June 05, 2004

Davis takes second consecutive Elite 50 victory

PRATTVILLE, Ala. Mark Davis does things in threes.

The Arkansas pro has three CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles. He has three children. And on Saturday night at the Bassmaster Elite 50 tournament, he won his third event in the 2004 season of the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer.

"It's been a great week," said Davis, who used an 11-pound, 12-ounce bag of fish pulled from the Alabama River to vault from fifth place to the winner's circle with a 21-15 total for the two final days. "I love this place."

Prattville loved him, too.

A weigh-in crowd of 4,200 fans screamed for five minutes as fireworks boomed overhead and Davis pumped his fist in the air, grinning for the crowds, the cameras and the pleasure of winning three events in a single season after a 19-year career without a regular-season win.

"Sometimes I think you have to learn how to win," Davis mused to reporters backstage. "Maybe I finally learned how."

The jubilant moment came after four days of hard work. Davis, who earned three Angler of the Year titles on consistency rather than splashy victories, ground out his victory by pulling trick after trick out of his massive tackle bag.

"I'm like a rolling tackle store," he said.

In fact, Saturday's launch found him doing a last-minute chartreuse dye job on a half-dozen green pumpkin Brushhogs.

But earlier in the tournament he also pulled out black Strike King Pro Model buzzbaits, black-and-blue Strike King Premiere Elite jigs with a Denny Brauer 3X frog chunk trailer, and Strike King Series 4S crankbaits in pearl and chartreuse.

How many baits does he carry with him? "Like in the thousands," he said.

With this win, Davis jumped to second in the Elite 50 standings and is just six points away from overtaking Michigan's Kevin VanDam. The top angler after the season finale on June 19 will win $150,000, the lion's share of the $1.6 million prize purse.

It didn't hurt that most of Davis' competition faltered in Saturday's round, which was conducted on six pre-set areas that the Super Six pros rotated through in hour-and-20-minute intervals.

"Today, if I'd been grading myself, I'd have really gotten a poor grade," said Missouri's Denny Brauer, poking fun at his role as host of "Schooled by Denny Brauer" on ESPN2, in which he grades aspiring pro fishermen.

Brauer brought in 6-12 on Saturday and tied for fourth place with Todd Auten of Lake Wylie, S.C.

Edwin Evers of Mannsville, Okla., totaled 18-8 for the final two days and has already turned his eyes to the Elite 50 series finale, slated for June 13-19 near Paducah, Ky.

"I'm basically going to try and keep a positive attitude," Evers said. "I think it's going to be a lightweight, finesse kind of deal. I don't think it's going to be big weights, but I could be surprised."

Evers, who was in sixth after Friday, jumped to second by bringing in 8-6 in the final round.

Because Evers is a participant in the Busch Heavyweight competition, he also earned a $1,000 bonus for bringing in the heaviest qualified weight of the day.

Day one leader Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla., dropped to third on Saturday after weighing in three bass that totaled 4-1, for a two-day total of 17-10.

"It's upsetting when you get in a position to win one and don't finish it," Tommy Biffle said. "I had the chance. It's disappointing." However, Biffle's high finish at this event helped him jump to seventh in the overall Elite 50 season point standings.

The top 10 anglers in the standings will earn berths in the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer, bass fishing's world championship.

Todd Auten, who is also fishing for a chance at the Classic, which will be held on his home waters at Lake Wylie, S.C., totaled 17-9 for two days and jumped to fifth in the season point standings.

"This should put me up there," Auten said. "This is a new deal here, and I like the format, plus I get to go to my home lake if I do good."

Dean Rojas of Grand Saline, Texas, earned a $1,000 bonus for bringing in the Purolator Big Bass of the Day, a 2-pound, 12-ounce featherweight that nonetheless topped the rest of the competition.

Three days after he caught it, Kelly Jordon's 6-9 bass earned him a $1,000 check for remaining the Purolator Big Bass of the Tournament.

The final Bassmaster Elite 50 will be June 13-19 at the Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee rivers in Paducah, Ky., where the $1.6 million prize purse will be distributed.

Fans can catch the third event of the Bassmaster Elite 50 series on the Alabama River in two parts, Saturday, June 12 and Saturday, June 19 at 10:30 a.m. ET/9:30 a.m. CT on ESPN2.

Ribbit, ribbit

Dean Rojas, who holds the BASS record for the heaviest single-day catch in a tournament (45 pounds, 2 ounces from Lake Toho in 2001), admitted to the crowd Saturday that he names his frog-type baits.

On Saturday, he depended on Kermit, although he held Curtis, Leroy, Cleotis, and Beaufort in reserve. In the end, he sold Kermit to tournament master of ceremonies Fish Fishburne for $9. Look for it on Ebay next week.

Modest domination

Despite the hoopla surrounding his three-in-a-season and two-in-a-row streak, Mark Davis isn't getting too excited about his first regular-season wins in a 19-year career.

"I guess it was bothering other people more than me," he said. "I was winning Angler of the Year titles; I won the Classic.

"Who knows when you're going to win one of these crazy tournaments? I don't feel like I'm doing anything different now than I ever have."

Is he on his way to becoming the Tiger Woods of fishing?

"You don't see anyone that dominates, that goes out and wins, wins, wins," he said, disclaiming any idea that he might be that angler. "The best of pros that go out and win every other year, every two years, every three or four years, they're the best pros in the world.

"In the sport of fishing, you don't see guys dominating in wins."

Yeah, Mark. We do.

Posted by DODGE at June 5, 2004 11:53 AM in Tournament (BASS)