Fishing with Dean Rojas
By Chris Mason
Save Phace is the creator of the world’s most amazing face protection, including the sickest tactical mask you’ll ever find. We’re all about protecting your head while you get into extreme sports like paintball, airsoft, fishing, ATV riding, and more. Here’s a story to get you going, from a Save Phace Phan who knows how to make an impression!
In October, the stage was set for the final tour stop of the WON Bass Pro/Am 2011 season, at Lake Mead in Nevada. I had already heard that the fishing was exceptionally tough there during U.S. Open in July, so I knew I had my work cut out for me. As if tough conditions weren’t enough, there is only so much you can do to prepare when you know you are going to be competing from the back deck. Now matter what you think you may be doing, the reality is that the Pro you draw for each day may have alternate plans.
So, with that in mind, the partner pairings inevitably end up being perhaps the most crucial point of the entire event. There are times when you draw somebody that is “just not on the right fish” or hasn’t found “the big ’uns.” Your draw might have been crushing it all week, but frontal conditions “killed their bite.” You could also very well draw a Pro who simply says, “Just bring two rods, we’re on ’em, and we’ll bring in a heavy bag for sure.”
Upon arrival for “The Draw,” I walked in and saw none other than Dean Rojas, the Frog man! Now, I’m no star-struck person by any means. Let’s face it: celebrity sightings out here in Southern California are pretty common. I immediately assumed one of my travel partners would draw him since that’s just how my luck goes. I ended up being called right after Dean was paired. Close, but no go. The next thing you know, I drew a nice guy that I have fished with before on the tour. He wasn’t particularly confident, but was happy since he knew we would fish hard and enjoy the day from our past experiences together. After we discussed our strategy for the following day, our conversation turned to the draws. He reminded me that the Day 2 draw is usually just a partner swap between the two pairs called after another. My mind started doing the math. That means I would either be paired with Dean or the guy who was called after us. I quickly made a few calls and verified. As it turns out, I WOULD be fishing with Mr. Rojas on Day 2!
Day 1 went very well and we ended up with a decent limit that placed us within striking distance for the money. I saw Dean on the ramp after Day 1 and tried to get the intel on what we would be doing the following day. He was fairly vague. I assumed that it was to protect his secrets from anyone I might tell that night, and I respected that.
Once on Dean’s factory Yamaha-powered Skeeter, I quickly started to see his wit and sense of humor. He was very personable and began to open up more as the day progressed. Let me tell you this: what differentiates other tournament anglers from elite guys like Dean is that he processes things and makes decisions so much faster on the water. Working behind him was like trying to vacuum up dust behind a mop! I found myself watching how he threw and where he threw, and asked questions when he hooked fish. I wanted to find out how he was getting them to bite and what he was doing different than other people who fish the same types of lures. I caught my fair share of short fish, and did land a nice smallmouth that we ultimately weighed in.
This was indeed a successful day on the water. Once the pressure of contributing to our limit was relieved, I seemed to do better. That also allowed us to talk about non-fishing-related topics and start to joke and laugh. I actually told him that my travel buddies suggested that I show up with nothing but frogs tied on every rod and say, “I’m all set Dean… let’s go get ’em.” (That would have been funny since there was ZERO frog bite going on.) He got a kick out of that. Now that our true personalities came out, Dean told me the story of his record Day 1 catch of 45.2 pounds. What an awesome achievement. I complimented him on reaching his personal milestone of competing in his 10th Bassmaster Classic this upcoming season. He seemed very proud of that accomplishment (who wouldn’t be?). Even when asked about other fellow Elite Series anglers, he would only say nice things or just “leave it at that.”
After all was said and done, Dean helped me to a 13th-place finish that gave me much needed points toward my Angler of the Year race. What other sport can you compete with one of the top professionals, let alone be treated like a fishin’ buddy for the day? It’s a shame that there aren’t more opportunities for that around anymore. I guess I was fortunate. Read more stories from our Save Phace fans on our blog or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for more awesomeness!