For Tyler Rivet, it’s sure to be a nail-biting weekend watching the Basspro.com Southern Open on Lake Norman.
Rivet, still cleaning up around his Raceland, La., home after Hurricane Ida devastated the region, is next in line for a Classic berth. He’ll be monitoring the tournament closely, rooting for any anglers who would put him into the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell.
“The Classic is what I’ve always dreamed of,” he said. “I want to have that experience of being in a Classic. It’s big just to be able to say you fished a Classic.”
Elite pro Cory Johnston won the most recent Northern Open on the St. Lawrence River. Since he didn’t fish all events in the division, the Classic berth went down the Bassmaster Angler of the Year point standings to Scott Martin, who will fish his first Classic. Rivet said he rooted for Johnston too.
“Any of them who just fished one Open,” he said, adding he’s hopeful this week. “There’s so many locals fishing, it might be a really good chance.”
If it doesn’t happen at Norman, Rivet can do it for himself by winning one of the two remaining Central Opens. The Open on Smith Lake will be held Oct. 7-9, and the Central finale on Grand Lake is Oct. 21-24. Bassmaster LIVE will air seven hours on each division’s final day, including three hours on FOX Sports 1.
Rivet has discussed his chances with Elite roommates Brock Mosley and Hank Cherry, who’s won the past two Classics.
“I can do it myself. Brock and I were talking about that,” Rivet said. “I got to go into Smith Lake looking for the win. It’d be cool if it came down to one of the last tournaments, and I win to get in.”
Cherry joked that if Rivet paid his entry fee, he’d go win the Norman Open to get him in. Rivet said he would have fallen out of Classic contention if it weren’t for Cherry’s help at the St. Lawrence Elite.
Rivet, bouncing above and below the Classic cut throughout the Elite season, was sitting pretty after Lake Guntersville, where he posted his second sixth-place finish of the year. A bomb at Lake Champlain (83rd) dropped him 14 spots to 45th in AOY.
Simply thinking he needed to make the cut in the season finale on the St. Lawrence, Rivet’s decision to play it safe backfired. He had been catching around 19 pounds a day in practice but his fish were gone on Day 1. He stood 77th with only 14-1.
“That was the worst first day I’ve ever have in my life,” he said. “I was hard-headed. I was just sticking around the launch, and I didn’t want to chance it. I didn’t want to run, have something break down.”
It could have been worse. With only two in the boat and an hour to fish, a stressed and freaking out Rivet ran into Cherry, who calmed him and put him on a drift to fill his limit. On Day 2, Rivet took Mosley’s advice to target largemouth, and he caught almost 19 pounds in 30 minutes to climb to 53rd, moving him into position for this 11-hour chance to make the Classic.
“Mosley said, ‘Why didn’t you listen to me? You’d be in the Classic now,’” Rivet said.
With three more chances, Rivet is holding out hope to make the Classic on Lake Hartwell, then who knows.
“It’d be awesome to win it,” he said. “It changes people’s lives. Just look at Hank. It’s just crazy. I dream of it every night. I’ve watched the last two Opens like a hawk.”