"We are very excited about our return to the Ouachita River," said Dean Kessel, Vice President and General Manager of BASS. "Last November's Central Open was so well attended by the fans and the media that it just made sense to have the Open Championship there this year."
The daily launches and weigh-ins will take place at the City of West Monroe Lazzarre Point Recreation Area.
"There are a lot of BASS members in the area," said Julia Trichell, the Executive Director of the Monroe/West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau. "There are so many people in the area that just love BASS, and it makes such an economic impact on the area. We are really excited to have (BASS) back."
The 2003 Open Champion, Arizona's John Murray, is hoping to get back to the Open Championship in 2004, not only to defend his title, but also because the top five anglers in the Open Championship gain entry to the CITGO Bassmaster Classic presented by Busch Beer.
"I didn't expect to do so well on Toledo Bend last year," Murray said. "I think there will be a little more pressure on guys to do well in the Opens this year, though, because there's only (five) Classic spots from the Opens. That's what everybody wanted and I think that's the way it should be, too.
"It's so tough to make the Classic from the Tour. Now, it's so much more important to do well in the Open Tournaments just so you can qualify for the Open Championship to have a shot at the Classic."
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. 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.
Local Sponsors include the Monroe/West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.