BASS announced Thursday the schedule for the 2011 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens, which will conclude with each event's final-day weigh-in at select Bass Pro Shops locations. The popular Open tournament structure will again feature three qualifying series in a Southern, Central and Northern Division.
Each Division is set for three events with Open tournaments stretching from January to September and encompassing nine different states, including Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio, Oklahoma and New York. The 2011 edition of the Opens boast a diverse and unique schedule with no repeats from any 2010 locations.
"The Opens continue to be an attractive option for anglers looking to compete on productive fisheries against top-notch participants," said Tom Ricks, general manager and vice president, BASS.
A number of anglers, including past Bassmaster Rookie of the Year Billy McCaghren of Mayflower, Ark., and 2010 ROY Bradley Roy of Lancaster, Ky., qualified for the Bassmaster Elite Series via the Opens and have proven to be competitive at the highest level.
More details on the payout and qualifying implications will be available on Bassmaster.com at a later date. As in 2010, co-anglers will be held to a three-fish limit while pros will compete within the confines of a five-fish limit.
The Opens will usher in the season with a Jan. 20-22 Bassmaster Southern Open event on Florida's Lake Tohopekaliga, just miles from BASS' headquarters in Celebration. The Kissimmee-based event will mark the 13th BASS event on Toho.
The last, a 2007 Bassmaster Elite Series tilt, was won by Texan Ben Matsubu with a four-day total of 66 pounds, 8 ounces. The fishery has also hosted two Bassmaster Classics with the last occurring in 2006. The Kissimmee CVB and the Central Florida Sports Commission will serve as the local organizing committees while the Festival Bay Bass Pro Shops will mark the location for the final-day weigh-in.
From Florida, anglers will head north to North Carolina and Lake Norman for a March 24-26 competition. The Charlotte Regional Sports Commission and Visit Lake Norman will host. Norman has served as tournament waters for five BASS events. In 2005, Edwin Evers, recent runner-up in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race, bested the 154-angler Bassmaster Tour field with a 46-6 four-day total. The Charlotte-based Bass Pro will host the final-day weigh-in.
To close out the Southern Opens, anglers will head June 2-4 to Jefferson County, Tenn., and Douglas Lake. Douglas has only hosted one pro-level BASS event, a 2001 Megabucks tournament won by four-time Bassmaster Classic champion Rick Clunn. The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce will host with the Sevierville BPS serving as the location for the Open's final-day weigh-in.
The Bassmaster Central Opens will kick off on Feb 24-26 the week after the 2011 Bassmaster Classic on Texas' Lake Lewisville. Lewisville, located just outside of Dallas, hosted a Bassmaster Elite 50 event in 2005. That event was won by six-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam, who dredged up an 11-13 brute that qualified as a lake record at the time. The event will be hosted by the Lewisville CVB with the Grapevine Bass Pro landing the final-day weigh-in.
From Texas, anglers will get back to work on April 28-30 on the deep, clear waters of Table Rock Lake out of Branson, Mo. The Rock has hosted 10 BASS events. Mike Iaconelli scored his first Angler of the Year title in a 2006 event there while Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas, amassed 50-9 to win the four-day event. The Branson CVB will serve as host. Missouri, the state where Bass Pro was founded in 1971, boasts five Bass Pro Shops and the Branson-based BPS will host the Central Open on April 30.
On Sept. 8-10, Central Open anglers will finish up the Series on the Arkansas River and Muskogee, Okla. The River was the site of the 2010 Elite Series regular-season finale but the event was moved to a nearby fishery due to unsafe conditions. Still, the Muskogee-based event was well supported by the fans and media. The River has hosted five BASS events, including back-to-back Bassmaster Classics in 1984 and 1985. The Muskogee Chamber of Commerce will host while the Saturday weigh-in will take place at the Broken Arrow BPS.
The Northern Division will be the last series to kick off on July 7-9 out of Richmond, Va. The James River will be the tournament waters for that event. The James has hosted six BASS events previously including the 1988-1990 Bassmaster Classics. The Richmond CVB will host and the Richmond BPS will be the backdrop for the final-day weigh-in.
From the James, Northern anglers will visit familiar waters in Lake Erie on Aug. 25-27. The Sandusky, Ohio-based event will mark the seventh time BASS will head to the expansive fishery. In 2009, the Northern Division was closed out on Erie by another VanDam, Kevin's nephew Jonathon, who took home the event with a three-day tally of 44-14. The local Sandusky-based BPS will be the site for the final-day weigh-in.
Anglers will finalize the Northern circuit on Sept. 22-24 on Oneida Lake out of Syracuse, N.Y. Oneida has hosted six BASS events, including a 2009 Elite Series event. Chad Griffin of Cresson, Texas, toted 65-10 to the scales to take his first BASS victory in the previous Elite event. The Syracuse CVB will serve as host again in 2011 and the Syracuse BPS will close the 2011 Open season out with the final weigh-in.
Federation Nation, Life and BASS Insider members can sign up for the Southern Division beginning on Nov. 16, the Central Division on Nov. 30 and the Northern Series on Dec. 7. View the full 2011 registration schedule. All interested parties can register for the Opens by calling 877-BASS USA.
2011 Bassmaster Southern Open Division
2011 Bassmaster Central Open Division
2011 Bassmaster Northern Open Division
Bassmaster Open Sponsors
Bassmaster Open Title Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops
Bassmaster Open Official Sponsors: Toyota Trucks, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha and Mercury
Bassmaster Supporting Sponsors: Humminbird, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats and Triton Boats