The first Northern Open of the 2017 season has a decidedly northern flair.
That’s logical. Open tournaments get a greater number of regional participants than say the Elite Series, where the anglers travel to wherever the tournament is held. It also makes sense because the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open No. 1 is being dominated by a crazy good smallmouth bite on New York’s Lake Oneida.
Northern (and Midwestern) anglers theoretically have an edge when it comes to catching smallies. The particular type of bass can be found in a good portion of the U.S., but it’s native to the cooler-water states of the middle and upper reaches of the Mississippi River basin and the Great Lakes region. So familiarity with these hard-fighting bass likely is key to catching.
Some numbers to consider:
- Of the 12 pros remaining in the tournament, eight hail from northern states (three are from Michigan and one each is from Connecticut, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and New York.)
- More than half of the 198 pros in the open are from northeastern or Midwestern U.S. states – 106 of them to be exact. That does not include the four anglers from Maryland or the lone angler from West Virginia, as those two states are listed in the South Region, according to the U.S. census. It also doesn’t include the four Canadian anglers in the field, who are decidedly more “northern” geographically than Marylanders or West Virginians.
- Host state New York had the greatest number of entries (27) in the original pro angler field of 198. Pennsylvania had 19, New Jersey 13, and Michigan 12. Virginia had the most anglers (18) from what the census lists as a southern state. Tennessee had 11 and North Carolina 10.
- With three anglers surviving to fish on Saturday, Michigan placed exactly 25 percent of its competitors inside the cut. Coincidentally, the cut was to the Top 12, so Michigan residents make up 25 percent of the pros fishing on Lake Oneida for the open championship. They include tournament leader Steve York (two-day total of 36 pounds, 12 ounces,) Kyle Kempkers (fourth, 35-8,) and Chad Pipkens (12th, 34-1.)