Big Bass Hope for Kayak Elite


Surrounded by mountain parklands in the southeast corner of the “The Sooner State,” this beautiful highland impoundment could see warming weather light up the bite. 

OCEANSIDE, Calif.  - “With two events completed already this spring, it’s time to push into another region of the country and see what kind of bite awaits our amazing kayak competitors on the third leg of the 2021 Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole®,” says tournament director A.J. McWhorter. “This weekend brings the competition to Broken Bow Lake, a picturesque impoundment on the Mountain Fork River. This location pushes back 22 miles into the base of the Ouachita Mountains in McCurtain County, and it carries a reputation for fast action and some real lunkers. In short, it’s a lake that’s just full of possibilities.”

Cold and deep, Broken Bow covers 14,000 acres with an average depth of 62 feet and maximum depth of 185. It features bluffs and rock walls, rock piles and plenty of points with steep drop-offs. In case that isn’t enough to whet your bassin’ appetite, it also sports plenty of islands, standing timber and coves, plus 180 miles of shoreline. That means anglers have options aplenty and should be able to fish to their strengths whether that be finesse fishing along channel banks or hard bottom, working crankbaits or jerkbaits at mid-depths, or digging into the brush for bass that are moving up toward the shoreline should water levels run high.

“Last year we set our Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole® attendance record in this general region at Lake Fork Reservoir,” recalls McWhorter. “I’m curious to see how many elite kayak bassin’ fans show up for this event. It should be a solid turnout.”

That’s exactly what Hobie tourney regular Guillermo Gonzalez is expecting. The perennial paycheck contender from Fort Worth, Texas notes that many anglers used to participate in the Beavers Bend Charity Kayak tournament here. “Unfortunately, that competition hasn’t been held for the past two years, so I’m betting there’s a lot of pent-up excitement for this Hobie event. It should draw quite a crowd so get to the ramps early. Despite the pressure, I’m thinking there will be plenty of fish caught – and maybe a few big ones, too. This lake is notorious for giving up some of Oklahoma’s biggest bass each year, a few of which have pushed into the double digits.

Another angler to keep your eyes on if you enjoy watching the leader board is Matt Scotch, also from Fort Worth. He has a storied history on these waters – and it’s all good.

“I’m not sure exactly why, but I’m always lucky in this casino,” chuckles Scotch. “I’m one of those guys who enjoyed fishing the Beavers Bend charity tournament. It would usually draw about 130 entrants. First-place finisher earned $5,000 and second place received a Hobie kayak. Long story short, I entered six times – and won four Hobie Outbacks. They certainly are outstanding prizes, but go figure...”

Scotch says Broken Bow is loaded with 15- to 19-inch largemouths and holds some true hawgs, respectable smallmouths, and numerous but generally smaller spotted bass. It’s the bucketmouths that should be the key to placing in the money, he believes, as he estimates they comprise about 70 percent of the bass population here. Still, some of the smallies will push into the 19- or 20-inch class, so you might see some combined limits with a nice bronzeback kicker or two.

“If you are new to this lake, concentrate on working up a limit first, then try to figure out some bigger fish,” advises Scotch. “Keep in mind that you’ll see mostly natural bass habitat here. There are no docks, so come prepared to prospect around standing timber, slate and granite bluffs, or in the deep clear water near the dam. By now, the biological clock should be ticking on the bass, so expect them to be staging near spawning areas. A little wind and cloud cover might make these fish more active, but bluebird skies could have the opposite effect.”

Scotch plans on using one of his Hobie Outbacks for this event, noting that having a great kayak can be a big advantage in springtime fishing because it lets anglers ease into waters bass boats can’t reach. That edge might increase if water levels run high and invite bass deeper into the brush.

Gonzales, meanwhile, reminds anglers that Broken Bow is a highlands lake. That, he says, is easy to forget if you focus on it being in Oklahoma. “You’ve got extremely clear water on the south end but as you work further north up the Mountain Fork River, it starts to develop more color. Depending on rain, it can get muddy up toward the north end, but you can always expect the south end to be clear. If water temperatures get above 50 degrees this weekend, that pre-spawn pattern should set up pretty strong.”

Keep in mind also that rocks play well at Broken Bow. There are a lot of rocky points, and some rock piles worth exploring at mid-lake. Historically, largemouth power the wins here, but don’t be surprised if you see majority largemouth limits with an 18- to 21-inch bronzeback kicker. Typical largemouths run 16 inches, but any tourney can see a fish stretching the tape past 24 inches.

“Be sure to leave a little time on your schedule after the tournament to check out the surrounding area,” says Charity O’Donnell, Executive Director of the McCurtain County Tourism Authority. “Broken Bow Lake is a beautiful reservoir with cold, clear water and it’s enjoyed by anglers year-round. We’re excited to have Hobie do a tournament here, and we encourage competitors and their families to also explore our growing tourism community. In addition to an amazing lake and beautiful mountains, you’ll discover wonderful restaurants, attractions and activities to enjoy when you come off the water.”

I’m really excited about this one,” sums up Gonzales. “I think the guys that figure it out are going to put up big numbers. I don’t know if they’ll be quite Seminole numbers, but I would be shocked if there weren’t a lot of limits over 90 inches.”

Scotch agrees with that assessment, adding that in addition to the fishing, there’s plenty of wildlife and scenic vistas to enjoy. “The bass can be really aggressive given the right conditions, the water is crystal clear and beautiful to look at, the rolling hills provide a scenic backdrop, and there are bald eagles and river otters living here, too. Put all that together and this is one tournament you don’t want to miss.”