Jordon Hopes to Ride Big Bite Momentum
2014 Shell Rotella Challenge Cup, Denton, Texas, Oct. 26, 2013 :: Championship
by Lynn Burkhead
|CHAMPIONSHIP Competitors |
DENTON, Texas – They are known as rollers, those huge white-capping waves that can build on the southern or northern ends of Ray Roberts Lake and literally roll for miles in the opposite direction, swamping anything that gets in their way.
Just like Texas' native son Kelly Jordon has done during the Jack Link's Major League Fishing competition near Denton on Ray Roberts and nearby Grapevine Lake.
So commanding has been the Palestine angler's performance that he has been unbeatable, easily winning his Elimination Round qualifier on Ray Roberts and his Sudden Death Semifinal round on Grapevine.
In the Elimination Round, Jordon used an 8-pound, 2-ounce bass – the biggest bass ever weighed in MLF history – to anchor a very productive day that saw him easily win the day's competition.
In the second round, he picked up where he left off, landing a 7-pound, 1-ounce bass – the third biggest in MLF history – to lead an effort that saw him become the only angler to cross the 20-pound qualifying weight mark.
All of that success has Jordon on the waters of Ray Roberts again for the 2014 Shell Rotella Challenge Cup final. This will be the second time in KJ's MLF career that he has advanced to the Championship Round.
"Yeah, it was a lot of fun," said Jordon of his successful run so far. "I was just fishing good and it was just rolling my way and when you get that kind of momentum, you almost can't do any wrong.
"The kind of day I had yesterday (at Grapevine), I sure would like to have that kind of day today (at Ray Roberts). I'm going to try and keep it rolling from yesterday."
Like others noted when the six MLF anglers got their first look at where they will be fishing the championship finale – the timber-infested arm of Buck Creek – Jordon said it looks like it will be difficult to get around.
"I don't know until we get out there, but (it looks like) mobility is going to be limited," said Jordon, a four-time winner on the B.A.S.S. tournament circuit. "You're going to almost have to pick a place to hang your hat.
"If you take forever to get to some place to fish, you're probably going to be there. (And) if you pick the wrong place, you can be pretty done I think."
As this interview was being conducted, Jordon was feverishly looking at his boat's electronic map and trying to formulate a winning game plan.
"There's no way that you can run around this zone, it's a big area," said the one-time winner on the FLW Tour and the 2008 Toyota Texas Bass Classic champ. "You want to go some place where you've got some options."
While we were speaking, Jordon kept looking and scrolling through the map. Suddenly he smiled and said "I think I know what I'm going to do."
And what is that, I queried? Jordon answered somewhat evasively as others in the field milled around.
"You want to be in an area where you can bounce from one area to another and figure out the pattern the quickest," said Jordon, a nine-time qualifier for the Bassmaster Classic.
“ I've been here before to this part (of Ray Roberts) and it's a forest. ”
– Kelly Jordon
"I already know what patterns have been working (this week) the most consistently at this time of year," added KJ, a member of the B.A.S.S. Millionaire career earnings club as well as the B.A.S.S. Century Club for a four-day tournament weight exceeding 100 pounds.
"That being said, even though you run the right pattern, they are not every place they should be. But if you hit enough of them (pattern spots), you should run into them somewhere."
Jordon once again referred to the ability to be mobile as being one of his keys.
"I've been here (once) before to this part (of Ray Roberts) and it's a forest," said KJ, a former guide on East Texas' timber-choked Lake Fork.
"There's a lot of cover, a lot of targets too. That's bewildering to some people, but I fish lakes with timber all the time and it's not (bewildering) to me."
How will he figure out such a target rich environment today?
"It's kind of like people that go to a grass lake that is solid grass and they are like 'Where do you start?,'" he added.
"It's similar (on timbered lakes). You've just got to treat the trees like they are grass or something that enhances what is already there. There's a reason the fish are where they are and in the trees, there is the additional cover (attracting them).
"Being able to fish it, being able to make them bite, there's a lot (of possibilities). It's going to be interesting."
As mentioned earlier, this is Jordon's second appearance in a MLF final. At the inaugural event at South Texas' Lake Amistad, he fell behind early and was never able to catch up as eventual champion Brent Ehrler roared out to an early lead and then held off Kevin VanDam at the end.
To avoid a repeat performance – with both KVD and Ehrler in the championship field – Jordon is prepared to dig deep into his bag of angling tricks and approach with more of an open mind.
Not just more of an open mind from his Amistad performance a few years ago, but also from his performances here in the Denton area earlier in the week.
"I was a little more hard-headed in that one (Amistad)," said Jordon. "(And here), this really truly is, even though it's the same lake where we fished the opening round, it's so different of a section that I think it's going to be quite different than what we experienced before.
"I could be wrong, but I think it's going to be different this time."
Jordon is hopeful that he will once again find and catch a big fish or two. After all, that's his specialty and it has helped him in this event create some early separation from the field.
"Absolutely," said KJ, who has caught more daily big bass than any other angler in B.A.S.S. history.
"Right now, with that 8-02 I caught in the first round, that's the biggest fish caught in Major League Fishing history.
"That (record) could easily go down today," added Jordon. "We've got the conditions that you would want to catch them in at this time of the year. We've got some weather coming in, some rain (in the forecast), we've got clouds and it's windy and it's right before a front."
But if the big fish bite doesn't come today, Jordon said he is prepared mentally to grind it out all the way to the trophy presentation.
"You know, fall is really kind of sketchy," he said. "It's really hit or miss (sometimes), it just is. It's just a weird time of year for bass fishing.
"But if you catch those kind of days when it is nasty enough, somebody is going to figure it out. And man, there are some big fish in this lake. Hopefully I can figure out how to get a couple of those big bites and figure out a pattern to catch a lot of fish as well."
If there's a favorite here in this championship finale, it might have to be Jordon since what he described above is exactly what he has done start to finish in the first two rounds.
KJ has caught the big fish, the ones that create distance from the pack on the MLF real-time leaderboard and help to demoralize the competition.
“ There's a whole lot of X-factor stuff going on right now and I'm still trying to figure that out, what I'm going to do. ”
– Kelly Jordon
He's also been able to grind it out later in the day with numbers of smaller fish too. That's something that allowed him to win his Elimination Round and to reach the Sudden Death qualifying weight when no one else could.
If he can do all of that one more time, a huge triumph awaits on Ray Roberts Lake.
"You're going to have to capitalize on your choices, you're going to have to pick the right areas, you're going to have to make the right moves at the right time," said Jordon. "There's a whole lot of X-factor stuff going on right now and I'm still trying to figure that out, what I'm going to do (today)."
So far, KJ has figured out the X-factors that exist on the bass-filled waters in and around Denton better than anyone else in the Major League Fishing field.
If he can roll over the competition one more time in the Buck Creek arm of Ray Bob, he'll take back to his East Texas home the biggest title of his stellar angling career.
A title complete with the 2014 Shell Rotella Challenge Cup, a huge silver chalice that looks awfully good on the fireplace mantle.
It should; it's one of the most coveted trophies that the sport of professional bass fishing has to offer.
NOTE: The Championship Round of the 2014 Challenge Cup will air through May 24 on Outdoor Channel. Check here for the full schedule.