So, you want to fish the Bassmaster Elite Series, and you’ve chosen the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens as your quickest path to stardom?
Good for you.
I hope to be interviewing you at an Elite Series weigh-in soon.
But before you get too deeply into pursuing your life’s dream in the Opens, you should ask yourself a quick question:
Does the thought of fishing against established pros like Bobby Lane and Stephen Browning scare you?
If the answer is anything but “no way,” take my word for it, you’re not ready.
Why Elite Series pros are allowed to fish the Opens is a question that’s batted around by fishing enthusiasts every year — and every time I hear it, I have to wonder if people are really serious.
Why wouldn’t they be allowed to fish them? They’re…umm, open.
The Opens are supposed to be a proving ground for aspiring pros, and there’s no better way to prove you’re ready for the best competition in the world than by actually facing it.
Or some of it anyway.
Judging from the rumblings over the topic, you’d think the entire Elite Series field was hopping from one Open to another. But that’s not the case.
Only a handful of Elite guys fished the first Eastern Open of the season on Florida’s Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, and only nine of them finished in the Top 50.
Ten Elite Series guys made the Top 50 at the first Central Open on Ross Barnett, and a handful more are scheduled to fish Central Open No. 2 later this month on the Arkansas River.
Of course, the topic has been a little more heated this year since Lane and Browning won those first two events.
But honestly, if the sight of Bobby Lane on Kissimmee frightens you, how are you going to feel when you pull up at a future Elite Series event to find both Lane brothers huddled with Kevin VanDam and Edwin Evers as you’re launching your boat?
If the idea of facing Stephen Browning on Ross Barnett gives you the willies, what kind of crawling will your skin do when you stand in line behind Rick Clunn, Gerald Swindle, Jordan Lee and Brandon Palaniuk waiting to talk to Dave Mercer on the Elite Series stage?
A lot of local tournaments automatically close their doors to professional anglers once they make the Elite Series, citing a wide range of excuses.
They make too much money. They have too much access to equipment and information. They have more time to spend on the water than I do.
Translation: They can beat me, so don’t let them in.
That’s a lousy attitude toward competition — and one I hope is never adopted in the Opens.
So, do like I said and ask yourself if the idea of fishing against the best pros in the world scares you.
And before you answer, consider this:
Not a single one of those guys I mentioned above is the least bit scared of you.