B.A.S.S. has been the longest standing organization in the sport of bass fishing. They have evolved multiple times and in multiple ways throughout the years. However, one thing has remained the same. It is the home of the Elite Series which is the main roster filler of the proverbial Bassmaster Classic. If you have followed professional bass fishing even at the most casual of fandom you have probably heard of something or someone attached to B.A.S.S., but where does this organization begin.
It all begins at the bottom. All houses must have a strong foundation and B.A.S.S. is no different. They have built a top tier platform revolved around recruiting the best of the best from several levels beneath. From the B.A.S.S. Nation Series, College Series, High School Series, B.A.S.S. Team Championship, Kayak Series, Junior Series, and Redfish Cup. Lastly, we can’t forget the Bassmaster Opens. This is the main stepping-stone for the Elites. This level is full of tournament anglers dreaming to be a professional road warrior with the one and only Bassmaster Elite Series. Unfortunately, it may be closed to you. You may not be able to fish simply due to them reaching maximum capacity.
The Bassmaster Opens is the best chance to make it to the Elites Series, but that is where the problem lies. Year in and year out this trail reaches maximum capacity several months in advance. Meaning registration is closed when they reach the maximum capacity of 225 pro anglers. No waiting list and no other options. With the Southern, Central, and Northern being the only divisions available they fill up fast. This is the first week of January and both the Southern and Central divisions are completely full on the pro side. It is a true “early bird gets the worm” situation. This is super alarming considering the Centrals don’t start until April 28th-30th, 2022 on Ross Barnett reservoir in Ridgeland Mississippi. Deciding that you want to fish over three months in advance is not even early enough. Even on the co-angler side the first event in the Southern division is full. So, if you plan to fish any Opens in 2023 you better start thinking about it now and be ready to sign up when registration opens at the end of 2022.
Bassmaster obviously has a great product in the Opens. With several incentives such as Elite Series invitations, Bassmaster Classic births, and ever-expanding live broadcasting opportunities with FOX Sports on FS1 its a hit. Also, with St. Croix Rods signing on in 2022 to be the title sponsor the growth of this level of competition is looking very promising. I would think all this interest should certainly spark a conversation regarding increasing the number of divisions. I know the western guys for years have been begging for a Western Opens Series division. As we all know there is a huge market of untapped potential on the West Coast. Several legends in this sport are from the West Coast, many having to transplant to the Central or Eastern United States to make a living.
2022 will be my rookie year fishing the Bassmaster Opens as I was fortunate enough to be able to squeeze into the Northern division before it fills up. Despite the maximum capacity problem the potential for growth within the Bassmaster Opens is undeniable. That fact alone makes me as an angler and advocate for this sport super excited for the future.