> >

AdvBassStats: 2023 Harris Chain Open

The final St. Croix Bassmaster Open of 2023 was a rare October Florida trip to the Harris Chain of Lakes. Nasty weather blew through on Thursday, postponing the start to Friday and turning this into a two-day, full-field event.
Matt Messer got things going in a huge way, claiming the Day 1 lead with a giant 24-pound, 6-ounce bag, nearly 3 1/2 pounds ahead of second place. Ben Milliken started the event in 17th place in the Opens EQ standings, not quite mathematically eliminated from Elite qualification, but needing something exceptional to reach the qualifying line. He got it with a 20-pound bag of his own, earning enough points to reach the magic 10th spot in EQ rankings with one day of fishing to go.
Some combination of changing weather and boat pressure suppressed Day 2 weights, with the field averaging 1.8 pounds less per angler than they did on Day 1. Blake Sylvester made things interesting with 22-3.
Messer came through with a 15-7 on Day 2, keeping him 1 pound, 12 ounces ahead of Sylvester for the end-to-end win. Milliken’s Elite Series chase was a large part of the Bassmaster LIVE coverage on Saturday and found extra drama of his own with slower catching and delays locking through to adjacent lakes in the chain. He managed to avoid the big slip-up, catching 11-6 and only giving up one spot and one point in the standings on Day 2.
Only three of the Top 10 improved their weights on a tougher Saturday. Messer and Sylvester would be the only anglers to go over 15 pounds on both of their days.
The names on the 10 best bags of the event list are pretty familiar, with seven of them also being in the Top 10 for the tournament. Messer’s big bag was the key to his victory.
With the end of the Opens season comes the first nine-angler Elite Qualifier class. The top five held down spots one to five in various orders for the last four tournaments. There was not much drama for them in this event. Kenta Kimura (green) is already an Elite Series angler, which opened an EQ spot for the 10th-place angler in EQ standings. Tyler Williams had a late-season rally, taking Top 10s in four of the final five events to vault into sixth. Wesley Gore started this event in 11th place in the standings, and his Top 10 Harris finish got him up to seventh. Logan Parks had the wild ride, with a subpar Day 1 dropping him outside the EQ line and needing a strong Day 2 rally, which he made. Milliken made the biggest move, with his third-place finish at Harris pushing him all the way to ninth in the standings and an EQ spot. Kyle Patrick rode the EQ bubble but made it in with a healthy cushion over 11th place.
The EQ anglers delivered stellar performances and produced surprising numbers. One of the most shocking was the average daily weights. Traditionally, averaging 12 pounds a day over a nine-event Opens season has been a good target for Elite Series qualification from the overall standings category, where only three anglers were promoted — before the introduction of EQ this year. The “rule of 12” was not remotely true in EQ math. At least 43 of the EQ anglers exceeded 12 pounds per day, led by Trey McKinney at nearly 16 pounds per day.