HOBIE: Nuclear Power
Apr 24th, 2021 by Keith Worrall
Modified Apr 24th, 2021 at 12:40 PM
WHISTLE FISH EARNS CHABARRIA WIN AT LAKE DARDANELLE HOBIE B.O.S. EVENT
Outlasts Howell with minutes to go as elite kayak anglers catch, photograph, and release nearly 1,200 bass
OCEANSIDE, Calif. (April 23, 2021) – It was a wild ride for the 124 elite kayak anglers participating in the 2021 Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole® Lake Dardanelle event April 17 and 18. An awesome bite that saw nearly 1,200 fish recorded in the two-day catch, photograph, and release (C.P.R.) tournament on the Arkansas River resulted in a three-way tie at the end of Day 1 competition, and last-minute jockeying atop the leader board to determine the overall winner on Day 2.
“What an awesome event this turned out to be,” said tournament director A.J. McWhorter. “We had a chilly last day of pre-fishing on Friday, a weather front on Saturday that couldn’t decide what it wanted to do, and a bit of stormy weather on Sunday morning. Still, Arkansas’ Lake Dardanelle showcased it’s renown bass fishery as our participants slammed the fish in one of Hobie’s most competitive kayak fishing events ever.”
When all was said and done, Nick Chabarria, 29, of St. Louis, Missouri, claimed his first Hobie B.O.S Anchored by Power- Pole® victory with a two-day limit of 175.25 inches of largemouth bass, a quarter-inch more than runner-up Bryan Howell, 28, of Rowlett, Texas. For his efforts, Chabarria came away with a $6,700 first-place check, while Howell cashed out with $3,650. Third-place finisher, Kevin Workman of Freemont, Nebraska, took home $2,200 as the event paid out $24,580 in total.
Additionally, current reigning Hobie B.O.S Anchored by Power- Pole® Grand Champion, Ryan Lambert of Jasper, Tennessee, captured the Bassin’ Magazine Big Bass award of $400 for a 21.5-inch lunker decked on Day 1, while Johnny Maddox of Bryant, Arkansas, took home the Dakota Lithium Power Move prize of a Dakota Lithium Power Box 10 for jumping from 67th place on Day 1 to an 18th place final finish after Day 2. Anglers also competed for valuable FarWide Angler of the Year Points. As the top three non-qualified anglers, Chabarria, Workman and fourth-place finisher, Brian Delahunty, punched tickets to Hobie’s 50-angler Tournament of Champions (T.O.C.) on Lake Eufaula, Alabama, November 12 – 14.
“I can’t believe I came away the winner,” said a thankful Chabarria. “This was only my second Hobie event and my goal was to simply catch my limit both days. I just happened to hook the right ones. It’s really an honor to come out on top considering the strength of this field. Some of the best kayak bass anglers in the country were here this weekend.”
While Chabarria may have come away with the victory, he didn’t do it the easy way. Fishing from a paddle kayak without electronics, and with less than a half-day of pre-fishing on the 34,000-acre reservoir, he managed seven fish for 88.75 inches on Day 1 and found himself in fourth place behind a three-way tie for first between Mike Husar of Sandwich, Illinois, Workman, and Brian Delahunty of Collinville, Alabama, who each had 89-inch totals.
“I had only a little time to pre-fish on Friday” revealed Chabarria, “I found a few spots on Google Maps that looked promising. At the first one I had two good bass take a swipe at my lure, so I decided to stick out both days right there. The area was up in a creek that had plenty of small arms, some pockets and depth changes. There was six feet of water a bit off the bank, but the fish were mostly right along the edge, often in six inches of water where I could see them waking after my lures. On Saturday, I threw a 3/8-ounce black and blue Z-Man ChatterBait® Custom with a black and blue Zoom Z-Craw Jr. on the back. Sunday saw the water a get a little cloudy, so I went with a ½-ounce green pumpkin ChatterBait® and a full-size black and blue Z-Craw trailer.”
With 90 minutes to go, Chabarria was fishing a bit of new water when he decided to make a mile move against the wind and back to where he had the bites on Day 1. It wouldn’t leave much fishing time, he reasoned, but it might give him a shot at one more cull fish. With ten minutes to go, the move paid off as a 17-inch bass inhaled his lure and pushed him into the lead.
Howell, meanwhile, spent his time casting a swim jig around lily pads and dead water willow grass as he kept grinding away. “I had 82.75 inches of bass on Day 1 for a fair start,” he related. “On Day 2, I only managed seven fish but I had the highest total with 92.25 inches. By mid-day, I had leapfrogged up the leader board all the way to first place, but the fishing got tough after that and my position slipped a bit because I didn’t catch another legal bass until the last minute of competition.”
With just 30 seconds to go in the contest, Howell drilled a 16.75-inch bass that culled 3.5 inches. That one lifted him several spots to second place, just a quarter-inch shy of Chabarria’s first-place total as time ran out. “It was the kind of tournament where catching a chunky fish could really boost your standings because everyone was packed together so tightly on the leader board,” said Howell. “It’s tough to come so close, but I have no regrets. I fished hard right to the very end and Nick had a good day, too. Besides, finishing second in a field this accomplished is a good thing for sure. I’m really happy with my performance.”
As for Workman, he spent most of his time on Lake Dardanelle picking apart the bass with a Texas rig cast around wood. With a consistent performance that saw him in the second slot after Day 1, he tallied 174.75 inches for third overall!”
“I was one spot short of cashing a check at this event last year,” recalled Workman, “so you can bet it feels great to be in the top three this time around. I’m also happy to have qualified for the T.O.C. again, and I can’t wait to get on with the rest of the season. ”
While this tournament produced an exceptionally slim margin of victory, it should be noted that this very lake just last year recorded the closest Hobie B.O.S Anchored by Power- Pole® finish of all time as Drew Gregory edged out Eric Siddiqi via a tie-breaker. Both anglers had finished with 171 inches of catch-and-release largemouth bass.
“That,” says McWhorter, “shows the potential of the bass fishery here. This really is a great lake to fish, and the Russellville area is a wonderful fishing destination for families and friends. “Now, though, it’s time to look ahead to our next event: Lake Hartwell in Anderson, South Carolina, on May 15 and 16. This honey hole has a reputation for giving up some really big fish, and we are hoping for another exciting finish. If you haven’t signed-up already, do so now because there’s a 200-angler maximum and the slots are filling fast.”