Southern Open events are part of three circuits that include a total of nine tournament stops.
Timing on the fisheries was a top consideration in creation of the schedule Lake Norman and Table Rock in April, and the James River in July, for example. So was geography: south to Florida, west into Texas, and north to Michigan. A fresh challenge was added with a Cayuga Lake tournament; that one is in August, perfect timing for upstate New York.
We wanted to come up with a schedule that included a wide range of fishery types, on dates that made sense for that fishery, and with a geographical spread that made participation easier for more tournament anglers, said Jerry McKinnis, one of three principals who purchased B.A.S.S. in late 2010. I think weve come pretty close to all those goals.
The season will kick off with a Southern Open in central Florida on Jan. 19-21 on the Harris Chain of Lakes out of Tavares.
Host to more than a dozen Bassmaster events since 1986, the Chain was the site of the 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series opener in March. Shaw Grigsby smoked the field with a sight-fishing bonanza of 75 pounds, 4 ounces over four days.
Lake Norman out of Charlotte, N.C., will keep Southern Open anglers going April 5-7. In the 2011 Open on Norman, a 25-year-old unknown from Ohio, Fletcher Shryock, put his name up on the bass board by posting 49-9 over three days in late March. The early April dates for the 2012 event could result in similar weights.
Memorable for big spotted bass and several record spots, Alabamas Lewis Smith Lake will wrap up the Southern Open trail.
Registration dates and details about the 2012 Bassmaster Open season will be announced soon. For more information about the Bassmaster Opens, visit www.bassmaster.com/open.
The full Bassmaster Open schedule by divisions is:
• Jan. 19-21: Harris Chain of Lakes (Tavares, Fla.)
• April 5-7: Lake Norman (Charlotte, N.C.)
• Oct. 4-6: Lewis Smith Lake (Jasper, Ala.)
• June 14-16: James River (Richmond, Va.)
• July 19-21: Detroit River (Detroit, Mich.)
• Aug. 16-18: Cayuga Lake (Seneca Falls, N.Y.)
• Feb. 9-11: Lewisville Lake (Lewisville, Texas)
• April 26-28: Table Rock Lake (Branson, Mo.)
• Sept. 6-8: Fort Gibson Lake (Wagoner, Okla.)