Southern Open 1
Jan. 17-19, 2008
St. Johns River | Palatka, Fla.
Not only is the St. Johns the longest river in Florida at 310 miles, it's also the longest river in the country that flows in a generally northward direction. The site of 15 previous BASS events, the St. Johns was most recently the venue for the 2001 Florida Eastern Open won by Terry Scroggins with 40 pounds, 15 ounces. It was Big Show's first Top 10 BASS finish and propelled him into a career as a pro.
Two years earlier, Shaw Grigsby won the Florida Invitational with 39-1. In the Florida Top 100 of 1992, Peter Thliveros bested the field with 69-7. All three of those anglers now fish the Bassmaster Elite Series, but Terry Scroggins is a likely bet to test his fate against the Open anglers in 2008. After all, he grew up fishing the St. Johns, and it's in his backyard.
Southern Open 2
May 8-10, 2008
Santee Cooper | Manning, S.C.
The Santee Cooper lakes — Marion and Moultrie — are legendary among bass anglers. Not only did they provide the training ground for one of the sport's all-time greats, Roland Martin, but they produced one of the biggest winning catches in BASS tournament history. In 2006, Preston Clark weighed in 20 bass totaling 115 pounds, 15 ounces to claim the Santee Cooper Showdown. Covering approximately 171, 000 acres, Marion and Moultrie are a cypress-studded bass Nirvana.
By mid-May, most of the spawning activity on Santee Cooper should be over, but weights should still be impressive. In May of 2007, Terry Scroggins won a Southern Open event here with better than 50 pounds over three days, and in May of 1994, O.T. Fears scored an Invitational win with a three-day tally of 77-4.
Southern Open 3
Oct. 16-18, 2008
Lake Guntersville | Guntersville, Ala.
Guntersville is Alabama's largest lake, covering some 69,000 acres, but it's the smallest venue for the anglers fishing the 2008 Southern Opens. With 18 previous professional-level BASS events held here, Guntersville is also one of the most popular tournament destinations in the country.
BASS' first visit to Guntersville was for the 1976 Bassmaster Classic. That's when Rick Clunn won the first of his four titles. Michael Iaconelli and Kevin VanDam won the last two Elite Series events here. The last Open-level event on Guntersville was in 2005 when it took 56-6 to win over three days.
Central Open 1
April 24-26, 2008
Red River | Shreveport, La.
Red River is more than just a John Wayne western. It's also one of the premier bass fisheries in the South. Louisiana's stretch of the river has been the site of six professional level BASS events, including Opens in 2002, 2005 and 2007. Most recently, in 2007, it took 42-6 over three days to claim the top prize.
In April, the Red River's hot springtime fishing should be in full swing. Bass should be in all stages of the spawn at this time, and a variety of tactics should be productive. Since BASS has never had an event here at such a peak time, it's likely that all previous Red River catch records will be eclipsed.
At just over 160,000 acres, Kentucky Lake is the largest man-made reservoir east of the Mississippi River. It's also a great destination for anyone hoping to catch largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass. While always a strong largemouth lake, in recent years it has gained a reputation for trophy bronzebacks and spotted bass.
Kentucky Lake has been the site of eight previous professional level BASS events, including Elite Series and Northern Tour events in 2006. That Tour event was won with a three-day catch totaling 49-9.
Central Open 3
Oct. 30 - Nov. 1, 2008
Lake Texoma | Denison, Texas
At 89,000 surface acres, Lake Texoma straddles the border between Texas and Oklahoma at the confluence of the Red and Washita rivers. Though it may have a bigger reputation as a striped bass lake, Texoma has plenty of largemouth as well.
Texoma has been the site of six previous BASS professional events dating back to 1975. Most notably, Texoma was the site of the 1979 Bassmaster Classic won by Hank Parker. Most recently, it was the location of a March 2007 Open won with a three-day total of 40-3. Fall fishing could be a bit tougher than things were in the spring of 2007, and flood conditions in the summer of 2007 may make for dramatic changes in the fishery.