KENTUCKY LAKE – If the name is any indication, the winner of last year’s Hobie Bass Open was preordained. That’s right, his name is Champion. Ron Champion.
Repeating and earning an expense paid trip to the prestigious Hobie Fishing World Championship 7 will be no easy task. In the event’s history, no one has accomplished the feat. Champion will have his chance June 10-11 on the world-class bass fishery of Kentucky Lake. Second place will be as hotly contested. That one also qualifies to represent Team USA at the Hobie Worlds.
“Everybody’s there to win it. Whether it’s 20 people or 200 everyone has the same mindset. They’ll bring their A game. After two days the best man will walk away with the trophy. They better bring it, ‘cause I’m going to bring mine. I’ll be ready,” the Georgia resident says.
Champion expects it will take an impressive tournament stringer to win this Catch, Photo, Release kayak fishing event. Competitors will score up to three fish per day, using the iAngler Tournament app. The lake’s been showing well. “It wouldn’t surprise me for it to be an almost 20-inch average per fish. Somebody’s going to get on them, figure them out and do well,” Champion adds.
Will it be Matthew Scotch of Texas? He’s looking to build on last year’s second place finish. “This year I want to go out there and put together good performance and hopefully get back to the Hobie Worlds. I’m excited,” he says.
His competitive drive will have him up early, at 3 am to have all his tackle ready and make it to his chosen fishing area when the sun comes up. Anglers can travel overland, but must put in at a public launch ramp. He might be tempted to run farther this year. There will be an extra hour of fishing time each afternoon. “You can go to a different spot. You can go farther away,” he says. Or you wait fish out – and the other boat traffic on the lake. “It could help someone get that crucial bite later in the day,” Scotch adds.
After just missing out on the Hobie Worlds with third place finishes the last two years, Jay Wallen of Kentucky will be one to watch. If anyone does, he has a home field advantage. A week out from tournament day, Wallen said the fish were in post-spawn, starting to show up on the lake’s famous main river ledges. “As long as they pull current through the dam, they’ll show up more and more each day,” he says. He figures it’s too early for the super schools, but expects to find schools of 15 to 20 bass. “If you find a productive ledge with good current and bait you can win this tournament in a hurry,” he says.
Tournament headquarters will be at Kentucky Lake Dam Village Convention Center and Pavilion. There’s a youth division, as well as a free Hobie Funfest watercraft demo including recreational kayaks, SUPs and sailboats as well as Hobie’s unique Mirage Eclipse stand-up pedalboard Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm.
Eligible species include largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass caught on human powered kayaks, canoes or SUPs. Now that the early registration deadline has passed, the adult entry fee is $125 payable online or in person until 7 pm June 9. One hundred percent of entry fees will be paid out with a ratio of one place for every 10 entrants. The top prize is $4,000 based on a field of 150 kayak anglers. The first-place finisher will have his/her airfare, accommodations and entry fee covered courtesy of Kentucky Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau and Hobie Worldwide.
There will be raffles and prizes as well as other awards including one for the biggest bass each day. Additional sponsors include lodging host Kentucky Lake Dam Village State Resort Park, the host city of Calvert, Hobie Polarized, Lowrance, YakAttack, Bassin’ Magazine, RAM Mounts, St. Croix, Daiwa, Power-Pole, Mustad and Gerber.
Anglers will enjoy a BBQ dinner on Saturday and an awards luncheon on Sunday. To sign up or for more information visit Hobie.com.