PAGE, Ariz. — Using lessons he’s learned on other Colorado River impoundments, Austin Bonjour of Templeton, Calif., claimed the Day 1 lead at the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional at Lake Powell with a limit weighing 12 pounds, 8 ounces.
Not only does Bonjour lead the tournament in his first trip to Lake Powell, he also claimed Big Bass of the Day with a 3-9 largemouth.
While his home fishery of Santa Margarita Lake doesn’t set up anything like Lake Powell, Bonjour enjoys fishing other Colorado River systems. When studying for this event, the California boater looked for areas on Powell he felt would set up like Lake Mead and formulated his strategy around those concepts.
“I have had decent success on Powell’s sister lakes, Mead and Mojave in particular,” he said. “I just treated this lake like Mead. Having had success and an understanding of how Mead fishes, the Google Earth research was beneficial to me because I looked for areas that were similar.”
Smallmouth are plentiful in Lake Powell, but Bonjour knew largemouth would be the key to winning. During practice, he located quality largemouth using his eyes in two general areas.
“I feel like that’s what I needed to do to win,” he said. “I was power fishing with reaction baits. One area is a big, vast area and I am knocking down a bunch of water with my trolling motor. I have only fished a small portion of it. The other area, the bass are relating to the bait.”
Calm conditions prevailed in practice, but on Day 1 the wind created a chop in his area which helped Bonjour power fish. In total, he estimated he caught 20 to 25 bass on Day 1, filling out a limit of smallmouth before culling them all with largemouth. He caught bass between 1 and 15 feet of water.
“It wasn’t a crazy wind. But because the water is super clear here on Powell, there was just enough disturbance on the surface to make those bass less wary,” he explained. “The wind we did have was beneficial to my bite.”
While Bonjour isn’t sure he can repeat his Day 1 bag, he knows there are more quality largemouth in his area and he hopes he can make the right decisions to capitalize on that bite again Thursday.
“There are bass similar to the size I caught today in the areas I will be going back to,” he said. “It will just be a matter of making the right decisions in a timely fashion to trick some of those 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-pound largemouth.”
Montana’s Sean Andrachick is second with 11-0, while Utah’s Riley Nielsen is third with 10-10.
Washington’s Tyler Wipf leads the nonboater standings with a limit weighing 6-15. He is closely followed by Anthony Ocamica from Idaho in second with 6-4 and Nevada’s Ron Christiensen with 6-1. Ocamica also caught the Big Bass of the Day with a 3-9.
California leads the team division with 120-15, followed by Montana in second with 108-1 and Utah in third with 107-15.
The full field will launch from Stateline Boat Ramp beginning at 6:10 a.m. MST and return for weigh-in at 3 p.m. At the end of weigh-in, the winner of the team competition will be announced.
The Top 16 boaters and nonboaters, as well as the Top 2 boaters and nonboaters from each state that aren’t already inside the cut, will advance to Championship Friday.
The top finishing boater and nonboater from each state at the end of the tournament will qualify for the TNT B.A.S.S. Nation Championship at Lake Hartwell scheduled for October.
Visit Page is hosting the event.