Rook: From zero to hero

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Steve Bowman

ELLIJAY, Ga. — Scott Rook, who has announced his retirement, is going to go out his way. And that’s not “dobbing around in 40 foot of water,” as he put it. So Rook went to the bank when his back was against wall Thursday in the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster Classic Bracket.

Rook cashed in on a topwater bite to make an unlikely comeback and advance to Friday’s final, where he’ll go head-to-head with longtime friend Gerald Swindle for a berth in the Bassmaster Classic.

“Whoo! Stressful!” said the 57-year-old Rook. “It’s kind of been that way all year. I wanted to make the Classic, and the Classic be my last tournament.”

During the full field day Tuesday, Rook caught a 4-pound, 2-ounce spotted bass on a topwater River2Sea Whopper Plopper. That and another small spotted bass were enough to squeak Rook into the 12th and final bracket spot. When he zeroed Wednesday morning, and Roumbanis followed his 16-pound day Tuesday that gave him the top seed with another limit Wednesday, Rook appeared to have little chance of advancing Thursday. He started the three-hour afternoon session with a 6-pound, 13-ounce deficit to Roumbanis.

But Rook was going out his way. And that proved to be the right way. There were only 12 keepers caught in the afternoon session, and Rook landed five of them, including a 3-2 and a 3-0. His final total was 10-14. Four of his five bass came on the Whopper Plopper and the other came on a follow-up bait after a bass missed the Plopper.

“These fish move around enough when the sun is out,” Rook said. “When it’s cloudy, they just scatter. My best chance to catch them was on the bank. I thought I could do that yesterday morning, and they just wouldn’t bite.

“In 10 minutes of fishing today, I had one. I think I had eight bites on that Whopper Plopper in two hours.”

It was his second bass – a 3-pounder – that proved to be a key.

“A 13-incher blew up on (the Whopper Plopper) once and swirled at it again,” Rook said. “I put it down and picked up a Zoom Fluke. I saw the 13-incher roll on it, so I just let it sink. When I picked it up, it was heavy. If I’d caught the 13-incher, I probably wouldn’t have caught the 3-pounder. That’s just a great follow-up bait for a missed topwater bite.”

It was all about the topwater bite for Rook, and a bone-colored Whopper Plopper was his lure of choice.