OCEANSIDE, Calif. (August 6, 2021) – The Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole® rolled into Harrisburg, PA, last weekend with an elite class of kayak bass anglers anxious to engage the Susquehanna River’s world-class smallmouth fishery. It didn’t take long for epic battles to ensue as 139 entrants caught and released a whopping 1,259 fish with the top five finishers all breaking the 180-inch barrier for their two-day combined, catch, photograph and release (C.P.R.) 10-fish limits. When all the drags had stopped screaming, Jody Queen of Bluefield, WV, stood atop the leader board, retaining his crown from last year’s tourney on these fabled bronzeback river waters.
“This really was a terrific event,” said tournament director A.J. McWhorter, “and that’s exactly what we were expecting. The Hobie B.O.S. Anchored By Power-Pole® series packs its schedule full of ‘bucket list’ bass waters and the Susquehanna River is a prime example. The smallmouths here are plentiful, thick and generally angry. They provide our competitors the opportunity to experience amazing shallow water action that’s accessible to anyone. It really is tough to beat this place as a kayak bass fishing destination, and our host town of Harrisburg, PA, couldn’t have treated us any better. This really is a special stretch of river.”
Queen, 56, tallied 183.5 inches of bass to grab the gold and best his winning total last year by a full foot! Ewing Minor, 19, of Charlottesville VA, took the silver spot with a 182.75-inch total, and Drew Gregory, 42, from Kent, OH, measured 181 inches of smallmouths to grab the bronze. Queen, the 2020 Tournament of Champions (T.O.C.) grand champion, also punch his return ticket to the year-end event at Lake Eufaula, Alabama, November 12 – 14, where a limited field of 50 qualifying anglers will battle it out for payouts totaling $75,000, including a guaranteed $35,000 to the winner. The top three non-qualified finishers at each Hobie B.O.S. event earn automatic entry to the T.O.C. Since Ewing and Drew had already qualified this year, fourth- and fifth-place finishers, Jay Wallen and Jordan Marshall, have earned their tickets, too.
All told, Queen came away with $7,350 while Ewing pocketed $4,050 and Gregory pocketed $2,450, as the event paid out to the first 14 finishers. Additionally, Ryan Lambert of Chattanooga, Tennessee, took home the Bassin’ Big Bass $400 prize for a 20.25-inch beast of a smallmouth caught on Day 2, while Chuck Bahan of Metairie, L.A. jumped 41 spots – from 55th place on Day 1 to 14th on Day 2 – to claim the Dakota Lithium Power Move award. He took home a Dakota Power Box with a 10-amp lithium battery for his efforts. The top 100 anglers also received valuable points toward the Angler of the Year (A.O.Y.) award presented by FarWide, the Outdoor Access App. Gregory is the reigning 2020 A.O.Y.
After wrapping up his latest victory, Queen said fishing this event was just like coming home. “I’ve done really well here over the years, and it always feels familiar to me” he said. “This river is stacked with 16- to 18-inch smallies and holds a good number of 19- and 20-inch brutes, too. I wasn’t able to squeeze in much pre-fishing, so I took a float approach and simply concentrated on working grass beds. Any bed where I could see baitfish on the edge seemed to hold some nice bass and I was able to work them up with a 3/8–ounce Z-Man Jackhammer tipped with a Z-Man DieZel MinnowZ in a gold rush color. Last year the fish were shallow and on wood in clear water. This year, they were in dark, moving water so it paid to be a little flexible as I first searched them out. I’d work the open water between the beds first, then move up and work the current seams along the beds themselves. Most of my fish came from the upstream tips of the beds.”
To win the Susquehanna event for the second time was especially gratifying, noted Queen, especially given the stiff competition. “My buddy, Drew Gregory, finished fourth last year and he’s always a threat when it comes to river bassin’,” he stated. “And Ewing Minor has absolutely been on fire this year. It’s young guys like him and Jaxton Orr of Fort Wayne, IN, that are the future of kayak tournament bass fishing. Ewing attends Carson-Newman University in Tennessee and Orr is going to join him there this fall. That place is going to be a powerhouse. It’s amazing to watch the progression of this sport. Colleges are turning out some real solid competitors. I’d like to see more high schools step up and prep these guys, too. Once that happens, the college level will absolutely explode with talent. I think that’s the future of this sport. We need more Ewing Minors and Jackson Orrs.”
This was the first time on the Susquehanna for Ewing, and he thoroughly enjoyed it. “I didn’t have a ton of bites,” he said, “but I did catch a lot of big, powerful river smallmouths. They were really chunky, like Lake Erie smallies but even stronger. Everything I had came on a 3/8-ounce Z-Man Jackhammer with a swimbait trailer tossed along grass edges bordering strong currents. I’m really happy with my showing here. Both Jody and Drew are among top kayak bass anglers in the country. To finish in their company really is pretty cool.”
As for Gregory, Day 1 was a little tough as he wasn’t able to pre-fish and spent a bit of time testing the water before hitting full stride and closing the gap on Day 2. “For me, there were two magic windows each day, one around 8:30 a.m. and the other around 1 p.m.,” he explained. “I found a stretch that had bass feeding in the current at the head of an island and just kept working that stretch with a ¾-ounce Z-Man SlingBladeZ spinnerbait and chartreuse matte-finished double-skirt trailer. I was burning it really fast so the blades were spinning on top and that really triggered some vicious strikes. I must have had 15 really nice bass in the 17-inch class but just couldn’t cull upward. Still, that’s some great fishing. I love this place!”
Both Queen and Ewing added that their Hobie kayaks played a big role in their success given the strong currents and rocky bottom. “I positioned my Hobie PA14 360 to float downstream along the grass beds so I could fish one side, then pedaled back up and fished the other side,” noted Queen. “Being able to hold my spot with my hands free for casting gave me a huge advantage over guys that couldn’t get as many cast to good water or who might have to drop anchor and make a lot of noise in the process. I don’t think I could have won this event, fishing this way, in any other boat.”
Ewing agreed with Queen. Fishing from a PA12 360 he picked up from Dugout Bait and Tackle in Marietta, GA, he lauded the Hobie’s agility and maneuverability that allowed him to dodge boulders, stay on the fish and perfectly position for his next cast all while never having to pick up a paddle. “The Kick-Up Fins were a huge plus, too,” he added. “I never had to pull my drive the entire tournament. Any other pedal drive and I probably would have sheered it completely. My Hobie lets me do what I do best, just go out and fish.”
Two more open events remain on the Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole® schedule this season. August 28 will see the fleet gather on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, WI, while the Lake Pickwick event in Counce, TN, kicks off on September 18.
“Our B.O.S. events just seem to be getting better and better with each passing month,” concludes McWhorter. “I’m sure these two will be epic as well. Sign-up, ready your gear and come on out. No doubt the bass – and the competition – will be waiting.”