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Retired Citrus County Sheriff Captain Trades his Badge for a Rod and Reel

By Donna Blevins, PhD

Ricky Grant worked for the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office for 25 years and retired last year with the rank of captain. Now, he has plenty of time to pursue his love of bass fishing full time. You might say he traded his badge for a rod and reel.

“I’ve always been an avid fisherman from saltwater to freshwater,” he said. When I heard about a local bass club 13 or 14 years ago, I started fishing in their Wednesday night tournaments and got hooked.

“The mere fact that I can catch a fish and win brings out my competitive edge,” he added. “I already loved fishing, but the challenge and competitiveness in the tournament world is addicting.”

Ricky, 47, is already salivating in anticipation of the arrival of the Third Annual 2018 Inverness Big Bass Classic: Sat., Mar. 24, at Liberty Park, on Lake Henderson, which is sponsored by the City of Inverness and Apopka Marine. It begins at sunup and goes to until 3 p.m.

“During my first Inverness Big Bass Classic three years ago, I won $2,000 and missed another $1,000 by only two ounces!” Ricky said. “I can’t believe I am able to fish in a tournament and win that kind of money in my own county!”

Joe Bega, owner of Apopka Marine, is also a believer. He’s expecting about 130 boats to participate in this year’s bass fishing competition, and there’s a ton of money competitors can snag.

“Every hour, we’re giving away $1,000 for the biggest bass—even if you don’t know how to fish,” said Joe. “You can catch a bass that weighs 1½ pounds, and you still might win if no one has one bigger.”

There’s also a $1,000 prize for the biggest catch of the day; $1,000 for the biggest bass; $1,000 for female competitors with the biggest bass; and, if you happen to be fishing from a current model Skeeter Boat, you’ll be eligible to win an additional $3,000 prize, courtesy of Apopka Marine. Also, courtesy of Apopka Marine, Joe is offering a boat, motor and trailer to a junior angler under 16 years of age—all they have to do to be eligible is to put their name in a bucket, Joe said.

Joe expects a crowd of 1,500 people at Liberty Park to watch the hourly weigh-ins and see who nets the prizes.

“It’s a big deal,” said Joe.

Ricky agreed. He has a true winning mindset.

“When you lose, you always think back on the mistakes you made. When you have a horrible fishing day and see someone had a great day, you could beat yourself up. But I think the opposite. If they can figure it out, I can, too. Fish WERE biting that day. It WAS possible; the only reason I did not win was because of me. Let’s figure out how to fix that.”

Although Ricky has competed in about 300 fishing tournaments over the years, he always does his homework in advance.

 “In any sport, you have to prepare by practicing, which is what I do today. I rarely go ‘fun’ fishing, even when I hear fish are biting on a local lake. I go to where a tournament is coming up and learn techniques that might work well in that competition.”

And that includes figuring out the best bait to use.

“There’s no single key bait for Henderson Lake,” added Ricky. “You have to be versatile. I keep up to 10 rods on my deck with different bait on each. Need to figure out what works since you can only fish one rod at a time. Likely the best bait for our lake is soft plastic, watermelon red and June bug. That’s a good color for the water color.”

All the caught bass, which can tip the scales at more than 10 pounds, are returned to the water after being weighed.

When asked if he any secrets he could share, Ricky laughed.

“All fishermen have secrets,” he said. “They all tell lies. Don’t listen to dock talk.”

TO REGISTER: Go to: www.InvernessBigBassClassic.com. $85 for one or $170 for two anglers. This is NOT a team tournament. You are competing against the other angler on your boat. If space permits, you can register at Liberty Park, on Lake Henderson, but why wait?

About the author: Donna is a mindshift expert and author of MindShift On Demand: QUICK Life-Changing Tools.  Visit the book site at www.MindShiftOnDemand.com and reach her at Donna@DonnaBlevins.com.