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AdvBassStats: 2023 Watts Bar Open

After a quiet but effective first six events of the Bassmaster Opens EQ season, Bobby Lane made the biggest noise on Day 1 of the 2023 St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Watts Bar. Lane outpaced the field as the only angler over 15 pounds on the typically stingy September fishery. Maine’s Tyler Williams was the closest competitor, bringing just under 15 pounds to the Day 1 scales.
Williams would nearly match his Day 1 weight on the second day of competition and move into the lead with over 29 pounds. The next three anglers – McKinney, Thompkins and Garrett – have been fixtures at the top of the EQ standings all season. Making the final 10 group at Watts Bar goes a long way toward cementing their bids for the 2024 Bassmaster Elite Series. Returning B.A.S.S. veteran Ish Monroe nearly doubled his Day 1 bag to join Lane in the Top 10. Local angler Chase Henley made an even bigger jump, catching the biggest Day 2 bag, which would also be the biggest of the entire event.
The final day brought a big weather change and lower weights. Williams’ Day 3 weight would drop from the dueling 14s of his first two days down to 11-15. But on this dreary wet day, he actually increased his lead. It wasn’t quite a runaway, and it probably didn’t feel comfortable, but in the end, Tyler Williams was the Watts Bar Open champ and is headed to the 2024 Bassmaster Classic.
Williams was the only angler in the field to score two of the top 10 bags of the event. In the lower-weight event, a big bag is a big deal. Seven of the 10 biggest bags of the event carried anglers into the Top 10 and gave them a chance to fish on the first televised day of Opens coverage for 2023.
The EQ anglers dominated the top end of the Watts Bar leaderboard, taking nine of the first 10 places. Only Chase Henley and his giant Day 2 rebound broke through for the division/jackpot crowd.
The updated Bassmaster Opens EQ standings have a strong Watts Bar flavor. The top three were all in the top five at Watts Bar. Wesley Gore used his Watts Bar Top 10 finish to break into the Elite Qualifying range. With Kenta Kimura already being an Elite Series competitor, the final EQ invitation will go to the 10th-place angler in the standings.
This is a shifted look at EQ rankings, focused on the high-drama spots for the final two Opens of 2023. Bobby Lane and Tyler Williams put themselves in contention with their Watts Bar finishes. There’s a notable points gap between 10th and 11th, and another between 15th and 16th. The anglers at 16th or higher are probably going to need to average Top 10 finishes in the final two Opens to break into the top 10 in EQ standings and claim an Elite Series spot for 2024.