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2023 St. Croix Bassmaster Open Series Competition Resumes This Week on Oklahoma’s Gentle Giant

PARK FALLS, Wis. – The St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Series comes to Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma later this week for the fifth of nine Opens events in the 2023 season. A field of 225 boats, pros, and accompanying co-anglers will compete on the sprawling 100,000-acre reservoir – a 59-year-old impoundment on the Canadian River. At stake is a total payout of over $300,000, an invitation for the pro-division tournament winner to the 2024 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota, as well as EQ points that could result in an invitation to fish the coveted 2024 Bassmaster Elite Series. The three-day competition will take place Thursday through Saturday, June 15-17.

After four events in the 2023 St. Croix Bassmaster Opens season, St. Croix Pro, Trey McKinney of Carbondale, Illinois, sits in 3rd in Opens EQ Points with 722, just 3 points in back of second-place Kenta Kimura (725), and 33 behind leader John Garrett (755). The top nine anglers at the end of the season will earn a spot in the 2024 Bassmaster Elite Series. McKinney finished 19th at Lake Eufaula, 2nd at Toledo Bend, 54th at Buggs Island, and 7th at Wheeler Lake.

“I definitely prefer being where I’m currently at in the top nine halfway through the season,” McKinney says, “but there’s still a tremendous amount of pressure because a couple bad tournaments can take it all away. The difference is I’m just trying to stay ahead and not playing catch up.”

McKinney says he spent some time on Eufaula during the pre-practice period. “It’s definitely different,” he says. “It can get really rough out there, but it should be a fun and interesting tournament. As big as the lake is, I think it will fish small. There are different populations of fish, but I think just a few key areas are going to attract most of the attention from anglers. You’ll see guys flipping docks, some targeting the river channel edges, and others chasing schools offshore. It’ll just come down to where you can get the most bits from those four and five pounders, which aren’t that uncommon there,” he says. “We’ll see how things go in practice, but I’ll probably do a combination of offshore and dock fishing… pitching plastics, but maybe some big topwaters and dragging baits offshore. My St. Croix Victory 7’4” heavy will definitely be in play!”

While McKinney says he’s laser focused on his goal of making the 2024 Bassmaster Elite Series by finishing the 2023 Opens season in the top nine in EQ points, he does admit to having other aspirations. “Yeah, it would obviously be great to win one of these and make the Classic, but the competition is so extreme in these Opens it’s nearly impossible. There’s a ton of really good fishermen in this series and nobody is letting up!” he says. “I do have an important goal every day I fish though, and that’s to learn something that I didn’t know before. Fishing all nine Opens events this season is definitely a grind, but it’s been super helpful to me in terms of things like learning how to be more comfortable on new bodies of water, breaking down a huge lake in just a few days… that sort of thing. That kind of knowledge this Opens series provides is a huge weapon.”

St. Croix Rewards Program

St. Croix wishes to remind all pros and co-anglers fishing in any 2023 St. Croix Bassmaster Open event that they can win even more with St. Croix Rewards, as long as they are fishing at least one St. Croix rod.

The St. Croix Rod Rewards Program pays an extra $1,000 to any registered pro angler who wins a St. Croix Bassmaster Open tournament fishing St. Croix rods, OR $500 to the highest-finishing registered top-10 pro angler fishing St. Croix rods.

Similarly, the program awards an extra $500 to any registered co-angler who wins a St. Croix Bassmaster Open tournament fishing St. Croix rods, OR $250 to the highest-finishing registered top-10 co-angler fishing St. Croix rods.

Anglers must register during the on-site registration prior to the tournament to be eligible to win St. Croix Rewards.

2023 St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Schedule

Division 1
March 2-4, Lake Eufaula, Eufaula, AL
May 18-20, Wheeler Lake, Decatur, AL
Oct. 12-14, Harris Chain of Lakes, Leesburg, FL

Division 2
April 13-15, Toledo Bend, Many, LA
June 15-17, Lake Eufaula, Eufaula, OK
Sept. 22-24, Lake of the Ozarks, Osage Beach, MO

Division 3
May 3-5, Buggs Island Reservoir, Clarksville, VA
July 20-22, St. Lawrence River, Waddington, NY
Sept. 14-16, Watts Bar Reservoir, Kingston, TN

About St. Croix Rod

Headquartered in Park Falls, Wisconsin, St. Croix has been proudly producing the “Best Rods on Earth” for nearly 75 years. Combining state-of-the-art manufacturing processes with skilled craftsmanship, St. Croix is the only major producer to still build rods entirely from design through manufacturing. The company remains family-owned and operates duplicate manufacturing facilities in Park Falls and Fresnillo, Mexico. With popular trademarked series such as Legend®, Legend Xtreme®, Victory Avid®, Premier®, RIFT, Imperial®, Triumph® and Mojo, St. Croix is revered by all types of anglers from around the world.

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