BRANSON, Mo. — It’s a good bet that the top pros in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open circuit had their calculators out Friday night, crunching numbers to see if they would be one of five who qualify for the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series.
The pros who did not weather the Friday cut of the Oct. 20-22 Table Rock Lake tournament have earned all the points they can. A few of those pros are still in contention for an Elite invitation. Topping that short list are Chris Zaldain of San Jose, Calif., No. 1; Jared Miller of Norman, Okla., No. 4; and Kevin Ledoux of Choctaw, Okla., No. 5.
That’s according to the interim points standings after two competition days. Points aren’t awarded or final until Saturday after the final weigh-in.
The anglers who did make the cut, the ones who can earn more points, could possibly knock out Ledoux or Miller. Zaldain, who entered the Table Rock event as the points leader, is reasonably safe for a top-five.
Miller did not stick around Branson. He had to get back home to get ready for the Nov. 3-5 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship.
“I drove home last night,” he said Saturday morning. “I’ll watch the outcome online (at Bassmaster.com).”
Zaldain was fishing on Bull Shoals, one of the 2012 stops on next season’s Elite trail, on Saturday morning. He plans to track the outcome of the points race on the Internet on his cell phone. He admitted he spent time Friday night on his calculator.
“The two in the top 12 who are threatening my points leader position are James Niggemeyer and Tommy Martin,” Zaldain said. “I did some quick math, and I think I’m good. We’ll see what happens after today. I believe I’ll make the Elite Series, and that was my goal, what I’m here for.”
Points leaders who were fishing Saturday included Niggemeyer, of Van, Texas; Martin of Hemphill, Texas; and Casey Scanlon of Lenexa, Kan.
Niggemeyer, who qualified in 2006 through the Opens to join the Elite Series in 2007, already has a 2012 Elite ticket earned through the 2011 Elite season. Even if he double-qualifies Saturday, his 2012 Elite seat would officially be counted as through the Opens.
Another goal is in Niggemeyer’s sight. He’s at Table Rock to win a Bassmaster Classic berth under the 2011 win-you’re-in rule. He could claim the berth, too, because he has fulfilled the requirement of competing in all three Central Opens to be awarded the Classic seat.
The final points tally for the season will be posted after Saturday’s weigh-in, which will begin at 4:15 p.m. CT at the Bass Pro Shops location in Branson. Streaming of the weigh-in will begin about 3:15 p.m. ET.