Oceanside, Calif. – The third event in Hobie’s new elite-level kayak tournament trail, the Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.), on Kentucky Lake, Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19, was a success on many levels. Sponsored by the Kentucky Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau and Calvert City and hosted by Kentucky Dam Village, the event saw participants catch an extraordinary number of bass during the two days.
“Anytime in a kayak tournament when you have over 100 anglers it really elevates the payout, the notoriety of the event, and there’s obviously a higher level of competition. With so many incredible anglers in this event a top ten finish was a respected, difficult feat,” says tournament director, AJ McWhorter.
“With this event in May, it allowed anglers the opportunity to find fish in all stages of the spawn. There were plenty of fish caught throughout the event, but the anglers who caught the larger ones found most of them in shallow water. 100 anglers turned in over 720 fish in two days and we found the bite was outstanding. There were a lot of fish caught; it was truly impressive. Everyone is definitely looking forward to coming back to Kentucky Lake for future events,” says McWhorter.
Winning angler Kristine Fischer of Weeping Water, Neb., credits her win to “a lot of determination and hard work and a relentless passion for competitive kayak fishing.”
“I don’t think I could even fathom what winning a tournament of this stature would be like, but when I stood on stage with the first place trophy it really sunk in. The amount of support from the kayak fishing community and the fishing world in general is overwhelming to me right now.
"My whole plan before I got to the tournament was to fish ledges as my strength is deep-water fishing, and I’ve been looking forward to a bite in water deeper than 10 feet since January. So on Thursday, I spent the entire day graphing ledges only to find the bass to be very scattered and unpredictable. I then made the decision Thursday night that I was going to go far south and try to find shallow fish that could be a little more predictable. I used basic tools like Google Earth and Navionics to find bushes and anything different in areas that I assumed would hold fish. I planned on launching at about five or six different ramps and just run and gun until I could find a solid bite,” says Fischer.
“I got to my first spot at 5 a.m., which was about two hours south of where I was staying. I was hoping to find some topwater action during practice, so I threw a buzzbait burning it pretty fast because I’m not necessarily trying to hook fish. I just want to gauge the quality and quantity of fish in an area for competition day. I caught a 16 1/2-incher, then an 18 1/2-inch fish and pulled my buzzbait away from two big fish. You could say that gave me a little bit of confidence in that spot,” Fischer said with an assuring smirk.
"I knew I could put together a limit, so I made the call and put all my eggs into one basket. On the first day I got to the launch ramp and didn’t see another kayaker. I got out on the water and started throwing the buzzbait and by 6:30 a.m. I had lost five fish including three really large fish. My whole year has kind of gone that way… My nerves got the best of me up to this point; my Fitbit came unbuttoned, and I sat back to take a moment telling myself this tournament wasn’t going to go that way. The bite window was short, so I concentrated and put 89 1/2 inches in the boat in the next hour and a half. I didn’t know if the area was going to reload with fish or not. I made the decision to leave that spot alone for day two of the tournament.
"On the morning of day two, I got to the spot and the water temperature had risen several degrees which had me a little concerned that those big fish might move out. It was also raining hard and the wind picked up. I got a small limit in the first hour and a half on a spinnerbait but no big bites—not enough to win the tournament, so I had to make the decision to stick around for the big fish to show up or move. My gut instincts kicked in and for some reason I just knew those big fish were there in that creek and I had to figure out a way to catch them. I ended up throwing about nine different baits over the course of the day depending on what the sun, wind and rain were doing. I was using my Lowrance SideScan frequency on a flat looking for anything that looked different. I ended up culling two fish when the sun finally started to creep out and went back into the creek casting a swim jig proceeding to cull several more times. I probably caught 35 fish by 10:30 a.m., and it was definitely one of the best fishing days number-wise I’ve ever had on Kentucky Lake. If a fish would short strike the swim jig, I’d flip a Caffeine Shad in there and catch the same fish. I stuck with the program, fished my spots, rotated through areas and put up some big numbers. I couldn’t have been happier with how everything turned out in that creek both days,” Fischer said with unwavering confidence.
When asked what she plans to do now after winning such a prestigious event, Fischer said that she would take some camping gear and head down to southern Tennessee where she plans to fish muskies for four or five days and “disconnect and rest by enjoying some time on the water.”
But she’s also looking forward to fishing a host of upcoming kayak tournaments, including the next Hobie-sponsored events.
“I absolutely love fishing the Hobie events. I’ll be at the Opens and might hit one or two Satellite Events. I do feel like it’s a huge weight off my shoulders now qualifying for the Hobie Tournament of Champions, which was my main goal this year. Now I can go out there and just have a good time and enjoy fishing on the water. Cashing another check or two would be neat, but mostly I’m looking forward to being able to fish deep. I’m looking forward to a ledge bite on Lake Guntersville and some good frog fishing. St. Clair is also an unmatched fishery—I’m definitely looking forward to a little bit of free fishing time up there,” said Fischer.
With regards to the current buzz surrounding her win as an elite-level female kayak angler at such a prestigious tournament, she says she’s never wanted to be singled out yet understands the effect her win could have by inspiring other female anglers.
“All the years I’ve been fishing I’ve never wanted to be considered a female angler. Honestly, I’ve just wanted to blend in with the rest of the competitive anglers and be respected as an angler and not have any extra accreditations that come with being a rarity in the sport. After the last few days I’m developing a different perspective because I’ve had so many women reach out and say how incredibly inspiring this is. So, I realize it’s not necessarily about me—it’s something much bigger. Competitive kayak fishing can be an intimidating sport, it’s male dominated, and something you don’t see a lot of women excelling in because there just aren’t that many of us. If I could give any advice to female anglers it would be if you are truly passionate about something to go out there and do it with every single bit of your being and you will succeed if you believe in yourself.”
The Top 6 competitors at the event qualified for the Tournament of Champions on Arkansas’ Lake Ouachita slated for Nov. 9 and 10. The top 6 competitors include Kristine Fischer, First Place, 178 inches; Joshua Stewart, Second Place, 170.25 inches; Eric Siddiqi, Third Place, 169.5 inches; Cody Milton, Fourth Place, 167 inches; Adam Riser, Fifth Place, 165 inches; and Guillermo Gonazalez, Sixth Place, 162.5 inches.
“This will be our sixth year hosting the Hobie Bass Open on Kentucky Lake. It’s basically our home away from home, where we have brought elite kayak tournament fishing. The level of competition was at its very best at this event with regular leaderboard shifts ever few minutes. It puts you on the very edge of your seat just watching the leaderboard,” says Kevin Nakada, Hobie Fishing Team Coordinator.
“Emotionally, this tournament brought together our community like never before. When Kristine stood on the stage holding her first place trophy, the competitors stormed the stage to congratulate her. It brought anglers from all across the country and grew the kayak fishing tournament family. We can’t wait to see what happens at our next Hobie B.O.S. event at Lake Fork, Texas.”