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Mississippi River up next for the Bass Open Series

HOBIE B.O.S. TACKLES THE MIGHTY MISSISSIPPI

Elite Field of Kayak Fishing Competitors Gear Up to Battle Bigmouths and Bronzebacks in the Fabled Waters of La Crosse, WI

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (July 1, 2020) – The Hobie B.O.S. (Bass Open Series) has sights set on some mighty big waters for its next event. The premiere kayak bass tournament is sliding into La Crosse, WI, July 11 and 12, to take on the mighty Mississippi River and its burgeoning population of smallmouths and Northern-strain largemouth bass.

“We’ll be fishing pools 7, 8 and 9 for this event, a stretch of the river rich in bass fishing history and incredible opportunities for our anglers,” says Hobie B.O.S. Tournament Director, A.J. McWhorter. “MLF, BASS and FLW have all held major competitions here, and this June saw the 2020 High School Fishing World Finals & National Championships converge on the area. Competitors can expect to test themselves on a true river system that is level, flow-dependent, and full of feisty Northern-strain largemouth bass, bronzebacks and other species. Naturally, we’ll be following COVID-19 requirements for this event. We’ll notify all participants the week of the tournament as to which headquarters and check-in system will be used.”

An exceptionally diverse expanse, this part of the Mississippi River has bass habitat to compliment the strengths of any angler. Covering over 75,000 acres in total, pools 7, 8, and 9 each feature a main river channel, plenty of deep water, ledges, sand bars, islands, rip rap, wing dams, break walls, and seemingly endless backwater areas filled with inviting brush-lined banks, laydowns and shallow, lush, vegetation ranging from weed mats to lily pads. With some serious pre-event scouting, participants should have little problem finding a bit of rested water and a few spots to themselves.

Several areas boast great cut banks and overhanging trees, catering to anglers who enjoy flipping and pitching.

Jeremiah Burish, 31 and Director of Sports Sales & Events for Explore La Crosse, will be a first-time B.O.S. participant in the Mississippi event, and can’t wait to get started. It’s his job to promote these waters, and the experienced tournament kayak angler knows them as well or better than anyone else. “This is one of the best fisheries in the country in terms of combining quantity and quality catches,” he says. “We don’t have the giant fish you might see at Chickamauga or Kissimmee Lake, but we have an outlandish number of fish in the 15- to 19-inch class, and plenty of ways to connect with them. This should be an extremely exciting tournament. I plan to throw a lot of topwater frogs and swim jigs to start, but I’ll certainly switch things up if needed.”

Changing water levels can also make things interesting on the mighty Mississippi, notes Burish. Currently, the river is running at its lowest point since 2017. That, he explains, can make it easier to find the fish since some bass in the shallows will gravitate to deeper pockets. “Being a river system, however, water flow and depth can change overnight – or even hourly – so nobody knows who’s strengths will be favored at any point in the contest,” he cautions. “Of the three pools, number 7 is the most lake-like, so that might be a good place to start your exploration.”

Kevin Workman, 37, a Hobie team member from Arlington, Nebraska, is also looking forward to the Mississippi event. He’s had two top-ten Hobie Bass Open finishes on Kentucky Lake, and fished the Lake Fork, Tennessee B.O.S. event earlier this year. Residing only six hours from La Crosse, he’s looking forward to fishing closer to home and hoping familiarity with these waters will bring him an edge.

“The most important thing you can do here is use your Navionics package and Google Earth to find funnel areas and places that should naturally hold fish,” he advises. “Make those your starting points and then break down the more intimate patterns of structure and depth. Look for the kind of vegetation you enjoy working or, if you prefer to fish deep, a pronounced bend in the channel with a little hump next to it. The waters around La Crosse are famous for frogging largemouths, but bring drop-shot rigs, too, as deeper areas can be loaded with smallmouths.”

Anglers should be wary when throwing moving baits, as they appeal to the toothy predators that claim the Mississippi River as their home. Kristine Fischer with a massive La Crosse northern pike.

Workman fishes out of a Hobie 360 PA14, which he says might be a game-changer for this event because it’s so stable, comfortable and versatile. “This ‘yak excels at positioning in the wind, navigating through trees, and slipping through tight passages. There’s big open water on these pools, and a lot of areas that are squeaky tight in the backwaters. My 360 should help me present baits the best way possible in every situation.”

Tyler Cole, 41, of Hopkinton, Iowa, is another kayak angler making his Hobie B.O.S. debut. He finished 26th in the 2018 Hobie Worlds on Lake Vanern, Sweden. Now he’s hoping to leave his mark on local waters.

“I love this stretch,” states Cole, who lives an hour-and-a-half away. You can fish weeds, rocks, channels, backwaters – it’s just so diverse. You can frog, pitch or flip the shallows for largemouth, and there’s usually a good crankbait bite along the main channels for smallmouth. Being a river also levels the competition somewhat because you can be locked on the fish one day and find them gone the next. Due to the flows, these fish are unpredictable. Plan to have a backup plan for your backup plan should the current strength or water level change.”

Both Burish and Cole say they were drawn to the Mississippi River event after hearing and reading positive reviews from participants in earlier B.O.S. competitions. “I’ve heard reports that these tournaments are well organized, with a lot of camaraderie and positive interaction between the competitors. I also like that each event seems to be focused on promoting and showcasing the anglers and fisheries,” explains Burish.

July is an excellent month to explore the pads and experience a world class froggin’ fishery!

Workman says that Burish and Cole are “spot on” with those assessments, and added that significant prize money, and the chance to fish against top-level competition, sweetens the pot.

“I’ve always enjoyed the B.O.S. atmosphere more than any other series,” reveals Workman. “It’s family friendly, well run, and the competition is amazing. It pushes you to be a better angler, which is something I like. For the Mississippi event, the field is already looking sharp. I’d keep my eyes on Kristine Fischer. She’s got experience here and she’s due for another great performance. Jordan Westerman is another strong contender who has done well on these waters. Then there’s Rus Snyder – he won the KBS Trail Series Championship here last year.”

Indeed, the Mississippi event is shaping up to be a nail biter. “I’m expecting a race to the wire for the title,” concludes McWhorter. “There’s a lot on the line. In addition to determining the event champion, there will be significant payouts to the top 10% of the field, and three anglers will qualify for the Hobie Tournament of Champions (TOC). Anglers are also competing for important Angler of the Year points. It’s going to be a tough battle for the top spots, but that brings out the best in our anglers. They wouldn’t have it any other way.”

According to Burish, Hobie B.O.S. participants can expect a warm welcome in La Crosse. “We’ve wanted to host a Hobie event since the first Hobie Bass Open on Kentucky Lake several years ago. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to show off the great fishery here. It’s going to be a ton of fun and the anglers are going to catch a lot of fish.”

Although the La Crosse area still has some COVID-19 restrictions in place, most restaurants currently have take-out and curb-side pick-up available, and some have limited outside seating. Many attractions are open, too, operating with physical distancing guidelines in place. Bring the family if you’d like, for this city is a wonderful place to visit with plenty of open-air outdoor recreation opportunities available, including majestic bluffs and scenic river lookouts. Just be sure to call ahead to any establishment you hope to patronize so you’ll have the latest information on COVID-19 guidelines.

La Crosse has miles and miles of backwaters, making it an appealing fishery for kayak anglers wanting to get away from the crowds

 

About the Hobie BOS

The Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) aims to provide a simplified, open-to-anyone format and an elite feel for kayak anglers across the country. This series is all about providing a platform for the anglers. As participation in each event increases, payouts will grow, the Tournament of Champions (TOC) will grow, and opportunities for the anglers will only increase. Coverage of the events will set a standard and continue to solidify our sport’s legitimacy in the competitive fishing world to a broader audience. Are you ready to be a B.O.S. Angler? Learn more at https://www.hobie.com/blog/hobie-bass-open-series,974/. Join the conversation on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/HobieBOS/.