Brown takes early lead

LAS VEGAS — An emotionally charged day lifted Bill Brown of Utah into the lead at the B.A.S.S. Nation’s regional event underway on Lake Mead.

Brown, of Grand Junction, Utah, caught 20 pounds, 11 ounces on Day 1 of the Academy Sports & Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Western Divisional presented by Magellan Outdoors.

“Two years ago I lost my team partner and mentor and I’m fishing for him,” Brown said of his longtime friend Kurt Walters. “Then last month I lost my dad to cancer.”

In his memory, Brown is competing in this tournament from Walters’ boat. What's more, Brown caught the fish putting him in the lead on a lure once used by Walters.

Understandably, he declined to discuss details about the lure. Brown, a member of the Top of Utah Bass Anglers, is targeting post-spawn bass. He is doing so for a good reason.

“With spawning bass you are casting for individual fish,” he explained. “I don’t like to get locked down on one area, one fish.

“The bass here are under a lot of fishing pressure, too, so running to different areas suits my style of fishing.”

Instead of individual fish, Brown is focused on specific areas of a given fishing location.

“It’s really spot on spot,” he explained. “There are pieces of cover I’m casting to and then moving on to another area.”

Brown might be just getting started on what might be an emotional win later in the week.

“I left a bunch of fish behind, at least a couple of four pounders,” he said. “I know the areas where they are and I’ll go back tomorrow to catch them.”

Fishing pressure is of no concern to Brown.

“I’m not at all worried about anyone catching my fish,” he said. “In watching other anglers, I’m doing something very different.”

The only tip Brown provided about his strategy is the water temperature.

“It’s a few degrees warmer than most areas,” he said.

That clue says a lot about his choice of targeting bass that have spawned. As water temperatures rise after the spawn the fish begin migrating toward deeper water. That makes them easier to find under the fishing style chosen by Brown.

Most of the bass on Lake Mead have spawned, although some late bloomers can be caught. More options leaves open the chances to expand strategies and have alternate plans if needed.

Competing on Lake Mead are 212 anglers from 11 western states. To be determined on Friday is the overall winner, the top finishing state team and qualifiers to bass fishing’s world championship.

Two anglers are paired with the boat owner allowed to keep five bass. The accompanying angler can keep three bass. A keeper bass measures at least 13 inches.

Utah’s 20 anglers collectively caught 177 pounds, 3 ounces to lead the team standings after Day 1. Brown, the overall leader and four teammates are inside the Top 10.

Nevada holds down second place with 176-7. Idaho is third with 170-8 and Arizona has 156-10 for fourth place. Colorado is fifth with 146-7.

The state with the most weight is awarded a new bass boat and trailer. That is a Triton 189 TrX with Triton boat package accessories and a Mercury 150 Pro XS. Total package value is $33,340.

This event is one of three regional tournaments qualifying anglers for the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship. The top boater and non-boater from each state advance to bass club fishing’s championship competition.

Callville Bay Resort and Marina is tournament headquarters. Anglers depart at 6:15 a.m. PDT and return for the weigh-in beginning at 2:30 p.m.