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U.S. Open Blog

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Thursday, July 22, 2010
2010 U.S. OPEN JULY 18-21

U.S. OPEN PAYS OUT $260,350

The total payout for the 2009 WON BASS U.S. Open was $260,350, paying to 22 spots in both the Pro and AAA rosters and $15,000 in daily big fish ($2000 each for the five biggest fish) and big stringer ($2500 pro, $2,500 AAA) money. There were no side pots as all of the payouts were included in the entry fee of $1600 for pros and $600 for AAA.

PRO ANGLER PAYOUTS (amount is total won including the Nitro Z8 bass boat with Mercury Pro XS 225 for the overall winner and weeklong Forever Resorts houseboat trip for overall big fish)

1) Gary Dobyns        $105,000
2) Clifford Pirch        $19,000
3) Aaron Martens    $10,000
4) Randy Estrada        $7,500
5) John Kerr        $6,500
6) Shad Berweger    $6,000
7) Richard Dutzi        $6,000
8) John Murray        $5,000
9) Art Berry            $4,500
10) Fred Roumbanis    $4,200
11) Justin Kerr        $3,600
12) Dennis Kolender    $3,300
13) Dean Rojas        $3,000
14) Forest Webb        $2,750
15) Dick Watson        $2,250
16) John Perkins        $2,250
17) Chris Zaldain        $3,750
18) Joe Uribe, Jr.         $1,750
19) Marcus Clouse    $1,750
20) Rich Tauber        $1,600
21) Don Iglinski        $1,600
22) Bradley Yang        $1,600
30) Rick Grover        $2,000
31) Tom Pryor        $2,000
55) Steve Czemiski    $2,000

AAA PRO ANGLER PAYOUTS (amount is total won)

1) Chris Faehling        $10,000
2) Carl Jocumsen        $5,500
3) Tony Richards        $2,000
4) Rich Halliwill        $4,250
5) Ken Whalen        $1,500
6) Stephen Watte        $1,250
7) Tommy Jonovich    $1,100
8) Tyler Vanderhorst    $1,000
9) Doug Delgado        $900
10) John Krumsiek    $800
11) Marc Mitrany        $775
12) Steve Pectol        $750
13) Creston Carroll    $725
14) Joseph Stroschein    $2,700
15) Stan Boyd        $650
16) Sterling Pfundheller    $650
17) Michael Caruso    $650
18) Brent Benish        $600
19) Duane Mierop    $600
20) James Campbell    $3100
21) John O’Brien        $600
22) Cullen Bryant    $600
24) Dung Van Vu        $2,000
26) Paul Williams        $2,500
37) Mike Turner        $2,000
88) Glenn Morey        $2,000

The Champ, Gary Dobyns.


I've filed the final story and snapped the last shots of checks and trophies and the U.S. Open is over for 2009. It will live on in WON BASS for some time to come, but there are some things I want to mention before they fade away, impressions as it were.

Photo: While this isn't the trophy Gary Dobyns was talking about, he didn't mind getting the Nitro Z8 and Mercury Pro XS 225.

First and foremost is how much Gary Dobyns wanted this U.S. Open victory. At the awards he said he practiced 10 days for the event, something he has never done before. "I really want some good photos of me with that trophy," he told me when the victory he tried so hard to get was his. "Take as many as you want."

Photo: Clifford Pirch talks to the crowd at the WON BASS 2009 U.S. OPEN awards ceremonies.

Next was family and patriotism. Not just the National Anthem each morning, but pros like Dean Rojas, Fred Roumbanis, Aaron Martens and Clifford Pirch here with there parents and children. Clifford brought his daughter up on stage and when he mentioned his sponsors he went out of his way to say how proud he is to represent the National Guard and thanked "all the men and women who make it possible for the rest of us to pursue our everyday dreams -- like being a professional bass fisherman."

Photo: Aussie Carl Jocumsen, right, and pro Fred Roumbanis with the 3.33 largemouth that made for a big day three and a paycheck for both anglers.

The other was Carl Jocumsen from NSW Australia. He said he was just "blown away" by the friendliness of all the pros and the way they helped and just plain had a good time on Lake Mead. For instance, he said Fred Roumbanis knew he was in the running for the AAA title and did all he could to put him on a good pattern, including the spot that produced the big fish of the day, the 3.33 that won Jocumsen $2000 to go with his check for second place in the tournament.

There's so much more. But it's over for now. -- Rich Holland, WON BASS Editor


(Note: this story has been revised. The initial story had John Kerr fourth when it was actually Dr. Randy Estrada)

Gary Dobyns finishes with a big fish flourish to take home his first U.S. Open championship


LAKE MEAD – Several former champs did their best to chase down Gary Dobyns on the last day of the U.S. Open, but in the end Dobyns’ big lead and knack for catching big proved to much to overcome and the Yuba City pro nailed down his first U.S. Open title, $50,000 cash, a Nitro Z8 bass equipped with a Mercury Pro XS 225 ouboard, Motorguide troll motor and Lowrance electronics.

Dobyns said day two of the U.S. Open, when he posted 13.05 pounds (the biggest weight of the event) was pivotal to his championship. Dobyns held only a slim .05lead over former champ Clifford Pirch of Payson Arizona after the first day.


“Yesterday morning I made the right stop and on my second cast I caught a 2 1/2 and my third cast I caught a 3 1/2. I don’t know, about 20minutes later, I got another 2 1/2,” said Dobyns. “ I didn’t even fish there the first day. I was just going by and thought, you know, with this wind they could be up in there. Sure enough they were. That stop right there made the whole tournament for me.”

Photo: Gary Dobyns and his day three 3.17 largemouth that sealed his first U.S. Open victory. Tournament director Bill Hutcheson shares the limelight.

Dobyns weighed 8.13 pounds the last day and to bring his total weight to an insurmountable 32.91 pounds. Again, his day was bolstered by a big fish as he nailed a 3.17 pounder to once again land in the big fish pool. His final day big fish brought his big fish/big stringer money total to $11,000. He also won week-long houseboat trip on Lake Mead courtesy of Forever Resorts worth $5000 for his first day 3.90 largemouth, the big bass of the tournament.



Pirch, who fell behind by 5.90 pounds when he only weighed 7.20 pounds the second day, made a strong charge the final day with 10.68 pounds buoyed by not one, but two 3 pounders. The pro had to make a choice between two fat largemouth for his big fish and the one he chose weighed in at 3.18 pounds. His total for the tournament was 29.56 pounds.



“I fished outside most of the time, I did get a couple of shallow fish, but most were deep,” said Pirch. “I fished all over the lake, I just made a couple of timing mistakes the second day.”



Two-time U.S. Openwinner Aaron Martens of Leeds, AL, gained momentum every day and said his only mistake was to go away from his deep water drop-shotting pattern the first day. He ended up with 9.37 pounds the last day for a total of 25.73 pounds. Martens said the three-day tournament ended too quickly.



“I just wish there was more time,” said Martens. “I would have liked to give Gary a run.”



Another former U.S. Open champ, John Kerr of Ramona, CA, quietly put in solid limits every day ofthe tournament but dropped off in weight every day and his 6.73 pounds were just not enough to keep him in the fourth place spot he started off the final day in, although he only dropped to fifth.



Dr. Randy Estrada, on the other hand, overcame a slow start to post two 9-pound plus days using the drop-shot plastics and reaction baits to scramble up to fourth place, his best finish ever in a U.S. Open.



Big fish of the final day went to an Australian AAA competitor, Carl Jocumsen. His 3.33-pound largemouth and a final day weight of 8.78 pounds weren’t quite enough to capture the AAA crown however, as Chris Faehling of Pioche, NV took first thanks to three steady days of limits and a 9.98 bag the second day with Dr. Estrada.



For his first place win, Faehling earned the top AAA check of $10,000.



All the final results and big fish awards are now available on The September issue of WON BASS (a supplement to Western Outdoor News) will contain a complete wrapup of the tournament with lots of photographs ofcompetitors and insights into what makes a U.S. Open champ.


Awards Ceremony at Sunset Station starting at 7:00 p.m. tonight, Sept. 2nd. Official Final Standing to be posted to the internet shortly thereafter. So far no word of any protest to alter the results we've all seen and heard about here and elsewhere.

Rick Grover (owner of Anglers Marine) was one of the last anglers to weigh in and called in just a few minutes ago and was in great spirits after a tough day on the lake. Rick was quoted as saying "If you think boat sales are tough, try bass fishing at Lake Mead." Rick only had three fish today for 3.78 lbs, but he still had a good event overall and caught one of the five $2,000 big bass fish yesterday.

John Murray started out in 14th today and weighed in with 8.12 pounds to climb up in the standings and join the 23-pound-plus club.

Dennis Kolender weighed in 7.04 pounds today and that puts him a group of guys about about 23 lbs.

Clifford Pirch will split a $5000 purse for Big Stringer at 10.68 lbs.

Dean Rojas overcame his tough first day to fish solid the last two dahys weighed 8 lbs. today for a total of 22.59 for the tournament.


Former U.S. Open winner John Kerr just bumped Dutzi from the fifth slot with a weight of 6.79 pounds with a total of 25.4 lbs


Shad Berweger was in 3rd at 17.92, but just weighed in 6.57 pounds. That should keep him in the top ten


AAA Carl Jocumsen, from New South Wales Australia, brought in a 3.34 lb. largemouth to be in the lead for the $2000 payday and could take the AAA top payout of 10,000. He fished with Fred Roumbanis who weighed in 8.78 lbs. with an unofficial weight of 23.01 lbs. which could put him in the top ten.


U.S. Open Top Five —
Dobyns — 32.91 lbs
Pirch — 29.56 lbs
Martens — 25.73 lbs
Estrada — 25.68 lbs
Dutzi — 24.19 lbs

Richard Dutzi weighed in 8.34 pounds today and said he had his limits by 11:30 every day.


Aaron Martens weighed in a nice 9.37 pounds with a total of 25.75 lbs for the tournament. He said he drop-shotted in 55 - 65 feet of water.

Rick Clunn weight in only 4.7 pounds today. Says he pre-fished three days, fished three days and had anyone told him there would only be one windy day, he would have told them they were insane. Another flat, calm, hot, still day on the water.


Dr. Randy Estrada in eighth place weighed in 9.08 pounds with a total of 25.4 lbs. looking great to be in some money.

Jim Davis in 9th only weighed in two fish, tough day for Jim.


Dobyns weighed in his big fish at 3.17 pounds placing him in solid contention for big fish money. His three-day unofficial weight is 32.91 with Cliff Pirch closest with 29.56.

Dobyns caught his big fish today on a brush hawg and Tuesday's big fish on a crank bait. With more to come there are still a lot out there.
Dobyns said he went into his 'chicken fishin' mode' but broke out of it with the big fish today, which could turn into a great win.


Cliff Pirch just weighed in 10.68 lbs with a big fish of 3.18 to take the lead, but Dobyns next to weigh in.


Art Berry weighs in at 8.10 congratulating Gary Dobyns on his way to the podium.


Apologies for the fact the AAA standings following day two have not been posted here or on WON BASS yet. There was a glitch in the transmission last night that wasn't picked up until this morning, but we'll have them up by 11 a.m. on WON BASS.

For a quick recap, it should come as no surprise that the AAAs who were in Dobyns boat have not only earned $2500 a day in big stringer money but are at the top of the leader board. Rich Halliwill of Nutrioso, AZ fished with Dobyns on day two and the 13.05 combined with the 5.51 he brought in from day one puts Halliwell in the lead at 18.56 pounds.

Chris Dixon of Woodland Hills fished with Cliff Pirch the first day and picked up 11.73 pounds. He caught a 2.19 on day two to help his pro (Aaron Leon) and help himself into second place just .05 out of first. Paul Williams of Lake Havasu City fished with Dobyns the first day and slid to third from first when he and his second day pro Clayton Meyer could only scratch up 6.06 pounds. Williams is .77 back with 17.79 pounds.

It should be noted that, with all the tough fishing, AAAs have helped bring a lot of fish to the scales, particularly by throwing the drop shot while the pro in the front of the boat threw reaction baits. Van Vu of Paramount scored $2000 in big fish money for his day two 3.63 largemouth.

Photo: Van Vu with his 3.63-lb. largemouth good for $2000 in big fish money the second day of the WON BASS U.S. Open

Rounding out the top 10 in the race for the $10,000 first prize:

4)Chris Faehling, Pioche, NV 17.32
5)John O'Brien, Las Vegas, NV 16.59
6)Joe Drake, InyoKern, CA 16.52
7)Carl Jocumsen, NSW, Australia, 16.29
8)Dean Kreuzer, Mesa, AZ 16.22
9)Marc Mitrany, Ojai, CA 15.89
10)Cullen Bryant, Lakeside, CA 15.86

As a reminder, the full AAA results will be on by 11 a.m. today -- Rich Holland, WON BASS Editor


The only competitor that can take out Gary Dobyns at this point is Lake Mead. What always makes the U.S. Open an intriguing event is Mead has knocked down so many top pros on the last day and as the sun sets into some fiery thunderheads this evening the conditions tomorrow will play a big part in how the tournament finishes up.

Photo: WON BASS tournament director Bill Hutcheson interviews runaway leader Gary Dobyns during the second day weigh-in.

What's really interesting is Dobyns' flight will be the first one out tomorrow morning and that means a lot of questions will be answered early on. The first flight has had the poorest showing every day, but you have to doubt that will happen with Dobyns, Cliff Pirch, Mike Folkestad, Art Berry, Rich Tauber and some under-the-radar pros like Aaron Leon (21st just behind Berry) in the same grouping.

Anyway, if you make Dobyns' catch today of 13.05 the benchmark as to what can be achieved this year, his nearly 6-pound lead means he can post a solid 7-pound-plus limit and only be beat if Pirch can match the best effort of the U.S. Open so far. Even then it would be measured in hundredths of a pound.

For Dobyns to drop that low in weight, assuming he stays in the fish, he would have to make the mistake it seemed that all the other contenders complained of -- they either lost the big fish they hooked or didn't get into them at all.

The other complaint -- the conditions -- didn't bother Dobyns at all. He said the fishing was the best he's had yet despite the fact he was "sick as a dog" from dehydration from the incredibly hot and still weather of the first day. (Overall it was much cooler on day two and all the pros and AAAs looked in much better shape). The fact of the matter was all of the big name pros on the lake thrived on the wind and overcast that others blamed for their woes.

"As bad as the fishing was today, it was that good today," Dean Rojas told the U.S. Open spectators and tournament director Bill Hutcheson. Rojas weighed 9.45 pounds. (No competitor other than Dobyns broke the 10-pound mark on day two.)

"As long as the wind keeps blowing, I'll keep catching fish," Rick Clunn told this reporter. Clunn weighed a limit good for 8.57 pounds and moved within striking distance of a check.

Photo: Rick Clunn intently watches the scales as his second day limit is weighed in.

While a solid limit is important, getting the big one is the key to the 2009 U.S. Open

Aaron Martens is in 7th place going into the last day thanks to two good limits but he knows what he's done is not good enough. When Hutch told Martens he must have had a better day because he weighed in a limit and asked if the wind helped out, Martens pointed out he got a limit the day before.

"The wind didn't really help, we caught some keepers, but it was tough to get a big one again," said Martens. "We tried topwater, jerkbaits, drop shot, we threw lots of things, but..."

Rick Grover of Anglers Marine in Anaheim struck paydirt on day two with a 3.04-pound largemouth (right) and improved his chances of adding to the $2000 big fish money by moving into 12th with a total of 15.75 pounds. Brian Grier (above) vaulted to fifth with his 3.64 smallmouth and second limit in a row.

And then there were the anglers who missed out on the big fish opportunities that came their way and from the sound of it, that was a large group. Rich Tauber said he had a limited number of bites and they didn't translate into a limit when a big smallmouth got off the hook.

"That's just a killer for me, I have to land pretty much everything I hook," Tauber said. "Dobyns is getting his big fish. That's how you win tournaments."

"You know today was a great day, it was probably the most humbling day of my career," said Art Berry of El Cajon. "We weighed 4 and lost 8. I've got a great school of fish. If tomorrow pans out it we could make a big comeback. But like Rich said you have to land them all."

Tomorrow we'll see how it pans out -- Rich Holland, WON BASS Editor


Here's the news story I'm sending out. Lots more to come tonight -- Rich Holland, WON BASS Editor


LAKE MEAD – Gary Dobyns, arguably the most dominant angler in Western bass fishing history is crushing the U.S. Open field after two days of competition, having already pocketed $9000 in big fish money while amassing a total weight of24.78 pounds thanks to a second day bag 13.05 pounds topped by a 3.51-pound largemouth.


Photo: Gary Dobyns shows what it takes to weigh more at Mead the second day than you did the first day. WON BASS PHOTO RICH HOLLAND

“The fishing was much better today,” said Dobyns, who not only topped his first day total but also was the only pro to weigh more than 10 pounds of fish. I think the overcast helped, I caught quite a few fish. I had so many crawdads in my livewell, you wouldn’t believe it. I lost 4 ounces in crawfish.”


Dobyns, of Yuba City, CA, will win $50,000 and a Nitro Z8 bass boat and Mercury 225 Pro XS outboard if he can hold onto his lead on the notoriously fickle waters of Lake Mead. The lake took its toll on many anglers who were closest to Dobyns after the first day.



Clifford Pirch of Payson, AZ, maintained his hold on second place, but fell almost 6 pounds back of Dobyns with a limit that weighed 7.2 pounds. Pirch said the big fish eluded him on the second day.


Shad Berweger, John Kerr and Aaron Martens were the only other members of yesterday’s top 10 to weigh a five fish limit. Berweger is in third with 17.92 pounds and Kerr is right behind with 17.71.


Big fish of the second day was a 3.64 caught by Brian Grier and the catch of 9.97 pounds put Grier into fifth with 17.05. Tom Pryor only weighed 4 fish but stayed in the top 10 with 16.95 good for sixth going into the final day of competition. Martens second solid limit in a row put him in seventh with 16.36.


Dr. Randy Estrada rode a 9.98 limit to 16.32 and eighth, while Michael McLernan and Jim Davis both put together back to back limits for the final two top 10 spots with identical 16.17 weights. These weights should stand barring any protests. Look for the full standings for both pro and AAA at

Tournament Leaders through day two:

1) Gary Dobyns 24.78 lbs. (Big stringer, 13.05)

2) Clifford Pirch 18.88 lbs.
3) Shad Berwerger 17.92 lbs.

4) John Kerr 17.71 lbs.
5) Bryan Grier 17.05 lbs.

6) Tom Pryor 16.95 lbs.

7) Aaron Martens 16.36 lbs.

8) Randy Estrada 16.32 lbs.

9) Michael McLernan 16.17 lbs.

tie Jim Davis 16.17 lbs.

Big Bass for Day 2 ( $2,000.00 each):

Bryan Grier 3.64 lbs.
Van Vu 3.63 lbs.
Gary Dobyns 3.51 lbs.
Rick Grover 3.04 lbs.
Steve Czerniski 2.8 lbs.

9-1-09 US OPEN

4:10 pm - The 2nd day is now over. Rich Holland just called in with "unoffical" top 5 for the tournament so far., and the big bass today. They are listed below.

It's a big lead for Gary, and he really wants this one. A lot of the leaders reported losing big fish, and Gary got all his to stick today. Anyone can have a bad day on Lake Mead so it's not over yet.

Rich says he will have a full report later and some great photos and will much better be able to explain the events of the day and set the mood at Las Vegas heading into the final day. It's been a great event so far.

Tournament Leaders through day two:

1) Gary Dobyns 24.78 lbs.
2) Clifford Pirch 18.88 lbs.
3) Shad Berwerger 17.92 lbs.

4) John Kerr 17.71 lbs.
5) Bryan Grier 17.05 lbs.

Big Bass for Day 2 ( $2,000.00 each):

Bryan Grier 3.64 lbs.
Van Vu 3.63 lbs.
Gary Dobyns 3.51 lbs.
Rick Grover 3.04 lbs.
Steve Czerniski 2.8 lbs.

3:30 pm - Ashley reports that Pirch weighed in 7.2 lbs.

You never know what to think when you hear a report like this....Rick Grover just sent in a text to close friend and WON ad rep, Mike Bohn, and said he had "almost 10 lbs" and "3rd big fish". According to Mike he was "counting the 2K big fish money already," but it's not over yet or was this yet reported from our tournament staff. I hope it true, as Rick's had a tough year in the boating business and he deserves things to start going his way again.

Ashley reports that Berweger has 17.92 for the 2 days. Dobyn's is building a big lead (so far) with 24.78 lbs. Ashley is letting me know she is "slammed" as the final fish, boats and results come pouring in. She promises to give me a more complete update just as soon as she possibly can.

3:00 pm word in that Gary Dobyn's just weighed in with 13.05 lbs and a 3.51 big bass, giving him 24.78 for the two days. He was feeling under the weather but all it seems to have done is make him mad. He seems to be on a mission this year. Top 10 leaders from yesterday, Tom Pryor weighed in 6.83 lbs and Don Iglinski weighed in 3.42 lbs earlier.
Big fish leader for the day is Brian Grier with a 3.64 lb'er and a nice limit of 9.97 lbs. which was the early leader until Dobyns came in.

2:20 pm Update - Dean Rojas came in with the first flight with a 9.45-lb. limit. Wind and clouds in the morning only. Only a couple limits through the first two flights. I am getting my info from WONBASS coordinator Ashley, as Rich is busy doing his more in depth coverage and photos. A lot rides on what the leaders do today. As Rich mentioned earlier, today is "moving day" at the US OPEN.

9-1 US Open Day Two noon update Sunset Station

Just a couple hours until we start to see how this tournament is really going to shake out. We'll be handing out another $15,000 in big fish ($2000 each to the five top fish of the day) and big stringer ($5000 split equally between pro and AAA). Meanwhile here are some more quotes from yesterday's U.S. Open:

Shad Berweger (8.71, 2.45 big fish, 2.32 for AAA Terry Stark): "We essentially stayed local, got into a couple wolfpacks before 10 o'clock and that was pretty much it."

Sean Stafford (9.51, 2.57 big fish): "We caught plenty of fish, we missed a couple of pretty good opportunities. We should have had a couple more."

Rick Grover (5.90, 1.90 big fish): "We got five bites all day, got four, ending up snapping one off on the quagga mussels. Wind changed a little bit and blew the bait out of the area we were fishing. They just weren't in there."

Shawn Lee (2.82): "We caught quite a few fish, but we had 12 that were 12 to 12 1/2 inches. We ended up getting two keepers out of them."

Dennis Saiki (8.10, 1.88 big fish): "We burned through a lot of fish, it got tough for us after 10 a.m. We had a limit by 9 and were culling fish."

Fred Roumbanis (7.26): "I only had one topwater bite. I had a 3 pounder jump over the bait and miss it. My AAA caught 4 of the fish on the drop shot."

Kurt Walters (6.23): "We got 5 fish but we had a tough day. We ran out of trolling motor by 9 o'clock."

John Kerr (9.53, 2.12 big fish): "There's a long way to go."

Photo: Debbie Brewer, Leslie Elliott, Charity Wilkins, Ashley Hartman, Julie Roumbanis, Amy Metrani and Heather George show off their winnings from the Ladies Crazy Bowling at the Sunset Station's Strike Zone bowling alley.

9-1 US Open Day Two morning update from Lake Mead

Photo: Boats head out for the second day of the WON BASS U.S. Open of bass fishing looking to score a rig like the one in the foreground, a Nitro Z8 with a Mercury Pro XS 225 outboard.

The grind of the U.S. Open was apparent this second morning of competition as even some of the top pros were late for their flight, but only one boat has dropped out so far and 111 fishing machines are on the water as this report hits the web. Shaun Bailey had to pull out with boat problems and AAA angler and bass fishing promoter and salesman extrordinaire Harvey Naslund retired from the competition due to back problems.

This reporter got a ride out to the start boat with Joe Uribe, Jr. On the way Joe saw Chris Zaldain and congratulated him on the big smallie Zaldain caught to earn $2000. Zaldain had actually lost use of his trolling motor and caught the 3.24-pound bronzeback while drifting over a hump in 50 feet of water. Here's a shot of the beauty and another smallmouth he caught.

Uribe had boat problems of his own on day one, with his boat shutting down all his electronics time after time due to a low voltage warning from the computer on his Mercury outboard. Uribe took advantage of the presence of Mercury factory reps Mark Nicolette and Phillip Nagy. "I knew it wasn't the battery, because it started happening first thing in the morning," said Uribe. "It turned out to be the alternator. They had the right one in the truck and popped it right in."

We also ran into (I guess came across is a better way to put it) Gary Dobyns on the way out to join WON BASS director Bill Hutcheson for the start. Dobyns, the first day leader, said he wasn't feeling well and figured it was due to dehydration from the first day of competition. "You know you don't have to go out today if you don't want to," said Uribe, getting a big smile from Dobyns.

It's really hard to make a call on what the conditions will be like today. There was some breeze and high clouds when the boats took off, but the big basin visible from the road on the way back from Callville was flat calm and sunny. It was already 89 degrees at 6 a.m. The Weather Channels Doppler radar shows some thunderstorms pushing up from Arizona with the southwest winds. I'll be texting updates during the weigh-in to the Western Outdoor News office in San Clemente and I expect Bob T. will take over the blog for a while. Meanwhile it's time to go takes some shots of the gals at the Ladies Crazy Bowling at the Sunset Station -- Rich Holland, WON BASS Editor.

Photo: Mercury factory reps are on hand at Callville Bay to take care of motor problems for competitors running their motors.

8-31 US Open Day One Report, with photo(s)

Thanks to Bob T. at the San Clemente offices and Chuck Buhagiar at the lake for getting the early weights posted. Hutch and crew are tallying the official weights (actually the crew is -- he's getting a couple broken down boats off the lake). All the results and partner pairings will be posted on WON BASS as soon as the numbers are crunched, meanwhile here's a quick rundown on how things unfolded (note:weights below are now official). At stake is a 90 percent payout that includes $50 grand and a Nitro Z8 and Mercury Pro XS 225 outboard to the winning pro.

First of all Gary Dobyns could have had this thing almost in the bag if a 4-pound smallmouth hooked by his AAA hadn't got away. Gary said the big fish jumped four feet in the air and in his rush to get the net he tripped and nearly lost something more important than a big fish. What could be more important? Well, let's just say Gary had to wear a towel tucked in his belt to cover up a tear in his shorts perilously close to the vitals. As it was, Dobyns and his AAA scored big stringer cash ($2500 each) for 11.73 pounds and the lead. Dobyns will also get a check for $2000 for his big fish, a 3.90 largemouth, and is in the running for overall big fish -- although it sure sounds like there are some more big fish out there to be caught.

Photo: Gary Dobyns with the 3.90 Lake Mead largemouth that helped him into the first day lead with 11.73 pounds for five fish. WON BASS PHOTOS RICH HOLLAND

Dobyns said he didn't cull a fish, but other than than he didn't give up any info this early in the event. You could tell the heat really had an effect on the anglers today, they just came in looking worked over and in a daze. The forecast wind didn't show until late in the day. To show the craziness of Lake Mead, some anglers said the wind shut off their bite and others said they didn't get bit until the wind came up.

Second place pro Clifford Pirch, who weighed in 11.68 pounds, was in the last flight with Dobyns and one of those who said the best action was in the morning before the wind came up. "We didn't really get anything late, so hopefully the conditions don't change when we get out early the next couple days," said Pirch. "We made some game changes we didn't expect to early on, but they turned out right."

Photo: Cliff Pirch and his $2000 largemouth.

Pirch's stringer was anchored by the second biggest fish of day one, a 3.25-pound largemouth. Next up was Chris Zaldain's 3.24 smallmouth.

The early leader was 2008 U.S. Open champion Justin Kerr with 9.71 pounds and it looked like the lead would hold since he was only pushed by another former winner, John Kerr, with 9.53 pounds, and Sean Stafford, right behind with 9.51. That seemed especially true when Justin said, "We only had six bites, but that's all you need a day in the U.S. Open. I'll take that every day."

Tough, tough, tough was the refrain of many anglers and Rick Clunn told WON "it was as tough as any day I've had in the Open." When asked by Hutch if he would change his approach, Clunn said he would just work harder. "No, I did everything I wanted to do today," said Clunn. "I'm just going to have to pick it up."

The first breakthrough came when Tom Pryor, he of the custom rods, busted through the 10-pound barrier while weighing in during the second to last flight.

Pryor said he got his anchor 2.67-pound fish early on to bring his 5-fish weight to 10.52 pounds.

"Our bite was early morning, we were on a slow moving bite, no reaction, and got into good pockets of fish," said Pryor. "All our fish came out of a certain kind of water and they came good to us. My co-angler John Wick helped a lot. The wind shut us down."

One of the first to weigh in during the last flight was former Open winner Rich Tauber. He said he swung for the fences and ran a long way in an attempt to win the event. His 7.98 pounds in the thick of things in the crowd of pros with 7 to 9 pounds of fish, but he was prophetic when he said Pryor's weight was too low.

"I was fishing a long way away, fishing to win,"said Tauber of his day. "If you do it three times in a row, you win the tournament. Really tough fishing, we only got 5 bites, so it's a war. You know 8 pounds a day now in monstrous and 24 is probably going to be the winner. This is so low, if should have been an 11 or a 12 easy day -- all the very best stuff, very best water, go crunch 'em, a full day of rest, it should have been a big bag. This was always our best day, this should have been an 11 or 12 pound day."

Thanks to Dobyns and Pirch, that's exactly the way it turned out on Day One of the U.S. Open. Day Two is moving day at the U.S. Open and it will be interesting to see whether breakaway leaders Dobyns and Pirch can distance themselves or whether one or several of the great pros just a few pounds behind can make the right adjustments.

Two-time winner Aaron Martens was positioned well in the "peloton" of pro anglers in the pack chasing the leaders and he said he's still figuring the lake out with two days left to compete. He took exception to Hutch' claim during the weigh-in that Martens was one of the most experienced anglers on Lake Mead.

"My experience is over, it's a new lake. I've spent 4 1/2 days here and I need to spend more time,"said Martens. It's a big lake and it's hard to find the fish. I scrambled and fished the whole lake during practice and found some fish, but I didn't find all the little sweet spots, that's what's hurting me now."

Who'll find the sweet spot tomorrow? Check and for all the latest updates and complete results as they become available. -- Rich Holland, WON BASS Editor.

8-31 US OPEN news from Lake Mead

4:00 pm -
The following weights just came in:
Aaron Martens 8.52 lbs., Mike Follstead 4.94 lbs., Gary Dobyns 11.73lbs. with a 3.9 big fish ( largest of the day). As always there are 5 big fish per day for $2,000 each in the Big Fish portion of the payback at the US OPEN.It keeps everyone motivated until the very end of this event.Clifford Pirch is new 2nd at 11.68 lbs behind Dobyns at 11.73 lbs. and the scales are now closed. I guess Gary was very serious when he was saying how much he wanted to win this event this year. He'll likely be right there but there is a long ways to go yet.Unofficially Top 5 below remains good with additions of Dobyns and Pirch.

With one flight left to weigh in, the top 5 are:
1) Tom Pryor 10.12 lbs.
2) Justin Kerr 9.71 lbs.
3) John Kerr 9.53 lbs.
4) Sean Stafford 9.51 lbs.
5) Don Iglanski 9.09 lbs.

3:31 pm -
New leader is Tom Pryor at 10.52 lbs ! last flight in at 3:45

3:25 pm - Word in that Dean Rojas had 5.14 lbs. Obviously this keeps you in the game after one day at Mead unless someone comes in big.But it also makes for a lot of ground to make up with 2 days to go.

3:00pm -Another text..Clunn only got 2 today. He said it was his toughest day ever on Lake Mead. It's 115 degrees and windy. Largest fish so far is a 3.24 smallmouth by Chris Zaldain.I'll put up more if I hear anything else.We'll have a more complete report early this early evening from the lake after the weigh in is done, and a complete final report this later on this evening with all the first day results from the hotel this evening.

2:40 pm - I just got a text to our offices here in San Clemente from the Lake Mead that Justin Kerr is leading after two flights with 9.7 lbs. Justin won last years event, so this is a shot over the bow to all that he plans to contend again this year.There is not a live internet feed this year ( we hear you and hope to have that in place for next year) but we will be updating things here and the complete results will be up this evening.

8-31 10 a.m. US Open update from the Sunset Station

A field of 112 boats blasted off from Lake Mead’s CallvilleBay Monday morning to begin competition in the 27th Annual U.S. Open of bass fishing presented by WON BASS. Top prize is $50,000 and a Nitro Z8 bass boat with a Mercury 225 Pro XS outboard.

“A couple people were late, but everyone got out,” said WON BASS Tournament Director Bill Hutcheson. “We had flat calm conditions, and while they might get some wind on the lake, it’s going to be very hot, at least here in Callville Bay."


Most of thefield of top pros – including Rick Clunn, Gabe Bolivar, Rich Tauber, Mike Folkestad, Byron Velvick, Aaron Martens, John Murray, Dean Rojas and Fred Roumbanis – spent the previous week practicing in temperatures as high as 122 degrees. They reported a surprising amount of grass in the lake and a smallmouth population that continues to gain ground in Mead.

The weigh-ins for the Aug. 31-Sept. 2 competition will be held daily at CallvilleBay starting at 2 p.m., with updates on the competition and the final results posted on and

Southwest winds from 10 to 20 mph are expected for the day today, with some thunderstorms possible the last day of competition from the giant hurricane (Jimena) now off Cabo San Lucas.

8-30 7 pm US Open update from the Sunset Station

It's official, 112 boats are entered in the 2009 U.S. Open of Bass Fishing and every single angler of the 224 competing went away with part of the $25,000 in sponsor prizes handed out by Hutch as he paired up the pros and AAAs. WON BASS and sponsors already gave out $25,000 in prizes this morning at Bass Pro Shops. Now it's $50,000 and a Nitro Z8 and Mercury Pro XS 225 that all the pros are gunning for, with $10, going to the pros.

Talked to Dean Rojas at the pairing and the desert lakes veteran said the wind today should have very little impact on the fishing, maybe muddying up the water in a few places. "Really the only bad thing is guys would have liked to fish today, the wind gets the fish biting," Rojas said.

We'll see what happens tomorrow.

8-30 4 pm US Open update from the Sunset Station

The FEAST! Folks are just lining up for the big U.S. Open kickoff dinner at the Sunset Station Feast Buffet as this post is put together, to be followed by the first day pairings. The big Sunday get together at Bass Pro Shops was a successful event, with lots of great information given out by Rick Clunn, Aaron Martens, Mike Folkestad, Fred Roumbanis and Rich Tauber, while the raffle prizes also flowed freely to an audience made up mostly of AAA co anglers.

Photo:Fans lined up for autographs and photos with two-time U.S. Open winner and ultimate bass pro Rick Clunn at the Bass Pro Shops seminars.

That was revealed when Clunn did a survey of hands to see who was fishing as pro or AAA. "You see, the pros think they know it all," said Clunn. "I'm still learning. I've found you can learn from anyone."

One thing that became very clear from listening to the pros was they are fishing a Lake Mead no one has ever seen before. Not only is it as low as it ever was in history, but the grass beds already mentioned in this blog are unheard.

"I used to stay on pad and go in and out coves at 30 mph until I saw a dark spot underwater and then I would stop and fish," said Martens. "Now there is grass everywhere -- out as deep as 16 to 22 feet -- and a lot of it doesn't have fish. A lot of it does, though."

Another common theme was the pros treat each day on the water as a new experience and that no lake teaches you that ethic better than Lake Mead, where the same place never acts the same way from day to day.


Photo: Rich Tauber and Aaron Martens at the U.S. Open Bass Pro Shops seminar.

"I always start my first day of practice right where I caught fish the year before," said Tauber. "It never works, the fish are never there."

The other big change is the amount of smallmouth, a dynamic that Martens says is hurting the lake's baitfish population, but Tauber pointed out is providing more and different opportunities for bass anglers.

One thing hasn't changed, however.

"I told Johnny Morris (founder of Bass Pro Shops) that Lake Mead is the toughest tournament lake in the country," said Clunn. "I also told him it's the best lake because no one has an advantage. Lake Mead is a level playing field."

In a little more than 12 hours this baby will get rolling. And right now a solid 15 to 20 mph wind is rocking the upper levels of the Sunset Station, leveling the playing field on Lake Mead once more.

Who will take the first day lead? Stay tuned.

8-30 11 am US Open update from Bass Pro Shops

This morning brought a steady breeze from out of the northwest and the smoke from who knows which fire. The day is off to a great start with a big turnout for the Sponsors Row event at the Bass Pro Shops by the Silverton Casino and Rick Clunn is about to start the seminars in a half-hour or so. Rick Grover of Angler's Marine is a competitor this year and WON asked the SoCal tackle and bass boat icon what his prospects were.

"It's Lake Mead, it's different every day, I'm just going to go out and fish it every day," said Grover. "It's a marathon."

Last night's marathon was the poker tournament that started with two sessions with 80 competitors that boiled down to Chris Zaldane and Kevin Johnson going head to head. Johnson went all in with a pair of sixes and Zaldane couldn't draw to his AQ so the $500 top prize went to Johnson and Zaldane got the Lowrance 515, not to mention the $50 for knocking Hutch out.

Chris Zaldane and Kevin Johnson go head to head at the Sunset Station Poker Room. Johnson got the upper hand with a pair of sixes.

8-29 2:30 pm U.S. Open update from Sunset Station

Only a dozen rigs sit in the parking area at the resort as the final day of practice is about to wrap up and the pros get their last look. There was some grumbling that the itinerary calls for practice to end at 4, but it's hard to imagine how anyone would want to stay out much longer, especially since the National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for this afternoon with temps pushing over 110 as the heat builds to its peak.

The good news is tomorrow is an off day and the forecast is that a low pressure that will dip into the northwest will drop temperatures to a much more manageable 100 to 102 degrees at most on the tournament days Monday-Wednesday. The wild card is the tropical moisture and possible thunderstorms that have also been held at bay by the massive high pressure over the Mohave Desert.

Meanwhile Rich Tauber said last night that the prediction among the veteran and top pros has settled on 9 pounds a day as the benchmark to shoot for.

"Like Dean Rojas said, 'If you get 9 pounds a day you'll be sniffing around the weigh-in stage instead of putting the boat on the trailer and heading back to the hotel,'"

Fred Roumbanis told this reporter at the end of yesterday's practice that he felt confident he could catch 9 pounds a day, although he admitted he still felt the scars of last year's U.S. Open when stripers invaded his water and he only caught one keeper bass the last day of competition. He also noted that in the week he practiced the fish seemed to "move off the steep stuff and into the shallow water."

Tauber made the same observation and said that switch makes the big guns from the Eastern circuits that much more dangerous.

Photo: Lake Mead has an abundance of grass both matted up in the
pockets and in underwater beds along the banks, flats and points.

"When the fish are biting in this much water (holding his hands about a foot apart) that makes guys like Roumbanis and Rick Clunn that much more dangerous," Tauber noted. "I think with these conditions Clunn could really break out."

Of course Zip pro staffer and reaction bait specialist Tauber felt good about his prospects, but also pointed out that conditions on Mead could change in an instant. "They call it the sleeping giant, you know," he said. Tauber then repeated a quote from Clunn on the status of the U.S. Open in relation to other bass tournaments. But I can't use it -- he's saving it for his column in WON BASS.

The last signups at Sunset Station are this afternoon at the Sunset Station from 4 to 6 pm, although there will still be a chance to sign up tomorrow morning starting a 9 am at Bass Pro Shops. That's the same time the sponsors row event kicks off, to be followed at 11:30 that morning by the seminar series led off by Clunn. There promises to be lots of action tonight at the Sunset Station as the U.S. Open Poker Tournament runs from 6 to 8 pm in the resort's Poker Room. In addition, the brothers who own Sunset Station also are co-owners of UFC and UFC 102 will be held tonight and broadcast in the casino.

8-28 7 pm
U.S. Open update from Sunset Station

Just talked to Hutch and we need 4 AAA contestants to round out our field of just more than 110 boats. He's here at the Sunset Station and you can catch him on his cell at 714-393-5656. If you don't want to pay to play, he's even considering sending out observers.

Speaking as someone who just got off the lake, I would pay your money and get the heck out there. What a great day with Fred Roumbanis! It was almost too good because a 14-pound limit doesn't count during practice. Right off the bat I caught an almost two-pound smallmouth and then followed it up with a 3-pound largemouth, both on the Ardent XS1000 baitcaster and the Ima Roumba wake bait. I didn't even know what the heck a wake bait was really, but man what a shallow water action. Then Fred took over and put some of his other Ima baits to work.

Here's his fish.

When you consider that the tourney pays out 5 places for big fish each day at $2000 each, well those three pounders could have been big money. Now the four pounder that hit a walk-the-dog stickbait (no name, no one sells it anymore) I tossed in the middle of nowhere and got slammed, well that almost for sure would have been worth $2000 -- and big fish money is included in the $600 AAA entry. Then there's the $5000 big stringer money we would have had a good shot at splitting thanks to the several 1 to 2 pounder Fred picked up on the IMA. So potential AAAs, what are you waiting for? -- Rich Holland, WON BASS Editor

8-27 8 pm U.S. Open update from Sunset Station

he first official day of practice on Lake Mead is over and Hutch and crew have checked in over a third of the field, which Hutch said will shake out between 110 and 115 boats -- a great turnout and it should be a great event.

Headquarters room for check in is 328 at the Sunset Station. From this reporter's window on the eighth floor there's a great view of all the rigs parked in the secure, well-lighted top level of the resort's parking structure.

Of course a lot of the pros have been out looking for fish since the start of the week and earlier. Early reports indicate smallmouth will indeed play a big part in the tournament and the big fish competition. Funny how the smallies can outdo the largemouth in the Southwest's lakes.

I'll be prefishing with Fred Roumbanis tomorrow (Friday) morning and will get some pictures of the lake to post tomorrow night. That's it for now. -- Rich Holland, WON BASS Editor.

Reader Comments

Hello from Texas. It is good to see the US Open is still the premier tournament in the west, still drawing many of the biggest names in the sport. I visited Bob Sandberg this spring and saw the shockingly low water levels at Mead. The new bridge over the dam is practically a wonder of the world! The lower water certainly lessens the areas available to the anglers. I miss seeing the troups as they prefish and prepare for the big event. One never forgets the hard work in the unforgiving Nevada sun as you spend 8 hours fishing, and a couple more hours refueling the boat, changing line, and retying baits, as you fine-tune your original plan. I have been disabled with a bad back for 8 plus years now which prevents me from competing on the circuit, I still fish regularly in Texas and have a waterfront trailer on Lake Fork. I'd like to say hello to all of my old friends and wish all the contestants the best of luck! I'd like to hear from any of the anglers. My email address is; cell 903 267-1360 Dave Brittenham
Dave Brittemham

good luck to all don t forget to drink your MonaVia
j hock

Great coverage! Looking forward to following your blog for this event. Also, those interested can play Fantasy Fishing for this event at
Tom Leogrande
Gawd I wish I was there! This sounds like the good old days at the US OPEN with the heat, festivaties and big names. Good luck to everyone.
John S

should have live coverage of the weigh ins

Where are the pairings and standings located? Sorry I missed again this year.
Martin Jones
Pretty neat this blog stuff. Congrats to the day one leaders and big fish catchers. But before one remarks of how an angler could have "almost wrapped this thing up" remember there alot of anglers out there with the same if not a better sob story of lost fish. Things will change....
Andrew Jackson

I fished Sunday at Lake Mead...topwater baits, everything in the box...NOT ONE BITE!!! Not even a Striper...they usually hit on cutbaits and top water stuff...I laid out plastic worms and crayfish...Nothing bit. The wind and the heat were hell, glad we had a lrge white bimini and lots and lots of ice cold WATER!!! Whewwwww!!! The thermometer in my truck was reading 118 degress as we made ready to launch...Next time we'll launch at 6:00 AM...(P.S. we weren't really there to do any serious fishing...more like to do a check run on the boat as we'd been having motor problems. Got to see lots of turkey Buzzards and Big Horn sheep though....
John Encinio
Help!! There seems to be something wrong with the link to Day 2 results for AAA. It's the only way I can follow my Dad's progress!
Oregon Girl

Go the Aussie's.
James Matts

Greg Graham Jr

Why wasn't the tournament on the weekend when fans can come out to the weigh in? I was really looking forward to coming out, do we not matter anymore?

well done carl jocumsen with the 2nd place
jake schwerin
Rich Tauber, Thank you for creating and help organize an Awesome Tournament. You did a great job as you always do. Ill be fishing the Open next year... Things are getting better every day now.. Greg Graham Jr
Greg Graham Jr
Clifford Pirch is my favourite player he is so cute I wish him luck for the future competitions I have been following him over the news hope to see him in more competitions
nancy fishing
Congats Mr. Perch. Hope to see you again at Beavertail. I have some new flies for you to take your mind off those bass.
dan de weert
If you need a way to clean up the image of pro fishing after the cheating scandal ... contact me at OLYMPUS NDT. We have a solution that use's Eddy currents to detect metal in fish without harming the fish. It works as simple as passing the fish through a coil, basically the same system they use to identify tagged fish in Washington State fish ladders.
Chuck Edie
Nice information, many thanks to the author. It is incomprehensible to me now, but in general, the usefulness and significance is overwhelming. Thanks again and good luck!
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Good post. interesting to view about this!! This is definitely some good information!!
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