The fifth main event in Hobie’s new elite-level kayak tournament trail, the Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) on Lake St. Clair on Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30, was a huge success producing gigantic smallmouth bass and close competition. Hosted at the ConCorde Inn of Clinton Township, the event saw a skilled field catching an extraordinary number of trophy smallmouth bass over the two-day tournament.
“For those who enjoy fishing for smallmouth bass, Lake St. Clair is an absolute mecca,” says Tournament Director, AJ McWhorter. “The numbers of quality fish available and the potential for a trophy-size bass is second-to-none. St. Clair’s bass are fighting current constantly, so they are so aggressive and strong. Every time you set the hook you feel like you’ve hooked into the biggest you’ve ever caught and a lot of times those fish are just 3-pounders. They’ll give you everything you want time and time again; that’s what makes that lake so special as a fishery.”
The St. Clair tournament turned out to be one of the closest B.O.S. events ever judged in Hobie’s Catch-Photo-Release format. “We had 3/4 inch separating our top four anglers and another 3/4 inch separating our next four anglers, so the competition was really close and really exciting!” McWhorter shares. “These anglers were all catching quality fish with most averages over 18 inches for their two-day 10-fish totals. Every 1/4 inch made a difference. It was exciting to watch and judge, and for the anglers, it was one of the best fishing experiences they’d ever had.”
During prefishing the week leading up to the event, anglers were posting double hookups, personal-best smallmouth upwards of 21 inches, and enjoying phenomenal weather. Everyone was getting excited and feeling confident that Lake St. Clair was living up to its reputation. But most anglers also realized how close the competition might be. In a tournament where success is judged in inches and not weight, a 1/4 inch more or less could make a significant difference in a competitor’s final standing.
Day one was a free-for-all battle with large numbers and massive fish landed. The bass were hungry, and anglers caught fish with all their favorite techniques. The smallmouth were in a postspawn transition, and competitors found them spread out over relatively shallow flats, which made targeting them an easy proposition. Anglers who found hard bottom with grass found the fish, and it became a culling game; ultimately, it would take a 19-inch average to stay in the top 20.
Hobie B.O.S. Kentucky Lake Champion, Kristine Fischer, jumped into the lead and stayed there for quite awhile with five bass totaling 93 inches. She found success with reaction baits, and a soft plastic paddle tail swimbait was her trick for the bigger fish. She upgraded to finish day one with 96.25 inches and ended up sitting in third place. Angler Eric Siddiqi also had 93 inches by 10 a.m. His fish were eating well and he landed approximately 40 fish over the course of the day. He ended day one with 96 inches in tie for fourth place.
“Day one I had a lot of bites,” Siddiqi says. “I probably had 10 bites in the first 30 minutes of the tournament, but I didn’t fish very clean. I lost over half of them. They kept jumping off so I had to make some changes. I fished a small swimbait and a tube most of the day.”