John's Journal...

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

Looking Back at the Lake Dardanelle Tournament

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 – all competing for $100,000.

Question: Mark, as you were leaving Lake Dardanelle with your wife, taking home a $100,000 check, what did you realize you’d learned from this tournament?Click to enlarge
Menendez: In my 18-year career as a bass fisherman, I may have been too conservative in my tournaments. I’ve always been the guy who goes out and tries and to catch a limit first and then attempts to catch big bass to upgrade my weight. But in this tournament, when I found the area that was loaded with bass, I made the decision to make the hour-long run from the launch site to get to these fish and take an aluminum boat and fish for the big fish. I prayed for good weather, so I wouldn’t get beat-up running across Lake Dardanelle in an aluminum boat. I guess what I’ve learned is that I need to be more aggressive in my style of fishing. I need to fish for the big bass first, and then go out and try to finish my limit, if I don’t catch the big fish. I’ve also learned that going to the fish you think will win the tournament will pay-off.

Question: You really gambled in this tournament, because if the water had fallen another 6 inches, you wouldn’t have been able to cross those dams and get Click to enlargethrough those culverts. You wouldn’t have been able to fish for the bass that won the tournament.
Menendez: I did have a backup plan. I had a place where I could fish with a Strike King Series 3 and catch some fish, but I wasn’t catching many fish there. I spent Click to enlargeall day in practice trying to get four or six bites. But when I’d get a bite, the fish I was catching weighed 3-1/2- to 4-pounds each. I did have a backup plan, but I didn’t have a lot of confidence in it.

Question: What does your winning this tournament and the $100,000 mean to you?
Menendez: That first-place check is really nice, especially in this economy. More importantly, this is another win for me and makes three tournaments I’ve won on the Bassmaster Circuit. Not too-many guys have won three or more Bassmaster tournaments. After nearly dying from spinal meningitis, this tournament is really special, because this is the first tournament since my illness in 2005 that I haven’t had a seat in the front of my boat. This tournament is the first one where I’ve stood-up all day, every day for 6 days straight, since being sick with spinal meningitis. For me, being able to stand up and fish for 6 days is one of the biggest victories I’ve won in this tournament.

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 5