OCTOBER 29, 2019

Hobie Bass Open Results from Lake Guntersville

How Tennessee’s Josh Stewart bested the field at the Hobie BOS Lake Guntersville Event

OCEANSIDE, Calif. - The final regular event of the Hobie Bass Open Series (BOS) took place late last month on the storied, big-bass waters of Alabama’s Lake Guntersville. The pressure-cooker two-day tournament saw 81 kayak anglers competing on the 69,000 acres of water between Nickajack and Guntersville Dams, not only for the coveted event title, but also for one of the precious 11 remaining spots in the upcoming Hobie Tournament of Champions (TOC), scheduled for November 9-10 at Lake Ouachita.

Murfreesboro, Tennessee angler, Josh Stewart, fished in the Hobie Worlds two years ago, and has been stalking Hobie BOS champions throughout the 2019 season. Raised on Kentucky Lake, Stewart finished second to Kristine Fischer at the Hobie BOS event there in May, and has been within striking distance at other Hobie BOS events throughout this season. Stewart finally got it done last month, winning the BOS title at Lake Guntersville.

“Lake Guntersville is only about an hour and twenty minutes from where I live, so I know it really well,” says Stewart, who looked to expand his horizons in pre-fishing by checking out water he didn’t know so well on the lake’s south end. “It didn’t pan out,” he concedes. “I didn’t find the good bites I was looking for down there… plenty of 15’s, but nothing bigger… so I ended up focusing on more familiar water during both days of the tournament.” The lesson for all anglers? Don’t be afraid to move outside your comfort zone, but don’t force anything. When a new plan doesn’t work out, stick to what you know when it matters most. And that’s just what Steward did during the two days of competition.

Hobie BOS Guntersville Champion Josh Stewart holding his commemorative 1st place trophy with MLF Pro Randy Howell.

Day one of competition saw Stewart fishing familiar water near Nickajack. “My plan on the first day was to fish a particular creek with a bunch of brush and laydowns that I knew held good fish,” he says. “I launched with one other guy on the bay that the creek emptied into. I was going to take my time fishing the bay before heading into the creek. There were a lot of grass areas and gizzard shad were everywhere. Unfortunately, the guy I launched with went straight to the spot I was planning on starting at, and when I checked my backup spots there were people fishing there, too, so I ended up heading up into the creek earlier than I had planned.”

Stewart found immediate success, probing the creek’s abundant brush and laydowns with a Strike King Pro football jig and Rage Craw trailer. “I got some good bites,” says Stewart, who was slowly working the jig along the bottom. “It takes a lot of patience to fish that way, but most of the bigger fish I caught ate the jig when it was sitting still.” Stewart’s patience paid off with five fish averaging 18.4” in a relatively short period of time. He had over 92” when he emerged from the creek mouth.

“I spent the rest of the day fishing the broken grass beds near where the creek emptied into the bay,” says Stewart, who managed to cull two fish before day’s end. One – a 22” and his biggest of the day – came on a Senko. “I was fishing a spinning rod and light line,” he says. “She was swimming towards me after I hooked her, so I didn’t know what I had,” Stewart recalls. “Then I saw her huge head. She was all down in the grass and I thought she was coming off for sure. I bumped her with the net and was positive it was over, but somehow she stayed buttoned!” Stewart finished day one with 93.5” and a strong lead over the rest of the field.

The big one that didn’t get away measured 22.25” and would help seal Stewart’s 1st place finish.

Watch the Day One BOS Talk Recap

Competitors began day two under similar conditions as what they’d experienced during pre-fishing and day one “The water may have dropped a little bit,” recalls, Stewart, who planned to stick with his successful day-one pattern.

Stewart launched in the bay by the creek again, but unbeknown to him, two competitors had actually launched in the creek itself. “I took my time fishing the bay,” he says. “The gizzard shad were all over around the eel grass and hydrilla again, but I couldn’t get bit, so I ended up slipping up the creek. I had no idea until much later that those two guys had been through there ahead of me. They did well; one of them ended up moving up to 4th place because he’d been back there. I did catch four bass on the football jig by 11:00 or so, but I couldn’t get any size. I felt sure my lead was slipping away, if it wasn’t gone already.”

Stewart returned to the mouth of the creek in the bay in the afternoon, where he missed a good one that blew up on his LIVETARGET Hollow Body Frog fished over the grass. “I was sick,” he recalls. “I was making a lot of casts, but both the bass and the shad both seemed really spooky. It hurt to miss that one.” Encouraged by the fact that at least one decent bass had tried to eat his frog, Stewart stuck with the presentation and managed to catch his 5th bass, plus a couple other short fish. Stewart would end day two with just 81”.

LIVETARGET Hollow Body Frog

Meanwhile, fellow Tennessee competitor, Steve Owens – also an experienced Guntersville veteran – was making major moves. After finishing day one in 33rd place with 77.25”, Owens hammered on the big bass that had moved into his honey hole on day two with a Z-Man FattyZ worm to catch an impressive 98.25” – that’s five bass with a remarkable 19.65” average. “We were fishing just off the main channel and they came into the weeds, they were there,” says Owens, who estimated his biggest fish of the day at over six pounds.

Z-Man FattyZ

Watch the Day Two BOS Talk Recap

In the end, Josh Stewart held off Steve Owens and the rest of the field to earn the title of Hobie BOS Guntersville Champion and a check for $4,100. His 178.5” two-day total bested Owens – who earned second place and a check for $2,250 – by three inches. “It felt really good to get my first BOS win,” says Stewart. “I was so close at Kentucky Lake, but this feels really, really good – especially to win against so many top-quality anglers.”

Matthew Brannon of Moncks Corner, South Carolina took third place and $1,300 with a two-day total 174.5” – just an inch behind Owens. Fourth place through ninth place also earned paychecks, rounded out by Clayton Shilling (4th), Eric Thomason (5th), Ryan Lambert (6th), Chris Walters (7th), Jordan Marshall (8th), and Cole Kleffman (9th). Grass – specifically, broken beds of hydrilla and eel grass – turned out to be a key in most successful patterns throughout the tournament, with most fish being caught on frogs, topwaters, soft plastics, chatterbaits and spinnerbaits.

Hobie BOS Tournament Director, A.J. McWhorter, comments on the hospitality, resources and professionalism of the Guntersville BOS venue sponsor, the Marshall County Alabama Convention and Visitors Bureau: “We’re extremely grateful to the entire team at the Marshall County CVB for their assistance and hospitality in helping us conduct such a tremendous event. They have an incredible resource in Lake Guntersville, and they worked extremely hard to make sure all our anglers and tournament staff received the best possible treatment, welcome and experience. Anyone looking to fish Guntersville or explore the surrounding area should check out their helpful website or give them a call. They won’t be disappointed!”

The top three finishers collect their checks. The Hobie BOS paid out the top nine with a total of $12,955.

The dramatic stage is now set for the exciting conclusion of the inaugural Hobie BOS season. A special one-day BOS Shootout will take place on Arkansas’ Lake Ouachita on November 8, where a capped field of 100 kayak anglers will compete for just two remaining TOC spots. The Tournament of Champions will take place the following two days on Ouachita, November 9 and 10, where 50 of the nations best kayak anglers who have earned the right to compete there by virtue of their performances in BOS Open and Satellite events will take to the water in pursuit of thousands of dollars in cash and the coveted title of Hobie TOC Champion. There can be only one!

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About Hobie

Since 1950, Hobie has been in the business of shaping a unique lifestyle based around fun, water and quality products. From their headquarters in Oceanside, California, Hobie Cat Company manufactures, distributes and markets an impressive collection of watercraft worldwide. These include an ever-expanding line of recreation and racing sailboats, pedal-driven and paddle sit-on-top recreation and fishing kayaks, inflatable kayaks and fishing boats, plus a complementary array of parts and accessories.

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