PARK FALLS, Wis. – B.A.S.S. and St. Croix Rod, handcrafters of the Best Rods on Earth® for 75 years, are pleased to announce that St. Croix will return as title sponsor for the 2023 Bassmaster Opens Series. In addition to the title sponsorship, St. Croix will extend additional support to anglers through the St. Croix Rods Rewards Program.
Eugene Kim of Lindenhurst, Illinois caught 16-0 to top a talent-stacked field of 135 competitors in the Co-Angler division at last season’s 2022 St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Chesapeake Bay. In addition to valuable Open Series points and a significant cash prize, Kim took home $500 in St. Croix Rewards for winning the event while fishing St. Croix Rods.
New Format, New Opportunities
The St. Croix Bassmaster Opens presented by Mossy Oak Fishing have grown exponentially in popularity over the past few years. But the buzz has never been louder than it’s been since the announcement of the new Opens EQ (Elite Qualifiers) format last July, as well as the announcement of where all of the excitement will take place in 2023.
There will be nine Opens in the 2023 season — three each in three divisions — covering eight states from March into late October. Anglers fishing all nine events will be vying for an invitation to the Bassmaster Elite Series. The Top 9 anglers in the Bassmaster Opens Elite Qualifiers standings will earn an invitation to join the prestigious Bassmaster Elite Series in 2024. Individual event winners — including those who only fish one, three-event division — will be eligible for a berth in the 2024 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic.
“We’re so excited about this new format,” said Executive Director of Tournaments Hank Weldon, who oversees the Bassmaster Opens. “With the Opens EQ format, there is a clear path forward for those who want to make fishing a full-time career and prepare as much as possible while progressing toward the Elites. Those anglers’ abilities will be tested throughout the year on a variety of fisheries and prepare them for the cross-country rigors of the Elite Series. At the same time, those who only fish three events in one division will still be fishing for a dream chance to compete in the Bassmaster Classic.”
2023 St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Schedule
March 2-4, Lake Eufaula, Eufaula, Alabama
May 18-20, Wheeler Lake, Decatur, Alabama
Oct. 12-14, Harris Chain of Lakes, Leesburg, Florida
April 13-15, Toledo Bend, Many, Louisiana
June 15-17, Lake Eufaula, Eufaula, Oklahoma
Sept. 21-23, Lake of the Ozarks, Osage, Missouri
May 3-5, Buggs Island Reservoir, Clarksville, Virginia
July 20-22, St. Lawrence River, Waddington, New York
Sept. 13-15, Watts Bar Reservoir, Kingston, Tennessee
St. Croix Rewards Program
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.
James Nealy of Yale, Virginia, won the co-angler division at last season’s St. Croix Bassmaster Northern Open at James River with a two-day total of 26-14. Nealy took home the $25,183 top prize along with the $250 Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award and $500 in St. Croix Rod Rewards for being the highest-finishing co-angler fishing St. Croix Rods.
“We’re pleased and grateful to welcome St. Croix back for their second consecutive year as title sponsor for the Opens,” Weldon says. “St. Croix’s continued partnership with B.A.S.S. is proof of their commitment to anglers at every level.”
St. Croix Vice President of Marketing, Jesse Simpkins, says the Bassmaster Opens Series represents an incredible opportunity for bass anglers aspiring to compete on the biggest stage. “The Opens provide a realistic pathway for tournament anglers to prove that they can compete with the very best,” Simpkins says. “It’s the training and proving grounds for the next generation of Elite Series anglers and Bassmaster Classic Champions. We couldn’t be happier to extend our support to this arena while increasing awareness of our brand, our rods, and all the ways our team works every day to give anglers the upper hand on the water.”
Follow all of the action of the 2023 St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Series at https://www.bassmaster.com/bass-pro-shops-bassmaster-opens.
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.