The Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Tournament Series presents endless opportunity for professional anglers. Enter as many of the nine as you like, but make sure you enter all three in at least one of the open divisions – Northern, Southern, or Central.
You aren’t assured victory if you register for all three opens in a division. But if you do happen to win an open event, you must have competed in the other two opens in that division to claim the biggest prize in bass fishing – a berth in the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.
Shane Cormier began the final day of the Central Open on the Sabine River in fifth place with a two-day total of 22 pounds, 4 ounces. He vaulted into the Top 12 cut with a Day 2 limit that weighed 13-1; the fourth-heaviest bag produced on Friday. It was a substantial climb for the Ragley, Louisiana pro, who was in 36th place after the first day of fishing.
But no matter how many pounds of bass he catches on Saturday, Cormier won’t qualify for the 2018 Bassmaster Classic to be held next March on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina. That’s because Cormier didn’t compete in the first Central Open of 2017 on Missouri’s Table Rock Lake back in March.
These things happen, and it’s unfortunate when they do. Sometimes work gets in the way. Sometimes family duty calls. Sometimes it’s about financing a fishing trip 520-miles from home (that’s the distance from the tiny town of Ragley in southwest Louisiana almost due north to Branson, Missouri.)
Cormier said he’d “kick himself” if he wins here on the Sabine and can’t fish the Classic. But you won’t catch him pouting. After all, there’s still a boat/motor package worth approximately $50,000 that goes to the winner of this tournament, not to mention a serious boost in the points standings. That’s an important factor, as the Top 5 anglers in each open division will be invited to compete in the 2018 Elite Series.
Cormier said he was fishing falling water on Friday and that flow was key to his bites. On Saturday, he’ll also be looking for the second all-important piece of the puzzle.
“I need clean water,” Cormier said. “If I can find it, I’ll do well, because I’m on some fish.”
The town of Ragley is located just north of Lake Charles, and is less than an hour from Orange where the Central Open is being held this week. That close proximity would be considered something of a local advantage in many instances, but not in this tournament. Six of the 12 remaining pros are Texans, including three from the City of Orange itself (Carl Svebek III, second place, 24-9; Jonathan Simon, seventh, 21-13; and Trey Smith, ninth, 21-10.)
T-Roy Broussard leads the tournament with 26-1. He lives in Port Arthur, Tex. which is less than half hour west of Orange.
The Sabine has been far from predictable this week, however, so there’s no telling if a home-water advantage will be in effect. But it will be interesting to watch the locals match wits with the rest of the Top 12, which includes a pair of Elites (Josh Bertrand, sixth, 22-0; and Chad Morgenthaler, eighth, 21-10.)
Only 5 pounds and 2 ounces separated first place from 12th heading into Day 3, so it could be a wild finish on the Sabine.