Guess it helped that he lives in AZ, knows those "desert" western fisheries and won the US Open in 2015. But new this time were the ultra-low water, a canceled day 1, and the fact that the good Lord set him up to fish this one in a new, uncomfortable way:
> "I had a real strong conviction of what I was going to do...coming into the event – where I was being led, where the Lord was kind of leading me. When I would sit quiet and visualize going into the tournament, I just had an overwhelming feeling of what to do.
> "Going into the practice and stuff, I wouldn't allow myself to practice anywhere else. I didn't want to get off on some tangent or something. I spent it pretty much in the same area learning the small little details of what the fish were doing. If I saw a little piece of structure, I ended up casting to it.
> "The end result was I fished in the Vegas Wash area basically exclusively. The first [practice] day I ran out in the lower basin within a couple miles of the Wash, but I quickly went right back.
> "I made some handmade jigs I thought they would eat. It was so weird because going into practice I was really loose but I was really detailed. Knowing this was what I was going to throw, and this was where I was going to throw it – none of that was any way I've ever fished the US Open. It's almost the complete opposite.
> "I was in this area where you don't get bit for 2-3 hours – I knew I could run out of there and run somewhere else and catch some fish. But I stayed there, stayed engaged, and kept casting...kept my head down."
> "Back in there where I was fishing there wasn't a lot of grass...was all kind of rocks and contour changes.
> "All the fish I caught were in 5-15'...areas with contour changes. Some of the key spots were where points came out and dropped into a deeper break – like one came out to 12' and dropped into 30, so they'd be on that 5-12' stuff.
> "...any type of irregularities on a point, like individual big rocks. I made sure I hit the key little spots. I spent 3.5 days of practice...learned what cast to make. The key was to know what the angle of the cast was...got very detailed. To me, that's what it took to pull a win out of that area – it was terrible fishing there."
When's the last time you heard it was "terrible fishing" at a winning spot?? 🤯 Baits:
> "All 4 of the big ones came on a jig a buddy of mine named Chris Kinley [also lives in AZ] makes. We designed the jig together. He tells everyone it's his jig and I tell everyone it's mine, so we just call it 'My Jig.' [Sounds like it will be sold at some point.]
> "It's real compact...like a finesse jig but you can use it with heavy line. It has a little beefier hook. I used 16-lb Yamamoto Sugoi...the jig was 3/8-oz, gp-ish and I had a Yamamoto Psycho Dad, gp/red flake. That trailer is kind of medium-sized and has a little air pocket in the body so the overall presentation was a pretty good size. Kind of power-finesse.
> "Overall the fall of it was really, really slow. Get it down there and just creep it around, bring it over a rock...."