NATCHITOCHES, La. – No one could have scripted a better ending to the stormy EverStart Series Central Division event on the Red River.
Neither the rain-soaked anglers nor the umbrella-donned fans at the final weigh-in were anticipating the tournament drama that ensued between pros Scott Rook of Little Rock, Ark., and Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky.
In the final moments of the king-of-the-hill style weigh-in, EverStart Tournament Director Chris Jones announced that Morehead’s final bass needed to be 3 pounds, 5 ounces to take the lead from Rook.
Indeed, Morehead’s bass weighed exactly 3 pounds, 5 ounces and, for a moment, it looked as if Morehead was the winner.
A dejected Rook, who had lost a national tournament to Morehead years ago by ounces, conceded to Morehead, again, and congratulated him.
A second later, Jones realized that Morehead needed 3 pounds, 5 ounces just to tie Rook, not beat him. Morehead really needed 3 pounds, 6 ounces to actually beat Rook.
According to EverStart Series rules, final round ties are broken by how anglers qualified for the finals – in essence, the combined weight of days one and two.
A quick check of the records revealed that Rook had qualified second and Morehead fourth, which gave Rook the official win.
Rook was still on the phone when he was called back to the stage and announced the winner.
“I’m speechless,” gasped Rook in dismay when he reached the stage. “I think I just accidentally hung up on my wife; I hope she forgives me. I can’t believe this is happening.
“I’ve fished professionally for six years and this is my first national win. I‘ve finished second so many times. So when it looked like Dan had won, I said, ‘Great, here we go again, another second place.’ I still don’t know what to say.”
For the record, Rook and Morehead both had a two-day total of 27 pounds. Rook weighed in 15 pounds, 3 ounces today and won $10,000 and a fully rigged Ranger for his win.
In the earlier rounds, he fished a white square-billed shallow-diving crankbait in standing timber.
“The water was about 8 to 10 feet deep, but the fish were suspended on limbs and forks in the timber in about 3 to 4 feet,” he said.
When the heavy rain moved in this morning, Rook switched to a 3/8-ounce black buzzbait to catch all of his winning fish.
“Earlier in the week, when it was sunny, the fish were tight on the trees,” he said. “With the clouds and rain the last two days, they scattered out more. Instead of fishing the trees, I fished a shallow ridge of grass in the same oxbow with the buzzbait.”
After Morehead weighed in 13 pounds, 5 ounces and the tiebreaker was applied, he became runner-up.
“Hey, rules are rules, and that’s the way it goes,” said Morehead who showed the grace of a true professional about his fleeting moment of victory. “If I was meant to win, I would have caught a bigger fish sometime in the last two days.”
Dan Morehead fished stumps and logs within submerged grass in Pool Four all week to finish second.
“The first two days I was mostly flipping a Mann’s Dragon tube, watermelon candy with a chartreuse tail, to specific targets,” he said. “When the clouds moved in yesterday, the flipping bite kind of went to pot, and I had to adapt with a Mann’s top-water chugger.”
Driving rains destroyed Morehead’s top-water pattern today and he had to adapt again.
“About midmorning, I pulled out a 1/2-ounce Mann’s Classic spinnerbait and started catching fish with that, so I stayed with it all day,” he said.
The spinnerbait was chartreuse and white with a Colorado blade in the front and a gold willow blade on the back.
“The main thing for me this week was just adapting to each day’s conditions,” he added.
Toby Hartsell of Livingston, Texas, weighed in the biggest limit of the day, 15 pounds, 11 ounces, to move into third with a two-day total of 25 pounds, 2 ounces.
Hartsell fished a spinnerbait and Zara spook in Pool Four to amass his catch.
“I caught a bunch of fish today, but the biggest ones all came on the spook,” he said.
Chapman also cashed in on the top-water bonanza happening on the Red River to catch 13 pounds today.
Chapman fished several backwaters south of the launch ramp in Pool Three.
Though he flipped soft plastics earlier in the week to make the finals, he switched to a white 1/4-ounce Lunker Lure buzzbait and a Lucky Craft popper today to catch his fish.
Slade Dearman of Sam Rayburn, Texas, finished fifth with a two-day total of 23 pounds, 8 ounces.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pros were George Jeane of Evans, La., in sixth place with a two-day total of 21 pounds, 15 ounces; Kenneth Sheets of Pevely, Mo., in seventh place with a two-day total of 20 pounds, 8 ounces; Glenn Maxwell of Crossett, Ark., in eighth place with a two-day total of 18 pounds, 10 ounces; Danny Gulledge of Hamburg, Ark., in ninth place with a two-day total of 18 pounds, 5 ounces; and Marc Lowenthal of Prairieville, La., in 10th place with a two-day total of 16 pounds, 10 ounces.