Mark Rose: Staying Simple for Michigan Smallmouths

By Lynn Burkhead - April 28, 2017

Like all of the other Major League Fishing GEICO Select anglers in Alpena, Mich., veteran pro Mark Rose will have a truck full of tackle that he'll try to condense down into a manageable load.

After all, that's life on the road for a professional bass angler that travels coast-to-coast seeking to land a few bass.

And such skills are certainly necessary for Rose and the rest of the competitors since they'll have to hop gear from their personal bass rigs to the smaller tournament boats utilized by MLF at each event.

But while Rose will have a pile of rods, reels and lures at his disposal this week, that doesn't mean that he isn't trying to simplify.

In fact, he describes his general approach to fishing for smallmouth bass as a simple strategy to begin with.

"I keep it real simple," Rose said. "I'm going to have a spinnerbait, a topwater bait, a crankbait and a jerkbait (tied on) as my moving baits.

"I'll (also) have a flipping style bait, just in case there's a ton of grass somewhere where it's choked out up here," he added. "(Because of that possibility), I've got something to flip with.

"And then I've got three spinning rods (rigged and ready to go) with an assortment of drop-shot baits, tubes and such."

How about the colors of those baits?

"Like my lure selection, I'm keeping it simple," Rose said. "I'll go with green pumpkin and chartreuse, white on the spinnerbait, something bright for the topwater bait and something natural for the jerkbait."

While Rose might be employing a simple approach to his bait selection and color schemes, that doesn't mean that he isn't serious - or excited - about the prospects of catching these northern smalljaws in Alpena.

One of the reasons for that excitement level in Rose's mind is the fact that MLF puts anglers on waters that they don't typically have as much knowledge or experience on, if any at all.

"We get to fish nice, smaller bodies of water that we don't always get to fish on the other circuits," said Rose, a veteran tournament pro with more than $2.2 million in career earnings.

A case in point are the fisheries around Alpena, Mich. where the MLF GEICO Select anglers are trying to lock up coveted berths into the 2017 MLF Challenge Cup.

Certainly these MLF Select pros are familiar with the Alpena area. After all, how can anyone in the sport forget the epic performance by Michigan man Kevin VanDam a few years ago as he put on a smallmouth bass catching beat down on his way to winning the 2014 MLF Summit Cup in Alpena.

But while the MLF pros in town this week have seen the footage and undoubtedly talked to VanDam about what it was like to catch a record-setting 82-pounds, 7-ounces of smallmouth bass on the event's Championship Day, few if any of them have ever fished here.

And that has Rose excited about the prospects for his time on the water near Alpena.

"I'm treating (this) as a treat," Rose said. "Smallmouths (in general) are a treat to me since I don't get to catch them all of the time, at least in places as good as those that they have up here. I really enjoy fishing for (northern) smallmouths."

Mark Rose: Staying Simple for Michigan Smallmouths

He admits however that he'll have to put the blinders on this week.

Why is that? Because as soon as he's done fishing here, Rose is rolling back to the south where he is among the favorites to win in the FLW Tour's Forrest Wood Cup on Wheeler Lake in Alabama.

How will he concentrate on the task at hand this week without looking ahead?

Rose shrugs and indicates that is the life of a professional bass fisherman.

"Yeah, I've been up here all week and smallmouths have certainly been on my mind just because of where we're at (here in Alpena)," he said. "And then I'm going to have to kind of forget about a lot of this and go to a southern body of water (next week).

"They have smallmouths there, but I doubt that anything I learn or do up here is going to help me win the Forrest Wood Cup."

Nor will much of what he's going to do in Alabama next week help him succeed this week in Michigan.

How does Rose juggle all of that, physically, mentally and emotionally?

"You've got to learn to leave this one where it is and move to a different region, a different species, different habitat, all of that different stuff," he said. "You just have to lean on your instincts, your outdoor skills, things like that to reprogram your mind and body to (whatever event you are fishing)."

From where this writer is sitting, that kind of sounds like the whole idea behind Major League Fishing's red-hot format, doesn't it?

Rose doesn't disagree.

"I've always said that Major League Fishing is kind of like a treat to us (professional anglers)," said Rose, who also competes on the B.A.S.S. Southern Open tournament trail, a circuit that he won Angler of the Year honors on in 2016.

"It's different, it's outside of our norm," he added. "Everybody here fishes one of the normal trails, something that they've been fishing for a long time.

"Major League Fishing is a newer addition to our sport and it's greatly welcomed by everybody because it's different and it's fun."

Indeed it is. Especially when you're one of the sport's top pros like Mark Rose is, a respected and well-liked angler that is highly successful on three different professional circuits.

And all because Rose knows how to stay focused and how to keep things simple, traits that come in handy for a Major League Fishing Select pro.

Especially as that SCORETRACKER LIVE! leaderboard starts to sing this week in Michigan.

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