Congratulations to Reggie Calhoun for winning this week’s Trivia Contest! Although Braden and PJ had answers with more info, Reggie had the correct answer – albeit a short concise one – first. For the answer read below.
Davy Hite won the 2001 Bassmaster Tour event on Lousiana’s Red River with a four day catch of 41-08, enough to outlast second place finisher Guy Eaker by over five pounds.
The victory was Hite’s fifth with B.A.S.S., and second that year. He has since added three more and continues to compete.
While it was only a little over a decade ago, much as changed at B.A.S.S. since that 2001 event. Of the top ten finishers, only Hite and Todd Faircloth compete on the Elite Series today. Between 11th and 20th, Edwin Evers and Mike McClelland are the only other Elite Series holdovers. Others have either died, retired (both voluntarily and involuntarily) or left for the FLW Tour.
At the time, though, the tournament’s historical significance centered on another current Elite Series star, one who didn’t even make the money that week.
Do you remember what happened? Here’s the answer.
Dean Rojas may have finished 124th at the 2001 Red River tournament, but earlier in the week it looked like he’d be a favorite to take home the trophy. He’d already amassed a substantial amount of hardware earlier that year, winning the record-setting Toho Top 150, and then again at Toledo Bend shortly thereafter.
On the first day at the Red, he weighed in 15-08, including a 6-05 big fish, which had him well in the lead. He admitted to BassFan that he was “fishing a spot, as opposed to a pattern, but didn’t want to say anything more — except that he joked that the spot ‘has some trees around it’ (90 percent of the Red River’s water is surrounded by all manner of wood).”
On Day Two, he brought 15-08 to the scales again. His two day tally 31 pounds even would have been good enough for a top ten finish over four days. The catch had him in the lead by over 7 pounds and he was confident that his spot would continue to replenish. It had taken his 45 and 47 minutes, respectively, to sack his two limits.
That evening, though, he realized that he’d violated a rule.
“I was going over some paperwork last night and realized that I had committed a rules infraction,” Rojas said at the time. “I approached tournament officials this morning about the situation. This is a clean and respectable sport with clean and respectable competitors. It’s unfortunate that this happened, but rules are rules. If every angler on the trail didn’t follow the rules, we would not have the premier tournament organization in the world.”
Statements from B.A.S.S. indicated that the violation was an honest one. As BassFan reported:
Rojas was fishing an area off an oxbow marked with “No Trespassing” signs. Problem is, many areas on the river are marked with such signs, which are posted illegally by landowners or by others who want to keep fishermen out of their holes.
The signs are illegal and ignorable in all cases but one — and that’s where Rojas was fishing.
Murray explained that when the Red River was impounded (it’s a series of pools now), landowners were offered two choices: take a buyout and have the flooded land become public water, or refuse the buyout and post the flooded land so it’s a private fishing hole.
All the landowners on the entire river took the buyout. Except one. In ignoring the signs, Rojas was acting no differently than any other pro. It appears that he just got unlucky.
Finally, Mark Cosper, B.A.S.S.’s tournament director for the Red River event, said: “Dean met with me this morning and admitted that he had made a mistake by fishing in off-limits waters during the first two days of competition. As a result of this, his catch for those days was disqualified.
“Dean could have simply withdrawn from this event and headed for home, but instead fished all day because he didn’t want to leave his amateur partner waiting at the dock. You must applaud Dean’s professionalism and integrity.”
Rojas went on fish the third day and weighed in 7-09. If he’d weighed that each of the first three days, fishing legal water, he would have easily made the money cut, but with a two-day hole there was no way for him to jump back into the top 40.
BassFan’s first day report had been oddly prophetic: “If that one spot is the only card Rojas has to play, he might be in trouble because making one spot last for 4 days is a gamble. ‘I don’t know if the spot has enough fish for 4 days, but we’ll see,’ he said.”
Since that time, Rojas has won two more B.A.S.S. tournaments – in 2008 at Oneida and in 2011 at Toledo Bend. He has also fished two more events on the Red River, the 2009 and 2012 Classics, finishing 18th and 33rd.