Four-time Bassmaster tournament winner Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., has taken the lead at the Bassmaster Elite Series Green Bay Challenge. Rojas, who was in 2nd place coming into today’s round, added a limit of five bass weighing 17 pounds, 14 ounces to his tally, for a total of 37-12. First round leader Aaron Martens caught 16-15 today and trails Rojas by 13 ounces.
Rojas, who is widely regarded as the best topwater frog angler in the world, denied earlier reports that he was catching big smallmouth bass on his signature bait.
“The first day, I caught every bass sight-fishing,” Rojas said. “Today I had to completely change what I was doing. I caught them all deep — 9 to 20 feet — on a drop shot rig.”
Rojas is rotating three different soft plastic baits for his catch, including a lure from Big Bite Baits and a couple of custom hand pours. His drop shot weight is 3/8-ounce. Beyond that, he doesn’t want to elaborate on his methods until the tournament is over.
“I’m fishing in the middle of a bunch of boats,” Rojas said. “I’m in the right area, and I think it’ll hold up, but I’m sharing the spot with Terry Scroggins.” Scroggins is currently 12th with 30-11.
Martens’ 2-ounce lead after the first day became a 13-ounce deficit today. He said the area he was fishing was getting more crowded, and he had to share some of his best spots with several other anglers. “It was harder to move around and fish the area right,” he said. “The fish that were biting today were smaller, too.”
Jonathon VanDam is in third place with 35-2. Like many of the anglers, he noted that he didn’t get as many bites today. “I needed more wind for my pattern,” he said.
Like others, he left shallower fish he caught yesterday while sight fishing for deeper water in another area. “I’m catching my fish on a jerkbait and a drop shot.”
The day’s heaviest limit weighed 18-1 and was caught by 2004 Bassmaster Classic champion Takahiro Omori. The top individual bass weighed 5-10 and was caught by Brandon Palaniuk. It takes over the top spot in the Carhartt Big Bass competition for this tournament. Palaniuk and Omori are currently 4th and 14th in the standings, respectively.
The Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race is heating up as the anglers move into the home stretch and, for the moment, it looks like a four-man battle. After a tough day on Lake Michigan that saw him bring just three bass to the scales, Todd Faircloth has fallen out of the lead. Brent Chapman is in first place with 570 points. Ott DeFoe is second with 548; Faircloth is third with 539; and Terry Scroggins is fourth with 531. All four are fishing tomorrow, so there could be another big shakeup in the standings.