OCEANSIDE, Calif. — For a super-elite set of kayak bass anglers, the 2021 season will boil down to having a great performance on Alabama’s Lake Eufaula this weekend, November 12 – 14, at the Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole® three-day Tournament of Champions (T.O.C.), The season finale for the B.O.S. series should provide qualifying anglers plenty of room to explore for bass as the 45,000-acre impoundment of the Chattahoochee River, officially known as Walter F. George Lake, is 31 miles long and sports over 640 miles of shoreline.
“An exciting season that has taken us all over the country ends in Eufaula, Alabama, at our Tournament of Champions,” says tournament director A.J. Mcwhorter. “It all comes down to this, our most prestigious event. Every one of our qualifiers have worked hard to get to this point, and we can’t wait to see how everything unfolds during three exciting days of competition. You can bet whoever comes out on top will have earned the honor.”
The 2021 Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole 3nd Annual T.O.C. is the final stop on Hobie’s celebrated kayak bass fishing tour and brings 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 Outdoor Access App, competition. 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.
Ten B.O.S. regular-season events, spread across the country, plus the Hobie T.O.C, allow the series’ top finishers to showcase their skills, compete for the toughest and most highly prized title in kayak bass fishing, and gain the final qualifying spots for the Hobie Fishing Worlds 10. Total T.O.C. payout this year will be 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’s also a $1,000 bounty for Bassin' Big Bass honors, plus significant prizes for the top three finishers in the coveted A.O.Y. award.
“I feel blessed to be headed for the T.O.C.,” says Katherine Field of Ivins, Utah. “I’ve had a dream to make it here and after all the hard work I’m having trouble believing it’s finally come true. I was thinking I could accumulate enough A.O.Y. points to get in, but I managed a 3rd-place finish at the Lake Champlain event and now I’m headed to the championship round. Imagine that!”
Field attributes at least some of her success this year to a significant improvement in her finesse swimbait presentation. “It helped me cash checks all year long, so I’ll stick with that approach on Lake Eufaula. I enjoy throwing them, and they score well for me when the fish are finicky. I work them with a spinning outfit that features a Daiwa Tatula LT3000 reel. It’s compact, lightweight and perfectly balanced. It also takes a beating so I can keep casting all day long with no tackle concerns. Hopefully, that gives me a bit of an edge this weekend – which I’ll need because it will be my first time on this lake.”
Another edge Field is counting on is her Hobie PA14 360. “I put 1,000 miles on that kayak this year,” continues Field. “It’s so stable, exceptionally maneuverable and it’s held up great.”
Guillermo Gonzalez, meanwhile, heads to the T.O.C. with plenty of momentum following a 5th place finish at the La Crosse event and a win at Lake Pickwick. Currently 4th in the A.O.Y. standings, he’s hoping to pull off a double championship this weekend. “The competition on the Hobie B.O.S. trail is simply outstanding,” notes the Fort Worth, Texas kayak bassin’ sharpie.” When you consider the caliber of the anglers that show up to these events, it’s really gratifying to even be in the mix. It’s going to be challenging. There’s simply no room for mistakes.”
Like Fields, this will be Gonzalez’s first visit to Lake Eufaula. “I’m looking forward to learning this lake and I couldn’t be more excited to get things started. “I’ll probably fish a little on the upper lake and a little on the lower lake to see what I like best and then try to figure things out from there. I’m loaded up with my St. Croix rods and ready to go. I’ll lean heavily on my Legend Tournament Sweeper Spinnerbait casting rod. It’s on my deck just about any day of the year. It’s great with spinnerbaits, but I also love it for working chatterbaits, topwater baits and buzzbaits.
Mike Baird of Frankfort, Kentucky, is also looking forward to getting competition underway. “My practice schedule has been limited due to my work schedule. It’s my first time on this lake, too, but I’ve poked around enough to get a good feel for things,” he stated. “
Baird managed to qualify for the T.O.C. with A.O.Y. points, his best finishes coming on Lake Hartwell (18), Lake Champlain (16) and Watts Bar (26). “You don’t have to win a tourney to make the big show here,” he continues,” but you do have to earn your way in because the biggest names in kayak bass fishing show up at every one of these events.”
Baird prides himself on being versatile. “It was 20 degrees when we went to Watts Bar,” he noted, “and very windy on Lake Dardanelle. Plus, every lake is different in terms of habitat, water depth and even flow. The ability to adapt is definitely a key to being competitive. One thing that really helps me in that regard is my St. Croix Premiere graphite crankbait rod. The 7’, medium-heavy, moderate action is my all-time favorite fishing rod. It’s sensitive, strong, and has the perfect amount of flex when you hook-up so you never have to adjust your drag during battle.”
Joey Vanyo of North Field, Minnesota qualified for the T.O.C. by finishing 2nd at the Lake Seminole event and via A.O.Y points. Like Field, Gonzalez and Baird, this will be his first visit to bassy Lake Eufaula.
“This is a bucket-list lake for me,” explains Vanyo, who is making his first Hobie B.O.S. Tournament of Champions appearance. “Back home,” we’ve already gone through the fall transition, so I’m looking forward to seeing nice green grass on the lake here. That’s right in my wheelhouse. This is my first season fishing the B.O.S. series and we’ve hit a lot of lakes that haven’t had much grass, so Lake Eufaula has been a welcomed sight. I like my odds given so much green vegetation. I’m planning to attack this lake with a Megabass Vision ONETEN jerkbait. I’ll fish it aggressively across the top of the grass and slowly along the edges using a St. Croix Mojo Bass Glass rod teamed with a Daiwa Tatula Elite spinning reel. That combination has worked well for me in these situations.”
So, then, the table is set as the qualifiers prepare to battle it out for the Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole® Tournament of Champions (T.O.C.) crown. Those heading to the event can expect great fishing, fierce competition, and a warm welcome from the city of Eufaula.
“We’re excited to be hosting the Hobie B.O.S. championship event,” says Eufaula City Mayor, Jack Tibbs. “We’re looking forward to your visit and encourage competitors to bring their families along. We’ve got three campsites right on the lake within our city limits, plus a historic downtown district with plenty of restaurants, shops and things to do, so plan to stick around for a few days after the event. We’re sure you’ll have a fun time.”
“This is going to be another great T.O.C. tournament,” sums-up McWhorter, “and we’re looking forward to seeing all our competitors get out on the water and make things happen as only they can do. Before we get started, however, I want to thank everyone for coming to our events all season long, supporting these tourneys, and keeping this series focused on the anglers. It’s you who ensure this series is such a big success.”