We recently had the chance to connect with Sheldon Grace to discuss his record-breaking Florida Shoal Bass! Thanks for your time Sheldon, and congrats!
How did you get into kayak fishing?
Several years ago, my uncle bought a fishing kayak. My dad and I would use my grandfather’s old stumpknocker canoe so we could go on float trips with him. I had a blast floating the local creeks and rivers so for Christmas my family surprised me with my first kayak.
What’s your favorite kayak and why?
My favorite kayak is what I fish out of now, a Jackson Coosa. In my opinion, the Coosa is the best kayak ever made for fishing creeks and small rivers. Being able to stand and fish is a big deal for me. The Coosa handles moving water with ease. I’ve even been down a few Class III rapids. My current model is a 2012 Coosa but I am hoping to upgrade to a newer model in the near future. Even though the body style hasn’t changed on the Coosa, I really like the upgraded seat on the new model.
What are your favorite lures to throw on the river?
It depends on which river I’m fishing but some of the most common I use are swim jigs, chatterbaits, and flipping jigs. I also like to use jerk baits on the Chipola.
Were you chasing the Florida Shoal Bass Record?
Yes, it was always in the back of my mind because I knew the record was attainable. State records are nice but they’re no substitute for time on the water with family and friends.
Talk me through the catch. When did you know it was a big Shoal Bass?
I was standing up in my Jackson Kayak floating down some light rapids. When I got to the end of the rapids there was a tree that stretched all the way across the river except for a little spot on the left side. There was an eddy on the right side so I launched a cast into the eddy. My jig was sinking to the bottom when I felt a thump. It felt just like the bite of a 5 plus pound largemouth I caught earlier in the day. Right then I knew it was a good fish. I reeled down and set the hook hard which pulled me into the eddy. That probably saved me from floating into the tree. Instantly, she peeled drag when I set the hook so I knew it was definitely a good fish. I fought her for about 15 seconds before I saw her. The water was super clear so I could tell it was least a 5 pounder. I remember yelling to my uncle, “It’s at least 5!” She ran under my boat and then came out and surfaced for the first time. When she surfaced, I sat down hoping to land her. She started to head shake on top of the water heading my way. My jig flew out of her mouth when she got about a foot away from me. I quickly grabbed her by the mouth, pulled her out and said a quick, “Thank you, Jesus!” I put her between my legs and paddled to the side where my uncle was waiting. My uncle took one look and said, “Dude, you just caught the state record.”
You don’t have to tell me, but you know people are curious. What did you catch it on?
A black and blue jig only because I broke off all my other colors.