By Todd Ceisner - BassFan Editor -
Photo: FLW / KYLE WOOD
By his own estimation, Mark Rose’s 2015 FLW Tour season was following a typical progression through the first couple tournaments. He’d logged Top-60 finishes at both Lake Toho and Lewis Smith Lake, earning $10,000 checks at each stop.
“I feel like I was off to just another normal year,” Rose said. “I didn’t get started as well as I’d like to, but I was still right there.”
He arrived at Beaver Lake, where he’d posted Top-20 finishes the last 4 years, for the third tournament thinking that was where he would start to make his ascent up the point standings, especially with two ledge-oriented events on the horizon at Lake Eufaula and Lake Chickamauga.
Beaver, however, proved to be his undoing as his season unraveled following a disqualification on day 2 for violating FLW Tour Rule 13 that covers competitors’ responsibilities in the event of a boat breakdown.
The resulting 142nd-place finish sent Rose for a loop. He made a check at Eufaula, but a 118th-place finish at Chickamauga basically snuffed out his hopes of making the Forrest Wood Cup despite a 28th at the Potomac River finale.
Between 2009-14, Rose racked up 11 Top-10 finishes in Tour and Tour Open competition, including wins at Pickwick Lake (2011) and Lake Wheeler (2012). This season, he barely sniffed the Top 20 with the Potomac serving as his best showing. He finished 76th in points, his lowest result since 2003.
“It did something to me,” Rose said of the DQ. “My wife even said it. It got me in a mental rut. I’m as mentally strong as anyone out there, especially on the water, but when you tell me that I did something wrong and give me a black eye, that does something to me. I work hard to do good by this sport and the outdoors. To get a DQ, it did something to me.”
DQ Still Doesn’t Sit Well
Rose doesn’t dispute that when he encountered motor trouble some 10 miles from check-in on day 2 at Beaver, he and his co-angler, Nick Loeffelman, abandoned his boat without properly securing it either to a dock or on shore. Rose and his co-angler were transported back to the ramp by fellow pro Cody Kelley.
However, he doesn’t completely agree that the DQ was warranted.
“It was a split-second decision I made, leaving the boat to drift,” Rose said. “That was my fault, but I felt like the punishment didn’t match the crime. I felt like I deserved a penalty, not a DQ. I’m not going to harp on it, but it did something to me mentally. It got me in a rut.
“Did I deserve a penalty? Absolutely. I worked 8 hours for those fish I was about to weigh in. With only six tournaments, I’m only guaranteed 12 days of that, so don’t take one of those 12 days away from me. In my mind, DQs are for when you gain an advantage on another competitor.”
Rose said he’s had conversations with FLW officials about reviewing the severity of penalties related to the rule he broke.
After a 58th-place finish at Eufaula, Rose figured to be among the favorites at Chickamauga, a Tennessee River lake that fits his ledge-fishing acumen. He didn’t engage in fishing among groups of other competitors on crowded spots and wound up 118th.
“I was still in my rut from the deal at Beaver,” he said. “I was just mentally out of it. Two, I’m not going to succumb to this new age of pulling in on top of one another. Having said that, I did fish close to someone, but it’s because when I first pulled up, they told me to come on in. That’s the sort of communication that we need to work on more.
“I found a lot of fish a lot of the Top 10 did well on, but I chose not to fish right on top of somebody and I didn’t know how good some of those areas were. At Chick, timing was really big and I was spending my mornings in practice looking for a shallow deal when the ledge deal was good early on.”
Rose wanted to make sure the bad mojo didn’t leak over into the offseason and he was encouraged by his performance at the Potomac, where he’d had a couple previous finishes in the 20s.
He caught 10 1/2 pounds on day 1, but knew he had to change his strategy if he was to move up the leaderboard.
“The last day at the Potomac, I felt like I was still in it,” he said. “I was catching fish in a crowd, but then something clicked. I said to myself, ‘What are you doing? You’re sitting here catching little fish.’ So I just went fishing and stumbled on something better and that’s the way I fished the rest of the day. I hope that was the snap-out-of-it moment. It builds your confidence and gives you something to build on.”
He admits he hasn’t been putting in the same amount of time on the water as he did in past years, especially when he was learning and refining how to best break down offshore structure. His sponsor commitments and speaking engagements related to his outdoors ministry work have kept him off the water a bit.
“One thing where I haven’t done as well in the past couple years, is I was fishing a lot,” he said. “When StructureScan came along, I’d go to the Tennessee River lakes and was focused. I was into it. I’ve lost a little bit of that the last couple years. I do realize the way the competition is getting, it’s more cutthroat and it’s part of a two-fold intensity level I’m going to be trying to get back to this winter.”
Despite missing the Cup, which will be held a couple hours from his house, Rose is already looking forward to a fresh start in 2016.
“I felt good toward the end,” he said. “I may not catch a bass next year, but my intensity level will be as high as it’s ever been. I plan on being better on all fronts next year.”
Read more: http://www.bassfan.com/news_article/7309#.VfcQpxHBzGc#ixzz3ljrfAinK
Mark Rose is a man on a mission. The Walmart FLW Tour pro from Marion, Ark., maintains his focus with a clear sense of priorities. For him, it’s all about his Christian faith, family and fishing – in that order.
Basing his plans on the biblical passage of Matthew 28:16-20 (The Great Commission), Rose says: “When I put my faith and trust in Jesus, I decided I wanted to tell anyone who would listen about it. Those are the last marching orders of Jesus – to go teach others, share the good news and make disciples. I’m a Christian before I’m a fisherman, a husband or a father – before anything. My family is right behind that, but right in line is my passion for the outdoors.”
Competition has been part of Rose’s life for many years. He played baseball in college, but it was cut short by injury, which motivated Rose to segue his lifelong fishing interests into a sustainable career path with the visibility to enable evangelism. That, in a nutshell, is how Rose leverages the platform afforded him by his status as a professional angler: to exemplify a life based on spiritual faith and focused on family involvement.
Much of his motivation comes from his appreciation for the connection he has to his home church – Rose is a deacon at Angel’s Way Baptist Church in Marion, Ark. – and the realization that not everyone has such a spiritual base. Even for regular church attendees, the typical bass tournament schedule always requires committing several Sundays to competition.
“My mission is to share and promote the love of Christ with sportsmen,” Rose notes. “Sportsmen have been the focus for me because they work hard and they play hard, and a lot of that play time is done on the weekend. A normal church setting is difficult for them, so outdoors-based ministry is something that’s important to me.”
Rose strives to fill the void with a couple of options, complemented by one-on-one discussions. First is Fishing Church – a nondenominational meeting held 30 minutes before daylight on the Sunday practice day prior to each Walmart FLW Tour event. It includes a 15-minute message and prayer time and provides a spiritual option without taking anglers out of their competitive schedule.
“It’s reaching them where they are,” Rose says of this casual event with its serious focus. “It’s a more a comfortable setting for guys who may not regularly attend church.”
During tournament weeks, Rose joins fellow Tour pro Glenn Chappalear who coordinates with local churches to host an event called Meet the Pros, in which he and other pros such as Greg Bohannan, Jay Yelas and Scott Martin visit with fans during a fish fry.
And then there’s the day-to-day person who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. Consistent from big-fish moments on the water, to each of his six FLW tournament victories, is the testimonial image of Mark Rose smiling and pointing skyward – a gesture of appreciation for the source of his strength.
“The main thing for me is that I want to win so I can stand up and tell people that Jesus loves them and he always will,” Rose says. “I’m not concerned with riches and notoriety. Winnings are just a means to get me to the next event so hopefully I can have the opportunity to share my faith again.”
Rose spends his downtime from outdoor recreation and business with his wife and grade-school sweetheart, Christi, and daughters Natalie and Hannah Grace.
In addition to his tournament-based ministry, Rose speaks at churches and public events about 15 times a year. To this day, he’s humbled by invitations to speak about his faith.
“It kind of blows me away because I don’t really advertise it,” he adds. “I’m just a professional fisherman who loves telling people about Jesus. Anybody who knows me knows that I’m outspoken about my faith, so I guess that’s how people know about it.”