Birmingham, AL — B.A.S.S. officials announced Thursday the schedule for the 2024 St. Croix Bassmaster Opens, once again mixing frequent destinations with some that have barely been touched by the organization during its 55-year history.
The Opens circuit, which has become one of the most competitive and most followed in the sport, will again feature three divisions with three events in each. Winners of all events will be eligible for a berth in the 2025 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota, but only the anglers who fish the Elite Qualifiers Division (all nine events) will be eligible to earn invitations to the 2025 Bassmaster Elite Series.
Opens Tournament Director Hank Weldon said he’s looking forward to another hotly contested journey across the country with some of the finest anglers in the world.
“We’re still wrapping up our 2023 season, and it’s been an amazing ride visiting such a variety of fisheries over a seventh-month stretch,” Weldon said. “It’s exciting to think it’s only going to get better with a 2024 schedule that we’re really proud of.”
The schedule will kick off with a trip to the world-famous largemouth factory of Lake Okeechobee in Clewiston, Fla., Feb. 1-3. The “Big O,” which ranked 10th overall on Bassmaster Magazine’s annual 100 Best Bass Lakes list, has hosted 23 major B.A.S.S. events, including the 2023 Bassmaster Elite Series season-opener that was won by Louisiana pro Tyler Rivet with 86 pounds, 15 ounces.
The remainder of the Division 1 slate will play out over the following eight months with a pair of trips to South Carolina.
The first Palmetto State stop will be March 7-9 at Santee Cooper Lakes in Clarendon County, S.C., where Georgia pro Drew Cook won an Elite in 2022 with a whopping 105-5 and Oklahoma pro Luke Palmer followed by winning an Elite event held there this year with 96-14. The Division 1 slate will wrap up on Oct. 10-12 in Anderson, S.C., with a visit to Lake Hartwell — the site of four previous Bassmaster Classics.
Officials from the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce, host for the Santee Cooper Lakes event, said they are thrilled to have B.A.S.S. visiting the venue again.
“Clarendon County is beyond excited to welcome B.A.S.S. to the Santee Cooper Lakes,” said Jesse Surette, director of tourism, Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce. “This historic fishery has been a staple in the top level of the sport for decades, and this event will be a great opportunity for Bassmaster Opens anglers to earn their way onto the Bassmaster Elite Series and fish for a chance to compete on the biggest stage in bass fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.”
The schedule for Division 2 will get its start Feb. 15-17 on a fishery that hasn’t been nearly as familiar to B.A.S.S. — Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs, Ark. It’ll be the organization’s first trip to Ouachita in more than two decades and only its fourth stop for a major event on the 40,000-acre fishery since Tennessee legend Bill Dance won the first B.A.S.S. event held there in 1969.
“Hot Springs is eagerly looking forward to being the host city for the first Bassmaster Opens Series (Division 2) Tournament of 2024 on Lake Ouachita in February,” said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs. “Our city knows fishing, and we can’t wait to show the Bassmaster competitors a great venue for their tournament, as well as the wide array of attractions and activities that ‘America’s Spa’ has to offer. We guarantee everyone is going to have a great time both on and off the water.”
From Arkansas, the Division 2 lineup will move to Alabama’s Logan Martin Lake, May 2-4. Unlike previous events at Logan Martin, which have been held more toward the lower end of the 17,000-acre Coosa River fishery, this tournament will be held in Lincoln, Ala. — more toward the upper end of the lake — at the new 38-acre Lincoln’s Landing facility.
Then it’ll be back to Lake Eufaula, Okla., for the conclusion of the Division 2 slate June 20-22. B.A.S.S. made just its fourth trip to the super-fertile 102,000-acre fishery in Eufaula, Okla., this year for a wildly entertaining Open that was won by Alabama pro Joey Nania with a three-day total of 52-8.
Division 3 will represent the Northern swing for the Opens, beginning with an event on the smallmouth paradise of Lake St. Clair (ranked seventh overall on Bassmaster Magazine’s 2023 100 Best Bass Lakes list) in Macomb County, Mich., July 11-13. The lake has hosted nine major B.A.S.S. events, including a 2023 Elite that was won by the 2023 Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Rookie of the Year Joey Cifuentes with 91-8 — the highest winning weight ever in a B.A.S.S. tournament on St. Clair.
Following St. Clair, Division 3 will feature perhaps the most intriguing stop on the 2024 schedule with an event on Leech Lake in Walker, Minn., Aug. 22-24. If the venue sounds unfamiliar to fishing fans, it’s because B.A.S.S. has never held a major event on the 102,947-acre fishery in north-central Minnesota.
The lake, which lies mainly within the Leech Lake Indian Reservation and completely within the Chippewa National Forest, is the third-largest body of water in Minnesota and is home to both largemouth and smallmouth bass.
“We are thrilled to welcome the Bassmaster Open to Leech Lake in 2024,” said Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Cindy Wannarka. “This caliber of tournament will offer many positive outcomes, and we are looking forward to partnering with B.A.S.S. and planning for the tournament. We are certain that the Bassmaster Open will not only have a tremendous impact on our local economy, but will also give the Leech Lake area exposure to attract future visitors. We are excited to begin working with the staff and participants as we introduce them to one of the finest fisheries in Minnesota. We are positive that once they visit, they will want to return to our community.”
The conclusion for Division 3 will take place Sept. 12-14 on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wis. The fishery has hosted 11 previous major B.A.S.S. events, with Maryland’s Bryan Schmitt winning a recent 2022 Elite there with 63-4.
“When we say this schedule has a little bit of everything, we mean it,” Weldon said. “From Okeechobee largemouth to a mixed bag in Minnesota, anglers who fish all nine events will have their knowledge and abilities tested to the extreme.”
The final event in each division will feature live television coverage on FS1. Through two divisional finals in 2023, more than 780,000 viewers have enjoyed exciting Opens LIVE broadcast coverage from Tennessee’s Watts Bar Reservoir and the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.
Registration will open November 7, beginning with B.A.S.S. Life and Nation anglers who want to participate in the Opens EQ Division.
For more information, visit Bassmaster.com/Opens.
2024 St. Croix Bassmaster Opens
Feb. 1-3, Lake Okeechobee, Clewiston, Fla.
March 7-9, Santee Cooper Lakes, Clarendon County, S.C.
Oct. 10-12, Lake Hartwell, Anderson, S.C.
Feb. 15-17, Lake Ouachita, Hot Springs, Ark.
May 2-4, Logan Martin Lake, Lincoln, Ala.
June 20-22, Lake Eufaula, Eufaula, Okla.
July 11-13, Lake St. Clair, Macomb County, Mich.
Aug. 22-24, Leech Lake, Walker, Minn.
Sept. 12-14, Mississippi River, La Crosse, Wis.
Bassmaster Opens Series Title Sponsor: St. Croix
Bassmaster Opens Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
Bassmaster Opens Series Premier Sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Dakota Lithium, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Progressive Insurance, Ranger Boats, Rapala, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha
Bassmaster Opens Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Daiwa, Garmin, Lew’s, Marathon, Triton Boats, VMC
B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting-edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Series, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Strike King Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Team Championship, Yamaha Rightwaters Bassmaster Kayak Series powered by TourneyX, Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota.