The granddaddy of all western bass tournaments is set to kick-off Monday, September 8th. This year’s WON Bass U.S. Open marks the 32nd time that professional and amateur bass anglers from across the country will converge on Lake Mead for a shot at bass fishing glory. The official practice period is already underway for the field of 167 who will be dealing with low water, intense heat and a host of other challenges. The prize: a new Nitro Z-8 with 200 Horsepower Mercury Pro-XS and $50,000 cash. The first place co will receive $10,000. Bridgford Foods is also putting up $25,000 for the angler who breaks the lake’s Smallmouth bass record of 5 pounds, seven ounces. This and many other prizes are being offered by event sponsors.
Visit the WON Bass website and/or Facebook Page for details. What’s unique about this event, other than the obvious prize money, is the rare mixing of pros from all regions. This year’s field includes BASSMASTER Elite Series Pros like Josh Bertrand, John Murray and FLW Tour pros like Scott Canterbury, Cody Meyer, Luke Clausen and Jay Yelas competing against local pros and west coast legends like Gary Dobyns and three-time U.S. Open Champion, Mike Folkestad.
It is also a chance for first-time pros or entry-level pros, stepping up, to compete against some of the biggest names in bass fishing. And, of course, amateur competitors from all over will be fishing with a new pro for three straight days, trying to best each other in a popular shared-weight format. Last year’s champion, Rusty Brown, will be back to defend his title. Favorites to win have to be guys with experience on the lake and this tournament, like Clifford Pirch of Payson, AZ or Elite Series Pro Josh Bertrand of Gilbert, AZ, but I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the AZ, NV, UT or SoCal pros pull it off. Perhaps somebody new will make a name for themselves this year?
I’ll be rooting for names that I recognize from our region (Northern California and Southern Oregon) like Jay Gutterding of Redding, CA, Jesse Slaton of Klamath Falls, OR and Jiggs Benn of Myrtle Creek, OR. Lake Mead is a Colorado River impoundment, the largest reservoir in the country and 110-miles long. It’s currently at a record low because of the drought (147 feet below capacity). This could negate the local advantage and level the playing field, a bit, for first-timers. With a record boat count, one thing’s for sure: it’s going to be interesting to follow. We wish the best to all of the 334 Bass Anglers competing in this years US Open. BHQ will do our best to keep readers informed of tournament developments as they occur. Stay tuned!