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Friday, September 16, 2011
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WON BASS 2011 ProAm at Lake Mead
While Dick Watson may be a familiar name amongst west coast tournament bass anglers, for one reason or another, he’s never managed to win a professional bass tournament since he began competing some 20 years ago. Watson has long been in the top five or top 10 spots, but he’s never managed to earn the coveted “champion” title. Well, that all changed this past weekend when he bested a field of 37 boats at Lake Mead to earn his first-ever victory in a WON BASS Pro/Am.


DICK WATSON proudly holds up his first-ever first-place trophy in a professional bass event. He’d been trying for 20 years, and cracked the top 10 and even top five numerous times, but never managed to win one. That all changed this past weekend during the final WON BASS South Pro/am of the 2011 season when Watson bested a field of 37 boats to take the coveted “champion” title.

“This is the one thing I’ve wanted to do for 20 years,” said Watson at the awards ceremony at the Boulder Station Hotel & Casino on Sunday evening. “I’ve always wanted to win a WON BASS Pro/Am.”

And in his signaturely benevolent nature, Watson added, “You know, my job isn’t as a professional bass angler, so I’m going take this money [he earned a check for $5,251] and buy a few nice things for family, then donate the rest to charity.”

Benevolence aside, on the water, Watson was a force to be reckoned with this past weekend. As any seasoned Mead baser knows, in order to land in the winner’s circle, let alone win a tournament, you need to weigh no less than 10 pounds a day… period. Watson did just that, bringing in bags of 12.56 pounds and 11.13 pounds on day one and two, respectively. His combined weight proved to be enough to stave off some seriously tough competition from his fellow WON BASSers.

Taking second in the tourney was none other than Kyle Grover, who also (nearly) adhered to the Mead mantra of “10 pounds a day keeps the competition away.” Grover weighed an impressive 12.40 pounds during the first day of the tournament and added an addition 9.57 pounds on day two. His 21.97 total weight garnered a check for roughly $3,300 in addition to $750 in Top 5 option money.

James Smiley absolutely crushed the field on day one with a massive 13.38-pound bag, which included a 4.22-pound overall big fish (although he was not in the options), but only managed 8.52 pounds on day two. Nevertheless, that day-one limit certainly helped his cause, as he found himself in third place and returning home with a check for almost two grand.

Rounding out the top five Pros at the final South WON BASS Pro/Am of the 2011 season were Boris Antolos in fourth with 20.90 pounds, and John Morrow in fifth with 20.16 pounds.

On the AAA side, the top five anglers (in order from first thru fifth) were Kyle Gibson with 21.57 pounds, Gary Freeman with 20.83 pounds, Hermie Romero with 19.91 pounds, Sam Piacenza with 19.70 pounds, and WON BASS columnist Tami Curtis with 19.09 pounds. Curtis also weighed in a beautiful 3.38-pound smallmouth during the tournament.


Since James Smiley was not in the options, while his 4.22-pound bass was indeed a beautiful fish, the Costa Big Fish Award and trophy ended up going to Kyle Grover for a 3.81-pound fish. That also earned him a check for $775.

KYLE GROVER with Costa Big Bass Award Lake Mead ProAm 2011
Kyle Grover is all smiles after  he finished in 2nd place and won the Costa Big Bass Award

James Smiley didn't eneterr the big bass option but had the Big Bass of the Tournament

It was the perfect end to an otherwise phenomenal season, as not only did Mother Nature cooperate brilliantly, but so did Lake Mead’s bass. In fact, most anglers relayed some of the best action they’d ever encountered on the otherwise difficult fishery.

Next up is the WON BASS Tournament of Champions, taking place the first weekend in November at Lake Nacimiento. As of now, the final list of anglers who earned their spot at the event is still being finalized, but the big news is WON BASS will be giving away not one, but two Nitro/Mercury rigs at the tourney. One will be going to the first-place Pro, with the other being awarded to the first-place AAA. In short, it’s going to be huge, and the most recent reports indicate Naci is absolutely on fire right now. Stay tuned…

Dick Watson of Alta Loma won the WON BASS Lake Mead ProAm in a very close race over fast closing young Pro, Kyle Grover of Santa Margarita. There will be a full report on the tournament in WON BASS and it will also be wrapped up on this blog. Good weights and great weather resulted in a very tight race in which 6 Pro's were withing 3 pounds of the lead. It was even closer on the AAA side with local Las Vegas back-seaters in the first 4 spots.

The full and final results are up on the website.

The result of this weekend’s WON BASS Lake Mead Pro/Am are being tabulated as this blog is being composed, and while WON BASS staffers would like to speculate as to the winner of the tournament, this one’s simply going to be too close for me to call until the final numbers are posted.

Had our day-one leader James Smiley brought another limit of equal or slightly lesser weight to the scale today (he had 13.38 pounds yesterday), it would have been a slam dunk. As it turned out, however, Smiley and his AAA, Tom Ochoa, managed an 8.52-pound bag. It was a solid limit, but it seemed doubtful if it would keep him in the lead, especially after Mr. Dick Watson added a solid 11.13 pounds to his big total from the day one. And although there were a number of 9-plus-pound bags brought to the weigh station, Watson’s total weight may prove to best all others.

But then let’s not forget the 12.13-pound bag weighed in by Pro Boris Antolos and AAA Tom Kruse, either. As mentioned above, this one’s simply to close to call…

The awards presentation kicks off in less than an hour, so keep your browser pointed to for the results and photos of the winners.

This morning’s launch for the final day of the final South WON BASS Pro/Am of the 2011 season went flawlessly, and by 6:30 a.m., all the boats were headed to their first spots of the day.

Sunrise Sunday WON BASS Mead ProAm
THE CALLVILLE BAY LAUNCH RAMP was bustling with activity right around 6 o’clock this morning

Mother Nature continued to cooperate, as anglers were greeted with 65-degree air temps and very little wind. WON BASS hit the water to sample some of the fishing action and shoot a handful of on-the-water photos, and we encountered a few WON BASSERS on our venture.

dewayne jackson and vern price

Dewayne Jackson and Vern Price were tucked into a cove in the Vegas Wash when we asked them how their morning had gone thus far. “We’ve got one,” Dewayne said, “but most of the fish have been right around 10 inches.” A number of other anglers we encountered relayed the same results, so clearly, those locating and staying on the better-quality bass will find themselves in the winner’s circle. Even the single smallmouth we caught was a short, but healthy fish.

Dewayne Jackson
DEWAYNE JACKSON and his AAA Vern Price work the back of a cove inside Vegas Wash. WON BASS PHOTO BY REBECCA MACKEY

First flight is due to hit the dock in less than two hours, at 3 p.m., with the second flight right behind them at 3:15. The awards ceremony is set to commence at roughly 5:30 in the Railhead Room at the Boulder Station Hotel & Casino. Expect the next update to be posted shortly thereafter. The weigh-in for the first day of the final WON BASS South 2011-12 Pro/Am at Lake Mead just wrapped, and as predicted, it looks as if it’s going to be one hell of a tournament. Big bags and beautiful small and largemouth bass were the rule of the day for the 37-boat field, and not only were impressive limits brought to the scales, but there were some truly sizeable fish weighed.

Dick Watson Lake Mead WON BASS ProAm 2011

DICK WATSON emerged in second place today with a 12.56-pound bag.

James Smiley WON BASS Lake Mead ProAm 2010

JAMES SMILEY sits in first place after day one, and also took big-fish honors for the first day with a 4.22-pound largemouth.

Paul Aznarez Laked Mean WON BASS ProAm 2011

DAY-ONE AAA BIG FISH went to Paul Aznarez and this 3.76-pound smallmouth.



John Morrow and his AAA, Matthew Rivera, got things started off on the right foot, weighing in an 11.70-pound sack of gorgeous smallmouth. Morrow arrived at the scales roughly five minutes before his flight was due in. “We came in early today because we didn’t want to see any fish die. We got our fish out of deep water.” The conservation-minded nature of our WON BASS tournament anglers never ceases to amaze…

The next few bags varied in weight from 2-fish sacks in the 1- to 2-pound range, up to the 9.16-pound limit weighed by local Pro Moses Mokuahi and AAA Vern Price. “We lost four fish today that would have weighed about 12 pounds,” Mokuahi said. Nevertheless, his limit would place him in the top 10 slots.

Next up was Tim Klinger and Dave Kiesgen with a 5-fish limit weighing in at 9.19 pounds.. Not long after, AAA Paul Aznarez brought what would prove to be the biggest bass of the day on the co-angler side to the scale. His largemouth weighed in at 3.76 pounds. Pro Dick Watson and his AAA, John D. Helm weighed in a beefy 12.56-pound sack, capped by Watson’s 3.30-pound bronzeback. Shad Berweger and his co-angler, Sam Placenza managed an 11.19-pound limit, topped by Placenza’s 3.44 pounder.

And the two Kyle’s, Pro Grover and AAA Gibson, had 5 fish for 12.40 pounds. “It was really good today,” Grover enthusiastically remarked. No one, however, could surpass the limit brought in by James Smiley and AAA Hermie Romero. They weighed an amazing bag of 13.38 pounds, eclipsing even the heaviest weight brought to the scale during this year’s U.S. Open by champion Aaron Martens. Included in his bag was a 4.22-pound largemouth; big fish of the day on the Pro side.

Thus, as it stands going into tomorrow’s second, and final, day of competition, in first place on the Pro side is James Smiley with 13.38 pounds, Dick Watson is in second with 12.56 oounds, Kyle Grover is sitting in third at 12.40 pounds, in fourth is John Morrow with 11.70 pounds, and rounding out the top five Pros is Shad Berweger with 11.19 pounds.

On the AAA side, first thru fifth (in ascending order) are as follows: Hermie Romero, John D. Helm, Kyle Gibson, Matthew Rivera, and Sam Placenza. Tomorrow’s another day, however, and as it stands right now, this one’s entirely up for grabs. Stay tuned…

4:30 PM Update

These reports just in on the AAA side...
AAA big fish
So far is 3.76-lb by Paul Aznarez
Triple A Leaders
Hermie Romero 13.38
John D Helm 12.56
Kyle Gibson 12.40
Matthew Rivers 11.70
Sam Piacenza 11.19

Some more Pro updates 3:40pm
Just got update on the leaders ....James Smiley 13.38-lbs and 4.22 big bass, Dick Watson 12.56 and 3.30 Big, Kyle Grover 12.40 and 3.81, John Morrow 11.70 and 3.24 big, Shad Berweger 11.19-lb limit

Saturday Afternoon at 3PM - Calville Bay
John Morrow came in with a full limit of smallies weighing 11.70 pounds, which by U.S. Open Lake Mead standards is a good weight that will keep you in the race, We'll have to see how things progress.

Saturday Morning Update from Lake Mead
It’s anyone’s guess as to how the first day of this weekend’s WON BASS Lake Mead Pro/Am will pan out, but for the time being, weather conditions have remained stable, and this morning’s launch took place under placid skies and pleasant temperatures. There was only a slight breeze on the water as the small but very talented, 37-boat field headed out for the morning. Air temps hovered right around 65 degrees.

Mead Sunrise Won Bass 2011
IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL SUNRISE over Callville Bay Marina

Early Mead Boats

ANGLERS EAGERLY AWAIT their turn to launch.

WON BASS boats waiting to go

THE anglers waits for the national anthem and the

presentation of the colors.

No doubt, those will climb as the day progresses, but the good news is, there’s no inclement weather in the forecast. Thus, the patterns that were producing for anglers while pre-fishing should persist through the weekend. The first flight of boats is due in this afternoon at 3 p.m., with the second scheduled for arrival 15 minutes later.

As mentioned in last night’s blog, there are indeed some heavy hitters amongst the field, so expect the competition to be stiff. Not to mention nearly everyone who’s been on the water as of late seems to be on fish, and even reports from other anglers not fishing this weekend’s event indicate a solid bite, especially for smallmouth bass.

We’ll certainly know more come three o’clock. There are indeed some heavy hitters in the mix, so expect this tournament to be a tight race. Both big-name pros and local Mead experts are in the mix, so this event is literally up for grabs. Pros the likes of Dean Rojas, Mike Folkestad and John Morrow will be fishing this tournament; none of whom are strangers to success on Mead.

WONBASS Mead 2011 Dean Rojas

Then there’s last year’s Western Classic champion, John Mackey. Not to mention Young “Bradley” Yang, Boris Antolos, Roy Hawk, Justin Kerr, Moses Mokuahi… and the list goes on.

WONBASS Lake Mead 2011

“I’m on ‘em,” Moses said of tomorrow’s targeted large and smallmouth bass. “I’m on ‘em good, and it’s been a pretty consistent bite.” Let’s see if perhaps the local Pro can muster a solid bag at the weigh-in tomorrow afternoon. The first flight of anglers is scheduled to hit the scales at 3 p.m., while the second is due in at 3:15. Safe light should be around 6:15-ish, which is when the 37-boat field will be blasting out of Callville Bay.

In addition to the familiar faces at the partner pairings, there were also more than a few new anglers in the Mezzanine at the Boulder Station Hotel & Casino where the pairings took place. WON BASS Director of Operations Billy Egan made sure to thank everyone who made the drive and showed up at this evening’s event.

And as an example of the dedication WON BASS has towards our anglers, up until about the halfway point of the partner pairings, we had one Pro without a AAA for the tournament. Thus, had it remained so, he would have been fishing solo. Egan took the proverbial bull by the horns, however, and made a few calls during the pairings, ultimately finding a AAA for the Pro to fish with. Expect more of the same commitment and follow-through the rest of the weekend. Check the blog early tomorrow morning for the first of many updates and additional photos.

BASS PRO SHOPS is on hand for the Lake Mead tournament, and in addition to providing a Nitro Z-9 to be used for the event, they've also displayed a Nitro Z-6 out in front of the Boulder Station Hotel & Casino

bass por shops las vegasUPDATE 4PM Friday

Bassin' rated 'unreal' as WON BASS Lake Mead Pro/Am gets ready to kick off LAS VEGAS, NEV. - The WON BASS Lake Mead Pro/Am kicks off in roughly 12 hours, and thus far, action is shaping up to be excellent, according to recent reports. "The weather's holding up," said WON BASS Director of Operations Billy Egan, "and from what I've heard, the fishing's unreal.

WON BASS Pro Greg Claiborne
PRO GREG CLAIBORNE registers for this weekend's final South WON BASS Lake Mead Pro/Am of the 2011-12 season.

I talked to [John] Mackey today and he and a couple of the other guys said it's awesome. It looks like it's going to be excellent come tomorrow morning." Today's check-in went smoothly, and the partner pairing meeting is set to begin at 6 p.m.

12 Noon Update- Friday
While last evening only marked the early check-in for the final WON BASS South Pro/AM of the 2011 season at Lake Mead, it nevertheless kicked off what is shaping up to be a great final event prior to the Western Classic TOC Nov. 5 and 6 at Lake Nacimiento. The fishing has been improving since the most recent storm to pass through the area.

This evening’s early check in took place at the Bass Pro Shops store in Henderson, Nev., where WON BASS talked briefly with Lake Mead expert and Bass Pro Shops employee Vern Price about the current conditions.

“The bite may be tough for some,” Price said. “The water dropped from 80 degrees to 71 in about eight days. The conditions will definitely give some anglers an edge over others.”

WON BASS staffer Andy Jackson also made sure to add, “Don’t fish the salt cedar,” as the fish just aren’t hanging around it right now.

Although the cooler weather and influx of chillier water has dropped water temps significantly, it bodes beyond well for the fishery as a whole. Lake Mead’s already up 40-plus feet from last year’s levels, and it is expected to rise another 30 by the end of next year. In short, the lake is on track to becoming the fishery it was of yesteryear.

The official check in for this weekend’s event takes place in the Mezzanine at the Boulder Station Hotel & Casino, Friday from 2 to 5 p.m. The tournament starts at sunrise, Saturday morning.

the bass pro shops

THE BASS PRO SHOPS store in Henderson hosted the early check-in this evening.

tournament director

TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR Billy Egan stands with WON BASS staffers Glenda Jackson, middle, and Rebecca Mackey, inside the Bass Pro Shops store.

the check-in

THE CHECK-IN table inside Bass Pro Shops.

won bass staffer

WON BASS STAFFER Andrew Jackson, right, talks shop with WON BASS Pro Gary Freeman.

vern price

VERN PRICE, left, and Billy Egan engage in an on-deck arm-wrestling match. Billy joked it was because, with Vern, “Nothing’s ever easy. It’s always like I’m arm-wrestling him for something.”

Reader Comments
4th pic down is Kyle boys..not Smiley. I'm not that good looking!!!! lol....
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