One hundred and fifty nine boats carrying 318 anglers left from Lake Lewisville Lake Park this morning, but only a handful had high hopes for the first Bass Pro Shops Central Open on Texas' Lake Lewisville.
Former Elite Series pro Brian Clark has fished the lake for more than 20 years and can be counted as a pre-tournament favorite. Clark knows that the lake can produce 18-plus-pound stringers, but says that it's unlikely given the weather leading up to this event.
"Just a couple weeks ago, the far north end of the lake had ice on it, and this past week it's been in the teens, so I don't think it'll show what it can do," the Haltom City, Texas, pro said. "But I know that one day this week we'll see a big one, at least 8 pounds, maybe 10."
Clark may be one of the anglers who legend Rick Clunn says will do most of the catching in this event.
"I think a few guys will catch big bags and the rest of us will be lucky to catch any," Clunn said. "It's been tough to figure out.
If Clunn's having a hard time finding them, then they're pretty well hidden.
Though this is the first Central Open of the year, we're already seeing big-name pros' names on the sign-up sheet. Why? The Classic carrot that dangles over the entire field. The "win and you're in" format attracts more than a few pros, all gunning to return to bass fishing's biggest stage, the Bassmaster Classic. Some notable past and present Elite pros are:
Several of these pros are riding a Classic hangover (Kriet, Reehm, Faircloth) and are hoping to take some of the pressure off of their Elite season by snagging a 2012 Classic berth via the Opens.
"This would do wonders for my Elite season," Faircloth said.
Clark Reehm agrees with Faircloth. He said it would allow him to swing for the fences rather than fish for points.
But Brian Clark is looking for a way back into both the Classic and the Elites via the Opens, and he is all in for this event.
"I like my chances best for this event (out of the three Central Opens)," he said. "For this event, I've got about 30 waypoints to hit, most all of it isolated stuff going into spawning areas."
Pros are competing for a top prize of a berth in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic, a ZX190 Skeeter and Yamaha package and $10,000 cash. Co-anglers are vying for a $35,000 rig.
Daily launches are set for 6:45 a.m. CST at Lewisville Lake Park, 100 E. Lake Park Road, Lewisville, TX 75057. Day 1 and Day 2 weigh-ins will be at Lewisville Lake Park. Start time is 3 p.m. CST. Bass Pro Shops in Grapevine will host the final weigh-in at 3:45 p.m. CST. The Bass Pro address is 2501 Bass Pro Drive, Grapevine, TX 76051; 972-724-2018. All launches and weigh-ins are open to the public, and there's no charge to attend. Bassmaster.com will provide full tournament coverage, including streaming video and real-time leaderboards from the weigh-in each day. Also planned are live video reports, daily analysis and results, and online photo galleries.