BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The 2014 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens presented by Allstate series has something for everyone — whether they’re a top professional angler, an aspiring pro or simply a fan of the sport.
Nine events in nine states covering three geographic regions will send winners to the 2015 Bassmaster Classic, top performers to the Bassmaster Elite Series and thousands of fans to weigh-ins where they can catch the action.
The Opens Series consists of nine events — three tournaments each in Southern, Central and Northern divisions — covering rivers, natural lakes and man-made reservoirs and running from January to October.
For the fourth season in a row, Opens tournament winners who compete in all three events in a single division will earn a berth in the Super Bowl of bass fishing, the 2015 Bassmaster Classic.
And for those anglers hoping to take the next step in their careers, the Opens are the way to reach the most prestigious professional fishing circuit in the world, the Bassmaster Elite Series. Opens competitors earn performance points at each tournament, and at the end of the season the Top 5 ranked anglers in each division who aren’t already qualified for the Elites will be invited to join the premier tour. In recent years, Ott DeFoe, Hank Cherry and Jason Christie followed this path and have made their marks as Elite pros.
At seven of the nine Opens, the full field of anglers will weigh their fish at the lake on Thursday and Friday of each tournament week, but on Saturday, when the field is cut to the Top 12 anglers, weigh-ins will take place before large crowds of fans at nearby Bass Pro Shops stores. At the other two venues, lakes Amistad and Champlain, weigh-ins will be held lakeside all three competition days.
Entry fees remain unchanged from 2013. The cost for pros to participate in each event is $1,500. The cost for co-anglers is $425. For more details, visit Bassmaster.com.
No. 1 Lake Tohopekaliga; Kissimmee, Fla.
Date: Jan. 23-25
Species: Largemouth bass
Background: 17 previous B.A.S.S. events, including Bassmaster Classics in 1977 and 2006. In 2001, Dean Rojas set a B.A.S.S. record that still stands with five fish that weighed a whopping 45 pounds, 2 ounces. Translated from Native American, “Tohopekaliga” means “we will gather together here.”
Recently: The Kissimmee Chain of Lakes was ranked No. 22 on Bassmaster Magazine’s “100 Best Bass Lakes” list in 2013. The 2013 Open was won by Rich Howes in a fish-off, after the regulation three days of competition ended in a tie.