Day 3 - Third Place
3. Mark Rose – West Memphis, Ark. – 61-3
Schmitt and Rose have been fishing within eyesight of one another the entire event, though the two are doing slightly different patterns in slightly different areas. It didn’t matter. The two had similar experiences Saturday.
“I think too many motors, too many baits have gone through that area,” says Rose, who caught 13-14 Saturday. “That area has been hammered pretty good.”
Along with the pressure, Rose thinks the big girls may actually be spawning and locked onto beds in the large hyrdilla flat he’s fishing, as opposed to having just moved up and still roaming. That’s making them much harder to catch, and also making him wonder if he has to slow down even more or if it’s time for him to change areas.
“I have one other area that is built like what I’ve been fishing,” says Rose. “So I’ll probably start in Harney Pond, but if I’m not catching them I’ll probably try to go win it at the other place.”
Day 2 - Second Place
2. Mark Rose – West Memphis, Ark. – 47-5
From FLW Outdoors
Leader Bryan Schmitt and Rose had similar experiences on day two. Both were thrown off by the added boat pressure, yet caught quick, tiny limits before finding some significant upgrades later in the day.
While Schmitt caught all his on one bait, Rose continued to use a mixed bag. The key for him was continuing to fish slower than most and just grinding it out to the tune of 23-5 on day two.
“We all knew it was a special area, and we’ve all kind of figured it out in our own ways,” Rose says. “Now it’s like an arm-wrestling contest. We’re all just waiting on one of those big females to come in like a kamikaze and become catchable. I only got two yesterday and two today.”
Rose is no stranger to tasting victory and has a history of being a strong closer, even winning back-to-back to start 2017 on Guntersville and Lake Travis. Now in contention on Okeechobee, however, this one is a little different.
“There is so much tradition here,” says Rose of Okeechobee. “So many legends have won here. It’s the Mecca of bass fishing. So to win here would mean a lot.”
Day 1 - Second Place
2. Mark Rose – West Memphis, Ark. – 24-0
From FLW Outdoors
Rose certainly knows how to start strong.
Last year he won the first two Tour events of the season, and he’s started off 2018 in similar fashion with his second-place bag on day one. However, much like Schmitt, he was surprised by the uptick in weights compared to practice.
“I thought if I could catch 15 pounds I’d be doing well,” says Rose. “But in practice you’re rolling through areas quickly just looking for bites. That’s not how to succeed in Florida. You have to put your Florida Face on and slow down. That’s what I did today, really picking apart my area.”
It wasn’t so much a bait or pattern for Rose, as he caught his limit on a number of different lures. It was all about being methodical and getting a pair of key big bites – a 6-8 and 6-13 – from one key area with clean water on the north end.
Unfortunately, Rose is pretty sure that clean water will disappear on Friday. Fortunately, he has a backup plan.
“I have a couple other areas that are similar,” says Rose. “So I may not go back to today’s area. It all just depends on the weather.”