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Mercury Pro angler Mark Rose of Wynne, Arkansas, put an exclamation point on “heavy” last week at the inaugural Major League Fishing Toyota Heavy Hitters tournament by catching the week’s largest bass.
Mercury Pro angler Mark Rose of Wynne, Arkansas, put an exclamation point on “heavy” last week at the inaugural Major League Fishing Toyota Heavy Hitters tournament by catching the week’s largest bass – a massive 9-pound, 2-ounce largemouth that netted him a $25,000 bonus.
The MLF event, held June 7-12 on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, offered big paychecks for anglers catching the biggest fish. Competing for the $745,000 in total prize money were 79 of the 80 contestants on MLF’s Pro Tour.
Rose, who runs a Ranger Z520L powered by a Mercury 4.6L V8 250hp ProXS, caught the big fish on the second day of the six-day tournament. Rose, 48, also caught a 7-12 bass, on his way to win the Knockout Round on Day 5 with 13 fish for 52 pounds, 5 ounces.
Jordan Lee of Cullman, Alabama, was the tournament champion, catching the most bass (12) the biggest fish (7-4) and the most weight (52-9) of the Championship Round. A three-pound minimum instituted for the championship round is thought to be a first for bass tournament fishing.
While Rose’s big bass was the only fish over 9 pounds, anglers in the field also caught six 8-pounders, 11 7-pounders, 16 6-pounders, and 45 5-pounders.
Rose finished third in the Championship Round, landing five fish over the three-pound minimum for a total of 21-14. Fellow Mercury Pro Skeet Reese joined Rose in the Championship Round of Heavy Hitters. The pro from Auburn, California, consistently caught three- to five-pound fish each day and finished fifth in the championship, with five fish totaling 17-12 in the final round.
Rose credited fishing isolated patches of deeper cover with setting himself apart from the field. He fished grass and brush piles in slightly deeper water – six to seven feet – while most of the field fished four to five feet.
Rose found the cover during the two-day practice period using the side-scanning feature on his electronics.
“I set the scan range out to 100 feet and made laps back and forth,” he said. “I fished 50 percent of the time and scanned around looking for that isolated cover the other half of the time.”
The effort paid dividends during the competition.
“As you start doing well, other people (competitors and local anglers) can see what you’re doing,” said Rose. “This cover was so isolated I didn’t have to worry much about that. I probably had about eight brush piles and eight good grass clumps. The areas were about the size of my truck. There were maybe two to three fish per piece of cover, and I felt like new fish would be pulling up on the cover each day.”
When the sun was out and conditions were “slick” calm, Rose threw light line on a spinning rod with a small finesse worm, a light-wire hook, and one-sixteenth to one-eighth ounce weights.
“So many times, when it is slick and calm, the fish can hear everything going on around them,” said Rose. “A light presentation was critical then. When the wind blew, I used bigger worms and a little heavier tackle, but being quiet was important.”
On the topic of being quiet, Rose also gave credit to his 250 Pro XS outboard. While he was fishing deeper water than most anglers, six to seven feet is still considered shallow.
“That FourStroke is so quiet idling in that shallow water,” said Rose, “I think it really helps, especially in calm conditions.”
In addition to catching the biggest fish of the tournament, Rose also recorded one of the most memorable catches of the week. In the same location he caught the 9-2, a fish he hooked during the Championship Round tangled his line in a brush pile. With time winding down on the period, Rose removed his microphone and jumped into the water. With only 10 seconds remaining, he managed to free the fish from the brush pile and swim back to the boat to register a legal catch.