Sep 18th, 2020 by Keith Worrall
Modified Sep 18th, 2020 at 11:19 AM
GREGORY GETS TIE-BREARKER WIN IN LAKE DARDANELLE HOBIE B.O.S. EVENT
Edges Siddiqi in narrowest B.O.S. victory of the year, Queen takes third and moves atop Angler of the Year standings
OCEANSIDE, Calif. (September 18, 2020) – In the narrowest margin of victory of the 2020 Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.), Drew Gregory edged ahead of Eric Siddiqi via a tie-breaker as both anglers finished the two-day Lake Dardanelle tournament with 171 inches of catch and release largemouth bass. Jody Queen took the third spot, 4.25 inches behind the leaders, to nudge ahead of fourth-place finisher Rus Snyders by less than an inch in Hobie’s Angler of the Year (A.O.Y.) standings. As the last opportunities left to settle A.O.Y. honors, it looks like Hobie’s B.O.S. Coosa River Chain Event in Gadsden, AL, October 3 and 4, and the B.O.S. Shootout in Knoxville, Tennessee, November 13, will be especially exciting.
All told, the Lake Dardanelle event saw a stellar field of 112 kayak anglers, including many elite competitors, tally 693 largemouth and spotted bass even while reporting they had to work hard to dig up the famed lake’s treasures over a busy boating weekend. Gregory, 41, a Z-Man, Raymarine and Daiwa pro of Ravenna, Ohio, walked away with a total of $6,848 for first place and big bass honors. Siddiqi, 36, from Cincinnati, Ohio, netted $3,300 for second, while Queen, 55, from Bluefield, West Virginia, cashed out with $1,800. Total payouts topped $20,000 and covered the top 12 finishes. Siddiqi, fifth-place Justin Patrick, and sixth-place Garrett Morgan, also qualified for the Hobie Tournament of Champions (T.O.C.), scheduled for November 14 and 15 in Knoxville, Tennessee.
“It’s events like this that really showcase our competitors’ skills and heart,” said Hobie B.O.S. Tournament Director, A.J. McWhorter. “The fishing was a little tough as we saw significant traffic on the water, but these guys and gals really know how to compete. They dug in, made changes on the fly, and managed to put together some very respectable limits. I’d also like to acknowledge how accommodating Lake Dardanelle and the town of Russellville, Arkansas, are to high-caliber bass tournaments. The people, facilities and waters here were terrific and really added to the success and enjoyment of all who participated.”
Z-Man Project-Z® ChatterBait® tipped with a DieZel Minnow™
Ultimately, a 21-inch lunker largemouth sealed Gregory’s victory as he held the big fish card since Saturday afternoon. The fourth-place finisher in last month’s Hobie BOS Susquehanna River event, Gregory worked a Z-Man Project-Z® ChatterBait® tipped with a 5-inch DieZel Minnow™, Whopper Plopper, buzzbaits, and a Z-Man StreakZ™ slow-sinking jerkbait impaled on a Z-Man ChinlockZ® weighted hook to rack up quick limits in the same spot each morning before packing up and driving a half-hour away to relaunch and look for bigger fish. It was late on Saturday when he threw his Whopper Plopper surface lure between a trio of laydowns and the bank.
“Those logs and root balls were laying parallel to the bank,” Gregory explained, “and I knew it would be a challenge to get a big fish out of that small pocket. As my lure approached the innermost log, a 10-inch bass jumped on it. It fell off as I cranked it past the log furthest from the shore and one turn of the reel handle later the big one smashed it. I had to horse her away from those logs. I call that my ‘Praise the Lord!’ moment. That fish was the difference since Eric’s biggest was a healthy 19.75-inch fish. Yes, it helps to be a little lucky, but you still have to make the most of your opportunities.”
Gregory attributed his overall success to heavy pre-event scouting. “I drove around the entire lake for a day-and-a-half before I put my kayak in for practice,” he revealed. “I think it’s important to look at all the water before you pick a section to fish. If you drop in to sample the first good-looking spot you see, you’ll miss even better water somewhere else. You need to target more than productive looking spots; you have to keep looking until you find small ecosystems that favor big bass.”
Siddiqi, who finished fifth on day one and first on day two, began his prospecting in deep water looking for channel swings and riverbeds, but couldn’t find structure he liked. Shifting his efforts to shallow waters, he pushed through a culvert he had discovered while pre-fishing to get away from boat traffic and, hopefully, find some untouched water. Throwing an Accent Finesse Buzzbait, he quickly drilled a 19.5-inch bass and decided to stick with buzzbaits the rest of the way.
“I knew if I threw buzzbaits all day long I’d have at least five good smacks,” reasoned Siddiqi. “I figured if I kept those fish buttoned, I’d be doing okay.” Siddiqi managed his limit as expected to occupy the fifth spot by day’s end. On day two, he returned to the culvert area and found the water deeper. Pushing further back into the cove. With less wind, he dropped down to a smaller buzzbait and drilled four bass measuring between 15.5 and 19 inches before wrestling aboard a 19.75-inch brute for the tie.
“I was excited with that last fish as there were only minutes to go in the tournament,” said Siddiqi. “That was cool, but the fields in these B.O.S. events are so deep. It’s tough to finish in the money and even tougher to win outright. Drew had the big fish of the tournament. That’s what it took to take the top spot.”
It should be noted that, with his second-place finish, Siddiqi now has a first, second and third place finish in Hobie B.O.S. events over the past two years. “Gold, silver and bronze,” he quipped. “That’s not too bad.”
As for Queen, who earlier this year won both the Kentucky Lake and the Susquehanna River B.O.S. events – and qualified for the Hobie World Championships for a second time – it was a change on the fly that netted a third-place finish. “I had been working a stretch of about 150 feet along the main river bank and picked up a few nice fish on day one,” he revealed, “But day two saw no wind, no current and a lot of bass boats beating me to my spots. At 1 p.m., I still didn’t have a limit, but I noticed the current beginning to move so I pedaled to a spot 2 miles away where the current was pushing between a brace of islands during pre-fishing. I drilled six good fish right there. It was a big move, but it saved the tournament for me. Good thing I had my Hobie Mirage ProAngler 14; I can go anywhere in that boat. In fact, I averaged about 3 MPH as I pedaled across open water to get there. I don’t know if I’d have made that move in another kayak.”
Siddiqi also noted that his Hobie Mirage ProAngler 14 played a big part in his success. “I’ve seen guys with other drives looking just miserable while trying to push through shallow, weedy water, but I relish those situations. This drive is unstoppable, it goes right through grass and cuts through current. It gets me where I need to go – where other people can’t reach. It’s just awesome.”
As for the Hobie B.O.S. Series itself, Gregory is sold on the quality of competition, smoothness of operation, and both fairness and clarity of the rules. “This is one of the best-run kayak fishing series you’ll enter,” he says without hesitation. “Fish here and you should expect to be challenged by the biggest names in kayak bass fishing, on the best waters, in an atmosphere of respect, encouragement and camaraderie. With all those factors in your favor, you’re going to have a good time no matter where you finish up.”
The final Open of Hobie’s 9-event season lands on two famous lakes of the storied Coosa River Chain in Gadsden, Alabama, October 3 and 4. For details and registration, visit: www.hobiebos.com.