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Rojas Leads Elite Series Tournament on Toledo Bend

Rojas Leads Elite Series Tournament on Toledo Bend Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., with a history of wins on Toledo Bend Reservoir, shone equally bright Thursday on the Sabine, the big lake straddling the river to the north.
 

ORANGE, Texas — Must be something in the water.
 
Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., with a history of wins on Toledo Bend Reservoir, shone equally bright Thursday on the Sabine, the big lake straddling the river to the north. He took the first-day lead in the March 14-17 Sabine River Challenge presented by STARK Cultural Venues, the season opener of the Bassmaster Elite Series.
                                                                                                                                                                                          
Rojas’ 15 pounds, 10 ounces kept him in front of Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark., who was second with 13-13, and Cliff Crochet of Pierre Part, La., who had 13-0 for third place.
 
“It must be the water,” Rojas laughed, a hint that his fast start in the 2013 season opener was almost a coincidence to his success on Toledo Bend, where he won an Elite event in 2011, one of several victories on that fishery over the course of his career. “I don’t even think that the water I’m fishing really does come from Toledo,” he speculated.
 
“Here, you have to find the right area. There’s so much water, and it takes so much time. I was able to find an area that’s got them,” he said.
 
Make no mistake: From an angler’s perspective, Toledo Bend Reservoir and the Sabine River system are polar opposites. The Sabine system is a river fishery with cuts, bayous, canals and so much backwater that the trick for the pros in this Elite tournament — as Rojas said — is to narrow down the choices and then pick it apart. Toledo, another great fishery, is all about reservoir fishing.
 
Rojas said he’s making a long run into Louisiana, but he didn’t reveal any details other than that Thursday he caught seven keeper bass, plus four that didn’t measure up to the 14-inch limit. One of his keepers was a 5-pound, 15-ounce largemouth, which leads the way in the contest for the $1,500 Carhartt Big Bass bonus to be awarded at tournament’s end.
The 5-15 was his first fish of the morning — and it surprised him.
 
“I thought it was a dogfish [a bowfin] at first — they both pull hard. But it wasn’t, it was a big bass. I’ll take it,” he grinned. “It’s so nice to have a fish like that the first day. It’s what separates you from everyone else.”
 
Most important to his game plan, the catch gave him a major clue.
 
“It told me what I needed to do,” he said.
 
With 15-10 on Thursday, the leader became the first contender for the event’s Berkley Heavyweight bonus of $500 awarded to the angler with the largest single-day bag.
 
He said one key to his first-day success was he was able to find clear water, to which the bass tend to gravitate. Rojas said he’d attempt to duplicate Thursday’s success by returning to the same area.
 
“I just have to make it last for four days,” he said.
 
 Davis, in second place, said his first fish was a 4-pounder.
 
“Things just kind of fell into place after that. I had nine keeper bites, and I did not anticipate that at all. I was pleasantly surprised. It had been a slow practice,” said Davis, well-known as the pro who captured the sport’s two biggest honors in the same year, the Bassmaster Classic and Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year in 1995. He topped that accomplishment with two more AOY titles in 1998 and 2001.
 
Louisiana native Crochet said the bayous, canals and backwaters of the Sabine system are much the same as the fishery he grew up with in his backyard.
 
“We’ve had front after front over the past few weeks, and that’s made the fishing challenging,” he noted.
 
In fourth place was Elite rookie Hank Cherry of Maiden, N.C., who brought in 12-11. Just last month in his first Bassmaster Classic appearance, Cherry finished third. That, perhaps, was when he worked through any jitters he might have had going into his first Elite event.
 
“I’m not nervous at all. I’ve been waiting for this my whole life; I’m as happy as I can be,” he said.
Fifth place was taken over by Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., with 11-13.
The Sabine River Challenge presented by STARK Cultural Venues continues Friday when the pros launch at 7 a.m. CT from the City of Orange Boat Ramp at 1000 Simmons Drive and Harry Reed Road. The anglers will weigh their catches at the same location beginning at 3:15 p.m. CT. After Friday’s competition, the field will be cut to the Top 50. Only the Top 12 will survive Saturday’s cut. They’ll return to the water Sunday for one last charge at the $100,000 first-place prize, an instant entry in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic and the lead in the points race to become the 2013 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year by season’s end.
 
Bassmaster.com will provide extensive coverage of the tournament each day. Access to Bassmaster.com is free, and there’s no admission charge for any Bassmaster event.
 
The event’s title sponsor is STARK Cultural Venues, www.starkculutralvenues.org. The local sponsor is Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce, www.orangetexaschamber.org.
 
2013 Bassmaster Elite Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha
2013 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: Carhartt, Livingston Lures, Lowrance, Luck “E” Strike, Power-Pole, Ramada, Shimano
2013 Bassmaster Elite Series Proud Partner: Mustang Survival
About B.A.S.S.
For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and an expansive tournament structure while connecting directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.
 
The Bassmaster brand and its multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications — Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times — comprehensive website Bassmaster.com and ESPN2 and Outdoor Channel television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.
 
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, B.A.S.S. Nation events and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.
 
B.A.S.S. offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members and remains focused on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.
 
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Media Contact: Cara Clark, 205-313-0955, cclark@bassmaster.com, or Dave Precht, 205-313-0931, dprecht@bassmaster.com.
 
2013 Sabine River Challenge 3/14-3/17
Sabine River System, Orange  TX.       
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 1
 
   Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  Pts   
1.  Dean Rojas             Lake Havasu City, AZ     5  15-10  100
  Day 1: 5   15-10  
2.  Mark Davis             Mount Ida, AR            5  13-13   99
  Day 1: 5   13-13  
3.  Cliff Crochet          Pierre Part, LA          5  13-00   98
  Day 1: 5   13-00  
4.  Hank Cherry            Maiden, NC               5  12-11   97
  Day 1: 5   12-11  
5.  Greg Hackney           Gonzales, LA             5  11-13   96
  Day 1: 5   11-13  
6.  Ish Monroe             Hughson, CA              5  11-03   95
  Day 1: 5   11-03  
7.  Jeff Kriet             Ardmore, OK              5  10-13   94
  Day 1: 5   10-13  
7.  Matt Reed              Madisonville, TX         5  10-13   94
  Day 1: 5   10-13  
9.  Casey D Ashley         Donalds, SC              5  10-09   92
  Day 1: 5   10-09  
10. Todd Faircloth         Jasper, TX               5  10-07   91
  Day 1: 5   10-07  
11. Bobby Lane             Lakeland, FL             5  09-15   90
  Day 1: 5   09-15  
12. Terry Scroggins        San Mateo, FL            3  09-11   89
  Day 1: 3   09-11  
13. Mike McClelland        Bella Vista, AR          5  09-06   88
  Day 1: 5   09-06  
14. Fred Roumbanis         Bixby, OK                3  09-05   87
  Day 1: 3   09-05  
15. Skeet Reese            Auburn, CA               5  09-01   86
  Day 1: 5   09-01  
16. Bill Lowen             Brookville, IN           5  09-00   85
  Day 1: 5   09-00  
17. Charlie Hartley        Grove City, OH           5  08-15   84
  Day 1: 5   08-15  
18. Brandon Card           Caryville, TN            5  08-06   83
  Day 1: 5   08-06  
19. Kevin VanDam           Kalamazoo, MI            3  08-02   82
  Day 1: 3   08-02  
20. Bernie Schultz         Gainesville, FL          4  08-01   81
  Day 1: 4   08-01  
21. David Walker           Sevierville, TN          4  07-15   80
  Day 1: 4   07-15  
22. Cliff Pace             Petal, MS                4  07-11   79
  Day 1: 4   07-11  
23. Alton Jones            Lorena, TX               5  07-10   78
  Day 1: 5   07-10  
24. Zell Rowland           Montgomery, TX           4  07-07   77
  Day 1: 4   07-07  
25. Edwin Evers            Talala, OK               4  07-06   76
  Day 1: 4   07-06  
26. James Elam             Tulsa, OK                3  07-03   75
  Day 1: 3   07-03  
27. Kurt Dove              Del Rio, TX              4  07-01   74
  Day 1: 4   07-01  
28. Keith Combs            Huntington, TX           3  06-15   73
  Day 1: 3   06-15  
29. Kotaro Kiriyama        Moody, AL                4  06-13   72
  Day 1: 4   06-13  
30. J Todd Tucker          Moultrie, GA             4  06-11   71
  Day 1: 4   06-11  
30. Chris Zaldain          San Jose, CA             4  06-11   71
  Day 1: 4   06-11  
32. Jason Williamson       Aiken, SC                3  06-10   69
  Day 1: 3   06-10  
33. Gary Klein             Weatherford, TX          4  06-09   68
  Day 1: 4   06-09  
34. Josh Bertrand          Gilbert, AZ              3  06-09   67
  Day 1: 3   06-09  
34. Billy McCaghren        Mayflower, AR            3  06-09   67
  Day 1: 3   06-09  
36. Jason Christie         Park Hill, OK            3  06-02   65
  Day 1: 3   06-02  
36. Steve Kennedy          Auburn, AL               3  06-02   65
  Day 1: 3   06-02  
38. Marty Robinson         Lyman, SC                3  05-14   63
  Day 1: 3   05-14  
39. Shaw E Grigsby Jr.     Gainesville, FL          3  05-09   62
  Day 1: 3   05-09  
40. Fletcher Shryock       Newcomerstown, OH        3  05-08   61
  Day 1: 3   05-08  
41. Scott Ashmore          Broken Arrow, OK         3  05-07   60
  Day 1: 3   05-07  
41. Keith Poche            Pike Road, AL            3  05-07   60
  Day 1: 3   05-07  
43. Jared Miller           Norman, OK               3  05-05   58
  Day 1: 3   05-05  
44. Timmy Horton           Muscle Shoals, AL        3  05-02   57
  Day 1: 3   05-02  
44. Morizo Shimizu         Osaka JAPAN              3  05-02   57
  Day 1: 3   05-02  
46. Jared Lintner          Arroyo Grande, CA        3  05-01   55
  Day 1: 3   05-01  
47. Bradley Roy            Lancaster, KY            3  04-14   54
  Day 1: 3   04-14  
48. Nate Wellman           Newaygo, MI              2  04-10   53
  Day 1: 2   04-10  
49. Kevin Hawk             Guntersville, AL         2  04-07   52
  Day 1: 2   04-07  
49. Randy Howell           Springville, AL          2  04-07   52
  Day 1: 2   04-07  
51. Michael Iaconelli      Pittsgrove, NJ           2  04-03   50
  Day 1: 2   04-03  
52. Kenyon Hill            Norman, OK               1  04-01   49
  Day 1: 1   04-01  
53. Pete Ponds             Madison, MS              1  03-14   48
  Day 1: 1   03-14  
54. Brent Chapman          Lake Quivira, KS         2  03-13   47
  Day 1: 2   03-13  
55. Tommy Biffle           Wagoner, OK              2  03-12   46
  Day 1: 2   03-12  
55. Davy Hite              Ninety Six, SC           2  03-12   46
  Day 1: 2   03-12  
57. John Crews             Salem, VA                2  03-11   44
  Day 1: 2   03-11  
58. Paul Elias             Laurel, MS               1  03-11   43
  Day 1: 1   03-11  
59. Boyd Duckett           Demopolis, AL            2  03-09   42
  Day 1: 2   03-09  
60. Scott Rook             Little Rock, AR          2  03-06   41
  Day 1: 2   03-06  
61. Clark Reehm            Shreveport, LA           2  03-03   40
  Day 1: 2   03-03  
62. Clifford Pirch         Payson, AZ               1  03-02   39
  Day 1: 1   03-02  
62. Brian Snowden          Reeds Spring, MO         1  03-02   39
  Day 1: 1   03-02  
64. Brandon Palaniuk       Rathdrum, ID             2  03-01   37
  Day 1: 2   03-01  
65. Matt Herren            Trussville, AL           1  03-01   36
  Day 1: 1   03-01  
66. Kelly Jordon           Palestine, TX            2  03-00   35
  Day 1: 2   03-00  
67. Dennis Tietje          Roanoke, LA              1  02-14   34
  Day 1: 1   02-14  
68. Chip Porche            Bixby, OK                1  02-11   33
  Day 1: 1   02-11  
69. Chris Lane             Guntersville, AL         1  02-01   32
  Day 1: 1   02-01  
69. Aaron Martens          Leeds, AL                1  02-01   32
  Day 1: 1   02-01  
71. Derek Remitz           Grant, AL                1  02-00   30
  Day 1: 1   02-00  
72. Britt Myers            Lake Wylie, SC           1  01-15   29
  Day 1: 1   01-15  
73. Stephen Browning       Hot Springs, AR          1  01-14   28
  Day 1: 1   01-14  
73. Andy Montgomery        Blacksburg, SC           1  01-14   28
  Day 1: 1   01-14  
73. Jonathon VanDam        Kalamazoo, MI            1  01-14   28
  Day 1: 1   01-14  
76. Yusuke Miyazaki        Forney, TX               1  01-13   25
  Day 1: 1   01-13  
76. Rick Morris            Lake Gaston, VA          1  01-13   25
  Day 1: 1   01-13  
76. James Niggemeyer       Van, TX                  1  01-13   25
  Day 1: 1   01-13  
79. Ott DeFoe              Knoxville, TN            1  01-12   22
  Day 1: 1   01-12  
80. Jamie Horton           Centerville, AL          1  01-11   21
  Day 1: 1   01-11  
80. Chad Pipkens           Holt, MI                 1  01-11   21
  Day 1: 1   01-11  
80. Michael Simonton       Fremont, OH              1  01-11   21
  Day 1: 1   01-11  
80. Gerald Swindle         Warrior, AL              1  01-11   21
  Day 1: 1   01-11  
84. BJ Haseotes            Centerville, MA          1  01-09   17
  Day 1: 1   01-09  
84. Kevin Ledoux           Choctaw, OK              1  01-09   17
  Day 1: 1   01-09  
84. Kevin Short            Mayflower, AR            1  01-09   17
  Day 1: 1   01-09  
87. Russ Lane              Prattville, AL           1  01-08   14
  Day 1: 1   01-08  
88. Rick Clunn             Ava, MO                  0  00-00    0
  Day 1: 0   00-00  
88. Jami Fralick           Martin, SD               0  00-00    0
  Day 1: 0   00-00  
88. Grant Goldbeck         Boerne, TX               0  00-00    0
  Day 1: 0   00-00  
88. Matt Greenblatt        Port St Lucie, FL        0  00-00    0
  Day 1: 0   00-00  
88. Kelley Jaye            Dadeville, AL            0  00-00    0
  Day 1: 0   00-00  
88. John Murray            Phoenix, AZ              0  00-00    0
  Day 1: 0   00-00  
88. Takahiro Omori         Emory, TX                0  00-00    0
  Day 1: 0   00-00  
88. Cliff Prince           Palatka, FL              0  00-00    0
  Day 1: 0   00-00  
88. Jason Quinn            Lake Wylie, SC           0  00-00    0
  Day 1: 0   00-00  
88. Casey Scanlon          Lenexa, KS               0  00-00    0
  Day 1: 0   00-00  
88. David Smith            Del City, OK             0  00-00    0
  Day 1: 0   00-00  
88. Jeremy Starks          Scott Depot, WV          0  00-00    0
  Day 1: 0   00-00  
88. Greg Vinson            Wetumpka, AL             0  00-00    0
  Day 1: 0   00-00  
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Totals
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
 1        17       238       491-02
----------------------------------
          17       238       491-02

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