Uses brand new Hobie Mirage PA12 360 to pull away from highly competitive field of elite kayak anglers on one of South Carolina’s finest bass destinations.
OCEANSIDE, Calif. (May 19, 2021) – In the pre-event press release leading up to last weekend’s 2021 Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole® Lake Hartwell event in Anderson, South Carolina, local sharpie Lowell Brannan advised anglers to stay on the move and have a back-up plan ready because the bass here tend to roam around a lot, especially when the herring are spawning. His recommendations proved right on the money as the 56,000-acre reservoir, which has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Bass Lakes in America by Bassmaster magazine, decided to shuffle the deck on Day 1.
“A lot of anglers reported solid sessions during pre-fishing only to find the bass had moved by the time the tourney got underway,” said tournament director A. J. McWhorter. “Just as Brennan suggested, competitors who were flexible, covered a lot of water and continued to grind all day long put themselves in good position toward the top of the leaderboard for Day 2 when the big lake revealed it’s true colors.”
Leading the charge was 19-year-old Ewing Minor from Charlottesville, Virginia, who has absolutely been on fire this season. A member of the renowned Carson-Newman college bass squad, he decided this spring to also try his hand at kayak bassin’ and has now cashed a check in each of his first three 2021 Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole® events after placing second at Watts Bar and 12th at Lake Seminole. In this case, he used a consistent performance to steadily pull away from the field by tallying 90.25 inches of bass on Day 1, plus 84.50 inches on Day 2, for a winning total of 174.75 inches that included two impressive 17-inch spotted bass. Chris Grant of Tega Cay, South Carolina, took the second slot with a 168.75-inch total while Matt Hawj of Lenoir, North Carolina placed third tallying 165.50 inches in the two-day, catch, photo and release (C.P.R.) event. Adam Fillmore had the highest one-day total of the tournament with 92.25 inches on Day 2. He finished fourth with a 164.5-inch total while Brannan filled out the top five with a very respectable 162.5 inches.
“Although Minor finished a full six inches ahead of the 143-angler field, the tournament overall was highly competitive with 1,046 bass caught in compiling over 110 full limits consisting of five fish each day,” remarked McWhorter. “Minor and Grant finished first and second both days, but after that there was plenty of shuffling on the leader board, especially on Day 2. The second day of the tourney also brought out some bigger fish, with three measuring over 22 inches. Interestingly, Minor was fishing out of a new Hobie PA12 360 that he bought only last week. What a great way to break in a new boat.”
For their efforts, Minor took home a $7,500 first-place check while Grant pocketed $3,900 and Hawj earned $3,000, including the Bassin’ Magazine Big Bass award honors he garnered with a 23.25-inch brute. After getting shut out on Day 1, Chris Decker jumped 51 spots on Day 2 with 80.5 inches of bass to take the Dakota Lithium Power Move prize of a Dakota Lithium Power Box 10. As the top three non-qualified anglers, Grant, Hawj and Fillmore punched tickets to Hobie’s 50-angler Tournament of Champions (T.O.C.) on Lake Eufaula, Alabama, November 12 – 14. Ewing qualified with a second-place finish at the Watts-Bar event earlier this year. Anglers also competed for all-important points toward Angler of the Year, Presented by FarWide, the Outdoor Access App, with points distributed to the top 100 competitors.
“It’s fun when your new kayak pays for itself after only a week,” quipped Minor, adding that his Hobie Mirage PA12 360 gave him an edge since it allows for hands-free fishing, turns on a dime, holds its place in the wind really well, and allows anglers to slip quietly into calm water without a paddle stroke to tip off the bass. “The water was really clear this weekend,” continued Minor, “and my Hobie really helped me sneak in and out of some tight, bassy-looking places where it would have been easy to push the fish out had I used a paddle.”
For the most part, Minor (who will be joined at Carson-Newman next fall by Hobie B.O.S. high-school star and 12-place finisher, Jaxton Orr, of Fort Wayne, Indiana), found success working shoreline shallows where he could actually view fish on the move. During pre-fishing, he had found several spots with visible bass, some on beds. Rather than work those bass, he simply marked them on a map and came back to test them on Day 1. Unpressured, they responded well in the morning, took the mid-afternoon off, and hit again late in the day. Minor continued grinding away with a variety of lures including topwaters, line-through swimbaits, and a variety of finesse baits. “I tried to match different baits to different spots,” he stated. “I caught some fish on just about every lure I tried but nothing really stood out compared to the rest. Both days I had four fish by 10 a.m., then had to work really hard to get a fifth fish and upgrade later in the afternoon. It was a 20.75-inch bass that pushed me into the lead around 2 p.m. on Day 1. That fish culled a 15-inch bass, so it helped a lot. The mid-day slot was tough both days.”
Grant, meanwhile, had planned to fish the middle of the lake for spotted bass, but when he saw largemouths cruising along the banks he immediately changed his game plan. “I ended up chasing every type of spawn that was going on – herring, shad and bass,” he revealed. “Everywhere I fished I caught some good ones, but I never really hammered any specific spot. Lake Hartwell really is a beautiful body of water. It has just about any type of fishing you might like to try with brush, banks, drop-offs and plenty of shoreline possibilities. As many of us saw this weekend, it can be challenging one day and really rewarding the next. If the fishing is off here, stick it out for a day or two and you can bet things will turn around. When they do, you are going to have a lot of fun!”
Like Minor, Grant fished a variety of patterns with no clear standout. A consistent performance, he tallied 83.5 inches on Day 1 and 85.25 inches on Day 2. With about two hours left on Day 2, he paddled 1.5 miles south to work some fish he had found during practice but couldn’t pull the big upgrade needed to catch Minor. “Sometimes you’ve got to swing for the fences,” he chuckled. “I gave it my best shot. Ewing had a great tournament. Just a little bit better than me, but I’m still proud with a second-place finish in this field. There were a lot of super kayak anglers on the water here. I think these 2021 Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole® events are terrific,” continued Grant. “They are exceptionally well run, and everyone is friendly and supportive. Plus, the chance to face the best kayak anglers in the nation again and again throughout the season is really special. If you’ve never given it a try, jump in. These tourneys are the best!”
Third-place finisher Matt Hawj had an impressive stretch run. After finishing 29th on Day 1 he tied Minor for the second highest daily score on Day 2 with 90.25 inches. “I was throwing wacky worms and spinnerbaits,” he revealed. “With the water high, I had some trouble on the first day finding fish in the brush where I expected them to be and that cost me in the long run. I had them figured out pretty good on Day 2, though. I moved to another launch ramp downriver and worked property edges that were mostly devoid of brush and laydowns. That pattern produced really well. I didn’t quite make it to the top of the leader board, but it sure was exciting to make that climb on the second day of competition.”