Central Open events are part of three circuits that include a total of nine tournament stops.
Timing on the fisheries was a top consideration in creation of the schedule — Lake Norman and Table Rock in April, and the James River in July, for example. So was geography: south to Florida, west into Texas, and north to Michigan. A fresh challenge was added with a Cayuga Lake tournament; that one is in August, perfect timing for upstate New York.
"We wanted to come up with a schedule that included a wide range of fishery types, on dates that made sense for that fishery, and with a geographical spread that made participation easier for more tournament anglers," said Jerry McKinnis, one of three principals who purchased B.A.S.S. in late 2010. "I think we've come pretty close to all those goals."
Texas' Lewisville Lake on Feb. 9-11 kicks off the Central Open schedule. Lewisville was a "sleeper" stop in 2011, but pro Mark Tucker woke it up after a cold front with a catch of 45 pounds, 15 ounces over three days.
Arkansas' Table Rock — a name that's become bedrock in B.A.S.S. tournament history — will be the 2012 Central Open's second stop on April 26-28.
Like Lewisville, Table Rock is an encore from this year's schedule, but a 2011 Open champ from The Rock is still to come. Torrential rains in April forced a rescheduling of the 2011 Central event to Oct. 20-22. But come the 2012 Open dates in late April, there's every chance that Table Rock will show its springtime potential for a big shallow bite and lots of limits.
The Central Open finale takes place Sept. 6-8 on Fort Gibson Lake out of Wagoner, Okla. In 2010, Fort Gibson Lake was the site of a relocated Bassmaster Elite Series tournament. In the Elite Series tournament, pro Tommy Biffle of Wagoner capitalized on a home-lake advantage to haul in 73-11 over four mid-June days. With three days of competition, Open anglers aren't likely to hit that mark, but a September time frame could help boost weights.
Registration dates and details about the 2012 Bassmaster Open season will be announced soon. For more information about the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens, visit www.bassmaster.com/open.
The full Bassmaster Open schedule by divisions is:
• Feb. 9-11: Lewisville Lake (Lewisville, Texas)
• April 26-28: Table Rock Lake (Branson, Mo.)
• Sept. 6-8: Fort Gibson Lake (Wagoner, Okla.)
• Jan. 19-21: Harris Chain of Lakes (Tavares, Fla.)
• April 5-7: Lake Norman (Charlotte, N.C.)
• Oct. 4-6: Lewis Smith Lake (Jasper, Ala.)
• June 14-16: James River (Richmond, Va.)
• July 19-21: Detroit River (Detroit, Mich.)
• Aug. 16-18: Cayuga Lake (Seneca Falls, N.Y.)