BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The 2013 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens will have it all — top prizes, berths in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, invitations to the Bassmaster Elite Series, a wide variety of waters and venues — and on a budget that respects the demands of both professional and amateur anglers.
The Opens consist of nine events — three tournaments each in three divisions (Southern, Northern and Central) — in nine different states, covering rivers, natural lakes and man-made reservoirs and running from January in the South to October in the Central region.
For the third 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 2014 Bassmaster Classic. The “win-and-you’re-in” format has proved extremely popular. All 2012 Opens winners qualified for berths in the 2013 Classic, Feb. 22-24, on Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees in Tulsa, Okla.
For professionals looking to take the next step in their fishing careers, the Opens offer that path. Anglers earn performance points at each event, and the Top 5 ranked anglers in each division at the end of the season will be invited to join the most prestigious professional fishing circuit in the world, the Bassmaster Elite Series, where they will compete against Kevin VanDam, Rick Clunn, Michael Iaconelli, Brent Chapman and other legends of the sport.
At each of the stops, weigh-ins will be held lakeside during the first two rounds on Thursday and Friday of each tournament week. The 12 finalists who earn the right to fish on Saturday will weigh their catches in front of consistently large crowds at nearby Bass Pro Shops stores.
The Southern Opens season kicks off in Central Florida on Lake Tohopekaliga, commonly known as Lake Toho, in Kissimmee, Jan. 31-Feb. 2. Giant catches are always a possibility on legendary Lake Toho and its sister lakes, as it has hosted two Bassmaster Classics and 16 previous B.A.S.S. events, including the 2001 tournament that saw Elite Series pro Dean Rojas catch a five bass limit weighing a record 45 pounds, 2 ounces.