Rose KnowsSubmitted by Full Limit Outdoor Media
There are a few certainties in bass fishing. Fish that get off before being landed are all giants. There will be a major cold front the night before a tournament when you’re on em’. Someone must have seen you on the secret hole that is now a revolving door. And, Mark Rose is going to catch them on the Tennessee River. While the first three are comically debatable, the last one has been proven otherwise time and time again.
No one knows for sure why Rose is so dominant on a body of water that he doesn’t even live on. And it’s not just a little lake that’s easy to stay tuned in to. It is what you might refer to as Gi-normous. The TN River is only about 652 miles long and is broken up into 8 major, and independently unique, fisheries. So how does one angler always seemed tapped into the “happening thing” and therefore the check line at every single event there? Well, I’m not sure. I do know that Mark has been noted primarily as an offshore specialist whose expertise makes him especially hard to beat in the summer months where he fools structure-related schools of fish with a 6XD and 10XD. But, this time, he won in February. This time, he won it shallow. This time, he led wire-to-wire to handily best a star-studded FLW field and some pretty salty locals on a stingy Guntersville lake.
Here are precise details on what he caught his fish. Where he used it. And why he picked it. Take notes. Because Rose Knows bass fishing.
Marks’s had a couple primary baits. The first of which is a discontinued Strike King Custom Shop Flat Shad. It is a balsa flat side that is about 25% bigger than a Little Petey (If you know balsa baits, you’re not scratching your head right now). Mark took the stock Chartreuse/Brown Back version and went Van Gogh on it with his sharpies. He doctored it up to give it a “spring craw-ish” look which according to him is money early in the year. As most know, balsa baits are noted for their success in cold water. Their action is a tighter wiggle than achieved by their plastic counterparts. Mark, in all of his literally infinite bass lure wisdom, also pointed out something that most people haven’t noticed or thought of about the productivity of balsa baits in cold water. Per Rose, balsa baits “push less water” because they are a lighter bait. He feels that their water displacement is akin to the subdued action of threadfin shad in cold water. See, that is the next-level stuff you only get from someone like Mark……. He threw the Flat Shad on staging areas that were typically chunk rock banks leading to spawning bays. In his words, “a few fish move up first and they’re usually big ones. They get shallower earlier. You aren’t fishing for as many bites when targeting them, but you’re fishing for the kind of bites that win tournaments”.
Mark’s other primary weapon was a ½ oz. Tungsten 2 Tap Red Eyed Shad in Royal Red. “The 2 Tap is better early for me. The deeper, subtler sound is better in cold water” Rose adds. The color was based on water clarity as the purple back of the Royal Red was the ticket in the clearer water he was fishing. He cast the 2 Tap on inside grass lines and concentrated on making very specific casts that allowed him to closely parallel the grass edge. He would occasionally snag the grass and get bit as he popped the bait loose, but the key was to fish tight to the grass and only make very light contact with it. Rose noted that there were more fish on the outside grass lines, but staying true to his “fewer but bigger” game plan, he pried the inside for quality bites. Equipment was key to this presentation as well. Mark cast the 2 Tap on a Lews Magnesium reel paired with his new signature series Team Lews Custom “Ledge Big Crankbait” rod. His line of choice was 15# Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon.
The next tool, or tools, in his arsenal was a pair of jigs. Mark caught numbers on the jigs while rotating through his milk-run. The numbers gave him confidence as he would lay off his best spots to let them rest and reload. He noted that his jig bite was pivotal to his success as it kept his head in the game while fishing his “second team” spots. His jig fishing was two distinctly different scenarios. The first was a deep, main-lake bluff bank where he would cast a ¼ oz. Tour Grade Finesse Football Jig. Green pumpkin was the color and the trailer was either a Bitsy Craw Trailer of a KVD Jr Chunk. Both of those were also Green Pumpkin, but he would tip them both with orange dye for visibility. This jig was fished on a spinning rod with 20# Seaguar Smackdown braid and a 10# Tatsu leader. The smaller, lighter jig would fall slowly off the rock shelves on the bluff bank. The slow, subtle action of the jig and trailer was the key to getting bites.
The second Rose employed was a 3/8 oz. Denny Brauer Baby Structure Jig. Surprisingly, it was Green Pumpkin…… This is where he gets all “Rose-ish” on us again. He would take about a ½” of a Red Bug Perfect Plastic Finesse Worm and thread it on the hook shank and over the keeper. This would keep the trailer from sliding up the shank as well as give the jig a small flash of red. The trailer of choice for this application was also a KVD Jr Chunk in you guessed it, Green Pumpkin. It was also tipped with orange dye. Rose would actually flip this jig using 20# Tatsu into shallow brush and treetops that were typically 2’ deep or less. “This bait is like a banana split to a bass early in the year. They just can’t resist it. The cool thing is that it doesn’t matter if I’m flipping it around on a baitcaster and 15 to 20 pound line, or casting it around on spinning tackle and light line. This little jig will catch them all, big and small, in shallow water” says the Guntersville Champ.
The last bullet in Rose’s gun was a custom vibrating jig. Mark emphasized that the jig itself wasn’t that critical, but rather the trailer. The Rage Tail Structure Bug. He ranted and raved to me during this portion of the interview about how awesome that bait is, how versatile it is, and how over-looked it is as a jig trailer. “I have come to rely on the Rage Bug year-round for tons of applications. I flip it, punch it, cast it, swim it, and use it as a trailer. I’m constantly finding new ways to catch them on it” Mark added. The way he rigged the Rage Bug on his vibrating jig is what I found unique. “I like to rig the Rage Bug sideways in this application as it creates the perfect, and different, profile. The way the ribs run and the way the appendages are, the Bug really looks good on its side”. The Rage Bug was also Green Pumpkin tipped with Orange.
In conclusion, here’s what we know; Green Pumpkin tipped with orange is important on Guntersville in February. A few different things working for you can be as good or better than sticking with one bait, technique or presentation. Mark Rose knows things about fishing that most of us don’t even think about. Most importantly, Mark Rose is THE MAN on the Tennessee River no matter where and no matter when.