How to win the Classic

Arkansas' Scott Rook isn't fishing this year's Red River Bassmaster Classic, but if he were I'd have him as one of the top picks to win.

Not only is Rook a darn good river fisherman – he cut his fishing teeth on the Arkansas River – but a couple quick searches on show the following stats:

  • Won the April 2004 Red River EverStart
  • Won the August 2006 Arkansas River Bassmaster Major
  • Second on the August 2001 Louisiana Delta Classic
  • Fifth in the November 2009 Bassmaster Open on the Atchafalaya Basin
  • Should also mention that he fished the same water as Kevin VanDam at the 2011 Classic but finished sevent.

These rivers aren't apples to apples, and it’s up to you whether you value info on what calls a "Riverine Reservoir" more than for "Tidal" water. Regardless, this shows us that Rook would've been one to watch at this year's Classic because he does well in riverine and tidal river systems, and gets up for big events. So who better to ask a few questions about this year's Classic.

Kumar: Ken Cook used BassGold to predict that this year's Classic will be won by fishing a backwater around stumps, maybe near a channel edge, using a combination of spinnerbaits or squarebills plus a craw or jig. Do you agree with that?

Rook: Absolutely, 100 percent. It's pre-spawn, the fish have moved back in and they're looking for clear water. I haven't been down there, but the main river is usually muddy this time of year. And with the recent rain – and cooler, dirtier water – the clearer the water, the better [which means backwaters]. The fish are looking for a place to spawn.

A creek channel, definitely – that's a place for the fish to stage. Stumps, definitely – that's a hard bottom, and some fish spawn on stumps there.

And the last time we fished down there, I caught all my fish on spinnerbaits. Spinnerbaits, soft-plastics and jigs for sure. I won an EverStart tournament there throwing a squarebill.

Kumar: The BassGold data is incomplete when it comes to pools, but from what we have it looks like Pool 5 [where the launch is] is responsible for about 50 percent of wins and second-fifth finishes, with about 36 percent for Pool 4 and 15 percent for Pool 3. Which pool do you think the Classic will be won in?

Rook: I don't think locking twice in this tournament [to Pool 3] will work. I don't think it gives you time for a plan B. If your fish don't bite, you're done. All your eggs are in one basket.

Good backwaters are a pretty long ways apart. If you go in [to a backwater], spend 3 or 4 hours and it doesn't happen, you don't have a lot of time to go back and find something else. Whereas if you stay in Pool 5 and just fish, two or three places in there are capable of giving up the win.

So my prediction is it'll be won in either Pool 4 or Pool 5.

Kumar: How would you fish it if you were fishing it this year?

Rook: Definitely with a jig, spinnerbait and some type of soft-plastic. I'd have a squarebill tied on, and probably a lipless crankbait as well. I'd definitely be looking for a hard-bottom spot for them to spawn on.

To me there's only four or five places on that whole river where you could really win. I like Sullivans [Pool 4], and a lot of tournaments have been won out of the Jungle [also Pool 4], but not lately.

Kumar: Who would you pick to win?

You can't ever count Kevin [VanDam] out. He's done well there in the past, and he would definitely be a pick.

Be looking for Davy Hite to do well in this one. He won an event down there, one of our regular-season events.

Then I guess Iaconelli – he has a pretty good record down there.

There'll be a lot of dark horses in there. Someone might stumble on a little deal loaded with fish – you never know, that's the Red River. Really it's anybody's ballgame, and you have to consider that some guys have gotten just a ton of local help.

[Note: The above three fishermen are the exact same names that pop up when looking at the BassGold data, as I wrote here on Scott had no knowledge of that data or article when he gave me his picks.]

(Jay Kumar is the founder of and writes the No. 1 bass fishing blog at He also founded, was a B.A.S.S. senior writer, and co-hosted the ESPN show Loudmouth Bass with Mark Zona.)