Tournament fishing, especially at the highest levels, often is a game of risk versus reward. Heading into the third National Walleye Tour® (NWT) event of the 2021 season, held June 24-25 out of Huron, Ohio, most pros knew the bigger ...
Veteran pro instantly becomes a “Mercury guy” with major victory
In mid-October, veteran professional bass angler Tim Klinger, of Boulder City, Nevada, won the 2020 WON BASS U.S. Open championship tournament on his home fishery, Lake Mead. Klinger, who previously fished at the national level on the former FLW Tour, has won dozens of tournaments on Mead, including the 2019 FLW Series event. Yet, none compares in size and stature to the 2020 U.S. Open.
The U.S. Open is the pinnacle of Western competitive bass fishing. The annual pro-am event kicked off in the early 1980s and has hosted many of the biggest names in tournament-fishing history. This season’s prize package included $100,000 and a new Bass Cat Puma FTD bass boat powered by a Mercury 250hp Pro XS outboard.
Not only did Klinger join a legendary list of U.S. Open champions in October. He also instantly became a “Mercury guy.” He says he’ll run the prize boat next season on the WON BASS trail.
“I’m waiting to get it all licensed and insured and all that, and maybe get it wrapped and all outfitted before I put it in the water,” Klinger said. “It’s very cool, and my kids can’t wait to get it on the lake.”
Though Klinger considers Mead to be his home lake, he hadn’t spent much time on the lake prior to the three-day tournament’s kickoff. He spent most of the lead time before the tournament watching the weather and the water levels so that when practice officially started, he could make quick work of putting together multiple patterns that ultimately propelled him to victory.
“Practice was incredible,” he said. “One day I caught 21 pounds, and the next day I didn’t catch any, just feeling around for bites, but it was another good day.”
Klinger opened the tournament with a modest 7.66-pound limit that put him in 42nd place, but he turned things around on day two with 13.49 pounds, which included a 5-pound bass that wound up being the heaviest fish of the entire three-day tournament.
On the final day, he weighed 10.92 pounds for a winning total to 32.07 pounds.
Interestingly, in a region of the country dominated by modern finesse rigs such as the drop-shot and Neko rig, Klinger mostly went old-school to win the U.S. Open. He fished a variety of Texas-rigged soft plastics and a spinnerbait that he designed called the GreenworX Custom Baits TK1.
“I used a 7-inch Berkley Power Worm, and I switched between green pumpkin and motor oil (colors),” Klinger said of his Texas rigs. “That was the No. 1 setup, but I also switched between a Berkley PowerBait Chigger Craw and a NetBait Paca Craw.
“The key was definitely fishing a little bit deeper than the other guys,” he added. “I could see other anglers in the area, and most of them were still fishing the shallow grass. There were plenty of fish there, but they were hard to catch. It seemed like the bigger ones were out deeper, and that was key. I was 5 to 7 feet deeper than most of the guys.”
Though it’s been more than 10 years since Klinger fished tournaments at the national level, his U.S. Open win reinforces the fact that he’s one of the West’s top performers, with many years of competitive bass fishing still in front of him. And next season, he’ll be back out there with a Mercury engine behind him.
Mike Stevens, Western Outdoor News Staff Writer