Ross Grothe Will Make Things Happen by Fishing More in 2011
Apr 12th, 2011 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Apr 12th, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Ross Grothe is proud of all the lessons he learned from his dad. He’s especially thankful that nearly 20 years ago, when Ross expressed his desire to give competitive walleye a shot from the pro’s side of the boat, he received his blessing.
Ross said, “He wanted me to go pro because he didn’t want me to live life wishing I would have.” Unfortunately his biggest supporter died very young several years ago. Now, he has the support of wife Karisa, who makes sacrifices while Ross is on the road. They have two boys, ages one and four.
The construction trades have all but dried up in his region of Minnesota (near hometown of Northfield), which caused this company owner to say, “Instead of waiting for things to happen in construction, I intend to create opportunities in the fishing industry. I will get more involved.” That “more” begins in Winneconne, Wisconsin, because this year he will fish the AIM and FLW circuits, a heavier tournament schedule than he’s fished in many years.
In his view, the solution to the walleye tournament game is simple, “We need more pros to enter. That will kick up the purses, and more individuals will win more money.” With more anglers, more news occurs, and this will spur the industry. When asked how he rose to the level of one of the top-ranked pro anglers, he smiled, and humbly thanked those who gave him a start.
He grew up fishing on Mille Lacs, competed in a few small tournaments, but watched the formation of the professional tour. In 1994, he decided to check it out and signed up to fish the PWT as an amateur. He did it in style, traveling with Sam and Dave Anderson and Mark Brumbaugh. “I had only seen Lake Superior, and only been out of state a few times prior to that.
“My summer was awesome. Those friends prepared me mentally while teaching me what I would have to do and who I was up against. This experience gave me the drive to go pro,” he said. The first tournament was on Lake Erie, and during pre-fishing he rode with the pros, and came away with the art of tying spinners, using boards, and targeting suspended walleyes. He moved west to Mobridge next, and continues to be amazed at the variety of Missouri River’s faces. That year it was high water. “I’ve seen this river in all its moods, from great fishing to so-so fishing and back again; and from high water to almost no water,” he said.
He complimented the pros he fished with, like Hutch in South Dakota. He was fortunate to witness something on Lake Winnebago while trolling with Greg Horoky. “We had nothing at 2 p.m. and were trolling back to weigh-in. All of a sudden a board went back, and a 6 ½ pounder was in the boat. The rest is history,” he said. Horoky won by the largest margin, and could have stayed on shore the final day. Ross said, “Right then, I knew fishing was a ‘never-give-up’ sport.” He also fished Saginaw Bay with a pro who got lost and didn’t make it back until after check-in time.
“Fishing a Pro-Am tournament is the best bang for a buck an angler can get.”
Ross said. “Travel with a buddy and enjoy time on the water learning from someone wants to catch fish.”
From those early Mille Lacs years, he knew that little things were critical. From a year on tour as an amateur, he learned to always be prepared. Coupled with that was an extremely positive attitude. He said, “I was successful with hunting, and knew that I could hunt down the fish.”
That he has done in 16 years as a pro, winning more than $500,000, including a 2006 FLW tournament victory. He has 14 second-place finishes as a pro, including three in his sophomore season, which resulted in the Angler of the Year title.
Riding his Yamaha-wrapped Ranger for the past six years, Ross has been working more closely with his outboard sponsor than ever before. “I’ve been with Yamaha for 11 years, and the relationship has grown over the years,” he said. Now his role has expanded to include regular correspondence with the regional sales team, product development, key liaison with pro staffers by answering their questions, forwarding their feedback, making boat show assignments and boat-test rides for dealers and appearing in Yamaha-sponsored TV shows around the country (some Texas show hosts will fish walleyes with him this season).
Last year several Yamaha engineers fished with him to learn the precise demands walleye anglers place on their kicker motors. “Yamaha is using me more because they have confidence in me. This is a great long-term relationship,” he said. He also works closely with Ranger, Lowrance, Smooth Moves seat mounts, Fenwick, Berkley, Abu Garcia, DeeZee and Northland Fishing Tackle.
Fishing as a pro taught Ross much about life and his list of lessons follows:
1. You get out what you put into it.
2. There’s no easy route.
3. Keep a positive attitude.
4. Don’t focus on a lost fish; concentrate on the next one you’re about to catch.
5. Treat everyone with respect.
6. The fishing industry is real small.
7. Little things make a big difference, from bait quality to the way a Tattle Flag is set.
8. Be prepared for the next day before going to bed.
9. Know the fisheries.
10. Adapt and adjust to all the changes from zebra mussels to the forage base to the water levels.
11. Find fish.
12. Do your homework – get maps, talk with locals, check the internet, know all you can before leaving home.
13. Fish for fun; spend time on the water for all species.
14. You will never know it all; know as much as you can.
The biggest lessons remain: never give up; things could always be worse; and
make the best of every day. Ross also wondered, “How did we ever catch fish without $10,000 worth of crank baits?”