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Rojas Wins by an Ounce!

Photos by Seigo Saito/ B.A.S.S. Communications

As they met backstage, Dean

Rojas and Gerald Swindle shook hands, then gave each other a man hug.

Both smiled graciously, both teared up a little.

It was hard to tell who had just beat who, but it was Rojas who had

bested Swindle by 1 ounce in the TroKar Battle on the Bayou. Rojas

secured a wire-to-wire win, his second Bassmaster Elite Series victory.

It was his fourth Bassmaster career win, one

of which, like Sunday’s win, was on Toledo Bend Reservoir.

Rojas collected a $100,000 check and an automatic entry into the

2012 Bassmaster Classic. He also jumped 23 spots in the all-important

Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race, also the road

to the postseason.

“I’m going to the Classic; this is so huge,†he said. “Everything

about the win I love — the trophy, the check, the points, the Classic,

and winning a tournament in 2011.â€

At the same time, Rojas said, he felt for Swindle, who was philosophical and gracious.
“I wasn’t out to beat Dean, I was out to compete against Toledo

Bend and fish to the best of my ability,†said Swindle, who already

secured a 2012 Classic seat by winning a Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster

Southern Open earlier in the season. “The competition

is the fish … and most of the time yourself is the enemy if you beat

yourself up, get too bent out of shape.

“I could sit here and write a book about all the big ones that

jumped off during this tournament,†he added. “You have to say, ‘It was

meant for Dean Rojas to win’ because I put 110 percent heart and soul

into this and I didn’t make any stupid mistakes.â€

Rojas led for three days, putting together a margin of almost 4

pounds against David Walker going into the final day. But in the end, it

was Swindle who challenged Rojas, charging from third place with

Sunday’s big bag of 18-14. The final tally was Rojas

with 70 pounds, 15 ounces, and Swindle with 70-14.

Walker finished third with 70-2, Chris Lane was fourth with 67-3, and Fred Roumbanis was fifth with 67-1.
Rojas had a routine he followed throughout the tournament, and a two-pattern plan that produced all his fish over four days.
“All week, I kept it simple: sight fishing and topwater,†Rojas

said, with his topwater bite producing his larger fish by working one

lure, a natural-shad SPRO Hydro-Pop topwater on Sunline monofilament

line, slowly on the edges of grass.

Rojas said his final day started slowly, as every day of the

tournament had. He caught one keeper on the popper, and then a 5-pounder

about 45 minutes into the day. But after the 5-pounder, he didn’t boat

another fish in the area, so he left and went to

his sight fish at 10 a.m.

“That’s been my normal routine to get out of there and go for my

sight fish. I filled out my limit with my sight fish, and then went back

to that area. I thought, ‘Well, there was one big one there, there’s

got to be more,’ so I went back.â€

He stayed for a few more hours, and culled once to gain a pound of weight.
“Thank God I culled, or I would have lost today,†Rojas said — but

noted that he also lost a fish or two that could have made the


Rojas said he caught all of his sight fish on a WarMouth, a plastic

bait he designed for Big Bite Baits. He rigged the bluegill imitator on

a 3/16-ounce Eco Pro Tungsten bullet weight and on 22-pound Sunline

Shooter line.

“That bait was pivotal all four days,†he said. “That bait triggers

them to bite. I don’t think there’s a finer sight-fishing bait on the

market right now, nothing to compete with it.â€

Rojas, known for frogging, said he tried a frog bait in practice,

but it produced smaller bass than did the popper in the grass pockets he

was fishing.

“Shad were spawning in the grass, and fish were blowing up on the

shad in the pockets, and I was working the bait through there, and

they’d come up and eat it,†Rojas said.

While Rojas moved up in the points standings, Alton Jones kept his

lead. The points standings determine Classic qualifications and eight

entries into the $100,000 Toyota Trucks All-Star Week postseason


The Berkley Big Bass of the Tournament award and $500 bonus went to Ish Monroe for his Day Two 10-15.
1 Dean Rojas 5 23- 1 5 19-13 5 14- 9 5 13- 8 20 70-15
2 Gerald Swindle 5 19- 9 5 16-12 5 15-11 5 18-14 20 70-14
3 David Walker 5 13- 6 5 24- 0 5 16- 0 5 16-12 20 70- 2
4 Chris Lane 5 17- 2 5 18- 3 5 16- 1 5 15-13 20 67- 3
5 Fred Roumbanis 5 21- 3 5 11-11 5 17-10 5 16- 9 20 67- 1
6 Andy Montgomery 5 16-10 5 15- 1 5 18- 7 5 15-14 20 66- 0
7 Randy Howell 5 18-11 5 19- 0 5 9- 3 5 16-11 20 63- 9
8 Steve Kennedy 5 20- 0 5 9- 0 5 21- 7 5 12-15 20 63- 6
9 Aaron Martens 5 18- 7 5 21-13 5 11- 6 5 11- 5 20 62-15
10 James Stricklin 5 16- 6 5 17-10 5 13-15 5 10-13 20 58-12
11 Greg Vinson 5 15- 2 5 18-14 5 13- 6 4 8- 9 19 55-15
12 Ish Monroe 5 11-13 4 18-14 5 15- 9 2 4-13 16 51- 1