John's Journal...

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

Second 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: What happened on the second day of competition?
Menendez: I made my 55-minute run and was happy and surprised to seeClick to enlarge I had higher water. The water had risen about 10 to 12 inches, so getting into the place I wanted to fish was really easy. I just slid across those two rocky spots and through the culvert and started fishing. I was thinking, “I’m going to slay these bass today.”  I started casting the Rage Tail lizard I had been so successful with the day before, but I didn’t get a bite. I went through my most-productive section of that region without getting a bite. So, I decided that the bass I had been catching were spawners, and that on the first day, these bass had just moved onto their nests. Now that the water was higher and dingier, I decided the bass still were sitting on the nests, but the strike zone had gotten smaller. They weren’t willing to chase and eat the lizard like they were the day before, because they were more interested in spawning than in chasing a bait. So I changed to flipping a 4-1/2-inch Strike King Coffee Tube in the black-neon color. Even though I was fishing with the same rod and reel I’d used with the lizard, I changed the hook to a tail-style Gamakatsu hook with a wire keeper on it. I rigged the tube on this hook.Click to enlarge

When I started pitching the tube, I began catching plenty of 2-1/2- to 3-pound bass, and caught a limit quickly. On my way back down the bank, I pitched the tube to the exact same spot where I had caught a male bass earlier that morning. When I set thehook, I caught a bass that weighed more than 4-1/2 pounds. I thought, “Okay, I’ve put Daddy in the live well earlier, and now I’ve just caught Momma.” So every spot where I had caught a male bass before that morning, I pitched the Coffee Tube and caught a Click to enlargefemale bass that had moved into that nest to protect it. I caught every bass on the black neon 4-1/2 inch Coffee Tube on the second competition day.

Question: At the end of the second day of competition, how many pounds did you have, and where had you placed?
Menendez: I had a total of 21 pounds and 8 ounces, and I was in first place.

Question: You hadn’t led or won a tournament since 2005 when you won the tournament at Georgia’s Lake West Point after your bout with spinal meningitis. What did being in first place feel like?
Menendez: I thought, ‘Wow, I’m in great shape, I’m leading the tournament, and the worst I can do is go home with a check for $10,000, plus another $1,000 for catching the big bass on the first day. So I knew I was having a successful tournament. Regardless of what happened, I was going home with at least $11,000.

Tomorrow: The Physical Fight for the $100,000 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 3