INSIDE BASS: GRIGSBY RECOVERING NICELY

While his fellow Bassmaster Elite 50 pros are competing in Mississippi, Shaw Grigsby is resting at his Gainesville, Fla., home and recuperating from a triple-bypass heart surgery that was deemed a big success.

Grigsby, one of the most popular pros on the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer, will be off of the water for the next six weeks.

"I'm doing great," he said. "I'm probably 80-90 percent already, so I can't wait to get back. I haven't been able to sit around and do nothing for a long time. So it's kind of cool."

The Grigsby family has been inundated with phone calls, e-mail and flowers from well-wishers. One of Grigsby's sponsors, Strike King's Ray Murski, even sent a deer mount that was delivered to his room in the intensive care unit. (Grigsby had harvested the 8-point buck on Murski's Texas ranch last season.)

"I am certainly appreciative of all of the e-mails and flowers and plants and everything," Grigsby said. "It gave me a lot of strength that I'm sure helped my recovery.

"I'm pointing toward returning for the (ESPN) Great Outdoor Games in early July. I'll probably want to fish the last Elite 50, but that's a little too soon for my doctors and that might be rushing things."

SWINDLE HOOKED. Recently crowned CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle had added another title to his collection - husband.

The 34-year-old Alabama pro recently married longtime girlfriend LeAnn at a wedding attended by several friends and fellow fishing pros. At that moment, one of the Tour's most high-profile bachelors became a husband to LeAnn and father to her daughter, Whitney.

BASSMASTER ELITE 50 FANFARE. To 2002 CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion and 2003 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year Jay Yelas, one of the greatest aspects of the new Bassmaster Elite 50 series has been the fan response.

"That was the biggest crowd I've ever seen at a (CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail) event," Yelas said. "And everybody really enjoyed themselves. There was a lot for people to do. I just enjoyed the whole thing.

"The people in Russellville (Ark.) said it was the best show they've ever had there. And that it was better fireworks than they have on the Fourth of July. I had a bunch of people tell me that. The people were impressed. I talked to a lot of them. Like these gals that aren't fishermen and came with their husbands. I asked them what they liked about it. They said it reminded them of a NASCAR race. There's a lot of excitement going on and a lot of things to do. One lady told me it reminded her of going to the fair. So people were really enjoying it. Even non-fishermen were enjoying it."

DID YOU KNOW? Missouri is home to the most CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year winners with three (Rick Clunn, Guido Hibdon and Denny Brauer), followed by Arkansas (Mark Davis and Larry Nixon), Texas (Jay Yelas and Gary Klein), North Carolina (Hank Parker and David Fritts) and now Alabama (Tim Horton and Gerald Swindle) with two each.

PRO BIRTHDAYS. Former CITGO Bassmaster Classic winner Paul Elias (53), California's Robert Lee (36) and Oklahoma's Jeff Kriet (35) all share May 19 as their birthday. Alabama pro Dalton Bobo will be 47 on May 30, while Zell Rowland turns 47 on the same day. Fellow Texan Harold Allen will be 59 on June 2. Tennessee's Jack Wade becomes 48 on June 8.

IF I HADN'T BECOME A BASS PRO. Tour pro Tim Carroll of Oklahoma, who has qualified for the 2004 Classic, would likely still be working as a mechanic.

THEY SAID IT. "It's really about all of the people I've been able to meet. The people within and outside the industry, along with the fans, are what this sport is all about. It's one of the best parts about it. Right behind it, though, is the fact that I get to make a living at something I absolutely love. I had a lot of people tell me there was no way. If I had a dollar for everybody that told me I couldn't do it, I could probably retire right now. To be able to look back today and say, 'Hey, I'm doing it,' that's pretty neat." 2004 Tour winner Marty Stone on the best part of being a professional angler.