2014 Opens to qualify anglers for Classic And Elites

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.

Southern Opens

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.

Southern Opens (continued)

No. 2 Smith Lake; Jasper, Ala.

Date: March 6-8

Species: Spotted and largemouth bass

Background: 6 previous B.A.S.S. events beginning in 1967 (the second tournament ever conducted by founder Ray Scott).

Recently: The 2012 Open was won by Hank Cherry. The victory earned him a berth in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic (where he finished third) and propelled him to the Elite Series (where he was named the 2013 Bassmaster Rookie of the Year).

No. 3 Lake Norman; Charlotte, N.C.

Date: Oct. 2-4

Species: Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass

Background: 7 previous B.A.S.S. events beginning in 1992. Norman was the site of Southern Opens in 2011 and 2012.

Recently: The fishery was ranked No. 91 on Bassmaster Magazine’s “100 Best Bass Lakes” list in 2013. The 2012 Open was won by North Carolina’s Tracy Adams.

Central Opens

No. 1 Lake Amistad; Del Rio, Texas

Date: Feb. 6-8

Species: Largemouth and smallmouth bass (but don’t expect to see any bronzebacks on the weigh-in stage)

Background:  7 previous B.A.S.S. events beginning in 2006 with the inaugural Elite Series tournament. “Amistad” is Spanish for “friendship.”

Recently: The fishery was ranked No. 23 on Bassmaster Magazine’s “100 Best Bass Lakes” list in 2013. The 2010 Open was won by Texan Craig Schuff.

No. 2 Red River; Shreveport, La.

Date: April 24-26

Species: Largemouth bass

Background:  12 previous B.A.S.S. events beginning in 2000, including Bassmaster Classics in 2009 and 2012.

Recently: The fishery was ranked No. 79 on Bassmaster Magazine’s “100 Best Bass Lakes” list in 2013. The 2013 Open was won by Stephen Browning.

Central Opens (continued)

No. 3 Arkansas River; Muskogee, Okla.

Date: Sept. 11-13

Species: Largemouth and spotted bass

Background:  9 previous B.A.S.S. events, though only two were held in Oklahoma. The others were out of Arkansas and included Bassmaster Classics in 1984 and 1985.

Recently: The 2011 Open was won by Oklahoman Tommy Biffle.

Northern Opens

No. 1 Douglas Lake; Dandridge, Tenn.

Date: May 29-May 31

Species: Largemouth and smallmouth bass

Background:  4 previous B.A.S.S. events beginning in 2001. The “long-lining” method of crankbait fishing came to prominence here during a 2012 Elite Series tournament.

Recently: The fishery was ranked No. 56 on Bassmaster Magazine’s “100 Best Bass Lakes” list in 2013. The 2013 Open was won by Patrick Bone.

No. 2 Lake Champlain; Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Date: July 31-Aug. 2

Species: Smallmouth and largemouth bass

Background:  8 previous B.A.S.S. events beginning in 1997. Anglers should be on the lookout for “Champ,” the mythical lake monster with more than 300 reported sightings. At more than 400 feet deep in places, Champlain offers plenty of room for Nessie’s cousin to hide.

Recently: The fishery was ranked No. 16 on Bassmaster Magazine’s “100 Best Bass Lakes” list in 2013. The 2010 Open was won by Dave Wolak and was the last time a B.A.S.S. event had as many as 200 boats.

No. 3 Lake St. Clair; Detroit, Mich.

Date: Sept. 4-6

Species: Smallmouth and largemouth bass

Background:  4 previous B.A.S.S. events beginning in 1994 and including the finale of the 2013 Elite Series season. With a Detroit launch site, several lakes and a seemingly endless amount of water will be available to the competitors.

Recently: The fishery was ranked No. 1 on Bassmaster Magazine’s “100 Best Bass Lakes” list in 2013. The 2013 Elite event was won by Chris Lane.

Registration

B.A.S.S. Nation and Life members can register online beginning Nov. 5 at 9 a.m. CT and for call-in on Nov. 7 beginning at 9 a.m. CT. at 877-227-7872. B.A.S.S. members who want to fish all three tournaments in a division may register online beginning Nov. 12 at 9 a.m. CT and may call in Nov. 14 beginning at 9 a.m. CT.

Anglers interested in fishing only one or two events may register online beginning Nov. 19 at 9 a.m. CT and may call in beginning Nov. 21 at 9 a.m. CT.

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/Open.

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