The top 40 teams received a payout and qualified for the National Championship. Additional prizes were awarded for catching the biggest bass within the following categories:
- Biggest Bass: The biggest bass (5.76 pounds) was caught by fishing buddies Stacy Benningfield and Charlie Mattingly from Lebanon, Ky. Benningfield and Mattingly earned $5,760 for the catch ($1,000 per pound), will receive a replica mount of the bass with a duplicate going on display at Bass Pro Shops in Nashville, Tenn., and was entered into a drawing for a Nitro Z20 boat.
- Junior Angler: Eli Thomason, a 16-year-old angler from Dalton, Ga., fished with brother Avry Thomason and earned a $1,000 Bass Pro Shops gift card for catching the biggest bass (3.56 pounds) among anglers ages 11-17.
- Veteran: Long-time fishing buddies Mickey Beck from Lebanon, Tenn., and John Dickerson from Columbia, Tenn., earned a $1,000 Bass Pro Shops gift card for catching the biggest bass (5.21 pounds) by a Veteran team.
Patriotic tributes in remembrance of 9/11
As the US Open qualifying event took place on the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2021, the weekend was filled with patriotic tributes to honor the men and women whose lives were changed by the tragic events of that day.
On the evening prior to the tournament, Bass Pro Shops founder and noted conservationist Johnny Morris held a special remembrance ceremony for the anglers and invited veterans. In partnership with Helping a Hero, Morris surprised the families of two wounded veterans with new specially adapted homes through the organization’s Wounded Hero Home Program. Helping A Hero’s National Ambassador and “God Bless the USA” singer Lee Greenwood also made a surprise performance with special guest Tony Orlando for attendees and their families.
During the tournament, the Remembering Our Fallen photographic war memorial was on display, as part of a nationwide tour organized by not-for-profit Patriotic Productions. The memorial honors our military members who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty post-Sept. 11, preserving the images and stories of these American heroes on 34 individual Tribute Towers.