Jim Dopp finished 13th in the 1999 Bassmaster Central Invitational on Table Rock Lake, and he’d competed in the 1998 Red Man All-American, so he was no rookie when he launched his boat for the 2000 Central Invitational on Table Rock. Indeed, the 48 year-old had fished the Ozarks-region lakes since he was a kid.
If he was nervous, it didn’t show. He was tied for 4th with eventual runner-up Mike McClelland after Day One, but then sacked 14-12 – the heaviest bag of the event – on Day Two to take a lead that he would not relinquish. McClelland made a late charge, but ultimately fell 22 ounces short of victory. He’d won back-to-back Invitationals in 1996, but would not win another B.A.S.S. tournament until the 2005 Open Championship.
Table Rock proved tough during that early April event. It took less than 20 pounds over three days of competition to earn a 50th place check and 10 pounds a day would put you right at 10th place. Hardly the spring bonanza on “The Rock” that many anglers had looked forward to over the winter.
Dopp focused on main lake points with pea gravel for the win, fishing painfully slowly with a split shot rig. While it was only 15 years ago, it’s somewhat jarring to see no mention of a dropshot rig or shakey head in the tournament reports – those techniques simply were not yet well-known. Both McClelland and local favorite Stacey King, the third place finisher, used Mojo Rigs. Fourth place angler Scott Rook used a finesse worm on a 1/16 ounce jig, but if it was what we now call a shakey head, the press didn’t represent it as such. Fifth place finisher Ted Pate of Louisiana deviated slightly from the finesse strategy by employing a ½ ounce weight from Lake Fork Tackle, but even he used a small Lake Fork Ring Fry and added an 8-pound test leader to his 15-pound main line.
After the win, Dopp fished five Invitationals/Opens in 2001 and 2002, finishing better than 117th only once, at the 2001 Oklahoma Central Open on Fort Gibson, in which he finished 33rd.
In order to win this week’s trivia contest, be the first person to correctly answer the following three questions in the comments section, below:
- What did Dopp do for a living when he wasn’t fishing? The title of this trivia contest should provide a hint.
- Dopp and McClelland both used the same worm for most of their catch. What was it?
- While King relied primarily on a Zoom Centipede and a Bass Pro Shops grub, his two biggest fish came on another Ozarks region staple. What was it?
The answers and winner will be announced Thursday. Good Luck!