PELL CITY, Ala. — Mark Rose doesn’t care for repetition, and that disposition served him well on Day 2 of the final Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open at Pell City Lakeside Park as the Wynne, Ark., pro took the lead with 27 pounds, 6 ounces.
After placing fourth in the first round Thursday with 13-10, Rose added 13-12 today and holds a lead of 2 pounds, 3 ounces. His success, he said, was a matter of blending the known with the unknown.
“I have one offshore school of fish, and I found them the first 5 minutes of my only practice day,” Rose said. “The school is in 13-15 feet. I’ve caught three of my keepers from that school — one today and two yesterday — and the rest, I caught just fishing what looks good to me. It was junk fishing 101.
“I’m throwing a topwater bait, I’m flipping, I’m skipping, I’m throwing a worm, I’m throwing a little crankbait, you name it — I’m doing it. With the deep fish, that’s just typical offshore fishing. I’m cranking, I’m throwing a spoon, I’m dragging stuff.”
Rose said his geographic range was as diverse as his bait selection. He’s fishing docks, laydowns, brush, etc., throughout most of the lake.
Noting that his quality bites came about one an hour, Rose said the key to his success was versatility. He caught several bass, but had to pick his way through the small ones to find the 2 1/2- to 3-pounders that made a difference.
“I’m consistently fishing by the seat of my pants. I’m just blessed to have caught what I did the last two days,” Rose said.
Joshua Stracner of Vandiver, Ala., is in second place with 25-3. Improving from 35th on Day 1, Stracner buoyed his catch of 14-14 with a 5-pound, 12-ounce largemouth that’s in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors.
“The fish had just started biting around 10 or 11 o’clock, so I put a big bait in my hand and started running the best docks I knew,” Stracner said. “Those were the docks that had deep water close by. I caught that big one and one more on that big bait, and my other three I caught on a crankbait.
“Yesterday, we had mostly clouds, but today we had a lot of sun and that just positions them right along those shade lines. Today they were biting in the middle of the day.”
Kyle Dorsett, of Odenville, Ala. is third with 24-14. After a 10th place effort with 12-10 on Thursday, Dorsett added 12-4 today.
Deciding to fish an offshore sweet spot he had been saving likely secured his Top-12 berth, as he pulled in two big fish there. He caught his fish on jigs and worms.
Justin Leetof Bartlett, Tenn. leads the co-angler division with 13-3. Fishing a Zoom squarebill around docks, he added 7-7 to his Day 1 weight of 5-12.
John Roberson, of Shreveport, La. holds the Phoenix Boats Big Bass lead among co-anglers with a 4-8 caught today.
At approximately 11:30 a.m., pro Nathan Martin and co-angler Michael Johns were fishing below the Neely Henry Dam when a john boat containing two recreational fishermen capsized in the tailrace. By the time Martin and Johns reached the men, they found one had climbed onto the dam structure and the other was clinging to the capsized boat, which was bobbing in the turbulent water.
“The boat was going up and down and I just knew he was going go under,” Martin said. “At one point, all I could see was his head. I was really scared, but I got my throw cushion and my rope and threw it up against the dam. Luckily on the third throw, the current took it to him. He grabbed a hold of it, and I backed out and pulled him out (of the turbulence).
“Michael was up on the front and I was on the wheel and as soon as Michael grabbed the man, he just went limp; he was so tired from holding on. I backed away and got up there and helped Michael pull him in.”
Johns said as soon as they got the man in the boat he was overcome with emotion and hugged each of his rescuers multiple times.
“I think he thanked us about a thousand times,” Martin recalls. “It was really scary because there really wasn’t anything the guy up on the dam could do if he jumped in.”
When the dam operators became aware of the capsizing, they shut off the discharge and Martin was able to idle up and retrieve the second man.
“You know they say everything happens for a reason — this definitely happened for a reason,” Johns said. “We were actually talking about packing up and leaving, but we decided to stay a little longer and I’m sure glad we did. We hadn’t caught anything to brag about; this was the highlight of the day.”
Martin finished 73rd, while Johns placed 136th in the co-angler division.
“Who cares about the tournament (standings)?” Johns said. “It was just nice being able to save someone.”
Friday’s takeoff is scheduled for 6:15 a.m. CT at Pell City Lakeside Park. The weigh-in will be held at Bass Pro Shops, 5000 Bass Pro Blvd., Leeds, Ala. 35094 at 3 p.m.
The event is hosted by the City of Pell City and Pell City Chamber of Commerce.