Rojas: The one that got away

I have a one that got away story that isn't a bummer. I'm actually glad this fish got away. It was back in 2001 when I set the record for the one-day heaviest catch in B.A.S.S. history.

It was in January in Florida on Lake Toho, and the conditions were perfect for the big bass to be spawning. It was the first day of competition and I had a
10-, 12-, and 9-pounder in the box. I was feeling pretty good, and I went to where I thought this other fish — a 6-pounder — was bedding. When I found her, I spent 15 or so minutes trying to get her to bite, and I did. As I was fighting her back through the pads, though, she got off.

I was really bummed at the time. Little did I know that there were bigger and better things for me ahead. I went on to catch another 10 and an 8 1/2 and a 7 1/2 for a total of 45-2. If I had caught the 6-pounder, I would have stopped with 43 or 44 pounds. I wasn't going to keep fishing and try to cull a 6-pounder on the first day of a 4-day tournament.

If I had caught that six and kept her, Terry Scroggins would have beaten my record down on Lake Falcon.

There have been several runs at the record, but he's been the closest. That catch and win definitely launched my career and made people aware of who I am. I'd been fishing for two years prior to that with mediocre success. The very next tournament was at Toledo Bend, and I won that one, too. Then I almost won a MegaBucks tournament and came in third on Lake Wheeler in Alabama.

There was a run there where I didn't finish out of the Top 5 for a few events. What's kind of cool is that in 2011, we have a Southern Open there on Lake Toho the same week that I set that record 10 years ago. I'll be there!

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