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(Editor's note: This story has been updated based on the final Bassmaster Central Open points standings.)

The 2021 Bass Pro Tour roster will include newcomer John Cox, but will be without Mike Iaconelli, Greg Hackney, Jason Christie, Jacob Powroznik and Justin Atkins, all of whom have opted out.

MLF announced the roster via press release Friday and revealed that the other four slots in the 80-angler field will be filled by FLW Pro Circuit competitors. The Top 4 in the standings from each Pro Circuit event will qualify for the next BPT tournament, with the BPT season opener at Sam Rayburn taking the Top 4 from the final 2020 Pro Circuit points standings.

Most of the five departees seem to have paths (some clearer than others) to next year's Bassmaster Elite Series. Christie and Hackney finished 1st and 2nd, respectively, in the final Central Opens points standings, so they're in if they choose to go. Atkins is 5th overall and 6th in the Eastern Division, which will wrap up its slate in early December at Lay Lake. The Top 4 on each of the three points lists will receive Elite invites.

Elite competitor Patrick Walters leads the Eastern race, which could extend that division's bids down to 5th. Christie, also the leader in the overall race, seems likely to become a double-qualifier, which would open up another position.

Iaconelli, one of MLF's charter angler/investors in 2011, has two "Legends" points from his 2003 Bassmaster Classic win and 2006 Angler of the Year title (the exact formula that allowed Jay Yelas to return to the Elite Series in 2019 following a lengthy stint with FLW) and could get back in via that route, although such offerings are always at B.A.S.S.' discretion. However, he's recently hinted at possible retirement from competition to focus more on his other fishing-related enterprises.

There seems to be no clear route for Powroznik at this point he's competed in the Opens this year, but is too far down the points lists to requalify.

Cox, the winner of this year's Pro Circuit event at Rayburn, turned down an invitation to join the BPT when the original roster was constructed in late 2019. He competed on both the Pro Circuit and the Elite Series this year and will stay with the former in '21 as schedules will not conflict.



MLF/Garrick Dixon
Photo: MLF/Garrick Dixon

Jason Christie struggled on the BPT this year, but has excelled in the Bassmaster Opens.

I like the lakes on the schedule, I like the payouts and I like that I can fish a lot of tournaments, Cox said in the release. I dont know exactly how Ill do in the MLF format for a full season, but even if I dont do great, I feel good about my chances to make a few Top-10s and cash checks. There are a few places on that 2021 schedule where I think to myself Hmmm, I know a spot or two here or there, I think I might do quite well in that one. Im excited about it.

The Top 4 finishers from this year's Pro Circuit points list who'll get into the BPT event at Sam Rayburn are Ron Nelson, Spencer Shuffield, Grae Buck and Matt Becker.

Were all fishing to try to make the Bass Pro Tour and this will be a really good opportunity for a guy to get his feet wet in that format, said 11-year Pro Circuit veteran Bill McDonald, who got his first taste of the MLF format at the 2020 TITLE championship at Sturgeon Bay, Wisc. You can tell yourself that the Bass Pro Tour format isnt really that much more pressure, but I can tell you from experience that it takes a strong mental game.

"Its the highest of highs to hear your name at the top (of ScoreTracker), but your brain goes crazy when you drop rapidly. Itll be valuable experience to qualify for one of those (Bass Pro Tour) events.

Of the five departees, only Atkins is not a former Elite Series stalwart. He came to the BPT after 2 years on the FLW Tour and was the winner of the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Murray in South Carolina.

Powroznik, Hackney and Atkins all finished inside the cutoff for next year's Redcrest Championship (the Top 40 on the points list get in and they ended up 25th, 36th and 37th, respectively). Iaconelli was 47th and Christie 51st.

Powroznik has won an event in both years of the BPTs existence (at Lake Okeechobee this year and the three-lake derby out of Raleigh, N.C. in 2019).

Two anglers Brandon Palaniuk and Gerald Swindle returned to the Elite Series this year after spending 2019 on the BPT and were replaced by former FLW standouts Bryan Thrift and David Dudley. Palaniuk had a banner season on the Elites, winning two events.

Here's the full 2020 BPT roster in alphabetical order:

> Casey Ashley
> Adrian Avena
> Josh Bertrand
> Tommy Biffle
> Zack Birge
> Stephen Browning
> Brent Chapman
> Luke Clausen
> Dustin Connell
> Brandon Coulter
> John Cox
> Cliff Crochet
> Mark Daniels Jr.
> Mark Davis
> Ott DeFoe
> Boyd Duckett
> David Dudley
> Brent Ehrler
> James Elam
> Paul Elias
> Edwin Evers
> Todd Faircloth
> Shin Fukae
> Anthony Gagliardi
> Shaw Grigsby
> Roy Hawk
> Brett Hite
> Timmy Horton
> Randy Howell
> Alton Jones
> Alton Jones Jr.
> Kelly Jordon
> Gary Klein
> Jeff Kriet
> Jason Lambert
> Bobby Lane
> Chris Lane
> Russ Lane
> Jordan Lee
> Matt Lee
> Dave Lefebre
> Jared Lintner
> Justin Lucas
> Aaron Martens
> Mike McClelland
> Cody Meyer
> Ish Monroe
> Andy Montgomery
> Andy Morgan
> John Murray
> Britt Myers
> Michael Neal
> Takahiro Omori
> Cliff Pace
> Keith Poche
> Skeet Reese
> Marty Robinson
> Dean Rojas
> Mark Rose
> Fred Roumbanis
> Bradley Roy
> Terry Scroggins
> Fletcher Shryock
> Gerald Spohrer
> Jeff Sprague
> Wesley Strader
> Scott Suggs
> Randall Tharp
> Bryan Thrift
> Jonathan VanDam
> Kevin VanDam
> Greg Vinson
> David Walker
> James Watson
> Jacob Wheeler
> Jesse Wiggins