Marks tops Opens EQ points with second Top 10

Paul Marks

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Twenty-two-year-old Paul Marks was surprised after two Bassmaster Opens tournaments to find himself leading the points in the Tackle Warehouse Bassmaster Elite Qualifier standings. But two straight Top 10 finishes will do that for you.

“It’s pretty crazy,” Marks said. “I don’t even know how to describe the feeling, especially to get two in a row, and to get it here. I didn’t have a very good practice.”

Despite that practice, Marks felt comfortable on Lake Ouachita. It’s similar to his home waters in Georgia, Lake Lanier.

“It’s deep and clear and has timber,” said Marks, who lives in Cumming, Ga. “This lake has taller timber and has grass everywhere you look at certain depths. I caught all my fish just like at Lanier, in timber and roaming on bait.”

Marks opened the season with a fourth-place finish at Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. He finished eighth at Lake Ouachita. As far as Bassmaster Opens are concerned, it was his third straight Top 10. Marks was fifth at South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell in October 2022. He didn’t fish any Opens last year.

“I’ve won, I think, four BFLs and one BFL regional,” he said. “I’ve fished a bunch of stuff around the house. But I just wanted to do this. The Elites would be a dream of mine.”

Marks’ father owns Oakwood Bait & Tackle on Lake Lanier, plus he has landscaping and roofing businesses. It was his dad who instilled the fishing bug in him.

“I’ve been fishing since I could walk, probably,” Marks said. “It’s all I do, pretty much, fish and hunt a little bit. I mostly just fish, but I help my dad out when he needs some help (in his businesses).”

Marks caught most of his bass at Lake Ouachita on a Greenfish Tackle Bad Little Shad swimbait head paired with a Zoom Super Fluke.

“I like to throw that big one,” he said of the Zoom Fluke. “I caught a real big one (Friday) on a SPRO McStick that got me to (Saturday’s Top 10). It was just a lucky fish. A SPRO McStick is the best jerkbait I know to throw. There’s not anything that can beat it. It’s got a little different sound.”

Marks found the spot where he caught most of his fish all three days in an unusual manner. Two dogs had chased a deer into the lake and were swimming after it. They were about 100 yards offshore when Marks saw them and went to head them back to dry land.

After the dogs turned back, Marks started fishing in a nearby pocket and worked his way back into it.

“I ended up catching a ton in there,” he said. “The first day I had a limit in about 10 minutes. Two or three were 3-pounders.”