February 20, 2021
Knoxville TN
Human Powered

Watts Bar Lake

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Hobie Kayak Fishing

Event Details


Watts Bar Lake – Knoxville TN


February 20, 2021
February 21, 2021

Event Info

The second stop of the Hobie Bass Open Series Anchored by Power Pole takes us back to the Tennessee River chain.  At the end of our 2020 Tournament of Champion Boundaries, begins the next ‘up and coming’ lake on the chain known as Watts Bar. Anglers will have a variety of opportunities to find winning fish on deep bluffs, islands, grass, flow and ample structure.  The bigger question is will the winning bag come in with largemouth or the quality smallmouth that the lake and river system is known for producing.  The centralized location to so many anglers and the excitement around this fishery is sure to make this stop one you won’t want to miss. 

Anglers will be fishing for large cash payouts and the top 3 anglers will automatically qualify for our 50 angler Tournament of Champions held on Lake Eufaula, in Eufaula AL.  This event will be the second point bearing event counting towards the coveted Angler of the Year Title presented by FarWide the Outdoor Access App. 




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Reigning Hobie Tournament of Champions (T.O.C.) Winner Ryan Lambert notches second national class win on Knoxville waters. College basser Ewing  Minor grabs second, Kurt Smits takes third. 


OCEANSIDE, Calif. (February 23, 2021) – Watts Bar Lake is known for having of ton of largemouth and smallmouth bass, plus some spotted bass as well. Last weekend it was also known for bringing the cold. With temperatures dipping below 20 degrees as 94 elite kayak anglers launched for the two-day Hobie® B.O.S. Series Anchored by Power-Pole®  event on Saturday morning, there was a communal sense the fishing would be challenging. That certainly proved the case, but in a testament to the amazing skill level and competitiveness of the participants, 251 bass were still photographed, measured and released.

“I’m proud of the performance our competitors turned in this weekend,” said tournament director, A.J. McWhorter. “Many drove though serious ice and snow just to get here. When they arrived, they were met with miserable conditions on the water and they still fished hard. But that’s what these high-level competitions are about: taking on whatever Mother Nature throws at you and finding a way to finish in the top ten percent. Whether it’s mid-summer heat or late-winter cold, these anglers lay it all on the line.”

That’s for sure, and no one accomplished more than Hobie T.O.C. Reigning Grand Champion, Ryan Lambert. With a 74-inch haul of largemouth bass on Day 1, followed by 77 inches of bass on Day 2, the Jasper, Tennessee, resident filled his daily limits to edge out runner-up Ewing Minor of Charlottesville, Virginia, 151 inches to 149.25 inches. Kurt Smits from Cincinnati, Ohio, drilled 148-inches of bass to take the third slot. All three anglers filled their limits both days, the only anglers to do so in the tournament. For Lambert, this was win number two against no losses in national-level bass fishing competition in the Knoxville area as he won the 2020 T.O.C. last November just a few miles upstream on the Tennessee River. Interestingly, it was only his second time fishing at Watts Bar Lake, the first being a one-day visit six years ago.

watts bar lake


“I haven’t been on this lake much and between work and the weather, I managed only an hour of practice on Friday,” confirmed Lambert. “I pulled up to the lake at Watts Bar Dam and there was bait floating everywhere from a big shad kill. I decided right there that I wasn’t’ fishing the main lake. So, I spoke with fellow Tennessee kayak bass angler Eric Thomason and he suggested we do a river float. Good thing I agreed because I stumbled onto a grassy stretch up a tributary that had a few fish and I worked that spot both days.”

Lambert balanced out a Ned rig with a Z-Man Jackhammer to draw his strikes. The Ned rig enticed most of his fish on Saturday when he finished in seventh place. On Sunday, he pulled a couple more bass on the Ned, then dropped the hammer as the wind died down. With two hours to go, Lambert could see on the leader board that Ewing was having a good day. Doing some quick math in his head, Lambert concluded he would need a 19-inch bass to stay in the game. By then, he had moved about a mile down-river to work a spot he hoped would hold a big fish or two. Coming up empty, he decided to head back to the grassy area.

“Just before I hit that grass again, I drilled the 19-incher I needed, then culled up another two inches when I reached my sweet spot – and here we are talking about winning. I’ve got to say, I love watching the leader board. It just makes things so exciting. I could see Ewing smashing the fish on Sunday and that really pushed me to keep working hard despite the cold. This was definitely the toughest tournament conditions I’ve ever faced.”

Minor, of course, never gave in. After finishing ninth on Day 1 with 68.50 inches of bass, he led the leader board on Day 2 with 80.75 inches. The 18-year old Carson Newman University freshman from Charlottesville, Virginia has fished Watts Bar before, and he used his knowledge of the waters to stay in contention for the top prize.

Hobie Bass Open Series


“I didn’t have much of a commute since my dorm is just an hour away,” explained Minor. “Usually I target stripers here, but I also catch some nice largemouths in the process, so I figured I should give it a try.”

That turned out to be a great choice. Still, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Minor, as he had to borrow a kayak from Hobie tourney regular Jamie Koza, and ask a friend for transportation.

“That Hobie really made a difference for me,” continued Minor. “I usually fish from a paddle kayak but the PA14 with 180 MirageDrive was a big improvement. Jamie already had it rigged with a fish-finder so I could locate submerged brush piles, grassy stakes and timber. Being able to use the MirageDrive propulsion system to keep the ‘yak positioned in the wind and current made it easier to stay on the fish once I found them up inside a muddy creek.”

Minor threw a lipless crankbait early on Saturday before picking up his last two bass on a square bill. On Sunday, rising water pushed the muddiness further back into the creek. With clearer water available, Minor switched to Jackall Rerange and Megabass Vision 110 jerkbaits and hit some solid fish to push Lambert through his very last cast. Slowing down the twitch rate on his jerkbait improved his strike ratio, he noted.

“I had my shot on Sunday morning,” added Minor, reflecting on a missed opportunity. “I set up on a five-pounder but she wrapped me up. Before I could reach her, she tried to jump but couldn’t get out of the water and the hooks ripped free. That hurt, but I’ve got no complaints.”

Hobie Kayak Fishing


Smits, meanwhile, finished in eighth on Day 1 with 73.75” of bass and followed that with a 68”, fifth-place performance on Day 2. He found his fish in a creek channel that ran right up to the flats. While he never had the feeling there were big fish in that school, there were enough willing to bite to for him to keep throwing a small, white swimbait he normally uses to target white bass.

“I’m thrilled to take third but it sure wasn’t easy,” said Smits. “I had to shovel my driveway just to get on the road, drive through wintery conditions the entire way, and then keep waking the fish up when all they wanted to do was shut down. The cold didn’t bother me too much, though. I fish year-‘round so I’m used to bundling-up. Still, everyone who participated in this tourney earned my respect this weekend. That includes the staff who somehow had everything running smoothly and really helped keep our spirits up. Terrific job!”

Lambert took home $5250 for his first-place finish, Minor pocketed $3000, and Smits collected $2000 as payouts totaled $18,000. Additionally, Collin Lamkin, from Chicago, Illinois, collected $400 for the Bassin’ Magazine Big Bass with a 21-inch lunker decked on Saturday. Both Minor and Smits secured spots in the 2021 Tournament of Champions at Lake Eufaula, Alabama, November 12–14. Lambert, by virtue of his 2020 T.O.C. victory, was already qualified. All three also scored valuable points towards the BOS Angler of the Year award presented by Farwide, The Outdoor Access App. Lawrence Mellinger of Virginia Beach, Virginia, earned the Dakota Lithium Power Move award by improving his position 26 places on Sunday to finish 24th. For his efforts he received a Dakota Power Box with 10-amp lithium battery.

Next up on the Hobie® B.O.S. Series Anchored by Power-Pole® schedule is Broken Bow Lake in Oklahoma. This bass haven features a unique fishery with some real lunker possibilities and good numbers as well. Check out the event info and sign-up at https://hobiebos.com/events/broken-bow-lake.

Artic Blue Camo Hobie Pro Angler 14 Kayak


AnglerFish 1Fish 2Fish 3Fish 4Fish 5TOTAL
1Nick Matthews19.751918.251615.588.5
2Joby Berry17.251716.7515.7514.581.25
3Keith Freese19.2516.7515.251513.579.75
4Brian Coyne1916.2515.2514.513.7578.75
5R.J. Hoover16.75161615.513.7578
6Matt Millard1915.7515.513.7512.2576.25
7Ryan Lambert16.516141413.574
8Kurt Smits17.251514.513.7513.2573.75
9Ewing Minor16.7513.513.2512.7512.2568.5
10Brian Delahunty1513.7513.513.2512.7568.25
11Brad Golden20.51816.512.2567.25
12Dylan Lowery1815.514.2514.2562
13Kristine Fischer15.251513.512.7556.5
14Daniel Keyes1613.751312.555.25
15Tim Isaacs181615.7549.75
16Zack Soulliere19.51514.2548.75
17Mark Davis1514.7513.7543.5
18Jaxton Orr151513.2543.25
19Joe Meno1413.51239.5
20Ron Champion18.2517.2535.5
21Tom Kazmierski18.2516.534.75
22Chris Walters19.513.7533.25
23Jay Wallen16.51632.5
24Jeremy Hughes191332
25Terrik Walker17.7513.7531.5
26ADAM SHEPARD1615.2531.25
27Matt Skelton17.513.531
28Eric Thomason17.513.2530.75
29Brandon Carpenter15.2513.7529
30Jason Cassetty15.751227.75
31Jordan Marshall14.51226.5
32Collin Lamkin2121
33Scott Stuhlmann2020
34Jordan Westerman2020
35Andy Middleton2020
36Bert Guthaus17.517.5
37Mike Baird17.2517.25
38Vincent Ferreri Commish1717
39Owen Whitehurst16.7516.75
40Daniel Davis16.516.5
41Paul Averill16.516.5
42Jason Broach16.2516.25
43William Franklin14.7514.75
44Mitchell White14.2514.25
45Daniel Lyons14.2514.25
46Caesar Nava12.7512.75
47Drew Russell12.7512.75
48Josh Sims12.512.5
49Joe Gill1212
50Matt Ball0
51Kyler Branaum0
52Zach Clark0
53Randy Collins0
54Darrell Cornelius0
55Josh Counce0
56Tim Crabtree0
57Christopher DeBusk0
58Nick Dyer0
59Brandon Elrod0
60Mike Elsea0
61Katherine Field0
62Alex Fiolka0
63David Golding0
64Guillermo Gonzalez0
65Jake Harshman0
66Christa Hibbs0
67Caroline Hibbs0
68Brand Jackson0
69Garrad Johnson0
70Jack Kanning0
71Randall Langston0
72Brandon Martin0
73Nick McBride0
74Joe McElroy0
75Saturday Mel0
76Lawrence Mellinger0
77Arlie Minton0
78Greg Nosar0
79Steve Owens0
80Joe Parkulo0
81Justin Patrick0
82Jody Queen0
83Joey Randall0
84Ben Rayfield0
85JR Rentz0
86Everett Sheets0
87Stephen Sisto0
88Tracy Stanford0
89Brandon Strock0
90Derek Taylor0
92Jason Trunk0
93David Uskavitch0
94Aaron White0
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