Classic hopes float: The race is on for the remaining 13 berths in the 2011 Bassmaster Classic.
Six of those 13 qualifiers will come from the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens (two from each division: Northern, Southern and Central). Another six will come from the BASS Federation Nation Championship in late October. The 50th and final will be decided Nov. 6. That angler will be the 2010 champion of the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series operated by American Bass Anglers.
The 13 will join the 36 Bassmaster Elite Series qualifiers and defending champ Kevin VanDam on the Louisiana Delta, Feb. 18-20 out of New Orleans. The winner takes the sport’s most prestigious tournament trophy.
Some of the storylines to watch as anglers make their Classic bids over the next few weeks and months:
* Dave Wolak, the Northern Open points leader, bowed out of the second event, this week’s Detroit River tournament. Wolak already earned a 2011 Classic spot (his fifth) through the 2010 Elite Series. His absence in Detroit swings the door wider for other pros to snag a Classic seat.
* Ryan Said of Michigan is No. 2, 15 ticks behind Wolak. Said will be competing on home waters of the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie. The Aug. 19-21 event will be his second Bassmaster tournament as a pro.
* Tracy Adams of Wilkesboro, N.C., ranks 3rd in Northern points, just 20 spots out of first. The Detroit event will be his second Bassmaster tournament.
* Andy Montgomery of South Carolina leads the Southern Open, which will wrap Oct. 9 in Georgia on Lake Seminole. Only four points behind is Elite pro Bobby Lane of Florida. Lane already qualified for the Classic via the Elite Series.
* Davy Hite, Elite pro from Ninety Six, S.C., holds down place No. 5 in the Southern circuit. He’s motivated to return to the Louisiana Delta, site of his 1999 Classic victory.
* Craig Schuff of Watauga, Texas, is proving to be a formidable competitor. He finished 1-2 in the Central’s first two events, giving him 600 points. His lead is 55 points over Keith Combs of Del Rio, Texas.
* Clark Reehm of Arkansas is the only pro in the Central Open’s top six who is not from Texas. The Central will wrap Oct. 23 in Lake Texoma – out of Denison, Texas. Reehm – 3rd with 502 points – will have to climb over Combs, 43 points ahead of him, to get to his second Classic.
California’s Lintner is first out, first in: It’s not news that the outcome of this week’s Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open tournament in Detroit will be pivotal for pros in their bids to snag 2011 Bassmaster Classic berths.
Less obvious is that several of those Classic hopefuls are not entered in that Aug. 19-21 Detroit Open.
Case in point is Jared Lintner, Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Arroyo Grande, Calif. He was first man out for the 2011 Classic, but he would be the first in if just one of his fellow Elite pros double-qualifies when the Northern circuit wraps up next month and awards two Classic berths.
“Actually, my wife has been keeping closer track of the Opens than I have,” said Lintner, who is bucking for his third Classic entry. “But I know what’s going on, what could happen.”
He (and his wife) are tracking four Elite pros competing in the Detroit Open who already earned entry through the Elite Series: Scott Rook, Mike McClelland, Michael Iaconelli and Gerald Swindle. If any one of them finishes the Northern season in the top two, then Lintner would be in the Classic.
His best hopes are with Rook; the Arkansas pro is 12th in the Open standings. Yet with two events of three remaining, any of the four could pull up. Swindle sits in 43rd; McClelland in 59th; Iaconelli in 72nd.
If the Northern scenarios don’t pan out for Lintner, he still could punch a Classic ticket via the Southern Open circuit. He has several good chances, especially with Bobby Lane. After two of three Southern Open events, Lane is No. 2.
“I can only hope he has one more good event,” Lintner said. “He looks like my best shot now.”
Lane has experience at double-qualifying. He happened to do it for the 2009 Classic, and the beneficiary was living legend Rick Clunn, who stepped into the field for his 32nd Classic.
Lintner’s also watching Florida’s Terry Scroggins, who is No. 8 heading into the final event in October on Lake Seminole out of Bainbridge, Ga.
“Seminole is a grass lake, and both Scroggins and Lane are experts in that.” Lintner pointed out.
From the Central division, Lintner can’t draw much hope. The only Elite pro in close contention is Clark Reehm, whose 3rd place in the standings could lead him into the Classic berth he did not win through the Elite season.
Lintner faults himself for not making the Classic roster on his own hook. Yet he remains optimistic.
“I’ve got good opportunities to make the Classic, that’s for sure,” he said.