KLEIN CHILLS OUT after practice...

(UPDATED, 6:51 p.m.) In keeping with a U.S. Open on Lake Mead fishing like it never has before, I heard stories today that would straighten your hair.

And the hairiest of them all came from Escondido’s Tom Leedom. While fishing outside Vegas Wash, his promising bite that began with a 3-pounder on the first cast, suddenly was blown away–literally.

According to Tom, alarms suddenly sounded from a huge barge that was anchored in the vicinity, followed by an explosion that sent white water in every direction for more than a quarter mile!

“I can’t describe the noise coming through the hull of the boat,” he related. “All I know is an explosion went off every 10 minutes and the bite shut off.” To his credit, he was able to rally and put together a limit weighing 10.65 pounds. But he’s not going back. “I’m going 180 degrees from what I did today.”

PLENTY OF RAMP at Callville Bay.

Said former Open winner Gary Klein, “It’s pretty much the same conditions I’ve been seeing. The biggest change is the water creeping up a couple of inches.” While his 11.35 pounds puts him in contention, his weight differs from some of the other leaders in that his largest fish weighed 2 pounds, 6 ounces, (officially 2.66 pounds) while his smallest was 1-15. Clearly, his pattern seems to show some consistency.

“I’m targeting largemouth,” he told me on the phone, adding, “The fish are unpredictable so I’m covering the water, covering about five miles of the lake.” And while it’s a pattern he has not run previously, he was able to say, “It was a fun day.”

Another former winner, Mike Folkestad, had to grind all day for his 9.96 pounds which he milked from “seven or eight keepers.” On his cell he offered, “It’s a struggle. I fished shallow early, then went to the drop-shot.”

IT'S STILL THE DESERT, but temperatures are down this week...

However, unlike some of the practice days, he found slightly different conditions today. “We had some thunderclouds,” he revealed. “That held the shallower fish longer. My last fish [shallow] came at 9 a.m. The topwater fish were the better quality.”

As for tomorrow, he said, “I hope some of the areas I haven’t fished are holding,” but noted, “I’m pleased with what I got.”

Finally, Rich Tauber, the only pro to fish every U. S. Open since 1981, got off on the right foot today weighing in 9.32 pounds. “The biggest thing for me,” he said excitedly, “It’s a tremendous start for me.”

Noting the bites came early, Tauber added, “The most promising thing, I am fishing all by myself. [And] I’m surprised by the quality.”

The day’s pro ranks are up on the WON BASS website (click here).