FLORENCE, Ala. – In professional fishing, there is an odd phenomenon that exists in which certain pros have special relationships with certain lakes. Every time they compete on that body of water, they are a certain threat to win.
Mark Rose of Marion, Ark., undoubtedly has that kindred connection with Pickwick Lake in Alabama. Every time he competes on Pickwick, he does not just excel, he dominates.
In 2007 he won the Walmart FLW Series tourney on Pickwick in wire-to-wire fashion. In 2008 he led a team of anglers to victory on Pickwick in the PAA Corporate Cup event.
And Saturday, Rose tightened his stronghold on Pickwick with yet another wire-to-wire win in the Stren Series Championship with a three-day total of 55 pounds, 1 ounce worth $115,000.
Adding the $115,000 he won today with his other Pickwick winnings, Rose has earned a combined total of about $250,000 on his favorite lake in the last three years.
“I’ve got a special place in my heart for this lake,” Rose said after his win today. “I just love it here. I’ve got a lot of great friends up here, and the lake just fits everything about the way I like to fish. Whenever my boat hits this lake, I automatically feel right at home. I live in Arkansas, but Pickwick is two and a half hours from my driveway, and I’ve fished it a lot over the years.”
However, as much as Rose likes Pickwick, he formed the foundation for his Stren Series Championship win this week over on Bay Springs Lake, which connects to Pickwick via the Tombigbee Waterway.
Bay Springs is a small, clear-water lake, known regionally for its huge spotted bass population, which is exactly what Rose exploited over three days to secure victory.
Despite the nearly 80-mile run to Bay Springs, Rose felt the risk was worth it based on the need to do something different.
“In competitive environments like tournament fishing, you have to stay one step ahead of the competition,” Rose said. “You have to do something to separate yourself from the pack. The last time I won the (FLW) Series here, I used a big spoon to win – not many anglers knew about that lure at the time, and that was my competitive advantage. This time around I felt like a long run away from Pickwick would get me away from the pressure and allow me to capitalize on Bay Springs’ big spotted bass in the fall, when they move up shallow and feed over those clay points.”
All along, Rose’s master plan was to fish a schooling hole in Pickwick to secure a quick limit and settle him down with a few swimmers in the box before making the long run to Bay Springs.
On day one his plan worked like a charm. With a last-flight check-in, Rose was able to secure an early limit of schoolers for about 14 pounds before running to Bay Spring where he culled up to 22 pounds, 5 ounces thanks to a 7-6 largemouth.
“Everything went perfect that first day,” he said. “I caught a limit quick and then had plenty of time to run down there and fish relaxed. And that’s when those big bites happen, when you’re totally relaxed.”
The next two days, however, were more of a challenge, as his Pickwick schooling hole left him high and dry, and he was forced to go fish in Bay Springs with an empty livewell.
His main lure of choice in Bay Springs was a suspending jerkbait fished on 12-pound-test fluorocarbon.
“It’s a classic fall pattern for big spots on clear lakes,” Rose said. “After the water cools down, they move up shallow and start feeding up – looking up in the water column. The real gift today was a good breeze that blew across those clay points, ruffling the surface and making it perfect for my pattern. I caught more fish down there today than any other day.
“I was pretty nervous running down there this morning. But once I caught three decent bass pretty quick and realized I still had several hours to fish, I really settled down and got in the groove like I needed to.”
In addition to his win, Rose also qualified for the 2010 Forrest Wood Cup by being the top finisher in the Stren Series Championship from the Central Division.
Incidentally, the Forrest Wood Cup will be held on Lake Lanier, another clear lake known for big spotted bass.