The Interviews

Article Index

The Beginning of a Dream

Mark Rose and Strike King LuresEditor's Note: Strike King Pro Team member, 30-year old Mark Rose from Marianna, Arkansas, has competed professionally in bass fishing since 1999. He has participated in more than 150-major professional tournaments and has taken numerous top-20 positions, three, top-10 positions and two, top-five positions. In the last 16 months, Rose has fished in B.A.S.S, FLW, Wal-Mart BFL, Everstart and Ranger Millennium pro-fishing tournaments.

Question: What did you do to prepare to be a bass pro?

Answer: I went to college first and got a degree in sports management and marketing. From there, I went to work at the Boy Scouts of America's national office, where I gained many public-relation and public-speaking skills. Learning to work with people and raise money are also very helpful skills in professional bass fishing. Also, the skills that I gained as district executive for the Boy Scouts of America have prepared me to have my own business. I am an outdoorsman. The out-of-doors is in my blood; it is in my family. I've grown up hunting and fishing in a hunting-and-fishing family. The business skills that I've learned in college have helped my dreams fall into place.

Question: Have you always wanted to be a bass pro?

Mark Rose and Strike King LuresAnswer: No, I originally wanted to be a professional baseball player. I planned on making my millions playing major-league baseball. I played four years of college baseball, but some injuries during my sophomore year postponed a major-league career. I left college knowing that my athletic career was over. However, I began to notice how bass fishing was growing and that a lot of outside industry sponsors were getting involved. I enjoyed bass fishing so much. So, utilizing my outdoor skills, I seized the opportunity and decided to take my career to the next level. I began to fish some big events and did well -- that made me decide to go full-time. Having some top-10 wins enabled me to make a living at it.

After I placed in Memphis, Ranger Boats started sponsoring me, and the company's sponsorship upgraded my standing to a professional fisherman. In the past, I'd always had to order the cheaper boats when time came for me to get a new boat. But, Ranger's sponsorship allowed me to select the best boat their company made. Next, I had to choose the colors. Usually, I only could choose between one or two colors for my cheaper boat, but now I could select any color. One night, my wife said, "Since you love to hunt, why don't you just get a camouflaged boat?" I laughed, but that night I realized the possibilities and contacted Mossy Oak.

Young fishermen breaking into the sport of professional bass fishing often have a difficult time securing sponsors in the fishing industry because the best-of-the-best anglers already have taken that money. Young fishermen must go outside the industry to find sponsors.


A Pro's Preparation

Mark Rose and Strike King LuresEditor's Note: Strike King Pro Team member, 30-year old Mark Rose from Marianna, Arkansas, has competed professionally in bass fishing since 1999. He has participated in more than 150-major professional tournaments and has taken numerous top-20 positions, three, top-10 positions and two, top-five positions. In the last 16 months, Rose has fished in B.A.S.S, FLW, Wal-Mart BFL, Everstart and Ranger Millennium pro-fishing tournaments.

Question: How did you come to work with Strike King as one of your sponsors?

Answer: Well, you want to try to ally yourself with a great company that makes multiple products. Strike King makes various baits and uses only quality components. Their pro staff is very influential in their bait designs. Whenever you have the best crew designing lures for you, you know you will have a good product. And, Strike King is a great company run by great people.

Question: What do sponsors expect from their tournament pros?

Mark Rose and Strike King LuresAnswer: They expect their pros to fish and promote the company's products. You need to keep your nose clean and do everything in a professional manner. Try to use your public-relation skills as much as you can, and sell the products. I really feel like I'm an employee for Strike King. Every time I go fishing anywhere, I know Strike King's products will catch fish. So, all I have to do is use the Strike King products to catch the fish. That is the easy part. The next thing is selling it. I feel like selling as much bait as I can is part of my retirement every time I go out there for a tournament. I know Strike King has great products that make selling those products much easier.

Question: How do you prepare for a professional bass tournament? How do you learn ways to fish? Do you talk to locals? How do you decide where you are going to fish?

Answer: The time of the year, the weather conditions and the water temperature are all factors in where I fish and what I use to fish. If I'm fishing a spring tournament, I know I'm going to be fishing somewhere around the spawn. First, I go straight to the bank and start looking for bass. If the water is dirty or if the fish have already spawned, I'll pull out and find out where the fish are moving to after they spawn. I'm going to study the body of water before I ever get there. I look on the Internet, study my maps and apply my outdoor skills to the time of the year and the weather towards my tournament plan. Then I use my fish-catching skills to go out and catch the bass.

Question: How do you decide which lures to use?

Mark Rose and Strike King LuresAnswer: The time of year determines which baits I fish. If the bass are shallow in the springtime, I can throw a lot of spinner baits and top-water baits. If the fish are deep in the summertime, I know I'll be throwing lots of Series 5 and Series 6 crankbaits, Carolina rigs and tubes. You try to choose your weapon for the time of the year and the weather conditions. If the fish are feeding on the shad in the summertime, then most anglers will throw lots of spinner baits and crankbaits. In early spring I'll throw crawdad baits -- crawdad Diamond Shads, crawdad-colored jigs and other crawdad-like baits. The weather and water conditions totally control what lure I fish.


Mark Rose's Favorite Lures

Mark Rose and Strike King LuresEditor's Note: Strike King Pro Team member, 30-year old Mark Rose from Marianna, Arkansas, has competed professionally in bass fishing since 1999. He has participated in more than 150-major professional tournaments and has taken numerous top-20 positions, three, top-10 positions and two, top-five positions. In the last 16 months, Rose has fished in B.A.S.S, FLW, Wal-Mart BFL, Everstart and Ranger Millennium pro-fishing tournaments.

Question: What are your favorite lures, Mark, and when, where and how do you use them?

Answer: 1) The Strike King Pro Model bass jig is my favorite lure. I like to fish this jig with 20-pound-test line. I use this jig on a 7 1/2-foot flipping stick year-round. I can count on this bait to catch big fish. The bass jig imitates the bass's prey such as crawdads and bluegills. You can add a trailer to the end of the jig to resemble a shad, you can suspend this versatile jig, or you can fish it on the bottom. The black and blue jigs work the best for me.

Mark Rose and Strike King Lures2) Strike King Series 1 Crankbait is another favorite of mine. I fish this crankbait on 10- to 15-pound-test line. I fish with the chartreuse with a black back -- even though the crankbait comes in many other shad colors. You can fish this crankbait all year long on top of the water or 3- or 4-feet deep. I like to bounce this crankbait off logs and other structure. This wiggling crankbait even will attract a bass that doesn't feel hungry.

3) Strike King Pro Model spinner bait -- I like the 3/8- to 1/2-ounce Pro Model spinner bait in chartreuse and white or solid white. I fish this lure for bass throughout the year.

4) Strike King Series 4 crankbait -- I throw this crankbait a lot during the summer when bass are holding deep on points. I like the gray-ghost color on 10-pound-test line on a 7-foot cranking rod. I'll slowly fish points for bass during the summer.

5) Strike King's Buzzbait -- I like to use this buzzbait early in the mornings, during the spawn and post spawn and late in the evenings. I prefer to fish shad colors.

Question: Backwater areas are usually covered in timber and tree stumps. Give me three tactics for fishing backwater areas.

Mark Rose and Strike King LuresAnswer: First of all, in miles and miles of stump rows, you need to try to find something to differentiate one stump row from the other. Try to pinpoint a channel swing or deeper stumps, or shallower stumps, and let the weather conditions guide you. In hot weather, the fish may be suspended up on the stumps. You may try throwing a Strike King swimming jig around. If you feel like the fish are down on the bases of stumps, try throwing a tube or a Deep Series 6-crankbait out on the base of the stumps. If you feel like the fish are right up on top, throw a Spit-N-King. Try different things. Every stump isn't going to have bass at the same depth.

Question: If your tournament plans aren't working, how do you develop a backup plan?

Answer: In today's bass-fishing world more than ever before, you need to figure out a way to catch five bass keepers. I fall back on lures like Bitsy Tubes and Bitsy Bugs, smaller lures. With the pressure of more fishermen on each body of water, try going to a lighter line and using more finesse baits. You may need to go against what you believe will win the tournament. Simply, go looking for keeper bass around docks using little Bitsy Bugs. That is always a good fallback pattern.


The Three F's

Mark Rose and Strike King LuresEditor's Note: Strike King Pro Team member, 30-year old Mark Rose from Marianna, Arkansas, has competed professionally in bass fishing since 1999. He has participated in more than 150-major professional tournaments and has taken numerous top-20 positions, three, top-10 positions and two, top-five positions. In the last 16 months, Rose has fished in B.A.S.S, FLW, Wal-Mart BFL, Everstart and Ranger Millennium pro-fishing tournaments.

Question: How has your family adjusted to your traveling?

Answer: I've been married for five years to my wife Christi. My daughter Natalie Brook Rose turned four this year. We've set out as a family to pursue my goal as a professional tournament fisherman. We plan to give ourselves three years to meet our goal. Hopefully, by then I can take my wife and my daughter with me to the tournaments. My wife has made a great commitment to my career choice and holds down a steady job as a schoolteacher. We can fall back on her income when the tournament trail doesn't go great.

Mark Rose and Strike King LuresRight now, I travel so much that I get to spend little time with my family. But, I look forward to the future. One day, my wife won't have to work, and we can all be together and travel across the country. My daughter will receive a great education through her travels. We plan to homeschool Natalie until she reaches fourth or fifth grade. Then, we'll get her back into school with other kids. With my family's support, I'll reach these goals.

Question: What are your five-year goals?

Answer: Five years from now I hope to continue to be fishing on the Bassmaster Trail and the F.L.W. trail. My main goal is to qualify for the Classic, and to continue to qualify for the tour and the F.L.W. events. All I've ever asked the Good Lord is to enable me to make a good living fishing; that is all I really try to do. I call it the three F's: faith, family, and fishing. That's the order. There are guys out here who are so driven to be the best bass fishermen in the world. I am too, but there are a lot more important things to me. If you let it, this sport can really humble and discourage you. That brings everything else in life down. I try to just make a living at fishing. I hope five years from now I'm able to do that.

Question: Do many people give up early in their pursuit of becoming professional-bass fishermen?

Mark Rose and Strike King LuresAnswer: Many anglers give up on their dreams of tournament fishing when they don't win or place in the beginning. I also see many people who don't give up when they should. Tournament fishermen generally find that balancing a family and a life can be difficult with traveling and fishing. Overall the tournament competitors are great fishermen and great family men. These guys work hard to reach their goals and dreams.

During the past year, I've acquired more sponsors and I've moved closer to reaching my goals. Now, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I remember a time when I couldn't see that light. This year, I've fished just good enough to keep me out there competing.


Mark Rose and Strike King LuresEditor's Note: Strike King Pro Team member, 30-year old Mark Rose from Marianna, Arkansas, has competed professionally in bass fishing since 1999. He has participated in more than 150-major professional tournaments and has taken numerous top-20 positions, three, top-10 positions and two, top-five positions. In the last 16 months, Rose has fished in B.A.S.S, FLW, Wal-Mart BFL, Everstart and Ranger Millennium pro-fishing tournaments.

Question: Although you haven't won any major tournaments yet, what do you do to continue to fish the pro circuit?

Answer: I do lots of sponsor-related events. I've been able to maintain two or three top-10 finishes on the F.L.W. and B.A.S.S. trails the last few years. I live on the hope that my bass-fishing career will blossom into a big win in the future. But as long as I continue to learn every time I go out, don't get burned-out on professional fishing and continue to have some good success, I feel like my future looks good.

Mark Rose and Strike King LuresQuestion: What tips would you give someone who wanted to fish the professional tournament circuit full time?

Answer: First, enter your local club tournaments, such as your local B.A.S.S. Federation Club tournaments. Get the hang of the tournament atmosphere, and learn the skills required to become a tournament fisherman. Try to balance your finances. When getting started on the circuit, you need to either win some money like I have, or operate your own business.

In my opinion, anyone interested in a career as a tournament fisherman needs to direct his or her profession toward tournament fishing early in life. Try to figure out a way to earn money on the side because making a living as a tournament fisherman can be very difficult. Money problems affect professional bass fishermen more than anything else does. Therefore, always try to keep some sort of additional income available if you plan to become a professional angler.

If you don't have access to another income, you have to win or place in tournaments from the very beginning of your professional bass-fishing career to earn the money you must have to compete. But sometimes you don't have to actually win tournaments to continue to have the money to compete. Often you can win $40,000 or $50,000 for a second- or a third-place finish.