2011 Elite Series - Trokar Battle on the Bayou
BASS' last stop here came in March 2009 with the Central Open won by Elite angler James Niggemeyer. This tournament comes a month later in the season and should offer the Elites lots of options on how to catch their bass. There will likely be some spawning fish, some bass in the vegetation ready to eat lipless crankbaits and some lunkers in the standing timber around the lake. The recent addition of Florida bass to the Toledo Bend mix has seen an increase in bass size, including a new lake record — a 15.3 caught in 2000. That record was nearly broken in 2009 by a 15.03-pound largemouth.
Current Bassmaster Classic Standings
MANY, La. -- As they met backstage, Dean Rojas and Gerald Swindle shook hands, then gave each other a man hug. Both smiled graciously, both teared up a little.
It was hard to tell who had just beat who, but it was Rojas who had bested Swindle by 1 ounce in the TroKar Battle on the Bayou. Rojas secured a wire-to-wire win, his second Bassmaster Elite Series victory. It was his fourth Bassmaster career win, one of which, like Sunday's win, was on Toledo Bend Reservoir.
Rojas collected a $100,000 check and an automatic entry into the 2012 Bassmaster Classic. He also jumped 23 spots in the all-important Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race, also the road to the post-season.
"I'm going to the Classic, this is so huge," he said. "Everything about the win I love -- the trophy, the check, the points, the Classic, and winning a tournament in 2011."
At the same time, Rojas said, he felt for Swindle, who was philosophical and gracious.
"I wasn't out to beat Dean, I was out to compete against Toledo Bend and fish to the best of my ability," said Swindle, who already secured a 2012 Classic seat by winning a Bassmaster Open earlier in the season. "The competition is the fish ... and most of the time yourself is the enemy if you beat yourself up, get too bent out of shape.
"I could sit here and write a book about all the big ones that jumped off during this tournament. You have to say, 'It was meant for Dean Rojas to win' because I put 110 percent heart and soul into this and I didn't make any stupid mistakes."
Rojas led for three days, putting together a margin of almost 4 pounds against David Walker going into the final day. But in the end, it was Swindle who challenged Rojas, charging from third place with Sunday's big bag of 18-14. The final tally was Rojas with 70 pounds, 15 ounces, and Swindle with 70-14.
Walker finished third with 70-2, Chris Lane was fourth with 67-3, and Fred Roumbanis was fifth with 67-1.
Rojas had a routine he followed throughout the tournament, and a two-pattern plan that produced all his fish over four days.
"All week, I kept it simple: sight fishing and topwater," Rojas said, with his topwater bite producing his larger fish by working one lure, a natural-shad SPRO Hydro-Pop topwater on Sunline monofilament line, slowly on the edges of grass.
Rojas said his final day started slowly, as every day of the tournament had. He caught one keeper on the popper, and then a 5-pounder about 45 minutes into the day. But after the 5-pounder, he didn't boat another fish in the area, so he left and went to his sight fish at 10 a.m.
"That's been my normal routine to get out of there and go for my sight fish. I filled out my limit with my sight fish, and then went back to that area. I thought, 'Well, there was one big one there, there's got to be more,' so I went back."
He stayed for a few more hours, and culled once to gain a pound of weight.
"Thank God I culled, or I would have lost today," Rojas said, noting that he also lost a fish or two that could have made the difference.
Rojas said he caught all of his sight fish on a WarMouth, a plastic bait he designed for Big Bite Baits. He rigged the bluegill imitator on a 3/16-ounce Eco Pro Tungsten bullet weight and on 22-pound Sunline Shooter line.
"That bait was pivotal all four days," he said. "That bait triggers them to bite. I don't think there's a finer sight-fishing bait on the market right now, nothing to compete with it."
Rojas, known for frogging, said he tried a frog bait in practice, but it produced smaller bass than did the popper in the grass pockets he was fishing.
"Shad were spawning in the grass, and fish were blowing up on the shad in the pockets, and I was working the bait through there, and they'd come up and eat it," Rojas said.
While Rojas moved up in the points standings, Alton Jones kept his lead. The points standings determine Classic qualifications and eight entries into the $100,000 Toyota Trucks All-Star Week postseason competition.
2011 Bayou Day 2 - Update
2011 Bayou Day 1 - Secret Weapon
2011 Battle on the Bayou Practice Report with KVD
Facts about the Battle on the Bayou
- First prize: The winner takes home $100,000 and a 2012 Bassmaster Classic berth.
- At stake: Besides a spot on the Top 50 payout list, anglers compete for points that count toward winning the 2011 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title and toward qualifying for the postseason — each $100,000 competitions. Also, the Top 28 in points at the end of the season will qualify for the 2012 Bassmaster Classic.
- When: April 14-17. Anglers will be allowed three days of official practice, April 11-13, before the four-day competition begins on Thursday.
- Where: Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Louisiana-Texas border.
- Launch: 7:30 a.m. CT at Cypress Bend Golf Resort and Conference Center, 2000 Cypress Bend Parkway, Many, LA 71449. The public is invited to watch the pros motor out in their wrapped rigs.
- Weigh-ins: 4 p.m. CT, also at Cypress Bend Park. Weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
- The cut: The 99-angler field will compete the first two days, then be cut to 50 for the third day. The fourth and final day — Sunday, April 17 — will be a contest among the 12 pros who make the final cut.
- No cost to attend: All events are free and open to the public.
Dean Rojas - 70-15
1. 23-1, 2. 19-3, 3. 14-9, 4. 13-8
Gerald Swindle - 70-14
1. 19-9, 2. 16-12, 3. 15-11, 4. 18-14
David Walker - 70-2
1. 13-6, 2. 24-0, 3. 16-0, 4. 16-12
Chris Lane - 67-3
1. 17-2, 2. 18-3, 3. 16-1, 4. 15-13
Fred Roumbanis - 67-1
1. 21-3, 2. 11-11, 3. 17-10, 4. 16-9
Andy Montgomeryyyy - 66-0
1. 16-10, 2. 15-1, 3. 18-7, 4. 15-14
Randy Howell - 63-9
1. 18-11, 2. 19-0, 3. 9-3, 4. 16-11
Steve Kennedy - 63-6
1. 20-0, 2. 9-0, 3. 21-7, 4. 12-15
Aaron Martens - 62-15
1. 18-7, 2. 21-13, 3. 11-6, 4. 11-5
James Stricklin - 58-12
1. 16-6, 2. 17-10, 3. 13-15, 4. 10-13
Greg Vinson - 55-15
1. 15-2, 2. 18-14, 3. 13-6, 4. 8-9
Ish Monroe - 51-1
1. 11-13, 2. 18-14, 3. 15-9, 4. 4-13
Kevin VanDam - 41-2
1. 14-5, 2. 13-2, 3. 13-11
History & Notes;
Day 3 - Steve Kennedy 6-14
Day 4 - Dean Rojas 5-6