Brannon finds sweet spot to win Hobie event

Brannon finds sweet spot to win Hobie event

OCEANSIDE, Calif. — Sometimes in bass fishing it’s just best to go with the flow, and that’s exactly what Matthew Brannon chose to do in the Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole Mississippi River event held in La Crosse, Wis., last weekend. Throwing the same two lures to the same spot to land nine of 10 fish in his two-day limit, he culled his way to the top of the leaderboard with a mixed bag of largemouth bass and bronzebacks totaling 167.25”.

“With the water running a bit low as things kicked off, it seemed there were schools of bass that were tightly packed together,” noted tournament director, A.J. McWhorter. “The challenge for our competitors proved to be finding those schools as they were fairly scattered. A heavy rain on Friday resulted in rising water for the tournament, with stained water on Day 2 of the event. That meant many anglers who had previously located fish had to shift gears once things officially got underway. Still, 110 anglers tallied a very respectable 975 bass measuring up to 19.5” in length. But the ultimate congratulation goes to Matt Brannon for really getting the job done. He doesn’t get to compete as much as he would like due to his service responsibilities, but he is always a threat when he shows up, all over the country”

The 44-year-old Brannon, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard from Moncks Corner, South Carolina, currently stationed in Petaluma, California, was joined by his wife, Amanda, on the 29-hour ride to the banks of the Mississippi. He certainly made the most of his journey as he bested the field by 3.75” and led Day 2 of the competition from start to finish. For his efforts, Brannon came away with a check for $6,250. Second-place finisher, Rus Snyders, 39, of Nashville, Tennessee, tallied 164” of bass to earn $3,355, while Jay Wallen, 37, of Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, finished third with a 163” total to take home $2,155.

“It was a long haul getting here,” said a happy Brannon after the tourney, “but it certainly was worth it. I had some solid pre-fishing action before the competition got started and thought I might do pretty well, but I had to deviate from my game plan to make things work.”

Originally, Brannon planned to target Pool 8 for smallmouths, having done well there previously in some deeper pockets. This year, however, the water was too low at his preferred spots, so he skipped on down to Pool 9. “I found a seam there in pre-fishing where a big school of largemouths had set up as two creeks came together. When I went there to start Day 1, I was getting hit on every cast,” he revealed. ”I pulled 81-inches in an hour and left them biting to look for bigger fish and save my stock for Day 2. I upgraded one fish at my second spot, but my third choice looked like chocolate milk and didn’t produce.”

On Day 2, Brannon borrowed his wife’s Power-Pole H-D Spike, planted it at the seam where he scored so well the day before, and figured out the perfect angle for his presentations. “I pretty much worked that single cast the entire day and the fish just kept biting,” he stated. “I don’t know how many were in that pocket, but it was unreal. On Day 1 I caught everything on a Picasso Shock Blade. On Day 2, in stained water, I used a Picasso Hank Cherry Dock Rocket Jig with a slow retrieve to keep the lure near the bottom. The morning started out with all largemouths, then turned into a smallmouth slugfest for the afternoon. I went through bags and bags of trailers. The fishing was just wild.”

Like Brannon, Snyders, the reigning Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole Mississippi River event champion heading into the event, experienced solid pre-fishing but had to make some adjustments due to Friday’s rain. “That downpour muddied the water and moved my fish, so I felt very fortunate after day 1 to be in 7th place,” said Snyders. “I didn’t miss any bites or lose any fish, but I didn’t find much of an afternoon bite. For Day 2, I fished another area where I had some pre-tourney success. It was a little ditch in the middle of a weedy flat. I was throwing a speed worm. I tend to move around a lot, but I had the fish locked-up and stayed on them long enough to get a decent limit. I just couldn’t cull up with a couple of bigger ones.”

Wallen, meanwhile, was chomping at the bit to get started but found his favorite honey hole high and dry on Day 1. Finding a nearby slough, however, he quickly managed a daily limit and then culled with three additional fish. At that point, he left with hopes of reserving his stock for Day 2 and, hopefully, finding some even bigger fish. “In retrospect, I should have stayed there all day,” he said. “When I returned to that spot on Day 2, the rising water had brought in even more bass. I threw a Spro Bronzeye Frog both days and had a blast enjoying topwater action.”

In addition to the leaderboard payouts, Joey Vanyo of Northville, Minnesota, took home the $400 Bassin’ Big Bass Award for a 19.5” smallmouth he drilled on a squarebill crankbait in 6.5” of water on Day 1. Additionally, Katherine Field of Ivins, Utah, collected the Dakota Lithium Power Move award. This award recognizes the angler with the greatest leap up the leader board from Day 1 to Day 2. She jumped from 38th place on Day 1 to third place on Day 2, earning a Dakota Power Box with a 10-amp lithium battery. Of course, all-important points toward Angler of the Year (A.O.Y.), presented by FarWide, the Outdoor Access App, were distributed to the top-100 competitors.

With his win, Brannon also qualified for the Hobie Tournament of Champions (TOC). Since Snyders and Wallen had previously qualified, 4th place angler Eric Fletcher (PA) and 5th place finisher Guillermo Gonzalez (TX) secured spots in the 50-angler event.

The final open qualifying event on the Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole trail is Pickwick Lake, in Counce, Tennesee, scheduled for September 18 and 19. A relatively central location that should be easy to reach, anglers there will compete for the final three TOC qualifying spots. They’ll also be battling for all-important final points toward Angler of the Year (A.O.Y.) presented by FarWide, the Outdoor Access App. A.O.Y. standings will determine the final 19 anglers awarded entry into the TOC at Lake Eufaula in Alabama. That event has a $75,000 guarantee pay-out with $35,000 going to the first-place finisher.

“Before we wrap up,” added McWhorter, “I want to add that our thoughts and prayers are with everyone down on the Gulf coast, and along the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coasts, too. We hope all of you came through Hurricane Ida and her aftermath as best you could. A lot of our competitors come from these areas, and we hope you are all safe and sound. We’re thinking of you and your families, and we can’t wait to see you back here at the Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole as soon as possible.”

Jay’s July Tackle Picks for Summer Bass

Jay’s July Tackle Picks for Summer Bass

Jay's July Tackle Picks

July starts the hottest period of the year, the majority of bass all over the country and done spawning. Their main goal this time of year is to find the coolest most oxygenated water possible. One thing to keep in mind is that on some lakes a thermocline will setup which will push the bass a bit shallower. On your electronics you can often see this fuzzy line on your graph (fish above that depth). I like to target bass on the ledges, creek channels and deeper structure if possible. Another tactic this time of year is to look for bass around aquatic vegetation and grass mats. check out my tackle selections below for the month of July!

Some of my favorite choices are big soft plastics and worms like the D-bomb and X-Zone 11″ worm pitched around heavy cover. I also love probing the deeper ledges with the Picasso Lures Suijin head and a Hog farmer Spunk Shad. When bass come up, usually early and late in the day, and feed on top its just so hard to beat a popping style topwater.

Check out some of my favorite selections and put some fish in the boat this month!

Click to pick them up!

Xzone Lures 11" Blitz Worm

11″ / Green Pumpkin Black

Picasso Lures Suijin Head

White-3/4oz-6/0

Spunk Shad

5-1/2″-Albino

Berkley Bullet Pop

2 3/4″ / Black Chrome

Sunline SX1 Braided Line

Sunline SX1 Braided Line

Missile Baits D-Bomb

Super Bug

Sunline Super FC Sniper

Sunline Super FC Sniper

Picasso Lures Pro Metal Worm Weight

1/4 oz / Green Pumpkin

Gamakatsu G-Finesse Hybrid Worm Hook

Gamakatsu G-Finesse Hybrid Worm Hook

Rods N' Reels

Here are my favorite Shimano rods and reels that I recommend for my July bait picks!

Rods N’ Reels

Shimano Expride Casting Rod

M Glass / 7′ 0″ / Moderate -This is the perfect rod for topwater baits and braided line.

Shimano Zodias Casting Rod

– 7′ 5″ / H / Fast -This is excellent for worms and flipping soft plastics around heavy cover. 7’5″ gives you lots of leverage and the fast tip sets the hook with power.

Shimano Curado 300 K Baitcasting Reel

Right Hand / 4.7:1 – The low gear ratio makes this the perfect reel for the suijin head or big crankbaits!

Shimano SLX Casting Rod

M / 7′ 2″ / XTRA FAST -The longer rod and moderate action of this SLX make it ideal for big swimbaits like the Suijin Head.

Shimano Curado MGL

8.1:1 / Right-Great choice for a topwater reel or flipping and pitching soft plastics. The high speed 8.1:1 ratio helps get big bass out of cover fast!.

Shimano Curado DC

8.5:1 / Right Hand -Another high speed reel but with Digital Control technology, great for casting into the wind and minimizes backlash.

SlumpBuster1

The Slump Buster

The Slump Buster

The Slump Buster

Written by Jay Wallen

May 11, 2021

As an angler you can often find yourself in a slump. You never notice it at first, but eventually 1 bad tournament or outing turns into 3, then 4 or 5. Next thing you know you’re in a bonafide slump and can’t seem to do anything right. I’ve been told and I’ve passed along the advice to other anglers that when you are winning and riding the high, enjoy it! Because it comes and it goes. When it goes there are some things you can do to get it back!

SlumpBuster1

People who don’t fish will never understand the mental side of the game, confidence is key. Confidence is what allows you to fish right, fishing right is slowing down and knowing that what you are doing is going to put fish in the boat.

Too many times when we feel in a slump or the pressure kicks in we tend to speed up, fish too fast and not really present our baits the right way. We get too caught up thinking about how someone else is fishing, or where they are fishing. I’m terribly guilty of this, when things start spinning out of control I speed up and want to start moving around too much, or fishing my lures way too fast. I’ve found they key to getting the confidence back and get your mind settled down

Putting this whole idea into practice at Lake Dardanelle helped me fish better, make better decisions and ultimately helped me cash a check and get some confidence back!

For me it has been to slow down my presentations and go back to finesse fishing. Instead of forcing a bite you want to be there, offer the bass something you know they will eat regardless of the conditions. My favorite finesse technique is the wacky rigged senko, I feel like I can get bit no matter the conditions. Whatever presentation it is is that you have confidence in for finesse fishing; dropshot, neko, wacky rigged senko, go to it and get the confidence back of getting bites and putting fish in the boat. You’ll also run into some of the right size fish and that can make all the difference in a tournament and having an okay day turn into a great day. It’s the same as it is for a basketball player to see the ball go through the hoop, or a baseball player getting solid contact and seeing the ball pop off the bat. Its all about the mental part of the game.

The wacky rigged senko is a staple for me that I lean on in times of panic. I only keep a few colors of Gary Yamamoto senko’s on hand, a green pumpkin and a junebug. I almost always go for the 5″, it just seems to be the right size and right sink rate for me to catch both numbers and good size with. My ideal rod is the G.Loomis NRX 852S Jig and Worm rod, this rod is 7’1″ -Medium- Extra Fast. This rod is perfect for throwing weightless plastics, the 7’1″ length lets you make long casts, but it also skips extremely well and is very accurate. The medium action allows you to set the hook on light tackle without breaking the line, and the extra fast tip gives you quick hooksets with minimal effort. Sensitivity of the NRX blank is absolutely unmatched, I can feel a tick of a bite even on slack line. I paired this up with a Shimano Stradic 3000 spooled with 20lb PowerPro Super 8 Slick Braid and about a 3′ 10lb Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon leader and a Gamakatsu Tournament Grade Wire weedless wacky rig hook in the 1/0 size.

This setup is what I have confidence in and when you’re in the valley of a slump it can be just the thing to bring you out! This will force you to slow down and pick apart every piece of cover in your surroundings. I like to put the senko where a sane person would never dream, drop it in holes around grass and debris, or right in an opening of a brush pile. I provide enough slack so that it falls free and watch my line for any sudden jerks or pops. Its not only a fun way to fish, but it forces you to slow down and I promise your bites will increase.

Find what you like, keep it handy, get a rod and reel setup specifically for it and always keep it tied on. You never know when the wheels start falling off in a tournament. When you recognize your spun out, pick it up, slow down and just get a bite to get your head back in the game. Too often we focus on patterns, spots and and everyone else, when really we need to slow down, keep it simple and use high percentage finesse tactics to get back on track! Try this the next time you find yourself struggling and dig yourself out of the slump!

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Jay’s July Tackle Picks for Summer Bass

Jay’s July Tackle Picks for Summer Bass

July starts the hottest period of the year, the majority of bass all over the country and done spawning. Their main goal this time of year is to find the coolest most oxygenated water possible. One thing to keep in mind is that on some lakes a thermocline will setup...

read more
The Slump Buster

The Slump Buster

As an angler you can often find yourself in a slump. You never notice it at first, but eventually 1 bad tournament or outing turns into 3, then 4 or 5. Next thing you know you're in a bonafide slump and can't seem to do anything right. I've been told and I've passed...

read more
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KBF Trail Kentucky Lake: Jay Wallen’s Second Place Finish

KBF Trail Kentucky Lake: Jay Wallen’s Second Place Finish

Jay Wallen was 5.25 inches behind Josh and 4.5 ahead of the next angler. Jay was fishing much farther north on Kentucky Lake, but the shallow water pattern was still the same. “I caught fish in water so shallow, they should have been laying on their sides!” He also found an early topwater bite, landing a solid limit (15 fish before 10 a.m.) tossing a Lobina Rico lure.

“I have caught a ton of fish on this lure.  I have two I have used for years”.

Jay moved after 10 a.m. and upgraded (catching 5) in a patch of grass, breaking off on his first cast throwing a Senko. He threw back into the spot and “…never felt it bite, I just saw a stalk of grass shake and assumed it was a fish. I set the hook into a 19.75-inch bass.” Jay credited the two baits (and a D-Bomb) with his second-place finish.

The Pikeville, Kentucky native who just bought a house in Lawrenceburg, KY (where he plans to live with his soon to be bride Casey) spends his days assessing and tracking coal reserves in his home state, but his weekends on the kayak tournament trails. The 2016 KBF ANGLR of the year’s (Jay Wallen) TourneyX profile is a testament to his ability on the water. Like Josh, he is always a competitor with the ability to bring home a win.

It is interesting to learn that he only picked up a kayak to be able to fish with fellow Kentuckian, AJ McWhorter, on the New River. He bought a Jackson Kayak but thought “it was stupid to fight with a paddle” so he moved to an Outback. Once he made that move, he won enough to get a Hobie PA14 and hasn’t looked back.

Jay is a now a member of the Hobie Fishing Team and lists Picasso Lures, Cal Coast, Shimano and G-Loomis among his supporters. You can also get some very helpful and “juicy” tips from his YouTube Channel, TheJwallen.

Kentucky Lake is hot!!

Kentucky Lake is hot!!

When you think of Kentucky Lake, especially in late July you tend to think about ledge fishing. The last couple of years, for me at least, the ledge bite has been incredibly scattered. This weekend I went for a more consistent bite up shallow with a hot topwater bite in the back of a major creek, hot being the key word with water temperatures around 87. The bite was so good that at times I was catching them 2 at a time!

There are more shad shallow than I have seen in a very long time, its very promising for those younger 12-15” fish. The bite I was on required weeding through many of those 12-15” fish in search of a random 18”er. A whopper plopper in practice was the best, but come tournament morning they didn’t want it. I switched up to a Lobina Lures Rio Rico and I guess that got their attention. Action was steady until the sun got high over the trees. That bite was happening in about 1’ of water on a creek flat. Once it died around 10:00 am I eased out to 3-5’ following the creek channel, fan casting a squarebill around brush. I got a couple nice upgrades from that pattern and had a decent limit but 2 small fish needed to be culled if I was going to have a shot at cashing a check.

There was one other spot about 45 minutes away where I had success in practice. I loaded up, leaving myself an hour and a half to fish. I made it to a small grassy island in the back of a creek and my first flip with a Missile Baits D-bomb I break off a good fish. Not taking the time to re-tie I grabbed a G-Loomis NRX rigged with a senko and tossed it back in the same spot, I never felt a bite but saw a stalk of grass shake and just set the hook, lucky for me there was one on and it went 19”, I followed that up with an 18, 17 and 16” out of the same little hole in this grass island. In the end 93.75” wasn’t enough for the win for the KBF Trail Event, but I’ve had a tough season and was happy to go home with 2nd. It was truly surprising to catch so many fish in 1-2’ of water with the water temps in the high 80’s and bright sun paired up with a 100+ degree heat index. Just goes to show that Kentucky Lake ledge pattern has changed a bit and to stay competitive you just have to change with what the lake gives you. A positive note is that I have seen a huge decline in carp populations, I still saw some, but nothing like years past. Thanks for reading the blog, leave me a comment and let me know what you think.