It was good to be back with B.A.S.S. at the Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Open at Kissimmee Chain.
Seeing everyone I hadn’t seen in a decade like Seigo Saito, Steve Bowman and others was like a breath of fresh air.
The energy of a Bassmaster event is like no other. It has a unique feel to it that is awesome to be around. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until Kissimmee.
The event started off pretty good for me in my quest to qualify for the 2021 Bassmaster Elite Series.
I was able to finish 18th and gain some good momentum early in the season.
More importantly, I wanted to share a few thoughts on the event and the Opens as well.
The main thing is I want to address the myth that the Bassmaster Opens are AAA events.
This is a common phrase that has been used in the past to describe the Opens in relationship to the Bassmaster Elites and other tours. It’s simply not true.
Not only was the first Open of 2020 full of world-class anglers like Scott Martin, Scott Canterbury, Bobby Lane, Gerald Swindle, Brandon Palaniuk and many more, it was also full of lesser known hammers and future Elite Series stars that will earn their place there next year.
With anglers like these, and a massive 225 angler field, winning or even placing in the top 50 in a Bassmaster Open is the most difficult achievement in the world of tournament fishing today.
The biggest myth surrounding this perception is the skill level between the “Tour” level events and the Opens. The reality is, there is no daylight between skillsets. The only daylight is perception that is given as an opinion of some to the higher profile anglers and circuits.
For example, at Kissimmee, it took nearly 26 pounds to cash a check. It would have taken the same that week given the conditions if any other tournament had fished there.
The anglers that do well in each event are the ones that figure out specific details, are at the right place at the right time and land the key bites they get in the event. While a very small percentage of anglers in the top 1% may accomplish this on a regular basis, most competitive anglers today find trouble with year-to-year, long-term consistency.
Given this, qualifying for the Bassmaster Elite Series via the Opens is the most difficult achievement there is in professional fishing. And the reason why is variables, both controlled and uncontrolled.
To qualify for the Elites next year, an Opens angler cannot have even one bad day all season. And that also means having no equipment failures. Everything must fall into place … decision making, boat draws, equipment, weather, fishing pressure, landing key fish.
I say stop perpetuating the AAA myth. The Bassmaster Opens are no longer a AAA circuit. Give them and the anglers the respect they deserve and start referring to them as the professional level events they truly are.