Featured Image Credit: Hobie Fishing
The Concorde Inn in Clinton Township was the headquarters for the 2019 Hobie BOS on Lake St. Clair June 29-30. In its inaugural season, “the Hobie Bass Open Series aims to provide a true open format and an elite feel for kayak anglers across the country. Each Open allows the top finishing angler to earn a spot on the North American Team for the Hobie Fishing Worlds 9 and the Top 6 finishing anglers earn a highly coveted spot in the 50 angler culmination of the season, known as the Tournament of Champions.” – Hobie BOS
Anyone who has attended one of these events knows they are living up to their goals.
Hobie Bass Open Series – The Inaugural Season
AJ McWhorter, Kevin Nakada and Morgan Promnitz have built a tournament series that is professionally run while highlighting the anglers and the venues. The environment they create at each event embodies the true sense of what attracts a lot of kayak anglers; a sense of community and camaraderie. From the daily updates during the events to boats moving around to locate anglers in order to include pictures from not only the leaders, but all anglers; to the meals they provide allowing anglers to interact with each other (to meet each other on a more personal level) – you quickly get a sense that these events are something special.
Jim Orr made the comment that entering the Hobie Bass Open Series is like paying “an entry fee to a family reunion – a fee I will gladly pay to be a part of! You pull in and recognize the vehicles after a while. It is not even about winning any more… that is just the bonus.” It feels like these guys are not just working with a company, they are living the company; they invest in you and take the time to learn your name and acknowledge your value.
Hobie has chosen iAngler, owned by Michael Christopher, as the tournament software and they manage the judging in an extremely efficient manner. At most events, by the time everyone has eaten and the team has given out some really great door prizes, the results are final. The top competitors are then brought up on stage and allowed to talk about what worked for them; all on a live broadcast.
If you are a kayak angler, or you are just considering getting your feet wet in the kayak fishing space; the Hobie Bass Open Series offers an excellent choice. This is just the inaugural season, but there is definitely much to look forward to next year.
Hobie Bass Open Series – Pre-fishing Lake St. Clair
Several anglers found the opportunity to get to Lake St. Clair early and were not disappointed with the fishing. Eric Siddiqi, a Cincinnati native who had won the event in 2018, fished a two mile stretch on the Canadian side of the lake, an area he had fished the last two years, and the fishing was still good. He was finding bigger fish, but the numbers didn’t appear to be in that area so he shifted to another pattern targeting a hard bottom and some rocky areas. He targeted slightly bigger rocks or small humps, maybe a foot shallower with rocks, and found the size and numbers he thought he needed. Swimbaits and tubes from a local company was proving to be successful.
Kristine Fischer was also on the Canadian side and catching large numbers of fish. She posted a video that chronicles the amount of success she had fishing on the lake. It seems that she and Eric were both targeting the same general area and finding size and numbers. Her video can be found here; Kristine – Pre fishing Lake St. Clair.
Left to Right: Kevin Nakada, Kristine Fischer, Matthew Scotch, and Jaxton Orr. Photo credit: Krisitine Fischer
Matthew Scotch had driven up from Ft. Worth to take a second shot at St. Clair. He had attended the event last year. “Last year, I didn’t understand the lake and struggled on day one…but I figured it out during pre-fishing this year”. Matthew was also covering water on the Canadian side also and found fish on swimbaits and a DT6 crankbait in anywhere from four to twelve foot of water.
The father and son team of Jim and Jaxton Orr from Indiana also came up a bit early to try their luck fishing for the legendary smallmouth of St. Clair. The duo stayed at the headquarters from Wednesday through Sunday testing both sides of the lake. On Thursday, they fished the Canadian side then moved to the American shore on Friday, splitting the lake with Jim at Metro Park and Jaxton going to Nine Mile, before returning to the Canadian side.
They found the water temperature to differ by ten degrees along with the water clarity between the two launches; and found grass they found in some areas was eight to ten foot tall. After launching about 3.5 miles from the Detroit river in Canada, they caught over 130 fish with many between 18 and 20-inches. They learned that dragging tubes and a ned rig over the dark spots, which were rocks, was the ticket for them.
Hobie Bass Open Series – The Tournament Begins on Lake St. Clair
There were mayfly hatches happening, the Canadian portion of St. Clair had only been open a short while and the fishing was (according to all reports) “on fire” for day one. The top twenty-four recorded over 90-inches of fish. Dustin Murguia (Dusty Yakker) had a two-inch lead over the second-best angler Jim Orr and only a quarter of an inch separated second and third place held by Kristine Fischer.
In fourth place after day one, Eric Siddiqi had turned in 96-inches, getting ten bites in the first thirty minutes. Three years earlier, he had found them on a ned rig, but used a pumpkin colored tube to hide the moss that it would collect as he dragged it across the bottom, he stated that was the ticket.
Jim and Jaxton were very concerned when they launched from ramp in Canada and everyone went left, and they had turned right. It is always a concern when a group of solid sticks head in a different direction, but they both found fish with Jim ending the day in second place using a ned rig and senkos and Jaxton managing a fifteenth-place finish dragging tubes.
Matthew Scotch’s DT6 pulled him into ninth position, 4-inches out of the lead.
Hobie Bass Open Series – Changes and Adaptations on Day 2
Day two of the Hobie Bass Open Series saw the fishing change. The Saturday mayfly hatches had created “mayfly slicks”; piles of dead mayflies laying on the surface of the water. The wind had pushed these slicks into Canadian waters and the fish seemed to be laying under them, occasionally coming up to get a mouth full for an easy meal; so, they were not chasing a lot for some of the anglers.
Eric didn’t have the same number of bites early and placed seventh for day two, Matthew didn’t record a fish until 9 a.m. and was fifth.
Jaxton Orr netting a solid smallmouth! Photo credit: Jim Orr
Jaxton, who had lost several fish on Saturday was able to move up 13 spots for day two just behind Richard Ofner; but both he and Jim (in thirteenth on the 2nd day) stated the bite was different for them and Kristine noted the same managing ninth. The leaderboard for day two definitely reflected the change in conditions; but the anglers were still catching limits (16 over 90-inches) that on most bodies of water would be impressive enough to win.
Hobie Bass Open Series – The Third and Final Day
Day three of the Hobie Bass Open Series fished similarly to day 2, but anglers adapted and once all of the catches were tallied, ANGLR Expert Eric Siddiqi had defended his title at St. Clair and punched his ticket to the 2020 Hobie Worlds with a total of 188.75-inches! Kristine Fischer finished only .5 inches behind him and will be attending the Worlds with Eric after qualifying at her win on Kentucky Lake. Both anglers have been extremely consistent this year and continue to be at the top in every tournament.
Matthew Scotch had moved from ninth on day one to finish in third overall; finishing below Kristine due to a tiebreaker. Jim Orr was a quarter-inch out of third, with Jaxton moving into the top ten; only three-quarters of an inch behind his dad.
Richard Ofner, who was kind enough to allow other top anglers to stay with him during the tournament, finished in the top 5, just one inch off the lead after being 17th on day one and leading the pack on day two.
Eric repeatedly says that kayak fishing is a game of quarter inches and that is evident in the top 8 anglers; the first gap of more than a quarter inch happened between number eight (RJ Hoover) and number nine (Jay Wallen).
Hobie Bass Open Series – More on the Anglers
Left to right: Eric Siddiqi, Kristine Fischer, Jim Orr, Matthew Scotch, and Richard Ofner. Photo credit: Hobie Fishing
Eric Siddiqi, just a few weeks from attending Hobie Worlds 8 in Australia, continued his strong season by pulling down another top finish; gaining him a ticket to the Worlds in 2020. He has gained a lot of knowledge and skill since first fishing from a local lake just a few short years ago in Ohio. He has become one of the most recognizable anglers in the kayak world, or on many of the ramps where he has been found sleeping in his truck; doing whatever is required to attend tournaments across the U.S..
Having already qualified for the Hobie Worlds next year and the Tournament of Champions this year; Nebraska native Kristine Fischer added yet another top finish to her resume with the second-place finish on St. Clair. The continued success in BOS events and during KBF events makes her one of the top anglers in 2019 and is someone to watch for in any event. The skill and professionalism she displays on the water is always impressive. Both Jim and Jaxton (and others agree, including myself) were quick to comment on how she is not only a great angler, but that she is always willing to help others learn new water and techniques. She actually spent time fishing with several folks who ranked toward the top, and has put together several videos since the event that recap her tournament and pre-fishing strategy.
Matthew Scotch’s success over the last eight years of kayak fishing is undeniable, and is far removed from his previous career. Matthew was a trained chef who attended Culinary School at 18, then worked in that role for 10 years. It was the purchase of a kayak to fish when he wasn’t preparing meals that brought him into the community. He quickly found kayak tournaments and won several Hobie Outbacks fishing in Oklahoma. When someone asked what he was going to do with them, he decided to turn those “trophies” into a business. He is now a full-time angler and guide out of Ft. Worth, Texas. Matthew is on the Hobie Fishing Team, sponsored by NRS, Accent Lures and Mariner Sails. His guide service, Lonestar Kayak Guide can be found on Facebook and offers guided trips and would be worth checking out if you are in the area.
Jaxton Orr is an extremely talented young angler. With the support of his father Jim, they have become highly recognizable fixtures on both the Hobie trails and at KBF events when school or work doesn’t interfere. Fishing is truly a family event for these two; they do all of their tackle planning together, map study including marking the ramps and scouring maps for features and locations. Then once Jaxton finds the best spots, Jim finds calls to make sure they have a publicly accessible ramp – then the two trust their guts. These two have the potential to win any event.
Jim is quick to tell you “it is not about the podium, I go out to fish with Jaxton; the memories we are creating on the water are what matters. To see when he catches one and I get to see the fist pumps… we can truly share this, it isn’t like sitting in the stands watching him in a basketball game”. These two personify what I love about kayak tournament fishing; Jim is proud that his son is a part of this sport and knows that he is among a great group of people.
“I have a lot of respect for those who are committed to this and chasing their dreams. Going to these tournaments, I am supporting the people that changed my life, and Jaxton’s life.”
The industry is also recognizing this young man. He is on the Hobie fishing team and sponsored by: Picasso Lures, St. Croix Rods, Trokar, Ram Mounts, Tourney Tag, TourneyX, Fishing Online, Cal Coast Fishing, PONDwarrior, Bayou Bug Jigs and Dry Dock Marine Center. Keep your eyes open for Jaxton at every event.
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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