Rich Tauber

WONews Column by Rich Tauber

A California native, Rich Tauber was the youngest winner of the U.S. Open when he took the title on Lake Mead in 1982 and he used that as a springboard to a long career as a bass pro on the top national circuits. One of the top seminar speakers in the bass fishing field, Tauber has settled back down in Southern California to fish the WON BASS pro circuit and guide on local lakes, with Lake Casitas his specialty.

You can contact him at

As most of you know, I work as a fishing instructor and guide at Lake Casitas in Ventura. Yes, I go to work 5 days a week just like everyone else, it just happens to be that the water is my office. The last 30 days, all I hear dabout at the lake each day was the U.S. Open.

Everyone has questions. Can I fish if…? Am I skilled enough as an angler to compete in such an event?  Can I fish if I don't have a boat? Will the Pros take the time to help me catch fish also?  I own a bass boat and would like to enter as a Pro…can I enter the U.S. Open ?  The answer to all of these questions is YES, hence the name "Open."  Everyone is welcome. If you were ever to enter a bass tournament…this is the one you want to choose.
Now that you have decided to fish the 2010 U.S. Open, let’s talk about lures and productive patterns for this summer spectacular. The first U.S. Open was in 1981. My former roommate on tour, Greg Hines, won the event. Most of you know, or have heard, that he won that first U.S. Open on a Heddon Zara Spook. He also caught some of his fish on a plastic worm; in fact all of his fish the fourth (yes, the U.S. Open used to be 4 days of competition) and final day of the tournament were caught on a 4-inch Ringworm.

This begins to give you an idea what I want to try to get across about your strategy for this event. It's real hard to win the Open with just one technique!  People think "Hey in those first U.S. Opens those guys would just tie on a topwater plug and catch the fire out of ‘em on surface plugs all day long."

Not true!  It was widely published that when I won the Open  I caught "all" of my fish on a topwater plug…not true. My biggest fish came on a plastic worm in that 1982 event. I will never forget when Gary Yamamoto won his Open in 50 feet of water on a jig. I talked to some of his partners after the event that told me they caught 30 keeper bass a day. What I am trying to get at is the U.S. Open patterns that have been successful have been all over the board: buzzbait, spinnerbait, drop shot, you name it.
With that being said, let's narrow it down to the present day. I really feel like the last two Opens have been been drop shot, spinnerbait, topwater, and crankbait driven. Those are the techniques that have been the most productive and produced the best scores. I really feel that you should enter practice for the event with an open mind. Start with a wide variety of lures and approaches. Once you get the ball rolling, go with it. Don't over practice a technique or area. If you’re beginning to feel confident with a particular bait or pattern, believe in it and let it develop during the competition days.

Lake Mead is not a place where you want to "wear ‘em out" in practice. It's a long and grueling tournament, and believe me when I tell you, you will need every fish possible that final day of competition.
When it comes to the actual competition days, the best advice I can give you is to "try to stay involved" in the tournament. Way too many anglers go for broke the first day and really try to "wreck ‘em." Hey, that's all well and good. If it happens, it happens. If not, try to catch a limit of bass and keep yourself in the hunt.

Over half the anglers in the U.S. Open will have given up by day three of competition. I see this every year, they push it, or try to do too much early in the tournament. Then by noon the 2nd day of the tournament, they’re in trouble. Try to be one of those 40 boats that are out there competing for the championship on that final day. If you can do that, in my opinion you have won. Hey, you gave it your best shot. You gave yourself a chance to win the tournament. If you come up a bit short, so be it.
I look forward to seeing you all at Boulder Station during U.S. Open week. And make sure you don't miss the Legends Tribute dinner the Friday night before the Open. It should be a classic evening with some stories that will last a lifetime.
 Anyone with any questions about the U.S. Open, or any other WON Bass event, can contact Rich at

I can begin to feel it happen. Just small signs, but I believe that I see a small glimmer at the end of that tunnel. I guess it all started after the big turnout at last summer’s U.S. Open. I could feel that the anglers felt pent up. They really wanted to get back out there and compete.
This year the phone has started to ring again as people have questions about new bass boats. My bass fishing guide business, “Rich Tauber Fishing,” is super busy. People stop me all the time to ask about WON BASS, and have a variety of questions about our tournaments.
We had over 60 teams at Diamond Valley Reservoir for one of our Southern California Team Tournaments. The rain just keeps coming from all directions, and all the western lakes and rivers are being to fill. The sport shows across the West are showing great numbers at the gate. The Fred Hall Fishing Tackle and Boat Show in Long Beach is set to break an all-time attendance record when it opens March 3. It’s all there. All the signs point in the right direction for the fishing business in 2010.
The same will hold true next month as the WON BASS Tour travels to Lake Havasu for the second stop of the 2010 campaign. Let me just get it out of my system… the WON BASS event March 19-20 at Lake Havasu is going to be “Flat Out Fantastic.”
I still remember this place like it was yesterday. The first professional bass tournament I ever fished was at Lake Havasu. I was in a bass club with Don Iovino. We would win all the club tournaments. He said to me, “Rich, we need to go fish one of those pro-type tournaments.” I’m like 18 years old and think I’m a world beater, so I said “let’s do it.”
As it got closer to the day we have to leave, I started to get real scared. I didn’t want to go… I’m panic stricken by the morning we are supposed to meet and caravan to Lake Havasu.
I was living with my mom and little brother. I tell my mom to call Don Iovino and tell him I’m sick… I’m in bed sick… I can’t go. Don was like a father figure to me at that time… he knew me… he knew I wasn’t sick, I was just scared. He told my mom to tell me to get my stuff ready ’cause he was coming to my house to pick me up!
Now I’m busted… he knows I’m making up this sick thing, so I go get ready. I go to the tournament, finish 23rd, win $100 and collect my first professional check. That was 1977.
For our March 2010 event, the weather should be fantastic. We will have the lake much to ourselves. Boat traffic is almost nil. The smallmouth fishing will blow your mind. The largemouth fishing will be really good also. The fish will be shallow. Gang… this is the best place in the nation you can wet a line in March… period.
The only other place that might compare in early March is Lake Okeechobee in south Florida! The fish are going to be caught on everything you own that runs less than 15 feet deep. We are expecting a huge turnout for this tournament, but even with a full field, there is tons of water to fish. You have to remember that the fish will be shallow and Lake Havasu has ‘mucho’ shoreline. There are so many small pockets, the big bays, and the Colorado River that make this place a monster to fish in the springtime.
This is one tournament you just can’t miss. Lake Havasu City has a ton of great restaurants, real good nightlife (take it from me!) and there are great launch ramps all over the lake. Tell your friends and make sure you bring a friend to compete in the non-boater division (AAA).
The entry fees are super affordable, less than $500 no matter what division you enter. This is the first tournament in the South Region of the WON BASS tour. I am going to fish it. It’s important that we all fish it. This is our tour. This is the group that brings us Western Outdoor News each week, this is the organization that gives us the U.S. Open, it’s ours… let’s support it!
Looking forward to seeing you all at Havasu. My arms hurt just thinking about it!
Anyone that has any fishing questions for Rich, or is interested in fishing the WON BASS tournaments can contact him at


All the best players do it. It took me 10-15 years on tour before I really figured it out. It started to become clear when I started my career with the BassMasters. In those days most everyone on tour owned a boat, and when we had the partner pairings we would most always draw "boat to boat."

There were no Triple A's or co-anglers and you would draw the big name superstars of the sport all the time. It was a bit uncomfortable at times as you talked with your partner and tried to work out something that would work for the two of you. But it also produced some of the best times of my life as a professional.

I drew so many legendary fisherman, like BassMaster Classic champions George Cochran and Paul Elias. I was paired with Bernie Schultz at Guntersville and we caught 50 pounds together the first day of an event. I fished with Charlie Ingram and destroyed the fish at Sam Rayburn. I could go on and on.

The lesson I learned was all of the real greats generally fish to their strengths. They try to focus on techniques that give them "the power." Sure, they’re versatile, but they always focus in practice on trying find something that fits their strength.
I drew Rick Clunn twice on the B.A.S.S. tour —once at Lake Powell in Utah, and once at Grand Lake in Oklahoma. I never saw him use a technique that did not involve turning the handle on that baitcasting reel at all times. What I am saying is Rick is a "winder." He loves that reel handle! He turns that sucker all the time. Everywhere we stopped it was buzzbait, crankbait, spinnerbait. He is a huge believer in lures that move through the water at some rate of speed.

Rick does not like to talk too much during the competition, so after we weighed in our fish I asked him, "Rick, how often do you ever use a plastic worm or a jig?" He took a really long pause and said, " Do you mean in my entire career?”  I said “yes” and he took an even longer pause and said, “Probably about five percent of the time."  This is the angler that BassMaster/ESPN voted the "Greatest Bass Angler of all Time"…and he doesn’t believe in plastic worms!  Now I don't want to put words in Mr. Clunn's mouth, but I think you get the idea. He has a strength, and he uses it. All the great ones do. Dee Thomas and David Gliebe bought their homes with a Flippin’ Stik. Zell Rowland has several sports cars because of his prowess with a Pop-R. The list goes on.
What I am saying is find a technique that you feel gives you an edge, and use it to your advantage. Hey, always try new techniques and work on your versatility. But never get to far away from your strength. It's no secret that in my own career I have always pushed the super shallow thing. I like to fish objects that I can see with my eyes. I very rarely look at my depth finder. I like to use lures that manufacture a movement by a bass to strike my bait. I throw my bait next to visual cover and move my bait in a fashion that promotes a strike. Hey, that's my thing.

My great friend Don Iovino was the guy who started the long time joke "Tauber never caught a bass that he didn't see hit his lure."  Well, he is not too far from the truth...and I am darn proud of it!  Always fish and practice with an open mind, but don't get too far away from the lures and techniques that have brought you your greatest success.
If you have any questions about bass fishing or getting started on the WON BASS Tour, feel free to contact Rich at

A new season, a fresh start, and thoughts from a Legend

All right guys, enough rest, it is time to play ball again. This has been a very hectic 30 days in the world of Western angling. We have a brand new WON BASS season in front of us with lots of wonderful changes that I believe are perfect for today’s angler.

We have a new tournament director, my great friend and true ambassador to the sport of professional bass fishing, Harvey Naslund.

When Harvey and I first spoke on the phone about his new position, I said “Harvey, you are like the Billy Martin (three-time manager of the New York Yankees) of professional bass fishing. Typical Harvey, he responded, “I knew Billy Martin.” That kind of says it all, Harvey knows everyone. He is smart, stern, and fair. Next to Ray Scott, he knows this tournament business as well as anyone. He will be just what the doctor ordered to bring Western tournament angling back to prominence.

Let’s talk about the season opener on the California Delta Feb. 5 and 6. That’s right, guys and gals, we will compete on Fridays and Saturdays in 2010.

I called my old friend and bass fishing icon, Dee Thomas. I wanted to know Dee’s thoughts on the WON BASS Tour and placing the season opener on the Delta in February. Here is what the Hall of Famer had to say:

“The Delta is a great choice in February, and Russo’s Marina is second to none,” said Thomas. “There will be guys that get on ’em and guys that don’t, typical of any early season event. All types of presentations will work, drop-shot, crankin’, rippin’, and flippin’. Basically all techniques will come into play. Right now the water is real clear in the Delta, and fisherman can always find good water quality on the Delta due to its size. If there is a lot of rain, the north Delta has very little water flow, and stays clearer. A 15-pound bag each day will get you a top 10 finish here most of the time in February. If I am healthy, I will be there.”

Dee ended our conversation by saying, “I don’t care where the tournament is, or what time of year they have it. If I am committed to a circuit, I will be there.”

No truer words could be said.

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