HENDERSON, Nev. — Grass-roots anglers from nine Western states will take to the iconic waters of Nevada’s Lake Mead Sept. 30-Oct. 2, 2020 for the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional. Recently named one of the Best Western Bass Lakes of the Decade by Bassmaster Magazine, Lake Mead was the site of the first Bassmaster Classic back in 1971.
The tournament is one of five regional championship events B.A.S.S. Nation originally scheduled around the country this year. Anglers will be competing for cash prizes and a spot in the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, Nov. 11-13 on Alabama’s Pickwick Lake.
Finding striped bass busting baitfish could be the key to winning the Western Regional, according to Bassmaster Elite Series angler Chris Zaldain.
The Regional contenders won’t be allowed to weigh in striped bass, but finding these fish feeding on baitfish could be the key to catching Lake Mead’s largemouth bass. “The fishing can be tough then,” said Zaldain, who has fished several U.S. Opens on Lake Mead during October. “The key then is finding an abundance of fish. It is very, very hard to catch bass then because it is catching one here and one there. So it is all about finding groups of bass.
“This all boils down to finding schools of shad, and the way to find an abundance of shad is by finding the striped bass,” Zaldain said. “You will have a lot of stripers all through the summer and early fall corralling baitfish in the backs of some of the pockets.” He noted the competitors should look for a flat in the back of a pocket that contains some type of cover, such as willow trees, tumbleweeds or grass.
“The name of the game is covering water there because the bass live shallow (3 to 5 feet deep) that time of year and you can get right in a hurry when you find that mix of shad, stripers and cover near a flat,” Zaldain said. The Elite Series pro favors throwing white buzzbaits, white Zara Spooks and topwater poppers to catch bass in the pockets in the early fall at Lake Mead.
Targeting shade lines along sloping point dropoffs is a productive secondary pattern for Lake Mead bass in early October.
“You can always find bass in the shade then on Lake Mead because it is a desert lake and is so hot there,” he said. Zaldain recommends working a brown-and-purple 1/2-ounce jig along the shade line from 15 feet down to 25 feet deep.
Four areas Zaldain thinks could produce the winning weight are the Las Vegas Wash, Temple Basin, Gregg Basin and Overton arm. “Every year that U.S. Open tournament is won in a different area of the lake,” he said.
The winner’s bag could contain a mixture of largemouth and smallmouth each day. However, Zaldain believes the contenders will mainly target largemouth chasing shad and accidentally catch some smallmouth.
Zaldain noted any anglers catching limits “north of 11 pounds” a day will be in the hunt to win the Regional.
Competition days will start each day at 6:15 a.m. PT from Callville Bay Marina. Weigh-ins will be held back at the marina each day at 2:15 p.m., with a full field fishing Days 1 and 2 and the Top 18 in the pro and co-angler divisions competing on Championship Friday.
The tournament is being hosted by Visit Henderson.
“We are so excited to host the B.A.S.S. Nation anglers and their families, and for them to experience the beauty of this place we call home,” said Edward Kirby from Visit Henderson. “We are located just minutes from the Las Vegas strip and are a burgeoning destination for outdoor adventure. With over 180 miles of hiking and biking trails, kayaking, paddle boarding, jet packing and fishing, visitors fall in love with the variety they can experience here. Home to Las Vegas Raiders Headquarters and the minor league AHL Silver Knights, Henderson also offers unforgettable experiences at Lake Las Vegas, the Ethel M Chocolate Factory, the Lion Habitat and the Booze District, which includes microbreweries, a wine tasting room and a distillery. We hope these anglers awaken the spirit of adventure while they're here.”