OKEECHOBEE – While anglers compete for a chance to win big money on Lake Okeechobee, fishing fans and their families can enjoy special events hosted by Bass Pro on Saturday, March 13.
The Bass Pro Shops US Open National Bass Fishing Amateur Team Championships will kick off on Lake Okeechobee on Saturday, March 13. During the event, 250 two-person teams will be fishing for their cut of the $4.3 million guaranteed purse value.
While anglers are competing on the water, the general public is invited to participate in socially distanced, outdoor events beginning at noon. Face masks are encouraged and available as needed. While the events will be at the Scott Driver Recreation area, parking for the public will be across the road at the Okee-Tantie Recreation Area, 10430 W. State Road 78, Okeechobee. Parking at the Scott Driver Recreation area will be reserved for the 500 tournament participants along with tournament officials. A shuttle will transport members of the public from Okee-Tantie to the activities at the Scott Driver Recreation Area.
The day's events will be hosted by country music star Chris Janson and legendary angler Roland Martin.
The Petersens, an American bluegrass band from Missouri’s Ozark mountains, will provide live music and entertainment throughout the day.
Free activities for fishing fans of all ages start at noon.
For the kids, there will be free interactive games, inflatable slides, a hot air balloon and more.
Adults over the age of 18 can test drive Toyota trucks and SUVs and boats from White River Marine Group.
Guests can learn about fisheries conservation with representatives from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and enjoy a Bass Pro Shops pop-up shop with exclusive merchandise and the latest gear from top outdoor brands, along with food and special activities.
Tournament weigh-in will begin at 2:30 p.m. Competitors will arrive at the weigh-in site in waves throughout the afternoon and are invited to stay for the final award ceremony, which will take place at 6:30 p.m.
Top anglers in the tournament on Lake Okeechobee will qualify for the competition finale in the fall.
The Johnny Morris Bass Pro Shops U.S. Open National Bass Fishing Amateur Team Championships is the brainchild of noted conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, the first-of-its-kind tournament will provide amateur anglers the opportunity to compete for the largest payout in freshwater fishing tournament history.
The tournament features a total prize purse of more than $4 million in cash and prizes, with $1 million in cash to the national championship team -- the largest cash payout of any single freshwater fishing tournament in history.
Registration was open exclusively for amateur anglers, creating a thrilling opportunity for families and friends from all walks of life to compete together on the water. To help grow the sport, regional and international qualifier events will feature division payouts for youth, family teams, all-female teams, veterans, and more.
Following a series of regional qualifying tournaments starting this spring, 350 two-person teams will compete in an internationally broadcast championship finale this fall at Big Cedar Lodge on famed Table Rock Lake. The competition will also include international teams from around the world including Japan, Spain, Germany, Romania, Mexico and Holland. The championship finale broadcast on NBC is anticipated to garner the largest audience in the history of the sport.
The tournaments will benefit local fish habitat with proceeds supporting The National Fish Habitat Initiative. One-third of all entry fees will directly support the project. Bass Pro Shops will match each donation as will Toyota, a longstanding conservation partner, enabling an amount equal to 100 percent of all entry fees – over $1 million – to benefit conservation.
More information can be found at basspro.com/usopen.