Conley Wins B.O.S. on Santi Cooper Lakes
Apr 4th, 2022 by Keith Worrall
Modified Apr 4th, 2022 at 11:51 AM
CONLEY WINS HOBIE B.O.S. ANCHORED BY POWER-POLE SANTEE COOPER EVENT
Conley gets personal best, earns $10,500. Teng Vue smashes B.O.S. single-day five fish limit.
OCEANSIDE, Calif. (April 4, 2022) – Mother Nature tried her best to hijack the show with blustery winds gusting to 30 m.p.h. and chilly nighttime temperatures as the 2022 Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole rolled into South Carolina and Clarendon County’s famed Santee Cooper Lakes. Try as she might, the old gal couldn’t break the spirit of the big bass that roam these waters, or the sold-out slate of 200 competitors hoping to make the leader board and perhaps even score the largest bucketmouth of their careers on lakes Marion and Moultrie.
“Our anglers faced some tremendous challenges at this event due to stiff winds, and it certainly affected how they could access and stay on the fish,” said tournament director, A.J. McWhorter. “Those who finished well brushed the weather aside, dug in and made things happen. These are big, wide-open lakes and it was snarly out there so the best scores came from anglers who fished places that buffered the wind. Despite the adversity, we saw a lot of big fish measuring over 20” – and our highest 5-fish daily limit of all time. This truly is a bucket-list destination and it lived up to its reputation.”
When all was said and done, it was Canadian Nate Conley, 39, of Ontario, who stood alone at the top of the two-day catch, photograph and release (C.P.R.) tourney. To be sure, the win didn’t come easily as Conley racked up 98.7” of bass on Day 1 and 95.7” on Day 2, but still had to hold off perennial threats Rus Snyders, 40, of Pegram, Tennessee, and Cody Milton, 28, of Searcy, Arkansas, down the stretch. Conley finished with 194.5” to edge Snyder by half an inch after culling up with just 18 minutes to go. Milton bagged the bronze with 188.50” as the trio separated themselves from the pack. Teng Vue, of Connelly Springs, North Carolina, meanwhile, smashed the single-day Hobie B.O.S. limit record with 108” of largemouth bass on Day 2 for a two-day total of 181.5” and a fourth-place finish.
“Our events have always had a strong contingent of Canadian anglers,” noted McWhorter, “but with the borders closed due to the pandemic over the past two years, it was good to see our friends to the north and meet some new ones. Nate drove 16 hours to get here from his home. This was his first Hobie event and it’s nice to see a fresh face atop the leader board.”
To be sure, Conley got off to a great start. He had scored with some nice bass in open water during pre-event practice sessions, but the stiff winds on Day 1 forced him to look for an area where he could fish safely. “I ended up pushing deep into a creek arm with a protected pocket area so I could mine the cypress trees,” he revealed. “I wasn’t power fishing. Instead, I used my new Hobie PA 14 360 to position myself perfectly to probe each tree. With the 360 Mirage Drive I was able to easily work both sides of the trunks as I slid past. That made a huge difference in my success. I upgraded a week before the event, which turned out to be a great move. I’m a big guy, 6’ 4”, and I’m extremely comfortable in that kayak. I love it.”
Conley, who also broke his personal best on Day 2 with a 23.75-inch hawg, mostly threw a 5” watermelon Gary Yamamoto Senko worm rigged wacky style on a St. Croix 6’ 8” Bass X spinning rod. “That rod,” he continued, ”is an economical choice, for sure, but I’ve caught so many fish with it that I never leave it home. I carry several Daiwa rods with Tatula spinning reels, too,” he added.
Snyders, meanwhile, opted to run upriver and look for cloudy, shallow water where he knew there wouldn’t be much pressure. “I was targeting spawning fish that I couldn’t see,” he revealed. “I had no trouble catching fish on a wide variety of lures including a weighted Texas-rigged fluke, a Senko and a square bill crankbait, but it was a spinnerbait that really proved effective on Day 2.”
A competitor who seems to always be on the fish, Snyders was more than in the running as time drew down. At points on Day 2 he was atop the leader board – and he actually had a potentially winning bass in his boat that slipped back into the water before being measured.
“You’ve got to fish clean to come away with a win when the competition is this tough,” he stated. “Nate’s performance was impressive. He slowed things down with that Senko. Like me, he was fishing an area that was out of the wind and less pressured. Smart move. There are no cypress swamps in Canada, so hats off to him for adapting to local and changing conditions.”
As for Milton, he rang up solid fish in practice sessions before the wind and cold descended upon the Santee Cooper Lakes but ended up pushing back into a flooded cypress forest to find protection and pods of bass on random trees, sometimes separated by as much as a quarter mile. “Day 1 was a spinnerbait day for me,” he stated. “Day 2 became a Senko day after that chilly weather rolled in overnight. The spot I ended up hitting had smaller fish on Friday but much bigger ones moved in by Day 1 of the tournament, so I just worked to stay on them. I had a blast, catching 20 to 40 fish both days, including 20.5” and 18” culls on Day 1 that really helped me move up in the standings.”
Like Conley, Milton noted his Hobie PA 14 360 provided a tangible edge in this event. “It’s super stable, comfortable, and turns on a dime, which allows me to always be in the best position to make a perfect cast,” he said. “That boat’s maneuverability is just unbelievable.”
For their efforts, Conley, Snyders and Milton took home checks for $10,500, $5,500, and $3,200, respectively. All three also punched tickets to the 2022 Tournament of Champions (T.O.C.) on Caddo Lake, November 11-13, in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana. The T.O.C. has a guaranteed $100,000 payout. Additionally, Angler of the Year (A.O.Y.) points were awarded to the first 100 places on the leader board. Kris Kirkpatrick walked away with Bassin’ Magazine Big Bass honors and a $500 check for a 24-inch brute he caught and released on Day 1.
“I really had an exciting time at this tournament,” summed up Conley, “With the field sold out well ahead of time, the great payouts, smooth organization and camaraderie between anglers, it certainly feels like a top-level, professional bass tournament. With an elite field so large, focused and skilled, you really have to earn your place here. I can tell you, it’s a different kind of pressure when you see guys like Rus and Cody breathing down your neck on the leader board. I can’t believe I won this event considering all the great kayak fishing names here. It really is an honor.”
“Well deserved,” concludes McWhorter, ”who also thanked the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce for all their work in making this a tremendous event, and every angler who came and endured less-than-favorable conditions but took up the challenge to perform their best.”
Up next on the Hobie tour is Lake Eufaula, April 23-24. The first five Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole events for 2022 are already sold out. Registration is now open for the Lake Winnipesaukee event, June 25 – 26.