The second leg of the 2020 Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) held on Lake Fork, Texas promised to be a slugfest and it certainly was for those at the top of the leaderboard. It was also a challenging event that humbled many anglers as a double-digit temperature drop rolled in for day one of the tourney, while day two saw warming weather with more wind and heavy overcast skies. The changing conditions put the fish in some areas of the lake off their feed, but the largest B.O.S. field ever assembled from digging in to tally 511 fish caught and released.
“Those colder temperatures and dark, gray skies really threw everyone a curve ball,” said Hobie B.O.S. tournament director A.J. McWhorter. “While some participants were able to catch well during practice, that didn’t necessarily translate to fast fishing on the tournament days as the fish were feeding in very defined areas and focused on very specific patterns. Overall, the lake fished small, which meant some waters had to be shared. But the determination and cooperation of our 155 entrants highlighted what it is to be a part of this great sport and spoke volumes about the competition level as the top anglers unraveled the puzzle and climbed up the leader board.”
Indeed, looking at the big picture, it’s hard to imagine overall catches were off as three B.O.S. records fell on day one with plenty of drama, huge leaderboard shifts and some real lunkers rising to the occasion over the course of the two-day event. There was even a third-place tie that had to be decided by the largest bass between the two participants.
A little after 10 a.m., while punching some grass mats, Scotch realized he was working a big fish area and called over one of the camera boats. Within five minutes he hooked the biggest fish of the tournament, a 24.75” whopper that he hauled out onto a grass mat and then laid full out to grab as it flopped on the surface. As the largest bass ever checked in for a Hobie B.O.S. event, Scotch was awarded Bassin’ Big Bass.
“I can’t tell you how good it feels to pull a big fish after calling over the camera boat,” recalled Scotch. “I was absolutely stoked! I’ll always look back on that fish and smile.”
Rus Snyders, meanwhile, was pleased with his day-one performance.
“The grass mats I was looking for were pretty spread out, so I might find three or four in one area, then have to paddle a quarter-mile to get to the next set,” explained Snyders. “Early on day one I dropped a big bass that might have weighed 8 or 9 pounds. I was flipping near a big laydown when she swallowed my jig. I set the hook and got her pinned against the top of a tree, but she was thrashing and managed to slip free. I didn’t let that get to me though, because I knew there were other big bass in this lake, so I just put my head down and kept grinding.”
Snyders was getting the bites he needed on the fall throughout the first day and he steadily put together a solid limit of 98” with a top fish of 22.5” that slammed his jig with an hour to go. That left him eight inches behind Scotch going into day two.
“I knew Matt was hot,” said Snyders, “so I was comfortable sitting in second at that point.”
While Scotch and Snyders were piling up the points on Saturday, Ron Champion was doing his best to fish consistently and work toward a top-10 finish. He found some deeper, bigger fish on his graph holding off a point that spilled out into 15 feet of water where he planned to cull once he scored a limit. By 9 a.m. he picked five fish on Texas-rigged soft plastics from the 150-yard stretch that featured a mix of boat docks, wood and brush piles.
“Once I hit my limit, I headed over to a spot where a long, sloping point spilled out onto a flat with a creek channel nearby that had plenty of trees and structure,” said Champion. “It was a perfect place for females to pull up and stage before spawning. I drilled a 22.5-inch fish there in practice and lost one about 8 pounds, so I figured that would be a good place for a serious upgrade. That left me in seventh place at the end of day one.”
Despite being approximately 10 degrees warmer, day two proved tougher on most of the field, even some of the leaders. On day one, Scotch caught 14 fish and had tons of bites while many others struggled. Day two was totally different.
“I just couldn’t get bit,” he lamented. “I just couldn’t close it out. I lost an 18” fish, and missed a 5- or 6-pounder at 2:15 p.m. I didn’t fish clean on day two, and I didn’t make as many good decisions as I did on day one. I’m still proud of my performance, finishing third, but it just goes to show you how important it is to keep fishing hard. You never who might fall off the pace ahead of you.”
Champion also pointed to Sunday as a lesson in persistence. His goal for day two was to secure a top ten finish. With that point in mind, he aimed his Hobie PA14 toward his shallow water numbers stretch and posted a limit by 8:45 a.m.
“I stayed shallow for a while longer and began to really pick apart that stretch, upgrading with 18-, 17- and 22.25-inch fish,” said the Hobie regional team member. Then I went deeper and got a 22-incher that they filmed on Facebook Live. That was pretty neat. I spent most of the day in first place. I made some good decisions on Sunday, so I’m happy with how it all worked out.”
Snyders started day two by tossing a red crankbait and managed a few bass in open water around the grass before getting back to punching the mats.
“Day two was tough at first,” he revealed, I hit a lot of promising areas but couldn’t get bit. Finally, I found the fish stacked up pretty good and hit about six bass in an hour-and-a-half. That was the feeding window I needed. I never changed the type of cover I was working, I just made some small adjustments like trying a crankbait to see if the fish had come out from the matts with the heavy cloud cover or letting my jig sit on the bottom for four or five seconds once the bass stopped hitting it on the drop.”
Snyder, it should be noted, is on a real kayak bassin’ hot streak. Including the Hobie BOS on Lake Fork, he’s won the last four major tourneys in which he’s participated, and his victory on Lake Fork was by a substantial 10-inch margin.
“It just pays to keep casting and working until time runs out,” Snyder stated. “If you’ve been considering entering a Hobie B.O.S. tourney, I really think you should give it a try. Each event is held on a prime bass lake and the season is scheduled so you are fishing each water at a real productive point in the season. The prizes are great, but there’ also plenty of camaraderie, friends to make, opportunities to learn from the best, plus the chance to see how you stack up against the top kayak bassers around. These events are very well thought out and a whole lot of fun.”