Aggressive bigmouths and new moon tidal influence

Aggressive bigmouths and new moon tidal influence should both challenge and reward elite field of kayak bass fishing competitors


OCEANSIDE, Calif.  - The Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) is headed to the California Delta, and kayak fishing’s top competitors couldn’t be more thrilled. With over 100 square miles of outstanding largemouth bass habitat falling within the tourney boundaries, participants will enjoy plenty of access and ample territory to seek out and connect with their quarry.

“We are really excited to bring the Hobie B.O.S. to the West Coast,” says Tournament Director, A.J. McWhorter. “This is prime frogging water, so we could see a lot of exciting surface action. The river is also tidally influenced, and we’ll have a new moon pulling on the current. That should put the fish on the feed. Add this area’s reputation for producing trophy bass and I think there’s potential for some real explosive action. It’s a terrific place to compete – and to try for that lunker of a lifetime.”

Indeed, the Cali Delta is loaded with the kind of water, weeds and structure that spur bigmouth growth in terms of both quality and quantity. Its dense weed mats are ideal for frogging, hard structure such as docks, bulkheads and marina facilities provide shade and edges where trophies often lurk, tidal currents move baitfish around, and tullies (tall reeds) line the banks in many areas. Whether you enjoy working the surface and watching big bass smash your lures, punching weeds, tossing creature baits, or ripping chatterbaits across the flats, there are significant stretches here to compliment your strengths.

“I can’t wait to get this Hobie B.O.S. underway,” says Michael Lavoie of Mather, California. “I love to work around rocks, flats and sunken islands, and all three of these are spread liberally across these waters. Wherever you put in here, you’ll find productive pockets if you poke around and explore a little bit. In fact, at many launch sites, potential bassin’ hot spots should be obvious.”

Lavoie, a veteran tournament angler with numerous top-ten finishes to his credit, notes that Cali Delta bass are supreme opportunists that often rely on tidal influence to work as a conveyor belt carrying food to their doorstep. “There’s definitely a pecking order to this with the biggest fish occupying the most advantageous spots,” he reveals. “They’ll push out the smaller fish in doing so, which means you can often pull out the lunkers before the squirts move in on your baits. So, cull the big ones and quickly move on if the size begins to slip.”

First time Hobie B.O.S. competitor Kathy Stiles-Holmes, of Bethel Island, California., is also stoked to get this competition going. A frequent high finisher in local online tournaments, Stiles-Homes is looking for her first live-tourney win. “I’m really hoping for a good showing in this event,” she reveals, “especially since I live right on the water here. I have two identical Hobie PA12 kayaks with 360 MirageDrives and Kick-Up Fins ready to go. One is right in my backyard where I can quickly slip it into the water, the other is on my truck. I’m definitely ready for battle.”

Stiles-Holmes says she signed-up for the California Delta B.O.S. within days after it was first announced. “I’ve long been a big Hobie fan,” she reveals, “and I’ve heard nothing but good things from other competitors about how smoothly run and well organized these events tend to be. There are so many big names that compete in this series and I want to be part of that. As much as the competition, I’m looking forward to the camaraderie between participants, and to learning and improving my game as I watch and interact with the rest of the field.”

Stiles-Holmes notes that while chatterbaits, frogs and punch baits are popular offerings across the California Delta region, her favorite bait on these fabled waters is a five-inch Gary Yamamoto Senko worm. “I’ve caught a lot of big bass on that lure,” she confides. “Mostly, I fish it around hard structure. To that end, I’ll cast around large marinas, docks, and up tight to the walls near locks. The wind often blows out of the west here, so work your way up into a sluiceway that runs north and south if you need to tuck out of the breeze. That should put a wall on the west side to serve as a buffer.”

Both Lavoie and Stiles-Holmes are hoping their Hobie ‘yaks will give them an edge on their home waters. Lavoie counts on the stability of his PA14 with Kick-Up Fins to allow him to stand and achieve powerfully solid hooksets while punching tullies and thick weed mats. Stiles-Holmes, meanwhile, depends on the maneuverability and hands-free operation of her PA12 360s to negotiate currents, hold position on productive pieces, and squeeze into and out of tight corners - all while being able to cast and retrieve at the same time.

Given the current situation in California and, for that matter, the entire country, this Hobie B.O.S. event will be completely contactless. All meetings will be virtual, with no requirements for anglers to gather. As with all Hobie B.O.S. events, it will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and institute a variety of tournament protocols to safeguard its participants and the local community. In short, the entire experience will be tailored to comply with any rules in effect where the competition is taking place.

“All in all, this should be a really exciting event,” sums up Lavoie, a power fisherman who mostly throws walking topwater lures, chatterbaits and jerk shads. “We’ve got some competitors here that really know these waters well, so I’m betting it will take a 97- to 98-inch total to win this tournament. To finish in the money, anglers are going to have to pull some very respectable fish. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.”

“McWhorter agrees. “With the level of competition and the amount of local knowledge in this tournament, plus the reputation of the California Delta for producing trophy-class fish, this should be one heck of a show. In addition to battling for substantial cash prizes, the top three non-qualified anglers for this November’s Tournament of Champions (TOC) in Knoxville, Tennessee will make the cut, plus we’ll be distributing valuable points for Angler of The Year (AOY) throughout the field. There’s a lot on the line here, and some really big hitters are already signed-up but, as always, you’ve got to prove yourself on the water.”

That means the Hobie B.O.S. California Delta title is still anyone’s to claim.