The CITGO Bassmaster Opens are a qualifying series for anglers who intend to fish on the CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch Beer. The top 15 boater anglers in each of the four Open divisions will earn Tour cards to fish as pros on the 2005 Tour.
Also, for the first time, Open anglers will compete for Classic berths in a true championship format rather than through the point standings of each division. The top five boaters in the 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship will gain entry into the 2005 CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer.
"We are very excited about the 2004 Open schedule," said Dean Kessel, Vice President and General Manager of BASS. "We are visiting some fantastic fisheries where the stars and future stars of BASS will showcase their talents."
In 2004, the Open series will have three tournaments in each of its north, south, central and western geographic divisions, with 175 boaters and 175 non-boaters competing for over $308,700 in cash and merchandise at every Open stop and points toward the CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship, at a location that will be announced at a later date.
The CITGO Bassmaster Open Championship will field 160 anglers - the top 20 boaters and top 20 non-boaters from each division's point standings. Those anglers will compete for a share of the $305,000 prize purse.
"With the introduction of the Open Championship last year, anglers participating in the Open series have their own championship in which to qualify for the top tier of the sport, the CITGO Bassmaster Classic," said BASS Tournament Director Trip Weldon. "Like thousands of BASS Federation anglers who compete for five Classic spots through the Federation Divisionals and the Federation Championship, Open anglers will compete for five spots and the best of the best will go on to the Classic."
The Western Open Division will start May 27-29 on the California Delta Waterway in Bethel, Calif. The second event will be held Oct. 21-23 on Lake Shasta in Shasta Lake, Calif. and the Western Opens will conclude Nov. 18-20 on Clear Lake, near Lakeport, Calif.
The Northern Open Division kicks off June 24-26 on Lake Erie and the Niagara River Tributaries in Buffalo, N.Y. Event two begins Aug. 12-14 on the Hudson River and estuaries in Catskill, N.Y., with the finale taking place Oct. 14-16 on Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta, Va.
In the South, the Open series starts on Sept. 16-18 on Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, Ala. It will continue Oct. 14-16 on Columbus Lake and Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in Columbus, Miss. and the Southern Opens will wrap up in Okeechobee City, Fla, Nov. 18-20 on Lake Okeechobee.
The Central Open Division gets going Aug. 12-14 on the Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers in Paducah, Ky., continues Sept. 16-18 on Lake Sam Rayburn in Jasper, Texas, and wraps up on the Atchafalaya River Basin in Morgan City, La. from Oct. 21-23
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. Later this month, BASS introduces the all-new Bassmaster Elite 50 Series, a four-event, no-entry-fee circuit featuring a $1.6 million prize purse for the best anglers on the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass-fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.
Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Skeeter Boats, Mercury Marine, Yamaha Outboards, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops, and BankOne.
Associate Sponsors include G3 Boats.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.