Kayak anglers rise to the challenge

OCEANSIDE, Calif. — It was no secret last weekend’s Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored By Power-Pole event on Lake Sam Rayburn in Jasper, Texas, was going to be challenging. Recent flooding in the region had left the waters of the 140,000-acre reservoir, the largest lake in the Lone Star State, a whopping 8 to 12 feet above normal in some areas.

Still, with the opportunity to fish what many bass fans consider a “bucket list” destination for fast action and lunker fish, 114 kayak anglers set out fully focused and determined to make the best of their shot in the two-day photo, catch and release (CPR) tournament – no excuses. As things turned out, none were needed as the elite fleet of kayak sharpies fanned out across the big lake and tallied 1,406 largemouths measuring up to 24-inches in length, nearly two dozen of which stretched the tape past the 20-inch mark.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of these anglers,” said tourney director A.J. McWhorter at the event’s conclusion. “These guys and gals put it all on the line every time we get together. They’ll rise above any challenge Mother Nature puts in their way and keep on catching. With the high water and many launch ramp and access points closed due to the flooding, it would have been easy to get down at this competition, but not with this crew. Although I feel like we only scratched the surface of the overall potential here, this lake and its surrounding community gave us a serous glimpse of what it has to offer on an everyday basis while our fleet got to showcase their incredible determination and amazing fishing skills.”

Indeed, 88 anglers filled their five-fish limits on Day 1 and 84 anglers limited out on Day 2. The top seven finishers all measured at least 170 inches of bass for their full two-day ten-fish limits. Still, none scored better than Bryan Scarberry. The 32-year-old from Boerne, Texas, put up a solid haul of bass measuring 86.25 inches for the seventh spot on Day One, then followed up with a whopping 97 inches on Day 2 to seal a victory in his first-ever Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored By Power-Pole event. Jim Ware, 51, of Rome, Ga., captured the silver with 177.5 inches of bigmouths while 26-year-old Caleb Helbig of Connor, Texas, also fishing in his first Hobie event, grabbed third place with a 176.25-inch total.