GREEN BAY, Wis. — Four-time Bassmaster tournament winner Dean Rojas has taken the lead at the Bassmaster Elite Series Green Bay Challenge. Rojas, who was in second 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 between 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 in 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," he said.
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.
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 532. All four are fishing tomorrow, so there could be another big shakeup in the standings.
First prize in the Green Bay Challenge is $100,000 and a berth in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic. The pros also are fighting for points to earn a qualification for the 2013 Classic.
Those near the top of the points standings are in contention for a postseason entry and the 2012 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.
The Challenge will continue through Sunday at Metro Boat Launch in Green Bay. Takeoff is set for 6:15 a.m., and weigh-ins will begin at 3:15 p.m. The Bassmaster Elite Series Family Festival will open at noon on Saturday and Sunday.
All Bassmaster fan activities are free and open to the public.
Bassmaster.com will provide extensive daily coverage, including daily streaming of the weigh-ins as they happen, real-time leaderboards, photo galleries, results and standings. Saturday and Sunday, the Bassmaster Elite Series War Room will present updates from BASSTrakk, a catch reporting system relayed from the water, plus in-depth interviews and analysis. Hooked Up! segments will be presented Saturday and Sunday.
Access is free to all Bassmaster.com pages and features.
Coverage of the Green Bay Challenge will air on ESPN2 on July 14 and on Aug. 5 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.