Since breaking onto the professional tournament scene in 1997 at the age of 26, Arizona’s Dean Rojas has carved a niche as one of the most vivacious personalities and industry innovators competing on the Bassmaster Elite Series.
In 2001, Rojas etched his name in the history books with the heaviest single-day limit ever recorded in professional bass tournament fishing history. His five bass limit weighing 45-pounds, 2-ounces is a record that still stands over a decade later.
With 10 Bassmaster Classic qualifications and four Bassmaster tournament victories under his belt, the most recent coming this past April, 2011 on Toledo Bend Reservoir, Rojas has amassed nearly $1.4 million in career earnings.
“It has been a challenging and rewarding journey to the top echelon of the sport” said 39-year-old Rojas, who first tasted the elite level of competition as a teenager on the Crawford High School golf team in San Diego, where he grew up. “Phil Mickelson was on a rival high school team and twice I faced him in match play,” said Rojas. “I was a scrapper with a decent short game but he was just incredible.”
After high school, Rojas worked as a vendor selling peanuts, Cracker Jacks, and cotton candy at San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium. “I can remember being within five feet of Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams at the 1992 All-Star game,” recounted Rojas. During that very same All-Star weekend Rojas was crowned the 1992 Peanut Hawker Champion, beating out fellow venders from across the country in a peanut accuracy tossing competition.From golf to peanut hawking to professional fishing, Rojas has always been fiercely competitive. Tommy Sanders, co-host of The Bassmasters on ESPN2, described Rojas as “The man with the perfect smile and the eagle eye.” That competitive nature has spilled over into lure development, where Rojas is credited with the development of the Bronzeye Frog, a bait that has eclipsed over one million units sold and garnered a cult-like following with anglers across the nation.
“It takes a creative mind to design baits that are not already on the market,” explained Rojas. “I’m all about innovation and that’s why I love Oakley. They’re constantly evolving and designing new products. I want to be with the company that is the leader, so Oakley is a natural fit for me.”
Out of his four Bassmaster victories, Rojas has relied on the technique of sight fishing, where an angler looks at the fish in the water, to win three of them. “The engineers at Oakley have designed frames and lenses that cut the glare and enhance the color of the bass underwater,” said Rojas.
“My Oakley’s allow me to target specific points under the surface of the water that are crucial to success. You need those little images to show up and that’s where Oakley sunglasses excel. They give me the necessary tools that allow me to compete at the highest level.”
While he utilizes a variety of frames and lenses depending on the conditions, Rojas’ overall favorite is Oakley’s Oil Rig frame with Bronze Polarized lenses. “The frame wraps perfectly around my face cutting out all of the excess light,” he explained. “I need the very best protection and vision and that’s what I get from Oakley.”
At the conclusion of each tournament season, Rojas turns his attention to motorsports, another one of his passions. For the past three years, Rojas has been the owner of a race boat competing in the Grand Prix division of the American Power Boat Association, the biggest inboard division. “I compare the excitement of racing to that of catching a 10 pound bass. It’s a very powerful sport to be a part of,” he explained.
“Oakley is heavily involved in motorsports and is one of the leading innovators in that arena,” Rojas said. “For me to be involved with Oakley in the capacity of a pro angler is wonderful, so the fact that they’re also involved with motorsports is icing on the cake.”
Dean Rojas lives in Lake Havasu, Arizona with his wife Renee and two sons, Cameron and Austin.