By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
The Forrest Wood Cup has been shortened to a three-day event this year instead of its traditional four-round format. That will cause Mark Rose to make a big alteration to his approach as he seeks his first victory in FLW's championship event.
This year's version is set for Aug. 10-12 at Lake Ouachita in Rose's home state of Arkansas. The 2018 Angler of the Year didn't qualify for the Cup the last time the Cup was staged there in 2015, but finished 3rd there in 2011 and also has a 5th-place finish on his résumé from a 2002 Tour derby.
With one fewer competition day, he'll pursue size rather than numbers.
"There's a lot of little spots that have small schools of fish and I've always targeted that type of deal there in the past and I've had some decent finishes," he said. "I've always chose to run a marathon-type thing trying to catch 10 to 12 pounds a day.
"With this one being a three-day event, I'll have to try to target some bigger fish. I'll have to change my game plan to fishing less for quantity and more for quality."
Key Likely Still Buried
Ouachita is just a three-hour drive from Rose's new home in Wynne, Ark., but he opted to forego a pre-practice trip for several reasons.
"It's a combination of things," he said. "I knew things would be changing – the water's been falling and the lake's been getting a lot of pressure from night tournaments and things like that. I didn't want to develop any preconceived notions.
"I've been there a few times for the Cup and I've put in a lot of work in the past, sinking brush piles and whatnot. It seems like none of that ever works."
Something is going to work for somebody, but it's his belief that what and for whom are complete mysteries at this point.
"The whole deal for the Cup is there's going to be something that makes the difference and I don't think anybody knows what it is right now. There's going to be changes during the two weeks that we're not allowed to be on the lake, whether it's to the thermocline or the water temperature or the water level or the grass. I don't think anybody knows how they're going to catch the winning fish.
"I'm prepared for a tough tournament and I know that's the way it's going to be – fishing's always tough in this part of the country in August. But sometimes those tough ones are the ones you have an opportunity to do well in."
Have to Let it Happen
The fact that there are a lot of X-factors with the Cup still a week out is just fine with Rose.
"That's the way I like it," he said. "My wins have happened. Of the six I've had at the Tour level, there was only one tournament where I knew how I was going to catch them going in.
"If I'm going to be the one who wins it, it's going to have to happen after I get there and I'm comfortable with that. Whoever it is, they're going to figure out a depth, a bait, a technique or whatever that will make the difference."
Since wrapping up the AOY in the regular-season finale at Lake St. Clair, he's moved into his new home in Wynne, which sits about 25 miles from his previous residence in Marion. The property includes a 14-acre lake that will be stocked with crappies.
"It's on a place called Crowley's Ridge, which is the only mountain we have in this part of the Mississippi Delta. The town's name isn't spelled the same (as "win"), but I can't think of a better name of a town for a bass fisherman.
"My first tournament (since the move) is the Cup, so I'm hoping that's a good sign."
> Rose said his triumph at Pickwick in July 2011 was his lone Tour win in which he had everything lined up before the tournament got under way. "I was out there before the cutoff and I found a spot that had bass, bluegill, catfish and crappie and I was catching everything on a Flutter Spoon. I knew going in that I had the bait and I had two or three areas, and one of them was really good. I came back (for the tournament) and it worked."
> His 3rd-place finish at the Cup that year is his best to date in the event. He's ended up among the top 10 on three other occasions.