Preview: 2018 Summit Select ' Suggs in the Spotlight at Ouachita

By Rob Newell - January 17, 2018

Ever since the 2018 MLF Summit Select became destined for Hot Springs, Ark., well-known Arkansas pro Scott Suggs has been the automatic favorite. Even though anglers have no idea which lakes they will be fishing in the Hot Springs area, one thing they do know is that if Scott Suggs gets to spend a competition day on Lake Ouachita, it would likely be an automatic advancement for him.

This assumption basically comes from the fact that Lake Ouachita is literally Scott Suggs’ backyard. It’s not only his home lake, but also his favorite lake. He has fished it his entire life and it’s the lake that changed his life when he won the Forrest Wood Cup there in 2007, claiming the $1 million dollar prize and becoming pro bass fishing’s first “instant millionaire.”

And as fate would have it, Suggs is going to get his shot at his home lake during the MLF Summit Select as the day-three caravan of pros pulls into Mountain Harbor Resort boat ramp for the final day of the Elimination Round.

Fellow Arkansas pro and long-time friend, Mark Rose, was the first one to greet Suggs as he stepped from the truck.

Before the zone maps had even been handed out, Rose shook Suggs’ hand with a chuckle and said, “Congratulations, Scott.”

“All I want is your crumbs,” Rose joked. “I’ve still got a chance at second – come on man.”

But Suggs was not exactly in the joking mood.

“Hey, the fact that we’re at this ramp isn’t a good thing for me!” he exclaimed. “This is not the end of the lake I like. If we end up in the main river for our zone, I’m screwed. I’m telling you, I never fish up here anymore.”

“Aww you poor thing,” Rose teased with a sigh.

As the zone maps came around, it become apparent that the main Ouachita River Arm would be the zone for the day. Anglers were to run from Mountain Harbor over to where the main Ouachita River entered the lake. They would be allowed to fish from there up into the river about 6 miles, giving them nearly 5000 acres of water to fish.

As Suggs received his zone map, a look of horror crossed his face.

“Yep, it’s the river,” he lamented. “The worst possible place for me on this lake. I don’t even know where any brushpiles are up here.”

It was as if Suggs was trying to sell his competitors on the notion that his life-long experience on Ouachita was now useless.

“I’m serious,” he pleaded. “Ever since the grass has come back in the lower end, I never come up here at all. All the good fishing is down there – that’s the part I know, not up here, especially the main river.”

Rose still wasn’t buying Suggs’ sob story.

“This may not exactly be his back yard, but it’s within sight of his backyard, let’s put it that way,” Rose said of Suggs’ downplay display. “He’ll still be able to look at the water level and water color and have a better idea of what to do quicker than most of us.”

“I live in Arkansas and I’ve only fished here four times and it was all for bass tournaments,” Rose added. “The only thing I remember from my history here is that this lake tends to be a big time bluegill lake – bass here seem to prefer bream more than other types of forage.”

“Other than that, it looks like the water has been dropping, which is better than it rising water,” Rose added. “That’s about all I’ve got to go on until I get out there and look around.”

One thing you can bet though, the other six competitors will have their ear close to the Scoretracker for the names of Scott Suggs and Mark Rose. Both veteran pros are notorious for their offshore fishing prowess. With two anglers known for “fishing out” in the lineup, hearing their names climbing up the leaderboard simultaneously could be a solid clue that fish have moved out a little deeper with the falling water. At the same time, not hearing either one of their names is an indication that staying up shallow on the bank is probably still the best move for the day.

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