UT Martin graduate ‘catching’ on in Bassmaster events
Posted: Monday, May 27, 2013 12:00 pm
Last weekend, a dream came true for a good friend of mine, avid young bass fisherman Grayson Smith of Clarksville a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin. He won the co-angler side of the BassMaster Southern Open on Logan Martin Lake near Pell City, Ala.
On the last day, he finished with a three-bass limit that went 10 pounds, 3 ounces. His 24-pound, 1-ounce overall total allowed him to walk away with a certificate for a fully rigged Triton 17 Pro bass boat with a Mercury 115 Pro XS motor with all the bells and whistles (trolling motor, electronics, trailer, etc.) worth well over $25,000.
Remarkably, Smith has finished in the co-angler division’s Top 12 in each of the three Bassmaster Southern Opens this year. The odds are good that you’ll see Smith fishing the Bassmaster Southern Opens next year as a pro.
Not only did Grayson win this event, he also won the Angler Of The Year award, which meant out of the three tournaments he fished, he accumulated the most amount of points. He also did something no one else has ever done in any of the Open events: He placed in the top 12 for all three professional tournaments on the co-angler side. If you make the top 12 after the second day of each event, you fish the championship day, which is Day 3.
Here is how Grayson’s season played out. He finished 12th overall in the first event on Lake Toho Event back a couple of months ago. Then his second event fished on Douglas Lake a month or so ago he finished 6th. Then last week he finished first. He did this fishing against more than 175 co-anglers in each of the events.
Grayson, 23, is the son of Nita and David Smith of Clarksville. He also has a brother, Houston, whom I met also while he attended and graduated from UTM. Houston was on the ground level of creating the University of Tennessee at Martin Collegiate Bass Team and his younger brother Grayson followed his path and also served as club president. I have been somewhat involved with the UTM Collegiate bass team since just after they formed several years ago giving advice and sponsorship ideas for the team.
The Smith family owns and operates DBS & Associates Engineering in Clarksville. Houston has traveled the Open’s trail and has fished all three this season.
I asked Grayson in a phone interview while he was prefishing for a national collegiate bass fishing event this weekend on Pickwick Lake, “What do your parents think about you wanting to try fishing for a living before coming home and working in the family business?”
He said, “Mom and Dad are supportive but I needed to prove myself in winning a big tournament and now I have.”
Well, unless something changes, Grayson will be fishing the pro side as a boater in next year’s events with future plans of making the BassMaster Elite Series.
Grayson said he couldn’t do what he has already done without his sponsors. “I have been lucky to have some people and companies step up and offer to help, not only my family business of DBS & Associates Engineering, Cumberland Bank and Trust, Wyatt-Johnson Automotive, Mercury Marine, Odoms Blue & Gray Marine in Paris and Strike King Lure Company in Collierville.”
This season, Grayson has had the privilege of sharing the boat and fishing out the back of boats with my friend Clay Dyer, Tracy Adams (whom I fished with in the 2006 FLW Tour Event on Kentucky Lake), Terry Seagraves and Paul Elias. These are full-time touring professional fishermen who are well-known in the industry.
Grayson was also able to sit down with another one of my BassMaster Elite Series Pros, Mark Menendez to ask him questions and get advice of maybe wanting to test the waters of being a professional bass fisherman full-time.
Grayson, you have a very bright future whether it is fishing or working at your family business. You have been proven that one dream has already come true with many more to follow. Best wishes, Grayson.
Reelfoot National Wild-life Refuge will be hosting its 22nd Annual Youth Fishing Rodeo on June 8th.
The fishing rodeo will be held at the ponds near the refuge headquarters on Highway 157, one mile off of Highway 22, and is open to kids 12 years old and younger.
Registration will begin at 7 a.m. and the event ends at noon. Only live bait will be allowed. Prizes donated by local sponsors will be given away during the rodeo. Hotdogs, hamburgers, drinks and cookies will be provided at no cost while supplies last. The staff at West Tennessee Refuge invites you to join us for a day full of family fun. Staff members will be there to assist with all activities. “You will experience excitement, amusement, and entertainment as youngsters experience the joy of fishing, some for the first time,” a spokesman said.
For additional information concerning the fishing rodeo, contact the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge (731) 538-2481.
• You can introduce your kids to nature by letting them explore their surroundings during a five-day camp at Reelfoot Lake June 3-7. The Reelfoot Lake State Park and the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge are teaming together to offer an awesome outdoor adventure for children ages 6-12 years old to experience Reelfoot Lake to its fullest.
The camp runs from 1 p.m.-4:30 p.m. and will meet each day at the Reelfoot Lake State Park. Each day will focus on a different topic — Wildlife Day, Boating Safety, Survival Day, Duck Commander Day and Water Day. Activities scheduled are bird of prey, reptile and animal pelt presentations. Hike along the state parks’ boardwalk to search for critters. Youth will learn about water safety and take an interpretive pontoon boat ride. Fire starting, shelter building and first aid will be practiced. Youth will learn about the importance of waterfowl identification, hear and see someone performing duck calling, and participate in a duck decoy painting contest. Water quality testing will be performed by participants, as well as learning the basics of fishing. Please pack a lunch, sunscreen and bug repellent. Children need to wear closed toed shoes. Registration is required.
Make reservations now, only 40 slots available. Call the Reelfoot Lake State Park for sign up at 731-253-9652.
• Back by popular demand and join Refuge Ranger Tara Dowdy on May 31 for “Winding Through the Wetlands,” a guided canoe trip through the historical “Glory Hole” area of Reelfoot Lake. This free event will last about 3 1/2 hours as canoeists wind through the trails into some of the more remote areas of the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge. A variety of flora and fauna may be seen on the trip, including wood ducks, ospreys, herons, egrets, snakes, and variety of plants such as lily pads, swamp rose mallow, flooded cypress trees, and much more.
Meet at the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center at 7:30 a.m. “We will leave the visitor center and drive to the Grassy Island boat ramp, where we will launch the canoes promptly at 8 a.m. and end at about 11:30 a.m.,” a spokesman said.
Canoes will not be available for rent. Participants must bring their own canoe or kayak. Due to the duration of the float, sunscreen is strongly recommended, as well as hats and sunglasses. You may also want to bring your own drinks and snacks. Registration is required.
If the event is cancelled due to inclement weather, it will not be rescheduled.
For further information, or to make reservations, contact Tara Dowdy at the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge at (731) 538-2481, Monday-Friday at 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
There have been a recent rash of drowning on Reelfoot Lake. This year, there have already been three people drown on Reelfoot Lake in the month of May. Two drowned on May 1 with the other drowning May 9. Five have drowned over the past 14 months while on the Reelfoot Lake waters. None of these folks was wearing a life vest of personal floatation device. Weather played a role in most of them.
Accidents are going to happen but some could have been prevented. It is kinda like wearing your seat belt while driving your car; it increases the likelihood of you surviving and sometimes sustaining severe injuries. Wearing a PFD most of the time will likely save your life while being on the water.
I personally would like to see a law put into place requiring that when you enter any public body of water, you must wear a PFD while the motor is running as well as the boat is moving.
Many professional fishing tournaments as well as other open fishing tournaments require all who are fishing they must have their PFD at anytime the boat motor is cranked as well as the boat is moving under power.
This is summer’s first official holiday weekend. If you plan to get out on the water, do me a favor: Wear your life vest PFD, do not try to our run a storm on the water, pay attention to the weather forecast and do not drive your boat while drinking alcohol. You don’t want to become a part of the statistics.
Hope everyone has a good and safe holiday weekend.
Til next week’s column,
Catch ya on the water folks.
Published in The Messenger 5.24.13