COLUMBIANA, Ala. — This week the Falcon Rods Bassmaster Opens Angler of the Year race concludes on two fronts. The Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Open at Lay Lake is the final 2020 event of the season, and with it comes the conclusion of the overall Opens season.
What that means is the overall angler of the year will be chosen, and he will earn $10,000 from Falcon Rods. Meanwhile, the lineup will be finalized for 12 invitations to the 2021 Bassmaster Elite Series.
The overall Opens AOY title will be determined by combined points for anglers competing in both the Central and Eastern Opens. The top overall co-angler will have paid entry fees into the 2021 Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens division of his or her choice.
This season, each Opens division has four events, with three ways to qualify for the Elite Series invitations. The top four from both the Central and Eastern Divisions get invites, along with the top four overall anglers in the point standings.
At Lay Lake, everyone is gunning for the winner’s trophy, which brings with it a berth in the 2021 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk. To earn it, the winning angler must have competed in the previous events held at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, Lake Hartwell and Cherokee Lake.
Some anglers are also contending for the available Elite Series invitations as the race concludes at Lay Lake. Jason Christie, coincidentally sponsored by Falcon Rods, leads the overall race with 1179 points. Marc Frazier is second with 1158 points; Bryan New, the winner at Kissimmee, is third with 1150 points. Matt Robertson, the Cherokee winner, is fourth with 1148 points. Justin Atkins is fifth with 1143 points and KJ Queen holds down sixth with 1111 points. All of them have expressed interest in accepting an invitation.
Patrick Walters leads the Eastern Opens with 581 points. He is double qualified as a current Bassmaster Elite angler, leaving the door open for another spot. Josh Stracner is second with 580 points, and Pat Schlapper is third with 550 points. Scott Martin, whose season goal is qualifying for the Elite Series, is fourth with 541 points. Timmy Thompkins is fifth with 532 points, and Justin Atkins is sixth with 526 points.
Last week, the Central Opens season concluded with these anglers in contention for Elite Series invitations. Christie claimed the top spot with 719 points, while Greg Hackney finished next with 716 points. Kenta Kimura took third with 713 points, and Marc Frazier was fourth with 688 points. Christie and Frazier are double qualified from the higher priority overall AOY points, meaning an invitation will most likely go to Darold Gleason, fifth with 684 points.
As it did last week, the point standings have the potential to change daily. That comes into play depending on how far apart contenders land in the daily standings. Some can jump others based on good or poor performances.
Unlike other recent events, the anglers might be treated to a true fall bite at Lay Lake, as opposed to the challenging fall transition conditions occurring over the last two months.
Lay Lake’s surface temperatures are expected to keep fish activity consistent throughout the tournament. Some anglers reported water temps in the low 60s on the Coosa River system. The tournament week forecast calls for daytime highs in the low 50s and nighttime lows in the low 30s. Add it all up, including predicted rainfall, and Lay Lake could have the temperatures and water color favorable for fall bass fishing on the Coosa River.