Las Vegas, Nev. – The discussion leading up to the 35th Anniversary edition of the WON Bass, Bass Cat / Mercury U.S. Open were the changes. The addition of Bass Cat Boats as a key partner, and the change of dates to October were the hot topics.
Change became the focus of discussion on the third and final day of the event.
While the first two days of the event featured bright, bluebird skies with light breezes, day three brought high clouds that made for darkened, calm conditions. The result was tougher conditions as the fish scattered a bit more, making it harder for the field to relocate the fish that had served them over the first two days of the event.
No matter the conditions, good anglers will always figure out a way to overcome difficulties, and someone is always going to win. The angler that was able to master the conditions well enough over the three-day event to earn the title of 2017 WON Bass U.S. Open Champion was Phoenix, Arizona’s Justin Patti, who won the event in wire-to-wire fashion with a total weight of 36.30 pounds.
Patti withstood a late event charge from fellow Phoenix resident and Bassmaster Elite Series pro Brett Hite, who caught an 11.66-pound limit on the final day to weigh 35.70 pounds for the event to finish second.
Patti has experienced the highs and lows of the U.S. Open in the past two years. He led the 2016 event on day one, only to fall victim to the wild swings of fortune that Lake Mead offers to its guests. After leading both days this year, he left his fishing area in the upper Overton Arm feeling like he had left it on the table again, having caught a small limit. Watching Hite weigh-in a strong sack, he felt his chances slipping away again, but when his limit hit the scales with 8.59 pounds, he had enough to hold onto the win by just over a half of a pound.
For his victory, Patti received the $63,000 Bass Cat Puma FTD / Mercury 250 ProXS prize package, along with $50,000 cash and any other bonuses he earned which will bring his total winnings to over $120,000
Patti said that he felt relief and ecstasy with the outcome. “I can’t believe that I won this event,” he said. “I really thought that I had let it slip through my fingers again, but it’s really hard to describe how I’m feeling right now; it’s what I’ve wanted for a while now.”
Patti spent the bulk of his event fishing a single stretch of grass in eight feet of water on a western bank of the upper Overton. He said that he used a couple tactics. “I caught a few fish on a Chatterbait in the morning around the grass, and after the sun got high in the sky, I fished a Phenix jig with an Arizona Custom Lures Craw as a trailer in the grass by popping it free from the edges. Most of the fish I weighed came on the jig.”
Hite fished in the back of the Overton Arm as well, but targeted the opposite shorelines. A specialist with the bladed jig, Hite used his signature Evergreen Jackhammer bladed jig matched with a Yamamoto Lures Zacko traler, and it resulted in his finish. “I was fishing it through the grass, and I caught all of my fish on it this week, but I lost one on Monday that would have made the difference,” he said. “I’ve wanted to win this tournament for many years, and while it doesn’t feel great right now, I’ve finished third and second the last two times I’ve fished it; so maybe next time will be the charm.”
Mesa, Ariz. pro Mike Williams began the day in 12th place with 21.19 pounds, but he produced a 12.88-pound limit on day three to move all the way up to third place for the event with 34.07 pounds. Steve “Bub” Tosh, from Modesto, Calif. began the final day in eighth place, and after a 12.54-pound limit on day three, he finished fourth with 34.05 pounds. Fifth place went to Nick Salvucci, who moved from 14th place by posting 12.73 pounds on day three to bring his total weight to 32.93 pounds for the event.
On the AAA side, Japanese angler Yoshikazu Komada earned the $10,000 first prize and the St. Croix bonus prize for his winning weight of 33.94 pounds. He was followed in second place by Bret Nagelhout of Red Rock Ariz., with 31.45 pounds. Sonny Gibson from Las Vegas, Nev. finished third with a total weight of 30.35 pounds. Fourth place went to Levi Samz, of Green River Wyo., who posted 30.21 pounds, sand rounding out the top five in the AAA Division was Ryan Wishnack of San Diego, Calif. with 29.48 pounds.
Complete Standings are below, as well as posted at wonbass.com.
In conjunction with the event, Bass Cat Boats hosted hosted demo rides in their newest boat; the Lynx, powered by Mercury at Calville Bay on Monday and Tuesday following weigh-in. The public, and event competitors are invited to take a ride in their flagship vessel, the one with the longest running pad in the industry from 5:30PM to 7:00PM Pacific Time
For the sixth consecutive year, the Costa Live Show brought all of the action of the 2017 WON Bass U.S. Open presented by Bass Coat Boats and Mercury to the fans. The Costa Live broadcasts featured On the Water, weigh-in and post-game shows all the way through the awards presentation Wednesday night.
The Sponsors of the 2017 U.S. Open were: Bass Cat Boats, Mercury, Costa, Daiwa, St. Croix, Lowrance, Yo-Zuri, Bridgford, Seaguar Fluorcarbon, Rapala, Savage Gear, Hayabusa, Plano, MotorGuide, Phenix Rods, Lew's, Roboworm, Kuiu, Ichikawa, Sure Life, Anglers Marine, Chevy Montebello and Boulder Station Casino.
Beginning Monday, 207 Pros and their AAA partners will head out onto the waters of Lake Mead Monday to contest the 34nd Anniversary of the WON Bass Bas Cat Boats / Mercury Marine U.S. Open.