Officials with the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) announced Thursday that the upcoming Bassmaster Elite Series event, originally set at Fort Gibson Lake, has been moved to Lake Tenkiller.
The two Oklahoma lakes are just 40 miles apart. Cherokee Casino Tahlequah will host the Sept. 19-22 event, which is the final regular-season Elite Series of the year.”
Takeoffs at Lake Tenkiller will be at 7 a.m. Sept. 19 from the Chicken Creek Point Public Use Area in Cookson. Weigh-ins on Days 1 and 2 will also be in the same area. Weigh-ins on Days 3 and 4 will move to Cherokee Casino Tahlequah at 4 p.m.
Heavy rain and flash flooding in the area in May forced the organization to postpone the event, which was set for May 16-19 at Fort Gibson Lake. The decision to move the tournament to Tenkiller was necessary, BASS chief executive officer Bruce Akin said in a statement.
“The ongoing high water at Fort Gibson Lake and the uncertainty of dam repairs downstream at Webber Falls really left us no choice,” he said. “We certainly made every effort to hold the event on Fort Gibson Lake, but the conditions just wouldn’t allow it.”
BASS tournament director Trip Weldon notified the 75 Elite Series anglers of the change in plans by email Thursday. He said it was imperative to complete a full schedule of nine regular-season events. Leaving Fort Gibson as the tournament venue would have created a greater risk for cancellation.
“Anglers have been working hard all year, jockeying for position in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings,” Weldon said. “They’ve been promised nine events and then the Angler of the Year Championship, and we want to make every effort as an organization to make sure all of those events are held.”
The tournament will determine the final order of the Angler of the Year standings, with only the Top 50 anglers advancing to the AOY Championship scheduled for Sept. 28-Oct. 1 on Michigan’s Lake St. Clair.
Because of the no-information rule governing all Elite Series events, the venue went off-limits as soon as the anglers were notified of the change.
Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer
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