John's Journal...

Mark Menendez – Winning $100,000 in an Aluminum Boat at Bassmaster’s Lake Dardanelle Tournament

The First Day of Competition at Lake Dardanelle

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: The third day of competition at Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, Arkansas, for the Bassmaster Elite Series was cancelled because of wind and rain. Therefore, instead of cutting the field to 50, the field was cut to the final 12. The last day of the competition was with the final 12, who would compete on the final day for the $100,000.

Question: Mark, how far did you have to run from the take-off to get to the area you wanted to fish on the first day of competition?
Menendez: I traveled 55 minutes to get to the spot I wanted to fish and another 55 minutes to get back on flat water.

Question: Once you reached the place you wanted to fish, how long before you got into that hidden bay?
Menendez: I had to go through one 20-yard stretch of rocks, and then I had to run 3/4-mile back into this hidden bay. Click to enlarge

Question: What kind of live-well system did you have in this boat?
Menendez: The G3 is an aluminum bass boat, and it was rigged out with a very-adequate live-well system to keep my fish alive once I caught them.

Question: On the first day of competition with what lures did you start fishing?
Menendez: I started fishing the Strike King Compact Silhouette spinner bait, and I couldn’t get a bite. Then I started pitching the Game Hawg, and I couldn’t get a bite with that. I wondered what could be the problem. I knew the bass hadn’t gone anywhere, because they lived there. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t take the two lures that had been so successful the previous day. So, I picked up a 6-inch Rage Tail lizard in the June bug color, started fishing it and caught my first two keepers.  However, they were small, weighing only 1 to 1-1/2 pounds. But the third fish I had a chance to catch told me how to fish and catch the bass that day. I was reeling the Rage Tail Lizard back to the boat on a fairly-fast retrieve to make another cast, and a 3-1/2-pounder was chasing my lizard but didn’t take the bait. So I thought to myself, “I’m going to swim this lizard and see what happens.” I swam the lizard on the next three casts, and I caught three, 3-pound bass. Click to enlarge

Question: What size weight were you using with the lizard?
Menendez: I was using a 1/4-ounce black lead weight on 20-pound-test 100% Berkley Fluorocarbon line with a 7-foot, 6-inch Power Tackle flipping stick and a 7:1 Pflueger Patriarch reel. I was swimming the lizard at a moderate pace, just barely off the bottom. Because the Rage Tail Lizard had big legs, it moved a lot of water, and that big tail also disturbed a lot of water.

Question: So with three casts with a Rage Tail lizard, you had finished your limit of bass. What did you do next?
Menendez: I kept fishing the lizard and culled-up with bigger bass. But then a strange thing happened. I pitched the lizard behind a stick, and the lizard got partially hung-up. When I popped the lizard off the stick, a 3-pound bass dove at the lizard but missed it. Although I started shaking the lizard on the bottom to try and get the Click to enlarge3 pounder to take it, I couldn’t get the fish to bite. I reeled the bait in and made a second cast, but I underestimated the distance.  The lizard fell 2-feet short of the stick. However, as soon as the lizard hit the bottom, I got a bite and set the hook. I caught a 6-pound largemouth that was the big fish for the day. I only fished in this spot for an hour and a half that first day, and I left the area with 17 pounds and 12 ounces of bass.

Question: What did you do after you left that bay?
Menendez: I ran down the lake to another hard-to-reach area. I’d had some bites there during practice, but now two other competitors were fishing there. One of those contestants had two bass, and the other one didn’t have any. So I left that region and eliminated that spot.

Question: At the end of the first day, how many pounds of fish did you weigh-in, and what was your place for the day?
Menendez: I weighed-in 17 pounds, 12 ounces, and I was in second place.

Tomorrow: Second Day of Competition at Lake Dardanelle

Check back each day this week for more about "Mark Menendez – Winning $100,000 in an Aluminum Boat at Bassmaster’s Lake Dardanelle Tournament"

Day 1: The Game Plan for Bass Fishing Lake Dardanelle
Day 2: The First Day of Competition at Lake Dardanelle
Day 3: Second Day of Competition at Lake Dardanelle
Day 4: The Physical Fight for the $100,000 at Lake Dardanelle
Day 5: Looking Back at the Lake Dardanelle Tournament


Entry 503, Day 2