunate enough to have several close friends that are really strong tournament fishermen. I would regularly call on these friends anytime I had any questions; and let me tell you, I had a lot of them! All too often, when the weather would get right and one of these friends would have an open afternoon, I would slip out of class and rush to the lake and hop in the boat with one of them. Whether we were throwing a football jig on the Kentucky Lake ledges, flipping bushes on Barkley Lake, casting a shad rap on Beech Lake, or anything in between, I was absorbing everything like a sponge!

One highlight from my early career was a Wednesday afternoon tournament with my good buddy, Andy Salmon. He asked if I felt like entering the weekly tournament, and since we were already planning on going fishing, I told him I would cover the entry. That was one of my first tournaments, and with the water up in the buck brush, it was a fun afternoon to say the least! Andy put on an absolute clinic for me that evening, and we (well he) took 2nd place. Although I wasn’t able to catch any of the fish we weighed in, I was able to watch him and figure out exactly the best way to pick apart the areas we were fishing as well as how to effectively fish them. Taking that knowledge with me, along with other fishing trips’ experiences, I am significantly more confident when the water gets in the bushes. This is just one story of many which have helped me further develop as a fisherman.

grayson smith2Last year, I was fortunate enough to win a Bassmaster Open tournament as a co-angler on Lake Logan Martin (See interview here). I had an awesome first day with Bo Hunter which had me in 2nd place, but slipped on day 2 when I fished with Shane Lineberger. Even though we rarely fished a jerkbait that day, he gave me a tip for fishing a jerkbait that I would have never thought to try. On day 3, I decided to take his advice and try it, and because of that, I was able to catch over 11 pounds for 3 fish, which took me from 12th place to 1st. I will remember that tip every time I go back to the Coosa River now.

Another example of a technique I picked up strictly from being in the right boat in a pro-am format, is the swim jig. Pretty much every bass fisherman has heard of the swim jig, and very likely caught fish on one. I, on the hand, had never caught a fish on one before this year. I owned a box of them that had never made it to the water. I drew Tom Monsoor as my Pro at the fourth stop of the 2014 Walmart FLW Tour on Beaver Lake. He only threw a swim jig for a few minutes-but just being able to see the way he fished it, where he fished it, and how he rigged it-showed me what I needed to know to try it for myself on my home lake. As soon as I got back home to Tennessee, I decided I was going to start catching fish on it. Within three weeks, I was holding the third place trophy in the B.A.S.S. Nation Tennessee State Tournament on Barkley Lake, with every fish I caught coming from a swim jig. If I didn’t take the time to study the way he was fishing the swim jig, I would not have tried fishing it.

My fishing career has been, and hopefully always will be, about learning. Every angler has a different technique, strategy, or thought process that sets them apart. Co-anglers have the biggest opportunity possible to take bits and pieces away from every boater they fish with, and put it together. Whether it’s the attitude, the way they flip bushes, or the way they power fish a certain bait, we are allowed into their world, and given the opportunity to take that for ourselves. Whether you’re a first time tournament angler or a tour level champion, make sure to hop in the boat with someone else, keep an open mind, and I promise you will learn a lot!

Bio:

Circuits Fished: Bassmaster Weekend Series, Bassmaster Southern Opens, FLW Everstart at Kentucky Lake, Montgomery County Bass Club

Years Co: 4

Favorite Technique: Throwing a 6XD or dragging a 3/4 strike king football jig on ledges

Hobbies aside from Fishing: I work as a civil engineer in Clarksville, TN. I also like to play golf and duck hunt.

Sponsors: DBS & Associates EngineeringWyatt-Johnson AutomotiveCumberland Bank and TrustOdom’s Blue and Gray MarineMercury MarineStrike King Lure Company, Triton Boats, Lowrance, The Rod Glove, Vicious Fishing