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From the lakes of central Florida in mid-January to the Ozark Plateau of Oklahoma in early October, bass tournament anglers will find a variety of dates, locations and fisheries to challenge them in the 2017 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Series schedule, which B.A.S.S. announced today.
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The Harris Chain is one of the more popular stops for B.A.S.S. The chain is made up of nine lakes connected by a system of canals, and it covers approximately 80,000 acres in central Florida just north of Orlando. Chris Lane won this event in 2012 with a whopping three-day total of 72 pounds, 11 ounces.
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Shaw Grigsby secured his only Bassmaster Elite Series win here when the pros came to the Harris Chain in March of 2011. His total weight for the tournament was 75 pounds, 4 ounces.
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Lake Chickamauga is a reservoir covering just more than 36,000 acres along the Tennessee River that was completed in 1940 as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
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BASSfest was held here in 2014, with Jacob Wheeler holding off Kevin VanDam and Matt Herren for the title. Chickamauga was also the site of the 1986 Classic, and it ranks third in the southeastern division of Bassmaster Magazine’s 100 Best Bass Lakes list for 2016.
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A Bassmaster Southern Open returns to Smith Lake in 2017, after the lake was home to a rain-shortened tournament earlier this year.
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The 21,000-acre lake in north-central Alabama produced a $53,000 payday in cash and prizes to winner Jesse Wiggins. It is noted for its giant spotted bass and ranks 23rd in the Southeast on the 100 Best Lakes list.
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Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mike McClelland broke a six-year drought by winning a tour stop here in 2014. Table Rock, which at 43,000 acres is plenty big enough for Open anglers to spread out, also was host to a Central Open in 2015. The fishery offers some compelling side trips for visitors, including the popular tourist destinations in Branson and the flagship Bass Pro Shops store in Springfield. The massive Wonders of Wildlife museum and aquarium at Bass Pro Shops should be open by tournament time.
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In October 2015, James Watson punched his ticket to the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic with an Opens win on Table Rock Lake.
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This river forming the southern portion of the border between Texas and Louisiana is a playground for Elite Series anglers, and it will welcome competitors during the second Central Open in 2017. Just navigating the network of bayous, sloughs, canals and backwaters is a challenge. Catching the heaviest strings of 14-inch-or-longer bass can be tricky as well.
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Grand Lake has been home to not one but two Bassmaster Classics (in 2013 and again in 2016). In 2013, Cliff Pace won the Classic with a three-day total of 54 pounds, 12 ounces.
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Earlier this year, it was Oklahoma’s own Edwin Evers earning a Classic win with a 60-pound, 7-ounce total. Kevin VanDam and Mike McClelland have won previous Elite Series events on this 46,500-acre impoundment, which ranks eighth in the central divisions of Bassmaster’s Best 100 Lakes listing.
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B.A.S.S. heads to upstate New York for the first Northern Division Open of the 2017 season. Elite Series pro Randy Howell won an Open on Oneida in 2015 with a three-day haul of 49 pounds, 2 ounces, and this July, Wil Hardy won there with 53-13 over three days of fishing.
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At more than 50,000 acres, Oneida is the largest lake located entirely in New York, and this will be the 13th Bassmaster event on the fishery. It ranks 11th among bass fishing lakes in the Northeast.
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The James River has hosted an even dozen Bassmaster events through the years, including a three-year string of Classics from 1988-1990. Guido Hibdon won the first Classic held here in 1988, and Hank Parker claimed the title in 1989. The legendary Rick Clunn won his fourth Classic on this river in 1990. In 2013, Randy Howell won an Open on the James to qualify for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, which he won.
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James River should definitely be familiar to Northern Opens fans. Former Elite Charlie Hartley secured his second Bassmaster Classic berth with an Opens win on the river in August of 2016.
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The final Northern Open stop of 2017 will be on this reservoir in eastern Tennessee. Douglas was home to an Open tournament in May 2016, and in 2012, pro Jeremy Starks boated a four-day total of 81 pounds, 2 ounces to win the Elite Series Douglas Lake Challenge and a $100,000 check.
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Elite angler David Mullins, a Tennessee native, secured the victory when the Bassmaster Opens came to Douglas Lake in 2016. His three-day total for the win weighed in at 62 pounds, 12 ounces.