Next week's Bassmaster Central Open season finale on Lake Amistad out of Del Rio, Texas, promises to be a showdown as pros compete for enough points to qualify for the 2008 Bassmaster Classic. Anglers will also compete for the right to advance to the top tier of competitive bass fishing, the Bassmaster Elite Series.
The pros will launch daily Sept. 27-29 at 8:15 a.m. ET at Lake Amistad's Diablo East Marina, where daily weigh-ins begin at 4:15 p.m. ET. For the first time at a Bassmaster Open event, ESPNOutdoors.com will provide live, streaming video of the weigh-ins.
The Central Open event's top prize is $6,000 in cash and a Triton/Mercury rig valued at $50,000.
A strong finish in Texas is crucial for Elite Series hopefuls. To be eligible to compete in next year's 11-event Elite Series, a pro must be one of the top five in the Central Open points standings after the Amistad event.
The three pros with the highest number of points also will earn tickets to the 2008 Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 22-24 on Lake Hartwell out of Greenville, S.C.
"My goals are to make it to the Elite Series and the Classic," said Central Open points leader Brian Clark of Haltom, Texas. "I want to get my foot in the door at the highest level."
The winner of the Central Open's season opener on Lake Texoma in March, 31-year-old Clark was a professional bull rider before an injury put an end to his rodeo career. A lifelong angler, Clark quickly zeroed in on fishing as his next profession. He began by entering Bassmaster Weekend Series events in 2006, then moved up this year to the Bassmaster Open circuit.
Amistad was new water for Clark before he first scouted the Rio Grande impoundment in August. He said the lake's gin-clear depths and abundance of big bass are the two factors that make Amistad unlike any lake on which he has competed.
"You can catch all the 3-pounders you want, but at Amistad, that's not going to put a dent in the program," Clark said.
"The X factor is going to be weather conditions," he added. "I want the cloudiest, windiest weather you can imagine. That plays to my strengths."
Also in position for the Classic and Elite doors swing open is Clark Reehm of Russellville, Ark. Reehm sits in third place in the Central Open standings, just 67 points away from the leader.
"I know I'll have to have a good weight at Amistad every day," Reehm said. "Realistically, nine guys have a shot at the Classic slots. I know I need third place (at Amistad) to solidify a slot in the Classic and Elite Series. I just hope I can execute well at Amistad and continue my season streak."