WILL THE RECORD BE BROKEN?

BASS News

CELEBRATION, Fla. – CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series angler Dean Rojas is celebrating an anniversary today – but it’s one that may not last much longer.

Five years ago on Jan. 17th, Rojas set the BASS tournament record for heaviest single-day catch by boating 45 pounds, 2 ounces of bass on Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, Fla. That record has remained unchallenged, but anglers preparing for the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 24-26, on the same waterway predict that could finally change.

“With the fishermen who are going to be there, and with all of the 8- to 12- pounders that are in that chain of water, it could happen,” said 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year Aaron Martens.

Rojas, of Grand Saline, Texas, not only set the single-day record, he also won that weekend’s Florida Top 150 tournament and set the all-time BASS four-day tournament heaviest weight record of 108-12. Lake Toho was especially generous during that tournament, as the five highest single-day catches in BASS history were all recorded.

Still, it’s possible an angler – or Rojas himself – could break the record. The 34-year-old will be among a field of 51 of the top professional bass anglers in the world battling for a $500,000 top prize and a piece of the nearly $1.2 million prize purse in the sport’s most major event. Toho, popular with both anglers and fans because of its historic large catches, will be the proving grounds for the anglers.

“Lake Toho has so much to offer,” said Rojas. “The whole chain of Kissimmee Lakes does. All four of those lakes can produce a 10-pounder at any time and that’s what’s fun about fishing there. Any cast can be a big one, and there aren’t too many places like that in the country.”

With the lake’s big fish reputation, Rojas knows he’ll have to offer a near-perfect performance to have a chance of winning.

“You’re probably going to have to catch 15-20 pounds per day,” he said. “Toho certainly has the potential to produce that kind of catch. The interesting thing is, there will only be 51 boats in the Classic. When I won there in ’01, there were 150 boats. The anglers won’t have the pressure of extra boats out there on the water.”

Like other anglers, Rojas wants to fulfill that childhood dream of winning the Classic. His best finish in the four Classics he fished was fourth place, in 2004. He was 35th in 1999, 10th in 2001 and finished a disappointing 28th last year. But there’s no doubt he’s going to have competition.

“I want to win the Classic extremely bad,” said Martens, who has placed second in three of the last four Bassmaster Classics. “I try not to think about it.”

BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation 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 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208. To join BASS, visit www.bassmaster.com or call 1-800-BASS-USA.