Bassmaster Opens Angler Of The Year Battle Wraps Up At Lay Lake

COLUMBIANA, Ala. — The Falcon Rods Bassmaster Opens Angler of the Year race concludes this week as anglers compete Dec. 3-5 at the Bassmaster Eastern Open at Lay Lake, the final event of the 2020 season. Not only will the overall Angler of the Year be crowned but 12 anglers will also earn coveted invitations to the 2021 Bassmaster Elite Series.

The overall Opens AOY title will be determined by combined points for anglers competing in both the Central and Eastern Opens. This season, each Opens division had four events, with three ways to qualify for the Elite Series invitations. The Top 4 from both the Central and Eastern Divisions get invites, along with the Top 4 overall anglers in the points standings.

At Lay Lake, everyone is gunning for the winner’s trophy, which brings with it a berth in the 2021 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk. To fish the Classic, the winning angler must have competed in the previous Eastern Open events held at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, Lake Hartwell and Cherokee Lake.

Anglers are also contending for the available Elite Series invitations as the Falcon Rods Bassmaster Opens Angler of the Year race concludes. Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., leads the race with 1179 points. Marc Frazier of Newnan, Ga., (1158) is second. The rest of the Top 6 includes Kissimmee champion Bryan New of Belmont, N.C., (1150); Cherokee Lake winner Matt Robertson of Kuttawa, Ky., (1148); Justin Atkins of Florence, Ala., (1143); and KJ Queen of Catawba, N.C., (1111). All of them have expressed interest in accepting an invitation.

Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., leads the Eastern Opens Division with 581 points. Walters is double-qualified as a current Bassmaster Elite angler, leaving the door open for another angler to earn an Elite spot. Josh Stracner of Vandiver, Ala., (580), is second and Pat Schlapper of Eleva, Wis., (550) is third. Schlapper has already earned an Elite Series invitation as winner of the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, opening another invitation from the Eastern Division. Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla., (541), whose season goal is qualifying for the Elite Series, is fourth. Rounding out the Eastern Division Top 6 are Timmy Thompkins of Myrtle Beach, S.C. (532) and Atkins (526). As it currently stands, Stracner, Martin, Thompkins and Atkins would qualify for the Elite Series from the Eastern Division.

The Bassmaster Central Opens season ended on Lewisville Lake in Texas. Christie claimed the top spot in the Central Division with 719 points, while Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., finished just three points behind in second. Japan’s Kenta Kimura and Frazier also finished in the Top 4. Christie and Frazier are double-qualified from the higher priority overall AOY points, meaning as the points currently stand those invitations would likely go to Darold Gleason of Many, La., who finished fifth, and sixth-place finisher Paul Browning of Morrilton, Ark.

The points standings have the potential to change daily depending on how far apart contenders land in the daily standings. Some can jump others based on good or poor performances.

Unlike other recent events, the anglers might be treated to a true fall bite at Lay Lake, as opposed to the challenging fall transition conditions occurring over the last two months.

Lay Lake’s surface temperatures are expected to keep fish activity consistent throughout the tournament. Some anglers reported water temps in the low 60s on the Coosa River system. The tournament week forecast calls for daytime highs in the low 50s and nighttime lows in the low 30s. Add it all up, including predicted rainfall, and Lay Lake could have the temperatures and water color favorable for fall bass fishing on the Coosa River.

The tournament is being hosted by Discover Shelby, AL and fans can follow the action — including live coverage on Saturday, Dec. 5 — at

2020 Bassmaster Opens Series Title Sponsor:

2020 Bassmaster Opens Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2020 Bassmaster Opens Series Premier Sponsors: Abu GarciaBerkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Ranger Boats, Skeeter Boats, Talon, Yamaha

2020 Bassmaster Opens Series Supporting Sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Carhartt, Garmin, Huk Performance Fishing, Mossy Oak Fishing, Rapala

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 515,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (, TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens Series, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bassmaster Team Championship, Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX presented by Abu Garcia and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.

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