July 24, 2011 by Gary Mortenson
FLORENCE, Ala. - It's official - Mark Rose of Marion, Ark., owns Pickwick Lake. After netting an FLW Series tournament title here in 2007 and scoring an EverStart Series victory on the same body of water in 2009, Rose added another chapter to his Pickwick Lake legacy by winning today's FLW Tour title.
"I gave it all I had this week so it's pretty exciting to win," said Rose, who took home his first-ever FLW Tour title after holding down first place all four days of the event. "You can't help but feel emotional inside."
Out of Rose's four FLW Outdoors' titles, three have now come on Pickwick Lake. So what is his secret?
"Sometimes it kind of feels unexplainable," he said. "About four years ago, I decided I wanted to learn a lot more about offshore structure fishing, and I had some buddies who really helped me out. I worked really hard at it over those years to get better. Now I really understand the current, the lake and what's really going on out there. But it was a long, hard road getting here."
And today was no exception. Holding down a 7-pound lead heading into the finals, it was clearly Rose's tournament to lose. And amazingly enough, that's almost what happened.
"At about noon today I really thought it was slipping away from me," he said. "At that time I only had about 9 pounds in the boat, and it felt like I was fixing to blow a big opportunity."
With time ticking away and his once-stellar bite gradually fading, Rose was hopeful he could turn it around. However, there were no guarantees. But just when everything seemed to be lost, fate intervened.
"With about an hour left in the tournament, I had already left my (primary) spot," he said. "Then, finally, I saw some current coming around those buoys. As soon as I saw that I knew what to do. So I spun back around and raced 20 minutes back to a 25-foot deep hole I'd been catching most of my big fish on. When I got there, I caught a 5-pounder and two 3-pounders, and that's what sealed the deal."
Although Rose quickly dismisses his unofficial title of "ledge master," there is no doubt that the Arkansas native put on a veritable clinic this week - from practice until the final day of competition.
"The spot I wound up winning the tournament on was a place I'd found on the very last day of practice," said Rose. "I basically idled over to this waypoint that I hadn't been able to check out until the last day, and when I spun my boat around, I found a 25-foot hole that had the mother lode. And that's where I caught most of my fish this week."
With sweltering conditions dominating tournament action, Rose patiently attacked his prime fishing locations with a combination of Strike King Sexy Spoons, Strike King ¾-ounce football jigs, Strike King Shaky Head Worms and Strike King 6XD crankbaits.
"I used a little bit of everything this week," said Rose, who ultimately recorded a massive four-day catch of 77 pounds, 11 ounces. "Today was a little bit slower than it had been for me all week. But I never got nervous. I just decided to go out there today and do the best I could, and if I got second place, well, then it wasn't meant to be."
In the end, whether it was destiny, experience or a little of both, Rose is now the proud owner of his very first FLW Tour title - not to mention a nice first-place check totaling $125,000.
Snider settles for second
Kevin Snider of Elizabethtown, Ky., nearly pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in recent memory. Heading into the finals in sixth place, Snider boated a whopping 21-pound, 8-ounce sack on day four to put plenty of pressure on the leaderboard. However, in the end, his total weight of 72 pounds, 10 ounce came up short. And once again, Snider had to "settle" for second place.
"I got second place again," said Snider, referencing his runner-up finish at the FLW Tour event on Kentucky Lake this past June. "It's tough to finish in second place two times in a row, but I can't complain. Any time you get stronger every day, you have to feel good about that. So overall I'm pretty satisfied. One of these days I'll get one."
Although Snider is an expert at ledge fishing as well, he said that he opted to target areas a little shallower than what he's used to fishing.
"I fished mostly in 10 feet of water this week," he said. "I normally don't do that. I did find some fish deep, but everybody and their brother was out deep, so I knew I had to find something different."
And he did just that. After looking around in practice, Snider found a nice little flat to work with.
"It had a very subtle hump with shell beds," he said. "And that spot just kept reloading all week."
Other than the first day of the tournament, Snider definitely put on a fishing clinic of his own as the event progressed. And luckily for Snider, he saved the best for last.
"Today was flawless. And you only get to say that maybe once a year," he said. "I had 17 pounds really early, and I didn't lose a fish today at all. On that first day, I missed three great big ones, and you just can't do that out here. I probably should have had 20 pounds that first day, and that's what really hurt me."
Snider said he targeted bass using a homemade ¾-ounce green-pumpkin jig rigged with a Prowler Crawler to land the majority of his catch.
However, in the end, Snider said he had no real regrets.
"You know what? My hat's off to Mark (Rose)," he said. "He stuck them in the boat all week, and I didn't."
For his efforts, Snider walked away with nearly $30,000 in prize money.
Dodson lands in third
On the strength of a 71-pound, 7-ounce catch, Robbie Dodson of Harrison, Ark., took home third place overall.
"I'll tell you what, I'm standing between two of the greatest ledge fishermen there are (Rose and Snider), so finishing third is a privilege," said Dodson.
"I haven't caught as many fish as everyone else this week," Dodson continued. "But the bites I did get were pretty good. Overall, I had a great week."
Dodson ultimately walked away with over $24,000 in winnings.
Vick nets fourth
Although Lance Vick of Mineola, Texas, finished in fourth place overall with a total catch of 67 pounds, 14 ounces, he said he couldn't have had more fun during the finals.
"Today I caught all solid chunks. What a week," said Vick. "I basically fished two spots for three straight days. But those (areas) burned out for me today. But I had this little backup hole that I went to, and it was pretty amazing. I had about 11 or 12 pounds in the boat and managed to cull all of my fish. I spent about $400 in gas searching for those areas in practice, and today it really paid off."
Vick said that although he targeted bass on ledges with a combination of Carolina rigs and crankbaits for a good part of the week, today he caught all of his fish on jigging spoons.
"What else can I say? I just had an awesome week," he said.
For his efforts, Vick took home more than $20,000 in prize money.
Woods take home fifth place
Using a total catch of 67 pounds, 9 ounces, Kenneth "Boo" Woods managed a top-five finish.
"At the last EverStart Series event here I spent a lot of time looking around (for good fishing areas)," he said. "I basically fished that tournament in preparation for this week. But during that June tournament, I found this spot where there was a big school of fish. And when I came here, I found them again - I actually couldn't believe it. We wound up thrashing on those fish for three solid days."
In the end, Woods netted a nice payday totaling more than $16,000.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top 10 pro finalists:
6th: Randall Tharp of Gardendale, Ala., 65-2
7th: Kyle Mabrey of McCalla, Ala., 65-0
8th: Jim Dillard of West Monroe, La., 64-5
9th: Shad Schenck of Waynetown, Ind., 63-6
10th: Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., 49-7
Dudley wins AOY award
After competing in six difficult tournament venues ranging from Tennessee to South Carolina, Louisiana to Kentucky and Alabama to Arkansas, David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., proved to be the best of the best on the FLW Tour in 2011. As a result, Dudley took home his second career FLW Tour Angler of the Year title, defeating second-place Brent Ehrler by 14 points total.
Dudley, who received $100,000 for the title, joins fellow FLW Tour anglers Clark Wendlandt (2009, 2000,1997) and Jay Yelas (2007, 2002) as the only anglers to win multiple Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year titles. Dudley's first title came in 2008.
"I analyzed myself last year and realized that I'm not where I wanted to be," said Dudley. "Right now the technology is so good and the anglers are so good that I realized I had to do better. I don't chase angler-of-the-year titles. My goal is to win (tournament titles). And if you do that, everything falls into place. But that being said, this feels pretty good. It feels even better than my first (AOY) title because the field gets tougher and tougher every year. Equipment is getting better and the anglers are continuing to get smarter. So it means a lot to win."
FLW Tour action continues Aug. 11-14 at the Forrest Wood Cup, slated for Lake Ouachita in Hot Spring, Ark.