LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Much has been said about the "Hometown Jinx" and the numerous anglers who when fishing on their home body of water, fail to bring home a championship.
Scott Rook officially blew that theory out of the water Sunday during the final round of the Bassmaster Legends presented by Goodyear.
Rook, a Little Rock native, earned victory in the final Major tournament of the season with his performance on the Arkansas River — a body of water he's fished for most of his life. Rook caught four bass Sunday for a bag that weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces and bumped his weekend total to 15-4.
Compared to some of the other fisheries BASS has visited this year, it was a low total, for sure. But considering the extremely difficult fishing conditions the Elite Anglers faced in this tournament, it was more than enough to earn Rook his first victory after nine years on tour.
Rook also pocketed $250,000 for the victory.
"This is unbelievable," he said. "I've been second a couple times. I came in second to Kevin VanDam at the Classic in 2001. So I know what that's all about. I've been waiting for this win for a long time. I've fished almost 100 BASS events and I think I've finished every place but first. So let me tell you, I'm stoked right now."
Several of Rook's competitors didn't enjoy the same good fortune. Among the group that struggled Sunday was Day Three leader Shaw Grigsby, who couldn't muster a keeper bite to close the tournament and fell to fourth place overall with an 11-5 total. Sandwiched in between those two anglers was Louisiana's Greg Hackney, who finished second with a total of 12-5 and Arkansas' Kevin Short who bagged 12-4. Texas pro Gary Klein placed fifth (8-4 overall) and Alabama's Gerald Swindle (5-10) who came in sixth.
Both Rook and Grigsby were flipping plastics to grass beds for the majority of the tournament. But when Grigsby failed to locate the quality fish that vaulted him into the lead Sunday, Rook stepped in. His performance was especially impressive considering the number of anglers who struggled this week with high water temperatures and a lack of moving water.
As was the case for the first three days of the tournament, Rook's bite didn't turn on until approximately 11 a.m. Figuring that would be the case again, he purposely chose to start his day in Hole No. 1 which is upriver from downtown Little Rock and hadn't been productive for most anglers this weekend. That selection allowed Rook to reach Hole No. 4 on the south side of the Arkansas River at 10 a.m. Already having one keeper in the boat by that time, Rook fished the Fourche Creek area in Hole No. 4 and boated two more keepers. He added another bass during Happy Hour when the anglers were allowed to fish the spot of their choice.
Rook said his intimate knowledge of the river probably helped him to victory rather than making him second guess a pattern.
"I think my local knowledge really played in my hands," he said. "When I went out today, the water had dropped about 10 inches and I knew what to do. I caught three of my four keepers off stuff the fish go to when the water drops. That was the big key....I pulled out and fished some bridge pilings, some laid out logs that were out in four or five feet of water.
Rook said he threw June Bug and Black Red Flake plastics — colors that normally aren't used in August on the Arkansas River.
"Normally you go more subtle colors — Green Pumpkin and Watermelon-type colors," he said.
Such switches were necessary, Rook said, considering how tough the river fished during practice and the first three days of competition. Rook said he knew it would be tough on the elites when he first learned the Major was coming to Arkansas in the August heat.
"I knew it would be tough, but I didn't think it would be this tough, honestly," he said. "This week, the fishing was tougher than I've ever seen it on the Arkansas River. It's been hot, there's no current in a month, the water is real clear and there are more shad in the water than I've ever seen. So the fish pull up at night then they suspend during the day."
Grigsby was using similar techniques as Rook, but his bite just wouldn't cooperate Sunday.
"I probably caught eight or nine fish," he said. "But I didn't have anything that was a keeper."