OCEANSIDE, Calif. (November 19, 2021) – The Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) anchored by Power-Pole® three-day Tournament of Champions (T.O.C.) was recently held on Alabama’s Lake Eufaula November 12 – 14, and crowned not only a new T.O.C. champion—Kristine Fischer—but also saw this year’s most consistent Hobie B.O.S. competitors vying for the coveted top spot in the Angler of the Year (A.O.Y.) award presented by FarWide, the Outdoor Access App. In addition to well-deserved recognition for superior performance throughout the season series, the top three finishers received significant cash and product prize packages.
The 2021 Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) anchored by Power-Pole 3rd Annual T.O.C. was the final stop on Hobie’s celebrated kayak bass fishing tour and brought together the 50 top kayak anglers in the B.O.S. series, including 2020 Grand Champion Ryan Lambert, the top 3 non-qualified finishers from each open event for the 2021 season, and the top 19 non-qualified competitors in the Angler of the Year (A.O.Y.) presented by FarWide. The A.O.Y. award recognizes the most consistent anglers in the series based on an accumulation of points earned from their top three B.O.S. open events during the current season, plus their T.O.C. performance. Total T.O.C. payout this year was a guaranteed $75,000, dispersed through the top 10 anglers (or 20% of the field), including a whopping $35,000 for the first-place finisher. There was also a $1,000 bounty for Bassin’ Big Bass honors, plus the A.O.Y. prizes awarded.
Tournament Director A.J. McWhorter notes, “Anglers fish all year long to qualify for the Hobie Tournament of Champions (T.O.C.). It’s one of the hardest events to qualify for in all of competitive kayak fishing. All the anglers there deserve to be there. With Kristine coming out on top she definitely earned the title of Grand Champion with her hard work during the season and for all three days of the event.”
He continues: “The FarWide A.O.Y. title is one of the most coveted titles in our series. It’s the culmination of the angler’s three best Open events and their performance in the T.O.C. Jordan Marshall’s strong performance in the T.O.C. elevated him into the top spot to be our Angler of the Year.” As mentioned, at the end of three days of heated competition, angler Kristine Fischer emerged on top in first place and a giant cardboard check for $35,000. She also finished second in the FarWide A.O.Y. race which paid out $3,000 and qualified her for the Hobie Fishing Worlds team.
Fischer remarks, “Winning still hasn’t sunk in. It’s the very last tournament of the year and also the most prestigious. It’s surreal really. I’ve won a lot of big kayak tournaments before but this is by far a pivotal point in my career. It’s my biggest win. It’s an absolute honor to show out in a room of fifty of the best kayak anglers in the country.”
In terms of preparation for the event and her actual performance, she bucked the trend of deeper water fishing to concentrate shallow, a move which obviously paid out in spades for her. Fischer remarks, “Going into the event, the research that I had done on Lake Eufaula led me to believe that it was a pretty famous offshore lake, meaning forward-facing sonar and deep brush would come into play. I knew a couple of the local tournaments had been won doing that—fishing the main river channel drains and a lot of the deeper stuff. But I decided to stay away from the popular creeks. I wanted to keep away from the areas that were going to receive a lot of pressure. I wanted to do something a little different. Obviously, with a three-day tournament it’s very important to manage the fish. I was looking for something a little more consistent while power fishing shallow. I fished in less than four or five feet of water all three days. My pattern consisted of running main lake willow grass anywhere like the mouths of pockets or halfway back where there were sparse patches of willow grass or isolated sections of it or long sections along the main lake where the grass formed a point—there would be fish relating to that. I tried to cover new water all three days. When I got my limit I’d leave an area and go run something new. Instead of focusing on specific spots I’d cover a lot of water.”
While covering vast amounts of Lake Eufaula, the design of Fischer’s Hobie PA 14 360 definitely came into play as she fought weather on days two and three.
“Days two and three were particularly windy; especially day two. Fishing out on the main lake, I was on the southeast side and all of the northwest wind was blowing into the area I was fishing. The Hobie PA 14 360’s maneuverability allowed me to continue to fish effectively without being blown into the bank grass or getting out of control with my casting angles. The boat allowed me to maintain the boat control I needed to make really effective casts and catch fish in very high winds. The boat’s maneuverability is really second-to-none,” notes Fischer.
In terms of presentations, just how did she win? Staying versatile was definitely key. “I took about 17 rods with me to the tournament, but I had about eight that played a big role all three days. And my bite changed when the cold front came in on day two. On day one I was catching them punching and on a swim jig. Day 2 I was doing a lot of flipping—fishing fast with a ¾- and 5/16- and a 3/16-ounce bait depending on how thick the vegetation was. On day 3 I was fishing a Fluke and a weightless stickbait. I definitely fished a lot slower on Day 3.”
Marshall Takes A.O.Y.
Hobie’s Angler of the Year standings are based on the culmination of points earned from an angler’s top three B.O.S. open event finishes during the current season, plus their T.O.C. performance. The Top 100 anglers in each of the season’s ten open tournaments receive points starting at 100 for first place and decreasing by one point for each additional place (i.e., 99 points for second place, 98 points for third, etc.). Extra points are awarded for catching the largest limit or biggest bass of the day for an angler’s counted events. The T.O.C. was weighted heavier than other tournaments in the B.O.S. schedule, with a 2-point decrement per spot for the three-day tournament (i.e., 98 points for second place, 96 points for third, etc.).
“With the top five competitors separated by less than 7 points in the A.O.Y. standings, the pressure to perform was as substantial as the prizes,” explains McWhorter. “The first-place finisher Jordan Marshall received a check for $5,000, a spot on the United States Hobie World Fishing Team, plus a Hobie Pro Angler 14 360 kayak with a custom orange and black camo color scheme completely rigged by our great sponsors including Power-Pole, Marine-Mat, Lowrance, Railblaza and Flambeau. Second place A.O.Y. finisher Kristine Fischer earned a substantial prize package, $3,000 check and a spot on the U.S. Hobie World Fishing Team. Jaxton Orr, the bronze finisher, collected $2,000, a substantial prize package as well as a U.S. Hobie World Fishing Team spot.”
As mentioned, angler Jordan Marshall captured second place and a check for $10,000 plus the Angler of the Year (A.O.Y.) title for an additional $5,000 and a completely rigged Hobie Pro Angler 14 360. Like Fischer, Marshall qualified for the Hobie Fishing Worlds team.
Marshall notes, “It feels unbelievable. When I first started fishing Hobie events there wasn’t an Angler of the Year race. The goal was always to win the tournament. Last year my goal was to win the Tournament of Champions. This past year my goal was to get the Angler of the Year. After a very consistent season that’s what I had my sights on with this event. I’m super happy and super grateful to have that opportunity to compete in what I consider to be the best series in kayak fishing.”
Marshall continues: “Day one was fantastic but days two and three were more of a struggle. I really struggled on day two and didn’t make good decisions and day 3 I covered a lot of water throwing a Jack Hammer and culled three times in the last ten minutes of the tournament, registering my biggest fish of the tournament during that time. It really paid off to keep grinding all day. I was fishing shallow—little creeks on the upper end of the lake. Days one and two I was fishing mid-lake and fishing some creeks that people overlooked. Day 3 I covered probably 12 miles of river fishing nothing but the mouths of creeks. It was all about covering water with the Jack Hammer.”
Like Fischer, Marshall is a strong proponent of Hobie kayak fishability.
“I’ve fished out of the same Hobie PA 14 180 the last two years and it’s probably the fifth Hobie I’ve owned. It’s the only boat I can imagine being and having to cover the amount of water I fish, especially in situations like this past Sunday when I covered probably 12 miles and was able to be comfortable in the Vantage seat and my legs not give out on me. The Mirage Drive is by far the most efficient propulsion system of any kayak manufacturer on the water. Looking back, I’ve been using Hobie boats since 2013 and not just because I fish their events,” says Marshall. Looking forward to next year, Marshall says he’d like to repeat his work in A.O.Y. standings. “That’s really important to me. I’d also like to win a tournament. I’ve finished second place in the T.O.C. now two years in a row. I’d love to win the T.O.C. next year but for now I’m really focused on trying to swing for the fences and win one of the earlier tournaments. That’s the goal—win a big event—and stay on top of the A.O.Y. standings.”
A Strong Third Place Finish
A serious contender, Ron Champion took third place and $7500 in winnings. He also finished seventh in the A.O.Y. standings. In 2020 Champion finished sixth in the T.O.C. and second in A.O.Y.
Champion chuckles, “It was fantastic, I had a great event. I’m happy with my finish. Of course, I would’ve loved to have won the tournament. At 1:15 pm I was in the lead and I ended up upgrading a fish literally with seconds to go in the tournament. I thought that was my winning fish. But it didn’t end up being that way. Still, I’m very happy with third. It was a great time.”
As far as how he caught them, he says most of his bass were shallow. “I was targeting the fish that were in the water willow. I had an early morning pattern that would last about an hour to two—some offshore stuff throwing a jerkbait or a crankbait. The fish were feeding a little bit on shad. That bite was good for me in practice but kind of went away as the weekend approached. I still caught some fish that way but as the sun got brighter and the water warmed up the shallow bite really turned on. I was throwing a Senko or a Texas-rigged soft plastic in the thicker stuff. It was back and forth throughout the day.”
McWhorter concludes, “We started ten months ago with our first event on Lake Seminole in Bainbridge, Georgia, which is located on the Chattahoochee River and was our highest attended event and end ten months later at Lake Eufaula—also on the Chattahoochee River system—with our largest and most prestigious paying event. We’ve had an exciting season and we offer our congratulations to the winners in the T.O.C. and also the A.O.Y. race. Now what? We look forward to the start of the 2022 season in February as we keep expanding the circuit and raise awareness for the sport of kayak fishing.” If you’re interested in participating in the Hobie B.O.S. for 2022 check out www.hobiebos.com for all of the event details.