Fishing fans can watch the on-the-water action from the Bassmaster Legends on ESPN2 on Saturday, Sept. 2, at 10 a.m. ET.
“I’ve waited for this so long,” said Rook. “It’s just a dream come true.”
Rook, who was in second place entering the final competition day, caught four fish weighing 7 pounds, 6 ounces, giving him a 15-4 total for the last two days of the tournament. The top 12 anglers after the first two days had their weights zeroed and fished a marked, six-hole course located along a nine-mile stretch of the river on Saturday, with the top six advancing to fish the same course on Sunday. The finalists had 70 minutes at each hole and could then go to any of the six during the final “happy hour” of competition.
Rook discovered a successful pattern of flipping soft plastic baits on Saturday, but said he had to adjust to different conditions Sunday.
“The water was down about 10 inches on the upper end of the pool,” said Rook. “From 20 years of fishing this river, I knew those fish were going to pull out. I started fishing everything that was out in the water, like logs and bridge pilings. I think my local knowledge really played into my hands. “
Rook won by a margin of almost 3 pounds over Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., who had the heaviest catch Sunday with four fish weighing 8-3. He finished with with a 12-5 two-day total. Hackney edged another local favorite, Kevin Short of Mayflower, for the runner-up position. Short caught three fish weighing 6-9 on Sunday and finished with 12-4, or 1 ounce behind Hackney.
“The key to today was having good patience,” said Hackney. “I fished everything today. When it’s really tough like this, you have to just be slow and methodical.”
Similar to Rook, Short had a huge fan following on the river and in the full crowd at the weigh-in at Little Rock’s Statehouse Convention Center. “I didn’t have trouble focusing as much as I had trouble locating fish, just like everybody else,” Short said. “I found one little school in this pool and milked it for all it was worth. I was only going to be satisfied if I was hauling the trophy, but I’m still very happy.”
Shaw Grigsby of Gainesville, Fla., who was the leader going into the final day, fell to fourth place after failing to catch a keeper fish. “I knew I was in trouble right from the start of the day,” he said.
Gary Klein (8-4) of Weatherford, Texas, and Gerald Swindle (5-10) of Hayden, Ala., completed the top six.
Gov. Huckabee, an avid outdoorsman, watched some of the fishing action on the river early in the day and then took in the weigh-in ceremonies from the audience. He congratulated Rook afterward.
“It was exciting to have the very best bass fishermen in Little Rock and Arkansas, and I think people can see that Arkansas loves bass fishing,” he said. “It’s not a sport to us. It’s a religious experience.”
The Legends was in honor of BASS founder Ray Scott, who presented Rook with the tournament trophy.
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Local Sponsors: Local sponsors include the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Legends Major Sponsors: CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Advance Auto Parts and Theraseed®.
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.
BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.