Professional bass angler Chad Grigsby of Maple Grove needed a first-place finish on Michigan’s Lake St. Clair earlier this month to qualify for the upcoming grand finale in the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW).
In similar fashion to the 2016 star performance by colleague Seth Feider of Bloomington, Grigsby pulled it off. His four-day haul of 20 bass weighing a total of 97-plus pounds earned him the grand prize of $125,000 and one of the final roster spots in FLW’s elite Forrest Wood Cup championship in Hot Springs, Ark. Grigsby rose 20 spots in FLW’s standings to make the cut.
“That was my only shot, and it worked out,” said Grigsby, a 16-year veteran of FLW who previously won just one other regular-season championship in his circuit. “I was really being aggressive.”
For a couple reasons, Grigsby’s win on July 1 at Lake St. Clair near Detroit was reminiscent of Feider’s long shot win of a Bassmaster tournament on Mille Lacs in the fall of 2016. Like Grigsby’s triumph, Feider’s win vaulted him into his tour’s signature tournament — a bonus round exclusive to the season’s top point accumulators.
Secondly, Feider was well-accustomed to Mille Lacs just as Grigsby was accustomed to Lake St. Clair — a body of water more than twice the size of Mille Lacs located between Lake Huron and Lake Erie.
“I’ve fished in more than 20 tournaments on that lake,” Grigsby said. “This time I found ’em on the south shore.’’
Mainly using a sinking bait with dual propellers on the final day of competition, he hauled in five bass weighing a whopping 26.5 pounds in just 90 minutes of fishing.
“It was one of those deals that a guy just dreams about,” he said.
Grigsby, 45, grew up in tiny Colon, Mich., the “Magic Capital of the World.” His connection to Minnesota is through his wife, Bridget (Berglund), who grew up in Anoka, the “Halloween Capital of the World.” The two met when Bridget was working in marketing for parent company FLW Outdoors, owned by Minneapolis entrepreneur Irwin Jacobs. They married in St. Paul in 2005 and have lived in Maple Grove ever since.
Grigsby’s only job is fishing. His chief sponsor is Mountain Dew and a recent 10-year average of his income rounded out to $87,000.
He said Feider has joined him at various fishing events, but neither of them has extra time to hang out. Grigsby said he’s so busy with fishing, sponsors and raising two daughters that he rarely even gets to Mille Lacs for recreation. He’ll sneak away once and while to fish for bass on Lake Minnetonka, he said, but otherwise the only nontournament fishing he does is at his family cabin on Lac Courte Oreilles south of Hayward, Wis.
This year, Grigsby’s FLW season will end Aug. 10-12 on Lake Ouachita in Arkansas. For preparation, Grigsby plans to arrive in the area around Aug. 1. FLW spokesman Brian Johnson said the only other Minnesotans in the 56-person field at the Forrest Wood Cup are Austin Felix of Eden Prairie and Chad Foster of Pequot Lakes.