The second of three 2008 Southern Open events, the South Carolina stop of the Bassmaster Southern Open circuit set for May 8-10, is the turning point in the circuit's points race. Pros are competing for a $45,000 top prize and crucial points in the event at Santee Cooper lakes out of Manning, S.C.At season's end, the three pros at the top of the standings will qualify for the 2009 Bassmaster Classic. The top 10 will earn invitations to join the Bassmaster Elite Series, the highest level of BASS competition.Bassmaster Elite Series pro Peter Thliveros of Florida leads the points race going into the tournament. The top five include three other Floridians — Elite pro Preston Clark, Jerry Stalvey Jr. and Chris Daniels — as well as Michigan's Jonathan VanDam, nephew of Elite pro Kevin VanDam. Those pros earner their places after stellar performance on Florida's St. Johns River, the first Southern Open event of 2008.
Fishing fans can visit Bassmaster.com to see how the Santee Cooper competition plays out. The site will present live, streaming video and real-time leaderboards of the weigh-ins Thursday through Saturday, as well as daily stories and photos of the competition.Launches and weigh-ins, which are free and open to the public, will be at the John C. Land III Boating & Sportfishing Facility at the end of Log Jam Road (SC-S-14-260) in Summerton, S.C. Daily launches will begin at 6:15 a.m., and weigh-ins will begin at 2:30 p.m.A 156,000-acre impoundment of the Santee and Cooper rivers, the reservoir is actually two lakes — Marion and Moultrie — connected by Channel Canal. The vast lakes boast 450 miles of shoreline. Both are filled with fish-friendly habitat that ranges from open water to grassy backwaters and cypress stump fields.Open pro Rodney Chastain of Fountain Inn, S.C., plans to spend his fishing time in the shallows.
"It's going to be a topwater bite. The herring and threadfin shad are likely to be spawning in the shallows, so whoever finds the baitfish will find the bass," said Chastain, who finished seventh in the April 2007 Southern Open at Santee Cooper."Bass pull up into the shallows to go after the baitfish, like it's a supermarket with a sale on T-bone steaks. It's easy pickings for the bass," Chastain said.Clark, whose 115-pound, 15-ounce catch at Santee Cooper in a 2006 Elite event set a four-day weight record that stood for a year, said water level will determine how the reservoir fishes, so he has monitored that factor closely."It was really low because of the drought. But last report I had was that the lakes were 2 feet low (below full pool), which is not too bad," Clark said."Sight-fishing will probably be over when we get there, and we'll be into post-spawn patterns. Primary lures will be Spinnerbaits; medium-diving, square-billed crankbaits; and trick worms. Fishing will be good in the cypress stumps — they're all over the whole lake.
"Getting in the right area that's holding the fish — that magical 100-yard stretch — is going to be the key. If you can do 17 to 18 pounds a day, you're going to be in very good shape."
Bassmaster Open sponsors include Toyota Tundra, Advance Auto Parts, Berkley, Lowrance, Mercury, Purolator, Skeeter, Yamaha, Optima Batteries and Triton Boats.Local sponsors include the Shreveport Regional Sports Authority.
For 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. With its considerable multi-media platforms and expansive tournament trail, BASS is guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer and comprehensive web properties in www.Bassmaster.com and www.ESPNOutdoors.com, the organization is committed to delivering content true to the lifestyle. Additionally, television programming on ESPN2 continues to provide relevant content from tips and techniques to in-depth tournament coverage to passionate audiences.
The organization oversees the prestigious Bassmaster tournament trail which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, Women's Bassmaster Tour and the Bassmaster Classic, the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing. Through its grassroots network, the BASS Federation Nation, BASS sanctions more than 20,000 events annually.BASS also offers a wide array of services to its more than 525,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.