Opens AOY watch

There are already interesting storylines worth watching in the Opens Angler of the Year points race. 

The headliner is Dakota Ebare, who as of Thursday was second in the Central standings with 376 points and 40 pounds, 15 ounces. That was based on the strength of his Day 1 weight of 20 pounds, 12 ounces, and a 20th at the opener on the Arkansas River. On Thursday evening, Ebare's Day 1 weight was disqualified, and he is now in 106th place in the AOY standings. 

The Angler of the Year qualifying structure was changed this season, giving Opens anglers more opportunities to advance to the Bassmaster Elite Series. The Falcon Rods Bassmaster Opens Angler of the Year will award a $10,000 prize to the overall points winner in the pro division. The top co-angler will have paid entry fees into the 2021 Bassmaster Opens division of their choice.

Each division has four tournaments, and there are now three ways to qualify for the 12 available Elite Series invitations. The Top 4 from the Central and Eastern Divisions get invites, along with the Top 4 overall anglers in the point standings. 

One angler everyone is watching is Scott Martin, who moved from a longtime and illustrious career on the FLW Tour to the Opens to qualify for the Elite Series. Martin also aims to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic and achieve a goal left unfulfilled by his father, Roland, who never won a world championship, despite having won nine B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year titles. 

As of Friday, Scott Martin was in third place in the overall points. Martin was in 28th place after Day 1 on Sam Rayburn. 

"At this point it's all about the points and I'm going for the quality bite, after having made a couple of key adjustments," he said. "Ten-pounders live here, and those individual size fish are best for gaining points." 

Gerald Swindle leads the overall points race with 542 points. Keep in mind that Swindle is already qualified as an Elite Series angler. Bryan New is second with 541. John Hunter Jr. is fourth with 508 points and Randy Blaukat, another former FLW Tour veteran, is last man in with 501 points.