Big Bag Puts Grimm Ounces Ahead at All-American - Major League Fishing
Big Bag Puts Grimm Ounces Ahead at All-American
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Big Bag Puts Grimm Ounces Ahead at All-American

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June 4, 2021 • Justin Onslow • Phoenix Bass Fishing League

Sometimes you get what you ask for. Brant Grimm certainly did on Day 2 of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine All-American at Douglas Lake

Day 1 saw the Church Hill, Tennessee angler weigh-in 13-4, good for ninth place overall heading into Friday. At the time, he talked about the weather conditions (overcast and rainy to start the tournament) and how the sunny forecast for Day 2 could be a boon for him and his offshore bite.

“I think [the weather] hurt my bite,” Grimm said after stepping off the weigh-in stage Thursday. “I need a big bite. I had average fish. I need a big bite. Sunshine won’t hurt a thing. That’ll definitely help.”

It was almost prophetic then that Grimm hammered on his offshore schools Friday to take a 3-ounce lead over Day 1 leader Leslie Brandenburg with a tournament-best 19 pounds, 1 ounce for a 32-5 two-day total.

Grimm lives just an hour from Douglas Lake and neighboring Cherokee Lake (fisheries he calls his home waters), so it really comes as no surprise that he’s found the success he has in the first two days of the tournament. While some anglers falter on their home waters, Grimm has stuck with what traditionally works on Douglas’ ample offshore schools in the summer months.

Utilizing a shad-colored Strike King 6XD crankbait, Grimm has been bouncing around between several offshore spots – some community holes and some “sneakier than the average,” he says – not really running a rotation but fishing what he can get to at any given time. On Day 1, that resulted in three fish on his first three casts. On Day 2, it was a 19-plus limit in the early going that he never could quite improve upon throughout the day.

“My fish bit a little better today than they did yesterday, and we had a great day,” he says. “I caught a lot of fish. I never could cull. I caught my weight pretty early and kept catching 3-pounders and couldn’t cull them.”

A good problem to have, no doubt, and while Grimm could probably use some of those fish for Championship Saturday, he doesn’t seem too worried about getting more big Douglas largemouth to eat tomorrow.

“I’m ready,” he says. “I’m ready to go. We could go right now.”

Day 3 looks to have more sunshine in store – good news for Grimm and bad news for everyone behind him. Now it just comes down to executing.

When Grimm found out he’d be fishing the All-American on one of his home lakes, the excitement took over.

“I haven’t been able to sleep for months,” he jokes.

One day away from a $100,000 check and his place in the record books, the nervous excitement has turned to confident enthusiasm.

“I’m going to sleep well tonight,” he says. 

And he’ll sleep even better tomorrow night if things go according to plan for one more sunny day of fishing.

Top 10 Boaters

1. Brant Grimm – 32 – 05 (10) 

2. Leslie Brandenburg – 32 – 02 (10)   

3. Blake Tomlin – 31 – 01 (10)

4. Cody Hoyle – 29 – 07 (10)     

5. Roger Fitzpatrick – 27 – 10 (10)         

6. Austin Culbertson – 26 – 13 (10)       

7. Chris Baldwin – 26 – 12 (10)                 

8. Chris Nelson – 26 – 12 (10)  

9. Harmon Davis – 26 – 11 (10)                

10. Dale Pelfrey – 25 – 14 (10)

Complete Results

Hays Grabs Strike King Co-Angler Lead

Melinda Hays fished from the back of Grimm’s boat on Day 2, and while Grimm was certainly around the right fish to vault the pair into first place, it wasn’t an easy day for the Hot Springs, Arkansas co-angler. She had to earn her 15 pounds, 10 ounces worth of bites.

“I threw out right after he caught four [keepers] and I caught a small one. Compared to his, it looked like a baby,” Hays says. “It was pretty slow for me. I’m fishing different. I was just trying to [fish] behind him and make the most of every cast.”

Hays did just that, even when she really wasn’t intending to. Look no further than a 4-pounder that anchored her Day 2 bag and that seemingly just wanted to be caught.

“We moved to a different area and I swear God gave me a fish,” she says. “I was [winding] in a Carolina rig and one ate it. The days that come together that are magical, things like that happen.”

Hays leaned on the Carolina rig all day. Like co-anglers so often have to do, she chose a technique that’s a little slower, a little more finesse and a little more comfortable.

“I threw a Carolina rig the majority of the day,” she says. “It’s just something I feel really comfortable with and feel like I can catch them on.”

She may once again have the opportunity to let her rig do the heavy lifting again tomorrow. With Grimm and Hays both occupying the top spots in their respective divisions, they’ll be paired up again on Championship Saturday – an outcome Hays was hoping for as weigh-in was winding down on Friday.

“We ended up finding more schools for tomorrow, so hopefully we do get to fish [together] tomorrow,” she said. “He’s so much fun to fish with. We caught a ton of fish.”

While there are a ton more swimming around Douglas Lake for them to catch, Hays isn’t overly concerned with outcomes. Her goal was to fish on the final day. The rest is just icing on the cake.

“Honestly, to make it to the All-American was a dream come true,” she admits. “My goal to be here was to make the Top 10. It’s something I’ve talked about all week. I wanted to do that because my daughters were coming in and I wanted them to see me weigh. They’ve never gotten to see me on the big stage before, and I think it’s so important for them to see that and see that girls can compete alongside guys and do anything.

“I’ve accomplished my goal and I’ve met amazing people all week. Going into tomorrow, anything that happens would be a huge bonus. It would mean everything to me if I won, but I’ve already won because of all these other things that have already happened.”

Top 10 Strike King Co-Anglers

1. Melinda Hays – 23-14 (10)

2. Daniel Buswell Jr. – 23-6 (10)

3. Rex Henry – 23-0 (10)

4. Rod Mackinnon – 22-14 (9)

5. Chase Fitzpatrick – 22-0 (10)

6. Travis Garrett – 21-10 (10)

7. James Jarvis – 20-11 (10)

8. Ken Coats – 19-11 (10)

9. Andrew Starnes – 19-2 (10)

10. Dustin Elrod – 18-7 (10)

Complete Results