To be Elite

Michael Simonton
B.A.S.S.
Michael Simonton is the top points earner of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Opens season.

Five more anglers have earned 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series entries.

Newly qualified for the 2012 Elite Series corps are Michael Simonton, the top points earner of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Opens season; Derek Remitz and Charlie Hartley, longtime Elite Series pros now with a qualification to continue in 2012; Kyle A. Fox, the 23-year-old from Florida who’s been shooting for the Elite Series for five years; and Fletcher Shryock, an Open rookie.

Simonton, one of three from Ohio who earned Elite Series status, was an Elite Series qualifier in 2010. Financial reasons held him back then.

“I couldn’t find the funding, so I think we’re going back to the drawing board,” said Simonton, who is from Fremont, Ohio. “I’ve been dreaming about this since third or fourth grade.”

The points competition ended Saturday on New York’s Oneida Lake, site of the final Northern event of the season. The Top 5 in points after each three-event season in all three Open divisions — Central and Southern as well as Northern — qualify to move up and compete at the highest level.

Simonton wrapped up second place in the tournament, securing his No. 1 finish in points, just 11 points in front of Remitz of Grant, Ala. Coming into Oneida, Remitz was second in points. Thanks to a 19th-place tournament finish, he stayed there.

Hartley of Grove City, Ohio, was 15th in the tournament. Like Remitz, staying high in the Open points secured his entry into the 2012 Elite Series corps.

Fox and Shryock, if they join, would be among the Elite Series corps’ youngest guns. Fox, 23, of Lakeland, Fla., entered his first full season of Open events at age 18. Shryock, 26, from Newcomerstown, Ohio, competed in his first Bassmaster tournament in 2011, a Southern Open.

“To go from where I was in January, to now — the Classic as well as the Elite Series — is a dream come true,” said Shryock on Monday morning.

He said he’s decided to take the step up, but he hasn’t officially notified anyone of his intent.

Fox is considering his options.

“The Elite Series is my goal for next year, why I’ve been fishing the Central and Southern Opens for years, and the Northerns this year. I wanted to learn how to catch bass all around the country, so I’d be ready when I qualified,” Fox said.

“I’ve made the decision that I really want to do it,” he added. “Now I’m figuring out the money part of it. The Elite Series is my dream.”

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