By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
There's no question that the hastily prepared schedule for the MLF Bass Pro Tour's inaugural season favored anglers who excel in shallow water. It was pretty much devoid of the offshore, depthfinder-dominated derbies that Mark Rose has become synonymous with over the past decade.
That didn't stop the 2018 FLW Tour Angler of the Year from putting together another stellar campaign, though. Including the Redcrest Championship, he logged top-20 finishes in five of nine events and landed at No. 10 on the final points list.
"On the one hand, I was pleased with my year when you consider the talent level in the field and everything," he said. "But I've been in sports my entire life and as a competitor, you always want to win, and when you don't there will always be that void.
"That's what I love about this sport so much – there's no way you can win every time so you'll never be totally satisfied, but it's always a challenge. I'm content with doing the best I can every time out and trying to honor God, and I'll focus on the process and be content with the results."
Wasn't Fooled Often
The 48-year-old Rose failed to advance to the Knockout Round (third day of competition) in just two events – the season-opener at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, where he was 46th, and the second of the back-to-back events at Table Rock Lake, where he was 56th (after finishing 4th the prior week). He said he enjoyed the BPT format for several reasons, particularly the conservation aspect deriving from immediate release.
Also, he very much liked his first season of fishing without a co-angler in the back of his boat, as that seat was taken up by an official in a zebra-striped shirt.
"That was a little different," he said. "Instead of worrying about whether the guy back there was in fishable water, all I was concerned about was whether he had enough to eat and drink. That was nice.
"Other than that, it's still about what bass fishing's always been about, which is trying to figure out the fish better than anybody else. You hear so many people talk about 'Well, (the BPT is) a small-fish deal,' but I caught a lot of big fish this year. It's just different because everybody sees all the little ones too, but that's fishing and it teaches people to just catch fish."
Ups and Downs at 'The Rock'
The two derbies at Table Rock ended up being Rose's best and worst finishes of the season. It was his propensity for offshore action that bit him in the latter tournament.
"I had two deals going, one up the (James) River and one more in the mid-lake, and I should've concentrated more on the mid-lake one," he said. "The one up the river was more ledge-fishing and that's what drew me up there. In MLF you can't do a lot of running around, and I tried to do both.
"The shad spawn was about 90 percent over and (the bass) were starting to get out there grouped up. But those fish up there, I learned that they're finicky. When you have three days of practice on the Tennessee River you can learn their feeding times and the power generation schedules and really get dialed in, but in MLF you only get a couple of days on bodies of water that aren't as familiar and you don't have time to zero things in quite as well. I didn't have my timing down as good as I needed to and that kind of messed me up.
"It was more of a sure deal down lake. I could've had a good tournament there, but I was going for great and I ended up with a bad one."
As usual, he's spending much of his offseason hunting deer and fishing for crappie. He's also preparing for his oldest daughter's impending graduation from the University of Arkansas.
"I use that time to get re-energized and get myself in shape mentally, physically and spiritually for the next tournament season. For me, spending time in the woods is almost like plugging in batteries.
"I'm looking forward to next year – I see a couple spots on the schedule where the offshore thing could happen. But one thing I've learned, just through time and experience, is when to be looking at (the graphs) and when not to. Sometimes you need to be focused on the habitat instead of your electronics."