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.”