NEW ORLEANS -- At every Bassmaster Classic, personal triumphs from down the leaderboard are often overshadowed by the shower of confetti and the winner's victory lap around the arena. A heartbreaking Day One for Dean Rojas, which saw him weigh-in only 4 pounds, 4 ounces, mired him at the back of the pack and destroyed his hopes of hoisting the trophy this week.
"With all the time and preparation that goes into it, that hurt," Rojas said. "After that day, I just wanted to come back for myself and my sponsors. I wasn't going to roll over after Day One."
Rojas came back in a big way. With over 20 pounds on Saturday, he jumped into the top-25 cut and his 18 pounds, 5 ounces on the final day moved him into 13th. The hardest part for Rojas was that he got the quality bites on Day One and just didn't connect.
"I really thought this would be one Classic I could win after I found that spot," Rojas said. "There is no doubt in my mind I could have caught the same weight the first day. I don't feel so bad after seeing those big fish weighed in and this wasn't a bad comeback at all."
The key for Rojas was where he fished. At a tournament where almost all of the top 25 were fishing either in Venice or Lake Cataouatche, Rojas broke out from the pack and found a dead-end canal near Des Allemands with clearer water where the fish were moving up to spawn.
It was a pattern that developed over the course of the week and it ended up in a frog fest, something that fit right into Rojas' strength. "I found that area in pre-practice back and it was really neat because back in December, the water was clear," Rojas said. "I knew if they decided to get on the bed, I would be able to catch them. When it warmed up, I whacked them in there on Wednesday. They were eating the frog."
The key aside from the clear water was a shelf that dropped from 1.5 feet to 3.5 feet about 10 feet off the bank. There was grass up on the bank, but Rojas fished parallel to the shelf in open water and the fish would come from that area and smash his frog. "My Marshals were more excited than me watching that frog get blown out of the water," Rojas said. "That's a common trend with guys that ride with me. They all want to see me throw it."
Rojas threw his signature SPRO Bronzeye 65 frog in a special new color that will introduced later this year. In fact, it was the key color adjustment that Rojas believed helped him on the last two days. After throwing a black frog in practice and on Day One, when the fish started rolling on his bait, he made the adjustment.