Dean Rojas enters this tournament 11 points behind Aaron Martens in the Toyota Angler of the Year race. And Rojas is in classic one-day-at-a-time focus. He thinks a 15-pound average will put anyone in Sunday's Top 12 finale. But at Wednesday's anglers' meeting, he wasn't looking any further down the road than Day 1 at Chesapeake Bay.
"We have 12 more days of competitive fishing," said Rojas, referring to this event and the final two remaining on the schedule. "I have to be at my best for 12 more days to do what I want to do. (Today) is day No. 1 of the 12."
Dean Finishes 6th on Havasu, Leaves West Coast With Points Lead
After making a big jump on Day 3 to qualify for Sunday’s final Top 12, Lake Havasu City resident Dean Rojas caught just 14-6 Sunday. He finished sixth with 61-7, just ahead of reigning Bassmaster Classic champion Casey Ashley (61-4).
However, Rojas, who has qualified for the final round in the last three of the four Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments this year, currently leads the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race with 365 points (based on cumulative finishes in Elite tournaments), just 10 points of Lucas, winner of the Sacramento Elite, and Martens, who has 332 points.
Day 3: 5, 19-09 (15, 47-01) Rojas, who finished 3rd at Sacramento, spent the first 2 days of the event on his home lake floundering around the middle of the pack. He made some big noise on day 3 with a sack that was topped only by Omori's.
"We'd been having wind, clouds and high water, and those are three things I'm not used to seeing on this place," he said. "It threw me a curveball."
This is Havasu weather right now, and this is when they bite the best for me. It's going to be hotter tomorrow and I really like the way the conditions are setting up."
A 5 1/4-pounder was the biggest of the nine keepers he caught on day 3. He broke off a 3 1/2-pounder, but he doesn't know whether that one would've made the trip to the scale.
He had little company in his best areas.
"That goes with anybody who's fishing their home lake – you always have little stretches or spots you can go to. I'm just kind of bouncing around between them.
"I really got on (the fish) late today – I saw what they were doing and I liked it. Tomorrow's going to be a shootout." Read More
Dean Finishes 3rd on the Delta Takes Over AOY Points Lead
Considering the position he was in toward the end of day 1, Rojas is thrilled to be leaving California with a Top-3 finish and the lead in the AOY points.
“I keep going over it in my head, but day 1 was very challenging,” he said. “I only had 7 pounds in the boat with 20 minutes to go before I made that long run back. I pulled into an area and it was, ‘Wham, bam.’ That set the tone for the rest of the event. I just stayed in there the next 3 days.”
All told, he figures he caught 74 of his 78 pounds out of the canal he went to out of desperation Thursday afternoon.
Today, his first five weigh between 10 and 12 pounds, but he was aided by two late-day 5-pounders that served as twin kickers and gave him the day’s heaviest stringer. He caught most of his fish throwing a SPRO Bronzeye frog and flipping a Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog.
“I think it (big ones biting) had something to do with the tide,” he said. “There were times when they started to feed really good and the incoming tide was good, but I was losing it every day. Each day it got worse and I only had 30 minutes of prime conditions.”
> Day 3: 5, 21-01 (15, 59-07) Rojas knows next week is going to be exciting being able to compete in his backyard at Lake Havasu, but he’s not quite done with the Sacramento River just yet. This is his second straight 12-cut and assured himself a sixth straight Top-20 finish going back to the Cayuga Lake tournament last year.
After catching 16-12 Thursday, he’s put together consecutive 21-pound days that have him within spitting distance of Lucas, especially after seeing how some of the leaders gave ground today.
“I’ve not been sight-fishing,” he said. “I’m just fishing around. The tide is getting progressively worse for sight-fishing every day and with the tide getting later every day, that’s when those guys are seeing them the best.
“For me, I have a couple areas that I’m going back and forth on. I know they’re bedding in there. I just can’t see them. I’m fishing the points and pockets and edges, everything really.”
His kicker was an 8-03 that came flipping.
“I was just fishing around and I picked up on it and it got heavy,” he said. “Those 8-pounders really help. That’s what I’ve been focused on. I had one big one on day 1 and two yesterday and that one today. Without them, you’re just catching 2- and 3-pounders.”
He knows he’s not out of it with the kind of potential that swims in the water around the Delta.
“I just need a big bag tomorrow,” he said. “Where I’m fishing at, the fishing is evolving every day for me so if I can big ones, I have a shot.” Read more