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.”
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