SKL Pro Mark Rose goes back-to-back!!!
February 19, 2017 by Rob Newell
In the 20-year history of the FLW Tour, there has never been a back-to-back winner in a single season. There have been pros who have won multiple events in a season. And there have been pros who have won on the same lake in back-to-back seasons. But never has an FLW Tour pro won two consecutive events in a season.
That all changed Sunday when Mark Rose, fresh off his Tour win at Guntersville, raised the winner’s trophy at the FLW Tour presented by Quaker State on Lake Travis. The historic win made Rose the first back-to-back winner in FLW Tour history.
However, Rose had to earn that record the hard way. For the second time in three weeks, Rose fought off a hard charge from Bryan Thrift in what has become an ongoing heavyweight bout between two of the Tour’s most decorated stars.
On the final day at Guntersville, Thrift entered the day in second place, and methodically tracked Rose all day, closing in on him by the hour. And just when it looked like Thrift had Rose down for the count, Rose thwarted Thrift’s victory charge with a last-minute 6-pounder to win by just 15 ounces.
Sunday, the roles were reversed. Rose entered the day in second place by just a pound and was the one who had to close in on Thrift. And right when it looked like Rose had Thrift in his sights, Thrift tried to give Rose a taste of his own medicine by catching a 5-pounder in the last hour in an attempt to hold off Rose.
In the end, however, Thrift’s final push was once again just a little light, this time just 12 ounces short of victory.
“I’m blown away right now,” Rose said after accepting the trophy. “I’m speechless. I consider Bryan to be the best angler on the planet. He is what pushes me every day to be a better angler. This kind of competition at the top of the game is what this sport is all about. I don’t even know what to say right now except that God is good.”
With his back-to-back wins, Rose has also broken his reputation of being a Tennessee Valley-only winner. All of his previous Tour wins have been along the Tennessee River. This one, however, marks his first win away from his favorite river basin, proving he is a far more diverse angler than just being a summertime “ledgemaster.”
But in order to pull off this win, Rose did have to resort to his comfort zone – offshore structure in depths ranging from 18 to 50 feet.
Ironically, Rose started the event far up the Colorado River, cranking shallow river banks to the tune of 11 pounds, 9 ounces. He had practiced offshore but couldn’t get anything going, so he resorted to the river.
“I had some good bites up that river in practice, so that’s where I went the first day,” Rose says. “I spent most of the day up there and didn’t do very well. Late in the day I was running back down the lake, stopped on an offshore place and caught a 4-pounder and that right there told me what I needed to be doing the rest of the tournament.”
On day two, Rose returned to his offshore wheelhouse.
“I started doing what I should have been doing the first day – fishing out – way out,” Rose says. “I started fishing those big flat points on the lower end. At first I was trying to fish up on top of them, dragging a jig across the tops in about 18 feet of water. I caught a few that way, but every time I eased up there to cast up on the points, I could see big arches on my graph on those 25-to-45-foot breaks. So I backed out some more and started dragging that Strike King Tour Grade Football Jig down those deeper breaks – what I called stair-step ledges – that fall off those points. I caught some fish as deep as 50 feet here this week. I even dropped down from 17 to 15-pound Seagaur Tatsu to decrease the line resistance at those extreme depths.”
One of his key spots ended up being the giant point and boat ramp at Mansfield Park near the dam. The huge ramp runs far down into the lake ending at a big break grown up with trees.
With his commitment to offshore stair-step breaks on day two, Rose got traction and began climbing the leaderboard with a 17-3 catch that jumped him up to fifth place.
On the morning of day three, Rose tied on a big 6-inch swimbait fastened to a 1-ounce Strike King Squadron Head to see if he could entice those suspended bass by winding the big swimmer over the top of them. His first cast with the swimbait produced a 6-pounder.
“I never got a bite on it the rest of the day,” Rose says. “But that one bite told me those suspended fish were feeding on bait first thing in the morning.”
Rose’s day three catch of 15-13 put him in second, within one pound of catching Thrift.
Rose started the final day with the swimbait and fooled three quality bass on it before the swimbait window closed, but the three fish got his day off to a good start.
On days three and four, Rose also pitched a few docks in the afternoons with a Strike King Rage Bug to make a few small culls that ended up being huge in the end. On Sunday, two of those culls may have given him the precious ounces he needed to hold off Thrift with a 14-pound, 9-ounce catch, for a four-day total of 59 pounds, 2 ounces.
“All I’ve ever wanted to do is fish for a living,” Rose says. “So it’s a huge honor to be the first pro in FLW Tour history to win back-to-back. The Guntersville and Travis trophies will always be side-by-side at home for that special reason.”
Top 10 pros
1. Mark Rose – West Memphis, Ark. – 59-2 (20) – $125,000
2. Bryan Thrift – Shelby, N.C. – 58-6 (20) – $30,200
3. Dylan Hays – Sheridan, Ark. – 54-0 (20) – $25,100
4. Clark Reehm – Huntington, Texas – 53-3 (19) – $20,000
5. Clark Wendlandt – Leander, Texas – 52-12 (20) – $19,500
6. Anthony Gagliardi – Prosperity, S.C. – 51-12 (20) – $18,000
7. Clayton Batts – Macon, Ga. – 48-1 (20) – $17,000
8. Troy Morrow – Eastanollee, Ga. – 47-9 (20) – $16,000
9. Jeremy Lawyer – Sarcoxie, Mo. – 40-14 (16) – $15,000
10. Stephen Patek – Garland, Texas – 39-0 (15) – $14,000