By BassFan Staff
Derek Yamamoto resides adjacent to Lake Mead in Boulder City, Nev. and has won a pile of money from the venue over the past several years along with team partner John Mackey. His intimate lake knowledge may have paid off on day 1 of the 30th WON Bass U.S. Open as he grabbed the early lead with a 13.26-pound sack.
Roy Hawk, a Utah resident and former FLW Tour pro, was the only other angler to exceed 13 pounds – he boxed 13.15 to claim the No. 2 slot. Vern Ridgway and Mike Caruso were separated in 3rd and 4th with 12.87 and 12.85, respectively, while Dick Watson was 5th with 11.99.
Here's how the initial Top 10 shapes up:
1. Derek Yamamoto: 13.26
2. Roy Hawk: 13.15
3. Michael Caruso: 12.87
4. Vern Ridgway: 12.85
5. Dick Watson: 11.99
6. Rob Sanford: 11.74
7. Chris Bozarth: 11.50
8. Duane Dunstone: 11.32
9. Brent Becker: 11.06
10. Clifford Pirch: 10.93
Largemouths were the predominant species in the leaders' bags, with a few smallmouths in the 2- and 3-pound range making cameo appearances. Predictably, the overall action was hottest on reaction baits in the early-morning hours.
Just 21 anglers in the field of 128 topped 10 pounds. Several former winners of the event struggled mightily – defending champion Aaron Martens weighed just three fish for 4.70 and Byron Velvick sacked four for 5.19. Mike Folkesad's limit weighed just 5.55, while John Murray had 7.51 and Rich Tauber 7.56.
It was a relatively mild September day in the Nevada desert, with the air temperature topping out in the mid-90s under partly cloudy skies. Winds were fairly heavy early, but then lightened up and the rain that was anticipated never materialized.
Tomorrow's forecast for the Las Vegas area calls for isolated thunderstorms with even cooler temperatures (high of 85) and wind from the south/southeast topping out at 8 mph.
Grind for Yamamoto
> Day 1: 5, 13.26
Yamamoto, son of the legendary Gary Yamamoto, was pleased with the weight of his day-1 stringer.
The bag of Roy Hawk (left) and co-angler Ken Whalen was topped by a 5-pounder that bit twice.
"I figured 13 pounds a day would put you right at the top, so I'm happy," he said. "It never comes easy – I had to fight for it all day long. I checked a lot of the lake (during practice) and found a couple of areas with some good ones, and I caught a nice one early this morning.
"I had a limit fairly early with a big one (a 3.85) for the first fish, but the next four were all under a pound and a half and I still had one that was a pound and a quarter until 10 minutes before weigh-in, when I traded it for a 1.65. I had one that I really needed to get rid of and I just couldn't do it."
He and his co-angler (the tournament is a shared-weight event) boated nearly a dozen keepers in all. Their final bag consisted entirely of largemouths.
"If I catch smallmouths, I usually end up losing the tournament."
2nd: Hawk Covering Water
> Day 1: 5, 13.15
Hawk wasn't surprised by his weight, but he didn't think such a number would put him so high on the leaderboard.
"From what I saw in practice, something around that range was pretty doable," he said. "It doesn't take a lot to get there – just a couple of good bites. I thought someone would catch 15, 16 or 17 pounds.
"I thought 13 pounds would be a decent bag, but not a Top-5 bag."
His sack contained four largemouths and a 2-pound smallie. One of the largemouths went nearly 5 pounds and was caught by his co-angler, Ken Whalen.
"That fish jumped off, and then (Whalen) threw back in there and it bit again. It was pretty weird."
He said he'll likely have to make some adjustments in order to scale a similar sack tomorrow.
"For whoever ends up winning, it's going to be a game of adapting and finding new fish every day. The wind, the weather … anything can change and the areas where you caught them today might not hold fish tomorrow. This place is really flaky like that.
"I don't think anybody really has a honey hole unless it's (Yamamoto)."
3rd: Scouting Paid Off for Ridgway
> Day 1: 5, 12.87
Ridgway discovered his best area in pre-practice more than 2 weeks ago.
"I found some water that was holding good fish and I left it alone," he said. "It had all the key elements – points and structure, and one of the main things it had was some fish-eating birds chasing shad.
"I'd marked those areas and I went and worked them today, and I caught one just shy of 4 pounds on a shad-looking imitation. The areas that had those birds, the baitfish were there and the bass were there."
He and his co-angler went through eight or nine keepers and several short fish. A large catfish also made its way into the boat.
Their bag contained a 3-pound smallmouth.
"We covered a lot of water and fished deep, shallow and all points in between. Fifteen feet was probably the deepest we fished."
4th: Caruso Caught 'Em Early
> Day 1: 5, 12.87
Caruso used reaction baits to compile the majority of his weight while the sun was still low in the sky.
"It was fast and furious in the morning and you have to capitalize when you get the bites," he said. "It's pretty decent until about 9 o'clock, then it gets progressively worse throughout the day.
"We had the majority of our limit by 8:30, and then culled up maybe two times after that. It was a slow grind."
He had one smallmouth in his bag and his best largemouth was a 4-pounder.
"I only got 2 days of practice, but I had an idea of where the fish were and what they were doing. I was fortunate to get a couple of the right bites early."
> For complete standings, click here.