When six teams of regional qualifiers arrived in Mountain Home, Ark. for the inaugural Bass Cat Owners Regional Championship, they didn’t know what to expect – other than the fact that BCB head honcho Rick Pierce doesn’t do things like everyone else. Whether it’s the innovative boat designs or his hands-on customer service, Pierce follows his own path, and his concept for this tournament fits that profile.
At Friday night’s dinner, the teams were told that the road to earning the grand prize of a trip for two to fish for peacock bass in the Amazon will be a battle of adjustments consisting of three weigh-ins. Sunday’s competition was split into two sessions, the first on Lake Norfork, the second on Crown Lake, 38 miles away. On Monday, the teams will spend the full day on Bull Shoals.
Complicating matters further, conditions were brutal on Sunday, with launch time temperatures in the teens. I warmed up to a "balmy" 23 degrees by weigh-in.
The team of Mark Huffman and Troy Rossman from Texas (pictured) were the only pair to capture a limit in the morning session on Norfork, with five fish that totaled 6.46 pounds. Behind them was the father-son team of Lorenzo and John Rosetti from California with two bass for 3.84.
“We found some fish on the back side of bluff walls, holding in 38 feet of water,” Rossman said. “We caught them all on soft plastics.”
The Texas team caught a nearly identical limit at the day’s second stop, Crown Lake, with five fish for 6.89, to bring their total for the day to 13.35. While they were consistent, a second Texas team – Doug Morrow and Josh Clarke, caught 9.79 to close the gap to just over a pound.
“It was a grass lake, and we thought the grass would be loaded with fish, but once again we caught all of our fish on deep-water points,” Rossman explained.
The leaders spent Saturday’s practice day on Bull Shoals, tomorrow’s venue, and while they had a strong scouting period, they’re not sure what to expect. “Bull Shoals is fishing a little bit strange right now,” Huffman said. “The wind was blowing so hard during practice that we really couldn’t get on our deep stuff.”
Jerold Britt and Howard Austin of Virginia sit in 3rd place, less than 3 pounds out of the lead. Keith Webb and Mike Kirch, from Alabama and Illinois, respectively, rebounded from a morning blank with a day’s best 9.81 at Crown to ease into 4th. The Rosettis struggled in the afternoon, but with 8.82 total, they’re only 4 1/2 pounds out of the lead. Even Kentucky angler Larry Whiteman, fishing solo, could vault back into the hunt with a few good bites.
Monday’s temperatures are not expected to get out of the 30s, and there’s a 50 percent chance of some mixed precipitation. The road to the heat of Brazil – and more importantly, its big peacock bass – will run through the frigid Ozarks.
Here are the day-1 standings:
1. Mark Huffman/Troy Rossman -- 6.46 (a.m.) -- 6.89 (p.m.) -- 13.35
2. Doug Morrow/Josh Clarke -- 2.34 (a.m.) -- 9.79 (p.m.) -- 12.13
3. Jerold Britt/Howard Austin -- 3.78 (a.m.) -- 6.73 (p.m.) -- 10.51
4. Keith Webb/Mike Kirch -- 0.00 (a.m.) -- 9.81 (p.m.) -- 9.81
5. Lorenzo Rossetti/John Rossetti -- 3.84 (a.m.) -- 4.98 (p.m.) -- 8.82
6. Larry Whiteman/Steve Whiteman -- 0.00 (a.m.) -- 5.40 (p.m.) -- 5.40