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Published: May 8, 2014
Rojas Ready to Grind It Out in Finals
2014 Shell Rotella Challenge Cup, Denton, Texas, Oct. 26, 2013 :: Championship
by Lynn Burkhead
|CHAMPIONSHIP Competitors |
DENTON, Texas – During Sudden Death Day One of the Jack Link’s Major League Fishing 2014 Shell Rotella Challenge Cup, competitor Dean Rojas lived out a dream on Grapevine Lake.
The angling kind of a dream where a pro basser is catching big fish after big fish, putting it to the rest of the field in the process, and enjoying the kind of magical day from the front deck of a bass boat where a pro can do virtually no wrong.
That's the kind of day where he smashed the field with several big largemouth and smallmouth bass catches en route to crossing the 20-pound qualifying weight first.
In fact, Rojas was the only angler in his semifinal round to do so, nearly doubling the weight of everyone else in the field on that particular day.
But for the Championship Round - back on Lake Ray Roberts where the competition began - Rojas knows full well that his Sudden Death Round was then and the star-studded final is now.
Being back on Ray Roberts, Rojas is expecting more of a grind-it-out approach during the three periods rather than a sprint to the finish line.
"It's going to be grinding it out, one fish at a time," said the Lake Havasu, Ariz., pro.
"We've got a front coming in (later today) and I think it's going to be better than in our qualifying round, but still, I think it's going to be a grind all the way around."
Rojas expects to need the tough-it-out mentality after having to employ that strategy in the Elimination Round bracket that he made it through on Ray Bob.
In that round, the Arizona pro used finesse fishing techniques and a load of smaller bass to "nickel and dime" his way up the leaderboard and on through to the Sudden Death Round.
Rojas, widely known for his frog fishing expertise, admits to feeling some uncertainty.
Especially since the Championship Round field is competing in the upper end of Ray Roberts' Buck Creek arm.
"I've never been here before, so all of this is new to me," said Rojas. "I'll just use my 15-minute ride around first thing this morning to see what we've got and to evaluate some things.
"(Then) I'll figure out where I'm going to start."
Fishing in the Buck Creek portion of the reservoir, the four-time B.A.S.S. winner admitted that his first glance at the map showed a lot more timber for the MLF anglers to have to deal with.
Rojas, who has more than $1.6 million in career earnings in his back pocket, says that will certainly impact how the event turns out.
"I think once you get into an area, you're going to have to commit to it," said the MLF pro. "The timber will only allow you to go so far and to move so fast, either while fishing or while transporting (from one area to another)."
With an autumn cool front advancing towards North Texas and with possible thunderstorms later in the day, does Rojas anticipate a change in the angling methods he is using?
“ I've got 12 rods on the deck and they are all different stuff, so we'll see what happens today. ”
– Dean Rojas
Especially as compared to the ones that Rojas used to make his first ever MLF Championship Round, techniques that proved their merit on two days that were more sunny and tranquil?
"The way I'm fishing, it could change (somewhat today)," said Rojas, a steady pro with 36 Top-10 B.A.S.S. tournament finishes under his belt.
"I've got 12 rods on the deck and they are all different stuff, so we'll see what happens today."
While the pro didn't want to elaborate much more on what methods he might employ, since several of the contenders were standing nearby, he did admit that whatever methods he used, they had better work.
Especially with the likes of former MLF champions Kevin VanDam and Brent Ehrler, and Texans Kelly Jordon and Gary Klein in the Championship Round field.
"I need to catch them today," said Rojas.
"These guys are great, all of them are well established professionals. For me, I just need to perform at my highest level today."
If Rojas can do that, he could become a Major League Fishing Champion for the first time, something that he says would mean a lot to him.
Even for a pro with a career resume that is already glittering with plenty of accolades and accomplishments.
"I think it would be great," smiled Rojas. "I'm just going to take it one fish at a time and stay focused on the job at hand and catch as many bass as I can today."
In an effort to grind it out, all the way to the 2014 Shell Rotella Challenge Cup trophy presentation.
NOTE: The Championship Round of the 2014 Challenge Cup will air through May 24 on Outdoor Channel. Check here for the full schedule.