Dean Rojas takes home the trophy and $100,000 check after winning the Bass Pro Tour Phoenix Boats Stage Five Presented by Mercury in Cullman, Alabama. Photo by Garrick Dixon
By Joel Shangle - May 5, 2019 CULLMAN, Ala. –It’s an age-old question in competitive bass fishing: pattern or location? If you ask MLF pro Dean Rojas this week, he’ll come down firmly on the side of “location”.
Fishing an area on the upper end of Smith Lake that he had found during practice for the Bass Pro Tour Phoenix Boats Stage Five Presented by Mercury, the Arizona pro went to work on the Sunday-morning shad spawn with a mix of baits (primarily a crankbait, swim jig, frog and swimbait). By the end of the first period, Rojas had put 23 fish on SCORETRACKER® for 36 pounds, 5 ounces – enough spotted and largemouth bass that Rojas could’ve put his rods down for most of the rest of the day and still won.
“It’s not too often that you get into a Championship Round where the fish are biting like that and you can use multiple baits to rack up a big lead,” Rojas said. “The conditions were right: we had overcast skies, a breeze, warm temperatures, and the fish were just feeding in the area I was in. It was just about capitalizing on this format. I knew I had to catch as many fish as I could early to put some distance between me and the field.”
Rojas added an additional 9-1 in the second and third periods for good measure, finishing with 47-0 and a 6-plus-pound win over Brent Chapman (40-14), Michael Neal (34-15), Jason Christie (32-6) and Todd Faircloth (32-2). Mark Rose (29-14), Brent Ehrler (26-0), Dustin Connell (24-14), Mike Iaconelli (17-14) and Fred Roumbanis (10-1) rounded out the Top 10.
“At the end of the first period, that was the end of (the bite),” Rojas admitted. “It was a big deal that I caught as many fish as I could to build a big lead. Period 2 and Period 3 were a matter of catching a few here and there, but I was struggling because they just wouldn’t bite.”