The 2022 St. Croix Bassmaster Opens is set for takeoff, with a new title sponsor, new tournament director and a record number of anglers register
The 2022 St. Croix Bassmaster Opens is set for takeoff, with a new title sponsor, new tournament director and a record number of anglers registered for all nine events across the three divisions.
St. Croix Rods is the new title sponsor, and an unprecedented 83 anglers registered for all three of the Central, Southern and Northern divisions.
The season begins in the balmier South, with two events in the Southern Division, before the Central and Northern seasons begin in April.
The first event is Feb. 3-5, at the Kissimmee Chain in Florida. Weather will be the dominant player, as it always is during winter events held in Florida. Unseasonably cold weather hit the area in late January. Even so, the bass were already in prespawn mode at the nearby Harris Chain, where 61 pounds won a two-day B.A.S.S. college event held Jan. 23.
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Bryan New won the 2020 event with 49-8. New’s junk fishing pattern on Toho paid off, after two days of warm, stable conditions gave way to colder temperatures and gusty winds. With water temperatures in the mid-70s, the bite was in full prespawn mode.
Cherokee Lake in east Tennessee is next on the Southern schedule, March 31-April 2. Previous events on Cherokee were in fall, although the lake is only a dozen miles away from Douglas Lake, with a past history of spring tournaments.
Winning weight was 43-13 at the 2021 Southern Open there in mid-April. The bass were in prespawn and spawning mode, with shallow water patterns prevailing for the top anglers. Depending on the transition time between late winter and early spring, the Cherokee tournament will most likely be a prespawn bite.
The Bassmaster trail has not visited the Upper Chesapeake Bay in recent years. The winning weight was 70-2 at a 2015 Elite Series summertime event won by Aaron Martens. Junk fishing prevailed in the tidal-influenced event, and much of the same is predicted for the 2022 Open in mid-September.
The Southern season concludes in early October at Lake Hartwell. Elite Series pro Patrick Walters won a 2021 Open held two weeks prior to this year’s event. Running and gunning. That was the pattern of the week with Walters capitalizing on the opportunities with a winning weight of 44-5. Blueback herring were on the move, and the bass were behind them. Walters targeted a mix of cane piles and long, tapering points where the bait and bass congregated.
The Opens will reward 12 coveted Elite Series invitations and nine berths into the 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.
B.A.S.S. first added Bassmaster Opens LIVE final day on-the-water streaming coverage during the 2020 season. That expanded to live broadcasts from Championship Saturday from each of the division final tournaments on FS1 and the FOX Sports digital platforms in 2021. Viewership last year peaked when 852,000 viewers watched live as Nick LeBrun claimed the title during the Bassmaster Open on Grand Lake. FOX Sports will continue broadcasting divisional final Championship Saturday coverage in 2022.