Barnett Reservoir, which next year will celebrate its 50th anniversary of impoundment in 2015, has been selected as the site of the kickoff event of the 2015 Bassmaster Central Open series, B.A.S.S. announced on Monday.
The City of Ridgeland will serve as host city for the March 12-14 tournament. Weigh-ins will be held the first two days at Madison Landing and at Bass Pro Shops in nearby Pearl for Saturday’s final round.
Bass Pro Shops is the national sponsor of the three Open series — Southern, Central and Northern.
It will be the 11th time that B.A.S.S. has brought an event to Barnett, which was a regular stop in the early years of tournament fishing. In 2013, Randall Tharp of Port St. Joe, Fla., caught 41 pounds, 15 ounces to win a Central Open in October.
That event was marred by the shooting death of one of the competitors in the days prior to the event. James “Jimmy” Johnson of Ganado, Texas, was fatally shot in the parking lot of his motel in North Jackson.
“I am glad to see that B.A.S.S. recognized that that tragedy was a random act of violence that in no way was related to the tournament itself,” said Jimmy Parker of Ridgeland, a Barnett regular. “It could have happened anywhere.”
That week, B.A.S.S. said the incident would not factor in future decisions about whether to return to Barnett Reservoir.
Mina Thorgenson, a staff member of Ridgeland Tourism, which is the official host of the event, said she was happy the city was able to attract another major B.A.S.S. tournament.
“There was no hesitation; they were eager to return,” she said.
It will be the first time in over 30 years that B.A.S.S. will hold an event on Barnett outside of the fall season.
“I think we will see more production than 41 or 42 pounds (Tharp’s winning weight) this time, if the weather cooperates,” Parker said. “I know that there are a lot of variables with weather and water levels, but if we get normal conditions it should be the pre-spawn and we should see The Rez’s true colors.”