Six Elite Series berths to be awarded at Grand Lake this week


Seigo Saito

After weigh-in on Day 2 of the 2021 Bassmaster Open at Lewis Smith Lake Oct. 7-9, Jacob Powroznik felt good about his chances at maintaining his spot in the top three of the Falcon Rods Bassmaster Opens Angler of the Year standings.

Entering the tournament with the lead in the overall points, Powroznik posted two bags over 11 pounds on a stingy Smith Lake to secure his third Top 10 of the season. The North Prince George, Va., native then went out on Day 3 and caught 14-5 to win the event, earning a berth to the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk and putting himself in great position to secure a spot in the 2022 Elite Field. 

While Powroznik holds a 70-point lead in the Opens AOY over second place Tommy Williams heading into the final event of the season this week, the 2021 Bassmaster Open at Grand Lake, he has not mathematically secured his spot, and there is still plenty left to decide in the overall and Central Opens point standings. 

Here are the overall Opens standings heading into Grand Lake:

  1. Jacob Powroznik, 1371 points 
  2. Tommy Williams, 1,301 points 
  3. Daisuke Aoki, 1,269 points 
  4. Masayuki Matsushita, 1,251 points 
  5. Sam George, 1,230 points 
  6. John Garrett, 1,203 points 
  7. Matt Pangrac, 1,160 points 

These seven anglers are mathematically still in contention for the three Elite Series berths offered in the overall standings. Powroznik and Aoki have won events this season, Powroznik at Smith and Aoki at Douglas Lake in the second Southern Open. Meanwhile, Williams hasn’t posted a finish worse than 86th this season and has posted six Top 50s in eight events. His best finish of the season was at the James River, where he finished seventh. 

Only 10 points separates Aoki from fellow Japanese angler Masayuki Matsushita, who has finished in the Top 60 in seven of the eight Opens in 2021, but stumbled at the St. Lawrence River with a 138th-place finish. Meanwhile, George and Garrett have both made one championship cut throughout the season, Garrett at Pickwick Lake with a thirrd-place finish and George with a fourth place at Oneida Lake. 

The two young anglers will need strong finishes at Grand to climb into that top three and will likely need one or two of the anglers in front of them to stumble as well. 

While Pangrac has the highest hill to climb in the overall standings, the Oklahoma native and Bass Talk Live co-host has spent countless hours on Grand Lake, and that history could prove invaluable in a fall transition type of tournament.  

In the Central Opens standings, there are 20 anglers separated by 50 points or less, and with an unpredictable fall bite, there could be a lot of moving and shaking at Grand Lake. After two events, Joseph Webster leads the point standings with 381 points with a fifth place at Pickwick and a 16th-place finish at Smith Lake. Jay Przekurat and Brandon Lester are tied for second with 378 points. 

As an Elite Series veteran, Lester has already secured his spot in the 2022 field. If he finishes top three in the Central Opens standings, his spot would roll down to fourth-place, which is currently Aoki with 376 points. If Aoki were to double qualify for the Elites, he would earn his spot in the overall and the qualification would roll down to the next angler in Central Opens standings. 

Former Elite Series angler Jesse Wiggins is currently sitting in fifth place in the Central standings and within striking distance of requalifying for the top circuit with a high finish at Grand Lake. However Wiggins won't be fishing in the Grand Lake Open this week. 

Former Bethel University angler and Bassmaster Classic qualifier Cody Huff sits behind Wiggins in sixth place with 372 points followed by Powroznik in seventh with 370, Lake Pickwick winner Joey Nania in eighth with 364, Garrett in ninth with 357 and University of Montevallo angler Wesley Gore in 10th with 351. 

All of this will be decided Oct. 21-23 on Grand Lake with takeoffs from Wolf Creek Park at 7:15 a.m. CT. Weigh-ins the first two days will be at the park at 3:15 p.m., with the final day’s weigh-in shifting to the Bass Pro Shops in Broken Arrow, Okla., at 4:45 p.m. 

The final day action will be available through Bassmaster Opens LIVE presented by Bassmaster Fishing 2022, the Official Video Game, starting at 7 a.m. CT on FS1, and the FOX Sports digital platforms.