By BassFan and WON Bass Staff
When it comes to winning bass fishing tournaments, a level of consistency is recommended. To win a WON Bass U.S. Open, consistency is almost mandatory.
In an event that's frequently billed as one of the toughest bass fishing events in the world, the angler who's able to produce consistent limits of 2-pound bass is one who will be rewarded. That game plan stands in contradiction to those anglers who throw caution to the wind and look for one big fish, then try to fill in around it; especially on Lake Mead in the summer.
Such was the case on day 2 in the Nevada desert as a group of anglers began to separate themselves from the field by producing steady limits.
Brett Hite, a veteran of many U.S. Opens and an FLW Tour winner, produced a 10.25-pound stringer to bring his total weight to 21.06 pounds, which topped the 142-angler field. In search of his first U.S. Open title, Hite holds a .62-pound lead over Rusty Brown, who sacked 10.17 pounds on day 2 to bring his total to 20.44 pounds.
Joe Uribe Jr. was the exception to the consistency rule. His 11.46-pound sack was nearly a 3-pound upgrade over his day-1 haul, and he moved up from 18th place to 3rd with a 20.39 total.
Here's how the Top 10 shapes up heading into the final day:
1. Brett Hite: 21.06
2. Rusty Brown: 20.44
3. Joe Uribe Jr.: 20.39
4. Tommy Jonovich: 20.18
5. Todd Herman: 19.42
6. Jamie Cyphers: 19.12
7. Gary Dobyns: 18.61
8. John Murray: 18.51
9. Chris Bozarth: 18.27
10. Devin McDonald: 18.13
The full field will be back on the water for the final day.
Hite Moving a Lot
Hite is plenty confident whenever he comes to Mead, which isn't as frequently nowadays since he's become a full-time competitor on the eastern-based FLW Tour. His best finish to date in the U.S. Open is 4th, which occurred the last time he competed in the event in 2006.
"I've always done relatively well here – I've got a lot of Top 10s," he said. "I know the water. Mead's its own animal and you have to know how to fish it and what to do.
"I'm having a good time out there and things are going right. If something doesn't feel right, I switch things up or make a move. I'm making the right decisions and feeling really good.
He boated 15 keepers on day 2 and weighed three largemouths and two smallmouths. A 3-pound green fish topped his sack.
"I've got a lot of spots – I'm not just camping out on one or two places. Everybody always talks about wolf packs of bass at this tournament, but this year I really haven't found that. I think that equates to the water (level) being up and all the brush in the water. There's also more grass than I've ever seen.
"Before only certain coves would have (vegetation), but now every one of them has grass and brush. These fish don't have to school up."
Rusty Brown's day-2 sack was topped by a fish that weighed nearly 4 pounds.
2nd: Brown Getting a Reaction
Brown, the owner of a Southern California guide service, is averaging fewer than 10 keeper bites a day. He's catching some quality, though, including a 3.92-pound largemouth on day 2.
"I'm catching most of them on reaction baits," he said. "I'm covering a lot of water and fishing rocks, grass and bushes. I'm getting some on topwater, some on a spinnerbait, some on a crankbait and a few throwing a worm or jig. It's a mixture, which I think a lot of guys are doing."
This is his 11th U.S. Open. His best previous finish was 16th in 2006.
"I'm not really nervous – I've been doing this a long time and I know most of the guys and I know what it takes to win a tournament like this. My plan for tomorrow is to go out and have fun and enjoy the lake.
"I'm confident I can (catch another good bag). The fish are there, so it's a matter of working the areas and staying focused and staying with the game plan."
5th: Herman Falls 4 Spots
Herman, the day-1 leader, weighed just a little over 6 pounds today and dropped 4 places in the standings. His bag was less than half the size of the one he caught the previous day.
"It got a lot tougher and a lot of things changed," he said. "My mind was going in two directions – I should've stayed with what I had and lived or died with it, but I went to another part of the lake and (6.20 pounds) is what I came up with.
"I was catching fish there during practice, and if I wouldn't have gone my stomach would've been eating at me for not trying it. I did it and now it's out of my mind and I'll go back to work tomorrow. I'll get back to what I did on day 1 and see how everything shakes out."
7th: Dobyns Swung and Missed
Dobyns, the West's all-time leading money-winner and the 2009 champion of this event, dropped from 3rd to 7th with a sack in the 6-pound class.
"I was bound and determined to get some big topwater bites and I tried that from daylight to 11:30," he said. "All I caught was one little fish, so I went scratching for a limit and got enough to stay in contention for tomorrow.
"I think I'd have caught them a lot better on a jig, and in hindsight I wish that's what I'd done. Now I have to decide what to do tomorrow. If I can get the topwater fish to bite, I can still win."
He doesn't want to take too big of a risk, though, because the leaders could slide back toward him.
"Guys can literally blank on the last day here, so it's far from over. No one can really feel good about things because it's really tough. I need to make sure I have a solid enough bag so that if guys start falling, I'm there.
"The topwater thing is a gamble and if it doesn't work, I could fall hard myself."
> Uribe said slowing down was the key to his hefty sack. "I practiced with a reaction bait, but the fish haven't moved up in these cloudy conditions, so I put a spinning rod in my hands and stayed with that all day. In fact, I need to go to the tackle store and buy some more worms because I'm running really low after today."
> For complete day-2 standings, click here.