HOBIE: Rookie Makes a Big Splash

August 31, 2022
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Bass fishing

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (August 31, 2022) - Anglers arriving for the 2022 Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole Wolf and Fox Rivers event in Appleton, Wisconsin, August 20 – 21, were excited. A first-time stop on the Hobie tour, the state’s two longest rivers promised a terrific mix of smallmouth and largemouth bass while featuring a variety of structure and fishing environments to match personal strengths.

When all was said and done, however, no one had taken greater advantage of the varied river conditions more expertly than Calvin Dee. The 23-year-old from Park, Illinois, fishing in his first B.O.S. event, dominated the field with big limits on both days of the two-day catch, photograph and release (CPR) tournament. Leading the field and showing amazing consistency throughout the competition, he checked in with exactly 91.75 inches of river smallmouth on both days for a winning tally of 183.50 inches of bass that held solid against stiff competition. Kristine Fischer of Nebraska and Guillermo Gonzalez of Texas earned the second- and third-place slots with 179.25 and 173 inches of bass, respectively. While many anglers did have a mix of smallmouth and largemouth bass in their hauls, it was the bronzebacks that dominated the leader board for this tourney.

“It’s really exciting when a newcomer to the Hobie trail makes a big splash,” said tournament director, A.J. McWhorter. “Calvin did a tremendous job here, and we had a couple of other first-timers who finished in the money as well. That’s impressive considering the talent depth of the field here. It really goes to show that everyone has a fair chance to make the leaderboard or even come out on top at these events. Our competitors know they have a level playing field when they arrive no matter how strong the competition, which is one reason these events continue to grow. Congratulations to Calvin for showing out with an impressively consistent performance.”

For their efforts, Dee took home $5,300, Fischer pocketed $2,850 and Gonzalez banked $1,950. Big Bass honors and a $500 check for the tourney’s largest fish went to Dustin Murguia, of Illinois, for a 20-inch smallmouth brute caught on Day 2. Additionally, AFTCO Angler of the Year (AOY) points were awarded to across the 89-angler field. Dee, Gonzalez and fourth-place finisher Richie McMichael of Kansas also punched tickets to the 2022 Hobie Tournament of Champions (TOC) on Caddo Lake, November 11-13, in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana. Fischer had previously qualified. The TOC is a three-day 50-angler championship with a $100,000 payout guarantee and $45,000 first-place prize.

A great start helped put Dee, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, where he fished on the college bass team, in a great frame of mind. “Even though school was only an hour or so away, I had only fished here three or four times. That helped, of course, but I wouldn’t say it provided a big edge. While I hoped to finish well, I was surprised to find myself in the lead, especially after Day 1. I was fishing a spot where a tributary flows into the Wolf and dumps a whole bunch of bait in there, so I figured it would be a good place to start. By 9:30 a.m. I already had a limit, and then I pulled a 19-inch brute so I guess you could say things went well right from the start.”

Indeed, Dee had his fish locked up and stayed on them for both days of the competition. On Day 1 he threw a 3-inch Megabass Hazedong Shad swimbait which produced right from the start. Hoping to give the fish a different look on Day 2, he switched to a hair jig tipped with a flatworm and hopped the combo across the bottom. “It’s hard to imagine I pulled matching limits on both days considering I used different lures,” he quipped. “By 1 p.m. on Day 2, I was pretty much done and headed off the water to grab a bite to eat since the big fish bite had slowed and my smallest bass was 17.75 inches.”  

Fischer, hot off an inspiring 5th place finish at the Hobie Worlds 9 in Amal, Sweden, August 12 – 14, didn’t have much time to practice so she did some map research and concluded the stretch of Fox River flowing through downtown Appleton should hold good opportunities for solid fish. She chose to work very shallow fast-moving water, mostly tossing a bladed jig and Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Lil’ Trooper crawdad imitation on a Ned Head. That combo accounted for most of her fish, and her biggest smallmouth of the tourney.

“I had all smallies to 19.5 inches,” revealed Fischer. I got out of the gate fast with a quick limit, and then culled my way to a third-place finish on Day 1. I finished in the third spot on Day 2, also. The key for me was working around current breaks and keeping my lures tight to industrial structure. I was happy with my performance, but with Calvin taking the top spot both days, there was just no way to catch him. His performance was far superior to that of everyone else.”

Fisher called Dee’s performance inspiring. “I think seeing a grass roots local angler come out and compete successfully against some of the best kayak bassers in the country is amazing,” she continued. “The competition can be intimidating here if you’re new to the trail, but you have to remember that all of us have faced that issue at some point in our careers. Calvin’s victory reenforces that you just have to dig in and go after it.”

Both Dee and Fischer gave shouts out to their Hobie kayaks for playing a pivotal role in their success. “My Hobie PA14 360 with Mirage Drive really made a positive difference in this tournament,” explained Fischer. “You couldn’t get as shallow as I was with a prop drive.”

Dee was equally impressed with his Hobie’s performance. “This is my first season with my Hobie Outback, and it’s really made a difference when it comes to staying on the fish in river environments. I’ve had two-first place and one second-place finishes in local club events and that’s due in a large part to enjoying great maneuverability and a hands-free experience. My Outback helps me fish more efficiently.

As for Gonzalez, he piled-up third-place points fishing in strong current and targeting areas which featured a bend, sea wall or point for bass to pin baitfish against. He also had some fish around current breaks like bridges, and on a few high spots.

“I worked a spinnerbait and small jig to score with smallies and a few bigmouths, but only the bronzebacks made the mark,” he stated. On Day 2, fishing a current break, I found a ton of mixed species stacked up in one spot where I had to mow through about 15 nice walleye and 30 freshwater drum to get my bass. It was fun for a while but eventually I had to move on to concentrate strictly on the bass. Who could imagine fishing through big walleye could grow frustrating?”

Gonzalez congratulated Dee for his strong performance, noting it was one of his first national events. “He really showed out against so many amazing anglers,” he stated. “That was impressive, and I look forward to fishing against him in the Hobie Tournament of Champions.”

Which is exactly where Dee is headed. “Everything about the Hobie BOS Series is well done,” he concluded. I couldn’t be more thrilled with how things turned out at this event – and qualifying for the TOC is awesome. To be one of only 50 people in the whole country fishing together on one lake is crazy, and the prize money is outstanding. I can’t wait.”

McWhorter, too, was pleased with the Fox and Wolf Rivers experience. “Coming into this event anglers faced a lot of unknowns, but we learned quickly that this is an incredible fishery,” he stated. “We saw huge smallmouth, had an incredible limit take home the big check, and there was a good largemouth bite, too, although that didn’t translate to spots on the leaderboard this time around. The city of Appleton was a great destination for our competitors and we look forward to coming back here again.”

The final stop on the Hobie BOS Series trail before the T.O.C. is Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, Arkansas, September 17 and 18. It’s the last chance to qualify for the big show and should be a barn-burner. Register now if you hope to attend.