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Klein, Grigsby find Bass Fishing mother lode in gold country

By Craig Lamb
Great Outdoor Games staff

RENO, Nev. — In the same region of northern California where history was made during the California gold rush, a lake is nestled in the hills where 10 anglers prospected for gold of a different kind.

Over the course of two days, they mined for bass on Folsom Lake, site of the Bass Fishing event of the ESPN Great Outdoor Games.

Shaw Grigsby (left) & Gary Klein
Shaw Grigsby, left, the defending Bass Fishing gold medalist, and Gary Klein cleaned up on the event for a victory on Folsom Lake.
By high noon Saturday, Floridian Shaw Grigsby and Texan Gary Klein had struck a bass fishing mother lode, winning the gold medal over some of the top names in the sport.

The conclusion was particularly significant to Klein, who had settled for the silver medal at the two previous Great Outdoor Games. Grigsby, the defending gold medalist, could not have been happier for his teammate.

"I really wanted this for him more than myself," he said. "Gary is just a phenomenal angler and to see him win this on a lake near where he grew up was the icing on the cake."

With the gold all but determined after yesterday's qualifying round when Grigsby and Klein's cumulative weight was more than double the nearest challengers, Saturday was merely about who won the silver and bronze medals.

Even so, Grigsby and Klein nearly doubled their weight again, winning the contest with a two-day score of 31 pounds, 6 ounces.

Davy Hite and Clark Wendlandt made up the silver medal team with a weight of 17-14, while veteran pro anglers Denny Brauer and Rick Clunn collected the bronze with a score of 12-8.

Grigsby and Klein, two of the most formidable powers in pro bass fishing, orchestrated an ingenious game plan the average angler can apply on any lake where schools of baitfish are prevalent during the summer months.

Shaw Grigsby & Gary Klein
Grigsby and Klien share the spotlight.
"What we did was let the bait show us where to fish," said Klein. "Too many times, anglers rely on rockpiles and brushpile-structure and habitat-to pattern fish in the summertime."

"On lakes like this one the baitfish are on the move during summer and the bass follow them, so that makes keying on structure somewhat irrelevant," he continued. "What we did was use our electronics to find the bait and then the fish."

The team also leveraged a rarely exploited approach to bass fishing that anglers sharing a boat should apply in their leisure outings.

"One of the most overlooked things is guys don't work together as a team," reasoned Grigsby. "For example, a guy catches a fish on a lure and the other guy immediately ties on the same thing. So now you've got two guys fishing the same bait. I'm not saying that's all wrong but the majority of the time it is."

"When we were moving through an area we were working different baits," added Klein. "Anytime we went into an area we'd work different angles. One of us worked shallow while the other went deep. It paid off on several occasions because the other guy would be the backup."

The winning team not only dominated the contest but had fun all they way. After meeting the seven-bass limit, Grigsby and Klein went fishing to burn time until time to trailer their Triton tournament rig.

While their peers struggled to catch at least a couple of fish, the bullies of Folsom were hooking into doubles. According to Klein, they caught 25 keepers both days and could have doubled the catch with a full day of fishing.

Their pattern was fundamentally grounded in locating roaming schools of pond smelt relating to long, tapering points extending into the main lake. With the bait acting as the drawing card for the bass, the game plan was put into execution.

The mechanics of the strategy involved a three-step approach. First, Klein randomly selected and then approached a long, tapering point. With the boat at idle speed, he moved across the spine of the point until reaching the magical 25-30 foot depth range where pond smelt held during the week

If bait was detected on the electronics the boat was stopped and the baits put into the water. An absence of bait meant moving on to another point.

With little more than six hours to spend fishing on Folsom Lake, Grigsby and Klein chose two lures that allowed them to work the entire water column. In the early morning they made ultra-long casts across the points with the Heddon Super Spook.

After the heat of the sun drove the bass and bait into deeper water, the anglers switched to a drop shot rig consisting of a No. 1 sproat-shaped hook and a 4-inch Roboworm Special FX finesse worm. The rig was completed with a 10-inch monofilament drop leader and -ounce tungsten sinker, a heavier than usual weight with good reason, according to Klein.

"With the bait and bass on the bottom we wanted to get the lure quickly in front of them," he reasoned. "So all we did was pitch it out into the wad of bait and work it back to the boat."

Grigsby and Klein, longtime friends on the tournament trail, will fish from separate boats when they both compete in the Bassmaster Classic on the sprawling Louisiana Delta near New Orleans. The stakes will be high-$200,000 goes to the winner-and there is only one world champion.

In the meantime they will cherish the memory of two old friends sharing a boat together for a fishing outing, the fundamental reason why the sport exists in the first place.

Final Results — Bass Fishing

1. Gary Klein/Shaw Grigsby, 31 pounds, 6 ounces
2. Clark Wendlandt/Davy Hite, 17-14
3. Rick Clunn/Denny Brauer, 12-8
4. Ron Shuffield/Peter Thliveros, 11-11
5. Jerry Shawver/Zell Rowland 4-4