Nielsen muscles his way to U.S. Open lead

LAS VEGAS—A big limit of largemouths by Scott Nielsen of Salt Lake City pushed the Utah pro to the top of the heap in the 2006 U.S. Open on Lake Mead. Despite late winds that gusted to 25 miles per hour, Nielsen boated five bass weighing 15.54 pounds for a two-day total of 27.17. His catch lifted him to a 4-pound leader over Joe Uribe, Jr. of Lake Forest, California who stands at 23 pounds even.

“I did the same thing (as yesterday),” said Nielsen, who did not reveal his methodology, however, the question arises: does he have enough going to close the deal? “I only got 5 bites today,” he revealed, “but they were the right ones.”

Nielsen followed a milk run Tuesday, and it produced the biggest bass of the day, a 4.49-pound largemouth. “I’m fishing the same three or four spots. I continue to hit them until the bait moves up and I get the bites,” he explained.

Uribe, who again fished in Vegas Wash with plastic worms, was obviously disappointed with his catch of 8.87 pounds. His only comment was, “It was definitely tougher. I fished the same things but it was sporadic all day.”


Tourney favorite Tim Klinger, the National Guard pro from Boulder City, Nev. showed why he might still be the one to beat on Wednesday’s final round. He roared into Callville Bay with a sack weighing 13.10 pounds, anchored by a 3.54-pounder. His 22.67 is 4 ½ pounds off the pace.

Occasionally in sight of the leader, Klinger said, “I fished one area all day long and it paid off. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

The bite seemed to be two-pronged. “Later in the day was pretty good,” he said, “but so was the morning. It was an all day grind.

As for his area potential, the issue is in doubt. “There are quite a few guys fishing the area,” he said. “We only culled 2 or 3 fish.”


Touring pros with western roots continued to show their prowess. Running 4-5-6 are Byron Velvick with 21.82, Aaron Martens with 18.67 and Brent Ehrler with 18.52 pounds. Velvick and Martens showed no ill effects from their cross-country race to reach Lake Mead in time for Monday’s kick-off.

“We’re scratchin’ and lookin’,” said Velvick, who weighed in a solid 11.84 pounds on Tuesday. His top fish went 4.09 pounds, and his AAA partner Van Vu chipped in with a 3.24.”

Apparently the two were in synch for the day. Said Velvick, “We had a ball.” Vu added, “It was a pleasure and an honor to fish with Byron.”

But Velvick feels he is still in contention if conditions work in his favor. “I hope it blows,” he said. “I need the wind.”

Martens, who lost ground to Velvick, was still in a practice mode having been away from Lake Mead since winning last year’s title. “I can’t find any big ones,” he said, admitting, “I’m fishing reaction baits.”

Not having any areas he can rely on has hampered Martens. Of the final day, he said, “I’m going to go somewhere else. The lake is completely different. I’m wasting a lot of time (looking),” after weighing in 8.32 pounds on Tuesday.

Ehrler, wasn’t as discouraged. “It wasn’t really that tough,” he said. “I just didn’t get the bigger bites.”

As for conditions, he made a surprise statement, saying, “I’d rather it would be calm. When it blows, it’s harder to get around.”

Clifford Pirch from Payson, Ariz. Had a decent day with 7.84 pounds adding up to 18.37 for the tournament, where he holds down 7th spot.

Said Pirch, philosophically, “The big ones are big for a reason. I did fish the same areas and caught a lot of fish. I’ll just go after them again tomorrow. The big ones seem to eat on the first day. I’m going to have find a place the people haven’t been.”

The final 3 spots saw Randy Qualls of Streetman, Tex. Move up to 8th place with 8 bass for 17.13, while Mark Walsh of Las Vegas moved up one spot to ninth with 16.73. On the other end of the see-saw was first day leader Aaron Haring who dropped to 10th spot, despite weighing only one fish Tuesday. He has a total of 16.62 pounds.