Big afternoon cull helps Rivet take lead at Bassmaster Open on Sam Rayburn

Tyler Rivet of Raceland, La., is leading after Day 1 of the 2022 St. Croix Bassmaster Central Open at Sam Rayburn presented by Mossy Oak Fishing with 20 pounds, 14 ounces. (Photo by Andy Crawford/B.A.S.S)

Tyler Rivet already has secured spots in next year’s Bassmaster Elite Series and the 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic.

But Thursday, on Day 1 of the St. Croix Bassmaster Central Open at Sam Rayburn presented by Mossy Oak Fishing, Rivet fished like he needed to win to reach those lofty goals.

Rivet, a 28-year-old Elite Series pro from Raceland, La., caught a five-bass limit that weighed 20 pounds, 14 ounces. That gave him the early lead in the final Central Open of the season, whose winner will lock up a spot in the Classic scheduled for March 24-26 on the Tennessee River in Knoxville.

Rivet was a bit surprised at his good fortune on Day 1, considering he didn’t find anything spectacular during practice and never really established a pattern on Thursday. He chose instead to cover large swaths of the 114,000-acre reservoir and rely on his electronics to pinpoint the best bass.

The strategy, or lack thereof, was effective. It also might have been inevitable, given Rayburn is almost 6 feet below pool, which made fishing different — if not difficult — for many anglers on Day 1.

“It’s shallow out there,” Rivet said. “Everything is matted over, but you really can’t punch through the grass. So, I got away from the grass today … I just covered water and LiveScoped all day.”

Rivet said slack winds and bright sunshine made for ideal conditions to scope fish. He leaned on finesse fishing most of the day, though his largest bass (6-13) came on a jerkbait at about 1:30 p.m.

“I was LiveScoping two little sticks,” he said. “I didn’t even see it. He came out of nowhere and ate it. I had one small one left that I needed to cull, so that big one let me pick up about a pound and a half.”

Rivet knows that because his catch on Thursday came from random places and on random lures, his fortune could quickly change on Friday. Still, he’s positioned himself for a solid showing, much like this year on the Elites, where he finished 25th in the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. That showing cemented his spots on next year’s Elite circuit and the 2023 Classic.

“Hopefully I can go out there and hammer them again tomorrow,” he said.

A total of 372 competitors are in this week’s derby — 188 in the angler division and 184 more on the co-angler side. They are fishing for part of a $312,000 total cash purse that will be divided among the Top 40 anglers in each division, including $43,867 to the winning angler and $20,854 to the top co-angler.

Full coverage of the tournament can be found on Bassmaster.com and live coverage of Championship Saturday will be available on FS1 beginning at 7 a.m. CT.

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