HENDERSON, Nev. — Bill Brown of Utah remained atop the leader board for three days to win the boater division of the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional presented by Magellan Outdoors.
On Day 3 Brown’s winning weight of 15 pounds brought his overall total to 49 pounds, 1 ounce. Brown fished for the Utah B.A.S.S. Nation.
Scott Hausman, of Las Vegas, Nev., won the non-boater division with a three-day weight of 22 pounds, 2 ounces. Hausman fished for the Nevada team.
Brown and Hausman are among 22 anglers from 11 states with the heaviest cumulative weights for their states. Each top placing boater and non-boater advances to the Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Magellan Outdoors. Date and location of the championship will be announced soon.
Brown made a final day gamble that proved a winning move. At 1 p.m. and without a bass in the boat he ditched the fishing strategy that worked on Day 1 and 2.
What worked before was fishing a topwater buzz bait along the shoreline of shallow coves near the main lake. To save the win he moved to deeper water and caught the winning weight within an hour of his weigh-in time.
“All of my bass had already spawned and were feeding on baitfish,” he said. “The shallow fish moved out to deeper water and I found them.”
Gusty winds pushed the baitfish into a cove with the bass following to feed upon them. Brown caught the bass by casting a heavyweight jig into boulders where the bass ambushed the bait.
The lure choice was a 3/4-ounce Pepper Custom Baits jig with a 3.75-inch Gary Yamamoto Custom Lures Flappin’ Hog. The jig was camo and green with a 301 color choice for the trailer.
“The bass were feeding on the shad, they had nowhere to go in the wind,” he said. “I caught them in the first coves near the main lake.”
Strikes occurred as the lure fell into the rock crevices. Sometimes the bait never reached bottom as the jig dropped through the feeding frenzy.
On Days 1 and 2 Brown found post-spawn bass in the opposite direction. He targeted bass in the far reaches of basins in the middle lake. The bass were shallow, about 2 feet or less, and very spooky.
The bait of choice was a Pepper Custom Baits Commando Series Buzz Bait. The lure featured a gold blade with a white/chartreuse skirt. Lure presentation was key.
“I had to cast it onto the shoreline, gently drag it into the water and retrieve just fast enough to turn the blades,” said Brown, a member of the Top of Utah Bass Anglers.
Strikes occurred as the lure passed through tumbleweeds and brushpiles near the shoreline. Brown reasoned the bass were ambushing baitfish from the cover.
Hausman is a recent Nevada transplant from Utah. He’s a former member of that state’s team and was welcomed to his new home with sound advice from teammates.
“A lot of anglers cast the lure directly into the spawning bass,” he said. “What the Nevada guys taught me is the bass stay off the beds and guard the nests.”
“I focused on finding little spots where my partners missed or avoided,” continued Hausman, now a member of the Nevada Bass Anglers.
The cleanup approach involved using two lures. Those were a drop shot rig and a plastic skirted jig, commonly known is a hula grub.
Anglers earned these sponsorship contingency awards.
Livingston Lures Leader Award: Brown earned the $250 bonus by leading the tournament on Day 2.
Big Bass: Brown earned a $250 bonus for catching the big bass of the tournament. The Utah angler caught a largemouth weighing 6 pounds, 6 ounces on Day 1. He caught the bass on a buzzbait fished along shoreline cover.
A.R.E. Top Angler: Mark Lassagne of California earned the $250 award as the top-finishing angler using the brand’s truck caps.